A Canadian Family Traveling & Living Abroad (in Ecuador)

Ecuador Expat Profile – Stewart Perez, Cumbaya (Quito) Ecuador

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Ecuador Expat Profile – Stewart Perez, Cumbaya Ecuador

The Expat: Stewart Perez

ecuador-expat-Stewart-PerezWhat is your blog url?

LinkedIn: ec.linkedin.com/in/stewartperez

Where are you currently living?

We live in Cumbayá, Pichincha Province, Ecuador. Cumbayá is a rural parish of Quito, located in the Sierra region of Ecuador. We’ve been living in this area since September of 2011.

What’s Your Story?

My name is Stewart Perez and I’m married with 2 young children and our dog, Lucky. I’m an architect from the States. I was born in Los Angeles, California.

I lived in California most of my life until I moved to Florida in the summer of 1999.

When and where did you get the idea of living in Ecuador?

Originally I didn’t want to move out of the States, but I was having trouble finding work. I had worked for Hilton Worldwide before as a Regional Director of Design and Construction for a few years until the end of 2009 when the effects of 2008 hit. (Check out my linkedin profile.)

My wife and I decided to move last year for a few reasons. One was the lack of opportunities in Florida in my field. The 2nd major reason was the wonderful school we found for the kids in Ecuador. Family was another reason. Both my parents and my wife are Ecuadorian. Right now I have dual citizenship so I’m a Gringo / Ecuatoriano. In our journey I resisted change. Although we got dual status for the kids at the Ecuadorian Embassy in Miami before leaving, (my wife previously obtained USA citizenship a few years ago) I wanted to test the waters. I arrived in Ecuador with a Gringo passport as a tourist (good for 90 days). We changed this to a business visa with the help of a lawyer after 2 months which expires this month. After a few months living here and seeing how well the kids have adapted, I decided yes and started the process of getting Ecuadorian citizenship through my birthright.

My work status changed to construction manager due to personal contacts and the fact that there is so much construction now in Ecuador.

How’s your Spanish?

I consider myself born and raised Gringo from USA although my parents always spoke Spanish and English in the home. After marriage my Spanish improved, and I used this professionally in work as well. Before arriving in Ecuador my Spanish was fluent.

Knowing (reading, writing and speaking) a second language is very important. South Florida has a diverse Spanish culture and I found knowing this language very useful.

In Ecuador it’s indispensable. Many people know English in Ecuador because it’s taught in many schools, but like any other language if you don’t practice and use it, you lose it.

Cuenca perhaps doesn’t need so much Spanish because it’s a smaller city compared to Quito, and there are many Gringo retirees there. Here in Quito, Gringos are hard to find. There are places where they frequent like certain universities or bike riding on the Chaquinan Trail near Quito, but otherwise I don’t hear much English spoken in this area.

What do you do?

I’ve always worked in Construction mostly in architecture firms in the States. My last job there I became more of an owner’s rep. by representing an International Hotel chain and dealing with franchisees, architects, contractors and engineers and verifying their projects were up to Hilton standards. Here in Ecuador I have a project working for a general contractor on a project for I.E.S.S. (Instituto Ecuatoriano de Seguridad Social) as a construction manager.

How do you find the cost of living in Ecuador?

Comparing with cost of living in the States overall the cost is lower here. In certain things, like groceries, it’s maybe 30% lower. Fresh fruits are abundant at many street corners (10 Tangerines for $1). If it’s imported, the cost will be higher than in the States because of the import tax. Some items have been taken off the shelves because the tax was too high. My kids Aunt Jemima Maple Syrup is one victim.

Other things like gasoline definitely cheaper. Rent also but not much.  Schools also again but not much. We put the kids in a Catholic school so that’s why. Insurance for cars and medical we found almost the same price, but we’re looking for cheaper now.

What do you love about Ecuador?

The Mountains we love. Florida is Flat but it has the beaches and oceans. I thought living in Cumbaya we would miss the beach, but it’s only a 6 hour bus ride away or a 1 hour plane ride away.

The traffic is terrible. Many people live in the valleys like Cumbaya, Tumbaco, San Rafael and work in Quito like me. The highways are not bad overall but totally insufficient. They’re building more highways so hopefully this will improve.

About housing for Gringos I think Cuenca will be your best option. It´s the 3rd largest city in Ecuador so really it has everything and much lower costs than Quito or Guayaquil. Many Gringos also buy condos in Salinas (beach town).

If you move here I strongly recommend using a broker (mover from Ecuador). We used INSA through a contact in Miami. Email me if you want more info. Without them Lucky (our 120 lbs. Labrador) wouldn’t have made it through customs.

An article by

Bryan is a journalist, photographer, expat and dad. He writes for Gringos Abroad (Ecuador travel & living) and Blogger Abroad (run an online business abroad). He also enjoys living in Southern Ecuador (South America) with his wife and daughter. Connect with Bryan on LinkedIn. Work with Bryan & Dena

More about: Everything Expat, Living in Ecuador

{ 49 comments… add one }

  • Lynda Gueits July 8, 2014, 11:05 pm

    Hi Stewart,
    great info you have here. My husband and I are in the process of moving to Ecuador in the next month with our 4 kids who are 4, 6, 6, and 14. The kids are not well-versed in spanish, especially our high schooler so we know that we’ll be placing them in a private school. My question to you is, are there any good private schools in the valley that are affordable? By that I mean not $500-$700 monthly for tuition? What do tuition normally run for private schools not advertised online such as christian schools? Thank you for any information you can provide.

    • Stewart July 12, 2014, 8:38 am

      Hello Lynda,

      Here’s a list of private schools in the area. The one my kids attend, Jose Engling costs us
      $920 per month for both children total. It’s a 10 month curriculum. I don’t know about
      the others. Also see a blog link with other Quito schools info.

      Jose Engling
      Terra Nova
      Colegio Aleman
      Colegio Menor
      Cotopaxi Academy
      Liceo International: rated 1st
      Colegio San Martin CDE
      British School
      Alliance Academy
      Colegio Americano
      Colegio Einstein
      Shakespeare school
      Colegio Marie-Clarac


      Good Luck!

    • Stewart July 13, 2014, 8:02 am

      Dear Linda,

      Here is more information on another school from the list, Colegio Menor. We have very good friend with their 2 boys attending this school located in the heart of Cumbaya. It’s not religious. Tuition costs them $1,200 / mo for both. I assumed your range of $500 – $700 / mo tuition if for each child? If you’re thinking for all 4 I’m not sure how to help.

      Anyways, a couple of good things about Colegio Menor are all class subjects are in english except spanish class and for your 14 year old there’s an additional social studies class (estudios sociales) that’s in spanish to learn about Ecuador’s history. My son’s 13 year old friend (Ecuadorian) at this school talks english very well due to this school.

      I remember my parents had considered returning to Ecuador to live when I was still a child. The school they considered tested me, and they said I would have to go back a grade. Not good. For any private school you have to apply and meet their requirements. Good to start now.

      Let me know if there is any other way I can help and good luck!

  • Vicky June 1, 2014, 8:33 pm

    Hi Stewart
    We are moving to Quito with our 2 year old daughter. Thanks for the tip on INSA, we’ll contact your contact there.
    Do you have any information regarding daycares in Quito, not necessarily bilingual?


    • Stewart July 12, 2014, 8:25 am

      Sorry I do not know of any day cares. I’m sure there are several, but I would not want to recommend
      without some knowledge from myself or a friend.

      Good Luck

    • Stewart July 19, 2014, 5:35 am

      Dear Vickie,

      I have some good news! A good friend of ours also has a 2 year old and she recommended the below day cares:

      1. Rayuela is the name. It’s small with only 20 kids and 3 teachers and 3 assistants. Apart from the great attention it’s open in July and August. It’s located in “Quito Tennis” area. Let me know of an email to send you the director’s cell.
      2. Jardin Montesorri also in “Quito Tennis” area. It’s bigger with 1 teacher and 1 assistant per 16 to 17 kids per class. Registration starts in September. Call to see if they have openings. Their contact info. should be available on the internet.
      3. Aluette is also all the same as #2.
      4. Mimos Bebe is not a full daycare. They offer “horas de jugar” which is a few hours per day. Owner’s name is Miriam Molina. Again all the contact info. should be available on the internet.

      Buena suerte!

  • Sam May 2, 2014, 11:39 am

    Hi Stewart,

    I have a few questions I’d like to ask you. I live in Toronto, Ontario. I have a business degree and will graduating next year with a second degree in construction science and project management. I am thinking of moving to ecuador in the next two years and have some questions for you in regards to work, cost of living, and differences in areas in Ecuador in terms of work, life, etc. I have been in Ecuador 3 times already, speak 95% fluently, and plan on marrying my Ecuadorian girlfriend , so you see, we have a lot in common. I think some feedback from you would be great. Is there anyway I can email you?
    Hope everything is going well! My best to you and your family!

    • Stewart May 18, 2014, 9:48 am

      Hello Sam,

      Hope all is well. I will respond to your detailed email soon.

      Regarding life in general in Cumbaya / Quito I will share here with others too.

      Speaking spanish is a big plus, but there are shops and fast food places where
      if not the employees, the manager or owner does speak english. An example is
      Barros pizza in the food court of “El Jardin” mall in Quito. Two american girls
      asked for pizza in english and the tall gentleman that looked like the owner
      answered in english.

      Don’t expect that people on the street will know or speak in english in general.

      Regarding cost-of-living there are areas to rent in Quito that are cheap, but you
      end up sacrificing security. Like where I work just west of El Ejido park. Around
      4 or 5pm shops all lock down and there are very few business that remain open.
      At night the area become unsafe. You can rent a room for around $8 dollars a night
      there, but the hostels are old, etc.

      More touristic areas like “La Mariscal” around “Plaza Fosch” you’ll find many restaurants,
      bars and hostels that is more safe and still relatively cheap. Still guard your wallet.
      Your girlfriend can tell you about that.

      There are other areas like Gonzales Suarez street where there are many tall apartment buildings.
      It’s the higher rent district where you will find quite a few other gringos (by this I mean not Ecuadorians)
      and enjoy a safer atmosphere. Renting an apartment there probably runs around $500 and up.

      Food! Fruits and vegetables are very cheap in Ecuador. I eat at a restaurant close to work that costs
      $3 for lunch including soup, the main plate, dessert and drink. Be careful where you eat. At another
      place I got food poisoning with a bad shrimp or maybe it was an allergic reaction to something in the food.
      The clinic was very good (Hospital Ingles) to attend and give IV with the right medicine and I was fine.
      Noe is a seafood restaurant that’s very good, but plates cost around $10 and up.

      Supermarkets like Supermaxi and Megamaxi are safe with costs similar to USA. Imported food in general
      costs more. Supermaxi labelled or national food in general costs less.

      There is a strong movement in the government to restrict imports of all kinds. “Hecho en Ecuador” or made in Ecuador are labels you will see on food, clothing, electronics, etc. that sometimes is the only option. My Jiff or Skippy peanut butter are no longer on supermaxi shelves. The same is true for many other products. Either the import taxes are too high, or they are in the process of getting new government approval to import which can be a long, tedious process.

      That’s all I will say for now. One day I will start a blog to write more about Ecuadorian life around Quito / Cumbaya probably when my construction project finishes.

      Best regards.

  • P.J. Andros April 7, 2014, 8:23 pm

    I’m a retired American librarian (University of Arizona). After some research, Ecuador gets mixed, very mixed, reviews from foreigners there seeking a retirement south of the border. Spanish is really mandatory and a positive feeling about colonial Ecuador, not to mention what remains of Indios culture, would seem imperative. If the foreigners traipsing around Ecuador are anything like the disappointing crowds in Mexico in the colonial towns of Oaxaca and Guanajato, then cheaper is definitely not better. While I’m not euro-centric in any serious way, I now think that Italy and Spain, while more expensive, are better suited for a cozy, fuzzy extended stay.

    • Stewart April 8, 2014, 2:41 pm

      Italy is beautiful at least when I visited in the 90´s. Spain I don´t know.
      By all means try these if a “cozy, fuzzy extended stay” means seeing other
      Americans or Europeans you will probably see a lot more than in Cuenca,
      Ecuador in general.

      It´s obvious. Although Ecuador and other latin american countries are advancing
      and developing, they are still behind USA, Canada and the 2nd world countries
      of Europe.

      Good luck.

  • Yesenia Mendez January 29, 2014, 12:32 pm

    Hola Stewart,
    I’m planning on moving to Cumbayá or Tumbaco, do you happen to know a daycare center where I can drop off my children around 7am?

    Thanks for your help.

    • Stewart February 4, 2014, 8:10 am

      Hola Yesenia,

      Our kids are older so I don’t know much about day cares in Tumbaco. I’ll ask the mothers who’s kids are classmates with my youngest and get back to you. Soon as they respond, I’ll leave a message here.

      Best regards,

    • Stewart March 12, 2014, 9:11 am

      Dear Yesenia,

      Saludos. Question to you. Does it have to be 7am the drop off?
      I ask because our school has pre-school and is very good, but those
      classes get in at 8:30am. Our school is Jose Engling Catholic School.
      Telephone: 02 237 4329.

      Here’s another daycare in Tumbaco off Av. Interoceanica and Juan Montalvo:
      Mfe Federico Engels (jardin, escuela y colegio)
      email: colegiomife@hotmail.com
      Tel.: 237-5941, 237-0743.

      I know nothing about them, and my friends are not in the day-care mode.

      There is also William Shakespeare school in Tumbaco that has “Inicial 1″
      which starts from 3 years and up. I understand it’s a good school and some
      teachers at our school are from there.
      7:55am is the time Inicial 1 gets in.
      Telephone: 237-2715.

      Good Luck and best regards.

  • Audi January 14, 2014, 4:57 pm

    I know this is very different from your dog, but I am having trouble finding information about customs and regulations.

    I am currently living in Cumbaya with my Visa as a volunteer/medical missionary. I am living and serving in a convent full of elderly nuns. We are really lacking in resources but were able to get a huge donation of medical supplies from another non-profit organization in the States. The equipment is actually very expensive and state-of-the-art (I’m excited for my “new toys”!) and I really don’t want to put it in the mail. The non-profit organization was not able to ship it internationally either and my mom is currently storing it for me in the States. She will be coming to visit me in February and will therefore be bringing all the equipment to us.

    I am very worried that it will be either confiscated or taxed-heavily when she gets to customs. Do you know where I can find a resource to prevent this? We are definitely not going to sell anything and all of it will be used without cost, since it will be used in their convent. I would hate to lose this equipment, it has taken me a long time to get this donation and my patients need it.

    What do you suggest I do? Would using your broker work?

    • Stewart January 15, 2014, 4:36 pm

      Hello Audi,
      Let me look into it. I don´t personally have a contact in customs, but let me see if a friend does.

      Just a question, do you need all of the equipment at once? I´m just thinking because it´s you´re
      mom they may not search her luggage with just a few items. Can you receive with a few friends
      traveling at different times?

      I´ll get back to you with the rest.

      Best regards and I admire your work,


    • Stewart January 17, 2014, 3:20 pm

      Ok Audi,
      I spoke to Conzuelo Heredia at INSA (moving broker). They can help with your situation. They helped us move our house and dog. Here´s their info.: Quito office phone: (02) 240 6065. If you´re calling from the USA start with 011 593 then the rest. Email: cheredia@insa.com.ec

      I understand your fear. Actually my dog got misplaced at first when the plane touched down in Quito, but through INSA we got him back. If you don´t want to use them, you can at least ask them questions as that´s their business.

      Good Luck and I´ll let you know any other information I find.

    • Stewart January 31, 2014, 2:15 pm

      Hello Audi,

      If it´s not too late here is another option for a shipping company.
      The company is called Panalpina based in Switzerland. I don´t know
      anything about them only that a good friend working at the Latacunga
      airport recommended them over INSA. The have offices in 6 continents.

      Here´s their website and Quito info.:
      http://www.panalpina.com ,
      Quito office: Panalpina Ecuador S.A.
      Address: Av. El Inca E 4181 y Amazonas, Quito, Ecuador
      Phone: 593-02-397-0100
      email: info.ecuador@panalpina.com
      Fernando Coral is country manager (Ecuador)

      Good Luck!

  • Clare January 3, 2014, 2:30 pm


    I am thinking of moving to Cuenca, could you email me so that I could as a few questions concerning what you took with you to Ecuador and schooling options. We will be going with at least two of my children.

    • Stewart January 4, 2014, 10:39 am

      Hello Clare,

      Probably better if you ask Bryan and Dena about Cuenca. We live near Quito.
      About what we brought to Ecuador, we brought about 1 / 3 of everything we owned
      and sold or gave away the rest. This filled a 40 foot long container including 1 car.
      Please see my expat profile with comments for details on who we used to ship our stuff.

      Best regards.

  • Stewart December 12, 2013, 12:50 pm

    Hello Bryan, Dena, fellow Expats and Prospective Expats,

    Saludos. I wish to inform about our experience with health insurance here in Ecuador. We are insured with BMI
    full coverage for the family. Another expat had commented that he bought BMI insurance for his wife at a reduced cost. First I want to say that for our plan it was not less than what we paid in the States, but it is definitely worth having.
    It is true that there is public heath insurance if you are affiliated with the I.E.S.S. (Instituto Ecuatoriano de Seguridad Social), but service in the IESS hospitals can be so so. I recommend el Hospital Metropolitano if you are in Quito.

    BMI is a private health insurance which has helped tremendously in a recent health problem that my wife has and is covering 90% of hospital, doctors, exams and medicines costs. I am sure there are other good ones, but I just want to say you never know when your health will suffer.

    The first couple of years we had thought to switch to a less expensive plan, but now we are glad we stayed. Our cost is about $500 per month for the family (2 adults and 2 children). It is not cheap, but now it has more than paid for itself.

    Hope this is helpful in your health insurance decisions and best regards.

  • Mike Bluett September 14, 2013, 11:52 am

    Stewart, could you email me directly. I would like to find out a bit more about rental costs in Cumbaya.
    mbluett88 -> shaw.ca

  • Rick May 22, 2013, 3:06 pm


    Could you forward the moving service that you used to help get you and your pet to Ecuador?


    • Stewart May 22, 2013, 6:09 pm

      Hello Rick,
      The moving service we used is called INSA which is short for International Shipping and Storage based in Ecuador. Their agent company in Miami was Sentry International. Ramon Sierra was the contact at (305) 885 8161. INSA´s website: http://www.insa.com.ec

      What I like about them is they are very thorough with packing “everything” in boxes and organizing the freight container very well. They were our broker for our pet dog, Lucky. Ask Ramon or whoever´s in his place now all the requirements.

      Good Luck,

  • Max March 19, 2013, 9:54 am


    In June, I plan to travel to Quito for a few months. I understand I can obtain a 12-9 visa for 3-6 months. Are there any language schools in Cumbaya? In Quito there are schools that provide one-one instruction. Some schools offer a program of 4 hours of classroom study in the morning and then after lunch an instructor guided 2-hour tour to various places (museums, markets, etc.) for practice in the field. Any suggestions?

    • Stewart March 23, 2013, 7:31 am

      Hello Max,
      There is the Universidad de San Francisco de Quito in Cumbaya that offers spanish courses for foreigners, but you would need to be enrolled. I’m checking for you, and will post again when I find something worthwhile.

      It would be great after you make it to Quito or Cumbaya to get some feedback on impressions after you’ve been here a while.

    • Stewart March 29, 2013, 1:29 pm

      Hello Max,
      Here’s a contact at USFQ of the “Instituto de Lenguas Extranjeras” department. They offer the courses you’re looking for in Cumbaya.
      Call Guisela Arcos (Asistente Administrativa) at (02) 297-1882. Add the (02) when calling from an Ecuadorian cell phone or outside the Quito metropolitan area. From USA it’s 011 593 02 297 1882.
      Good Luck,

    • mark romo May 4, 2013, 12:52 pm

      I am receiving my 12-IX this month. Be aware that you must now have two thousand dollars in an Ecuadorean bank in your name to receive this six-month visa, one thousand for the three-month rendition.
      Good luck!

      • Stewart May 7, 2013, 11:53 pm

        Yes, it’s not very easy to open one of those. We opened an account in Produbanco (one of the larger banks in Ecuador). Here are the requirements for a checking account from http://www.produbanco.com :
        For Natural Person:
        • Initial deposit of $500.
        • Original and color copy of identity card of all signers on the account (if alien must present your passport, visa and census).
        • Ballot of all signers on the account.
        • Copy of RUC (when economic activity is independent)
        • Form of payment of electricity, water or phone current address (valid 1 month). (In case you don’t have landline at home).
        • Bank Reference (Having a checking or savings account in Produbanco or other financial institution with a minimum stay of 6 months and 3 averages).
        • Income certificate (valid for 1 month)
        • Close relative personal reference (not living with the client).
        There are a few smaller banks like Banco del Pacifico or Banco Bolivariano where maybe the requirements are not so restrictive. An option is to open an account there and use it later to open an account in a bigger bank like Produbanco or Banco de Guayaquil.

        Best Wishes.

      • maria May 15, 2013, 10:33 am

        I am getting a 6 month tourist visa which they call the I9 and it cost me 240.00 each for my husband and I also we are getting the pensioners visa at 40.00 each…so I would say try to do everything in the states before leaving and take all your docs before heading to Ecuador that is what we are doing.

  • JayJayEn February 16, 2013, 12:52 pm

    Stuart, we are relocating to the Valle de los Chillos area. La Mercede and Nayon are of particular interest to us, because we hope it will afford us a nice balance between city and small town. At this point we think that Cumbaya is too busy for us. Are you aware of any real estate agents in the area that you could confidently refer us to? Your help is appreciated.

    • Stewart February 17, 2013, 3:46 pm

      Hello JayJayEn,
      I have a real estate agent with several properties in Nayon that may be able to help. Her name is Silvia Sevilla. Her email is silviasevilla2007@hotmail.com and you can write her in english.
      Send her an email, and if she doesn´t have what you need she could put you in contact with one who does.

      Best regards.

  • Terry February 12, 2013, 11:47 pm

    Stewart, I’ve never read about anyone using a broker(mover from Ecuador). You said you used INSA and they helped you get Lucky through customs. You also said that Lucky was in customs for 3 days!! OMG I can’t imagine our dog being left in customs for 3 days when he gets separation anxiety after 3 minutes not seing us. What does a broker do and what would you do different in the relocating process? Also if we land at an airport do they have rental cars like airports in US? Is special isurance suggested to drive there since we might encounter unexpected driving circumstances? What do you long for back in US if anything? Thanks for any thing you can suggest to help us bring our pet with us. He won’t fit under any seat in cabin. He weighs 23 lbs. Thanks Terry

    • Stewart February 13, 2013, 6:04 pm

      It´s been a while now, but what I remember was we needed a broker for Lucky because of his size (weight=120 lbs) so he had to go in cargo. It´s the same plane (LAN), but in a storage space with ac. It would be better if your dog can go in the cabin with you someway.
      Not to scare you, but LAN actually lost track of our dog. There was some irregularity with my travel docs. and they took Lucky to an unknown storage hanger. It wasn´t our broker´s. Asking around someone finally remembered seeing a big black dog in a white crate.
      Anyways, the broker had contacts (maybe Divine intervention) and got him out.
      What would I do differntly about our dog? Nothing. I could not anticipate the problem they came up with. My passport expired and renewed with a different number. My historical entry/exit in Ecuador showed the old number. The police jurisdiction said my police travel doc. had to be with the old number, etc. Long story short the police was not going to budge.
      My advise is coax the steward or stewardess to let your dog travel in the cabin.

      Yes, get insurance. I think Brian and Dena have an article on car travel insurance, if not try google.com

      Car rental? Not sure. There are a lot of taxis. In a few days the airport changes from Quito to Tababela (a town 60 min.+ from Quito). We´ll have to wait and see.

      What do I long for? Organization. In the states (and Canada I presume) everything is very logical and organized. Here there is a little of that, but politics or special interests often change what´s logical and best for all to what´s best for a few.

      Anything else just let me know.

      • Chacko November 18, 2013, 11:52 pm

        What is the name and contact information of the broker that you used. We are bringing our dog in a few weeks and wanted to identify a broker. Thank you.

        • Stewart November 20, 2013, 1:34 pm

          Chacko, for starters please see my reply May 22, 2013 to a comment the same day.
          The contact at INSA is Conzuelo Heredia and her email is cheredia@insa.com.ec
          You can email her in english.

  • Terrie Schmearer November 4, 2012, 1:24 pm

    Hi Stewart,
    I read another blog somewhere (I’ve been reading lots of blogs and can’t remember where) that said we shouldn’t bring our animals with us because they are exposed to diseases we don’t have in the states and most of them die. I have two cats and was feeling kind of heart broken at the thought of finding them new homes at whatever point we move. It sounds to me like you haven’t had any trouble. Do you know if it’s harder for cats healthwise?
    Thank you,
    Terrie Ann

    • Stewart November 5, 2012, 3:52 pm

      Dear Terrie Ann,
      My opinion (and I´m not a vet, but you´ll find quite a few here) is that cats or dogs or any other pet can get sick primarily by ingesting something (i.e. pidgeon) that carried some kind of disease and get sick and maybe die.
      In my case my dog got sick once after eating or drinking something bad, but the vet gave him an injection and other meds and he´s much healthier here now than in Florida.
      If your cats stay indoors or at least if you can keep them from eating wild birds and control their diet I think they should be fine.
      Best regards,

  • Steven King November 4, 2012, 7:26 am

    I want to complement you on your blog. Very nice with helpful information. My father is going to Quito on the 5th of November with the intention of moving there. I wanted to be able to give him some helpful hints on getting by. He is not wealthy and his intention is to move there and save money and make the 1500/mo he gets from SS go further than in AZ where he currently lives. Is there any area where you suggest he look for a rental? I see food costs are less, but what are the downsides to living there? I hear the scams and robbery are frequent in the city. I warned him about that. The other problem I see is the elevation, he is 70 and not in great physical condition. I currently live in Kabul, AFG working for the government and I was lightheaded here for a week, and Quito is 3,000ft higher yet. Any words of advice would be appreciated.

    • Stewart November 5, 2012, 12:18 pm


      Glad to help. I’ll have to do some research on rental prices in Quito and get back to you.

      Two thing I can share now, from the airport if his hotel shuttle isn’t picking your dad up he should only take a taxi that has “orange” license plates. These are registered with the government. Others are “executive” taxis which some are good, but not all.
      Second, yes Quito is quite high in elevation. The first week your dad should take is slow (i.e. Not do a lot of walking) until his body adjusts. One reason why we chose Cumbaya/Tumbaco area is it’s over 1,000 ft lower than Quito and warmer generally. Rent is expensive though.

      Get back to you soon,

  • Connor October 25, 2012, 2:28 pm

    Hi Stewart,
    I’m a college student in Oregon and I’m studying abroad in Ecuador this Winter/Spring, spending one month at Universidad de San Francisco de Qutio in Cumbaya and three months in the Galapagos. I was wondering what public transit or taxi service from Cumbaya to downtown Qutio is like and what my best bet is for getting from Cumbaya to the city without a car. Also, I was wondering if you could give me any heads up on places to avoid safety wise in Qutio and Cumbaya or anything else important I should know about the area before I arrive.


    • Stewart November 2, 2012, 8:25 am

      Hello Connor,
      Universidad de San Francisco de Quito in Cumbaya is the one I was writing about. There are quite e few Gringos living close to there and attending there too. There’s a large new shopping center opening up across the street. Cumbaya overall is a pretty safe place. If you like bike riding check out “El Chaquinan” trail there. Here’s a link.
      I also advise only on weekends.
      To get from Cumbaya to Quito there are quite a few buses, but taxis are better unless you don’t mind crowded buses. In general only take taxis that have the orange license plates. These are registered with authorities. Ask at school which companies are recommended so you can call them directly.
      About safety, I like to remember one thing. Minimum wage here is about $300 per month. That’s less than $2 per hour. In general people here are helpful and friendly and many Have money, but many more Do Not. That’s why it’s not good to walk the streets at night or in the day time show your IPhone or laptop while walking in public.
      Quito is a big city compared to Cumbaya. In general I stay out of the South (poorer)end. Mainly be aware of your surroundings and avoid the too secluded streets. You’ll see police on the major streets.
      I work close to the park, “El Ejido” which is not that safe to walk through, but the surrounding streets are ok.
      I visited Galapagos Islands once. Definitely check out the Charles Darwin center.
      Good Luck!

  • Lili October 15, 2012, 3:00 pm

    Hi Stewart,
    Thank you for your very informative post.
    I live with my husband and two small children in Broward county, FL. I was born in Ecuador but have lived in the US since I was 12 yrs. old. We’re planning on moving to Ecuador; I work from home and rely on the internet, we know we can have a better quality of life for our family in Ecuador. I have relatives in Cuenca, Guayaquil, Quito and Latacunga.
    I have some questions for you… how do you find the internet connection in Cumbayá? I’m planning on getting a flash drive connection, so I can use it anywhere with my laptop.
    Our plan is to arrive in Latacunga and see how things go.
    We want our children to be bilingual; I don’t know if the best option is homeschool..and maybe attend a local school 2-3 hrs. daily so they can get the best of both worlds. I know that American schools in Cumbaya and Quito are very expensive… what do you recommend?
    If Latacunga does not work for us, the other option is Cumbayá or Cuenca.

    • Stewart October 18, 2012, 2:22 pm

      Hello Lili,
      I remember Broward County. Yes, if you already have family here your kids will enjoy the culture and should adapt quickly.
      Internet connection overall is good. You´ll find in general it´s a bit slower, but you shouldn´t loose signal. There are 2 major cell phone companies “Movil” and “Claro”, and I think both offer flash drive connections. We have Claro and are satisfied with it.
      We found in Quito / Cumbaya many options for kids schools. In general you want a private school although I understand the public schools in Quito are getting better. Cuenca should also have good private schools. Latacunga I don´t know about.
      We are very happy with the parochial school, Jose Engling in Tumbaco for our kids. Not to push the Catholic part, but they were just recognized with international accreditations and are very family oriented. Most private schools also teach english. There´s even a “British” school in Tumbaco but very expensive. We have friends with Ecuadorian kids who are very happy in “Colegio Menor San Francisco de Quito” and are very fluent in English.
      I visited Latacunga once and only remember a spectacular mountain view of Cotopaxi. Sorry I don´t know more about that town.
      Best Wishes,

      • Lili October 26, 2012, 5:50 am

        Thanks for input, gracias por tu ayuda :)

  • Steve Sorkin October 15, 2012, 1:48 pm

    Very helpful, thank you. We’re starting the moving process tomorrow. We’ll go back to Cuenca, find a place to rent, leave our son there, return home to finalize things, before we return for good.

    We’re bringing our little pooch with us on the return leg, and with all the information/assistance from expats, we, hopefully won’t have any problems going thru customs.

    Thanks again.

    Steve Srkin

    • Stewart October 19, 2012, 8:51 am

      Hello Steve,
      Another tip for your “little pooch”. We probably would not have had trouble with our dog if it was small like I imagine yours is and that it can fly with you in the cabin. Ours had to go in cargo and was 3 days in customs.
      Make sure your dog has all the shots up to date. While still in the States visit your local Ecuadorian Embassy for their requirements. We had to get a certificate from USDA – APHIS (U.S. Dept. of Agriculture – Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service) saying that our pet was healthy.
      Good Lucky,

      • Terry Doyle May 7, 2013, 3:10 pm

        Here’s a link from American. I was a bit surprised, but pets can indeed fly in the cabin but need a reservation to ensure that no more than 7 are on the same plane.

        a href=”http://www.aa.com/i18n/travelInformation/specialAssistance/travelingWithPets.jsp”

        • Stewart May 7, 2013, 11:10 pm

          If your pet is like ours, definitely make the extra effort to reserve your pet a space in the cabin. Flying cargo it’s maybe too much temptation to treat an animal like luggage. If it’s lost it just goes to an unknown customs hangar.
          Maybe things have improved at the new Quito airport and maybe Cuenca’s is better organized, but why take the risk?
          You’ll have peace of mind with a cabin reservation.
          Best regards.


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