10 Years of Blog Archive

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!

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