Cuenca Ecuador: 15 questions to ask yourself before moving

Posted on January 2, 2017 • Filed under: Ecuador / Kaelyn Davis
1. How Much Would It Cost Monthly To Live Moderately On A Monthly Basis In Cuenca?

There is a commonly shared idea that to live well in Cuenca you only need about $800 a month. This is not impossible, but for most expats, who are generally in or above the 50 year age range, it is neither practical nor comfortable. The average single expat lives on about $1,200 to $1,500 a month. One site that has a lot of information on the prices of things in Cuenca that is worth checking out is Numbeo which also does city comparisons. Another estimate from International Living puts the cost of living in Cuenca around $1600 a month for a couple. Moderate apartments, comfortable for a single person or couple, tend to cost from $500 to $700 a month, with the lowest rents being outside of the city. Keep in mind that in the process of moving to another country, you will have to deal with the significant expense of either furnishing your new place or having your belongings shipped from home.

Food is also a variable. If you plan to cook at home most often, the things to consider are this: Will you be shopping at the national grocery chain markets? Things tend to be more expensive in that case. Or will you be shopping at the open markets, where most locals shop and things are significantly cheaper? Most people spend around $300-$400 on food monthly. If you prefer to eat in restaurants more often than cook, your monthly spending on food may be a little higher. A

The other thing to consider is what kind of entertainment you enjoy. Do you plan on making a lot of trips around Cuenca and Ecuador? Do you tend to spend a lot of money on alcohol, or the movies, or museums? While these things most likely cost considerably less than in your home country, they should still be taken into consideration when planning your monthly budget. Many events are free in Cuenca, and some of the best entertainment is sitting in one of the many parks, talking with the locals.

2. What Parts Of Daily Life In Cuenca Are Most Appealing To Expats?

There are a myriad of reasons as to why Cuenca appeals to expats. One of the most popular is the fact that the city is very pedestrian. In the downtown and its surrounding areas, it is both easy and enjoyable to walk from one place to another. Even if you’re not feeling like walking, most taxi rides in the area are under $2. And for just .25 cents there is always the option of the local city bus. With a couple insider tips for riding the bus in Cuenca the local buses can be a very economical way to get around.

Another appealing aspect is the aesthetics of Cuenca. A mix of colonial and modern architecture, open air markets, a plethora of parks and plazas, the river that borders downtown, and not to mention the stunning Cathedral of Immaculate Conception that rivals any of its European cousins provide a pleasant backdrop to daily life in Cuenca.

The cost of food is also a draw. The almuerzos (or lunches), usually consisting of a soup, an entrée, fresh juice and a pastry start around $2. A great free resource “16 Good & Inexpensive Restaurants in Cuenca” can be downloaded here.

Dinner, though more expensive, rarely exceeds ten dollars, even at some of the nicer Cuenca restaurants. Produce is incredibly affordable. For example, an almost unusable (in terms of quantity) amount of spinach will cost you one dollar. Most items are sold in bunches at the mercados, and bunches are often 25 cents apiece. One great mercado to check out is 10 de Agusto Mercado

Cuenca also boasts a rich and varied cultural vivacity. It is rife with museums, restaurants, handicraft markets, etc. It seems as though almost every weekend there is some kind of music festival or holiday or cultural event worth attending. Most of the museums are free or cost $1-2 per person to enter, and the local symphony — always a popular event — is free and often performs in beautiful locations around town, such as the Pumapungo Theatre or the Old Cathedral, built in the 1500s.

I read this book after having moved to Ecuador and I wish it had been available prior to that decision. Having spent almost two years living there, I have to say Mr. Crowder really hit the nail on the head with his insights into the culture of the country.

3. Where Are The Closest Day Trips And What Do They Offer?

One of the most appealing things about Cuenca is the amount of day or weekend trips available from Cuenca that are both easy and affordable. Cuenca is surrounded by smaller villages, some of which specialize in certain local foods or artisan handicrafts. Gualaceo is a town only an hour away by bus, which boasts a thriving local market which offers cuy and delicious roast pig. Vilcabamba is a beautiful town set in the mountains, where visitors can go hiking, horseback riding, or simply relax in a number of beautiful hostels or guesthouses. Chordeleg is near Gualaceo, but its main attraction is the local silverwork which produces beautiful jewelry. This is only a sample of the nearby towns, but as Ecuador is a relatively small country, there are a great number of small trips that can be embarked upon from Cuenca.

And don’t forget the Cajas, the southern range of the Andes. If you love the outdoors, you can always take a day trip to the Cajas to enjoy some hiking around some of the lakes, followed by a stop at one of the local trout farms to have some dinner. Read Full Article at

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