“Ms. Peddicord, I know you are going to have an article on Cuenca in the April issue of your monthly publication the Overseas Retirement Letter, which I recently subscribed to. I am also aware that Mr. Harrison (the author) lived in Cuenca for about five years.
“However, I don’t anticipate that you will be addressing these two questions in the article.
“First, what is your estimate of the approximate percentage of the Cuenca population that has 100% European ancestry?
“Also, I am also interested in Uruguay and wondering why Mr. Harrison decided to move from Cuenca, which you have praised previously, to Uruguay?
“I look forward to your responses.”
–Kent B., United States
Lee Harrison replies:
As to the ethnic mix in Cuenca: The country of Ecuador’s mix is Mestizo (mixed Native American and white) 65%, Native American 25%, Spanish and other European 7%, African 3%. I don’t have exact statistics for Cuenca, but I believe there are more pure Spanish in this city than the national average and far fewer Africans (who mostly settled on the coast and in the province of Esmeraldas). I’d say maybe 9% European in Cuenca or a bit higher.
“My decision to move from Ecuador was not deliberate but more of an evolution. We came to Uruguay on vacation and were very impressed with its European–mostly Italian–culture and good infrastructure. I thought we could buy an apartment and come here part-time. But between 2004 and 2006, we ‘talked ourselves up’ from that US$29k apartment in Montevideo to a US$160k house near the beach in Punta del Este, and moved to Uruguay full-time.
“Ecuador was much more of an adventure and more fascinating than Uruguay. Living in Uruguay is akin to living in the United States or Europe.
“Also, Ecuador has little seasonal variation, while Uruguay has four distinct seasons (with no snow or ice).
“Uruguay is more of a First World environment than Ecuador, but Ecuador’s cost of living is much lower.
“I still recommend Ecuador highly for a broad segment of expats and go there as often as I can. I’ll be speaking in depth about both destinations, comparing and contrasting them in detail, during next month’s Retire Overseas Conference taking place in Scottsdale. Would love to meet you there to speak about all this in person.”