A Canadian Family Traveling & Living Abroad (in Ecuador)


Is it Cold in Cuenca Ecuador?

Sometimes it’s cold in Cuenca.

It never snows in Cuenca, but sometimes it hails (tiny ice balls which melt when they hit the ground).

cuenca-climate-chillyWhen it’s overcast and damp it gets chilly.  I find myself shivering on days like that, but generally all I need to feel comfortable is a jacket, a pair of gloves and a light scarf.  When the sun comes out it warms up fast, and off come the scarf, gloves and usually the jacket as well.

I would describe most days in Cuenca as warm, moderate or cool, usually all three in the same day!  Cold days are not the norm.

Acclimatization

When we first moved to Cuenca we saw warm gloves, hats and scarves being sold at the local market.  This seemed odd to us because we didn’t see the need for these things when we arrived.  Our view began to change as we started to acclimatize.

When friends come to visit us they find it funny that we dress more warmly than they do.  But the reason for this is that we are acclimatized and they are not.  The friends that visit us are from Canada, Cuenca is warmer than Canada for the majority of the year.  We are not accustomed to the cold fall and winter in Canada anymore, so the cool overcast days we experience in Cuenca seem colder to us now than they did when we arrived.

If someone is visiting from somewhere that’s warm most of the time (like Florida or California) they might find Cuenca a little chillier than they had expected.  They may have a different experience than that of our friends visiting from Canada; they might be surprised to see people dressed in lighter clothing than they would be comfortable wearing.

As we became acclimatized from a cooler climate perspective, I can assume that they would acclimatize from a warmer climate perspective.  And with time they may not find it as cold as they did when first they first arrived.

Four Seasons in One Day in Cuenca

“Cuenca, where there are four seasons in one day!”  This is a joke we often hear from people living in Cuenca.  The changing climate is the reason that on any given day during a walk through downtown Cuenca, you may see someone in a down filled jacket, followed by someone in flip-flops and a tank top.

cuenca-climate-coldThe guy in the down filled jacket may live up in the hills around the city, and might have left his house first thing in the morning when it was damp and chilly.  The girl in the flip-flops may live right down town, and might have left her apartment after lunch when the sun was warm and strong.

The changes in climate have to do with the altitude, and the proximity to the equator.  Because of the altitude, it can get cool quickly when the sky becomes cloudy.  And because of how close Cuenca is to the equator, the sun can feel very strong when the sky is clear.  This is why people are often seen holding papers, a book, a scarf or whatever they may have on hand over the side of their head that’s receiving the direct sunlight.

If it’s chilly and overcast in the morning, the afternoon could be sunny and very warm.  The reverse is true as well, so I find it important to carry a bag big enough for my gloves, scarf and umbrella if I’m going to be exploring for any amount of time.  A hat is also a good idea during the late morning/early afternoon, for protection against the strong sun.

A House or an Apartment?

The majority of buildings in Cuenca are made out of concrete.  It never really warms up inside the concrete homes because the nights are always cool in Cuenca.  A stand alone home will be cooler inside than an apartment in an apartment building, because of the insulating nature of the surrounding apartments.

When I’m inside I usually wear a sweater, and when I step outside I’m often surprised at the difference in temperature.  When the sun is shining I quickly become too warm in my sweater, and find a t-shirt to be just right.

The difference in the inside temperature between a house or an apartment may be why some people buy electric heaters and lots of warm blankets, while others don’t really see the need for them.  The location of the house may make a difference as well; because of the difference in elevation,  it’s slightly warmer in the city than it is in the surrounding mountains.  Some people also just have a more active internal furnace than others.

The Perfect Climate?

There is a lot to be said for Cuenca’s “Spring Like” climate.  And the term “Spring Like” can mean different things to different people, depending on where they are from.  My favorite time of the year in Canada is the spring; a sunny spring day is hard to top in my eyes.  So a sunny day in Cuenca is just about perfection for me.  The sunshine of a “Spring Like” day playing off of the colonial architecture in Cuenca definitely makes for one of my most favorite places.  Days like that make the overcast/cool/cold days bearable . If you are looking for hot, tropical weather, you should go on dominican republic holidays. Cuenca has great weather but it isn’t the Caribbean.

An article by

Dena is a writer, artist, expat and mom. She enjoys being cozied away in one of her favorite cafes, sipping coffee and spending time with her family. She writes for one of the world’s top websites (About.com), home-schools her daughter and blogs about life abroad (GringosAbroad.com). Connect with Dena on Google+ or LinkedIn

More about: Cuenca Ecuador

{ 11 comments… add one }

  • SUJIT MENON August 15, 2013, 4:57 am

    HAI DENA HAINS,

    I AM FROM INDIA , AND IN NASHIK CITY WHICH IS NEAR TO MUMBAI THE FINANCIAL CAPITAL OF INDIA. I AM PLANNING TO MAKE A MOVE TO ECUADOR. I NEED YOUR HELP AND ASSISTANCE FROM YOUR COLLECTIVE INTELLIGENCE. I AM MARRIED AND HAS GOT A KID AGED 07 YEARS AND ATTENDING AN ENGLISH SCHOOL. WELL I AM INQUISITIVE ABOUT THE FOLLOWING POINTS WHICH ARE APPENDED BELOW.
    (A) WHICH IS THE BEST PLACE IN ECUADOR FOR A EXPAT/IMMIGRANT?
    (B) HOW CAN I BECOME AN RESIDENT OF ECUADOR THROUGH VISA IN CATEGORY INVESTOR 9-II SCHEME ? WHAT IS THE AMOUNT TO BE DEPOSITED PER PERSON IN AN ECUADORIAN CENTRAL BANK TO MEET THIS CRITERIA? IS THE REAL ESTATE REGISTERED BY THE ECUADORIAN CADASTRAL OFFICE ? CAN YOU STATE THE LIST OF RELIABLE ATTORNEY WHO CAN ASSIST ME IN MY TRANSITION ? . IF I PURCHASE A REAL ESTATE AS INVESTMENT TO OBTAIN RESIDENCY IN ECUADOR HOW LONG SHOULD I HOLD ON TO THAT PROPERTY ? I MEAN AFTER HOW MANY YEARS I CAN SELL IT? CAN I DEVELOP THAT PROPERTY TO COMMERCIAL VENTURE SUCH AS HIKING CAMPS/RESORTS /CAMPING GROUNDS? WHAT ARE THE RESTRICTIONS FOR EXPATS ON BUYING PROPERTY?

    (C) WHAT IS THE PROCEDURE TO START A SMALL SHOP IN ECUADOR? I MEAN THE VAT REGISTRATION REQUIREMENTS ETC.

    (D) CAN I FIND ENGLISH SCHOOL IN ECUADOR IN QUITO /GUAYAQUIL/CUENCA ? AND WHAT CURRICULUM THEY FOLLOW , I MEAN GICSE OR IB ? AND WHAT IS THE DENSITY OF SUCH SCHOOLS?

    E) WHAT ARE THE PROCEDURES AND RULE FOR IMPORT AND EXPORT OF GOODS IN ECUADOR?

    G) WHAT IS THE PURCHASING POWER OF ECUADORIAN POPULI?
    I WILL BE VERY GLAD TO FIND AN ELABORATE ASSISTANCE FROM YOUR END, SO THAT I CAN MAKE A DECISION FOR MY TRANSITION. EGERLY AWAITING FOR YOUR REPLY.

    YOURS SINCERELY

    SUJIT MENON
    SAM.UNCLESAM7@GMAIL.COM
    15 AUG 2013

    Reply
  • Peggy McPartland December 23, 2012, 12:42 pm

    Thanks for sharing your experiences in Cuenca. I love reading your blog.

    Ah, yes, “spring-like climate”. It does indeed have different meanings to different people. Cuenca is a lovely city and the people there kind and interesting but I found the weather too Seattle-like for my taste. Unfortunately, when I think of spring, I think of warm (but not hot) days and blue skies. I spent two months in Cuenca this year and the cold, rain and cloudy sky were just too depressing. I too was told that it wasn’t normal and the weather patterns are changing everywhere. Disappointing but true. I headed north to Colombia and fell in love with Medellin. Great climate, friendly people and amazing transportation!

    Reply
  • Anne September 30, 2012, 1:03 am

    We’re from Southern California, so we found it cool. In our children’s home, it was very cool at night. I wish I’d brought warmer PJs. Outside it was fine during the day. When it got warmer & perfect for us, my son complained it was too hot. I bought an alpaca poncho in the marketplace for $15, & I took it everywhere.

    Reply
  • bob sykora September 17, 2012, 4:15 pm

    Love the published info. Must experience for myself.Are there direct flights into Cuenca? I know the options, but would prefer to fly direct. Help me out. I would love to live there if the info is real and true.
    Help. Bob

    Reply
    • Bryan Haines September 18, 2012, 7:02 am

      The only was to fly into Cuenca is to fly into Quito or Guayaquil. Then the flights are direct from those cities. You can get directly flights from Miami and JFK to both Quito and Guayaquil.

      And don’t worry – what we write is true!

      Reply
  • marcie April 22, 2012, 7:36 pm

    I have many friends who have visited Cuenca and love it. No matter what kind of weather ….life is what you make it. I think it sounds heavenly. I want to visit next year to possibly make my mind up if I would like to live there . I am retireing early in three years. I am not too fussy. I can see sunshine in the rain if I like the surroundings and culture. My friends told me the people in Cuenca were warm and friendly and that the areas all around Equidore is just beautiful. If it didn’t rain a bit it wouldan’t be so lush and green!

    Reply
  • Jim Cohoon December 7, 2011, 7:22 pm

    Well, I gotta comment. We are near experts with the Cuenca cold, I guess that’s what they call a tongue in cheek comment.

    We started out living at 9400 feet in Racar and I still cannot roll my tongue to say it properly, you gotta roll it on both R’s apparently. We were cold every single day in Racar from our arrival until our departure a couple of weeks ago. So, 9400 feet is cold.The Cuenca city floor is on both sides of 8300 feet. We have moved down to about 8300-8400 feet and it is really nice here. I can’t see very having a complaint….well, at least until winter hits next July or so.

    Most mornings lately I have been pushing the bed sheets off of me because it’s been fairly warm or rather comfortable. I think it should be mentioned that the house in Racar was very large and very poorly designed with regard to warming sunlight. The house we are in now is not too large, it is what I would call very efficient.

    So, there are cool days in Cuenca and some days that might be called cold, but not Alberta cold…ever. The weather is really nice here. And if you think about it, if it were warmer, we’d have more than large spiders to contend with, we’d have snakes, other critters and maybe malaria.

    Reply
    • Dena Haines December 8, 2011, 9:39 am

      Hi JIm,
      That is such a good point you made about the lack of critters in Cuenca, I forgot to mention that in the post. And the size/design of the home or apartment are good points to keep in mind as well, a brighter place with large windows will be warmer than a home with less natural light.

      Thanks for your comment.

      Reply
  • colin December 7, 2011, 6:27 pm

    We were in Cuenca last May and June. We saw brass monkey’s holding their lower extremities. Spring like weather ? more like late fall weather. Miserable and wet. Six weeks was enough. Apart from the weather and diesel fume spewing buses, the place and inhabitants were great, but not enough to bring us back

    Reply
    • Dena Haines December 8, 2011, 9:32 am

      Hi Colin,
      I’m sorry to hear that you didn’t have any of those sunny days that I love so much. It certainly isn’t the norm to have six weeks of straight miserable weather in Cuenca. I guess weather patterns are changing all over the world.
      Thanks for your comment, and I hope you have better weather in your future travels, especially if you change your mind and come back to Cuenca :)

      Reply

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About Bryan & Dena Haines

We are a Canadian family of 3 living in Ecuador since 2009. If this is your first visit, start here. We blog about life and travel in Ecuador. Interested to work with us? Read more about Bryan & Dena

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