A New Kind of Blog

There is a world of information about Ecuador. It is one of the most popular countries for people who want to retire to a place where the dollar goes much farther than in the US, a place for adventuresome families who want to experience a new language and exciting culture. However, much of what you read or hear does not touch on the practical, the problematic, or the local information necessary to make things work. There are many blogs which are basically daily diary’s from people who live here. But this blog will be different. We know how hard it is to get accurate and timely information. We have been through it. All of us who live here have learned step by step and we question whether it is necessary to have every newcomer reinvent the wheel. We hope this blog will help shorten the learning curve. There are many hurdles but all are surmountable. What is required is patience, an understanding of local ways, and a realization that you are going to live in a country which is not the same as the US, Canada, or Britain. Our choice was to live in the wonderful city of Cuenca in the Southern Sierra but this may not be your decision and you will therefore have to look further to find the answers you need for different areas like the coast or the Amazon. Please realize that all the suggestions and ideas are based on our experiences. Ecuadorian regulations change rapidly and must be checked before you make any investments or major decisions. Please email us at Sailorburr@gmail.com and let us know if you have any questions or comments.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Mild weather, absolutely

One of the major cost and quality of life advantages to living in Cuenca is the constant mild weather which has a huge impact on everything from cost of living, to clothing, to the lack of bugs. On the cost front, because the weather is almost a year round 60 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit with nights going down into the 50’s, homes and buildings are built without heating units or air conditioning.  Initially, we could not believe it when we were shown houses and apartments without them.  Back in North Carolina, our monthly costs for heating and air conditioning ran an average of $300 a month. Plus, there were continual repair issues with recharging air conditioners, rusting out and replacement costs because of the salt air by the ocean, and huge spikes in cost every time we got a delivery of propane.  Because of the mild weather here in Cuenca, this $300 monthly electric and propane utility cost has been reduced to about $30. New construction expenses are reduced considerably as there is no need to install the expensive ducting, piping, and electrical wiring plus the expense of installing heating and air conditioning units. Ductwork in our house or apartment doesn’t exist.  There are no heating units or air conditioners. On the rare hot day, we just open the window and let the breeze blow through. Speaking of windows, there is no need for storm windows or screens. There is no reason for storm windows to keep out the cold. There is also no reason for screens to keep out insects.  In the city, bugs like mosquitoes and flies are rare though there are a few. Fortunately, the mosquitoes at this altitude are not the variety that carries malaria. Worse case, their bite makes a little, itchy spot.  At our house in the country, there are mosquitoes but still not enough to require screens. There are ants but, again, not like back in the states. We could not sit in the grass in North Carolina without being attacked by red ants that bit and caused little, itching sores. Here, you can sit in the grass without becoming a meal for the ants. Spiders are another story. While not a pest, they are prolific. Seems this climate is perfect for them. From tiny black spiders to huge CD sized tarantulas, you will find them everywhere but, again, they don’t bother you.  As far as clothing goes, the mild weather means there is no need for seasonal changes of clothes. There is no need for parkas, heavy sweaters, boots, gloves, or scarves. A man’s day time outfit might be jeans, sneakers, sport shirts or t-shirts plus a sweater or light jacket at night. Some of our male friends wear shorts during the day.  For women, casual attire is slacks, blouses with light jackets and low heeled shoes. Though few women wear skirts or dresses, they often wear high heel shoes which is amazing considering the flagstone sidewalks in Cuenca. To compensate for the constant change of weather during the day, most people wear multiple layers of light clothing. Of course, one of the most important effects the constant mild weather has on many people is the ability to plan ahead without considering the weather as a factor. You can bank on tomorrow or a month from tomorrow being the same as today. The only variable is when in the day, it will rain. The pattern is consistent, clouds in the morning turning to sunshine later, then clouding up in the afternoon with a possible rain shower, then clearing again toward dusk with cool, clear nights. Over and over, the weather follows this pattern with slight changes in the time of day that each event occurs.  When you look at the cost savings in not having heating or air conditioning, and the fact that annoying pests are almost non-existent, that you always wear light clothing, and that day after day, the weather will be near perfect, Cuenca’s climate becomes a major factor in most people’s choice to live here.

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