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May 28, 2014

"Kathleen, really enjoyed Lee Harrison's comparison article Cuenca versus Medellin. We are currently making our second trip to Cuenca (for two months). Our next trip will be to Medellin in 2015. Lee's insights were very helpful in making our decision to visit Medellin as soon as possible. Is it possible for you to provide some rental information in the district mentioned in Lee's article? I believe it was called Poblado."

--Chief P., United States

The Apartment Medellin should be able to help you find a rental apartment for your visit. And, yes, El Poblado would be a good place to base yourself.

***


"Kathleen, I am a happy 81-year-young single man now living in San Carlos, Mexico. I am here with my 36-foot sailboat that I have owned and sailed for the past 27 years. My little Dachshund dog and I still sail nearly every week on the Sea of Cortez. We enjoy the fellowship of many other sailors and our Mexican friends.

"I have now lived here full-time nearly three years, and I have stopped looking for a different local. This is home now. I believe that your publications are a real contribution to retirees looking to make a substantial change in their lives like I did.

"Congratulations on your successes and continue your good works."

--Malcolm J., Mexico

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Created in 2008 by a small group of Cuenca expats, GringoTree began as an e-mail subscriber service reporting local events and offering tips and recommendations about products and professional services to English-speaking residents. This fall, GringoTree added a website, providing even more information through searchable databases.

GringoTree partners with an on-line newspaper, Cuenca High Life, which offers hard news, features, and opinion columns.

According to Deke Castleman, managing editor of the project, GringoTree has about 5,500 subscribers, some expats living in Ecuador and some considering relocating to the country, mostly North Americans.

Castleman, who moved to Cuenca three years ago after retiring from a career as a travel book writer and senior editor for a U.S. publishing house, says he has been amazed by GringoTree's growth. "We've added more than 1,500 subscribers in the past year alone, and we continue to grow rapidly. Even more impressive, the GringoTree website now ranks number one among English-language sites in Ecuador even though we've only been online since October."

Castleman says there are two reasons for the growth: "The first is Ecuador's and Cuenca's popularity as expat destinations. The second is that we provide useful, reliable information and have become the 'go-to' source for those living here and those thinking about coming."

Cuenca expat and former British foreign correspondent Sylvan Hardy agrees. "GringoTree really knits the community together and is unique in the expat communities that I'm familiar with. If I want to know when the symphony is playing, what new restaurants are opening, or find a good dermatologist or Spanish teacher, I check GringoTree. If I need to know what the government in Ecuador is up to, and if it affects me, I can read Cuenca High Life. In every case, I know that I am getting information that has been vetted by professionals."

Hardy adds: "One thing you discover early as an expat is that a lot of what you hear, either by word-of-mouth or on the Internet, is inaccurate, and often nothing more than rumor. Due diligence is required to get to the truth. This is why GringoTree is so important to Cuenca."

In addition to offering daily community postings, recommendations, and news, GringoTree has recently launched a series of subscriber forums that ask readers about how they handle their money, why they decided to expatriate, what their monthly expenses are, and what's the best coffee in town. "Our mission is to interact with the community, to find out what expats are thinking, and to offer them a forum to share their experiences," says Castleman. "Another part of our mission is to involve subscribers in the larger community. One of the great advantages of living in Cuenca is the opportunity to interact with the local culture and local people. We want to offer an escape from the 'gringo bubble' that you see in so many other expat communities."

Hardy says that GringoTree is not only an invaluable resource for English-speaking residents, but also for those considering relocating and purchasing real estate in Cuenca. "Given all the hype and overstatement out there about Ecuador, as well as about the expat experience in general, it's good to have a place that accurately describes life 'on the ground,'" he says.

Although GringoTree currently focuses on Cuenca, there are plans for expansion into other Ecuadorian communities, as well as to those in other parts of Latin America. "We've built a good communication model and are eager to share it with the world," says Castleman.

To check out GringoTree for yourself and to sign up for the daily newsletter, go to GringoTree.com. For local news, go to CuencaHighLife.com. If you want to talk to Deke Castleman or make a comment about GringoTree, write to feedback@gringotree.com.

David Morrill

Editor's note: You can meet David Morrill at our Live and Invest in Ecuador Conference on Feb. 13. He will be hosting his ever-popular (and always booked) Cuenca real estate and orientation tour immediately after the event. To sign up early, reserve your tour spot for the Live and Invest in Ecuador Conference here.Continue Reading:

Image source: Alex Proimos

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Kathleen Peddicord

Kathleen Peddicord is the founder of the Live and Invest Overseas publishing group. With more than 25 years experience covering this beat, Kathleen reports daily on current opportunities for living, retiring, and investing overseas in her free e-letter.

Her book, How To Retire Overseas—Everything You Need To Know To Live Well Abroad For Less, was recently released by Penguin Books.

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