Thinking of moving to Cuenca? Here’s what you need to know before you go

Nov 14, 2017 | 0 comments

By Ombretta Di Dio

In the past few years, more and more people seem to have gone crazy about Ecuador and, particularly, about the charming and lively city of Cuenca.

Cuenca’s cathedral on Parque Calderon.

Cuenca is rich in history and architecture; it’s walking friendly and it’s surrounded by breathtaking scenic mountain sights. After all, who doesn’t dream of yearlong perfect weather that would only be the background of incredible genuine friendliness, exotic and tasty food, deep culture and uncontaminated nature?

Surely, Cuenca represents a heartwarming destination with plenty of hidden treasures to discover, however, if by any chance you’re thinking about making more than just a trip out of this city and if you’re thinking about building a new life there, like many did before you, you might want to consider a few peculiar aspects that aren’t often discussed.

First of All, Ask Yourself: Why Do You Want to Move to Ecuador?

If your plan is to develop a way of life that is radically different from the one you have in your hometown in North America and if you’re willing to adjust to the many changes you’re inevitably going to face once you move away, then jumping into a new fresh reality and make the best out of Cuenca won’t be hard for you.

The ‘Baranco’ from the Rio Tomebamba.

When relocating to another country, indeed, whether it’s Ecuador or France, it’s fundamental to consider how flexible and open your views are. So, ask yourself: are you amazed by the Ecuadorian culture? Are you going to immerse yourself in it with wide heart and eyes? Do you know enough about it before you go? Are you willing to learn Spanish? Do you think you could stand the local lifestyle or will you feel compelled to build a new North America in Ecuador? These questions might sound overwhelming, but they really are the basis of life as an expat.

Are You Just Getting Carried Away by The Prospect of Economic Wellness?

Many people decide to leave the United States attracted by the idea that life abroad will automatically be cheaper and therefore happier. Is that accurate?

Before becoming too enthusiastic after all the glowing reports you’ve read, you might want to do some further research and find out whether what has been told you is driven by honesty or by real estate agents’ hunger for money: check your sources and facts before you buy that plane ticket!

Apparently, many would-be expats believe that $600 to $900 a month will be enough to live a utopic existence in Ecuador, an existence that would be comparable to the quality and standards of a much more expensive one in the United States or Canada. The reality, though, is that $600 would only cover a very basic and simple life, which wouldn’t resemble a king-like one at all. You would have to live on a tight budget, rent a $250/month apartment, have no car and very little money left over for any kind of treat.

Be Realistic!

The true costs of living in the marvelous town of Cuenca are directly linked to the kind of adjustments you’re willing to make. Going local is the first rule to follow if you don’t want to pay double for imported products. With that being said, even if you fully embrace all the local products and habits, you still need to keep in mind those extra expenses that are considered normal in the United States: eating out once a week, having medical insurance or getting a TV cable would drive your $600 budget go all the way up to at least $1,200 (still fairly cheap by U.S standards inexpensive). Living a very frugal life and forgetting entirely about your North American habits is the only way $600 would sustain you in Ecuador. A much more realistic approach would be to lower your expectations about expenses (thus, raising your budget) while getting used to the new way of life while you enjoy it like a South American would.

Learn About The Rules

Before you move to Ecuador, you would probably like to know that the laws in the country are not as elastic as you could possibly think. There are, for example, limits on bringing electronics to Ecuador: travelers are only allowed to bring up one new electronic items (including cell phones, cameras, mp3 players and so on) into the country per return trip. If you plan on buying a car to satisfy your traveling needs, be aware that, in case your car price is above $20,000, you will pay a luxury tax that adds $15 to $35 percent to the total cost. And, very important, if you are caught speeding by 20% over the limit, you could spend three days in jail!

Once you’ve considered the whole package and the pros and cons of life as an expat in Cuenca, don’t forget about the invaluable opportunities the country can offer. All you have to do is ask yourself if you’re willing to give up a bit of your old “gringo” lifestyle in order to find your little piece of paradise in this beautiful land.

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Credit: Huffington Report,


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