Global Sound –
The “Cost of Living” Hype About Cuenca Ecuador – Can You Really Retire on 0 Month?
Another article came out just today by Reuters Yahoo front page about how a couple can retire on $ 600 a month in Cuenca Ecuador. Let us make something perfectly clear. You CANNOT retire on $ 600 a month in Cuenca Ecuador, doing it the way that most expats are doing it now. This couple leased an apartment almost two years ago…we want to see $ 200 a month downtown apartment, overlooking the river today in Cuenca!
In the Yahoo article the couple mentioned they rent an apartment for $ 200 a month overlooking the river in Cuenca; Yeah, maybe back in 2010 when they found the apartment. Finding this kind of a deal now for a two bedroom is gone in the downtown area, and especially if it is furnished.
If any Ecuadorian or gringo real estate Agency would like to call us on it, go for it, and please let us know where in downtown Cuenca we can actually rent a two bedroom furnished for $ 200 a month. We’ll be thrilled to tell our readers about it.
So can you retire on $ 600 a month? The answer is yes and no. read on.
Here’s what’s happening, the hype of these articles gets everyone (mostly those people on a retirement pension) all excited and they quickly come to Ecuador…then after several months they realize, “I can’t retire on $ 600 a month; my rent is $ 400 right now; my food bill is $ 100 a week; my Internet is $ 40 a month; entertainment is $ 60 a week; and my transportation costs are over $ 100 a month!! What a bunch of hype about cost of living in Cuenca Ecuador, I can’t retire on $ 600 a month, my living costs now are almost $ 1200! I should have never believed that magazine article!!”
This is true; living like that you cannot retire on $ 600!
But the truth is a couple CAN Retire on $ 600 if they are FRUGAL and do things the way we do and have been doing and advocating all along on this blog.
We’ve been reading and hearing about more and more expats who have come to Cuenca and are disappointed because they believed all the hype about cost of living in Cuenca Ecuador. It’s sad, but this is what happens when we don’t look at the whole picture and do our due diligence research.
Our readers email us weekly with high priced rentals and real-estate because they cannot believe their eyes. They want to know if the high prices they are seeing in Cuenca are true (Yeah it’s true). The first things out of their mouth is, “Oh my gosh; I can just stay here where I’m at in the U.S for that price!”
If these magazines and websites are going to talk about the low cost of living in Cuenca Ecuador then they should at least have the facts to back it up and to show people how to do it. Our family of five adults lives on less than $ 1,000 a month in Cuenca Ecuador. So then it is entirely possible one or two people can live on $ 600 if they are willing to follow our guidelines? YES IT IS…you just need to know the ins and outs of going local in Cuenca Ecuador.
Here’s the thing, we have not met any expat couples here in Cuenca yet that are actually living on $ 600 a month, and the reason being is THEY don’t know how or THEY don’t care to know how. Folks are rushing down here and doing things the way they are used to in North America, but this is South America!
We keep reading in articles about how a couple is living on $ 600 a month but where are they? All we hear and read about is expats complaining about all the hype of Cuenca, and they are leaving Ecuador. Many others are renting $ 600-$ 750 a month apartments!
They lease high priced rentals in gringo gulches, and buy properties from greedy real estate agents that have upped the price by 50%, they buy food in the Americanized grocery stores, never taking the bus or walking anywhere outside of the center, and so on and so forth. Nope, $ 600 is NOT going to happen doing that.
We just found (Two days ago, March 10, 2012) another beautiful home; it’s 4 bedrooms, 3 baths, three story in a nice and quiet Ecuadorian neighborhood for $ 200 a month! Now, it did take some considerable searching, foot work, knowing some Spanish, and humbleness (Frank quickly lets people know we are not rich and we are not going to pay gringo prices) to find this house.
This big, beautiful home is nicer than the one we are in now and bigger and with a nicer back yard, for $ 50 less a month! Oh and guess what else, we didn’t even have to negotiate the price with the landlord because $ 200 was the real price!? This landlord did not try and gringo us, so we quickly gave him a $ 200 deposit on it for our friends who are moving to Cuenca this month.
We also found last week in our searching, a small, but nice three bedroom one bath apartment for $ 180 a month in a very nice Ecuadorian neighborhood just a few blocks from the Coral Centro. It takes due diligence (time and effort) just like we’ve been telling you all along, to find these local priced rentals but they are out there. These are all private parties, no real estate agents!
So you see, with doing some leg work (literally) and talking to local people, moving away from the city center, and walking around and calling all of the Spanish ads, you’ll find the right priced rentals in Cuenca.
If you decide to move to Cuenca and live at the local pricing structure, you can’t bring your North American way of doing things here and get the $ 600 a month way of living, it isn’t going to happen. People come here and just go to rental agency or real-estate Company or look at the English language ads or websites and get an apartment or house. No wonder they are paying exorbitant prices. These types of agencies and English language ads are geared just for the so called “rich gringo” that moves to Cuenca. Is that how you want to move here? Well you don’t have to.
If you’re going to move here, then move here, don’t live like a tourist on vacation.
Start by walking around, interacting with the Ecuadorians, then read the Spanish ads and use Google translate, never give up and keep looking, be willing to walk away at stupidly over priced rentals and be sure to let them know it is waaaay over-priced for Ecuador!
The bottom line is real simple: If your ideal retirement haven is living in a gringo gulch with 24 hour security guards stationed, taking taxis everywhere you go, shopping at the malls, eating out in the International restaurants and grocery shopping at Supermaxi, then you could just as well find your paradise Cuenca anywhere you care to go, the world is a large place; Cuenca is not that special in the global view of things, really, it’s just a South American Andes mountain town.
But if your goal is to relocate and restart your life in a new land–then living in an Ecuadorian neighborhood, away from the city center, taking the bus or walking, taxi only sometimes, shopping and being frugal at the Mercado’s and Coral and cooking your own international food and or patronizing the Ecuadorian restaurants –can help you make Cuenca –be that place.
It’s really up to how you live. The old North American dream of prosperity and liberty can be yours but you might have to change some of your habits and integrate yourself with the local culture. No one can certainly tell you how to live, but if frugality and immersing yourself into the culture of Ecuador sounds like something you want to do then most of the Ecuadorians will welcome you here with open arms.
For more details on how to find the best rental deals in Cuenca, see the DIY Cuenca Landing guide, you’ll be glad you have this guide book on your computer.
Plus, check out our “Discover Cuenca Blog” http://livingfrugalandhappy.blogspot.com