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Guayaquil, Ecuador


6 Tips for Expats in Guayaquil, Ecuador

By Joshua Wood, LPC

William Russell
William Russell

Expats in Guayaquil report a variety of opinions regarding what it's like to live there. It offers a very warm and humid climate for sun lovers, but others find the heat stifling. Similarly, crime is a major concern of some, while others find that it's perfectly acceptable with proper precautions.

Expats living in Guayaquil, Ecuador give mixed reviews of their experiences living there.

Basics about Guayaquil

Guayaquil is the largest and most populous city in Ecuador. (It is not the capital, however - Quito is Ecuador's capital). It is Ecuador's most important port city and lies on the Guayas River, which flows into the Pacific Ocean at the Gulf of Guayaquil. The city of Guayaquil is located in the Guayaquil Canton, which is in the Guayas Province.

Guayaquil Airport is the second busiest airpot in Ecuador.

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Guayaquil is Hot

As Guayaquil is right near the equator and is more or less at sea level (4 meters, or 13.2 feet), it is hot all year round. Other cities in Ecuador, such as Quito and Cuenca, are at much higher elevations and are therefore more temperate. Some expats love the heat AND humidity there, but others find it insufferable.

"Guayaquil is probably my least compatible climate in Ecuador. Daytime temps will be in the high 80's to mid 90's and very humid." Another added, "I lived in Guayaquil for 4 years. It's year round summertime, near the beaches and plenty of things to do."

Guayaquil is Crowded

As noted above, Guayaquil is the most populous city in Ecuador. That does drive some people away:

An expat living in another part of Ecuador wrote that "Guayaquil would not be my choice to live, mostly because it's crowded, and I prefer a slower and easy way of life. I do not like city life. They have 3.5 million in Guayaquil. It's almost as crowded as NY city. It may have everything you want though. (Note this is someone who opted NOT to live in Guayaquil, not someone that does live there.)

Where to Live in Guayaquil

Expats in Guayaquil recommended neighborhoods to others looking to live there:

As far as I am concerned, the ONLY area that I think is halfway safe, is an area called Samborondon. (Hope I am spelling it right). Most of my friends that are Ecuadorian live there. It offers all the shopping and night life and it safer than most other areas. However, I know nothing about rentals. Another area, is called Urdesa. Not quite as safe but better than most areas.

Another expat wrote: "We lived in Playas for 6 months. We rented two different houses. The first one was nice, in a quiet area just minutes from downtown area in Playas for $300 a month. The second one was confortable and nice as well, on Via Data one block from the beach for $200 a month."

We moved to Guayaquil 8 months ago and have had no problems. I love the Malecon (wikipedia). The flowers and nature are awesome. You don't want to miss it. The museum there is also worth visiting. The Las Penas and Cerro Santa Ana are worth visiting. Parque Bolivar and it's Iguanas are fun too. I really like Parque Historico outside Guayaquil too. It's definitely worth visiting. If you have time rent a bike at Santa Island. Beautiful manglar, flowers, birds and crocodiles or you can just walk the boardwalk though you see much more biking. Awesome green parrots flying around. For upscale eating and shopping visit Plaza Lagos in Samborondon. I think it is definitly worth visiting.

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Crime is a Concern in Guayaquil

The U.S. Department of State's Overseas Security Advisory Council has advised that "Crime continues to present a severe problem. Crimes against U.S. citizens in 2016 have ranged from petty theft to violent offenses, including armed robbery, express kidnapping, sexual assault, and homicide. Very low rates of apprehension and conviction of criminals – due to limited police and judicial resources – contribute to Ecuador's high crime rate. The Consulate General advises traveling in groups at all times."

Expat Exchange members have varying attitudes about crime in Guayaquil:

One wrote: Some seem to want to brand the entire country as "very dangerous to live in" or to apply this label to the entire cities of Quito and Guayaquil. This is probably too broad of a generalization. Every city, no matter where in the world, probably has higher crime rates than more suburban or rural areas. This is the nature of cities. Also, within each city, there are neighborhoods that are safer than others. You learn which neighborhoods are which and adjust your travels accordingly. And yes, on average, it seems fair to say that cities in third world countries may have higher rates of some kinds of crimes."

Another said: "In Guayaquil, beware of people who talk to you fast, especially ones who speak to you in English."

Other Expats have reported themselves, friends or loved ones as being the victims of very serious crimes, including rape.

Educate yourself and be cautious.

Key Take Away: Some Expats Love Guyaquil... Some Don't!

If you read between the lines when assessing comments from expats about why they like Guayaquil - or they hate it - you'll begin to get a sense of whether or not it would be a good fit for you.

An expat who visited Guayaquil wrote:

I have seen in the past a lot of discussion about the safety of Guayaquil. I have just spent a week here, came for 3 days and extended because I enjoyed the experience. The government have done an awesome job of developing the riverside (Malecon). It has a theme park feel to it with lots of activities for children (free). There are cafes, sitting areas and park-like settings. Toilets (free) are plentiful along the walk, plenty of rubbish bins and its spotlessly clean.

Yes there is a significant police presence throughout the entire tourist areas but its certainly not intimidating and I never was uncomfotable.

Day and evening there are literally thousands of people walking the Malecon enjoying the Christmas decorations and festivities. The city has lovely parks and wonderful old buildings and so many other attractions also.

Another expat responded:

"Thank you for sharing your positive experience. I love my adopted city. Yes, there are dangerous areas, butuch of the city is vibrant, and interesting. My family and I have lived here over 13 years now, and I love soamy things here. There are many expats here who have lived in Guayaquil for decades, many of them working professionals.

Thank you for your nice post. I lived in Guayaquil for 4 years. It's year round summertime, near the beaches and plenty of things to do. I'm glad you enjoyed your visit.

On the negative side, another expat shared his disdain for Guayaquil: "I am from Seattle, spent a semi-miserable year in Guayaquil (married a Guayaquilena!) - now we are very happily living in Quito. Guayaquil has about 3 or 4 days worth of nice things to see and do, but beyond that it is a dirty, noisy, HOT, HUMID city with architecture right out of a post-apocalyptic movie. Utterly lacking in charm or character. In my year there, I got to know only one gringa - the woman who processed my visa paperwork. She loves Guayaquil, but then she is from Detroit!

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About the Author

Joshua Wood Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.

Some of Joshua's articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.


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William Russell

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William Russell

Guayaquil, Ecuador

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