Complete Guide to Ecuador Travel & Relocation (GringosAbroad)

15 Expats Living in Ecuador: Read Their Stories

expats-living-in-ecuadorAs you consider a move abroad, it is so valuable to read real-life, non-commercial experiences of other expats.

It’s one thing to read a travel book; and it is something entirely different to read real experiences of people actually living in Ecuador.

The article is organized into categories of:

  • Expats living in Southern Ecuador (Cuenca and Yunguilla)
  • Expats living in Northern Ecuador (Quito, Cotacachi and Otavalo)
  • Expats living on Ecuador’s Coast

The expats profiled in this piece come from a variety of backgrounds and situations. Young, working families, retired couples and singles. Both long-term relocation and shorter-term sabbaticals.

Looking for information on Ecuador retirement?

While most of the expats featured are still living in Ecuador, a few have returned to their home country.

I hope you enjoy this set of expat profiles. You can click on each profile to read more. Most of the expats also have blogs and/or related businesses.

Are you an expat in Ecuador? Share your story here.

Expats Living in Southern Ecuador

While the majority of expats in Southern Ecuador live in Cuenca, there are a number of foreigners living in Yunguilla Valley and Vilcabamba.

1. Franziska and Dan Pederson (Yunguilla Valley, Ecuador)

Franziska and Dan relocated to Ecuador and created a little paradise in Yunguilla Valley, south of Cuenca. We recently stayed at their guesthouse and had a wonderful time. Read our full review.

Read their expat profile. Visit their site and blog: Santuario Hibiscus.

2. Gary Sisk (Cuenca, Ecuador)

Gary Sisk is a single retired expat and has lived in Cuenca for a year and a half. He runs a regular blog at AAA Living in Cuenca and has also published a Kindle book: Why Ecuador For Me.

Read Gary’s expat profile.

3. Matt Scherr and Family (Cuenca, Ecuador)

The Scherr family took a two year sabbatical from their lives back in Vail, Colorado.

The Scherr Family blog is no longer updated, but is still online. Read the Scherr Family Expat Profile

Since returning home, Matt and Diana have created Radical Family Sabbatical. Their mission is to help: families live extraordinary lives through travel, learning, and entrepreneurship.

4. Two Texas Gals (Cuenca, Ecuador)

The SoYouWantToLiveInEcuador blog is written by two couples from Texas. One couple is already here in Cuenca, the other couple is due to arrive June 1, 2013.

Read the 2 Texas Gals Expat Profile.

5. Maureen Douglas (Cuenca, Ecuador)

Maureen is a single expat who has been visiting Cuenca since 2007. She has been a Spanish teacher back in the States for a number of years.

Maureen doesn’t maintain a blog. Read Maureen’s expat profile.

6. Haines Family (Cuenca, Ecuador)

I guess the list would be incomplete if we didn’t mention our own family. :)

When we first started our expat profile series, Dena wrote our story. Of course, things have changed for us somewhat since December of 2010 when she wrote it, but generally things remain the same.

More recently, we wrote about why we sold it all and moved to Cuenca, Ecuador.

Expats Living in Northern Ecuador

7. Jamie Stambaugh and Family (Cotacachi, Ecuador)

Jamie and Bo moved their family (two boys aged 4 and 6) to Cotacachi for a year sabbatical. They blogged their family adventure at They returned home to Crested Butte, CO in October 2012.

Read the Stambaugh expat profile.

8. Stewart Perez (Cumbaya, Quito, Ecuador)

Stewart arrived in Ecuador in September 2011. Both his parents and his wife are Ecuadorian. They made the decision to relocate to Ecuador for a number of reasons: work, schools for their kids and to be closer to family. Connect with Stewart on LinkedIn.

Read Stewart’s expat profile.

9. Christina Ring and Family (Otavalo, Ecuador)

Christina and Thomas married in Germany and honeymooned in Ecuador. They liked it so much that they moved here two years later. They have three sons – two born in Ecuador and one in Argentina. They currently run 4Volcanoes, a lodge near Cotacachi and Otavalo.

Christina recently wrote a guest post about owning horses in Ecuador.

Read Christina’s expat profile.

10. Ben Pilgreen (Quito, Ecuador)

Ben is a single, retired expat living in Quito Ecuador. After traveling for more than 30 years, he decided that Quito was where he wanted to live.

Read Ben’s expat profile.

11. Jeff Stern (Quito, Ecuador)

Jeff has been living in Quito, Ecuador since 2007 with his young family. They have also lived in the US, Nicaragua and South Africa. He was born in Southern California and his wife is Ecuadorian. They own a chocolate business and also do consulting in the cocoa industry.

Read Jeff’s expat profile.

12. Jo Reason (Saquisili, Cotapaxi, Ecuador)

With her husband, Jo has lived in Ecuador since 2008. They run a design agency and a stock photo agency here in Ecuador. Jo was born in the UK and has also lived in Spain and the States. She has traveled around the world.

Read Jo’s expat profile.

13. Liliya Bykova (Quito, Ecuador)

Liliya and Leo have lived in Ecuador since 2008 and they run a tourism business in Quito. Liliya blogs at Day in Quito.

Read Liliya’s expat profile.

Expats Living on Ecuador’s Coast

14. David Day (Canoa, Manabi Ecuador)

David arrived in Ecuador in 2004 and explored the country by motorcycle, eventually settling in Canoa – a small fishing village in Manabi province.

David runs Day Light Ecuador Touring, a tour company covering Ecuador and Peru. He also maintains a blog on this site.

Read Davids expat profile.

15. Mark Cowtan and Family (Capaes, Ecuador)

Mark and his family moved to Capaes in Santa Elena, in 2012, to escape the rat race of Silicon Valley and have more time for living. Mark was born in the UK, and lived in California for 20 years, and his wife Nelly is Peruvian.

Their passion is exploring beaches and they have a blog which documents all the beaches in Ecuador.

Read Mark’s expat profile.

Thinking of Living in Ecuador?

We cover lots of topics about living in Ecuador.

If you want to stay up-to-date with all the new posts, why not join us on Facebook and subscribe to our free weekly newsletter?

An article by

Since moving to Ecuador in 2009, Bryan and Dena have made their living as bloggers. Bryan is a partner at Storyteller Media, a content marketing company for Canadian travel brands. He is founder of this site and co-founder of Click Like This - a photo tutorial blog.

Topics: Everything Expat| Living in Ecuador

{ 50 comments… add one }

  • Valerie November 6, 2015, 10:29 am

    Hi! I’m a US citizen and am married to a native Ecuadorian. We have two small girls and are considering moving down to Quito from upstate NY. My hubby is very hesitant because he is nervous about the crime and how my girls and I will adjust. I know very little/basic spanish. Any advice you could give? I’m sold on moving down. I have been there a few times to visit his friends and family and love what I did see. Any tips or other families in Quito that you know that I could connect with would be a great help. Thank you!

    • Stewart November 9, 2015, 3:48 pm

      Dear Valerie,

      Glad to help. I have forwarded your message to friends. Their family is like this: mother is Canadian. Father is Ecuadorian. With small children living and working in Quito for another perspective.

      What I can tell you from the 4 years I´ve been living in Ecuador close to Quito is that it is a big city for here. Not like New York although I´ve never been. In a big city you have everything. There is so many more positive things than negative in my view especially for the kids. Crime is a concern and you form a network (like your husband´s family) with whom you can get together weekends and have play days.

      Ok your spanish is limited, but you can put the kids in an english speaking school and that way get to know the other kids parents. They do that here. It´s not everyone for themselves like in USA in general. For more info., send me an email at

      Buena Suerte (means Good Luck).

  • Chris Bonehill October 6, 2015, 6:06 pm

    Could anyone please provide me with some information on moving my family to Ecuador from Australia. I’m currently working in Africa and would like any information on Taxation, renting, Residency Visas etc.

  • Will Hart September 11, 2015, 7:44 pm

    Is that response on giving up citizenship accurate with the US taxing money Americans make overseas or were you being country specific. American expats are reouncing their citizenship to avoid paying taxes on money they make outside of the US, our country is the only one that has this tax by the way and it is steep!

  • JanaR July 13, 2015, 6:27 pm

    I am planning to move to Ecuador from the U.S. I have visited there several times, but not in the past 15 years, so I am sure some things have changed. I am retired and collecting my (U.S.) Social Security Retirement benefits for the past few years which I earned and would lose if I didn’t retain my U.S. Citizenship. It’s a pretty decent amount since my work history goes back to 1970 and my monthly check would cover at least 80% of my living costs in Ecuador.

    Why not just have dual citizenship? In my case I don’t see how giving up U.S. citizenship and being an ex-pat and losing a good source of income would be beneficial … or am I missing something here?

    Thanks in advance for any helpful info, clarification or advice.

    • Bill July 14, 2015, 1:02 pm

      There is no benefit to giving up your US citizenship, other than to vote in Ecuador

      • Bryan Haines July 14, 2015, 5:06 pm

        You can vote in Ecuador with a permanent residency visa. You are required to vote once you have citizenship. US citizenship doesn’t influence this either way.

    • Bryan Haines July 14, 2015, 5:07 pm

      There is no need to give up your US citizenship. Most expats maintain their natural citizenship and get a residency visa in Ecuador.

      • JanaR July 14, 2015, 7:23 pm

        Thank you Bill & Bryan for clearing that up – I mistakenly assumed ‘Ex-Pat’ meant giving up U.S. Citizenship, as opposed to maintaining dual citizenship, which is what I’ll do if I (hopefully) move to Ecuador next year; maintain my U.S. citizenship and get a Residency Visa in Ecuador.

    • Stewart July 14, 2015, 5:31 pm

      Hello Jana,

      There can be dual citizenship between USA and Ecuador at least for now. I would never give up my USA citizenship.

      Best if you start the paperwork for dual citizenship or residency visa

  • sunil April 17, 2015, 12:27 am

    I am Sunil from India. I would like to go Ecuador for work and living. Any favourable suggestion? I planing come there as a visit visa. My question : in this period of visit visa if I get a job ,Can I transfer this visa to work visa?
    how long I can stay there in visit visa?



    • Stewart July 14, 2015, 8:19 pm


      Sorry for not responding earlier. A visitor´s visa is how I arrived. If memory serves it lasted 90 days.
      This may have changed. Best thing is to ask at the Ecuadorian Embassy in India. See the below link:

      Yes, applying for a work visa while visiting with a visitor´s visa is how it worked for me. Also
      best to get a lawyer here in Ecuador.

      Best regards,


  • Pat Martin April 11, 2015, 10:47 am

    Hey guys,
    Just got back from our scouting trip on the Ecuadorian coast. My wife and I have decide to call Crucita our new
    home. Hoping to be there by Oct/ Nov 1st. We are a couple who just entered our sixties and want the calm and
    quiet of Crucita. We have an idea what is involved in getting our visas and relocating but if anyone has any advice
    to share it would be appreciated.

  • Vincent A Salgado April 3, 2015, 1:37 pm

    Just got back for a long weekend trip to Quito for a birthday party. Stayed at the Swissotel, which was great. The party was at the Quito Tenis and Golf Club. The party was great and I had a wonderful time seeing folks I haven’t seen in decades. The visit was marred by one unfortunate piece of news: At the start of the party, it was announced that one of the guests, Julio Rivas, had been found stabbed to death in El Parque Metropolitano. Details are still being investigated but the general consensus was that he was carjacked elsewhere and his body dumped in the park. He was a well-regarded city historian. Here’s a linked to the newspaper article in El Comercio: I’d like to report better news. But this is a sad but important reminder of that the risk of violent crime remains quite real even for locals who presumably know better.

    • Stewart April 15, 2015, 11:05 am

      Hello Vincent,

      I’ve been thinking about your post. Probably the cause was a robbery gone wrong. What can one do?
      Sometimes I think about this when walking the streets close to work that are not that safe. Usually I
      carry a spray, but against a knife or gun there is not much to do.

      Best to always be aware of your surroundings and avoid taxis that do not have official license plates
      and other markings.

      Best regards,


      • JanaR July 14, 2015, 7:18 pm

        Good advice about the taxis. Also, careful with sprays. Sometimes, the slightest wind could blow it back in our face. I’ve heard of it happening. And one time it was during a carjacking, as the victim rolled down the window she quickly sprayed the carjacker in the face, and a slight wind blew some of the spray right back in her face.

  • Arnold Israel December 21, 2014, 7:46 pm

    Hi Stewart,

    I’m arriving in Quito on January 1st mid afternoon. I’m staying at the Travellers Inn until January 4th 2015. I’m not sure what my plan is after that date. It would be great if we could meet for lunch. I plan to stay in South America until March 3, 2015 or possibly a little longer. I don’t know how long I’m going to stay in Quito.

    Thanks for responding to my request. I really appreciate any help I can get. Looking forward to seeing you.

  • Arnie Israel December 11, 2014, 4:34 pm

    Going to Quito on January 1st for 3 months on vacation. Staying a few days in a B&B until I get my bearings. I’d like to meet some expats to give me some direction. I’m retired and single and would appreciate any suggestions that would help me adjust. I don’t speak Spanish. Thanks.

    • Stewart December 17, 2014, 8:33 pm

      Hello Arnie,

      Stewart here. What’s the name of your B & B? Not sure what my schedule will be, but we could probably meet for lunch to give some tips on Quito.

      Best regards,


    • Stewart January 1, 2015, 5:36 pm

      Hello Arnie,

      You must be in Quito now. Here are some pointers in case we cannot meet for lunch.

      The neighborhood of Quito you are staying at is called Mariscal which 40 years ago was
      an upper-class single family homes neighborhood. Today it is much denser with tall office
      and other buildings mixed in with many restaurants, B&B hotels, residences, the South end where
      Hilton-Colon hotel on Avenue Amazonas (major tourist street) ends at Av. Patria & Parque El Ejido, and
      the North end where the JW Marriott sits (Av. Amazonas & Av. Francisco Orellana).

      A hot spot is Plaza Foch at the intersection of Mariscal Foch & Reina Victoria. There are many restaurants &
      bars in the area.

      Where they definitely should speak english is at the Marriott and Hilton. There is also a McDonalds on
      Av. F. Orellana a couple buildings east of the Marriott where you here people speak english as well.

      At night it is not all that safe. Better to get your bearings at your hotel and stick with the main streets if you
      go out at night. Print out a google maps area to not get lost.

      I will call your hotel if I can get away for lunch.

      Good Luck and Welcome to Ecuador,


      • Arnie Israel January 1, 2015, 6:32 pm

        Hi Stewart,
        Thanks for responded to me. I arrived in Quito today and staying in a B+B a block away from the Marriott. I hope we can get together for lunch. Let me know.

  • Roz M June 30, 2014, 10:57 am

    Hi Bryan I have been trying to find out more information about a professional residency visa. I looked at a site about the Cuenca immigration office and they gave an adress for their website for it, however when I tried it, it was know
    where to be found. Do you have the web address for it? The address I was given . I hope you can help. I get your newsletter and I enjoy reading it very much, very helpful with people’s questions.
    Thank you so much for writing this letter. please reply.

  • joyce and eddie nagle March 31, 2014, 8:44 pm


    = just want to join and look like newsletter subscribing?! we bought the lot las olas golf course and ocean coast .
    we apparently like there and they Ecuador government is really very good to disability program from what we read on website. we can see its really good opportunity for us to get along with disability people there. we are eager looking forward to start living there in about 2016 anytime . we don’t speak English we use deaf sign language all our life we are highly educated people. we are yes from Canada, smaller in Manitoba!!
    we feel we will enjoy and visiting many good lovely natures there especially south America wow !!
    alright ok thankyou so much
    joyce and eddie nagle

    • Fran Yates July 7, 2014, 9:39 am

      Delighted to hear y’all bought at Las Olas…they are wonderful people. I look forward to seeing you and hope you can teach me sign language….I have always thought that was so interesting… Keep in touch. We are suppose to go to Ecuador in January as it will be too cold here…so if we don’t see you next year, we will the next !!

      Fran and Jerry Yates

  • Fran Yates March 31, 2014, 8:44 am

    In answer to D.W Wright, there are oceanfront houses (all sold out) for this phase, then golf course/ocean view $160,000, and condos 96,000. There are people from all countries, India, Japan, US, Canada, and those are just what I know of…go to and you can find out all u need to know. It is going to be incredible!!

  • susan benguerel January 21, 2014, 11:49 pm

    just wanted to say I would love to get your newsletter, and I qaiting to hear abour our 1 little dog she is part of our family thanks

  • Simon Bédard December 1, 2013, 12:57 pm

    Great article! Maybe we’ll make your list once we get our residency and business going!

  • Susan Moore Vault May 18, 2013, 4:30 pm

    Hi Bryan,
    I have been a subscriber and just love all the information. We will be visiting from May 26 (Quito, Cotacatchi, Ibarra,Cuenca) until June 6. Could you tell us favorite Gringo locations and events for that time. We would love to meet you.
    Will be staying at Hotel Los Balcones from June 3 to June 7.
    Hoping to hear from you.

  • maria May 15, 2013, 6:43 pm

    I will be using Magic jack when I get there to call the states but I do not know what to do about the cell phone…should I bring one from the states or buy one there..I read about a pay as you go phone Claro Phones??? I will do some research here about cell phones…what service do you use? Thanks Maria

    • Bryan Haines May 16, 2013, 9:55 am

      There are new rules by the Ecuador government only allowing one phone per person. Officially, you are not allowed to import phones, but personally owned ones are allowed.

      We use pre-paid Claro chips – work great.

      • maria May 17, 2013, 9:16 pm

        thank you

    • Stewart May 16, 2013, 3:08 pm

      Hi Maria,
      Magicjack works fine here if you have good internet. I recommend getting the newer version that doesn’t need a computer to operate, and call USA or any other magicjack user.

      About cell phones better to buy one in Ecuador. There’s a variety available. Also we have a couple of cells from the States we can’t use here because they’re blocked.

      Good luck,

      • maria May 17, 2013, 9:11 pm

        good advice will pick up the new version at radio shack…thank you for your time

        • Al March 29, 2014, 1:48 pm

          I bought my smart phone and ordered it …unlocked…so I can just buy a pre- paid chip whatever country I am in without any problems.
          Enjoy your trip!

          • Stewart March 29, 2014, 5:25 pm

            Hey Al,

            Was it an I phone? The latest or 2nd latest I phone would be my buy next trip back to USA,
            unblocked or “unlocked” as you say. They still cost quite a bit more in Ecuador.
            Just waiting for my blackberry to kick the bucket :-).


  • Stewart May 14, 2013, 5:55 pm

    Bryan and Dena,
    in a way are like good friends even though we never met.
    Other websites give a little tid bit of info., but for more you must pay. Besides making money (which they need to do to support their stay in Ecuador) they are very concerned to educate gringos (really all foreigners) to the possibility of a better life here in Ecuador.

    A toast to Bryan and Dena. If you are at a party please join.

    Un abrazo,


    • Bryan Haines May 15, 2013, 5:23 am

      Thank you Stewart!

      • maria May 15, 2013, 10:25 am

        totally agree…felcidades

  • guillermo May 6, 2013, 3:19 pm

    Hola Debbie,

    Is there a need to have a car, I hope not. If that is the case it would be a great fit. My wife and I will be in Cuenca in June as a base.

  • maria May 6, 2013, 10:51 am

    Hello Bryan, We are now realistically making our decision to move for the first 6 month we want to apply for the extended visa do you know the cost we live in the USA is that all we need we are both on social security and receive benefits every month so we can survive there with no problems we are going to buy a rt ticket as instructed in your log. thank you

    • Bryan Haines May 7, 2013, 6:49 am

      I don’t know the costs. You can contact the embassy or consulate in the US.

  • Fran Yates May 5, 2013, 10:12 am

    Would love to hear from expats or persons living in Bahia. We are anticipating a huge influx of Canadians and Americans once the new Master Plan subdivision completes a few of the houses or apartments right on the ocean. We vacationed in 2011 in Ecuador and loved Bahia de Caraquez. I don’t think many Americans know about this planned community which will include stores, golf course etc. Hopefully some Americans or Canadians living on the coast will communicate with me. I enjoyed reading ALL the expats comments about Ecuador. It was a wonderful country to visit.

    • DW Walker May 6, 2013, 9:23 am

      Where is this place that Fran Yates writes about in Bahia del carraquez? I sounds great. Is it going to be expensive? Rentals? For sale? Thanks, DW

      • Fran Yates May 15, 2013, 2:39 pm

        The homes and apartments being built will be for sale, eventually some can be rented out also. The place is called Las Olas and it is before you get to Bahia. There should be a sign out on the main road by now. Any of the expat hostels will know about it.

  • Guy May 4, 2013, 10:08 pm

    Thank You for that. I would not try to translate & try find the value. I do understand the post. Only speaking for myself. English speaking. thanks Guy

  • guillermo May 4, 2013, 10:41 am

    I did not see any diversity in the Expats interviewed,( other races.)

    • Bryan Haines May 4, 2013, 1:20 pm

      That’s true. But as this is an English site, we have only interviewed English speaking expats (British, Canadian and American). Of course, there are lots of foreigners here from all over the world.

    • Debbie B May 6, 2013, 10:58 am

      Here in Vilcabamba we have friends from all over the world. US and Canada, of course, but also Germany, South Africa, UK, Australia, New Zealand, France, Spain, Italy, Peru, Argentina, Belgium, Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, India, Pakistan. Most English very well, and most are here for similar reasons: less stress, need less money, better spiritual values, like peace, community, less pressure to “succeed”, and also better weather. In Vilcabamba, health is also a big draw. I’m not sure it is a healthier city than the rest of Ecuador, they are all probably very good in that regard, but here the expat community puts a premium on that value and it is nice to live around like-minded people. Not essential, but nice.

      • Dennis Duer April 13, 2014, 5:50 pm

        Debbie I am thinking about visiting Vilcabamba to see if I like it and maybe move there. Do you know of any real estate agents I could contact?


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About Bryan & Dena Haines

We are a Canadian family of 3 that lived in Ecuador from 2009 to 2015. We blog about life and travel in Ecuador. If this is your first visit, start here. Interested to work with us? Read more about Bryan & Dena

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