1. Not everyone will qualify for immigrant Visa – We know of one expat family that consisted of a dad, the daughter, and her five children that had to leave Ecuador because the visa process got pushed out for one reason or another. And just recently another expat couple, after renting an apartment and filling it with furniture, wasn’t allowed back into Ecuador because they were gone for too long (more than 90-days) and lost their resident visa status. They’re now in the process of selling everything through gringo portals on the Internet. Fun uh?
Stories like this are heard and written about on a consistent basis in Ecuador. This is why we have always said, “Do your diligent research” about your documents BEFORE uprooting your life from North America; being thorough and wise could save you thousands of dollars and mucho time.
NOTE: Most people will qualify for the visa, but a small percentage will not for one reason or another.
2. Furnished homes and most apartment rentals are priced two to three times higher than just three years ago – Value has completely disappeared. But maybe you are one of those folks that don’t care just as long as it is cheaper than what you were paying in the states.
3. Ecuadorian landlords are getting pickier, even with the gringos! Just recently a well-to-do expat family with four teenage homeschoolers was not allowed to rent their 4-bedroom 4-bath house because, as the Ecuadorian landlord put it, “they are a family of five and the house only has 4-bedrooms”. Hellooo, are we missing something here? This is shocking! And if you own a pet? Good luck!
NOTE: As our long time and devoted readers know, our mission to Cuenca Ecuador, at this time, is to assist/consult expats so they will not get gringoed, or get taken advantage of in the rental market; we know and interact with many agents and homeowners in town and stay away from the ones who we know to be unethical and dishonest. We believe in the old adage but simple principle, "do what you say".
4. If you are a gringo you most-likely will have your rent increased every two years – They might try and raise it after one year, thinking you do not know the law. We’ve been told by two people we know personally that the landlord wants to raise their rent. It is legal to do so after two years, unless you state in the contract otherwise, but it is unethical to raise it extravagantly, which is what we have been hearing from our fellow expatriates.
NOTE: This happens all the time, so now you know…rents cannot be raised until the second year and then only a few percentages.
5. Spring-like weather? If you’re like 80% of expats that move to Cuenca you might find the weather (especially in the homes and apartments) far from “spring-like”; just a heads up for anyone who is coming from a city where it is warm, sunny and hot. If you’re coming from Texas, California, Arizona, or Florida, just to name a few, you might find the weather here too cold and damp, too cloudy and dreary.
6. Shipping anything into Ecuador is VERY costly with the new 4X4 shipping laws. You now have to pay, (if using Club Correos) $42 dollars tax plus shipping, besides the cost of the item. So if you order a $0.10 cent pen from Amazon it will cost you the cost of the item, plus the cost of shipping, plus the added $42 dollars tax charge. That ten cent pen can get real expensive really fast. This was a shocker to us!
NOTE: Think you can just have things shipped directly without going through a shipping club? You can if you want, but be warned. Think: why was a shipping club necessary to begin with?
Update February 2015: Club Correos has been shut down indefinitely. Guess you'll have to have things shipped directly now anyhow. You'll be shocked when you learn how much it is to ship to Ecuador.
7. Ecuador citizenship/passport difficult and costly: To become a citizen of Ecuador you must speak Spanish and know and answer questions pertaining to the constitution; you’ll need to re-process all of the same paperwork you did to become a resident, plus other paperwork besides, and lawyer’s fees, apostille fees and notarization fees, and shipping fees and government fees, ad nauseum.
8. Cuenca is smoggy and noisy: Cuenca is a wonderful city with some friendly folks, but the smog and noise in the city is really too much for most older gringos to adapt to; some move out into the country, or to Loja, still others move to the quieter and more laid-back coastal life, while others just go back where they came from.
9. Cuenca has about 250 cloudy days out of the year, and I'm being generous with that figure. If you like sunny days, you’ll get some but you will find that Cuenca is quite cloudy most of the time.
10. Cuenca is NOT the cheapest retirement place to live in the world and it never was when it was being touted as such; in fact, a lot of foreigners that move here complain that it’s too expensive!
BONUS Shocker: Everything, from groceries, Mercado produce and restaurants to tour services, rents and real estate, their all going up, and up, and up…better hurry up before this cheeeep paradise is just another South American country to go to. The coastal tourist areas like Salinas and Manta are also rising in price.
NOT Everyone is Friendly: Everyone is so friendly in Ecuador. Sure, most of the Ecuadorians are pleasant, but if you live here for any amount of time you will find it is just like anywhere else in the world. If you really get to know someone and begin to do business with them or interact in any meaningful way, you might find that the saying “everyone is friendly” as a fallacy. Just saying; no where in the world is “everyone friendly” and nor is everyone honest, be on your guard.
We just thought our devoted followers would like to know the truths about moving to and living in Cuenca Ecuador. You don’t think we’d keep it a secret, do you? We would love to hear your comments and experiences.
If you are retiring or moving to Cuenca you will surely want to have the DIY Cuenca Landing Guide by your side to help you save money, find a place to hang your hat, and orient yourself when you first land. You’ll be glad you have it!
We're an Expat Family of Five Living Frugal, Healthy and Happy in Cuenca Ecuador! Enjoy the Discover Cuenca blog!