Are Rental Prices Really Increasing in Cuenca Ecuador?

Posted in: Cuenca Ecuador, Ecuador Real Estate, Living in Ecuador

eduardo-vega-turi-cuencaAre you concerned about real estate in Ecuador?

You have probably heard that the prices are going up. An article earlier this week in one of Cuenca’s papers agreed with that.

But it isn’t as bad as it sounds.

While some blogs have said that prices are going up by $100’s of dollars, this just isn’t the case – at least not in the general market anyway.

How Much Have Prices Increased in Cuenca?

increasing-prices-cuencaThe article said that rentals in the city have gone up. These are the annual increase in the monthly rates:

  • City center: $15-20 per month
  • Suburbs: $5-10 per month

A man living on avenida Diez de Agosto had his rent increase from $300 to $350. Because he couldn’t afford the higher rate, he had to move.

In the southern part of Cuenca, rents are less. Mini departments are renting for $150 and full apartments with 2 or 3 bedrooms, living room, bathroom and garage are renting for $280. Condos (in security buildings) are renting for up to $400 because of features like central gas and guards.

2 Reasons For Increasing Prices

  1. Increased Demand: Students and workers who come to Cuenca drive up prices because of increased demand. Contracts are usually renewed in January / February, often with a slightly higher rate.
  2. Foreigners: The article highlights the situation where classifieds are listing rentals only for foreign retirees. Because of this, even mini departments (studios) are renting for $500 and up.

Why do landlords want to rent to expats? While they sometimes say that it is because expats will take good care of the unit, their ads give away their real motive. Properties marketed to expats have prices anywhere from double to quadruple the normal price. I recently spoke to an expat who was subletting apartments in Cuenca. He would take a $250-300 apartment and market them to new expats for $800-900/month. While I’m sure that expats will take reasonable care of a unit, it is their gullibility that landlords value most.

What’s Included in a Standard Rental Contract?

The article highlights the following:

  • When the rent is to be paid, and if by cash or check.
  • When the garbage truck passes.
  • If lights and water are included or if the renter pays these.

What Can You Do To Keep Rental Prices Down?

Obviously no one wants to pay too much. But sometimes it can be hard.

  1. Expats don’t know what a place is actually worth.
  2. Sometimes they can’t find what’s available.
  3. If they don’t speak Spanish this all gets even more complicated.

But with a little effort you will find a good deal on a rental in Cuenca. Do your best not to overpay for your rental. Stay in your hotel a little longer and search a little harder. There are beautiful, reasonably priced apartments available. You’ll pay less – and you’ll help keep prices at a stable level in Cuenca.

Statistics and second photo courtesy of this article Costos de arriendos aumentan published in El Tiempo, one of the two major newspapers in Cuenca.

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Meet the Author

Bryan Haines

Bryan Haines is editor of GringosAbroad - one of the largest English language sites about Ecuador. Work with GringosAbroad. He is a travel blogger, photographer and content marketer. He is also co-founder of ClickLikeThis (GoPro tutorial blog) and Storyteller Media (content marketing for travel brands).

21 comments… add one
  • Philip N. Cole Feb 7, 2015, 8:28 am

    Olah!
    Yes..my first lesson in Spanish. Ha! Lost track of how long I have been reading your information…you have expanded well and fast (?),enjoy it all!
    Now…if you can take a few days and head towards the coast… and some information,Conoa, Manai,Ecudaor,,etc…. love your reply to Dennis…Hooray!
    Stay well,healthy and safe… you are doing a great job.
    Thank you,
    Philip N. Cole

  • Frank Dec 7, 2014, 8:57 am

    Thanks for the great information. I have been reading the articles on this site for about six months and appreciate the valuable information that I have gleaned and will put to good use once we arrive for a vacation. Our plans are to retire in Cuenca in about five to eight years as it sounds and looks exactly the lifestyle we are seeking.

  • Douglas Jun 7, 2014, 2:29 pm

    Bryan, I’ve been reading everything I can about Cuenca. I’m a healthy 64 and was forced into retirement and have a Social Security check of 1,650 per month. I live in Miami, Florida. I speak some Spanish but I’m not fluent yet. I think Cueca might offer me a good lifestyle but I’m worried that prices are only going up and I don’t want to get there and find out that I can’t quite make it on 1650 a month. I only have 20,000 in a retirement plan. However, I do have stocks that pay me an extra 500 a month on top of the 1650. I’d like to bring my partner with me, although he’s refusing to move right now. How safe would it be to get rid of everything and make the big move to Cuenca? Although I like the beach I choose Cuenca because of the cost of living, the weather, and because I wouldn’t feel like I’m the only gringo in town. I’ve read conflicting views on exactly how good life would be on 1650 per month. It’s June 2014 now and things seem to be changing pretty quickly.

    • Bryan Haines Jun 17, 2014, 7:23 pm

      You need to come visit. Before you sell anything and before you burn any bridges. You’ll be able to get a feel for the actual cost of living – for you. It is almost impossible to identify the cost of living for someone else. And what if you just don’t like it here?

      Cost of living is not increasing very much. Don’t worry about it. Inflation is very low. Much of that is just scare tactics by certain real estate agents…

  • Steve Dick Apr 3, 2014, 8:40 pm

    Great to see your Craigslist post about boycotting high apartment prices in Cuenca!

    Keep up the good work. I’ll be there by the end of the year to retire. Love your site.

    Steve

    • Bryan Haines Apr 3, 2014, 10:10 pm

      Thanks for your feedback. We actually didn’t publish this on Craigslist – looks like another reader is loving (and sharing) the advice.

      Thanks again!

      Bryan

  • Don & Trish Mar 2, 2014, 7:13 pm

    Hi Bryan,
    We have a question not seen on any Expat sites. We are retired and living in Canada. I am Canadian and had lived in the US for 23 years. My wife Trish is an American and we have been living in Canada for the last 10 years. Seeing as how you are a Canadian family, and the dollar is now south of 90 cents US and heading lower by the Bank of Canada estimates, we want to know if you have any information on Ecuador moving to it’s own currency. When, not if, the US dollar crashes, what is in place or being contemplated for an alternative monetary system. Our only concern with making the move to this most beautiful country, both in scenery and the local population is this issue. We are not interested in living in any expat community, and wish to take advantage of a smaller community somewhere between Cuenca and Guayaquil. Your thoughts and those of your readers would be most appreciated.

    • Bryan Haines Mar 3, 2014, 6:25 am

      I haven’t heard anything mentioned about Ecuador switching from the US dollar. Remember, the whole country of Ecuador has just a slightly higher population the state of Illinois (or Pennsylvania). I think regardless of what happens to the US dollar it will remain more stable than a currency of a tiny country. Most expats just bring their currency into Ecuador once a month, or enough for a few months at a time.

  • Dennis A Mar 1, 2014, 8:55 pm

    I hope they go up, and continue to go up. Particularly on the gringos (specifically Americans). There must be some kind of cover charge on those coming on fixed “low” incomes. “They’re” turning the place into a southern Florida with the walking dead shuffle of old people. Maybe the prices’ll double; the influx must stop. Dennis A

    • Rick Nov 20, 2014, 11:02 am

      Dennis you are an a-hole.

  • Juan P. Mar 1, 2014, 5:25 pm

    Unfortunately, we are dealing with pure economics. Supply and demand. Cuenca and Ecuador in general have become popular places to migrate for retirement and business. The more demand on housing, as people move in, the higher the prices will be.

    So, if you are thinking on living on a budget in Ecuador, which now may be fine, it may be tight three or five years down the road. If rents are going up $10 a month, on an average $500 a month lease, that is a 24 % increase a year .

    If you are a retiree on a fixed budget, I think it behooves you to look not just at today’s expenses but what they may be few years down the road particularly when it comes to housing.

    • Bryan Haines Mar 2, 2014, 8:10 am

      Actually, the increase is $10/month each year. Which means a $500/month rent this year will cost $510/month next year.

      You make a good point about determining a longer term view and making sure that your budget can handle small increases.

  • Tom & Margaret Mar 1, 2014, 10:02 am

    Got your email this AM about the new real estate site. Like the additional info it offers.
    We visited Cuenca in mid 2013 for about a week because we had decided we would like to take up residence in the city for some time.
    Liking a change scenery every once in a while we are more interested in renting living quarters. Either 2-3 BR +2 bath condo or apartment with amenities included. Four BR’s would be better but we can certainly make do with the aforementioned. A one to two year lease is about what we would be interested in.
    We are discussing the possibility of my wife returning to look for residence in Central Cuenca, or close to it and setting up a banking account and taking care of some of the preliminaries so when we come back with many pieces of luggage we can have a place to move things into.

    When we were there we stayed in a hotel close to the park and the tourist information center and it worked out very well.
    You may not know this but can you offer any information on reasonably priced, secure hotels in that area that offer monthly rates for what I call sort extended stays? Possibly one to two months while she’s there.

    One other thing, of which I probably already know the answer. Do the Government run banks offer prearranged bank withdrawals [drafts] for payments made on a regular monthly basis? Things like rent, utilities and cable?

    • Bryan Haines Mar 1, 2014, 1:16 pm

      I don’t have contacts for extended stays, although I’m sure they exist.

      Regarding automatic payments of utilities, insurance, etc. it is quite easy to setup. Just speak with the company and they will have a form to fill out.

  • BD Mar 1, 2014, 9:11 am

    Good article, and very true. I feel like one of the the lucky ones because my wife is from Peru. We found a huge 3 bedroom, 4 bath condo in ‘Gringolandia’, overlooking the river, with all amenties and bills paid, for $750…and that’s on a 6 month lease.
    I believe if you speak the language you are better off. I believe that connecting to/befriending a Spanish speaking person before you arrive to assist in the finding/negotiation of an apartment is very important. We have been living in South/Central America for over 5 years and always get a great deal, as compared to fellow gringos, because they don’t do the above.

    You don’t ‘need’ a local real estate agent, just a local that wants to help. Usually they won’t accept money, but even if they do (and should) the money saved is well worth it!

    • Bryan Haines Mar 1, 2014, 1:20 pm

      I agree that speaking Spanish and using a local to find a place are both great suggestions. Is your rental furnished?

    • Dennis A Mar 2, 2014, 4:48 pm

      Ouch. 750? You got hosed. Ouch.

  • Jacqueline Mackenzie Mar 1, 2014, 8:23 am

    HEED this warning. Keep prices reasonable by paying a fair price, and do NOT back down if swindled.

    We signed a lease 20 Sept. 2013 to move in 7 January 2014 “with all items in good working order.” One toilet was totally taken apart, water turned off, and prats all over the floor. The plumbing to two of them is rusted out and they will not work to remove waste, but are functional in flooding the condo if the water is turned on. The refrigerator was not repaired (the seals are shot so it runs 24/7, and leaves at least a quart of (dangerous) water on the kitchen (tile) floor every day. Beds in three rooms are 5’8″ long foam day beds NOT real mattresses as the owners promised. My husband is 6′ 2″ tall – he has not had a decent nights sleep in weeks! Two of the four A/C units make noise, but not cool air. The bathtub has been rigged NOT to hold water. …… Shall I go on?

    We gave them two weeks to be reasonable. We offered to replace the refrigerator, and store the old one in a back bedroom. They said we could spend $1K + for a new one, but we must store the 40 inch square very tall old refrig in the (tiny) dining room for as much as the year long lease. So, we sued them instead.

    Yesterday we signed an agreement to drop a lawsuit against our landlord if we can get out of our Salinas lease. Since WE filed a suit first – they promise to settle as soon as they fly back into Ecuador. If they do not, we are still fine as they did not have the lease registered or notarized. Any lease that is not notarized or registered is not valid. Expats need to know this information. Keep in mind, if expats you “roll over and play dead” you will force the prices through the roof and make your trip here a loss while screwing up the local economy in the process! ALWAYS negiocate for a better price.

    • Bryan Haines Mar 1, 2014, 1:23 pm

      Agreed – we are all responsible for keeping prices stable. All it takes is a group expats with more money than patience to create the perception that all expats are willing to overpay. And this affects everyone – including locals looking for a reasonable rental.

  • penny hilbert Feb 27, 2014, 11:41 am

    Thanks so much for all your articles on renting. I found the one with laws favoring renters very helpful and surprising. I also want to thank you for the recent e-mail on the weather conditions. I am planning a trip down next year and it looks like January or February might be the best time to come despite that I was told the best time to come was June through September. Might be a little warmer but coming from winter here in Maryland I think I can handle it.

    • Bryan Haines Feb 27, 2014, 3:05 pm

      Thanks for your feedback Penny – so glad that you’re enjoying the site!

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