Buildings in Cuenca

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We’ve been covering Cuenca, Ecuador and expat life in general for just over 5 months in more than 100 posts. And we’ve built a pretty solid set of content. We are often told that we are the best Ecuador site for expats – but we want to be better. And we need your help.

Buildings in Cuenca

What we want to know is:

What do you want to know about Cuenca?

  • Costs
  • Housing
  • Food
  • Things to do
  • Life as a family
  • Retired life
  • How to . . .

No question is too crazy, to simple or too hard. If we don’t know the answer, we’ll find it for you.

Your question will be covered in an upcoming post. Post your question in the comments below and we’ll email you when we publish the response.

So, What do you want to know about Cuenca?

Post your questions below in the comments and we’ll get busy. We’ll be taking questions for other areas of the country in the coming months.

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  1. I am beginning the process, applying for a retiree resident status.
    I am reading lots of vague things about inoculations; yellow fever, Hep A & B, etc. I’d feel like a pin cushion if I did that, not to mention probably being DOA.
    Q 1: Are there any shots one MUST have before entering Ecuador?
    I have a recovering immune system and I don’t have any shots. They stress out my immune systerm. That would be a deal breaker for my plans.
    I have tried the Canadian system, Australian system … COVID is over-riding any useful information.
    Q 2: I would like to live in Loja. I would like to be in a cooler climate, at lower altitude than Cuenca. I have a spattering of Spanish, but I would like to learn the language. That and altitude sickness concerns. See above: recovering immune system.
    Thank you for any info you might be able to share.

  2. Hi, thanks for the great information you have on your website.
    1) How does Ecuador tax income from an online website with readers from the U.S.?
    2) Can you find Diet Dr. Pepper in Cuenca?

  3. Want to know the availability and price of two types of insulin in Cuenca Ecuador, specifically:
    1) Novolog or Humalog in 10 ml vials
    2) Lantus in 10 ml vials
    Not interested in the 3 ml pens of the above insulins, just the 10 ml vials.

  4. We are moving to Salinas in June and want to open a massage practice out of our home. What license are required?

  5. Hello,
    I am planning on retiring in Equador. I am a massage therapist with several certifications and a specialist in pain relief. I love my work and would like to continue it after I move. Are there any licensing requirements for massage therapists in Equador that I should know about?
    Thanks for any info!

  6. Do you know a good chemistry shop in Cuenca. I am looking for a magnetic stirrer! Moves water in a circular fashion. Thanks

  7. Dear Sirs. Please tell me how can I have my social security sent to my bank in Ecuador . Can I do it by going to the American consulate in Ecuador or I need to come to the USA. Thank you for your help. It will be greatly appreciated. Best regards

  8. I enjoy reading your site – thank you.
    Can you please explain about the VAT 14% plus other hotel taxes
    I am a baby boomer going to Ecuador in a few months, to check out the possibility of moving there.
    In Peru one can get a particular stamp upon entry, which exempts a visitor from paying taxes – Does Ecuador have something similar?

  9. hi! me and my family just arrive here EQ. does anyone know if there is a piano store anywhere near Cuenca or Banos?

  10. I was wondering if there are any home health agencies that provide caregivers for senior adults or any kind of Alzheimers care.

  11. Can you give me information on homeschooling elementary and middle school age children there? We are still in USA but would like to move to Ecuador in the next two years.

  12. I’m dreaming of working in a foreign country as a very experienced psych NP, but have no idea where to start. Any guidance?

  13. Hi.. thanks for doing this. I’m planning on moving to Cuenca in September for work. I was hoping to complete my degree while I’m there.. do you happen to know if there are any post-secondary schools (colleges or universities) in Cuenca that have a music degree program? I’ve been searching but have only found something in Quito so far. I’ll keep looking but your input would be hugely appreciated. thanks again 🙂

  14. can you tell me what the distance is from Guayaquil to Cuenca–Guayaquil to Salinas –Salinas to Montanita- or perhaps where I can find this type of info on the net.?

  15. I live in Cuenca and am a retired grandmother who happens to have her thirteen year old grandson living with her and attending school. I would like information on summer camps for teens and they can be day or residential. Varied activities are preferred. The residential camps do not have to be in or near Cuenca.
    Thank You,
    Bobbi Vance

  16. concerning this post answer:
    Nelda León May 16, 2015, 8:10 pm
    My husband and I are now in Cuenca exploring the possibility of retiring here, but the diesel fumes in the Centro are a serious problem for my asthma. Are there neighborhoods in the city proper we should check out where air quality is good? Thanks.
    Jeff May 19, 2015, 3:22 pm
    Yes there are. I highly recommend the area (most of which, I believe, is Barrio Vergel) bordered by 12 de Abril, Florencia Astudillo, Diez de Agosto, and Solano (a a block or two inward from each of these streets ) . I know there are other areas where the buses aren’t much of an issue, but I lived in-between Paucarbamba and 12 de Abril for the past year and it was great. One of the cleanest and safest areas of Cuenca.
    Can you please let me know if the safety in these communities you mention are also safe from floods and mud slides. We are going on a mission trip in a few months and want to scout out areas to relocate to as well to work in the mission field. My husband and I both know spanish and lived in Mexico successfully with no incidents for 3 years. We believe we could enjoy Cuenca if we live in a place safe from floods and mud slides as well as crime. This is critical to our move. Thank you in advance for this wonderful service. Celeste

  17. Hi Bryan, my name is Nancy and my family and I are looking to the possibility of moving to Ecuador, to Cuenca. We already speak Spanish, so the language won’t be a problem. But I do have two grandchildren that are High functioning Autistic, and was wondering if there are services offered to autistic children, and how would I go about it if there are any? Thank you so much in advance for your reply, and thank you for all the information you share, I really enjoy reading all of it. Nancy.

  18. I’ll look forward to receiving your newsletters. My daughter is moving to Cuenca in the fall. Thank you for expanding my knowledge of the area.

  19. Hello,
    Going to Cuenca soon. I understand that it is a mountainous region and its a bit cold. What is the closest beach (clean beach) to Cuenca and what is the easiest way to get there if I’m not driving?
    Thank you!

  20. Does el centro in Cuenca have a buildings height restriction because of UNESCO or another reason? Nice to see no high rises in the old city.

  21. My husband and I are now in Cuenca exploring the possibility of retiring here, but the diesel fumes in the Centro are a serious problem for my asthma. Are there neighborhoods in the city proper we should check out where air quality is good? Thanks.

    1. Yes there are. I highly recommend the area (most of which, I believe, is Barrio Vergel) bordered by 12 de Abril, Florencia Astudillo, Diez de Agosto, and Solano (a a block or two inward from each of these streets ) . I know there are other areas where the buses aren’t much of an issue, but I lived in-between Paucarbamba and 12 de Abril for the past year and it was great. One of the cleanest and safest areas of Cuenca.

      1. Gracias, Jeff, we have visited one are near the river and found the air fresher. We will explore the neighborhood you suggested.

        1. Re: diesel bus exhausts…
          just look around for living places that are NOT on bus line streets…
          I live in an apartment on the corner of El Oro y Calle del Batan in the Edificio Caluvac.
          There are no buses that go down either El Oro or Batan…so I have no problem with diesel fumes…
          It’s also a safe neighborhood…
          I’m one block off of 12 de Abril and the Tomebamba…near the Otorongo…
          I’m 20 mins walk from El Centro.

    2. My friend also has extreme problems with the bus fumes…
      She usually has to wear a face mask in the Historic and other areas…
      We were walking in El Centro and stopped for a break in Parque Calderon…
      All of a sudden, the air was fresh and great and no fumes…
      So a hint if you’re walking around and the diesel fumes are getting to you…
      Just stop for a break in the first park you see and you’ll probably recover…

  22. I am considering buying land in Ecuador and want to have built several large aquariums in the house. Large as in one will be over 300,000 gallons. So the question is where can I find out laws pertaining to what fish are considered illegal to keep? Example will my sharks be allowed? I need to check each species. I have a lot of fish to move. Also will they allow outside companies to construct the tanks ? Thanks for your time

  23. Hi Dena and Bryan,
    I have been following your blog for a little while now, but I am fairly new, so forgive me if it has already been covered. My question is more general.
    I would like to hear about what a typical day is like for you. I am interested in Ecuador for quality of life reasons and I would like to get a better picture of the pace of life you find typical.
    Thank you.

    1. Marjorie, the question to your answer will vary a good deal based on your current status (married, single, with or without kids). For now I’ll assume you’re single, or at least that you’re not bringing small children. For me, my day looks similar to what it might in the US, but in many ways it’s less complex or stressful. I go shopping for batteries for my remote contol, I go to the dentist or the grocery store — all the same sort of places you might go on a daily basis in N. America. Or, perhaps I go into the old historic center of town, grab an ice cream cone and sit on a park bench, people-watching. Or I might simply wander the streets of “el centro,” jus to see if there’s any new or interesting shops that have opened. Once or twice a month, I have the opportunity to go to the symphony (for free), or to attend any number of different types of free-or-chaeap entertainment. On Sundays, I go to a local park with friends, where we play hand-drums and other percussion instruments. As I work it into my schedule, I try to study a little Spanish every day; I try to speak/ write it whenever I have an opportunity. There are new and improved restaurant offerings in or near Cuenca lately, so I’ve been sampling those. At some point during the day I spend a little time doting on my new hobby — bonsai trees. There’s a club here in Cuenca devoted to the hobby (or is it a lifestyle choice?). On Tuesday nights, I go to a local restaurant/bar and play trivia with friends. Another night I might go to restauant La Viña and enjoy live jazz music while I dine. At some other time, I might grab my camera and go on an impromptu (or planned) “photo safari.” And, right in the middle of the week (on a school night), I might meet with friends and play some board games, cards, etc. Or I could go on a hike in the Cajas National Park, or even pack a suitacas and head for either the beach or the jungle (by myself, or as part of a tour group). This is just a very tiny and inadequate answer, but your question is very broad. Basically, if you’re here and you don’t have to work, you are only limited by your budget, your desires, and the limits of the law. In any case, I hope this offers you at least a small snapshop of life here. I will say that, if you learn a little Spanish, it’s going to open up your world (and your enjoyment ) of all the things that are possible to do here.

  24. Hi Bryan. My wife and I will be arriving Cuenca in a few months. She is a cook and a massage therapist. We like to do things according to the book, so how can she get “legal” to do massage and some catering in customer’s homes? Any input will be appreciated. Boy the way, great blog! Thanks.

    1. As I understand it, there is no official licensure or certification for massage therapists in Ecuador. Most MTs I know of here simply adversitise on the Gringo Post or Gringo Tree and promote their services among the expat community. Do note that prices for massage here are generally a good bit lower than they are in the US. I currently get a 90 minute massage at my home each week for $35. Some pay less. But the cost of living is much less here, so it all balances out. Good luck with your move!

  25. Greetings,
    I am a psychologist and have been doing clinical work and teaching college for years. I am eligible to retire but would prefer to work part time if possible. Am thinking of relocating to Cuenca. Does anyone know the licensure laws for psychologists in Ecuador and does anyone know if psychology or counseling is taught at the university of Cuenca in English?

  26. We would like to see a list of the public and private schools, elementary and secondary, with monthly costs, typical enrollment costs such as uniforms and books, etc.

  27. I am a psychiatric and mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP) with a US degree. Would I be able to practice in Cuenca? Thank you.

  28. I currently live in Chicago, IL and will be moving to Cuenca soon. I have a question about getting mail and packages delivered to EC from the US. I’ve set up an account with St. Brendan’s Isle (SBI) Company in Florida for mail forwarding and was planning to use Club Correos for packages. But now with the new $42 charge on 4 X 4 items I don’t know what to do. What do you recommend now for getting items to Ecuador? I’m tall and know I’ll have a hard time finding shoes and clothes in EC that will fit me. The SBI account was for mail but also to help me claim Florida domicile.

    1. From what I understand, the $42 charge is on all shipments – unless you are registered as an Ecuadorian citizen living abroad.
      I’ve spoken with DHL and FedEx and they are subject to the same $42 charge. Unless you travel, I don’t know of a way around it.

      1. I’ve seen a breakdown of the law into English, and my understanding is that as long as it is addressed to a private person, i.e. not a business, and comes in via standard government mail, it will not incur the $42 charge. If you use private couriers, i.e DHL – it does. This does not apply to papers and documents. I recently received important personal papers from Australia via DHL and incurred no charge.

        1. For documents that is true. But goods are another story. The purpose of the law is to reduce the flow of goods into the country. Goods shipped to an individual will incur the charge. From what I understand, you must be registered as an Ecuadorian citizen living abroad. Then you are allowed to send gifts back home.

  29. Hello, im travelling to cuenca jan 2015 and speak very little spanish, im staying through february. Although i have accomodations reserved, I would love to do a homestay with a cuenca family to help the learning path, are you are if any way to book for that? Im a senior, by the way. Thanks!

    1. Yes, you could. Not all ATMs though. Some of them aren’t affiliated with big credit card companies like Mastercard, and instead are for local institutions only.

    2. I’m no expert on PayPal, but I did encounter a situation where I was going to transfer money from my account to someone with a non-US paypal account, and it wouldn’t “take.” I’m not sure if that has any bearing on your situation, but just thought I’d mention it.

  30. I would love to visit Cuenca and study with an oil painter. Just the basics along with mentoring, creative feedback and instruction as needed. I’ve done extensive research for painting instruction not only in Ecuador but all of Latin America with discouraging results.
    Any suggestions?

    1. Ruth,
      I see an Ecuadorian massage therapist who speaks excellent English, and she told me there are no formal education programs for massage therapists here. She learned her skills from someone else, who learned their skills from someone else, etc. Therefore, I’m assuming that there no trade-related licenses required for your husband to practice here. I can’t speak to whether or not other business permits or such are required – probably depends on the type of practice he sets up. Hope this helps a little.

  31. Are there public tennis courts in cuenca equador? I am a senior tennis player and have been playing in USTA tennis leagues for over 29 years in the minneapolis are . Are there leagues that you can join? Are there “cheap” clubs that I could join ? I will be in Cuenca for 3 months next year ( Jan thru March )

  32. We’re coming to Ecuador this summer with two weeks in Cuenca – can’t wait! I’ve read several posts on various web blogs that recommend not carrying passports around while traveling around the country . The recommendation is to get a notarized copy laminated and carry that instead, in case of pickpockets, etc.
    Do the copies have to have our entry stamp on it or can it be done before we leave the States? IF the former, where do we find a notary in Cuenca and how much will it cost to get all of this done?

    1. I haven’t heard of anyone doing this. Most travelers just make a photocopy of their signature page of their passport. If the police want to see the original then they go with you back to your hotel. I suppose that this would work, but I don’t know of the benefit. Maybe you can ask the blogger that recommended it for more information?

    2. You will need your original to get into the country. Once you’re here, copy shops are all over the place, and many of them are equipped to laminate your copy to keep it neat and in one piece. You shouldn’t need the page with your entry stamp — just the page with your photo and your personal info.

  33. Wondering about bringing my vehicle over. Also, wondering about buying cars in the US or Canada and reselling in EC. Any thoughts on this ? Thnx

  34. My fiance & I are wishing to travel to Ecuador & the Galagapos Islands in the coming months for a few weeks. However, I have several chronic health conditions which require daily medications, some of which are narcotics/controlled substances, and some of which require administration via intramuscular injection, which I do myself. I have copies of all prescriptions, meds in original prescription bottles from pharmacy, printouts of medication info from pharmacy, and letters from all doctors indicating which meds they prescribe and for which conditions/diagnoses. Should that be enough or are there other specific procedures, documents, etc., that may be required? Thanks so much for your help!

    1. I haven’t heard of any traveler or expat having trouble with prescription medication. To be safe, you should speak with a lawyer who knows the rules and can give you the specifics.
      On a side note – when at the airport in Ecuador, be careful not to refer to your medication as “droga” (which means drug). In Spanish, there are no legal drugs. You should call them “medicamento” which means legal prescription medicine.

    2. One other requirement, especially for controlled medications, is that you’ll need to have a list of all of your medications and dosing information translated into Spanish. Also, once you arrive in Ecuador, the customs declaration form requires that you declare any narcotics and such. I honestly can’t say what happens then, because when I brought something like that down, I didn’t think to mention it (and they didn’t ask). I believe you can look online (US State Dept site?) and it will lead you to a list of things you need to know about bringing in controlled medications. Also, bring what you need when you come — you won’t be able to get any strong pain medication here unless you go to a hospital and have it directly administered to you.

  35. My husband I are hoping to live in Ecuador for at least 1 yr starting in 2015. My mother is originally from there so I have family throughout the country but I hear mixed information about the safety. I realize that it is not advised to walk around late at night in most cities as I have spent time in different parts of the country. But as far as living there, I hear that crime is on the rise again and that home invasions are more common. I have seen on your blog that you have not been victim to any crime but can you speak more to this. Also, we will be in Cuenca in July and will be visiting a rental agency. Can you tell me what neighborhoods we should look for? We do not have kids but we do have pets. We would like to be close to town if there are safe , somewhat quiet neighborhoods nearby busses, etc.
    thanks for any info you can provide …really enjoying your site.

    1. Personally I’m more concerned about the rising occurrences of home invasions and other crimes in the USA. Crime in Cuenca seems pretty mild in comparison

  36. We will be in Guayaquil briefly in near future and need to find a grocery or health food store in central Guayaquil that carries Rice Dream or rice milk and gluten-free cereals. Any suggestions?

  37. My wife and I are planning a trip to Ecuador later this year in order to do some first hand research and become acquainted with conditions there. We are planning our retirement currently, making a five year plan, and we are considering Ecuador. The climate is often referred to as spring-like all year; spring as we experience currently in the US, mid Atlantic region. I would appreciate a realistic assessment of the climate. I realize there are seasons which have greater amounts of cloudy days and precipitation in Ecuador. I would like to know, from someone who has experienced the climate in the highlands (Cuenca?), what we can expect?

  38. Just moved to Cuenca with our 4 yr old and looking for a school that has teachers who speak some English. A private school with a good learning curriculum. Would appreciate ANY recommendations!!

    1. I’ve heard wonderful feedback from friends who have placed their kids at “Pasos”, a newer private school with small class sizes (20 – 25 students each) with a well-balanced gender ratio. As English is taught at most schools as a second language, there is likely plenty of English teachers who can serve as trusted aides.
      Good luck,

  39. Already have your newsletter.
    Do you have a site that is geared to rental properties online? We are living in Salinas at the moment, and are thinking about Cuenca for renting for about 6-8 months. Any information that you could provide would be most helpful.

  40. I’ve enjoyed reading your blog! We are considering spending the summer in Cuenca. With two young children who are already bilingual in English and Spanish, but who can always use some immersion experiences, I’m looking for schools, institutions, art centers, etc that offer summer programs (June, July, August). Could you recommend some contacts for “talleres, cursos o colonias vacacionales”? I’m specifically looking for activities for a 4 year old in which they would be engaged with other young children several hours a day–however, I understand if you need to answer more generally regarding activities for kids and I can do more research directly about the programs. Thank you!

    1. Well, Colegio Americano de Quito (American School of Quito) will grant your children, from nursery to high school, the best English support there is. Plus, they have good info on summer camps and activities outside school or after school hours that could help with curriculum due to MYP and PYP (Primary Year Program and Middle Year Program), and other things like CAS (Community and Service) and plenty more. Hope this helps!

  41. Hi Bryan and Dena,
    I love your blog and your newsletter. Thanks for keeping me informed and entertained regarding living in Cuenca. My husband and I are currently in Cuenca until the middle of March. We are also from Atlantic Canada. I was wondering how I could go about sending a box of ceramic souvenirs (too large to carry on plane) back home so that it arrived without getting lost. Or should I just forget about the gorgeous piece I saw that I would love to have? 🙁 if you have any thoughts on this, I would appreciate them.

    1. So glad that you’re enjoying Cuenca (and our blog). I don’t know about shipping souvenirs – as long as you use a courier I think it will leave Ecuador okay but it might be considered commercial importation when it arrives in Canada.

    2. We were in Cuenca 2 years ago. We bought several straw hats and had the hat shop ship them to our home in Winnipeg. On arrival in Canada, we declared them at customs as required.
      It took 4 to5 weeks but they eventually arrived in perfect condition.
      Hope this helps.

  42. I was wondering about building a small cabin in Ecuador. Evertything I see is ade of sement. How can it possibly be cheaper to build with cement than real wood-especially those beautiful tropical hardwoods. I would think lumber would be very cheap since it is locally grown. Labor is also cheap, I cannot see 5 men taking 2 weeks to build a small cabin. Wood is far superior in earth quake zones, tin roofs are far superior than heavy Spanish tile. I cannot find anything online. Are there many permits and codes? I am thinking of something in the country, about less than an hour to Salinas. Any information would be greatly appreciated.

  43. How difficult or costly is it to send items (clothing ) back to the US from Cuenca. I find that I brought too much and don’t need or want to lug it around until I return to the US mid May

    1. I think you can ship clothes to the US – but you should check with the US customs rules. Shipments are expensive from Ecuador and (from my experience) not that reliable.

  44. Just one question, are there tennis courts/leagues in the area? We are looking to retire out of the US and avid players. Thanks so much

  45. Does anyone know if the universities in Ecuador hire teachers from the United States to teach nursing in their schools? Also, does the country recognize nurse practitioners as part of the nursing profession? Is it possible to work as a nurse practitioner in their country?
    Ecuador looks absolutely beautiful with its mountain and beaches and can’t wait to make a trip to see the country. I just turned 65 and would like to move there, but I would still like to work. Any comments would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Hi Nancy – I don’t know if you have had an answer to your question about the recognition of Nurse Practitioners in Ecuador but I have a thought which might fit in with your professional expertise. My wife has Dementia, and here in Canada we are beginning to see more Nurse Practitioners in the Geriatric field. Options for people with Dementia in this country are limited to basically two extremes for the middle class – the patient remains at home with a family caregiver who can afford only limited outside supports for occasional respite. My wife’s needs are, for the most part, non medical, and more personal care, but because of the dementia she needs oversight 24/7 which is physically and economically beyond my capacity to provide on my own. As a result I had to make the difficult decision to have her placed in a complex care facility. That is the other extreme. I have been looking at Ecuador for us because of the lower cost of living there and the possibility of “reinvesting” the approximately $1200 per month spent for her residential care here in Canada to a “team” of paid caregivers to assist me to achieve, in our own home in Ecuador, the 24/7 care she needs without me burning out. Our “golden years” are not always so golden, so what do you think of the idea of exploring the opportunity of training caregivers in and for Ecuador but under the formal auspices of government and university/schools of nursing to allow for international credentialing? Would you like to explore the idea more? I truly believe it could be done, and have been part of doing something similar in a First Nations community here in Canada. Please drop me a line, or share my post with others whom you think might have an interest or could give me an idea as to availability and cost of labor for caregivers on an 8 or 12 hour shift. If not interested a quick line saying so would also be appreciated. Thanks. Rob Leigh-Clark, Vernon, BC Canada.

  46. Just wondering about the singles scene in and around Cuenca. I have no problem in this area up here, but would appreciate any info the single life down there.

    1. Interesting question. It all depends on the age group. People in Cuenca tend to marry and start families quite young compared to North Americans (depending on the city, of course), meaning most bars and night clubs are heavilly frequented by early twenty-somethings. For those of us in the mid-thirties bracket and up, there is a severe shortage of places in Cuenca to go and have a drink without stumbling into college kids, and in some cases, even high schoolers with fake IDs. Most people frequent bars in couples or large groups of couples; you don’t see too many women here spending time in nightclubs alone. Most women who do go out together in a group (without men) tend to stick to restaurants and coffee houses. In the larger cities of Quito or Guayaquil, it’s a whole other story…

      1. Thanks for the info. I play in some bands here (here being Naples, FL) and if I pull the trigger on a move, I just want to get an idea if there is a “night life” there, including live music. I’ve spent quite a bit of time in Boquete, Panama, and as pretty as it is, it’s just a little slow and old (age and attitude) for me. Oddly enough, I don’t drink (or drug – those days are long gone), but I like to get out a couple times a week, and have met people in restaurants, bars, grocery stores – pretty much anywhere. Guess I’ll just have to get my butt down there and see for myself.

        1. Andy, I just wrote another post here about pretty much the same subject, but with Cuenca being a college town, there are a number of places near the hostal I stayed at, right around the intersection of Hermano Miguel and Calle Larga. Mostly younger types, but a nice (and I believe American-owned) place is the “CoffeeTree” just a few blocks away from where I was–all ages and nationalities. As for “single life” specifically, there is a group called “Cuenca Singles.” I’m not sure how active it is, the age ranges they specify for average membership age is 45 – 70, but I’m pretty sure that’s not a requirement for membership. If you’re interested, simply create a free account on (from pretty much anywhere), and do a search for … wait… I tried to search and could not make it appear. But once you do sign up for, the URL for the singles site is
          But there’s one slight problem… it appears that whomever was acting as the group organizer is no longer in that position, and without an organizer, the notice on the site says that meetup group will disappear in 8 more days. Hopefully somebody will step up and save it, but I don’t know anymore than that.

        2. Andy,
          I am also in Naples,Fl and considering relocation to Ecuador soon. Want to explore in jan. 2015. Would u like to collaborate? I am 42 and female. Namaste!!

  47. Hi,
    I would like to send some of my LUGGAGE / Boxes , a month BEFORE I arrive. I am not arriving directly (have to make a couple stops) and I want to send a couple BOXES direct – anyone provide such a service, or know who does (storing boxes) until the person arrives?

    1. You need to be careful with shipping used goods. While you can bring used goods on your flight, you might have problems with Ecuador Customs (Aduanas) if your luggage arrives without you.

  48. I have been looking at Cuenca for some time now and I want to make a visit for two weeks to a month. Where would you recommend me staying during that period of time? Would it be more cost effective to rent a furnished apartment for that length of time? If so, do you have any resources for apartment rental?
    Roger Parry

    1. Depending on how much space and what kind of amenities you require while you’re there, you can go several different ways (btw, this is based on my 10-day visit there, so others may have better suggestions).
      1. If you’re needs are fairly basic and you pretty much just need a bed and bath, hostels (or “hostals” as known there) are very inexpensive and relatively comfortable. I just got back to the US last week, and the hostal I stayed at was “Hogar Cuencano Hostal” near the corner of Hermano Miguel and Calle Larga. The cost was roughly $10 per night, rooms were cleaned daily, private rooms/baths are available, and the owner speaks fluent English. They don’t provide meals, but there is a common-use kitchen if you choose. Great breakfast place immediately next door, and the location overall is great (near many restaurants, a nice park, McDonalds!, and a stone’s throw from a very nice walk along the riverfront.) The number there (dial 001 first if calling from the US) is 07 283 4941. And I’m not sure how important this is in choosing a hostal in Cuenca, but there is no curfew; you get a set of keys for both front doors and your room, so you can come and go as you please. In the place I stayed in Quito, they padlocked the door behind me after I entered, and I was not allowed to leave to go get something to eat!
      2. The “regular hotel” route, which is probably a good deal more expensive.
      3. Or if you’re looking for a fully furnished (and nicely so!) short-term rental, I found one agency that provides both short and long-term rentals. I saw one and it was *utterly* furnished–just bring a toothbrush! There are probably less-expensive such options, but my time was limited and I only got a chance to work with this agency. The one property I saw was luxurious by US standards, had a huge leather sofa, big-screen TV, king-sized beds, 2 baths, a private patio with a gas grill, plus all linens, towels, kitchenware, and all utilities, internet, and cable included in the cost. It was $790 a month, but, again, it was all-inclusive–no additional fees or expenses. Their website shows what I believe may be slightly deceptive pricing, compared to what they showed me in their office, but I was, nevertheless, impressed with the English-speaking staff and their professionalism. Contact info is: Phone: 593 994 882 938
      Phone: 593 7 284 7328
      Address: Bolivar 12-30 at Tarqui
      Office 204, Second Floor

  49. My husband and I are planning an exploratory trip to Ecuador for about 2-3 weeks in January. We’ll be flying from Santiago, Chile to Guayaquil, only because of schecules and pricing. We plan to start our exploration in Cuenca (with a friend) and work our way south toward Loja. How are the bus schecules, length of trip and prices from Guayquil to Cuenca? I saw that we can fly for $81 oneway. Thanks in advance.

  50. Bryan,
    My wife, mom and I are going to be visiting Cuenca from 11-29-13 to 12-5-13 to see if it is the place we want to retire to permanently. I was hoping you could give us the name of someone that we could meet with while we are there to get some questions that we have about relocating, residency, visas, real estate vs. renting, etc. answered. We know we will probably have to pay to meet with someone which is of course fine with us. We look forward to hearing back from you as soon as you get a chance with your recommendation(s) on who to talk to while we are there. Thank you very much for your time and any help you can be to us with this matter. Have a GREAT day 🙂
    Stephen M.

    1. There are people offering that service, but you should be careful. Most of these are setup to funnel you into their “legal” services. You should setup appointments with lawyers and real estate and renting agents and speak directly with the sources.

  51. I would like to relocate here, but I need a job so that I can bring my green card Chinese surgeon/professor wife with me. How can I aquire a job to allow her to accompany me ? I am 61 and employed as an analyzer inspector with Shell Oil. I can afford to retire, but need to have employment there to legally bring my wife….

  52. I would like to visit Cuenca in July 2013 with my kids ages 7 and 10. We would like to stay for a couple of weeks so that we could work on our Spanish. My kids are in a Span-Eng dual immersion school in the US, so they have some fluncy in Spanish, however they are native English speakers. Can you recommend any language schools or other summer day camp type activities that would give my kids a Spanish immersion experience in July 2013 in Cuenca? It would be super to have them in school for a couple weeks with Ecuadoran kids, but our trip is timed for summer. Any ideas? Thanks for your help.

    1. Sounds like a great idea. While the schools in the sierra are on vacation in July, the coastal schools aren’t. They take vacation in Feb/March. I don’t know of any day camp activities but if you check the sites of specific school in Cuenca you should be able to find some programs – although it might be a little early to find that info now.

  53. Rob Leigh-Clark October 21, 2013, 4:22 pm
    Hi – My question about living in Cuenca, or elsewhere in Equador, has to do with cost of living, and feasibility of being able to hire home help. My wife has dementia and I know from experience as her sole caregiver that I cannot do all of the care alone. Here in Canada, that means for someone of middle class income like us (and now pension income as care giving meant leaving the work place earlier then planned) that my wife had to be admitted to a care facility, and we thus find ourselves “involuntarily separated”. My hope is that if the cost of living in Equador allows for us to have home help (not necessarily nursing help) we could be together and enjoy the rest of our lives together. A dream, or a possibility?

  54. Hi – My question about living in Cuenca, or elsewhere in Equador, has to do with cost of living, and feasibility of being able to hire home help. My wife has dementia and I know from experience as her sole caregiver that I cannot do all of the care alone. Here in Canada, that means for someone of middle class income like us (and now pension income as care giving meant leaving the work place earlier then planned) that my wife had to be admitted to a care facility, and we thus find ourselves “involuntarily separated”. My hope is that if the cost of living in Equador allows for us to have home help (not necessarily nursing help) we could be together and enjoy the rest of our lives together. A dream, or a possibility?

  55. Will I be able to easily find a nurse who will visit my home to wrap an injured leg? If so, what should I expect to pay for 3 visit of 30mins or so each week?
    I also have limited mobility due to obesity and leg injury. Do most apartments/condos have reliable elevators?
    Finally, I would need someone to cook, shop, and clean on a regular basis. I would be willing to provide residence if that makes finding someone more likely. Will that be a problem and can you estimate the cost?
    Sorry to ficus so much on the price of things. I will be retired and on a fixed income.

    1. Some of the large apartment buildings have elevators – the security buildings often have 2 or 3. We don’t have experience with in-house services but I know that some expats do have that. I’ve heard of doctors making house calls. You can pay from $20-35 for an appointment with a specialist in Cuenca – in their office. Maybe another expat can give you more information.

    2. Regarding domestic services, you can definitely hire someone to assist with cooking, cleaning and shopping. Be aware, however, that in recent years the Government has started to strictly enforce labour laws regarding domestic help, thus guaranteeing they are paid minimum wage, with all social security benefits. At this time, full time domestic help costs $318 per month, plus an extra $318 paid out in September, and another $318 that is paid out in December. These are called the “13th wage”, and “14th wage”, respectively, meaning workers get paid double their salary two months out of the year. You do need to be careful to do all the necessary paperwork to ensure an employee is fully insured from day one, otherwise, hefty fines will apply after the 15-day trial period. (this happened to a friend of mine who was trying out a new nanny, got a visit from an labour inspector on the 16th day and was hit with a fine for not having her enrolled in the IESS – Ecuador’s social security plan). According to the law, you also must also do the necessary paperwork to provide partial benefits for part time domestic help, or even a person who works a few hours a week in your home. There have been many cases of housekeepers suing their former employers for lost benefits (to the tune of the thousands of dollars, sometimes for years of service), so it’s important for folks to get the necessary paperwork in order (a lawyer can help with this) . Hope this helps.

  56. Bryan, first of all we love your website and the fact that you don’t mind answering questions for people like myself. My wife and I have been talking about retiring to Cuenca for 4 years now and are finally going to make a trip there on 11/29/13 for a week. We were curious if you could give us your recommendations for a good motel/hotel to stay at for the week(my 79 year old mother will be with us also). We’re not looking for luxury, just a nice, clean, as inexpensive as possible, and hopefully fairly close to sites you feel should be seen to make our decision on permanently moving there. We truly appreciate your time and help with this trip Bryan. P.S. Loved your “House Hunters Intl.” episode. Thanks again, Steve, Sally, and Patsy M.

  57. We are considering retirement in Cuenca. Are there any companies that specialize in, for lack of a better description, relocation vacations? We would like to visit and also visit with locals and expats to get a better idea of what it would be like and what we need to do.

    1. Suzanne Thurston on Facebook is in Cuenca and has a couple of different tours that aren’t selling anything. She takes you to the homes of different expats so you can see the different options and ask questions. Also has a tour to inform you on the hospital/medical scene. And not sure but that one might also take you around to the grocery/shopping/market options?
      She is really nice and very helpful. I went on the very first housing tour and think it is very helpful ~ a good way to get your bearings. Also, check out the files on the Gringo Tree site.

  58. I have been researching Ecuador for a year or two,and had hoped to be there by now.I am british Canadian and used to working and travelling all over the worldbut I have never worried
    much about the atrial fibrillation. I am well aware that certain heights would be dangerous, so i had decided on somewhere in or near Vilcabamba , but rather Cuenca. I know it is difficult to comment as each individual will experience this condition differently and may not wish to comment, but I would be helped to decide what I shall do anyway. Travelling quickly from one height to another by car, bus or train would seem to be most dangerous. In the last four years the condition has disappeared, but returned when my husband passed away recently. I am no longer aware of the fibrillation, but know that it is there and the implications. My husband passed away this year- it returned and disappeared after a month or so. Otherwise I am exceptionally healthy. If anyone has anything to say that would put this into context for me,however tentative, it might help my decision. I really look forward to your insights into Ecuador, and wish you all the very best in this experience. Take care !as a Canadian would say ———-all good wishes

    1. My mother had A Fib for years. I believe it puts you at greater risk for blood clots and stroke. My mother managed hers very well with anticoagulants and never suffered any consequences. You are smart to think of any health issues you might have before moving to Ecuador. It looks like stress is a trigger for your A Fib and any move, including to beautiful Ecuador, is sure to be stressful atleast for awhile. I would talk to a cardiologist about your specific condition and ask about the possible need for antocoagulant therapy. Good luck to you!

  59. Hey, I can’t believe it! I just saw you and your wife on house hunters one week ago! I love to watch the old seasons from the international searches since we would like to move abroad in the near future. In fact, your episode was the first time I had ever heard of Cuenca. We loved the location and are strongly considering relocating from Missouri, US as soon as my husband graduates nursing school. Which leads me to my question, what are salaries like for nurses in Cuenca or very nearby locations? I was just googling the salaries for nurses and was very surprised to come across your blog. I recognized your wifes face instantly! Thanks!

  60. Hello Bryan I want to congratulate you for your excellent page. Addition would like form a work team with you to help all people interested on getting properties in Cuenca and its surroundings. To give this facility and encourage them to live in this beautiful and peaceful country Ecuador.

  61. i know you do alot of writing and giving information about cuenca but can you tell me anything about the smaller towns aound cuenca, for example choredeleg, gualaceo, and any other places within an hours distance of cuenca. we are going to be retiring there next year but we wanted to live outside of cuenca. thanks

    1. Hi mary I can help with some information about small towns around Cuenca. Gualaceo is a very recommended because it is a valley 35 minutes from Cuenca. Life is very peaceful, almost no pollution in the air, people are very friendly, has everything you need for a comfortable life, the scenery is unparalleled, the cost of living is much cheaper than Cuenca. I can also recommend and advise if necessary in real estate because I am an architect working in the Gualaceo´s city hall but also I have a real estate office. I have several alternatives that you will love. The best market prices without any compromise. We also have properties in small towns around Cuenca as the warm Yunguilla. The Jewelry small city Chordeleg. Paute valley, Sigsig and many others.

        1. of course Mike. My office is located in the center of Gualaceo on the Gran Colombia 9-21. I Also working in the municipality of Gualaceo as a technician. My mail is . The website is in the process of creation. Greetings.


        1. You’re welcome Mary. I tell you that there are many people from North America who is living their retirement in small towns like Paute, Chordeleg, Sigsig, but especially in Gualaceo. Any concerns you may have please contact me. Best regards.

  62. Hi Bryan
    First of all , thank you for all the information and your availability . i have few questions for you.
    I am french ( good english and spanish ) and i will move with my ecuatorian girl friend end of the year and i went once to cuenca already.
    – do you think it will be able to find a job easily according to my language skills and background ( customer service, logistic , finance ) and what is the best way to find one ( internet , news papers )
    – i want to stay at least from january to august do you think it will be possible regarding visa as it will be more than 6 months
    thank you for your answer

    1. To be employed you need some form of visa that is more than a tourist stamp (T-3). With a visa, Spanish fluency and some work skills you shouldn’t have any trouble. It would be like looking for work anywhere else.

  63. I just finished reading about the diesel pollution in El Centro, the historic part of Cuenca. What is the situation there? Are their working to change the public transportation from diesel to cleaner emissions? That did not sound promising.

  64. I love the website! So much great information. Thank you for the time and effort you put into it.
    I haven’t seen much mentioned on vacation travel outside of Ecuador. One reason I am considering moving to Ecuador is to save money so I can travel. I’m hoping to live inexpenively and use whatever money I save to take occasional vacations outside of Ecuador, maybe see other countries in South America or places abroad. I am assuming South American travel would be pretty easy and not too costly. Is it difficult to travel outside of South America? I think retiring to Panama might be easier, travelwise, but I would prefer to live in Ecuador. Are there ex-pats living in Cuenca who do quite a bit of travel? I’m a single woman and would like to meet others who might want to travel with me.
    Thanks so much for any feedback you can offer.

  65. If I buy an I-phone unlocked, and bring it with me, what will a plan cost me in Cuenca and who is the best company to go with? Will everything work on the phone if I just have a normal sim card with prepaid minutes, or do I have to have a monthly plan?
    Thank you for your help. I read you regularly.

    1. The most common carrier is Claro. It is considered to be the best network. If your phone is unlocked it should work fine. You can buy either prepaid or a monthly plan.

  66. One more question I forgot….we need very reliable high speed Internet for my husband’s job. Could you recommend the most reliable high speed Internet provider to be installed in our home to support the needs to be constantly connected to US? Thanks!

  67. I have a few questions: how much can I expect to pay for rent (non gringo prices) in a furnished 3-4 bedroom modest size house preferably with a yard? Also, is there a difference in cost between a live in maid or one that lives out of the house? Thanks!

  68. My wife and I are considering a move to Cuenca. Wondering if you could give us some insight to the amount of humidity that we can expect throughout the year?

    1. I don’t have a percentage but generally the air is dry – especially inside of homes. There are some expats that have had trouble with mold and humidity but this is generally because of poorly constructed / ventilated homes. We haven’t had any trouble here. In fact, we had to buy a humidifier for use at night because the air is so dry.

  69. I already subscribe to your newsletter, and I think it’s just fabulous. My husband and I are planning to move to Cuenca shortly, but I’m having a problem understanding what I need to do, and when. I know I saw a post somewhere on your blog that mentioned your immigration lawyer’s name, There were also comments from other that it is a good immigration lawyer. Could you please send me his/her name and email address so that I may hire him? Thank you. Geri Campbell

  70. First, let me say that this is a great website with a wealth of information. It has so much information that I can not locate an article that I found a few days ago. I am looking for a local woman’s contact information who offers spanish language services for foreigners in order to get their cable, internet and other services set up without having to deal inflated prices. I would appreciate it if anyone could post that link as I am having a difficult time.
    Thank you!

  71. I’m a registered nurse working in Florida, what are the requirements to obtain a position as a RN in Cuenca, Ecuador?

  72. In light of several news stories now, I’d like to ask this question:
    Does the Ecuadorian provide any political complications for its US Military retirees, or any others that might have opinions not shared by the government? Not speaking of Ecuadorians – just the government and its ruling politicians. Thanks.

    1. As an expat closing to live in another country, I would consider it a major faux pas to express my political opinions, except perhaps very privately with other gringos. I’m retired military myself, and as long as they accept my pension for a pensioners visa, I’ll take that as a good sign and keep my political notions to myself… Pretty much the same way I do in the US.

    1. I was wondering about the same thing. In India (where my husband is from) Scooters are quite common, cheap on gas, and very convenient, not to mention fun to ride. I think it would be great if one were to be able to find them in Ecaudor.

  73. I am having trouble verifying information regarding a job offer from Alta Sierra Golf Resort in Ecuador. How can I verify the existence of a company in Ecuador?
    The hiring manager said I would have to get a certification license ($360) from the Federacion Ecuatorina de Golf before we could agree on a 2 year contract. The Ecuador golf federation does not list Alta Sierra on their website. Maybe this is a new club! Can you help?

  74. Hi, trying to gauge what a nice rental would cost a month. I read one post for 2011 (somewhere) that $250-$350 gets a nice result in Cuenca. Does it in your opinion? My wife and I are considering a short “due diligence” visit and would like to know what we might expect for a short term visit?

    1. While you can get a nice long-term, unfurnished rental for that price, I don’t think you will find many short-term furnished rentals. These are more in the range of $500-750/month.

  75. Can you tell me about schools we are moving there and have a 4yr old are there a lot of preschools and schools for him

    1. I’ve got the same question, so I hope an answer appears soon. We’ll be in Cuenca about 6 months and want our (almost)5 year old enrolled in a preschool or kindergarten. How do I find a school for her?

  76. do the cable co. broadcast in english they carry shows that are currenty being broadcast in the states.

      1. Thinking of moving to Cuenca when I retire. Is the healthcare and hospital care really as good as the reports that I have been reading?

  77. Can anyone advise me on how I might obtain a sim card from a cellular provider in Ecuador before I leave the US destined for Cuenca for an exploratory visit?

      1. Thanks. I just thought if I could get it before departing the US I might forward my US cell phone number to the cell phone number in Ecuador.

  78. Hi, I hear all the time about how you cannot find certain items to buy in Ecuador. From what I’ve read it’s impossible to order things you need over the internet and have it delivered directly to ecuador. That is, with out going through that site in Florida and having them forward it. Is it that companies won’t ship to Ecuador or that Ecuador won’t accept things in the mail being imported into the country? Thank you, I’ve been following your column for a while, I’m leaving for Quito in 3 weeks for a trial visit.

      1. I’m hearing that it’s difficult to get the things I’m used to ordering online there in Ecuador. I was thinking of going to Chile instead for this and other reasons but I think I would prefer Ecuador. I assumed it was due to corruption and Chile is known for having the least corruption of all latin American countries. Many of my favorite herbs come from there and surrounding countries so I still would prefer Ecuador. I’m a raw vegan (usually) and I take a lot of supplements most of which I get in the form of bulk powders. I also take a lot of herbs that may not be available there. Ordering books from seems to be an issue for a cousin of mine in Argentina and she also mentioned it was getting worse in Ecuador. Any idea if this is so.

  79. I am wondering if there are any ceramic or pottery studios in Cuenca where you can go and do pottery or work with clay and have it fired. I am an artist from the states I do Clay on Canvas and sold all my equipment before retiring here.

    1. I am also looking for a studio where I would be able to throw some clay and have it fired. Any pottery classes would be wonderful!

  80. My wife and I are considering retiring to Ecuador or Costa Rica. We both enjoy golf and would like to get some information as to cost of joining clubs and/or golf fees and access to golf courses. I really like your web site. Steve Watkins suggested I follow your blog. Steve and I are both from Arkansas. Thanks in advance for any information.

  81. Hi!
    A friend and I are moving to Cuenca, Ecuador in August, and we are currently becoming certified to teach English via TEFL. Can you inform us of some good schools to apply for to teach English in downtown Cuenca? I need to set up interviews, but I also need to have a job before hand so I can get a visa. Also, how difficult is it to get a work visa in Ecuador?
    Thanks for your help!

  82. Here’s a question about a college-age woman studying in Cuenca for the summer. Something has triggered her eating disorder. She is suffering despair, anger, binge eating, purging. Is there a psychological counseling service (either in English or Spanish) or a women’s center where she could get some help? I know psychological counseling has a stigma in Ecuador.

      1. I am interested in hearing more about your solution, I am looking for some counseling right now..
        A young woman studying in Cuenca in minor distress

    1. Might be parasites. Try some of the Amazonian herbs found at rain-tree dot com. She no longer sells them, she was banned from importing any more since as a Dr. of Naturopathy she refused to remove the proven health claims the FDA forbids. She put up even more info like how to make your own tinctures with her formulas. The looming worldwide Agenda 21 implementation is one main reason I’m moving to south America. They can’t stop me from self medicating when my medicine grows all around me.

  83. Do you happen to know if expats can get paid “gigs” as musicians – either DJ-ing or performing live by joining a band, etc?

  84. I have a girlfriend whose husband will need care and eventually long term care. Do you know of anything? He is quite a bit older than she is and is ex Navy Brass.

  85. I just discovered Cuenca after watching a segment on the news and I’m extremely interested in relocating. I’m in my 50’s and still need to work a few more years before I can fully retire financially. Where can I learn about employment options? My background is in marketing, I have a bachelors degree and have worked in commercial real estate marketing most of my career. I am currently employeed but would welcome a change such as this if I can find a way to work. Otherwise, I would have to wait until I can officially retire to relocate.

  86. Thinking of making the move but my one main concern is financing a home. Apparently it’s difficult to arrange there, and my bank won’t do mortgages here for out-of-country properties. Do i need the full amount in cash to purchase property there?

  87. I’m a single female retiring to Cuenca next year. With so much being written about robbery and women being alone, are we allowed to carry pepperspray?
    Thanks so much.

      1. Thank you, Bryan. I realy appreciate you taking your time to answer. Now I feel much better knowing that I will be able to find art supplies I need.

  88. I’ve been reading through some of your blog posts and enjoying it. You mentioned that you homeschool your daughter. Is that what most expats with young children do there? We have two young boys and are considering a move to ecuador (currently considering Manta-or somewhere along the coast) and I am most concerned about making the move smooth for them. I may be interested in homeschooling them but I am most interested in what you have found most expats are doing and what english private schools are available. I thought I read there was one in cuenca but with my limited Spanish, I was unable to find much else. I read that there were some homeschooling groups for expats. Interested in your thoughts on this.

    1. Expat kids are either home-schooled, study by distance or go to a local school. From what we’ve seen, it seems that more families used to send their kids to school (10-20 years ago) than they do now. While we know of a few families who use local schools, the majority study online or at home with custom curriculum.

  89. Two questions, actually:
    1. If you are visiting for the first time and must be really careful about drinking water, bacteria, etc., in the food, how do you manage to eat in restaurants?
    2. My spouse is on a narcotic pain medicine. How difficult would it be to obtain this type of medication? If you need a prescription, then, how to find a doctor to write it?

  90. Bryan, Thanks for the feedback on Borja probably having its classes in Spanish and offering English as a subject of study. I would welcome comments from local residents, nationals or expats who have had or currently have children enrolled in local schools on the pros and cons of various options. Thanks

    1. Upon arriving in Cuenca two years ago from Toronto, we enrolled our then 14-year old son in a local private school, straight into the ninth grade or, décimo de básica, as it’s known here. While our son already spoke Spanish, he had never actually written or read anything in the language until that point. It was a rocky start for all of us, not so much because of the language (I also went to high school and university in Cuenca), but because of the adjustment to the education system. My son’s school is what most would call a more “traditional” private all-boys school, meaning students take 10 subjects a year all pre-chosen for them, they start the school day at 7:15 a.m., wear uniforms and must adhere to strict behavioural guidelines (you must salute and respect your teachers, no back talk, cutting class is heavily penalized, etc.). Coming from the public school system in Toronto where kids aren’t even required to hand in assignments on time or even show a modicrum of respect for their teachers, we felt that a system that holds students to a higher standard would be a good character-building experience for our son. I know this from personal experience as I, too, was plunked into the same traditional system at the age of 12 (albeit kicking and screaming) when my parents moved to Cuenca – and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.
      Despite the frustrations at the beginning, being inmersed at a local school where everyone speaks Spanish (my son uses his English classes to do homework) has done wonders for our son’s transition; he has a great group of friends who like to hang out at our place and has a fuller social life than he would have had in Toronto at the age of 16 (of course, there’s a whole other bag of issues that come along with leading an active social life in Cuenca, such as the non-enforcement of alcohol laws, but that’s for another post…).
      Mind you, this approach to schooling works for us because my husband and I experienced it first hand ourselves, so we were able to help our son through the transition, we all speak Spanish and our son blended in nicely. However, other expats may find this approach daunting, or even traumatic for their kids. I certainly felt this way when I was 12 and threw many temper tantrums as a result. But looking back, I wouldn’t have it any other way – after all, this kind of cultural inmersion via local schooling is what exchange students from all around the world (Cuenca included) search and pay good money for – it makes you fearless. But every family’s situation is different, so it’s more a matter of finding an approach that works for all family members.

  91. Hi brian we met about 2 years ago@supermaxi We are selling our Condo And can you recommend a real estate person or group?

  92. Hi Bryan, Great website! Lots of useful info on Cuenca. I Googled you after watching the TV episode. Following up on Mateo’s comments, we too are interested in the school choices and tuition costs in Cuenca. Our boys will be entering elementary school soon. We are interested in the possibility of enrolling them in a Spanish speaking elementary school, vice one where classes are in English. Although Borja’s website is in Spanish, they indicate the language is English (not sure if this means classes are in English or if they just offer it as a subject). Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

  93. My boyfriend and I are considering moving here. He is a registered nurse, but speaks very little Spanish. Do you think this would be a limiting factor? Would you recommend him becoming fluent before we make the move or is there a lot of English spoken there? Thanks so much!

    1. If you are planning on working here, especially in medicine, then you’ll need to be fluent. There are other jobs where you’ll need primarily English – such as tourism. We moved without any Spanish and have learned it here. It is much easier to learn by immersion than books – at least for us.

  94. hola, i love your blog & read it religiously as i’m planning on spending 5 weeks in cuenca this summer. i was wondering if you have recommendations for any gym memberships or yoga studios in the area? thanks!

  95. Are there expats who will trade accommodations in the USA for those in Ecuador for a couple of months? Otherwise, what is the best way to find a place to vacation that is reasonable for the months of February and March?

  96. What is the very first thing I should do to plan a trip to Ecuador if I have a small pet that I want to take with me (dog)?

  97. Bryan,
    We live on the Big Island of Hawaii which has quite a diverse climate. We live at an elevation of 300 feet and are close to the ocean. It is very dry in our area receiving an average rainfall of only 7 inches, while only 11 miles away in “upcountry” Waimea, at an elevation of 2500 ft. it averages one 150 inches of rainfall per year. We lived there for 2 years and my wife suffered from mold allergies. Black mold grew both on the outside of homes and frequently on the inside. The use of a dehumidifier is a must. Due to the elevation and rainfall in Cuenca, and so many of the pictures we see of Cuenca are loaded with green, are there problems with mold inside of the homes? Have you heard of individuals who suffer from mold problems? Thanks for your input…

        1. Brian,
          I’m new to Cuenca. We’ll be here for “dos meses” doing cutural and language immersion.
          We did just have an experience with mold in an apartment one block east of Supermaxi on Los Americas. The building is one of the red brick modern apartment buildings. The woman who rents the apartment doesn’t realize how bad the mold is. You could smell under the sink – it almost blew me back how strong it was. There was mold growing around the base of the faucet in one of the baths and around the edes of the shower. You could smell the mold in the apartment and it was making us sick.
          We had someone investigate the apartment for us beforehand. She’s America, but married to an Ecuadorian and has lived here for years. Even she didn’t realize the mold issue, because most people dont’ know what mold smells like. If you can’t see it and it doesn’t affect you in the few minutes you’re walking around the apartment, you’re not going to realize that there is mold in the house.
          I hear that with most apartment rentals, like ours, there was no contract or lease. They don’t see to do that here. We were able to move to a new place quickly, which was fine. So, we lost our deposit of $200, but we didn’t mind because the woman had held the apartment for us and turned down another tenant. We wanted to be respectful and not cause our friends who had found the place for us any problems.
          The other thing that I haven’t read yet when scrolling down this thread of questions is GAS. Not gas for a car, but gas for a home or apartment. The hot water and dryer in our apartment is GAS. Stove is GAS. Some places, you may need to find a gas supplier who will deliver a canister or two for $2.50 to $3.00 each. Our security guard or the landlord should know the phone number for local provider.
          No, it’s not a flashy Con Edison truck that’s going to pull up with your gas canisters. It’s a local guy with an exposed pickup or small truck that’s going to come by and deliver it.
          You can definitely smell the gas in your apartment. If you have trouble with smelling gas, then you should definitely enter the apartment you want to rent when you get here and make sure that the separate room for the gas meter and w/d are not close to the bedroom. You want to turn on the dryer, the store or the shower and see how bad the gas smell is in your place. Not being able to be here and makes it difficult to find a place in Cuenca when you’re living in the US. So you have to ensure that if you’re relying on someone to look for you, they have to understand mold, they have to take pictures and send them to you if they see some, and they have to understand how to turn on the gas and see if it’s going to be an overwhelming problem.
          Because the weather is mild, sure you can open the windows and air out the gas smell pretty easily. The building we are in now has a main gas line that’s turned on from the hallway by security. But, the building we were in with the moldy apartment, you needed to call the delivery service for gas. So, it depends on the building you’re in. If you don’t want to deal with delivery, then you should find a more modern building with a central gas supply.

  98. Hi. I’m planning on moving to Cuenca next year. I’m a veteran teacher (English and art) and am getting my TEFL certification. I will be in Cuenca for spring break next March and would like to explore opportunities to teach in Cuenca. Can you recommend high schools or universities (I have my masters) that have TEFL English teachers?

  99. Hi There!
    My Dad moved to Cuenca 2 years ago and I have finally made my way here. Sadly, he does not know anyone my age. I know it is more difficult for me to meet people due to my lack of Spanish, (which I am working on and currently taking classes) but could you suggest a place/event where I could likely meet some others in their mid-20s to 30s. I am here for a good while and I would like to meet people and possibly do some traveling around the country while I am here.

  100. Can you recommend a good language school in Cuenca? There are several to choose from, and I’m hoping you have secondhand/thirdhand knowledge of them.

  101. We’re not Expats … not yet, anyway, and likely never. But we lived in Japan for 4 years and are glad we did. Something like that in Cuenca is possible in the future.
    But for now, if we visited Cuenca for 2-4 weeks, should we simply stay in a hotel, or is it worth the trouble to live in someplace more permanent and “local”? We’re interested in Spanish language immersion and want to learn about the culture and lifestyle. Perhaps we’d like to spend another 4 years there.
    Thank you in advance for your advice, and your wonderful blog-site!
    — Betsy & Chuck Berry

  102. Just following up to see if anyone could point me in the right direction.
    My husband and I have been trying to sell our house for 2 years now so we can make the move to Ecuador. We fell in love with the country and people and can hardly wait.
    My question is, my husband is on a fairly strong drug for his AFib and I don’t know how to go about finding out if he will be able to obtain it in Ecuador. The drug is Tikosyn 500MCG. He needs his medication so if we can’t get it in Ecuador, we can’t move. Since I don’t know any doctors in Ecuador, I don’t know where to go to find out if it is available.
    Thank you in advance for any help you can offer.

  103. Re: Home schooling teenagers
    Our move will take place in about 2.5 years when Husband retires from the military. Our daughter will be 13-14 at the time of our move and we plan to home school her. She currently attends public school.
    My question/s is this:
    I believe I read that you home school. Are there guidelines provided (curriculum based) provided for you? How do you ensure your child receives proper socialization with other kids their own age? Do you know if there are optional courses available at the high school level for kids? Our daughter is highly artistic and we would like to be able to enroll her in art classes once in Cuenca. And finally, is it possible to find tutors who can offer additional help in our native language? (English)
    Thanks a bunch for any advice/guidance you can offer.
    Andrea Taylor

    1. Hi Andrea – yes we do home-school our daughter. We created her curriculum and submitted it to the Ministry of Education in Nova Scotia (Canada). They didn’t require much – it was mostly left up to us. She is now enrolled in an online high school in the US and they provide the full curriculum. There are many options – you can search “online highschools usa”. There are dozens of good options. Socialization isn’t a problem. She has tons of friends from all over the city. I don’t know about tutors, but I expect with the number of retired foreigners you should be able to find some teachers interested to do some tutoring.
      All the best on your plans!

      1. Your comment on ‘lots of friends’ is interesting. How did you accomplish that while homeschooling. ( I have a very social 17 year old.) Thanks, Lannie

        1. If school is the only social activity a child has, then homeschooling could be a problem. If you get involved in community, sport or volunteer activities, then it is the same as anywhere else – your child will meet like-minded children and will make lots of friends.

  104. Hi Bryan,
    What a great blog! We have been looking into moving to ecuador (we are from argentina) and want to know if we could live in Cuenca with 3500usd per month? We have a 1 year old baby who will have to go to kindergarten soon, what is the approximate cost of a good school there? I tried to lookonline but haventreally found much on schools. I need to know if with that money we could send him to a good school and live a nice relaxed life in cuenca.
    Thank you so much!

    1. Hi Jean, when we first arrived our Ecuador cost of living was less than $1000 per month. It has increased because our lifestyle has also changed but with your target budget you will do fine. I know that schools can range from $50 to $300 per month depending on a number of variables. Price doesn’t always reflect quality. A school that was charging $260/month was shut down by the government for poor quality education and another one that charges less than $60/month was approved to operate.

  105. I have multiple chemical sensitivity and am on a gluten free diet. The US has gotten much better in many ways for someone like me, with gluten free products everywhere, and natural alternatives like the Seventh Generation brand. Many pesticides have been outlawed, and organic produce is available. However, perfumes are EVERYWHERE. I am wondering what Cuenca is like in comparison. do people use scented things everywhere? (plug ins, incense, deodorizers like Febreze or other things sprinkled on carpets) are pesticides, herbicides and other chemicals used with abandon or is there environmental awareness? (like do they spray weeds on the sidewalks) are there health food stores where gluten free products are available? I can always order my unscented toiletries online if those are not available. I have a hard enough time going anywhere in the US, I would hate to consider a move to Cuenca only to discover it’s worse.

    1. Perfumes are more common here than we remember in Canada. Also aerosol sprays are used liberally in washrooms. I don’t know how it compares to where you live, but scents seem to be well used here. A friend of ours can’t eat gluten and at first she had trouble finding alternatives. With some investigation she found what she needed. Yucca bread and flour is common here – it might be a good option.
      I’m not an expert and I don’t really know how to compare scents from here to somewhere else. You should confirm what I’ve said with another opinion – and/or you should come for a visit to confirm for yourself. I’ve heard a number of people mention that they noticed their asthma symptoms improve – even disappear – while visiting Cuenca. The air (outside of the center) is fresh and relatively clean.

      1. Hi Bryan,
        I just wanted to jump in here, because my wife also has MCS and is strictly gluten-free. MCS is not like asthma. It does not just disappear with a different climate. Those affected by multiple chemical sensitivity, which is listed as a disability in the American Disabilities Act, cannot be near toxic chemicals contained in cleaners and fragrances or used for machinery. They can become very ill and be forced inside for days at a time, where their bodies have to deal with the effects of exposure.
        Given that I’ve been here for one month with my wife, I’ve noticed a few things. Super Maxi does carry one brand of toxin free dish soap and cleaner. It’s called Organic Clean. I’ve checked the label and it contains “Agentes de limpeza orgånicos biodegradables, alcohol derivado del mazo caña azücar, escencia de limón, agua.” There is another BIO brand of cleaners, but I don’t believe they are organic or natural.
        We also did find a laundry detergent, Quanto Green, that claims “Formula 99% Natural.” Ingredients: Agentes limpiadores (tensoactivos anioicos, no-îónicos y anfóteros), suavizantes de agua, agents dispersantes, agentes estabilizadores, agua, agents reduladores, agents removerdores de suciedad y perfume. QUNATO LIQUIDO NO CONTIENE FOSFATOS.”
        We use Seventh Generation exclusively in the U.S. and this liquid detergent, while claiming 99% natural, does not seem to have a pronounced effect on my wife’s health. That’s not to say it does not have an effect. We don’t think so, because she hasn’t had a severe reaction, however, she has been short of breath the last few days and we’re not sure where that is coming from. Whether it’s the altitude or exposure to something.
        We do tell our cleaning person to clean with only vinegar and water. You have to have someone who speaks Spanish or if you speak Spanish clearly explain to your cleaning person that you cannot use regular chemical agents on your floors, bathroom, kitchen, dishes and clothing. There is not a culture of toxin-free cleaner here as far as I have seen. Super Maxi is NOT Whole Foods or other natural markets in the U.S. You will absolutely not find most of the products that are being sold in the U.S. in Cuenca for those who suffer from MCS, so you have to plan accordingly.
        One thing that I thought would have a more pronounced effect on my wife is the air pollution from city buses. While older one’s (generally the blue colored busses) are being replaced by newer ones (generally the red colored busses) that emit less exhaust fumes, exhaust is a problem, especially on a main thoroughfare like Gran Columbia or Los Americas. If you are going to move here, you must consider the distance you live from some of these main streets. There is an additional reason why the exhaust lingers, because at this altitude it is held down by the atmosphere and does not dissipate as quickly as in the U.S. If breathing in leaded gas fumes is a problem, then you want to make sure that you find a location in the city that is a little quieter without as much traffic, because the day time traffic pollution can sometimes be a little overwhelming, even for me, who does not have MCS.
        Many men and women on the buses wear fragrances, so you should be aware that you can get on a bus, especially in the evening downtown, where you will be standing next to someone with a fragrance on or you will get in a taxi in which the driver uses a scent in the car.
        Generally speaking, my wife is doing well here for someone who suffers from MCS. You can certainly live here and be able to move around freely without too much worry.
        As for gluten-free, Super Maxi carries almost no gluten-free products. It is rare to find gluten-free bread. There is one “Gringo” cafe that we found that serves gluten-free bread with breakfast and that is the San Sebas Café ( We hear there are some people baking and selling gluten-free bread, but we have yet to find them.
        Pan “Integral” is simply whole wheat bread. It is NOT gluten-free. ( It is sold by many pastelria shops (bakeries) all over the city, but don’t mistake it for gluten-free. My wife is predominantly gluten-free and did try some of the pan integral and did not get as much inflammation as we thought, but still, if you’re strictly gluten free, it’s best to stay away from pan integral.
        I did find arroz pasta at Super Maxi, which when cooked was far more chewy with less flavor than traditional pasta, but at least they have something that someone on a gluten-free diet can eat.
        It seems as though the folks from San Sebas actually make and SELL gluten-free bread, so you can pick up a loaf from them by special order.
        There is also a Thai restaurant, Joya, on Calle Larga, where you can get a gluten-free meal as well.
        Any time you eat out at an Ecuadorian restaurant, you should always ask if the sauces or broths have “no triego” (wheat) in them. There are people that know the word gluten, so you should ask for “sin gluten” or “no triego” when ordering.
        I’ll look around and see if any of the bakeries are making Pan De Yuca.

        1. Thanks for your comment. Pan de Yuca is available here and at least some of it is made with wheat flour as an ingredient. When we asked at a small shop they told us that there is no wheat, but the grocery store kind lists it as an ingredient.

          1. Yes, that’s what I thought. Many of the young women who work in these bakeries think that there’s no wheat in pan integral, when it’s actually ALL WHEAT, LOL. So, asking is sometimes a problem, because they think they know what they’re talking about, when they really don’t. I’ve learned you have to ask the older women who own the shops who are more believable when it comes to that sort of question.
            Actually, we did find Yuca bread at this Yogurt shop on Universidad Nacional y Gran Columbia. They sell 10 small bite size pieces with nutella for a few dollars. But it’s not like shopping for Yuca Bread at a market or anything. If I find something in my travels, I’m come back and post here.

      2. Oh, and one more thing.
        Super Maxi does carry a generic brand of toilet paper, paper towels and napkins that are not scented. We use them and my wife seems to have no problem with them.
        Also, the comment about ordering online. I don’t know how someone living in Cuenca is going to order and ship Seventh Generation products here. First, no one has mailboxes here. You have a P.O. Box and have to go to it and not the other way around. I haven’t – in my one month here – seen a single FedEx, DHL or UPS truck. I have zero idea as to how someone would order a shipment from overseas of cleaning products and have it delivered to their house here.
        If you’re bringing it with you, remember there is a 50 pound weight limit at the airport from the U.S. and they do not allow you even a pound overweight. So, if you’re trying to bring heavy bottles of fragrance free stuff for your visit, you’re going to suck up 10 pounds or more of important space in your suitcase, that is unless you want to bring and pay for a second bag.

  106. Hello,
    Lovely site, filled with valuable first-hand information about the kinds of adjustments necessary to mitigate culture shock.
    Forgive me if I’ve missed a topic like the one I’m about to raise among your posts – you have quite a compendium and I may have missed it.
    How do African American travelers/ expatriates fare in Cuenca? I’ve read a great deal of information about South / Central / Latin America, some of it conflicting, about the emphasis those cultures place on a rigid, socially engrained and hierarchical system of values attached to skin color, complexion, if not ethnicity and race. Yes, I know that bigotry, racism, prejudice exist everywhere on the planet, and I’m no stranger to such challenges as a U.S. citizen. There difference is that I pay taxes in the United States, I’m a citizen, and legislative mechanisms are in place which — if only on paper — militate against institution racism; there are mechanisms for redress when civil rights are violated. Of course, there are things that can’t be legislated, like attitudes — here or abroad. Alternately, I’m assuming that in Cuenca I would be, so to speak, at the mercy of the court. I hope you see the concern, but I’ll distill it: I may as well stay in the good of U.S. of A if I travel to another country and feel like I’m in the American South, circa 1950’s. Or worse. Any light you can shed would be appreciated. Keep up the good work!

    1. This is a good question to ponder, and though I’m no expert, I will attempt to address your concerns based on what I know and see, having spent my teens and early twenties in Cuenca in between stints living abroad in Canada.
      There is definitely a sort of hierarchy based on pseudo socio-economic classes. To put it into perspective, one needs to remember that the Cuenca of today is VASTLY different that what it was even just 20 years ago. When my mother left Ecuador for Toronto in the early 1970’s, Cuenca had a population of about 15,000 according to her, and any area beyond the Historial centre was basically farm land/cottage country. This meant that everyone knew everyone back then, foreigners were rare, crime was non existent and thus families socialized with and married within their own social circle (sometimes even within families – like cousins marrying cousins).
      Growing up as a teenager in Cuenca in the early 90s, I was considered a “Gringa” (even though I looked like a local) and thus was constantly asked by my friend’s parents who my parents were, what my last name was, who my grandfather was, etc. Coming from a city like Toronto, a city of immigrants where nobody gives a damn what your last name is or who your parents are, I found this line of questioning to be offensive. The interesting thing is, it persists to this day as I see how my own teenage son often gets asked who his parents are in an effort to try and “trace” him (and one would suspect, to make sure he comes from a “good family”). Now that I’m older and wiser, I can recognize it for what it is: older generations of families with a small town mentality clinging to to a bygone era where they felt safe in their knowledge of who their neighbours were and who they were doing business with.
      Today, this safety net has been broken as Cuenca’s population has exploded over the past few decades. It’s received a massive influx of foreigners not only from North America but also other countries in South America, particularly Colombia and Perú, not always with benign intentions . This makes many Cuencanos wary, as these foreigners’ origins cannot be “traced”. After listening to countless conversations among members in my family, from grandparents to aunts and uncles, all of whom lament how “you don’t know any one anymore”, it’s my personal opinion that this wariness has nothing to do with racism or skin colour, and everything to do with fear of the unknown.
      Cuenca is not yet a multicultural city, so people with different skin colours, accents or even massive heights will stand out; however, in all my years living here, I’ve never witnessed or heard about an incident involving outright racism. In Ecuador, whether some like to remember their grade school history lessons or not, we’re all mestizos to some extent, since we’re descendants of the Spanish conquerers and the local aboriginals. Forms of social exclusion in Cuenca are usually rooted in cultural and educational issues rather than skin colour. This is why “newly affluent” Cuencanos, who have little to no formal education but have amassed a certain level of wealth are often regarded with disdain by the educated, middle and upper class because of some lingering quirk like a particular speech pattern, tacky clothing or lack of table manners. Being an overly polite and conservative society, this is what really grates on Cuencano’s nerves – lack of manners, as it’s considered an indication of a bad upbringing. (Cuencanos firmly believe that proper manners and respect for others are taught in the home, i.e. a “good home”)
      Even within Ecuador itself, Cuenca is known for being town with a peculiar mentality compared to the bigger cities of Quito or Guayaquil. You either ingratiate yourself or get left out. For any newcomer (national or international) looking to integrate into Cuenca society, no matter what your skin colour, I say a key to success is to display impeccable manners, be polite and patient, salute everyone accordingly (“Buenos Días, Buenas Noches, Hasta Mañana”), respect your elders and be prepared to get to know everyone. There’s no better way to win ’em over.

  107. Could someone please recommend a real estate attorney in or proximate to Vilcabamba, where I will be canvassing next week for places to live. Would very much appreciate any suggestions.
    Thanks much,

    1. I got this from one of Gary A Scott’s weekly news letters: “If you have questions contact Ecuador attorney, Dr. Andrés Córdova
      Andres has helped many of our readers many times and published an excellent free report on the new Ecuador visa regulations.” Gary deals mostly with property purchases.
      I have no personal knowledge, however. there’s also one that works with international Living and answers some questions free. I’ve asked him questions before and he was quick to respond. I’ll try to find it (can’t believe I lost it!).

  108. My husband and I have been trying to sell our house for 2 years now so we can make the move to Ecuador. We fell in love with the country and people and can hardly wait.
    My question is, my husband is on a fairly strong drug for his AFib and I don’t know how to go about finding out if he will be able to obtain it in Ecuador. The drug is Tikosyn 500MCG.
    Thank you.

  109. Wow what a terrific road map you have provided. I cannot thank you both enough – Bryan for providing this wonderful blog for us to share information and Ed Weidner for all his know how when it comes to getting around in Ecuador.
    Ed, a follow-up question, since my plan is a one day trip with no overnight in Cuenca, can I contact the van company (name) in Cuenca to make a reservation for Loja and how long is the trip approximately?
    Again many thanks to you both,

  110. To explore the wonders of Ecuador for possible relocation, I’m arriving October 9,2012 at Quito airport with a destination of Vilcabamba. Since the Loja airport is closed for renovations, I desperately need to find a cost effective and least time consuming alternative route.
    Should I fly to Cuenca and then have to traverse ground travel of four hours or fly to Cumbaratza airport and take ground travel of 90 minutes to Loja and then another 45 by taxi to Vilcabamba? Maybe there is an even better route that I know nothing about but you all do. Is Aero Gal the best Ecaudorian airline to use?
    Please help a damsel in distress. You will be forever appreciated in my thoughts. Rosemary

    1. All the airlines are good: TAME, Lan and Aerogal. I don’t know about the the best way for transport to Loja. I know many expats take the bus or drive. I don’t imagine you would have any problems. You can hire a van service as well.

    2. Hi Rosemary,
      Fly to Ouito stay at the Savoy hotel 55.00 US then fly to Cuenca the next day. Take the van from Cuenca to Loja 12.00 US and the the cab from Loja to Vilcabamba2or3 $ US. once in the Vil depending on where you are staying a 2 or 3 $ cab ride should get you to your destination. It sounds like alot-but it really is quite easy. When I was in Cuenca[ugh] for one day I stayed at the Villa Nova-they can hook you up with the vcan company as you need a passport and a reservation.

    1. From what I understand, you can but only if you are bringing it in on your residency shipment. It is best to confirm with a lawyer or government department. You would need to think about where you will be living – many of the roads would make short work of a car like that.

      1. I agree with Dena. After only being here for 1 month, not a single person drives a car like a BMW Roadster. The old city is full of cobblestone. This is alos a mountainous region where up and down hills are pretty frequent and would make quick work of brakes and automatic transmissions, if not careful. This city is no place for a BMW Roadster. And, you are also making yourself a target if you bring something like that here. Most people in Cuenca who can afford cars are middle class, but import taxes are high and that makes cars out of reach for many who then rely on public transportation. You can find public parking in the old city, but when you’re driving through the old city, you have to be careful of getting hit, people walking with items that might hit your car and scratch it and I have no idea where the BMW dealer is, but then you have to think about servicing a car like that. Not worth the trouble to pay to ship it all the way down here and then have to figure out how to baby it so that you don’t get it stolen, scratched, dented or having the rag top sliced open. Not the place for a car like that. And, the roads are not like US roads. There is a lot of dust, dirt and debris in the city. The car would get filthy in two or three days and you’d have to always be washing it.

  111. Hi,
    I am a Canadian with a tourist visa. I would like to spend 3 months living in Cuenca. Is there any way I can find a job that will cover my costs of living (enough to cover rent and food).

  112. Hi there! I need your help again. I know that on your site I read something about things we can bring or buy there that will help with the internet, so its not slow. You had also mentioned something about cable TV and what we can get so we can have English channels. I have searched and searched and cant fine them. Maybe it was a response you gave to someones question but I cant find it now. If you could remind me what these items were or where I can search to find the answer that would be great. Interent and Cable are important!! LOL If there is any other item you can recommend we take or buy there I would app it, anything related to electronics or anything like that. Thanks again! Your site has been like a bible to me for Ecuador!! Thank you very much!!

  113. Moving to Cueca next month at 7 pm and bringing two pets. Cannot find a hotel that allows pets in Guayaquil. Any ideas? I don’t want to travel at night and need a place to stay Aug. 25.

  114. Hi,
    I will be going to Cuenca in February with my husband and 2 year old little girl. What can we do as a family? What vaccinations should we consider getting?
    Thank You,

  115. Is it possible to get around Cuenca by bicycle as a primary mode of transportation? What are the road surfaces like – would I need to replace my road bike with something a little sturdier? Also, I’ve read some of the posts about dangerous driving habits and am concerned that it may be too dangerous to cycle in Cuenca. This site is a great resource! Thanks for all the great information.


  116. Hi Bryan!
    Do you know of any baking goods stores in Cuenca? Supermaxi just doesn’t have what I need…
    Thanks for your help.

  117. I’ve heard different stories on shipping from Ecuador back to the states. Is there a FedEx, or UPS store in Cuenca where I could ship / mail gifts back to the states so I wouldn’t have extra luggage to carry around?

  118. Hi Bryan,
    I love your site, very informative! I am searching for a place to relocate my mother who is 70 and schizophrenic. I read these claims about various countries where you can find higher quality health care in a nursing home for your elderly parents but like so many things written, they often are not true or greatly exaggerated.
    I subscribe to International Living and know many things written about Belize are as if the writer didn’t spend more than a few days there.
    Can you please tell me if the claims of inexpensive quality nursing home care is true? One site stated $400 per month. But then I read that there is no health insurance for people over 70?! What could I expect to pay if I relocated my mother to Cuenca?
    Thanks so much for any info at all you can give me. Or a referral to someone who may be able to help me there.

    1. I’m sorry, but I really don’t know about homecare. Friends of ours (she is American, he is Cuencano) are moving back to the states to care for her mother. The medication costs are so high here, compared to her medicare rates in the US. Maybe another reader will have some information?

  119. Where do I buy a SIMS card and how much are they? My husband and I are traveling to Ecuador in August and my Verizon phone won’t work there. So, I’m considering buying an IPad and keeping in touch via Skype. The IPad people have told me that I can buy a SIMS card in Ecuador IF I buy the IPad compatible with Verizon. Has anyone had experience with this? Heck, I don’t even know what a SIMS card is!
    We are only bringing one backpack each as we want to travel very lightly and I don’t want to lug around a laptop. I thought an IPad would be more convenient. I need to be able to make calls and check e-mail. Any suggestions?

    1. Here they call it a “chip”. No translation needed. It is a small postage stamp sized chip that connects your phone to a specific cell network. You can buy them almost anywhere – look for either Movistar or Claro. They are the two largest carriers. Costs around $6 and often comes with some saldo.

  120. Hey Brian, Thanks for sharing with us all.
    1) Any suggestions as to finding an Ad Agency or internal Marketing Department I can Freelance for?
    2) Any problems bringing my Dog?

  121. Hi !
    I’m a Masters student doing a field internship based in Cuenca, so I have to write papers all the time. I’m having a hard time concentrating at my house so are there any good places to go to do work? I know Coffeetree but that place is a bit too much sometimes. Any thoughts would be helpful !

  122. May I ask what volunteer opportunities there are in Cuenca? I was hoping to teach English at any level as a volunteer. Thank you.

    1. Hi Monica, I’m currently volunteering as an English teacher in Cuenca. I went through a program called Lattitude (based in the UK) but previous volunteers I know simply visited local schools and asked if they needed any voluntary English teaching assistance.
      Many of the schools in Cuenca are desperately in need of fluent English speakers to help their students learn – you should have no problem finding someone who’ll appreciate your help!

  123. Is photographic film, and processing, available in Cuenca? I will be relocating to Cuenca in September or early October and wonder if my film cameras are worth shipping to myself. Thanks for your help.

    1. Jack – we plan to do stock photos when we move to Cuenca sometime next year, hopefully. let us know what you find out, please

      1. There are a number of photo processing shops in “centro ciudad” or the city center. There are three FUJI Film shops in Cuenca. Two downtown and one in Millenium Plaza, a small shopping mall near the medical district.

  124. Yahoo listed Ecuador as a top retiree destination. The article stated there is a retirement package which includes 50% of utilities,transportation,etc. Is that package for citizens or any ex-pat retiree?

    1. Great question. I keep hearing about that, but I haven’t seen anything firm. I know that bus fare is just $0.12 instead of $0.25. I guess its a help, but not really a discount to build retirement around. The discount is only for those over 65 as well. Would love to hear if someone has something firm on this.

      1. Hi – This is covered in International Living magazine. Basically, it is not a package, it is the government’s regulations for all seniors in Ecuador, and expat residents are treated with equality. So there is 50% off utilities, a free landline phone (you have to pay your own long distance calls though) reduced medical fees, reduced transportation, and 50% off airfares when you fly on one of Ecuador’s airlines. Not sure if there are any other seniors benefits, but check out International Living website for more info.

        1. While they do write about it, I haven’t met anyone here who actually gets the discount. International Living sometimes writes things that doesn’t translate into real life. The bus fair is just $0.12 for seniors, with the proper bus card. Aside from that, I haven’t heard of this discount in use…
          If someone is benefiting from the senior discount, please share it here. It would interest a lot of people.

  125. Can you buy or rent car seats for toddlers (3 years old) in Cuenca? I kind of get that impression that car seats are not used in Cuenca. We are visiting from Canada for 2 weeks in July.

  126. Perhaps a silly question but one I would like to address. When getting our shots for our trip to Cuenca the doctor insisted on my wife and I taking a malaria preventative drug. I read that malaria is not present in Guayaqui (where we’ll be landing) and at 8,000+ feet in Cuenca who cares? Just wondering what are the concerns/reactions wrt malaria for the folks that live in Cuenca but who may vacation/travel to the coastal areas? Thanks in advance – I appreciate this site and the straight forward observations you present.

  127. Hi, This is really simple I think. As of May 31 of 2012 has there been any new immigration laws for Americans coming into Ecuador?
    One more question, Does anyone know what flights to take from St.Kitts,West Indies) to Cueneca, Ecuador?
    Thanks for your help.
    Lou Ann

  128. Clearing Customs:
    My wife is considering bringing a “pepper spray” in her luggage on our trip to GYE (I told my wife about your article where your daughter sprayed an aggressive male. I’ve checked several blogs and URLs and haven’t found a specific prohibition to bringing pepper spray into Ecuador.
    Any comments or experience with this?

    1. I don’t think you should have problem with it in your checked luggage. But you can easily find it here in Cuenca. Kywi (a hardware store by the airport) and a few smaller shops in the center carry pepper spray. They carry one that looks like a pen, another small canister and a large, police sized one. While we haven’t sprayed people with it, we have used it on a couple of dogs… The post you are referring to is Dougs daughter – but she used some homemade (much less strong) mix. Vinegar and hotsauce in a spray bottle.

      1. I just finished watching House Hunters International. Did you film it when you first moved to Cuenca or when you returned from the country?

  129. First, thanks for your informative blog. As you suggest, we are heading to Cuenca ‘boots on the ground’ as opposed to sitting in an organized class or going on a ‘real estate tour’.
    My wife an I are planning a trip to Cuenca in August to scout the area for retirement. I would like to meet with an immigration abogado, a doctor and a pharmacist to determine the health care costs before committing to the move. My wife is a boliviana and thus speaks fluent spanish. My spanish is okay. Do you have a recommendation as far as where to start making appointments?
    Again thanks for the blog. It appears to be unbiased and forthright.

    1. Hi Bill, sounds like you are doing this the right way.
      For doctors and medical services, you could go to Monte Sinai. They are one of the more expensive options in the city. We have seen a number of doctors there over the past couple of years.
      The immigration lawyers that we used are Nelson and Grace. We were very happy with their service.
      By the way, we don’t get finders fees or payments of any kind for recommending these services – we recommend them because we have used them and trust them.
      All the best!

  130. Have you declared yourselves non-residents in Canada? What do you in terms of income tax?
    What is the cost of golf in Cuenca?
    Have you transferred your money to a bank in Ecuador or kept your accounts in Canada/
    Thanks for your time,
    Jerry Freed

    1. Hi Jerry, these are good questions.
      We are working out our residency with Canada, and the ensuing income tax issues. We are awaiting a ruling from CRA…
      I can’t help with golf costs – I’m not a golfer. We have accounts in Canada, the US and here in Ecuador. We only have the minimum amount of money necessary here in Ecuador, and transfer in as we need it.

      1. Hi there,
        You mentioned that you transfer money to Ecuador as required. Could I ask whether this is done via an electronic transfer between your Canadian and Ecuadoran banks or do you use another means? What are the costs associated with such a transfer? Finally, would ATMs do the trick over a several-month period?
        Thanks very much! Your insights are appreciated.

        1. Hi Bob – we have wired money to ourselves. It cost around $45 to send and about $15 to receive. We also direct withdraw from accounts that we have in the States. Costs range from free to $1.50 each. We used atm’s for more than a year when we first arrived – and we continue to use them some.

          1. Thanks, Bryan. We have accounts in Canada and a smaller one in the U.S. Would you expect that the ease of Ecuador/ATM use for your U.S.=based accounts would also apply to a Canadian account?

          2. You shouldn’t have any problem with withdraws from a Canadian account. Just be sure that your PIN has 4 digits. Six digit pins won’t work here. And it is always a good idea to have a back plan for receiving funds.

          3. Hi Bryan,
            We’re Canadian and also have a bank account in Canada (with RBC) and another in the United States with a different institution.
            Could I ask what you mean when you say that you “direct withdraw from accounts that we have in the States…”
            What is the process to be able to do that? Must one have residency to establish an Ecuador bank account? Are you possibly referring to a PayPal transfer to your “linked” Ecuador bank?
            Thank you!
            In our preliminary conversations with RBC, we’ve had the impression that it’s not possible to wire/transfer money

          4. Bryan,
            Please disregard tha last sentence above (“In our preliminary conversations with RBC, we’ve had the impression that it’s not possible to wire/transfer money”) which related to another situation entirely.

      2. Hi Bryan,
        I’m just confirming that you’d received the original money-transfer/ATM inquiry.

          1. No rush, Bryan–I’ve been having some problems with email transmission and thought I’d double-check.

  131. Thanks for all of the great info on your site. I am a 32 year old single male who is considering a move to Ecuador. Since I don’t speak any Spanish, are my chances of dating anyone in Cuenca pretty much shot? I’ve heard of other Spanish-speaking populations also having a large percentage of bilingual citizens and am wondering if this might be the case in Ecuador. Thanks.

  132. I have an internet run business that requires a high speed connection. What are the highest speed connections in Cuenca, and how much do they cost? Thanks, Richard

  133. I will be backpacking with my daughter for the month of June. We will be traveling mostly by bus, however would like to hire a private transport for some legs of our trip. My daughter is fluent in Spanish, having lived in Ecuador for a year, so a bilingual driver is not necessary. Do you have advice of how to hire a driver from Cuenca to Pinas? Any idea of approximate cost? Thank you…we are really looking forward to our trip together!

  134. Hi Bryan,
    My husband and I are considering relo to Ecuador, at this point either Cuenca or Cotacachi, not sure. Our target date is approximately 2015 at which time our retirement will be about $1700. Our concerns are the increases in cost of living in that timeframe. We would be coming for two reasons, a missionary stay and because this is one place where we could live on our available income. Of these two places, which do you feel has the lowest cost of living index? p.s. I see that you know Joe Kutay.

    1. Hi Betty, its a good question. I haven’t even been to Cotachachi, so I can’t really compare.
      I think either place can fit easily within your budget – it may just take some flexibility on your part.
      I’m sending you a direct email.

  135. My wife and I are retired and live in Arizona. My wife is a type I diabetic and I am a type II diabetic. Are insulin and diabetic supplies readily available? Can we continue to use Medicare drug plans and have one of our children ship insulin and supplies to us via DHL or FedEx?

  136. My husband and I are considering places to retire and one condition that’s a must for him is having the ocean relatively nearby. I love the idea of Cuenca. How long of a car drive is it to the ocean?
    Thanks for the abundance of info on your incredible site. !

  137. I am currently on disability here in the U.S. Does Cuenca or Ecuador have disability benefits. I have been through cancer (and obviously survived) but I have many health issues that require continuous care such as pain management which has become harder to obtain here. I am unable to work at this time and my wife is also disabled because of brain surgery and needs constant and continuous health care. Could we live there in Cuenca and survive.

  138. My wife is a registered nurse in the U.S. We would love to move to Ecuador. I was wondering if you know if there are any job opportunities for U.S. trained nurses in Ecuador?

    1. Hi Jimmy
      In Cuenca, we have several tennis courts, specially hard surface. At the coliseum near the hometown the cost per hour is $2. The tennis and golf club require be a member to use their courts, but someone can invite you for free. In both places are many players with you can play. I play tennis, let me know if you come to play a match.

  139. Hi Bryan!
    I am relocating to Cuenca in Nov 2012. I take 36 daily supplements and I would like to bring all 36 bottles with me in my luggage.
    Question #1: When I arrive at the Ecuadorean Airport to go through Customs, will it be a problem that I have 36 unsealed and filled to the top bottles of vitamin & mineral supplements with me?
    Question #2: Are there any restrictions to ordering my refills from the states to have them shipped to my Cuenca address? I know that I will be able to buy some supplements in Cuenca, but I also take a few advanced formula dailys that may be impossible to find in Ecuador.

    1. Hi David,
      I’m not an expert, just a traveler. You should confirm this with an expert but I think you might have a problem with 36 bottles. They will probably classify it as a commercial shipment – as it will appear to be more than personal use quantities.
      I think you shouldn’t have a problem shipping them to yourself – depending on volume and frequency. It seems that the postal system here registers certain quantities of specific products being imported. If you use a courier it might come with less red tape. We’ve used UPS, DHL and FedEx all with good success. You’re right that many supplements can be purchased here, but it is more limited than in the States or Canada.
      I hope this helps.

  140. Do you see service animals used in Quenca–dog guides in particular? What is the attitude toward animals in public places?

    1. Hi Catherine – I haven’t seen a dog guide since we arrived almost three years ago. Animals are viewed positively and some women have the small purse sized dogs – they seem quite widely accepted. But in terms of service animals – I can’t say that I’ve seen them.

      1. Are there a lot of street dogs? I know someone has opened a shelter in or near Cuenca to help them and if I move there, I will work everyday to volunteer my time to that shelter. I can’t bear to see homeless starving dogs running across busy streets.

  141. Hi. I have a few more questions. Our houses up for sale and we will b making our move soon. I just wanted to know a couple of things that I’ve had a hard time researching.
    1) do you know if physiotherapy is used in Cuenca?
    2) are there community centers or public pools for children?
    3) are there any specific areas in Cuenca that you’d say are “red zones”. Not very safe.
    4) can one buy a used car at a fairly readonabke price like in US or Canada?
    Thank u so much. Looking forward to reading your response.

    1. Hi Laura, here are the brief answers:
      1) Yes.
      2) There are pools, but I don’t know of public ones. There are ones that you can go during public times. And there are the hot springs in Baños – with some nice pools.
      3) The bus terminal area at night and the area 9 de octubre is know for being bad, even in the daytime.
      4) No – cars are expensive here. Even the used ones. You can buy a basic used car for $10,000 but you could probably buy the same thing in Canada/US for $3000-5000.

  142. I am honorably retired from a 20 year USA military career in the Army & Navy Medical/Surgical fields. I am now a natural health counselor, a massage therapist & a soon to be published natural health articles, books & booklets author. I will make my move to Cuenca before Nebraska gets their winter 2012. My main question is: Can I legally, as an expat, open a small massage therapy business in Cuenca? I would specialize in Champissage, which is a 15 minute Paskistani/Indian head, face, neck & shoulder massage, clothed & seated in a chair, using a lavender based grapeseed oil. What would be a good place me to start in getting approval for this? Any Ecuador or Cuenca massage laws/regulations that you have heard about in order for me to start my champissage practice?

    1. Hi David – great questions. To work, you will need legal status. To operate a business you will need to be legally registered – which means you’ll need a RUC number (its a tax / business registration account).
      Regarding specific regulations, you should check with a lawyer who can direct you to the right government agency. I expect you will need permits, etc but I don’t know. Many other trades (tour guides, taxi drivers, real estate) are highly regulated – although many people seem to ignore the rules and get along fine. Don’t ignore the SRI (Ecuadors IRS) they’ll shut you down.
      All the best!

      1. Bryan, I thank you for your quick, informative reply. I researched champissage in South America to find that I may be the only practitioner in Ecuador. There are less than 40 of us in the USA & Canada. Therein lies a possible problem: Trying to explain to anybody in any nation, what it is that I wish to fill out approval paperwork for. I am highly trained, certified & with 30 years hands on (pun intended) experience in in Swedish massage, which I can translate, but I cannot find the Spanish term for Champissage anywhere. Can anybody out there help me with this word? (Please see my first posting for a description of champi.)

  143. I am interested in moving to Ecuador with my husband who is native born. Wondering how much would it cost me to buy three types of medications I take for mental reasons. They include depakote 1000 mg zoloft 200 mg and risperdal 2 mg. Can you find out for me? I would be so grateful.

  144. I am considering moving to Cuenca to retire. My doctor prescribes Hydrocodone and Butorphanol Nasal Spray for my chronic migraine headaches. I am trying to find out if I will be able get these medications in Cuenca. I would, of course, bring my medical records with me. Any information would be greatly appreciated. Thank you so much!

  145. Hello Bryan,
    I will be visiting Cuenca in late April or early May and have tentative reservations at Villa Nova. There were lots of great reviews on it;however, I was cautioned that some sections along the river are not safe. Are you familiar with Villa Nova and it location?

    1. Hi Sheiran, we’ve stayed at the Villa Nova Inn and enjoyed it. Like many cities, nighttime can change a nice place to a shady one… Right now there is construction along 3 de Noviembre – the road that Villa Nova is on. We never had any trouble…

  146. Does Ecuador use 120/220 amp electrical system? Will U.S. electrical appliances work in Ecuador? If not, are there adapters so they will work?

    1. Hey James – yes, Ecuador uses the same electrical system as the US and Canada. You will probably want to bring (or pick up) a few surge protectors. Homes aren’t wired like you are used to.

  147. My wife is a registered nurse in the U.S. We would love to move to Ecuador. I was wondering if you know if there are any job opportunities for U.S. trained nurses in Ecuador?

    1. Hey Sheryl – yes you “can” drink the water, although most people don’t. Even most Ecuadorians buy bottled water – not unlike every city in North America. Being able to and wanting to are two different things.
      And no, the power doesn’t go out in the cities. In some smaller towns it can be an almost daily event.

      1. Are electrical outlets of the US variety, like European (round) outlets or something else? We are bringing Amateur Radio equipment and want to be prepared with appropriate adapters, if required. We will also ask this question of some Aficionados de Radio with whom we are already acquainted.

  148. Bryan / Dena, I have read your blogs on Cuenca, and have a slightly different question. Our daughter is planning on doing study abroad this summer 10 weeks (June to August), in Cuenca. The group would be studying at the CEDEI (here is there web site)
    Would you know anything about the area in Cuence, where CEDEI is located? I would very interested in your opions (or that of those who know the area. Thank You

    1. I know the area – we walk by it almost every time we are in the center. I don’t know what its like at night, but its fine in the daytime. Its in a nice part of town.

  149. At this time; I have two basic questions.
    1. I’d like to come and visit first. I read somewhere (and now can’t find it) where there is an EXPAT that plans about four 1 week tours specifically designed for those who are looking to relocate/retire in Cuenca. He takes care of everything for one price (i.e., air fare costs, hotel, transportation, etc). Do you know of him or anyone who has a complete package tour like this? I’d like to do that.
    2. Can you relocate/retire in Cuenca if you are HIV+? I’ve heard both answers.

  150. I’m exploring the idea of a family “gap year” beginning in the fall. Looking for meaningful service opportunities for all of us with local people, animals, land and opportunity for learning Spanish as we speak none currently. I’m a mom and 2 teenage daughters, 17, 15. I’d like to avoid the paid volunteer (as in we pay for the opportunity to volunteer!) route as that would be prohibitively expensive for 9 months. Initial immersion in a language school might be a good idea.
    We’ve lived in a developing country and also lived in a French colony for language immersion there for 6 months.
    Would like local living but might be comforting to have expat connections.
    Many thanks for your input and advice!

  151. Hello! I have just joined your newsletter and let me tell you how helpful and informative it has been! Thank you for taking all the time to help others who are thinking of moving to Ecuador. We are a family of 6 and hoping to make the move to Ecaudor before next winter (BIG HOPEFULLY)….its COLD here in Canada! I have read a lot of what has already been asked and answered, but there is so much information to cover. I have a couple of questions and hope you can help.
    1) do you know the rules and regulations of shipping a car to Ecaudor? Is it worth taking one or buying one there? My husband is Ecaudorian and there for he wont have to pay shipping taxes which is a great help for us.
    2) Regarding kitchen items, I noticed you mentioned that most rentals do not come with fridge and stove, so should we bring ours or is it affordable to buy there? If we are renting a house would the landlord consider reimbursing us for these items should we move?
    3) you also mentioned light fixtures in rentals, do you recomend we bring some along or buy them there? ( I know some things there are the same price as here or more,aside from electronics, Im not sure about anything else)
    4) what areas near Cuenca would you recomend we look into as well for rental? Something safe and clean for our children to be able to run about and ride bikes ect.
    5)What price range do nice hotels run for should we need to stay in one while looking for a place to stay?
    Well. I guess thats all for now….Again…I so app your time and effort. Looking forward to recieving your response.

    1. Hello Laura, lots of good questions. You might enjoy this post: How to Plan Your Ecuador Relocation

      1. Shipping a car: Its true that cars are expensive here and if you can bring one you should save lots. I believe that it will have to be new (less than 300km on the odometer) How to Buy a Car in Ecuador
      2. I think its best to buy those things here. The cost of shipping is high and appliances aren’t expensive here. Life Start-Up Costs
      3. Also, you should buy these here. This is my personal opinion – I guess like the rest of the site… 🙂 There are lots of options. The only catch is if you are very particular and absolutely need a specific style from home.
      4. About rental areas – this is a hard one because everyone is different. There is a nice development, Yanuncay Condominum, (Av Don Bosco) that has 4 towers and a great park right beside it. Av Laso is very popular as well. The best thing is to come and get to know the city.
      5. Hotels run from $60 to $120 for Canadian/US standards. You can rent a furnished apartment for a month for $300 to $900. You could save a fortune by having a kitchen.

      Hope this helps. All the best on your plans!

      1. Thanks a lot for your response! One more question….we are going to stay for one year to try it out, see if our children adjust. So I guess shipping things over wouldnt be smart since we will have to ship them back! Is it easy to find a furnished rental in Cuenca or surrounding areas? I know they are avaiable, but I havent read about if its something common or easy to find. Something nice and comfortable suitable for a family of 6 and also, very important, would these furnsihed rentals allow a small dog? Again, thanks so much for this site!! It has helped ease many of or fears and cleared up many questions!!

        1. I guess it depends on how much you are planning on shipping. Most things can be found here – but there are some exceptions.
          There are a number of options for furnished rentals. Many furnished rentals won’t allow pets, but it would depend on specific places. Some have great outside areas – some ask for additional damage deposit.

  152. Hello Bryan Iwill be traveling to Cuenca for 3 weeks in March. Staying at the Villa Nova. What is the best way to handle my traveling/walking around cash. I have credit cards and an ATM card that I use for major purchases but I wonder about walking around with 1,000.00 or so cash? Thanks Ed Weidner

    1. Hi Ed,
      I would recommend leaving your money in the bank, until you are ready to make a purchase. We deal almost exclusively in cash and haven’t had any trouble. Just be wise about where you withdraw money and where you keep it on yourself. Here, I’ve seen Ecuadorian business men pull a wad of bills out of their pocket to make a payment – just like some of the old timers in Canada. This would make me uncomfortable. But if it is in a zippered pocket in your jacket/pants – you should be fine.

  153. Dear Bryan:
    Checked your site & elsewhere… no info on this.
    Here in Virginia I have 90% sunny days… not a question of temperature, the TRUE sunny days vs. cloudy days in the Cuenca region… as have predisposition to not do well in cloudy locations. Having lived in Panama (coastal) & Florida, rainy season is OKAY as long as part of the day is really, honestly sunny. Your expereince is key to my decision at this point. With gratitude,& appreciation for your reply, Rhonda

    1. Hello Rhonda – I’m not a good person to ask about that. Many visitors leave Cuenca after a couple of weeks – cursing the constant rain and cloud – but having a pretty limited view. Online sites/forums and blogs are full of this misinformation.
      The fact is that year-round Cuenca has nice weather. But the obsession that US and Canadian media has with weather and forecasts simply doesn’t exist here. People don’t talk about the forecast – they just know by the clouds/sky what it will do later in the day. No one talks about or lets the weather affect their plans for the next day. I’ve searched online and I can’t even find a functioning forecast for Cuenca – or a credible history of it the weather either. True sunny days seem to be a subjective measure.
      The best thing I can suggest, is to come for a while and see what you think.
      Sorry I can’t give you a definite answer.

      1. This is a completely unhelpful and, it seems, evasive reply. The post following yours properly and clearly answered the question directly and, while the facts weren’t flattering to Cuenca’s weather–or to your vested interest in getting people to feel fondly toward it–they were what the questioner wanted and needed. Rhonda didn’t ask what you thought about Canadians’/Americans’ focus on weather forecasts; she asked you how much sun/cloud there were because she doesn’t handle sun-absences well. What’s complicated about that? I’ve found a couple of other websites where such inquiries are dealt with candidly and objectively and I’ll be spending my time there.
        As an example of readers’ frustration with self-serving avoidance of unpleasant facts: How could you now know how rainy it’s been lately? Or in general? And regardless of whether you or other locals factor the weather into ongoing daily routines, there are many, many other people for whom excessive cloud/rain may be psychically damaging (my mother was a lifelong sufferer); having you dance around the issue and, instead, say Rhonda should just come and see for themselves is woefully inadequate and pointless. She reached out to you to help her avoid a potentially expensive and inconvenient error. Why didn’t you just answer her and help her out? I’m sure that, when asked for references to professionals you know in various fields, you don’t say the questioners should just come and find out for themselves because quality is so subjective: you answer the question and gain goodwill with your contact. If you’re going to hold yourself out here as being someone worthy of our time and worthy of questioning, you should have the forthrightness to answer directly; people who read forums like this depend on sincere and thoughtful replies, not dismissive, “…come and see for youself”. Further, you say that you can’t find viable websites with forecasts/historical information on Cuenca; you can’t be looking too hard. They’re all over the internet (, accueather, meoweather, etc., etc.) and, in my Canadian geography class (in which we interact in real time with students in Cuenca), we use that information regularly in our studies/discussions and have frequently had those websites’ real-time accuracy validated in those Skype conversations by our Cuenca colleagues. In short, when someone asks a specific question such as, How much sunshine have you had lately?, don’t tell them it’s subjective: hours of sunshine aren’t and either are days of cloudy rain. Thanks. Jim W.

        1. I’m sorry that you found my response to be unhelpful. Fortunately you have a long list of weather sites to depend on. If you look carefully, you’ll see that many of those sites actually give weather reports from the coast, but state it as Cuenca. This could be very confusing. And the ones that I have seen represent Cuenca are inaccurate. For example, right now on the weather map shows southern Ecuador as open skies (no clouds for hundreds of miles). Yet when I look out the window it is full cloud cover. Finding a forecast online is one thing – finding an accurate one is something else. This is why I referred to the difference in Canada and the States. People here just don’t worry about the weather forecast.
          Just to clarify, we have covered Cuenca weather in detail.
          While the other commenter did give specifics, she is also wrong. It does not rain every day. If you notice, she has been in Cuenca just six months. You simply cannot know the year-round weather if you have only been here for half of one year.
          What is a true sunny day? Is it one without any cloud? Or just 2 hours of cloud or less? This is a subjective question, isn’t it? Rhonda was asking for a “true sunny day”. Just what is that? Maybe your geography class can shed some light on that? I’m not a meteorologist or a high school geography teacher. I’m a business and travel writer. Please forgive my ignorance.
          I’m surprised by how deeply you feel about this very small point. You do realize that no one is paying for using this blog, right? And you realize that we cover issues (like health concerns and unusual driving) that could cause people not to move (or even visit)?
          We don’t have an agenda – or “vested interest” as you call it. We are writing about our experiences, that’s all. This isn’t a corporate or government website. It is our blog, that’s all.
          I’m curious about why you subscribed to the comment responses if you are not going to be spending time on our site? Just curious…
          Thanks for commenting!

          1. Bryan,
            I commented because I thought the young lady deserved a reply more detailed than, “Come see for yourself.” The whole point is that folks reach out to avoid as many missteps as possible–and asking pointed questions, in advance and of those with knowledge and on the ground–is a huge part of that. She simply may not have the funds to risk gambling them away on a decision formed without the best possible information.

        2. I have family born and raised in Cuenca and not even they can give me specifics on the weather there! You can have sun for 20 minutes and suddenly cloud and then rain and then back to another 10 minutes of sun. It’s hard to give an exact amount of sunlight per day! So when Bryan says “come see for yourself” I’d have to agree. Every person is different. To some cuenca weather would be wonderful, others need more sun. Some are more sensitive to rain and cloudy weather. Personally here in Canada the rainy weather gives me was aches but when visiting Cuenca the rain didn’t affect me at all! Only way to know is to go and see for one self. Your right Jim, there are many other sites that talk about Ecuador and if u prefer another one, then go to it. But there’s no need to come down on the honest effort that Bryan and Dena make to inform others as best as they can. I have read many sites bc we will be moving to Ecuador soon and this site has been the most honest and informative site I have read! Keep up the good work Bryan and Dena!!

          1. Laura,
            Your reply gives helpful details and insights to those of us attempting to understand/interpret the weather of Cuenca. Thanks!

    2. Hi, It rains here every day. The mornings are mostly cloudy some sun mid day then pouring rain. Make sure to bring a dow jacket and polar fleeces. I keep hearing that the rain will stop but as it turns out now Frb and March are said to be very rainy months. When we arrived last July it rained every day for 2 months!

      1. Thank you so much Lily. You have no idea how much time I have spent trying to find out what to pack and what the temperatures are. My spouse has Reynaud’s which is when the body cannot regulate its temperature. My spouse is in severe pain when the temps hit 60% and it is damp. We are so grateful that you shared this information. At least now we can be prepared.

  154. My husband and I (both retired) are planning to move to Cuenca in May or June 2012. Can you refer us to someone to assist us with our initial temporary housing upon our arrival and to help us find a rental for 6mo to 1 yr. We think we want to live in Cuenca but don’t want to make a long term commitment until we live there for a while. We appreciate any help you can give us as we don’t know anyone in Ecuador but we are very excited about this new chapter in our lives.

  155. Hello Bryan,
    Thanks for all of the great information. I am a semi retired construction project manager planning to relocate to ecuador in the Spring of 2012 but will be looking for something closer to the Coast with a warmer climate. My question is; Golf courses?? Do you happen to know if they’re any from Cuenca to Bahia? Thanks for taking time for all of our questions.What a generous person you are. Thank you again.

  156. I will be spending 3 months in Cuenca beginning in January. Will I be able to find products such as flax seeds, chia seeds, protein powder, etc.? If not, is it legal for me to bring these items in my luggage?

    1. You can easily find flax seeds and protein powder. Flax seeds are available at Coral (3 locations, including Mall del Rio). Protein powder is sold at a supplement store at Mall del Rio as well. I don’t know about the chia seeds. You might find this post helpful: What Can I Bring to Ecuador?. And a quick email to a lawyer should confirm it. My mother has brought peanut butter and dried blueberries – although I’m not sure that they are allowed – they didn’t ask so she didn’t lose them.

      1. I have found chia seeds here after a (very) long search, at a small cafe in our area. I can find out the brand name if you like. I brought some from Canada with me and had no problems. Hope that helps!

        1. Hi Jo:
          Can you let me know which cafe in what area you found your chia seeds. We’re leaving here tomorrow and I’m doing a final pack, finding I need to eliminate some weight. Lots of supplements are being left behind so I’ll need to restock soon after arriving in Cuenca.
          Thanks very much,

  157. Thank you for all the useful information you have posted! My husband and I are considering moving from California to Cuenca in a couple of years, and I have been trying to explore available career opportunities. My husband is a pediatrician who is fluent in Spanish. I will soon have my doctorate in Clinical Psychology, but my Spanish needs mucho work. I can’t seem to find any information on available medical or possibly university teaching positions. Do you know if the hospitals or universities in Cuenta will hire Expats? I would appreciate any information or referral resources. Thanks!

  158. Do you know of a facility in Cuenca Ecuador that would accept a patient with quadriplegia? Such as a nursing home or rehabilitation center? Thank you very much.

  159. Hi Bryan, I really dig your website. I’m an American living in Chongqing, China, and have actually been living in Asia, and doing business here since 1998. My family and I are thinking of moving to Ecuador, and Cuenca sounds like the right place, and as a result, we will visit in a few months. I have a few questions for you, or anyone else:
    1. Are there many good foreign restaurants in Cuenca? Such as Chinese, Vietnamese, Mexican, Italian?
    2. You posted earlier about good ice cream in Canada. Are there any such places in Cuenca? (Chongqing is the most populated city on Earth, but we have neither good restaurants, nor good ice cream)
    3. What are the foreigner views on what will happen when the dollar starts weakening? Will Ecuador resort to the Sucre(?)
    We’d like to build a nice house outside the city. Do you, or anyone, know of any builders that are reliable?
    I know this is a lot to ask, but any help would be greatly appreciated.
    Best wishes.

    1. There are lots of great restaurants in Cuenca, no problem there. The Italian restaurants are wonderful, but I haven’t found really good Mexican, Chinese or Vietnamese. Some restaurants serve these ethnic foods, but in my opinion, they are so-so. The ice cream is everywhere and some of the best anywhere.

    2. My family and I are living in Chengdu, China currently. The city is very close to Chongqing. We are also planning to move to Cuenca. Our biggest concern is our child’s education. We know there is no English speaking school in Cuenca right now, but we really hope there will be one soon.

  160. I’m moving to Cuenca in Feb. Does anyone know if you can buy American clothes patterns (McCalls, Butterick, etc.)? I don’t want to bring all my clothes and would like to have some made, but I wondered if I need to buy patterns in the U.S. and bring them.

  161. Hi All,
    Does anyone know anything about health insurance there? Does Ecuador have a social system? If not, what do you all use? Thanks.

  162. We are spending two months in Cuenca Feb and March. I am an oil painter and wonder if canvases, oil paints, brushes, etc. are available.

    1. Yes, Dena paints as well. You can get good supplies at Monsalve (an office supply store) – they are all over the city. Other art and office supply stores sell them too. All the best on your trip.

  163. Hi All! Is there any access or interest in solar power? We are thinking of being a little bit in the Country, but need power also. I am wondering what is in use there?

    1. Hi Lynn: We will be traveling to Cuenca in March of this year. We are also interested in off grid living. Presently our farm is heated by geothermal and we have solar panels on the roof. We have acquired a lot of knowledge but are certainly not experts and are will to share that knowledge with like-minded people. If you would like to contact us, feel free to e-mail at the address shown above.

      1. Hi Laura, my family and I are traveling to Cuenca in May and we are also interested in living off the grid. We have little knowledge and would like some help.

  164. This one seems silly, but it is important to me. I do a lot of baking and wondered if one can buy muffin/cupcake tins in Cuenca. Or would I have to bring a set with me.

      1. Thanks, Brian. I have also found that there is a Wilton store in Quito, and they should have these. Plus, I can always get them from Amazon. No need to pack those. 🙂 Good thing as we are going the “everything in the suitcase, all else will be sold or given away” route.

  165. We have heard that medical tourism is starting to become a reality in Cuenca because of its great healthcare community. As a registered nurse in home health and practicing in Oregon I would be very interested to know if there are any career opportunities for medically trained expats who could serve those coming to Cuenca for medical reasons or working with resident expats. I am interested in moving to Cuenca with my partner and would consider doing so even earlier if there might be the possibility of working as a nurse.

  166. Hello and thank you for this site. Very good information. Was wondering what you could say regarding the issue of natural disaters. Have you experienced any and how quick does the city recovery when they occur? And could you say what the biggest threat is (active the volcanoes, mud slides, flooding, etc) in Cuenca and Quito? Thank you.

    1. Hi Dianne, its not a bad idea although a $10 dictionary (English/Spanish) would probably do the same thing. You can find some great paper based ones just for travel. Also SpanishDict has a great (free) app that works great too.

    2. I have heard from several friends that the Etaco electronic translator is very good both to use as a translator and for learning purposes. Their website is They are German made.

  167. Bryan, I really appreciate the time you take to answer questions for those of us who have a million of them. Many of my questions (moving in Feb 2012) I have found answers to by doing research. However, I still have a few. I am single, 55 and bringing 2 small dogs. The ads I’ve seen have rents much higher than what’s stated by those who actually live there. I will be staying in a hotel for the first month. Do you think that gives me enough time to find a house like the ones you and others have mentioned or will my search take longer? I don’t speak Spanish (studying it right know & plan to take an immersion class as soon as I get there) and I’m concerned that I will pay more in rent as a result. How do I find a reputable translator/guide who can help me with the apartment search, setting up a bank account & utilities, etc. and make sure I don’t get taken advantage of? Any names are much appreciated.

  168. Brying, I love your site, I found many answers from my question and I “know” that you can help us with some questions. We are a couple in mid sixties planing to retire in Cuenca. you but let me start We are researching a lot before we visit at the end of this year, latest in January. I get all this romance emails from International Living, but some sound to good to be truth. I have lots of questions for you but let me start with, Where do retire couples live in Cuenca? Is there a nice housing area where most Expat live. All pictures and YourTube I have seen are of young people no older than 45! Hello, if is #1 retirement place, “retirement haven” is called by many, how come I see no older folks! Also I read about health insurance, there is no insurance that cover people over 70. Also the weather, I see people wearing jackets and sweters in the day time, what happend with the 80 temperatures? I love Cuenca over other places we have research and we are looking forward to visit soon. Hope you can post this one it could help others too.
    I like to meet you and your family.
    Please reply

    1. Hi Carmen – not sure where you see only young people… the majority of expats here are retired. There are exceptions (like our family) but most are 55+. They live everywhere. There are a couple of places that have more gringos and have prices to match.
      Its important to remember that Cuenca is in the Andes not on the coast. It gets cold here – people wear scarves and (sometimes) mittens at night. The days are beautiful, but it is an Andean climate, not a tropical one.
      All the best on your plans.

  169. Here are a few questions, we appreciate your attention as well as the enormous amount of time you devote to your responses!
    What is your advice on car ownership: registration, insurance?
    Does your bank auto draft your utilities?
    We understand real estate is negotiable 60-80% below ask are rental rates negotiable?
    Is it true that you put toilet paper in receptacles not in the toilet?
    What are the real medical risks living in Cuenca? Cholera, Malaria, Yellow fever, Hepatitis A/B, Salmonella typhi [typhoid], ect.
    What is the real skinny on bribes?
    Is it customary to be told what you want to hear versus the truth by locals?
    What is the reality of kidnapping, mugging, & protection?
    What questions should we be asking?
    How reliable is the power grid?
    That is my best shot, thank you in advance for the response!
    Best regards,

  170. Great tips – thanks !!
    Is there any way to open an Ecuadorean account before we arrive in Cuenca to close on our condo in Dec 2011? We know we will need cash for closing costs and to buy appliances/furniture; but we are worried about carrying so much cash when we travel. We have Visa credit and BoA debit cards but, again, have some concerns about withdrawing so much cash from ATMs. How have you and others handled this? Thanks for any assistance –:)

    1. You might consider transferring funds to your lawyers accounts. But you can easily withdraw US funds. Most ATMs come with a limit of $500 per day per card. So if there are two of you, you can withdraw $1000/day. But why not bring a few thousand and withdraw as needed?
      I don’t think you will (easily) open an account remotely. Or you could wire money to yourself via Western Union – they have offices everywhere here.

  171. My wife and I have 3 kids ages 11,10 and 7 and we’re thinking about selling our home in Texas and relocating to Cuenca to start a small family business of some sort and finish raising our family in a hopefully more sane environment, we’re both fluent in both Spanish and English so language would not be a problem but we did want to know roughly what kind of money it takes to start a small business and also about taxes and regulations, I imagine they’re minimal compared to the U.S. but I’m not sure, and also is Cuenca a family friendly place? are there good catholic private schools and how much is the tuition?

  172. Hi Bryan and Dena,
    I just found you via WanderingEArl’s site while looking for costs in Central/ South America. I’ve been traveling for 12 years, mostly in SE Asia. I usually live quite easily there for $400-$500/month. I’m about to head down to C/S Am. and wonder if I can expect similar costs. Your post breaking down costs of Ecuador is quite useful. Thaanks! but I still have a couple questions:
    1. how much does it cost to eat out at local shops, street stalls, etc. ?
    2. Are cooked meals/ little restaurants/ food stalls open all day or do they close in mid day? I need to eat about every 4 hours or I get very sick. In Asia, little shops and stalls are very plentiful and open ALL the time. IT’s easy to find food everywhere all the time. But I had a lot of trouble in Sri Lanka getting food when I needed it! I actually did get sick.
    3. ARe those stalls / restaurants plentiful or a bit hard to find in places?
    3. How much does it cost for cheap guesthouse rooms? or dorms? (I prefer my own room, but do dorms if neccessary)
    THanks for any info. you can send. cheers, Lash
    (ps. sorry to be a pain, but I need to find out expenses asap because I have to decide where I’m flying, book a ticket, etc… by the end of Sept. If you can manage to squeeze in some info. for me, I’d really appreciate it! THanks! cheers, Lash )

  173. HOly cow! I’m checking out a home sitting situation near Vilcabamba, Ecuador. Looking at Google map, I see that it’s not so very far from Cuenca! We’d practically be neighbors! Do you know anything about Vilcabamba and area? particularly altitude, climate. I like HEAT, but suspect it’s up in the mountains and cool to cold. I checked out yahoo weather, but nothing for that particular area.
    Meanwhile, it will be really helpful for me to know costs. and your post is quite useful,too.
    cheers, Lash

    1. Hello Lash,
      I just ran across your post and I’m wondering where one can look to find opportunities like “house sitting” or “pet sitting”. I have been looking online, but I haven’t found any really good sources for offers like this. Do you have any suggestions for me? Thanks in advance!!

  174. Skimming through these, not sure anyone has asked this one yet.
    What about nightlife for a younger crowd? Not clubing or anything crazy, just general tavern atmosphere to meet other 25-30 year olds?
    My boyfriend and I are considering relocation for a year or so, but we are both in our mid-twenties. We live in a university town in Wisconsin that has a lot going on all the time.
    I saw someone posted on Lonely Planet that Cuenca is “boring”.
    Just curious, and thanks for such a great site! Loads of information.

    1. Emily, the part of Cuenca where my hostal was located had plenty of the type of activity you described. In fact, Cuenca is a college town, and there were a number of small clubs/bars/tavern-type establishments there. Lots and lots of young people in the range you’ve described, enjoying the types of activities you’ve described. I can’t say I saw a much of these sorts of establishments further into downtown, but where I was at–most certainly. I stayed in a private room in a hostal called Hogar Cuencano near the corner of Hermano Miguel and Calle Larga, phone number 072 834 941. (Dial 011 first if calling from the US; the owner speaks perfect English). About $10 per night. It will be different from similar establishments in the US, but I think you’ll find adequate such entertainment there.

  175. We are an Ohio family looking to move to Ecuador next year. We raise dairy goats in Ohio and are wondering if you have seen any goats on farms in Ecuador? We would love to continue to milk, make cheese, fudge, etc…

    1. Hi Sherry,
      Goat milk is popular here – usually sold fresh in the street straight from the goat. I haven’t seen goat farms, but its not to say that they don’t exist. Goat milk is viewed as extremely healthy so goat milk/cheese produced commercially might be very well received.

  176. I join all of the others in thanking you for excellent information. I also appreciate it when you tell folks you don’t know an answer to a question – often you refer to other expats in these cases. That just makes me feel better about the answers that you do give – that your answers are based on what you know, not on “guesses” or “I think….”. I’ve seen that alot in blogs in general, so your being candid about what you know and what you don’t know is refreshing.
    Now to the question at hand….
    My question is a combination of health and weather. I have mostly indoor allergies – no pollen-related allergies, but one allergy I do have is to mold, particularly mold generated on very humid days. I live in north-central Indiana, and we get hot, humid days that just drive my sinuses crazy. What is your experience with humidity in the Cuenca area. Any idea on the number of days per month or per year, when the weather “feels” humid? Secondly during the “wet” season do you feel very much humidity after it rains?
    My wife and I are in the beginning stages of planning a move – we will take around 2-3 years to research and save up for the move. Your article on start-up costs for a move to Ecuador was very helpful by the way.
    I know you will not be able to say “medically” whether or not my allergies will be a problem (we are planning at least 2 exploratory trips down before our final move), however I have found that when the weather “feels” humid during the warmest part of the day is when my allergies act up the most. So the “feel” of the humidity is what I am asking about. Thanks in advance for your help.

    1. Hi Jay, I would say that Cuenca is only humid after a rain. And only for a short time even then. The air clears quickly after a rain and in the last two years I would never describe the air as “muggy”. A visit is a great idea. Based on what you’ve said, I think you shouldn’t have a problem.

  177. Thanks for the information in your blog. It’s been really helpful. I am thinking about relocating to Ecuador with my partner and our son, who’ll be turning 2 soon. Do you know if there are any good childcare centres in Cuenca for his age group? I think he’s getting to an age where he needs to socialise with other children. I’d love him to learn Spanish, too.

    1. Hello Vivienne – I’m confident that they exist. We have friends that send their kids at age 3 to a pre-school program. I can’t recommend any specific ones though. Our daughter was past that age when we arrived two years ago. If you take him to the park on a Sunday, he’ll have dozens of little playmates. The parks in Cuenca fill up with families on Sundays.

  178. Bryan, My husband and I want to move to Cuenca or vicinity. I am a photographer. I am interested to know if you sell your photo’s in Cuenca? And Are there framing shops or Framing materials available there such as moldings and matting, glass, foam board etc.We do all our own framing. But is there a market there? We have so many questions but it will be one at a time. Thanks… great site!

    1. Hi Bonnie – I don’t sell photos here. There would be a market, if you could reach the tourist/expat population. There are framing stores, they do good work and are inexpensive.
      Thanks for the comment.

  179. Hi Brian;
    I am curious as to what plans you have for your child. Are there jobs for her when she gets older, do you plan to send her back to the States, where do you see her going to college, etc.

    1. Hi Vicki – good question. I don’t really know. When she gets old enough, she can decide what she wants to do. There are excellent universities here – and just a fraction of the price. She will finish her schooling early (thanks to home schooling) and we plan to enroll her in an online university at first. After that, we haven’t decided. Really depends on what she wants/needs.

        1. Hi Carl – we use a combination of curriculum from the US and Canada. We have built her schooling with a number of programs. We buy books from Amazon, from specialty schools and other computer based programs. The beauty of homeschooling is that we can build just what she needs, as its different from what other children need.

          1. I did read that the Ecuador government has guidelines for home schooling. Are these straightforward and do the government interfere at all as they do in some countries if you rely totally on home schooling?

          2. Hi Roy – the Ecuadorian government isn’t concerned. As an Ecuadorian citizen, home schooling is almost unheard of. But for foreigners, they don’t worry. We haven’t heard of or seen homeschooling guidelines. Many expats homeschool their kids based on programs from the US or Canada. Our daughter is actually registered with our Dept of Education in Nova Scotia.

  180. Hello My name is Lily Goodale. My family and I are living in Cuenca. We moved here July 1 2011. We are living in San Joaquin. I am in desperate need of an AA meeing. Can anyone out there help me? I prefer day or morning meetings. I speak spanish so a local group is fine. An english group is fine too. My anniversary will be on September 3 and I would love to have found a meeting by then. Is there an AA hotline down here. I see one in Quito but have not found one here. Thank you Lily Goodale

    1. If language isn’t an impediment, I distinctly remember seeing a building downtown that offered AA meetings. This was just last week, so it should still be going strong.

  181. Hi Everyone. Great site…what an education. Just a comment and a question. We are close to retirement, Cuenca sounds just about right. Have beeen checking into Panama too. We live in central FLorida. Though I am 60 right now, my father was born in Ecuador, came to Ellis Island in 1916–I understand my grandfather ran a newspaper in Ecuador, he died and the family moved to New York for almost the same reasons that we want to LEAVE…talk about full circle.
    Here’s my question. We could retire now and be OK, but for a good part of my career, I have run a company specializing in LASER PRINTER REPAIR. (not ink jet printers) Was just wondering if it would be possible to supplement retirement a little. Bryan, you must have used laser printers for your job… this a common item in offices in Cuenca?? Just curious. Thanks for this very educational site.

  182. Hi Bryan, my wife and I are planning to get out of the Philippines and move to Cuenca in October this year, can’t stand the corruption and jealousy here any longer! Any way, I read on another website about a cooperative called “Coopera” in Cuenca that amongst other things offers a heath insurance scheme, do you know anything about this?
    Grace and I are really looking forward to coming but we are both excited and nervous about the prospect but hope that it will be right for us.
    It seems that rentals have increased quite a bit, on the internet it is hard to find an apt for less than $500 per month but I guess once you are on the ground there are others that are not advertised on the net at a more reasonable price?
    Enjoying your site.
    Kind regards

    1. Hi David – we have rented a nice (new) 3 bedroom, 2 bath apartment for $180 and a large 5 bedroom, 2.5 bath house for $280, just off a main road with 3 bus routes. Generally speaking, if you read the gringo real estate sites, you’ll overpay. If you are here, and deal with Ecuadorians, you’ll get a nice place for a reasonable price. Getting a reasonably priced place will still take some effort, but just avoid booking from a Web site. We have a friend who lives in a great location, with a huge 4 bedroom, 2.5 bath house with front and back yard and pays $260/month.
      About health insurance, I don’t know too much. I plan on covering it in the coming months. Sorry I can’t help right now.
      All the best on your plans.

      1. Think you just closed the deal. I am retired with a pension of only jus over $1000 but with rent that low even I think the time to move is near. I have been looking for awhile but like you say the web real estate info don’t reflect actual life. By the way, for a month I would like to rent a room while I look around and find a place I like. Any ideals?

      2. Having lived in Cuenca in 2007, I can attest that online “gringo prices” are probably too high, but back then $350/month got you a 3 bedroom casa (townhouse) with typical Ecuadorian standards (e.g. lower than you’d expect.) $500-600/month was a more likely price for “luxury” (e.g. North American quality) rentals. I expect that it’s significantly more since Cuenca has exploded in popularity in the past couple years.
        While it’s possible that deals like the Haines describe can be found, even a fluent Spanish speaker who knows the city well and has local friends to help them search should expect to pay more than $400/month.

        1. You’re right, that prices are higher than they were a few years ago. One of the biggest factors is where in the city. If someone rents in a new, up-scale place, they can expect to pay higher rent. Last month when we filmed a House Hunters episode in Cuenca, we toured some pretty nice places. The prices we talk about on our site aren’t deals, though. They are rentals negotiated with the property owners – no internet ads or management agencies involved. For our first place, a friend helped us, but the apartment we are in now, we found and negotiated ourselves – even providing the legal contract because the landlord didn’t have one. As a foreigner, it may take some work to find a normally priced place, but they exist everywhere. Last month, I saw a 2000sq ft brand new apartment (3 bedrooms, plus maids quarters and 5 bathrooms) for $800 plus condo fees. But it was a luxury building in an expensive area. There are smaller, but very nice ones for $200-$300 everywhere.
          A couple of months ago an expat moved into a furnished apartment near Supermaxi on Las Americas and is paying $350. He is a friend of a friend and didn’t speak any Spanish. Of course, an unfurnished place will be less, and a few blocks further off the main avenue will also drop the costs.
          All the best on your planning Aaron!

          1. Do u have any ideas on how much a furnished house, maybe 4 bedroom may go for? In or surrounding areas of Cuenca.

          2. You can pay from $350 to $800+ for a furnished house. There is a nice place that I know of for $500 per month. It is owned by a friend of a friend. Let me know if you are interested and I can put you in touch with the owner.

          3. That would be awesome! But we are not moving to Cuenca until around Sept/October. However, if its still available or if you know of anyone else, please let me know. You’ve been such a great help….thank you so much.

    2. David,
      My wife and I are also in the Philippines and are hoping to move to Cuenca in 2013. It would be nice to hear how you are getting on over there, perhaps we could keep in touch. My e add is roythom1950 (xxxxx@****)

      1. Hi Roy – thanks for the comment. Great to hear your plans. Unfortunately, the best I can offer is to stay tuned on the blog. There just isn’t enough hours in the day to answer specific, off-blog questions. I hope you understand.
        All the best on your plans!

  183. Hi everybody!
    My husband and I expect to retire to Cuenca in a few years, but I am trying to get as much good information as I can find and I have a question that have not seen post. We will be in our 60’s when we retire and hopefully in reasonable shape, but I would like to know about services for the much older (Hopefully we will get there). What kind of care exists? The prices, is it at home or in a specialized place, etc..?
    We both would like to remain in our place until is time to kick the bucket, but I like to anticipate the possibilities and would like to know about the care available. So, if somebody knows, can you please answer my questions? Thanks in advance.

  184. I’m a retired businessman from Michigan who will be visiting Cuenca Jan-Feb-Mar in 2012. I’m wondering if I will be able to pick up 5 to 10 hours a week teaching business English or TOEFL, TOEIC, and IELTS test preperation in Cuenca? I’m college degreed but not certified in ESL. Are private English tutoring sessions findable?
    Thanks in advance,
    John Bethea

    1. Hi John, I haven’t taught English and I’m not really connected to whats happening in Cuenca in this regard. I know that we are frequently asked to teach English, although it doesn’t really pay that much. I’ve heard as high as $10/hr but often less. I don’t think you’ll have trouble finding students, but it might not pay what you are expecting. Speaking English is important here (for business) so with a little effort, I’m confident that you’ll find students.

  185. This really a great site. Enjoyed all the info that have posted. Just reading these posts has answered a lot of questions that my wife and I had. We are planning to visit in November for about two weeks, is there a way to contact any expats to help us get off on the right path?

  186. This is a popular thread. I thought I would throw out a question I haven’t seen covered.
    Are there any good libraries or bookstores for sitting, reading lounging? I own a Kindle so I have plenty to read. Just curious if there are good public places for reading?

    1. There’s a very nice little bookstore (with mostly English-language books) on Hermano Miguel, near its intersection with Calle Larga. I do believe I saw some chairs for those who might want to sit and read a while, but I can’t swear to it… pretty sure, though.

  187. I will be in Cuenca mid August for at least 7 weeks and would like to find a place to take silver jewelry making classes and studio space for rent in a workshop. I was hoping you might know of a place, or someone I could contact.
    Thanks, I really appreciate your website!

  188. Is there anything like home owners insurance? I’m thinking about checking out Cuenca with my boyfrend and maybe starting off with a condo and maybe rent it out later because we want the views and to be a little outside of town (like everyonelse). Where is a good area to look for a home with a larger lot and a view not to far outside town or should we be looking into another town? No close neighbors please.

  189. Hi! More questions :), do you pay income tax on income from outside Ecuador? What are the income taxes, property taxes, etc. in Ecuador? What is the economy like in Ecuador right now? Look forward to hearing from you.

  190. Hi! I’ve been looking at Cuenca for a while now is great! I have a couple of questions. One, since Ecuador is tied to the US dollar how will the economy and present budget issues in the US affect the economy and living in Ecuador? Two, my hobby is pottery and I’ve been unable to find any supply places for glazes and clay in Cuenca online. Do you know of any?
    Thx, Glenny

  191. I am trying to locate a baker (or bakery) that makes a simple yucca bread.
    I know there is yucca bread but just don’t know how to find it!

    1. Hi Maryanne,
      Its actually sold at shops that sell yogurt. There is a great one on Luis Cordero (was there today) about two blocks up from Calle Larga. They don’t look like bakeries – they are painted white and have pricing for yogurt on the wall. Sometimes the signs say they sell pan de yuca other times they don’t. Or you could ask at a regular bakery and they’ll direct you. The small buns cost $0.15 each – and are amazing.

      1. Thank you so much, Bryan. I will look next week.
        I have referred several people who are interested in moving here to your blog. It makes such a difference to be able to read other people’s questions, replies and experiences.
        Thank you again,
        Maryanne Sea

      2. I’m a retired businessman from Michigan who will be visiting Cuenca Jan-Feb-Mar in 2012. I’m wondering if I will be able to pick up 5 to 10 hours a week teaching business English or TOEFL, TOEIC, and IELTS test preperation in Cuenca? I’m college degreed but not certified in ESL. Are private English tutoring sessions findable?
        Thanks in advance,
        John Bethea

  192. who is gary a scott…he covers everything and has no way of communicating with him….asks for money

    1. Sorry, I can’t help you contact this person. Looks like he wants you to purchase his set of products and 50 roses. Although I’m not sure where the roses fit in…

    2. Hi Jason…Gary Scott is the founder & head of International Living, a company with headquarters in Ireland.
      They run many seminars & tours, & yes, they are trying to sell you one of their services.
      They also paint a very rosy picture about Ecuador, but ,on balance, I have found them to be very upright & honest.
      You can contact Gary thru the website internationalliving .com
      …that will give yo a contact e-mail address.
      I have contacted him many times & always get an honest answer from him.
      Hope this helps.

      1. Hi Mike – thanks for the comment.
        I think you might be mistaken. Gary Scott runs Ecuador Living – a $119/year subscription service for Ecuador discounts. International Living the international expat magazine based in Ireland. Gary sells tours/courses. International Living sells magazines, books and (sometimes) tours. Gary has contributed to International Living, as a writer, but he isn’t included on their staff/editor page.

  193. Great site…i have quick questions
    im 49 and single…is there any social life there?
    I take a few medications…how are the pharmacies?

    1. About medication, almost everything is available. The costs are surprising low – compared to Canada and the US. I can’t confirm specific drugs though.

  194. Hi David, One question I need answered is that if we are coming to Cuenca for approx three months with our daughter and family in preparation for moving their. What would be the most inexpensive but safe place to stay in for that length of time. We had thought about renting an apartment but it seems that short term rentals are hard to find. Their will be five of us. I love your blog it is so well written and helps so much. We are living in Stratford Ontario Canada right now,summer is beautiful but winters are terrible.

  195. My Wife and I are getting ready for our first trip to Cuenca in early August with the mindset of could we retire here? (About 18+ months out till early retirement) We will have 13 nights for our first glimpse of Cuenca. We will be staying in the old center- but we need suggestions for which areas to explore living there. For retirement we need to rent and live on a fairly tight budget .We want to mix our fact finding while still enjoying a vacation and enjoying Cuenca and perhaps a couple of easy day trips to the surrounding areas. Any advise welcomed, Thanks John & Robin

    1. My husband and I are also going to Cuenca for 2 weeks at the end of sept, in search of a place to retire at the end of 2012. We did find a short term rental, it is a penthouse rented by Rich and Nancy. They also had 2 other places they rent shrt term.Their email is richnnancy luck, maybe we will neet you in the future sometime.

        1. Any chance of getting a couple of photos of the average rental? Also, in buying a house…is it a cash sale or can it be financed?
          Thanks for any info.

  196. My question is this; i like trout fishing. I’ve seen some pictures of nice streams in Ecuador, what i would like to know is..what kind of fish are in those streams and are the fish good for human consumption?

    1. Hi Bruce, I’m not an expert in this field … but from how I understand is that you can import a car tax free when you get residency. The catch is that the car must be new. Brand new. If you want a definite answer, you might want to chat with immigration lawyers.

      1. Hi Bryan,
        Just wanted to make a correction on your comment about importing cars. Residents can only bring their cars if they are repatriating Ecuadorians. Foreign residents cannot bring their cars tax free. This has been a point of confusion. I hope this helps your readers.

        1. Hi Rebecca. I just read what you commented on repartiating Ecuadorians and being able to bring their cars in tax free. I am a little confused on one matter….does the car thats being taken over even by Ecuadorians, have to be new? I read on Bryan and Denas site that it needs to have no more than a certain amount of km on the odometer. Does this apply to returning Ecaudorians as well or only to foreign residents? Thank you…

  197. Hi Bryan! Thank you for great information on your blog. We’re a Swedish family considering staying in Ecuador for six months in 2012 (while we’re on parental leave). Cuenca seems like a good choice and I’m wondering if you could name some good areas in Cuenca to live in? Also, do we need to live in a guarded area to be really safe (I guess it’s called confinement in English? In our protected little country, we don’t have any of those). So I’m worrying a bit on whether Ecuador is safe enough to bring my kids to (I know you’ve covered this question) but still? Apart from that worry, I’m very excited about this trip.
    Warm regards Kerstin with family

  198. In your expert opinion, is it easier and/ or cost effective to purchase a computer w/ printer,fax,scanner in Equador or just bring all that from home? I know many printer models that we have in the U.S. are impossible to find ink cartridges there. For instance, could I easily buy a Mac in Cuenca or would that be impossible to find?
    Also, I am familiar with the laws on importing a vehicle but what about small motorized scooters like a Vespa for example? Could I bring that with relative ease?

    1. In my opinion – you should bring a laptop if you have one. Or go buy one if you don’t. These are very expensive here. Desktop computers are more reasonable – I bought one here a few months ago. Printers and scanners are almost the same as back home. I’m not sure if there is a Mac store in Cuenca. There is a nice one in Mall del Jardin in Quito. I haven’t heard of anyone bringing in a scooter. I know you can buy them here. We’ve seen them in Cuenca and the smaller towns outside of the city. M

  199. I want to move to Cuenca. I am disabled but mobil. The problem is I have a pace maker that has to be periodically monitered. Are there medical facilities in Cuenca that can monitor my pacemaker?

    1. Hi Allan!
      I will be looking forward answers to your question.
      I also have a pacemaker and my husband and I will relocate to Cuenca in a few years, so I am already putting together all the most acurate information that I can get my hands on. I would not worry very much.
      I have the feeling that we won’t be able to check the pacemaker on the phone at home with our little machine in Cuenca or most another country, but we can always go and have it checked at our cardiologyst office. You could get in touch with the best hospitals in Cuenca and try to find an english speaking cardiologist and let them take care of you. You can visit the sites of Hospital Sinai or other of the most qualified hospitals and see how the service is there. That is what I am planning to do.
      I hope that this helps and that you will be very happy moving to Cuenca. Take care.

  200. Compliments to your comprehensive site! I have read every article I could find on IL website and your blog about Ecuador but I have one unanswered question. I have been looking for inexpensive rentals in Ibarra, Cotacachi or Cuenca and I can’t seem to find any helpful links to website listings. I wan’t to rent for a year and explore the major Ecadorian cities before I decide to buy. Any suggestions or tips on how to find the elusive $150-$200/mnth 2 bed/2bath furnished (or partially furnished) apartments? Or do they still exist?

  201. My husband and I are moving to Cotacachi in August of this year, and we have two dogs that we are bringing. One of them we are taking as a carry on and the other one is coming down later. Do you have any suggestions, reccommendations or information in general that will make the process of bringing them down easy or easier?? Thank you soooo much!

  202. Are short term (3 month) property rentals available? What should we expect to pay for a short term furnished rental?

  203. Hi,
    I had a couple other questions if you have the time.
    How is smoking in public there? Are there any smoke free resturants?
    Also, what is the price of a movie ticket?

    1. Hi, there are some gyms in Cuenca. I’ve tried one in Calle Simon Bolivar three blocks up from Parque Calderon which I found dirty, not very well equipped and too lout. It will serve your requirements if you know how to do your exercises. The monthly membership costs $18. There is a good one (I heard from hearsay) on the way to the Turi, the hill where the tourist buses take you. Seems to be pricey. The gym of my choice has opened just recently. Is is small but offers good and modern machines, the owner speaks English and gives you professional instruction. The place is clean and well looked after. The name: The Art Gym in the calle Alfonso Jerves 4-27and Calle Larga. I can only recommend it! But, in Ecuador the gyms generally don’t have showers, but don’t worry about that!

  204. Could you expand on the clothing situation. What do people wear? How casual, what kind of things, how warm? I hear people talk about tee shirts but with the cooler temperatures don’t you need jackets – or hoodies? ….and are hoodies too casual? This will help me decide what to keep and get rid of while I am packing. Thanks.

    1. Hi, the “Cuencanas” are used to wearing the highest heels ever 😉 They dress either conservatively-posh or stilysh. Some of them wear sports gear. But be prepared for the changeable weather and the daily shower. Only the “male Gringos” wear short trousers and sandals. But don’t worry, jeans or hiking pants, a T-shirt, a light jacket (fleece) and/ or a hoodie will be fine. At noon the temperatures can be pretty high, but in the afternoon breeze or when there is a cloud covering the sun you might be cold very soon. Especially after the sunset it can be quiet cold. Wear comfortable shoes, sandals or flip-flops, but: BE Prepared.

    2. I agree with what Claudia says, and wish to add that if you are considering doing anything in a professional or business aspect, or if you want to attend any events with Cuencano friends, I would also encourage bringing a bit of business-type clothing. “Gringos” are judged as being shockingly casual for their “maturity” level, as you will see by looking around that only the young people, tourists, and labor workers dress informally. Even at local family parties and holidays the people put on nice clothing. Slacks/Dockers and button-down shirt with appropriate shoes will have you fit in respectably, with a sport jacket when it gets cooler maybe. With this you will fit in with any local night time event or business or professional meeting.

  205. Hi Brian,
    Love the blog it’s really making my decision to move to Ecuador a lot firmer. My question is: How far is it from the local beaches? I know Cuenca is in the mountains and we like that because of the air quality and no bug factor but my husband and I love the beach. Thanks in advance!

  206. I`m writing this from the Villa Nova Inn and my wife and I could not be happier. I dare anyone to find a better place with a better staff at this price. Please see Margarita and Hanna at the front desk they are helpful and very very pretty!

    1. We are coming in October and tried to stay at the Villa Nova. They wanted over $900 per month (double) because we are a couple. Are you paying this outrageous price?

  207. Where in Cuenca did you settle? Why did you pick that particular area and do you live in a secure highrise?

  208. Great blog! I was wondering if anyone could help me with an inexpensive Spanish school. I have found alot online but I find them rather expensive. I’ve heard rumors of schools that charge $3-$5 hr but I am having trouble locating them. Any info you might have would be greatly appreciated

    1. Estudio Sampere is a great school for ages 18 and up. There are many college students and many older students as well. The teachers are fantastic and the school offers a class with one teacher and only two students. It is in a great location and has a beautiful courtyard with outdoor tables for classes. Another great attribute is that you take a test the first day you are there and then they place you at the appropriate level. They also offer free cooking and salsa dancing classes and supply housing with friends of the school. It is quite small and personal. I had an amazing time when I went!!

      1. Oh! And for 2 weeks it is around $400 including tourist-y trips around the city and classes from 7:45 – 11:30 every week day.

  209. Could you give any insight on religion in the area? I’ve not seen anything posted about church services or religious beliefs. I am also a homeschooler here in the states but a big reason for doing that is to give my son a Christian-focused education. I read that a large amount of the population is Roman Catholic but was curious if there are other denominations like we have in the US.
    Thank you for this awesome website! I recently seen an episode of House Hunters International on HGTV that brought Salinas to my attention. We are looking at a move there in about 5 years so I have plenty of time to do research! 😀

      1. We just visited Cuenca and found two congregations of the churches of Christ as well. One was in the city proper and one was a bit outside. The one in the city proper is where we visited and it was home to very friendly and welcoming Ecuadorians.

    1. My wife and I recently stayed a month in Cuenca to work with the church and their many ministries they have setup. ( I mostly helped at the orphange and my wife is a dental hygienist and worked at their health clinic). They are Verbo Cuenca. From what I gathered, the country is roughly 95% catholic. We are planning on moving to Cuenca next September to work with the church and the orphanage’s they helped start. Been browsing through this site to inquire about work/business idea’s to generate income while there.

  210. Thanks for all your help. You really deserve that coffee bring the wife and we’ll make it a foursome.
    Two more questions best dentist and best women’s hairdresser and clues? My wife is Asian so I suspect her hair is similar to the many of the women there. Thanks again for all your help and we will be there next week to make good on the coffee offer!

    1. Hi Tyson, thanks for the feedback!
      Best dentist (that we’ve used) is on the corner of Gran Columbia and Las Americas. She speaks English and does great work. For hair dressers … thats more of a personal preference. Mall del Rio is probably one of the more expensive places. In the city center, there are tons of options.
      Thanks for the offer for a coffee. Unfortunately we simply can’t take all the offers we get – at least 6-8 per week. Just not enough hours in the day – hope you understand.
      All the best on your move!

  211. Hola,
    Any advice on how to price various medical procedures in Cuenca? Mammogram, MRI, orthopedic attention?
    I am having difficulty linking up to the various hospitals.
    Thanks, Nat

    1. Good question. The top hospital in the city is Mount Sinai. We plan on adding an English speaking doctor to our site – I’m sure she could help with that. Otherwise, I would recommend visiting the hospital when you are here visiting.

    2. Hi, I also can recommend the Hospital Monte Sinai. A full day treatment in the emergency room with ultrasound picture, x-ray analysis, infusion and the examination carried out by three doctors cost me $250. A normal examination at a specialist’s will amount to $25.Hope that will help.

    3. Regarding the cost of medical attention, I would like to price out a gold crown for a second molar tooth, including the novocaine, materials and drilling. I know dentists have been mentioned here. Any ideas? Thanks. BTW – (we (wife, 3 daughters and 4 dogs) invade Cuenca in about three weeks).

      1. My mother got a crown when she came to visit us in Cuenca, and I think it was $50 (with maybe another $10 for the x-ray.) But it got infected and had to be re-capped back in the US after she returned.
        That’s not an indictment of Cuencano dentistry though. The same thing happens in the USA for a $1000 (after insurance) crown..

  212. Plane tickets continue to increase in price. How is it to take an overnight bus from Quito to Cuenca? I hear they are cheap but noisey is there a direct bus that allows you to sleep for most of the journey? Thanks.

    1. Hi Tyson – a bus from Cuenca to Quito is about $10 for a direct ride. When you buy your ticket, you need to confirm if it direct, or if it stops along the way. It costs just a little more for a direct bus. They also call them executive buses. But you shouldn’t give up on flights. Its just 45min. Earlier this week I went to Quito for the day, and it cost just $59 return, including taxes.

      1. Hi Bryan.
        We plan arrive in Quito in June. What company did you fly with and how far in advance should we book a return flight to Cuenca?
        Love your site!
        Jeff & Teresa

        1. Hi Jeff, we flew American Airlines to Ecuador. They had the best routes (and rates) from Canada. Within the country, Tame, LAN and Aerogal are all good.
          I’m not clear on your second question. If you are booking national flights, usually a couple days notice is all you’ll need. Weekend flights can fill up, but mid week flight usually have seats. For international flights, from our experience, the fights get cheaper up until about 45-30 days before departure. Then they tend to increase.
          One tip that has saved us, is to search for flights on one computer, but book them on another one. The cookies that get set will often cause the prices to come out higher. Or if you know now, you can clear your history/cookies and see the actual flight costs are.

        2. Jeff, I understand, in general, the best international fares are booked 6 weeks in advance. Airlines do not like to commit to fares months in advance (although you can book fares up to a year in advance) due to price fluctuations in aviation fuel.

  213. Thanks for the info on renting in Ecuador. My question is how would I as a pensioner get my money forwarded to me in Quito.
    I sponsor 2 little girls through World Vision in Chillanes,Ecuador, (about 125 miles south of Quito) which is where I was planning to move to.
    If you don’t have an answer perhaps you could refer me to a site that could answer same.
    I should mention that I have been to Quito (last October 2010) and found it quite interesting and being able to speak Spanish was a definite asset, so it was easy to get around.Looking forward to your reply.
    Cheers Greg Holt

    1. Hi Greg, Great question.
      If you setup a bank account here in Ecuador then you can either write a check or wire money to yourself. Here’s how to do your banking in Ecuador.
      The other option is to direct withdraw from your USD account in the States. It works very good.
      Hope this helps.

  214. I do find that I have a question! With a little over two weeks to go we are curious as to what kind of clothes to pack for a week long trip. We will be in Cuenca and in Quito. I know that weather can change pretty quickly in Ecuador and elevation is a factor what clothes would you and the misses pack?

    1. Hi Tyson,
      Good question. You might enjoy this guide to Cuenca weather and it’s spring-like climate.
      In terms of clothes, you’ll probably want a rain coat (and/or umbrella) and good walking shoes. Shorts and tank-tops are more for the coast, although it can get quite hot here. The evenings are cool so a sweater is great if you’re out and about.
      Hope this helps and enjoy your trip!

      1. Thanks,
        We just purchased some nice comfy hiking shoes and ordered a couple of rain coats!

  215. Hi,
    I've no question that can't be asked in person. My wife and I are doing an exploratory trip in May we will be in Cuenca from 16-19 and would love to buy you some coffee in person.
    Tyson and Vivian

  216. Hi
    I am coming down in Oct for a month to have a look around. I am planning on spending 2 weeks in and around Cuenca and 2 weeks exploring the coast. I am living in Alberta but grew up in Nova Scotia so you can see the problem-mountains that I now love and the ocean that I am still fond of.
    Have you seen the coast of living rising in the last few months, housing, food etc.? Is it hard to make money once you are living there. I would like to open a Bed and Breakfast, do you think you could make enough to survive by doing a business like this?
    Thanks for all the great info that you and Deanna have given to everyone

    1. Hi Val, Cost of living is an interesting question. We've seen some things increase – others decrease. Rent and fuel stay pretty stable. To answer your question, I would say no – its been stable.We work remotely, in the US economy online. A bed and breakfast is a great idea. There is a shortage of good temporary housing here.

  217. So many interesting facts of Ecuador and Cuenca I have learned from you folks over the last 5 months. As my wife and I dream about visiting there to plan where to retire, one daunting question hangs over us. What kind of insects are there? My wife grew up in north Russia where ther was no insects at all, she has developed a kind of phobia from them due to the lack of exsposure during child hood. I don"t really think its a deal breaker, I just promised her I would ask 🙂

    1. Hi Erik, it really depends on where you go. In Cuenca, there are some weird large bugs that fly at night. In eastern Canada we had bugs like that – we called them June bugs. Harmless. There are tarantulas – which primarily come out at night. There are moths and butterflys. Mosquitoes exist, but aren’t very common. As you go to lower elevations, there are more and different bugs – both to the Coast and the Jungle. There isn’t too much to be afraid of – but lots to learn about.

  218. Hi:
    This is very kind of you.
    One of my main concerns about Cuenca is whether electricity can be expected to be reliable most of the time, which would affect being able to connect to the internet when I need it. I see the computer as my most important possession for living abroad.

    1. Internet can go down for a few minutes at a time. Recently it went down for a few hours a couple of times, but that is unusual. I spend most of the day on the internet for work and I do not have a problem.

      1. Is high speed internet available there? What I need to know is if “high speed” IS available, it is like DSL or Cable in the states? I need this type of connection for doing medical transcription. Does anyone know?

        1. Hi Lisa,
          Yes, there is high speed internet. I just checked TV Cable and you can get a 7Mb connection for $114. It is their fastest. This time last year, their fastest was 3.5Mb. As I understand, a 2.5Mb connection is the minimum required for video streaming.

  219. I'd like to know how you cope with the high altitude. Does it make you out of breathe? DO you get altitude sickness? Will you body eventually adjust?
    Also, is the USD much stronger there than it is here in the US?

  220. am planning to visit Cuenca in June as well as other areas of the country. my wife and I are planning amove as soon as we complete sale of our house. I am interested in staying in Cuenca for at least a week to get the feel of the city and it's amenities and people. Can you recommend a good b&b or hotel that is reasonable.

  221. this may seem like a silly question.. but with school age kids, its the first thing they asked when i mentioned a move..
    Are there any "American" foods available there? fast food restaurants (McDonalds or equivalent)? what about groceries; hot dogs, french fries, chicken nuggets, cereal etc (stuff that picky kids will eat lol)? Also I have seen posts about locals drinking goats milk… is pasteurized cows milk available to purchase, and is it safe to drink?

    1. Hi Nichole, At Mall del Rio, there is a KFC and a Burger King. There is a MacDonalds in Guayaquil and (I think) in Quito. No problem to find hot dogs, fries and chocolate/sugar covered breakfast cereals. Not sure about the chicken nuggets. French fries are sold at all the restaurants. There is a variation with a small bowl of fries and a hotdog on top with mayo and ketchup – salchipapas . Costs about $0.50 and is very popular.Cows milk is most common – costs about $9 for a box of 12 – 1 liter bags (long life variety), or less than $1 a bag in the dairy section.Hope this helps.Bryan

  222. We are thinking of a move to Cuenca as well.. we are a young family with 3 children (5,7,10) So have a few questions for you..
    1. Schools;
    what kind of education can my children get there? none of us speak more than a few words of spanish, so would need a bilingual or english speaking PRIVATE school for the kids.. are those available? how good are those types of schools? how safe are they? do they have school buses to pick up/drop off kids or do we have to find transportation? and what would the costs be for the private schools?
    2. Jobs;
    Moving out of the US will mean leaving our jobs and careers behind.. I am a nurse and my husband is a successful district manager for an autoparts store. what can we do for work in Cuenca? without knowing spanish im sure the jobs are limited.. however do you think it would be possible for me to get a nursing job there even if i only speak minimal spanish? where can we go to research potential jobs and salaries in that area before moving?.. with kids, moving to another country without finding work is too risky.
    3. Moving Abroad;
    we have only ventured out of the US for short vacations.. in order to convince our friends/family that we are not crazy for leaving the US for Ecuador we agreed to make it a "temporary 1 year adventure" then after that time we can re-asses and decide if we should stay and buy a home there, or go back to the states… what kind of visa would that require if it is only a temporary move to start? and what are the approximate costs involved with getting visas? how would moving out of the country affect our citizenship status with the US? would we be able to still receive Social Security benefits for our child? what about voting in elections?
    Thank you for your help, and it would be nice to meet up with some expats when we do go down, glad to hear we are not the only ones with this dream! 🙂

    1. There is a good blog on this site about schools in Ecuador. That would be a good start.
      I don’t know much about the job market here except that wages are very low compared to Europe/USA/Canada and you might be better off trying to set up some internet business selling to people north of Mexico. There are some Gringo business here, though, mostly catering to the expat population that seem to make a living.
      For visa questions, try Diego Monsalve (, a visa lawyer here. He is very nice, very honest and speaks perfect English. We came out here on a six-month visa and upgraded it to indefinite residency when we were here. I am not American, but I cannot see that it would affect your US citizenship.

  223. We have applied for our Visa's in late February, the attorney tells us they should be approved in another 6 weeks or so. As other people have asked, can you explain the process of shipping about 50 cubic feet of household goods. We would like to pack ourselves, but keep reading that the boxes have to be inspected prior to shipping.
    Any shipping insights would be really appreciated.

    1. Hi Anne,Its a good question. We didn't ship a container or boxes – just our 6 bags of luggage. Things aren't that expensive here that would justify shipping normal housewares here. Unfortunately, because we didn't bulk ship our belongings (and none of our friends did either) I don't have any experience or advice.Sorry.

  224. I too would like to know what we should absolutely bring with us. We live in Mount Forest, Ont and plan to relocate to Ecuador within the year. There are several things that are difficult or impoosible to get down there….like I understand that American style clothing is not easy to find and if you are overweight, it is even harder. Is there anything else that we should really bring down a supply of? We also enjoy woodworking and own all the "toys" required. Should we bring it all down with us or buy it down there? What about mattresses down there. Due to pain issues, I require an extremely high quaility mattress and from the photos I've seen of the beds in homes for sale, it is obvious that high quality mattresses are either not available or are very expensive?? How hard is it to find a really good mattress? How easy is it to sell a house? If I were to buy one through the Internet and then we want to move, is it difficult to sell? Lots of questions, Sorry, but thank you!

  225. We have visited Cuenca and have decided it is the place for us to retire. Our question is : How do we find a reputable shipper in Ecuador who will know the in's and out's for bringing in a small amount of household items ( pallet size ) without breaking the bank . Thanks

    1. Hi Dale,Good question. Its not something I've dealt with.Why not check with Idrovo & Velastegui Attorneys at Law? – They can probably help. They do relocation for Gringos.Bryan

  226. Please outline the process for shipping goods to Cuenca, Ecuador. It seems too complicated.
    Also, how do you get your son and daughter and THEIR FAMILIES in the country, which visa and how can we be sure it is possible?

    1. Hi Barbara,Those are great questions. Its not something I've dealt with personally. Check with Idrovo & Velastegui Attorneys at Law? – I'm confident that they can help. They do relocation for Gringos.Bryan

  227. Our family is planning an extensive trip to see what life could be like for us in Ecuador. I’ve been reading about a few popular cities like Cuenca and Quito; however, I have never come across a detailed review of private schools for families like ours with two girls under 5. Please let us know if something is out there for us. Mant thanks.

  228. Not to be a downer but I wonder how man Americans can move to Cuenca before the city starts to change. Change might be for the good or bad??? We are visiting in September for a look see as we are planning a move to somewhere in June 2013. Just wondering how the mass exodus from the USA is going to affect all these small and medium sized cities all over the world… (with that said, I can't wait to find my little piece of paradise if it is still out there)

    1. Hi George,You make a good point. Although Cuenca gets a lot of press – there are still just a few thousand of expats here – compared to the 500,000 in the city. That being said, the city is changing. The prices are going up – especially on housing. There really are two economies here. But it is a beautiful city (and country). All the best on your plans.Bryan

      1. hi!! so how much is the housing going up on aVerage, please let me know. this is very important.david falls

  229. October 1 is the target date my wife and I have established to relocate to Cuenca. A dear friend of many years and his partner retired to Cuenca two years ago. We visited them in Ecuador a month or so ago and that was "all she wrote." Looking forward to our new adventure! Surrounded by naysayers who believe all the propoganda being propogated by our government and various media outlets. Retiring to Cuenca wil actually enhance our standard of living. All the positive remarks I've read on this, and other blogs, we found to be true "and then some."

  230. I have not read every post – no time for that. Hoping that will change if I move to Cuenca. I am interested in the true feeling of the weather. Most videos don't show people with jackets. What is a home with a view – rent for. Apartment with a view in not too noisy of an area? Also, I'm told it is hard to get a driver's license? Can you use your US license for awhile? Can you use an iphone? These may sound like silly questions but . . . Oh, when I go to Expedia to try to get some price quotes, they don't seem to recognize this area and I can't get quotes. What airline would you recommend? I have so many other questions as I am just starting my research but this will start. Thanks for any info, Barbara

  231. We are in the process of planning our trip to Cuenca for a possible retirement option. We will be staying for 8 days. If you were to make the transition now, what would you do differently. What items would be a must have while packing. Would you move directly into where you are now; would you recommend renting for awhile; What did you forget to bring that you wished? How do you get your pets there? Can you recommend a hotel in the middle of town to get a feel for the city. Do you really find the cost of living alot less. Appreciate your answers. Thank you, Marlene and Stephan Rusnak

  232. Dena – Can you suggest a good hair salon in Cuenca? We will be there in June, and I want to try it out.

    1. My girlfriend uses Marcel France in Mariscal Sucre and Hermano Miguel in the historic centre.
      She tried the Columbian guy on Calle Larga, but he died her hair silver and then got in a big sulk when she told him it was not right.

    2. Try Fanny at Falu Salon–located at Presidente Cordova y Vargus Machuca. She speaks almost no English, so take a picture of what you want. She charged me about $5.
      It’s less expensive than Marcel France, tho they are good too.

  233. Hi Bryan,
    thanks for your blog. I like your style of writing too.
    1) I want to use Vonage phone from inside ecuador to call the states on a regular daily basis for business. Do you think the internet speed there is good enough to have a quality call?
    2) Do we really need to bring anything? We're committed do it yourselfers and we need a well stocked tool box. How available are things like — skil saw, jig saw, elec. sander, tile cutter, etc.– or should we go to the major expense of shipping them down?
    3) Same question for kitchen stuff– food processor, grinder, blender, juicer, —
    Thanking you in advance for your kind assistance.
    Frank and Angie
    (family of five, three adult sons)

    1. Skype is extremely commonly used out here. We use it a lot and it is fine.
      Can’t cook or do DIY so cannot help you on those ones.

  234. I recently read an article in InternationalLiving that Dena wrote about a nearby town that was a little lower altitude and somewhat warmer. I lost the information,, and was hoping to read more about this place on your site. I think I might need slightly warmer than springtime temperatures to enjoy life, but are the towns nearby Cuenca as convenient as far as travel, shopping, etc.

    1. Sounds like the Yunguilla valley, maybe the town of Giron? Yunguilla is lower and warmer than ?Cuenca.
      It's worth trying Cuenca though, I rarely go out in anything warmer than a T-shirt.

    2. Hi Trudy – Dena wrote about Paute – a great town north east of Cuenca. We’ll be covering this in the weeks to come. You might also consider Gualaceo or Chordeleg – 2 beautiful towns on the same river as Paute. They are around 45 minutes from Cuenca.
      Giron was mentioned by another commenter, but it isn’t what you describe. The fog rolls in around 4pm every day – not exactly paradise (but not awful either).

  235. Hi Bryan,
    Is there much cycling done Ecuador or in Cuenca? Or does the driving make it too dangerous?

    1. Cycling is really popular here, although the quality of driving does make it, IMHO, more dangerous than places where being a psychopath is not a requirement for getting a driving licence.

  236. Does anyone know of any schools in the area that we could possibly teach English at? we are both interested in this for some part-time work for extra income on the side.

  237. Bryan & Dena:
    Thanks for your great blog. I would like to see what opportunities for volunteer work ther are in Cuenca. We are planning a trip to Cuenca in the Fall and worry about keeping busy. Can you tell me if you know of any contacts for charity work there?
    We look forward to meeting you!

  238. My wife and I are considering moving our family of 3 (soon to be 4) to Cuenca. However, before we decide to make the move we would like to come down and take a visit in the very near future. Can you recommend a safe, but economical hotel that we could stay in for about 2 or 3 weeks?
    Also, our spanish is enough to get us food and around to a few places. Would you recommend that we find a translator to help us out or do you think we&#