Retire cheap in Cuenca, Ecuador

Are you a Canadian who is looking to retire cheap? Cuenca, Ecuador is a great choice for you. Located in South America, it has quite a bit going for it. One of the biggest things is the great weather, and low cost of living.

As you know if you are a reader of this blog, there are several factors that are considered for finding the best countries to retire cheap in.

  • Weather: Cuenca, has spring like weather all year around. Coming from a place where the air hurts my face during winter, you know what I’m talking about.
  • Cost of living: $1000 a month CDN is not a problem to have a good life in Cuenca. An average meal or the Menu Del Dias (a typical meal…beans, protein, rice and a plantain) is $2 CDN. I stayed at the Blue Door there. Rent there for a month was roughly $300 a month CDN for a shared apartment LINK Cheap housing in Cuenca
  • Culture: Since I’m not the first person to find this place, there is a large community of Expats that live here. I watched the UFC fights in a local sports bar that wouldn’t have felt out of place in any major city in Canada.
  • Wifi: Getting WiFi can be frustrating. You’re going to need to be able to speak Spanish to get through, and what they promise, isn’t what you’ll get. My host had to fight for days for the high speed internet the companies promised. Once you did get though, I had no problems. I load videos all the time, and it was quick and fast.
  • Gyms: There are tons of gyms all around this sleepy city. $25 CDN will get you a gym membership that is similar to a $40 gym in Canada.
  • 3 month visa on arrival: You can stay in Ecuador for 3 months every 365 days without an arduous process. I am counting down the days till I can visit again. If you’re going to be a snowbird this is a great option.
  • Healthcare: It’s available, and it’s good.And you can even get on their national healthcare system as an expat!

Is it all sunshine and smiles in Cuenca? Not necessarily, there are definitely drawbacks.

  • English: Much like other parts of South America, English is not spoken there. It’s a Spanish only city. Cab drivers, shopkeepers and restaurants all are Spanish only. If you do find an English speaking environment, chances are prices are also “English”.
  • Safety: This was the safest city I found in South America, but I had a backpack stolen at the bus stop by a hobo. It was horrible. But, it isn’t so dangerous that I wouldn’t recommend it.
  • Imports: Bring your technology, and supplements if you’re going here. If they don’t make it in Ecuador, your prices are going to be ridiculously high. When I was there, it was pretty much impossible to get the latest technology, and people frequently fly out of the country just to buy things.

Considering all of these things, why would I recommend this city? Culture, fun and quiet. It’s really got the whole trifecta of awesomeness. If you’re thinking of living in a difference part of the world, Cuenca Ecuador is one of my top choices in the world.

I’ll keep you all updated, but right now Cuenca, Ecuador is my number one choice of where to stay in the world.


Retire cheap in Cuenca, Ecuador2018-06-20T19:04:13+00:00

How is working out in Cuenca, Ecuador?

Keeping in shape while travelling can be hard. I love gyms, and even though it’s possible to stay in shape using body weight exercises it bores the heck out of me. For me finding the best countries to retire cheap also requires finding a good gym in the potential city. More of my checklists LINK Which is better Bangkok or Medellin?

When I landed in Cuenca, Ecuador, the first thing I looked for was a gym. It didn’t have to be fancy, just clean & some basic equipment. (The second thing I usually look for is a bar….LINK … Hot pussy & cold beer in Cebu

I found one place, and stayed there for a month. While it was clean and basic, it was a little small. Month two I signed up at Zona Gym (best way to contact them is on Facebook : Zona Gym Cuenca)

For $20 USD it includes a couple things that don’t exist in most gyms in South America.

  • It’s open. Most gyms in South America open at 6am and then shut down in the afternoon. (They reopen again at 4 or 5pm. ) Zona actually stays open till they close at 10pm.
  • Unfortunately like most gyms in South America, they still close at odd hours on the weekend.  2pm Saturday and 1pm Sunday (although to be fair most gyms don’t even open Sundays here). When I asked them about this, they answered “We have to be closed sometimes for resting.” Hmmmmn….seriously forget a fancy 24hr gym like Snap Fitness. Somebody could make a killing just opening a gym that is open 7 days a week.
  • Another thing about gyms in South America, they think slow salsa music is good for working out music. Tip: Bring headphones.

Here’s a few little quirks about working out in Ecuador. Protein powder is $100 USD for a 5lb tub. That’s right. Literally next time I fly in, I’ll be bringing a second suitcase for protein powder and supplements. And shoes? How does $200 for a nice pair of Nike’s sound? (You can get knockoffs for cheap.) Same thing for headphones, super expensive or not available if you want good ones. So, those are a few things to make sure you bring with you from Canada.

To balance it out though, the food options are great!  You can buy quail eggs pre-cooked on the street like the Ecuadorian version of hot dogs. $1 USD gets you 10 quail eggs. A perfect post work out snack.  Super tasty too!

Chicken breasts and beef, are all super fresh and relatively cheap at little tiny neighborhood markets. I got 4 lbs of steak, and a quarter chicken for $9.25.

Also juice bars are everywhere. You can get a fresh carrot/alfalfa juice for $1 USD.

One other thing that is neat is that Cuenca is high altitude. So if you’ve ever wanted to try high altitude training, this is a great spot for it.

So while protein powder, supplements and vitamins are super expensive. Cuenca, Ecuador is a great place if you want to have a fun Gymcation.  Want to know more about Ecuador? LINK Can you retire on $1000 CDN in Ecuador . I hope this article helped you with your quest of finding the best country to retire cheap. Scroll to the bottom of the page for more tips and articles on finding the cheapest places to retire. And if you liked the article, please share on social media (I’d love it if you did!)

How is working out in Cuenca, Ecuador?2018-06-20T19:05:59+00:00

Exploring Cuenca

Oh Cuenca. How I love how sleepy you are. Everything is closed on Sunday’s here. Well almost everything. Still you don’t come to Cuenca for the excitement.

I found on my exploration today a bakery that was open for 15 cents a fresh bun, 

and a restaurant called Picantes de Leo. It’s a seafood themed restaurant where you can get a crab and bowl of soup for $3.50. Yes that’s a whole crab (albeit a small one, like blue crab sized).

  • Cervice $3.50
  • American breakfast $4.50
  • Almuerzo $4
  • Vino Hervido (mulled hot wine) $4
  • Chaulafan (Ecuadorian style stir fried rice) $7.50

I’ve included my walking map too! 
What’s also a neat bonus? I got my boots shined for $1. Yup. 

Love it! I hope this article helped you with your quest of finding the best country to retire cheap. Scroll to the bottom of the page for more tips and articles on finding the cheapest places to retire. And if you liked the article, please share on social media (I’d love it if you did!) 


Exploring Cuenca2017-08-13T20:03:34+00:00

Surprise trip to Banos de Agua Santa

Looking for the best countries to retire cheap, I’ve made up a list of must haves. Wifi, a gym and good quality of living are all essential for my life. What is nice to have in a place to retire though, is a close proximity to neat places.

Living in Cuenca, Ecuador one of the coolest things is that it’s just a quick bus ride to other parts of Ecuador. Why is that important? Let me tell you a story about my weekend. I woke up (at noonish) and found out that there was an opportunity for a guided tour of Banos de Agua Santa. Alejo who runs the Blue Door Housing Quito & Cuenca (where I’ve been staying) Stay at the blue door, had a guided tour booked for one of his clients in a private car.

His girlfriend Belen lives in Cuenca, and was going to take the bus to Ambato (where they were going to meet her). Did I want to go?

Remember I was still in my sleep pants, and super groggy…..”Why the heck not?” I thought.

And that was how my weekend adventure started.

A five hour bus ride from Cuenca (we got on a bus, that was slightly better than the last donkey bus I was on)

LINK Bus from Quito

By the way the best BUS company in Ecuadot is Flota Imbabura.

Then we arrived in Ambato, where we drove to Banos de Agua Santa.

The air bnb we stayed in, was $18USD a night. Staying at the Blue door, I’ve gotten really spoiled. It was a a beautiful view, but there was no wifi and only one bathroom for all the rooms. Eek! Luckily it was only for the night.

That night we explored the town of Banos de Agua Santa. At night on the weekend it’s packed with people out for a good time. Think of the Las Vegas strip but full of Ecuadorians. There weren’t very many foreigners around on the weekend. And strangely enough there were no girls either. (I counted 20 guys to 1 girl was the ratio.)

Staying out till 1am, I was asleep by 3am….which was really late considering we were planning to start our adventures at 830am tomorrow.

Here’s the guided tour we did

  • Ziplining , suspension bridge & rock climbing. This was at Parque Aventura. $15 USD paid for the whole thing. Getting pictures was $5 USD for 55 photos and some raw video. I’m super cheap, but I think having somebody following you around taking your picture is worth the $5. They give you a cd with the images on it after you’re done. (If you want a physical copy, its $2 per shot). Also they’ll email you the photos too on Google Drive.  ) They did speak English, (it was right along the lines of my poor Spanish.
  • The Zipling was fun, but I definitely was exhausted after the 92 steps over a suspension bridge, and the rock climbing. My quads were killing me.
  • Its not hard, but the tension I was carrying, kept my legs tensed the whole time.
  • We went to the swing at the edge of the world, it was a giant swing, and it was a $1 (tip….go early….). The area for the swings, there are a whole bunch to choose from. The famous one is the one we did, but they all looked fun from what I saw. The swing is perfect if you wanted a fun view and a neat picture, not scary at all.
  • At the swing I found a craziest souvenir. There was a guy who was hand cutting words out of keys. I have never seen anything like this while travelling the world. I had him make a few for me.
  • Then lunch. Wow. I cannot believe we hit a 5* restaurant, where lunch and a coffee was $8 USD. The view of the mountains was the best I’ve seen.
  • Now after lunch, we went to see a majestic waterfall. My companion and I decided that we really didn’t want to do an hour long hike, and we were driven up there to the view. (I’m so lazy)

After the waterfall we were all exhausted, and Belen and I still had a 5 hour bus ride from Ambato to go……. and that’ a different story. All in all Banos de Agua Santo was 100% worth it. Taking the tour with Blue Door Housing was great because Alejo and Belen speak both English/Spanish. BEST PART? Having a private car driving around all day? Priceless.

I hope this article helped you with your quest of finding the best country to retire cheap. Scroll to the bottom of the page for more tips and articles on finding the cheapest places to retire. And if you liked the article, please share on social media (I’d love it if you did!)

Surprise trip to Banos de Agua Santa2018-06-20T19:10:50+00:00

Taking the bus from Quito to Cuenca, Ecuador

Cuenca, Ecuador is ranked #1 on many sites as the best place to retire cheap. After exploring Quito, Ecuador for the month LINK TO ONE MOTH IN QUITO I  decided to head to Cuenca, Ecuador.

The first step is getting to the bus station. Terminal South in Quito is the one you’re going to want to head to. If you’re staying in old town like I was it’s less than $5 to get there via Cabify LINK CABS IN QUITO.

Getting to the bus station, you’ll have a lot of companies to choose from. 

They all cost the same. $15 USD for one way. So since they all cost the same, the buses should all be the same level of quality and comfort right? Wrong.

Some of the buses have tons of leg room, like flying business class, with almost lay flaT recline. Other buses, you’ll be in the equivalent of economy in Air Canada (aka the worst).

Why wouldn’t everybody take the best buses? Well, depending on time and schedule you might have to take the donkey bus.

When I got to the bus station to buy my ticket at 10pm for the night bus the bus tickets for all of the good buses were sold out.

The good bus lines

  • Float imbabura
  • Sucre Express

With no choice, and a heavy heart I headed to the donkey bus line.

That’s when another

Not only was I going to be spending 9 hours on the donkey bus….

…tickets were all sold out!

According to my travel companion, Alejandro this is really really really rare. In all the times he has done the trip (over a dozen) he has never seen it so busy when it wasn’t a national holiday.

There isn’t information booths, but with a huge line of people still wanting tickets, one of the companies told us, if they could wake up some drivers they’d get us a bus. Maybe.

At this point I was stuck. Do I take a taxi back to the Blue Door Quito LINK TO BLUE DOOR REVIEW and come back in 4 hours for the first morning bus? Or maybe I could find a cab to take me? I thought maybe if I got a few people, Alejandro and I wouldn’t be paying too much more. Wrong again. The cab wanted $200 USD. That option being way too much, I settled in for maybe getting a bus.

The cool thing about travelling with somebody is that it does allow you to take a nap on the floor of a dirty bus station in Quito without worrying about your stuff. So, I grabbed some beers and some chips $10USD (2 big bags of chips and 2 beers) and we hung out till 330am in the morning.

At that point after a mini floor nap, one of the bus companies had rounded up a bus. It was a Patria bus (aka El Burro Autobus).

Cramped and squished with my bag (always take your valuables bag and put it on your lap) I pulled down my sleep mask and headphones. This is super important because, the bus plays a movie on a flat screen tv in Spanish, so if you want to sleep, be prepared.

About 7 hours in, we stopped at a little roadside diner near Alausi for breakfast. There you can get fried chicken, curried goat or curried beef. Usually about $3.

I chose to eat a protein bar.

A few hours later, I arrived in Cuenca. Total cost $25.15 USD ($15 bus ticket, $10 snacks, 15 cents to use the bathroom in the bus terminal).

I hope this article helped you with your quest of finding the best country to retire cheap. Scroll to the bottom of the page for more tips and articles on finding the cheapest places to retire. And if you liked the article, please share on social media (I’d love it if you did!)

Taking the bus from Quito to Cuenca, Ecuador2018-11-16T21:04:26+00:00

Secret areas in Quito!

Quito, Ecuador is a town full of secret areas! Shops will open and close almost randomly. And a lot of times when they close they take all the signage indicating that there’s even a shop here. You literally will find different things open and closed, depending on the time of the day. is all about discovering secrets while you search for the best countries to retire cheap. Here’s some neat ones.

A secret free washroom in the plaza grande

If you walk into the little set of shops, and look for #13 you’ll find a great (aka clean) free washroom.

You’ll also find some super safe bank machines

I’ve made up a list of super secret things on this map for you ! Enjoy~

Secret areas in Quito!2018-06-29T05:30:57+00:00

Can you Retire and Live in Quito, Ecuador for $1000 CDN a Month?

Can you retire in Quito, Ecuador for $1000 a month? Maybe you’ve read Huffington Post, or International living and heard that Ecuador is the best country to retire cheap? (Those type of articles are why I started my search). Perhaps you’re retired, retiring or a digital nomad? Is it really possible to live in Quito, Ecuador for $1000 Canadian a month? Here’s my detailed, no fluff, no garbage, not trying to sell you anything review with a cost breakdown.


Day 1: You’ll land in town. Getting from airport or bus station you’re going to need a cab. (How to take a cab in Quito) I arrived by bus from Colombia so my cab was $7 USD. (They use American dollars here, which is fantastic. Way easier then figuring out, the 38 000 Thailand Baht to a Canadian Dollar.) I took the cab to my boarding house.

For the next 30 days you’re going to need a place to call home. Personally I love, love, love AirBnB. (If you use AirBnB my code gives you a Air BNB $50 credit which goes a really long way in Ecuador. I found a place called the The blue door for $180USD a month. This place is fantastic. One of the best places I’ve lived in the world for cheap. It’s a large old house, with lots and lots of private rooms. I like living with other people, so it was perfect for me. (Shared kitchen & bathroom, but they have maids/cleaners/volunteers on site. “Why yes, I’ll have you do all my laundry for $1 USD a lb.) They also speak perfect English (a rarity in South America). The blue door is in Old town (aka quiet and residential). But it’s perfect for retirees that want a quieter life. For digital nomads, the Blue door has Fiber Optic WIFI! (Drool!)

The first thing I always look for when I show up in a new country is the closest gym. I find that the routine of having a gym really prevents me from Just drinking and partying all day. . There are several gyms in the area. The one I wound up at was the dirtiest oldest gym in the world, (you can see a video of it on @bestcountriestoretirecheap on Facebook or Instagram) but it did it’s job and it was $20 USD a month. Upscale gyms like Snap Fitness in Canada cost about $70 USD a month. 

After I’ve located the gym, I’ll usually go to the bar and grab a beer. Beers are sold at the grocery store for $1 USD each and in most bars for about $2 USD. Whoop Whoop!

Eating out was roughly $4 USD a meal. You can grab a coffee and a humita for $2 USD for breakfast.
Humita’s taste like cornbread and are delicous with Ecuadorian coffee.

For groceries, I bought a months worth of food for $90 USD. That was 20 lbs of meat (chicken breast, striploin, tuna steaks) pasta, vegetables and bread.

How much was it in total to live in Quito, Ecuador for the month?

  • Apartment $180
  • Food $90
  • Gym $20

That’s a total fixed cost of $290 a month. Yes. $290USD a month.

The rest of your $1000 CDN is now up to you to spend. Do you drink a lot? Smoke (it’s about $5 CDN a pack versus the super cheap LINK TO SMOKES IN ASIA)? Party?

LINK TO PARTYING IN MEDELLIN? Spend a lot on health insurance? Need to go out a lot? If you’re doing your research on LINK TO THE BEST COUNTRIES TO RETIRE CHEAP ARCHIVES then you know it’s all going to depend on your personal lifestyle.

You can definitely live in Quito, Ecuador for $1000 Canadian a month. It’s great! Hope you come check it out. I hope this article helped you with your quest of finding the best country to retire cheap. Scroll to the bottom of the page for more tips and articles on finding the cheapest places to retire. And if you liked the article, please share on social media (I’d love it if you did!)

Can you Retire and Live in Quito, Ecuador for $1000 CDN a Month?2019-11-06T19:41:50+00:00

How to take a cab in…Quito, Ecuador

Zipping around the world looking for the best countries to retire cheap, teaches you that cabs are different all around. How are cabs in Quito, Ecuador?

First there are a lot of them. Not as many as in Bangkok, but more than most cities in Canada. Quito is split into three very distinct areas. The downtown (partying/bars), Northside (malls,high rises, modern) & Old town (churches, architecture)these are all very different. If you’re scouting out Quito to see if it’s the best place to retire in, you need to see all three areas.

Here’s the best way to do it. 

Start by downloading Cabify

Once you have the app downloaded, go to promotions and enter my code SAMSONC1. Now you get $6 in cab rides (and so do I….which would super useful if I was in Quito, lol).

Now you can use Cabify to go anywhere in the city without having to speak Spanish. (Also Uber is coming soon.)

Returning from your trips can be always tricky, because you might not always have WIFI. To get back, you’re going to want to flag down a normal cab. (Don’t worry it’s safe.) And like I said before, there are a lot of them

Now here’s where it gets interesting. 

After flagging down a cab, negotiate a price. DO NOT USE THE METER. I know this might go against every instinct you have. And I still don’t believe this is the better deal in Quito, but it is.

Going from Old Town to downtown costs rougly $4 by Cabify, and that’s the same price you can negotiate a cab for. It really isn’t a problem. If you totally disregard my advice, you’ll pay $6 minimum. That’s 50% more.  (How do you know how much to negotiate for? Well, I’m assuming you’re going to use Cabify ahead of time to get a good estimate.)

Also by negotiating a price the cab drive actually takes you to the address. (Whatttt?!) That’s right. TWICE I’ve had cab drivers get “Close enough” and want to drop me off when using the meter. When you have a negotiated price, you don’t even have to worry. You just tell them, this isn’t where we negotiated for.  And they keep driving till they get you to the right spot.

I hope this article helped you with your quest of finding the best country to retire cheap. Cabs are great, but sometimes a pain! Scroll to the bottom of the page for more tips and articles on finding the cheapest places to retire. And if you liked the article, please share on social media (I’d love it if you did!)

How to take a cab in…Quito, Ecuador2017-07-12T23:48:26+00:00

Ecuador Customs Form

I’ve traveled the world  looking for the best place to retire cheap, so I’ve wound up seeing a lot of customs forms. The one from Ecuador is the craziest I’ve ever seen. Luckily I didn’t have to fill it in because I took the bus in from Colombia. If you take the plane you’re filling one in.

The main reason for the customs forms is to prevent tax fraud. 

Be warned. Ecuador is very expensive for electronics. And behind the times. As of this writing , July 10, 2017 the IPhone 8 is about to be released. In Quito, Ecuador they are selling the IPhone 6 still at $1200 USD.

The current price for an iPhone 6 in America is $750 USD for a fully loaded one. 

So you can make money just bringing in high tech items and re-selling them. They obviously don’t want you doing that. So, if you’re coming to Ecuador. Careful of how many gadgets you bring. And make sure they are used, not new, or new looking.

Ecuador Customs Form2017-07-11T01:01:13+00:00

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