How does a low-level Spanish speaker find a furnished apartment for rent in Cuenca? Before GoGo-Gringo.com existed, there were no online classifieds in Cuenca geared toward locals and expats, so this task was pretty intimidating for me. And the fact that the apartment must be furnished, made the task all the more daunting.
I went first to my employer, who had a bulletin board full of ads as well as a list of locals who were renting apartments or rooms specifically to foreigners. Armed with this info, I teamed up with a new co-worker to hit the streets of El Centro to check out some apartments.
Faced with the prospect of getting “Gringo prices” we were sure to be weary and ready for negotiation. I think the best strategy for this is to have a general idea of what reasonable rental prices should be in Cuenca, then reluctantly accept that you are, indeed, going to pay a bit more than that. Currently (January 2012) one should not need to pay more than $350/month for a fairly modern, 2-bedroom, furnished apartment with all basic necessities (washer, shower, hot water, stove, furniture), in El Centro or nearby. But you can find cheaper and more expensive spaces, depending on your budget, the location, amenities, etc.
Our search was mostly fruitless the first day so the next day we went to Cuenca University to look for more posted ads on bulletin boards. We found nothing on the university’s bulletin boards, but the library had all the local newspapers. We searched through the classifieds and found them to be a great source for finding a furnished apartment for rent in Cuenca.
Here are some tips if looking through Cuenca newspaper ads for furnished places:
- Make sure you search for ads that say “amueblado” which means “furnished.”
- When viewing appointments, it is smart to have A: a local Ecuadorian with you (for translating and to avoid getting ripped off) and/or B: a friend to accompany you (for safety concerns).
- If the apartment is labeled as “amueblado,” make sure the landlord includes things like towels and dishes. A person paying a furnished apartment in Cuenca shouldn’t have to spend money buying other necessities. Be insistent on having everything you think you should before making a deal.
After making calls on classified ads, we landed a couple viewing appointments immediately. The second place we viewed was very nice and modern and included a bonus for a low-level Spanish speaker: the landlord had lived and worked in the U.S. and could speak English. Although the price was a bit higher than we wanted to pay, the location and modernity of the place sold us. Our landlord lived right below us and was friendly and helpful throughout our stay.
We were happy that the landlord insisted on writing out an informal lease agreement, just to have something on paper. He also gave us a receipt for our deposit (last month’s rent) and our first month’s rent. It is advisable to get receipts for all transactions with your landlord, in case a dispute ever arises.
Other places to look for furnished apartments for rent in Cuenca:
- Check GoGo’s classifieds section! Duh. :)
- Register with GoGo-Gringo to receive newsletters and “LIKE” our Facebook page to receive our weekly listings
- El Cafecito bulletin board
- La Cigale bulletin board
- Sign up for the GringoTree mailing list that comes multiple times a week with new classifieds, and/or post on their classifieds for “apartment needed.”
- Head out to Gringo Meet-ups and get some old fashioned word-of-mouth suggestions
January 18, 2012