March 10, 2012

Cuenca, Ecuador: The Adventure

For those who haven't heard, we are moving to Cuenca, Ecuador, in April. Ecuador is less expensive, has great classical music, Cuenca is gorgeous, and what the hell, we already live in a city surrounded by people who don't speak English. (Seriously, there are at least 5 non-English languages going in our 8-unit building. Hardly hear English at all.)

We have our plane tickets and a place to stay for the first month while we look for something more permanent. The expat community is welcoming — we already have social plans — and I am a member of the iPad users group.

While we are choosing to look at this as a big adventure, it is based on some harsh realities. K. W. and I are in our 60s, Social Security will not support us very well in the U.S., medical care is getting more and more expensive, and we have no desire to eat the cheapest cat food for protein.

Both our unemployment has run out.  In six months in Las Vegas, I had one interview. Someone much younger got the job. In San Francisco, I have applied for numerous jobs from marketing/writing at SF Opera and at Lines Ballet (you'd think that I would have at least been interviewed for that one) to handing out food at Fresh & Easy (which did interview me). F&E and a jewelry store (I'm a G.G.) were the only interviews I've had in a year. I saw who they hired, and the women were at least 30 years younger than me.

So, I have been doing some freelance editing and writing for California Literary Review (dance writing) and iDine (restaurant reviews), which doesn't pay a lot, but it is at least "current employment." Luckily for K. W., he has a writing career of some note. But we need to live somewhere that is far less expensive than the U. S., yet is still pleasant.

We have done our research, and having lived abroad before, are aware that adapting to another culture has its issues. They are not insurmountable.

Cuenca is a city of 400,000 with only about 1,000 expats. It also is a center of medical tourism. There is a state health insurance system, which means the private insurance is affordable. And good. Orchestra concerts are free (and have some interesting rep that we don't hear in the U. S.).

We are getting all our info together for our pensioner visas (good heavens, how did that happen?). Ecuador has a special one for retirees — they like the influx of cash. Cuenca even puts on a special "Gringo Days" celebration each year. And if it doesn't work out, there's always Montevideo.

South America has always been on my bucket list. And K. W. is more of a co-conspirator than a husband. We are selling or giving away almost everything. They have stuff there. The goal is 2 checked bags and 1 carryon each, plus (maybe) one shipment of art and a few other bits and pieces we can bring back once we have our official residency.


  1. Good luck to you. I hope you won't mind me tagging along on some of the orchestral events. That's one reason I'm happy to be moving so close to Cuenca. There are events in Loja but no one to go with. Loved your blog!

  2. Looking forward to more entries once you get there--I hope to be joining you at some point...!

  3. Vickie -- Tagging along is not only allowed, but encouraged! And, Penny, we'll keep updating as we go along. My advice for prepping for any adventure --- eliminate as much stuff from your life as you can. There is stuff wherever you will be going. :-)

  4. Hi Geri - I've seen your posts on the Facebook EC expat page and just got this blog URL from your recent post. I live in SF and made my first trip to Cuenca a month ago after over a year of research and armchair traveling. I'm now planning to return fulltime, hopefully later in the year. Would love to hear from you - will send a friend request in FB to connect. Best regards, Lois (no Google account so this goes as anonymous, but I'm Lois:)

  5. Hope it works out there. I'm cautious about places where, as I age, I might need some avant garde medical work....but it sounds like fun! We just cycle among our 3 homes, Mammoth-Laguna-Irvine. Too bad you won;t be at Loncon, Aug 14.

  6. Gregory -- Worst case scenario is that we might decide to move somewhere else. Doesn't mean we dislike it here; just means we might want another adventure. And medical care here is good.

    Loncon is out for us this year because K. W. is going to be a part of Utopiales this fall in Nantes. Have fun in London.