In one of my earliest posts, I said that it was possible to live in Cuenca and only pay $250 in rent per month. A kind commenter, who currently lives in Cuenca, then replied that really the monthly rates are more in the range of $300-$500. So, delaying further discussion, I decided to see for myself.
After a week in Cuenca, talking to everyone from taxi drivers, to friends, to shop keepers and bank officers, I can say that the commenter was WRONG!! You can absolutely live in a nice place in Cuenca for $250 or under and $250-$300 is considered the higher-end by the average Cuencano. Yes ladies and gentlemen, that is a fact.
Sure if you want to live the high life/expat life, with the other expats, paying higher rental fees to live in condo buildings that are essentially occupied by other retired expats from North America (ex Mexico)….then go ahead and pay more. [There’s also that really fabulous, fully furnished house for $600 that I really want.] However, if you are moving to Ecuador to make friends AND save money, well then you are in luck, because there are lots of options, you just need to have patience, a little flexibility and some time.
Okay, so why the serious difference in rental rates (perceived or real) between the commenter and I? Language skills, living standards, other stuff ….take your pick. All the conversations I had with people regarding living expenses were in Spanish. While I did contact one of the expat real estate agents, it was on the last day I was in town and we really did not have a chance to speak. For $250 and below (and it should be below), you can get a two bedroom newly renovated, apartment and the further you are from El Centro, the cheaper it gets. I took a tour of a small, 2nd floor, 2-bedroom apartment that had just been renovated and the asking price was $250, which to me means that for a year lease you can get it for $200. It is a 10 minute walk from downtown and in a decent/typical area. I also spoke to the owner of a 2 bedroom, new construction apartment that had just rented it for $180. It is walking distance to a Coral Supermarket (one of the supermarkets that we all would be happy with), a $2 taxi ride or a $0.25 bus ride to downtown and it is a block off a major road and right on the bus lines.
If you are looking for a place, there are tons of rentals, signs are posted on the homes (“se arrienda”) and foreigners are very welcome. Just bring along some Spanish or a Spanish speaking friend, and negotiate heavily.
The big prize, however, is the home that originally got me excited about living in Ecuador. I actually got to see the house in person, had dinner on the beautiful handmade/homemade furniture, and it is now the type of house I aspire to have…at the exact same price or less! [Side Note – Frank, Angie and their boys have created some really incredible furniture pieces, my personal favorite is the dining table and its seating.]
To supplement the pictures of the house, below are pictures of the neighborhood. The house is about a 10 minute, $2, taxi-drive from downtown area, or a $0.25 bus ride.
Pictures of the home I visited, before it was furnished, are at following link – Frank and Angie’s Blog.
So when someone says it is not possible and you can’t, just repeat these words, “Yes you can!”
Ecuador, I’m in love… too bad you’re not a man!