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My Life in Ecuador: Gary Sisk Living in Cuenca, Ecuador

This is part of our Ecuador Expats Series.

My Life in Ecuador: Gary Sisk Living in Cuenca

The Expat: Gary Sisk

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Where are you currently living?

Cuenca, Ecuador for three months.

What’s Your Story?

I am a single 63 year old man still seeking new adventures in life.

I am retired, I was born in Long Beach, CA and grew up in Ojai, CA. I have lived in Oregon, Arizona, Alaska, Hawaii, Nevada, Ohio, Colorado, Missouri and Mexico.

When and where did you get the idea of living in Ecuador?

I wanted to live in a healthy affordable environment and after a few months of on-line research I decided Cuenca, Ecuador was the place.

I have been living in Cuenca for almost three months now and plan on becoming a resident here. I have applied for retirement residency and expect it will take a few months.

How’s your Spanish?

I speak several words in Spanish and I can communicate when it is necessary but I have relied on my Ecuadorian friends for major tasks.

It is important to speak Spanish if you are going to live here and easier to learn while you are living here. I am American and speak English.

What do you do?

I am retired from the Time-Share industry, which I got involved with in 1983 in Hawaii and continued in the industry in Puerto Vallarta, Cabo and Playa Del Carmen during my twelve years of living in Mexico.

I also worked in Time-Share in Branson, MO., Tucson, Arizona and Las Vegas.

How do you find the cost of living in Ecuador?

Everything in Cuenca is much less than the USA except for imported items which I can live without. The cost of living here is pretty much what I expected.

What do you love about life in Ecuador?

The things I love most about living here in Cuenca is number one the Ecuadorians are very friendly and seem happier than people from my hometown.

The positive things for me about living here is the clean enviroment. Fresh air, great water and fresh fruits and vegetables all year around. I really did not read many negative things about Cuenca other than some unhappy

Expats who probably would not be happy living anywhere anyway.

I feel very safe here, but of course watch what I carry with me as I would also do anywhere in the USA.

I found a great two bedroom/two bathroom condo here on the 11th floor overlooking the Tomebamba river. My rent is $280 a month, water is $8, gas $6, electricity $8, Cable $56 and Internet $26. My major expense was appliances and furniture.

Any gringos considering moving here should do their research on line. I found GringosAbroad to be my best resource.


I contacted my attorney recommended by GringosAbroad before I came here. I faxed them my paperwork to make sure I had what was required. I followed Bryan’s advice about finding an apartment for rent and the cost of furnishings.

I have been to a couple of Expat parties and made a few gringo friends. But I also have made some great Ecuadorian friends that I enjoy being with very much.


Tuesday 16th of April 2019

Hi, Gary- I'm a a retired teacher, aged 69, and in pretty good health. I'm teaching part-time now. I lived in Ecuador a couple years ago teaching English as a second language (ESL) in Esmeraldas, Quito, and then Ibarra. My daughter spent 6 months with me also teaching ESL. I'm thinking about coming back to Ecuador in Summer, 2019 for a while. The only thing that holds me back is the VISA hassle. It's mid-April, 2019. Are you seeing any trends among the American? Any recent cost of living changes? I'm thinking about Otovalo or Cotacachi. Got any tips for me? ~ Tom


Sunday 18th of February 2018

How multicultural/expat is Cuenca? Peruvians, Brazilian, Argentinos, Aussies, Brits, Germans? I lived off an on in Brazil for 10 years, back in the states now and wanting to move to S.A. again. I think the climate and cost of living and lifestyle would suit me better than Brazil. Alhough, I did like the smaller cities in Brazil, (just not the cost of living). I know Long Beach and L.A. very well (raised there). You said you lived in MX for 12 years. So, do you not have U.S. bank accounts and don't file income taxes? Healthcare & food? chiropractors, holistic healing and health food stores?

Gary A Sisk

Monday 19th of February 2018

Frank I have lived in Cuenca now for six years and I maintain a US address and Bank account where my SS check is deposited every month. And yes if your income is from the US you would file taxes every year. Good Healthcare & food? chiropractors, holistic healing and health food stores are available. Healthcare is a requirement now either International coverage or local!

Randall Hamilton

Tuesday 15th of August 2017

Have a home in Asheville, North Carolina and boat in Key West...thinking of extended travel in Ecuador with the option of spending a couple of months per year in what seems to be the more favorite location as Cuenca. I would like to hear from others who maybe headed south in the future to compare issues and concerns when visiting long term. My email is: I speak Spanish having lived in Spain for several years while working contract for Dept of State in Horn of Africa. Worked humanitarian relief operations for several years; also, former US Army Officer with many deployments downrange. Again, let me hear from you to compare perceptions, information and travel options. If in the US, phone number is 305-440-1240 Randall Hamilton

Gary A Sisk

Friday 18th of August 2017

Might want to post an ad on it is free! It is a daily e-mail all about EC and expats! Or try expats of Cuenca!


Thursday 11th of August 2016

Toby to Gary. Gary have you visited Loja? If so would you recommend that town as a suitable retirement locale for expats? Thanks

Lauren Starr

Tuesday 28th of June 2016

I'm curious as to how much a boat would cost in Ecuador. I'm interested in being by the water, perhaps south of Manta. I'm also interested in doing the RV lifestyle, only on water in a boat I could live in. A bedroom or two, cooking area and bath would be enough. But I've been trying to get a boat here and it's nuts the prices they want. Even with an old one, it's far too costly. One of my other sons was in Brazil and found a boat, a very nice one at the salvage yard he worked at. It had been in dry dock a while so the owner said he could have it and fix it up. Unfortunately, one of the other workers tried to get him to sell it to him at a very low price. He still had months of work to do on it even though it was improving. Sadly, this person waited for the boat to be left and torched it. Now my son has had to start over to find another boat. I've seen some boats that are very nice, but don't think they would do for sailing in the open waters. One of my daughters will be living in Washington and I'd like to go up and visit her by boat. So I'd need something that would be able to travel in the open sea. I'm not very knowledgeable about boats yet, so I'm still doing research. But with my situation, living on a boat is probably my only way to live as I get older, since I was told I'll not be able to have retirement from Social Security. I get SSI currently due to being disabled. But was told by a worker I will never qualify for SSDI. So not being able to afford life in the states without my family paying for most of it, I'd need to find another way to live. It's an experiment, but it's the only thing I can think of to do.

edward A Tabak

Saturday 9th of July 2016

Dear Lauren, just a thought, I am a 63 yr old white guy with no baggage and a sizable chunk of money and SSDI. I have lived all over the U.S. and have been reading IL. for years and am planning to come to Aug. or Sept for a exploration trip, am planning on staying in the Cuenca area to look at properties that could be rehabed into a hostel. My background is in new home building and lots and lots of rentals. I would call my self a master builder, from footers to the roof and like to think I communicate well. Maybe I want a partner, maybe not . I am also not dead set on Cuenca or anywhere or any one thing except I am looking for an adventure, if you would like to talk and tell me what is on your mind, call U.S. 330-244-6593 or I hope you have had a grand day up to this point. I am also on facebook, eddie