Cumbaya Ecuador Pros & Cons

Cumbayá is one of Ecuador’s most popular expat cities and for good reason! It has a lot of modern amenities, including excellent healthcare, shopping, and restaurants!

It’s a suburb of Quito and functions as a bedroom community for many people who work in the city center. A good comparison in the U.S. would be the Denver suburb of Cherry Creek.

We lived in Cumbaya for almost 2 years and loved it, but there are some downsides. In this article, we’ll share the pros and the cons to help you decide if it is a good fit for you.

The Pros of Cumbayá

There are a lot of factors about living in Cumbayá that are appealing to foreign residents, especially from the U.S., Canada, and Europe.

Ideal Elevation and Climate

View of fountain and flowering trees in Cumbaya Parque CentralCumbayá’s elevation is 7200 feet / 2200 meters, which is significantly lower compared to Quito proper where the elevation is 9400 feet / 2800 meters. It’s also lower than the popular expat cities of Cotacachi and Cuenca.

Thanks to its location in the Quito valley, the weather is much warmer and drier than Quito, Cotacachi and Cuenca. The UV is still high so don’t forget your sun protection!

Great Location

One of the reasons why Cumbayá is so popular is because it is easy to get to the international airport and the downtown area of Quito.

It takes 30 minutes to drive to the airport and Carolina Park in Quito is a 20 minute drive. The historic center is a 30 minute drive.

There are also a variety of day trips to experience such as Ilaló, Cotapaxi, Quilotoa Lake, and Cotacachi, which is just a 1 ½ hour drive.

Diverse Housing Options

Cumbayá boasts a range of housing options, from single-family homes to townhomes and condos, accommodating various preferences and lifestyles.

You can find luxury apartment complexes and gated communities with pools and private parks. You’ll also find renovated buildings in local neighborhoods such as La Primavera.

There’s a lot of new housing complexes under construction with different price points as well.

Variety of Shops

Street view of mixed use buildings in CumbayaThe suburb offers a plethora of shopping options, including two malls, Scala and Paseo, as well as Megamaxi, Supermaxi, local mercaditos, and even an organic farmers market in El Paseo on the weekends.

There’s also a great organic farm, or huerta, located on the Chaquiñán trail next to Scala mall and you’ll find several organic, bulk, and specialty stores.

If there is something you can’t find in Cumbayá you should be able to find it in Quito proper.

Excellent Restaurants

Amelia reading menu at Paccari Restaurant in CumbayaThere are a lot of restaurants in Cumbayá, from fast food to fine dining. Some of our favorites are Pacari, Zanto, and Noe.

The Pacari located in El Centro has a rooftop restaurant with amazing views of the Ilaló Volcano to the south and Quito proper to the west.

You’ll find a variety of cuisines in Cumbayá, from traditional Ecuadorian food to Italian, Asian, Indian, and more.

Parks and Trails

Surrounded by nature, Cumbayá provides residents with opportunities for outdoor activities such as walking, hiking, biking, and birdwatching.

View of entry to the Chaquiñan trail in Cumbaya

There are small neighborhood parks and the Chaquiñan urban trail, which was converted from an old rail line into a 20 mile walking and cycling trail.

Along the trail you’ll find the Parque Los Algarrobos, a beautiful and peaceful dry forest.

Another popular spot for walking and jogging is the Reservoir. The city has been renovating the trail and amenities making it much more accessible. There are great views of Quito and the surrounding mountains.

Active Community

The community in Cumbayá is known for its vibrancy, with people frequently seen walking, cycling, working, and attending school.

There are a lot of students attending the San Francisco University adding to the liveliness of the area.

Family-Friendly Environment

Cumbayá is particularly suitable for families, offering good international schools and attracting European expats seeking a family-oriented lifestyle.


The city prioritizes safety, with a noticeable presence of police and security guards. It’s common to see women and children walking by themselves during the day and groups of people walking at night.

Excellent Healthcare

Access to excellent healthcare facilities, such as SIME in Mall del Paseo and Hospital de los Valles, ensures residents have quality medical services available.

You can typically see a doctor within a few days (or less). You can also get tests done within a couple of days and the results are usually available the same day.

The Cons of Cumbayá

While living in Cumbayá does have a lot of benefits, there are also some drawbacks.

Cost of Living

The major drawback to Cumbayá is its relatively high cost of living. The locals call it Cumbayork (as in New York) or Cumbayami (as in Miami) because the costs are much higher compared to cities such as Cuenca and Cotacachi.

Expect to pay more for housing, food, and services such as haircuts. Private schools can cost up to $1000/month. Our cost of living in Cumbaya was about $1000/month more than it was in Cuenca.

However, the prices are still low compared to places like Cherry Creek in Denver.


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The suburb faces increasing traffic congestion due to ongoing condo construction. There are simply more people with cars than there are roads for them to use.

The malls, restaurants, parks and trails are often full of people making the experience less enjoyable. We avoided the trails on the weekends due to the overabundance of cyclists and joggers, which made walking difficult and often dangerous.

High Elevation

Despite being lower in elevation than some other cities, Cumbayá still maintains a high elevation, which may pose challenges for individuals sensitive to such conditions.

Dry Climate

View of mountains and valley from Cumbaya ReservoirThe arid climate in Cumbayá can be a challenge for those who prefer a more humid environment. It can often be windy as well.

The combination of wind, dust and abundant plant life meant our allergies were worse in Cumbayá than other areas in Ecuador.

Limited Activities

As a bedroom community, Cumbayá might not offer as many activities as some expats desire. You’ll need to go into Quito proper for more cultural activities.

We also found that not as many locals speak English in Cumbayá, which means there aren’t as many English-speaking activities as there are in Cuenca.

Final Thoughts…

Our experience in Cumbayá was undeniably enjoyable, with its vibrant atmosphere and diverse amenities.

We felt very safe there and we loved the weather and the community. However, the higher cost of living took a toll on our budget.

Looking ahead, when we return from our extended travels, we’ll probably move back to Cuenca, our favorite place, primarily for its affordability and enduring charm.

See Also:

Watch Our Video About the Pros & Cons of Cumbaya Ecuador



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I grew up in the Chicagoland area and spent most of my career working as a sales rep in the commercial lighting industry. I still work online for a company in Denver doing sales CRM administration. YouTube is my part-time gig, but I'm so happy we can share our Unconventional Life and hopefully inspire you live yours!

2 replies
  1. Bobby S.G.
    Bobby S.G. says:

    Nice article and summary of living in Cumbaya. Thanks to you two I stayed there at an ABnB for a week before heading to Cuenca. I enjoyed Cumbaya for the many reasons you outlined and the elevation was perfect for acclimatizing before the higher visit in Cuenca. Great views, weather, fast wifi, walkable, parks, food, shopping, transport, univ, and friendly folks made it a great remote work visit. Better than Quito but not as complete as Cuenca (for me).
    Enjoy your travels,
    Bobby SG


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