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13 Expats Talk about Living in Ecuador

Joshua Wood, LPC

Summary: 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.

Quito, Ecuador
Quito, Ecuador

Expats enjoy the low cost of living in Ecuador, thriving expat population and friendly Ecuadorians. 13 expats discuss what it's like to live in Ecuador.

Ecuador's Thriving Expat Population

With the large expat population in Ecuador, expats have numerous social groups, expat hangouts and volunteer groups where they can meet one another. Expats living in Ecuador discuss:

"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 Advent St. Nicholas Church - 3 services in English, Spanish, and German," said one expat living in Quito, Ecuador.

"Here you meet others through shopping for food, necessities for the home, and dining out. There is a Rotary International group here but they only speak spanish. If you have a talent, such as painting, you can set up in one of the parks and meet people. There are a dozen expats here that speak english and most are very helpful for newcomers. Also there are about 30 to 80 boats from all over the world at the marina, depending on the month, and most "boaties" speak English and are helpul. The marina owner, an American, also runs a restaurant there and he and his Columbian wife speak english," mentioned another expat in Ecuador.

"Hang around the "cevicherias" where most tourists end up sooner or later. Also the Coldwell Banker Salinas office, where expats are welcomed by the manager, a charming lady who speaks English, Italian and Spanish, and is always ready to give good advice on different subjects," commented one expat who made the move to Ecuador.

"There are now two expat groups which meet in Cuenca each Friday night at 5 p.m. One is at Zoes and the other at the Ecualyptus. From here you can meet and greet other expats and then extend you network," remarked another expat living in Cuenca, Ecuador.

Expat Life in Ecuador

What is it like living in Ecuador? Here is what people had to say:

"This is a tourist town that only has tourists occasionally. Most people do menial jobs," said one expat living in Bahia de Caraquez, Ecuador.

"For Ecuadorians, life revolves around family. Expats are very social here, though there aren't too many of us. Most expats who are in Cuenca are adventurous, love to explore the country, and are focused pretty much on living life," mentioned another expat in Ecuador.

"The Latino life focuses on family and friends. The Expat community focuses on service projects, mountain sports activities, and traveling around the country," commented one expat who made the move to Ecuador.

"People here have one main priority- putting food on the table and caring for their family. They work 7 days a week when they have work. They sell items on the street, bake bread and torts for sale, clean, do general labor or what they can to exist. They are mostly industrious, though there are those few who will loaf, steal, and rob to stay alive. Those with solid jobs then concentrate on their children and homes. The wealthy associate with others like themselves. Most are middle class here- which would be considered dirt poor in the US. I have not met a single discourteous or unkind person toward foreigners. Everyone says Good morning or afternoon as you meet. They are respectful of older persons and help those whom are infirm and need assistence. In many ways it is like the US was back in the 1950's when life was slower, easier going and people had respect for each other," remarked another expat living in Bahia de Caracruz, Ecuador.

"The life is around the gorgeous beaches of Salinas itself, Chipipe and to a lesser extend Punta Carnero, as it is a dangerous beach because of riptides," added another expat in Ecuador.

What Expats Appreciate about the Ecuadorian Culture

We asked expats in Ecuador what they appreciated about their new culture. Here's what they had to say:

"The lovely slower pace of life. People here take time to enjoy family and friends. They work to live which then gives them a better outlook. We feel very fortunate to have found Ecuador and love Bahia. We can go to Manta or Quito or Guayaquil if we need a fix of modernization. Along with it goes more stress and a more hectic pace of life although they still know how to take time for family and friends," said one expat living in Bahia de Caraquez, Ecuador.

The Challenges of Living in Ecuador

Then, we asked expats in Ecuador what was most challenging about their new culture. They replied:

"We are struggling with the language but that is getting better on a daily basis. Sometimes you think of what you were planning to say but it is later than you wanted to say it. People still talk to you like you understand, but they are patient and they don't get angry because you cannot speak their language," said one expat living in Bahia de Caraquez, Ecuador.

"My Spanish - when caught off-guard, or in the early morning, my language ability (Spanish, but to a degree, English as well :-) fails and I am floundering. By afternoon, all is well," mentioned another expat in Ecuador.

Deciding Where to Live in Ecuador

If you're not yet settled in Ecuador, you'll want to take some time exploring. Our article, The 10 Best Places to Live in Ecuador, is a great place to start. Once you've narrowed down the options, spend a few months in those cities or towns. Rent before you buy when you think you've found your favorite spot. In terms of choosing the right neighborhood and finding a house, expats advised:

"We made an exploratory trip months before we decided to come and live in Cuenca, Ecuador. We did not really choose the neighborhood we just found the apartment absolutely fell in love with it and the price was just right and the view and everything. It seemed like a good neighborhood as well and we bought it within two weeks of being in this country. To date 18 months later we are still very very happy with our purchase. We have since found it is a great neighborhood close to all amenities but far enough from the centre of the city," said one expat living in Cuenca, Ecuador.

"Fortunately, my company hired a relocation firm. Sanborondon is the upper class, safe, and happening nearby suburb of Guayaquil. It was almost a given that I would live there as an expat with Company-provided housing. The Company also hired a realtor for us who helped with our search options (furnished, gated community, 3 bdrms, spacious, pool). Newspaper ads weren't very helpful at all. Word of mouth or realtors are the way to go," mentioned another expat in Ecuador.

"Drove around to explore area in Bahia and San Vicente, knowing that we wanted the coastal region and something close enough to our property further north above Jama. Found a low rise (one of only a couple) since we knew we did not wish to be in a high rise for temporary quarters. Saw signs and made the calls to places that seemed interesting," commented one expat who made the move to Ecuador.

"Through the internet we found a person whom totally misrepresented the rental market, however not knowing we were taken advantage of," remarked another expat living in Cuenca, Ecuador.

"We found a B&B first however the price went up to $550 mo instead of the 300 which was advertised. They said the 300 ones were taken,(not true they didn't exist. We were lucky enough to meet others on the street that told us of better places for $210 mo. We moved. Ask around especially the cab drivers, they know a lot," added another expat in Ecuador.

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Crime in Ecuador

One expat replied to a question about crime in Ecuador on the forum. She said, "Is there crime in Ecuador? Yes. In the big city, urban crime. Small town drunk and disorderly issues. Robberies at resort areas of cameras and cash. And the crimes that exist in any human environment. But we don't have school shootings or major armed robbery, white collar crime, and snipers. Ecuador is not Paradise, but it is a wonderful place to live, I think. And I have been living here on the coast for over 9 years now."

"Not a lot of crime in Cuenca but people need to us common since living here as they would in any city," said one expat living in Cuenca, Ecuador.

"We got here just as two young tourists were killed by two local guys. It's the first time in anyone's memory that such a thing happened and it's sent shock waves through the coast. Most of us think that it's an isolated incident with drugs, alcohol and bad decisions. In the last year, the government has put cameras on all the buses which has stopped all the bandits. Now, I'm sure there are still pick pockets and the like but even those incidents are less frequent. The buses are comfortable and by and large very safe," mentioned another expat in Ecuador.

"No, other than taxi's ripping you off, once in a while a store owner will try to squeeze you," commented one expat who made the move to Ecuador.

"We have not experienced any crime in our neighborhood. It exists, but overall are minor offenses such as pick-pocketing," remarked another expat living in Cuenca, Ecuador.

International Schools in Ecuador

"You must come to the campus to see. It is a nice little campus in the upscale community of Cumbaya. Tuition runs about $6,000 per semester and $1500 for the summer semester. They do offer financing through the University as well as scholarships to top performing students. Class sizes are small and there are a wide variety of programs of study available. It is a nice option to the expensive US colleges," said one expat whose children attend Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ) in Cumbaya.

Diversity in Ecuador

We asked expats about diversity in Ecuador and whether locals are accepting of differences. They said:

"It's strange here, in that on the surface, everyone mingles well and it is quite the mixing pot. Cuenca always has lots of tourists due to both its reputation as well as being such a destination for learning Spanish. Beneath the surface, for residents, however, there is not a lot of mingling between classes, as in most Latin American countries. In expat circles, everything is fairly acceptable as we tend to have quite the liberal lot," said one expat living in Cuenca, Ecuador.

"Quito is very diverse. We have a growing Asian community as well as a large expat community. The Quitenos are very nice and accepting of other cultures and people. The Latinos in general do not mix classes (the city is separated into neighborhoods of different classes.)," mentioned another expat in Ecuador.

"The majority of people here are Catholic. There are a large number of Evangelical Prostestant Churches. Also many Mormons are here helping the poor. They are very tolerant of all religious followers here, as long as you don't tell them their religion is wrong," commented one expat who made the move to Ecuador.

"The people are most diverse and respectful of other's beliefs. You find all colors of skin mixing with absolute harmony," remarked another expat living in Salinas, Ecuador.

Healthcare in Ecuador

"I would pay out of pocket if it were still available, because doctors are cheap. With my cheap insurance, I will still have to pay out of pocket and maybe get reimbursement if I'm lucky. Insurance here is a government sponsored racket, as whenever government requires something the drops and prices go up, that's why governments do it. If it were a service people actually wanted it wouldn't be required," commented one expat living in Cuenca, Ecuador.

Expat Health Insurance in Ecuador

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

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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.

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First Published: Jan 19, 2018

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