The Verdict – Cuenca, Ecuador


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Our trip to Cuenca reminded me of a couple of rules to live by:

  1. Always decide for yourself what a place is like, because one person’s Shangi-la may be another person’s Detroit (no offence if that’s your town);
  2. Always travel with an open mind and open heart; and
  3. Always be open to making new friends.

For some, being in Ecuador is about as exotic a place as they can imagine living and everything seems foreign.  For us, it was basically just like home except in Spanish.  Now to be fair, our reference points for “different” are Senegal, China, India, etc., so comparatively, Cuenca is pretty 1st rate and was more like travelling to western Europe than an “exotic” destination point.

For the most part, everything we currently do at home can be done in Cuenca. Again, Cuenca is a 1st rate – 2nd tier city and for a family with young kids, it has most of the amenities you want except for ice skating rinks, McDonalds, and little league baseball (though I may be wrong on that one). Good private schools around the world will beat any US public school and many US private schools 6 out of 10 times, so a good school combined with a Spanish tutor (for my soon to be 4th grader) should meet and hopefully exceed, my expectations.

Based on the above, Cuenca was not an especially impressive city for us in terms of the man-made cityscape, but this is not to say it is not a beautiful city.  It is a nice, peaceful, livable, walkable, temperate, enjoyable place to be.  What impressed us were:

  • The beauty of the mountains and hills that surround the city;
  • The people we met.   Cuencanos (expats and locals) were very nice and welcoming. We started our week not knowing anyone and having some online blogger contacts.  We ended the week having made friendships that I belive will last a lifetime.
  • The extremely low cost of living well; and
  • The abundance and variety of food, extracurricular activities and artistic event options.

So, for now I can say that we will be returning soon, to spend at least 2 months in Cuenca and we will see if we use the other half of our return tickets.

Relax and Follow the Paths Where They May Lead

About The Black Gringa

In 2010, I left the world of finance to pursue entrepreneurial aspirations and I now own an educational services company. I also provide consulting and workshops to international schools seeking to improve their outcomes. To facilitate this work, I spend 2-3 months annually living in a different part of the world with my family. These travels provide the day-to-day insight required to speak knowledgeably about living in these destinations, with the goal of seeking to live abundantly and joyfully with home comforts at a fraction of the cost.

4 responses »

  1. Hi Black gringa! I too, black and gringa, have decided to move to Cuenca for at least two years with my family. Reading this post eases my nerves about registering my black gringa kids in escuelas cuencanas. I traveled to Cuenca last summer very briefly to preview it. As everyone else has- I fell in love. Please share your tips/suggestions about finding schools when cost is a factor- no english or bilingual please (I want true immersion for my kids and they have some spanish as they have attended bilingual schools in Atlanta, Ga and New Orleans, LA). I have a K, 6th, and 4th grader. We are headed out to Cuenca by the end of May. My name is Loren. Please contact if you get a chance.

    • Hi Loren – Finding schools while out of country can be very challenging, regardless of the country you are moving to. Many schools do not have an online presence and those that do, tend to be at the higher end of the pricing scale. There are currently no English language or English/Bilingual schools in Cuenca, so enrolling your children in school there will always be true immersion. I tend to be really picky about schools and I like to have a good idea of what we are stepping into before we enroll. That said, your plan for a May arrival is perfect timing because you will have enough time to visit different schools and do any entrance exams that may be required. You should also find local friends with young kids, who can provide some real-time assessment of what the quality choices are. I am going through the same process, though I am also homeschool alternatives, so as I gather info, I will post it under the category name “Schools”.

    • Dear Loren,
      Would you please let me know what you discovered about schools in Cuenca? I taught in Mexico for two years, 4 years in the States, have spent the last year working in a school library and spending lots of time with my grandchildren. My husband & I would like to go to Cuenca but I can’t find any schools! We’re not quite ready to retire.
      My email is
      Thank you very much & I hope you & your family are having a great adventure!
      Sissy Bravo

    • Hi, Loren, my husband and I live in Atlanta currently and are considering retiring in Cuenca; I wanted to know how your May trip was to Cuenca. Please contact when you get a chance.

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