Extended stay with family

My wife and two kids (3 and 5) plan to live in Cuenca for roughly 10 months next year from Aug. to June. We are taking a year off of teaching. My wife is applying at an English language learning institute as a tutor--basically a volunteer position--where my oldest can go to school. I'm a painter/teacher. I'm planning on taking care of kids and doing some creative projects, possibly with the help of an artists grant.

We're curious about living with a family in Cuenca. We wonder how easy it is to get around on public transportation, if it matters if we are not in centro, what to look out for when finding a place--lots of things.
We're also not crazy about living in an expat neighborhood if ti means forgoing a cultural experience, but wonder if it might be safer to do so.

Any advice about living with a family would be helpful.

scottmacinak :

My wife and two kids (3 and 5) plan to live in Cuenca for roughly 10 months....

We wonder how easy it is to get around on public transportation....

We're also not crazy about living in an expat neighborhood if it means forgoing a cultural experience....

Dear Scott,

Welcome to the Ecuador forum.

IMO it is a misconception about living in a South American city that has an Expat presence .. that Expats will supposedly overrun the community .. or there will be so much exposure to 'the Expat way' that one must forego a cultural experience.  (Exceptions to my opinion may include Boquete, Panama, and some gated communites in Mexico and Costa Rica where Expat saturation is far greater than in Ecuador.)

Threre are plenty of local Ecuadorians in Cuenca and Vilcabamba .. and -- provided you attempt to speak their language with some success -- the full cultural experience should be available to you.

As for the transportation situation in Cuenca, it has been in some ferment .. given Cuenca's on-off-on-again tram project, the introduction of anti-pollution-exhaust buses (made in China) on some Cuenca lines .. and controversy over new transit fares.  As a rule, individual locals find transit options that get them where they need to go, albeit with occasional confusion and delay.  The longterm outlook is positive, so this shouldn't be a dealbreaker for new arrivals, going forward.


As to your question about living with a host-family, I suggest you read a worthwhile article on the Ailola website by Australian Expat Jayson McNamara, titled "How to Handle a Host Family Experience."

Jayson calls it a once in a lifetime experience .. and offers some concepts to make it work.

The Ailola Lingua school in Quito offers Spanish classes and placement of students with host families.  The students choose whether or not they eat with the families.  The school also has programs in the Galápagos Islands and in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

resource: ailola.com

In doing some Google research on this topic, I came across an Expat with a negative view of the host-family experience.  He said he stayed with two host families .. and hated them both.

As usual, YMMV.

  -- cccmedia

Wolters World has a YouTube video on 5 Things You Will Love and 5 You Will Hate about a host-family experience.

Among the 'hates' are Rules, Cultural Differences, Sibling Rivalry Problems, Big Brother/Mamá Watching and Difficulties in Moving Out if things don't work out.

google:  wolters world five things you will love host family youtube

  -- cccmedia

Thanks. That helps. I don't think we were interested in living with a host family though, although I know some schools or volunteer opportunities work that way. We wanted to rent a flat or house for the four of us. Thanks again for sharing your insights.

Public transportation (buses Quito) have two different kinds of bus stop (parada). There are major bus stops with visible parada signs and then there are in-between bus stops. The stops at the designated bus stops(parada sign) the driver takes his time with boarding and exiting. The in-between bus stops, it can be very quick and this is something you should try to master especially with young children.

Also the transition in the early stages might be a little hectic. So plan accordingly, especially if you are homeschooling and it is probably best to have all your lesson plans completed while you are still home so that’s one less thing you’ll have to worry about when arriving. If you have specific classes that require specific materials find out if they are available here or simply bring enough with you for the duration of the class.

With regards to cultural experience you will enjoy it regardless but the level of interaction varies greatly from family to family. Some move here and the first they do is seek other expat families. So despite you wanting to immerse yourself deeper in society it might be frustrating initially if you don’t have at least basic comprehension of Spanish.

Lastly try to keep appearances (material) on par with your neighborhood.

Thanks. My wife is fairly fluent and I know basic things. Kids are 3 and 5. I used to teach elementary school--I teach art now--so hopefully we'll be able keep up!

Thanks again. We appreciate the info.

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