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Whats Your Expat Question? 120+ Questions and Answers

Posted in: Everything Expat, Expats Everywhere, Living in Ecuador, Where to Live

A few weeks ago, we asked you for your questions about Cuenca, Ecuador. Well, I guess that was a good idea – we’ve received 100+ questions so far. We’re still working through them – lots of great material to come.

But, not everyone wants to relocate to Cuenca. And you still have questions, right?

Well, we want to answer your expat questions!

expat-questionJust post your question in the comments below and we’ll cover it (if it has broad appeal at all).

Questions like:

  • What do we wish we did differently in planning?
  • What things do we wish we brought with us?
  • What’s our best mistake with the language?
  • Or any other expat related question. . .

Have a question about Cuenca, Ecuador?Post that question here

Have a more broad question, about expat life, and moving abroad? Post that question below.

BTW: We have been literally flooded with comments and questions. If you have a question, please post it on this page and we’ll get to it. For interviews, press trips and the like – feel free to contact us – on our contact page. You might also consider touching base with us on Twitter or Facebook.

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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.

122 comments… add one
  • Val C Oct 6, 2015, 12:56 am

    I am considering Mazatlan….I don’t want to move to a tourist mainly destination. Any thoughts?

  • lynn Jul 29, 2014, 3:37 am

    Does Ecuador ever have wildfires like the USA seems to perpetually have?

    • Bryan Haines Aug 21, 2014, 1:30 pm

      Yes but not on the same scale. There are forest fires in Quito area right now.

  • Glenn Strodtman Jun 1, 2014, 2:38 pm

    My girlfriend lives in Quito and I have been considering a move to Ecuador. I haven’t gotten deep into the research but my biggest concern is money… in particular how to get it! hahaha. Becoming an expat in Ecuador and only learning the language now … my main concern is how I would get by … are there opportunities to make a living… do I have to live off of savings… etc

  • James Cope May 31, 2014, 1:20 pm

    Are you or any of the expats there in Ecuador bothered by the fact that they have had 20 constitutions in less than 200 years?

    • Bryan Haines Jun 1, 2014, 3:24 pm

      Only among people researching. I’ve never heard it come up among expats or Ecuadorians.

    • Janet Jun 1, 2014, 4:20 pm

      By virtue of being a 2nd-3rd world country, Ecuador is inherently less stable. That being said, Ecuador in the past 10 years has made remarkable progress. Under President Correa, with a PHD in economics, including university degrees from the US and Europe, Ecuador has become a more modern country with a growing middle class, a more equitable economic and political system, with huge investments in infrastructure, education, health and social policy. The power of the military has diminished. We etranjeros delude ourselves, however, if we are complacent. Yes, things could change, especially when he meet term limits in a couple years. Yes, gringos should know the history , though the naïveté of many is shocking. Ecuadorians whom I know say the people have too much invested now, and too much hope in the future and the new path- to ever go back to puppet leaders controlled by the military and the oligarchy. Definitely don’t move all your money down here, tempted by high interest rates on CDs, etc. Just be savvy. It isn’t America.

  • Sharon Kay May 15, 2014, 12:21 am

    I’m enjoying your website. I needed a slice of day-to-day life in Ecuador, and you do that well.

    I’m 63 & my husband is 57. I’d like to transition to semi-retirement within the next few years. Cuenca sounds very attractive. I grew up in the white-bread suburbs of El Paso, Texas: so Spanish Moorish influence feels homey to me, but I missed out on the real Latino experience. My Spanish is slight but I can learn, and I’m told my accent is pretty good with what vocabulary I have. I’ve been living in the Seattle area for decades – love the green, love the rain, don’t love the long dark of winter. At 47 degrees north, we’re about even with Quebec. Year-round vernal equinox sounds pretty good.

    For me, perfection would be a small finca, not too far from some place like Cuenca, where I can have a few goats and chickens but still be able get into town easily to enjoy the parks, market, university, and cafes. I’d need to hire someone from time to time to help with the heavy work. High-speed internet is important – it would let me run an online business that would supplement my social security income and keep my mind lively. Jim is designed and built spectacular hardwood furniture for about 20 years, and he’s good at construction, wiring, and plumbing. He would fit in well with any crowd of artist/craftsmen. I’m a “word person;” he is not – but he and a furniture maker could converse for hours, I think, with a sketch pad and a few tools. Wherever we land, he should have a place for woodworking.

    So my questions are:
    – Is it possible to have a few acres on the outskirts of town with a house and a chicken coop and a goat barn, but still have access to the urban amenities? That would be impossible in the Seattle area, but I see hints that Ecuadorians are more comfortable with animals.
    – How wide-spread is high-speed internet? Are there areas where you just cannot expect to find it?
    – What would the life I’m describing cost? (a few acres with outbuildings, help with chores maybe one or two days a month, shopping at the mercado for food, eating or at least snacking in cafes a few times a week, entertaining new friends in our home)

    Thanks for maintaining a great blog.

    – Sharon

  • Jim Pierce May 1, 2014, 10:35 am

    Bryan, my wife (Valerie) and I are in process of buying in Capaes (Salinas Peninsula) Ecuador. We say Mark Cowtan’s blog on Gringosabroad and would like to get in touch with him if possible. We enjoy your information, and we will contribute when we get settled.
    Thank you,
    Jim Pierce

  • Stephanie Mar 9, 2014, 12:51 pm

    Hello Brian!
    We have been seriously considering moving to Ecuador for about 2 years now. It would be myself, my parents, my husband, and our 2 children (ages 3 and 4). Although we do have some reservations. First off, I am a RN, personal trainer, nutritional consultant, herbalist and aromatherapist. Do you have any idea if there would be a niche out there for me to grow herbs/flowers/produce and sell natural soaps, essential oils, tinctures, herbal remedies, and produce in Ecuador? Secondly, Are there organized sports for our children? We are from Minnesota and have Karate classes, football, soccer, etc. readily available. I would really like my kids to be able to have those experiences. Thirdly, schooling…. I have read that you guys homeschool your daughter… Do you know if there are home school groups (so that several kids can get together and be homeschooled)? I look forward to your response. Thank you for your time.


  • Patricia Brevis Feb 24, 2014, 11:26 am

    Hola, somos una familia recién llegada de Chile, actualmente arrendamos un departamento en calle Paucarbamba, pero nuestra intención es cambiarnos a una casa, en un barrio con niños. Mi hijo pronto comenzará el colegio en Cedei School. ¿nos puedes recomendar algún barrio seguro?, gracias. Paty

  • Wendy Feb 7, 2014, 3:31 pm

    LOVE the blog, thank you for all that you do. I would love to see an interview with an expat living in either Salinas or Manta on your blog, if an opportunity arises for you to do so. We aim to visit both in a research trip within a year or two.

  • Charline Ahlgreen Jan 16, 2014, 4:49 pm

    My daughter wants to retire to Ecuador with us (she’ll be 29 when we retire. She plans to eventually start a business based on her art, crafts and graphic design skills (to include teaching classes, holding retreat, selling art/craft works and acting as a distributor for a polymer clay company (since we can’t find any evidence of that art material being available in Ecuador). Would having a $25K CD in her name allow her to get a residency visa (at least until we buy a home valued at $75K or more in all of our names)?


    • Bryan Haines Jan 21, 2014, 8:17 am

      Yes, a $25,000 investment is all that is needed for a single person to get residency. I’ve heard of parents getting residency with their adult children as dependents. This requires just $500 additional investment per dependent.

      • Charline Ahlgreen Jan 21, 2014, 2:00 pm

        Thanks so much, Brian – I hope everyone appreciates the time you spend helping all of us with our questions as much as I do!! How about we can take you out to dinner during our scouting trip to Ecuador this July?

  • Iris Higgins Nov 14, 2013, 10:26 am

    No Bryan she is not a lawyer. She was one of the first people that was able to get all of her, her husband and their daughter’s visa done without a lawyer. She has helped several people that I know personally. One gentleman was in a horrible mess, and out over $1,000. Chloe was able to get it done within 2 weeks. She is honest and her charges are minimal. You can email her and check out her web site where she has prices etc. I am in the middle of my paperwork right now and I love her. She has also helped my future flatmate. Got her done without any problems at all. Linda was from Canada.

  • Iris Higgins Nov 14, 2013, 8:20 am

    I have a wonderful solution for anyone with questions about visa problems. This person is going through the whole process for me and I would recommend her to everyone. Her name is Chloe and her email address is: She is an American expat living in Ecuador and believe me anyone who contacts her will never ever be sorry. She is honest and will do nothing to jeopardize your travels.

    • Bryan Haines Nov 14, 2013, 10:11 am

      Is she a lawyer? Or the permits to operate a legal practice in Ecuador?

  • Victoria Torok Jul 11, 2013, 6:12 pm

    How far is Cuenca from the beaches (miles/time)?

  • JR Jun 19, 2013, 12:12 am

    What exactly is the case with income tax in Ecuador? I hear that Ecuador doesn’t tax foreign source income, then that it does only if its from a tax haven country, or if its already been taxed. I also read that foreign source income is not taxable until you’ve been living there for 5 years. Can anyone tell me what Ecuadorian tax law actually says and point to a source??

    Thank you so much!!

    • Bryan Haines Jun 19, 2013, 6:55 am

      Hi JR,

      You can read a discussion about this here: Expat Tax Issues. You can always go on the government of Ecuador websites and check the rules.

  • Karie Newberry Jun 17, 2013, 8:37 pm

    I’m considering moving to Ecuador. Curious if I am a nurse in the US with only an associates degree I can work there? And if so, how much can I expect to earn?

    Thanks! 🙂

  • Nancy Metayer Jun 11, 2013, 6:08 pm

    My 19 year old son and I will be visiting Cuenca for six months starting in Sept. 2013. I’m curious about the best way to get cash without having to spend a lot on fees. My bank here will issue me a credit card for use overseas which won’t have foreign fees. MY U.S. bank suggested using my current ATM (which has a visa logo) card but going inside the bank to get a cash advance rather than using the ATM and having to pay fees from the local bank and my bank plus a transaction fee. Any thoughts?

    • Bryan Haines Jun 14, 2013, 5:08 pm

      We withdraw directly from a US checking account. Our US bank doesn’t charge anything and the ATM’s here charge a $1.50 fee. It isn’t anything to worry about.

      • Nancy Metayer Jun 17, 2013, 5:03 pm

        Thank you, Brian. I went to my bank, Bank of America, the other day to discuss this. They said they would charge an ATM fee of $3.50 for using a foreign ATM, and the bank in Cuenca would also charge a fee, perhaps not $3.50 but some fee. I’m only concerned because over a 6 month period taking out money a bit at a time those fees add up. What bank in the U.S. do you use? If you don’t mind me asking.

        • Bryan Haines Jun 18, 2013, 8:42 am

          We have accounts with RBC USA – it is affiliated with RBC Canada (Royal Bank).

  • FutureBizOwner Jan 14, 2013, 3:32 pm

    I’m planning to relocate rather soonish. I don’t really care too much where as long as it’s in Ecuador. I don’t have a huge nest egg to move out there on (total of less than $10k life savings at the moment, probably less when Uncle Sam takes his 50% share of what’s left of my 401k).

    When I get there I’d like to start a business in the IT sector since my research indicates that’s an area of high potential growth and it’s also a good fit for my skillset and background.

    I expect that any business I try to start will take quite awhile to get going, and in the meantime I think it would be wise to go totally native and immerse myself in the local culture.

    I’ve found several job openings in the technical sector, that basically read like Spanish versions of my resume. I thank god I’m only 34, because every single one of them says “Edad: hasta 35”

    All these jobs are Programmdor (Software Developer / Computer Programmer)
    What’s the deal with that? Do people suddenly turn into pumpkins at age 35 over there? or is explicit age discrimination legal? Or is there an expectation that at age 35 in the technical sector there you need to move onto management?

    I’m guessing that they expect a management track by that age, but the possibility did cross my mind that there is maybe a retirement system or something that kicks in at a certain age and you need to be 35 or younger to be fully vested by retirement age. But frankly, I have no clue.

    Furthermore, I understand that an expat living on an after-tax retirement income of $1,500 can do ok for themselves in some areas. I’m very accustomed to a net of about $6k in the USA (midwest), can anyone tell me how much I would need for a similar “lower-upper middle class” life style in the various and sundry areas of Ecuador?

    I have no illusions about actually getting a job that pays like that when I get there, but I am curious.

    By the way, does anyone on this board have need for native English speaking computer repair & service personnel? If so contact me and I’ll be glad to help you when I get there. I do have a current CompTIA A+ certification, as well as a BS in Computer Science as well as verifiable references and a rock solid work history.


  • Joe Busillo Nov 11, 2012, 7:09 pm

    I’m planning on retiring early and relocating to the Cuenca area within the next year from Minnesota. Having visited as a tourist last year, I’m making another trip to Cuenca this year (Nov. 23) as more of a fact-finding mission — researching neighborhoods, activities, opportunities to keep me occupied, and any other information that will prepare me for this major step.

    While I could easily part with my furniture (i.e., move with a couple suitcases, and re-accumulate my earthly possessions), I have a 6’ 11’ grand piano that I play quite a bit – which would be painful to part with.

    I’d appreciate any advice or experience anyone has with shipping a piano from the US, or about the availability of quality grand pianos in Ecuador (Yamaha, Kawai … Steinway is a bit out of my price range!). This may greatly affect my relocation strategy – If I have to ship my piano, it may not cost that much more to ship my other furniture.

  • Marco Mendoza Oct 30, 2012, 8:17 pm

    Hi Bryan/ Dena.
    Congrats on your helpful site. I need to contact an Inmigration Attorney in Guayaquil, can you recommend a good one please? or post the Q. for the forum to answer?
    Thank you,

    • Dena Haines Oct 31, 2012, 6:50 am

      I don’t know lawyers in Guayaquil – maybe another reader can share one.

  • Noemi Sep 16, 2012, 8:28 pm

    Hello Brian,

    We are thinking of moving to Cuenca from the US. We have two children, ages 6 and 11. Can you describe the options for schools in Cuenca? Can expat children go to public school?

    Thank you,

    • Bryan Haines Sep 17, 2012, 10:34 am

      Hi Noemi – the schools were a concern for us too. Here is a post you might enjoy Schooling Your Expat Kids. There is some helpful information in the comments on each of those posts as well.


      • Quentin Wood Sep 29, 2012, 3:33 pm

        Well, reading two articles on home schooling is not very informative to someone who doesn’t want to home school. I want my kids to embrace the local culture, not be shut away from school friends in an isolate “Gringo” environment. Does anybody have any experience with schools? Please advise. Thanks, QW

        • Bryan Haines Sep 29, 2012, 3:49 pm

          I’m guessing you didn’t read the comments on those posts? There are some comments from those who understand the school systems here. It is a rather ignorant view to assume that home schooled kids are automatically in an isolated Gringo environment. Almost all of our daughters friends are Ecuadorian. She is very well integrated into the local life. For example, last night, tonight and tomorrow afternoon are all spent with friends from Cuenca – none of which speak any English. Home schooling ensures that she gets the education we want her to have. Her social life is separate from her education. If you check this article: Schooling Your Expat Kids you’ll get insight into another expat family’s experience with the local schooling. We have other friends who have their kids enrolled in school here. They have sent them to help them learn Spanish and have said that they will take them out once they have. Their feeling was that the quality of education (at this specific school) wasn’t that good.

  • Marion OMalley Sep 1, 2012, 8:54 am

    What is the best place in Quito to buy a used bike or an inexpensive bike? Girl’s. We live on the coast and I love to bike. Thanks, Marion

  • Karen Aug 30, 2012, 7:51 pm

    Hello Brian–

    I have some questions for you, as a Canadian moving to Ecuador:

    1. do you still have a Canadian bank account? if so, which bank do you use? will it transfer money to your bank account in Ecuador?
    2. do you still have Canadian credit card? Which ones do you use? Do they require a Canadian address to which to send statements/mailings?
    3. Do you use a Canadian mail forwarding service? If so, which one and how economical is it?
    4. Do you continue to receive mail from Canada? If so, how do you advise family/friends/government to send it to you?
    5. I’ve just sold my house and eventually plan to purchase another in Cuenca. How do I get the sale money from Canada to Ecuador as cheaply & safely as possible?

    That’s it for now. Many thanks for any help you can offer. Usually the advice I find has an American slant.


    • Bryan Haines Sep 3, 2012, 6:37 am

      Yes, we still have Canadian accounts. How to Do Your Banking in Ecuador (for Canadians) We found RBC to be the best for banking, including credit cards. We don’t use mail forwarding in Canada. Our family picks up our mail and scans/email it.

      The best way to get money here is to wire it (sometimes called a cable) to your own account. You can probably initiate it once you are here but you should check with your bank.

  • Matt Aug 20, 2012, 4:35 pm

    Hi Bryan,

    I think your website is awesome and full of great information. I had 3 questions.

    1. I recently heard from some that has traveled to Ecuador more than a few times about a problem in Ecuador. Goes something like this. If a girl around maturity age (14-17) looks at an Ecuadorian man in a certain way that gives him the go ahead for sexual advances and has lead to rape. Is this true? I have 14yr old daughter and I don’t want to put her into any situation that leaves her open to a possible attack. (Don’t want to spread rumors just looking for information)

    2. I have an autistic son that needs services. Is it possible to find those services in Ecuador? I would be happy to pay for them, not from the government.

    3. I also heard that Ecuadorians don’t really like Americans unless you are living in cities like Cuenca. Almost everything I have read contradicts this but wanted to ask someone who actually lives there. Also, I have heard recently that most of the beaches in Ecuador a dirty but everything I have seen and read doesn’t show that at all.

    Thanks for any insight you can provide.


    • Chris Jan 24, 2016, 12:34 pm

      Was this question ever answered? I also have an autistic son and was wondering what life would be like out there.

  • Andy Aug 14, 2012, 8:50 pm

    Hi Brian,

    We have booked a trip to Cuenca in late October and are looking for recommendations for a good place to stay with an 8 month old. Hotel or also we’d be open to renting an apartment if thats possible.


  • Michael Dye Aug 13, 2012, 10:50 am

    We recently returned to the USA from an exploratory trip to Cuenca. We love the area and are starting to plan our retirement there in early 2014.

    We need information on medical insurance for expats over 70 years old. The international companies, like BUPA, seem to be very expensive and many of the Ecuadorian we have found companies will not write policies for this age group. What about the Ecuadorian Social Security system?

  • Bill Jul 18, 2012, 7:54 pm

    Hello Bryan,
    Are you aware of any fly fishing opportunities in & around the rivers of the region?

    • Bryan Haines Jul 19, 2012, 6:51 am

      Hi Bill – I’ve heard of people fishing in rivers in Yunguilla Valley but I’m not sure about fly fishing. Just like everywhere, many of the rivers here are contaminated so they often don’t eat the fish. In the Cajas there are trout and they are (I’m told) safe to eat. We’ve had some and they are delicious.

    • Bill Aug 15, 2012, 7:01 am

      Bryan-Thanks for your response. FYI: Turns out Cuenca has a fly fishing club that was formed in 2011.

  • lynn Jun 24, 2012, 2:20 am

    Hi All,

    How available is solar for electricity? Is it expensive?

  • Kate Jun 23, 2012, 1:03 pm

    Hello, Bryan!
    Just found your website, and WOW!, I just keep on clickin’ !! (I love it!)
    But I do have a question or two.
    We are considering a move to Ecuador. We are both retirees, 58 and 63, with pension/ss. Excellent medical care is a big issue, especially cardiac and anti-aging-type healthcare. Do you know whether Medicare benefits covers medical care in Ecuador? ..or for how long a period of time? Also, is residential entry into Ecuador restricted because of health issues? We are both healthy (or wouldn’t consider a move like this) but have read that admittance to a country might be rejected because of age/health. Is this the case with Ecuador? Are health insurance policies available for retired people of our ages? Where would we find the best hospitals/doctors? What neighborhoods would be close by (hospital/doctor) to begin searching for a home to rent?
    Oh-is it possible to purchase a USED car, and is this very expensive, or inexpensive (relative to usa/cda car deals)?
    THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH. Your site is an oasis for those of us who are ‘parched’ for Ecuador info!!

    • Bryan Haines Jun 25, 2012, 9:09 pm

      Hi Kate, thanks so much for your feedback – love to hear it.

      We are working on a post about healthcare in Cuenca. We’ll try to hit all of the main points in that post. I don’t know what healthcare system you are coming from, but in Canada (at least in Nova Scotia) health care benefits expire if you are out of the country more than half of the year – “six months plus one day” is the deadline many snowbirds avoid.

      Yes, you can purchase used vehicles here but they are expensive. We bought a 1994 truck for $10,000. In the US it has a value of $1700. Here, it was actually a pretty good deal.


  • Lee Patrick May 19, 2012, 4:32 pm

    When you leave the US (or Canada), what do you do about forwarding mail? Is there a favored expat mail forwarding service?

  • Andy May 12, 2012, 7:28 pm

    Hi Bryan,

    I’ll echo what many others have already said – what a great site (and idea)!

    My wife, myself and our daughter (who’s just 12 weeks old) are planning a trip to Ecuador in October/November. We’re contemplating taking a year (or maybe more) away from our jobs to live in either Ecuador or Chile. Here’s my question:

    What itinerary would you suggest that would give us a good sense of what life would be like if we were to move to Ecuador? We’re looking for a slower pace (we live in a major US city), outdoor activities, a safe place to be with a baby (she’ll be 1+ at the time we move) and a place with a good community! Big question, I know but I would greatly appreciate your thoughts!


    • Bryan Haines May 14, 2012, 2:50 pm

      I guess the three main areas are Andes, Jungle and the Coast. Although I don’t know any expats living in the Amazon. The northern Sierra is very nice, we love Quito. North of Quito is still unknown to us, but there are a number of expats living in Cotacachi and area. Cuenca is beautiful, as is Salinas (on the coast). Those are the top three areas to us. Loja is south of Cuenca and has a healthy foreign population.

      Hope this helps.


      • Andy May 15, 2012, 8:07 am


  • Barbara Hicks May 10, 2012, 2:25 pm

    My question is about US Medicare. If I leave the US, do I give up my right to Medicare?

    Thank you.

    • Steven Morrey Jan 14, 2013, 2:44 pm

      Not the right to it, but the ability to access it. Medicare is ONLY for the USA and has no coverage out side the USA. Even many of the famed territories and claims such as the US Virgin Islands. Hawaii and Puerto Rico are the only places that I know of for sure that take it.

      • Jo Jun 18, 2013, 10:38 pm

        Just to clarify, Hawaii is not a territory of the U.S. It has been the 50th state since the mid-1950’s, and has all the rights and privileges of any other state. Medicare is also available for U.S. citizens in Guam, which still is a territory.

  • Tay Apr 15, 2012, 12:00 am

    Hello Bryan, Dena and Drew,

    I’ve been reading through your web pages and enjoying the experience, most recently the Nat’l. Geographic fill-in-the-blanks article. My expat question for today concerns taking taxi cabs. I’ve heard that they don’t provide seat belts, and that info, combined with what I’ve read about the state of driving on Cuenca streets, would have me a bit concerned. So I wondered what you and your family have found, assuming you’ve used taxi’s ever. Do most of them indeed not have seat belts as far as you know, and how has your experience been if you’ve been driven in one without seat belts. Thanks!

    • Bryan Haines Apr 15, 2012, 8:41 am

      Hi Tay – the taxi cabs are a curious feature. It’s true that the driving is a little scary at first. And many taxis don’t have seat belts – at least not all of them working. When there are none, I sit in the back with Drew and hold on to her. Not really an approved method, but we work with what we have. We’ve noticed that most traffic give taxis some leeway – more than other cars, even more than the ambulances. We used taxis (and buses) exclusively for the first year and a half we were here. We still use taxis sometimes even though we have a car now.

      The best thing is to come and visit – you’ll get a good feel for the safety when you are here in person. And if you can handle it as a family. Only reading online can create some strong (and sometimes unbalanced) fears.

      Thanks for commenting, and all the best on your plans!


  • Carl Stapleton Apr 6, 2012, 9:34 am

    Hi Bryan,

    I really appreciate all the posts but nothing has been said about income or property taxes for expats in Ecuador.

    Could you speak to that subject?

    • Bryan Haines Apr 15, 2012, 9:06 am

      I’ll see what I can do. I’m not qualified to cover that topic, but I’ll see if I can find an expert to do so.



  • Melanie Lefebvre Apr 1, 2012, 2:26 am

    Hi Gary,

    First of all, thank you so much for the opportunity to learn from your experiences and knowledge. DH and I are American expats currently living in Dubai so we are aware of the challenges living abroad. My question is:

    Does EMS exist ? Is there a need for experienced Paramedics? Would it be easy to set up teaching there? What is the emergency care system like there? And is there a person you could recommend I contact in regards to this? I am a 12 year Paramedic with emergency response/emergency room/FEMA disaster response experience.

    • Melanie Lefebvre Apr 1, 2012, 2:32 am

      Oooops.. Sorry about ” Hi Gary” Brian! I had Las Palmas and Gary on the brain at the same time and both windows pulled up. It’s not as if I was excited about researching Ecuador again LOL.

    • Bryan Haines Apr 1, 2012, 6:35 am

      Hi Melanie – good questions. In terms of the EMS – I don’t know. There are ambulance services and fire departments. The general consensus (among our Ecuadorian friends) is that its better to call a taxi than an ambulance – to get to the hospital – because they’ll get you there faster. We don’t see either fire or ambulance services very often.

      I don’t know who you could contact – sorry.

      • Dave Jun 4, 2013, 4:49 pm

        Hi Melanie. My wife and I are both paramedics and are hoping to move to Cuenca in 2015. We are going for a visit in October of this year and plan to check out the local EMS system.

        We’ll let you know how it goes!

        Dave & Teresa

  • Dena Jo Mar 31, 2012, 11:23 pm

    Can you ride a bike on the sidewalk or do you have to ride your bike in the street and share the road with cars?

    • Bryan Haines Apr 1, 2012, 6:50 am

      I don’t know what the law says about bikes – but we see both things happening. With the style of driving, I think driving with traffic is pretty scary. Right of way is almost never given…

  • Carl Mar 28, 2012, 4:46 am


    wondering if you could help with the price of aviation gas and jet a( aviation kerosene)? I am looking at relocating from the US and want to decide which is the more readily available.Might have to stock up in drums or a 1500 gal or so tank.

    • Bryan Haines Mar 28, 2012, 6:47 am

      Sorry Carl, I don’t know – and I don’t know how to find out.

  • janet Jan 1, 2012, 8:16 pm

    I’m hoping to come down and check out Cuenca during my teacher spring break, with the hope of loving it and relocating. I’m a serious cyclist. Should I pack up my bike for my short trip, and alternatively should I bring it with me if I move? Sounds like my older car isn’t possible. What is the market for good bicycles in Cuenca? Should I bring mine?

  • John C Dec 30, 2011, 4:24 pm

    A couple of questions, 1- Did you have or did you ship your car there? My wife and I both own motorcycles and would like to have them to ride through the country side. 2- My wife and I are simple people and only need a nice 2 bedroom with a full bath and possibly a place to park the bikes (small garage or shed type thing)

    • Bryan Haines Jan 1, 2012, 9:11 am

      Hi John, We bought our car here. I believe you can only ship brand new vehicles here. You shouldn’t have any trouble finding a place like you describe.

  • Paul Casavant Dec 25, 2011, 2:05 pm


    I have been to Cuenca and loved it. I am trying to find customer service jobs that I can live there and work from home. Finding it hard to find companies that allow that. Can you help me in this matter.

    Appreciate all you do,



    • Bryan Haines Jan 1, 2012, 9:19 am

      Hi Paul, I’m not too familiar with customer service work. Have you checked Elance?

    • Steven Morrey Jan 14, 2013, 2:50 pm

      Convergys pays a flat $9 per hour to it’s work from home reps and doesn’t care where you work from as long as you report to your shift on time and have a reliable phone & internet connection. They’re US based so you’d need to be a US Citizen or at least a Social Security number though.

  • Ben Pilgreen Dec 18, 2011, 5:23 pm

    Bryan….me again…..Is there a definitive answer to this question: I want a cell phone in Ecuador. I had one from MovieStar before I was relieved of it by muggers. I am in the US right now. Is there an international cell phone that you could or would recommend…or a source to find one? I seem to get a different explanation of what I need from every person I contact about this. An unlocked, quad, SIM card, GSM… I wish there was a simple answer to this. AND do you use the Magic Jack thing?
    Thnx! I’ll be back in Quito on January 10. Can’t wait!

    • Bryan Haines Dec 19, 2011, 9:15 am

      Hi Ben – I haven’t done it, but I understand that most unlocked phones on will work. If you check the comments/reviews of specific models you’ll see if they work in South America.

      I don’t use magic jack – although I know lots who do use it. We use skype, it cost around $0.02 per min to Canada/US and we can use it where ever we have have a computer and internet connection.


  • Jim Cohoon Dec 16, 2011, 1:00 pm

    Is Tutti Freddo’s really going down hill? Their portions of ice cream are smaller and the prices went up. Or maybe it’s just us.

    But whatever the case, no worries, we found a great place for ice cream that is working hard to earn business. It’s call La Fornance on Gran Columbia y Padre Aguirre. They fill up the ice cream cup instead of giving you one measly little scoop.

  • Len Langevin Dec 16, 2011, 12:52 pm

    For all of you who are researching where to live and/or where to buy in Ecuador online without visiting the country, trust me when I say it’s a bit of a waste of time. You really have to experience the country for a period of time before you decide to buy. I lived on the coast (Manta area) for a year before I decided I preferred the highlands (Banos). I know other people who lived in the highlands for a couple of years and then decided the coast was more for them.

    Visit Ecuador first. If you like it and think you could live here, stay for a longer period. You can get residency without purchasing property if you’re not retired by establishing a CD of $25K. Take some time and travel the country and stay in various places long enough to get a feel for the community.

    Once you’ve found a place that seems to suit you, rent for a while. If you still like the place after a few months or maybe a year, odds are that’s the place for you to buy.

    I sell real estate in this country and I see a lot of people who make mistakes by buying too soon and end up in a situation that takes time to get out of.

    Another tidbit of advice is take everything that International Living or Gary Scot say with a grain of salt. They are in the business of selling the dream and if you subscribe to all of the stuff they sell, you’ll won’t be able to afford the dream.

    • George Jun 2, 2012, 12:47 pm

      Len, the advise you are giving here is exactly the advise I give on my site. Keep up the good work…

    • Jo Merriam Nov 13, 2012, 10:19 pm

      Len, I’ve been researching the possibility of moving to Ecuador for over a year. I need accurate information about the possibility of renting a furnished apartment for less than $500 a month. Is that possible in the communities surrounding Cuenca or Quito? I have read an awful lot about Cuenca, Quito, and Cotacachi, but I’m not that fond of big cities, and even though Cotacachi sounds charming, I don’t want to be totally surrounded by North Americans. I’m open to a highland community of small to medium size, some English speakers would be helpful, but I do speak some Spanish, and am confident I can re-gain fluency within 6-8 months. My pressing need is affordable housing on a small Social Security check. What’s the best source of really current accurate information? Thank you for any advice you can offer.

      • Bev T. Sep 4, 2014, 1:01 am

        For Cuenca there are some very nice properties at very reasonable rates. I have seen some very nice 3 bed/3bath brand new homes that rent for $300!! The best rental rates are often where the locals live rather than the expat communities. Here is a website I have found very helpful:

        They are down to earth and have tons of great info on rentals (including Youtube videos of the properties) and many other aspects of costs and living in Ecuador. The best advice I have seen is “live like the locals” and pay the “local prices”. Knowing Spanish is definitely helpful. But even so, if you wanted to you could always pay someone who speaks both languages to help with translation and keep you from being gouged. For instance, they have an article that has a rule of thumb “3 to 4”. That is, you take the income a normal Ecuadorian family has to live on to help compare prices. Most pay around $40,000 if they buy a house which would equate to$120,000 to $160,000 in the US. Don’t let yourself be gouged because of being a “Gringo”. Expect to barter on prices or you will overpay by way too much. Also, look on Facebook. Type in the search box Ecuador Expats. Then click on ask to “join” the group link. There is a wealth of help there too.

  • Ashley Linden Nov 14, 2011, 9:54 pm

    Currently living in Colorado, I am becoming increasingly concerned about the problems here in the states and have been researching a move to Ecuador. However, being retired and living on a fixed income, the steady errosion of the US Dollar and potential hyperinflation is very worrisome. Since Ecuador is pegged to the US$ — it would seem it will ultimately be facing similar problems as the states. How will that affect the many expats moving there?

  • Michael H Oct 30, 2011, 1:41 pm

    I’m early retired army, 32 years old. Cuenca is one of my primary 3 choices for where I could potentially live on my pension. A question is, that in alot of countries you can purchase a nic3e 250CC sports bike for around 1500 bucks. Does cuenca have a similar way of purchasing a cheap motorcycle to avoid the outstanding costs of car?

    • Bryan Haines Nov 1, 2011, 9:56 pm

      Hi Michael – you can buy a new (Chinese made) bike for less than $1000. The most common brand is Ranger. You can find them at Coral (both at Mall del Rio and Coral Centro on Las Americas).

      • Michael H Nov 2, 2011, 12:47 pm

        Thanks! Transportation for cheap is a major concern with me. I know the bus lines and taxis recieve fair reviews for there, but I like the ability, to just get up and go. Or load up my camera back, jump on a motorcycle and head out to some wilderness to shoot some nice photos on my own.

        • Mary Dec 6, 2011, 8:18 pm

          What are the license requirements?

        • Steven Morrey Jan 14, 2013, 2:58 pm

          @Michael, don’t do that on a cheap chinese made bike.
          They get about 30Mpg and have at most a 2 gallon tank (most have a 1.5gal). They also generally max out at about 150cc. Thus the top speed is about 25MPH and that’s if you happen to be a 90lb teenage girl in a bikini (these bikes are very sensitive to weight).

          They’re great for getting around a city (relatively) quickly and cheaply, but I would never take a chinese bike outside of a town (again).

          I can’t speak for Equador since I’ve yet to be there, but a $1,000 chinese bike is going to be the same bike no matter where you go. 😉

  • Rollie Mohler Oct 25, 2011, 3:53 pm

    I hear and read the cost of living is good in Cuenca but then I see people you recommend charge $12 a hour. What gives?

    • Bryan Haines Oct 27, 2011, 7:51 am

      Hi Rollie – I’m assuming that you feel that $12 / hr is high? What quality of work could you expect from anyone in the US/Canada who is paid $12/hr? Sure, $12/hr is a good wage in Cuenca. But most people pay more than that in their home country to have their lawn mowed or house painted. Getting setup in a new country is a little weightier than that, isn’t it?

      • lynn Oct 27, 2011, 8:11 am

        Hi Bryan and Rollie,

        Just FYI, I know for a fact that these same services are provided in Panama for 30.00 per hour and up.

  • Diane Oct 24, 2011, 1:24 pm

    Bryan, can you tell me how you found your house and how long it took? Was it through a relocation agent, word of mouth or driving around? Thanks!

    • Bryan Haines Oct 25, 2011, 2:01 pm

      We found it driving around with a friend who has been in Cuenca for years.

  • Lori Oct 15, 2011, 9:12 am

    I am planning to retire in Ecuador. I would like to find a property on the coast to purchase since prices are right. I would like to know how to find a realtor that is trustworthy. I understand, from what I’ve read that there is no MLS so that will make house hunting different from the US. From what I have seen so far, to be shown properties on the coast, the cost for looking is $500 – $600 to be shown around for 3 – 4 days. Is this typical or should I be looking for different realtors to show me around when I am there? I would really appreciate your opinion/expertise on this.

    • Gary Oct 25, 2011, 8:03 pm

      Lori , Please contact me for more information on property in Puerto Cayo Ecuador .

  • Kim Oct 11, 2011, 7:22 am

    I was wondering if there are any mice problems in Cuenca or maybe there are no mice whatsoever? My mother would be very happy!


    • Bryan Haines Oct 11, 2011, 7:36 pm

      Hi Kim – I have to answer “No” to mice – but there are rats. We’ve never seen rats in our home (or any home) but there is a number around. It is a common sight – outside of the city center – to see squished ones on the road. But I haven’t seen any mice…

  • lynn Oct 9, 2011, 8:02 am

    Wondering about working in Ecuador. My husband is a welder/builder and is familiar with all aspects of building, reading plans, plumbing, elec, etc. Is there any need in Ecuador for someone with his skills?

    Also, are there any farms who have a good reputation for boarding horses?

    • Bryan Haines Oct 9, 2011, 9:04 am

      Hi Lynn, there is a need for welders/builders. You might find though, that the wages are not what you expect, or could live on.

      I haven’t heard of a place that boards horses. You might check this recent expat profile They work with horses near Quito. Maybe they can give you some direction?

      Thanks for the question.

      • lynn Oct 12, 2011, 9:01 am

        Hi Bryan,

        What would the pay scale be for someone with his skills?

        • Bryan Haines Oct 12, 2011, 10:03 am

          I don’t know that I’m qualified to give an accurate number, but here are some numbers I do know. Minimum wage is $260 per month for a general laborer. A secretary in an orthodontist office makes just over $300 per month and is considered a solid wage. I’m told by an Ecuadorian friend that the factory manager of a plant that produces fridges and stoves make $4000 / month and it is almost unheard of to earn that much. In fact, it would be difficult to be able to spend that much here – even with a huge new house and a couple of new vehicles in the yard. As anywhere else, he would earn significantly less as an employee than a freelancer / business owner. Sorry I can’t give you more info.

          • lynn Oct 12, 2011, 11:27 am

            Thanks! That’s ok, we can maybe find out more when we get there. He likes his work and I am not sure he wants to just hang out all day….hence…a job!

  • lynn Oct 9, 2011, 7:58 am

    What is the best way to find a small farm somewhere around Cuenca or Salinas? If we move there we will be bringing horses from the US. Perfect scenario…a small farm outside of Cuenca with room for a caretaker, and a small house or condo in Salinas or the surrounding area. And how much money do you REALLY have to have on a monthly basis? Middle class type or higher?

  • Gordon Quick Aug 7, 2011, 12:38 pm

    Great Q&A..Thanks a Bunch.
    We are in the process of heading that way. We have read and read the do’s and don’ts
    and coming to Ecuador and complying with all the necessary detail of Customs. I have found some conflicting info, and mistakes are costly. Even talking to some of the Consulates they are not sure etc. Primarily what you can bring in and what you can’t,
    plus maybe amount allowed……Like maybe a “Check List” of can and can’ts !

    Moving to a new “Home” sight unseen is somewhat frightening and we are very
    unsettled about Entry and the first few days. We are three Adults and one 8 year old. Any help and guidance will be greatly appreciate. Thanks, ,,,,,G

  • Karen Jun 24, 2011, 3:23 pm

    I know that the idea of regular markets/supermarkets and healthy or health food stores must seem strange, even indulgent, to people in other countries. However for various reasons, I have always shopped at the latter. How does Cuenca rank in terms of availability of vitamin supplements and other specialty items like flax seed oil or natural soaps?

  • Jim Jun 7, 2011, 9:15 pm

    I was all set to visit Ecuador this month, but changed my mind. An acquaintance who is from there originally was saying she would never go back and told many stories of intimidation and violence, especially against foreigners. The Canadian and US govt. websites do warn of these problems there. How is it that none of the International Living or expat blogs seem to address this issue? Is it overblown, or are expats living there adjusted to living strategically to avoid violence? Or is it something else? I would really appreciate some feedback from expats on this issue.

    • Susan Dec 16, 2011, 1:16 pm


      Where is your friend from in EC? How long ago did they live here? My husband, son 14 yo and I live in Cuenca and have not seen any violence and don’t feel intimidated. I ride the buses by myself and feel fine walking around Cuenca. There are places I would avoid durning the evenings, mainly the areas with bars. 🙂
      Copme down and check it out.

  • judy May 12, 2011, 10:16 pm

    Employment Laws-Need help to hire 1 employee:

    Can anyone give me some information as to what is required by Ecuadorian Labor Laws to hire an employee at my office. I am looking into hiring an employee full-time. I heard the laws in Ecuador are very strict when it comes to hiring an employee, which requires a contract drawn. Can anyone help me on this and exactly what it takes. I only need to hire one employee. Do I need to have him/her registered, pay benefits, bonus, etc.??? Help!!!

  • Todd May 2, 2011, 9:31 am

    Hey Bryan, I was wondering if you could tell me what visa option did you choose for your family? How was the process?

  • Shannon Apr 25, 2011, 8:50 am

    My husband and are interested in moving to Ecuador. However we both need to secure jobs before we move (if possible) any suggestions and where we should start looking?

    • Bryan Haines Apr 26, 2011, 4:12 pm

      I’m not familiar with any job boards here. I get the impression that you kind of need to know someone to get in at some places. Have you considered working remotely? Check out our new site: BloggerAbroad – we write about working abroad. We’ll be adding new ideas and opportunities weekly.

      • Shannon Apr 27, 2011, 11:46 am

        Thanks for the info. I will definitely check out your Fund your Travels series! Maybe we need to jump on a plane and come to Equador!

        • Bryan Haines Apr 27, 2011, 12:04 pm

          Absolutely! As they say here in the Sierra, Venga, no mas! – which means: Just Come!

  • rwsecuador Apr 10, 2011, 2:42 pm

    Hi Everyone,
    We've got considerable expat experience under out belt from Belize:

    Am intensely researching Ecuador right now for future relocation. Top of the list for us is climate.
    Cuenca looks perfect… except that we would prefer just a little bit warmer. I read that Cuenca (ele 8400') is pretty much 55-75F year round.

    We'd prefer 60-80F, maybe 60-85F, so that we can grow more tropical fruits. We are looking for ~5 acres, good soil, temps we are looking for, decent rainfall/water source.

    It looks like Paute (ele 7100') may be a good location. Does Paute have the temps we are looking for: 60-85F? Any other towns in the valleys outside Cuenca have the temps we seek? Definitely want to be fairly close to Cuenca.
    Thanks for any advice and opinions.

  • MaryAnn Apr 5, 2011, 10:40 am

    Hi Brian, I've been considering Cuenca or Cotacachi, Ecuador for my retirement for a few years. I have a friend in Salinas who loves Ecuador. What is holding me back? Two things: I've been told that I cannot bring my car or get a drivers license in Ecuador. True or false? Ecuador uses the US dollar as their currency which concerns me a lot. The US government is printing worthless paper so the value of the US dollar has fallen dramatically. This will eventually impact the cost of living in Ecuador. When that happens what happens to all the expats living there?

    • Glenn Outhwaite Aug 14, 2011, 5:30 pm

      Hi Brian, My wife and I are considering retiring in Ecuador within the next 12 ro 18 months. We are currently living in Kingston, On. I am disabled and use a wheelchair or scooter to get around. Are there accessible restruants etc. in Cuenca? We thought we would rent rather than buy, would we have difficulty finding something that would be accessible?
      I am most concerned about the Health Care System. I am a frequent visitor to hospital and take a large number of medications. I have respiratory problems and we felt the climate in Ecuador would be better for me. Would I have trouble getting medication and how expensive is it? Are there specialists at the hospital in Cuneca as at present I see 9.
      I beleive I read in one of your columns that when y ou first arrived you were hit by a number of new bugs. What kind of treatment was required and how long did they last?
      I read and now cannot find a question sent to you by another couple from Kingston thinking of retiring in Ecuador and planning on going there over Christmas. We would like to get in touch with them but I can’t find the page this was on and I am not certain how best we could connect.

      • Bryan Haines Sep 6, 2011, 9:24 pm

        Hi Glenn – great questions.

        Cuenca, and Ecuador in general, is not that accessible for wheelchairs. From our experience, medications are readily available and are certainly less expensive. Some brands might not be available, but another brand/version would be. This should be confirmed – maybe on a visiting trip.

        There are many specialists here. In this post on Mount Sinai Hospital you can see some of the specialists in this one hospital. I expect you’ll find what you need.

        The bus we met were amoebas – and after a treatment it passed. We just got careless about eating un-disinfected vegetables. Wasn’t serious.

        Maybe you are referring to David and Linda Marshall? Here is their blog: Southbound to Cuenca

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