GringosAbroad Ecuador

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We realize it might be a little overwhelming to sort out the hundreds of pages, and thousands of comments here. To help, we’ve created this handy guide.

Have you seen our Expat Family Handbook? It covers common obstacles faced by expat families – regardless of where they move – and how to overcome them.

In addition to expat posts (see below) we also write lots about traveling in Ecuador. The four major topics we write about are:

  1. Cuenca Ecuador (Check out our full Guide to Cuenca)
  2. Ecuador Travel
  3. Language Learning
  4. Living in Ecuador

Want to see all the posts that we’ve ever created? Check out our site archives. All posts are by Bryan, Dena, and Drew (learn more about us), and the occasional visiting blogger.

Learn About Cuenca Ecuador

Learn About Living in Ecuador

Learn About the Haines Family

Check out our How To Series

Check out the full set of Ecuador living posts.

What GringosAbroad Covers

  1. Expat hacks: Learn shortcuts and tricks to an easier life abroad
  2. Product reviews: Detailed reviews of the tools and services that expats use every day.
  3. Expat / travel gear: The stuff you need to know about: apps, luggage, programs, and gadgets.
  4. Where to live: We cover the top areas for expats and long term travelers all around the world.
  5. Working abroad: Learn how so many gringos can afford to move abroad.

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235 comments… add one
  • Kirk Starkie Oct 6, 2016, 6:35 pm

    Hi Bryan and Dena,

    I’m a fellow Canadian (but from Edmonton) and am hoping to retire in about two years to somewhere warmer and cheaper than Canada. Cuenca is on my short-list of places to consider. I will be in Cuenca from November 21-27 and would love to get together with you or other expats to chat about your life there. If you are available and interested, please let me know.



  • Margo Tettamanzi Jul 23, 2016, 3:07 pm


    I live in California and own prime location property in Punta Estrada, Porta Ayora, Galapagos that I would like to sell. Would you by chance have any connections to a real estate broker in the Galapagos. If so, please make the recommendation. I am also looking for a professional photographer to take pictures and a video of the property. Whatever information you can give is highly appreciated!

    Thank you,


    • Brian Benson Oct 10, 2016, 4:00 pm

      My cousin is a professional photographer in GYE and has many connections in Galapagos. Message me if your still in need of these services. Take care- Brian

      • Margo Oct 17, 2016, 6:25 pm

        I am on my way to the Galapagos now …. I will be in touch if we need his services ! I appreciate trying to help!

        Thanks! Margo

  • Lisle and Marcia Veach Apr 27, 2016, 8:53 pm

    Bryan & Dena, Thought you might like to know that we briefly mentioned you in the latest episode of our podcast we just released. We made a comment about a post we found from your blog we thought was noteworthy: “Gringo Superiority Complex,” from quite some time back. Just a little shout-out for you guys. Keep posting great stuff!
    Lisle and Marcia,

    • Bryan Haines Apr 28, 2016, 3:46 pm

      Thanks so much for the shout-out. What episode number? I would love to take a look.

      • Andrew Estes Aug 13, 2016, 3:19 pm

        I have decided Loja is probably the best place for me in Ecuador. I am 72, very healthy, single. I have no family, no one to leave an estate to, and I am questioning whether it might be the better option to rent a small house, or one bedroom apartment, rather than dump money into maintenance, insurance, etc. I am approaching this new adventure as my last glide path, hopefully long and smooth. I can’t think of any advantages at this point of home ownership, but am open to your thoughts. Also I would like to start developing a small network of expats in Loja before my move, hopefully Jan 17. Many thanks. Andrew

  • lorna maren Mar 7, 2016, 6:29 pm

    hello, am just starting my research about traveling in Ecuador. i am a cycle tourist. i have a thought to bike down the coast route. looks interesting. i know that there are no absolutes, in your opinion would it be generally safe as a single female. also if i go in dec/jan, would i have any sun? thank you for your thoughts and suggestions. what part of Can. did you return to. hope that is going well for you.

  • Paul L. Feb 29, 2016, 11:37 am

    Hi Bryan,

    My wife (an Elementary School Teacher retiring in June, 2017) and I (a retired Civil Servant) have been enjoying ‘Gringos Abroad’ for a couple of years.

    Before making any permanent move to Ecuador, we’d preferably like to rent a fully furnished, two-bedroom residence so we can explore places like Cuenca, Loja, Salinas, Manta, Esmeraldas and the other smaller enclaves within Ecuador. Our hope is that this experience will leave us more knowledgeable to make an informed decision regarding moving to Ecuador.

    Any ‘tips’ you (or your readers) could provide us with as to a) locating our preferred rental residence (i.e. real estate agents, AirBnB, etc.) , and b) how best to explore and experience Ecuador (I.e. car rentals, tours, etc.) within six months would be gratefully appreciated.

    Thank you.

  • Carol McClellan Feb 25, 2016, 3:50 pm

    My husband and I are coming to Ecuador in June 2016 for 6 months to a year, before we decide on this being our permanent home. We will be flying in to Quito. Do you know where we can find a reasonably priced car to rent during this time?

    • Frank Newcomb Apr 17, 2016, 11:59 pm

      Quito is high and cool most of the time. You’ll need a wrap to stay warm. Lovely though. Do you want big city or suburban? Guayaquil is big, very busy. Cuenca is in a lovely valley, antiquated. There is a lot of ground in between for farming or terrific beaches. I’ve covered most of Ecuador through the years. I, being an old fart, even had a beautiful trophy bride, for a while. The more I travelled the more I like south of Cuenca. I did not like Loja, dirty. Vilcambamba is in a valley, quiet and lovely. BUT, discovered. Renting most any kind of vehicle is easy enough. You just need a driver’s license from your home state. Load up on insurance as drivers, for the most part, will hit and run. You’re not in Kansas anymore Dorothy. Get a traffic ticket, occasionally a small bribe will end it right there. I know from experience. But, be careful how you approach it. If you can get settled somewhere you’ll probably stay forever. Weather is great in most of the country.

      • Mickey Marzigliano Oct 13, 2016, 6:44 pm

        Frank your post best reflects my situation. I am alone and fast using up my middle age years. I was thinking of living in Ecuador and renting, perhaps 6 months per year. I have heard Vilcacamba was a nice place to live rather cheaply but an experienced guy like you might know some hidden spots that may yet be undiscovered. Any suggestions ? I don’t require much luxury and would only be concerned with safety/security and wifi/internet access. I speak the language pretty well and don’t plan on owning car, maybe rent one every so often. Any suggestions ?

  • Kit Feb 17, 2016, 4:47 am

    We are having our motorcycles shipped to Guayaquil from L.A.
    How long can you have a motorcycle in Ecuador?
    Are there fees to pay?

    • Frank Newcomb Apr 18, 2016, 12:08 am

      If you get a visa you can probably stay up to 6 months. It is easily renewable. To enter for a vacation you can stay only 3 months. Big cycles are pretty much a rarity in Ecuador. 150cc are the norm. Be totally aware at all times that drivers in Ecuador are largely uninsured and do not stop when involved in accidents. Hit and run is the norm. Insure yourselves to the hilt. Medical care is mostly pretty good. Dogs are allowed to free roam and larger animals also free roam. Beware at all times. Go over the Andes and you’ll find llamas roaming at the top grazing roadside. People are friendly. Their monetary system in the USD. Really.

  • patricia Feb 2, 2016, 7:55 am

    Hi Folks!
    We are Canadian and are considering a move to Ecuador within the next few years. Our concern is for health care. My husband has a pre-existing heart condition that is stable. He is 66 and I am 61. Can we get health insurance without breaking the budget or the bank in Ecuador? If something happened we need to be covered for a serious situation should it happen. Do you know or can you direct me to a reliable resource to get comprehensive information? Secondly, we would like to live in a beautiful, quiet beach town within 1/2 hours drive from a good hospital.
    Thank you for your help

    • Emma Wayne Feb 4, 2016, 7:58 pm

      Hey there!
      I’m not Dena or Bryan, but I would be glad to tell you what I know.
      Maybe it’s not completely ok to come to Ecuador in dangerous health conditions, due to the factor of not very good hospitals or health caring centers.
      However, wealthy areas have very good hospitals and have a really nice view.
      Try to visit the Sierra, it has a better life condition, and this is because it is more advanced in culture, history and scientifically.
      I totally recommend you Galapagos’ beaches. I don’t recommend Ecuadorian coast’s beaches because they are not impressive, not saying they are ugly, but not interesting.
      Also, Galapagos is really developed, you should go there if you are searching for beaches and “leones marinos” all over the beach! Ha!

    • Jakob Feb 7, 2016, 8:59 pm

      With your criteria I would look at places close to Manta. San Lorenzo, Manabi, is a good fit. I do not think there are other good options if a major hospital and beach have to go together. Machala and Esmeraldas are other big cities on the coast with a hospital, but I am not a fan. There are a few private insurers in Ecuador that you can request a quote from. My wife was with BMI before she left the country.

    • Frank Newcomb Apr 18, 2016, 12:17 am

      Read some of my other comments. About an hour north of Guayaquil are a number of beaches. Las Playas is a long beach busy on weekends and holidays. Salinas is larger, big hotels and condos. Big beach, but like Las Playas, busy on the weekends. Manta is also nice. I can’t express enough how much Ecuadorians love their beaches on weekends and holidays. They’re crowded. During the week things are pretty much normal. Coming from anywhere in Canada you’ll enjoy the warm year round weather in Ecuador. There’s the dry season and the wet season. You’re just about on the Equator. Incidentally, Equator in Spanish translates to Ecuador. No casinos anywhere.

  • Jackie Decker Sep 24, 2015, 12:21 pm

    HOW TO FIND HORSE LOVERS IN ECUADOR? We are visiting Ecuador until October 7, 2015, currently in Loja and will be traveling to Cuenca and Quito looking for a place that we might settle in. I love horses and want to find people in Ecuador who love to trail ride. I would love to meet with people who already live here and know the horse community.

  • cate walsh Jun 11, 2015, 5:19 pm

    I was reading a book about the culture, history, etc.. of Ecuador as I’m considering it as a retirement location. I came across this (I quote) ” Noise is a part of life: giant speakers blast cumbia from massive storefront speakers, and guests staying in cheaper hotel rooms crank up their TVs so loud that the barber across the street can follow the soccer match”. It also said that celebrations can last all night long! Is this true in your experience? Is this only in the cities or everywhere (smaller towns)? Thanks, Cate

    • Bryan Haines Jun 11, 2015, 7:00 pm

      It’s true. It can be very noisy – in cities and small towns.

  • Scott Stacks Dec 5, 2014, 11:30 am

    Down loaded your book and enjoyed it. We will be down here in January again to check out the south end of the coast for retirement, got any info on this?

    • Bryan Haines Dec 9, 2014, 10:09 am

      Glad to hear that you enjoyed the book.

      We’ve written about Salinas – a beautiful city on the coast. It is west of Guayaquil. We have yet to cover the area north of Salinas.

      All the best on your visit in January.

  • David Sep 21, 2014, 9:42 am

    I will be coming to Cuenca in December and looking to make some contacts in the area to find an apartment to rent for the long term. I will most likely stay at a local hotel for a week and start my search for a place to stay. Any help you can give will be appreciated. Thanks, David

  • Chris and Isabel Sep 9, 2014, 11:00 am

    We need a bit of adviceWe are travelling from Toronto to Guayaquil Ecuador in November. We plan on bringing 3 small (under 15 pound) dogs with us. I was wondering if you or anyone in the community has recent experience with what documents we need to be acquire and more specifically how close to date of travel they need to be acquired to be accepted? The Ecuadorian consulate website is helpful just not very specific on these matters.
    Thanks, and Btw great site!

  • Pat brautigan Jul 15, 2014, 5:12 pm

    We are looking forward to spending Jan thru March in Cuenca Equador.

  • Chantal May 22, 2014, 7:01 pm

    I am looking to spend the summer in Ecuador. I would like to stay in a place with other single people that are active and on the beach. Any ideas?

  • Scott Apr 2, 2014, 2:55 am

    My wife and I will be in Cuensa next week down from Alaska and be hrer for 3 weeks checking out Ecuador, anyone with interesting ideas could give us a reply here , we would apprecieate it. especally the coastal area. or for that anywhere. Scott

    • Elaine and Davud Apr 3, 2014, 7:48 am

      We are from Nova Scotia and rented a car for 3 weeks and coming up to the end of our second week. The coast is a long drive but we did it! Avoid the cities of Manta and Esmeraldas. We stayed outside. Guayaquil is a very busy city and make sure you have a good map. If you need places to stay we would be happy to help out as we stayed in very safe beautiful accommodations. We are on our way to Cuenca.

    • Elaine and David Sherwood Apr 3, 2014, 7:53 am

      Hi Scott. In addition to my last reply. We did not enjoy the coast as much as inland. Mindo is very nice and we also enjoyed Otavalo where we are leaving from today. Ecuador is not an easy country to drive in so you have to be very open to the challenges. It’s quite amazing!

      • Frank Newcomb Oct 17, 2016, 3:19 pm

        The coastal towns north of Guayaquil can be very nice. Most very active on the weekends. Large, long expansive beaches. Young people and families. Vendors sell nearly everything you need walking along the beach to you. Beer, soft drinks and food. I’ve driven through a great deal of Ecuador and found all the roads well maintained. Construction to improve the roads and overpasses usually underway somewhere in the country. But, the roads are much better than I found in modern Costa Rica which had mostly terrible, rutted roads. Don’t go much north of the province of Manibi on the coast as it begins to turn “black” and can get dicey. But, overall, the blacks in Ecuador are calm. While in Costa Rica they can be downright dangerous.

  • Elaine and David Sherwood Mar 31, 2014, 9:54 pm

    Hi to the Haines family. We have been travelling in Ecuador since March 23rd and we are from Halifax, NS. We travelled the coast the first week and currently in Quito. We plan to spend some time in Ibarra and Octavalo and will be travelling to Cuenca early next week. Being fellow Nova Scotians (originally from Cape Breton) we would welcome an opportunity to meet you or even get some suggestions for our visit to Cuenca, places to stay and sights to see. We are a sensible, friendly couple with a grown family. Look forward to hearing from you and thanks!

  • Karen Fiallos Mar 20, 2014, 2:43 pm

    My name is Karen Fiallos and I am originally from Cuenca-Ecuador. I lived in the United States for about 15 years and I moved back to Cuenca. I was reading everyones coments and it makes me happy that everyone is enyoing to live here. I work for Diners Club Investments which is a very well known financial institution, I would like to offer and explain all of our services to the Americans that living here. Please feel free to contact me at or at 0995617334 and will be more than happy to assist you with any question or concern.

    • Rich Mar 25, 2014, 3:20 am

      It seems I have heard that expats living in Ecuador are not given the opportunity to have a checking account in the country……Are debit cards available for expats through banking institutes……in Panama, an expat must be introduced formally to a banking facility by a Panamanian local: friend, family, attorney or other Panamanian professional; what is the access to banking institutes in, say, Cuenca? Although I seldomly write checks; I do use my debit or bank card on almost a daily basis to prevent from carrying large amounts of cash…..what are my banking options in Ecuador?

      • Michael Phelps Apr 6, 2014, 1:13 pm

        I’ve been in Ecuador for about 2 months now the thing that I found out about Ecuador is that is like the 50’s and 60’s in the United States for cash is king. everything down here you buy is in cash so a checking account wouldn’t do you much good but a savings would you can draw money from. as for me I’m just going to use my bank account there in the states and I use my debit card to draw money from any ATM down here the only drawback is I have a two percent International fee on my debit

  • Candy Mar 19, 2014, 4:53 pm

    Is it possible to bring dogs to Ecuador? What is the process?

  • Nina Vaughn Jan 11, 2014, 12:15 pm

    I am happy to announce that Grupo Faro has an offspring : Manabi’ Sera’. Grupo Faro is considered South America’s 7th best think tank which works with UNICEF and many other international organizations. It is a non profit organization bringing ideas together for the betterment of Ecuador. Its Director is Orazio Bellettini Cedeno , my cousin, and now they have begun Manabi’ Sera’ where they have already started communities for retirees. It will bring about a change in Manabi’ as to make it as beautiful as Quito, progressive as Guayaquil and a place ideal for families, tourists and businesses. You can see more about these plans in under Grupo Faro and Manabi’ Sera’.

  • Sherida Jan 6, 2014, 3:31 pm

    Hi Bryan and Dena,

    My husband and I are leaving for Cuenca in the next few months and we have so appreciated your website. It is daunting to leave everything behind and head for a new country, but we are looking forward to the adventure.

    I do have a couple of questions and hope that you possibly have the time to answer. We are having a very difficult time trying to figure out where to stay in the short term when we arrive. We will be applying for the Pensioners Visa, but realize that could take a while. We want to be within walking distance of El Centro, but do not want to pay the prices we are seeing for the hotels in the area. Do you have any advice for us?

    We also wondered if rental prices are on the rise in Cuenca due to all of the publicity the region has been getting? Should we be concerned about that? We want something safe, modern, and close to the center of town, and would like to keep it at $600/mo. or less.

    I appreciate any help you can give us. We certainly look to you as the most reknowned experts of Cuenca!

    Thank you so much,


    • Bryan Haines Jan 10, 2014, 12:59 pm

      There are lots of options in Cuenca. You can find them online – anywhere from $12 to $100 per night. You might consider renting a furnished place for a month while you get oriented.

      You will pay higher prices if you rent from some agencies that cater to expats. If you speak Spanish you won’t have trouble finding a good price – at $300/month or less.

  • AL Jennings Dec 24, 2013, 9:51 pm

    I am going to be retiring this summer. I am by myself with a dog. Cuenca seems like a good place for me to live off my $1000 a month pension. Is it easier to find an apartment than a house?

    • Bryan Haines Dec 25, 2013, 7:33 am

      It depends on the area you are looking for. And if you speak Spanish. The majority of properties marketed to new expats (in English) are apartments. But there are lots of houses for rent.

      • Al Jennings Dec 25, 2013, 9:53 am

        Thank you. I love your site. It is very informative and made me more excited about going there. I plan to go this summer and will be practicing my Spanish. Are there people I can connect with that speak Spanish and know the area that can help me find a place, such as what you did for the couple on your site.? I am an artist and it would be nice to have some studio space. I would like to come for a visit but it will take a bit of money. So I may just pack up and go. I am well traveled and have done that before. I may need to board my dog until I find a place. Are there places for that, and is there good vet care there? Thanks again. I look forward to future updates on your site.

  • scot Dec 9, 2013, 5:51 pm

    Good Day
    I was wondering how obscured it would be for gringo and his wife from Alaska ( with little Spanish speaking abilities ) to rent a car and drive around Ecuador for 3 weeks ?
    Just asking, Scott

    • Bryan Haines Dec 10, 2013, 6:52 am

      I’ve spoken with some tourists who have done it. We did similar in Venezuela years ago (no Spanish at all). In retrospect, it was a little naïve on my part. The part of Venezuela we were in was known to be dangerous. It is generally much safer in Ecuador, but not having any Spanish could be challenging.

      • Robert Bingham Jan 11, 2014, 9:22 am

        HI Bryan: I am a retiree with a full-sized dog wanting to move to Ecuador this summer. I’m worried about being turned away because of the dog not being accedited. Lots of info. online,but how can I be sure? Also, I would want to settle in Cuenca; to get there from Quito , can I take the dog on a bus, or perhaps by taxi. I would appreciate very much if you could help me out , Thanks. Robert

  • Joe Nov 29, 2013, 6:42 pm

    I read about the wild horses in Ecuador and really enjoyed your enthusiasm for the subject. I see wild horses quite often in the Alberta foothills where I hunt and always get a kick out of seeing them. Makes me think of the old west.

  • Guy Fennell Nov 27, 2013, 7:48 pm

    I am no longer reading this. Thank you for the information to date, but I would like to Un subscribe. Thank You Guy Fennell

    • Bryan Haines Nov 27, 2013, 8:48 pm

      I don’t know your subscriptions – there are comment and newsletter lists. You can unsubscribe by clicking on either “Unsubscribe” or “Manage Your Subscriptions” at the bottom of every email.


  • shravan goud Nov 19, 2013, 6:19 am

    hi i am from india me and my wife want o move to ecuador can u pls help me to do process from india and hows life in ecuador

  • Pat McConnell Nov 11, 2013, 4:20 pm

    I’m making plans to retire in Cuenca. Is it possible to have nutritional supplements shipped in from a Vitamin company which does business online? Also, is it better when I move, to carry my water filter system with me or is it possible to receive such items in the mail from the online company? The water filtering system is an on-the-counter type that should filter out the amoebas, etc. Supposedly, you could even, if necessary, pour pond scum water through it and it will filter out the bad stuff leaving clear drinking water. Also, the filters last for about 7 years except for the fluoride and chlorine filter which has to be replaced annually.

    • Bryan Haines Nov 14, 2013, 10:34 am

      We have received vitamins without a problem – but it is possible that they’ll request import certification/permits. How to avoid problems with Club Correos.

      If your filter is fragile you should probably bring it with you. But generally it is easiest to order online and receive it here.

    • Patricia Martini Jan 6, 2014, 7:15 am

      Greetings, your water filter sounds marvelous. I would love to know which type it is please and where it can be obtained.

  • tracy Nov 11, 2013, 12:43 pm

    Hi there

    I was wondering if you could help me. My daughter is volunteer teaching in Ecuador… In Bahia. I sent her a box containing clothes. The customs is holding the box for unknown reasons. The message it says is “Awaiting presentation of a commission of customs” (this is Quito). When her and her host called they say that used clothes is not permitted in the country and that in these cases, they give the item to charities!! This is insane!! The box had new and used items, including her medicale booklet! Not only that, but she is not a resident of Ecuador but from Canada (I shipped the box from the U,S) Now all I would like is for them to return the box, but when I put in the box tracking number, I see it is still there!! I spend 80$ to send a box that they keep???? This is insane!! What should I do??? Please help!!!

    • Bryan Haines Nov 11, 2013, 1:10 pm

      Hi Tracy – I understand your frustration. But you need to remember that your shipments are subject to local rules. It doesn’t matter your daughters legal status – if your shipment doesn’t meet the import rules they can do whatever they want. It is the same for packages coming into any country of the world.

      You will have to pay to have the box returned – they will not foot the bill. We had two packages refused by Ecuador Customs and we had to pay to ship them out of the country.

      I haven’t seen anything in print, but I’ve heard that you can’t ship used goods into the country – at least not by post. I think it simplifies importation by assuming that everything is new and thus subject to duties. Without a commercial invoice, it is almost impossible to assign duty/tax value.

      If they are willing, you might be able to go into a post office and pay for the “reembarque” to ship out of the country.


      • tracy Nov 11, 2013, 2:34 pm

        thank you for your prompt reply Bryan

        So, I need to pay to have it returned, but how can I pay from Canada? And can it be paid from another postal office? For example: The package is in Quito but all the info about what happened my daughter got through the post office in Bahia. Can she pay there and have it returned via Quito? And is there a number to call to find out if they didnt already give the box away?

        thanks again!

        • Bryan Haines Nov 11, 2013, 2:38 pm

          I don’t think you can do anything from your end. If your daughter goes to the post office in Ecuador, she might be able to work something out. I have paid duties in Cuenca for packages still in Guayaquil. I expect it will be the same for your daughter – just ask her to go to the nearest post office and see what she can work out. It will probably cost at least the same to ship them back.

    • Jakob Nov 11, 2013, 1:33 pm

      Bryan has basically said it, but I would like to add that customs is right. It is not permitted to import used clothes. Because the clothes did not come as part of your daughter’s personal effects when she entered the country nor as part of a “menaje de casa” your package constitutes an import of those items into the country. My advice would be for your daughter to settle the matter personally to prevent losing her possessions. I understand that most of us gringos are used to a free trade world and it has been a pain for me, too. Someone in Ecuador explained to me once that this is their way to avoid a trade imbalance (by preventing imports or making them very expensive), very important for a country without its own currency.

      There are similar rules for used cars and cell phones by the way which cannot enter the country in a shipment.

      • tracy Nov 11, 2013, 3:26 pm

        thanks for your help everyone.

        I just want to explain that the package was because her personal effects were taken. The box I sent contained her vaccination records, a used pc cord, bras, sandals a few dresses and basics. There is nothing in that box that suggests resale or throwing off the local economy. Everything in there is pretty innocuous, I just find it it crazy that the post offices in the US and Canada did not know of the custom rules when I filled out the declaration paper. And the package is going to a non resident, Someone who will return from Ecuador, I just feel like I i got fleeced by the US post! And from where I am, I am completely helpless as to how to get it back!! Argh!! C’est la vie I guess!! I will try everything you suggested Bryan!! thanks so much!! BTW My daughter plans on moving there eventually!! I sent her a link to your site,

        • Jakob Nov 12, 2013, 12:13 am

          Laws have side effects that are not intended. Generally, once the matter leaves the jurisdiction of your country of origin your local institutions (read: post office) won’t know much or care to know. There are just too many countries and regulations. You always have to do your own research.

  • Pat McConnell Nov 3, 2013, 10:39 am

    Thank you so much for the good info contained in your blog. I’m making plans on retiring to Cuenca from North Caroling, US after I sell my household goods and car. Until then I will pick of some of the books you recommended on learning Latin Spanish and, continue reading your blog.

  • Jo Anna Kloster Oct 23, 2013, 8:13 pm

    I have read all of Gary Sisk’s info on his blog/site. I don’t see a way to post anything to him on his site. Can you suggest how I can make contact with him (email, posting, blog comment, etc.) Thanks.

  • I´m Fernanda Orellana, I´m working in a company in Cuenca Ecuador, as a Real State Coordinator, If you are interested in any house or apartment in or out of Cuenca city, I would like to help you, making the main arrangements, I´m also professional in Tourism, and I work as a Tourist Guide, showing you the most important places of Cuenca. If you want to contact me, please write an e-mail:

  • Inder Kataria Jul 7, 2013, 7:42 pm

    I am Indian citizen wanted to spent retire life in Ecuador and if I prove my Indian income 1000 US Dollar. Will I qualify for PR or how much amount I will keep in Government bonds in ecuador than I will qualify for PR and how much interest, they will pay me on my deposit so I can live my routine life or This process is applicable for so called developed country.
    I am looking forward for your reply…

    Regards….you can give reply in my personnel e mail will be more useful…

  • MARY Jun 13, 2013, 7:15 pm

    Hi. My husband and I will be retiring to Cuenca in Oct of 2014 and I was wondering about the streets and how safe they are for bicyclists…..My husband is and avid cyclist and rides over 50 miles every day.Are the drivers as bad as I’ve been reading about? Are there any bike paths? Also we are bringing 5 bikes with us on the plane and I was wondering about the transportation from the airport in Quito to accommodations until we find a place to rent are there any large vans or trucks that could transport that amount of bikes plus 6 duffel bags of other belongings?

    • Bryan Haines Jun 14, 2013, 6:24 am

      A number of roads now have designated bike lanes. Some of the parks also have nice trails.

      But the other roads can be dangerous. A few months ago an article in the local paper commented about the number of bikes hit by cars. That being said, a good friend of mine is an avid cyclist, frequently rides the main highways and has for decades and hasn’t had a problem. I think it is more a matter of understanding how the driving works and avoiding the problems. You won’t get right-of-way as a cyclist. You seldom get it as a car.

    • jorge lopez Jun 27, 2013, 11:36 pm

      Hello Mary, I happy to hear you are coming to Ecuador to retire.

      I just want to let you know that I’m in Guayaquil for what ever your needs are and my best friend he is North American from Georgia. And has the perfect Magic Van super Truck. He lives in Quito so I’m pretty sure he will do the job for you pick you up at the airport and have your bikes to where you are staying.

      His email address is : and cell phone number# 0988066508.

      If you ever need me in Guayaquil my website is

    • Jo Anna Kloster Jul 1, 2013, 8:29 am

      Hi Bryan and Dena,

      Yes, you have permission to send your wonderful newsletter. I was pleased to read about bike riding. We love that too. I am assuming one can also inline skate on the park bike trails?? Unless of course they are gravel. Can you clarify that? Is there anywhere to inline skate? Large empty parking lots work too…like at the university on weekends? Your thoughts? Thanks!

    • jorge lopez Jul 3, 2013, 1:17 pm

      Mary, yes there is somebody in Quito that can help you. I’ve tried to send an email with the answers about my best friend he is north american from Georgia and he does the pick up and all the travel you may need from Quito. His name is Jack.

  • Jean Cohen Jun 13, 2013, 3:34 pm

    Yes Bryan & Dena,—— I want to confirm that you have permission to send me any information. Thanks immensly for your help. – you seem to have answers that people have trouble finding.

  • Luis E. Moquete Jun 10, 2013, 6:55 pm

    I got greatly impressed with the content in your site.
    Thanks for allowing me be a member. Wish I could have had your information before departing to Ecuador.
    Will continue contacting it in Cuenca, thanks sincerely

  • jorge lopez Jun 6, 2013, 7:54 am

    I grew up in Boston, Mass. And came to Ecuador 1986. We had the “Sucre” as money exchange. The country kept changing so many presidents until the economy collapsed. Since I came back to Ecuador -86 at the age of 22 I started running a few business of my own. But with the economy that struggled even Bankers or Shrimp Co. Owners went bankruptcy. There is no excuse for me to go broke too. But it happened. But even though I keep trying after year 2001 we switched from “sucres to dollars” and the economy seems to began stabilizing. So Here I’m still in Guayaquil-Ecuador and a year ago I opened up a new business join the tourism again since I noticed North-Americans – Canadian ex-pats are very welcome to our nation Ecuador and I also feel very comfortable to work with them since I grew up in the States, offering my services as a Facilitator English speaking for all kind of paper work such as Residency visa- help looking for property-interpreter driver- city tour guide-transfers pickups at the airport and transport people when they are moving in to the country with many luggage the whole family including the great danes dog in a very brand new spacious and comfortable van automatic designed for 9 passengers so I drive them either to the coast around Montanita area or down south towards Cuenca-Loja-Vilcabamba and so on. By the way my new website even though I’m still having trouble having it fixed by the designer cause a few grammatical errors “” or “” I just want to say hello to all north americans that reads and follow Gringos Abroad and tell them to continue doing it so and thank you for using my services. Without your support and understanding I couldn’t have done it. , your friend always jorge

    • Terry Jun 27, 2013, 5:14 pm

      Thank you Jorge for your friendly offer of assistance. We will be flying into Guayaquil end of Aug. I’ll keep your web site handy to give you notice if we see we’ll need your services. 🙂

      • Jorge Oct 22, 2013, 9:33 am

        Hi Terry, I was wondering if these are Terry & Charlie my good friends I have met you at Murali’s hostel and I ended up offering my services and everything turned out excellent . I’m so glad I have met you two are wonderful people .your friends always, Jorge

        • Terry Andrews Oct 22, 2013, 4:11 pm

          Hi Jorge! No I don’t think Steve or I met you in Sept. In Ecuador. We managed to make the trip with some help with our friends so I never got in touch with you. The next time we come to Ecu. I hope it is to permanently live there. So maybe the next time we will need your assistance because it will be a more involved , complex visit. Steve & Terry Andrews

  • John & Lauretta Thebault Apr 18, 2013, 9:23 pm

    We are just beginning the process of considering moving to Ecuador; we lived on a boat @ sea for a # of years, so we would like to live near the sea, a marina. We no longer have a boat. We will start learning Spanish shortly. We are very excited about having someone to talk with. John & Lauretta

  • jean riggs Apr 16, 2013, 9:07 pm

    We are making our first trip in December. I am reading everything I can find. I would love to get the maps

  • Nina Vaughn Mar 26, 2013, 7:11 am

    My mother is Ecuadorian from Manabi. We lived in Ecuador off and on for about 8 years and completed high school there. Ecuador is very beautiful but with the current President I would be weary of buying property there. For one, my father is Cuban and as President Correa has had Castro, Chavez, Evo Morales and , recently close relations with North Korea and Iran, I am very worried. He is very anti-USA. So to remember what happened in Cuba, Fidel did not declare himself President for a while and then he was the only candidate to win over and over…Chavez was the same case. Correa came in and altered the constitution and there is a lot of corruption. My friends are monitoring the situation and say everything is fine but they are preparing just in case he decides to go the Chavez way. This could be an excellent opportunity to buy property as people continue to retire there or it can be a nigthmare.

    • Jakob Mar 26, 2013, 12:39 pm

      High potential return and high risk are two sides of the same medal. However, I think that looking at Correa through the lens of US news correspondence does not do him justice. The political left wing spectrum is actually wider and more diverse than Fox news would make you believe. Have you been following the progress of Ecuador in the last few years? This is the first president who has actually successfully reduced corruption. If you think there is a lot of curruption now, agreed there still is too much, but go back 10 years and compare. Chavez did not do the same for Venezuela. Correa is the first to have raised a third world infrastructure to first world level in many instances. Do you remember how it used to be to travel by road in Manabi? Do you remember the highway signs “Lucio construye”? We used to joke that they must mean building the signs themselves. Do you know that I can now go Guayaquil-Jipijapa in 1.5 – 2 hours (admittingly driving a bit fast)? He took the country out of its eternal standstill. It turns out that it matters less whether a left wing or right wing president runs a country than whether the one who does really cares about the country. This is one of the few politicians in Ecuador who do care. There are still issues with free speech, not paying external debt, hot headed, emotional decisions etc, I am not talking down the risk, but it is a far cry from Ecuador becoming Venezuela let alone Cuba. On the other hand there is much wrong with US foreign policy as well, so I understand when some leaders are irritated. The question is whether irritation leads to irrational hatred, and I do not think it has done so for Correa. This president is not Chavez and not Morales. He is not anti-business and understands that he must work with the private sector for a better future of all. Unlike Chavez and Morales he studied Economics in the US. He is so much more moderate than his extreme left wing counterparts. Additionally, unlike many countries in South America, Ecuador has always remained a democracy throughout its history, even though it meant chasing government from power through people rising up and frequent government changes at times. I am less concerned than I was before Correa.
      Come to Ecuador and get a feel for it.

      • Carlos Mar 26, 2013, 9:20 pm

        Corruption here are everywhere and you can’t blame the president for it. The sad part is that president Correa doesn’t know it and is very difficult….I would say is IMPOSSIBLE to get any information to him. I tried every which way but got no where. The big problem are the corrupted county public officials and their abuse of power on the municipalities. I found out after I came back after 37 years to Ecuador to start a business. Here everything has a price.

        • Jakob Mar 28, 2013, 10:05 pm

          True, but is has been getting progressively better. Prices for public services for example have recently… how to put it… stabilized. There used to be a time when the same government service would vary in price depending on the day and the government official you talked to. Or they would tell you in your face to come back tomorrow or pay triple and get it done immediately. We have come a long way since then.

      • Nina Vaughn Mar 27, 2013, 1:50 am

        I have been there and seen what he has done. I have also seen how he gives handouts to win elections. The middle class is suffering and that is not good for any country. I am not saying not to retire there, since that is what he has made Ecuador into, a retiree’s paradise; I am saying it is better to hold off on making big investments that are not easily sold until it is known exactly what he is planning. I am sad that my country (for I became a citizen of it last year) has not become a country where engineers have great paying jobs because the country is manufacturing finished goods. He is instead relying on the oil being so high. Reading Forbes, The Economist and other articles regarding Ecuador will inform you that while Ecuador has been spending all its money and not saving for what will surely happen, gas prices drop, it makes you think what else will he sell to China. He already sells oil at extremely cheap prices to them….now he is trying mining. Economist deal with the facts and that is: he cannot continue this spending because Ecuador is not Brazil…it is not a manufacturing giant or even a small manufacturing country. As for keeping in the “know” my cousin has the biggest think tank in Ecuador , my grandmother is considered on of Ecuador’s first female Poets who hails from Cuenca and she and my greatgrandad fought side by side with a man you may have heard of: Eloy Alfaro from Manabi until he became President Eloy and my grandad is Manabi’s greatest poet…So , yes, I keep on the know about Ecuador and its past Presidents…even Lucio. There is nothing I would like more than a stable Ecuador with a President that is Democratic but that has not occured…It is his will or the highway…he dissolves congress when he wants, he interferes with the judicial system to get his way…that is not a democracy…Alfaro had a coup one hundred years ago…but Ecuador keeps on having this mentality which is outdated will not make Ecuador into a Panama ever.

        • Jakob Mar 28, 2013, 4:35 pm

          Nina… You have an impressive family history, and yes, I am familiar with the names. However, I do think that you are looking at it through a very American lens (or is it just el espejo de los pelucones?). The problems all exist, but they are not specifically Ecuadorian and do not threaten Ecuador in particular. It is true that a big percentage of Ecuadorian GDP is tied to oil (a few years ago it was around 40%, but I have not researched this in the recent past) and this might be a problem 40-50 years down the road. I was in Panama when the country was not even close to the prosperity of Ecuador today. While it is true that Panama got a head start, Ecuador today has gotten further than Panama was 10 years ago. I am offering you a view from working with dozens of the largest corporations around the world, on most of the world’s continents. I can tell you that everyone sells to China, business reality does not leave much choice. The Chinese are buying not only Ecuadorian oil reserves, but oil reserves around the world, also in North America. The Australian boom would not exist without China. Australia is one of the big commodity economies, hence very interesting to China. Mining in the Andes is actually still largely in Canadian hands (companies I work with), so it is good old fashioned competition on a global scale, not necessarily a sell out to China. I just came back from a project in Brazil last week and I can tell you, Brazil taxes their citizens much more than Ecuador. Prices are a multiple of Ecuador as well, partly as a result of the high taxes on everything. The government is actually left wing just like Ecuador’s. That results in a very comparable standard of living in spite of a nominal Brazilian advantage in terms of GDP per capita. Apparently, this does not prevent Brazil from being the economic powerhouse of Latin America. It turns out the sheer size of the economy is much more important. It is not necessarily better to live in Brazil, but it is better for professionals in certain market segments as certain markets do not exist in a tiny country like Ecuador (the SAP market is one example).
          Everyone around the world is spending and accumulating debt, nobody is saving. I am sure you have been following the news. US and Europe are in the same boat. It turns out that Ecuador has very normal first world problems, so in other words if you are worried, be worried about the sustainability of our world order, not that of a tiny country in the Andes, or just live as you go.
          The separation of powers (executive, legislative, judicial) is indeed not one of Correa’s strong points. But hey, nobody is perfect. Overall, democracy still works in Ecuador and as long as the people show him the limits we will be fine.
          The real question is how the country compares to where it was 10 years ago and I am pleased with the development. Mostly, things have been getting better. The salaries have actually risen sharply. Don’t expect US levels to be reached ever, but many European countries have been beaten already, and you need so much less to make a living in Ecuador. I know people (Ingenieros Civiles, Ingenieros en Comercio Exterior) that make $40k+ a year in Ecuador after 7 – 10 years of experience. Most of them reach $20k after 5-7 years or so. Minimum wage was at $125/month just a few years ago. It is a multiple of that today (last time I looked it stood at $290, but I think it has moved up since then). Ecuadorians are coming back from Spain in droves. In direct comparison Ecuador wins hands down in terms of providing a future for its citizens. Only 13 years ago it was exactly the other way around when a large portion of the population left. There is still a lot of room for improvement, but that’s not news.
          Don’t worry, el sol siempre brillara en Pelucolandia.

          • Nina Apr 2, 2013, 6:22 am

            It is not impressive at all. Everyone should have a moral compass of giving back to society. It just happened that Eloy was a family friend and my great grandmother was a poet who could not vote. They were also against the social injustice of latifundios so it was the right thing to do. As for my family, we are not interested in politics, unless it infringes on the right of free speech and other civil rights. The same progress can be done in a country without dissolving Congress, limiting free speech , tampering with the Judicial Branch. As for that term “Peluco’n”, I find it very offensive since many Ecuadorian families have earned their money the honest way…not everyone has a monopoly like Noboa. In any case, the biggest “peluco’n” is Correa himself since he and his brother have become millionaires….what is that phrase…the teapot calling the kettle black?. As for Panama’, it has developed so well because the USA kept its promise and gave the Canal back. Panama’ has a stable government which inspires people to invest their money there and they , therefore, have a great banking system. China, yes, China is a world economy and buys oil everywhere and invests everywhere but they also devalue their money to make all markets in the world take a hit…that is only one of their tactics. Correa could have sold oil to any country at a good price but sold it undervalued to China because he cannot stand the USA. This is clearly a man whose ego comes before his country. As for my family, he cannot touch my grandfather or great-grandparents…One bad word about the author of “Pasillo Manabi'” and he would be losing support in Manabi’. I gather you are Canadian and it is a bit different to pass by a country for a few years than to have your cultural heritage destroyed by lack of freedom of speech, etc. and by being associated with all the Dictators of the world….as now North Korea is threatening the world again and Correa will probably be agreeing with this.

          • Jakob Apr 3, 2013, 7:23 pm

            Nina… I have held passports of three different countries (if I include my father, mother, and wife, the number of citizenships rises to 5) and I have lived in many more. I can be Canadian for you today, tomorrow we’ll see. I am not even sure what my first language is, but I can tell you it is not English nor French. If you spoke to me on the phone without seeing me and knowing who I am you would think I am Guayaco. The term “pelucon” is right up there with “gringo”, it is not really offensive unless you interpret it that way. I was just making reference to the way your president uses it when speaking in public (it’s one of his favourite words). If you understand my comments you will notice I do not really disagree with you. Correa’s ego is outright funny to a bystander sometimes and sometimes it stops being funny as in the case of El Universo (the free speech example). That is why it is good that there are still political heavyweights like Nebot who the president cannot bypass, at least not in Guayaquil (in spite of Correa being Guyaquileño). This is a difference to Venezuela, by the way, where Chavez entirely destroyed organized political opposition. The difference between us two is that he clearly gets to you emotionally, in a negative way. I see both sides in him, the good and the bad. In spite of everything I really think he cares about the country possibly even more than he cares about his own ego (I have no measuring device). I look at Noboa, Lucio, Bucaram… and I ask myself, were they better choices? I just do not think so. In some countries Correa would be a poor choice. In Ecuador, he has been the best the country could get in a while, in my opinion anyway.

  • Franklin Nunez Mar 18, 2013, 11:49 pm

    Hy Im Franklin, Im from Ecuador, i make tourist package that include hotel, food, and touristic travel in the rainforrest of Ecuador.
    The cost is $180 by person for 4 days.
    If you want to known more of other part in Ecuador that you want to visit call me. My telephone number is 0985754603.

    • Sharon Mar 21, 2013, 9:13 am

      I went to the Amaru Zoo it was a Trip to Hell and back 2 hrs up and 2 hrs down dangerous paths of slipping stone, hard slipping mud, and roots and no water sold or food and help. Would not recommend this zoo for any one over 30 yrs old and no one with children because animals not contained safely. I love animals but if they get mad or upset and attach they will hurt someone why take the risk. NO ONE SHOULD GOT WITH A HEALTH PROBLEM HEAT BREATHING PROBLEM OR SENIORS. IT IS A TINY PATH WITHOUT GOOD DIRECTIONS OR ARROWS NO WATER. it was a trip from hell. I fell and got hurt and threw up 8 times got out but feel it was not described correctly.

      • Bryan Haines Mar 21, 2013, 10:47 am

        Sounds like you had a rough time. If you check our review we did mention that it was on the side of a hill – and that it is best to go in the morning because the sun gets strong. Half way around the trail there is a small store / restaurant that sells burgers, fries and packaged snacks along with juice, water and pop.

        There are arrows the whole way through the zoo. And they give out maps when you pay. I’m not sure what problems you saw with the containment fences – we went with our daughter and are admittedly paranoid-parents and we didn’t see anything dangerous. Can you elaborate?

        I agree that if someone has trouble walking, especially uphill, then this zoo probably isn’t for them.

  • Bruce Mar 7, 2013, 12:36 pm

    Need help in planning ground transportation.
    We are planning a 2-3 week trip in May to see three areas: the Northern area of Quito-Otavalo-Cotacachi, the Cuenca (with a stop in Banos) and last the coast from Salinas to Manta. We are trying to determin our choices for transportation. Where can we get good information and advice on car service versus bus/van for the different itineraries? We don’t want to spend a fortune, but don’t need to take the cheapest alternatives, either.
    Is our best bet this and other blogs? Or is there a good travel agency in Quito that could help arrange everything?
    For the van services from Cuenca to Guayaquil, what is that like? What kind of quality?
    This will be our first “scouting” trip as we look at retiring in a couple of years.

  • Bruce Mar 1, 2013, 5:59 pm

    We are considering retiring in Ecuador. One issue of concern is that we read that water there is not drinkable, that you have to rely on bottled water. Is that true and is it true everywhere or just in som areas?

    • Bryan Haines Mar 1, 2013, 8:16 pm

      We drink filtered water in Cuenca. Before we bought the filter we used bottled water. Other expats drink the water and don’t have any trouble. Outside of the cities you need to be careful.

      • Jo Anna Kloster Jul 1, 2013, 9:54 am


        You say you drink filtered water now.Is it on our faucet? If so, did you purchase it in Ecuador or online (if so, did it take a long time for delivery?)

        What about delivery from on line companies? I found out my online vitamin shop delivers to Ecuador. But I have also learned it takes much more time to receive mailed items. What is your view on this? Thanks.

        • Bryan Haines Jul 4, 2013, 8:38 am

          We purchased a filter online and shipped to from the US. It took about 2 weeks to arrive. We’ve had great success with shipping products to Ecuador.

        • Jakob Jul 4, 2013, 12:14 pm

          Sign up for Club Correos at the Ecuadorian post office when you arrive which will allow you to shop online shops in the US and get it delivered to Ecuador for a small fee.

    • Jakob Mar 1, 2013, 9:02 pm

      I drink bottled water only, so do all of my family and friends in Ecuador, but none of them live in Cuenca. I have problems drinking tap water in most places in Ecuador. On the other hand, I also rely on bottled water in Ontario, Canada, as I have problems with tap water there, too. Much depends on your particular tolerance. Water in Ecuador generally holds up in international comparison.

  • Bob & Gerri Peachey Feb 27, 2013, 7:23 pm

    Bob and I are Canadian citizens, we currently spend 6 months in Canada and 6 months in Florida. We have always wanted an adventure and think that Cuenca would be a beautiful place to start our adventure and possibly settle in for our future. We have read your info material and you make it sound really enticing. We would like to be able to communicate with you directly if possible. Thanks for all of your info and incite, it really helps.

    Bob & Gerri

  • Louis Press Feb 26, 2013, 3:09 pm

    Oops, I am also coming.Louis

  • Louis Press Feb 26, 2013, 3:05 pm

    Brian, my wife and 8 year old daughter are planning to come to Cuenca in October and believe it or not, my wife’s biggest concern is if she can find cast iron cookware there. If not, does UPS ship there as we do not want to move very much stuff. Thank you, Louis Press

    • Bryan Haines Feb 27, 2013, 6:48 am

      We’ve seen cast iron frying pans – flat griddle style with no sides. There might be other options but I haven’t seen them. UPS, DHL and FedEx all ship here.

    • Dennis Anthony Apr 2, 2014, 3:28 pm

      So if I infer correctly from your note, Louis, that if UPS does “not” ship here and you cannot find cast iron cookware, you won’t come? I’ve cooked 50 years with an iron skillet, but I left it. It was heart-wrenching (I’m being facetious) but hey, guess what, I can cook just as well without it. You can’t get a lot of things here. You can’t get a lot of things in Zermatt, Zurich, Frankfurt. Not sure of your point other than this appears to be a showstopper. But her “biggest concern?” This must be a joke as it is so close to April Fools Day. Biggest concern. Well, just wow.

  • Matthew Chambers Feb 17, 2013, 7:59 pm

    Our family is moving to the Cotacachi area this Spring from the USA. I would like to ask you about medical care for you daughter. Have you found a local pediatrician for her – one whom you trust and who speaks English? ALso what about Dental, eye and orthodontic care? Do you fine these all accessible in Ecuador? That is my primary worry. Our son is 13. We lived in granada, Nicaragua for a while and the medical care was sub par. No orthodontists anywhere… For example, if your child comes down with a horrid stomach bug, what do you do – who do you go see. Anything you can offer would be completely appreciated. Thanks, Matt

  • Brad Onsgard Feb 13, 2013, 6:13 pm

    Looking to move. Can you help? Thanks Brad

    • Bryan Haines Feb 14, 2013, 7:58 am

      Have a look around the site, and ask questions on specific posts. We will respond, as will other readers.

      • Milissa Kirkpatrick Feb 16, 2013, 2:13 pm


        My name is Milissa and we visited all around Ecuador last May and spent a month there. We fell in love with Cuenca and would love to move there. The only thing holding me back is that we have a 14 year old daughter. I was wondering is it hard for a teenager to move there and make friends and are there other english speaking teens around there that she could meet. A english speaking church with a youth group or some kind of youth group that she can get to meet other teens? She is home schooled so the school thing is not a problem. If you have any information please let me know. Thanks in advance.

        • Bryan Haines Feb 16, 2013, 5:50 pm

          Its a good question. Our daughter was just 8 when we moved, and she has an ability to make friends easily. There are lots of things to get involved with – sports, arts, volunteer – lots of chances to meet other kids. But there aren’t really that many English speaking kids here.

        • Jakob Feb 17, 2013, 9:46 pm

          From the experience in my own family I can say that 14 is a relatively late age to make a permanent move abroad and still naturally blend into a new culture and language, but it is still a good age to absorb new experiences. Usually, until 10 years of age it happens naturally for kids. At 14 I would advise you to get the opinion of your daughter and let her take a decision for herself. With progressing age new experiences and new friendships have a different character, so her experience will be different from that of an 8-year old kid. In any case it will probably be life changing. Usually very enriching, but there is a certain price you pay later in life when you get disconnected from your close family and childhood friends. I am speaking from personal experience as my mother brought me into a foreign country/new culture/language when I was 10. I have cousins who experienced the same at different ages. If I had the chance to go back in time would I change that decision? Probably not. The way I see it as a person there has been a net gain.

  • Rey Feb 1, 2013, 8:42 am

    Hi Bryan, An easy question. While we were in Cuenca a few weeks ago, we ate the typical Almuerzo’s and with almost all the meals we received popcorn with a spicy dipping sauce. It was great and now my wife wants to try and make it. Does anyone out there have the recipe for the sauce? Thanks, and we look forward to our return trip in September. Rey & Miwa

  • sarah Jan 23, 2013, 10:20 am

    Thank You Bryan for getting back to me as soon as you did. My husband has a permanent disability Pension…2 actually. One Military and the other Canadian Government. Could there be an issue? We are just looking for a more simple way of life…get out of the Rat race here in Canada.
    Thank You.

    • Bryan Haines Jan 23, 2013, 1:42 pm

      I think they’ll both be considered government pensions so it shouldn’t be a problem. It is best to speak with an immigration lawyer about this to confirm.

      • Rick Downes Jan 28, 2013, 11:39 am


        I apologise if this is not the right way to post questions…

        My wife and I lived for 2 years in Malaysia and we loved it…I worked and my wife enjoyed time with the many expat wives and locals…because it was an expat area it was easy to have impromptu gatherings – tennis, golf, lunches, dinners, drinks, etc….

        Now we are both retired in Houston, Texas but miss the expat lifestyle…

        Malaysia was too far from The States so we are considering Ecuador and Costa Rica…we are planning a six week exploratory trip for June/July (3 weeks in Ecuador and 3 weeks in Costa Rica)…but where to go in Ecuador is the challenge…

        For us our primary considerations are:
        1) safety
        2) sizeable expat/retired community
        3) access to golf and tennis
        4) access to shopping (grocery, misc.)
        5) generally 65+ weather
        6) probably a gated community/condo

        We would rent first and perhaps rent forever, but purchasing is also a possibility…it seems that Cuenca is an obvious possibility…where else would you suggest including along the coast???

        Thanks for your help…

        • Bryan Haines Jan 28, 2013, 4:06 pm

          For us, we have considered Yunguilla Valley (just outside of Cuenca), Salinas and Quito. I don’t know the small towns on the coast, so I can’t really comment. For our work, we need stable power and internet connections so being close to a city is important.

          From your list of considerations, I would say that any of the areas I referred to above should do. I’m not sure about golf anywhere except Cuenca (there is a course just outside of the city). And the expat community in Yunguilla is small and not that close.

          • Rick Downes Jan 29, 2013, 7:43 pm


            Thanks for the quick response…I would like to rent an apartment for probably 1 week in Cuenca – any suggestions on who I should contact??? Also, have you heard of Vista Pacifica development on the coast???

            • Bryan Haines Jan 30, 2013, 3:29 pm

              We will be publishing a listing of real estate sources within the next week. I think this will help. I haven’t heard of Vista Pacifica – sorry.

          • Jakob Jan 31, 2013, 11:33 am

            Rick… Yes, I love the area, but it is going to be transformed a lot in the next few years. It used to be an escape from civilization. You would have to wait another decade if you want to have a choice of established areas on the coast, but the price will be different then, too. In 2004 I was in that same vicinity and was actually offered a similar patch of land equivalent to the entire Vista Pacifica area for $70k. This is now the price of just one of Larry’s lots and there are dozens of them. Unfortunately, in 2004 I had just graduated from university and my financial state was such that banks would not even let me overdraft my account by 1000 Euros (but I never stopped coming to Ecuador). However, I have the same bias as you for buying into finished projects and for good reason. Real estate projects in Ecuador do fail occasionally and unlike in other parts of the world there is no safety net for buyers to get their money back. In Ecuador you basically pay the house in advance and the builder injects that money into construction right away. If the house is not sold first, it is not built. I witnessed first hand when the builder of project Vallealto in Guayaquil took whatever client’s money he still had and fled with it to Peru basically leaving many people without money AND house. Today he has a real estate company in Lima, Peru, and Ecuadorian law cannot reach him. His name is Alfredo Mancheno, google him on youtube for the legal action. With that in mind I am still looking to invest in a house in Guayaquil and might actually go with an established builder this year. It is not easy to find exactly what you want, so once you have found it, some risk is acceptable. The global environment is right, Ecuador is going to grow fast in the next few years. In addition, the US$ is currently cheap across all FOREX. These are also price drivers. Most of the real estate market is currently driven by Ecuadorian expats coming back to Ecuador. Us gringos do not nearly have as much impact.

        • Jakob Jan 28, 2013, 6:08 pm

          Given your temperature requirements you might feel better on the coast. Ecuador has only recently seen a considerable influx of foreigners. Only a few years ago there were some scattered ones, mainly Europeans, many from hippie times, who had been there for decades. They usually blended in, there were no gated communities dedicated to the expat market. This is changing, there are several real estate projects on the coast now that target expats only, also gated communities. However, this is a relatively new development, so coming to Ecuador you would still be one of the pioneers and you would buy into real estate projects that are currently a construction site. I have seen a large uptick in foreign residents along the Ruta del Sol in the last 3 years to the point that villages like Olon put up signs in English (I was shocked when I saw that, I would have never imagined that 5+ years ago), but they are still nested in local life. I would not say there is a designated “expat area”. If you are looking for tennis a golf you would probably have to be close to the larger urban centres. Manta was a former US military base, so I am sure they have a lot of what you are looking for.

          Costa Rica in comparison is a well established expat market. It depends on what your preferences are. Do you want all comforts of a well developed market or the excitement of growing with a developing one?

          • Rick Downes Jan 29, 2013, 7:44 pm


            Thanks for your quick response…Have you heard of Vista Pacifica development on the coast???

          • Jakob Jan 30, 2013, 8:07 pm

            Rick… I know very well where Vista Pacifica is. The guy who is developing it goes by the name of Larry. I do not know the last name. He is staying in Don Juan, Canton Jama in Manabi, which is a village right by the Vista Pacifica project. It so happens I have in law family living in Don Juan and I visit from time to time. Very beautiful area. It used to be difficult to get there, but not anymore. With the new roads it is actually going to be the closest coast to get to from Quito. I expect tourism from the mountains to pick up a lot in that area. The price Larry charges for the construction is about twice what you would normally pay in Ecuador, but he is building according to American building code. I will leave to you to decide whether it is a good or a bad thing. Have you been thinking about buying?

          • Rick Downes Jan 31, 2013, 10:13 am


            In general I prefer to own rather than rent…more control over my destiny…

            I stumbled upon Vista Pacifica while researching Ecuador…it looks nice..sounds nice…but I am careful about potential scams and/or projects that promise much and then fail…I have seen those in The States so I tend to favour established areas…perhaps Vista Pacifica is worth a look…I have read some posts by Larry Pioli and he seems to be helpful and genuine…

            Sounds like you think the area is nice…

          • Larry May 29, 2013, 5:26 pm

            Hi Rick, Jakob and all.
            I am the owner/developer of Vista Pacifica and you can go to our website along with our face book page to see what we are doing. Our first phase is now 40% sold out and if you have any questions please feel free to ask me. You can contact me through our website or Skype at larry dot pioli.

  • sarah Jan 22, 2013, 7:30 pm

    hi Bryan and Dena,
    I just read the horror story of the family whom decided to get residency in Ecuador. They had to jump through some Tax hoops among other things for the Canadian Government. Can you please tell me your family story sinse you have moved to Cuenca , Have you had difficulties like this family? I’ve read many expat blogs on many sites and have never heard talk of these issue that this family had. My husband and I are going to be coming down to Ecuador next winter to “shop around”. Thank You .

  • Jenny Lozada Jan 12, 2013, 6:12 pm

    Hi Bryan:
    I entered your website and saw that you were looking for Real Estate Agents. I have not been on this site before, but since 3 years I’m married with an American,so now I pay more attention to “Gringos” (haha). However, we were abroad, in Argentina, for more than a year, and although my Real Estate office continued operating, I was not personally present. Now we’re back in Salinas, since 3 months and I’m taking control again of the business.
    I am a licensed Real Estate Agent, with number 87, and have been in this business for more than 20 years, of which most of the time in Salinas and the Ruta del Sol. I also worked for well-known developers in Guayaquil and the Peninsula of Sta. Elena, incl. Salinas (Mar del Sol; Nautilyus; Marena; Las Arenas) and various closed communities projects in Samborondon, and the famous Commercial Centers Piaza in Guayaquil)
    My business name is: Inmobiliaria Jenny Lozada & Asoc.
    Address: Edif. Estela del Mar, in the entrance of tehe Malecon – Salinas (in front of Sunbeach hotel)
    Tel: (593) 9 9793 9279

    I read a comment on the website that there were only 2 Real Estate Agents to be trusted in Salinas. I would like to add my name to this list as I’m well-known for my honesty and preparation to help everybody, especially visitors to our beautiful country. My strength is in offering a complete package, to include the search for the right property, preparing all the documentation needed (incl. legal process) until the closing, to satisfaction of the customer. I will soon have my website up and running again.
    Hope to get comments soon and contribute to anything I can for this site and the “Gringos”.

    • Bryan Haines Jan 14, 2013, 6:47 am

      Thanks for sharing this information Jenny. Just to clarify, we don’t feel there are just two good agents. This was a comment by a reader.



  • Basia Mark Jan 10, 2013, 5:30 am

    …we are very new to this website ( it is great by the way ! )
    Our situation is a little bit more complicated then most people . First of all after many year of living in Canada we have decided to come back to Poland ( we were both born in Poland ) to help our father to run a small business . Poland in several years changed almost completely , from poor east European country to a fast growing economy ( believe it or not one of the strongest in Europe !!) …but this is not any more for us . This “rat race” in “new Poland “for almost everything is killing any pleasure of being here . So we started our search for a place on earth were we could have more quite life for ourselves . So for our first choice is Ecuador . My first very naive question is : was it worthy for you ?
    and second : if we buy some small property with a piece of land ( to become more independent) could we “stay a live” with a small income
    best regards from snowy Poland
    Basia Mark

  • Jakob Jan 6, 2013, 1:01 pm

    Brian & Dena… This time I have a question that you may have an answer to. With our time spent and economic activities between Canada and Ecuador shifting towards Ecuador and different streams of income opening up in both countries we have started thinking about the resident/deemed resident and non-resident/deemed non-resident classification by CRA. So far, it has been easy as CRA would always consider me a Canadian resident as long as I do not hold a residency document of another country. Now, this might change. We are still figuring out which way would be better to file taxes now and in the future, but my burning question to you is: As formal residents of Ecuador, do you file your taxes in Canada as:
    – Factual residents
    – Deemed residents
    – Factual non-residents
    – Deemed non-residents?

    I am trying to figure out how CRA would classify us if our status changed. I have already read all of the info on the CRA web page and some things are still fuzzy.

    Thanks in advance.

    • Bryan Haines Jan 7, 2013, 7:04 am

      We are actually in the process of getting a ruling. I sent the request for ruling last March and they told me to expect a response within a week or two. It is a long process – and not that straight forward. While the publications give an idea, it really needs to be provided as a ruling. Because we have a Canadian business we will continue to pay those taxes there. Once we get their ruling we have to speak with tax lawyers here to find out what our status will be. They told me it primarily depends on our tax status in Canada. I’ll let you know once we hear.

      • Jakob Apr 10, 2013, 7:02 am

        Bryan… My employer thought it was prudent to investigate my tax status as my time spent in Ecuador has been increasing. We also pulled in the second opinion of a consultancy (Deloitte). I thought I’d share the opinion of our Global Mobility Specialists which might be relevant for Canadians in Ecuador who derive income in Canada.
        “From a Canadian perspective, the individual would be subject to regular Canadian income and social security withholdings, unless a waiver is obtained which could be applied for if the individual was taxable in Ecuador.
        There is a Treaty between Canada and Ecuador – at a very high level, if the employee is physically present in Ecuador for less than 183 days in any rolling 12-month period AND no remuneration is paid by or borne by an employer/establishment in Ecuador, he should be exempt from tax in Ecuador.
        As a continuing resident of Canada for tax purposes, he would be required to report his worldwide income on a Canadian tax return, and should report his worldwide employment income on his T4 wage slip.
        As long as any contracts he negotiates are approved by Canada then there will be no corporate tax issues.”

        • Bryan Haines Apr 10, 2013, 2:55 pm

          Thanks Jakob – this is very helpful stuff.

          I am still paying ping-pong with the International Tax Services Office in Ottawa. They are helpful – it just takes 2 months for each response from their office. I spoke with them today and hope to have an answer within a month, as regards our tax / legal status in Canada.

  • alicia mingo Jan 4, 2013, 10:48 pm

    There is people asking you about restaurants and food in general in Cuenca.Especially people with illness such as ciliac disease.I know a couple that own this amazing raw vegan restaurant and tea house that is called Nectar. Nectar is located at 1042 Benigno Malo and Gran Colombia. The owners are Tania & Yani Drosupoulos.Yani is gringo and Tania is from Cuenca.I was wondering if you can visit and try their healthy and nutritious food.Then according to your experience you be able to recommend the place.I live in Toronto but, I am from Cuenca.I was there last summer with my daughters and it was a great experience. Thank you.

    • Bryan Haines Jan 7, 2013, 7:01 am

      Thanks for the information Alicia. We’ll try to stop by.


  • Terrie Schmearer Nov 21, 2012, 7:46 am

    I have a car that I LOVE. I’m thinking that I may just have to sell it before retiring to Ecuador, but I’m kind of holding onto the dream of bringing it. It is a 1972 VW Type 3 Fastback. I know from experience here that it’s not always easy to find someone who can work on it. I have noticed online that there seem to be a lot of these cars in Brazil and Argentina. I was wondering if anyone has noticed them around Ecuador? Especially Cuenca? I would assume if they’re there someone works on them. If you aren’t familiar with what one looks like, just google it. There’s tons of photos out there. 🙂 Thank you.

    • Dena Haines Nov 21, 2012, 7:58 am

      There are a few VW repair shops that specialize in VW Beetles. I haven’t seen the fastback here but there are quite a few of the old beetles. I’m not sure that you’ll be able to import an old car though.

  • Bill Riordan Nov 20, 2012, 8:53 am

    Hi Bryan,
    I arrived in Cuenca last Monday, November 12. In the last week I rented a great apartment in a good neighborhood near SuperMaxi and el Estadio, got very good deals on appliances and furniture, thanks to Ecuadorian friends that I met a couple of years ago and the real estate agent Marcelo Moscoso and his wife Andrea, who not only took me shopping, but also took me to Cajas on Sunday with their family; needless to say, I got some great shots there. Last Wednesday I saw a couch and chair that I liked, but did not care for the fabric and color. They are being re-made and I should have them next week. Grace Velastegui is handling my visa application.All in all, I have been able to get a lot done in a week.
    I am very happy to have made the move. I saw the comments about crime and can only say that one has to be aware of their surroundings no matter where they live. I walked from my apt to Parque Calderon yesterday..@ 20 minutes, and have done some night shots with my camera in the last week. Having lived in Hartford, CT for the last 13 years, I feel a lot safer here.

  • Ralph Kinsley Nov 17, 2012, 8:40 pm

    Planning on relocating to Ecuador and I need some help. Please.
    I did a little research with our United States Department of State an I have pasted a few of their advisories below. ) I would appreciate any comment from any of you on the following excerpts re: Ecuador.

    I would appreciate any comment any of you would care to make. I assure that your comments will be held in the strictest of confidence. I understand that the above comments by State Dept could apply to Detroit or Los Angles or any other US City.

    Thank you very much,


    • Terrie Schmearer Nov 19, 2012, 6:46 am

      I read that information also. Some of it scared me enough to rethink retiring there. I sure do want to retire there though. Between hearing that I can’t drive or ride anywhere without risk of being held up and reading about the awful drivers and wondering how anyone crosses a street on foot without becoming a casualty if I choose not to drive… it’s just kind of daunting.

      • Ralph Kinsley Nov 20, 2012, 6:41 am

        Hey Terry! I sent the same inquiry to an ex-pat network of people I correspond with. All of them that did reply said that they have not had any problems whatsoever subject to being careful. But half did not reply. But the comments confirmed my suspicions and experience from living in Guatemala for a year and working and traveling throughout all of Mexico and Central America for many years. The problems you encounter are very similar to the type of problem you can run into in any American City. And you need to keep your wits about you, watch what areas you go to, don’t go out alone at night, don’t flash cash and valuables. Kinda like Detroit, New York or L. A. When I went to school in East Lansing, Michigan back in the 1970’s I got stuck up at gunpoint twice. One time I got cracked across the side of the head with a pistol and required hospitalization. This last incident was directly behind the Capitol building in Lansing-you could see the top of the dome from where it happened.

        • Terrie Schmearer Nov 21, 2012, 7:41 am

          Thank you for your answer. I guess I’m such a country girl that I’m not that used to cities. I can learn!

  • Richard Nov 13, 2012, 10:37 pm

    Would like to hook up with anyone living in Equador that is from the USA. Would like an E-Mail pal that can answer my many questions concerning life in Equador.Have to much at stake for obtaining answers from other than someone who has made the relocation from the USA. I am thinking of moving my family to Equador but cant afford to find out that I made a mistake after the fact. If you can help me out please E-Mail me at.

  • Michel Dubé Nov 12, 2012, 7:37 am

    I have just arrived to Cuenca one week ago and I truly enjoy the city. I am looking forward to meet with many of you and learn about the many things that Cuenca has to offer. If you would be interested in sharing some do’s and don’ts, I would be happy to hear from you.

  • Denise Nov 11, 2012, 1:30 pm

    I am desperatly seeking an English speaking Psyco therapist in the Santa Elena, Ecuador area. I am currently living in Salinas.

  • Rey Nov 9, 2012, 6:15 pm

    Hi, We are traveling to Ecuador from Jan 7th thru the 17th. I wanted to find out if there are any shared van services. We will be landing in Quito and then traveling to Alausi, Banos, Cuenca, Guayaquil and Manta. We are spending four days in Cuenca to check out as a possible retirement location. The van service is mainly to travel from Quito to Alausi on the 8th in time to take the train up to the Devil’s Nose and then later the same day travel to Banos for the night. We can take the bus to Cuenca the next day. Any suggestions? Thanks

    • Carlos Nov 10, 2012, 9:01 pm

      Yes there is an executive van service that goes between Quito and other cities.

      I been living in Ambato since 1997. Ambato is about 2 1/5 hours from Quito on the way to banos.

      I will find the phone number for couple for the companies I use when I travel to Quito on my way to the the states.

      • Rey Nov 13, 2012, 4:06 pm

        Thanks Carlos, We look forward to the information.

        • Carlos Nov 21, 2012, 7:12 am

          Ray, here are some number for the transportation in Quito.

          Taxi Azul 09-8-754-1771 or 09-9-529-8962
          Door to door service 02-603-7670

          • Rey Nov 21, 2012, 7:38 am

            Thanks much Carlos. We appreciate your response.
            Best Regards,
            Rey & Mia

  • John(GA) Tomei Nov 9, 2012, 3:19 pm

    Bryan- My wife is getting antsy to move to Cuenca, and I’m staying uncomitted until I find out if there are any golf courses there. If so, do they compare to our courses in No. America? Thanks, John

  • Jack Parker Nov 3, 2012, 5:19 pm

    Well, we are in Cuenca…have been since the evening of the 31st and are enjoying, as much as possible with limited Spanish, the festivities. We plan to be here for about 3 weeks, exploring the area. Next, we will be going to Guayaquil, where we will, initially, spend a week at a home owned by an Ecuadorian friend. Therein lies my question:

    With the amount of luggage we have neither a national airplane flight or bus trip will be feasible. Can anyone recommend a *good* van service that can help with our 4 checked bags and assortment of carry-on luggage. We’d prefer service *direct* from which-ever hostel we’ll be staying at next (the present one is less than satisfactory) to my friends house 32km north of Guayaquil? Or am I asking too much?

    Any guidance will be appreciated!

    Jack Parker

  • Terrie Schmearer Nov 3, 2012, 10:53 am

    Hello. Can U.S. electrical appliances be used in Ecuador? Having heard that some countries electrical systems aren’t the same as ours has me wondering. 🙂

    • Bryan Haines Nov 5, 2012, 6:47 am

      It is true that some are different – but US appliances will work here in Ecuador. Depending on where you live, you’ll probably want good quality power surge protectors. The power levels can spike and drop numerous times in the day. I have my computer on a UPS.

      • Terrie Schmearer Nov 21, 2012, 7:39 am

        Thank you 🙂

  • IbixBlues Nov 1, 2012, 2:09 pm

    My wife and I are considering moving to Ecuador. There is, we believe, a major impediment. I have active cancer and need checkups (blood tests, CT, MRI, etc.) about every four months to check on whether or not the chemo is working. Is there a hospital in Ecuador that specializes in cancer treatment? Does anyone have personal experience with these hospitals? How about a hospital with an active cancer section? Any input will be appreciated.

    • Bryan Haines Nov 2, 2012, 6:54 am

      There is a hospital named Solca (Sociedad de Lucha Contra el Cáncer) which has been rated among the best in the Western Hemisphere. Solca has locations in Quito, Cuenca, Loja and Guayaquil (maybe others). Each location has their own web site. Both my daughter and I have had investigative testing and surgery there. Public opinion puts the Cuenca hospital as the best in the country, but I haven’t read that. Many patients travel here because they feel it is better than the other locations.

      Hope this helps.

  • Jack Oct 19, 2012, 7:38 pm

    I am packing some cartons with personal and household goods to be shipped when we gain the resident visa and find a permanent home in Ecuador. If my information is correct these items will be allowed to be sent to us, for a time, duty free. My question is this:

    How should the customs forms be handled? Is there a mechanism that allows these cartons to be specified as duty free? I have shipped some personal items from the US to my son in Winnipeg and the customs form requirements are burdensome, to say the least. I hope there is some other method that will simplify shipping to Ecuador. Any assistance will be appreciated.


    • Bryan Haines Oct 20, 2012, 6:48 am

      It’s a good question Jack. It would be best for you to speak either with your local consulate, Ecuador Customs or a lawyer. If the papers are filled out incorrectly you could be faced with duty charges as high as the new value of your goods. I understand that once you have residency you can receive household goods duty free.

  • Kori Oct 18, 2012, 3:43 pm

    Hello!! My husband and our 2 kids are seriously considering a move to Ecuador for similar reasons you moved your family. My husband has been to Quito and fell in love with the country. Our first instinct is to move to Quito, but reading all of you information Cuenca is seemingly more attractive. My question is do you know the cost of living difference between Quito and Cuenca? And in your opinion, what are the advantages between the two cities? Thanks so much for any info you can give us!


    • Bryan Haines Oct 22, 2012, 6:08 am

      Quito seems like a very livable city. Because many taxis are metered in Quito, they are noticeably less expensive than here in Cuenca. Quito is more developed, in areas it looks like a city in Canada or the States. I’ve heard comments that both Cuenca and Quito are the most expensive cities in the country. I haven’t lived in Quito so I can’t really comment on the real costs.


  • Brian Oct 4, 2012, 9:30 pm

    Hi – just a general query: I’d like to visit Cuenca for a month or 2 with the aim of getting some minor cosmetic surgery & studying Spanish. I’ve done some research on local medical groups but none of my emails to them requesting more info have been answered. Is there any local fluent in Spanish & English who I could pay to make some phone calls & get some information for me? If there’s another forum more appropriate for this kind of request, please let me know.

  • Rick Wells Oct 2, 2012, 5:14 pm

    This is not a comment but a question. Can anybody tell me if I can Bring a Harley Davidson Motorcycle into the country and if so any ideas on how much Ecuador would charge for duty or whatever they call the tax they would charge.

    Thank you

    • LindaRose Nov 8, 2012, 8:54 am

      I have a friend that moved to Cuenca in April 2012 and could NOT bring his motorcycle with him. It must be the current year and there are restrictions…he has relocated to Villcabamba and has done more research and there are ‘ways´ to bring it down, but you could have your bike confiscated. Sorry…

      • Rick Wells Jan 14, 2013, 8:14 pm

        I just saw your response on my question thank you for the info, guess I will be selling the Harley.

  • MARY Sep 28, 2012, 2:43 pm


  • Ron Verhaar Sep 26, 2012, 1:17 pm

    Hi Brian,
    My name is Ron and originally I am from Holland. I live on Sint Maarten for 11 years and for 8 years I have been working as a general manager of a resort. I am 55 years old and would like to continue working but in a relaxed environment. Is it difficult to get a reasonable job where you live? My wife is from the Dominican Republic and is a hair dresser.
    Looking forward to your response.

  • dayle Sep 18, 2012, 12:23 pm

    Really enjoying your blog, info, pictures… you guys are great.
    Two questions, the first of which is going to sound so ridiculous, but can you drive from Mexico or Texas all the way through to Ecuador? Every time I did MapQuest, etc., they say they cannot do driving directions. Yet, on maps, it looks like land all the way. Next, if I came, could I bring my 2 horses? I know there are all the questions about land, hay, feed, vets, farriers, etc., but first, just want to know if you think they would fare well. Thanks, Dayle

  • Desiree Marshall Sep 12, 2012, 2:20 pm

    I finally decided to write a comment on your blog. I just wanted to say good job. I really enjoy reading your posts.

  • Jennifer Sep 11, 2012, 11:02 am

    Hi Bryan,
    We are 40-somethings stressed out in Massachusetts. We have twin 5 year-olds who just started kindergarten here, but we don’t want to let go of our dream of living abroad together. I wonder how you decided on a school for your children and if it has been a positive experience for them. Also wondering if you know of families who teach ESL and whether or not the income from teaching ESL would be enough to support living in Ecuador.

    Thank you!

    • Bryan Haines Sep 12, 2012, 11:26 am

      Hi Jennifer, we home-school our daughter and she loves it. Of course, its the same system we used in Canada so its the only way she knows. Other expat friends have their kids in private schools. I’m sure you won’t have any trouble finding a good school once you arrive. There are lots of options.

      If you teach English online you can make around $10 / hour. From what I understand, the going rate for teaching English in a school in Cuenca pays around $3-5/hr. There are exceptions – you could give private lessons or teach at a university. We have a number of friends teaching for OpenEnglish.

  • Bill Riordan Sep 10, 2012, 8:56 pm

    Hi Bryan,

    I will be arriving in Cuenca in early November (for good). Just a question about prescription medications. I take a few cardiac meds and will be taking a reasonable supply with me, as well as medical records. My friends have already suggested a physician, but will I be able to get my prescriptions fairly easily?

    I hope to meet you some time after my move.

    Bill Riordan

    • Bryan Haines Sep 10, 2012, 9:02 pm

      Hi Bill – I really don’t know the answer. From what I understand, there are brand name and generic drugs. But some just aren’t available here. There are alternatives but without speaking to a pharmacist about your specific prescription it would be impossible to answer. The medical system is excellent here – once you arrive I’m sure you can make the necessary connections.

  • Skip Sep 10, 2012, 6:59 pm

    The info about Chordeleg,was most interesting and a must visit for my forth coming trip… had long heard there was an area famous for their silver work. I designed jewelry in the past so maybe I can connect with some other artist.

  • Neal Sep 10, 2012, 6:40 pm

    Hi Bryan,

    I am new to GringosAbroad. It looks and sounds great. Laura and I will arrive in Guayaquil the evening of October 3 and then travel to Cuenca where we will live for 9 months. Can you or your readers offer advice or recommendations on safe and reasonable transportation from Guayaquil to Cuenca. Specifics would be helplful.

    • Bryan Haines Sep 10, 2012, 8:47 pm

      You can take a van service, the bus or a flight. We have done all three and now we just fly. It isn’t very expensive and it is so much more relaxing.

  • Jack Parker Sep 2, 2012, 10:19 pm

    Not certain where to post this, so I’ll do it here:

    My wife and I will be in Cuenca on October 31st, with a hostel room arranged for a week, in the vicinity of Teatro Cuenca. We will arrange for another rental for a month, or so, after we arrive.

    I would like to know if there are any secure storage facilities where we can leave our personal belongings while we do a little exploring outside Cuenca? Some items, like laptops and Amateur Radio equipment are valuable enough for us to want a storage location where these, and other, items will be safe.

    • Bryan Haines Sep 3, 2012, 6:30 am

      I haven’t heard of this service, but it would be a great idea for someone to start.

  • T.K.Li Aug 31, 2012, 4:43 pm

    Hi Bryan & Dena,

    Thank you so much for all the information!

    I’ll relocate to Ecuador on residency visa from the USA sometime in September/October, 2012. I would like to rent a small furnished apartment in Cuenca at the beginning. Where should I start? Is it difficult to rent a furnished apartment (one or 2 bedrooms)in Cuenca of reasonable rent?

    How do I purchase health insurance in Cuenca?

    Where can I purchase a cell. phone in Cuenca?

    Is there a demand of I.T. volunteer in Cuenca?



    • Bryan Haines Sep 3, 2012, 6:42 am

      I don’t think furnished rentals are hard to find. There seem to be lots of options online.

      Health insurance is available at many places. You can buy from the banks, Confiamed or Salud. Cell phones are literally sold on every street corner. They start at $40 for a basic Nokia. I don’t know about volunteer demand but if you are offering expertise for free I’m sure you will find some willing recipients. Probably just get to choose your organization.

  • Vojko Zadkovic Aug 25, 2012, 8:14 am

    Hi Bryan and Dena,
    You are doing a great job about informing interested parties about Ecuador. I have retired recently from a Federal Government job in Canada and would like to live partly in Ecuador, but remain active.

    Last year I completed a Teaching English a Second Language course and this year a Business English course from EXFORD SEMINARS and would like to teach English in Cuenca.

    Would you guys be able to provide me with schools contacts in Cuenca that might be interested in my services?

    Please, e-mail me directly.

    Best regards

    • Bryan Haines Aug 27, 2012, 5:53 pm

      I’m not familiar with the schools here, because I don’t teach. There are a number of expats that teach online via OpenEnglish. Might be worth a look. Or your can search online for English schools in Cuenca.

  • Michel Dubé Aug 23, 2012, 2:18 pm

    Hi to all,
    I am planning to be in Cuenca in November 2012. I would like to meet with many of you as I discover the city. Do not hesitate to send me an email so we can connect and share our travel experiences. Looking forward to hear from you.

  • Vojko Zadkovic Aug 23, 2012, 12:23 pm

    Hi Dena and Brian,

    You are doing a really good and honest job in informing people about Cuenca and Ecuador in general.

    I have retired recently, but I would like to keep active and have done an OXFORD SEMINARS Teaching English as a Second Language Diploma and a Diploma for teaching Business English. My dream would be to retire and to teach English in Ecuador, especially Cuenca.

    Would you guys be able to direct me to some local schools there that might need my services.

    Best regards

  • Greg Bealer Aug 14, 2012, 12:53 pm

    Not lollygagging about anymore. I will be there November 2. No you needn’t meet me at the airport with flowers and a 10 piece band. LOL Your blog has already been more help than I could have wished for.

  • Jane Williams Aug 5, 2012, 6:24 pm

    Thanks for all of the great information. My husband and I are planning a stay in Cuenca for January-March 2013. We are reading as much as possible so as to be prepared. Bryan, you mentioned information about medical insurance. Is this available in a separate part of the blog? We are retired but not on Medicare yet; we do have private insurance in the U.S. but our company does not cover out of country emergency care.

  • Janine Berg-Peer Jul 28, 2012, 10:54 am

    Do you know whether there is a German community in Cuenca?
    Your newsletter is great – it answers a lot of questions. It will help to make a decision.

    Thank you


  • Jason Dickman Jul 23, 2012, 1:14 pm

    I rally want to move to another country for the vary readons you have.I’m an HVAC contractor here in the states. One, how hard would it be starting an air conditioning business in Ecaudor? Two, are there enough expats that i could cater to them or wuld I have to do business with the locals? Three, how hard is it to live on a wage down there if you don’t have your own business?


  • Michelle Jul 8, 2012, 1:33 pm

    Thanks for all the great information. My husband and I are looking into moving to Ecuador. I was wondering if I could continue to homeschool my two children?

    • Bryan Haines Jul 9, 2012, 12:08 pm

      Sure, we do. And so do many foreign families. Are you asking about the laws or just the logistics?

  • Ken Neufeld Jun 18, 2012, 9:09 am

    I am planning on visiting Manta, I love the ocean. The rental prices are very reasonable compared to Canada. Is there much of a proceedure to stay outside of Canada for longer than 6 months, Will I loose my Canada pension or over 65 pension.I plan to see the country using Manta as a base. The rentals there make more sense to me than buying Thanks Ken

    • Ken Neufeld Jun 18, 2012, 2:46 pm


  • Greg Bealer Apr 23, 2012, 11:20 pm

    You continue to provide such excellent insights, connections and general advice. It would appear that knowing Noshy and Alfredo would be extremely worthwhile. They sound to be worth their weight in gold. Ordered my Rosetta Stone (South American) Spanish today. Cheers to you both.

  • Greg Bealer Apr 22, 2012, 8:08 pm

    I’m planning a trip to Cuenca in order to determine whether it is the place for my retirement. I’m only writing to tell you how much I am getting out of your site. You appear to be genuinely nice people with considerable common sense. Thank you very much for your efforts.


  • Scott Apr 16, 2012, 1:33 pm

    Hi Bryan & Dena,

    I am flying into Quito May 1 (then Cuenca) and only staying two weeks this trip. I have not pinned down an itinerary (I usually keep things loose). my question is if some of the better Hostels are always booked up (should I make a res) or if I could pick when I got to Cuenca (take my chances)?
    The next question is about rental cars. I like to go exploring the country side and usually rent a car. do the Hostels have parking available? I am looking to move to Ecuador in the next year, if I find I fit well. I’m just returning from 18 months in Burundi, Africa. Would love to catch up with you guys while I’m there. My Spanish is rather bad, so any other English speeking expats I could meet or contact would be a plus 🙂

    Thanks for the awesome website!


    • Bryan Haines Apr 17, 2012, 9:54 pm

      Hi Scott, I really can’t help with your hostal question. I don’t know if/when they are full. I haven’t seen parking areas at most hostals, but in Cuenca there are a number of pay and guarded parking lots, so it shouldn’t be a problem.

      All the best on your plans!


  • MariaPiaBlog Apr 12, 2012, 8:53 pm

    Hey guys!!
    Can you help me in some advice please?
    My fiance and me we will get marriage, and Registro Civil asks about Divorce Certificate (my fiance is divorced man) You know where my Gringo can get that Certificate?
    He is from United States.

    Kind regards

    • Bryan Haines Apr 15, 2012, 8:21 am

      Its a good question, and I don’t know the answer. We are Canadians and have never been divorced. Sorry I can’t help.


    • Malou Apr 18, 2012, 11:22 am

      Hi MariaPia,

      Regarding the Divorce Certificate, most likely your fiance will have to obtain a copy of the Divorce Judgement/Certificate from the court where the divorce was finalized in the United States. He could have a family member go to the Clerk’s Office of the court and get a copy. Or make a request in writing which will take longer. However, you may need to find out if the document needs to be translated into Spanish for your purpose. There are companies that specialize in translating legal documents as they are certified to translate such documents. I hope that helps. Good Luck!

  • yvette Apr 10, 2012, 8:16 pm

    Hi, Great website! Any suggestions on how to find a summer rental in Cuenca? I’d like to take my two kids ages 5 & 7 there for 4-6 weeks (July-August).


  • Bill Riordan Mar 21, 2012, 9:38 pm

    Hi Bryan,

    You have a great website, thank you for providing so much information. I have been in Cuenca twice, most recently in January. I am very lucky to have been befriended by a local family there and although I am working on learning Spanish, it’s difficult to communicate Q&A with them regarding my next step: to move to Cuenca. I am actually about a year away from making the move, but will likely be there for a week or so in December or January (on a regular tourist visa). I am just trying to figure out how to start the process after that. I called the consulate in New Haven and they emailed me an application for a 6 month visa, telling me that I could then apply for a resident visa after I get there, but I have seen websites that say you can’t get the “upgrade” while there on a 6 month visa. This is confusing and although there is no particular time crunch, I would like to be able to get a plan together. I do plan to hire an attorney….should this be done in Quito, or can I do it in Cuenca? Any answers or suggestions from you will be greatly appreciated. Maybe I can buy you a coffee at Ake Larre when I am there later this year. 🙂

    Bill Riordan
    Hartford, CT

    • Bryan Haines Mar 22, 2012, 9:14 am

      Right now, you can get residency from the 6 month visa or even the T-3 tourist passport stamp. Rules change though, and you should confirm. You can check with Grace and Nelson, they are lawyers that we have used in Cuenca. They can give you some clear direction.

      All the best on your plans.


  • FRANK AND SONIA Mar 15, 2012, 10:25 pm


    • Bryan Haines Mar 17, 2012, 6:53 am

      Thanks for the questions. You’ll find the answers to the questions here on our site. Hope you enjoy…


  • Michael Dube Feb 26, 2012, 9:42 pm

    Hi Bryan & Dena:

    I have just discovered your site “Gringos Abroad”. It is very interesting with a lot of good information. I also lived in the Maritimes for 10 years, on Prince Edward Island. My wife Valerie and I now reside in Edmonton, Alberta. My name is Michel / Michael / Miguel Dube (with an accent aigu on my name), being of French descent.

    I am currently looking into the possibility of moving to Ecuador to experience the life in South America. I have been researching the pros and cons of retiring to Cuenca, Ecuador. I am contemplating to apply for a 9-1: Pensioner Visa as I am retiring this year. My wife and I would like to move to the city of Cuenca, as we have read so many wonderful things about this city.

    Could you please provide me with all the information and documentations which we would need to have in order to process with our residency in Ecuador? What would be the requirements for such a move? I have read many of the postings and it is already helping a lot with the many questions I have before the move to Ecuador. I am also learning Spanish at the moment.

    Thank you for promptly answering my request. Please do not hesitate to communicate with me should you desire more information regarding my interests.

    • Bryan Haines Feb 29, 2012, 1:17 pm

      Hi Michael,

      These best thing I can suggest is to speak with a lawyer in Cuenca. The requirements are a moving target and its best to get the current requirements before you arrive.



  • George Fort Feb 20, 2012, 11:56 am

    Hi Bryan,
    We just found out about you through the House Hunters episode.
    My name is George, my wife and daughter and I have lived here in Cuenca for 2 years also. Our daughter Harper (9yrs old in March) looks to be about the same age as your daughter. My wife and I are artists who do design work for TV (cartoon network currently) animation shows in the states. We work from here and have some good local artists we use as assistants. It has been a great 2 years and we plan to stick around. Harper would love to meet your daughter sometime. Maybe we can arrange a playdate or something. Thanks and take care.

    • Bryan Haines Feb 21, 2012, 7:32 pm

      Hi George, nice – appears like we have similar stories. Hopefully we’ll cross paths in the city someday.



  • Grace Barnett Feb 15, 2012, 5:30 pm

    I understand HHI is featuring your story tonight. I have not seen HGTV on either DirectTV or USTVNow – how can we, in Ecuador, see this. BTW, my husband and I met you and your family at Papa John’s last week.

    • Bryan Haines Feb 15, 2012, 7:55 pm

      Hi Grace – we don’t have DirectTV, but friends here in Cuenca do – and they said it will be on tonight. Sorry I can’t help more. Friends are going to digitally record it, and send it to us, so we can see it…

      Was great to meet you last week. Hope all is well with you.


  • Guy and Kathy Feb 15, 2012, 4:11 pm

    Hi Byran and Dena,
    We are from Canada and planning a trip to Equador to look for a Beach house to purchase. Our plans are to purchase ahead of retirement, then hopefully retire there in a few years. From reading on all the areas and wanting to live on a sandy beach, it looks like Salinas and surrounding area might be the place we are after. Three questions, what are your thoughts on owning a beach house in this area that we would rent out for short term rentals while we work our way to retirement, – do you have other areas to suggest for owning a beach house there, – do you have someone you could suggest as a good realestate person to show us properties for sale and converse with. We have heard that properties for sale on the web are over priced and better deals are to be had by being there in person.
    Any help would be more than appriciated – please feel free to contact us via email –

    Guy and Kathy

    • Bryan Haines Feb 15, 2012, 8:28 pm

      Hey Guys, sounds like a good plan. I haven’t dealt with many real estate agents. They could probably give you information about short term rentals – or even manage your rental.

  • Jingd Feb 14, 2012, 5:05 am


    How’s the internet speed in Cuenca? Since we are working on internet, this is very important to us.



    • Bryan Haines Feb 14, 2012, 7:08 am

      Hey JD – the internet is good. You can see more here: Whats the internet like in Ecuador?. The post is a little outdated – the 3500k is now just $50 plus tax. I’m going to be updating this with a new post. TV Cable, the fastest provider has a 7000k connection at just over $100. We work online as well, and the internet hasn’t been a problem.

  • Ron Carlson Feb 11, 2012, 1:50 am

    My wife and I are seriously looking at Cuenca as a possible future home and I’ve been doing a significant amount of research. We have traveled extensively around the world including Central and South America. Even spent a few days in Quito before going on a 14 day Galapagos Island trip. Been to Mexico a dozen or more times with nothing more serious than Monte’s revenge and that was years ago. We’ve always been careful about the water and uncooked vegetables because of the possibility they might of been washed with non-potable water and also of ice. We’ve never worried about amoebas or parisites in restaurants if the locals were eating there. Brian’s comments above that he and his family got infected raised a real red flag for me. Has anyone else had an experience like Brians? Am I wrong thinking the source of amoebas and parisites are the water?

  • Steve Cannella Jan 29, 2012, 9:57 pm

    Hi I’m in the process of making arrangements to visit Cuenca for 8 weeks, beginning in August. I plan to work remotely in Cuenca with my current employer in the US, using a VPN connection. I’ll need a reliable Internet connection to do so. I was planning on using a Magic Jack for my Internet phone. Can you recommend a reliable Internet company there as well as a resource for a short-term rental? (1 or 2 bedroom apartment would be fine). Thanks!

    • Bryan Haines Jan 30, 2012, 8:07 am

      Hi Steve – i think you’ll want TV Cable. It is generally felt to be the best service. Short term rentals are difficult. Most of the English language web sites are over priced – by at least double. You could check with someone like Noshy Pinos – they can probably help you find a good place. Internet in Ecuador.

  • Lisa Dec 26, 2011, 1:17 pm

    Hello Dena and Bryan,
    we have just bought int eh arcadia building and will be moving in mid 2012. We have a 2yr old can you tell me if you know if some schools in that area? i know from reading your blog you homeschool and we also might go that rout but looking into school also. We are workin gon becoming better at spanish but want out son to jump right into the culture.
    Any info will help, thanks LOVE the blog yall do a wonderful job with all updates.

    • Dena Haines Dec 27, 2011, 7:18 pm

      Hi Lisa – congratulations on your moving plans. I’m really not familiar with school locations, sorry.

  • Veronica Landazuri Dec 19, 2011, 1:52 pm

    Hi Bryan!

    I love all the info you guys are providing about Cuenca, it has been very helpful. I live in nyc and will be visiting Cuenca with my family in January 2012 and will be staying for a month. I will be going with my four kids ages 6,4,2,and 1. My only concern is the food I have been told that the kids can get sick from it, is this something I should be worried about and is there any kind of food my family and I should avoid when we get there. I was born in Ecuador but I left when I was only two and I am going back after 23 years with my mom who also has not gone back in 23 years. We are very excited about going back although for me this will be like my first time going there, especially with so many kids so I want to be prepared. Is there anything you recommend I bring for my babies from the states that I will perhaps not find in Cuenca.

    • Bryan Haines Dec 19, 2011, 8:17 pm

      Hi Veronica, you have an interesting story. I think you’ll love it here.

      There are those who will disagree with me, but as a parent, we were (and are still) concerned about fresh fruit/vegetables. In the first year here we all got amoebas and parasites and the medicine was worse than the bugs (at least in some respects). We had gotten slack about soaking vegetables and when we ate at restaurants too. We soak them with Grapefruit Seed Extract and its available here.

      Street food can be dangerous. Although the food is cooked well and is delicious, we’ve seen on numerous occasions where raw meat was placed on the cooked meat. Especially for kids, street food can be a little dicey. And, of course, the water. While the water is supposed to be safe on the Cuenca water system there is still need for caution. Also, there are areas, like Baños, that have their own water system and it is not safe to drink.

      All the best with your plans!

      • Veronica Landazuri Dec 19, 2011, 9:19 pm

        Thank you so much for your reply, it has been very helpful.

  • gregg Dec 11, 2011, 10:24 pm

    Hello Brian and family
    Thank you for the latest letter. I will want to come down your way after the first of the year. I have had enough of this place, maryland for awhile and the weather. What i would like to do is get into the gold and gems business there as that is all i have been doing since 1976 or thereabouts. i have lived in sierra leone for 14 years and just returned here about three years ago. i would like to buy gold and silver in any form and make a living with it. do you think you can arrange to meet with me when i get there and we talk about it? I am willing to pay for your time as time is money even in paradise.
    thank you and have a good day

    • Bryan Haines Dec 12, 2011, 10:06 am

      Hi Gregg – sounds like an interesting business that you are in. I am afraid that I won’t be much use to you. I have no experience in precious metals or trading in Ecuador. You might want to chat with a business lawyer here – they should be able to give you some direction.

  • Marie Dec 9, 2011, 10:17 pm

    I am planning on moving to Cuenca with my family. I have small children and am concerned about their education. How would you rate the education in Cuenca? Are there private/parochial schools in the area? Also, I have heard that therre is a rise in gang activity in Cuenca. As a resident, has that been your experience.

    • Bryan Haines Dec 11, 2011, 7:45 am

      There are both private and public schools. We home school our daughter, so I don’t have much experience with the school. Here is a post that might help: Schooling Your Expat Kids.

      And there are gangs in Cuenca, but not (at least in my understanding) in the typical, American way. Groups of thieves (5-10 people) have been arrested for robbing stores, hotels and banks. But in terms on gang fights and turf wars … I have never heard of this. I wouldn’t call what exists in Cuenca “gang activity” because of what that term has come to mean.

      • Marie Dec 13, 2011, 5:34 pm

        Thank you so much for the information. My husband and I plan on visiting in the Spring and we are concerned about the kids education. We will look into both the private and public school system.

        Was it difficult for your daughter to adjust to living in Cuenca? My five children range from the ages of 19 to 3. I am concerned that the older kids will have harder time adjusting to the culture. Are there any activities that you would recommend for kids analagous to the Boys and Girl Scouts?

        • Bryan Haines Dec 15, 2011, 9:33 am

          It was a little difficult at first. The first couple months were the hardest. Now (after more than 2 years) this is home and she loves it here. There are lots of activities for kids – if you enroll them in school, there will be lots to keep them busy. We home school Drew, so we don’t really know what its like.

  • David Lansdale Dec 7, 2011, 12:29 am

    Dear Brian and Dena:

    I teach entrepreneurship at Ecuador’s leading liberal arts university. This finds me at our campus in San Cristobal, Galapagos for a three week forced vacation, teaching one class on Conflict Transformation and another on Entrepreneurship to high school students. I return to Quito Dec. 17, off to the US Jan 20 for three weeks, but would love to talk before I go. You can email me at, or call me on Movi at 098 308 267 or on Claro at 085 969 671. I am a US citizen born and raised in the cradle of democracy (Greece), spent 25 years in Palo Alto California, the heart of silicon valley, and have been in Ecuador since 2003. Saludos, looking forward to hearing from you! David

    • Bryan Haines Dec 7, 2011, 12:44 pm

      Hi David, great to meet you. Would love to chat. I’ll email you directly.


  • Ben Pilgreen Dec 6, 2011, 12:04 pm

    Hola Bryan & Dena,
    I visited Cuenca for ‘Thanksgiving’. I stayed at the Villa Nova Inn for 4 days. I really liked the ‘inn’….right on the river….loved the sound of the water….and a very convenient location. I did not have a good first impression of Cuenca because I left my bag in the taxi when he brought me to the inn. I thought maybe he’d bring it back but it didn’t happen. It had my iPad and my camera in it. I am so stupid! Anyway, Cuenca grew on me. I felt safer and it was quieter than Quito of course. I went on an all-day tour to the Devil’s Nose Train with GreyLine and it was fantastic. Incredibly beautiful scenary all day. I also took another tour of 2 towns close to Cuenca….the one that makes and sells all the silver jewelry and another one. This was with Andes Tours (I think that’s right.) It was great also. I’m sure you will think this is funny…..when I went back to the airport to leave I was still “fuming” about the loss of the bag, my iPad and camera. SO, I asked to speak with the airport ‘administration’ and a nice guy listened to me tell him about my experience. He had no mercy with me! Basically he said “it’s just not the way it is in North American here”. Ok, I get that now. I think I was just trying to find somebody else to blame for my stupidity! Anyway, these items can be replaced and the experience didn’t change my mind about Ecuador. I am back in the US for Christmas now but can’t wait to get back. I thought about calling you or looking you up while in Cuenca but never “got around to it”. I might be back there soon. I hope you guys have a very merry Christmas in beautiful Cuenca!

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