Expat Advice: Dream vs. Reality of Expat Life in Manta, Ecuador
An expat couple explains how the negative reviews of Manta, Ecuador made them initially overlook this "working-class city." After visiting several others cities, they gave Manta a chance and realized that it was the perfect destination for them!
What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?
Describe how you "dreamed" expat life would be before you moved overseas. Please provide as much detail as possible.
Our dreams were pretty much the same as everyone has reported: live more economically, really get immersed in the Ecuadorian culture, and enjoy almost perfect climate and environment. Since when we started this adventure we did not have a particular city in mind, our vision did not include anything specific in terms of the actual city or town we would live in. BUT, Manta was pretty much at the bottom of our list, based on a bizarre and fairly negative first experience when passing through AND the fact that IL and others pretty much hate Manta.
How has your expat experience met the expectations you dreamed about before you moved abroad?
After trying Cuenca and Bahia de Caraquez, and rejecting both, we decided to give Manta another chance and within just a few days of actually being here and renting a place for two weeks, we agreed it was what we were looking for. As my husband says, regarding Bahia, "If you have to drive to Manta to shop and you have to drive to Manta to fly anyplace, why not live in Manta?" A friend had admonished "You don't want to live in MANTA....THAT IS A WORKING CITY" and we really never understood his comment until we tried it here and realized that a "working city" is exactly what we were looking for -- in other words, we wanted to be on the beach/coast BUT we didn't want to live someplace that is ONLY a beach town...we were looking for a real city with a great BEACH....which is pretty much what Manta is. It has all the infrastructure that we prefer, yet we are located in a central location where we can walk to practically everything we need. It is, I am told, Ecuador's fastest growing coastal city, and we have seen a lot of growth in the three years we have been here. We do not spend time with most expats here because the people that are coming here: 1) do not care at all about being part of Ecuador -- they are here for one thing and one thing only -- CHEAP LIVING; 2) do not really seem to have any agenda for their lives except to start drinking at 10 am, wear the sloppiest beach clothes they can find, and gossip about each other. If you want to live cheaply in Ecuador, you will have to adjust your tastes to embrace locally available food, get rid of all your "toys" back home, and cut way back on travel, but it can be done.
How has your expat experience NOT met the expectations you dreamed about before you moved abroad?
We knew when we made the decision to come that we do not care for Ecuadorian food, so it was no surprise that we would continue to attempt to prepare things that we do like, even though it is a challenge finding the ingredients and even if you can "find" them, the quality (think: CHEESE) is nothing like you are used to in either choice or taste. People told us that living on the coast would be hot and humid but we never imagined it could be as bad as it has been, especially this year, which we are told is an anomaly and in fact, is improving daily now. But if you LIKE a change of seasons and weather, this is definitely not the place to be. Finally, as many people have posted, is the challenges you will face with the Ecuadorian culture....way too many to mention here, but you WILL have to accommodate them in order to be happy here. I would only say that the cultural issues should not be trivialized, as they really do impact you almost every day. All this said, no place on earth is perfect and at least so far after three years, when we ask ourselves whether the FUNDAMENTAL REASONS WE WANTED TO COME HERE are still accurate, we both agree that they are.
More About Dream vs. Reality of Expat Life in Ecuador