Discover the allure of Cuenca through the eyes of Joe, an expat landlord who’s made this city his home. In this exclusive interview with YapaTree, we take you on a journey through his beautifully furnished apartment and sit down with Joe to uncover his experiences, insights, and tips for those considering life in Cuenca.
When it comes to exploring a new place, having a comfortable and inviting place to call home is a crucial part of the journey. Today, we invite you to step into the heart of Cuenca, Ecuador, as we take a tour of a one-bedroom condominium in Calle Larga, accompanied by the property’s owner, Joe.
Welcome to the Apartment
As we enter the apartment, Joe extends a warm welcome. He expresses his gratitude for our interest in exploring what this small, yet fully furnished, one-bedroom condominium has to offer. The property is nestled in the middle of Cuenca’s el Centro district, offering a vibrant urban experience.
The Peaceful Garden
One of the highlights of the apartment is the tranquil garden. Beyond the sliding glass doors, a lush garden greets residents. It provides a serene and aromatic setting, offering an escape from the bustling streets of Central Cuenca. Joe emphasizes the pleasant aroma of blooming flowers, which adds to the unique & inviting living experience.
Comfortable Living Room
Moving from the garden to the living room, we discover a pull-out couch that can comfortably sleep two guests. This space is designed to offer an ideal vantage point for enjoying the TV. The kitchen is seamlessly integrated, complete with a wine rack, providing an elegant touch for wine enthusiasts.
Joe takes us through the convenience of the apartment, showcasing modern amenities. He reveals a washer and dryer tucked behind a discreet door. A microwave and refrigerator are thoughtfully placed nearby, streamlining daily routines.
Abundant Natural Light
With its floor-to-ceiling glass wall and sliding door, the apartment is bathed in natural light. The layout ensures privacy while creating an ambiance of comfort and relaxation, thanks to carefully placed plants and flowers.
The Cozy Bedroom
Our tour continues as we explore the bedroom. While it’s a one-bedroom unit, it offers ample space thanks to the wardrobe with three units below and three above. This thoughtful design caters to a variety of lifestyles, accommodating individuals or couples comfortably.
The apartment boasts a boutique-style bathroom, custom-designed by an interior decorator. The commitment to maintaining a boutique ambiance is evident throughout the apartment. Every detail, from furnishings to decor, contributes to the overall appeal.
Interview with Joe: Life as a Cuenca Expat and Landlord
After our tour of the apartment, we sit down with Joe, the owner and landlord, to delve into his experience as an expat and landlord in our beloved city of Cuenca. Joe’s journey to this beautiful Ecuadorian city is one of adventure, warmth, and discovery.
Choosing Cuenca: Consistent Weather
Jason, the General Manager of YapaTree, kicks off the conversation by asking Joe what prompted him to make the life-changing decision to move to Cuenca. Joe’s response reflects a sentiment shared by many expats in Cuenca – the allure of year-round stable weather and a snow-shovel-free life. He emphasizes that the consistent climate and the absence of harsh winters were significant drawcards that initially piqued his interest.
The Cuencanos: Warmth and Friendliness
As the conversation flows, Joe elaborates on the key selling point of Cuenca: its people. The Cuencanos, he explains, are the true gems of this city. Their friendliness, willingness to help, and genuine interest in connecting with newcomers create a welcoming atmosphere that sets Cuenca apart. Joe’s own experience mirrors this sentiment as he speaks fondly of the locals and their readiness to engage in conversation.
A Decade of Betterment
A decade into his journey, Joe shares that every year in Cuenca has been better than the last. Retirement has given him the opportunity to embrace a new way of life, unburdened by the hustle and bustle of his former home in the United States.
A Jubilado’s Future
Jason then inquires about Joe’s future plans. With a contented smile, Joe reveals that he’s here for the long haul. In Spanish, he uses the word “jubilado” to describe his current status – fully retired and content. His focus has shifted entirely to Ecuador, and he’s in the process of becoming an Ecuadorian citizen, cementing his commitment to this city.
The Move to the Mountains: A New Adventure
The conversation takes a turn towards Joe’s living situation. Although he owns an apartment in the heart of Cuenca, he doesn’t reside there himself. Instead, he’s opted for a different experience in the mountains near Cuenca. Joe explains that they initially settled in Challuabamba, but the COVID-19 lockdown prompted them to seek a more spacious and serene setting.
Integration and Language Learning
Their quest led them to a beautiful spot in the mountains overlooking Misicata and a valley. The rustic charm of the area, with its combination of brick and wood construction, captured their hearts. The decision to move there was, in part, driven by the desire to immerse themselves in a less touristy and more authentically Ecuadorian environment. Living among locals and being part of a tight-knit community has also accelerated their Spanish language learning, fostering a deeper sense of connection.
Embracing Real Estate: Becoming a Landlord
Jason reflects on how this move to the mountains has likely contributed to Joe’s ability to make friends and integrate into the local community. Joe concurs, noting the openness of the people and their willingness to welcome newcomers, especially those who have chosen to raise their families in Cuenca.
The discussion then turns to Joe’s role as a landlord and property owner. Jason inquires about the motivations behind Joe’s decision to purchase the apartment in Calle Larga. Joe explains that the opportunity presented itself while the property was still under construction. He describes the initial uncertainty of buying a Cuenca property based on blueprints and architectural plans. However, as fate would have it, the apartment became available after its completion, and Joe decided to seize the opportunity.
Creating a Turnkey Experience
Joe’s decision was influenced by a desire for diversification and a solid investment. He wanted to make the most of his retirement funds and saw the rental market in Cuenca as a promising avenue. The practices of local banks at the time further motivated him to invest in real estate. For Joe and his wife, it was a conscious choice to fully embrace their new life in Ecuador and not keep one foot in the United States.
Furnishing for Comfort
Jason also touches on the meticulous furnishings of the apartment. Joe’s decision to furnish the property with high-quality items wasn’t merely an aesthetic choice; it was a strategic one. He aimed to create a turnkey rental opportunity for expats who might be arriving with little more than a suitcase. Joe’s extensive experience in sales and marketing taught him the importance of understanding the client’s needs, and he wanted the transition for new arrivals to be as seamless as possible
Finding the Right Tenants
One of the key factors that have contributed to Joe’s successful journey as a landlord in Cuenca is his ability to find the right tenants. Esteban, the Rentals Facilitator at YapaTree, plays a crucial role in this process. Joe emphasizes the importance of qualifying tenants effectively. In a city as diverse as Cuenca, it’s essential to match the right tenant with the right property. Joe notes that some tenants don’t initially know what they want, and this is where the expertise of the landlord and facilitator becomes invaluable.
Esteban highlights the significance of straightforward communication in this process. Tenants are encouraged to ask as many questions as they have during the first property visit. This initial dialogue sets the stage for a smooth and satisfying rental experience. It’s also crucial when it comes to pets. In Ecuador, there might be different perceptions of pet sizes, so sending photos of your pet can help eliminate misunderstandings. Joe, himself a dog lover with four Golden Retrievers, understands the importance of accommodating pets when possible, but clear communication about pets is essential.
Making a Home in Cuenca
Joe’s journey as a landlord and expat in Cuenca showcases the unique opportunities and experiences that await those considering a move to this city in Ecuador’s sierra. His story emphasizes that Cuenca is not just a place to live; it’s a place to call home. The warmth of the Cuencano people, the stable climate, and the scenic beauty make it an attractive destination for retirees and expats.
For potential expats sitting on their couches, contemplating a move to Ecuador, Joe offers some sage advice: “There’s Cuenca, and then there’s the rest of Ecuador.” Cuenca stands out for its welcoming atmosphere, making it an excellent choice for those looking to embark on a new adventure in a foreign land. Speaking even a little Spanish and having a willingness to learn can go a long way in establishing a fulfilling life in Cuenca.
Joe’s journey as a landlord in Cuenca, is a testament to the opportunities that await those who choose to make this lovely city their home. Whether you’re considering becoming a landlord or looking for the perfect rental property, Joe’s insights, along with the expertise of the YapaTree team, can guide you on your path to discovering all that Cuenca has to offer.
For current property listings and investment opportunities in Cuenca, visit YapaTree’s website. If you have any questions or need assistance with your relocation plans, you can reach out to Jason and the YapaTree team at [email protected].
Thank you for joining us on this journey through the life of an expat landlord in the heart of Cuenca.
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View full video transcript
From Cuenca Expat to Landlord: Apartment Tour & Chat with Joe
Hola Jason from YapaTree here. Today we’re taking you on a tour of an apartment in Calle Larga, Cuenca. We also sit down with the owner, Joe, to talk about his experience as an expat and as a landlord here. Vamos!
Hey guys, welcome aboard to B1. Glad you guys had the time to come by and had the interest to see what B1 has to offer. It’s a small one bedroom condominium here in the heart of Cuenca and it comes fully furnished. Even the kitchen’s fully furnished.
And you can see out here we have a nice garden that is available to everybody who lives here but outside of the slider. It really brings a lot of peace to your living experience in B1 and you know it does smell good here with the flowers blooming and it just gives you a different experience as to not being so much in the middle of Central here. Then the living room. We have a pull out couch that will sleep two. And gives you the opportunity to see the TV.The kitchen here is available even with the wine rack. So if you like wine, you can keep the white wine cold and the red wine over here in the TV stand.
Over here we do have available the washer and dryer. If you don’t want to see the washer and dryer you can shut the door and with a microwave and refrigerator all in one spot. I don’t know what the exact square footage is, or the square meter, but I think it’s probably around seven or eight hundred something like that. But you get a lot of light in here with the, you know, the full wall being glass and the slider and it also gives you a lot of privacy with the flowers and the plants planted the way they are.
So if you want to come in this way, we can look at the bedroom. Again as I said, it’s a one bedroom unit. But you do have a lot of room with the built-in wardrobe that you have 3 units here and three units on top, which holds quite a bit. Again, this you know it was designed probably for a 1 person situation, but you know, two lovebirds that just got married probably would work out really well.
I’ll let you go in and see the bathroom. Everything was custom designed here by an interior decorator originally and we try to keep it maintaining the same boutique ambiance, if you will.
So I’m here with Esteban, our Rentals Facilitator and also Joe, the landlord whose been kind enough to give us a little bit of a property tour and sit down with us to just answer some questions about life in Cuenca and also just life here as a landlord as well. So Joe, thank you very much for sharing your experience with us.
First things first, why did you decide to move to Cuenca?
I moved to Cuenca because it just seemed to be one of the nicer places outside of the US where the people were nice, the weather was the same all year round and I wouldn’t have to be shoveling snow.
So the weather was a big draw card?
Yeah, yeah. And then and then once I was here, the locals, the Cuencanos were the selling feature.
What did you like about the Cuencanos or the locals?
They’re just sweet people. They do anything to help you out and, you know, they always have time to talk.
And how long have you been here exactly?
I’m going on 10 years. And every year it gets better.
Awesome and so do you have plans to stay here for many more years or what’s your current trajectory look like?
Well, as the say in Spanish, I’m here jubilado, totally retired. So, like, my interests are not in the United States right now. I do have a son. He comes to visit four or five times a year and he likes it here and he’s just wrapping up college and he has plans to hopefully get a online type of job and and come back and…
Visit more often that’s awesome.
Yeah, so we’re here for being Cuencanos. So I’m planning to become an Ecuadorian and all I can say it’s been a great experience up until now.
And so this this apartment itself, it’s obviously very well situated on Calle Larga, but I understand you don’t live in El Centro or even in Cuenca yourself. Whereabouts do you live and why have you chosen there?
Well, we originally moved to Challuamba and there was a lot of new construction out there back when we emigrated here to Ecuador and we lived there for seven years. During that time we experienced the COVID lockdown and as big as the property for many houses in one spot were the houses next door to one another. It just seems so close after COVID with the lockdown and we had an opportunity to look at a house up in the mountains opposite side of Cuenca. Place called Wishield which is above Misicata. And it was new construction and it was very beautiful. The locals here call it rustico, which is a little bit of brick, little bit of wood, little bit of you know brick on the roof. And we have great views across the valley. So it was a no brainer to to try something else that’s new and we were pretty much at the only Americans that lived in that area, so it was very good in order to get our Spanish up to speed.
And have you found that that’s helped you to make friends, learning some of the language and just being in that particular area?
Again, the people are real open. If you’re nice to them, they’re nice to you. We actually moved into a community where it just seems like two or three families owned a lot of different lots around there. And the custom was to maybe build a home for their daughter or son to to stay in the area. A lot of local Cuencanos, they’ve gone to the United States. But the the majority of all the ones I’ve talked to all return here in 10 or 15 years because it’s such a nice place to raise a family.
It is a very common theme I see as well and just talking about that, purchasing property, that’s what a lot of them go to the States to do. Come back, make some money and buy some property. Why did you decide to buy this particular apartment in Calle Larga?
Well, I had the opportunity to buy that this condominium while it was under construction. I think that it’s sometimes it’s difficult to project what something’s going to look like as a finished property. But I just became lucky that this property became on the market to buy after it was finished. Nobody had actually moved in here, but I think maybe the person who bought it lived in Quito. They may have bought it for making profit – selling it two or three years later. But we wanted to do something different with our retirement funds. And felt that the a rental opportunity was possibly the best way to go. Banking institutions seemed to be checky here at the time. There’d been some issues years prior, and both my wife and I felt like moving here we didn’t want to keep 1 foot in the United States and 1 foot in Ecuador, so we jumped in with both feet and we wanted to keep everything close by as.
Very good and in terms of this particular unit, it sounds like you love the green space and you love the open air. So this was not necessarily going to be somewhere that you guys were going to live, it was always going to be an investment. Is that the thought process?
That was initially the beginning thought process. But we always looked at the rental market as how the properties came to us. You know, could we live here if we had to? We got older, we retired a little younger than maybe 65. We were 62 so we were able to do more versatility so to speak than to wait till we were 70 or 75 which limits your options. We had the opportunity to to buy these condominiums here and we always looked at it from the standpoint; my wife would look at me: “could you live here, could you live here? Sure, no problem.” So that was the big hurdle at the time.
Yeah and that makes a lot of sense i’m looking around this place and I feel like you’ve used that test with the furniture too. I think you put decent high quality furniture in here. The type of furniture that you guys yourselves would actually really like to be around. So, in terms of furnishing versus non furnishing, why did you decide to go down the high quality furnishing path because obviously it’s an investment too, another investment on top.
It is and I think that you know having the furnishings, some of the market people call it a boutique condominium or boutique rental. When you see people, North americans come here to to look or to retire, a lot of times they’re just here with suitcases. They’ve made one trip or two trips, and we tried to market these properties in so far as it was a turnkey opportunity. I pay the bills, nothing has to be done here except put your clothes in the closet and your food in the refrigerator. And to make that change, that move, that much easier for somebody who’s moving into a new environment. And all you got to do is just go to try to find where to pay your bills here and you can get pretty confused. So what we’ve tried to offer is the easiest possible opportunity for someone new moving in.
It’s a fantastic landing pad, what you’ve created here. And in terms of the returns themselves, are you generally happy with the investment returns on this place over the lifetime of the investment that you’ve made?
The returns in terms of rental income has been good. Obviously you always want it more, but the market dictates really what you can, the pressure in which you can place on the rental price. But when you start to look at it from a standpoint that if you kept it five or six years and and if you wanted to do something different, you wanted to put your investment some other place, you have the growth potential here. So it always seemed to make sense from that standpoint. The downside is when the place is empty, you know people come and go. There’s ebbs and flows. It’s not always good it’s not always bad. Somebody in my family said once, “The good times aren’t forever and thank God the the bad times aren’t either”.
So you got to really kind of put it into that perspective and you know look at it more in the big picture, the long term because things change.
Absolutely and I know that this property was sitting idle for a little bit of time before we sort of got involved in in the in the rental process and Esteban, I know you helped with that rental process. So I would really like your input, Esteban, as to what features in this particular apartment really drew tenants into it.
Well so the first thing that I have to say is that you have to qualify the the tenant really well because if the property is the right property then you just need to qualify the tenant. For this case is the location mainly. You have Calle Larga here and then we have the the river over there.
So we got both entrances which is perfect and of course the good quality of the furnishing.
And how long did it take the tenant or to to find the tenant? .
In this particular case 3 days I think was Joe?
Yeah, I was very fast and I think in giving you credit, having the opportunity to sit down with a potential renter and qualify them is a big thing. As a person who comes from the sales business and marketing, you really got to know what your client wants. You don’t want to go on a good trip in Cuenca, it’s nice place to see the old architecture here, but if you don’t know what your client, your customer wants, you may never find it. You might lose an opportunity and that’s why I appreciate the time that you put in here and talking to your client.
Yeah, yeah, my pleasure yeah. I mean, that was probably the main. You know the location…
Qualify tenants first, because we all know when we have a good property, because of the main features, because location, the quality of the furnishing, of course, the price and all that but if you don’t have a qualified tenant, it might not work for them anyway.
Sometimes your tenants don’t know what they want.
We have a Gringo post newsletter here and you can see by some of the questions that new people that move into the community ask, they’re really not sure of what to look for or what they’re going to see. And you know, if you kind of question your client. They start to bring things in the focus that maybe they’ve never seen in their head before.
Yeah so I know that the speed to market or the speed of the rental process I assume you’re quite happy with. But I want to flip the the coin a little bit and ask you, are there any opportunities for improvement that you can see in your current relationship with us as YapaTree?
No, I I think that you guys are on the right approach. Again, I was very much taken back as to how you look at trying to find the right client for the right property. You know, doing this for about 7 or 8 years, you do have clients that come in, they’re not quite happy. Because maybe things change. Maybe they didn’t know. And it’s always important to find out really what your client is looking for, what what their short term and long term goals are here.
I know Esteban is very patient with the tenants and really going through that that process as well so I’m sure that helped out. Any tips to potential tenants going through this rental process?
I would just say, you know, taking the time to make the potential customer/client feel comfortable. Like you’re going to show them whatever they really want to see here. There’s probably only in the terms of spectrums of rentals, so much different types of property that you can show. But if you know they want a balcony, got to show them balconies. If they want a view of the mountains, you know, there’s always that availability. Some people just like to be quiet and once they shut that door, take a shower and go to bed, they get up for the next day and explore some more here of the beautiful town of Cuenca.
Absolutely. In terms of like from your side of view, selecting a tenant and going through that process, is there anything that a tenant can do to make themselves more attractive in your eyes and more likely to succeed with the rental?
You always hope that your client or your renter is going to be happy. I’ve said that so many times to people, “I want you to be happy here”. Not knowing what their home life was like back in the United States or Canada, you never know. But there’s only so much you can do to make people comfortable. Part of that is trying to get them to acclimate to their surroundings as well. So it’s kind of a 50:50 mix of of everything to see someone become comfortable.
Esteban, any tips from your end in terms of tenants and how they can make themselves slightly more presentable or attractive to landlords?
Well, I would say be straightforward with what you really want for your place, and ask as many questions as you have in the first visit. Because then the process is really easy. Because if you start asking questions along the process in the closing after a week that you rent the apartment, then there’s some conflict with the communication. So ask as many questions as you have on the 1st visit and then we can try to sort them out.
And I think with pets as well, that’s particularly important. What type of pet do you have? How big? Send some photos in.
Exactly we need photos for pets. Here in Ecuador we are not used to getting familiar with when they say, “I have a 20 pounds dog”. We don’t really know what that is. OK send us a picture and then we know what’s the pet that you have. That’s the thing.
That’s very helpful yeah. And in terms of, you know you have some pets, right, you have a few?
Yeah we have 4 Golden retrievers and we love our dogs and we’re always blessed to find a a landlord who will offer their investment…
For four dogs.
For four dogs. Dogs are difficult. Animals are difficult. They come in all varieties. Some are very aggressive to the furniture and you know cats are sometimes aggressive to the hygiene of a condominium or a house. But we try to make everybody as comfortable as possible.
Awesome. Any last tips you may have to potential expats that are sitting on their couch in, I don’t know, California, thinking about making the move down here.
Well, as I tell everybody, there’s Cuenca and the rest of Ecuador. I’m sure if you come to Cuenca you’re going to find yourself pleasantly surprised. The people in Cuenca are lovely people. They’re family people. It’s homework and church, if you will. And there’s that warmth here that you don’t always find in other places, especially if you’ve traveled in different parts of the world. So I think if you know how to speak a little Spanish and you’re willing to learn a little more and certainly the people here are willing to speak a little bit of English, it goes a long ways and you can find your spot here in this town. It’s very beautiful.
Awesome Joe that’s very, very good so I completely agree inthat Cuenca is very unique and if you’re sitting on the fence, come check it out spend some time here first and hopefully the rest will take care of itself. It’ll either be for you or it won’t, but you’ll know that by visiting. Any last thoughts, Esteban?
No, no, just if you have any other questions for us, just visit our website yapatree.com and we’ll be there for you.
Awesome guys. Thanks very much for your time.
Hey guys. Thank you.
Thanks a million to Joe for letting us show his property to you. I think you’ll agree that it is a fantastic apartment. Now, this particular apartment isn’t currently available, but if you do want to view current listings, go to yapatree.com And of course, if you want to view current investment property opportunities, you’re welcome to reach out to me as well [email protected]. Thank you very much for watching and have a fantastic day. Ciao.