10 Years of Blog Archive

Friday, July 06, 2012

One Year in Cuenca, What Has Changed

One year ago we arrived in Cuenca. It is almost hard to believe that we have lived in Cuenca for a year now. It seems like we only arrived three months ago. It has been a great year working on the language and integrating ourselves into the Ecuadorian culture.  We have made some wonderful friendships within the community. And since living here we have noticed a few changes about Cuenca that we're going to talk about.
Higher Food Prices
Some food prices are higher! In just the one year we have lived here we have noticed higher prices on many food items. An example is: when we first got here you could buy a five pound bag of onions for $2, well, gone is the day for $2 bag of purple onions; try $4 a bag now! The price has doubled. So what has happened? More and more people are paying the “whatever price” they quote, that’s what happened. Do we pay that? No way…more on that in our up and coming bargaining ebook.
It’s not just North Americans raising the prices either. Wealthier Ecuadorians are coming home to Cuenca and after living in New York City for ten or twenty years, coming home to a five pound bag of purple onions for $4 is refreshing, indeed.
Two Rental Markets: Only One Keeps Going Up!
Rentals that are targeted to gringos have gone up and they continue to go up. Thank goodness we stay away from the over-priced gringo gouging rentals and real estate. The good news is rentals in Cuenca in the $200 to $300 price range, still come up all the time. We know because we see them listed in the resources we list in the DIY Cuenca Guide, and from people we know in the local Ecuadorian circles.
We’ll do a bit of footwork for you today…in just one of the resources we list in the Cuenca guide (I noticed it a few days ago) there is a big 4 bedroom 3 bath villa for rent for $300 in a good Ecuadorian neighborhood…was listed on July 2, 2012. Better hurry, it might be gone by now.
This is why it is important to continue checking out the resources in the DIY Cuenca Guide a couple of times a week. Today I saw in the Cuencanos.com classifieds online, a 3 bedroom apartment with hardwood floors for just $120 a month! The photo looks like the apartment is nice! That’s the unfurnished price, but it is worth a call or email for sure. Click here to see it.
Basically, you have to go to the resources we list in the guide a couple times a week, at least, and when you see a local-priced rental that you like, snap it up.
When good deals in the local rental price range come up they do not last long! It's important to know that in this price range you are competing with the locals—they too are seeking the local priced rentals and this is the price range the average Ecuadorian is willing to pay, or lower. This is bargain hunting territory.
The other way to find the local-priced rental is to make friends with the locals, of course, and tell them you’re looking for a house or apartment in the local rental price range. We found our friend Karina a 3 bedroom 2 baths, nice apartment for $200, so we know they are out there but it takes due diligence and the Do-it-yourself-mindset.
So what’s making the rental market go up for the gringo market? I think it is fair to say that it is not just gringos that are raising rental prices. As we mentioned earlier, Ecuadorians are coming here with their retirement savings from North America and are now ready to enjoy their country.  
But still we all must understand that if we come here and demand a river view, 24 hour security, and furnishings to boot, we’re going to be escorted to the higher priced rentals...that's the other rental market. But sometimes, in the case with Karina, she got the beautiful river and city view but still only pays the local-priced rental rate. So sometimes demanding may be a disadvantage.
Taxi Service
Taxi service for gringos has gone up. In just the one year we have lived here taxis have gone up $1 to $1.50. So if the fare was $2.50 to go downtown from Super maxi on Ave Las Americas, it now is $3.50 to $4. But the price gouging is mostly given to the gringos. Again, do we pay that? Sometimes we do, like if it's at night, but most of the time, no we don't. We have experienced this as a fact, and more than once. Our son goes with a local friend in a taxi downtown and only paid $2! Two dollars! We have never yet paid two dollars! The least we’ve ever paid for cab fare to go downtown was $2.50 and we thought that was good, and that was when we first got here in summer 2011.
We Love Cuenca Even More
Being more familiar with how everything works truly makes living here that much easier and convenient for us. I think you begin to value where you live a lot more when you are more familiar with the people, the language, and your surroundings. Living within the city of Cuenca, near shops, restaurants and malls, makes daily living quite expedient. When we need to go somewhere we know exactly what bus to take and exactly where to go. What has changed from when we first got here and now, one year later is the fact that we are much more comfortable with Cuenca and its friendly people and that makes Cuenca that much more livable and loveable!


  1. Hey Frank,

    Agree with everything you have written except the taxi part. I live on Ordonez Laso - two blocks from Supermaxi de las Americas and I go downtown everyday. I always pay $2 and have never paid more. I think the problem is that people ask the price. I have seen people get quoted outrageous prices many times.

    I never ask the price. I just pay them what I feel like at my destination. It may help that I can chat with the drivers in Spanish the entire ride. I am obviously a gringo with blond hair, but the drivers are constantly talking about how Gringos are crazy to pay the prices that they do - Dunno.

    I've never had any of them not give me a smiling Hasta Luego after I hand them $2.Only time I have ever paid more is very late at night but that's normal anywhere. Then it's $2.50.

  2. Thanks for commenting. That's actually a typo. It should not read "from Supermaxi" but anyhow, I have to keep reminding the "other" gringos with me in the cab, shshhhh, tone down the English but by then it's too late.
    Also, I do that too, just hand them the money, one time I handed the guy $2 and he demanded $4 because of the "weight". (four passengers)

  3. You are paying to much for taxis. I have only taken taxis in the three years we have been here. It helps if you know yhr going rate and always have exact change. Hand the driver yhr money and exit and do not look back if they ask for more.

  4. Thanks for the tip.
    It's just that I'm a bit of a softy when they ask for more and give me a reason. If they give no reason, then I figure I'm getting taken advantage of. Any one chime in on the "weight' issue? 1st anonymous? You said you chat with them in Spanish? Will you ask about that?

  5. I think if you have 4 people in the car they are going to probably want more. I would just add .50 cents and get out of the car.

    I do get the occasional driver that will say, no it's 3. I have .50 ready and say, oh I pay $2 everyday, I only have .50. I put it in their hand and walk off.. They just shrug it off.

    Seriously the only time I pay $4 is from the airport with bags. To Kiwi from Supermaxi Americas, I have paid $2 but always $3 back because of the taxis with price lists in their cab.

    I guess the main point is to not discuss price with them. Even if my wife does that they try and give her a price of $3 and she is Ecuadorian.

  6. I was just reading this older post and wanted to give an update. When I rode with a local friend many times now they are charging $2.00 for almost all the rides. He asks them when we start the ride. No English chatter in the car before that either. The MAX was $2.50 one time and that from the edge of the city to Parque Calderon.

    When I rode alone, I never asked the rate. Every time I gave them exact change of $2-2.50 (mostly long rides) it was fine. If I gave them a $5 bill to be changed, they would try to charge about .50 to 1.00 more most of the time. Having exact change is clearly an advantage.


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