After having experienced living right smack in the middle of the ‘best retirement city in the world’ for four years, my mind wants me to think that it is a good idea to read the international travel press backwards, then you’ll know where NOT to go.
Once they start pumping a new retirement city, people flock to it, prices go higher for everything, and within just a few years it becomes just another expensive Latin American city, which is still in the developmental stages. –Quote from part I of this article.
If ‘cheap’ is all that matters, then we will surely be disappointed on some other level. If you are susceptible to believing everything you read you will most-likely become disenchanted with what you perceived as cheap. It’s true, it is less expensive here in Cuenca to live than in many cities in North America but the comparison is out of kilter and because it is so out of kilter it is easy to get mislead by someone else’s assessment.
You see, everyone has different financial requirements and to announce a city as “cheap” is actually very ambiguous and somewhat vague. We talk more about “cheap” later in this article.
Here’s how to use the international travel commercials to your advantage. You have to recognize when the writer is puffing up what they are saying. There are certain fundamental guidelines to follow when you read the international travel glitz. If you do not follow these guidelines you will get sucked in by their persuasion. This is serious business.
1. Nothing is ever Perfect!
Example: when the writers say, “the weather is “perfect year round” or even “spring-like year round” that is a very loose report. Also, it is subjective on many variables, and is an opinionated statement. Don’t believe it. Someone coming from Miami Florida certainly would not find Cuenca with “perfect spring-like weather. Now if you’re coming from Minnesota or Canada, Cuenca might be grand weather.
2. They Only Show the Viewer the Best Views and Scenes
Just like one of the latest HHI shows shot in Ecuador (Punta Blanca) the photos and scenery shots are beautiful, no doubt and Punta Blanca has some nice areas and homes, but it also has its disheveled areas too.
The show gives the viewer the best views and camera shots possible to entice you to go buy property. They never take the viewer around the corner where you’re in a typical undeveloped area of half-built cement shells, torn down buildings with piles of rubble everywhere, garbage strewn about all over the roads, many sickly looking stray dogs running around, putrid smells, dead animals, huts with no window glass, rusty tin roofs, no grocery stores, mosquitoes at certain times of the year, etc, etc, etc.
If you really want to know what the coast is like from an unbiased view then read the DIY Ecuador Coast Guide for more information about 18-coastal towns and villages between Playas and Atacames; like all of our guides, it's very detailed.
Promotional Teaser Trailers
Have you ever been excited about seeing movie that has not come out yet? In anticipation you might watch a sneak preview of the movie trailer. Well, the trailer teases the audience with the best scenes, the most action and greatest adventure scenes of the whole movie. After watching the trailer you have high hopes for this movie being really good.
However, after watching the movie you find it is rather dry and boring and not what you anticipated it would be. That's because all the action in the movie you already saw in the teaser trailer, and after leaving the theatre you feel disappointment and bitter for spending $10 to go see it.
Well, it’s quite the same technique that International travel writers/comercials, and reality TV use. They tease the audience with the best narratives, beauty, scenery, and benefits...and well, when you go see it/live it yourself some folks become disappointed.
What are they NOT telling you? What are they NOT showing you? So, what’s missing from these retirement press e-zines and reality TV? A lot! There is so much missing we couldn’t put it all in one article, but we’re trying! The reason, as most of our devoted readers know, we did not do the HHI show is because it is hyped up and full of puffery. They call it a reality show but it is not real life. People are acting and that means it is deceptive TV.
3. Writers Use the Word “Cheap” VERY Freely
Example: writers love to throw out “cheap dollar figures” because well, that’s part of the sales pitch. There is a lot of ambiguity when it comes to renting for cheap. It’s true you can find “locally priced” rentals in Cuenca but you will have to look for them, know how to negotiate, and or, speak some Spanish to procure one. BTW, they are not cheap; they are just what the local market is at the time and what the market is supposed to be! Anything over the local price rates for local housing is price gouging the consumer.
Example: You’re not going to just waltz into Cuenca and get yourself a locally priced rental. The minute they see a gringo, they will hike up the rent by 50% percent. However, there are exceptions. Perhaps you know of someone who is moving out of their locally priced rental and you will be taking up new occupancy in it.
Four years ago Cuenca had “for rent” signs all over the place and now, you rarely see an “arriendo” sign in the window. Do you know why? The real estate agents list them now and you know what that means. H-i-g-h-e-r P-r-i-c-e-s! Cuenca has way more overpriced rentals than locally priced. So to get your good priced rental you’ll have to do some due diligence.
The writers love to say “cheap medical”, “cheap restaurants”, cheap taxi fares”; cheap this and cheap that”; it’s all cheap, right? Well, who are they trying to persuade here? They are not writing for the people of South America!! They’re writing for the people who are retired and the folks who are so fed up with dodge and they’d go anywhere that sounds…, well, “cheeeeep”.
However, the other side of the story is: if South Americans (not those who are profiting from tourists) read their sales spiel they would adamantly disagree that everything is cheap! The loosely thrown around word “cheap” from the retirement abroad press is very skewed; “cheap” to someone from Seattle or cheap to someone from Tennessee? My goodness, how misleading!
4. Watch the Words and Terms they Use Like “Quaint”
The word “quaint” is thrown around very loosely in the International travel abroad media. We’ve been to a coastal town that was called “quaint” by a popular magazine writer on their YT video promotion, and when we got there we were absolutely dumbfounded that this popular travel magazine would consider the term “quaint” for a scruffy, dirty beach village. Example: Cuenca El Centro is quaint, but this place is nothing but.
5. Everyone Is Friendly
Everyone is friendly? Is that so? The term everyone is friendly is used in ALL the cities they promote. Now how on earth can everyone be friendly? That just sounds unbelievable. People are just people for goodness sakes! No matter where you go in the world there are the nice pleasantries that people share when they first meet you, but once you get to know someone or start to do personal or business dealings with them, that friendliness you knew in the beginning might just sprout wings and fly away.
6. The Benefits of Living in (name any hyped up city being promoted at the time)
Example: Sure every place on earth has some benefits, but what about the disadvantages? Oh, did they forget to mention the earthquakes, volcano that could erupt any day, bad floods, etc, etc; and did the cameraman forget to film the garbage that is scattered all over the place that no one picks up, and the high prices on everything imported? Did they forget to mention all the crime to gringos in this “new cheap, beneficial city they are promoting? Did they forget to mention that you will need to live in a gated subdivision or have armed guards around the clock to keep from having your home invaded and robbed; did they forget to mention that the cheap rents are only in, should we say, neighborhoods you would not want to live in. Did they mention the smog, garbage, and a totally different culture, etc. etc. You get the picture, right?
Remember, with every benefit there is a disadvantage, you can count on that. It is your job to find out what those disadvantages are and actually see if you can adapt to them. Animals have a VERY difficult time adapting to differences in their environment, so what makes you think you can? Can you take a bird from its nest and expect it to live and thrive? Just saying…
We could go on and on, but we won’t put you through that. We just want to let you know that it is up to you and what you want to believe; we all have wits about us to do our own due diligence and then perceive the promotional materials for what they are; and we also have to be honest with ourselves.
Many times we want to believe that a place is paradise because we’re in a rut, living in a rat race and want to imagine all what the writers are saying is true, and that’s OK as long as it’s just our imagination running wild with the picture the writers are trying to portray. We all perceive what we want to perceive when we read fiction novels, but this is not a fiction novel; you will need to live it, to see if you will adapt to real life here. Have you seen all the merchandise for sell on the gringo portal? Why do you think that is?
Have you read our post, “Don’t move somewhere just because it’s cheap”? If you haven’t you might want to read it. And if you want to read part 1 of this article, How to Be Smarter than Your Average Traveler or Retiree that Moves Abroad, click here.
Finally: Know thyself! Know what your financial, physical, emotional and spiritual needs are in a retirement city because it will save you a lot of time and money in the long run. And last but not least, consider the wisdom or lack of, of retiring to a place that is, or has been heavily promoted. How long will it stay that way?
We're an Expat Family of Five Living Frugal, Healthy and Happy in Cuenca Ecuador! Enjoy the Discover Cuenca Ecuador blog!