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My Move To Ecuador: From the Eyes of an 8-Year-Old Canadian Girl

Posted in: Everything Expat, Expats in Ecuador, Living in Ecuador, Traveling Kids

Building my fort with dad in our backyard.

Some people are scared to move somewhere else.

And it can be a little scary; it was for me at first. But my family and I did it when I was only 8. It wasn’t too scary :^)! Here’s my story:

My 8 Years in Canada

I was born in the small town of Kentville in Nova Scotia, Canada. When I was 6 months old, mom and dad bought a house in Greenwood (just down the Annapolis Valley from Kentville). That cozy little house was where I grew up. Everything I knew was there: my friends, my family, and my pets. My grandparents lived on the same road.

Life was good. Dad was building a big playground in the backyard for me. We had a place in the back of the playground where I could go to be alone. There was a lot of cool stuff back there! I found an old car engine, and even an old, old, old rusty sword. Me and a friend spent so much time trying to pull out that sword; we were never able to, though. It was sooo heavy!

Why Did We Move?

According to dad we were planning a move Ecuador for two reasons:

  1. so we could create a different lifestyle, work less and have more time as a family,
  2. enjoy a new culture and language as a family.

When they told me that we were going to move, I was surprised, happy, and a little sad. Remember, everything I knew was there (in Canada). But, I was only 8 so I didn’t feel the same about moving then as I would now that I’m 12.

Anyway, we immediately started searching. When we were deciding on a country, it took a long time. We looked at sooo many different places! We would look at one and then realized it wasn’t what we wanted. Then we would look at another one and see that it was unsafe, and so on and so on. My parents were especially worried because I was ‘coming along for the trip’ to put it that way. But we finally decided on a very good and safe place: Cuenca, Ecuador.

Making the Move to Ecuador

To prepare for the move we sold our house and all our things (everything but a few luggage bags). I sold all my things too and I got the money :). I sold all my toys (except my favorites) and with that money I bought a Maplelea Girl (made by hand in Canada, not many things are) a beautiful doll that was $100+.


Building my fort with dad in our backyard.

House, Car, Business – SOLD!

While we sold our house, car and things, we had to stay at my grandparents for about a month. I pity them! Every inch of the house was covered in luggage bags and loose pieces of things. But, I guess that’s just part of moving!

Luggage in Guayaquil

Then after we sold our house, car, business and things (all in one day) we bought our plane tickets. That was one long flight! My grandparents drove us to the Halifax airport; we said good-bye a hundred times, and left. We took a plane from Halifax to Miami, to Guayaquil, and then finally to Cuenca.

We have lived in Cuenca for 3 years now, and we love it. The culture here is unbelievable. Now I am almost 12, and I don’t want to move back to Canada. At night, I sometimes say to myself that I’ll stay here till I die. It’s so beautiful! But when we first came, we did get culture shock.

See some of my Ecuador pictures.


A beautiful horse near Cuenca, Ecuador

Here are something’s to watch out for if you ever come to Ecuador:

  • Men pee on the street here, and they aren’t always discreet.
  • We were also surprised to see guinea pigs on roasting sticks. There are also pigs being cooked with them.
  • Houses here normally don’t have a backyard like they do in Canada or the States.

These things can be true of other places like Ecuador. Another thought about moving is that in places like Ecuador is that you will most likely get stared at a lot. Especially if you are…

  • Blond
  • Blue-eyed
  • White

Well, I’m all of the above. At first, it was really annoying to get stared at all the time, every which-where I went. I also got names such as suca (blondie) preciosa (little precious) and other similar ones. But now, I don’t find it so annoying like before. It is still a little annoying, but not as much.


So I guess what I really wanted to say in all that was this:

If you have kids, and are afraid to move because of it: don’t be. Moving here was a great experience that I will never forget, even if I move again some place else. I love it here!

Mom and dad were so right to move here when I was young. The culture here has rubbed off on me. When we went to Miami for a vacation, I got culture shock! I was surprised to see that people there were richer (and looked it) than they are here.

And a message to kids:

Don’t be scared! Just follow your mom and dad and you’ll be fine. You will probably like it! And guess what? You will probably learn the language even faster than your parents.

Well I hope that helped! Thank you for reading!

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Meet the Author

Drew Haines is an animal enthusiast, travel writer, and content marketer. She loves to share her passion through her writing. She is the founder and owner of EverywhereWild Media, EverywhereWild, and co-founder and owner of JustBirding. She also writes on GringosAbroad and Storyteller Travel. She lived in Ecuador for 6 years and explored the Galapagos Islands. Currently based in N.S., Canada.

33 comments… add one
  • Kristen Jul 25, 2019, 5:16 pm

    Hi! Really awesome story!

    Did you or do you attend public school in Ecuador? Did you pick up on Spanish easily?

    I ask because I am looking to move my daughters who are 6 and 8 to Ecuador in the next year or two.

  • Julie Cantin Mar 14, 2019, 8:35 pm

    Hi, I am a single mom with 3 kids and I am starting to look at what we need to know and do to be able to move to Ecuador. My biggest concern will be schools. One high school and one grade school. What resource could help me find the right school and the right city to move to? Thank you. Julie.

  • James Jul 23, 2018, 6:44 pm

    How are the schools compared to the U.S./Canada Etc.,? And what is the cost associated if you know (We have a 5 year old) in Cuenca. Thank you,

  • Irma Dec 12, 2017, 6:48 pm

    Your daughter madd me cried when she had to say good bye to grandpa/ma
    I am thinking on going back to my country (Ecuador) I came to USA when I was 16 since then I been working working and working, I have 4 kids one soon will be 21, 12,10 and 6
    I must said I am a little scared but now that I see your post make me more confident!
    I’ll show them this to them.
    I know we are going to be okey because we will be able to stay with my kids all the time, except when they are in school ofcouse!
    Thank you

    • Bryan Haines Dec 13, 2017, 7:36 am

      I’m glad to hear that this helped you. It can be hard to leave family and familiar things behind, but it all works out. After living in Ecuador for 6 years, our daughter now feels that she has 2 homes – and double the friends.

      Thanks for your comment Irma – and all the best on your move.

    • natalya machuca Apr 20, 2018, 3:21 pm

      you are so right im actually moving april 24 2018 in 4 days im scared but exited im only 11 but my dad was from there and ive been there once before so not to much of a culture shock but i get it

      • natalya machuca Apr 20, 2018, 3:23 pm

        also we have a cabin in cuenca where we are moving amazing beutiful place

  • Mackenzie W. Jan 22, 2014, 1:32 pm

    I like reading your experiences, well I guess it’s ’cause I did a similar thing. When I was 7 we went to Panama for five months. There I went to public school IN SPANISH with out speaking the language. At first I was not excited about the idea, but I learned Spanish and now speak it fluently. And the five months went by soooooo fast. I made awesome friends! When it was time to go home I didn’t want to. And I really want to go back. But now my family is thinking of visiting Ecuador, the area south of Cuenca to see if we like it, and possibly moving! Maybe we can visit you. Can’t wait!

    Age 8, Vermont USA

  • Natashia Neudorf Aug 27, 2013, 11:22 am

    I am from Prince George, BC. My husband and I have two children and I would love to read your articles to them.

  • Kathleen Goetsch Aug 15, 2013, 6:40 pm

    Hi Drew!

    I enjoyed reading your blog. I am an elementary school teacher in Racine, Wisconsin. I teach kindergarten. I would love to share your adventures in Ecuador with my students. Would you ever consider communicating with my kindergarten class? We would love to learn about the school that you attend in Cuenca. In fact, my partner and I plan to move to Cuenca in two years after we retire. Please email me if you would be interested in sharing your insights with 28 curious five and six year olds.

    • Bryan Haines Aug 27, 2013, 2:51 pm

      Thanks for your comment Kathleen. This is an interesting proposal but we are going to have to pass right now. Drew has a full plate with her schooling, blogging and volunteer work.

      Thanks again!

  • Kim Matthews Dec 11, 2012, 6:51 pm

    Hi Drew,

    I enjoyed reading your stories. We have an 8 year old daughter and are thinking of moving to Cuenca. We live in a small town in Maine and we know it will be a big change. Thanks for all the advice!


    • Drew Haines Dec 28, 2012, 11:52 am

      Hi Kim,
      That sounds just like me! Moving at 8, small town…
      I’m sure you’ll love it!

  • Jules Bermuda Nov 15, 2012, 5:39 am

    Drew, thank you so much for sharing this post with all of us. For such a young girl, you show such talent for writing. You are very mature for seeing the positive side of moving and diving into a new world/environment. Much braver than I was when I moved at the age of 18. I felt like a lost cat! Great work Drew and I look forward to your next article 🙂

  • Dave Wheeler Nov 13, 2012, 6:35 pm

    Hi Drew, You are doing a really good job with your site. I still remember you stopping by the house and playing with Buddy. Remembering also the little girl who use to wait and help me unload my flyer truck every week. Glad things have worked out well for your family. Say hi to Mom and Dad. Take care, Dave

  • Cheree Butt Nov 13, 2012, 9:57 am

    WOW..Drew you are amazing.You are only 12 and you can write this well already.(look out Mom and Dad) Drew is moving on up. ha ha. Your Mom and Dad have spent thier time very wisely. They are doing a great job traing you.It makes my heart happy to see how well you have adapted to Ecuador.Keep listening to Mom and Dad and I know you will have an amazing future ahead of you.I am looking forward to your next post. Love you always. Nanny

  • Stewart Nov 13, 2012, 12:49 am

    Great to read your story Drew.

    My 8 year-old son used to ask when we would go back, but lately he’s been saying he wants us to stay in Ecuador permanently . . . or at least for 10 years. My kids love it here. Maybe some day you will meet them.

    Keep up the writing and blogging!


  • John Nov 12, 2012, 10:09 pm

    Great stuff Drew, you have really adapted well to being away from us, I wish I could adapt as well to you being away from us here in the valley on your mountain. I think about you and your mom and dad often when I drive by your house, But your thoughts about your move will help other young ones to be able to adapt when there parents make a move to a different land or culture
    Keep them coming
    Love Big John

  • Lisa Nov 12, 2012, 8:09 pm

    Hi Drew: I like that your article was an actual(almost 12 yr old’s) words. 🙂 You were made honest comments and directly to the point. I enjoyed your photos. I will have to tell Bill L. that he is famous. lol. Keep up the great writing skills, and I look forward to reading more. Take care, Hugs.

    • Lisa Nov 12, 2012, 8:10 pm

      I should proof read before I post my comments. 🙂

  • Manfred Nov 12, 2012, 5:23 pm

    Drew , what can I say that anybody else told you already, Felicitaciones for your first writting I’m glad you are enjoying living in Ecuador, My son is canadian he is almost eleven we move back to Riobamba because of the reasons you alreay explain, here in Ecuador nothing like de closest you can be with the family. Never regreat allways look forward. Waiting for your next article.

  • JUAN DE DIOS PARADA Nov 12, 2012, 11:58 am

    Hi Drew, guess what? I’m ready to move over there (Cumbaya) the next month (sorry about my english I’m pretty sure your Spanish is better than my english), so any way, my wife Marthy she’s waiting for me, she’s an Ecuadorian pretty woman. Your letter makes me feel more surly about my next movement. I live for now in California and right now sealing every think and living evrething, business, family, friends. (include my drums, but no my organ and my guitar). I admire your parentes becouse they did the righ ting…they choose the real life for you, of course for them too. Live everithing it’s not easy..they a brave and smart peopple…congratulations for all of you guys. I’m have 64 yeas age (sorry but i hate say “old”) and I like whrite, beleve me…yo are so great.
    The last thing…My whole first name is JUAN DE DIOS (wich is mean “John of God” and my second name is PARADA…kind of wird haaa!…bless you!.

  • Lou Lutz Nov 12, 2012, 11:19 am

    Drew you little rascal . Or should i say you big girl. i was impressed with your script. You are a great writer. your parents will be consulting you for advise soon.
    i know you love it where you are in Cuenca. however we still miss your smiling face.
    But we will get past it.Please give our love to your Mom and Dad.

  • Fran Yates Nov 12, 2012, 10:46 am

    Really enjoyed your perspective on moving to Cuenca, Ecuador. We visted Ecuador last year and are returning in January for another visit. I doubt that we will move there full time as we are senior citizens, but I enjoyed Cuenca as well, however I love Coacachi and Otavalo the best. The bazars and markets of Otavalo are beautiful and they have wonderful prices. We mostly rode the big buses from Quito to the mountains and the locals were enchanting. Cotacachi has a large hostal called La Cuadra and is where we stayed. Keep writing, you are doing well, I admire and commend your parents choices in moving abroad.
    Your friend,

  • Papa Nov 12, 2012, 10:42 am


    Your writing is very honest and from the heart, making it very powerful. You point out that it was not always easy, but you stayed open minded and positive and as a result you are enjoying a very positive life in Ecuador. There are good lessons for all of us in that, no matter where we live. I hope you can write like that forever.

    PS I hope you spread your luggage around our house again before too much time passes.

  • MaryAnn Nov 12, 2012, 10:32 am

    Congratulations Drew! Your article is awesome! If you hadn’t said you were 12 years old, I would have thought you were older because you are so articulate. Are you being home-schooled or are you going to school with other children your age? If you are home-schooled, have you made friends in your neighborhood? I am looking forward to your next article.

  • Ralph Sabean Nov 12, 2012, 9:00 am

    I really liked you blog and if you have a hour or two sometime you can check out my blog and some of the adventures I’ve had for many years and I think there may be one about our adventure to Ecuador as well. You are doing well to follow you Moms and Dads footsteps as so far they are doing fairly well. Enjoy yourself as well and don’t forget to play today because you are still young and enjoy your surroundings.

  • Jim Nov 12, 2012, 8:44 am

    Very nice writing Drew. Kind of made me homesick reading about the Valley. Keep up the great writing.

  • Dennis Fahey Nov 12, 2012, 8:36 am

    Thank you so much for this interesting and well-written post. I will subscribe to your blog and look forward to more of your thoughts about Ecuador. (we are thinking about moving to Cuenca or Loja when we retire in a few years.)

  • Betty Nov 12, 2012, 8:17 am

    Adorable post. I loved it. Nothing like getting a writer started early. Thanks Drew.

  • Jean Nov 10, 2012, 8:49 am

    Even though my kids are grown, I enjoyed hearing about the move from your perspective, and I look forward to future posts. One thing I would like to hear about is who your friends are, how you met them, and how you became friends.

  • Taryn Nov 10, 2012, 6:39 am

    Hi Drew, your site is very informative, myself i haven’t traveled and i travel through the eyes of others.I REALLY ENJOYED reading this.Looking forward to your nest letter. I’m from Digby, you might not remember me.

  • Nana Nov 10, 2012, 5:57 am

    What a great article Drew. Having every inch of the house covered in luggage and loose pieces of things was just part of the experience. Look at all the memories it made. 🙂 It warms our hearts to see how well you adjusted to your new surroundings. Keep up the great writing.

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