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Ecuador Expat Life: David Day Living in Canoa, Manabi

Posted in: Expats in Ecuador, Living in Ecuador

This is part of our Ecuador Expats Series.   

Ecuador Expat Life:  David Day Living in Canoa, Manabi

The Expat: David Day


David Day with his young son

Where are you currently living?

In December of 2004 I arrived in Quito after some years traveling in and out of Peru. In Quito I bought a cheap Chinese motorcycle and began touring Ecuador. Eventually I made it to the small coastal fishing village of Canoa, Manabi.

There wasn’t much here at the time – just some fishing boats on the beach and bamboo/wood houses scattered around the sparse community. I fell in love with the simplicity, the ambiance, the fresh seafood and the warm hospitality.

Canoa still doesn’t have a stop sign or red light but it has grown tremendously in the short time that I have been here. When I first arrived my cheap motorcycle was the only one in Canoa.

What’s Your Story?

I was fortunate to have traveled the majority of my life. My father, a retired chemistry professor, loved to spend his summer vacations exploring the world. As a child I spent time with my family traveling extensively through Mexico, Canada, and the good ole’ USA.

Eventually, in my freshman year of High school, my father took the family across Europe to settle in Vienna, Austria for a year-long sabbatical. The traveling only escalated once I left the nest.

I have since been blessed to have traveled throughout Latin America, Europe and Asia. I am a semi-retired Math instructor. I taught many years at a small university in Louisiana – SLU.

Now I am enjoying a relaxing and healthy life in Canoa with my Ecuadorian wife, Laura, my stepdaughter Gabi and our new 5 month old son, Orion.

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

Timing was everything. I arrived in Ecuador with a pocket full of change and a wide open future. Landing in Canoa was an accident but it didn’t take an Einstein to see it had potential. I bought a small lot one block from the beach in 2005, build a modest house and have been here since.

Read more about the beaches in Ecuador

Getting my first 3 month tourist visa extension was easy. After a few attempts to find the correct building, I paid my 75 cents and walked out with three more months in my passport. In those days things were much more relaxed.

In 2007 I did the paperwork to get my permanent resident visa. The process was much more personal back then.

You actually got assigned a case worker who sat down with you in a private office. Mine was very attractive and personal and helped me obtain my visa in record time – one week. Its a good thing that I made the move to get my resident visa when I did. Shortly after I was legal Correa was elected and the wheels began to turn.

The whole visa process, buying property, getting building permits, getting your cedula (ID card), etc… all have become more time consuming and impersonal since the good ole’ days. If your Spanish is poor please look for a competent person to help you with these legal issues. Be sure this person is legit.

How’s your Spanish?

I spent several months living in Thailand before coming to Ecuador. I loved southeast Asia and seriously considered moving there. However, I never felt comfortable not knowing the language well. I was already 75% fluent in Spanish, so, I opted for living in the Latin world.

Coming to Ecuador speaking Spanish well made an incredible difference. There was no getting lost, not knowing how to get the right deals, finding affordable lodging or food and meeting the locals.

Without a good command of the language I recommend you find a reliable guide to help you get around safely. This will eliminate the hassle and potential of getting overcharged at every turn.

What do you do?


I am currently working for Roches Brewing Co. We are one of very few micro-brewing companies in Ecuador. This is a brand new operation based out of Canoa, Manabi.

The master brewer has many years of brewing experienced and our beers are considered by many to be the best in Ecuador. Our beers are sold in Cuenca so if you get a chance please give us a try.

I am also working as a bilingual personal tour guide.

How do you find the cost of living in Ecuador?

Utilities are cheap. Food is cheap. Labor is cheap. Medical care is cheap and reliable. Gas is cheap.

Hotels are cheap. I can stay in Quito near the Mariscal in a very nice Hotel for $15/person (Ricks Hotel – Reina Victoria y Carrion). I can get a full meal (almuerzo) for $2.50. I pay $2.25 for a tank of propane gas that will last me two months. I could go on…

What do you love about Ecuador?

I have an in-depth personal experience survival guide which covers this category.

I want to thank Bryan and Dena for allowing us to share our stories an helpful tips.

Please be careful. If you are going to build, start with a tall brick wall around the construction site first. You will want it anyway once the building is complete. Home invasions are becoming more and more common.

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Meet the Author

Bryan Haines is co-editor of GringosAbroad - Ecuador's largest blog for expats and travelers. He is a travel blogger and content marketer. He is also co-founder of ClickLikeThis (GoPro tutorial blog) and Storyteller Travel.

12 comments… add one
  • Alan B. Jan 30, 2018, 12:38 am

    Can anybody out there give me a clear vision of all the reconstruction going on in Canoa and Bahia de Caraquez? Is it a good time to head back there now for another visit? I understand life got real hard and a lot of extranjeros just packed it up and relocated, at least temporarily……..Is Canoa once again livable? Thnx for any information………

  • Judith Jun 6, 2015, 11:45 am

    Looking for a house inspector that is familiar with Ecuador building standards and systems for July 3rd at Mirador San José, Manabi. Please email me.

  • Mary Leblanc Jan 30, 2014, 7:46 pm

    Ronan Farrow’s brave words about his adoptive father’s abusive behavior makes me cringe as I read about David Day’s proud autobio of his life and career. To paraphrase/borrow from Ronan (who is a true crusader of both children and communities throughout the world) – Did David Day mention the abuse of his biological daughter before/after his illustrious career and travels?

  • Michael Reese Mar 28, 2013, 11:51 am

    My wife and I are planning to visit Ecuador in the next 6 months. We are wanting to look at different places with the idea of moving there if we like what we see. Do you have any advice on different ways to move about the country to see these places such as rent a motorcycle or are there tours that will give a good idea what the variety of places look like?

    • Stewart Apr 5, 2013, 6:46 pm

      Hello Michael,
      You didn’t ask me, but I wanted to share my 2 cents. A friend of mine works at the new Mariscal Sucre Airport in Tababela (replaces the one in Quito). They have Hertz, Avis, Budget, Thrifty and others for car rental. Try a website through google or yahoo. You’ll get several options. Pick “Leer más… – Aeropuerto Mariscal Sucre” then click “Transporte” then “renta-de-autos”. There you’ll find the contacts info.
      There are cheaper rental companies working out of the old airport. One is “Simon Rent a Car”

      Don’t know about motorcycles, but I would advise renting a car.

      Good luck,

  • Stewart Mar 10, 2013, 8:25 pm

    Dear Francis,

    It sounds like you’re looking for a coastal city. Guayaquil is the largest city in Ecuador and at a low elevation that should have plenty of doctors and dentists. What are your other criteria?

    For example what is an acceptable crime rate? There are a few factors to consider. Maybe a beach condo in Salinas is better, but I don’t know how are the hospitals and dental facilities there.

    Good Luck and best regards,

  • Frances Crawford Mar 10, 2013, 3:48 pm


    My husband and I are seriously considering moving to Ecuador. My one big problem is altitude. We now live in the US at an altitude of 2,500 ft. and I would like to reside in a city no higher than that. Can you recommend a place at that altitude or lower that has good medical and dental facilities?

    Thank you for your help.

  • SKC Jan 12, 2013, 1:09 pm

    Planning to move to Salinas,Ecuador and will need retiree visa . We will be traveling for three weeks to Ecuador to look for real estate in Feb. we have birth certificates , background, proof of income, US pssports, marriage lic,all apostille, trying to find out best way to have everything transulated. Once done do we go to Ecuador Consultant here in US? There is one in Miami to start the process? I guess I am asking now what do next. Cost for processing everything seems to vary…Would like the real scoop please. Where we do not speak spanish we need some one we can trust to walk us through the process any suggestions? Every web site we go to does not have same information on visa process and time frame? Can you advise?

    • Stewart Jan 16, 2013, 1:20 pm

      Hello SKC,
      Just my 2 cents worth of info. Bryan has listed lawyers on his website that should be reliable for the legal part. I would go to the Ecuadorian Consulate in Miami before you travel to Ecuador. In general here things take longer for approvals.
      Here is a contact for the real estate part (speaks english and spanish): Silvia Sevilla email:

      Keep in mind laws change many times here so one person´s experience of immigrating will different from another´s.
      Good Luck,

  • Richard Nov 24, 2012, 9:28 am

    I am sure this has been answered before so excuse the redundancy. My wife and I would like to be expats in the near future, but one of our main concerns is having good health insurance coverage. Most insurances that we read about is for short term trip insurance. Is there a site that compares supplemental insurance coverages while living abroad? How do other expats make sure they have ample, medical, dental and prescription coverage?

  • Stewart Nov 23, 2012, 6:47 am

    Hi David. Glad to meet a true world traveler!
    I mean you must be comfortable in almost any situation
    in foreign countries. For those not so comfortable when it comes
    to lodging there are brand name hotels in Quito like Hilton,
    Marriott, Sheraton even a Holiday Inn Express but for much more
    than $15 per night than that boutique hotel.
    The point is that Quito has everything a big city can offer!
    Congrats on your son too.

  • mcooks Nov 22, 2012, 6:13 pm

    Very cool! We know the Roches and tried their beer at their daughter’s wedding, and we’re happy to have alternatives to the very few ales in the Cuenca! 🙂

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