This is part of our Ecuador Expats Series.
Ecuador Expat Profile: Jessamyn, Tena Ecuador
The Expat: Jessamyn
What is your blog url?
Where are your currently living?
I live in Tena, Ecuador. We moved to Tena in 1998 and I have lived here off and on ever since. Most recently, we moved back to Tena after an extended trip the US in 2011.
What’s Your Story?
I was born in Loveland, Colorado, USA. I’ve lived in Texas and Wisconsin, USA.
But I keep coming back to Ecuador. I’m married to an Ecuadorian and we have a 10 year old son.
When and where did you get the idea of living in Ecuador?
My parents decided to move to a foreign country after a road trip to Baja California, Mexico. They loved the lifestyle. Plus we are volunteers for an international Bible work and wanted a way to expand our efforts.
After our trip we found out that friends of ours were moving to Chillanes, Ecuador. They told my parents of many “gringo” families with kids living in Ecuador and that was the beginning of our grand adventure.
We moved to Ecuador in 1997. A family of six in Ecuador. First we lived in San Miguel de Bolivar, a small town in Bolivar province.
After a year struggling with the water situations (we had water for about 2 hours a day) we moved to Tena.
My parents stayed until 2000 and only left because of the economic scare in 1999. They almost lost all of their savings that were in Ecuadorian banks.
Plus while their funds were frozen they lost out on a piece of property that they intended to buy, build a house on, and build a small hotel. So when they released money to those in the country on missionary visas my family took their money and ran.
See just some of the animals that live in the rain forest in this new guide: 47 Rainforest Animals
How’s your Spanish?
We didn’t speak any Spanish before moving to Ecuador. We learned the language through daily interaction with the people and some lessons given to us by friends.
Being married to an Ecuadorian has helped a lot to refine my language skills… since he isn’t afraid to correct me… and I’m not afraid to ask him questions.
I feel learning Spanish is key to enjoying life in Ecuador. Ecuador is full of natural beauty, but the people of Ecuador add to the beauty. They are kind and welcoming. And having friends in Ecuador is a big part of the reason we are still here.
How do you make your living?
I work online and I am also currently developing a discount travel card to encourage tourism in Ecuador: Ecuador VIP – check it out when you travel to Ecuador or if you live here and want to see more of the country – sorry one shameless plug :). My husband works locally in Tena.
We don’t make much, but we don’t need much to live. We saved up to be able to build our own house. Which we built and paid off in 2010. So we don’t pay rent.
We spend about $450 a month on essentials. About $300 of that is food. So we can live very cheaply if we need to. Tena is definitely not as expensive as other areas of the country…although much of the produce is trucked in from the mountains, making some items more expensive.
My $450 a month budget is with limited eating out and extras. We are simple people with a simple lifestyle and no rent.
What do you love about Ecuador?
I love the people of Ecuador. And I also love the variety of people I’ve met from all around the world while living here. I now have friends for life all over the globe. Living in Ecuador has opened my eyes to a way of life that is simple yet amazing educational and rewarding.
Ecuador is not free of problems. And safety is a growing concern. We live behind a massive wall and have bars on our windows. But that’s to be expect just about anywhere you are going to live… whether in Ecuador or elsewhere.
If you’re considering moving to Ecuador my number one tip is come down and visit. And not just for a couple of weeks during which you plan to travel every step of the way. Stay somewhere and experience day to day life.
Read more Ecuador Expat stories.