10 Years of Blog Archive

Sunday, June 30, 2013

What's Going on in the City of Cuenca Ecuador June 2013?

This video is our end of the month video created from several different scenes of happenings going on in and around Cuenca. Cuenca is a busy city with people walking about all over the place going to work, shopping, doing errands and enjoying what the day may bring. Enjoy the video!


Thursday, June 27, 2013

Why We Should Stop Comparing North America with South America

The biggest mistake foreigners make when moving to a new country is making comparisons.  We should not bring our first world ideals and standards to a third world country. However, many of us do just that by our approach to things and our mannerisms. 

Real life examples in a moment.

We have all said and done things that have made the locals feel a bit resentful. We don’t realize we’re doing it, but when we say how cheap things are, or when we smirk and giggle at some of the prices for things, we are essentially saying, “I can afford this and live better than you (the locals) because my money will go further in your country."

Cheap is Subjective

Why would it spur resentment? Well, for one thing the same things we think are cheap ARE NOT cheap to the locals. We still have to remind ourselves of this. But many tourists and newcomers to Cuenca play the comparison game in front of the locals and it causes offense and the consequences are higher prices to the gringos on every thing!

There are a hundred reasons why we should work at blending in wherever we live and not make the local people envious and jealous of our lifestyle. The minute we decide to make Ecuador our home is the minute we need to begin to accept and or tolerate everything about the city we live in as a part of our new lifestyle. 

Third World vs. First World

I know, I know this can be difficult, especially if you are new here and see things that are offensive, different, or not how you would do them back home. But we have to get over the differences.  I still see local adult men peeing in public, men pooping in the river, electronics are still over-priced, Internet is still not that great, and the weather is still perfectly cold and damp to me, spring-like all year long, but we’ve gotten over all that and have adapted to the differences…and we hope that if you plan on living here full time that you will also adapt.

Be Careful with Your Emotions about Prices

Comparing prices is not all what it’s cracked up to be. When we first moved here one of our sons smirked and gasped at the price of a sweet pastry in one of the bakeries, and for good reason, this homemade pastry was big, it was chocolaty, with something creamy in the middle and it was very eye appealing and when we asked the price she said it was only $0.13 cents!  

Well, wouldn’t you know it, a few days later we went back to that same bakery and they inflated the price to $0.25 cents…all because of a smirk and a giggle amongst ourselves. The girls working behind the counter probably decided at that moment to double the price on the gringos and continue to charge the locals $0.13 cents. 

Now when we are confronted with a price that seems to us outrageously low we just accept it, after all we live here as the locals do and that is when you would hope to see the end to gringo price gouging.  However, everything is going up because of the huge amount of foreigners visiting and moving to Cuenca.

What a Cuenca Rental is REALLY Worth

Now in the above experience we were just talking small change, but it is the same way when people rent the homes that are knocked out of the local ball-park range when they should be rented at the local price range! 

Case in point: we have been working with a local landlord to keep the price of her furnished rental at $400 a month tops as she had been talking about higher and higher rental amounts, and we had initially started out at $350 when we first met her. 

She called me one day and told me she wanted $450 for the rental from then on.  We decided we would no longer call her.  (this is part of the negotiation and keeping rentals priced right) After about six months that she did not hear from us, she called to check in.  I told her I didn’t have anyone interested at $450.  She agreed to lower the rent back to $400, telling me however that one of her tenants was in fact paying the $450.

When I brought her the rent, she made a point of explaining that the Canadian living in her other rental that was paying $450 had gone around to look at other rentals, and had told her that he liked her rental best for appearance and price wise. 

You see, that just reinforced in her mind that she can raise the rent to $450 and by sharing this real life example with me, she was saying that I should put it out at $450.  And this just because one expat decided $450 was ok to him and bragged about it to the landlord.  

This is how we unknowingly cause higher prices by our attitudes.  We are no longer shopping at WalMart or Publix or Albertsons.  We need to remember how our actions come back to us and everyone else for that matter.

Now, we understand that most new-comers to Cuenca don’t know exactly what the price of a rental should be but they shouldn’t rent a place just because it is less than what they were paying for rent in the states. Instead, they should learn to negotiate, and investigate further.  The DIY Cuenca Landing Guide goes into more detail on this.

We’ve been working the local rental markets since we’ve lived here and we know what a house, apartment, or condo should REALLY rent for, and we pass that information onto you so that we can all make an effort to keep prices fair for everyone.  But we can’t do it alone!

Remember, there’s always someone richer than you that will think a rent price much higher than what you’re paying, is ‘cheap’. Bottom line is we should remember to never compare North America with South America in any fashion about any matter because there is NO COMPARISON. In fact we do everyone, including ourselves a BIG disservice when we compare.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

French Cafe "Sucre Sale" Across from Park Calderon in Cuenca

This video is about a little French cafe, Sucre Sale located in the heart of Cuenca. The almuerzo was a bit high at $3.50 and that could be because it is located right across from the famous Park Calderon in downtown Cuenca. The food was ok, service good, and the atmosphere was cozy and interesting. The cafe is small with only about nine or ten small tables. The ladies restroom was clean and there was tp and soap but no paper towels to dry your hands...I think they normally have paper towels because there is a dispenser but they were out when we were there...this happens a lot in Cuenca.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

For Rent Furnished Apartment for $400 in Great Neighborhood of Cuenca!

As most of our long time readers know we focus on getting the best rental deals and this is one of them. This beautiful apartment is in a good location not far from El Centro, in fact, it is just a five minute bus ride or a 15-minute walk (walking slow) to the center of town! The apartment has everything you'll need to be comfortable and Internet WIFI is included in the price.  As you'll see in the video tour, the apartment is nicely furnished/decorated and there is a washer machine on the premises for you to do your laundry,  and the apartment has cable television. Contact us if you are ready to rent because this one will not last long.  

This apartment has been rented!! 


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

How to Get Discounts on Flights to Ecuador and within Ecuador

Flying abroad has gotten outrageously expensive. Some expats with children have even told us they do not want to have to make the trip twice because the airfare is just not in their budget to do so.

So are there any hidden secrets to getting  good airline deals on flights from the US to Ecuador? Let’s take a look at a few ways to get better airfares to Ecuador from the United States. 

UPDATE: 2015 - Some of you may have noticed. Flights to and from Ecuador are now taxed 25% higher; that's a big price jump! 
 Flights from the US to Ecuador

1. Make flight reservations 14 to 30 days in advance!

2. Sign up with airfare discount alerts. Keep yourself up-to-date on the major airlines that fly to Ecuador and get airfare alerts in your inbox by using such services as AirfareWatchdog. This will save you a great deal of time. Simply type in your preferred itinerary and wait for them to send the airfare deals!

3. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays are supposed to be the cheapest days to fly, so plan your flight on one of those days to get the lowest price.

4. Use price intermediary sites such as Travelocity and Orbits, which compares all the major airlines for the lowest airfare prices and discounts. However, we have noticed when you keep using these places every day, a couple of times a day, oddly they start coming back with higher prices every time. Only use them when you are ready to book your flight!

Understand that these online travel agents are not always the best places to get discounts. They do receive commissions and that is coming from somewhere.

5. Try comparison websites such as Kayak.com and Tripadvisor.com.  They also compare prices from all the airlines and will direct you to the best airfare deals.

6. Fly from major city airport hubs such as Atlanta, Miami, Chicago, Seattle, etc.  This is potentially a big money saver. This is what we did to save about $150 per ticket because we flew out of Atlanta, Georgia instead of  Franklin, North Carolina. Here is a US map with all of the major hub airport cities. The yellow circles on the map show where the major airport hubs are located.

7. Never try and get flight discounts to Ecuador just before major US holidays because airfares will be much more expensive. These times are the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, the four days before Christmas, and the first working days after New Year's.

8. Flights booked after 11:00pm (red eye flights) are less expensive because less people want to fly at this hour and the airline wants to fill up all the seats.

9. Some of the major airlines such as Continental and American offer the lowest priced airfares on their own website, so always check for discounts on their website BEFORE actually booking your flight, you never know.

10. Always ask for student and senior discounts, if applicable. Many airlines offer this. They also offer discounts for toddlers, and babies under two fly for free on most major airlines if you hold the baby on your lap.

11. Standby airfares are always cheaper. If you’re just one person and you don't mind sitting around in airports waiting for a seat to open up then this is a possible discount. Here’s how it works. You buy the standby ticket with the airline (not all airlines do this) but you do not set a flight time, and you wait in the airport until a seat opens up from a cancellation. When a seat becomes available, which might take hours or all day, they will let you know and you can then board that flight to Ecuador.  Couples can do this too but it might take longer for two seats to open up...and they might not have two seats together.

12. Name your own price at Priceline.com and you can save up to 25% to 50% sometimes.

13. Make sure you always look on an airlines official website to see the bargain page where many times they post last minute flight deals around the world. Also you can always call the airlines and ask when they will be having a promotion. 

14. The two cheapest months to fly are in February (the least expensive) and then March comes in second.  Tickets can be up to half price in February.

Regional - Flights within Ecuador

Need to fly from Cuenca to Quito or Manta? You can get discounts on regional flights in the country of Ecuador and here’s how.

1. Check to see if any regional airlines such as LAN Ecuador, Tame, or AeroGal have any special discounts before booking your flight.  Remember you need to go to their official website and check. They all have a promotions or special offers page for domestic flights.

2. When making a flight itinerary online with AeroGal, choosing flexible dates will return a better price every time; it did when I tried it.

3. Consider taking TAME from Cuenca to Quito.  They sometimes have a discounted flight of just $22 but restrictions do apply. Plan on a stop-over; there are no refunds and if you have to cancel your ticket for any reason they charge $15 plus tax.

4. Do not waste your time and use comparison or intermediary websites like Kayak or Orbitz to try and get cheaper flights within Ecuador because their flight tickets are higher than the official airlines websites offer.

5. Don’t forget to ask about senior discounts if you are a resident of Ecuador.

We hope this information on how to get discounts on flights to and within Ecuador will be of good service to you when visiting or moving to Ecuador. Taking the tour buses within Ecuador is still more cost effective than flying if you are on a budget, but may take more time and planning in your schedule. In this article we talk about taking the bus to Salinas.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

San Sebas Restaurant in the San Sebastian Plaza

This restaurant is located in the San Sebastian Plaza in downtown Cuenca. The food is good and we've eaten here a couple of times. Breakfasts are good, the burgers are good and so are the Mexican dishes, especially if you like spicy food.


Friday, June 14, 2013

'Parque Lineal' in Paute (Azuay) Ecuador

This is part two of our day trip to Paute Ecuador. This was a neat little park we visited that runs along the river... yes, a river runs through the edge of the town of Paute! We didn't get the name of the river, but perhaps someone knows and can let us all know in the comment section below.


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Paute Azuay Ecuador - Little Cuenca

The town of Paute Ecuador is a darling little town that reminded us of a little Cuenca. The little park in the center of town looks just like Park Calderon but about half the size. The scenery is beautiful because the mountains that surround Paute are very close by.  Stay tuned for part two of Paute Ecuador coming soon!


Monday, June 10, 2013

Hostal Macondo in Cuenca Ecuador: Nice Place to Stay!

We added Hostal Macondo to the DIY Cuenca Landing Guide third Edition because we thought it was a very comfortable, clean, and pretty place to stay in Cuenca. Hostal Maconodo has a beautiful outside area for eating, relaxing and socializing with guests, something that most hostels do not have. There are many beautiful plants around this guest house, which the humming birds absolutely love.

We think the many different sitting areas and the outdoorsy environment is definitely a plus.  Hostal Macondo also has in-house laundry service for a small fee. For price, location and contact information see the chapter we devote to Cuenca Ecuador hostels in the DIY Cuenca Landing Guide. 


Saturday, June 08, 2013

Good Maps of (Cuenca) Ecuador

When you tell people you live in Ecuador some of them are really not sure where that is. Some people think it is Central America, while others think it might be somewhere by Africa.

I clearly remember when I first told my mom we were moving to Ecuador the first thing she said, “Is that in Central America?” She got out the atlas and studied it, especially South America, for the first time since she was in grade school.  I thought Ecuador was next door to Costa Rica.

Let's first take a look at a map of all the South American countries. This will give you a good idea of just where Ecuador is located and how large the country is in relation to other SA countries.

Map of South America

Ecuador is a small country, about the size of the state of Arizona. It is positioned between Columbia and Peru. Here is a good quality map of all the South American countries. Notice the size of Ecuador in relation to other SA countries. http://www.infoplease.com/atlas/southamerica.html

Wall Map of Cuenca Ecuador

If you are already in Ecuador then you can buy a detailed street map about 4’ by 3’ wall map of Cuenca city and surrounding area for a few bucks at the Papelaria Monsalve (office supply store) located off of Solano and Remigio Crespo. Because of its size, this map is best left pinned up to the wall in your home or apartment. Btw, this papelaria is the largest we have seen in Cuenca so far.

Free Maps of Cuenca

The Cuenca tourist office, across the street from Parque Calderon has two different types of free maps for visitors. And of course, online you can find a lot of good maps. Below are a few places to find good online maps of Ecuador.

Online Interactive Maps

Google maps beats all other online maps in our opinion just for the simple fact it is interactive and you can actually explore other places of interest in the area you are looking at. Google maps allow you to put in street names and get directions within any city of whatever country you are looking at.

Introduce yourself to Cuenca with Google’s Interactive map. Go to Google Maps and type in the search bar “Cuenca Azuay Ecuador”. Make the area as big or small as you like by moving the plus or minus sign that is located to the left of the map. Over to the right of the map you can click on “photos” and the map will display some really nice sights in Cuenca and the surrounding area.

With Google online maps you can also look at the satellite image, the terrain of Cuenca, what the weather is doing and even videos of Cuenca or of anywhere in Ecuador without even leaving Google maps!

Static Online Map - http://www.takemaps.com/en/map_of_ecuador_en.php
This map is a large online map with buttons and magnifying glass to easily scope out the provinces and cities within Ecuador. You can also print out this map as big as you want.

Here is an online street map of Cuenca Ecuador. Don’t forget to use the plus and minus buttons to make the area more detailed. This map is also viewable in satellite.

GPS Travel Maps for Ecuador -http://www.gpstravelmaps.com/ecuador.php
Ecuador City Maps  - This website provides good quality maps of many different cities located within Ecuador. http://www.mapsofworld.com/ecuador/destinations/

We hope these maps of Ecuador will be helpful and aid you in your research about Ecuador. And now you know just where Ecuador is located and how to get around some of the major cities in Ecuador for when you visit or move here..

We know how useful maps are for when you first arrive in Cuenca and that is why the DIY Cuenca Landing Guide provides detailed street maps of points of interest that we think you will find very useful as you orient yourself here.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Should You Move to Ecuador to Live in Luxury?

With all the hubbub on the net about how one can live in Ecuador and Cuenca for $800 to $2000 a month (so which is it?) I can see how some folks would reason: "Hey if you can live on that, then honey, we could probably live in LUXURY on twice that much or a little more."

The ‘problem’ with that idea is that you’re not the only one that has thought of that. We’ve heard of people living on $4600 a month in Cuenca!!

And as a parallel example, if you’ve ever participated in an online auction of any kind, then you know that when there are too many other bidders that will pay more, the price spirals out of control.

On top of that, the early bidders know even as the price goes higher and higher, that the item is over bid! It’s just not worth that much. But try telling that to the late bidders who have decided that they want it and must have it!

Following the above reasoning, “honey, that $600-$800 apartment or house must be – luxury living”. Boy are you in for a big surprise. Those places are no more luxury than they were just a short time ago when they were going for $300-$500.

For an example, $500 to $750 rent for a 2/2 or 3/2 is going to be a very basic, small, freshly painted apartment (900 sq ft to 1500 sq ft of living space) and it will not be luxurious.
Everything is just basic, so why the high rent? Most likely a renter is paying for…24 hour security, dime a dozen views, being a gringo, etc. etc.

I vote for a ‘reverse bidding’ process. We all show up and each one of us offers lower and lower rental prices. Wouldn’t that be fun? (We're already doing it, will you help us?)  Farfetched you say? What do you think is happening when a bubble pops?

“Why do so many gringos leave Cuenca?” Asked the latest taxi driver. Our regular readers know we have a few ‘insider’ conversations with taxi drivers—like this one.

“Oh, you know, they probably believed the Media Hype, and came here to “live in luxury”, hoping they could get what they had in the States, but cheaper”. Shaking our heads: “you know it just isn’t so”. “We both know that Ecuador and Cuenca are nice, but it’s not North America”.

Many North Americans are moving to Cuenca thinking they are going to live in luxury for less than they can somewhere in the US…but unfortunately to have the luxury living that North Americans speak of in Cuenca means sky-high rental prices that are geared to the foreigners. BTW, the Ecuadorians who have been living in the northern country for 15 and 20 years and are moving back to Cuenca consider themselves gringos.

We regularly hear of people that embrace this “luxury living” idea, and find out that they’re overpaying on everything, all the way down to $15 for a $6 chicken. Do you think these people call their relatives back in the u.s. and say “yes, we’re doing great here in Ecuador, we are frequently seen as an ATM machine and we’re overpaying for everything”.

It’s mostly people from the larger metro areas that buy into this philosophy. In reality, if they would just branch out a bit from their large metro area, within the u.s. there are plenty of lower cost slower paced areas, such as in the Midwest and the South.

Not surprisingly there are many wonderful u.s. cities where home prices have not gotten too out of hand, or they have come down. See the real estate chapter in the updated DIY Cuenca Landing Guide to see what we’re talking about.

What? Did you really think you were going to swap a u.s. metro area for Cuenca Ecuador for less money? You can do that, but you’re not getting what you left behind.

To get the inside scoop on what’s happening in Cuenca Ecuador, save time and money and learn to live well see the DIY Cuenca Landing Guide.

Monday, June 03, 2013

Welcome Expats to Cuenca Ecuador!

The number of people expatriating to Cuenca Ecuador is growing. New expats are arriving to Cuenca daily. Some of them are arriving as visitors for an exploratory trip, while others are arriving to stay and make Cuenca their new home. Meet Jim and Kay, a couple who came to explore Cuenca and they did, and their first impressions are, “We love it and we’ll be back!”