Tuesday, May 21, 2013

My Cuenca, Ecuador condo finally furnished!

I have been living in Cuenca, Ecuador for six years now, still in the same condo.

Many of my readers have been asking for more information on rentals here and more information on my condo, so here are more photos. I finally found paintings and pictures I liked and have reached my house plant limit.

When I moved here six years ago there were about 2000 gringos living here, I just read that the number on North Americans living in Cuenca is now around 7000! Unfortunately being rents here are much lower than most parts of North America many newcomers agree to pay whatever rent they are first quoted instead of bargaining! This tends to raise the rents on all of us expats living here which can be a burden on some of us living on low incomes. So newcomers, why pay $500 when you can get it for $350! It is amazing how many new condo's are going up around town and rents do seem to be creeping up! But the law has not changed stating rents should be 3% of appraised property value.

Also keep in mind that the minimum wage in Ecuador is $1.90 an hour, many Ecuadorian families have to share housing to be able to afford the rent.

Living at 8400 feet with 20% less oxygen to breath can affect people with heart trouble or respiratory problems. I myself have asthma and still after six years have to stop on my walks to catch my breath. Although I don't seem to have to stop for as long of periods as I did when I arrived here I am afraid this is not going to change while I live in Cuenca.
Another thing about living in Cuenca is that it is a city of 550,000 people with lots of cars and diesel buses, the quality of gas here purchased from the US has a lot to be desired. When the new refinery in Manta is completed gas quality should improve and when the new electric tram being built here is finished it will eliminate diesel buses from El Centro which will help with the air quality. The city will be checking diesel bus emissions and will put buses not up to standard in the mechanic shop. Buses here are subsidized by the government which I understand runs about $800 per bus per week.
70% of the population in Cuenca rely on buses for their transportation at 25c a ride or if you are over 65, just 12.5c! Cost to ride the new trams will be around 40c.

I have found although I live on the 11th floor and face the river not the main street that the inside of my condo gets covered with black soot from car emissions as well as a daily dose of dust. I probably could afford a maid to clean the place but with so much time on my hands I tell myself its good for me to do it. Basically with going to the gym three times per week, shopping a couple times per week and walking the river three times a week plus cleaning the condo once a week is pretty much all the exercise I get. Going out for dinner with friends a few times a month really is not that much work! Ha!

   My building Pinar 4 is 13 stories high and is 14 years old

We do have 24-hour security guards who have to open the gate for you, we do not have keys to the gate. We also have underground parking for one car and a storage unit. I do have a remote for the garage gate which comes in handy for parking my new car!

Building entrance


My condo entrance on the right, I do have a corner unit facing El Centro and the Rio Tomebamba. Also there is a girls school and a soccer field on the right.

Living room

Took a year but now have a TV in the living room. I use city cable here, which cost $62 a month for three receivers for three TV's. I get several English stations, one international news station in English, plus HBO and Cinemax. Direct TV is also available here which would be about $86 for the same stations. I chose city cable for the cheaper price but also because the condo is wired for it. With Direct TV they would have to run wires from the dish to every TV.

Dining area

 I really enjoy the view from my computer desk over looking the river from both sliding doors.  The sound of the river especially after its rains tends to help with a good nights sleep.

The kitchen is small but I have learned how to prepare meals in a very small area. I cut up many vegetables and fruits using a dinner plate on the small counter top area on the left.

Art work is not cheap here and after looking for over a year I finally settled for some art work imported from China! Still not so inexpensive here, but I did 
resist  hanging Ecuadorian weaving's and pictures of local Indians. I did go with a modern look to match the furniture.

Its nice to have a laundry room. I tend to wash often  because of the air quality here, also at least one shower a day is very necessary.

We have had a couple of days of rain which you can see by the high river water

Guest bathroom

Bryan's bedroom

My bedroom

Master bathroom

Great view looking toward El Centro from my room. The air here is usually pretty dry and with asthma I found myself coughing at night. so I now use a humidifier and it seems to solve that problem.

I have been very happy living here for the last six years although it would be nice to have a bigger kitchen.

My rent just went up to $300 from $280 a month but I got it on a two year lease, besides the rent there is usually a security fee which is $54 a month. The larger the condo the higher it is. Besides that there is water $16 a month, gas $3.50 and we do have gas dryers, gas hot water and stoves here, high speed internet $40, electricity $40 and then the cable $62. Total cost per month: $500

Some groceries here are higher than the US, like canned goods and imported items. Paper goods and cleaning products are high, a small bottle of Listerine is $5. Meats, fruits and vegetables are much cheaper.

The new building across the street is completed now, last time I checked a 2 bedroom on the 9th floor was selling for $170,000. I am sure it is higher now. I have been seeing rents for furnished apartments here for $900! This building has four floors of commercial space and a indoor pool on the roof.

I had an opportunity to go into a 3 bedroom 2 bathroom apartment next door to me with a large kitchen and maid's courtiers with bath. The building is 14 years old, it was a 6th floor apartment with river view for $330 a month. So there are still some bargains to be had here even though it seems asking prices are starting around $350 to $700 and up per month now, but many more furnished places. Hopefully with all the new condo construction there will be more supply than demand and rents will stay down.

The other building going up across the street is going up fast I understand it would will be two 12 story buildings and is government financed and will be available to working people paying into social security for a starting price of $45,000 with $5000 down and payments for 15 years. Expat property purchases are down here by 50% because of raising costs.

Hopefully my next blog will be on another road trip! Until then anyone that might be interested in retiring in Cuenca might find some useful information in my book on kindle: Why Ecuador for me!

                 Until next time everyone enjoy life as much as possible!