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!

No comments:

Post a Comment

HMFamilyLife and Discover Cuenca Ecuador Comment Policy
We welcome applicable and respectful comments. Off-topic comments may be removed.