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13 Expats Talk about Living in Ecuador

Joshua Wood

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:

"Weekly expat Fridays at 5, currently held at Sakura Restaurant on 3 de Noviembre in front of the Tomebamba River at the bottom of the Escalinata," said one expat living in Cuenca, Ecuador.

"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," mentioned another expat in 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," commented one expat who made the move to 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," remarked another expat living in Salinas, 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," added another expat in Ecuador.

Expat Life in Ecuador

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

"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," said one expat living in Salinas, 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:

"i love it all; the relaxed attitude of most people, how giving the locals are, and how trusting they are. the low cost of fruits and vegetables, of hostal rooms, almuerzos, new foods: vegetables like achojcha, soupls like viche and encebollado... last night a friend made torta de pescado- oh my goodness; it was wonderful," said one expat living in Jama, Ecuador.

"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," mentioned another expat in Ecuador.

The Challenges of Living in Ecuador

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

"challenging would probably be trying to communicate when one hits a blank for the right words. when tired, i have more trouble understanding and communicating, but when rested it is easier," said one expat living in Jama, Ecuador.

"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," mentioned another expat in 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," commented one expat who made the move to 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 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," said one expat living in Cuenca, 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.

International Schools in Ecuador

"I love it. I have my two boys and am amazed at the academic standards. My oldest one is not quite studious, yet he manages to excel in many areas, even compared to other schools worldwide. When compared to other kids his age in other schools around the world, he is significantly more advanced. I think that says a lot. I like the special services and the close knit feel of the parent teacher relations," said one expat whose children attend Academia Cotopaxi in Quito.

"I would advise against this school. The administration is extremely bloated and are merely puppets of the school director. The students are for the most part rude and have no respect. The teachers are primarily short-term (2 years then move on) and the curriculum is in a constant state of flux. The teachers try to do the best they can, but are given zero support from administration," added another expat with kids at Academia Cotopaxi in Quito.

"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," commented one expat when asked about 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:

"Most people here are mestizo. They are very accepting of any race but do not inter-marry with blacks," said one expat living in Bahia de Caraquez, Ecuador.

"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," mentioned another expat in 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.)," commented one expat who made the move to 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," remarked another expat living in Bahia de Caracruz, Ecuador.

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

Healthcare in Ecuador

"We didn't use our U.S. insurance because the deductibles would have been more than what we paid for care in Cuenca," commented one expat living in Cuenca, Ecuador.

" I am convinced that health insurance is a scam and that the cost of medical care is a scam in the USA. It has been proven to me by my experiences and the experiences of others in Ecuador and throughout Mexico, Central and South America. The Allopathic medical system has the worst record in losing patients to life threatening diseases, but the best records in trama cases where you have to air lift a patient to a hospital. I will only opt for Natural healing methods, which really work. I have also seen in the rural areas, a free health clinic with Allopathic medical doctors offering 24 hour service 7 days a week, being ignored by the local population, except in trauma cases. These rural folks go to their local healers and pay a very low fee for herbal and other healing preparations. Why? Because their experience is that the herbal preparations work and also have no side effects. They therefore do not opt for health insurance. ," mentioned another expat living in Ecuador.

"Do get IESS insurance. It will cover your coasts in the event of an accident or illness. As of July 2017, IESS will require payment on verified income, closing a loophole that allowed payment on claimed income. The obligated amount is 17.6% of the monthly verified income and 2.4% for each additional dependent. As an example, an expat on a limited pension of $800 a month would pay $140.80 A retired married couple living on their $1200 a month pay. $240. ," said an expat in Ecuador.

"The cost of medical care if much cheaper than the United States. I had back surgery for $8,000 and I only had to pay $1,000 deductible," remarked another expat 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," added one expat living in Ecuador.

Expat Health Insurance in Ecuador

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.

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About the Author

Joshua Wood Joshua Wood joined Expat Exchange in 2000. His areas of responsibility include creative aspects of the community, research, sales and business development. Joshua received his Master's Degree in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University and graduated from Syracuse University with a BA in English Textual Studies.

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First Published: Jan 19, 2018

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