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Ecuador Isn’t As Cheap As You Think, Do Your Research

It has been 5 years since our Ecuadorian adventure began. Gotta love the Facebook Memories feature to give a little reminder on how fast time flies when you’re having fun.

Our journey began with a 6-month tour of the country that saw us travel the mountains from Ibarra south to Vilcabamba. We took a lovely side trip to the mouth of the jungle in Tena and then trekked the coast from Manta down to Playas. We eventually found our piece of paradise in La Libertad, the little-known or talked about beach town and commercial center outside of Salinas in the province of Santa Elena.

We have met people that moved to Ecuador; sight unseen, by studying information online, joining forums and asking questions. We are not quite that adventurous. Randy and I chose to travel the majority of the country before making a final decision. We wanted to consolidate what we had read and experience real life here and basically, make up our own minds. Experiences are subjective, I have learned to weigh opinions differently over the years.

June 2012 a couple of weeks after arriving in Ecuador

Our research started the same way as many; online, however, once our feet were on the ground, we determined quickly that a portion of what we read was not entirely accurate; at least not in our personal experience.

We read about the cost of living, crime, health care, infrastructure, climate, and real-life stories; except most were about EXPAT life and very little about the lives of Ecuadorians in general.  We continued to read about how cheap the cost of living was and certainly, some things are significantly cheaper, but there are other items that are far more expensive and we were not initially prepared for this.

I will share with you, our perspectives as this might form part of your own research.  As always, our experience may vary from your own, which also differs from those we learned from.  This is simply another perspective for you to draw upon or ignore; your own observations will determine which.

Food Prices

I cannot count how many articles, blogs, and general information circulating out there regarding the cheap food prices available in Ecuador; although technically true, there are some rather large exceptions and for balance, I would like to share some of these with you.

Fresh foods are very inexpensive compared to Canada and many places in the USA, but the significant savings are when you shop as the locals do; fresh from the Mercado. If you intend on coming down here and maintaining your typical North American diet comprised mainly of boxes, bags, and cans from the grocery store chains, rather than whole or fresh, you will not see a significant reduction in your grocery bill; in fact, it may even go up.

We’ve compared prices across several of Cuenca’s popular grocery options including Supermaxi, mercados & small corner shops. You may be surprised at the price differences.

Local Mercado

Changing your diet to whole foods is not a bad thing. If, however, you are not prepared to do this, and you go for your first big EC grocery shopping trip, choosing familiar items, I think you may be very disappointed. Things like bacon, smoked meats, butter, 12-grain loaves of bread, tins of sauces and soups, bottles of dressings, condiments like Worcestershire sauce, peanut butter, pickles and frozen food items, are much more expensive. If you like to snack on nuts of any kind, they are over the top expensive to the point of shocking. Anything imported from North America, that you buy out of habit or for a little taste of home, you will pay dearly for.

Apartment Prices

Apartment rental prices really depend on where you live and what your expectation may be in terms of amenities. I have noticed that apartment rentals in Cuenca seem cheaper than in the Salinas area but are more expensive than in Manglaralto. It is all relative to the popularity of the area, closeness to features such as the beach, and North American amenities vs EC amenities. Basically, if you choose to live with a higher concentration of expats, the prices tend to be higher for rents.

If you read somewhere that you can easily find a furnished rental in the Salinas area for $300 or $400 monthly with North American amenities, I would have to raise my eyebrows at that information. With some networking, there may be a hidden gem in this price range, but that is not the norm. $550 and up is more likely the price range, but if you want an ocean view and North American amenities, you are looking closer to $700 up to $1500.  I cannot speak for other coastal cities but would be curious for some feedback.

I know that we paid between $450 and $700 monthly for rent during our exploratory trip. Sometimes furnished meant a plastic table and chairs, mini bar fridge, hot plate, double bed and hammock and sometimes we even had a living room chair. These were the prices from 5 years ago and averaged throughout EC, not just one area.

Appliances & Kitchen Goods

Small appliances are of questionable quality with high-end costs. A basic on/off Oster Blender can run $85. On a positive note, you can buy spare parts to repair them meaning a blender is not a toss-away-item like in Canada where you pay $40 for one and when it breaks you simply buy a new one. Toasters, microwaves, and drip coffee makers can be up to 3x the price.

When you look at these costs comparatively; a decent blender back home can cost maybe $40 which is roughly a few hours of work for a Canadian to purchase. At $85 here in Ecuador that is roughly 3 days+ of work for a typical Ecuadorian worker to purchase a blender. As this information processed in my head, it put things into a little different perspective. This is why you can see blenders and even shoes on sale for monthly installments. They now become luxury items.

The larger appliances are also higher in price and it is difficult if not impossible to find used items for sale. We had purchased a refurbished Maytag washer and dryer in Florida, like new, $400 for the set; that type of find here in EC is extremely rare. There are some on OLX and other Buy and Sell type sites, but we have not happened across any used appliance shops  As the expats come and go, their items may go up for sale on public, English speaking forums like YapaTree and GringoPost, but the items tend to sell quickly.

Electronics, including computers, are more than double and at times triple the cost. Many furnished rentals would not include a TV so if you enjoy watching a few shows in the evening, be prepared to purchase an overpriced television at some point during your stay.

Good quality pots, pans, cutlery, knives, towels, linens, and blankets are difficult to find in our area and once you do, the price will make you shake your head and rub your eyes to ensure you are reading it correctly. We still bring these types of items in from North America.

You can find cheap furniture in Cuenca, but you need to be prepared to put in some effort. Popping down to the large, big brand furniture stores will likely give you sticker shock.

Utilities

One utility I was shocked to pay for was internet. If you live right in town or in the highrises on the Malecon of Salinas it seems you can get service for around $40 per month, however, we live on the edge of town so a bit rural in some respects. We have 2 separate services; as we have guests and I work remotely and need a dedicated line; in the low- season, our internet costs $170 a month (for both services)  and in high season it is $270 as I have to bump up the speed as our rooms fill up, more speed is required. So if you plan on living rural, keep this cost in mind.

Vehicles

Vehicles do not depreciate the same way as in North America so if your plan is to come down and buy a gently used vehicle to get around you may be in for a shock at what the sale prices are for used vehicles.

As I write this, I went to OLX Ecuador and typed in Carro to look for cars for sale and here is one example.  I searched for the cheapest car on the first couple of pages in our area; up came a 1987 Chevrolet with 12,584,928 km (not a typo). Not sure this type of car would sell for more than a few hundred bucks back home. But here, this 30-year-old car with very high mileage has an asking price of $3000. This is not unusual; there was a 15-year-old vehicle for $10,000 as well.

Labour

The cost for hired help has certainly increased from what we had been reading years back.  We were told $10 a day would get a person daily cleaning service but that has never been the case since we arrived.  You might get them to come a few times out of a desperate need for work, but they would never stay long -as was the experience of those around us.

We paid our employees double that price and even up to 25 per day and they stayed with us for nearly 4 years. We had one long time employee leave recently but we replaced him quickly. Typically, it is difficult to get reliable and consistent help for under $20 per day. That is still considerably less than North America prices, however, remember to do it legally, your employee (s) should be under contract, thus you pay them their wage plus a percentage (11.5 is the employer portion and 9.5 is the employee portion) to IESS, plus twice a year they receive the equivalent of one month pay in April and again in December.     None of this I was aware of when we arrived and I thought finding day laborers would be plentiful and that simply was not the case. To secure, consistent and reliable help requires a fair wage to be paid.

What We Were Told

This reminds me of a conversation I had a couple of weeks ago with my neighbor who is part German but was born and raised in Ecuador;

he asked:  “Why are so many people leaving lately?”
I replied:  “I am not sure; various reasons, I think.”
He replied; “They told you it was cheap to live here didn’t they?”
I laughed so hard and said, “Yes, they did”.

His last bit of information still makes me laugh; “Sure, the potatoes and onions are cheap, but try and buy a car or computer. You will see it is not cheap to live in Ecuador.”

All I could do was laugh, he is so very right.

Safety in Ecuador

Now that I have touched on some of our observations related to the cost of living; I would like to touch lightly on aspects of safety.

I am often asked by potential vacationing guests: “How safe is it in Ecuador?”

My response is always the same; “Compared to where?”

The reason I feel the need to ask is that my son was robbed by razor knife held to his neck in Prince George BC Canada. We were robbed or an attempted robbery 3x in our Citrus County Florida neighborhood and eventually had to get a monitored security system. This was in what we thought was a quiet rural neighborhood. A Canadian friend of ours was in Florida a number of years back outside a store, it was robbed and the thieves came running out after shooting a man in the head.

Crime happens around the world; we all know this. When you read the internet and the travel advisory warnings for Ecuador, you may come out of the International airport thinking you might be kidnapped or robbed before you reach your destination. I once avoided Guayaquil like the devil himself lived there from all the horror stories I heard, but now Guayaquil is one of my favorite cities.

Of course, there is crime in Ecuador. Of course, there are even serious events at times but it is not exclusive to Ecuador. I personally know people that have experienced home invasions and armed robberies here; scary situations for sure. We definitely feel more vulnerable at times as we clearly stand out in a crowd and many foreigners may not have a good grasp of the language which makes a person feel even less confident in their surroundings.

I read, just recently, about someone who said how some foreigners feel like the locals are trying to get money from them all the time; like they are walking ATM machines. I am a little offended for the locals when I hear this type of talk. Do some try to “gringo price” and get an extra $1 or $2 from time to time for a ride or buns?; Yes of course. When you understand the type of poverty a large percentage live under, it is not surprising. The reality is, if you are going to lose large sums of money down here, it is more likely going to be an opportunistic foreigner that swindles you for business, property developments or real estate deals. Of course, this is a generalized statement but it is based on my own personal experience and of a number of others I have come to know over the years that “got taken”.

Should you remain vigilant here? Yes, you should; be as vigilant as you would in Toronto Ontario, Detroit, Michigan or Quito, Pichincha. Should you be terrified and paranoid about being out with the common folk? Absolutely not. In my experience, it has been the locals that have warned me of potentially bad situations, reminding me when to put my phone away with motions, looks, or physically putting it in my pocket for me once! The locals do not wish to see you, I or anyone become a victim of crime in their beautiful country.

I recently read a description of the horrible crimes that happened in this area ( by a lady from LA that has since returned to live in the US), mentioning the murder of the two Argentinian girls in Montañita and a rape that took place around the same time. What she may not have known was there was also another murder closer to us of a child by her stepfather and what happened then is what amazes me. The community in the Peninsula created a March for Peace, everyone wearing white, they gathered together for a procession, prayers and to send a message of peace, to send a message that this violence needed to stop. So one person may focus on the crimes that took place, but what I witnessed from the community in response to these senseless acts was amazing and says far more about the people of Ecuador in my opinion.

As you continue your research on all things Ecuador, please keep in mind, that not everything you read is at face value. Some folks appear sane in the written word but are anything but sane. Others come across as odd and are fabulous, wonderful souls. What I may find expensive, another may find reasonably priced.

We all write and share from our own perspectives, bringing with us our own personal experiences, comfort levels, and emotions into the picture.

If I can suggest one thing to you all; put your own feet on the ground, make your own observations before allowing an individual article, one singular person, or one opinion to direct your future plans. Our individual Ecuador adventure is exactly that; individual.

I wish you all, your own fun, safe, peaceful and amazing adventure.

32 Responses

    1. Hey Pablo, I think we do a pretty good job of portraying the good side of Ecuador in a lot of what we publish on GringoTree. This article discusses a topic that is often ignored by major publishers around the world. The subject is important for our readers to understand… Living in Ecuador is not as cheap as some people think.

  1. The Ecuador described in the article has very little in comnon with the Ecuador in which I live. And prices on both imported foods and electronics should drop soon. Perhaps the difference can be attributed to my living in Cirnca.

  2. Kudos Dodie for writing a thoughtful and informative article. My wife and I have lived in Cuenca for 6 years and are always amazed at the articles that tout “living like a king for $1500 a month”. As you mentioned in the article many experiences are subjective. Two of items that most people skip over are trips back to see children and grandchildren and how that amortizes into you monthly expense. The other item is unexpected non covered medical expenses. Congrats again on a well written article.

    1. For some unknown Tech reason I have not been able to reply to individucla comments for a very long time. It is a mystery. I wanted to thank everyone for their feedback and for also sharing their own experiences. I think it is important for balance that these things be talked about outloud. Speaking about both sides of the coin makes for realistic information and better decision making; after all, it is a big decision to make!

      1. Hello Dodie, my name is Julya, we are from Toronto, Canada. I have a few questions that I would love to ask you regarding you relocation experience. From what I understand, you too are from Canada.
        Hope to hear from you soon, stay safe.
        Thank you
        J

  3. Thank you for a great over view. My wife is from Colombia and we have visited a few time times in Colombia What you say is true in both places. I was in a store and saw american goods at prices that were so high that i would not be able to buy any of it. We have family there so we have help in every day things if we need it. As i have been told many times by the local people and family please rent for some time first , get your feet wet and then things will make sense to you. All so give it time you can not make up your mine in 30 days and most important is to live with the local people. If you take from them them give back to them and life will be good to you.

  4. I have lived here for six years and find this article to be very accurate. I have been screwed every way imaginable but it still comes out less than what I would have had to pay in the USA.
    The only thing I hate about Ecuador is the inability to defend yourself or your home. You cannot buy, carry, or use a weapon to stop a robbery, rape, or violence without yourself ending up in prison. That is just plain wrong. Yes, I have been robbed and lost substantial money and things. The police did nothing! That is my only complaint. Oh, the thieves had weapons.

  5. This article is spot on with my experiences. My husband & I have lived in Ecuador full time since 2015 and spent several lengthy visits to various Ecuador locations from 2006 to 2015…and deciding on Cuenca. I strongly agree with the advice to come and stay for a while and experience the country before taking the “plunge.” Even with my 8+ years of coming to Ecuador prior to moving, I was still surprised by various items that Dodie calls out. Again, great perspective!

  6. You’re doing your readers a service by telling them the truth about this country.

    We spent 3 months in Ecuador in 2011. We were all over the country, except for the jungle in the East. It’s a beautiful place featuring helpful, friendly people. There’s much to be said for living there. But as you’ve pointed out, there are many unfounded beliefs about living there, largely perpetrated by mass and specialized media reporting characterizing the country as Shang-ri La while not addressing the potential negatives. We met at least 20 couples in the country who were there solely because of what they read in International Living. Their comments were, to a person, “they didn’t tell us about the negatives”. I passed this on to the Chief Editor at IL, and I’ve seen a moderation in their reporting.

    You can visit the gorgeous concave beachfront at Salinas. But none of the travel magazines tell you that just one block away from the beach, the slums begin. They also don’t tell you how expensive the restaurants are along the boardwalk: US prices were what we paid. But of course, when you shop and eat like an Ecuadoran, and go the places they go to, this is not the case.

    Cuenca is gorgeous. But none of the travel magazines talk about the filth along building walls rising from the ground level to up about 3 feet off of the ground right at the town center. We didn’t mind it. It is what it is: a poor country.

    No one reports rental car costs are out-of-sight, even in comparison to the U.S.

    We tell our followers to watch where the “majors” are reporting as “to go” places, and then, avoid them. It’s a strategy that works well for us.

    Yes, the “majors” will tell readers Ecuador is inexpensive, as in cheap. But it is not. Depending on what you’re talking about, it’s about, on the average, 20-30% cheaper than the U.S. Why live in Ecuador, when you can go to Southeast Asia and live for 80% less: that is, 80% less until the “majors” start reporting on it — as they already have.

    Again, thanks for telling your readers the truth and documenting your personal experiences. You’ve helped many with your efforts.

    Tom @ rovertreks.com

  7. I think this is one of the most fair and balanced articles I have read. Dodie says a lot of the things I have tried to convey to potential movers. Its a great place but you will be surprised and no amount of research will prepare you for some things. I think she captured in life and accommodation of an Ecuadorian and a North American. You can go native and save a lot but not many people will want to do that. Thanks again Dodie

  8. Finally an article that, for the most part, paints a more accurate picture of the cost of living in Ecuador. While the article focuses on Salinas, many, but not all of the comments apply to Cuenca. I have lived here for more than 4 year and I have seen a continual rise in the cost of living. Yet, I still live a very comfortable lifestyle for the cost of what I paid just for housing in Southern California. So the cost of living in Ecuador is relative to where you lived in your home country. It disturbs me to read articles, like the ones recently from the Miami Herald and Breitbart, that do not accurately portray the true cost of living, at least in Cuenca.

    I highly recommend that those reading this comment make an exploratory visit to Ecuador before considering a permanent move. Much that you read on the “Gringo” websites or news articles is inaccurate or out dated information

    As for life in Ecuador, in the time I have lived here, I have had numerous positive interactions with Ecuadorians and with few exceptions, I have found them to be warm and caring towards me as an Expat. Many of these interactions occurred when my Spanish language ability was minimal. Now that I have become conversational in the language, it has only enriched my life here. One thing you must understand when considering moving here is the culture. It’s very different than in the U.S. or Canada, or most any other country of your origin. When I first moved here I had a difficult time adapting, and on occasion still do after more than 4 years. The Ecuadorian way of doing things doesn’t often have logic and the word “Manana” doesn’t always mean tomorrow, but rather some time in the future. Ecuadorians have a very laid back attitude towards most things, so for someone who possesses an A type personality, it can be difficult.

    Ecuador, in general, it a great place to live, but nothing you read online or elsewhere can’t substitute “boots on the ground” during your due diligence.

  9. I’ve found your article to be very accurate. I’ve lived in Ecuador for a year and a half further up the Coast. I’ve been “gringo’d” out of much more money from other Expats/foreigners than locals. Despite the higher than expected cost for non essential items, the beauty of the country and its people more than makes up for the budget adjustment. If a person expects to retire early in Ecuador and cannot afford to live on more than $900/mo. with plans to take advantage of the almost free healthcare intended for these poor people, he/she can’t afford to retire.

  10. Good article indeed. My family lives a short 3 minute walk to the ocean and rent 2 separate apartments with all utilities included and that is with wifi, and direct TV, for $600 a month with a very good landlord who maintains the building to excellent standard including if something goes wrong in the middle of the night he is here getting it fixed. I understand this is not the norm here in Ecuador however my point is if you do as we did and make trips to areas that interest you and ask around (not just gringos) I am sure you too can find a situation as good as the one we have been so blessed to find.
    Our apartments are very comfortable and the value is a good deal as any we would find anywhere in Ecuador. We eat mainly where the locals do and love the fresh market and street foods. Something to remember is that the street food vendors are not in business to get their neighbors sick. Of course use common sense as you would any where. But we have gotten much healthier by living in Ecuador and I for one have lost a lot of weight from my heaviest of 375lbs to 210lbs just by eating the local fare.
    As for crime I certainly feel safer here than in most US cities but again common sense is the operative word. I have not had any issues what so ever but I also carry myself in a way that would scare the hell out of most of these readers. I am a large man and I sure I am the last choice of thieves to choose to attempt a robbery. Not that it couldn’t happen I just would be the last choice of for a thief to try his luck. And to just to say that if you appear as an easy mark you will be one. Do not flash lots of cash, iPads , iPhones, and the like. Just use the same common sense you would in any US city and you should not have issues.
    But this article does address some solid issues that most gringo type websites do not address. Things are cheap in some places and not in others such as blankets. Go to the Saturday market in Otavalo and haggle to the price you want to pay. A $50 item can be had for half the price or maybe lower, tell them what you are willing to pay and stick to it, you may get it then again you may not but decide your prices and don’t kill them. Go to the local markets and get your food it’s much higher quality and better prices. We buy seafood right form the boats as they come in and the prices are amazing compared to other prices we have seen here in Ecuador not to mention the US. Better yet when you see a group of locals pulling in nets help them and you are sure to get some fish and maybe even a smile or two from those locals who will fast become friends… its truly what living in Ecuador is about. Sharing culture, art, music, life moments, these are amazing kind people and deserve our respect. I for one love living here in Ecuador with all of its greatness and faults. Our time here has been joyous, healthy, amazing adventures, and a whole lot more.
    My advice to anyone thinking of moving to Ecuador would be to travel the country and find the area that calls to you as there are so many diverse areas, The Andes Mountains are magical, The Amazon, The Islands , to much to mention… but its all here for you if you want to settle in and be a part of it and embrace the life that is here…. So in the short of it , if you are coming here , come and be a part of the community and share in the lessons life has here…, Mañana does not mean tomorrow it means to relax and enjoy life, no stress no need for it. Life will be just as joyous and peaceful as you allow it to be.

  11. Thx dodie , great article and great comments from all that are boots on the ground , make sense to me to live in a place for a while befor purchase of property or business and yes , immerse oneself into the local culture (way) of doing things, I think locals will at least see you are trying and appreciate it.
    I know that’s what upsets people in our country, when a ex-blank comes in and tries to bypass on how things are done, The compassion for them is not there, but if they are trying assimilate to their new country, the help is there, doesn’t mean you have to give up certain things like religion, what you eat, drive, etc, etc. thx

  12. As usual from Dodie, an excellent, well-balanced article. Thanks. I wish we could get come of the same well-balanced reporting about the immigration processes and IESS.

  13. I grew up in Cautivo and now live in North America. You are right, perspectives are based on individual experiences but what you are describing is what I knew then. Thanks for honoring the place of my childhood by seeing it. Oh, and please say hi to Choclo for me.
    Maria-Veronica

    1. Hola, I love love love Cautivo. I will definitely extend a greeting to Choclo for you; great man, great neighbor. I bet you can guess who my conversation was with about. – They told you it was cheap to live here – ………………….

  14. I know Dodie well, being a Canadian myself. I would like to add to her balanced article. The truth tha imported goods are more expensive is undeniable. In our case, we see cost of living in a way that most may not, as we adopted a lifestyle that was nore minimalist than what we had in Canada. That said, we noticed that our costs have gone down by at least half of what they were in Canada, and we have become more responsible consumers and citizens.

    A car costs more, true. But i will not lose more than half its value in two years here, my taxes on my house are less than 10% of what they were in Canada. My access to healthcare and its cost are better here. My food intake is substantially better and at least half is not less than what it cost in Canada.

    We feel that what really need to live is inexpensive here…what we may “want” gets more

    Food, shelter, health……..Ecuador is a much better deal than Canada.
    Electronics, cars, luxury items, Canada wins.

    What lifestyle do people choose? Well, I have yet to meet anyone who came to Ecuador to live a liftestyle of consumption, waste and who lives to acquire things as opposed to acquiring human compassion and friends,

  15. Great article Dodie, thanks for sharing a “boots on the ground” perspective. I live at Chipipe Beach where most of the battered homes have been replaced with new mid rise condos. Just a little 5 story walk-up building a block from the beach. My condo is a newly remodeled and nicely furnished one bedroom that I pay $400 a month for. A geek in my past life, high speed internet is a luxury I give myself at $60 a month and my electricity runs from $35 to $45 a month. The 2 bedroom condo below me rented for $500 a month. It took a year of living here for me to know where to go to sniff out the deals, but diligence will provide just the right domicile if you have patience to go with it. Not many places in the world you can live on the 9th floor, 3bdrm 2ba, furnished with an amazing view of the South Pacific for $1500 a month.
    One reader commented on the slums a few blocks from the beach… well of course there are. Ecuador is a developing country, and the people who serve us live at or just above $300+- a month. I knew somewhat what to expect in that regard. What I didn’t expect were the myriad families at the parks every evening, or sitting on the front porch watching neighborhood children play soccer in the streets. I didn’t expect to see families strolling the malecon in the evenings, Mothers and Daughters arm in arm, couples holding hands as they walk. Ecuadorians don’t often get in a hurry, thank goodness, because I have learned how a leisurely stroll is really done.

  16. Great article, one of the biggest plusses for me is the wonderful climate -“eternal springtime ” and “a year in a day” are not far from wrong -compared to the NY weather. And the mountains “make my heart soar like an eagle”.

  17. Love when an article prompts more people to share their experience; It is simply about a balanced view. Like Don and Sharon, we have also adopted a simpler life with simpler needs thus our day to day expenses are significantly less than they were in Canada. That is part of why this article was written, for those coming down to understand if they come here with the same wants and habits as many bring with, they will be disappointed. When they say the food is cheaper; people automatically think, all food is cheaper at the checkout. That is not necessarily the case. Those of us already living here know this information and have either made adjustments by changing our habits or choose to grumble at the costs of canned beans as they put it in their shopping cart.

  18. I couldn’t agree more with this Post. I am an Ecuadorian who’s lived in Canada for over 3 years now. Besides rent, gas, vegetables and fruits, cell phone plans, and probably some other less important things I might be forgetting; I could say with great certainty that Ecuador is actually more expensive than most Canadian cities. While the minimum wage salary in Ecuador is of about 400 USD in Canada it is about 1600+ CAD, which is certainly something important to keep in mind.

    Is you’re planning on moving to Ecuador because of it’s cheapness, think twice.

  19. Thank you for your thoughtful and intelligent article. I think there are many who have the impression that Ecuador will be a solution to problems (financial, at least) with a retirement in the states. That way of thinking seems to me to be a set-up. Unfortunately Ecuador has been marketed as a way out for strapped middle ages who are looking for hope. Those of us who find ourselves in this situation may imagine a happy ending in which little change or adjustment is required. When reality doesn’t match the fantasy, people want Ecuador to change. In my own city, there are many ways to live..we have unemployed and underemployed who rely on shelters and handouts, we have highly educated who frequent the theater and live in safe and sheltered established communities, and we have the extremely successful who operate businesses and build million dollar homes to entertain in. All share the same city, but see different worlds. I suspect there is something like this in Ecuador, that from city to city or even block to block the experience changes. It is a place of its own with a history and inhabitants. If you move there, will you be open to what already exists, and be able to appreciate it for what it is and what it offers, rather than expecting it to conform to your fantasy? I think these are the questions I am asking myself as I consider Ecuador.

  20. Its well known that if you want cheap Ecuador, you need to live like a local, and not like a gringo who needs their expensive exported home comforts. I mean why travel away from home if you struggle to live without your home treats? Even so, Ecuador is still not as cheap as it once was. Inflation and taxes.

  21. Thank you. This is the best piece I have read on living in Ecuador in years. Usually, blogs seem pompous and condescending towards the country and the people.

  22. Hi, I’ll be in Libertad Bolivar in a few weeks. I’ll stay teaching English on a volunteer basis. I sure would like to meet anyone living there for a chat re. How to present oneself to the local people I am bound to meet.

  23. Pretty much spot on with my 22 years here, Dodie. Good rundown and much of the comments were good too. What folks don’t count on regarding expenses include being invited to events. Cuenca is a party town, people have fun, such as a young lady’s 15 year birthday, mother’s day parties, graduation parties, weddings, parties in general… gonna come with nothing? No, you bring a present & bottle of hooch. Or perhaps you don’t meld with society and are part of a smug tight strictly gringo English speaking clique like most are. SINCE we melded with society we plan at least $300/year for just going to parties & doesn’t include RECIPROCAL parties…or does one plan to mooch only? Ad another $500 – $800 incl good food/deserts, booze, antipastos. Fun in restaurants costs money, unless you never go out or eat $2 rice/bean lunches as survival food. Tips = 15% unless you’re cheap. A vino, brew, cocktail= $10/ couple unless you bring a canteen of water. Dental, optical, health, shoes, clothes, medicines from aspirin to whatever, hygenic stuff…no one thinks of that. Car..$100-150/yr tax, more for Cuenca Air inspection, maintenance and fuel… about $800 – 1000/yr or park it. Or walk. Many newbies last 1 to 3 years, back they go, having spent/lost thousands to tens of thousands on essentially nothing. Being typically G7/spoiled, emotionally sensitive, critical, negative, particular and picky won’t cut it here…and that’s why most chicken out and leave…giving many other excuses. Think twice or thrice before changing countries, make at least 2 two week visits to investigate. Then think again. But who listens to advice any more?

  24. Oooh, am I the, “Lady from LA who has since returned to the US??” What a trip that I just stumbled upon this article while googling “Ecuador suicide beachfront home!” (Long story)

    Yes, as a single white female living alone in rural/coastal Ecuador, I did not feel it was safe after multiple young women were drugged & raped or raped & murdered, by several different local men, in my little community my first few months there. Especially when a serial rapist showed up on my farm to *introduce* himself to me while I was aiding the police in jailing him for his crimes (he served 30 days). So it certainly wasn’t finances that drove me away.

    I still own my property, and it’s occupied by a lovely beekeeper from Egypt. I may go spend some time down there again, now that I have a big, strong life partner to help keep me safe. But, I always say – statistically, you’re much more likely to be victimized by someone you know than a total stranger.

    Well-written article that may save some potential immigrants to Ecuador a lot of hassle.

  25. Hi Grant & Any other friendly advisors,
    My brother, sister and I (3 adults)are looking for SAFE 2 BEDROOM BEACH FRONT (or near) accommodation to check-out on our initial trip to Ecuador Jan 31- Feb 12. 2019.
    We then intend to revisit several times for a month stay before deciding future plans.
    We would love to meet up with any expats/retires on our visit to Quenca, to exchange experiences over lunch or a few drinks.
    Please contact me ASAP at [email protected] or WHAT’S APP at 647-992-2896 Toronto, Canada.
    Thanks, David

  26. My fiance has been to Ecuador several times and fell in love with it, he says he gets a different experience every time he goes and he wants to move there, asked me how I felt about it (I have never been to Ecuador mind you) but that being said I believe in supporting the decision the man of the house makes but my only big concern is that we will be moving our daughter who will only be 1 and after long conversations and things I have read my daughter is pale white and blue eyed. I am also the same! Where as I know trafficking happens all around the world, but here in texas I have a rifle, a shotgun, and a pistol at my reach to do my best to protect her. I was wondering on the thoughts you may have for those moving their families with small children. Advise is needed, I am struggling, I am trying to find peace on making this move.

    1. Thanks for your comment Sarah. Safety is generally a key priority for expats moving to Ecuador. And, you’ll get very differing opinions on who you ask. Child trafficking is a risk in Ecuador. Anyone that tells you different has their head in the sand. However, it’s very rare for foreigners to be targeted as they know this will attract far more attention and a swift police/government response. There was an incident on the Colombian border a few years ago where some foreigners were kidnapped – the Ecuadorian government took this extremely seriously and sent in a massive response team. Bottom line is that you should be careful, but I wouldn’t let it turn into paranoia. But, we do suggest you check up on the gun and self-defence laws as they are very different to Texas. Also, perhaps a quick exploratory trip to your intended city in Ecuador will give you the confidence to make a decision one way or the other. Feel free to let us know if you do decide to move here 🙂

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