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Ecuador Expat Profile: Jamie Stambaugh Living in Cotacachi

Posted in: Living in Ecuador

This is part of our Ecuador Expats Series.

Ecuador Expat Profile: Jamie Stambaugh Living in Cotacachi

The Expats: Jamie & Bo Stambaugh and Family


Where are you currently living?

Cotacachi, Imbabura, Ecuador

What’s Your Story?

We are a family of 4 living in and traveling around South America for the 12-15 months.

My husband, Bo, worked for the ski resort in Crested Butte, CO and I was a stay at home mom to our two young boys Vaughn (6) and Luke (4).

At the start of 2012, Bo quit his job, we sold all our belongings, packed up 4 suitcases, a backpack, and 2 pillow pets — and boarded a one-way flight from Denver, Colorado to Guayaquil, Ecuador.

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

We’ve lived in Colorado our whole lives, but love traveling outside our state and country lines to experience and participate in the world around us as often as we can.

Bo and I have been married for 10 years, and for each of those years we dreamed off and on of someday living abroad as a family. We feel strongly that the experience of foreign travel and cultural exposure will be about the best gift we can offer our children as they grow and decide what role they want to play in the world.

It doesn’t hurt us either, to re-think what we believe, how we do things, and what really matters.

How’s your Spanish?

Bo and I had both studied Spanish in high school and college, although we are embarrassingly rusty. The boys knew nothing coming into this, but part of our plan was to settle for the first 6 months of this Family Sabbatical and enroll everyone in school.

Language classes for Bo and I and local school for the boys. Which is what we’ve done here in Cotacachi. Vaughn is attending 1st grade at Las Lomas, and Luke is attending Pre-kinder at San Bernadino.

Both boys have done an AMAZING job just getting up each day to try and try again with a strange class and new kids and a different language. They are both about 3 weeks in to their schooling now and picking up new words all the time.

It’s fun to see them light up when the come bounding out of their classroom saying, “Mom! I learned more new words today!” Of course, that doesn’t happen every day – but often enough to give us hope that some powerful language neurons are being laid in their young and developing brains.

The hope is that all 4 of us will leave this learning time speaking Spanish well enough to have it really enhance the rest of our travels in South America.

Read more stories of expats in Ecuador.

What do you do?

Well, we aren’t making a living right now. I feel like writing “we’re making a life” — but I know how cheesy that sounds. (Ha! It’s true though!)

We have been saving for this experience for a while, we sold our house, our cars, and most of our belongings and are using that money to fund our Sabbatical.

There is a limit in our bank account at which we are not willing to go home without, so when that point is reached we’ll head back. We are hoping that we can stretch it 12-15 months at least, but travel is full of (financial) surprises and so we just don’t know for sure.

How do you find the cost of living in Ecuador?

The cost of living here in Cotacachi is tremendously cheaper than what we lived on in Crested Butte. That said – there is a learning curve to meeting a budget, even here.

The local produce is great and cheap, but if your kids won’t eat it and you give in to another pizza night… that can sometimes add up. And yes, there are places to rent for as low as $250/month.

But each of those places we looked at weren’t ones we felt comfortable in. Some people would, we just didn’t. I think being very honest with yourself about what you can and cannot handle about your living space will help a lot when budgeting for a place to live.

We are currently renting a 2 bedroom apartment on the top floor of a renovated hostel for $500/month. That includes all our utilities — although we are paying extra for faster internet and an empleada (housekeeper) who comes 3 mornings a week.

We are looking around for a more affordable option that we’d still feel at home in, but even $500/month is INFINITELY better than the $2-400 a week a family of 4 can spend on hotels.

A lot of guidebooks will tell you that a place is, say, $10/night. But the fine print is that that is per-person. So for us, a super-budget hostel is around $40/night- 7 nights… $280/ week. You can imagine how happy we are to be settled! 🙂

What do you love about Ecuador?

We spent the first month of our time traveling Ecuador scouting out different places that might work for this settled down phase of our trip.

We saw a lot of beautiful country and met a lot of friendly people, but nothing struck our hearts as much as the culture and countryside here in the Cotacachi/Otavalo area.


We love the towering green volcanoes that rise up all around the city. We love living side by side with the beautiful and justly proud indigenous people of this area. We love the abundance of healthy produce that can be had for a quarter, or less!

We love that we are really living in another country, with another culture, and another language. There is a lot to get used to and some of our adjustment has been harder than imagined — but not a day goes by that we don’t know we are living a dream come true.

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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.

54 comments… add one
  • Cherie Jul 28, 2019, 12:22 am


    I visited Cotacachi 10 years ago and it spoke to me. I currently live in the Philippines,and have decided to move to Cotacachi. I plan on renting for a month while I locate a long term rental. My biggest concern is I do not speak Spanish and am concerned about day to day communication. I plan on studying when I catch my breath. Would you advise if as a non Spanish speaker if I’ll be okay?

    I have a rental budget for long term of no more than $400 for a 1 bed. As a single woman wishing to continue my leather craft business, it’s very important to live in an uplifting home environment with outdoor space, fireplace. I hope my budget will allow me the place.
    Any local contacts would be appreciated.

  • Steven Eads Jul 20, 2018, 5:33 pm

    My wife and I are looking to move to Cotacachi soon. But I’m looking for current information. This post is several years old. What’s it like now in 2018? For example, I check the rental housing advertised on Craigslist regularly. ( Is rent increasing?) What about the rest of the items included in the cost of living? What can anyone tell me?

  • Sherri Jan 16, 2017, 4:50 pm

    Hi Jamie, I am a single woman, 56, thinking about traveling and settling down in Ecuador. Have you researched the cost of buying a small home there? Do you feel it is better to rent than to own or vice versa? I’m trying to make the best investment I can, as I will not be able to retire for 10 years. Thank you! I admire you for having the courage to venture into another culture. It’s exciting for me, too, but I want to be as best prepared as possible!

  • James Schuh Dec 27, 2015, 9:44 am

    We are seeking Ex Pats in Quito as we are visiting soon, 3 adults, and two teenage children. We need to find lodging near Plaza Grande in south Quito for last week of January and first week of February. We are also investigating medical mission opportunities in Ecuador. Can you help?
    Thank you for your kindness,

  • B Wood Jul 26, 2015, 10:20 pm

    I know this blog is a bit dated but my family and I are seriously considering heading to Cotacachi. We have a 1 year old and a 3 year old. We are looking at renting a furnished home for a few months to see how we like the area. It sounds like the right place for us to be from what I read. My husband and I backpacked all over Ecuador about 10 years ago but not with little ones!! Anything that we should be thinking about or considering heading that way with little children? While we definitely want to become immersed in the local culture and with the local people, are there many other ex-pats in the area with little children that we would be able to connect with? Thanks!

    • Katie Jan 11, 2020, 10:35 am

      Hi. We are two US families with kids age ranging 10 to 18. We are wanting to relocate to a safe remote area in Ecuador, probably octavalo. Were very concerned about how we would all integrate into the culture and what kind of lives we can expect for our kids. Schooling? Friends? Not knowing Spanish… Anyone who can offer suggestions or help is greatly appreciated. We need to be in touch with other ex-pat families to learn about their experiences with kids.
      Thank you!!

  • Andrea May 1, 2015, 8:28 am

    Hi there, great blog! I wanted to ask what was your experience with San Bernadino?? If you could write me I’d love to hear from you =)


  • Jenn Jun 30, 2014, 11:31 am

    Good afternoon,
    We are getting ready to head to Ecuador for a 2 week trip, our kids are ages 6 and 9. We will be mainland for one week- quito, otavalo, Riobamba, Cuenca, Guayaquil, then 1 week in Galapagos. I am getting very mixed messages on the safety of traveling throughout Ecuador with kids (regarding kidnappings, muggings, etc). We know it is a 3rd world country and know to be vigilant look out for pick-pockets etc, but for some reason my radar is just extra high on safety. We have taken the kids all over the US and to Europe but this is out first jaunt to S. America and I would appreciate any tips/guidance. Many thanks for your time! Your time living there sounds remarkable!

    • Jamie Jul 1, 2014, 2:30 pm

      Hi Jenn,
      How exciting to be heading out on your trip, wishing you the best of times!
      As for children and safety, it has been almost 2 years since our trip, and things I suppose could have changed, but we really felt our children were safe all around Ecuador. In fact, they seemed to make the adults safer too, as family togetherness is a huge value of the people and culture there. That said, we had to have real conversations about the traffic and all things related. The driving is nothing like I’d ever seen before (and we’ve traveled Europe and America too), it is easily the most dangerous part. So lots of holding hands and staying close, which became very normal and makes good sense when traveling abroad anyway. We obviously had no problems with kidnappings or muggings, but traveling during the day, using reputable cabs, and staying all together should help alleviate those opportunities. Hope some of this helped and that it’s a great trip!

      • Jennifer Jul 1, 2014, 4:16 pm

        Thank you so much for replying! We are very excited about the trip. I heard one scary story and it started to spook me a bit so I really appreciate the feedback. Hope your family is well.

  • Jen May 5, 2014, 6:07 pm

    By any chance does anyone have an idea of an expat family in Cotacachi area that would be willing to rent a room to a lovely young Kichwa man from El Oriente who is an aspiring ecotourism guide and will be studying English there for 10 weeks? There is a mentor who is willing to pay for him to learn English and pay for him to rent a room with a family but we are having trouble getting it all set up.

    Staying with an English speaking family would be so helpful for him to improve his English. He is easygoing, clean, a hard worker, enjoys children and accustomed to living in a family. At this time he only speaks Kichwa and Spanish but will soon be speaking English and is dedicated to study and this once in a lifetime opportunity. Thanks in advance for any guidance you can offer to help manifest this dream for a young Ecuadorian man from the rainforest.

  • Christine Jul 4, 2013, 8:33 am

    I am trying to find the website for Las Lomas.
    I would like to communicate with the school administrators in the hopes of facilitating the student visa process. I have two sons, age nine and fifteen that I would like to enroll for the 2013-2014 academic year.
    I would also like to rent a home for a family of four in Cotacachi or the surrounding area from Sept.- June. If you can recommend an agency that would be great. I would like to do the process from here as my insurance company will be covering the cost and will need to verify details with a rental property agency. My home just burned down and we decided to live abroad for the time it will take to rebuild.
    I am a certified Spanish and English teacher with 25 years of teaching experience. I will take a one year leave. If you know of any local schools that would like a part time English teacher I would like to make the connection.
    Thank you.

  • ArielJoy Jun 16, 2013, 3:21 pm

    Hi Jamie,

    My husband and I are currently living in Panama but we are moving to Cotacachi next month. I have been under the impression that Ecuador will not allow us into the country on a tourist visa without presenting a return ticket.

    However you have written that your family emigrated to Ecuador on a 1-way ticket. We are stretched pretty thin right now with the move and could use the relief of not having to buy a round trip in order to be allowed into the country.

    Would you please share how you were able to come into Ecuador on a one-way ticket?
    Time is of the essence as we have to book soon so I would appreciate your answer going to my email as well as this blog if that is O.K. with you.

    Thank you very much,


  • Jewel Apr 7, 2013, 12:08 am

    Thank you for your wonderful blog.

    My question is, “Is there one best Spanish institute, for an adult, either in Cotacachi or Otavalo?” I would like to make the best choice before enrolling in a particular school.

    Thank you so much.

    • Jamie Stambaugh Apr 8, 2013, 1:05 pm

      Hi Jewel,

      I would recommend the Mundo Andino Spanish School in Otavalo. Here is their website:

      We only took a few classes from them, because getting to and from Otavalo by bus didn’t always match our children’s school schedules in Cotacachi — but they were by far the best instructors we came across while we were there.

      Have fun!

      • Jewel Apr 10, 2013, 6:02 am

        Dear Jamie,

        Thank you so much for your reply. I looked at the school’s website and it looks wonderful. I can speak Spanish with a medium-sort of proficiency, and I will be looking to, really, become fluent once I move to Cotacachi. It’s, really, important for me to be impressed with the academic excellence and environment of the school in which I am enrolled so that I can reach my goal.

        Thank you for the information. I am, now, a huge fan of this blog. How wonderful that you are helping so many people in so many ways.


  • Sima Mar 15, 2013, 5:27 pm

    My husband and I are visiting Ecuador end of June to research if it’s a place we could move to next year. We have 6 year old twins so our biggest concern is education but there is little information on schools in Cuenca & Manta. The private schools I have found in Ecuador are expensive. We don’t want to home school them. I would really appreciate any information & thoughts on schools. Sima

    • Jamie Stambaugh Apr 8, 2013, 1:02 pm

      Hello Sima,

      Public schooling in Ecuador is, from what I saw, a very rough and difficult and unrecommended path to take. Las Lomas in Cotacachi, the private school our oldest went to, was about $55 a month and well worth every penny. There is expense in the start up with uniforms and such, but from then on it’s fairly affordable. I’m sorry I don’t have information on schools in Cuenca or Manta, but would recommend you tour all the options when you get there as websites and online information for schools in Ecuador either don’t exist, or offer very little up to date information. Good Luck!

      • sima Apr 9, 2013, 8:44 am


        Thanks for the response. Since I posted my question I have found much more information. There are several billingual schools that look promising. We hope to visit a couple while in Manta. I appreciate you responseding 🙂


  • Sima Mar 15, 2013, 5:25 pm

    My husband and I are visiting Ecuador end of June to research if it’s a place we could move to next year. We have 6 year old twins so our biggest concern is education but there is little information on schools in Cuenca & Manta. The private schools I have found in Ecuador are experience. I don’t want to home school them. I would really appreciate any information & thoughts on schools. Sima

  • Jesse Moore Jan 16, 2013, 6:28 am

    Hi Jamie are you all still in cotacachi? My family is looking at coming there in May to look at relocating. Our boys are 16,10 and 8 looking for a new adventure. You make it sound so nice.

    • Jamie Stambaugh Jan 16, 2013, 11:52 am

      Hi Jesse,
      We are not in Cotacachi anymore, we lived there for 5 months and then spent another 4 months touring South America before returning to our home in Colorado. It is a special place though and I encourage you to check it out. Have you been to Ecuador before? If not, and you are serious about moving there, then I can’t recommend enough that you take some “touring” time there before settling in any one place. Coming from the mountains we were certain we wanted to live by the beach for awhile, but in our month of touring Ecuador we were surprised by just how much we preferred the Otavalo/Cotacachi area as opposed to the beach. I know other folks though who had the exact opposite response. And while Cuenca is high on every list you google, for us it was just too big and too noisy to feel like a place we wanted to make our home. It’s exactly where we would have landed though, had we decided just off of our internet research. So, yes, we enjoyed Cotacachi, but if you can do take the time to look around. Everything about living abroad is more intense (good and bad) than you can anticipate and feeling confident about where you are is a big help in that arena. 🙂
      Good Luck!

  • Wendy Alvarado Jul 25, 2012, 6:13 pm

    My husband and I are ready to take the leap (in faith) and move to Cotacachi. My family, on both sides (mom and dad) are from Ecuador but I’ve never lived there. Upon much deep reflection we decided Ecuador is the place to continue our lives. I’ve been really drawn in by Cotacachi the most and it sounds like the ideal place for us. My concerns are my 3 kids’ schooling (they are ages 11, 6, and 1), medical availability (dentists, doctors, hospitals), banking availability, and the biggest one: a place to live. We are looking to be as self-sufficient as possible and want to purchase land where we can plant our own crops. We have searched online but it’s just not getting us anywhere. However, I just read on your blog that one has to really go in person. Can I impose upon you to email me some references/links of people/agencies we can meet upon our arrival at Cotacachi? My email is This blog has offered me a GREAT glimmer of hope…..Thanks for writing Jamie.

    • Garland etheridge Jul 28, 2012, 8:32 pm

      I am a 77 yr old male who first went to Cotacachi 2.5 yrs ago, sight unseen and made the decision to move there. I have no regrets at all about the move. On a limited in come I live without fear of not having enough money at the end of the month. Best of all is living with new friends who share my feelings about this lovely city and culture. Your kidos will learn the language and culture and enjoy it very much. I had the pleasure of meeting Bo and his family while I was still in Cotacachi and admire their decision to make such a life change. I would recommend renting before you buy and thereby learning what realtor can best assist you in purchasing a home. Lay your fears aside and come on down.

      • Wendy Alvarado Jul 29, 2012, 1:12 pm

        Thank you for your words of encouragement. Your advice to rent before buying echoes others who have just told me the same. Seems like this will be the first step.

        Be well.

      • jim sweeney Feb 17, 2013, 2:55 pm

        I’m a single senior too and wonderd about the social life. Please comment. Thanks.

        Jim Sweeney

      • Harold May 4, 2014, 9:28 pm

        Your comments are spot on! I am a 71 year old Yank with a young Philippine wife of 3 years and 4 year old step son..we both lost our mates years ago…and met while I was in Philippines…Now it’s time to move on…having lived from Russia, China, Tahiti, Philippines on and on…it’s time to get closer but not in USA…
        Have studied all of Ecuador and Cuenca is too big etc…Loji maybe but Cotacachi has caught my eye and I prayed as we have sold everything and on our way in 3 days….Need to look see areas’ but do not want to waste time and resources…please help us to decide and be a guide..verbally please…
        Temp living, Cost of Living, etc..wife is pretty good in Spanish…as for me was fluent in French, some Mandarin and Spanish will be ongoing for the long flight to ECu.

        Positive and ready…once you lived in China, Russia and especially Philippines anything even Detroit looks good. lol


        RSVP soon as we are on our way…

        God Bless

    • Jamie Jul 29, 2012, 10:01 am

      Hi there Wendy! Sorry it took me a while to get back with you, we are working through Colombia at the moment and I’m a bit behind on my correspondence!

      The schooling for your kids and access to quality health care are certainly reasonable concerns for any mother considering such a move. I would say that the Las Lomas school is a quality choice for your older kids, but I would so encourage you to offer them some Spanish lessons both where you are now and once you get down to Ecuador. So much of our school-heartache could have been helped by that. Kids do learn a language faster than adults, but no where near as “automatically” as we are often led to believe. The more help in that area the better, we’ve now learned.

      The health care set up is harder for me to address as we didn’t use it. Although I did hear wonderful things about doctors and dentists in the area from other expats. Also, you are just 2 hours from Quito with really top notch facilities should anything major ever occur.

      As for finding a place, it’s true that most of the current info isn’t found until you get there. Once you do though, some great resources to start with would be Dale at the real estate office right next to the gringo hot spot Solid Rock Cafe (anyone will tell you how to get there), or there is also a Remax office on leather street (also easy to find) that has a super helpful staff as well- ask for Marco or Yolanda.

      Wishing you all the best!

      Jamie 🙂

  • victoria May 16, 2012, 6:53 pm

    You guys who completely relocate with kids in tow just inspire me to no end.Here I am pushing 70 , still working and cant really decide where to retire( always loved Mexico ) but open to any other Spanish speaking culture. Love to follow your blog. Here’s to your success!

    • Jamie May 17, 2012, 10:57 am

      Thank you so much Victoria. I wish I could tell you just how much it means to get encouragement like that- and that you took the time to write it makes you one of the good ones for sure. I hope wherever you end up brings you joy! Here’s to YOUR success. 🙂

  • Bob May 12, 2012, 3:53 pm

    I neglected to ask, in my email of moments ago, that I be notified of responses by email. Is it possible to do that after the fact?


  • Bob May 12, 2012, 3:52 pm


    Thanks so much for the insightful updates from the Cotacachi area; they’re extremely helpful and informativie.

    My wife (an early-retired Ontario, Canada school-Principal) and I (writer/speaker) are much intrigued by the beauty/climate of the Cotacachi area.

    We plan an inaugural visit next April 1-May 15 and are wondering what weather we’d most likely expect to encounter (cold isn’t an issue but we’d hope to avoid extended rainy/sunless days, preferring–at least in the mornings and then again later in the day–to get in extended walks, hikes, etc.).

    We’re hoping that typical Apr./May conditions include the frequent sun and breaks from rain that we’re looking for.

    Thanks very much for your time; I do appreciate it.

    Bob L.

    • Jamie May 13, 2012, 2:37 pm

      Hi Bob,

      The beauty and climate of this area are sure to impress when you and your wife come for a visit next year. It is a vista so greatly enhanced by the elegantly dressed and beautiful indigenous people – can’t wait for you to see it all yourself.

      As for the rain. There is a saying here, “Abril aguas mil.” It’s closest English translation would be along the lines of “It’s raining cats and dogs!”. April is the rainiest month of the year here. That said – in our one April of experience (which everyone said was unusually rainy and cold) we had PLENTY of pretty days and got lots of hiking and exploring in ourselves. It does rain nearly every day, but most often those storms occur late afternoon or during the night.

      I hope you enjoy your trip and let me know if I can help with anything else.


      P.S. I’m not sure about the email notification but will dig around and try and find out.

      • Bob May 15, 2012, 1:48 pm

        Hello Jamie,

        Thanks very much for your informative reply. Could I ask this follow-up: if it were you, with your knowledge/expertise in the country, and you had April 1-May 15 to spend in Ecuador–and you wanted a nice, pleasant, active and varied outdoor experience…would you select Cotacachi or, perhaps instead, Vilcabamba (with some side trips to Loja)?

        Thanks again!


        • Jamie May 15, 2012, 4:06 pm

          Hi Bob,

          I may not be your best source for Vilcabamba/Loja as we never ended up heading that far south. I do suggest you check into Loja a bit, I had and email go through my account just a couple days ago from one of the gringo networks I’m on saying that the Loja airport was closing. If so, you can still get to that area of Ecuador of course, but it would be via bus or private car and a verrrryyy long drive along winding narrow roads. Not a deal breaker at all, but something I’d look out for as my youngest son and I are usually the car sick ones craning our necks out the window for fresh air on those types of trips. 🙂

          I can’t compare the active outdoor activities of both places, but I can tell you that they abound here in this area. Hikes, treks, Laguna walks, mountain climbs…

          Of the reasons that made us ultimately pick this area for our 5 months of living time, in the top 3 was definitely the gorgeous countryside and it’s easy accessibility from our front door (and we live in downtown Cotacachi).


  • Elizabeth May 4, 2012, 9:48 pm


    I realize that you guys are not the answer genie….but perhaps you have located him/her and can point me in the right direction.
    I’m moving down in January with my 2 teens, for 6 months, and have rental questions, etc.
    Is there an enterprising expat who is fielding questions, or would you be willing to share how you found your apartment?
    Does Los Lamas go through high school?


    • Jamie May 9, 2012, 11:58 am

      Hi Elizabeth!

      I just answered some of this on your question on our blog, so forgive me for getting it in two spots- different readers!:)

      There are a few expats here that can help you, but really not until you get here. I just ran into Dale Oelrich, who is the first to come to my mind regarding your questions. He said he’d be happy to talk to you, but really cannot do much for finding you a spot until you get here. The nature of house hunting in Cotacachi, and the vast majority of Ecuador, is that you simply don’t know what’s available until the very day you’re asking. As for next January… there is absolutely nothing to know about the market that far in the future. There is no MLS or anything remotely like that system here. The info changes daily, and is scattered at best.

      Dale did show us around to a couple spots when we got here, as did a woman named Yolanda and another man named Luis. We also just had to pound the pavement looking for “se arrienda” signs in the windows. The apartment we ended up finding was done via word of mouth — as is most often the case around here. No one really knows what’s available until you ask around– then they start asking around– they those people ask around…you get the idea.

      As for the school, Las Lomas does go through high school, and it is a wonderful program that I think you and your children will be really happy with.

      Hope some of this helps! Best of luck when you get down here!

      Jamie 🙂

    • Lannie Loeks Aug 18, 2012, 10:03 pm

      Hey Elizabeth,
      We are seriously looking at Cotacachi as well. I have a 16 year old daughter…so I have some of the same questions. We are in Santa Fe, NM and Chloe is in a private IB school here. So wondering about mid year transferring or maybe finding a family for an exchange student type program. Would love to communicate where in the process you are and how old your children are!
      Kind Regards,
      Lannie Loeks

      • Elizabeth Aug 22, 2012, 12:40 pm

        Hi Lannie–I can be reached at I don’t check that mail often–but I’d rather not publish my “real” email address publicly. Too many spam bots.

  • Larry Mitchell May 2, 2012, 10:38 pm

    My wife thinks I’m nuts! I want to move to Ecuador and I’m having a hard time convincing her. HELP! We’re both 67 and can’t retire in the USA…not enough money. In 12 months we could come to Ecuador with around $50,000 and $2,000 a month in retirement income. What kind of life do you think that we could have with that type of capital? Her concern is safety. What do you think about crime in the area that you are living in?
    Looking forward to your reply…
    Larry Mitchell

    • Jamie May 3, 2012, 8:55 am

      Hi Larry,

      As a married woman myself, I know better than to get in the middle of that kind of argument. 😉

      I will say though that we feel Completely Safe here in Cotacachi and the surrounding areas. I do know that robberies have happened, but I don’t know of a town even in the states that has no theft or crime in it. I have walked around alone at night here and in Otavalo and never felt anything but comfortable and safe.

      I would also venture an opinion that 2 people on $2000 a month could live very comfortably here. Please know though that this is a developing country and while you can have gorgeous views, friendly neighbors, lots of fresh produce, learn a new language and have very special cultural experiences — this is not the standard American retirement along the golf course that is often pictured in our minds. Sounds silly maybe to point that out, but you’d be amazed how many people come down here expecting mini-America at a fraction of the cost.

      We have found a lot to love about this place, but really recommend you do a scouting trip before deciding one way or the other. Best of luck to you and your wife with whatever you decide!

  • Susana Apr 15, 2012, 11:34 am

    Hello, Jamie, Bo, and family! You’re not living very far from where I lived for 10 years, in Ibarra, until November 2010. That’s a lovely area of Ecuador, isn’t it? You could maybe live cheaper in Ibarra, though. An apartment in Ibarra for $500 a month would get you a huge place! A two bedroom, a really nice one in a nice area, would probably run about $250 a month. Try taking a trip to Ibarra and look around and see what you find. If you have any friends in Ibarra, perhaps they would be willing to look around a bit for you before you go there. If you don’t know anyone there, email me and I’ll be glad to put you in touch with someone who can help you out (I’m not talking about a real estate agent or anyone like that – just one of my friends who still lives there). If you could cut your apartment expenses, you could stay longer in Ecuador! And wouldn’t that be nice? What a wise decision you’ve made for your family. It’s so good to figure out just what our priorities really are.

    • Jamie Apr 15, 2012, 6:59 pm

      Hi Susana,

      We just got home from Ibarra, which feels like the “Big City” to us anymore. 🙂 We do like it there, and I think you’re exactly right about cutting the apartment expenses – however I think we’d make up the difference in bus fees getting the boys to school in Cotacachi. We chose here predominately because of Las Lomas ( our eldest’s school) which from all we know is the best school in the province. Kids even come from Ibarra! This whole area though is just beautiful, not a day goes by that we don’t think that! Thanks for sharing, would love to hear more about your time here as well. 10 years is a long time!
      Thanks again for writing,

      • Lannie Loeks Aug 18, 2012, 10:08 pm

        Hey Jamie,
        Would love to ‘talk’ to you regarding Los Lomas. My daughter is 16 and we would be looking at a mid year transfer. Her spanish is pretty good and she enjoys learning as well as sports. Soccer season is just about to start here. Any communication would be most welcome.
        Kind Regards,
        Lannie Loeks
        Santa Fe, NM

        • Jamie Aug 20, 2012, 8:11 am

          Morning Lannie,

          Gosh, it’s so hard to say since I truly don’t know what the higher grades are like. I was trained in IB as a Language A teacher though in Colorado and I have to say that I would be so surprised if the rigor at Las Lomas was anything near IB standards. However, the language and cultural immersion would check a lot of IB boxes and are not to be underestimated in any way. Invaluable, in fact. If you are coming for a year, I’d say it’s a perfect compliment to what you’re doing. If you’re thinking of moving here permanently however, I would encourage you to supplement with online courses from the States. Even if the higher grades at Las Lomas challenge her tremendously, Ecuadorian Universities (if that’s the route you’re thinking of) are not in anyway as high a quality as you will find in the more developed parts of the world. That opinion being based off friend who taught at them and were shocked by how little the almost-graduated seniors really knew in their chosen field.

          Forgive me, I fear this may be a long ramble that doesn’t help much. I’m excited to hear what you and your family decide to do! Living abroad, for any length of time, is truly a rewarding, difficult, bonding, and brilliant thing to do. Best of Luck!

  • Tay Mar 25, 2012, 5:37 pm

    Thanks for such an informative interview. I’ve heard nice things about Cotacachi, but a couple of people have remarked that it was a bit too cool, weatherwise, for them. Wondering how that has been for you and your family, though, if you’ve been there since the beginning of 2012, it may be to soon to know.

    • Jamie Mar 27, 2012, 6:53 pm

      Hi Tay!

      The weather in Cotacachi, since we’ve been here (Feb – March) has been chilly in the mornings and evenings with daytime sunshine that often requires sunscreen and short sleeves. There is a cool breeze this time of year as well, but usually it is welcome. I would say it is like a Colorado autumn, which is my favorite time of year. 🙂 However, if you are looking for hot all the time, then I do think you’d find this too cool. I can’t speak yet for the dry season (rainy season ends at the end of April), but believe it to be a lot warmer simply because there aren’t those nighttime rains to cool things down. Hope this helps, feel free to write with any questions you have. I know how hard it sometimes is to find information on a foreign country.

    • Tay Apr 14, 2012, 11:00 pm


      Hello and belated thanks for your reply, which I am just now seeing (on Bryan and Dena’s web site). I remembered that I’d started reading your blog a while back, and I should check it again. Thanks again for your reply!

      Tay (in Texas)

  • Lynnda & David Mar 23, 2012, 7:37 pm

    hello Stambach family – congratulations on following your dream !! look forward to hearing more. We will be visiting Ecuador Nov/12 in expectation of finding a place to start our own. Salud, Lynnda Y David

    • Jamie Mar 27, 2012, 6:56 pm

      Thanks Lynnda and David!

      My husband and I did a double take when we saw your post – my parents’ names are Linda and David. 🙂

      We aren’t sure if we’ll be in Ecuador in November, we intend to travel other parts of South America as well, but please feel free to contact us anytime with questions or if there is anything we can do to help. Best of luck finding your “spot”.
      Buen Viaje,

      • Bryan Haines Mar 27, 2012, 7:39 pm

        I have to comment on this – my parents names are Linda and David too!

  • Jamie Mar 27, 2012, 7:00 pm


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