“Hey, where do you want to go eat tonight?” was not a question we asked each other much when we moved to Cuenca, Ecuador six-and-a-half years ago. It wasn’t that we weren’t hungry.
International Living readers often ask me, “How many other places did you visit before you decided on Cuenca, Ecuador for your overseas retirement home?” They’re stunned when I answer, “None.”
Much has been written in International Living by me and others about the tangible benefits of living in Cuenca, Ecuador—the low cost of living, temperate climate, lovely colonial architecture, excellent medical care, cultural amenities, and modern conveniences.
Someone asked me recently what I liked most about living in Cuenca, Ecuador. My wife Cynthia and I have been here for over six years and, honestly, coming up with an answer wasn't easy because there are a lot of things we like about our hometown. After giving the question some thought, I think the best part of our life in Cuenca can be summed up in one word: freedom.
Cuenca, Ecuador. It wasn't that long ago that almost no one had ever heard of this colonial city nested in the Andes mountain range. Today Cuenca is one of the hottest expat destinations on the planet. It is amazing this hidden gem stayed under the radar for so long. A UNESCO World Heritage city with over a half million residents, Cuenca boasts beautifully preserved architecture and cobblestone streets along with a low cost of living, temperate climate, excellent medical facilities, and a kaleidoscope of cultural activities.
For many reasons, Cuenca, Ecuador earns top billing as one of the world’s top expat destinations. The cost of living is low—three-course lunches start at $2.50—the weather is great, usually around 65 to 70 F during the day, and it’s never too cold or hot.
Yesterday my wife Cynthia and I discovered Greek yogurt in our grocery store for the first time. We can almost hear your collective response: “So what? Big deal.” We get it. Whenever visiting our family in the States, we invariably go to a humongous supermarket stocked with everything one could possibly need or want. In the U.S., grocery shopping is a chore to be squeezed in with all the other activities that fill life.
In preparing for our move abroad, we did as much research as possible. We even went on an investigative trip to what is now our hometown of Cuenca, searching for potential red flags. We arrived in 2010 thinking we had a pretty good handle on what to expect, but nothing prepared us for the possibility of defying the aging process. This has been a most pleasant surprise, to say the least.
That’s the usual reaction my wife Cynthia and I get when we tell attendees at International Living conferences that we haven’t owned a vehicle since we moved to Cuenca, Ecuador, six years ago. When we were considering the notion of relocating abroad, part of our strategy was to find some special place in the world where as many of the negatives as possible could be eliminated from our lives. That included having to climb into a vehicle every time we left our home. After too many years on the suburbia merry-go-round, we were more than ready for a change.
Dining out is perhaps the favorite activity of gringos. (That’s what expats are called by locals, and it’s not a derogatory term here as it is in other parts of the world.) That goes for Cynthia and me, too. So I’m excited to take you on an all-day culinary tour of Cuenca to highlight some of our favorite places to eat.