Most Cuenca apartment rentals are found in the downtown section of the city, in El Centro. Because it's protected by a UNESCO World Heritage designation, the buildings downtown can't be changed much, so whatever apartments are there are on pretty much a "take it or leave it" basis, except for furnishings.
If you need something with more of the amenities you had back home, see the Cuenca condo rentals page.
Many of Cuenca's apartment buildings are old, and were built for the Cuencano market. So, in general, you'll find apartments to be without some of the more common amenities you're used to.
One of those is hot water to the shower. If there's only cold water, then there's likely what's commonly called a "widow-maker" shower head. It uses electric current to heat the water. If you place your hand close to the shower head with the water on, you probably will feel an electric shock.
You'll also likely be responsible for your own propane tanks. They're 40 pound tanks (40 pounds of propane, plus the weight of the metal tank itself).
The kitchen is likely sparse, with counters made of concrete covered with tile. The walls are likely concrete as well, so there won't be any, or perhaps just a few, cabinets hung on the walls. The only cabinets will be those under the counter. And they may have curtains instead of doors.
You'll probably find a tiny four-burner stove and a small refrigerator, or the spaces for them. If you have to supply your own, be sure to measure the spaces, as there are many sizes of stoves and fridges available in Ecuador.
The laundry will be a concrete basin, where you scrub your clothes manually. The clothes dryer will likely be several lengths of cord strung from wall to wall.
Make sure you check all furniture, especially mattresses, before agreeing to take the apartment. And check the other furnishings, like pots and pans, flatware and dishes, and the dishrack.
If you're not satisfied with what's supplied, ask the owner or landlord to provide what you want.
Some older apartments in Cuenca have a balcony that faces the street. Most will not have a terrace, which is more of a condo feature.
Cuenca apartment rental units will generally be smaller than the newer condo units, with some exceptions. Three bedroom units will likely be 1,000 square feet or less, with two bedroom units in the 600-800 square foot range.
One bedroom apartments will be more common, plus you can find what are called cuartos, or rooms in a house, or rooms in a building where you share a bathroom and perhaps a kitchen. If you're traveling on the cheap, these may be ideal as they are usually very inexpensive, no more than $300 a month furnished. We know one expat who spends $120 a month on his cuarto.
It's possible that, with some luck, you could also find an apartment that's an entire floor of a house. We have friends here who found one that's at least 1,500 square feet, with four bedrooms, a large kitchen, and even a built-in bar.
Very few of the apartment buildings have elevators, so you may find yourself walking up three or four flights of stairs.
Many apartment buildings don't have a security guard. If there isn't one, there will be a locked door to keep people out. And most of these buildings don't have secure parking. You'll have to find a secure place to park your vehicle.
Most older apartments have landline phone wiring, but they don't have cable wiring in the walls. However, it may run along the floor or ceiling and then come up, or down, to a location in a particular room.
If there's cable wiring, then you can have TV and high-speed internet via that cable. Otherwise, you'll need a DirecTV satellite (if you have a west-facing location for the dish) and internet via the phone line.
From what we've seen on various websites, and from a few apartments we've visited, Cuenca apartment rentals are cheaper than condo rentals. Unfurnished are as low as $150, although you probably won't find many that are unfurnished. Expect to pay a fair bit more for one of the really large apartments.
Furnished apartments will likely run you $300 or more, depending on some of the factors above.
Most of the real estate agencies with English websites don't have many apartments listed for rent. It's probably because they know that expats have a certain mindset about the type of place they want to live in.
If you're on a tight budget, and don't mind giving up a few of those amenities in exchange for cheap rent, then ask if the agencies have any apartments downtown.
If you plan to be in Cuenca long-term (longer than six months), and spending the extra won't create a hardship for you, rent a condo. If you're here for no more than six months, or you're on a tight budget, a Cuenca apartment rental may be the right answer for you.
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I just want to thank you both soooo much for creating this web site. I am originally from Cuenca but moved to New York 11 years ago and have not being back since. My husband and I are planning on visiting Cuenca over the Summer and this web site has helped me a lot.
When I came to the US we still had the "sucre," the bus ride cost 1,000 sucres and a pack of trident gum would cost 3,000 sucres. I am very nervous to go back, but thanks to your web site I now know what to expect.
My husband is American and Captivating Cuenca has taught him a lot about what my great city has to offer, things that I had forgotten about myself! :)
Thank You both so much! I cannot wait to visit Cuenca!!