Complete Guide to Ecuador Travel & Relocation (GringosAbroad)

Living in Ecuador


parque-calderon-cuenca-360Are you thinking about living in Ecuador? Does it have what you need? And what part of Ecuador will you live in?

We’ve lived in Ecuador as a family since July 2009. There is no question – a number of things were challenging when we first arrived. But in spite of that, we all love it here. To help you make sense of the hundreds of posts on our site, we’ve built this page to get you started as you plan your new life in Ecuador.

On this page, we cover: getting started, where to live in Ecuador, daily life, living in Ecuador as a family and getting settled.

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Are you looking for information on Ecuador travel?

Check out latest Living in Ecuador posts

Learn about Cuenca, Ecuador.

Okay, ready to learn about living in Ecuador? Lets get started!

Ecuador Expats

In this huge post, we share the stories of 15 different families (some large, with children – others are single) who have moved to Ecuador and are living in the Andes or on the coast. They talk about everything from why they moved, what they love about it and the cost of living in Ecuador.

Living in Ecuador: Getting Started

View of the Yunguilla Valley.

If you are thinking about a move to Ecuador, there are lots of factors to consider. For every expat that chooses Ecuador as their new home – there are more who decide against it. What factors do you need to consider?

Here are three posts about living in Ecuador:

Where to Live in Ecuador

chordeleg-azuay-ecuadorChoosing the area you’ll live in is just as big of a decision as the country itself. Cuenca gets lots of press as an ideal retirement city but there are lots of other options. Small town Ecuador has a strong draw for many expats.

Here are some posts to help you decide on where to live in Ecuador:

Living in Ecuador: Daily Life

The park in the center of Santa Isabel.Choosing an ideal country is one thing – settling into daily life and being happy there is something else. We’ve been covering great things to do in Ecuador over the past few years. Everything from the Galapagos Islands to great Ecuador beaches.

Here are some posts to get you started in your planning:

Living in Ecuador: As a Family

Family life in Ecuador is amazing. We have been here for years and love it. There is so much to enjoy – but there is also lots that we still miss from Canada.

Moving abroad presented some unique challenges, which ultimately helped us be much closer as a family.

Learn more about moving abroad with kids in the Expat Family Handbook.

Living in Ecuador: Getting Settled

yunguilla-valley-near-cuenca-ecuadorSetting up your new life in Ecuador means learning a whole new set of customs – not to mention a new language.

Although Ecuador is a relatively safe country, there are a number of different precautions that you should take – to avoid being a victim of crime. There are also concerns about water and food.

Hungry for more? Why not subscribe to get free blog updates and you’ll never miss a post. {You can subscribe in the box to the right} Takes just a second, you’ll get regular updates on Ecuador living, and it’s free. Subscribe now!

Ready to plan your relocation? You might want to check these 17 Best Expat Books to Plan a Successful Relocation or the more specific post How To Plan Your Ecuador Relocation

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{ 65 comments… add one }

  • chemfreemom March 17, 2015, 1:05 am

    I hear a lot about the healthy, fresh food in Ecuador, but I rarely hear about organic food–not necessarily certified, but local and without gmos, pesticides and chemical fertilizers or herbicides. My son has chemical allergies, and here in the U.S., I get all of my meats, dairy, and eggs from local organic farms. I read about an organic nursery near cotacachi, but. The owner, on the website, said he has to really educate the locals who buys plants because they tend to do use them with chemical fertilizers etc. Do they organic farms there GMO feeds for the animals, and do the large grocery stores have organic bread, and other stuff?

  • Susan February 28, 2015, 2:54 pm

    Hi, we are from South Africa and have plans to retire in Ecuador in a few years. We would like to purchase a one bedroom house/apartment as an investment (spanish style) in the meantime. Any guidance will be greatly appreciated.( 2 adults, no kids)

    • Grant March 17, 2015, 12:11 pm

      Hi Susan…My spouse and I have travelled extensively (including Ecuador) and recommend holding off purchasing a property until you’ve lived in the area for awhile. Renting first allows you time to explore the area, see what the locals see, and ensure you’re not being gouged just because you don’t know the rules. Most of all it allows you the freedom of changing your mind without a huge financial commitment. We retire in three years and have come to the conclusion we’ll keep our house on the beach in Canada (about 100kms from where Bryan and Dena used to live) and simply rent a house or apartment for a few months in the places we decide to travel too each year. Perhaps one day we’ll find exactly the right country to settle down and buy in….Good luck, Grant

  • Emmanuel February 17, 2015, 2:15 am

    Hello, am from Africa ,Nigeria, 28 years of age
    and also a graduate here in Nigeria, my major is Philosophy, I had a challenging life,
    and I will love to explore more and get meet new people. I will like to move to
    Ecuador in few weeks to start a new life but i
    don’t have anyone over there. i need someone
    to help me in putting me through to get
    started. My email address is Thanks so

  • Graeme L February 15, 2015, 9:16 pm

    We are thinking of moving to the San Clemente area does anyone have info about it

  • Clara Wooten December 19, 2014, 11:11 am

    My husband and I are seriously considering taking a TESOL certification class in Quito in the spring. We are retirees with lots of energy and professional backgrounds. After the course we want to pursue short term (3-4 months) english language teaching positions. The course provider indicates there are positions available. However, we want input from someone other than the provider on the availability of positions and where they may be available. We know that Cuenca is probably saturated due to the large expat community. Any information anyone can provide will be greatly appreciated.

  • Jill October 22, 2014, 9:35 am

    Hello My husband and I will be needing a furnished apt in Salinas Jan-end of March for work. If anyone knows of someone needing to rent their place I would welcome to opportunity to discuss. We are from Chicago IL in are mid 30’s and professionals. Thanks

    • Nathalie February 4, 2015, 9:18 pm

      Im selling an apartment in salinas, any suggestion of how to get in contact with expats to sale it?

      • Nathalie February 4, 2015, 9:23 pm

        I saw tour post do you still need it?

      • Nathalie February 4, 2015, 9:31 pm

        I saw your post do you still need it?

  • Komane September 15, 2014, 1:01 am

    Hello, am from South Africa, 29 years of age and also a graduate here in South Africa, I lost my parent few years ago. I will like to move to Ecuador in few weeks to start a new life but i don’t have anyone over there. i need someone to help me in putting me through to get started. My email address is . Thanks so much..

  • Norma G August 30, 2014, 5:10 pm

    we will move from San Francisco to Cuenca Ecuador and want to have our mail redirected from our san francisco address to our new address in Cuenca. Do you have any experience or knowledge of how to make this happen. Secondly what resources would you recommend to find out the customs laws for shipping from San Francisco to Cuenca some of our personal items. thank you so very much sincerely Norma Garcia

  • Bob July 11, 2014, 1:10 am

    Our family is considering a move to Ecuador. I have not been able to find much information on upload/download speeds of internet services in the country. I know Ecuador is known for having some of the highest speeds in all of Latin America, but I’m sure some areas within the country are faster than others. This could be a deciding factor for us based on our work. Thanks.

    • Bryan Haines July 11, 2014, 6:56 am

      Hey Bob, here is our latest review of internet speeds (although we are due for an update): Ecuador internet speeds.

      You can visit the individual providers in that post and see their current offerings.

    • John July 19, 2014, 6:02 pm

      i just spent 1.5 weeks at 10,000 ft in Tambo (about 1 hr north of cuenca and 3 hrs east of guayaquil). we were in town of about 2000 people in the andes and had good internet at the hostel. i was able to Skype with my family back in america every night with no problems…

  • penny hilbert January 29, 2014, 11:04 pm

    I didn”t want to give you the impression I’m elderly or sickly because I’m not. I’m 55 yrs. old and other than the heart condition (which is hereditary), I’m in good shape. I do, however, get out of breath easy and tire faster than others, but I feel good and ready to experience new things and expect that the doctors and/or hospitals in ecuador are able to treat me and refill my medications.

  • penny hilbert January 29, 2014, 3:52 pm

    WOW so much info. Thanks. At this point just a couple questions. Do you have to have a visitors visa just to visit or is that when a person moves there? Also found out that a person can get sick flying into the altitude of Cuenca. Have you or anyone you know had that experience? The reason I ask is that I have a heart condition and have a pacemaker (one of the few spanish sentences I know!) and I live at sea level now – half hour from atlantic ocean.
    Penny H.

    • Bryan Haines January 30, 2014, 6:04 am

      I’ve heard of some new visitors being tired for anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. Cuenca isn’t really high enough to get altitude sickness (as I understand it). Most people just take it easy for a few days as they get acclimatized. Higher elevations are more of a concern.

      • penny hilbert January 30, 2014, 2:04 pm

        Thanks appreciate the information.

        • Bob Woods January 12, 2015, 1:07 pm

          You didn’t describe your heart condition, but maybe I can help. I too have a heart condition (heart valve), and live at 6500′ elevation in Colorado. I’d recommend you concentrate on lower altitudes than Cuenca, but only your doctor can give you that advice. There are several cities at lower altitudes, including Guayaquil, that have excellent health care. Good luck.

  • Ken & Gail January 10, 2014, 10:37 am

    Hello Bryan,
    Have you heard of where “Blake Sawyer” has been living during the past 15 years in Ecuador?
    Is there an English blog that discusses employment opportunities for licensed skilled trades people in Cuenca?
    Do you know of anyone in the Cuenca area that would swap the use of their furnished condo/home, in exchange for the use of our fully furnished 2 bedroom/2.5 bathroom beachfront condo on Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands for 14 days?
    Ken & Gail (Canadian Nationals)

  • SUNDEEP K December 30, 2013, 1:12 am


  • Beth December 3, 2013, 7:22 pm

    I noticed Maria was asking about Malacatos. I moved there recently and am impressed by this pleasant and friendly town. I lived in Cuenca for 5 months and enjoy my time there. But, I the big city is not where I want to stay. So here I am and loving it. Malacatos is an 20 to 30 minutes from Loja and the taxi drivers are very careful driving for the most part. And, if you are willing to share a cab you only pay $1.50 for the drive. Feel free to e-mail me, Maria, if you want more info. I will be in the US from 12/7 to 12/17/2013, then returning to Malacatos.

  • Dave November 23, 2013, 6:32 am

    Great info! Perfect actually.
    We live close to Bridgewater, Nova Scotia and are seriously considering moving somewhere WARM! (time to put another piece of wood in the stove).
    I see you are from Greenwood, so you know what I’m sayin’.
    We’ve learned so much since discovering your site – muchas gracias!! We’re coming down for a visit next January for a few weeks – Quito to Guayaquil by train, on to Salinas, Cuenca.
    Maybe we’ll see you there……

  • Hanna harrison October 29, 2013, 7:34 pm

    How is the crime rate in Cuenca?
    We are looking for year round warm temperature like mid 70s but not hot.
    We also look for another city like Loja and Santo domingos. Do you have any information about those places?
    Thanks for your kind answer. I really enjoy your website. Thanks.


  • Melanie October 22, 2013, 9:09 am

    Just wanted everyone to know we have opened a new GYM in Quito at Reina Victoria & La Pinta esquina. Two blocks south of Burger King / Holiday Inn on Orellana. It’s got a fantastic atmosphere and great Cybex machines. We offer: Yoga, Pilates, Cross-fit, Dance, Jiu-jitsu & Capoeira. Look forward to meeting you all.

  • Jonathon October 22, 2013, 8:57 am

    Hi, I don’t know if anyone might be interested but I’m looking at renting out our lovely house , fully furnished. If anybody has a friend or thinks they may be interested please let us know.

    • Jeff Schinsky December 19, 2013, 8:35 am

      Have you rented it yet? If not, do you have a specific timeline in mind for when you want to rent it? – Jeff S

  • Bruce Farnsworth October 22, 2013, 8:53 am


    Great blog Bryan & Dena!

    If I may, I’d like to share word of my home for sale. If you’re a family or business looking for a nice split level home in Tena, capital of Ecuador’s Napo province and gateway to the Amazon basin, please visit the link below. We came back to the states and now I’m getting my PhD. We just won’t be visiting Ecuador (my “second home”) enough to justify having the home.

    Here’s an ad for the home:
    I will be getting interior photos soon.
    Feel free to write me offline at



  • holly July 24, 2013, 8:52 am

    Information on schools for a 11yr old and 13yr old and finding a place and cost of living. …

  • Marion June 8, 2013, 4:00 pm

    Do you know or have you heard, I just read something about the Ecuadorian government cutting down half of the trees there in order to grow palms for palm oil production? That would be a very sad thing for them to do and I hope that’s not true at all. Supposedly palm oil is not even healthy for people.

    • Bryan Haines June 9, 2013, 6:21 am

      No, I haven’t heard anything about it. Pretty ambitious to cut down half the trees in a country…

  • maria June 7, 2013, 11:54 am

    regarding mail , can I set up a in Cuenca how do I go about my mail? Here in the states the post office does not hold mail for a prolonged time so I do not know what to do. Also do you know if I can buy money orders through the bank to send money back to the states thank you

    • Bryan Haines June 8, 2013, 1:06 pm

      We just opened a box at the post office in Cuenca. This was years ago – so I’m not sure how it works now.

      I know that you can wire money out of the country, but I’m not sure about money orders. They control the flow of currency out of the country.

      • maria June 9, 2013, 11:25 am

        I will check it out the post office when I get there thank you

  • maria June 2, 2013, 12:20 am

    Hi Bryan regarding coffee is it expensive there or should I haul our a case of Folgers coffee? My husband has to drink de-caf. The reason why I ask is just today I got a short message from an expat that I should bring spices,all electronics, sheets, blender,toaster, shower head, this is very EXPENSIVE in Cuenca so I was told????

    • Bryan Haines June 2, 2013, 6:42 am

      Coffee isn’t expensive. We like Cubanito (it’s from Ecuador) and it costs $4.50/lb. We don’t drink decaf but I’m sure it’s available. It is true that blenders cost more here – ours was around $50 for a basic one – but I don’t think it is worth hauling one from home. Why not buy a brand new one and save the hassle? Spices, at least the ones we use, are all available here and not expensive. We haven’t bought a shower head so I’m not sure.

      • maria June 2, 2013, 12:08 pm

        lol thank you Bryan…We are excited about out trip and I want to take the time to THANK YOU FOR THE TIME YOU HAVE TAKEN to answer my questions BECAUSE OF YOUR BLOG AND EXPERIENCE IS THE REASON WHY WE ARE MOVING I DISCOVERED A FEW YEARS BACK and our planning has been “in the works” to move to CUENCA..and FINALLY the time is nearing..THANK YOU AGAIN BRYAN maybe we will see walking about Calle Larga with your family .

        • Bryan Haines June 14, 2013, 5:04 pm

          So great to hear. Thanks for your amazing feedback.

          All the best on your plans!

  • Nancy May 22, 2013, 9:32 am

    Ah, so sorry Bryan. I wanted to follow up to an initial posting you had kindly responded to and now I can’t find it. Forgive me!
    My initial question was whether expat musicians can work in Ecuador. My follow up question was to ask if you knew whether there are gigs available? How hard is it to find music gigs as an expat DJ or live performer?
    Thanks for any feedback!

    • Bryan Haines May 22, 2013, 3:53 pm

      I’m not really into the music scene here, but I know there are many events that play live music. When you come to visit, you can check it out.

  • Daniel Thomann May 15, 2013, 8:49 pm

    Hi Brian
    We (a couple) are currently in Cuenca and have decided to apply for residency. How can we find all the info on what exactly is needed to start this process? Are there different requirements for different nationalities? We have double citizenship and have the choice to apply under either one.

    • Bryan Haines May 16, 2013, 8:44 am

      That’s a good question. We used an immigration lawyer here in Cuenca – they are up to date with all the current requirements. I understand that there is a site for the immigration department but I don’t know what it is. There are some different requirements between Canadians and Americans – primarily with apostilled or legalized documents. Also, some birth certificates have different requirements.

    • Daniel Thomann May 16, 2013, 9:01 am

      Thanks Brian
      Any recommendations regarding a lawyer?

      • Bryan Haines May 16, 2013, 9:36 am

        We used Grace and Nelson – Ecuador immigration lawyers here in Cuenca.

      • Jeff Schinsky December 19, 2013, 8:47 am

        Daniel, I spoke with a number of expats while I was there, and based on what I’ve heard, I want to second Bryan’s recommendation. There are slightly less-expensive attorneys, but I’ve heard nothing but great things about Grace and Nelson. To be more specific (and to use Grace’s own words), they do quite a bit of “hand holding” and deal with many things themselves that other attorneys foist off on their clients. Grace and Nelson also work pretty much exclusively through Quito, making the net result a more smooth and worry-free transition for expats. Just last week I asked Grace if coming back (with everything complete) by March or April was feasible, and she assured me it was. Other Gringos I know who used other attorneys have been waiting closer to a year, and they’re still in a state of relative limbo. – Jeff S

  • maria May 14, 2013, 7:30 pm

    Hi Bryan I have my tourist visa cost 240.00 each for my husband and I we can stay 6 months and I also have a Proof of Income with an apostile …we will be looking for permanent residency how difficult is it to have the residency and what is the cost. Thank you. I plan to do everything myself I think I can do as I am fluent in Spanish and I might be able to save some money that way. thanks Maria

    • Bryan Haines May 15, 2013, 5:22 am

      Getting residency isn’t hard. Some expats use lawyers and others are doing the process themselves. I don’t know the current costs, sorry.

      • maria May 16, 2013, 9:51 am

        K THANK YOU

  • maria May 13, 2013, 5:26 pm

    Bryan at this we are offered a home in Malacatos. Do you know any expats that live there I can connect with? I am not sure if we are going to take it but my husband like the photos and where the house sits etc…he feels comfortable with the owner as he speaks Portuguese and so does my husband. Okay thank you again, Maria Aurelia

    • Bryan Haines May 13, 2013, 6:53 pm

      I know that there are a lot of expats in that part of the country, but I don’t know them personally. A trip there will help you know the area.

      • maria May 13, 2013, 7:32 pm

        thank you

  • Bruce Hicks May 11, 2013, 9:03 am

    I’m hoping someone here knows the answer…I saw on someone’s Ecuador blog how to disguise the local IP address to make it look like a U.S. IP. This would allow Netflix streaming video for instance. The posting had a link to a website that I failed to save!

    • Bryan Haines May 12, 2013, 6:36 am

      There are a number of ways. You can use a browser plugin called and it opens Netflix USA along with Hulu and other streaming sites. You don’t need a US IP address to get Netflix, we use it here and just get the Latin American version.

    • Andy December 18, 2013, 9:21 am

      Google VPN. Lots of choices. I use it in Panama. Pretty cheap and works great.

      • Jeff Schinsky December 19, 2013, 3:42 am

        Be sure to read the fine-print on some of these VPN providers. Also look for reviews from past and current users. Some VPN services will throttle your speed, depending on what you’re doing, and others have certain restrictions that I find: 1) None of their business, and, 2) None of their business. I haven’t been in touch with the individual who assists folks in setting up VPN service in Cuenca (see, but he may be a good resource.

  • maria May 9, 2013, 11:48 pm

    I AM SO SORRY FOR ASKING SO MANY QUESTIONS….my husband does not want to wait so many hours from the time we get to Quito to the time the plane leaves to Cuenca the following day…do you wait that long when you come back from holiday from the states or do you go a different route once you fly into Quito. Have a great day….Maria Aurelia

    • Bryan Haines May 10, 2013, 9:33 am

      We often fly through Guayaquil, but there isn’t really a good way to avoid a long wait. Sometimes, but generally it is 5-12 hours.

      • maria May 10, 2013, 6:07 pm

        yup just confirmed that information with another expat thank you for all your help we have decided to fly into Guayaquil and take a van to Cuenca.

  • maria May 9, 2013, 12:57 pm

    Hello there we are so excited we are in the process of completing our visa 12-9 for the 6 months we were told since we are looking to live there they told us told to also apply for a “Pensioners Visa”.

  • Dot April 24, 2013, 10:01 pm

    coming in a bit more than a month…for 3 months…..doing a tour, and then planning to go to Cuenca….need housing, etc….any help would be greatly appreciated!!!!

  • Leo E Labertew February 23, 2013, 7:33 pm

    Thanks for the info, I appreciate it. I heard that currency is king in Ecuador.

  • Leo E Labertew February 21, 2013, 6:50 pm

    Just a quick question about currency in Ecuador. I have heard that cash is the only way to go and also that only small bills (one’s and fives) are really accepted. How should I plan for that during my three month stay?

    • Bryan Haines February 23, 2013, 2:14 pm

      Cash up to $20 bills are commonly accepted. But don’t try to pay for a $4 purchase with a $20. You should confirm with your bank that you can withdraw funds from your account at the atms here. Thats what most travelers/expats do. Travelers checks are not common.

      Once you withdraw from a bank machine, you can go into the bank and get some of the $20’s changed to $5’s and $10’s. It makes things much easier.


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We are a Canadian family of 3 living in Ecuador since 2009. 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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