10 Years of Blog Archive

Friday, September 18, 2015

What’s It Like to Live in an Ecuadorian Neighborhood, for Us?

The wonderful thing about living in Cuenca Ecuador is all of the neighborhoods are made up of Ecuadorians and so if you live in a house or townhome you can almost be sure that your next door neighbors will be Ecuadorian, usually anyway.
Cuenca - Bella Vista area
When we first moved to Cuenca back in 2011, there were only two areas the gringos were living in and that was gringolandia and in the center of downtown. We didn’t want to live in gringo-land; we wanted a more authentic experience and life. Our thinking was if we’re going to learn the language we’d better find a house in an Ecuadorian neighborhood and that’s what we did. No one in our neighborhood speaks a lick of English.

We’ve been in the same neighborhood and same house for four-plus years (Rent is still $250 per month) and our neighbors are pleasantly and uncharacteristically (compared to the u.s. anyway) live and let live; and they are quiet…only a couple of times has there been blaring music in the middle of the night, usually during a birthday party or other family gathering.

Our neighbors don’t just stop over whenever they feel like it to chat or gab. Everyone keeps to themselves. When we see our neighbors outside their gate or walking down the street we might stop and talk with them for a bit and then be on our way.

We’ve had all our close neighbors over to our house for pan de yuca rolls and cocoa and coffee, and they have had us over to their house for grilled fish almuerzo and even bible study, all in Spanish. What a way to learn Spanish, go to Spanish only bible study, uh?  

Ecuadorians are very pleasant, easy going people. If you give them a gift they feel the need to reciprocate every time. The reciprocal gift giving can go on for months; it's funny. Our neighbors have made us some wonderful food like Ecuadorian aji sauce and delicious humitas.

I learned the hard way Ecuadorians do not like spicy food. Brandon brought three of his friends over for spicy enchiladas and that was a bit embarrassing for me. They were so kind and sweet about the whole thing; they didn’t want to hurt my feelings so they never said anything, however they kept asking for water and more water and it was taking them forever to eat their food. Finally, I figured out that my enchiladas were just too spicy. I took their plates away and they seemed to be relieved. We then all laughed about it. Next time I'll make Lasagna.
Spicy Mexican food - enchiladas
We live in an area that has detached houses with small yards. On Sundays our neighbors have their family members over (about 8 to 10 people) and they play soccer and volleyball in their yard and then later they all gather to eat. If you live in a family friendly neighborhood you might be invited to play
soccer too.

Our house, looks like all the other houses in the neighborhood. In fact, there are nicer houses than ours and that’s the way we like it. You don’t want to give any impression of overflowing affluence anywhere in Latin America.  As gringos we have to work diligently and consistently about that, because we already carry that stigma, whether we want it or not just by the fact that we’re foreigners.  We never leave anything out on our terraza for anyone to walk by and see and then get tempted later.

We don’t have an electric fence and we’ve had some prowlers ONLY recently (We’ll write all about it one day) and our neighbors have been helpful and watchful. One of our neighbors told us to call him if we hear anything, no matter what time of night it is, and he’d blare his siren and/or call the police for us if we need him to.   And our other neighbor has German Shepherds that will bark if there are strangers in the neighborhood. Everyone watches out for each other here.

We still really like our house, we love the neighborhood and we like our neighbors. We wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. It is annoying that we have had some negative incidents with prowlers but we realize that no matter where we live in Cuenca, if our house is target-able (less secure) than the rest of the houses in the neighborhood, anyone will have prowlers and possibly get robbed. The best of the neighborhoods in Cuenca have home invasions from time to time.  

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We're an Expat Family of Five, Living Frugal, Healthy and Happy Abroad. We live in Cuenca, Ecuador and travel the Ecuador coast whenever we get a chance. We just adventured throughout the country of Panama for five weeks! Come along and enjoy some of our experiences with us. 


  1. Lovely article! Enjoyed it thoroughly.

  2. I remember a period in my life when we lived in Quito, I was 9 yrs old. The neighbourhood and the house were a good example of tranquility and good neighbor policy. The same type of people that you must find in Cuenca, I suppose.


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