March 20, 2010

Taking it Easy

Yesterday was a quiet day. I’ve been taking care of business--getting a haircut, going to the dentist, getting my cedula, getting internet service set up--so I needed a day to do nothing and just look out the window. I think the color palette of this tiled roof, which is what I see out of one of the windows, is what I’ll be keeping in mind for my home decor when I get settled.

I have to admit that I’m really taken with the aesthetic aspects of Cuenca (the colors! the textures! the light!) and that this is what ultimately convinced me to move here. As an art director and designer I tend to focus on the visual and I would find it extremely difficult to live somewhere where I didn’t have lots and lots of engaging things to look at. However, as anyone who knows me well knows, I’m also a very practical person and I think it’s time I give some current information on a couple of practical matters.

I highly recommend getting dental work done here. Brian and Shelley ( recommended the dentist I’m using and he’s great and the prices are very “comodos” (comfortable), as one of my aunts would say. For example, a crown costs $280, so much less than what it would be in the States, the quality couldn’t be better, and he speaks English. Here’s the info in case you find yourself in need of a dentist while in Cuenca.

Dr. Jose Acosta
Eduardo Munoz & Gran Colombia
282 2561

Getting internet turned out to be fairly easy except for a small delay. If your place has a landline phone you can get Etapa broadband easily. Installation is $30 and a modem is around $40 (wifi modem is $90). In terms of speed, 512 kbps is around $30 a month (the most popular plan), 1024 kbps is $56, which is I what I got, and 2048 kbps is $90.

You need to go in person to Etapa Gapal (10 de Agosto and Paucarbamba) with your passport or cedula (know your address and phone number) and they give you an appointment for a technician to go take a look at your connections to make sure everything checks out.

Once he’s come, you go back to Etapa Gapal, pay the installation fee, make an installation appointment, and buy a modem right there, which you take home. The first appointment went fine, though I was given a time frame of 8AM-7PM, which seemed pretty broad! They came around 2PM, so that was fairly painless. However they never showed up for the appointment to install (again a time frame of 8AM-7PM), which was on a Friday.

I figured I’d call them on Monday and went out all day Saturday. The doorman told me that they came by Saturday afternoon. Why, I don’t know, since they wouldn’t know if I would be home. In any case, I called Monday, and made an appointment for Tuesday. They were very apologetic and helpful and gave me a direct line to call on Tuesday morning to make sure I was on top of their list. The technician came around noon and installation was quick. So far the connection is reasonably fast, though a bit slow when streaming, and I’ve had no problems. All in all, it wasn’t too bad, though I don’t know if this was a typical experience.

Getting my cedula was easy and fast but that’s because I was born here so I don’t know if providing information on this process would be helpful to most expats. If an Ecuadorean out there is thinking of moving and would like this information, just let me know.

The big thing on my plate now is finding a place to live when I come back in June-July. I’m leaning toward renting, as I don’t want to buy something I don’t absolutely love and I think that may take quite a while to find, if ever (the perfect tiny colonial!). Because I’m single I don’t really need or want 3-4 bedrooms and most houses and apartments here are that size. What’s so tempting is that you can readily find a nice 3-bedroom, 2-3 bathroom unfurnished house in a good location for around $400 a month but I’d really prefer not to have that much space.

For example, I found a really lovely 3-bedroom (plus an office), 2-bathroom house with fireplace, 3rd floor loft and terrace for $440 a month. There’s also a similar 4-bedroom house for $420. Then there’s a 4-bedroom, 3-bathroom townhouse with fireplace for $420 and then there’s the second floor of a brand-new townhouse with 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms for $330.

There are also new, very modern, condo apartments for rent and those are less than $400 a month unfurnished so that might be more practical in terms of upkeep. I found several like this. For example, a 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom with terrace for $385, a 3-bedroom, 3-bathroom with great views for $308, and a really cool 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom with fantastic views that just rented for $400. I’ve included the monthly condo fees in these rents, as condo rentals often have the renter pay that amount in addition to the rent. For example the $385 rent is actually $330 a month plus monthly condo fee of $55 a month.

I’ll start looking in earnest next week now that I have a few things crossed off my to-do list.

4 comments: said...

Good to hear about the housing. If all goes as plans my wife and I will be there in December of this year. We are looking to rent a house. My wife will go down in a few months to check out the housing market and at the end of October beginning of November to rent a place. Any help you could give would be greatly appreciated.


looloo said...

Hi Mike! If you're looking to rent I think this is a good site to start checking out to keep abreast of the kind of housing that's available for rent:

Let me know if you have any specific questions and I'll see if I can answer them--I'll be here until May 5 (and then back permanently sometime in the summer).

Brian & Shelley; Fred & Sigred; Bossy & Selfish said...

Hey looloo! won't connect to "our" site; you want

We were planet irony before "they" became planet irony. Oh well

looloo said...

Oh no, sorry about that, Brian and Shelley!--all fixed now!