No retirement blog on Ecuador would be complete without something on Cuenca! A mountain town in the south central part of the Andes, Cuenca has a metro population of about 400,000 and about 500 expats live here permanently. Many, many more have seasonal homes and go elsewhere for the rest of the year. This is a modern city with shopping of all kinds, hospitals, movie theatres, banks, condominiums, and amazing scenery. The area is about 9 hours drive south of Quito and there is a large airport in town. If you want to live in a mild climate among other expats with a low cost of living, you might want to retire in Cuenca, Ecuador!
If you are from a warmer climate in the US (Miami, for instance) Cuenca will seem cold. Many people have fireplaces in their homes or rentals. If you are from Wisconsin, you may consider 68 degrees as perfect! At the equator, the weather says the same most all year round. In Cuenca, that’s 69-71 F as the average high. The average low is 46-50 F at night. They get 34 inches of rain each year with 179 rainy days.
An expat from Portland, 67 year old Mike and his wife live in a 1 bedroom furnished luxury condo for $500 US a month in a very new building. He has stable water and power, but the internet is still iffy at times. He is waiting for his cell-phone to have a wifi hot spot and will switch. Their groceries are $50 a week and they eat out a lot because a dinner for two is around $8.00. They have a maid come in once a month to deep clean, mop, do windows, etc for $20. Mike and his wife have been looking at property and plan to purchase within the next year. Their friends are finding that “gringo rents” are increasing. They have used Cuenca as a home base and travelled extensively around South America but still like their home town the best. They are rapidly learning Spanish.
Mike doesn’t own a car. He and his wife walk to the local markets and find they have each dropped over 22 pounds since moving here in 2009. They say it is due to the purity of the air, the organic food, and walking. Good for them! They live on his Social Security of $1,500 a month US. They save the remaining $200 and all of her Social Security for trips back to Portland each year to visit family. Neither one has touched their retirement savings.
Cuenca is a pretty old place and culture. There are signs of human life in Cuenca dating back to 8,000 BC (really!) in the Cave of Chopsi nearby. There are dozens of historical sites in and around the city and this is another USESCO World Heritage City. There is plenty to do here, including volunteer opportunities and visiting with other expats.
Zoom in and out on the map below to see roads and attractions!