Help! I fell in love with your wonderful country several years ago and am now ready to make it my home. I will be visiting Ecuador next month to determine if I want to settle in Vilcabamba or Cuenca... I expect to make the move next spring. In preparation, I am purchasing a few electronics (phone and laptop) and want to make sure I am bringing the right equipment. I have an older Galaxy Note android and find that the apps and help are expiring, so I'll need something newer. Since my phone needs, as I am now retired, are actually minimal, I thought I would just pick up a cheap smart phone here and add the carrier when I arrive. What are the absolute must haves? Do you have subcription services such as Verizon or pay-as-you-go? Should I wait until I make the move, or can I just use the phone for 2 months this fall, with no fees during the 4 to 6 months prior to my move? Also, what the heck is Magic Jack? Is it equipment or a service or what? I know it makes international calling much more affordable. Is there a better way? The last time I visited, I had to have immediate phone access for business reasons and Verizon charged me $10 a day! Arrggh! What about Skype? It's on my new laptop. Will that work from there? Can you tell I really am an electronic novice??? Computers. I just purchased a decent though not top of the line Acer. Need to get some software. Do I need outlook? If I get Office Professional Plus, it has everything that I think I will need, but not outlook. (Quite honestly, I don't know what outlook is and don't think I have ever knowingly used it.) Can I use Google and Google Chrome there? What about Amazon Prime? I know I can't make purchases, but I watch the videos and download books, etc. Can I do that from there? It will certainly be worth the fees to have that access. Thank you, thank you, thank you for any advice that you can give me. Diana
Diana - Oh My! I thought I was a novice. Buy a cheap Unlocked GSM Smart Phone - Or two the same on Ebay if you should get pickpocketed. Google - Best Inexpensive Smart Phones and pick one. Get a SIM Card from Claro as soon as you arrive for 5 bucks and do a pay-as-you-go plan for calling minutes and some Data if you'll use your smart phone for Gmail, Google Translate, Google Maps etc.
You will not be ordering anything from Amazon Prime.
If you don't know what Outlook is, you obviously don't need it.
You have a laptop already.
I would bring an Amazon Fire Stick or two with you (They are not available here)
And maybe bring an Ooma Device (Buy it on Amazon) if you need a USA phone number for banking and to be able to call the USA and have your friends call you here for free. Far better than a Magic Jack and the same type of service - VOIP - "Voice over internet protocol"
Skype - you can set up after you get here.
Google and Google Chrome are available to you with no issues in Ecuador.
If you use a Kindle to read books, bring that with you. They are not available here.
Your Apps on your Glaxy Note will not "Expire" Bring it with you as your main tablet / Back up computer.
Vilcabamba and Cuenca are radically different from each other. Put together a 40-point check list of things that are important to you in your new home and see which boxes get checked off.
Start with things like - Access to Mercados and Shopping Access to Culture and Nature Can you drink the water? Access to High Quality Health Care. Access to plentiful & cheap public transportaion and an airport. Acess to high-speed fiber optic Internet. Weather. A supportive Expat Community. Access to volunteeer oportunities. Things like that.
Electronics are expensive in Ecuador ( unless you purchase on the Frontier - which is a whole other tale). My recommendations would for your to go to BestBuy or another discount electronic store in the States and purchase a new Galaxy or Lenovo notebook and a reasonably priced Smartphone that is UNLOCKED - ie. is not tied to Verizon or any other U.S. Carrier. Then you can purchase a "chip" here either with Moviestar or Claro - which are the major two phone carriers. Both have pay-as-you-go and monthly plans that included internet, Facebook, Whatsup etc.etc. ( all the apps that your smart phone comes equipped with ). If you purchase a phone in the States that has dual chip ability as my Nokia does, then you can get one pay-as-you-go chip here and one in the States. Most people here prefer to purchase rechargeable minutes rather than be locked into a monthly pay plan.
Re: Skype If you purchase Skype - do it on your laptop and/or tablet while in the U.S. and use a U.S. billing address for it and obtain a U.S. phone number. That way, if you are calling the U.S. from here you won't be charged international calling fees,
There are obviously "free" ways to contact friends and relatives back home using Facebook Messenger Lite, or Google, or WhatsApp etc. but for business or emergencies, it's always good to have Skype.
If you are in business or are a writer than I would recommend purchasing Office Pro ... BUT ... if your new Acer has the latest Windows 10 which has all - or almost all of the writing/business apps you'll need. I do suggest downloading GRAMMERLY which is free and is a great spell-check and grammer app. for daily usage. If you wish you can PM me with any questions that I've raised. One final thing... any apps that you use in the States you can use in Ecuador, and can download any new ones you want while you're here.
I watch plenty of Amazon Prime, Hulu and american Netflix here. I simply pay for a good vpn ($49 for 2 years) and connect the vpn through my router. Then any device, smart tv etc that connects to the router automatically is connected through the vpn and works as if it were in the US.. It all works perfectly.
> unless you purchase on the Frontier - which is a whole other tale).
I would strongly advise for someone asking if they can access chrome in Ecuador to NOT even consider this. They most certainly will NOT be paying less on the frontier. Probably end up paying more for a non-name piece of crap that will break within a week
Not so my friend USER001. You can get some really great prices on VPN's by buying long term (2 years), rather than just month to month as you apparently have a habit of doing. A little research, and you'll be on your way.
User001 said this: (I would strongly advise for someone asking if they can access chrome in Ecuador to NOT even consider this. They most certainly will NOT be paying less on the frontier. Probably end up paying more for a non-name piece of crap that will break within a week.) ..... This one has left me scratching my head... .Huh??
What the hell does have an app like Google Chrome have to do with where you purchase your electronics?
My Levono Android Tablet and HP Laptop were purchased in Huaquillas for prices a lot more reasonable than in Machala, and I've had no problems with either. No hassle to register, transfer everything from my old Galaxy & Acer laptop.
I have Google Chrome on both devices, but after years of using Google Chrome, I've switched to Mozilla Firefox and use DuckDuckGo for my basic search engine and consider them a huge improvement over Google. I also use Tor on occasion.
I would search Craigslist in your city for cell phones. There will be some stores that sell used cell phones. Much safer than meeting strangers, and the phones are in good shape, with a short warranty. I use a provider called Mint Mobile. Monthly/no contract, makes wifi calls, hot spot, 8GB data, unlimited call/texts, uses everyone's cell towers, so best coverage, $20/mo. !! I don't know if it works in EC, but I'm super impressed with them and wanted to throw it out there.
I have used Magic Jack for about ten years, no problem. VOIP means you use your computer to make the calls. You buy the app and pay for it once a year. I pay $35/yr. It has VM, shows the number, etc.
I think everyone should have a VPN (virtual privacy network). You join them online for a fee, but you can use servers all over the world. Great for people who live in countries that block access to some sites.
To expand abut the advice on the cell phone purchases in the US. for use in Ecuador... make sure you buy a *GSM 850 Mhz* system cell phone, like from AT&T or T-Mobile.
Do not buy from Verizon, Sprint, and US Cellular because all use the CDMA system and those cells will not work in Ecuador, ...
Without going into too much technical detail, most of the rest of the rest of the world, uses the GSM system EXCLUSIVELY, , ... except for the US, Canada, Austria, Netherlands, China, Czech R, Japan, Germany, South Africa, South Korea, and Ukraine. These few countries above use either CDMA only, or a mixture of both CDMA and GSM.
How do you know which cell phone is a GSM system phone? The GSM system requires a "phone SIM chip", which is a tiny phone card that looks like one of those tiny memory cards (but they are not), to be inserted in the cell phone.
First, I want to thank all of you for your helpful information. I have spent the last week or so trying to learn a little more about phones, costs, usage, flexibility. Who knew???
It was recommended by a friend here who travels a lot, that since I need a new phone anyway, (my Galaxy Note II is almost obsolete) that I check out the Google 3XL. Great camera, etc. Got really good reviews. The cost of the phone can be paid in one lump sum or spread over 2 years with no interest.... He also suggested I check into Google Fi. There is a monthly fee of $20 which is not on a contract, so can be cancelled at any time. That's unlimited phn & text in the US & if using WiFi outside the US, on international calls also free. If not on WiFi it's $.22 per minute. In addition, if using WhatsApp on WiFi, no charge for calls within Ecuador... Anybody out there who has used Google Fi or the Pixel phone? Thoughts? Thanks in advance. Diana
We were in Cuenca and I used an old Note II phone that worked fine using a local sim card. If it's any newer than that it should also work. Most of those phones have both the band's tgat Verizon uses and the bands used outside US. My Note 4 is old and it has even more bands available. We plan to use Claro on our next trip since 4g coverage is better than other providers for Cuenca. You'LL probably only have lower speed Internet outside of Cuenca. If ypu get there and your phone won't work, they have many choices of inexpensive smartphones. All data plans are monthly so no contracts required. If you pay cash service will just shut off it you don't refresh the card. That way you won't pay anything during the months away and then just start data again when you get back to Ecuador.
We loved Cuenca and plan to return at least twice a year for about a month or so each trip. The city is large enough to have everything you should need for a comfortable lifestyle plus good medical services. We visited several smaller towns surrounding Cuenca and although they were beautiful I know we could never live that far away from major medical facilities. Our visit was to dermis if we wanted to relocate totally and determined that part time would be best for us. We visited some doctors on our trip and were very pleased. Inexpensive and very thorough. We stayed in the older part of Cuenca and loved being able to walk everywhere and just sit in parks and enjoy live music on weekends and practice our minimal Spanish with Ecuadorians who wanted to practice English. If you don't speak Spanish, be sure you have Google translate on your phone and have it downloaded to work when not on internet. It's a cash economy for the most part but nicer restaurants did take MasterCard. Definitely do the two routes of the hop on hop off bus tour that begins at the main square in the old part of Cuenca not far from the large cathedral. It will give you a decent overview of the city and help orient you to where major landmarks are. Hope this helps.