10 Years of Blog Archive

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Get the Real McCoy in Cuenca and Quito Ecuador: Know What Is Real and Who You Can Trust

We have to be careful NOT to be taken advantage of no matter where we live; it is a crime to be taken advantage of by people. It is not always easy to spot a trap because many times we are getting the socks charmed off of us before we enter into a bad deal. 

Smooth talking shysters abound all over Ecuador, especially in the paradises of Cuenca and Quito; they are in brick and mortar buildings, walking around on the streets, and all over the world wide web.

We have to be VERY careful in whom to believe and trust. We have to know if what we are reading and hearing is real or just a bunch of hype. There are ways to spot fools gold and those who are trying to hype up a place for their own benefit.

A dear friend in the states recently told me of being conned.  I hold him to be more intelligent and sharper than most so naturally, I was all ears.  You know what he said?  

“The first thing the guy did was make me feel real good”.  “Of course, while I was feeling good about myself due to his carefully crafted demeanor, I had no idea it was happening.  It was only after I realized I had been duped, that I saw through it all, but in hindsight”.

Let’s talk about this.

Cost of Living in Cuenca or Quito is VERY Subjective

People want to know if they can retire in Cuenca/Quito on their pension / SS / Benefits.

MAKING YOU FEEL REAL GOOD:  You can live like a king on $600 a month (now it might be $900 a month).  You can live like a king on your social security, etc.

Update March 2016 = The latest figure to "live like a king" in Cuenca from the retirement press is now $1200 to $1500...

WE SAY:  Well that all depends on you.  Don’t ask someone if you can retire on your pension or social security, just do it, if that is what you want to do!

Discernment is the Key

If something sounds like a “wow” sales pitch then it probably is too good to be actually true.

MAKING YOU FEEL REAL GOOD:  the weather in Cuenca or Quito is perfect and spring like year round.

WE SAY: the best way to find out if the weather will suit your needs is to come here and experience it for yourself. Then you can decide if it is amazing, or not.  In addition, know yourself.  You already know before being wowed, if you like clouds, rain, etc. even if laced with words like “perfect retirement”, “retire in paradise”, “best retirement” etc.

Is it an OPINION or FACT?

Know the difference between opinion and fact. When you read other people’s opinions about something it means nothing, until you actually see it for yourself because that is their opinion, not yours.  People’s opinions whether in writing on glitzy websites, or showy  P.R. YT videos should not be the basis for making a sound decision to buy into something; this is how most people get taken advantage of. They believe in the hype without looking beyond rose colored glasses.  (However, seeing how some people actually live and what they have experienced can give you a general idea of a place or about something.)

MAKING YOU FEEL REAL GOOD:  You watch YT videos of Ecuadorian beaches filled with (only) white young bikini clad females, and that’s all you see.  Do you believe that’s the real Ecuador beaches?  Maybe during the 2 weeks of spring break; the rest of the time the beaches are actually filled to the brim with local families and Ecuadorian tourists. We're not saying this is a bad thing either; just saying.   

WE SAY:  Ask yourself, “Why would someone want to amaze you with statements that are laced with opinionated emotion as opposed to plain facts?” Why would someone want to build-up excitement in you about a city…a place?

We have to be discerning in what we believe to be true and not allow the hype of Cuenca, or any city for that matter sway us to buy into the propaganda.  Sadly, we have seen too much hyping and too much propaganda going on in regards to retirement in Ecuador and other “best retirement havens”.

Years ago we took a vacation to a resort in Mexico.  The brochure, (yes it was an actual brochure back before the internet website days) said the resort had “five pools”.  How amazing, we said to ourselves, five pools.  We took the vacation.  To our dismay the resort only had one pool for the whole week we were there and it was really crowded every day.  Imagine that!

So what is real? What is real is what YOU experience and observe as an expat living here, after you take off your rose colored glasses!! That is what’s real. Anything else is what people tout and what other people have experienced and observed through their eyes. 

It’s like a new food you have never tasted before. If you ask Jane Doe to tell you what the food tastes like, it will not be what it REALLY tastes like to you! You have to taste the food for yourself to see what it really tastes like.

Some people love tapioca pudding and others hate it! Hmmmm.

And then there are the people who live here who hype up Ecuador, and get people to believe in half truths and falsities that entice people into coming here.  Many back home in the rat race fall prey to the dream but when they get here half of them become disappointed, dismayed, shocked, homesick, fearful, frustrated, you name it, etc, etc, and leave. Not of course, before spending thousands of dollars on cost of living for the time they were here. Know thyself.

Is Real Estate in Cuenca REALLY Low Priced?

This is something you can find out on your own right now. Google “land for sale in Cuenca Ecuador” and see for yourself. We are seeing more and more articles all over the net claiming that the Cuenca real estate market is actually good priced.

Lot and land prices are outrageously high in Cuenca!! In some instances buying a home on a lot is cheaper than a bare lot!! 

If you compare home prices to large metro cities in North America and Europe it appears ok priced, but when you compare the housing market to the national wages earned here, it is absolutely ridiculous! On top of that, outer markets are actually cheaper in the states.

And when you compare land prices to some parts of North America it is always higher here. Don’t know what is going on with land prices in most of Ecuador but for the wages earned, it doesn’t make sense.

REAL ESTATE IS NOT CHEAP IN CUENCA or QUITO.  In fact, real estate prices are waaaaay overpriced in Cuenca and Quito, and other cities in Ecuador, wherever there is a large foreign presence.

You’ll want to check out other cities that aren’t getting advertised in Ecuador if you want to land a property deal! Seriously, it’s the only way.

How to Spot a Shyster?

Anyone who is even remotely suggesting that home and land prices are good priced in Cuenca or Quito Ecuador likely has some real estate to sell you, or is partnered with someone who does. And this is how you spot a shyster.  

Ask yourself, why are people spreading misinformation about the real estate market in Cuenca and Quito Ecuador? THEY HAVE A VESTED INTEREST, of course. Sometimes I think they think people can’t read.

Many of the propaganda writers work with people who live in Ecuador and they publicize and hype up their business and the writer gets a cut. There is a lot of this going on in Cuenca right now; it’s called WEB SPAM.

Ecuador is one of the most hyped up parts of all of Latin America and so YOU need to be especially careful of whom to trust and what to believe! Don’t get caught up in all of the excitement…it is not what it seems and it is not what you read!!

Is Cuenca (Quito) REALLY a Safe City Like Everyone Is Saying?

No, Cuenca is not safe from pick-pockets, snatchings, and unarmed robberies. Why would anyone suggest that it is safer to walk around in Cuenca with “your valuables” than it is in a similar sized city in the U.S!  It sounds ludicrous and nonsensical.

The REAL TRUTH is you have to be different and behave different in Cuenca and anywhere in Ecuador or you will be robbed!!  If you allow yourself to be too complacent you will have something stolen from you! This is the REAL Cuenca and Quito crime scene.

MAKING YOU FEEL REAL GOOD:  we can down play it and say it is only petty theft, crime is no worse than big cities in the u.s. etc. etc. etc. Telling ourselves this, of course makes us FEEL GOOD.

WE SAY:   theft no matter how harmless it is, harms us emotionally and sometimes physically. No one likes to be taken advantage of. In fact it hurts more emotionally to have something taken from us right out from under our nose than the cost of the item that was taken, at least in most cases.

Most of the crime in Cuenca may not be murder and rape but if you flaunt your U.S attitude and your possessions they will get taken from you and much more so than if you were living in the U.S! Petty thievery is serious business here. Not only that, but everyone we’ve talked to that has been robbed (during the day) never thinks it is petty.  Hmmm.

On another note, if you exhibit an affluent lifestyle by how you dress, what you wear, how you talk, and your mannerisms, the local people will surely, and without a doubt take advantage of you.

How would you like the locals to think about you? 

NOTE: We detail about crime and how to stay safe in the different parts of Quito in the newly published DIY Quito Landing Guide.

The truth is, there are some con artist Ecuadorian business people (men and women) here that will rake you over the coals if you are not careful. They will sweet talk you and make you believe that their service/business is the most honest and trustworthy. Many times they give you something for free or invite you over for dinner, or whatever the situation calls for and then when it is time to change over the money, they become different people.

Discernment is the key and using good judgment in all business dealings is the wisest position an expat can take. Don’t jump into something with any one until you KNOW the person completely. In fact, your good judgment may save you thousands of dollars one day! 

Recommending People Can Be Misleading

Are there good lawyers / facilitators In Cuenca / Quito? There is always going to be good honest people, no matter where you live, but just because someone recommends a person and their service does not necessarily mean your experience will be a good one as well.

A person who works in a service business may be friendly and presentable but that in itself does not mean that you will find satisfaction with that person and service. Sadly, as it is anywhere, it is a hit or miss when working with anyone, local or expat in Cuenca and Quito.

There are so many variables when working with a service, depending on your situation and your circumstances, that to share also in a good experience with a recommendation would be chancy at best. Not only that, but people come off as trustworthy and charming but in the end you will find that in many instances it was all a fa├žade.  

A lot of people have been scammed in Cuenca Ecuador. We have heard some horror stories told to us by expats about how they used a person who came "highly recommended" and yet they experienced a very negative situation with this person that cost them thousands of dollars!!  We hear this same song and dance over and over again…and with the very same people who come recommended!! Watch yourself.

And this is why we do not recommend any service or any person. We are often asked who we used for so and so, or what company we used to do this and that, and we just bite our tongue and we will continue to do so. 

Two Ways You Can Be Scammed in Ecuador!

1. You actually hand over money for a service or a product and you don’t get what you paid for or you are literally scammed from the product or service. This happens often in Ecuador.  Almost always you get overcharged just for being a gringo.

2. You believe in the hype of something and it makes you all excited and you become disillusioned. You fall head over heels about a retirement city and what someone is selling or marketing about the place, and you hand over money. You spend countless time and effort on the publicity in a starry-eyed state, and when they honeymoon wears off you feel cheated, scammed, and abused!

Is Cuenca or Quito REALLY cheap like everyone says? One of our sons answered that question well in one of our videos. He said, “It is not cheap here except for the fruits and vegetables, everything else is expensive.”  But of course, that is his experience and observations, yours might be different. 

Don’t fall head over heels for a place until YOU experience it first- hand for yourself!

So who can you trust and what should you believe? Absolutely nothing until you hear it, see it, use it, know it, and experience it for yourself! What is real is what you will experience, nothing else. And when you do find someone that means what they say, and says what they mean, you’ve found better than gold!

Visiting or retiring to Cuenca or Quito?  Then by all means do not forget to bring along your travel guide to make your landing the best and safest it can be.
DIY Quito Landing Guide
DIY Cuenca Landing Guide

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