GringosAbroad Ecuador

Why I Moved My Family to Baños Ecuador (Jonathan Maes)

Posted in: Expats in Ecuador, Living in Ecuador, My Life in Ecuador

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

Living in Banos Ecuador

Why I Moved My Family to Baños Ecuador

  • Name: Jonathan Maes and family

Maes family in Ecuador

Where are your currently living in Ecuador?

I’m currently living in Banos de Agua Santa in Ecuador. We’ve been here a couple of months now.

Arrival in Ecuador

Arriving in Ecuador, July 2017

What’s Your Story?

I’m a Canadian, a 30-year-old husband and father of two young girls, ages two and three. I was volunteering in Guyana, South America, when I met my wife. She’s from New York. We spent another year in Guyana as a married couple and then moved to Canada. We were there for five years and had our two daughters there.

Before moving here, I was managing a machine shop in a manufacturing company.

swing in Banos Ecuador

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

The daily grind for us was taking its toll. We wanted the simple lifestyle for our family that isn’t common to North America.

Really ever since we moved back to Canada we talked about getting back out. Bottom line for me is that I wanted to have more energy to spend on quality time for my family.

We’ve only been here a few months so far but it’s going great. We intend to stay a very long time. We’re currently in the process of applying for residency.

Living in Banos Ecuador

How’s your Spanish?

No (h)ablo.

That said I’m starting to pick it up little by little. It’s definitely not a cakewalk, in our area very few people speak english so it’s very difficult to get by without it unless you’re only here as a tourist.

More reading: The Best Book to Learn Spanish

How do you make your living?

I work online for my old job in Canada, doing machine programming and process planning over the internet. I’m also trying out several other ventures just in case, like my blog, some export initiatives and other internet-based sources of income.

Cost of living so far seems to be around what we’ve budgeted for. We have some awesome friends here that understood what we were looking for so that was an enormous help in setting expectations. Also having done something similar in Guyana did a lot to tone our expectations of what we’re getting into.

waterfall in Banos Ecuador

What do you love about Ecuador?

I love the amount of family time Ecuador affords us. It’s full of natural beauty here. We feel very safe in this area. Housing seems very easy to find, we managed to get an absolutely beautiful 3-bed 3-1/2 bath house that looks a bit like an Italian villa.

Our house in Banos Ecuador

Living in Banos EcuadorWe love walking around and exploring the area, there are several waterfalls within walking distance and we can’t stop admiring the mountains all around us.

In terms of negatives, they’re similar to what we found in Guyana, only much easier to deal with (in our opinion). Traffic is noisy. We don’t speak the language yet. Food variety can be a little limited compared to Canada/America. Also we’re far away from family. Altogether though we find the negatives to be manageable and well worth the positives.

As far as tips go… a friend that understands what you’re looking for and that’s willing to help you set up is worth its weight in gold. Especially if you’re doing this with small children.

Also write out a list of what you’re wanting, also what you can live with and what you can’t live without.

We had a pretty reasonable idea of this for ourselves based on our experienced in Guyana but even still we spent a lot of time talking it out. If you’re moving as a family it takes a lot of effort for everyone to be on board and on the same page.

Thinking about visiting Baños? Check out our complete guide to Baños Ecuador weather.

We moved to Banos Ecuador

Your Turn

Have a question for Jonathan about why he moved to Banos, Ecuador? Or what it’s like for his family in Ecuador? Join him in the comments.


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 Media (content marketing for travel brands). Work with GringosAbroad.

25 comments… add one
  • Al Oct 14, 2018, 1:41 pm

    Hi, we are moving down early 2019, should we buy medical insurance before arrival or after.
    Any references to any insurance company?!

  • Pia Salvato Oct 11, 2018, 2:33 pm

    I hope to move to EC next year and am so looking forward to it.. I am going for my excursion trip in 4 mos but if I like it I will stay and apply for residency.. been doing all the research speak decent spanish understand lots of it and am a Musician.. I will be going to Loja Malacatos area first where I have a ton of Friends who will help me get settled.. I am definitely visiting Banos.. such a lovely place.. I want to live in EC because it is still the world I remember as a child , the simple life.. I dont need nor do I crave American food or any items and I am planning on getting fully submerged into the local community rather than Expat Living.. Ecuador is paradise on Earth.. I am ware of the problems in the country as well as poverty and things that are just not habitual to modern man.. As a historian I am looking forward to visiting lots of Inca historical places and museums w the artifacts.. I have preapred for this for more than 20 years and I know that I will not feel as a stranger there or experience great culture shock.. I am from Europe and am looking forward to go back in time to the beautiful spanish colonial architectures. Mainly I will live a frugal life in Nature w lots of hiking and visiting indigenous places to meet the Kichua who I deeply respect and honor for all their hard work and survival skills! I cant wait to see the children wave and smile and play without cell phones in their hands and eager to learn good things.. I know that EC is a lot safer than the US due to some terrifying experiences I had while living in the US.. I am almost 70 but in excellent physical and mental shape and I cant wait to make the trip of a life time to beautiful Ecuador..! Thanks for all who help people like us make this transition easier..
    Pia in WA State

  • Al Jul 5, 2018, 12:27 am

    Thank you for all the great information . Did you buy insurance coverage before you leave Canada if so what was the name of the Company and what plan did you buy?


  • Christy May 31, 2018, 2:45 pm

    Hey! How’s the weather in banos during June?

  • Pamela May 22, 2018, 11:45 pm

    Hey, I am from New York and I am visiting Banos with my boyfriend. My family are from Guayaquil and I’ve been there many times. Is Quito/Banos as dangerous as Guayaquil? Also, when you came to Ecuador, what transportation did you take to get to Banos? I’m landing in Quito and I’m having a hard time figuring out which options to take. I want to take the typical bus but I’ve heard of thieves and scams. Also, how is the weather around the beginning of June? I’ve been to Banos before when I was a teenager but I’ve been there with my grandfather who is very familiar with all of Ecuador but I’m going to try traveling without family this time! My spanish is good however I do have the “gringa” accent. 🙂

    • Jonathan May 23, 2018, 8:07 am

      Hi Pamela,
      From what I’ve seen, Baños is a pretty safe place. That said, it’s practical to take reasonable precautions anywhere. If you check out my blog I wrote a few articles on safety there. Hope this helps!

  • Shelly Wota Apr 22, 2018, 1:28 pm

    Jonathan, do you live in an area that is essentially for expats? Have you noticed any acts of crime? We hope to move to Ecuador in about 18 months. For your residency, are you using an Ecuadorian lawyer or someone from the Canadian Consulate? Any tips on filling out paperwork, financial or otherwise would be a great help.
    Thanks so much

    • Jonathan May 7, 2018, 3:19 pm

      Hi Shelly,

      It’s a nope for the expats – Banos has a few but not many. We’ve found the little city to be very safe, though. Also, we did end up getting our cedulas with 2 year residency, we used Ecuadorian lawyers to help us with that and they were well worth the money.

      We’re actually going to move to Cuenca in 3 weeks. We just found out that my wife is pregnant with our 3rd and we’d like to be able to communicate with doctors in English. Our Spanish has come a looooong way, but medical terms in stressful situations is something that I’m not up for. Banos has an amazing hospitals but the doctors don’t speak English, just Spanish. Otherwise we’d be staying right here.

  • Alice Wheaton Apr 21, 2018, 8:54 pm

    Hi there, thank you for replying to our comments…my husband (69) and I (67) are still active in work and life…and we are wondering if we could retire there. I have a few questions, if you are willing:
    1. We have 6 cats and 2 dogs. How difficult would it be to bring them?
    2. Are you renting the Italin type villa or did you buy it?
    3. what would be the approx cost in Cdn (we are from Calgary) for a house similar?
    4. Is the expat community active with social and charitable work…personally i am mostly interested in animal rescue!
    5. I loved Ecquador when I was there…
    6. Thank you and congratulations for ‘travelling the road less travelled’ for the good of your family

    • Jonathan May 7, 2018, 3:23 pm

      Hi Alice,

      1. I have no special insights on the pet situation. I’d recommend joining a FB group like Ecuador Expats to be able to ask those questions.
      2./3. We’ve been renting. $350/month furnished.
      4. Not sure about animal rescue in Banos per se but I know that there are things like that in other areas. Not a big expat community here so if you want to do it in Banos, make sure that your Spanish is up to snuff.
      5. We love it too. No plans on leaving the country after 9 months here.
      7. Thanks!

  • Shelly Dec 28, 2017, 4:43 pm

    Hi, I am hoping to correspond with other Canadians who made the move to Ecuador. I am hoping to hear about any unplanned for expenses you experienced, about approximate cost of filling out forms and other necessary paperwork, and how long the process took. Any help would be greatly appreciated. We live in Edmonton, AB, but small world, I was born in Wpg. We are looking to retire in Ecuador, we will be living off our pensions. If you know of other seniors who are now in Ecuador, please feel free to give them my e-mail address. Thank you so much
    Happy New Year

    • Jonathan May 7, 2018, 3:27 pm

      Hi Shelly, sorry it took me a while to notice your comment. I don’t check this post regularly.
      I’m working on an article about our experiences getting residency, but that one’s been a slow article to write with all the little details. It’ll be posted on my website when it’s done.
      Personally I’m glad we used a lawyer, but my advice would be to budget at least double what they say for total expense. The laws are always changing, so you might have to redo certain steps or new steps might be added, which ups the cost.

  • Rachel Oct 16, 2017, 9:37 am

    Hi, it’s interesting reading about people’s experiences and is helping my husband and I decide where we want to try and live next. Ecuador keeps coming up because of the easy to manage climate, our desire to learn a language ( Spanish), reasonable living costs and the list goes on. We are both ESL teachers and are quite ready to retire yet, so do you think this area has much demand and the economy to support English teaching? We are also considering running a small business as an option, do you have any idea on how complicated it is for a foreigner to own something like a sandwich bar or cafe?
    Thanks for sharing your experiences and hopefully you can give some advice.

    • Jonathan Nov 20, 2017, 10:42 am

      I can only speak for my area of Ecuador since we haven’t traveled a whole lot through the country yet, but most of the people that I know that teach English for money do it through the internet. The only tricky part about that is finding an area that supports good internet connections. That said they are laying down more fiber optic lines in the country, but even still experiences vary in terms of reliability.
      There are a lot of foreigners that own small businesses like restaurants and cafes. Depending on your Spanish it might be intimidating at first. Most people I know recommend enlisting the help of a local or two to help with the process. I’ve been looking into starting my own business here as well but I haven’t really pursued it too aggressively. I decided to hold off for a bit until my Spanish improves so I can go through the process a little more confidently. But different people approach things differently, waiting might not appeal to everyone. Really for me though I have other ways of earning a living that are working just fine so for me it’s no rush.
      Hope this helps.

  • Steven Sep 26, 2017, 7:59 am

    What do you pay in rent? Internet? Electric? Water? What is the climate like? Food availability? Food prices? Thanks!

    • Jonathan Oct 2, 2017, 11:51 am

      Rent here varies between about $200 and $400 from what I’ve seen. This is definitely where it helps to either speak good Spanish or to have a local help to be able to negotiate rent down. For internet I have an expensive plan, its $70/month but it’s also fiber optic and fast and reliable. If you’re ok with only having usable internet in the morning when not many other people in town are using it then you can get a plan for around $20/month. Water and electricity are usually between $10-20 per month depending on how muh you use. My kids love to run Water! -_- For food prices it depends on what you need. Peanut butter is expensive, carrots and spinach are super cheap. We tend to eat on the less expensive side I believe and we usually aberage around $350-400 and dont eat out a lot. availability in this town its limited but in other cities its easier to find a greater variety. Either way any place you live in the world will offer different food varieties so in my opinion its best to give local food a try first. Hope that helps!

    • Jonathan Oct 2, 2017, 12:02 pm

      Sorry I realize I missed one question…. couldn’t ask for a better climate. It’s generally around room temperature outside all the time. Don’t trust what you see when you look up live temperatures online, I heard that the only place that they monitor the temperature here is at the top of the Tungurahua volcano so its always giving extremely cold readings. In town its waaaay warmer. Sometimes it’s nice to have a warm hoodie/long sleeved shirts and warm blankets are a good idea since at night/early morning it can be brisk but honestly climate is one of my favorite things about this place.

      It’s funny I say all this now but ask me again during me first rainy season 🙂

  • Heidi Jo Sep 26, 2017, 2:39 am

    Thank you so much for sharing. Since I don’t know anyone there, is there a reputable agency you know of to help with the transition?

    • Jonathan Oct 2, 2017, 11:52 am

      Unfortunately I have no clue if that’s offered or not. I’ve never heard of one.

  • Alan B. Sep 25, 2017, 4:53 pm

    I really liked Los Banos myself. Good choice…Very nice and modern looking house..more or less what can you xpect to pay for something decent in Los Banos? Gracias..

    • Jonathan Oct 2, 2017, 11:53 am

      See above.

  • Robert Sep 25, 2017, 4:37 pm

    Hello Jonathan! Glad you guys are happy in Banos. You have a beautiful family.

    A quick question: how is the market for apartments in Banos as far as availability and what is the average rent? It is only me, no wife or children, so a one-bedroom or even nice studio would be fine. And is there any particular area I should look that you recommend?


    • Jonathan Oct 2, 2017, 11:57 am

      For something small you should be able to did something fairly nice for around $200/month. There are tons of 1 and 2 bedroom apartments here that can be rented by the day or by the month. Obviously by the day is a more expensive but if you want to try it out first it can be a good option. In terms of area Baños is fairly small and apartments are all over so it should be relatively straightforward to find something. It seems like the best way is to hit the streets and ask around, you could be moved in within a single day in this area if you find what you’re looking for.

      • Robert Oct 2, 2017, 12:44 pm

        Thank you very much!

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