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Our Life in Ecuador: Franziska & Daniel Pedersen Living in La Unión, Yunguilla Valley

Posted in: Cuenca Ecuador, Expats in Ecuador, Living in Ecuador

This is part of our Ecuador Expats Series. Do you live in Ecuador? Share your Story here

Our Life in Ecuador: Franziska & Daniel Pedersen

The Expats: Franziska & Daniel Pedersen

Ecuador-Expat-Profile-Franziska-Daniel-PedersenWhat is your blog url?

Twitter: @santuarioh
Facebook: Santuario-Hibiscus

Where are you currently living?

Dan and I live in La Unión, Azuay, Ecuador (about 1 hour south of Cuenca).

What’s Your Story?

Dan is a US citizen and I am Swiss. We got married on February 8th, 2008 in Berne, Switzerland after meeting in Costa Rica in 2004.

This is one of those stories that only life can write – unexpected, exciting and to say the least – unusual.

Dan had spent most of his life in Marysville and Evans, Washington State. Franziska was more of a vagabond and started traveling at a very young age. She lived in Vancouver, Canada, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, Chicago, USA and Montreux, Switzerland.

After working with a pleasure boat manufacturer Dan started his own wood furnace business in the late 80’s. Always on the lookout for new adventures and things to learn he designed and built his farmhouse and spent the next few years farming. He then signed up as a finish carpenter – traveling and working across the United States.

Franziska spent most of her career in the tourism industry. After her apprenticeship in a travel agency and subsequent travels she earned a degree in Hotel Management. She worked in different hotels and restaurants in the events/conference and banqueting area.

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

Coming from rather cool climates with lots of rain moving to a southern country and start a little guesthouse/hotel was a life long dream for both of us.

We believe that putting together Dan’s talent for anything manual (woodwork, pluming, electrical, design etc.) and my experience working in tourism we can create a very special and unique place.

We spent our first night in our new home on October 8th, 2010 and plan on staying for a long time to come. The creation of a business gave us access to our visas.

How’s your Spanish?

Coming from Europe – where (almost) everybody speaks at least 2 languages – I think speaking the local tongue helps tremendously!

Speaking perfectly is not necessary but having the courage to make mistakes will help improve fast.

My mother tongue is German and Dan’s is English.

What do you do?

We are currently renovating our house and plan to open as a little hotel later this year.

How do you find the cost of living in Ecuador?

Coming from Switzerland I am probably not the right person to ask – most things seem soooo incredibly inexpensive! But also compared to the US live is more than affordable here!

Buying at local markets make your money go quite far – if you opt to shop at Supermaxi things change of course. Still – there meat is given away in the eyes of a Swiss…

I had mayor dental work done when we first came – my total bill here was about US $1000 – I would have paid about CHF 6’000 in Switzerland!

What do you love about life in Ecuador?

The abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables year round is incredible!

We both love the climate – I think I’ve seen more sunshine in the past year than I’ve seen the rest of my life in Switzerland!

Dan loves not having to get permits for everything he changes on the house and the land taxes are almost a joke.

We do feel safe here taking the necessary and normal precautions. During renovation/building the laid back life style seems sometimes a bit too relaxed and getting quality products and work can be a challenge…

We would recommend to anyone considering moving to Ecuador to consult with expat blogs and other resources that can be found on the internet! Visiting for a longer period of time will help you take a decision!

Our favorite place to hang out is – without a doubt – our patio! Dan makes this incredible “Hibiscus Cooler“!

Ecuador-Expat-Profile-Franziska-Daniel-Pedersen-santuario-hibiscus Ecuador-Expat-Profile-Franziska-Daniel-Pedersen-santuario-hibiscus2 Ecuador-Expat-Profile-Franziska-Daniel-Pedersen

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Meet the Author

Dena Haines is co-editor of GringosAbroad - Ecuador's largest blog for expats and travelers. She is a travel blogger and content marketer. She is also co-founder of ClickLikeThis (GoPro tutorial blog) and Storyteller Media (content marketing for travel brands). Work with GringosAbroad.

13 comments… add one
  • Michael and Betty Jones Sep 8, 2014, 1:08 pm

    Fran and Dan, My wife and I have just retired from the healthcare industry in Texas and are in Ecuador for the next 6 weeks exploring places with an eye toward relocation. Betty and I are both active painters and photographers and Ecuador seems like an artists’ dream. We will be in Cuenca from September 22 through October 4. Could we possibly meet. We desperately need to meet some people who have lived in the area and can offer some insights into Living in Cuenca.. Warmest Regards, (und Vielen Dank, fur Fran!) Michael Jones

    • Fran & Dan Pedersen Sep 9, 2014, 8:18 pm

      Dear Michael and Betty!
      We are happy to share our experiences – feel free to contact us once you are in the area.
      Please be advised that we are located about 1 1/2 hour outside the city of Cuenca in the Yunguilla Valley.
      Kind regards,
      Fran & Dan

  • Christine Quilling May 4, 2013, 10:37 am

    Hi Dan,
    Enjoyed your story about moving to Equador..We hope, Lord willing to spend 3 months , Jan-March of 2014 in Equador checking it out to see if it would be a fit for my husband, son and myself…Will definately plan to stay with you a couple of nights..We want to learn more about coffee plantations and Balsa trees are interesting us..We would like to do some sort of farming to supplement our income as SS will be slim for us and we are still ambicious enough to not just set back and retire. Do you have any ideas how we could learn more about coffee growing and balsa trees, not too much on the internet..Thanks so much and look forward to meeting you both…Chris Quilling (from Montana)

    • Dan May 5, 2013, 11:28 am

      Hi Chris,
      Well here in Ecuador elevation sets the climate so which crop you choose depends on elevation.

      We are at 4500 ft. and that is great for coffee,we have a little over 1000 plants and are working on getting it back into production.It is easy to sell coffee in the dried whole bean stage but there is not a lot of money in that. We are looking into selling at the green bean stage for export,we will have to wait and see how that develops. We are now harvesting enough to serve our guests and very soon will have our own blend to sell.A friend has a lot of coffee and roasts his own and sells it to hotels and restaurants in Cuenca and is building quite a name there.

      Balsa that we have seen grows lower,1000 ft. or less,and in a humid climate. I don’t know much about marketing or care,the trees we have seen were along a river near Pasaje without any care at all.

      Checkout our website and if you have more questions please feel free to ask.

      Dan and Fran

      • Christine Quilling May 8, 2013, 8:32 am

        Dear Dan and Fran,
        Thanks so much for information, we hope to visit you in early 2014! Yours Truly, Christine Quilling

  • Stefan Mattlage Aug 28, 2011, 5:43 pm

    Is the place where you are at about the same elevation as Cuenca and is the climate pretty much the same. What size is the town? When you say Normal Precautions to stay safe what does that mean? I am intrigued with the farming possibilities there. How close are you to areas that can grow citrus and avocados etc. Are they available locally? Would love to see more pictures of the area near you and your house. We plan to visit in 2012 to get a feel for the area. Perhaps we would be some of your first customers.
    Regards Stef

    • Dan Sep 4, 2011, 8:10 pm

      Hi Stef
      No, la Union is 1000m (3000feet) lower and the temperatures a lot warmer! It is a subtropical /arrid climate so with water you can grow things year round The town itself is small – maybe about 500 people but it is a rural area with most of the people living around town. As far as safety is concerned – we try not to walk around with expensive looking cameras or jewelery…just the normal stuff, trying to blend in!
      We grow tons of citrus on our property as well as avocados, Bananas, Mangos – you name it! Everything you need as far as fruits and vegatables goes you can get in the next town,Santa Isabel,there is the areas largest market every Sunday. Or if you get a place with property there is usually lots of food bearing plants allready in place.As far as farming goes you can’t make much money at it but you can feed yourself with just about anything all year!
      Check out our website and you can see a lot of pictures of the area and our project.We are looking forward to seeing you!! Dan & Fran


  • Judy Boyd Aug 12, 2011, 9:38 am

    Hi Fran and Dan! Enjoyed reading your profile. Dan, Did you know The Candy Box in Marysville? That was owned and operated by Allen’s aunt and uncle for many, many years. They had (maybe still have) wonderful turtles.

    • Dan Sep 4, 2011, 8:17 pm

      Hi Judy,

      No I don’t know the place but I left Marysville about 20 years ago and things change there so fast!!! The turtles sound good,maybe they could ship some down for our open house!! Hope all is well…

      Dan & Fran

      • Judy Boyd Feb 7, 2013, 12:20 pm

        Hey there — just saw your response. We’re enjoying Santa Fe. Come visit!

    • Melissa Nov 6, 2011, 8:12 pm

      Hi Judy – Sorry to bother you, but are you by chance Donna’s daughter? This webpage came up in my research so I figured I’d try to contact you here.

      Thanks 🙂

      • Judy Boyd Feb 7, 2013, 12:21 pm

        Hi, just saw this post. No, I’m not Donna’s daughter. Sorry!

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