My Life in Ecuador: Rebecca Rangel
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Where are your currently living?
I arrived with my family in 2012, but also lived here for 3 years in the early 2000s as college student at USFQ and a teacher at the American School of Quito.
What’s Your Story?
I’m originally from Chicago, but first came to Ecuador in 2001 on a study abroad program. I had a lot of fun ….so much fun that my short and exciting college experience ended with a wedding!!! After moving back and forth a few different times, I decided to stay in Ecuador to raise my children, at least until they graduate from high school.
I work as a US immigration lawyer, assisting individuals and families obtain visas to visit, live or work in the USA. I also help people with US citizenship and federal benefits before the US Embassy and Consulate.
When did you get the idea of living in Ecuador?
As a little girl, my grandfather taught me to be proud of our beautiful Puerto Rican heritage. I moved abroad to speak more Spanish and connect with my Latino roots. I was young and dreamed of traveling the world.
I didn’t know much about Ecuador, but I knew it was small and very geographically diverse, making it an amazing country to explore! I was also interested in the indigenous culture. Ecuador implemented dollarization in 2000 and living/studying here was very inexpensive.
How’s your Spanish?
I speak fluent Spanish. I studied it in school, but it took me a few years of complete immersion to learn when and how to express my real self, my deep feelings and my opinions.
After many years of close contact with Ecuadorians I feel very comfortable with the culture and confident of my ability to communicate effectively.
My advice is to study, practice and observe! Language goes far beyond plain words. Actions and cultural context are key to understanding the language.
More reading: The Best Book to Learn Spanish
How do you make your living?
I launched my own law practice, Rangel Legal, to create my niche as a US immigration lawyer in Ecuador.
I’m growing a client base in this country while freelancing for lawyers in Illinois. I’m also of Counsel at the Paz Horowitz Abogados.
I’m passionate about the law and about helping others, but earning a decent living and trying to save money is a seriously tough feat!
The cost of living in Quito is very reasonable if you are single or have no children.
For a family, living comfortably on two local Ecuadorian salaries is difficult, but not impossible. It depends on your job and what type of lifestyle you desire.
Single parenting on one salary is extremely difficult, unless you have an amazing job or you send your children to public school, don’t rely on child care and cut other expenses.
A monthly budget for a middle class family in Quito might be $3,500 and up for safe housing, education, childcare, food and transportation. I highly suggest arriving with funds to set-up and keeping savings for an emergency.
If you have or can find employment in your home country that pays well and allows you to work remotely, that would be a best case scenario. Another excellent option would be to obtain employment before you move and avoid being hired as a “local.”
What do you love about Ecuador?
I still love Ecuador’s geographic diversity. It’s what brought me here and what keeps me calm on rough days. A quick trip to the beach, the mountains or the rainforest takes me away from the hustle and bustle of the city, relaxes and re-energizes me.
The sun is shining and everyday life keeps me on my toes!
Ecuador may be different from your community, but with an open mind, you can create a unique and happy life for your family!
Hungry for more? Here are all our Ecuador expat stories.
Have a question for Rebecca about what it’s like to live in Ecuador? Join her in the comments below!