Ecuador Expat Profile: Dena Haines, Cuenca
The Expat: Dena Haines
What is your blog url?
Where are you currently living?
We’ve been living in Cuenca Ecuador since July 2009.
What’s Your Story?
We are a Canadian family of 3 from a small town in N.S. We had never lived outside of Canada before, we had a house and a business, and we lived just down the street from our parents.
When and where did you get the idea of living in Ecuador?
Bryan and I always had the itch to move abroad, both before we met and after we were married in 1999.
When our daughter came along in 2000 we decided to wait until she was, what we felt was a good age to make a major move.
We wanted to move to have more time to spend together as a family, somewhere less expensive so we wouldn’t have to spend so much time working. We also wanted to give our daughter the gift of a second language and the richness that comes with being exposed to a different culture.
So when she was around 7 we began seriously sorting out our options.
We had a house and business that we had to sell, and we needed to narrow down the options of which country would best suit the personality of our family.
How’s your Spanish?
The primary language here in Ecuador is Spanish, and we are learning slowly but surely.
We didn’t know any Spanish when we arrived, so it’s been a steep learning curve. After about a year and a half we can understand most of what we hear, and make ourselves understood.
Knowing the language before arriving would have made things much easier, but sometimes if you wait, you never make it because things keep coming up.
I would say that if you know you can’t move for a year or two, learn Spanish, but if you can move now – just do it.
I do think it’s important to learn to speak fluently while living here, but it takes time and it’s a bumpy road, so don’t stress to much as you work to progress.
What do you do?
Bryan and I are both writers. Bryan writes for About.com, a New York Times company, as do I. We both blog here on GringosAbroad.com and I do some travel writing.
Bryan is a photographer, and I do some graphic design.
How do you find the cost of living in Ecuador?
We are very happy with the cost of living here. Because things are less expensive we only work part time, and have more time for other things.
What do you love about Ecuador?
Wow what do I love about Cuenca? A lot! The culture is more laid back, people don’t worry as much about having the best car or clothes or house. Family is very important, and Ecuadorians are a warm people. The climate, cost of living, food . . .
One thing I don’t like is standing out. Because we look different people stare at us, this is not a big deal but I’m the type of person that likes to just blend in.
We read all kinds of weird stuff before we moved, we got the feeling that we would be targets of all kinds of scams, like being sprayed with mustard . . . but we’ve never even seen anyone being scammed, or heard any of our friends talk about being scammed.
The housing here is very nice. Lots of new homes and apartments to rent and it’s very affordable.
I really like the Kookaburra cafe, and Frutilados cafe = YUM!
The only advice I would give is to do your research and be realistic.
If you don’t enjoy really hot weather, you shouldn’t buy a place on the beach. If you like to feel secure, make sure you move to an area that had the proper infrastructure in place to give you what you require. Oh yes, and if you have the means and desire to do it, do it now! 🙂