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Moving to Ecuador: Tips for Newcomers in Ecuador

By Betsy Burlingame

Summary: When it comes to getting an insider's perspective on expat life in Ecuador, our Ecuador network is the place to post! With hundreds of posts each month, members cover current events, moving and relocation advice and much more!

Moving to Ecuador - Tips for Newcomers in Ecuador

When moving to Ecuador, people search under American Ecuador, British Ecuador, expat Ecuador and more. These searches will help you find many helpful resources such as The American Embassy Ecuador, The British Embassy in Ecuador and TDS' online Ecuador Visa Application.

But, when it comes to getting an insider's perspective on expat life in Ecuador, Expat Exchange's Ecuador Forum is a popular place to post questions about an upcoming move and read about current events such as Correa and the Media and Ecuadorian Citizen Committees.

Here are some suggestions pulled from our network for those considering a move to Ecuador:

Jobs in Ecuador

"Unlike Quito and Guayaquil which has many multi-national companies, jobs here are fairly non-existant, however, entrepreneurial opportunities abound. Many people are retired, however, once you have a Permanent Residency Visa...no matter which type you get...you can open a company to do any number of things. People here have restaurants, export business, real estate businesses, retail shops, etc. It's very simple to open a business here once you have a cedula," says one member in Cuenca (Read Full Expat Report on Cuenca, Ecuador). Another member in Quito advises, "The city has all sorts of businesses and industries, but most expats will find quick employment in some sort of education job. The universities have many opportunities for those with degrees and the English institutes are always looking for native English speakers. Small business owners find it hard to get started here, but some do very well" (Read Full Expat Report on Quito, Ecuador).

Getting a Driver's License

"Driver's licenses are a biggy in Ecuador especially if you are not fluent in Spanish. According to the police, once you become a resident you have 30 days until you are required to have an Ecuadorian driver's license to drive legally. That entails going to driving school which requires you to have 16 hours of behind the wheel instruction and two weeks of classroom instruction. Finally, there is a test in Spanish (all the classes in Imbabura province at least are also only in Spanish). After having driven 40 plus years, it makes me feel like I am back in HS again. Also, don't purchase a vehicle until you have your censo/cedula because you can not register it," explains another member in a forum topic entitled, 10 Tips for Living in Ecuador.

Opening a Bank Account

"Everyone needs to know about who can and can not open a bank account. It is not like in the States, and people who live here 6 months a year and have no cedula can not have an account and probably can not cash any form of certified monetary instrument," says one member. Another suggests, "Maintain your money in a U.S. bank. Open an acct in an Ecuadorean bank but just enough to have "escape" cash for you and your family. You have heard of keeping your cash under your mattress this is not a bad idea in Latin America. Things can change quick and not always for the best." (Read Topic 10 Tips for Living in Ecuador)

Organizations for Expats

"DAMAS - Damas Norteamericanas y Britanicas - meets once a month and does service projects for the community, we have an English book library and a play group for moms with young kids. English Fellowship Church - all English speaking and Advent St. Nicholas Church - 3 services in English, Spanish, and German," shares an expat in Quito (Read Full Article about Quito).

About Bahia de Caraquez, Ecuador

In his article, Bahia de Caraquez, Ecuador: The Paradise Peninsula, Dean LaCoursiere describes this lovely area: "Nowhere else in my travels of 11 Latin countries have I found people so open, friendly, and willing to help. Although they are mostly from very humble backgrounds, you won't be panhandled or hustled like you may have experienced in other more popular destinations. You'll feel safe and welcome walking the streets of Bahia day or night. You'll likely have people trying out their few words of English as you visit. Tour the city on foot in an hour or take one of the tricycle taxis that are a nice alternative to cars. Things to do include going to the local beaches that slope gently into the water, safe for children and the elderly in most conditions with usually only small waves, or beaches with flat water on the bay side of the malecon. Go water skiing in the bay side, sail boarding in gentle steady wind, and of course fishing! 15 miles up the coast in the rustic surfer-town of Canoa there are hang-gliding and surfing lessons available."

Going through Customs

"Check everything, tickets, receipts, passports, important papers and keep the yellow declaration piece of paper you fill out on arrival. Customs wants it when you leave but no one tells you this until you get to out going customs. When you come through customs, make sure they stamp your passport for 30 to 90 days expected stay. They stamped mine for 90 days and my wife's for 10 days. It cost us $230 fine and lawyer fees to get it changed to 90 days. We were told of several others to whom this happened," suggests an expat in a forum topic entitled, Adjusting to Expat Life in Ecuador.

Local Standards and Information

One member advises, "There are very few standards here. Health standards for food preparation, building codes, how things are done and many others are not fixed and change daily. Bathrooms are not always clean and most often have no paper. Most anything can be done in time , with the proper bribes, er, or donations for his kids shoes. Don't take anything you are told as gospel, get info from at least three people who have had it done and then decide on a consensis and then have someone you know and trust to assist you. All that being said, we are very satisfied and happy to have moved to Ecuador. Life here is much less hectic and more satisfying, Stress is reduced 500 percent- unless you are a type A addict, the food is so great and healthy you may not want to eat the food when you go back to the US. My health has improved immensely.... And best of all --YES, you can live well on $700 a month." (<"http://www.expatexchange.com/expat/index.cfm?frmid=202&tpcid=3338903">Read Topic Adjusting to Expat Life in Ecuador)

Learning Spanish

And, last but not least, the most common advice shared on ExpatExchange about moving abroad.... Learn the Language! Ecuador is not a destination where everyone speaks English well... so don't put it off. Start learning before you go and you'll have a much richer experience and an easier time settling into your new life in Ecuador.

Join our Ecuador Expat Forum

Visit our Ecuador Forum and talk with other expats who can offer you insight and tips about living in Ecuador.

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About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder of Expat Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Some of Betsy's more popular articles include 6 Best Places to Live in Costa Rica, 12 Things to Know Before Moving to The Dominican Republic and 7 Tips for Obtaining Residence in Italy. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

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First Published: Aug 18, 2009

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