Dealing With Cuencas Gringo Tax 1

Dealing with Cuenca’s Gringo Tax

¡Hola! Welcome to YapaTree, your go-to source for detailed information about Cuenca. Today, we delve into a sensitive topic: out-of-town pricing, often referred to as the “gringo tax” or “gringo pricing” or even being “gringoed”.

While it’s true that expats may experience higher prices in certain situations, it’s essential to recognize that this issue extends beyond the expat community. In this video, we explore specific examples of out-of-town pricing and share strategies to minimize its impact on your budget.

Let’s get started!

Understanding Out-of-Town Pricing

Before we dive into the details, let’s address the term “gringo tax.” While it’s commonly used, it oversimplifies the issue and neglects the fact that other groups, such as expats from other Latin American countries and non-locals from within Ecuador, also face similar challenges. Recognizing this broader scope, we prefer to use the term “out-of-town tax” or “out-of-town pricing” to reflect the core issue accurately.

Examples of Out-of-Town Pricing


Like in many other places worldwide, tourists may encounter longer routes to increase fares. However, taxi fares in Cuenca are generally inexpensive, and the overall impact on your wallet is minimal. The base fare is $1.50, which increases to $1.75 after 6 PM. While tipping is not mandatory, rounding up the fare is customary.


Most restaurants in Cuenca are honest and display prices on their menus. Some higher-end establishments may include a service charge, but it’s essential to note that this fee goes to the owners, not the service staff. English-speaking restaurants catering to expats may charge slightly higher prices, but it’s our opinion that this can be attributed to offering different types of food and quality rather than exploiting customers.

Fruit and Vegetable Markets

Negotiation is common in these markets where prices are often not displayed. Don’t hesitate to engage in friendly negotiations and ask for a little extra (“yapa“) to get a fair deal. Remember, it’s a two-way street, and positive interactions can lead to enjoyable experiences and unexpected extras.

Real Estate

In the real estate sector, it’s not uncommon for some agents to try to rent or sell properties above the market price, targeting unaware expats. Transparency and understanding the market prices are crucial to avoid overpaying. Working with a trustworthy agent who has a good understanding of local costs and processes is invaluable. View our Cuenca real estate offerings.


Visa service providers mainly cater to out-of-town clients, so it’s hard for us to say they charge “gringo prices.” However, it’s important to be cautious and research common fee structures and strategies used by visa attorneys and facilitators before making any financial commitments. And if you still think that a high price equals high quality, I urge you to check this post (& video) on Ecuador visa myths.


If you decide to purchase a used car, be aware that many Cuencanos prefer verbal negotiations without listing a price. Engaging a trusted local to assist you in negotiations is advisable. Websites like PatioTuerca provide valuable information on car prices, helping you navigate the market effectively.

Strategies for Navigating Out-of-Town Pricing

1. Know your prices

Compare prices and shop around to identify any significant differences. Consult with current residents and ask locals what they pay to gain a comprehensive understanding of the market.

2. Embrace the local culture

Show genuine interest in local customs, learn a few basic phrases in Spanish, and demonstrate respect for the local culture. Building positive relationships can help reduce the impact of out-of-town pricing.

3. Seek recommendations from locals

Locals have firsthand knowledge of fair pricing and can guide you towards authentic experiences and places with reasonable prices.

4. Support local businesses

Shopping at local markets, dining at neighborhood restaurants, and engaging in local activities not only helps the community thrive but also allows you to develop pricing benchmarks and find better deals. Not sure which businesses to support? The YapaTree Membership card offers deals with around 50 quality businesses and you can view current deals here.

Why Saying No to Overpaying Matters

Nobody wants inflation to increase more than it currently is. This may potentially price locals out of the market for even the most basic of necessities. Advocating for fair pricing and being aware of market dynamics, you contribute to a sustainable and balanced local economy.

While it’s essential to be vigilant about fair pricing, it’s equally important not to exaggerate every minor discrepancy. This is a cash society and simple maths mistakes can be common when receiving your change. Not every discrepancy is gringo pricing. Overreacting to small price differences can lead to misunderstandings and unnecessary frustration.

Wrapping Up

Armed with these strategies for navigating out-of-town pricing in Cuenca, you can enjoy an authentic and budget-friendly experience in this beautiful city. Remember to know your prices, embrace the local culture, seek recommendations from locals, and support local businesses. By doing so, you’ll not only have a more enjoyable stay but also contribute positively to the community. Don’t forget to check out our YapaTree membership card program, which offers exclusive offers from various businesses in Cuenca.

Further reading:

View full video transcript

2 Responses

  1. It’s funny but it hasn’t really been the locals trying to overcharge me so much , it’s really been some gringos here who present themselves as being helpful and then I see that they’re shady. I’m fluent in Spanish and am confident in discussing prices but it’s really some gringos I’ve dealt with who have tried to blindside me. That’s more disappointing actually than a local trying to make a few more cents.

    1. Indeed – there’s plenty of ways to be overcharged. There’s also lots of potential miscommunication issues that can exacerbate and confuse too. Hope your issues didn’t derail anything significantly.

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