You'd be crazy to buy anything in Cuenca! At least that's what some people say. While we expect to hear this from people back home who have never experienced Cuenca, it is surprising when we here it from one of our fellow Ex-pats. The most common justification given for this statement is that rents here are so low.
There are several very good reasons why people buy property in Cuenca instead of renting. For one thing Ecuadorian rental law "protects" tenants by forcing new owners to give the tenant 90 days to vacate after purchasing the property. This law is widely known among landlords in Cuenca yet it's rare for an Ecuadorian owner to sell a property if they have a proper lease agreement with a foreign tenant. Nevertheless in one particularly egregious case, the worst one that I have heard of to date, the Ecuadorian owner decided to put the place up for rent shortly after an American couple had moved in and even somehow convinced the tenants to allow showings to interested buyers. There is not any provision in the law requiring tenants to allow showings but the tenants may not have known that as they were "represented" by an agency that really wanted to sell it and the owner was insistent.
Some people say rent first to make sure you like it. That would normally be good advice since most people need a few months time to be able to know for sure that Cuenca is where they want to live. The thing is that in today's unstable financial climate holding Dollars is very risky. The same thing could for any currency likely to be negatively effected by a sudden decline in the value of the Dollar.
Other than the security and peace of mind offered by home ownership, it is rare to find a property in Cuenca that does not need a few improvements. For example, some people would like to have double pane windows, a dishwasher, garbage disposal, a bathtub, etc., etc. It's hard to justify putting money into a house or a condo when it belongs to somebody else. You might think that you could get the landlord to take some money off of the rent for the improvements but that's just not the way things work down here. There are so many things that must be done to a place to really make it feel like home. All the time, energy, and effort required is too much for a place that you are just renting. Besides, dumping that much money into a place that you don't even own is financially irresponsible.
When deciding whether to rent or buy in Cuenca there are more issues to consider and if this article were about renting verses buying then we would delve into them.
Getting back to the subject at hand, it is important to realize that most of the people who live in Cuenca and try to convince others not to buy are not looking out for your best interests. More often then not they are just doing it to make themselves feel better about the fact that they themselves don't have the money to buy. That is why they seem to have so much intensity and emotion behind there arguments.
It's to bad that so many people have gotten stuck in a pattern of blaming and justifying rather than taking responsible steps towards solving there financial problems. I have been running into people who have been saying that buying in Cuenca is crazy for a long time but only recently began to see it for what it really is…
Now whenever somebody in the Ex-pat community says that buying in Cuenca is crazy I simply assume that they don't have any money.