GringosAbroad Ecuador

GringosAbroad helps expats and travelers navigate Ecuador. When you use our links, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.

Why We Sold It All and Moved to Cuenca Ecuador

Posted in: Cuenca Ecuador, Expats in Ecuador, Living in Ecuador, My Life in Ecuador, Our Perspective

When we lived in Canada we had our own business, home (a fixer upper) and car. We were also homeschooling our daughter. Things were very busy!

why we moved to cuenca ecuador

The beautiful plaza at Parque Calderon, Cuenca, Ecuador

We were so occupied with making a living and fixing up our home that we didn’t have the time we wanted to do the things we loved to do as a family. Our daughter was growing up fast and we wanted more time with her.

So we started searching for a place where the cost of living was lower. With a lower cost of living we would work less and have more time to enjoy our family.

We did a lot of searching, we even took a trip to Margarita island, Venezuela to see if that would be right for us. When that didn’t work out, we started looking into Ecuador.

House, Car, Business – SOLD!Ecuador stood out to us because they use U.S. currency, and even though we are Canadians we could easily set up a U.S. bank account. We also liked that the country had lots of travel opportunities. It’s kind of a small country, but with the Galapagos, the Andes, and the Amazon, there’s lots to explore.

As we looked into Ecuador, Cuenca quickly came to the top of our list. Cuenca is the third largest city in the country, the high altitude means no mosquito-born diseases and the climate is nice, not too hot, not too cold. There are also lots of good hospitals and some modern conveniences like shopping malls, grocery stores and movie theaters.

So we sold everything and moved in 2009. It was amazing to start over like that! And it was also very challenging. We didn’t even speak Spanish, we didn’t have any work and we had never lived in a foreign country before.

happy-expat-family-340Sound crazy? Well, doing that crazy thing made us push ourselves to learn news ways to support our family, to learn a foreign language, and adapt to a new culture. All of those things made us pull closer together, become stronger and more resourceful. The move also gave us what we wanted, more time to do the things we loved doing as a family.

For more information about what it’s like to move abroad as a family, please check out our book, The Happy Expat Family. In the Happy Expat Family we talk about the 8 challenges faced by all expats and how to overcome them.

Parque Calderon in Cuenca Ecuador

Watch on YouTube

You might also enjoy:

Check out our guides:

Meet the Author

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

19 comments… add one
  • Will Leonard Sep 6, 2016, 10:37 pm

    Hi there hope your still blogging. My question is about any pensioner programs that Ecuador has. I would like to see what options I have to live there moving from Canada

  • Viale Marie Oct 13, 2014, 9:59 am


    My name is Marie, I am 21 and I am a student in a Business School in France.
    Next year, I would like to do an internship in Cuenca (for a duration of 5 months) in the area of Marketing and Sales. I will be in an ecuador family but I don’t speak spanish very well so do you think it is possible for me to find an internship like that in Cuenca or for you it will be really difficult for me ?

    Thank you by advance


    • Bryan Haines Oct 13, 2014, 10:03 am

      There are a number of companies that operate in both English and Spanish. Look for companies selling abroad (tourism or locally made products) or companies teaching here. There is a French school in Cuenca – along with many universities. You shouldn’t have a problem.

  • Pam Musgrove Sep 3, 2014, 3:55 pm

    Hi guys! It was nice to read about your story. I’m glad you like living where you are and it sounds like your blogging is very successful. Are there any tips for how to go about starting a blog from home?
    Thanks Bryan & Dena!

    • Dena Haines Sep 16, 2014, 7:40 am

      Hi Pam! To get started, you should probably check our Start Here page. There is a post about how to setup everything, and another about how to monetize the site. We’ll be covering more in the coming months.

      Hope everything is well with you guys!

  • Adriann Knight Jun 2, 2014, 12:25 pm

    This is an amazing article. I am a Canadian Student that has just moved to Guayaquil to study. I am at the Ecuadorian-Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Guayaquil and really enjoying it! They are evening holding a public Canada Day event the end of June. It is amazing how welcoming everyone is being.

    What is the best way to do my banking while here. I have tried reaching out to Canadian Banks to make it easier to do banking abroad. Scotiabank did not have a partner institution in Ecuador. They should make this more accessible. Maybe I am missing something? If you can direct me that would be appreciated.


    Adriann Knight

  • Nimfa Parsons Dec 3, 2013, 1:35 pm


    I really enjoyed reading this particular post of your blog. These information are helpful for me. I recently moved to Costa Rica from US. I have a new website/blog, and I am learning at the same time. I am pleased to be accepted by Amazon Affiliate program. So far, I have not earn anything yet. I know I have so much work to do before any income from blogging. I would like to try companies that you recommended.


  • Brenda Sep 16, 2013, 8:17 pm

    Hi Dena and Bryan,
    Love your blog. I am planning to move to Cuenca in a few months. My question is this: When we first arrive in Cuenca where should we stay while searching for an apartment? What did you do?

    • Bryan Haines Sep 30, 2013, 3:27 pm

      We stayed in a furnished apartment for two weeks. There are lots of options – maybe you can rent a place for a month while you do some house hunting and then furnish it?

  • Hernan Jul 8, 2013, 4:30 pm

    I’m truly amazed at your story, it’s really contagious your optimism. Congratulations to all of you it really take courage and determination, to do the things you have done thus far.
    With all the things that are going on, Ecuador is still a peaceful country, though there are many things to be improved.
    I include a bit of our story, I was born in Quito, and I left to Canada when I was young and lived there mostly in Ottawa for 45 years, raised a family, and had a nice life. However we were looking to do something crazy, (outside of the box like you say), and voila; we sold our home and gave away some of our stuff and moved to Guayllabamba , Ecuador. Here we live a country type of live style.
    We just visited Cuenca last month, and we liked what we saw.

    All the best for you guys,

    • Bryan Haines Jul 8, 2013, 4:37 pm

      We really love it here in Ecuador. We have the lifestyle that we were looking for when we were back in Canada.

      Glad to hear you’re enjoying your return to Ecuador. We really appreciate your feedback.

  • Audrey May 15, 2013, 9:10 pm

    I am puzzled as to how you are able to blog and otherwise use the internet to support your family with such limited internet speed as outlined in your recent post about the cost of living in Cuenca. Also related, I suppose watching any North American television is out of the question. Must I say goodbye to the network news?

    • Bryan Haines May 17, 2013, 4:13 pm

      No worries. The article about internet is a little older. We currently have a 7.1Mbs connection and the provider offers as high as 19Mbs.

      Although we don’t watch much television, we use Netflix and Hulu for English tv.

  • Gabrielle May 15, 2013, 2:57 pm

    Hi Dena and Bryan,
    I am loving your blog and your daughter’s blog too! We, me, my husband, and 3 children ages 9, 7, and almost 3, are headed to San Clemente Ecuador to spend 8 weeks on the ocean at Vistazul. We have 2 weeks after that we have left open to see what we want to do after getting there, meeting people, etc. I have read your site and many others and have a question – what is the correct amount to tip a driver taking us from new Quito airport to San Clemente? (I am told the price will be about $150 to 200 for the driver) I have read that American’s overpay, tip too much, do not bargain well, etc. Is there a standard for tipping – we are used to lots of rules her in the US – 15% for restaurants for a party under 4, 20% for 5 or more, pizza guy, taxi’s etc all have standards for tipping. Is there any sliding rule that you have stuck with or that seems to repeat in your tipping for services (ie. nanny, housecleaner, driver, etc). Also, I read on your blog that your wife homeschools your daughter, is that still the case and what virtual academy does she use? I currently homeschool my 9 yr old through the program. Thank you! Gabrielle

    • Bryan Haines May 17, 2013, 6:38 pm

      Taxi drivers in general don’t get tipped. Usually passengers try to keep the pricing down because they will sometimes overcharge. I’ve heard that a tip of $10 for a $90 chartered van is about standard. That’s what we gave before we bought a car. Restaurants automatically add a 10% service charge and 12% sales tax. We usually tip on top of that 10-20% depending on specifics.

      We still homeschool and she is enrolled with a school in the US.

      All the best on your exploring trip!

  • R May 4, 2013, 10:45 am

    Thank you – Gracias – to share your story…

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.