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What We Would Have Done Differently in Our Move to Ecuador

Posted in: Living in Ecuador, Our Perspective

In our question post of: Whats Your Question About Cuenca, Ecuador? we were asked by David Marshall:

“If you were to make the transition now, having learned from your experiences, what would you do differently. We all learn from our best mistakes. What were yours. Would you bring different things in your suitcases? Would you hire a company? Would you modify the process at all. For example – would you move directly into where you are now; would you bring the same number of suitcases; did you regret not bringing something; would you leave something behind.”

our-luggage-moving-dayWell, we brought lots of clothes, because we didn’t know availability of big person clothes (I’m 6’3″). And there isn’t much available.

So if you are an unusual size – either very tall or round – you’ll probably want to bring lots of your favorite clothes – because there aren’t many of these types of people here.

We brought lots of electronics. And we were happy that we did. A $500 laptop can cost over $1000 here. The same for cameras and other computer gear. We bought a laser printer (HP LaserJet P1006) when we arrived and it was just over $100 – a good deal anywhere.

We brought over 75 lbs of books. We knew that there weren’t many Chapters/Indigo Books bookstores in Cuenca, so we loaded up. We would have brought less and then ordered what we needed – had we known how easy it is to ship them here. We’ve ordered books direct from Amazon via UPS and they arrived in just 2 days. You can also order via Club Correos which works flawlessly.

We moved with just 6 bags of luggage – 2 bags each at 50 lbs each. Each bag was carefully weighed on a bathroom scale at my parents place the day before (and morning of) our flight. As you can see in the photo, the 32 hrs of travel converted me into a deer-in-the-headlights starer.

In addition to the checked bags, we also had a large and small carry-on. I don’t think we could have brought another pencil without putting us over the weight limit.

Instead of shipping our own things to ourselves, we’ve leaned on friends and family who have come to visit to bring some extra things along, and it has worked out quite well.

When packing, the thing to remember is almost everything is available here – especially if you don’t mind paying for it.

Things We Should Have Brought:

  • A warm jacket. The evenings in Cuenca can get cool and we weren’t fully prepared for that.
  • A little less. Because we didn’t really know, we fully loaded ourselves up. But it wasn’t really necessary. Just set aside a little extra money and go shopping when you arrive. That way you won’t worry about American Airlines tacking on a USD$100 fee per overweight bag, and it’s easier to get around the airport too. And what do you need those worn out t-shirts and hole(y) socks for anyway? The beauty of moving abroad is that its a fresh start. So – turf those old clothes and buy some new ones here.

Things We Should Have Left Home:

  • Water Purification System. Our UV light water purifier from MEC and the matching chlorine kill-everything-chemical-mix. Turns out that Ecuador has a great water system and we aren’t drinking out of a puddle after all!
  • GSE in Bulk. We brought 4 bottles of GSE liquid at $16.99 ea (x 4 bottles). Imagine how happy we were to find the same thing for just $1.75 at the local grocery store. Guess we could have left it home, and saved ourselves some money too.

Whats Your Question About Cuenca, Ecuador?


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.

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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.

30 comments… add one
  • Florence Boucher Aug 16, 2017, 1:57 pm

    A special question today. I would like to know if we can easily find tea cup maltese in Ecuador?

  • Connie Bailey Aug 20, 2014, 10:04 pm

    Do you & Dena have just the one newsletter or do you each have one? I just signed up for Dena’s & don’t want to duplicate.

  • Shirley Aug 1, 2013, 6:30 pm

    Do you have any information as to how much cash you can bring into EC?? Looked everywhere, but can’t seem to get an answer. Thanks from Cuenca Sur

    • Bryan Haines Aug 3, 2013, 8:46 pm

      I think the international rule is that anything over USD$10,000 must be declared.

  • Leanne Mar 2, 2013, 4:28 pm

    Hi Bryan.

    We just spent 6 weeks in Ecuador and now intend to move. I really appreciate the information you have provided via FB and newsletters etc. We live in Nova Scotia, so I’m hoping your experiences will provide a good foundation for ours.


  • Stan Jan 9, 2013, 11:16 pm

    I would like to know the total cost and requirements for the Equador pensioner visa of $800+

    • Bryan Haines Jan 10, 2013, 10:23 am

      There are two costs: 1) government fees and 2) legal fees. Many expats are doing the process themselves, saving legal expense. I would recommend using a lawyer as they can help reduce delays and other expenses. You will also incur costs as you get documents from your home country and get them legalized. You will also need them translated and notarized here in the country.

  • John(GA) Tomei Nov 12, 2012, 3:40 pm

    Bryan- love reading your posts and enjoying website…very informative. How about golf courses? Are there any around…have not seen anyone writing about them. Thanks, John & Barbara

    • Bryan Haines Nov 12, 2012, 3:55 pm

      Hi John, there is a course here in Cuenca although I’ve never gone. It is a 9-hole course.

  • Esther Aug 14, 2012, 2:29 pm

    Just found your website and am so thrilled to have done so. My husband has lived here since 2006 and we were married in November and I moved here in Jan of this year. Life and rules continue to change here so already I’ve gleaned so much by reading your website. We live in Guayaquil – but travel the country – especially the coastal region. We’ll be in Cuenca for Thanksgiving.
    Thanks for your posts and wealth of information!

  • Suzanne Trimble Jun 26, 2012, 9:47 am

    Hello, Bryan, I have spent hours reading so much of your site here, thank you for the great information. My husband was thinking of bringing our ‘home’ with us having it shipped by container. Do many do that? He assumed one price but seems its more expensive than he thought. He has a lathe and mill type items and countless tools. It sounds like if he wanted to make an income using these items then he would pay an even higher tax/duty on them. Also, I have some fairly new furniture, there would be a loss trying to sell them in this economic climate here and I flat out like them including my new mattress. It also sounds like he should not consider things like 300 albums and a wall of dvd’s. He already blew 500 on a water purifier…I read what you said about the water. Sounds like we need to cool our heels in ‘preparing’ in what we are spending money on. We plan on checking out Cuenca this summer for two weeks. We live an hour south of Seattle right now. Thanks for help, Suzanne.

    • Bryan Haines Jun 26, 2012, 7:19 pm

      Certainly some people ship everything, including bed sheets and carrot peelers. But most don’t. It isn’t as backward here as many people think. There are good mattresses available and aren’t too expensive. If money isn’t an issue, then why not ship everything? But then again, there is a whole set of headaches that goes with it. There are legal and customs concerns. Shipments take quite a while and can be frustrating. I’ve spoken with a few who have shipped things and I don’t know that they would have if they knew how frustrating the process is.

      We have made a few trips back, and when friends/family come to visit more of our stuff comes too. Sometimes the things we really wanted aren’t that precious once we get back.

      Thanks for your comment – really appreciate your feedback.


    • celeste schleiffers Nov 1, 2012, 12:43 am

      HI suzanne,I also live here South of Seattle,I’m a wife and a mother of 5 kids.After spending lots of time on the computer researching places to go.My husband decided to visit and Ecuador.Then last July he flies back to Ecuador with my 4 little kids with no intention of coming back to the US.As a mother lots of emotions was involved and lots of question.I just came back from my 10 days trip to Ecuador,10 days is not enough but it answer most of my question.An emotional wreck before my trip but now happy that I did the trip.Ecuador seem a very nice place and very similar to the Philippines where I came from.My kids are happy and health wise help my husband.

  • John and Mary Aug 1, 2011, 8:02 am

    Hi Bryan,
    Great articles ! We’re still in the process of getting ready to move to San Clemente. Since the water quality on the coast is quite lower than inland cities, we were considering bringing a water purification unit with us. Are they available in Ecuador and is the cost comparable to what we would pay here in the States?
    We plan on using the “space bags” for our clothes, for extra space in suitcases. Also considering flying first class down , allowed an extra suitcase each and heavier weight. Still have to finish doing a price comparison. Is it still necessary to have a return ticket “in hand” even though we’ll be applying for pensioner visas? So many decisions and the to do list is getting longer, but so exciting and not as painful as we thought getting rid of 40 years worth of stuff. Thanks for all your posts, your information is priceless. John and Mary

  • Eric Lutz May 13, 2011, 8:09 pm

    Hi Brian , how is the South using you? If i was younger, my wife and I would join you folks., getting too old now. live here in this little house neigh on 50 years, starting to feel like home. Working on my veggie garden at present. Love growing a garden. in the fall eating from it is even better.

    • Bryan Haines May 17, 2011, 12:08 pm

      Very well, thanks! Great to hear from you Eric!

      • celeste schleiffers Nov 1, 2012, 12:49 am

        Brian,are you married to an Ecuadorian ( reason to move to Ecuador).
        My husband now live in chicuango ecuador with my kids,any tips about school for kids.hows the immgration process in Ecudor.
        how can we send and receive mail or packages.
        your blogs is I think a big help for future Expat.thanks

        • Bryan Haines Nov 1, 2012, 6:59 am

          My wife is Canadian (like me). For packages, you can use Club Correos. It is a program with the national postal service to ship products to yourself from the US. Works great!

  • judy May 12, 2011, 8:36 pm

    Bryan, after reading your blog, I wanted to add this info just in case someone out there can use my services…

    If anyone is interested in making purchases in the USA via the internet (ebay, amazon, etc.) and having it shipped to Ecuador, see my website: (currently under construction, should be ready in 2 weeks)
    I can ship anything from USA to Ecuador for you. Most popular is the 4lbs and 8 lbs packages up to $400 max worth of merchandise and pay no tax or duties. Email me at for more info. I have an office in Quito as well.

    • Bryan Haines May 17, 2011, 12:12 pm

      Thanks Judy. Sounds similar to Club Correos Is it the same, or different?

  • Barry Wilder May 12, 2011, 10:58 am

    Instead of shipping books and paying over weight charges perhaps the use of the Kindle would have saved you $$$$. Just a thought.

    • Bryan Haines May 12, 2011, 2:38 pm

      Hi Barry – its a good idea. We use Kindle for PC – which works great, but isn’t quite the same as having a book in hand.

  • elmonica Apr 26, 2011, 6:03 pm

    Great post. Maybe in a future post you can talk about internet availability whether it be from internet cafes, public wifi areas, or home subscription.

  • Bryan Haines Apr 26, 2011, 4:26 pm

    Hi Jim,I think you might be best to leave the case behind (you can buy one here for $50) and just bring the guts – carefully packed. A friend of mine did that and it worked well.Bryan

  • JimC Apr 26, 2011, 4:17 pm

    Excellent post Bryan. Very helpful. As soon as I get my Paypal account set up I'll buy you a cup of coffee or two.

    Any thoughts on flying with a desktop case. Do you think I'd get away with travelling with it as carry on?

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