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Moving to Ecuador? What's Your Biggest Concern?

Posted in: Living in Ecuador

concerns-moving-ecuadorMoving abroad is unlike anything you’ve done before.

Moving is consistently ranked among life’s most stressful situations.

When you add in the sale of a home, possessions, leaving behind family and friends, along with new challenges like language and culture – you have an interesting mix. It isn’t uncommon to have reservations about moving and living in Ecuador. We’ve all been there.

We recently asked the following question on Facebook:

“What was (or would be) your biggest concern when moving abroad?”

We immediately had a strong response. Everyone has a specific concern. Check the conversation on Facebook.

What’s Your Biggest Concern About Moving to Ecuador?

Here’s what our Facebook community had to say:

  • Lydia Chiang Earning an income.
  • Tiana Kennemur Education for my kids or healthcare
  • Janis Paquette The language barrier.
  • Mike Haines My biggest concern is earning an income too.
  • Jeff Schinsky Being accepted by the locals, and the potential for suffering through a cold shower. Oh.. Availability of needed prescriptions.
  • Sharie Lieberg My husband and I are considering moving to Cuenca, and he is really concerned about what to do with himself all day (retirement blues in general). I say it’s a beautiful country to be explored…
  • Mike Haines I look forward to reading that post on ways to work abroad. I have even thought about blogging like you guys. I love to read blogs and like to write also. Maybe this can be an option for me?
  • Judy Crawford I would say healthcare for me. Getting up there in the age bracket! ugh
  • Julio Alvarado How about the quakes? Ecuador is on top of a subduction zone between the Nazca and South American plates. Have the quakes affected you or your day-to-day experiences in any way?
  • Judiel Gonzalez Money is always a constantly issue… but above that it’s crime and security.
  • Julia Haggstrom Crime and money
  • Larry Richards My wife.
  • Veronica Pelaez Earning an income but still having lots of time to live
  • Thomas Beard Sharie Lieberg – 100% correct – Ecuador is a natural wonder! He needs to travel this beautiful country for 3 months, from the coastal towns, to the Andes, to the jungle, to the Galapagos. He will never be the same!
  • Shanna Dawn The horrendous visa hurdle. When none of the visa types fit and the to-dos get to be overwhelming.
  • Terri Fullerton Abrams Besides the visa hurdle as prior post mentioned-we would like to learn about shipping over some personal belongings-furniture, etc Do you know of others that shipped over belongings? And also-earthquakes-do they have them? Thank you 🙂

Update December 24, 2013: The following comments have been added since the post originally published a few weeks ago.

  • Phyllis Dowell My biggest concern would be missing my family…especially my children.
  • Brenda Lee Being a single woman in Ecuador. Would I find other single retired professionals to associate with?
  • Lena Glace Is there an expat help once your there if your having any problems….
  • Brenda Webb finding a place for my husband and myself and my two horses
  • Pattie Emmett-Chavez I am on my last two days of a perfect expat tour of most of Ecuador. I am returning to Cuenca for another 2 months. I am concerned about finding the RIGHT location with weather, amenities and safety with easy access for travel to call my new home.
  • Ron Allanach Crime.
  • Susan White loss of free prescriptions. I take a lot of medications and wondering about the availability of them.
  • Patti Lorman Education for my elementary school aged child.
  • Justin Bonfenda-Khonde being accepted by Locals as a Canadian retiree and loss of free prescriptions.as a I take a lot of medications and wondering about the availability of them.
  • Sollena K Morginn Making friends and the altitude adjustment.
  • Stephen Fryer Finding a high school so my son can finish grade 10-12. Prescriptions drug costs? Safety for my kids.

Now, we want to hear from you.

What is your top concern about moving to Ecuador?

Please share your concerns (and tips) in the section below.

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Meet the Author

Bryan Haines is editor of GringosAbroad - one of the largest English language sites about Ecuador. Work with GringosAbroad. He is a travel blogger, photographer and content marketer. He is also co-founder of ClickLikeThis (GoPro tutorial blog) and Storyteller Media (content marketing for travel brands).

129 comments… add one
  • Stewart Apr 2, 2016, 10:43 am

    This would be a concern for anyone with pets.

    A friend of ours a couple days ago found their dog dead outside their house. This is in Lumbisi, a small town close to Cumbaya, suburb of Quito. Several people had been complaining about too many stray dogs in the town.

    Once walking my dog I found raw chicken on the side of the road. I picked it up in a plastic bag and thew it away thinking it was a danger with possible salmonella. I didn’t think it could be laced with poison.

    Back to my friend, her dog looked like it was sleeping next to a dead rooster. A few minutes later their cat who was inside the house died in 5 minutes. The poison was very strong. Whatever they tried didn’t work. Looked like some plants also had the poison. Their big concern was her toddler grand daughter that likes to go outside and put things in her mouth. This is scary I know, but it’s true.

    The police I think have been allerted, but it is’t the 1st time this has happened in this area. Again some people have been complaining that there are more stray dogs than people in Lumbisi. This is not true, but this is criminal. Hopefully they will be stopped.

    Best regard,

    Stewart

  • Susan Stubbs Mar 29, 2016, 3:27 am

    I have a rather rare medical condition and am concerned about the availability of the medications I need. In the US, one costs my insurance company $2100 per month. When I travel I have it compounded for $250 per month (not covered by insurance): the usual form is liquid, heavy and a travel security checkpoint problem. Since many doctors and pharmacists in the US have never heard of it, do I even have a chance of finding it in Ecuador?

  • Andrew Estes Mar 28, 2016, 6:12 pm

    I do have some concerns, but overall I am excited to get there. I have one year contractual obligation left before I can actually arrive. My concerns are mostly minimal…I think Manta will be best suited for me, unless the entire region smells (reeks) fishy (Tuna packing industry). Inflation and government stability are concerns. Potable water. Crime rates. Those are about all. I will have $1900/mo SS and hope to bring around $75,000 with me. If I can figure out how to get cash in that amount out of the US. I have been working on my Spanish, and now I can go into any restaurant and order a bowl of feathers. I can go to the dentista and tell him my left upper canine took a trip to Rome, or I can go to the doctor and order a kilo of liver. I would enjoy some correspondence along the way. Thank you so much!

  • Domenick in Guayaquil Mar 27, 2016, 12:56 pm

    My biggest concern now in 2016 would be the mosquito-born diseases that same ever-more prevalent. My biggest concern when I moved here in 2012 was probably how was I going to make a living considering I was in my 20’s and had no money and in fact was in debt from years of backpacking! Dom

  • Skylar Mar 26, 2016, 5:51 pm

    Well, making money is of course a big priority. But I do sell photography online and while it’s not enough to take away from my dayjob. I have had an offer to rent my home out up here with a rental management company. So between those, that would certainly help. I am also highly considering becoming “TEFL” certified and of course updating Spanish high priority! My most concern is adapting to new life. As far as crime goes, there is plenty of it going on up here in the big cities of US, but I always look ahead of things like that, keep doors locked, etc. Not to say I would want to move to a crimey area either. Cuenca sounds very nice and I love the natural wonder that Ecuador offers! This article and comments offers a world of information. Thanks 🙂

  • Phil Roderick Mar 26, 2016, 3:53 pm

    I would like to join

  • Nick Nichols Mar 26, 2016, 11:51 am

    I’m hoping to get a 2016 answer as it looks like the last post on this blog was over a year ago. My biggest concern is getting affordable, reliable high-speed Internet access in Cuenca. I can’t seem to find much info on Internet access using open Google searches. Can anyone offer advice,m guidance or share their experience? Thanks in advance.

    • Bryan Haines Mar 26, 2016, 3:14 pm

      You’re right – I haven’t updated the speed post in a while. In this post about Ecuador internet speeds you’ll find links to all the providers. The most accurate information is on their sites. Hope this helps.

      But to answer your question, there is no problem with good internet in Cuenca. But when you get out of city you’ll find the service (speed and reliability) not as good.

      • Nick Nichols Mar 26, 2016, 3:33 pm

        Thanks Bryan. A friend of mine is in Cuenca right now and I’m hoping he will have more info that I will share here if and when I get it.

  • Rod and Norma McDonald Mar 26, 2016, 10:04 am

    Crime, that’s probably our biggest concern and we seem to get mixed messages about it.
    Can a fit, but grey haired couple, walk around most – we know that cities all over the world have dangerous areas that you need to avoid – streets in Ecuador’s cities like Quito, Guayaquil, Cuenca, Loja and the holiday towns along the coast, without getting mugged?
    And just how common are the home invasions that we hear about?
    We are very close taking the final step but are becoming a little concerned
    Rod and Norma McDonald

  • Chuck Mar 26, 2016, 10:00 am

    Recent changes to vastly increase the importation tax appears to have decreased supplies of everything from food to parts. If we bring goods into the country that are made outside of the country will we be able to get things repaired at a fair price and how much does a car cost?

  • Stewart Jan 30, 2015, 6:09 pm

    Hello All,

    For anyone who´s interested I have a friend looking to rent out an apartment. 3 bedroom 1 and 1/2 bath just a block away from Naciones Unidas Blvd. in Quito. This area is very connected. A couple buildings up the street is a school where they teach spanish to foreign people. You see gringos or expats walking down the street (probably from the school). At the south end is the “Quicentro Mall” (big and newer, website: http://www.quicentro.com). They are asking $500 per month.

    Let me know if anyone is interested to forward your info. to the owners.

    Best regards,

    Stewart

    • Jerry Bauer Mar 26, 2016, 10:10 am

      How do I take pets with me?

      • Stewart Apr 2, 2016, 10:31 am

        Hello Jerry,
        On Bryan’s website search at the top left type “15 Expats”. That will take you to his post, “15 Expats Living in Ecuador”. I am no. 8. See my response to a similar question dated Jan. 17, 2014.
        Best regards,

        Stewart

    • Jay Mar 28, 2016, 3:33 pm

      Hello Friend:

      I need a house or large apartment for rent for Mid June – end of August for my wife and I + two kids. Please contact me at mirpourj@gmail.com

      Thank you

  • Norma G Jan 23, 2015, 10:12 pm

    Hello & thank you in advance. We will be moving from San Francisco to Cuenca in June. We have already secured an attorney in Cuenca who is assisting with the residency visa process. My question is about finding a reliable, shipper who will provided all costs involved for door to door service. Just household & personal items. i.e.bikes, piano key board, sewing machine, linen, pots/pans & a few small appliances. Would you please provide reputable vendors. We want this to be a good experience. And yes, we do subscribe to both of your sites. Thanks very much for your insight & time. Norma G

    • Stewart Jan 26, 2015, 7:40 pm

      Hello Norma,

      We moved to Ecuador using INSA. They did a great job of packing and our household stuff and 1 car filled a large container. It was a good experience, except I recommend getting the insurance to cover damage which we did have a little with ship rocking. Contact info.: Conzuelo Heredia, email: cheredia@insa.com.ec Phone: 011 593 224 0606, website: http://www.insa.com.ec Their contact in the States is Ramon Sierra of Sentry International in Miami. His phone: (305) 885 8161.

      Another shipping company is Panalpina Co. which a good friend says is better, but also is more expensive. Their contact info.: 011 593 02 397 0100 calling from the States. Fernando Coral is the Quito office manager.

      That´s what I could recommend. Maybe another expat can give another option.

      Good luck and best regards,

      Stewart

      • Charline Ahlgreen Jan 27, 2015, 8:48 pm

        Now I’m really confused. I thought we couldn’t ship cars (even new ones).

        • Stewart Jan 28, 2015, 9:25 am

          Charline, we moved from Florida with all our belongings and one car under my wife´s name
          as an Ecuadorian Expat returning to the country. There was (maybe still is not sure) a special
          program then to give incentive with reduced taxes for Ecuadorian expats to return. One
          restriction for the car in 2011 was that the car could not be more than 5 years old.

          Other foreigner restrictions apply, but I imagine you could ship a car into the country
          but probably would Not want to. Import taxes on cars are very high.

          • Charline Jan 29, 2015, 12:15 pm

            Thanks for responding so quickly, Stewart. Knew it was too good to be true!

      • Norma G Jan 29, 2015, 8:05 pm

        Thank you so very much for your response to my question. We’re trying to keep it simple. Just a few personal items. No car, no furniture etc. I’m thinking a palate should do it. Thank you again :

        Does anyone know of a shipper from the San Francisco (west coast) to Ecuador? Thank you

  • Stewart Apr 30, 2014, 9:02 am

    Hello Bryan and Dena,

    This is not a frequent occurence, but it is a concern worth mentioning. A couple of your readers mentioned
    their concern about crime. . .

    Yesterday morning a young man 20 years old was walking from Universidad San Francisco in Cumbaya to the traffic circle about 300 feet away and disappeared apparently. No one knows where he is. His mother is a teacher at the local private elementary / high school, Menor.

    Kidnappings happen. Crime in general happen to all such as getting your cell phone stolen in a bus, etc. But I think kidnappings happen to the middle class or someone who looks like they would be missed by someone who could pay. This occurence could have had another reason and I pray it has a happy ending.

    Best regards.

    • Stewart May 2, 2014, 3:54 pm

      P.S. They found him, alive! Ok I know this is wierd, and sounds fantastic, but I cannot give any
      details as the family is trying to protect him. Sometimes I’m not sure what I should or should not
      post. Bryan, I will have to consult you 1st on matters like this in the future.

      • LC May 2, 2014, 10:44 pm

        I’ve been to Cumbaya and know people that live there. I will ask them if they know anything about this. By the way, Cumbaya is up in the Quito area. It is a suburb outside of Quito. I didn’t find it all that nice.

  • Dennis A Jan 15, 2014, 6:03 pm

    Well, I “am” here and this does it for me and I will be outta here. This morning I was in Parque Calderon with my Marine buddy who speaks fluent Arabic. There were about 50-75 Muslims in full Haji dress walking around the parque waving the green flag of radical Islam shouting Allahu Akbar and death to Israel, death to Jews and death to Americans. If you do not get “that” message, then make sure you aren’t a soft target by going to Colone’s or Eucalyptus or other places where you feel warm and fuzzy because they have a sign that says “we speak English.” Those places are ripe.

    • LC Feb 25, 2014, 8:17 pm

      What happened with police? What did the locals do? What did the Americans do? Did you watch the whole thing?

      • Stewart Feb 26, 2014, 4:35 pm

        Dennis,

        Where is here? Do you mean Cuenca or the middle east? I’m confused because you talk about
        Muslims in full Haji dress. Where are you talking about?

        It doesn’t sound like here is Cuenca.

        Please clarify,
        Stewart

        • LC Feb 26, 2014, 11:39 pm

          I was referring to Cuenca. Did anyone else witness this demonstration on this blog? I would like to hear about more than one perspective. What did the police do? What did the people walking about the park do? Say?

          As a matter of fact, I have a few friends who live in Cuenca, I will contact them and see if they have seen it or heard about it and what the reaction of the locals was.

          • Stewart Feb 27, 2014, 12:49 pm

            LC,
            This is what I found. Here´s a link to a newspaper article of a muslim parade in 2013 in Cuenca:
            http://www.eltiempo.com.ec/noticias-cuenca/114443-los-musulmanes-recuerdan-nacimiento-del-profeta-mohama/
            It looks like Dennis witnessed a gathering of muslims celebrating the prophet, Mohamed´s birthday. The link above is in spanish unfortunately, but basically it says about 40 people dressed in arabic costumes walked through the old town streets of Cuenca. Traffic was not stopped by police so they had to dodge buses, etc. It was supposed to be a devotional procession.

            Friends in Cuenca do not remember anything like what Dennis describes, but it could be an annual procession that they (muslims) decided to just do at the park to avoid traffic. What they said maybe not even the police realized.

            In Quito I witnessed a procession of people looking to get recognition for their area as a separate province. They blocked traffic on a street in front of the congress building, but there were more police controlling them than there were demonstrators and it lasted a short time.

            Generally it´s safer to not be in the middle of a demonstration. When they happen they are pretty tame, but you never know. I have memories of not so pleasant outcomes.

            Best regards.

  • Chet Jan 11, 2014, 10:34 pm

    My concern/questions are: Can you rent a furnished apartment for one year? We plan on living there a year to explore the various towns and coast before making any decision on purchasing property. Can you buy a car? Can you get a driver’s license? It would be too expensive to rent a vehicle long term.

  • James Stubbs Jan 10, 2014, 12:39 am

    Does anyone know if it’s ever possible to import a classic, 30+ years old, or antique cars?

  • Jewel Kennington Jan 3, 2014, 1:25 pm

    Hey, Bryan. First, thank you very much for your informative blog and for being so kind as to answer questions for us future expats. My husband and I are planning on visiting Cuenca later this year to check it out. Could you suggest one of the tour services that provides informational tours for future expats? Thanks.
    BTW: I am also enjoying your site on About.com!

  • Charline Jan 2, 2014, 1:05 pm

    We plan to move to Ecuador in mid 2015. Our 27 year old daughter, who has an Associates of Science (AS) in graphic design/technology and works as a contract graphic artist/designer from home, intends to move with us (to help out her 62/67 year old parents) as she can do the kind of work she does from anywhere on the planet as long as she has internet access.

    What would be the best visa for our daughter? We plan to apply for the retiree visa and our verifiable income would be more than sufficient to cover her as our dependent, if that was necessary.

    • Nor Jan 10, 2014, 1:44 pm

      A friend of mine with a degree in Spanish says this is easiest way to get residency. He has been there for 3 years and has never used his degree after obtaining residency.

      9-V: Professional Visa
      For professionals with university degrees recognized by a national university who wish to practice their profession in Ecuador. Should the applicant’s profession not exist in Ecuador, the degree must be locally certified. The applicant must also fulfill the Ecuadorian requirements for such practice, such as bar exams, etc.

      • Charline Jan 14, 2014, 4:17 pm

        Does anyone know if “university degree” include Associates degrees [i.e., state accredited 2 year college Associate of Science (AS) or Associate of Arts (AA) degrees]? My daughters AS graphic design/technology AS degree means that she has taken (and passed with a 3.75 gpa) all of the technology classes she would have been required to take to get a BS in the same field; she just didn’t have to take all of the “filler” courses (i.e., extra English, math, science, history, etc.) required to get a BS degree. She took the courses at/received the degree from a State of Florida accredited Community College that has since become a 4-year college that is in the process of accreditation.

      • LC Feb 25, 2014, 8:20 pm

        If you get the professional visa, does it mean you HAVE to practice your profession in Ecuador? What if you intend to but then it doesn’t work out and you end up doing something online to support yourself? Would you be deported or have to change your visa?

  • Moving to Cuenca with Children Dec 22, 2013, 11:09 pm

    My biggest concern is how the children will be able to adjust. We have a 1 year old and 13 year old homeschooled student. Are there playgroups or groups in general our older one can join to get some peer interaction?

    • Josette Free Dec 29, 2013, 11:36 pm

      We are also considering moving to Cuenca, and have homeschooled our 13 year old son, since 1st grade! How wild is that? We currently live in Las Vegas, NV.

  • Carrie Dec 22, 2013, 7:48 pm

    My husband and I will be visiting Ecuador in February for a week. I have a million questions but my main concern is my 2 yorkies. Will they be safe? I’ve read some pretty awful things from other sites. Also, what about the water. Is it safe to drink? Should I bring a case of water with me for my weeks visit?

    • Bryan Haines Dec 22, 2013, 8:08 pm

      You won’t have any trouble with the bottled water in Ecuador. Don’t bring water.

    • Melita Vega Dec 23, 2013, 10:22 am

      I’ve read many readers’ concerns about the drinking water and felt I just had to jump in and rave about the quality of the drinking water here. The local water company, an ISO-certified municipal entity called ETAPA, is considered a leader in Ecuador for its processes and quality.

      While some foreigners’ immune systems would not respond well to suddenly drinking the local water straight out of the tap, I’ve met many other newcomers to the city who gradually adjust by drinking small quantities over a long period of time. In my family’s case, after spending 10 years in Canada, we drank straight out of the tap upon returning to settle (despite my mother’s worries) with no troubles. Of course, both myself and my husband grew up in Ecuador, so we already have resistance, but our son’s lack of stomach problems was interesting as he left Ecuador at the age of 4 and should have had some sort of reaction to the water or the food upon returning as a teenager, but never did. (I figure either the water’s good or he has a steel barrel for a stomach).

      Whenever I’ve travelled, I’ve made a point of tasting the tap water in different countries. I’ve tried the water in Mexico, the UK, the Czech Republic, Italy, the Netherlands, France, etc. and have found Cuenca’s water to be among the better tasting – I think it even tastes better than the tap water in my own hometown, Toronto (which has far too much fluouride in my opinion).

      To anyone coming to Cuenca for the long haul, try a glass sometime and see what you think.

      • Dennis A Dec 24, 2013, 11:41 am

        Too bloody right, Melita. Many who come here speak as if they’re on the moon, buying filters, the $4000 water purification systems (if you know what I mean (yep, there are those)) which not only prevent cancer but cure it. Those types. Back to water, it’ as good or better than New York City and never had a problem. They may think they’re adjusting over time, but they’re not really doing anything. According to my physics and microbiological background. I’m just sayin’, it’s just water, folks. H2O. Some of these questions just make my head smoke and explode. People, you are coming to another city in the world, you’re not going to Jupiter! Sheesh.

      • Dennis A Dec 24, 2013, 11:46 am

        PS: Scientifically speaking, your body will not adjust to waterbourne pathogens. Cryptosporidium, Shigella, Giardia lamblia, et. al., will do an Indian living in Bombay as fast as it will in Cuenca, or New York City.

  • Peter Allen Dec 22, 2013, 2:44 pm

    Save yourself a world of wires and get Magicjack App for your smartphone. If you already have a MJ number, just download the app and use your existing number.

  • Jewel Kennington Dec 19, 2013, 5:13 pm

    Bryan, I have a concern about the risks from some of the local pests. Have you ever heard of the “bot fly”? Have you ever known of anyone who had a problem with this ugly pest? How prevalent are these things, and what precautions should people take to avoid an encounter with them? THanks.

    • Bryan Haines Dec 22, 2013, 1:39 pm

      Hi Jewel – I’ve heard of it but I don’t know anything about it aside that it “can” exist on the coast. And I don’t know anyone who has had trouble with it.

  • Ron Allanach Dec 19, 2013, 11:10 am

    Jeff ,
    Thanks for the time in writing to us. Your comments are extremely helpful and thankful for getting “boots on the ground” assessment.
    I think we’ll need to give Cuenca a second look.
    Thanks!

  • Jeff Schinsky Dec 19, 2013, 10:14 am

    Here’s a huge concern for me: I play the djembe (a traditional East African-style drum) in various “drum circles” in the US. Virtually any percussion instrument is welcomed into these groups, as long as they are drums you play with your hands (congas, bongos, etc.) or anything other percussion instrument that doesn’t overwhelm or drown out the sound of the hand-drumming. This is an AWESOME thing to do, helping you raise energy within yourself and invigorate you, while at the same time allowing you to enter a peaceful zen-like state that just seems to mellow you out and give you an incredible sense of inner peace.

    When I get there, I’ll be bringing about 4 or 5 drums, so anyone who’s interested, please let me know. At least with the drums I have, you can attend once or twice and gauge your interest. It requires no in-depth training (though such training exists), and I can teach you most of what you need to know for a satisfying experience. If it’s something you like, you can order your own drum. OR, I actually found a local Cuencano who builds hand-drums (I can tell you where he’s located if interested; his prices were very fair).

    As a personal testimony, I was in a bad car accident about 5 years ago that left me with a nasty concussion. I couldn’t even add/subtract single digits (I couldn’t solve something as easy as 1 + 1). I don’t even remember how I started attending this one drum circle, but I know without a doubt that learning all these new rhythms helped knit my brain functions back together, plus it was just about the only thing I’d leave my house for. Without sounding over melodramatic, drumming is probably the single-most important thing I did to help me recover and re-enter the world of the living.

    Young (within reason) and old, hand-drumming is an amazing and addictive pastime, and I can almost guarantee you that, if you give it a chance, you’ll soon agree with me!

    So my concern about moving there is finding that there are no drum circles, or that nobody is interested in trying it out. Please, if those of you who think you might be interested would contact me, I’d be ever-so-grateful. Remember, no prior knowledge or skill necessary–just a desire to have some wicked-good fun and become a bonafide musician without years of training. – Jeff

  • Jeff Schinsky Dec 19, 2013, 2:57 am

    I just completed my exploratory trip to Cuenca last week. Eight days in Cuenca, and I’m quite ready to call it “home.” I talked to a handful of gringos there, and not a single one of them had a bad word to say about living there. On more than one occasion, the response was, “Best thing I ever did!” Now, my two major concerns as I tie up my loose ends and make my way back “home” to Cuenca are:

    1. To ship a container or not to ship. I would love to hear any reasons for or against.

    2. Medications: How can I find out what I’ll be able to obtain in Cuenca, and whether getting any prescriptions shipped from the US is even a possibility. Does anyone know of a good website or resource on this topic?

    BTW, regarding one of my earlier concerns about being accepted by the Cuencanos is moot, now. Almost without exception, I found them very warm and accommodating. Additionally, I never felt safer walking around at night (or any other time). Also, take Bryan’s advice regarding attorneys. I heard several horror stories about certain attorneys, but those who have used Grace and Nelson have nothing but praise for them. They cost a wee bit more than some, but I believe their services are much more comprehensive and timely.

    • Dennis Dec 19, 2013, 10:46 am

      Might I inquire as to the need for an attorney for any service? If it is for your visa and ultimate CEDULA, just show up with the right paperwork in hand, see a translator at $8.00 a page, notarised which mine stood in line to do, get them approved, pay your $30.00 and I was done. I was out 4 hours max, $130 spent and “you will hear from us in 2-3 months. Assuming, arguendo, that is why you’re looking at Grace law. I’ve heard people spending up to $500 for a facilitator, numerous trips to Guayaquil, and then another $300 for the actual visa. Steep price to pay; my time is important but not “that” important. And depending on what “wee” is. In short, if you’re not doing your on Visa app, then the law community thanks you.

  • James E Stubbs Dec 18, 2013, 11:37 pm

    Also forgot to ask if my PADI SCUBA certification would be accepted for that special trip to the Galapagos!

  • James E Stubbs Dec 18, 2013, 11:32 pm

    Saludos,; ¡Tu blog ha sido una valiosa fuente de informaiton en Ecudor! The boss lady and I are planing on a medical sabbatical in late March, early April for 3 to 6 months. Cuenca seems to be the obvious place. If we like it after our stay we may just call it home in the long run. The only thing I’ve not seen covered is the importation of aircraft. I’m a US licensed private pilot. Do you have any information on aviation in Ecuador, or if it is possible to import private aircraft?
    Gracias…

  • Laura Dec 15, 2013, 3:59 pm

    I am a 55 year old Canadian and my husband has worked for years on the oil rigs here. We are both tired of the cold winters and are considering moving to Ecuador. My husband is starting a new oil rig job in Saudi Arabia(Working 35 days there then getting 35 days off). We are wanting to live permantly in Ecuador but from what I am reading he won’t fit any of the visa requirements because he would be gone every 2nd month . Do you know who I could contact to find out further info. Any info would be much appreciated.

  • Melita Vega Dec 11, 2013, 7:02 pm

    My tips for anyone interesting in moving? Be patient, be open minded, and keep the direct comparisons to your country of origin to yourself. As an Ecuadorean-Canadian hybrid who’s lived in both countries on and off thoughout her whole life, I should know, as I’m guilty of all three of these things. As nice as the locals are, after a while, going on and on with the unfair comparisons about everything from the banking system to the price of food just starts to grate on their nerves.

    Lastly, try and integrate with the locals. Forming gringo ghettos does no one any favours, as it deprives everyone of truly getting to know each other and learning a few things about where they come from.

  • Dr. Anwar Dec 10, 2013, 6:57 pm

    How to find the cheapest airfare to Ecuador from New Jersy?

    • Dennis Dec 12, 2013, 3:10 pm

      Try Kayak.com and “compare all” button. I came on a one-way ticket but Avianca seems to go to the top of all lists. Moreover, I’ve been on quite a few airlines here and there and found them to be very good and the aircrew most professional and top class.

  • Dennis Dec 10, 2013, 10:16 am

    To all…this city and country are no different than the other half million cities, towns, villages and hamlets. Do some homework and just come on down. I used to have to be places for extended periods of time when there was no Internet. Just show up; things will happen. I’ve stopped reading all blogs with the exception of this one because they’re much more negative than they should be with even more inaccurate information. Get the key documents you need and c’mon down.

  • Nor Dec 9, 2013, 1:44 pm

    We have just returned from 2 weeks in Quito And Cuenca. We really like Cuenca. The visit confirmed our interest in retiring there next year. However, the logistics and expenses in both time and money to obtain residency are our major issue.

  • Dave May Dec 8, 2013, 6:45 pm

    Without question are biggest concern regarding our move to Ecuador was shipping our two dogs and a cat. Very stressful, but in the end it all worked out.

    • Carolyn Dec 10, 2013, 2:30 pm

      Do you mind if I ask how you did it? Did you manage it all yourself or use a service? I have a parrot I’ve owned for 17 years and want to bring her with me. I was looking at a service out of Texas called Pet Relocation. Have you heard of them? A service would cost money but might give me some peace of mind.

      Carolyn

  • David P Dec 7, 2013, 9:03 pm

    My biggest concerns are what to do with my house and personal belongings (including a few family heirlooms) in the States and obtaining health insurance in Ecuador.

  • Dennis Dec 7, 2013, 5:43 pm

    I already ‘am’ here, but the concern is that too many ExPats (specifically American) come to Cuenca having not travelled much or not at all. Many come sight unseen. If you are in that category, you “will” have culture shock and leave in six months. I’ve already seen five families leave because they couldn’t get this or that, or their favourite diet coke. Concern, I suppose is two-fold. Selfish for me but helpful to you, perhaps.

    • Jeff Schinsky Dec 21, 2013, 4:31 pm

      I know this isn’t earth-shattering information, but if you run into anyone else looking for Diet Coke, they call it “Coca Lite” in Ecuador. 🙂

  • Jewel Kennington Dec 6, 2013, 3:11 pm

    Bryan, my biggest concern is that I don’t know what the actual moving expenses will be. We are planning on bringing very little: only some personal items. How much will it cost us to get there and get set up in a new apartment? Can you tell us what your experience was in upfront costs for your move? Thanks.

    • Bryan Haines Dec 11, 2013, 5:58 am

      Hi Jewel, we published our setup costs a while ago: Expat Startup Costs. Although it was a few years ago, and your situation is likely different from ours, this should give you something to work with.

      The costs of getting to Ecuador was straightforward. Pretty much just the ticket price. I think we paid around $800/each for a one way ticket.

  • Carolyn Dec 6, 2013, 12:42 pm

    Great question, Bryan. Thank you for asking. I have several small worries but my biggest is moving on my own. I love a challenge and look forward to learning a new language and culture but…doing it by myself has me concerned. I’ve read a lot about other people who have made the jump and moved to Ecuador but it seems to be mostly couples. Are there many singles there (I’m divorced)? Are there planned activities where gringos can easily get together to socialize? Will I stand out as a single woman in a conservative family oriented country like Ecuador? These are my biggest concerns. To all of you couples out there, if I had someone to take this adventure with me I wouldn’t hesitate at all. I’ll probably still take the plunge but doing it on my own has me scared.

    • Jennifer Dec 6, 2013, 9:23 pm

      Hi Carolyn, I wanted to let you know that one of our very good friends is a single female. She moved to Cuenca without visiting first. She just jumped in and absolutely loves it. She’s originally from Boston, then to Kentucky and decided she had enough of the states. We get together for coffee, lunch, dinner etc. She has become a very good friend. There are so many gringo nights at different restaurants where new people can get together is’s incredible. Check out Gringo Tree.com, and you can see everything that’s going on. There are a lot of single woman and also single men here. Everyone is in the same boat when they move here. I think that’s why we all make so many friends so quickly. My husband and I absolutely love it here. I would recommend a visit to see what you think. If you have any question please feel free to email me at jennseely57@gmail.com.

    • Dennis Dec 10, 2013, 9:46 am

      Just come on in, the water is fine. The ExPat community is most helpful and there are plenty of doubles or singles to hang around with. Watch out for the conspiracy groups, however. This place seems to attract them, but they’re in their on groups.

    • Jeff Schinsky Dec 19, 2013, 9:30 am

      Carolyn: Check out the website meetup.com and search for “Cuenca Singles.” (The home page is at … but I’m not sure if you can get there directly without creating a meetup account first. Meetup is free, in essence, though individual groups pay a small fee to have their group hosted on the site (used to be $12 per month, but that’s usually offset by each member making a small donation for each event they attend). Currently, the site shows that there are approximately 145 singles in Cuenca, and they appear to have regular get-togethers. Just so you know, meetup.com is not a dating site, per se, but a site where anyone with a specific interest can create their own meetup group, regardless of whether your interest is basket-weaving, hiking, fine dining, etc. I’m thinking about creating one for Drum Circles when I get back to Cuenca, assuming I can generate enough interest to make it viable.

  • sasha and patrick Dec 6, 2013, 11:43 am

    Is there any expat art community in Cuenca? We are planning on moving to Ecuador; going on our first 2-3 weeks exploring tour in March. Would greatly appreciate few friends to help us find our way around.

  • Donald Bosch Dec 6, 2013, 10:42 am

    My biggest fear is that certain types of expats will ruin the country as they have done in many other venues. Many expats come to Ecuador and expect to have everything they had at home, and at half the price. One question begs to be answered? “What makes you so special that you wish to change a country so that they adapt to your needs?”

    Expats who come to Ecuador for the right reasons, meaning to become a part of the country and help develop it in a sustainable manner and who learn the language, the customs, and the proper manner to do things are more than welcome and encouraged to participate in the growth of the country by its citizens and its government.

    This is not Canada, the USA or Europe. Things are different……………if anyone thinksd that by changing those things to match what they had in their country, then guess what?….they are right back to where they started from………….people are the same worldwide. Greedy, Angry, Kind, Loving, Envious….those emotions do not change from one country to another. When you find a country where the population is still definitely caught up in a bit of innocence and kindness, as well as very strong feelings of community and spiritual and a thirst for knowledge, as a guest and newcomer you should have the decency to bring to them what they are missing and you should subscribe to a higher level of necessity that that of your own. What people did in Canada or the USA to “grab our piece of the pie” should not be carried back to Ecuador, at least not in the same manner, as it will ultimately ruin the place for those of us who came here to retire in peace and relative harmony. Best to blend in and contribute and start thinking about how you can do something for the country as opposed to doing something for yourself. That fundamental thought process will make expats a most welcome addition to a country that has so much to offer, and will offer it in its own good time. Remember that rapid growth and rapid changes are one of the reasons the USA,l Europe and Canada are not as sustainable as they used to be for many of us. why would anyone want to see the same result here so quickly?

    Those expats, and we all know the type, who come to Ecuador with expectations commensurate with what they ran away from in the first place are making life difficult for Ecuadoreans and good expats alike.

    If you do not do your due diligence properly, pay way too much for a property or a service, and if you do not wish to learn the language or the customs, then you should simply stay where you are. So many people complain about the influx of foreigners into america, who do not learn English, yet they come to Ecuador and learn nothing even after multiple years here. That is a clear indication of a lack of respect for your host country….sound familiar? We hear it in Europe and in Canada and the USA all the time.

    Ecuador is a paradise to be developed, but with a mindset of sustainability. the people here are humble and kind and ask only that we teach them, and in the right way. Making real estate prices rise to the extent where locals will never be able to afford a house is another typical Expat deficiency, Those agents that did it in the USA and Europe caused a bubble in Costa Rica, Panama, etc… and now they come here to do the same. All these newsletters that spew out garbage and tips on flipping properties are to be held responsible as well.

    Basically, if we expats do not start thinking about the consequences of a few bad eggs and our responsibility to out them and at least educate them, this paradise will not be such a wonderful place in a very short time. We will be vilified, and in Cuenca the process has already started.

    I know I will get some nasty feedback for this comment, but hopefully I can count on those people who are indeed in Ecuador for the right reasons to at least consider the responsibilities that we have to this nation, its people and our integrity as guests first, residents later.

    • Stewart Dec 6, 2013, 10:18 pm

      Donald,

      I’m not going to vilify what you wrote. A lot of it makes sense. There have been foreign companies here for quite some time such as Chevron that do their share of taking in the Amazon region and not cleaning up after themselves. Also government in general I think is usually made up of greedy politicians. President Correa and his party has done good things for Ecuador, but don’t be too nieve that it’s all for the good of the people without something in return.

      There has been a lot of changes (i.e. minimum wage has risen although still about $400 / mo.), but it will still take time to change people’s mindset. There are many Ecuadorians from indian (Inca) descent who still feel a class difference with the Europeans and North Americans and also the latins (like myself) of European descent. Getting along like speaking Spanish and being courteous and helping when you can goes a long way. Try to remember you will meet many people in need. Have some empathy, and they will go out of their way to help you if they can.

      Best regards.

    • Phil Dec 7, 2013, 4:30 am

      Donald,
      I appreciate your honesty. This is what I need to hear. I plan to visit soon to see things as they are before settling down there. I hope to learn Spanish before that time (2015). I presently work as a Chemist at a power plant in Mississippi. Perhaps I can volunteer my knowledge and experience in water treatment. Anyway, I want to contribute in some way in gratitude to the people there.
      Thanks for your comment.
      Phil

    • Alex Machina Dec 7, 2013, 11:48 am

      Excellent comments, Don. Very perceptive and honest. You’re the kind of person I would like to know.

    • Jennifer Dec 7, 2013, 4:46 pm

      Amen Donald…..Your comment is so perfectly stated. We are in their country not ours. We need to adapt to their culture, and their language and not expect Ecuadorians to change who they are. We are here to learn about a different culture, not to change anything about who the Ecuadorians are. We love this country. But this is their country…….not ours.

      • John Pollock Dec 8, 2013, 10:24 am

        Thank you all for the comments. My wife and I are looking forward to visiting after the first of the year. We are also excited about the possibility of retiring to Cuenca. The insight of these posts has been very helpful. People who want what the U.S. has to offer should stay in the U.S. Thank you all again for the posts.

      • Dennis Dec 10, 2013, 9:52 am

        Bingo, Jennifer.

    • Dennis Dec 10, 2013, 9:50 am

      Right, Donald. But having been here now for four months, I can probably say the ExPats, whilst being absorbed into the communities, will never change it. This country is more ingrained in it’s ways than even Spain or Italy. ExPats and/or Americans will never change this place. And believe me, the country is not adapting to our needs. If one can’t find what they want or not happy they can’t get their diet Dr. Pepper, they will go back like so many of the 40% + folks do.

    • Dennis Dec 17, 2013, 10:58 am

      Oy, vey! I haven’t read a novella in years. Good points, but “brevity” should prevail in some instances.

    • Dennis Dec 19, 2013, 6:11 pm

      Ouch, a novella. “Almost” sounds a bit like an agenda and/or political/ecology platform. Possibly better suited on FaceBook, perhaps? Let Correa handle the politics and the Amazon; it’s his and the peoples’ country. Sounds like a beef (as it were).

  • Stan Dec 6, 2013, 7:11 am

    Stable goverment,not sure about some of the things I have read

  • Carol Mitchell Dec 5, 2013, 6:15 pm

    Hi Bryan, just love your newsletters, been getting them for about a year now. I’m writing from Ontario, where winter has already started with a dump of snow at the end of November. My greatest concern, for us moving to Ecuador is our ages 79 and 69 years, and health care. Health insurance is too expensive to purchase, and so I ask can we purchase health insurance once we are in Ecuador, or are we too old? What is the public health care like in Ecuador or should we be looking at the private system? Thanks Bryan Merry Christmas to you and your family.

  • Victoria McBride Dec 5, 2013, 3:48 pm

    I need to bring some useful electronic gear with me. What is the best way? A third suitcase on the flight or what?
    I think it would be too heavy to take as carry on. Is it safe from theft in the hold of the plane?

    • Dennis Dec 20, 2013, 9:21 am

      Is it safe in the holds of the planes? Are you serious? The cargo bay is usually depressurised if not carrying animals. Is an impossibility for equipment not to be safe. There are electronics stores here too! Even have cable, running water and flush toilets!

    • Jeff Schinsky Dec 21, 2013, 4:39 pm

      Victoria, if you’re referring to a desktop computer–and I can’t remember exactly where I read this–but one individual supposedly took all the important “guts” out of his/her desktop PC and stashed them in their luggage. Upon arriving in Ecuador, they bought a relatively inexpensive desktop case (which usually will include the power supply) and re-installed the innards. Boom–desktop up and running again.

      And to echo the other responder, I’ve seen how checked luggage gets literally thrown about in the cargo hold, no concern at all for anything that might be fragile. Definitely don’t go that route for anything not built to withstand some considerable abuse.

  • Bill Smith Dec 5, 2013, 2:50 pm

    My biggest concern is the process obtaining a retirement visa. I’m hearing too many stories of people having to jump through hoops no matter how proactive they try to be and at the same time being ripped off by lawyers.

    • Jennifer Dec 7, 2013, 4:54 pm

      Hi Bill……You’re absolutely correct about the visa process. It has been an absolute nightmare for my husband and myself. We have been here since May and every time we turn around there is another change in the requirements. We decided to do this on our own, but now I’m thinking we should have hired a lawyer. The problem with Cuenca is they have nothing online to tell you what exactly is required. We were told twice that our papers were fine. We went in to finalize and then something else was wrong. We are leaving to go back to the states on Tuesday and hopefully will be able to get back into Ecuador upon our return. My suggestion to you is to contact immigration in Cuenca and talk to the supervisor…..her name is Andrea. She has been the only person in immigration that has helped us with our paper work. She is fantastic. Good luck!

      • Dennis Dec 10, 2013, 10:07 am

        Hi, all. I hear so much about this, but I had my documents translated one week by a young lady in the Cuenca Youth Orchestra and the next week I applied and had one typo. That was changed and the next day I was done. Total cost: $90 for the translations (about 11 pages) and $30 for the app. Mine was a snap (provided you have the documents). Straightforward bachelor as I am, I only had three docs I think. The birth certificate was available to them, but they said hold on to it for the Cedula. Once it is approved, it’s another $300. Do it yourself and take a week or ten days or see a lawyer, pay 1500 and hold your breath.

    • Dennis A Dec 20, 2013, 9:32 am

      Yours seem to be one of the few, real questions, Bill Smith. I just wrote a glowing report on GT for a Cristabell. She translates only and has them notarised which is all you need; you are done. The only hoops you need to jump through are the ones back home in getting the correct documents. Have them translated in Cuenca by her or others, they get the notary and you are done. All the other posts pushing “you’d better get a lawyer” I have to ascertain, have something to do with the lawyer or working with someone’s “facilitator”. My documents were translated at X per sheet plus $30.00 application fee and you may ave to wait once or twice (assuming your documents are in order) 2-4 hours. Mine were accepted immediately. I was all-in for $90 translation and $30 for the fee. About 9 actual business days from front to back. The visa will cost $300. Anything else, a lawyer, a “facilitator” is a waste of $500 – $1500 depending on whom you get. Doing it yourself is easier and faster, not longer and harder. **Assuming, arguendo, that you bring your correct document.s

  • david Dec 5, 2013, 1:40 pm

    altitude,find suitable economic place to live,integrate into the country

  • Alice Goers Dec 5, 2013, 1:33 pm

    I already live in Ecuador and I have NO concerns with one exception. All of my income comes from the US government. What will happen if that ceases? So, you see, I have no concerns regarding Ecuador. I love living in Cuenca and this is my home.

    • Dennis Dec 10, 2013, 10:11 am

      Well at least the US hasn’t shut down the banking system yet. But that day may come.

  • Ron Allanach Dec 5, 2013, 12:46 pm

    I was excited to spend some months in Cuenca when we retire 2/2015. Then I read the stories and then the US State Dept advisories about the crime rate there – the fact that the Govt spends very little on the police and judiciary and the chances of becoming a victim very well. Then I looked on Google where one can compare cities around the world. There I learned the fear of crime to be quite high in Cuenca. I am so disappointed.,

    • Jeff Schinsky Dec 19, 2013, 3:08 am

      Hi, Ron…

      I just spent a little over a week in Cuenca, and I never saw of heard of any significant criminal activity. Though my visit was brief, I saw plenty of polite policemen patrolling the city, and no matter where I went–day or night–I always felt safe. The next time you look at the US State Depts’ stats, look at the NUMBER of incidences and the time period over which they happened. It’s a microscopic drop in the bucket compared to any place I’ve ever lived. in the US. I did also spend one full day in Quito, and although everyone was pleasant enough, I do feel that I’d be more wary walking around at night alone. But Cuenca? The whole feel of the place is completely different. Don’t let that exaggerated report by the State Department throw you off–go back and read it again, being careful to observe the time-span over which these crimes were committed, then compare those numbers to any comparably sized city in the US. FYI, I’m moving back to Cuenca just as soon as I can get affairs wrapped up on both ends. – Jeff

      • Dennis Dec 19, 2013, 10:55 am

        Crime has dropped measurably in Ecuador for the last four years and Cuenca, specifically. Don’t believe any blog or post you read; chances are it was written by someone who has never been or are planning on coming and only parroting what they read on someone else’s hand-wringing site. I have been out at all ours of the night (after11.00 and on) and in some pretty dodgy places. I’ve been here 90 days and have been in one end of the other and nothing. And I speak with some authority as I spent the last 28 years in New York City. It’s all people who want to make it tough on others coming to Cuenca.

  • Sandra Orlando Dec 5, 2013, 12:11 pm

    I have already emigrated once… from The UK to the US, almost 30 years ago. And in the beginning there was a bit of culture shock involved. Even though we speak the same language, some things are done differently here than in the UK. Some grocery items that we thought were unavailable turned out to there all the time; they’re just called something else, here. These were minor problems, easily solved or worked around because we could ask somebody. However, if there’s a language barrier, minor irritations can become major obstacles. What do you do, for example, if there’s a computer glitch and you get an electricity bill for $3,000.00 instead of $30.00, and you don’t speak the language muy bien? It’s all well and good being able to greet people and ask where the pharmacy is, but how do you explain to the guy in the hardware store that you need this or that widget or grommet, or a screw with a certain thread. How do you go about getting a driver’s license? OK, I know the answer to that one… you don’t need a car. But you get the general idea. These are the kinds of things that would bother me.

    I don’t have any plans to move to Ecuador on a permanent basis, but I may spend several months a year there and/or other countries in Latin America. To that end, I’ve already started the language learning process. Maybe by the time I get there, I’ll actually be able to understand what the person says in reply when I ask where the pharmacy is!

    • Carolyn Dec 6, 2013, 12:52 pm

      I have no answers to your questions. I haven’t made the move to Ecuador yet. But your post made me laugh out loud…..”and you don’t speak the language muy bien”. Ha! I have the same worries except mine usually involve me standing in the grocery line with five people behind me listening to my weak attempt at Spanish and all of them wishing I’d just go back to the US. It’s nice to kow we all share the same concerns. Thanks.

    • Dennis Dec 19, 2013, 11:03 am

      Well you’re certainly going to miss your Wimpy burger fast food if you’re coming to Cuenca. I can’t get a 1/3 of my goodies I used to snack on and drink, but food was the least of my worries in making a life-altering permanent one-way ticket move to Cuenca. A long time ago Sandra I was in a military position when I was just told, “you need to be in Istanbul at noon tomorrow.” Not buts, no Internet, no cell phones, here’s the brief, get. This is just-another-city with running water, candy bars and if you get a $3000 electric bill you take it to the company and ask to speak with someone who speaks English. So I hope I answered 98% of your concerns. Oh, the pharmacy? It’s Farmacia. My intuition tells me to stay in the US or UK and you may be a lot happier. And a big PS: you don’t want a drivers license. DA

  • Dennis Fahey Dec 5, 2013, 12:04 pm

    Our biggest concern is the availability and cost of prescription medications, including several that are very expensive here in the states.

    • Jeff Schinsky Dec 19, 2013, 3:00 am

      Hi, Dennis…

      I have the same concerns. I’m searching the web to see if I can find any good resources on the topic. I’ll be glad to share with you if I find anything. I’d appreciate it if you wouldn’t mind sharing with me as well. Cheers! – Jeff

  • Lily Ann Fouts Dec 5, 2013, 10:51 am

    I lived in Mexico for 5 years so already speak the language and have something of an idea of what to expect culturally, though I realize there are some significant differences between Mexico and other Latin American countries. I was on a brief (2 week) trip to Ecuador (most of which was in the Galapagos) in 2008 and have been itching to go back ever since. My husband also speaks Spanish and we’re both very excited to move to Ecuador for a couple of months in 2014 to give it a “test drive.” If we like it as much as we think we will, we may consider moving down there permanently for at least a significant portion of every year. We’re very interested in Loja. I really don’t have any serious concerns about moving except perhaps the logistics of getting our cat down (if we decide to move permanently), figuring out what to do to safeguard our home during the months we would be back in the U.S. (would it be pretty easy to get a reliable house- and pet-sitter??), and being semi-far away from family, though we would probably get to see them all at least once per year if things go the way we’re planning them…

    • Barry Dec 16, 2013, 8:34 pm

      Hi, Lily Ann.

      Where is your home in the U.S.? I have done long-term house and pet-sitting previously (Evergreen Club, Affordable Travel Club), and I may be able to help you out if you live somewhere that I might find to be interesting.

      My e-mail address is: americanosincero@yahoo.com

      • Lily Ann Fouts Dec 17, 2013, 2:51 pm

        Haha! We are nomadic! No permanent home; we move every 3-6 months for work contracts and kitty comes with us. Next year we should have a motorhome which will make our U.S. moves a lot easier. However, if we move to Ecuador for a significant portion of each year we may move our cat down there permanently, and we would need a pet sitter and house sitter down there (right now we are actually more interested in Loja than Cuenca as a place to live) for the months we are back in the US. In the U.S., our relatives care for our cat when we are abroad.

    • Judi Mar 2, 2015, 7:30 pm

      Hi Lily Ann,

      I’m planning an extended trip to Ecuador sometime between April and June, and I just wondered if you ended up moving there? And if so, are you looking for a sitter for your cat? I’ve done a lot of pet-sitting (and traveling) and am looking for my next location! 🙂

  • Christine Carlton Dec 5, 2013, 10:01 am

    We were looking at possibly moving to Ecuador and we have a concern that they have turned over 90% of the rights to oil to China. This concerns me on several levels but especially environmentally. China is not known for being care takers of the earth. It also concerns me if this deal does not work out as planned that the debt to China would be very high. I am concerned about in the future property being taken from Americans and redistributed as it was many years ago in Nicaragua. Finally, a little bit concerned about the stories of home invasions in Ecuador. I would love to know what people living there feel about my concerns. We are now thinking that Europe may be a better option. Thoughts?????

    • Scott Valentine Dec 7, 2013, 10:30 pm

      Hey Brian, I am heading down your way this spring and wondering if you know people who drive through
      Mexico to get to Equador any input would be great, I have been following you guys for awhile,wish me well,Scott

    • Stewart Dec 21, 2013, 7:26 am

      Hello Christine,
      These are valid questions that are most in the minds of people from the US.
      It’s kind of like the weather in the US. Whether there’s a real threat of a
      hurricane hitting Florida or a gulf state or not, the media hype and the way
      they curve satellite images on your tv makes something that’s really far
      away and not a threat super close. They like to stress you out .

      Regarding property invasion, Who would be doing the invading? It was true
      in years past that if you had a property in the countryside and it wasn’t fence
      in you ran the risk of squatters living there. If you didn’t have your deed papers
      in order and just let them live there, the government sometimes assumed
      they had a right to the property because the owner had not done anything
      about it. Now in general it’s different. Mostly the government can do “eminent
      domain” like in the USA or they’ll confiscate what’s yours for not paying taxes
      until they have the value of what you owe.

      Still you have to be careful. Don’t flaunt or even talk about what you have if possible.
      It’s rare but true. A cousin of mine (don’t know how many times removed) was going
      out with a Columbian guy (we have very good Columbian friends by the way) who only
      wanted her for her parent’s money. He found out they were buying a house. Immediately
      he thought they had money apparently. Didn’t matter that it was with a loan.

      He and the girl disappeared in 2011. There was a ransome note. The police did heavy
      searches but no good. They eventually found her remains this year in or close to
      Columbia. Enough reality.

      Life is good in Ecuador if you’re careful.

      Best regards,
      Stewart

  • Mitch Diaco Dec 5, 2013, 9:54 am

    How about political stability? The left-leaning countries are too often mirred into turmoil and instability… Also, how about the general negative attitude towards Americans? It would be interesting to know this side of the story, besides the low cost of groceries or dining out.

    • Jennifer Dec 5, 2013, 11:08 am

      We have felt extremely safe in Ecuador. We live in Cuenca and there is no turmoil here. Watching the news I’m glad were here right now and not in the states. I love my country don’t get me wrong, but our government needs help. We have found Cuencano’s to be extremely kind and friendly. If planning a move Spanish is a must. In Cuenca there are a lot of English speaking people, but they love for us to at least try to use Spanish. We’ve been here since May and are able to just get by. January is our date to begin our lessons. As far as groceries…….they are expensive here. It’s almost less money to dine out at the hundreds of restaurants here. If you decide to make the move the best place to get your groceries especially meat, produce, and vegies would be at the many mercados located within the city.

      • Carolyn Dec 6, 2013, 1:00 pm

        Jennifer, I’m just a little confused. You said groceries are expensive there. Are you saying they’re cheaper at the mercados? Are mercados different than grocery stores? Thanks.

        • Jennifer Dec 6, 2013, 9:56 pm

          Hi Carolyn, The mercados are huge markets where they sell fruits, vegies, and meat and seafood. Typically the price is much cheaper than buying in a supermarket like Super Maxi, or Coral. What’s very interesting is the grocery stores like Super Maxi, and Coral will mark up their prices on things like ketchup, mustard, spices, soups etc because that’s what the expat community wants. It’s ridiculous when you can buy an Ecuador brand of ketchup for 2.00 less than you can Hunts. (just an example). We have found that our biggest expense in Ecuador is our groceries. Once we figure that out our expenses will be so much lower. When we moved here I think we still thought we could eat the same way we did in the states. That’s not true. Food is different here. It may take some time but slowly and surely we are getting it. We buy at the mercados for meat, fruit, and vegies. We get the rest of our food from the grocery stores, but buy their brand, not the American brand.

      • LC Dec 6, 2013, 11:39 pm

        Carolyn,

        Do you mean products like you would get in the US? Like processed foods? If that’s what you are talking about, I believe I had head they are expensive because they have to import them. If you eat whole foods instead of processed foods, then your cost would be lower.

        • Jennifer Dec 7, 2013, 5:05 pm

          Hi Carolyn, Yes it’s the processed food here that’s going to cost you more. My husband has had a very difficult time with the foods here. He still wants what he had in the states. That’s not going to happen here. We are getting so much better by going to the mercados and buying fruits, veggies, and meat. The fruits here are incredible. Our diet has completely changed. My husband has lost almost 35 pounds, and as you know women lose 1/2 that amount. If you really watch what you buy and where you buy you can save a lot of money on groceries. We are still new to Ecuador and still have a lot to learn.

          • Carolyn Dec 20, 2013, 4:58 pm

            Thank you to everyone who replied. It sounds like if you can eat like the natives do it’s not only cheaper but a lot healthier.

  • Peter Allen Dec 5, 2013, 8:22 am

    I am a Canadian. I have spent ten years working all over the world before the Internet and cell phones came on the scene. I view everyday as a learning experience. Come expecting nothing and be impressed what is available. I am presently four days into my two month tour of Ecuador. What I do know: Ecuadorian People are friendly. The roads so far are fantastic. Driving here is no worse than in Paris, France.
    Comparing Mexico to Ecuador is silly. Some people need structure and some do not. Experience day to day and do not judge on a two month tour how a place is. Test the waters and if you think it works, come and rent for a year before making the move.

  • Connie Giffin Dec 5, 2013, 8:06 am

    I will be moving here permanently next spring/summer. I have a few cartons of books and personal items I wish to ship/bring with me. Is there anyone making a major move, who might have a small amount of space in their container they would share for a fee? What is the best way to connect?

    Thank you.

    • Jeff Schinsky Dec 19, 2013, 9:43 am

      Connie: Other folks may be doing this sort of thing, but my attorney said that you have to label everything, ideally with the wording on a given box stating something like, “25 books for use by [name of owner].” In essence, I believe the sharing of containers is technically a “no-no.” I suppose there may be loopholes where it can be done, but the risks might outweigh the benefits of such an arrangement. As an alternative, you might want to send a box or two through one of the relay-shippers. My attorney gave me the name of someone she recommends, so feel free to write me directly and I’ll share the contact info with you. jschinsky@gmail.com.

  • Betty W Dec 5, 2013, 8:05 am

    I would say for me, being able to find safe housing in the price we can afford to pay. Secondly, being able to get around. We will be without a car and my knees are not feeling it any more. Ugh!

  • Phil Dec 5, 2013, 7:57 am

    I have done and will do all the fact finding I can about living in Ecuador. I have a 7 year old female Siamese cat companion. She will definitely go with me. My big concern is that she has lived her life on Science Diet dry cat food. I don’t think it is available anywhere in Ecuador unless maybe in Quito, I don’t know. If anyone knows please let me know. Has anyone else experienced problems getting their brand cat food? My only alternative is to have it bought privately in the States and then shipped to me. By the way, I am very interested in Cotacachi, it’s beautiful!
    Hola to all!
    Phil

    • Doug yarris Dec 5, 2013, 12:39 pm

      Sometimes the more you know, the more you change. I use to feed my dogs on science diet. The name is impressive.
      The food ingredients are not. The main proteins source is corn. The better foods, the main ingredient is meat, or meat & vegetables , which in most people thinking. I use a Canadaian brand, Acarana. It’s expensive, but way far superior than science diet. It’s sounds like you are an animal lover, which is why I have written you. Check the nutrition, you will most likely be angry at science diet. The only thing good is their name. The best to you on your journey.

      • Phil Dec 6, 2013, 8:47 pm

        Hi Doug!
        I did some searching and found Canadian made Acana. I will be trying the Wild Prairie Cat & Kitten cat food for my cat. She often regurgitates after eating Science Diet so I suspect the grain causes it.
        Science Diet now offers grain free kibble but I will try the Acana brand. I was impressed with Acana’s website, http://www.acana.com. Thanks for the advice.
        Phil

    • LC Dec 5, 2013, 12:51 pm

      Hi Phil,

      I don’t know about science diet in Ecuador, but I learned the bard way about poor quality pet foods and vaccines the hard way. My 11 yr old indoor cat died from kidney failure and we didn’t know until about a month before. The healthiest diets are raw food, meat based, grainless diet, but it’s not always easy to change a cat’s diet. Of which, should be very easy to get inexpensively in Ecuador. There is a great book on the subject someone I know wrote and saved the life of her sick dog. Cats are more carnivores than dogs, so if there is any grain in the food, it’s not good. I hope this helps. If you want to know more, let me know.

      • Phil Dec 5, 2013, 6:10 pm

        Thanks very much Doug and LC!
        I appreciate your help. If you can give me an idea how to obtain your brand (Acarana) in Ecuador that would ease my mind. I will check the ingredients. Sci Diet was recommended by a Vet a long time ago. So I failed to really check out the ingredients. How can I bring in Acarana as an American? I hope to visit Cotacachi this summer as my first step toward becoming an Expat soon. I hope to combine my visit with horseback riding. I’m taking lessons at a stable outside Memphis, TN on a beautiful American Quarter Horse. I’m hooked!
        Yes, I love animals!
        Thanks again,
        Phil

  • Jennifer Dec 5, 2013, 7:18 am

    Learning out how to live without your family nearby. We have 8 children, and 13 grandchildren. Sure we can Skype but it’s very, very difficult to be so far away. I wish flights back home were not so expensive. it’s really, really hard to be away from everyone.

    • Bryan Haines Dec 5, 2013, 7:26 am

      Agreed! Being away from family is very hard. Our parents have come to visit many times – but our daughter is still missing out on aunts/uncles/cousins. For us, Skype has been a lifesaver.

    • Jeff Schinsky Dec 19, 2013, 9:53 am

      Jennifer, I’d also recommend you get a Magic Jack account. No video, but you can have some very clear telephone conversations. I believe they must be initialized in the US, but once they are, you can pick whatever area code you wish, making it possible for calls in either direction to appear as local calls. For instance, my Magic Jack (and you’ll want the “Magic Jack Plus” for more options), my area code is 719, Colorado Springs. So even if I make a call from Cuenca, it will appear to anyone receiving my calls as if I’m still in Colo Springs. Likewise, anyone who calls me will appear to be calling me in Colo Springs… except I’l be in Cuenca. Annual renewal costs are fairly inexpensive, so it’s a great tool to have. Don’t hold me to this, but I believe there’s a way to integrate the functionalities of both Skype and Magic Jack to enhance your communication options.

      • Stewart Dec 22, 2013, 2:03 pm

        Also giving 2 thumbs up for magicjack. The magicjack plus is best because of the option of not having to be connected to a computer just an internet router with the device, power and a phone.

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What Other Expats Are Buying (Before Moving to Ecuador)


Easy Spanish Phrase Book NEW EDITION: Over 700 Phrases for Everyday Use (Dover Language Guides Spanish)
$2.94