12 countries in 12 years

Gringo Gouging Phenomenon


Because we live in Ecuador we talk a lot about the issues at hand in Ecuador, however...these issues such as gringo gouging happen in all Latin American and developing countries and are not exclusive to Ecuador.

Gringo Targeting

Who targets gringos in Cuenca? Not everyone targets gringos and you won't know who is going to target you unless you put yourself out there as a target first, or if you happen to be buying something and the price just doesn't feel right. Some people just think everything is priced so well when they compare it to North America, Europe and Australia that they allow themselves to be gringo gouged. And that's the problem!! Gringo gouging is rampant in developing countries all over the world and gringos are the target.

We highly recommend you read this article that we still put into practice from time to time. It will help you a lot when you don't know prices wherever you are visiting or living. Rule of 3 and 4 - How We handle Gringo Targeting and Gouging.


Not All Americans Are Rich, So What's With Gringo Targeting? Well, click here and find out all about gringo targeting.  

How to Stop Gringo Gouging
  • The first rule of thumb: NEVER compare Latin American housing prices to North American housing prices.  The biggest and worse mistakes gringos make when they move to Ecuador is jumping in too fast in bad real estate deals -- they overpay!!  Same with rentals. NEVER compare.
  • NOTE: this rule of thumb applies to ANYTHING you buy in a developing country, stop comparing prices and remember in developing countries people actually negotiate for things, even if the price seems low.
When we rented our house, Frank simply told the real estate agency we worked with, we had a budget, and price would be our deciding factor. We rent in a nice Ecuadorian neighborhood. We did not want to rent in a gringo neighborhood knowing that we would be a perfect target for, not only petty theft crime, but for paying more for rent. This is where most people unbeknownst to them, err when renting a home, apartment, or condominium, townhome in Cuenca.  

The 2,000 sq ft home we rent could easily rent for $800 to $1,000 in the states, but we don't live in the states anymore, we live in Cuenca Ecuador. Why move to Ecuador and pay North America Prices? This is what shoots up prices and makes it difficult for people who are on a fixed retirement income to find decent housing and not to mention the locals won't be able to find housing for their families.

If you have money to spend on an extravagant lifestyle and want to live it up, why come to a Latin American, developing country when you can go anywhere? 

Please do not move here and make it hard for locals to find decent housing prices for their families. We see this already happening. Ecuadorians are now having to place ads in the local Spanish newspaper requesting a rental home for their family for $150 a month. Why do they have to put an ad out? Because it is getting harder and harder for them to find rents in their budget range because of expat gringos from North America and Europe coming here shooting up the property prices!!

On another note, we have seen where some of the Ecuadorians are gearing up for the flood of expats moving here--they are licking their chops.  In the classifieds there are ads that say they will rent to foreigners only. Uh uh, of course they will rent to foreigners only because that's the "ones" who will pay the extravagant prices! Locals won't and can't pay anywhere near the foreigner rental prices. 

What Is Gringo Gouging?

It is understood that you will pay more for certain types of housing. Perhaps it is furnished or has a great view of the city center. Expect to pay more for rent in a gringo neighborhood or a 24 hour secure condo, or a furnished apartment, but you can always negotiate the price.
  • The second rule of thumb when moving to and living in Cuenca is be prepared to walk away if the price is too high, even if you think it is a good price. If more people would walk away it would definitely help to lower some of the higher priced rents here.
How do you just walk away? Well, do not allow yourself to become emotionally attached to a home or condo you are looking at. Be prepared in your heart and mind to walk away. The truth is there will be other houses or condos you will like just as much or more, if you just keep looking. And hopefully with good bargaining skills you will not pay an extravagant price. You also need to learn to walk away when looking for a home to buy. 

Negotiating in developing countries
  • Third rule of thumb: negotiation is the name of the game!
    All prices on rents or buying a home can be negotiated.

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