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What Should You Bring When Moving to Ecuador?

Posted in: Everything Expat, Living in Ecuador

What items should you bring with you when moving to Ecuador?

A reader recently sent in this question: Can you find good quality bed sheets in Ecuador?


The reader also was concerned about the availability of cookware and other kitchen utensils.  She apparently envisioned herself lugging a suit case full of cookware and bed sheets through the airport as she enters Ecuador.

That is not the first time that I have been asked about the availability of or the quality of bed sheets here.

When one contemplates uprooting and moving to a foreign country, it would seem that bed sheets would be the last thing on their list of worries, but apparently there is some expat blogger out there who has had a bad experience with bed sheets in Ecuador and has therefore made it their mission in life to preach about the sorry sheets in Ecuador.

To answer the bed sheet question, yes you can find decent sheets and bedding in Ecuador. For those who are worried, please know that we have never had a traumatic experience with the bed sheets we have purchased here.

Read more: What Can I Bring to Ecuador?

Can you get what you need in Ecuador?

Many expats, like us, opt to bring only what they can fit into a suitcase and choose set up housekeeping all over again.

Others, apparently the minority, have opted for shipping their appliances and furniture down from their country of origin.

However, it seems to be the general consensus that shipping large items into Ecuador can be an expensive, aggravating and time consuming endeavor.

We came here in 2007 with only 8 suitcases filled mainly with clothes for our growing children.  We sold or stored all of our belongings in the U.S. and brought only what we could cram in our suitcases.

I remember agonizing over whether to bring my new HP 6 color printer/copier/scanner with me.

I did bring it, but later regretted it since I could not find replacement ink cartridges here for that particular model of HP printer.  I wish that I had saved that luggage space for more important things, like shoes or family photos.

Regarding the availability of basic household items, for the most part we have been able to find everything here that we really need.

If we can’t find a particular item, such certain foods, we adapt or just do without.   We have discovered that at times, finding that special item is just a matter of knowing where to shop.

For example, at one time I was convinced that an electric coffee grinder was an exotic appliance that could not be found here.  That is an important appliance for us since we prefer to roast and grind our coffee at home.

A few years ago our coffee grinder we brought from the States quit working and we could not find a replacement electric grinder here, so we had some visitors from the U.S. bring us a new one.

Then one day we were introduced to a large hardware store named Kiwi that offers a wide variety of small appliances, including electric coffee grinders.

When I set foot into Kiwi for the first time, I felt as if I had been transported back to the States to a smaller version of Home Depot.

Even though at the time we had lived in Cuenca for some two years, we had no idea that such a place as Kiwi even existed.  We apparently did not get out much back then.

Kiwi offers practically any hardware item you could ever need along with a large variety of power tools and general household goods. Kiwi is now one of our favorite places to shop.

Don’t forget to weigh your luggage before heading to the airport. You’ll hit your max weight faster than you might think. Here’s our guide to choosing the best luggage scale for travel.

You just have to know where to look…..

During our first year of living here we went on a quest to find replacement shoe laces.  We did what any normal gringo would do and looked in a number of shoe stores, but we discovered that they did not offer replacement shoe strings.

In our minds, a shoe store is the logical place to buy replacement laces, so we were at a loss when could not find shoelaces in a shoe store.

One day while in downtown Cuenca we passed a store that had hundreds of shoe strings on display.  I could not believe my eyes. We had finally found replacement shoe laces! What was this strange and exotic store that offered such a wide variety of shoe strings?  It was a shoe repair shop.

Here in Ecuador, unlike in the U.S. and other “developed” countries, people have their shoes repaired instead of throwing them out when the soles wear out.

For Ecuadorians the logical place to buy shoe strings is at the shoe repair shop, not at the shoe store where new shoes are sold.  Apparently the way of reasoning goes something like this: Why would anyone think of buying replacement shoe laces while shopping for new shoes that already come with new laces?

On another occasion, my wife was looking for a replacement zipper for a dress.  She went to the only logical place she could think to find a zipper which was, of course, a fabric store.

The attendant at the fabric store looked at her like she had two heads when she asked if they carry zippers.  My wife was directed to an obscure little shop not far away from the fabric store that only sold zippers and other items related to sewing.

After having some frustrating shopping experiences looking for common items, like shoe laces, coffee grinders and zippers, we began to realize that finding what we need in the way of general household goods is often just a matter of doing some investigation and knowing where to shop.

Here in Cuenca there are hundreds of specialty shops downtown and we are at times surprised at the things they offer.

Window shopping downtown can be an entertaining pastime and it can be a big help in locating those seemingly impossible to find items.   Over time we have tried to adapt our thinking to the Ecuadorian way of doing things and that has been a big help when we go shopping for certain items.

It is also good to take your time and exercise patience when shopping here.  Stores downtown are generally closed in the afternoon between 12:30 and 3:00, so you won’t be doing much shopping during those hours.

Back on the burning question of the availability of good sheets in Ecuador, it is true that you can find some poor quality, ill fitting sheets here, especially if you shop at a store called Coral.

Coral is a department store chain that is the closest thing you’ll find to a Walmart in Ecuador. Many of the goods offered at Coral stores, such as sheets, shoes, clothes and some appliances, are generally of a poorer quality and for that reason we seldom do much shopping at Coral stores.

However, if you shop at some of the higher end stores like SuCasa you can generally find decent quality sheets and bedding.  You’ll pay more at stores like SuCasa, but as we know you get what you pay for.

SuCasa also has a wide variety of kitchen utensils along with good quality cutlery, cookware and tableware.  They also offer major brand appliances, TVs and computers.

What should you bring with you when moving to Ecuador?

As a general rule, it is a good idea to stock up on clothes and shoes when moving to Ecuador.  As we all know, gringos tend to be larger in height and width than most Ecuadorians and therefore finding good fitting clothes can be a challenge.

One advantage to living in Ecuador is that there are very skilled tailors and seamstresses on almost every corner, so it is possible to have clothes custom made for those who may have trouble finding clothes that fit.

On a side note, if you do bring extra clothes, keep in mind that you may want to purchase a size smaller than you normally wear.  Many expats who live here without a car find that they lose weight and are in better shape due to the extra walking they do.

Regarding shoes, it is definitely a good idea to max out suitcase space with good quality shoes.  Those who choose to live in Ecuador without a car will be giving their feet the workout of a lifetime.

We have yet to find comfortable shoes here so save yourself some trouble and pain and bring extra shoes with you.  Your feet will thank you.

Also, small electronics are more expensive here, so you will want to bring lap tops and other computer related items with you from your home country.  Printers/copiers/ scanners are relatively inexpensive and easy to find, so you don´t have to make the same mistake I made by lugging a printer with you.

The bottom line is this: It is not necessary to go to the hassle and expense of having a house full of furniture and goods shipped into Ecuador.

Basic household items and appliances are readily available here.  As some of our shopping experiences have shown, at times one does have to do a little extra investigation when looking for certain items.

It is definitely a good idea to bring all the clothes and shoes that you can fit into your luggage since finding clothing to fit a gringo sized frame may be a problem.

For those who are fretting over the availability of good quality bed sheets, you can relax. They do exist; you just have to know where to look.

It is not necessary to drag a suitcase full of sheets and cookware through the airport as you embark on your new life in Ecuador.  Save that precious luggage space for those new, smaller sized clothes that you will soon be able to fit into!

This is a post by an American expat living in Cuenca since 2007. 

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Meet the Author

Bryan Haines is co-editor of GringosAbroad - Ecuador's largest blog for expats and travelers. He is a travel blogger and content marketer. He is also co-founder of ClickLikeThis (GoPro tutorial blog) and Storyteller Travel.

80 comments… add one
  • cathy Jan 19, 2018, 12:13 pm

    Hi guys,
    I’m so glad I found you, its so hard to find that kind of information.
    I got a question about big electonics….like fridge, washing machine, dryer. Can you bring them? Makes that any sense? Can you buy this kind of stuff and is it expensive? I know its sounds weired, but when i travelled ecuador dryers, dishwashers and even washing machines seemed to be rare…

    • Jack Beelack Apr 16, 2018, 7:02 pm

      The answer you seek was in the article:
      “Many expats, like us, opt to bring only what they can fit into a suit case and choose set up housekeeping all over again. Others, apparently the minority, have opted for shipping their appliances and furniture down from their country of origin. However, it seems to be the general consensus that shipping large items into Ecuador can be an expensive, aggravating and time consuming endeavor.”

  • Christine Nov 20, 2016, 8:49 pm

    Hello i am planing om travelling to Ecuador with my friend. U think we can fimd jobs there. May u plz email me

    • Eric Jun 21, 2017, 2:22 pm

      I recommend not using UPS to ship anything to surfboards and fishing gear was too small to ship in a container…so I went UPS…customs grabbed all my stuff…We valued our goods at $600 before we left…..2 small boxes and 2 board bags…customs REVALUED everything at 5 times higher and asked for several thousand dollars to release it back…we could never get a straight answer from UPS…and when we asked for a link to see all these laws and procedures explained…not available….found out they sell everything at silent auction after 30 days…we were not permitted to attend…In my opinion…big scam…..

      • Bryan Haines Jun 22, 2017, 7:40 am

        What were the goods actually worth?

        • Maricel Jul 24, 2017, 10:41 pm

          $600 to $800 max….but they had sentimental value …. that is why I paid to ship them..Ecuadorean customs revalued them at 10x their value and asked 50% of that in taxes…NO prior warning from UPS…Total scam in my opinion ..BEWARE

      • Patrick Murray Jul 20, 2017, 5:30 pm

        Which customs? U.S.?

        • Maricel Jul 24, 2017, 10:45 pm

          Ecuadorean Customs…If you dont pay their outrageous tax in 30 days…your belongings go to silent auction …your not permitted to attend …total scam..BEWARE ALL

  • Dotti Jun 7, 2016, 9:12 pm

    Hi, love your honest answers & this site!
    My question is should I ship my sewing machine? I was planning to ship a 200 cu. ft container, at the cost of almost $7,000, but after reading your site im having second thoughts about that. I am a female but I have my small tools also!
    I’m thinking I should just buy more suitcases and pay the Airlines.

    • Jim Jun 8, 2016, 11:01 am

      Unless you are sure you are moving permenantly why not store your current sewing machine and buy one in Ecuador. We found a Jenome sewing maching in a small store in Loja for under $300. Sewing is very common in Ecuador so machines and accessories are readily available. As for small tools, you can find almost anything you need unless your small tools are specialized.

  • mb Jul 16, 2015, 10:22 am

    I read on :
    Matt January 26, 2014, 10:40 pm “I will be moving to Cuenca next month for 2 years.
    I’m very excited . I will only bring 3 suitcases but I would like to mail a large box down so that I can pick it up when I get there.”

    I would like to know would this be less expensive than having it shipped by sea say on a pallet.?
    Would I be able to send herbs, spices and food? What about packets of seeds? A tower garden? I am using a tower garden?
    So anything that is new can come this way? Nothing used?

    • B Jun 3, 2020, 9:41 am

      I’m curious what ended up happening with your tower garden as I have one too. Let me know if you don’t mind, thanks 🙂

  • Kalynda Jun 30, 2014, 10:32 pm

    Hi Bryan, I have to say I love your site. So much good info! I loved this article too. I was wondering? Are the decent quality sheets more expensive than in U.S.? Also I’d heard that anything in Ec. is of lesser quality and more expensive. How true is this and if does it only apply to computer stuff? For instance because of a health issue we must have at least 2 lazy boy type recliners. Could we find something like that there, and would it be more expensive than the states? I was also told the mattresses are cheaply made and more expensive too. Same with major appliances, stoves refrigerators, big screen tvs, etc.

    • Bryan Haines Jul 4, 2014, 9:20 am

      Electronics are certainly more expensive. I’m not a bed sheet expert but we are comfortable with what we purchased. I think the that average person will be fine with the options.

      We’ve seen recliners ranging from $300 to $1500 and both were comfortable. Of course there are cheap mattresses here – just like in every country – but there are good quality ones as well. There is no shortage of products – some are more expensive and others are less expensive.

      • Maggie Apr 2, 2015, 2:32 pm

        To piggy back off the mattress question do they have king sized beds? We are planning a move this year and our 8month old co sleeps. A smaller bed works for now but king would be nice as he grows… Also are diapers and other baby items such as cribs available and not outrageous or should I bring a pack and play with me? I currently use Huggies and saw they are sold in Ecuador they’re expensive here so I imagine they will be there too… Sorry for the trivial seeming questions I just haven’t been able to find the answer anywhere else….

        • J. Miller Mar 15, 2018, 11:30 pm

          Hi Maggie,

          Were you able to find any answers? We are moving with a 2 year old and a newborn. Would love your insight.

  • Tom & Margaret Mar 24, 2014, 3:14 pm

    We are planning on bringing several suitcases with some household items and clothes. I’m 6’2″ and weigh 240. From what I saw when we did a short visit last year clothes and shoes could be a problem. Another item I was trying to find out about was mattresses and bed sheets. Do they have double sided mattresses for sale and just off the top of your head what do you think a queen size cost. I like to flip the mattress over and around occasionally and very much dislike one sided mattresses.

    • Bryan Haines Mar 26, 2014, 6:46 am

      Yes, clothes might be a problem. I’m 6’3″ and I can’t buy pants here. Shoes are available up to size 13 or 14 but only at Payless – and the quality is not good. I was getting just a few months per pair – until I started ordering my shoes online. Some things can be made inexpensively by a tailor.

      You can buy a good quality mattress for anywhere from $250 to $800. I am not sure if I’ve seen double sided, but I am confident that they are sold here.

  • Matt Jan 26, 2014, 10:40 pm

    I will be moving to Cuenca next month for 2 years.
    I’m very excited . I will only bring 3 suitcases but I would like to mail a large box down so that I can pick it up when I get there.
    Is there mail service that I could mail to and pick my box up at?
    I’m not sure where to research such a question…
    Thanks ,

    • Bryan Haines Jan 29, 2014, 11:44 am

      Shipping a box shouldn’t be a problem unless it is used goods. They really should come in your luggage to avoid trouble with customs. You can ship a package to DHL or FedEx with your name on it. You might include the address of your hotel, but they will almost for certain want you to pick it up. Just don’t ship it too far in advance of your trip. I think they’ll hold it for two weeks before returning it. Maybe you could have a friend ship it to you once you arrive?

  • Bri Nov 28, 2013, 3:31 am

    How old is your info ? How long does it take for you to answer a Question? 11/28/13 Thanksgiving day Happy Turkey Day! Even if you don’t celebrate there. What about food? I moved from Tx to DC back in the 80’s and nobody knew what chicken fried steak was or how to make gravy and I couldn’t get the spice/sauce pickapeppa , It was so difficult. When I went back home to visit family in Texas it was frustrating not being able to get a fresh bagel on the street corner. Corned Beef sandwiches were very difficult to locate until recently. What should I be aware of re : food? In 10/13 visited California,SF to be exact and a soda,cost 3.00 dollars. yes just a regular coke from a machine to a vendor cost 3.00- unbelievable but there is health insurance and a so called living wage for every one but not really they have to drive hours to get to work or inhearat their home from parents. Luckily I can afford things If I don’t wait to long to move to Ecuador. Thank you . Bri

  • Nicole Aug 30, 2013, 8:09 pm

    We were wondering about solar panels are there anywhere to purchase them in Ecuador or would we have to ship them any help on this would be great thanks?

    • si kendrick Oct 9, 2013, 12:41 am

      I am also interested in the solar power scenario, since i live in manabi we get alot of sun, can you buy them here or do i need to ship them? also if i did ship them do i pay tax on them when they arrive in ecuador any info would be great cheers

  • Clare Aug 25, 2013, 10:47 am

    You mentioned shoes. Merrell barefoot shoes are wonderful and you can walk all day. They are sold online, not sure if stores have them in Ecuador. It could be something to check out.

    • Jessica Sharp Jul 20, 2017, 5:44 pm

      Last time I visited Guayaquil, I found Keens, Salomon and Merrell at Mall del Sol. The store’s name is Explorer.

  • Patricia Emmett Aug 7, 2013, 1:50 pm

    THANK YOU!!!! I just finished your informative post about what to bring or not to bring to Ecuador! I too fell for the blog comments on other websites about the sheets and cookware and laughed out loud at your wonderful advice! However, I do have a question that I cannot seem to get an answer for anywhere? I would like to make a trip to Ecuador at the end of this September 2013 and get an OVERVIEW of the country for the possibility of retirement. I have been searching everywhere for a reputable tour company that will provide their services with a tour of the “top” locations and areas for retirees such as myself. I did send several emails to the company that offers the “crash course tour” unfortunately no response? Your website is without a doubt the most responsive and up to date with the CORRECT information. Any ideas? I am a single female with with excellent retirement income so not looking to move for the concern over $$$ as much as I am looking for a lovely and beautiful place to enjoy my “golden years”! Thank you for the help I really am enjoying your website and helpful information!

    • Bryan Haines Aug 7, 2013, 2:26 pm

      So glad you enjoyed the post. I don’t know about the tours – the ones that I’ve seen appear to be very overpriced and aimed at selling real estate. Sorry I can’t help.

  • John Patterson Aug 3, 2013, 5:52 pm

    When I move, I plan on getting rid of most of the things I have and getting new in Ecuador. There are some thing that I would like to ship, but no where near a shipping container full. Do shippers ever consolidate smaller consignments into a single container? All of the things I would like to keep are fairly small.

  • Susan Aug 2, 2013, 8:40 am

    Can you please tell me why you wish you had not brought your cats,I have two cats and two dogs that hope to bring.

  • cynthia lopez Jul 30, 2013, 8:38 am

    I am married to an Ecuadorian and we are moving to Quito to retire in the next few months. I am looking for information on shipping our car and household goods to Ecuador (ocean container). Are there any links to companies and recommendations on this subject, please?
    Thank you.

  • maria May 8, 2013, 7:45 pm

    US international stamp cost 94 cents how much is to send a letter to the USA would you happen to know? thank you

    • Bryan Haines May 9, 2013, 7:35 am

      We haven’t sent regular mail from Ecuador, but a registered letter (business size) was around $7.00 to the United States.

  • maria May 7, 2013, 3:55 pm

    hello there wow I ask so much questions….sorry…lol…regarding health care I know you said you have insurance through the credit union how did you go about that as we also want to purchase the same deal you have it work for us. thank you sorry for asking so many questions ….you did answer the other one as well regarding craigslist…can you recommend a cheap hotel/posada for a week while we seach for an apt thank you…..

    • Bryan Haines May 8, 2013, 9:22 am

      Hi Maria,

      I know that some expats have health insurance through Coopera – but we purchased from another agency. We’ll be writing about that soon.

      • maria May 8, 2013, 10:34 am

        thank you

  • Melanie Apr 16, 2013, 9:49 am

    Hello. My husband has just announced that he would like to retire there in five years. we are both 40-ish with two kids under 6 right now. i am trying to learn as much as i can now while not panicking :). My question about this post is whether or not there is an option to order things (ie clothes, shoes, appliances, etc) via internet as we sometimes do now and have them shipped to us there. you don’t seem to mention that as a possibility, so i am wondering if there is some hidden expense or lack of shipping to make that a non-issue?

    • Bryan Haines Apr 16, 2013, 10:17 am

      As long as the package is under 4kg and $400 in value you can order almost anything online. We use Club Correos and it works great.

      You can ship via couriers directly, but it is more expensive.

  • John Feb 9, 2013, 11:52 am

    I’m considering a move to Ecuador within the next year and plan on significantly downsizing my belongings. I have a number of good quality construction tools and wonder if I should move those or if they are easily replaced in Ecuador at a reasonable price. It may be that, considering the cost of shipping, I should sell them here and replace them when I need them in Ecuador. Any advice?

    • Bryan Haines Feb 9, 2013, 12:14 pm

      Depending on the type of tools, you can find most types here. They are more expensive, but remember you don’t have to ship the old ones – and you are buying brand new. When you make your exploring trip, you can check prices and decide then.

      • Raúl Yáñez Feb 12, 2013, 4:23 pm

        Hi jim
        I decide to retire in Ecuador
        Just one qyestion
        How do i send my money from a Bank in California to quito
        Tdameritrade does not do business with Ecuador
        Theirr closed my Account
        Now my Calstrs check is stucked and have to open a New Account
        All and all i transfered to Bank Of América
        Please advise The best way to Getafe that money to Ecuador

    • Jim Feb 9, 2013, 9:32 pm

      If I was to do it all over again, I’d come to Ecuador with the same 7 suitcases and tools..and I would have not brought our two cats. There is a great variety of tools here. Many options from China which are junk and not worth buying if you are going to use more than a dozen times. I have bought one DeWalt 7 1/4″ circular saw for around $170 including a rough and finish blade(but not the nice thick aluminum table). I bought a DeWalt 1/2″ drill for about $126 if I recall correctly. It has the hammer drill setting for drilling concrete but uses a Jacobs chuck to tighten bits. I priced out the DeWalt portable table saw at a little over a $1000 at Corel. I then priced it out to have one shipped from the states via Clue Correos(sp?) and it ran almost $1100 with all duties and shipping paid(about $550 in the USA). I found authentic Stanley chisels for about $5-$6 each. The one thing would bring if you are into hand tools, is a good set of sharpening stones. So far I have only found about 1000 grit stones here. Hope this helps a little.

      • John Patterson Feb 12, 2013, 9:49 pm

        Thanks for the information. It is helpful and gives a lot of food for thought.

  • Kim Jan 1, 2013, 9:46 pm

    Any info on shipping boxes like you would through UPS like one would in the States? How about shipping “kits” for a prefab house?

  • Lannie Loeks Sep 19, 2012, 4:35 pm

    OK…I would love to know what shipping a container would cost from US to Ecuador…It seems like it is common knowledge that it is expensive but what exactly does that mean? Can you give me some insight? Thank you!

    • George Sep 19, 2012, 10:27 pm

      Lannie, I have heard numbers from $8000 to $12000.

  • Jim Sep 6, 2012, 8:35 am

    Yesterday I was very happy to find size 12(US size) New Balance running shoes at the Marathon store in Loja, just beside the Supermaxi grocery store. Of course the selection wasn’t perfect, but for $80 I now have a good pair of running shoes….or rather walking shoes for my current purposes.

    • Bryan Haines Sep 6, 2012, 11:44 am

      Nice. I’ve found size 12 (they have up to 13) at Payless Shoes, just off of Parque Calderon and in Mall del Rio.

  • laura r Aug 8, 2012, 3:10 pm

    Hi there. I was hoping you could guide me in the right direction. Im sure you had posted or mentioned a few things that we could bring from here or buy there is Cuenca to make using internet and Cable a lot easier and faster. You had mentiond something we could use for cable to get more English channels and something for internet to spead it up…Im sure I read it on your blog just cant find the page! Ive been searching for a while now. If you could guide me or even send me a personal email Id really appreciate it. My husband will be heading there this week and would like to take these items if they need to be purchased here. Thanks again for ALL your information! Its been EXTREMELY helpful!!

  • Baryon Jun 3, 2012, 7:23 am

    Thanks for the info Doug, very informative and important to know when considering on a move to Ecuador.

    I have quite an unusual question, I am afraid… I have quality Hi-Fi setup (amplifiers, speakers, players) I just love and am wondering if I will be able to get something similar in Ecuador or I should consider shipping which could be very expensive, let alone possible damage to the equipment.

    Any input would be very much appreciated!


    P.S. In case you would prefer to take this discussion off-line, please contact me at
    BaryonBac [at] gmail dot com.

  • Luis in San Diego May 22, 2012, 11:34 pm

    Wow, I almost teared up when I stumbled upon your site. So many of the questions I had, have already been addressed. You guys are too much. Thanks. I’m considering Quito but not sure yet, Cuenca sounds great.

  • Michael May 16, 2012, 8:01 am

    Hi, I stumbled upon this post not to long ago. I was thinking about moving to ecuador. but I am very young and have little financing so I was wondering how it goes with credit there (if I have to get new credit)? Also I was wondering about financing options for a home or condo around 50k ish? Will I be able to get a loan there? and also I am an EMT in the us are there jobs available there for that?

    • Bryan Haines May 16, 2012, 12:34 pm

      Hi Michael – good question. I expect you could get financing, but the rates here are high. I expect you would be over 10% annual interest rate. Some banks are paying that (or more) on a $25,000 investment. I’ve seen some bank paperwork suggesting a deposit of 25% for home purchasing – its a different format than in the US.

      I’m sure that there are EMT jobs. The question would be: Is your training recognized here?

      • Michael May 17, 2012, 8:47 am

        That’s what I’m not to sure about if it will carry over. But what would you think it would be a month for maybe renting a condo or apartment? if you could give me a ball park of what living there might be with electric bills,cable,ect?

        • Michael May 17, 2012, 8:47 am

          also Thank you for the quick response.

        • Bryan Haines May 17, 2012, 3:21 pm

          Hi Michael – you can rent an apartment for anywhere from $180 – $1000. For general costs of living check this post. Also, we’ll be updating this in the coming month or so with our 2012 costs. They haven’t changed a huge amount though.

  • Brendan Apr 1, 2012, 8:09 pm

    Hi Doug,

    Like a teapot, I am short and (a bit)stout. It is impossible for me to find clothing in North America that does not need subsequent altering. I guess that clothing in Ecuador may be more in keeping with my build? Can you recommend a good tailor in Ecuador that might make me some ‘long distance’ clothing?

    • Doug Apr 1, 2012, 9:18 pm

      If you are wondering if a tailor in Ecuador could send you custom made clothing, I´m afraid that I cannot answer that question for you. Perhaps there are tailors here who offer mail order service, but the ones I know do not. Sorry I can´t be of more help.

  • laura Mar 7, 2012, 8:38 pm

    Great information. So these appliances and things we may need can be found in Cuenca but Im wondering prices. Are the prices any cheaper than in the Us or Canada? Or are they pretty much equal in price? We are really struggling with wether to bring our things with us or not! We are going to return to Canada after one year…so if we buy things there, furniture and so on, we will have to leave them since all our things here will be left in storage. So much to consider! Any suggestions?

    • Bryan Haines Mar 8, 2012, 6:26 am

      Hi Laura, appliances and nice furniture are more expensive here than in Canada. You might want to check out: Expat Start-up Costs. It details some of the costs that we paid to get up and running here. It would be less worry and stress to just buy them here. We looked into a shipping container from Halifax to Guayaquil and it was a healthy five digits…

  • LT Murphy Feb 18, 2012, 6:14 am

    I would really like to find that specialty shop that sold zippers and other sewing supplies. I am trying to replicate my “cash sash” that I use instead of a purse and that requires, zippers, velcro, grommets, etc. Thank you.

  • Tameca Brown Nov 11, 2011, 5:48 pm

    Hi Doug

    Thank you for your contributions on the cost of living and esp. the start up cost.

    Could you provide a little more information on education (options). I will be migrating with my six year old daughter and the best place to live.

    i have been surfing the net and gathering information but you seem to give better and concise details.


  • Tameca Brown Nov 11, 2011, 5:45 pm

    Hi Doug

    Thanks for your contribution. It has made my plans so much easier.

    Could you tell me about the education system. I will be migrating with my six year old daughter and also the best location to live?

  • Larry Sep 15, 2011, 5:53 pm

    My wife and I are planning to move to Ecuador next year as soon as I sell my business. We’re both diabetic and she is insulin dependent. How difficult is it to get insulin, specifically Humilin R in Ecuador. As of now we’re not exactly sure if we’ll be in Cuenca or perhaps Cotacatchi. Thanks for any help. Larry

    • John C. A. Manley Sep 17, 2011, 9:52 am

      Larry, my wife is diabetic (type I). On insulin. Plus on dialysis. We’ve been in contact with the hospitals in Cuenca and ad doctor. If you want to email me at I can share what we learned.

      • Larry Sep 22, 2011, 11:56 pm

        Hi John. We’ve tried sending email to the above link and had no sucess. Our email is Larry

        • Jason Plant Apr 11, 2015, 3:11 am

          I am interested in the reply to this question as well as my wife is Insulin Dependent (Type 1) Diabetic and we are interested in moving to Ecuador but I am concerned about the availability of medical supplies and the costs associated wit it as well and if they are Free, Subsidised or you pay full cost.

          Any information would be appreciated.

  • Jim Cohoon Aug 17, 2011, 10:53 pm

    I wear a 52 jacket and found a nice Alpaca zip up sweater. But that’s all. One shoe store attendant sort of laughed when I asked for 46-48 shoes(European sizing). Maybe there is a shoe store in Cuenca that might sell larger sized shoes….hopefully we’ll find it.

    • Bryan Haines Aug 18, 2011, 4:54 am

      Hi Jim, we’ve found that Payless Shoes has larger sizes. There is one in Mall del Rio and another one just off of Parque Calderon. I wear size 12-13 (US sizing) and they had half a dozen styles in those sizes in stock.

  • Jim Cohoon Aug 17, 2011, 10:49 pm

    I think most of us take for granted the work you and others have saved us. I few words typed in a blog, quite honestly saves enormous time, energy and dollars. Thank you.

  • Jim Cohoon Aug 17, 2011, 10:45 pm

    Hmmm…..what we’ve learned, bring sweaters and cool weather clothing. It’s that simple. Oh, and maybe a few cases of canned anchovies. Pizza is not pizza without anchovies.

  • John C. A. Manley Aug 7, 2011, 7:48 pm

    Thanks for the tips, Doug. I’m curious to know exactly what dimensions of clothing are difficult to find. My wife and I are thin and not particularly tall, so I wondering if it won’t be an issue for us. I assume, also, that kids clothing is no issue. Custom made clothes actually sounds really nice, as I find it hard to find clothes that fit me here in Canada.

  • Xica Jun 23, 2011, 5:15 pm

    And this Ecuadorean says that yes, you can also find “gringo sized” clothes and shoes here, you just have to know where to shop. If you ever come up to Guayaquil, you will find every store you can imagine, which carry almost every clothing item you’ll ever need, from quality brand names to cheap ones (and priced accordingly).

    • Doug Jul 9, 2011, 7:25 am

      Thanks for your comment. It is nice to know that expats in Guayaquil can find larger sizes in clothing. Here in Cuenca it is still rare to see shoes that are larger than a size 11. The shoes I have found are not that comfortable and are more expensive that one would imagine. Unless you have your clothes and shoes custom made it is going to be hard to walk into a store and find clothing that fits taller or larger people here. For that reason I recommend bringing as many shoes and clothes as possible.
      Another option for larger framed people is to order clothes on line and have them shipped in via Club Correros. I have done that a number of times and have been satisfied with the service I have received from the Club Correros service.

  • Evangeline Jun 4, 2011, 11:00 pm

    Thanks, Doug. The prospect of loading up on shoes and clothes is much more appealing than sheets and pots and pans 😉

  • george May 31, 2011, 12:54 pm

    Can you buy things off of ebay and just have them delivered? You can get just about any kind of electronics, sheets, clothes, shoes, most anything on ebay???

    • Doug Jun 1, 2011, 7:31 am


      Thanks for your question. We have ordered items through and had them shipped to a U.S. address that we set up through the Ecuadorian mail service. The service is called Club Correos and works great. The shipping to Ecuador is reasonable and there are no customs fees as long as the product purchased is under $400.00 in value. The items usually arrive with in 2 weeks.

      • George Apr 4, 2012, 1:03 pm

        Thank you Doug, that is great to know. A couple more questions… Is there an actual door to door mail service in Ecuador and do you know what the import tax is for an item that might be valued at more than $400, like maybe an iPad or an item that can still be mailed but has a value of maybe $1,000? Thanks.

  • Shirley May 31, 2011, 10:52 am

    Thanks for the info, was very good to know when considering on a move to Ecuador.

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