Cigna International Health Insurance

17 Tips from Expats about Moving to Ecuador

Joshua Wood, LPC

Summary: We asked expats in Ecuador for advice for newcomers. From cost of living to what to bring to culture shock, their insight is a must read for anyone thinking about moving to Ecuador.

Carolina Park in Quito, Ecuador
Carolina Park in Quito, Ecuador

If you're thinking about moving to Ecuador, you may want to explore the coastal cities of Salinas and Guayaquil or the cooler cities of Quito and Cuenca. Before you go, read what expats have to say about moving to Ecuador.

Advice for Newcomers to Ecuador

"Why Cuenca? Top 20 answers: http://www.ecuadorforums.com/index.php?topic=82.msg141#msg141," said one expat who moved to Cuenca, Ecuador.

"Be prepared for pollution and robbery problems. Quito also has a large traffic issue and makes it hard to get around at busy hours of the day. The altitude is sometimes hard for people with asthma or the elderly. In general, it's still a small city and has a friendly welcoming attitude. It's easy to get away on weekends and go to the mountains for fresh air. The night life is fun and exciting in the mariscal area. I would research the city really well before renting or buying. Find the safer neighborhoods like Quito, Tenis or Gonzalez Suarez where there are many other expats," mentioned another expat when asked about moving to Ecuador.

"1. Learn some basic spanish before coming here. 2. Have a source of income to sustain you, don't expect to work to survive. 3. Keep an open mind and expect things to be very different from home. 4. Come for 3 to 4 weeks to see if you will like the country and city before making permanent immigration plans. 5. Have great patience and don't expect the people to act in a manner to which you are accustomed. Things here take time. 6. Remember you are a guest in their country so be respective of their customs, If you don't know what is expected-- ASK. Don't demand anything. They wll be nice if you are. 7. Always check your passport for visas and date stamps. They have been known to make errors on dates--quite often! 8. Be flexible, things are not under your control. Have Fun," commented one expat who made the move to Ecuador.

"Get to know the place before you commit, as everywhere else, you have to like the place with its pros and cons. In getting a place for rent or purchase, stick to licensed real estate brokers as there are many "unofficial" brokers who will get you in trouble... guaranteed. I was a victim of one of them until I contacted the Coldwell Banker people. As far as I go, they are the only professionals I trust," remarked another expat in Salinas, Ecuador.

"This city has a little of everything. The old and the new blend very well indeed. Lots of great restaurants, lots of music the weather is the best, the mountains are breathtaking, the prices for me are just right. I really have everything here I could ever wish for," said another expat in Ecuador.

"Make it a point to meet the local Gringo population, remember that if they do not have a marked price then barter is often necessary to keep from overpaying. Rent until you know the area and keep an open mind. Realize that on the coast tossing garbage on the side of the road and men publicly urinating is not unusual. This is a super place to retire and Manta's location is dry and arrid. Makes it very healthy and with little rain its easy to plan many outdoor activities. One needs to smile a lot and its amazing how a positive outlook spreads," remarked another expat who made the move to Ecuador.

Culture Shock in Ecuador

We asked expats about the culture shock they experienced when they moved to Ecuador. They replied:

"It didn't really hit me for at least a week but then I had mitigating circumstances which brought me to this part of Ecuador," said one expat who moved to Bahia de Caraquez, Ecuador.

"in ecuador, none, but i missed the english language when i moved to costa rica. i also missed libraries. (i still miss libraries!)," mentioned another expat when asked about moving to Ecuador.

"It has been a little frustrating to not know enough of the language yet, but that is our problem not the locals. We are learning and we will learn to be fluent or at least fluent enough to live here without feeling uncomfortable. If you say hello to people you pass and smile, you get the same in return. Smiles go a long way and we are making more and more Ecuadorian friends," commented one expat who made the move to Ecuador.

"Not at all. We have traveled in Central and South America often, and visited Ecuador for extended periods in advance of the move," remarked another expat in Cuenca, Ecuador.

"Massive. The family culture is suffocating - living with my in-laws felt like being rolled up inside a carpet. The constant prodding and pushing, the basic inability to give me space to do my reading - Ecuadorians as a group have no appreciation of the written word - just about drove me out of my mind. After three months in Quito, my wife and I escaped to Cuenca, which is a superior destination any way you measure it. Notably, after eight years in the US, she couldn't handle the family scene, either. Arriving with only the most rudimentary Spanish exacerbated the situation greatly. I felt like a sack of potatoes being trundled here and there with no clear idea of where I was going or what was going to happen to me upon arrival," said another expat in Ecuador.

The Reality of Living in Ecuador

Cuenca, Ecuador
Cuenca, Ecuador

We asked expats how expat life lived up to their expectations. They said:

"We live in almost paradise. We have money left over each month from our social security budget which we save for travel back to the US to visit with our children and grandchildren. We have a maid once a week, a full time caretaker, someone who picks up our laundry and returns it clean, ironed, and folded for $5. No need for a washer-dryer or a car. We use taxis to go to "town" to shop. No car pmt., no car insurance, no gas, no car repairs...wow! We love this small fishing village and the Ecuadorian people are amazing, warm and always anxious to help. We have learned to give up some of the expected conveniences from the States in exchange for our easy, laid back lifestyle No car, no close by shopping, very little English spoken but we now speak Spanglish..lol. Periodic loss of electricity and water, water here is very bad quality but we have had a reverse osmosis system installed so now have excellent pure water right from the sink. Mainly we have learned to expect and accept tis way of life where mañana does not necessarily mean tomorrow but just not today. Our health has improved, I have lost 35 pounds without dieting, just by being able to eat chemical and additive free foods and fresh air and walks on the beach We love San Clemente," said one expat who moved to San Clemente, Ecuador.

"There are many good things about living here. In general, the pace of life is delightful, people are friendly and the climate is agreeable. I relax so much more and after 6 months or so, I could viscerally feel the stress leaving my body. We live a very good life for about 1/3 the cost of what life was costing us in Washington State. The cost of living will depend on how you chose to live. There are no set rules. If you want to live large, you can spend as much as you want. There is a burgeoning middle class. The city is constantly involved in infrastructure improvements. Very impressive. New and refurbished parks, paths, roads. The current mayor and his administration are progressive and have a lot to be proud of with their achievements. Returning Cuencanos dumped almost $750 million into the local economy in 2010 alone, probably more in 2011 as more and more repatriate fleeing the sputtering economies of Spain and the U.S.. There are many ways to be involved. I am taking courses in Italian at the University. There in an active and increasingly organized expat community. It is easy to meet people and the variety of different venues, classes, groups is increasing on a weekly basis. You are literally a half hour from the town center to Cajas National Park with its extraordinary beauty," mentioned another expat when asked about moving to Ecuador.

"My costs have significantly been lowered, the climate is more stable and the food is more healthy meaning its easier for me to keep the pounds off," commented one expat who made the move to Ecuador.

"I learned very quickly that it was dangerous for a single woman to live by herself out in the country. Instead, I chose to live in an apartment on an upper floor in a small town, Bahia de Caraquez. I am able to buy excellent fruits and vegetables, chicken, eggs and everything I need at very reasonable prices in the beautiful market every day. I am able to walk everywhere I need to go in this town, which has everything I need, so I don't need a car. When I go to other cities I am able to take a taxi for a few dollars. The people are warm and friendly and I have made many new Ecuadorian friends. I avoid most ex-pats because all they seem to do is gossip about each other," remarked another expat in Bahia de Caraquez, Ecuador.

"The weather here is great, wardrobe is mostly shorts, sleeveless shirts and sandals. As expected, so much less stress than in the U.S. due to slower pace of life and simplifying daily tasks. The fresh inexpensive seafood, vegetables and fruits you can get at the outdoor markets are wonderful and daily walks on the beach make for a healthy lifestyle," said another expat in Ecuador.

"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," remarked another expat who made the move to Ecuador.

What to Bring When Moving to Ecuador (and what to leave behind)

When we asked expats living in Ecuador what they wish they had brought when moving to Ecuador and what they wish they had left at home, they replied:

"Wish list would include: Food processor/juice maker More Tennis/Walking shoes Good CD player Things not needed: Too many shoes and purses Too many clothes," said one expat who moved to Bahia and San Vicente, Ecuador.

"We wish we would have brought a Leatherman, our Vitamix and a portable water filter. We could have done without so many clothes," mentioned another expat when asked about moving to Ecuador.

"More books - not the Kindle I was given --personal effects, small paintings, items you love at home (small and transport friendly) Nothing in 2nd category," commented one expat who made the move to Ecuador.

"Wish I would have brought: Gallons of Patina for our stained glass hobby; Desk Chair because I work from home; more towels and dishrags Things I could have left: all things leather (we live on the beach and everything molds); metal lamps (rusted); outdated computer (should have bought a new one before shipping down here)," remarked another expat in Puerto Cayo, Ecuador.

"Wish I had brought: more rain gear, especially shoes (low quality shoes here), books (not a country of readers even in Spanish), back-up computer. The best thing I brought was a small space heater," said another expat in Ecuador.

"I wish I had brought: Electric blanket, Thermos, underwear, More vitamins. I wish I had left: Dress shoes, Dress clothes, Sweaters," remarked another expat who made the move to Ecuador.

Looking for a moving company for your move to Ecuador? Sirelo offers you a simple and hassle free solution to plan your move. You'll get up to 5 FREE quotes from trusted international movers. Get free quotes now!

Visa & Immigration

Starting May 1, 2018 the Ecuadorian government will require foreigners in Ecuador to have health insurance.

Expats living in Ecuador interested in expat health insurance should take a minute to get a quote from our trusted expat health insurance partner, CIGNA. Get a Quote

Expats living in Ecuador interested in expat health insurance should take a minute to get a quote from our trusted expat health insurance partner, CIGNA.

"Income of or in my case Education documents proof of ability to support yourself, passport. Very easy process when you hire an attorney. I would not want to try to do it on my own," said one expat who moved to Cuenca, Ecuador.

"I have a volunteer visa good until January 2020 & will be getting a retirement visa. All documents must be "apostilled" and the translations must be apostilled. I found the consulate in Phoenix to be very helpful," mentioned another expat when asked about moving to Ecuador.

"The biggest problem is that the rules change often in Ecuador. We started planning two years ahead. Still, the Visa "types" change along with eligibility. We currently have a two year temporary Visa. We are only allowed 90 days each year out of the country," commented one expat who made the move to Ecuador.

Cost of Living in Ecuador

"The availability of fresh seafood, vegetables and fruits delivered to your door or purchased at the market are very reasonable, a household of two adults averages $200 per month for groceries. Rental properties range from $450 up based on location and size. You can purchase a beachfront home for under $200K. or off the beach from $50K. and up. Restaurants offer daily "almuerzo" specials for $3, dinner starts at $4 and up. Utilities are inexpensive, propane gas $1.75 refill, water for the cisterna $15, large jugs of bottled water $1.50, Wifi basic plan $25, electricity varies based on use of AC during the hot season (January - April), no AC. $45 - with AC, $100 and up. Transportation via bus starts at .50 cents and goes up based on destination. Taxi varies based on destination, fare starts at $2," said one expat who moved to San Jacinto, Ecuador.

"The cost of living in San Clemente is very affordable. If you eat at local type restaurants, a typical lunch will set you back at $2.50-$3.00. Even at the more foreign type restaurants, it is still cheap to eat. Rent can range from $250 a month for a typical Ecuadorian house to upwards of $1,000 a month for a condo in a small complex. All in all, the cost of living is very affordable," mentioned another expat when asked about moving to Ecuador.

"We have found the cost of living to be reasonable, especially foods at the market, on the streetsides. Tia Food stores are a little more. Supermaxi in Loja is a good place to shop occasionally to stock up on basic items and for some variety. Clothing is higher in comparison it seems, but when they have there "holidays" with people filling the streets to market their goods, then is the time to get good deals," stated one expat who made the move to Ecuador.

"There is a wide variety of housing available on the Coast. In my little stretch of beach, expats can purchase a home in a gated community starting at just $125K and going up to $285K for an amazing 3 bedroom home with a pool. Rentals are anywhere from $600 and up depending upon amenities. Taxis and food are inexpensive and good," remarked another expat in Ecuador.

"Real estate taxes are very low. For a 1,850 ocean front condo, taxes are $257 a year. You can grab lunch for less than $4. For breakfast a capuchino and big omelette are $4. Buses are $.30 ($.15 if you are over age 65). Taxis are $2 to the grocery store," added one expat living in Ecuador.

Read Next

Moving-To-CuencaAn Expat Talks about Moving to Cuenca, Ecuador

An expat in Cuenca, Ecuador advises others to take an exploratory trip before committing to making the move. Then, if you do move to Cuenca, leave your furniture at home since it's very expensive to ship and furniture is very reasonably priced in Ecuador.

Retirement-In-Bahia-de-CaraquezAn Expat Shares What it's Like Retiring in Bahia de Caraquez, Ecuador

An expat who retired to Bahia de Caraquez, Ecuador enjoys Bahia's very low cost of living, fresh uncontaminated food and warm climate. He wishes he had been more cautious with investments given the issues in Ecuador with the 7.8 earthquake last April. The experience has taught him a lot about buying property and property laws.

Culture-Shock-in-GuayaquilAn Expat Talks about Culture Shock & Living in Guayaquil, Ecuador

An expat living in Guayaquil has found that the people are friendlier than in the United States. He dislikes the high cost of cars and appliances -- and lack of food options.

About the Author

Joshua Wood Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000. Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Some of Joshua's more popular articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and 5 Best Places to Live in Spain. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.

Cigna International Health Insurance

Write a Comment about this Article

Sign In to post a comment.
addacomment

Comments about this Article

guest
Sep 3, 2018 10:50

I thought about Ecuador and Costa Rica and even invested in Costa Rica for a while. My one problem with Ecuador, being a US Citizen, is and has been that the Ecuadorian Govt has such a visceral and open dislike for the US. I’m very proud of my country, which has allowed me the opportunity to do and become whatever I choose and to move to a country where the govt holds it in such disdain was the deal breaker for me.

First Published: Jan 17, 2018

Cigna Expat Health InsuranceExpatriate Health Insurance

Get a quote for expat health insurance in Ecuador from our partner, Cigna Global Health.
Get a Quote

Culture-Shock-in-CuencaAn Expat Talks about Culture Shock & Living in Cuenca, Ecuador

An American expat and his Ecuadorian wife, who initially lived with family in Quito, moved to Cuenca and enjoy life there. The expat husband advises anyone considering a move to Ecuador to learn Spanish, realize that you'll have to travel home see your family (most won't visit you) and know that homesickness happens in random moments that sneak up on you.

An American expat and his Ecuadorian wife, who initially lived with family in Quito, moved to Cuenca and enjoy life there. The expat husband advises anyone considering a move to Ecuador to learn Span...

Living-in-SalinasAn Expat Discusses Living in Salinas, Ecuador

I'd say if you are retired and wanting a nice beach area where the views are exceptional. Yes this maybe the place for you. But there are many cities along the coast that you may like better.

I'd say if you are retired and wanting a nice beach area where the views are exceptional. Yes this maybe the place for you. But there are many cities along the coast that you may like better. ...

Ecuador-Highly-Rated-By-ExpatsExpat Survey: Ecuador Highly Rated By Expats

Expats have loved living in Ecuador for a long time, and that trend continues according to expats who responded to our "Best Places to Live in 2020" survey. Read on to see how satisfied and read some quotes about what it's like to live there.

Expats have loved living in Ecuador for a long time, and that trend continues according to expats who responded to our "Best Places to Live in 2020" survey. Read on to see how satisfied and read some...

Expats-Talk-About-The-Biggest-Challenges-They-Face-Living-in-Latin-AmericaExpats Talk About The Biggest Challenges They Face Living in Latin America

Expats talk about some of the biggest challenges they've faced living in Latin America. Whether you're moving to Panama City or Punta del Este, this article is a must read to help you prepare (hint: you'll be much happier if you learn the language) and adjust your expectations (realities: the roads are rough, the pace of life is slower and bureaucracy is unavoidable). Despite all of the challenges, the list of what expats like about life in Latin America far exceeds the challenges.

Expats talk about some of the biggest challenges they've faced living in Latin America. Whether you're moving to Panama City or Punta del Este, this article is a must read to help you prepare (hint:...

13-Expats-Talk-about-Living-in-Ecuador13 Expats Talk about Living in Ecuador

Expats in Ecuador talk about what its like living in Ecuador. From the lower cost of living to its wonderful climate to the focus on family, Ecuador is a popular destination for retirees and other expats.
Expats in Ecuador talk about what its like living in Ecuador. From the lower cost of living to its wonderful climate to the focus on family, Ecuador is a popular destination for retirees and other ex...

17-Tips-from-Expats-about-Moving-to-Ecuador17 Tips from Expats about Moving to Ecuador

We asked expats in Ecuador for advice for newcomers. From cost of living to what to bring to culture shock, their insight is a must read for anyone thinking about moving to Ecuador.
We asked expats in Ecuador for advice for newcomers. From cost of living to what to bring to culture shock, their insight is a must read for anyone thinking about moving to Ecuador. ...

Copyright 1997-2021 Burlingame Interactive, Inc.

Privacy Policy Legal