Update 2016: We first published this post 4.5 years ago. The case study was conducted in December 2011 when the gringo population in Cuenca was reported to be around 500. However, there was also a huge influx of visitors arriving in Cuenca at that time as well; it was right after International Living announced Cuenca as being "best retirement city in the world".
We recommend downloading and reading the full thesis. Once on the website there is a PDF download on the right hand side of the page.
University student, Denise M. Bustamante from Scripps College conducted a case study on the retired expatriate community in Cuenca, Ecuador", interviewing nine Cuencanos about how they felt about the migration of gringos into Cuenca Ecuador.
What her data suggests is consistent with what we've been observing and reporting on this Discover Cuenca Ecuador blog. Now you can read it again from a University student who conducted this case study.
...below is a snippet from her thesis.
"In addition to the language barrier, other negative aspects associated with the presence of expatriates in Cuenca include increases in the cost of living and their arrogant attitudes. The presence of an expatriate community in Cuenca contributes to a rise in costs because their incomes are higher than that of the locals and they are willing to pay these high prices. Jennifer, the former real estate agent, mentioned that many landlords prefer renting their property out to foreigners because they pay more money, they are punctual with their payments, and they take better care of property than the locals. Sara, a professor at the University of Azuay, has a friend who is the only Cuencana in her apartment building. Each month, her landlord pressures her to sell her apartment because he is aware that he can make a larger profit by leasing it to a foreigner at a steeper price."
"Data suggest that Cuencanos resent the impenetrable language barrier and their cultural disengagement. The Cuencanos responses also indicate that a deeper understanding of the country and culture is necessary on behalf of the retired expatriates to facilitate their integration into the existing culture rather than trying to create an exclusive subculture within Cuenca".
One expat in her study pointed out, "Many of the retired expats arrive in Cuenca, buy or rent their luxurious skyscraper apartments and stay there. It's as if they are watching life happen on their big screen TV and they do this without even realizing it.
Update 2016 - This of course was said back in 2011 when the expats moving here were afraid to live outside of the gringo high rise buildings, gringoland neighborhood. However, we changed that misconception of being afraid when we moved into an Ecuadorian neighborhood and detached house in June of 2011. By 2012 expats began living all over the city instead of just in the high rise buildings located in Gringoland.
Today most of the gringos still prefer to live near the downtown area (Westside) and walk to a grocery store. Some things are just not going to change.
Update 2016 - On
the one hand, the foreigners have fanned out throughout the city,
however, whether this has resulted in a “blending in” or “living local”
is questionable, since it appears that price increases on everything
have also ‘fanned out’.
Source: Bustamante, Denise M., "Amenities Migration: A Case Study on the Retired Expatriate Community in Cuenca, Azuay, Ecuador" (2012). Scripps Senior Theses. Paper 29.
is only a small portion of her case study. Miss Bustamante also
interviews twelve expats to Cuenca on how they feel about living in
Cuenca, Ecuador. To read the full thesis, click here.
Update 2016: On the flip side, there were also University students that had to interview expats that had moved to Cuenca. It is our understanding that for their graduation thesis, the students had to choose either interviewing Cuencanos about how they felt about expats or interview expats about how they felt about Cuenca and its people.
Update 2016: Our family was interviewed by three University young ladies one day in Park Calderon. They asked us questions such as "do we work", "are we retired", "How old are you", "Do we speak Spanish?" "Do you like Cuenca?" They asked, “what do we like about Cuenca” and other questions you can find in this video. After the interview they said we saved their life as they had to present the video to their teacher.
Until we write again, here are a couple of articles that back then addressed the issue of living in a house versus high rise condo in the gringoland neighborhood.
We're an expat family of five living in Cuenca Ecuador. We vlog and blog about what its really like to live here and in Latin America. We have numerous experiences to share. We'd love for you to come along and enjoy the adventure with us!