10 Years of Blog Archive

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Expat Retirement Incentives and Disincentives to Cuenca Ecuador

                            Cuenca Ecuador Disincentives

The disincentives are based on facts and observations we have experienced, and with people we have talked with in the expat community.  We see and hear lots of opinion based incentives and disincentives of living in Cuenca according to personal preference circulating around the internet that we do not list in this article. 

Clearly having a well rounded body of knowledge about the place you’re considering moving to, is a given, and that is why you should strongly consider getting the DIY Cuenca Landing Guide; we think you're going to love the details and entertainment the guide provides. 

                City Buses Difficult to Step (up) On 

The city buses might be a frugal transportation option but they are difficult to get onto for some seniors and those with disabilities. The first step can be as high as two feet off the ground. The driver will take off quickly before allowing you to sit down. The buses are great for agile, and or healthy people, but for anyone with a disability they can be an impediment. Taxis in Cuenca, if metered, are fair priced now, so for some folks, taking a taxi is a better option.  

                Gringo Gouging Is a BIG Problem in Ecuador
                                   and is NOT a TAX

Some folks talk about gringo gouging as if it is some added tax for the gringo purchaser. Gringo gouging is not a government tax imposed upon the people and it should not be called that, as it can make it sound as if it is something “YOU SHOULD PAY” and not worry about. However, nothing is so silly and further from the truth.

Our opinion is there is no justification whatsoever for accepting gringo gouging. If you think it is ok to pay more for something just because of the color of your skin, then you are a victim of their game. Essentially, when you “know” you’re overpaying for something and you don’t do anything about it, you’re enabling the continuation of that behavior as if it’s ok to do.

Now understand, we’re not talking about newcomers to Cuenca that are new to how things work and the pricing structure; it is expected that they wouldn’t know prices for things. We’re talking about the folks who live here and know they are overpaying and just shrug their shoulders and call it a “gringo tax”. This sets price precedents to continue going higher and higher just because the vendors see they can get away with it with the gringos.

Gringo gouging is really not about the money; it’s about PRINCIPLE. Do not get fooled by it, thinking it’s a tax, otherwise you probably will feel resentment over it later when the gouging gets so out of hand (Costa Rica, Panama, Mexico) that not even YOU can’t afford it anymore.

To the Ecuadorians bargaining and negotiating is part of the game. So are you going to play the game with them or are you going to give in just because you can? Negotiating is expected in almost every commerce setting. Frank asked for a discount from the manager at a large store when we were looking to buy a gas appliance and he gave it to us without batting an eyelash!

And it goes without saying that if you do not speak Spanish, or are disrespectful of the culture/people and walk around with expensive jewelry on you will get gouged for everything that does not have a listed price.

                Mailing/Shipping Service Expensive

The Ecuador shipping service has gotten out of hand. It is difficult to have anything shipped into the country because even small one or two pound item costs $42 dollars, plus the cost of the item, plus shipping. So if your wife sees a pair of pretty earrings on Ebay for $20, you’ll have to pay $72 - $82 dollars for them if you go through one of the Ecuador shipping clubs. Regular shipping (without using a shipping club) is not much cheaper and less hassle free.

              Seniors More Prone to Getting Robbed 

The most vulnerable people are the ones who get their purses, cell phones, and packs taken. If you look like you are having difficulty walking, and or can’t run after the thieves, the thieves will unfortunately take advantage of this weakness. This is unfortunate but true.

                 Cuenca Air Quality Unhealthy for those
                              Who Love to Walk

When buses drive by as you are walking down the street it can be difficult to breathe-in the heavy exhaust the buses spew out; many expats have complained to us about this. Some streets are better than others as less buses travel on them but the diesel fumes are just about everywhere in Cuenca and can be very hazardous to people who are prone to lung ailments. 

When the light rail is finished we think less buses on the roads will mean improved air quality. For now, those who are out walking can wear a face mask; Frank does and he says even though he can still smell the fumes with the mask on it filters out a lot.

                    Cuenca Ecuador Incentives

                               Medical and Dental

Ecuador has become an international hot spot for tourists and retirees having medical and dental procedures done. Many of the doctors studied in the US and speak English; some of them completed their schooling in the top universities in Cuenca or Quito and have top notch practices in Cuenca. Medical and dental are much lower priced for the same procedures in the US, IF you’re not getting gringo gouged.

                        Pharmaceutical Prescriptions

Medications can be purchased for half the price than what you would pay in North America and if you prescribe to the generic brands, they even cost less! Also for many medications you don’t need a prescription, such as blood pressure medications. However, doing our own foot work for several weeks we found that prices for medications are all over the table and you will get gouged if you do not negotiate or shop around. So be careful.

The best prices (the real local prices) can be found when you go away from the tourist venues because that is where everyone goes and buys their prescriptions.


The bus fare is only $0.25 cents per ride and $0.12 cents for senior citizens; that’s half off. You’ll have to show your ID when buying a bus pass/card. You can receive discounts when traveling anywhere in Ecuador on the national buses too.

          Senior Discounts on Cultural Events and Services

If you’re over the age of 65 you can receive discounts to many cultural events, business services, and even sales tax right here in Cuenca, and everywhere in Ecuador. Be prepared to show your ID to prove your age; we know some of you folks take real good care of yourselves and don’t look a day over 50, so you will need to show proof of age.

                        Flights Discounts for Retirees

If you are a senior, over the age of 65 be sure to remind the ticket attendant (they may be too busy to take notice), as you can receive up to 50% percent off on some airlines to and from Ecuador; the 50% percent off usually applies to International flights originating from Ecuador, but it doesn’t hurt to ask if the flight starts out in the US for a senior discount. Copa Airlines is especially conscientious to seniors.

To see more ways to receive flight discounts, for all ages, click here:

                      Are You an Ecuador Resident Yet?

If you are a resident of Ecuador and a senior over the age of 65 you can get in the front of the line at the bank and at other government establishments where there are waiting lines. Heck, you can even get in front of the line at the grocery store and no one will say anything, it happens all the time here in Cuenca.

                            Retirement / Resident Visa

It’s fairly easy to get residency in Cuenca. You will need to show proof of $800 a month earnings from social security or retirement pension, for one person. $1000 for two people. Always check everything as rules change quickly.

               Fresh Abundance and Variety of Produce

The abundance of fresh, clean, non GMO food supply in Ecuador can’t be beat. For better health and for maintaining health, Ecuador is where it is; having the ability to eat clean food at a normal price is an enormous incentive and benefit that encouraged our family to move to Cuenca Ecuador.

This list of incentives is not complete. These are the incentives seniors receive from the Ecuadorian government, agro-services and local entertainment, and other service type businesses. Everyone of course has their own opinion on many beneficial aspects of Cuenca life that brought them here to live and retire.

We're an Expat Family of Five Living Frugal, Healthy and Happy in Cuenca Ecuador! Enjoy the Discover Cuenca Ecuador blog!

Friday, November 28, 2014

$350 for This 4 BED 2-1/2 Bath, NEW, Open, Bright Westside Home!

RENTED! This is a wonderful home, located in a quiet neighborhood but still close to shopping and restaurants. Views of gringolandia and the beautiful Cuenca Andes Mountains from two of the bedrooms. Green space for the dog(s) and the home is surrounded by an electric fence, plus the house has an alarm system. Other nice homes in the area!
We're an Expat Family of Five Living Frugal, Healthy and Happy in Cuenca Ecuador! Enjoy our blog!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

How You Can Speak Basic Spanish in 3-Months and GOOD Spanish in 1-Year!

Learning to speak Spanish will be much more successful when you just get in there and do it! Studying Spanish books is useful but you have to apply the new words you learn into your every day life. Also a person must have the desire and or need to want to learn and speak a new language, otherwise they will not learn. Here are the four ways that Frank learned to Speak Spanish, fast.
We're an Expat Family of Five Living Frugal, Healthy and Happy in Cuenca Ecuador! Enjoy our blog!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Organic Sprouting Made Easier with Creative New Sprout Lids: Sprouting Is Easy, Fun and Healthy!

Sprouting is very easy, fun to do, and of course they are very healthy as they are a "living food", meaning you will be receiving optimal nutrition. Always use fresh, organic seeds because some seeds have pesticides and other chemicals on them that will keep many of the seeds from sprouting to their full potential and the sprouts themselves will not be as healthy for you.
We're an Expat Family of Five Living Frugal, Healthy and Happy in Cuenca Ecuador! Enjoy our blog!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Is This the Gringo Woman Who Swindles Expats In Cuenca Ecuador?

 This woman in the photo above tried to swindle me and Frank

Last Saturday, Frank and I were going about our errands as usual when we were approached by this gringo-woman, with a proposition. Now, hang on to your hats, it wasn't that bad, but... It was a beautiful warm, sunny morning, about a half a block from Park Calderon on Gran Columbia when this woman starts blurting out her story. Here’s exactly how it went.

Woman: Excuse me, I heard you two talking in English, so maybe you can help me. 

Me: Ok? 

Woman: I’m from South Africa and I’m trying to get to my Embassy… 

Me: (I cut her off) Oh yes, I read all about you from an expat who posted about you scamming people in Cuenca. Sorry lady but you are all over the Internet; someone has already posted about your scamming. You’re going to have to go somewhere else to scam gringos.

She just stood there in awe; she was at a loss for words. She obviously did not know that she was already written up about.

As we turned around and walked off she spouted something under her breath but loud enough that we could hear her. “You two are going to be sorry (cuss word) for not helping out a poor woman with no money, hell is waiting for you!”

She seemed a bit off her rocker. It was then I actually did feel sorry for her, but not sorry enough to give her any money. We walked through the Calderon Park, watching her on the side walk where Tutto Freddos is located. She was clearly looking for gringos to tell her scamming story to.

Well wouldn’t you know it, she crosses the street and into the park and we happened to meet up with her again at the corner of the park.  At this point she seemed really angry and was calling us dirty names and such; she appeared embarrassed that we were on to her “not so good” motivations. 

Yes, it’s sad that she has to resort to this kind of living but swindlers appear to enjoy swindling others, and that's why they do it, besides the fact they have no morals. Apparently, according to the Cuenca expat she scammed about a month ago, she took in a pretty good day's work off him and other people within earshot of hearing her sad story.

As we crossed paths, I decided to take her photo but unfortunately, I was a bit too a far away but she saw us taking her picture and she gave us the finger; how lady-like. She was really upset that we were on to her scheming.

Here's What Lady Swindler Looks Like

She is a disheveled-looking gringo in her mid 40’s to mid 50’s. She is built very top-heavy and is about 5’6” tall and appears to weigh approx. 200 pounds. She has straggly, dirty brown-reddish hair. She wears those infamous (for Cuenca) tight leotard type pants and those plastic slip on holey shoes. She has an accent. You’ll know her when you see her, as we haven't seen any other gringos swindling expats in this manner in Cuenca, at least to our knowledge.

Her plight may make some of you feel sorry for her, however, from the looks of it, after doing more Internet research I learn she is able to scam gringos all throughout Ecuador with her sad, sad stories of being robbed and needing to get to her embassy in South Africa. She is making fairly good money in Ecuador from the na├»ve gringos, otherwise she wouldn’t still be here.

She is most-likely using the money for her alcohol habit so please do not feel sorry for her and enable her addiction. If you feel you must give her something, buy her lunch or buy her some food or clothing, but please do not give her any more money.

Her story is always the same; she’s from South Africa and needs to get to her embassy; she has been robbed of all her money and passport….but based on the large take she took in from the above expat, and the fact that a bus ride to Quito is only $10 where the South African Embassy is located, and after all, she's still in Cuenca! That story has obvious flaws.
This is the original photo. I enlarged the one above so you can get a better view of her.

She’s pretty upset because she is exposed and will probably have to move on somewhere else. There’s enough scamming going on in Cuenca as it is, we don’t need more of it. 

Be careful gringos! 

We're an Expat Family of Five Living Frugal, Healthy and Happy in Cuenca Ecuador! Enjoy the Discover Cuenca Ecuador blog!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Live Like a Local in Cuenca Ecuador: "When in Rome, do as the Romans...When in Ecuador..."

We're an Expat Family of Five Living Frugal, Healthy and Happy in Cuenca Ecuador! Enjoy the Discover Cuenca Ecuador blog!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Roasted Tomato Sauce with Homemade Whole Wheat Pasta

The marinara sauce tastes richer when you roast the tomatoes. This is a simple, healthy meal you can make in about an hour and half and it tastes so good if you like simple vegetarian cooking. For a meatier flavor add some ground beef, chicken or turkey to the sauce. And by all means, don't forget the Parmesan Cheese!
We're an Expat Family of Five Living Frugal, Healthy and Happy in Cuenca Ecuador! Enjoy the Discover Cuenca Ecuador blog!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

6 Diligent Steps on Moving / Retiring to Cuenca Ecuador

STEP 1. Research all you can about Cuenca Ecuador: Everyone has a couple of their favorite blogs and or websites they follow to help them get a feel for what it’s like to live in Ecuador, however, no matter how much we read about other people’s experiences and observations it would be wise to remember the wise old saying: “a wise man/woman has many counselors”.

STEP 2. Come visit for 6 months to one year
: Most people say that a couple of months is enough time to know if you will like it here or not, but that’s because Ecuador offers North Americans a three month visit without the need for a Visa; any visit longer than three months will need an extension permission.

We don’t think a 90-day visit is long enough to get a comprehensive impression of Ecuador because everything hits you in stages. So you might want to check out the different non-immigrant Visas that Ecuador offers, or start the immigrant Visa process before your visit.  

Stage 1: For the first month everything is awe-inspiring; the old buildings, the people milling about everywhere; the language; the culture; the traditions; the mountains; and just how everything is done differently than what you are used to. Nothing seems to bother you; nothing at all. Life is grand. 

After the first month you begin to be on a long vacation and for two months up to the third month, you are enjoying your escape from the daily grind back home immensely. It’s nice to be able to sleep in and take life easy; do whatever you please, without a care. After all, you’re on vacation. 

Stage 2: Around the sixth month or so, you will start to become familiar with the culture and the environment and will somewhat know if Ecuador is a place you would want to lay down roots. At around this time you see things that before never seemed to bother you. Everything is not (as) grand.

The Sixth Month Mark is Crucial 

Stage 3: Sometime at, or around the sixth month, could be the fourth or fifth month, the novelty of Cuenca Ecuador begins to wear off and you may notice things in a different light. It is the time when you may see some things that you didn’t seem to notice before. 

For instance, when we first moved here, we didn’t notice all the diesel fumes spewing on the major roadways, only the last year has this really bothered us; and it bothers us because we walk a lot and breathing in the fumes on a daily basis is so counter-intuitive. I know what some of you are thinking: “how could you not notice”. Well, that’s what we’re talking about above.

Stage 4: it is also around the sixth-12 month or so when most people begin to experience home sickness; they miss their home, their stuff, their grandbabies, their children, their tools, their car, their favorite blanket, their work, their Internet, their Skippy Peanut Butter, their house, their yard, their pool, their lakes, their forests, favorite bologna, whatever it is they miss, they now begin to pine for it. 

Best Way to Know if Cuenca is the Place 

STEP 3. The best and fastest way to find out if Cuenca is right for you is to go local. Live in a home surrounded by Ecuadorians, not gringos; ride the bus; shop at the tiendas; learn some basic Spanish and then speak it with the locals; intermingle as a friendly visitor to their country rather than a rich tourist on vacation. REALLY get to know Cuenca Ecuador on a intimate level! 

If after 6 months to a year of living the Cuenca life, we think it takes a full year, and you still like it, you will know how to proceed to the next step. If you decide Cuenca is not for you than there is no need to proceed to the next step. 

STEP 4. Decide if you want to ship your furnishings or come unattached to your things. We recommend coming unattached to things as they can weigh you down, and if for some unforeseen reason you decide to move back to where you came from, well, it will be that much easier to travel; after all, it’s just stuff. Besides that, you can get everything you need to furnish a home in Cuenca. 

STEP 5. Start Visa Process. The Ecuadorian Embassy is encouraging foreigners that are moving to Ecuador to start the process from home. If you are applying for AN IMMIGRANT VISA they can only be approved in Ecuador but you can still get the process moving along from home. 

HINT: Do not get your criminal background checks until one month prior to coming to Ecuador as Ecuador puts a time limit on that particular document. Click here to go tothe official Ecuadorian Consular where you can find out all of the documents you will need for your particular situation. They have updated their website for U.S citizens, explaining in detail what you need to do and what documents you will need. http://www.ecuador.org/nuevosite/serviciosconsulares_visas_e.php

UPDATE 2016:  We found another official Ecuador government website for Immigrant VISAS. Click the below link for VISA Application Types.
Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y Movilidad Humana

STEP 6. Book Your Flight to Ecuador. About a month before leaving for Ecuador you can start looking for flights that are suitable to your needs. If frugality is a “need” then this article might come in handy for your cheapflight search. There is no getting around layovers unless you pay a couple thousand dollars or more for each ticket, however, if you are not on a time constraint, and you are only one or two people, being added to the “standby” list will ensure the best ticket prices almost every time.

It can be stressful and exhausting traveling clear across the country and then arriving in a high altitude such as Cuenca, so to stay healthy during this time we recommend strengthening your immune system several weeks before leaving. During your travels, pack healthy snacks, eat healthy foods, and drink plenty of water as flying tends to dehydrate the body, enjoy your time traveling as much as possible. Cuenca awaits!

We're an Expat Family of Five Living Frugal, Healthy and Happy in Cuenca Ecuador! Enjoy the Discover Cuenca Ecuador blog!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Moving to Cuenca? Should You Live in a Gringo or Ecuadorian Neighborhood? Is It Safe to Live in a House?

When we first moved here, over three years ago there only were Ecuadorian neighborhoods in Cuenca, and for the most part you could say that is what Cuenca consists of today, however, the gringos that are here are now dispersed well throughout the city of Cuenca. 

            Neighborhoods with the Most Gringos

We get emails from folks moving to Cuenca that want to know where the good neighborhoods are and where the gringos live. Now just because an area of Cuenca has more gringos living there, certainly does not mean it is safer crime wise, as we’ve previously shown, see crime map link below.

For the most part it appears that gringos are dispersed quite proportionately throughout Cuenca; a big change from just three years ago, gringos live on all four corners and in the middle of Cuenca and probably with the most living in what is affectionately referred to as gringolandia. If you’re wondering what neighborhood that would be, keep in mind that a taxi driver once told us that “all of Cuenca is gringolandia”.

Are these neighborhoods trendier than others? I suppose if you consider prices trending higher and higher, then yes, they are trending. For example: El Vergel is over-rated and over-priced. Last year we went to go look at a house in this area and the old run down home had cracks all over the cement walls, peeling paint, dirty walls, scratched up hard wood floors, small bedrooms, and no kitchen cabinets and she was asking $550! 

Why so much, you may be wondering? Well, because it was walking distance to Supermaxi and the Millenium Mall. No, thanks! It’s not a big deal to be walking distance to a grocery store or a mall. Taxis now have meters in them and finally, prices are quite fair.

          What is the Gringolandia Neighborhood?

Gringolandia is a row of high rise apartment buildings with elevators, 24 hour security and underground parking, walking distance to Supermaxi. The apartments are located on Ordenez Lasso off of Las Americas about twenty to thirty minute walk to El Centro.

A few years back when we first heard of the expression “gringolandia” it was from a local real estate agent who said he and his brother actually coined the term gringolandia because it was the neighborhood where the gringos all wanted to live in. Back then security was more of a concern for foreigners and being able to live in a secure apartment building made them feel safer. Today, we don’t feel that Cuenca is that unsafe, if you follow certain guidelines. 

Unfortunately not everyone knows of these guidelines. And yes, some are somewhat scattered all over the internet but they’re also in the DIY Cuenca Landing Guide. Just think, one thing you miss and oops you get robbed or purse snatched! We see it on a regular basis. 

When we moved to Cuenca in 2011 we rented a detached house for $250 a month in a great Cuenca neighborhood, great neighbors, and right next to one of the rivers, and guess what? We still live in this fine Ecuadorian neighborhood. We now realize we were able to rent this home for $250 three years ago because most gringos were afraid to live this far (20 minutes) from El Centro or gringolandia and they didn’t want to be the only gringos in the neighborhood, afraid they might get robbed or perhaps it was too intimidating being the only gringo folks.

Today the fear of living in a house has changed. Gringos live in every section of the city because Cuenca has shown that a gringo home will not necessarily be broken into if the tenants take certain precautions and control their behavior. However, having said that, the Challuabamba area has had a rash of gringo home invasions lately, and we surmise it is because these homes do not have the tall gated walls around the homes. 

If you remember we wrote about “why” houses MUST have the tall gated walls and bars on the windows, something the homes in that area do NOT have. Without this added protection, even the best of neighborhoods in Cuenca can and will become a target.

               Should You Live in a House or Apartment?

Today the belief that it is unsafe to live in a house in Cuenca has finally been put to rest. However, there is a drawback to being in a house, whether it is detached or town-home style, rather than an apartment and that would be if you plan on traveling and leaving your home unoccupied. If it is unoccupied it will get robbed! So you might want to take that into consideration when looking for a rental in Ecuador, or have someone you can trust stay there while you travel.

Also, anyone can become a target of a home invasion in Cuenca if they do any of these four things. 1) Show off their stuff, and or brag about what they have inside the home. 2) Leave gate unlocked, or you live in the country without secured gate, tall walls, or alarm. 3) You leave your home vacant for weeks and months at a time. 4) You open your gate to strangers.

         What are the Best Neighborhoods in Cuenca?

For the most part there is no such thing as “best neighborhood” in Cuenca; this is not u.s.a with a lower-end district. You can and will become a target in any neighborhood in Cuenca. Challuabamba anyone?

Granted there are some neighborhoods that are a bit more disheveled. The areas that would be a bit sketchy at night are at the Terminal Terrestre off of Espanola, El Arenal, Feria Libra off of Las Americas, Calle larga area by any of the stairs, anywhere by the rivers and parks at night, and the brothel/drug area off of Las Americas a couple of blocks north of Supermaxi.

We can say with confidence that most neighborhoods in Cuenca are about the same. You can take a look at the interactive crime map here and see where the murders were for 2012. Be sure to enlarge the map so you can see exactly where the homicides were at in Cuenca. 

          Cuenca Neighborhoods Are All About the Same

Most areas have the 70’s and 80’s retro style cement building look and the same amount of noise from barking dogs at night and roosters crowing. Ecuadorian house party-fiestas happen throughout the city of Cuenca, so there is no getting away from that. Some Cuenca neighborhoods may have a newer look to them with newer homes and more development going on, but this alone does not necessarily make it a better neighborhood i.e. with less crime.

Everyone has their opinion about their favorite neighborhood in Cuenca, and many people like to brag about such and such neighborhood on the forums. There has always been a vanity slant to the u.s. culture, it appears.

Many folks like to be by a river, however because the real estate agents know this, they ridiculously over-price their rentals.

It is best to know what your needs are and then seek out an area according to those requirements. Example: If you plan on taking the bus a lot and you do not want to really walk too far, then you’ll want to be near a bus line so you can take the bus when you need to go places such as the grocery store, downtown, doctors, etc.

Cuenca boasts major grocery stores in all three Shopping Malls, and on all four corners of the city, so no matter where you live within the city, you will not be that far from a grocery store, unless you live in the country.

Bottom line, everyone’s needs and circumstances are different and so you need to decide what your requirements are and then begin your neighborhood search according to those requirements. We've noticed a lot of people do not consider their needs and then later. for one reason or another need to move and that is a big chore. 

We're an Expat Family of Five Living Frugal, Healthy and Happy in Cuenca Ecuador! Enjoy the Discover Cuenca Ecuador blog!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Dog Show in the Cuenca Ecuador Soccer Stadium

This is another event the Cuenca police did in the Soccer Stadium. This event proudly presents a lot of highly trained dogs.
We're an Expat Family of Five Living Frugal, Healthy and Happy in Cuenca Ecuador! Enjoy the Discover Cuenca blog!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

How to Make Sauerkraut in 3-Days! Heal and Build Gut Flora!

How to make Sauerkraut! The will show you how to make sauerkraut in just 3 days...and that tastes good too! We've been fermenting cabbage for over two decades after we found out that fermented foods are needed for building up and healing gut flora. Sauerkraut has numerous health benefits, besides it tastes good. Below the video we show some gadgets that will simplify the sauerkraut making process for you, especially the fermenter kit that makes sauerkraut, kimchi and pickles too. 

We're an Expat Family of Five Living Frugal, Healthy and Happy in Cuenca Ecuador! Enjoy the blog!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

15 Caveats You May Still Be Living as a Tourist in Ecuador

When you’re a tourist you expect to pay more, for everything! When you are a traveler that means you are just visiting. Visitors are on VACATION and having fun eating out in expensive restaurants, staying in nice hotels, and doing all the sight-seeing tours and museums of the city!

Tourists don’t understand gouging, they just pay the first price quoted, which in a Latin culture you can almost bet it will be two to three times more than what the actual price should be. However, who cares, you’re on vacation, right? 

Example: Tourist rental: 1 bedroom furnished all inclusive, $400 to $900  
Local-priced rental: 1 bedroom unfurnished all inclusive $200 to $400

When you are only visiting for one to three months who cares if you pay $800 for a furnished apartment, right? But when you are a resident, is that what you want to pay year round? 

Residents are not on vacation anymore and do not expect to pay tourist prices for rentals, food, eating out, etc.  In fact, residents should be quite familiar with the city, and know where to eat for the value and where not to eat.  Dining out in fancy, expensive restaurants is fine once in a while, just like eating ice cream is fine, once in a while, but you wouldn’t want to do it every day.  

Moderation is the key to balance. Is paying $800 a month in Ecuador moderate? When you look at average earnings in Ecuador where most families do not even make $500 a month, then living in a $800 dollar a month home seems excessive, for Ecuador.

15 Caveats that You Are Still Living
as a Tourist in Ecuador

1. You are over-spending on your retirement pension.

2. When you are in your apartment you forget that you are in a developing country, and then you go outside and become overwhelmed.

3. You read the hype, believed it was cheap; you came here and found out, not everything is cheap...so now what?

4. You’ve been here six months and you still only know how to say buenas dias and gracias.

5. You’re still in the honeymoon stage and everything is good; nothing seems to bother you.

6. You have not experienced any dishonest or unethical business practices because you just pay up and don’t ask questions.

7. You never negotiate for anything.

8.  You never ride the bus.

9.  You got sick from eating out in tourist traps.

10. You do not know what a calefon or bombola is.

11. You didn’t know you could drink the water from the tap.

12. You walk around with Jewels, purses, and wallets on your person.

13. You still have a wad of cash in your money clip and you pull clip out in plain view when paying for a $3 souvenir.

14 You got robbed of your purse, cell phone, wallet, camera, or back pack, etc, etc.

15. You tip the taxi driver, the tour guide, the translator, even though these service providers are already getting paid plenty.

Are You a Permanent Resident or a Tourist?

If you are living in Ecuador now and any one of the caveats above applies to you, then possibly you are still on vacation rather than enjoying the benefits of being a permanent resident. 

Locals catering to tourists are laughing all the way to the bank.  But locals and foreigners on a budget competing with tourist prices are not.  Don’t you think it’s about time you settled in to your life in Cuenca Ecuador and start caring more about your expat footprint?  Expat lite, go local!

For more information on how to do that, see the DIY Cuenca Landing Guide or any of the other guides to other parts of Ecuador.  Quito Landing Guide --- Coastal Travel Guide.

We're an Expat Family of Five Living Frugal, Healthy and Happy in Cuenca Ecuador! Enjoy the blog!