10 Years of Blog Archive

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!


  1. Great information. I was wondering, if I retire in Cuenca and want my daughter and grandson to come as dependants. Do we all have to come and move at the same time or can I move and then have them move at a later time.

    1. Depends on you and your situation, see what fits best for you, ask questions. You can bring them later but might have to redo paperwork, how much hassle can you handle? You will need to check details.

      On the other hand, laws/interpretations of laws, and regulations change fast/overnight. So if you're expecting to be able to do something later on, you may find you actually can't.

  2. Really great valuable information...thanks for all you and Angie do to help!!!.


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