Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Condos in Cuenca!

Mocha and I walk at least twice a day on the river trail by the Tomebamba and then hop on over to the sidewalks around the condos of Cuenca. I enjoy the trail, but Mocha likes to see his girlfriends, Lulu and Lucy, in the neighborhood where condos mingle with houses. In fact, it’s not unusual to see a huge condo complex, large homes, and townhouses all on the same street with a few guard shacks nestled in between. Today, while we walked (in the rain -- again!), I saw three condos for rent and one house for sale— all in a 30-minute walk.

It’s really the best way to find a place in Cuenca—walk in your favorite neighborhood and scout out places for rent. Most of the time the sign will be taped to the window with the words: se arrienda, se renta or “department for sale.” I chuckled when I saw that sign because it was in the gringo neighborhood “(departamento” is Spanish for apartment!). We live near the Oro Verde Hotel and Gringolandia. But if you walk across the Tomebamba River you reach a residential section of homes which has a panoramic view of the Cajas!

We lived in a high-rise luxury condo for about two months which had a gorgeous view of the city, but the noise level was not conducive to sleeping. So we headed across the street and asked the security guard if there were any “departmentos” for rent. He said, “Not right now…can you come back next week?” And the following week, we came back and he showed us a two-bedroom, two-bath apartment overlooking the Tomebamba River for $200. It was that simple.

The last two weeks, I have received a lot of e-mails regarding how to find the best deal on a condo and these are my thoughts:

*Make your “wish list” of all the things you want in a place (three bedrooms, two baths, large kitchen with granite countertops and a view of the Tomebamba River in a quiet neighborhood).

*Decide on a location. Do you want to be in “el centro”; outside of town, but within walking distance to town or close to the shopping malls?

*Budget. Are you willing to pay a little more for rent to have your “wish list” complete or do you need to stay within a fixed budget?

*Noise factor. We lived in a gorgeous apartment with a fantastic view, but we just couldn’t enjoy it because of the noise. I traded my granite kitchen countertops and my view of the city for a quiet place “down by the river” and now the ripples of the water lull me to sleep. So how do you know if a place is going to be noisy or not? This is where a little detective work takes place. We actually ran across the street four times a day to make sure there wasn’t any outrageous noise at our new place. I remember reporting back to my husband, “I don’t hear anything—what do you think that means?” We couldn’t believe it! All we heard was the rippling sound of the river. But some folks would be willing to put up with a “little” noise if they could have a spectacular view of the city and a dream kitchen. Only you can decide that.

*Word of mouth. This is the best way! Our neighbor found a luxury condo along the Tomebamba for $300 a month (3 bedrooms, 2 baths, granite countertops, and an amazing view of the city). He was talking to his Ecuadorian friend and they knew some “friends of some friends” who were looking for an American to rent their condo. Believe it or not, Ecuadorians like “gringos.” We pay our rent on time, we don’t stay for very long, and we usually improve the property!

*Be quick. The best deals happen before the sign goes up. If you inquire about a place before the sign goes up, you most likely will get a better deal. We had an Ecuadorian couple call on our behalf because we wanted to make sure we weren’t getting the “gringo” price and then we made an appointment the same day to meet with the landlord in person.

*Newspapers, Real Estate and the University of Cuenca. One of our favorite places—La Esquina de las Artes—is right by the University of Cuenca and so we often wander on campus and check out the bookstore. Mark picked up a newspaper, while I glanced at the student bulletin board—trying to decipher all the messages. I found pictures of condos for rent and one for sale! Why didn’t I think of that before? A lot of the university teachers and students come for a semester (or a year) and then leave their “condos” behind. Between semesters and at the end of the school year are probably the best times to check the “message board.”

*Rental Agencies. You are going to pay more for using a rental agency, but you already knew that! They are performing a service and in turn they need to make a profit. Apartments come furnished and unfurnished and sometimes they pay the utilities as well, which will result in a higher rent. We used a rental agency and signed a short-term lease and we were able to get out of it when we found our new place. Be sure to ask!

There are plenty of condos in Cuenca, you just need to have a little patience, keep your eyes and ears open, and act fast when an opportunity arises.

Until next time…hasta luego!


Karen Kimbler said...

Great job on the Condos. And there are Condos by the Yunancy River too!We found our rental house by word of mouth. The people had not even begun to pack! Patience and Perseverance!

Connie Pombo said...

Thanks, Karen! It's hard not to be partial to the Tomebamba, right?! ;-) Cuenca is huge; we were on the other side of town this evening and I saw places I've never seen before (Monay area). Lots and lots of condos for everyone!

ShiftHappens 11:11 said...

Hi Connie, Heard about your ebook for Kindle but since I didn't have a Kindle I dl'd the PC version of Kindle and look forward to reading your material. Very convinced that Ecuador is 'the' place' and hope to visit in 2013 to check it out. I'm already retired but want to stay here until my son finishes school. The reviews that I've seen about your book have been great so it looks like this is the best place to start my journey. Lived and worked in Bali for a few years but Ecuador sounds easier and more satisfying.

Namaste' . . . Vince

filomena keniiston said...

Hi Connie when you sign the short term lease did ask you for 1 months and deposit?

Connie Pombo said...

Hi Filomena, It all depends on the owner. Sometimes they ask for first and last month's rent and sometimes just first month's rent. However, it is returned to you after your lease is up and you move to another apartment, as long as everything is in order (meaning the way you found it). Hope this helps!

Connie Pombo said...

Hi ShiftHappens, Hope you've made your way to Cuenca by now or at least visited here on vacation. I'm sure it will be easier living here than Bali!

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