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Reality Check: Housing in Cuenca, Ecuador

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

Housing in Cuenca is likely going to be different than what you’re used to. There are lots of great options – many beautiful apartments and homes. This post gives a reality check for what you should expect.

Housing in Cuenca Ecuador

Many expats come to Ecuador looking for a new way of life and envision themselves living in their dream home perched in a lush valley alongside a mountain stream. That is certainly an attractive vision but not necessarily in touch with reality.


Many new expats have had to settle for housing that is different from what they were expecting.   It is often difficult to find that perfect mountain villa on 20 acres that everyone seems to want.

For some expats, the only affordable and practical housing option is to be found in high rise apartment buildings or in working class neighborhoods, far from that peaceful valley that they had been dreaming about.

Reality Check: Housing in Cuenca, Ecuador

If you do happen to find your country dream home with acreage, it will no doubt come with a price tag that is more than what you were expecting.  Many expats are often shocked at the prices that some realtors are asking for rentals and properties for sale here.

For example: a recent visitor from the U.S. came looking for a house with land where he could settle down with his family.  A realtor took him to an area just outside of Cuenca to look an older house in need of repairs.

He was dismayed when he learned that this property was being offered for $175,000, a price which is much higher than one might expect to pay for a rundown property.

That is just one example of the disappointment that some expats suffer when faced with realities that are often different from their expectations.

There are affordable rentals and properties for sale to be found here, but it takes some investigation to locate them and one must have an open mind and be willing to accept housing options that are sometimes very different from what was initially envisioned.

For more information regarding rentals in Ecuador, check out the following posts: What to expect when renting a house in Ecuador

Learn more about Ecuador real estate.

This is a guest post by an American expat living in Cuenca since 2007. 

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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 Media (content marketing for travel brands). Work with GringosAbroad.

18 comments… add one
  • Greg3927 May 5, 2017, 10:01 pm

    Hi. I just discovered your blog and am enjoying it. My wife and I seriously considering a retirement in Cuenca. I don’t want to own a house and property there and I never will. It’s not about anything in Equador, it’s just that after many decades I’m fed up with all the landscaping, repairs, and all the other hassles that come with home ownership. We are just going to be full time, long term, renters. I was wondering if that makes us typical, or atypical. Also, taking that in mind, what would a ballpark rent be for a nice apartment with at least 3 bed and 2 bath. Thanks.

  • Natalie Apr 18, 2017, 6:18 pm

    Hi Bryan,

    Hope you are doing well.

    I found very intresting all your post, and I would like to invite you to Cava San Miguel, this is a place where you can learn about the production of rum here in Cuenca Ecuador.

    This is a turistic place that you will love. You can e mail me to the addres I wrote down, and so we can fix you a visit.

    Hope to know about you soon.


    Natalie Trepaud

  • betsy hedinger May 26, 2014, 2:00 pm

    Can you please give me info for any reputable realtor to help us with a short term rental in the month of July 2014 near the city center. We’re going blind trying to figure it out on the internet. ANY help you can give us


  • richard mctere Nov 24, 2013, 9:11 am

    Hello, Ed Weinder I agree with you 100%.I also want to leave the usa because of all the politics,corporate greed,
    and everyone in America want’s to sue you.I have been thinking about Cuenca Ecuador for sometime now,but I’m
    only in my late 40’s so I still have some time to go,however I plan on moving to Ecuador with in the next 10 years,
    which is ok with me because it gives me more time to save money.I live in San Diego California,I’m Mexican American,fluent in english and spanish,so the move should not be to diffecult for me I hope.
    Hello Bryan I first saw you and you’r beautiful family on the TV program House Hunters International.I watch it all the time,as a matter of fact It’s coming on in an hour,I will be watching.Well good luck to everyone ,I hope you all enjoy Ecuador and hope to see you in 10 years.
    Peace,Richard M

  • Lee Ann Wahi Oct 9, 2012, 3:22 pm

    Hello, I have been following your blog for sometime as my husband and I are thinking of retiring in Cuenca. On Nov. 22, we will be landing in Quito,and thinking we would like to rent a car and drive to Cuenca, rather than having our friends drive all that distance to pick us up.(We will be in Ecuador for 10 days or so). This will be my third visit to Cuenca, but I have always relied on our friends to drive us around. We would like to stop in Banos on the way to Cuenca. Is is possible for us to rent a car?

    • Bryan Haines Oct 9, 2012, 3:27 pm

      Yes, it is possible. But you could also just book a flight. It would be faster – and probably not that much difference in price.


  • Anne Sangine Apr 17, 2012, 6:54 am

    Your Posts have been most informative and make me feel much more confident as I search “on the ground” for a rental apartment or condo. I am back in Cuenca, residency papers for application in hand, and ready to settle in. My Spanish is practically non-existent at this point (speaking French keeps interfering somehow!) and I would greatly appreciate having a facilitator assist me. It sounds like an invaluable service and something I would appreciate.

  • Donna Feb 16, 2012, 3:16 pm

    A good general information site to look for miscellaneous help, rental apartments, newcomer activities/mixers, cooking classes, spanish classes, Cuenca Symphony,etc., is Sign up for their newsletter which is published online everyday so one can truly get a good “feel” for activities. I will be in Cuenca mid-March staying at Apartamentos Otorongo for a month to take a look around. The numerous blogs and helpful sites makes the process very user friendly and I’m really excited about the adventure. Thanks to all.

  • Ed Weidner Dec 29, 2011, 11:58 am

    I am coming to Cuenca during the month of March-2012. I am trying to absorb as much info as possible over the internet. My girlfreind and I are considering leaving the USA-too much politics and tired of supporting the great war machine. We are both college grads in our 60s and just want to enjoy life and share some new adventures. When I get to Cuenca Where can I go to meet some freinds in case I have some questions-which Im sure there will be? Thank you very much for any help or insights you can give a 1st timer to Cuenca. Staying at Villa Nova. Thanks Again-ed

  • Dr Anwar Nov 13, 2011, 7:54 pm

    I have been to Quito. I love Ecuador & hope to visit again soon. Thanks for all the info, its really very helpful.

  • Vickie Aug 1, 2011, 6:10 am

    I guess I got lucky. I’m living in Vilcabamba and I have that fabulous place with a beautiful view with the river and tranquility. I pay more than $300 but I’m happy with it. Cuenca is a city. It is a beautiful but it is still a city. How do you get the peaceful, lush place by the river in the city??

  • Sandra Jul 16, 2011, 9:43 am

    Well, I can just say THANX to Doug and his wife.. we went house hunting in Cuenca two weeks ago and I got what I wanted. My wish list was long: yard for yoga, quiet, central, bus stop close, a lot of light in the house, possibility for washer and dryer.. The down side of my house now? An unpaved street in the front – you can imagine the mud with all the rain during the last weeks. The house itself was very filthy because an Ecuadorian family lived here 4 years and they just dont care about cleaning as much as we Germans do. I need the bus to go to the supermarket, but then hey, the bus stop is 100m away.. for me its close to perfect.. and my local friends told me that the 300$ rent are even for Cuenca a really great price. In fact, everybody at work was surprized that I found a great living place like mine in such a short time for that price with GRINGOS! But the real work is on now: every day I scrub a room/ bathroom/ part of the house, I got internet in a day, but to buy all the appliences, furniture, household items takes nerves and a lot of time, besides managing the deliveries, mechanics that dont show up at apointments, uncounted numbers of stores I asked for gas-heaters (finally ordered one in Quito now..).. its very different to anything I experienced so far. So bring enough money, so far i spent 2700 $ and I still dont really have any furniture in the house. One thing to include in your budget – to save nerves and time you need taxis for the shopping tours. That can make up a lot, I`m paying between 8 to 15 $ a day right now because I need to go back and forth (my house-center 2$ one way). So yes, buying a car is on my to do list. Recommendations welcome 🙂 Oh, one thing more – I dont know how anyone manages to live here without any basic spanish. My experience after dealing with all the sellers and mechanics etc. is that you at least need some basics to get around. Otherwise better hire a local to help you through the first weeks…

    • Bryan Haines Jul 16, 2011, 11:58 am

      Hi Sandra – welcome to Cuenca. It can sure take some time to get things setup, can’t it?

      If you are considering getting a car, you might enjoy checking out this article: It details the license and car buying process.

      All the best on getting settled.


      • Sandra Jul 16, 2011, 12:12 pm

        Hi Bryan,
        yes, I checked it already.. I got a lot of information from your site before moving here, I really apprecciate your work! Thanx for saving me so much time, money and nerves 🙂 For right now I`m just so cold and tired of running around (no water in my house today and nobody knows why) that I`ll go to Montanita tomorrow and warm up a bit.

    • Jim Cohoon Dec 12, 2011, 10:04 pm

      Hi Sandra, I like your point about using taxis for shopping tours. We use the buses a lot, but when doing things that take more energy or focus, taxis are the way to go. They will save hours over taking the bus so it is money well spent.

  • Jacob Jul 11, 2011, 4:55 pm

    Thank you for an informative blog. I learned a lot reading trough it.

    I.m moving over in september. I have already bought an apartment in Quito. A little but central one. I used a local lawyer to assist me, and I don’t regret.

    Espen (Norway)

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