Amenities Migration: A Case Study on the Retired Expatriate Community in Cuenca, Azuay, Ecuador

Denise M. Bustamante, Scripps College

Senior thesis completed December 2011.


Immigration is not new to Ecuador. Beginning in the early 2000s, the amenities migration phenomenon gained popularity in Ecuador, especially in the UNESCO World Heritage Trust Site of Cuenca, located about five and a half hours south of Quito and four hours east of Guayaquil in the Andes Mountains. This study combines literary research on retirement migration and a case study on the retired expatriate community in Cuenca, Azuay, Ecuador. The limited case study includes twelve in-depth interviews with retired expatriates living in Cuenca and nine interviews with Cuencanos that interact with retired expatriates daily. According to the expatriates, the advantages of living in Cuenca include the cheaper lifestyle, year-round spring-like weather, and a slower pace of life. The disadvantages consist of the concept of “Ecuadorian time” and the indirectness of Cuencanos. Data suggest that Cuencanos value the presence of retired expatriates because they help stimulate the economy, but they resent the impenetrable language barrier and their cultural disengagement. The Cuencanos’ responses also indicate that a deeper understanding of the country and culture is necessary on behalf of the retired expatriates to facilitate their integration into the existing culture rather than trying to create an exclusive subculture within Cuenca.