Cuenca is located just outside the El Cajas National Park, where the snowy peaks of rugged mountains rise up above mirrored lakes. UNESCO has designated the city a World Heritage Site, a distinction granted because of beautiful historical landmarks that include cathedrals, museums and parks. It a has distinctly European vibe reminiscent of Barcelona and Paris, and for American expats may bring to mind San Francisco.
Cuenca's beautiful natural setting and ideal climate -- temperatures average in the mid-70s year-round -- have attracted expats for years. The cost of living is low, and the city's school, health care and political systems are well run.