Cuenca Expat Apartment Walkthrough & Interview with Gerald & Derek

Gerald and Derek, gracious tenants originally hailing from Chicago, invited us into their stunning Cuenca abode for an enchanting property tour. We also took the opportunity to interview them about their experience moving to Cuenca. A massive thank you to both of them. We hope you learn from their experience.

Apartment Tour

This dwelling captures the essence of modern living, showcasing captivating views, ingenious space utilization, and an amalgamation of comfort and style.

A Panoramic Dining Experience

As we step through the entrance, an expansive dining room greets us. The room exudes grandeur with its sprawling dimensions and breathtaking views. Set against a backdrop of the majestic river and distant mountains, the balcony transforms into an ideal breakfast nook, perfect for leisurely mornings or evening conversations.

A Living Room of Endless Charm

Adjacent to the dining room, the living area seamlessly unfolds, offering a space that is both cozy and welcoming. A second balcony extends the realm of possibilities, allowing for indoor-outdoor gatherings. While there are plans to further embellish the space, its current state already radiates an air of elegance and warmth.

Feline Haven and Culinary Delights

Gerald and Derke’s apartment accommodates not just humans but also feline companions. The inclusion of custom screens ensures that the cherished cats are safe while they enjoy the fresh air. The kitchen, a true culinary haven, boasts an open layout that facilitates efficient organization with loads of cabinet-top space for their various appliances. Natural light pours in, casting a spotlight on the city’s vibrant life and creating an inviting atmosphere.

Multi-Purpose Magic

An unexpected discovery awaits as we venture into the so-called “maid’s quarters.” This room morphs into a versatile space for guests, work, and relaxation. A fold-out bed, a desk set for work, and a well-planned layout transform the room into an oasis of possibilities.

Rising to the Top

Navigating the secure staircase, we find a space bathed in natural light – an alcove that encapsulates comfort and creativity. Here, personal collections and a small refrigerator make this area a hub of relaxation.

The Master Suite and Beyond

The master bedroom beckons with its gentle morning light and a view that embraces the senses. Three cats find solace in the room’s tranquility, while an adjoining walk-in closet adds a touch of luxury. The spacious bathroom, adorned with a jacuzzi tub and elegant tiles, is a retreat within a retreat.

A Terrace of Wonders

If the apartment wasn’t enchanting enough, the wraparound terrace is a captivating extension. The panoramic view, ranging from the sports arena to the distant mountains, unfolds like a masterpiece. This space, with its plans for barbecues and outdoor gatherings, promises to be a venue of unforgettable memories.

Conclusion: The Perfect Chapter

Gerald and Derek’s apartment in Cuenca is a testament to the power of transformation and adaptability. What started as an unfurnished shell has blossomed into a vibrant, functional, and stylish abode. Every nook and cranny tells a story of deep appreciation for life’s simple pleasures. Through this walkthrough, we’ve witnessed the magic that can be conjured when a house evolves into a home.

Expat Interview with Gerald and Derek

Moving to a foreign country is a life-altering decision that comes with numerous considerations. Cuenca, Ecuador, has become a popular destination for expatriates due to its favorable cost of living, pleasant climate, and rich cultural offerings. In this interview, we delve into an enlightening conversation between two expats, Gerald and Derek, as they candidly share their experiences, reflections, and invaluable advice for individuals contemplating a similar journey.

The Economic Advantage

Gerald and Derek initiate their discussion by highlighting the economic benefits of living in Cuenca compared to the United States. Derek points out that a fraction of their previous expenses in the US allows them to enjoy a higher quality of life in Cuenca. This revelation emphasizes the financial feasibility of thriving in Cuenca and potentially improving one’s standard of living by relocating.

Choosing the Ideal Accommodation

The duo delves into the importance of location when selecting a place to live. Proximity to essential services, public transportation, and amenities was crucial for their needs. Opting for a residence near the city center provided easy access to shopping, dining, and entertainment options while maintaining a peaceful distance from the city’s hustle and bustle.

Transportation Convenience and Connectivity

Gerald and Derek emphasize the convenience of Cuenca’s tram system, locally known as the “tranvia.” Being within walking distance of the tram enables efficient daily commutes and links vital areas within the city, including the airport and bus terminal.

Daily Routines and Passions

Gerald and Derek provide insights into their daily routines, highlighting their desire to explore the city, participate in cultural events, and enjoy English-language cinemas. Engaging in these activities not only exposes them to Cuenca’s vibrant cultural scene but also reflects the city’s commitment to catering to expat interests while fostering local artistic endeavors. Their involvement in cultural events underscores their adaptability and openness to new experiences.

Incorporating into the Local Fabric

Cultural assimilation plays a pivotal role in an expat’s journey. Gerald and Derek stress the importance of forging connections with fellow expatriates and locals. They highlight the open and friendly nature of the community, which provides numerous opportunities for engagement through events and gatherings. Derek shares how their expanding network was facilitated by mutual acquaintances, resulting in a web of friends and connections. This deep involvement in the local community allows expats to genuinely immerse themselves in the culture of Cuenca.

Healthcare in Cuenca

Healthcare is a paramount concern for expatriates. Gerald and Derek emphasize the quality and accessibility of healthcare services in Cuenca. They recount their experiences with English-speaking medical professionals, dentists, and doctors who offer high standards of care. The assurance of reliable healthcare services in close proximity enhances expats’ sense of security and well-being, a crucial factor for those who may require medical attention. This aspect of life in Cuenca contributes to a comprehensive and gratifying expat experience.

Advice for Prospective Expats

Embracing Change and Trade-offs

Gerald and Derek offered insightful advice to prospective expats. They underscore the necessity of embracing change and acknowledging the trade-offs inherent in any significant life decision. Moving to a foreign country entails leaving behind certain comforts and familiarities, yet the numerous advantages of such a move often outweigh the challenges, leading to personal growth and a broader perspective.

Optimizing the Initial Visa Period

Derek provides valuable advice on maximizing the initial tourist visa period. This window of time presents a unique opportunity to acclimatize to the city, familiarize oneself with local products and services, and meticulously plan the relocation process. By making the most of this period, expats can make informed choices about which possessions to bring and what to leave behind. Derek emphasizes the importance of conducting thorough research and careful planning during the early stages of expat life.

Thoroughly Exploring Different Regions

The conversation advance to the importance of researching various regions within Ecuador thoroughly. While Cuenca is a popular choice, it is crucial to explore other areas to determine the best fit for personal preferences and requirements. Factors such as climate, amenities, and healthcare provisions differ between regions. Gerald and Derek stress the necessity of aligning these factors with individual priorities before making a final decision.

Wrapping Up

Gerald and Derek’s candid exchange provides a comprehensive view of the expat journey in Cuenca, Ecuador. Their insights, wisdom, and experiences offer valuable guidance to those considering a similar adventure. From financial considerations and housing choices to cultural integration and healthcare accessibility, their narratives shed light on the multifaceted nature of expat life. Ultimately, their experience encourages aspiring expats to embark on the journey with an open mind, flexibility, and a willingness to embrace both challenges and triumphs.

Links mentioned in video

Contact Gerald & Derek

Further reading:

Cuenca Expat Apartment Walkthrough & Interview with Gerald & Derek – Transcript

Jason    00:00 

Welcome back to the channel, Jason from Yapa Tree Properties here. We operate a busy real estate agency in Cuenca, Ecuador, selling and renting to expats and locals. Today’s video is an apartment walk through an interview with the tenants. Let’s go.

Gerald    00:14 

Hola I’m Gerald from Chicago, and today I’m going to give you a tour of my apartment here in Cuenca, Ecuador.

Jason    00:21 

We’re very grateful for Gerald’s generosity in opening his doors to us, and we hope that by watching this video until the end, you’re gonna have a much better idea of the quality of apartments available in Cuenca, Ecuador. Come with me.

Gerald    00:34 

Welcome, so let me show you around. Right here as we enter first, right off we have the dining room, which is absolutely huge and has an incredible view. We look over right onto the the river going by. We’ve got the mountains in the background. It’s the view just is is stunning off of this balcony. When we came in here we were so excited because we had this huge dining room table that we couldn’t even set out completely and when we got here the space is so large we were able to put the dining room table in with the the leads. It’s an unfurnished apartment and we left the chairs home so we bought new chairs here. Some great deals and some great chairs and what not to buy here it’s wonderful. Over here just to get the view, we were able to take this balcony toss onto it some really nice furniture and this is a breakfast nook like none other. The weather is almost always perfect if it’s a bit rainy or a bit cloudy, just something nice about it and refreshing so it’s a great, great location.

Gerald    01:47 

Over this way, here’s our dining room, I’m sorry, our living room area. And we were very excited because we found a set that just worked out perfectly and I think that this this whole area just again just works really nice as a sitting room, as a living area. We have another balcony with more views. More places where we can put some chairs and if we have a party, we’ve got people here, we’ve got them in the dining room, we’ve got them at the balcony. It’s fantastic. We still need to get more things built here. We want an entertainment center, we want a China cabinet, but we’ve found some really, really great people to do some work for getting some of our material built.

Gerald    02:35 

One of our biggest concerns was cats. And we have three cats and we did not want those cats running out. This is Derek. We did not want cats running out and leaping to their death over the balconies. So the guy who makes our Catios also made these screens he came up with we can just slide them in. We’ve got the fresh air and comfort of knowing the cats are going to be okay.

Gerald    03:04 

Over here. Wonderful kitchen. What I love most about the kitchen here, you’ve got your little breakfast nook so that you’re ready for that and then you’ve got a very open space. So we were able to do something we’ve always wanted, which is take all of our cooking small utensils and small appliances and lay them out so that it’s easy to find everything. And if you need a pressure cooker, you got a pressure cooker it’s right there. The kitchen is amazing and again an incredible view. So the light is always coming in. You can see what’s going on in the city around us it’s it’s absolutely wonderful.

Gerald    03:53 

The interesting thing about Cuenca that we’ve discovered is that when it’s an unfurnished apartment that means it’s unfurnished including appliances, large appliances. So we had to get the refrigerator, the microwave, the stove, even a dishwasher, which we did a hunt and we found one that was absolutely the perfect size. So that was something we were able to do. This way. Laundry room with plenty of cabinet space, lot of storage we were able to we brought our own shelving units so we’ve got plenty of places to put more things. The washer dryer we had to find and and put in but we did no problem.

Gerald    04:40 

We were told a 2 bedroom apartment and we were just thinking we don’t want – we need a three bedroom because of our offices. This is the maid’s quarters. It’s a room. It’s in a whole environment. If we have guests over, we’ve got a couch that opens up to a bed so our guests can comfortably stay here. They have their own bathroom with the shower. We installed this sort of desk set so that Derek can do work down here, or I can do work down here and we can easily take them out and still have a comfortable room for our guests. So let’s go on upstairs.

Gerald    05:22 

So what I love about these stairs is they are extremely safe and secure because they’re not open like a lot of the stairs that I’ve seen. They’ve got a nice railing. Our landlord was funny he told us the story how at one point. There was an accidental slippage, and he realized that these were extremely necessary so we’re we’re glad it’s as safe as it can be.

Derek    05:44 

And right after he told us that, we found out that that glass is thicker than the same safety glass at O’Hare airport.

Gerald    05:51 

Yeah, so we don’t have to worry about planes crashing into us. It’ll be great. This area here, this is one of the my favorite spots in the entire house. This is where we spend most of our time. It is just like an alcove, but we’ve got a couch that fits perfectly we’ve got bookshelves where we’re able to put not just the books, but my entire Doctor Who collection up there, which is very important, had to have that. And so this is a really nice area we put a little refrigerator in so that we’re as comfortable as we can be. Over here we got our guy make a catio for us because again, the cats are a big deal. And we wanted them to have an outdoor space and so we were able to put this up and just available for us a lot of fun, but it’s just a nice comfortable area.

Gerald    06:43 

But then we still have over here for example a nice little breakfast nook or just a a reading nook if that’s that’s the case. And so this is all all absolutely wonderful.

Gerald    06:56 

Then this way we have the second bedroom or main office because it’s a larger room and it’s cluttered because we’ve got a lot of stuff in here but I have a keyboard that I wanted to get up, we had more books that were necessary, more storage for things. So then of course the desk. So there’s a lot going on here. But then while you’re sitting here working, you’ve got this amazing view that we had people make curtains for us there weren’t curtains here. And we had this made, which is just wonderful we’ve got as much control over the light as we need while you’re working it’s just just an amazing city and an amazing area.

Gerald    07:46 

And the master bedroom, which is where the cats are, are we established this for them as a spot. And it’s worked out really nice because they are very skittish. You can see the lumps in the bed. Those are cats. But again, huge windows, so the morning light just comes on in and it’s it’s just ever so comfortable and casual and really, really a neat experience. Then we have over here another room. It’s the walk-in closet, but it’s as large as almost any room I’ve seen. There’s always a spot in someone’s house where you’ve got the cluttered things going on that you’re always working on. This is that spot. But it’s an amazing walk-in closet that leads right into a huge, comfortable bathroom with a shower, nice tiles, the jacuzzi tub – which is really really nice on those days when it’s just a little chilly or it worked out too much. But this is a this is all that we’ve got.

Gerald    08:59 

In addition to the entire thing, we have a wrap around terrace that gives us a 360 degree view of the city. So as you come out here, you’ve got just beautiful views. We’re able to see an awful lot of what’s going on in the city. We’ve got over here, the arena, sports arena, and often we can hear the cheering and shouting. It’s not disruptive, so we’re feeling like we’re too close to noise. But it’s interesting to hear soccer games you can tell when somebody’s get scored a goal. It’s wonderful. Again, the mountains in the distance. Cuenca is basically a bowl with mountains all around it and I just find it so different. Chicago is very flat and so this is very nice. We open up here, we’ve got just a huge amount of land on this terrace that we’re going to eventually have nice barbecue sets and patio furniture and host parties out here – we’ve got plenty of space for it. We’re still walking around! We have another area here. This wall ends here and it doesn’t give us a complete circle, but you just walk the other way and you’ve got all the way over to there. We’ve got this beautiful set of mountains. What I love about this is if it’s raining, you can see the rains coming in. And we call the river angry because when it heavy rains that river is just roaring there. You could see what’s going to happen if it’s raining up there we know we have to wear a nice warm coat, raincoat when we go out. If it’s nice and clear we’re probably going to be okay. Although it’s Cuenca, it could rain anytime. We get to see the construction of other other buildings. So there’s a lot going on in this area and it’s been interesting to see as it as it all progresses.

Derek    11:05 

I will say those buildings, once they’re built, they’re going to be nice. I think they’re like 1 to 3 bedrooms.

Gerald    11:13 

One to three bedrooms and it’s just a really nice area that you can see so much. The mountains, the buildings, you see how the neighbors are just so relaxed and casual, the atmosphere, the weather. This is not Chicago at all. One of the things we hated was leaving a house that we loved and we’ve really built up for almost 2 decades in Chicago. You don’t want to lose that. We got here and we don’t regret this at all. There’s not a moment we thought, why are we here? This has just been fantastic.

Jason    11:53 

Basically this is just gonna be a casual question and answer all type session. So I do have a few questions for you guys. And starting from the start, why did you guys decide to move to Cuenca?

Gerald    12:06 

All right – would you want to take that one, Derek?

Derek    12:08 

Yeah, so why we decided to move to Cuenca? It kind of started at the beginning of the pandemic. Just randomly I got served up a video, “Retire to Ajijic, Mexico”, which is like – people retire overseas. I did not know this and apparently it’s affordable to do. And that I also did not know. We had a couple of friends of ours that right at 2016 they moved down to Costa Rica. They sold everything, but they were also people that were in the, you know, we make $1000000$ a year bracket. So I just figured it was for wealthy people to do. But upon further research, I found out that we could live very well on his pension living just south of our border even. So as we were looking, Ecuador kept coming up. Cuenca was a beautiful city. We came down and visited Quito, we visited Cuenca and visited Manta and we settled on Cuenca to move to.

Gerald    12:58 

It was interesting too. He did a lot of research on cities around the world, the Philippines, Thailand, Mexico, Costa Rica – I love Costa Rica. And when everything we looked at, Cuenca was the one city that seemed to be best. I’m very, very concerned with climate and the climate change, and Cuenca’s got a climate that’s going to survive that really, really well. I like the pace of life. I like that it’s an active city, but it’s not big like Quito. Quito was too big for me. Which is funny we came from Chicago, so…

Derek    13:36 

Yeah, Quito was actually my first choice.

Jason    13:38 

We’re the same. We lived in, well I lived in Quito for a year before we came here and we had the exact same feeling. It had more amenities in certain areas, but just the chaotic nature often was hard for me to get my head around at the end of the day.

Gerald    13:52 

I retired in 2019 and what I wanted to do is continue writing. And so Quito is just, it’s a little bit too active. Whereas Cuenca was just nice and calm. I can get my writing in at the same time we can go out and eat. We can go out and do activities. It’s really nice.

Jason    14:10 

Awesome. So cost of living was obviously a driver for you guys. Compared to some of those other countries that you looked at. Was it the cost of living that ultimately brought you to Cuenca? Or what was the combination of other factors…

Gerald    14:23 

The cost of living was similar in all of these countries. However, my biggest thing, and I think Derek agreed with me: is Thailand or the Philippines, there’s no way we’re learning those languages. Whereas we both have a basic foundation in Spanish, so it was something that we could at least work with.

Jason    14:42 

That’s a very good point i mean, I spent a few years in Thailand myself, and I left for that very same reason. It’s like I wanna spend a lot of time somewhere, but I wanna really be able to speak with the locals, integrate a little bit more, and I knew without the language it just wasn’t going to happen. So that makes a lot of sense.

Jason    15:00 

And in terms of this apartment itself, I know that you guys had some very particular requirements. This one, it’s kind of interesting because on first sight it didn’t seem that it was going to tick your requirements and you kind of just said we’re gonna check it out anyway. So can you walk me through your department renting process and the decisions behind it?

Gerald    15:22 

We needed a three bedroom because we needed office space. It was very important that we had the office space available.

Derek    15:31 

And as well as guest rooms. So each room has a couch that pulls into a bed so when people come over they can just stay and enjoy.

Gerald    15:38 

So we wanted a place it that was that way and Derek was very insistent he wanted a balcony. He wanted to be up high. He wanted to be able to see the views. I wasn’t as insistent upon that until we got here. And then, Oh my God, I’m so glad that we made that choice. And one of our bigger fears, too, was the cats. All the windows and doors open there’s nothing you could do so we were…

Derek    16:03 

And there’s no screens in any of them.

Gerald    16:05 

So we were just fortunate, yeah we were fortunate to find a way to make that work and now that we’ve made that work and got rid of my one big fear, it was great. But yeah the when he said this is a 2 bedroom, we thought no, there’s no way.

Jason    16:20 

Not going to work.

Gerald    16:20 


Jason    16:21 

But then, did you realize it had a maids room at the time?

Gerald    16:25 


Derek    16:25 

It was mentioned, but what we were used to seeing like some friends were rented in a building down the street, another penthouse unit. I think they rented through one of the Estebans of Yapatree – I don’t know if it was you or the other Esteban. But yeah, so their maid’s quarters off the kitchen was like a cement block. Even the shower was just cement, cement, cement for the ledge and stuff, so they used it as a pantry. That’s what I was expecting here, even kind of seeing the video, cuz there’s only it’s like, OK, it looks fine in the video, but no, there’s an actual picture window there. It’s tiled throughout. The bathroom’s pretty much finished. It’s not the same thing. This is a usable guest suite.

Jason    17:03 

So that really made you think, “OK, this is not really a two-bedroom. It’s kind of like 2, and a half”, that sort of scenario?

Derek    17:09 

I would call it a three and in the in the States a bedroom even that size would be considered a third bedroom.

Jason    17:14 

That’s really cool.

Gerald    17:15 

And and they pointed out another area, the one that we use for our main living area, they said we could wall this off and make that another bedroom too and we said no cuz it’s it works out well that way.

Derek    17:29 

And I think that’s part of the reason why they liked us as much as they did, because we kind of were like, no, really minimal changes. It’s gonna look the same.

Jason    17:36 

And you guys did have some changes though, like we look around and all the cat modifications. What do you call the area upstairs?

Gerald    17:44 

The catio.

Jason    17:44 

The catio, si. That is fantastic and look dealing with pets and especially when you have multiple pets, that’s when owners ears tend to really sort of prick up and be like: “OK, let’s just slow down, let’s think about it.” How was that conversation with the landlord and especially with having some of these modifications made?

Derek    18:03 

Well, the conversation them is very easy actually. The landlord’s already had, they had a cat at one point – I don’t know if they still do, but they do have a dog or two that was in this unit already. And actually, in your original video you can see the dog scattering through. When you’re walking up the stairs there. So they were fine with the number of cats that we were bringing in, but we also looked at another unit before this that we nearly rented, but the landlord was not very responsive so, you know, ultimately I’m like this is probably going to be going forward. We’re not going to get responses…

Jason    18:38 

Relationship with the landlord is super important, so I’m really glad that you trusted your gut on that one.

Derek    18:44 

Yeah, but but that one also they had no issues with us having pets. I think there was the first one that Esteban showed us which was on the south end of El Centro. It was a first floor unit, very, very nice, fully furnished. That was a pet friendly unit as well. And you know, the furniture, you could tell, yeah, cats have been here before, you know. Not a bad way it’s just, you know, you could see some claw marks. So, yeah, we would have been able to bring them in there as well.

Gerald    19:12 

A dapting for the cats was key for my mental health if nothing else. One of the things that we did is we came here an exploratory trip. Derek had already been in contact with some people and that expanded it, so in actuality before we even moved to Cuenca, we already had a group of friends and a group of people we knew and they had many contacts with different things. One was getting somebody who could do cat trees, and from there we had Catios made. From there we had furniture made. The guy we’ve got working this is phenomenal.

Jason    19:45 

And with the cat stuff, would you recommend that guy?

Derek    19:49 

Yeah absolutely, hands down.

Jason    19:50 

So we’re happy to we’ll include a link to his details in the description as well.

Derek    19:54 

Yeah, he also built those TV tray tables that we have and in the third bedroom that desk that’s against the wall. That actually folds into the wall. So yeah, he was able to build that for us. We just pretty much tell him what we want and he’s able to do it.

Jason    20:10 

That’s great. I mean, I love that aspect of living in Cuenca. If you want something made, go check out some designs online, take it to the local guy. Definitely remove the prices if they are available because they will tend to see that and say OK this is…

Derek    20:27 

This is the going rate.

Jason    20:28 

Si,si. Cuencanos have a very, very strong negotiat ing culture so you can bet your bottom dollar that’s probably where they’re going to start at and hope that you bring them down a little bit.

Jason    20:38 

So in terms of some of the differences in the renting process between Cuenca and the US, I’d like to dig into that a little bit. What are the main differences that you guys experienced just throughout the process in general?

Derek    20:50 

Well, for me, I only rented once in my life and that was for an 8 month stint before I bought my first home. But that was at an apartment complex, so I pretty much walked in, filled out an application. They had like probably 20 units available and they’re like, OK, that’s for you. That was kind of it for me.

Gerald    21:05 

I probably had more experience in renting. I rented in New York a couple times and I had gone through a lot of process and I’ll be honest, I think it’s similar. I think it’s always dependent upon if you can get somebody that you trust and that is competent at knowing what you’re saying and showing you what happened. I’ve had experiences in Chicago and in New York where you get that I’ve also seen experiences where it’s not quite that they just want to show you something… .

Jason    21:35 

Just want to show you what’s going to benefit them…

Gerald    21:37 

But but in all honesty, when when we worked with YapaTree, we were heard and what we were looking for was was shown. I think it’s interesting too, we said no two bedrooms and we were shown a two bedroom. But I feel like again, what we wanted was listened to and…

Jason    22:01 

Just like: “Hey guys, this is a 2 bedroom, but just hear me out, hear me out”.

Gerald    22:05 

Yeah and and we’ve experienced that before and it it has usually been: “Why are you even showing me this?” Whereas in this case it really turned out to be the best.

Derek    22:15 

The real estate agent that we had before Esteban proceeded to show us – it was going to be 3 units. The first unit was way too small. It was not the number of bedrooms we wanted, not the number of bathrooms that we wanted, didn’t have any outdoor space. The second unit was getting warmer, but not quite that. Then the third unit was a giant penthouse and it was like: “I’m being International House Hunted aren’t I, right?”

Gerald    22:40 

But again, it’s the way we were treated with someone else was wonderful, but it just we didn’t quite hit the beats.

Jason    22:51 

It can be really tough too with the agents and the way that it works here. There’s no MLS that you can just jump into and be like okay, let’s pick up all these listings. Esteban does an incredible job of literally knocking on the doors and getting all those listings so it hard and to expect agents to have a lot of different properties – I do think that is a little bit unrealistic. A lot of expats come here with that and it’s like: “No, show me all these other ones.” And it’s like: “OK, we’re going to try, but it works in a very, very different way to what you’re used to”. And so that can be a big difference that we’ve found with the with the expats and those expectation gap. But I’m very glad that you guys had a wonderful experience with Esteban, but it sounds like you had a reasonable experience as well with another agent, which is really good to know.

Gerald    23:36 

I can’t complain about the experiences we’ve had and it’s limited because we only had a couple weeks to look for a place.

Derek    23:45 

And we wanted to get that nailed down. Once we decided to move, we wanted to have the place ready to go so that we had a place move to and so they [the cats] only had to adjust to one new home.

Gerald    23:53 

I can’t complain cuz the options I think that are there. I liked thefact that no one gave up. We kept looking. And again, in Chicago, I’ve been on tours where I’ve seen a lot of places and some are good, some are not so good, some are too perfect and that’s because it’s way out of our price range. But in this case, it all worked out well.

Jason    24:19 

Awesome. In terms of pricing, are you guys comfortable talking about that in terms of how much you pay for rent and the deposit?

Gerald    24:25 

I think so, yeah. Unless cuz we did negotiat e down with the landlords. I think they were asking for fifteen hundred and we went to thirteen hundred for this place.

Jason    24:33 


Gerald    24:33 

So I don’t know if that’s something that we should, maybe we should just stick to what the asking price was.

Jason    24:39 

No, like I think for me it’s completely fine. The negotiat ing culture for me is very big here. That’s certainly not to say that every landlord is going to negotiat e, but obviously it depends on the market too, depends on the place. So that’s great in terms of you negotiat e it down 15 to 13 hundred. And was that because of any particular reason? Obviously everyone wants to pay less and I completely get that, but was it like something in the house, it would be like: “OK, no, it’s not quite perfect for us therefore, we would only pay this amount”.

Gerald    25:09 

No, no.

Derek    25:09 

We just offered twelve hundred which was the going rate for the other penthouse in Puertas del Sol which we nearly went with and Esteban was our go between. I think the landlord just said, “I just want to make this minimum amount per month for rent.” I was like that’s fine. So we went to thirteen hundred.

Gerald    25:29 

I think the thing to to be aware of is that we can get nice places and I’ve seen a lot of people that we know get nice places for four hundred, five hundred dollars. Wonderful, big huge places too. Maybe a little further out of the city limits, but you get some really, really wonderful places. We were thinking maybe around 700hundred would be our max and that would probably get us a really, really nice place. When we got here and we saw what this was and we we knew that it was more money. We were still in the 700 maybe a thousand would be like an upper echelon, so that was why we were kind of more to negotiat e. That and the fact that being unfurnished. We were gonna have to spend money getting things in and so some of the negotiat ion was because we wanted to be able to still have money too.

Jason    26:24 

And so this is definitely on the higher end of the scale, it’s very central located, it’s huge, it’s got the wrap around balcony, it’s really on that more luxury side of the market. And yeah we we have the same conversation with people like, “Yeah this is our budget and this is what we want” and that’s great. But the location is really, really going to matter and depending on the type of lifestyle that you want. Do you want to own a car? That sort of thing. So if you don’t want to have a car, or if you want to own a car, sorry, then yeah, you have a lot more options and you can get somewhere that’s little bit more on the periphery and potentially save money on rent. But then you’ve got the car cost to worry about too so itcan be a little bit of a balancing act as to really what works for you guys and that’s the important thing.

Gerald    27:12 

And I want to speak a little bit on the location too, because that was major important. We’re about a block or two away from the train, which takes us right down to centro. We like the idea of living in the central area, but it it’s going to be more noisy, it’s going to be more hectic. We’re a few minutes away from it with an easy walk so we don’t have to have a car, which we really wanted to avoid. We are close to shopping.

Derek    27:42 

We do have two parking spots if we decide…

Gerald    27:43 

We do have two parking spots..

Jason    27:44 

You can potentially rent those by the way, if you wanted to. To someone in the building.

Gerald    27:49 

Yeah, yeah. We will keep our ears open, I’ll tell you. But the shopping is accessible. From this point, it’s a mile, mile and a half walk. One of the things we wanted to do was walk a lot, so that’s good to get to almost any place we really want.

Jason    28:06 

And walking along the river is is just lovely.

Gerald    28:10 

The fact that we’ve got the river right outside our window and then the river walk is like you said, amazing. The mountains – we are so central to seeing everything. The location was was ideal. The place was just big enough and nice enough. So yeah, it was more money, but tt was worth it.

Derek    28:31 

Yeah, and going back to the location being right off the tranvia. The fact that the tranvia feeds the airport and the bus terminal. As well as all along El Centro. That’s something that most cities in the in the in the world seem to get wrong, at least in the USA. Like New York, to get from the airports into the city you’re still taking shuttle buses. Chicago had the L feeding both major airports there. And I’m just surprised at how many cities don’t do their light rail that way.

Jason    28:58 

Yeah, we’ll start to notice that’s more of a, I guess, selling feature for certain neighborhoods. In particular, it’s opened up that whole Misicata area which traditionally is a little bit far for expats. But now with the tram just there, like a 5 minute walk and jump on the tram and then into town and in some 10 minutes. It’s a really good option instead of the two or three dollar taxis every single day. So that’s really good to know i’m glad you brought up the tranvia.

Gerald    29:24 

Oh yeah and that was one of my requirements was we wanted to be close to things, but barring that, so long as we’re off the tranvia, I’m happy.

Jason    29:33 

And what about just general lifestyle side of things in Cuenca? How do you guys spend your day? I know that you both have different creative pursuits that you spend your time on.

Gerald    29:44 

It’s relaxing and he had a very high stress job. I had a high stress job as a teacher, but having retired it was still nice to relax. So the first process is we want to be able to relax. But then we want to be able to walk a lot. We want to get the our exercises by walking around to get to places and that’s nice. Tonight, we’re going to go see a movie in the theater that’s English speaking. Which is nice to have that option.

Jason    30:16 


Derek    30:17 

Of course.

Jason    30:17 

I want to say that one too.

Gerald    30:21 

Got to see it soon and it’s nice to be able to do that.

Derek    30:25 

And also to be able to utilize their VIP seating. The standard seats are six fifty, the VIP seats are twelve dollars and they recline, you can get food service to your seat.

Jason    30:36 

Are they the 4D ones?

Derek    30:38 

No, no not the 4D ones. They are still 2D. I think from what I could see the only theater in the area that’s doing English showings. the Multicines in Millennium Plaza and it’s subtitled English in 2D. I haven’t seen them do 4D for that yet, but that might happen if more expats start going to the movies.

Jason    30:55 

I’ve seen some local in 4D but yeah, I haven’t seen any of the English.

Derek    30:58 

There was an event to see The Avengers at the Multicines to benefit one of the charities around here. And I think a lot of expats don’t realize that there are English showings regularly of movies over there.

Jason    31:17 

I think there’s other ones, they tend to be different time slots.

Gerald    31:20 


Jason    31:20 

I think that’s the appeal. Sort of more during the day. I think the English movies at Multicines are later.

Derek    31:25 

Yes, they’re seven pm and later yeah.

Gerald    31:28 

That’s gringo midnight. So and the other thing is that we also have been to the ballet, we’ve been to music concerts. We saw an amazing production of The Greatest Showman, which was done sort of live. It had all been prerecorded. It was students learning English and so they were doing it in English, although they’ve been prerecorded. But it was, really amazingly well done. There’s at least two theater companies here now, so our ability to still be engaged in culture is really, really nice.

Derek    32:08 

And that’s kind of a killed Manta for us. We didn’t see any of that going on, whereas Cuenca had it in spades.

Jason    32:14 

I understand. We have event calendars for Cuenca. We tried to create one for Manta and it was just really hard to actually find events that to fill it with. No joke and look, Ecuadorians in general when it comes to advertising, they tend to do it very late, so that doesn’t help the situation. But still, it was really, really difficult.

Jason    32:33 

In terms of the events and integrating into the local culture, have you found the events to be the best way to do that or what sort of effort have you made to integrate? You know, meet some different locals or just meet whoever you want to meet but how does that look in your scenario?

Gerald    32:50 

I think that mostly it’s connections. Derek had one connection and that connection introduced us to several other people, who are introducing us to several other people. And we’ve seen some musicians perform and we’re starting to see the same people over and over again. It means you’ve got to be kind of careful what you say sometimes because it’ll come back to haunt you again.

Jason    33:16 

It’s a pretty small community when you actually get down to it. .

Gerald    33:18 

It is, it is. But it’s a community that is open and receptive. And if there’s something that you’re interested in, there’s generally speaking, a way to get connected to it.

Jason    33:30 

Yeah, absolutely. That’s really good. And just before we go, any last minute tips for people that are considering doing something similar? Maybe they’re considering Cuenca, they’re on the exploratory trip, or something like that.

Gerald    33:41 

I’ve got to say that I think that everything is a sacrifice. You’re going to get a lot of great things moving to Cuenca, but you’re also going to lose a lot of things and you have to be prepared to say it’s okay.

Derek    33:57 

Yeah, I would say use your tourist visa for all it’s worth. Take your time. Especially if you’re planning to ship things down. Use that tourist visa, stay down here for a few months, kind of get to know the city. Get to know all those different stores, what products are available, what are not – before you get your residency visa and before you decide to fill that container because you may find that you don’t want to take a lot of things. Some of the wisdom is to bring appliances down, which I had an issue with from the from the get go. You know, because it’s like, well, OK, these are USA standard appliances if they break. Where do I get parts?

Jason    34:33 

Yeah, Good luck.

Derek    34:34 

Yeah, exactly. So at that point, we went looking around the different appliance stores. RCA which is a very reliable brand in the USA, they’re here, they’re not expensive. We got a new stovetop for about 200 bucks. Meanwhile in our Chicago house, we bought an off brand stovetop to replace it before the sale from a brand called Impava. And it was stainless steel, but it was so thin. It was just not near the stove top that we got here for 200 bucks and it was two fifty or 300 something like that.

Jason    35:06 

I think that’s really good advice to do as much research as you can on those first 90 days or if you extend and get the extension for another 90 days, so you’re effectively here for 6 months. That’s a long period of time for you to really understand is Cuenca or even outside of Cuenca, maybe you want to go to Loya, Vilcabamba, the coastal areas, Quito, wherever you want to go. That’s six months. That’s a good amount of time before you actually need to make any sort of real commitment to the country.

Derek    35:38 

Yeah, and you can save some money on shipping or decide, “Okay, I don’t need this, but I can bring a huge amount of this. Mac and cheese or whatever makes me happy.”

Gerald    35:47 

I think there are two. I think there are two options that are to me the best. Either you sell everything and go very minimal to take a few suitcases. Or you decide you have a lot of stuff you want to bring with you and you get a 20 foot shipping container and you do that. In either way, we went and shipping container route and I don’t regret it at all.

Derek    36:09 

Yeah overall, I’m happy that we shipped as much as we did.

Gerald    36:11 

And so either, or…

Jason    36:14 

It’s just not cost effective for those smaller amounts?

Gerald    36:18 

To me, really the options are either get rid of it all or take a lot. Just anything in between is not necessarily necessary. Although I’m not dismissing it really…

Derek    36:29 

You might want to get rid of everything, buy all new stuff when you get here, but there’s probably a bunch of sentimental items. Photo albums and stuff like that, it’s difficult to bring on a checked bag.

Derek    36:40 


Gerald    36:40 

The other thing I want to say though, cuz you had mentioned other places to live, the healthcare system here in Cuenca is amazing. It’s affordable and reasonable and it’s high quality. Some of the other locations… This is one of the reasons we like Cuenca. So the other locations are amazing, but they don’t have the healthcare set up.

Jason    37:03 

That’s a really good point have you had any experience with the healthcare system here so far? I know you mentioned before that you have some travel related illnesses.

Gerald    37:13 

Just a little bit. For example, we found a dentist. Apparently a lot of dentists in Cuenca are not doing full cleaning like you would get in the United States. We found a dentist who does that. We went to an optometrist. Got some glasses made and repaired and that was good. And we found a doctor who speaks English, which… I find it extremely important to learn the language and be able to communicate, but when it comes to medical…

Jason    37:49 

When it comes to those emergencies.

Derek    37:51 

You’re gonna lose all the Spanish. .

Jason    37:53 

Exactly in those pressure situations, it’s really difficult.

Gerald    37:56 

And we found a doctor who was just absolutely incredible. So the healthcare system, from what we’ve experienced so far, it looks like it’s going to be amazing. That’s a big thing. I’m a little more advanced in years and so I have to be a little bit more cautious where I live.

Derek    38:15 


Gerald    38:15 

Because who knows what’s going to happen.

Jason    38:16 

There are a bunch of hospitals here, like there’s four private hospitals that are really good, good quality. The difference does tend to be a lot of the personalized care. Something that surprised me when I came here was that doctors are available to WhatsApp at nine pm at night. That was unheard of to me. And to see my partner doing that, I was like, “What are you doing? You’re gonna destroy our relationship with the doctor. They’re gonna hate us they’re never gonna wanna see us again.” She was like, “What are you talking about? We do this all the time, it’s completely fine.”

Gerald    38:49 

And the idea that you could make an appointment and be there that afternoon. Yeah, it’s not like Chicago.

Derek    38:56 

But that why I limited my research to Quito, Cuenca and Manta. There is a lot being said about Olon, Montanita, Salinas, but they didn’t seem to have full service hospitals within a close distance so that was immediate no for me. But I’m sure the areas are very nice, but we have not checked them out for anything yet because now…

Jason    39:15 

It’s definitely a big consideration and that’s why a lot of the people on the coast tend to gravitate towards that sort of Manta area.

Gerald    39:20 


Jason    39:21 

Because of the hospitals and all that.

Derek    39:23 

And that’s also why too I think eventually Manta is going to completely pop off and it’s gonna be a better destination than it is when we looked. But yeah, right now it’s the lack of culture…

Jason    39:35 

They’re very, very different.

Derek    39:36 

They really are.

Jason    39:37 

If you’re considering Ecuador at all and you’re thinking mountains or beach, you really have to visit.

Gerald    39:43 


Jason    39:44 

All the videos you watch in the world… It’s good don’t get me wrong, that’s great. Obviously we’re doing videos for that reason. But you guys really need to come spend a few months, up to six months in Ecuador is what you get. And if you do that, what’s the worst case scenario? You don’t like Ecuador when you go home? But you’ve got six months to make that decision. So you know exactly why not make the most of it?

Derek    40:06 

Yeah and that was the thing. I was pretty sure, and we were both pretty sure seeing the videos on Manta that we were going to pick Manta. So that that trip we were here for probably 2 and a half weeks. We spent two days in Cuenca. Quito was kind of our waypoint, so flew back all that other stuff so we probably spent a total of four or five days in Quito. Manta we spent, a week and a half and within two days we’re like, this is not for us.

Jason    40:33 

It’s not for everybody. I completely understand and I’m a coastal guy as well.

Derek    40:36 

Oh yeah, exactly. I have family that lives in Naples, Florida and areas like that where they love the coast, even if the town doesn’t have much to do. There’s nothing wrong with that, but that’s just not what we enjoy.

Jason    40:47 

I understand. Well, that’s very good guys thank you very much, Derek, Gerald, for your time today. It’s been very helpful for me and hopefully helpful for the audience as well. So thank you and we’ll catch you in the next video.

Gerald    40:59 

Thank you.

Jason    41:01 

Thanks a million to our lovely tenants for allowing us to take up some of their time to shoot this video. And thank you for watching – I do truly appreciate it. And if you’ve enjoyed this video, please do consider giving it a cheeky “Like” as it really does help our message reach more people. And of course the YapaTree Properties team is here to help you find your next property to buy or rent in Cuenca. If you’re in the market, do check out the listings at You can also send us your property requirements and we do the searching for you. Or we also offer real estate trips designed primarily to educate buyers and renters. These are perfect for those on the exploratory trips, as the core outcome is for you to understand whether Cuenca’s property market will work for you. I’ll leave links to these services in the description below.

Jason    41:45 

Lastly, I do also find myself spending a lot of time just conducting what I call “mini consultations” on all areas of moving and living in Cuenca. I don’t have a formal booking process for this right now, but if you would like to discuss this, do feel free to hit me up, jason at yapatree dot com. Thanks again for watching and I will catch you in the next video. Ciao.

Gerald    42:10 

Here comes Santa Claus, here comes Santa Claus. Here comes Santa Claus. Christmas, a time of joy and happiness. Unless you were bad this year. And then you might meet one of Santa’s more sinister helpers, Krampus, a feigned monster who enjoys beating and eating wicked children. La Bofana, who flies in the chimney on her broomstick, eats Christmas. Icelandic trolls who fetch the naughty ones back to their hungry mother, Gryla..

Gerald    42:46 

13 monsters in 13 stories from Christmas legends as old as time Itself. Krampus and Friends: Tales of Terrifying Christmas Monsters from Around the world. Available now on Kindle and at Amazon or wherever books are sold.

Gerald    43:02 Get Krampus and Friends by Gerald Cole and pray that you were good enough this year, muuuhhhhaaaahhh.

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