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My Life in Ecuador: Gary Sisk Living in Cuenca, Ecuador

Posted in: Cuenca Ecuador, Expats in Ecuador, Living in Ecuador

This is part of our Ecuador Expats Series.

My Life in Ecuador: Gary Sisk Living in Cuenca

The Expat: Gary Sisk

gary-sisk-cuenca-ecuador-restaurantWhat is your blog url?

Where are you currently living?

Cuenca, Ecuador for three months.

What’s Your Story?

I am a single 63 year old man still seeking new adventures in life.

I am retired, I was born in Long Beach, CA and grew up in Ojai, CA. I have lived in Oregon, Arizona, Alaska, Hawaii, Nevada, Ohio, Colorado, Missouri and Mexico.

When and where did you get the idea of living in Ecuador?

I wanted to live in a healthy affordable environment and after a few months of on-line research I decided Cuenca, Ecuador was the place.

I have been living in Cuenca for almost three months now and plan on becoming a resident here. I have applied for retirement residency and expect it will take a few months.

How’s your Spanish?

I speak several words in Spanish and I can communicate when it is necessary but I have relied on my Ecuadorian friends for major tasks.

It is important to speak Spanish if you are going to live here and easier to learn while you are living here. I am American and speak English.

What do you do?

I am retired from the Time-Share industry, which I got involved with in 1983 in Hawaii and continued in the industry in Puerto Vallarta, Cabo and Playa Del Carmen during my twelve years of living in Mexico.

I also worked in Time-Share in Branson, MO., Tucson, Arizona and Las Vegas.

How do you find the cost of living in Ecuador?

Everything in Cuenca is much less than the USA except for imported items which I can live without. The cost of living here is pretty much what I expected.

What do you love about life in Ecuador?

The things I love most about living here in Cuenca is number one the Ecuadorians are very friendly and seem happier than people from my hometown.

The positive things for me about living here is the clean enviroment. Fresh air, great water and fresh fruits and vegetables all year around. I really did not read many negative things about Cuenca other than some unhappy Expats who probably would not be happy living anywhere anyway.

I feel very safe here, but of course watch what I carry with me as I would also do anywhere in the USA.

I found a great two bedroom/two bathroom condo here on the 11th floor overlooking the Tomebamba river. My rent is $280 a month, water is $8, gas $6, electricity $8, Cable $56 and Internet $26. My major expense was appliances and furniture.

Any gringos considering moving here should do their research on line. I found GringosAbroad to be my best resource.

gary-sisk-cuenca-ecuadorI contacted my attorney recommended by GringosAbroad before I came here. I faxed them my paperwork to make sure I had what was required. I followed Bryan’s advice about finding an apartment for rent and the cost of furnishings.

I have been to a couple of Expat parties and made a few gringo friends. But I also have made some great Ecuadorian friends that I enjoy being with very much.

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Meet the Author

Bryan Haines is co-editor of GringosAbroad - Ecuador's largest blog for expats and travelers. He is a travel blogger and content marketer. He is also co-founder of ClickLikeThis (GoPro tutorial blog) and Storyteller Travel.

83 comments… add one
  • Tom Apr 16, 2019, 1:41 pm

    Hi, Gary- I’m a a retired teacher, aged 69, and in pretty good health. I’m teaching part-time now. I lived in Ecuador a couple years ago teaching English as a second language (ESL) in Esmeraldas, Quito, and then Ibarra. My daughter spent 6 months with me also teaching ESL. I’m thinking about coming back to Ecuador in Summer, 2019 for a while. The only thing that holds me back is the VISA hassle. It’s mid-April, 2019. Are you seeing any trends among the American? Any recent cost of living changes? I’m thinking about Otovalo or Cotacachi. Got any tips for me? ~ Tom

  • frank Feb 18, 2018, 4:50 pm

    How multicultural/expat is Cuenca? Peruvians, Brazilian, Argentinos, Aussies, Brits, Germans? I lived off an on in Brazil for 10 years, back in the states now and wanting to move to S.A. again. I think the climate and cost of living and lifestyle would suit me better than Brazil. Alhough, I did like the smaller cities in Brazil, (just not the cost of living). I know Long Beach and L.A. very well (raised there). You said you lived in MX for 12 years.
    So, do you not have U.S. bank accounts and don’t file income taxes?
    Healthcare & food? chiropractors, holistic healing and health food stores?

    • Gary A Sisk Feb 19, 2018, 4:09 pm

      I have lived in Cuenca now for six years and I maintain a US address and Bank account where my SS check is deposited every month. And yes if your income is from the US you would file taxes every year. Good Healthcare & food? chiropractors, holistic healing and health food stores are available. Healthcare is a requirement now either International coverage or local!

  • Randall Hamilton Aug 15, 2017, 8:32 am

    Have a home in Asheville, North Carolina and boat in Key West…thinking of extended travel in Ecuador with the option of spending a couple of months per year in what seems to be the more favorite location as Cuenca.

    I would like to hear from others who maybe headed south in the future to compare issues and concerns when visiting long term. My email is:

    I speak Spanish having lived in Spain for several years while working contract for Dept of State in Horn of Africa. Worked humanitarian relief operations for several years; also, former US Army Officer with many deployments downrange.

    Again, let me hear from you to compare perceptions, information and travel options.

    If in the US, phone number is 305-440-1240 Randall Hamilton

    • Gary A Sisk Aug 18, 2017, 7:30 pm

      Might want to post an ad on it is free! It is a daily e-mail all about EC and expats! Or try expats of Cuenca!

  • toby Aug 11, 2016, 3:04 pm

    Toby to Gary.
    Gary have you visited Loja? If so would you recommend that town as a suitable retirement locale for expats?


  • Lauren Starr Jun 28, 2016, 12:22 am

    I’m curious as to how much a boat would cost in Ecuador. I’m interested in being by the water, perhaps south of Manta. I’m also interested in doing the RV lifestyle, only on water in a boat I could live in. A bedroom or two, cooking area and bath would be enough. But I’ve been trying to get a boat here and it’s nuts the prices they want. Even with an old one, it’s far too costly.
    One of my other sons was in Brazil and found a boat, a very nice one at the salvage yard he worked at. It had been in dry dock a while so the owner said he could have it and fix it up. Unfortunately, one of the other workers tried to get him to sell it to him at a very low price. He still had months of work to do on it even though it was improving. Sadly, this person waited for the boat to be left and torched it. Now my son has had to start over to find another boat.
    I’ve seen some boats that are very nice, but don’t think they would do for sailing in the open waters. One of my daughters will be living in Washington and I’d like to go up and visit her by boat. So I’d need something that would be able to travel in the open sea. I’m not very knowledgeable about boats yet, so I’m still doing research.
    But with my situation, living on a boat is probably my only way to live as I get older, since I was told I’ll not be able to have retirement from Social Security. I get SSI currently due to being disabled. But was told by a worker I will never qualify for SSDI. So not being able to afford life in the states without my family paying for most of it, I’d need to find another way to live.
    It’s an experiment, but it’s the only thing I can think of to do.

    • edward A Tabak Jul 9, 2016, 4:12 pm

      Dear Lauren, just a thought, I am a 63 yr old white guy with no baggage and a sizable chunk of money and SSDI. I have lived all over the U.S. and have been reading IL. for years and am planning to come to Aug. or Sept for a exploration trip, am planning on staying in the Cuenca area to look at properties that could be rehabed into a hostel. My background is in new home building and lots and lots of rentals. I would call my self a master builder, from footers to the roof and like to think I communicate well. Maybe I want a partner, maybe not . I am also not dead set on Cuenca or anywhere or any one thing except I am looking for an adventure, if you would like to talk and tell me what is on your mind, call U.S. 330-244-6593 or email– I hope you have had a grand day up to this point. I am also on facebook, eddie

  • Jan Daniell Jun 27, 2016, 3:07 pm

    Hoping to retire to Ecuador in early 2017. Visited Quito, loved the people and environment. Planning a visit to Cueco in two August, and from all I have learned this area appeals to me. My biggest concern is kitty litter for my cat. Can I purchase it in Ecuador?

    Jan Daniell

    • Gary A Sisk Jun 27, 2016, 3:43 pm


    • toby Aug 11, 2016, 3:01 pm

      beach sand=kitty litter

  • Patti Dick Sep 23, 2015, 1:00 pm

    How hard is it to find a rental that allows pets? I have 2 dogs (65 lbs each) and 2 cats. I’m looking to move permanently to Cuenca sometime in the next year but need to know about my pets before making any serious inquiries. Also, what area of Cuenca is the safest for single women? I can afford up to $1500 a month for rent . Thanks for any info you can give me.

    • Gary Sep 23, 2015, 2:05 pm

      $1500 is a lot for rent please do not let anyone know you can pay that much, you can rent a furnished house for less! I live in gringolandia which is on Ordonez Lazo close to Hotel Oro Verde across the river Tomebamba is Posada Del Sol a good area with lots of houses. Might be best for you to come here first to find a house and start your cedula before bringing animals.
      Best place to look is in lots of furnished houses and apartments listed mostly furnished but you would want to bargain for the rent they ask to much.

      • Patti Dick Sep 25, 2015, 1:31 pm

        Thanks Gary, I’ll check out the website you mentioned.

    • Gary A Sisk Jun 28, 2016, 9:17 am

      Patti not many places here allow dogs from what I see you might but a free ad on and everyday there are places listed for rent.
      Many expats bring their pets here and most likely you will find houses will allow pets.

  • Michael and Betty Jones Sep 8, 2014, 1:21 pm

    My wife Betty and I are recently retired healthcare workers from Texas, currently in Ecuador for 6 weeks researching various areas of the country with an eye toward permanent relocation. We are both practicing painters and photographers and we will be in Cuenca from September 22 until October 4th. If at all possible, we would love to meet with you for lunch, or a drink to benefit from your insights into Living In Cuenca. Thanks so much. Michael and Betty

    • Gary Sisk Sep 8, 2014, 3:11 pm

      I would love to meet you just let me know when you are in Cuenca and we can arrange to meet! Enjoy your tour around Ecuador!

      • michael jones Sep 8, 2014, 4:59 pm

        Thanks so much for your speedy reply. Betty and I will be in Cuenca from September 22 through October 4th. Why don’t you pick a day and time sometime after September 24th (to give me a couple of days to orient myself) that is convenient for you? Looking forward to meeting you. Mike Jones

  • Richard Apr 7, 2014, 7:21 am

    Do any of the Pharmacies ship medicine to the U.S.? I was in Cuenca for a month in 2013. Loved the place! Bought enough medicine to carry me through the “DoNut hole” and saved a bunch. I’d like to move there but at the present time I’m fighting Cancar.

    • Gary A Sisk Apr 7, 2014, 9:43 am

      I used Canadian Pharmacies up there, don’t know about rules for mailing drugs from EC!

  • April & Tony Mar 7, 2014, 7:39 pm

    Hi Gary
    We are thinking of coming to Ecuador the end of this year and looking possible places to retire. Question, we also have read & researched Panama & trying to decide between the two. It seems that there are more positives in Panama for retirees then Ecuador. Do you have any suggestions/thoughts?
    Thank you

    • Gary A Sisk Mar 8, 2014, 6:47 am

      I have read where Panama has gotten less expensive as far as the housing market but it does get very hot there! In Ecuador you have a choice of cooler mountain living like Cuenca or the warmer coast areas. Sounds like you might want to check out both. If you turn up in Cuenca let me know and we can get together for coffee!

  • Eme Feb 14, 2014, 3:49 pm

    Hi Gary,
    I live in Costa Rica but plan to move to Cuenca in the next few months. Two items I have a question about. You said you had Coopera for a bank & opened it without a cedula. Did they not close now? Did you get your money back if so?
    Second you mentioned that you need your Birth Certificate now for residency. Do I need it certified in Pa. the state I was born or can I just get an official copy and have it verified/apostillated in Ecuador?
    Thanx for any info,

    • Gary A Sisk Feb 26, 2014, 6:51 pm

      Yes I did open my account at Coopera with just a Passport and they are closed I did get all my money back but some the the larger depositors are still waiting. I have an account at JEP now and you can open one there with just a Passport too! They are government insured to $31,000. Last I heard you do need a birth certificate, notarized and apostle in your home state. But you should check with the Ecuadorian consulate for the exact requirements.
      Let me know when you are here we can meet for coffee!

  • Elaine Jan 4, 2014, 7:17 pm

    Hi Gary,
    Noticed you lived in Las Vegas. I did too for 9 years. I now live in Phoenix, AZ and am hoping to relocate to Cuenca in August. I’m just starting to get rid of stuff and trying to find out what I need to bring. My daughter recently moved to Lima, Peru but I think Cuenca would be best for me. I know a little Spanish as I was a Spanish major in college. I’m not sure where to stay in Cuenca and wanted to know if you have any ideas. I’d need something furnished as I won’t have much when I arrive. Thanks for any information.

    • Gary A Sisk Feb 26, 2014, 6:54 pm

      Let me know when you are in Cuenca and we can get together for coffee! You can check on they advertise many furnished places, just bargain for the rent. It might be best to be here to decide where you want to live. I have a friend who takes in people for $25 a night if you might be interested ih that let me know.

  • Bob Kratt Dec 27, 2013, 8:53 pm

    I’m a Realtor in the Boise, Idaho area and getting tired of the cold weather. Born and raised in San Jose, CA. Beautiful country, but can’t live there. I’m seriously considering Ecuador as my next landing place. No one has mentioned it, but please tell me about sanitation. In some countries south of the boarder they cannot even flush toilet paper down the sewer. What’s it like in EC? I know a some words in Spanish and can probably pick it up easily, but what programs are available to help me advance at a reasonable pace? I appreciate all the info you have shared and will look up your book. Thanks for everything.

    • Gary A Sisk Dec 29, 2013, 12:55 am

      Thanks for the response! I have lived in Cuenca for 2 years now and I am very happy here. I moved here to live an affordable quality lifestyle and still am.
      In Cuenca you can drink the tap water, it tastes just like bottled water, you can flush the paper but being below the equator the water circles the other way!
      Nexus is a school here that offers good Spanish classes as well as other schools.
      The quality of the houses and condos here are very nice and there are a few new building being finished now. It is different here than living in the US and many people do return after 6 months, its not for everyone. Always a good thing to check it out 1st! If you do find your way here let me know and we can meet for coffee!

      • Bob Kratt Dec 30, 2013, 1:32 am

        Thanks, when we get closer to a visit I will let you know. In the mean time, please let me know if there are people available who offer their services as “tour guides” that can show us around for a few days. We will want to see the city and surrounding areas as well as homes for sale. We’re sold on Ecuador already, but need to take a look and get a feel for the area. Once we move, it’s not likely we’re going to turn around.

        Thanks again, I appreciate having a contact in Cuenca.

  • Jo Anna Kloster Nov 12, 2013, 9:24 pm

    HI Gary,

    I have read your story and loved it! You sure look like you are happy. Good for you! My husband and I have been gathering info and our Ecuador binder is 2 inches thick! We still like to hold books in our hands to read.
    I just booked a hotel in Cuenca for a visit next August. We plan to start in Quito to visit a friend who has a place there when he visits periodically till he retires. But then the bulk of our trip will be in Cuenca area. We would love to visit with you…cup of tea/coffee or more. Might you be available? How would that work? Muchas gracias ( I lived and taught in Albuquerque, NM and know conversational Spanish …until I mess up the grammar.

    • Gary A Sisk Nov 13, 2013, 7:58 am

      Would love to meet you! Just let me know when you are in Cuenca and we can meet for coffee! Sounds like you will have a fun trip, just keep in mind August is our winter need a warm coat.

    • Jo Anna Kloster Nov 14, 2013, 6:45 pm

      What places would you suggest? We booked Hostel El Monasterio on Hermano Miguel 4-79
      Cuenca, 010104. Is this adequate? We want clean and inexpensive (doesn’t need to be fancy at all). Please let us know of other places, if possible. Thanks.

  • Ted Donohue Oct 11, 2013, 2:40 pm

    I am 65 from Montana, a veteran and about finished with wondering where to retire, having decided on Cuenca. You have valuable information because it is ‘honest’. Priceless commodity! (Your right, weight loss, mine being 25, is accomplished solely by exercise, not special diets) You mention the expense of immigration documentation being about $1,300 and that’s higher than most reported, but some blogs are scams that promote only ONE attorney to do i t and I find that suspicious. I certainly don’t want to make any mistakes. I assume it takes one trip and then a full move. I hope you continue to publish and hopefully I get to meet you someday.

    Best of Luck

    Ted Donohue
    Kalispell MT

    • Gary A Sisk Nov 13, 2013, 8:05 am

      I used an attorney starting with e-mails from the US to make sure I had all the right paperwork. But Cuenca now has an immigration office and they do speak English so you can bring all your paperwork with you and go to them and save the attorney fees.
      I am back to the gym and walking after 3 months of being sick with bronchitis and sinus problems and still working on the last 20 pound at witch time I will need new clothes, but feeling great. I will continue writing my blog but I need to go somewhere or do something to write about soon. Let me know when you are here and we can meet for coffee! Also has all the info you will need to make your move.

      • chemfreemom Mar 22, 2015, 3:41 pm

        Great, so you can handle everything at the immigration ? Where are they located in Ecuador?So, what is the best way to find out exactly what papers to bring to immigration, considering the rules seem to change so much?. And, maybe you don’t know this, but can you either get a close relative to apostille birth certicates, etc. or do it by mail, because I no longer live in my birth state and having to go back there first would really increase the cost of moving.
        Thanks, Kelly

      • chemfreemom Mar 22, 2015, 4:06 pm

        Gary, the comments you posted on getting a cedula via immigration were a few years old. My biggest concern is wiping out my small savings account just to get there. How many immigration office are there in Ecuador and can I email them to find out everything I need to bring with me and in what time frame I need to get them by? And, another commenter said the good apartments for rent require a 6-month contract. How will that work when I only planned on staying 3 months to start. And, what if you’re missing something or didn’t get the right signature? Would they make you fly back home? Being limited in funds seems to make this more risky! Kelly

        • Gary Sisk Mar 22, 2015, 5:33 pm

          There is an Immigration office in Cuenca now and if you are just planning to come down for 90-days a tourist visa that you get from customs when you arrive in Ecuador will do.
          Meanwhile you can visit the Immigration office here and get a list of what you will need to receive a retirement visa here.
          The documents you will need need to be apostle stamped within 90 days of turning them in!
          You can find hostels, private homes and short term condos for rent here check on
          Let me know when you are here and we can meet for coffee!

  • Jim Skaggs Jul 13, 2013, 11:14 am

    My grandson and I will be traveling to Cuenca in August. We will be staying for 10 days. If I like what I see during our short stay,I plan to come back for at least 30 days next year. If everything goes well I plan on moving to Ecuador. Any helpful hints on my short stay on August?

    • Gary Sisk Jul 16, 2013, 9:42 am

      Please let me know when you are here and we can meet for coffee. Where do you plan on staying? Depending on your budget there are a few options. There is a great city tour, lots of churches to look at and shopping. From the old El Centro to the new shopping mall there is lots to see. Bring a coat we are in our winter.

      • Jim Skaggs Jul 18, 2013, 11:30 am

        Arriving Aug 7. Stayinh at Hotel de Casa San Rafeal. Told my grandson long sleeve shirts and pants. Need to bring jacket also.

        • Gary Sisk Jul 18, 2013, 4:24 pm

          Bring warm clothes, it will still be our winter here, yes jackets! Let me know when you are here and we can have coffee. Also have you got a place to stay yet and what is your nightly range if not?

        • Gary Sisk Jul 18, 2013, 4:25 pm

          Sorry I see you already have a place to stay!

  • Priscilla Magouirk May 27, 2013, 11:55 am

    I am a 62 y/o single woman and looking at retirement in probably the next 3 years. I am looking seriously at Cuenca, but want to come for a few visits before I make a commitment. Any advice you can give on planning for such a move would be appreciated.

    • Gary Sisk May 29, 2013, 6:49 am

      I found all the info I needed to move here on Gringos Abroad. But I have put lots in info in my book Why Ecuador for me on kindle with amazon and in my blog: AAA Living in Cuenca
      Let me know when you come for a visit so we can meet!

      Gracias for the comment


      • Priscilla Magouirk May 29, 2013, 9:14 am

        Gracias, Gary,

        Just purchased your book and have a few more to read. Will let you know when I travel down for a scouting trip.

        Pases un buen dia.

        • Gary Sisk Jul 16, 2013, 9:43 am

          Look forward to hearing from you!

  • maria May 12, 2013, 12:14 am

    HELLO we are also moving to Cuenca and my husband we are coming from California and we are sooooo happy to leave. I have read your story thank you for sharing. We hope to see you in Cuenca walking about….thank you for sharing your experience and your day trips I take notes and I will make sure to visit those sights you have been. Ciao for now ..un fuerte abrazo… Maria Aurelia and Gervasio

    • Gary Sisk May 12, 2013, 6:56 am

      Thanks for the comment, please let me know when you are here and we can meet for coffee. Where are you coming from in CA?
      Also my book Why Ecuador for me on kindle with amazon has good info for those wanting to move here.

      Gracias, Gary

      • maria May 13, 2013, 11:18 am

        I was raised and lived most of my life in San Francisco and my husband lived in Van Nuys for a few years…we currently live in Sacramento…He was raised in Rio de Janiero.. I will check out your book..yes, we would love to connect with you. Will contact you when we get to Cuenca. Have a fabulous day!!!

        • Gary Sisk May 14, 2013, 2:31 am

          I look forward to meeting you!

  • Thomas Condon May 6, 2013, 11:47 am

    Hi Gary,
    Cedula? Is that a visa?
    Also, given 99% of all expats come with passport, why would immigration need a birth certificate?
    More than curious,
    Thomas Condon

    • Gary Sisk May 6, 2013, 1:32 pm

      Yes a cedula is a resident visa good for 10 years and then it can be renewed for another 10 years. After 3 years you have an option to become a citizen of Ecuador which means you can also keep your US citizenship. Laws change all the time when I cam it was not required to have the birth certificate, but now it is as well as divorce papers. Also I think the apostle stamp can’t be more than 90 days old now! Should always check with EC Emigration before you decide to come down.

  • Martin & Ruth Jan 20, 2013, 1:14 pm

    Hi Gary, my wife Ruth and I have had Ecuador in the forefront for our retirement destination for some time now and are thinking of visiting sometime in the spring. We would love to meet with you for a heart to heart about your life there, the pros and cons etc,if you can spare the time that is!

    Best regards

    Martin & Ruth,

    Vancouver Island Canada

    • Gary Sisk Jan 22, 2013, 3:28 pm

      I would be more than happy to meet you when you are here. Just drop me a e-mail when you are here. And thanks for thinking of me.
      I just put my book Why Ecuador for me on Kindle with Amazon and I noticed a couple of other books on Cuenca.

      Gracias, Gary

  • mary Dec 27, 2012, 3:02 pm

    Many Thanks
    Will be in touch.

  • mary Dec 26, 2012, 5:55 pm

    Hi Gary,
    Thanks for all the info. I am planning to arrive in Cuenca march, but still gathering info on changes of the cedula. It seems that there is a limit of time you can stay(90dys) without a cedula or extension. Meanwhile the best apartments want 6 months lease! Does opening an account give you extra time or just better fund options? Is there a min amount to open a savings account?
    I’ve also been on your web site and tried to add up all the cost of getting the cedula as I will be on a teacher type pension..means very low $$.
    Happy Holidays

    • Gary Sisk Dec 26, 2012, 8:52 pm

      You can do the cedula yourself now in Cuenca and save $1300. It takes some leg work but I have some friends who have done it, they do speak English at Immigration.
      I have an account just at Coppera details in blog. don’t need cedula to open. Now besides the other papers needed in blog on cedula you need birth certificate and divorce papers if it applies. Looking forward to hearing from you when you are here.

  • David Nichols Dec 12, 2012, 8:37 am

    Hi Gary – I have decided to move to Cuenca in the next couple of months I am looking forward to making new friends and experiencing new places and culture. I am reading your book now. My biggest fear is the how and cost of shipping my belongings. I appreciate any and all knowledge you can share with me. Warm regards, Dave Nichols.

    • Gary A Sisk Dec 12, 2012, 10:14 am

      Congrats on you up-coming move! I understand a container can cost $10,000 and for duty free you must have your cedula before shipping.

      Let me know when you are here.


  • Bill Aug 21, 2012, 4:00 am

    Gary, Hello
    Great info about your move to Cuenca. I’m about six months out from relocating there myself. I was hoping you could share your experiences with initial cash management. I’m talking about the span of time before the EC bank account and debit card gets established. Did your US bank cards have any problems generating cash in their ATM machines. I don’t want to get stranded but I also don’t want carry a “wad” if I it’s not necessary.

    • Gary Sisk Aug 21, 2012, 8:23 am

      I brought cash with me in a money belt. As soon as I got here I opened a savings account with Coopera which only required a Passport. I wrote them a check from my US account which takes 3 weeks to clear. Every couple of months I deposit US checks with them and there is no fee! A National Bank account can be opened when you have a cedula. But you can open a CD with a National bank without one. ATM’s are usually limited to $300 a day and my Bank charges 1% + $5 & EC Bank charges $3.50. I have a ATM card with my Coopera account which I can take $200 a day from my savings anywhere in EC. You need to notify your Bank & CC’s if you are going to use them outside the US. I use my Capital One here because they don’t charge extra fees litke my other ones do.

      • Bill Aug 22, 2012, 9:13 pm

        Thanks for the reply…….very helpful.

        • Allyson McQuinn May 4, 2013, 1:48 pm

          So helpful! Thank you so much as this was a concerning piece for me. I’m in the throes of getting my six month Ecuadorian Visa here in Canada and I will be travelling alone with little Spanish except that I could easily get a beer! I’ve just signed up for your blog and look forward to learning more from you.

          • Gary Sisk May 4, 2013, 2:35 pm

            Please let me know when you are in Cuenca for coffee! You will have fun here!

  • Garland etheridge Jul 28, 2012, 9:43 pm

    Gary. I live in Bahia de Caraquez and have been in Ec for almost 1 1/2 yr. I’m from Ventura and did live in Ojai. When I come to Cuenca I’ll let you know and we can have a “tall one”. Ok? My email is attached so let me know when you come to Bahia. Enjoy your blog and it will only get better. Regards Gar

    • Gary Sisk Aug 21, 2012, 8:10 am

      I will be in Bahia around the 20th of Aug., do let me know when you are in Cuenca.


    • Gary Sisk Aug 21, 2012, 8:29 am

      I graduated from Nordhoff in 66′! I will be in Bahia around the 20th of Aug. after a trip to Galapagos. If you come to Cuenca let me know, I am

  • colon campos May 18, 2012, 3:03 pm

    hola mi name is colon campos im e chef and tenis player i like by a small restaurante and bar every body like me and very popular in naples floroda bud is not cuenca please if yuo have any idias plesaev contacme at go to restaurantedoncoloncentroquito

  • Terry Apr 26, 2012, 12:45 pm

    Hi Gary!
    Sounds like you’ve landed on your feet in Cuenca, a nice place to find yourself. I’m curious how you find the social life, expat or otherwise. When we were renting a place on Calle Larga in 2009 for a couple months, there was a group of expats that got together once or twice a week. If you work your way back on my blog you can see our two month stay, pix and all.

    That’s really the only concern I’d have about moving, maintaining a decent social existence. Hope you’ve found your paradise. We may be back some day.

    • Gary Sisk Apr 26, 2012, 3:12 pm

      There are still ZOE on friday’s and now Calif. Kitchen also on friday.
      De Bacco’s on tuesdays. And lots of cooking classes, Spanish classes, concerts and bus trips!
      My self I like ZOE, being single I find more single people here.
      De Bacco seems to have lots of married couples sho tend to stick together.
      I need to go more often, but find 3 beers or 3 glasses of wine do me in up here! Ha!
      I do have some great Ecuadorian friends and spend more time with them.
      Also I have run into some gringo finatics! But variety is the fun in life!
      Where do you live now and what is your blog?


      • Terry Apr 26, 2012, 4:42 pm

        We live (still) in southern Oregon, Ashland, a university town. One of the things I fantasize about is having an organization of expats (wherever we go) that has classes (we’re active in the local learning in retirement scene here).

        Things I would miss would be sports, though hiking would take the place of some of that and the continued learning (classes in whatever from films to literature). I’ve got a wife and plenty of interests including golf (I know there’s a 9 hole course there), photography (with great opportunities in/around Cuenca).

        Think we went to the expats gathering Zoe’s a few times in the two months we lived in Cuenca but Calif. Kitchen is a new one. And bus trips? What is that about? Travel & activities in different places?

        More than a couple beers or wines and I’m liable to do something stupid.

        Oh! my blog (kind of inactive cuz I post pix on Flick) is at The Flickr stuff is at: with Ecuador both 2007 (our first visit) and 2009.

        • Gary Sisk May 18, 2012, 4:34 pm

          Well Terry things are probably pretty much the same as when you were here in 09′.
          I lived in Ashland Oregon in 1972! Ha! It was full of the peace and love groups in those days. Lots of head shops, Organic and Health stores. And of course the bars! I still have a friend living there Bryan Bellamy. He has worked for a local print shop for years.
          I don’t go to the Expat nights to often and not into the cooking classes or Concerts!
          My main goal when I arrive here in Dec. was to get healthy. I have asthma and with the altitude here and being out of shape its been a real challenge. But I do my Rio walk everyday and hit the gym 2 or 3 times a day. I have dropped 30 pounds so far and looking to lose 20 more.
          I still have the coast to explore as well as the North and South of Ecuador, that should keep me busy for awhile being I am in not much of a hurry these days! Ha!
          You might check it is a daily news letter anouncing activites in Cuenca as well as bus trips etc.
          I will check out your blog!


          • Terry May 18, 2012, 9:03 pm

            Small world! Good going on losing weight: that is really important. You get such great food in Ecuador with absolutely the best veggies and fruit including stuff you’ll not see in the north.

            I really thing there’s enough in Ecuador to last a lifetime. I absolutely love the Amazon rain forest! Get to Podpocarpus and view it from Vilcabamba and Zamora both. Entirely different. We stayed in Izhcayluma in Zamora (I think the spelling is roughly correct) and in Vilcabamba at another inn of good quality south of the town. That is some gorgeous hiking! Gotta get back! Hope we can connect up when we do.

  • Scott Apr 22, 2012, 3:40 pm

    Hi Gary,

    What an amazing life you have. I am recently returned to the states after 18 months in Burundi, Africa. I am coming to Cuenca on May 2nd and staying about two weeks. I would enjoy the chance to make some conections while I am there. This will be my first time to Ecuador, but I am interested in moving there if the fit is right. Working on a blog now. Would like to meet up if you have the time to. I have no fixed itinerary (Im not an itinerary kind of guy). Just want to enjoy the country, the people, and the culture.

    Thanks so much for your blog!

    Scott Emerson,
    Concord, New Hampshire

    • Gary Sisk Apr 23, 2012, 7:46 am

      Sounds like you are having a exciting life Too! Please send your blog when it is completed!



    • jlcollinsnh Dec 4, 2012, 6:52 pm

      Hi Scott….

      We live just down the road from you in Bedford, NH. Last year my wife, who is from Zanzibar, and I were a month in Ecuador and I just got back from a second month as discribed here:

      If you are so inclined, post a comment on that blog entry and we’ll meet for coffee sometime.

      Thanks, Gary, for letting me intrude on your post. Next time I’m in Cuenca, coffee is on me!

  • Angela Downing Feb 25, 2012, 8:58 pm

    Hi Gary, I am a single 56 year old female looking to move to Ecuador. I haven’t decided yet where to buy but thought I would rent something in Cuenca until I make that decision. It is always best to find someone who has some experience in relocating and any help would be much appreciated. I have established contacts in Quito and Banos, but when I visited found those elevations to be too much for me as I like working out and enjoy the outdoors, but found it too difficult to breath. I am hoping to eventually find something closer to or on the coast, as I do paddle boarding, running, etc. Also I like the warmer climates, being from Florida, so it’s probably more to my liking. Any assistance would be greatly appreciated. I enjoyed the photos posted on your blog.

    Angela Downing

    • Gary Sisk Apr 15, 2012, 9:14 am


      I also have had difficult adjusting to the altitude here in Cuenca + I have asthma. There is 21% less oxygen up here than the coast but using all our lung copacity provides the blood with lots of red blood cells which feed the body oxygen. I keep struggling and walking and going to the gym and I am breathing much better minus 25 pounds! And striving to lose another 20 pounds will also help with my breathing. I will check out the coast this summer when it is cooler.

      Thanks for the comment and keep in touch,


    • Gary Sisk Apr 22, 2012, 4:28 pm

      Let me know when you are here! Gracias!

  • Gary and Logan Feb 22, 2012, 7:18 pm

    Hello Gary:I enjoyed your post.I am a 63 year old male with a 7 1/2 year old Daughter currently in the Philippines-past 12 years-and 11 1/2 years too long.Ecuador has”peaked”my interest and I also lived in Branson Mo.20 years owning my own refrigeration business.I knew many”time bandits” (ha ha)personally working for Point Royal and Kimberling City.Small world.
    Sounds like you have found your home and happy for you.
    Gary and Logan

    • Gary Sisk Apr 15, 2012, 9:18 am

      What a small world we live in now days! I lived in Branson the 1st time in 1997 – 2000 and again 2009 – 2001. I worked at Surrey, Spinagger, World Mark and Diamond Resorts.

      Keep in touch,


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