Ecuador is a beautiful country with amazing people, but like most countries on the planet, there are also some bad things about living in Ecuador. Some of them are to be expected just like in any other country in the world, while others are specific to developing countries.
So, if you’re thinking about visiting or moving to Ecuador, there are several downsides that you need to take into account. From income inequality and pickpocketing to noise and litter, here are some of the main disadvantages of living in Ecuador.
Income inequality is one of the worst things about Ecuador. The wealth gap is quite significant in Ecuador, with approximately 26% of the population living in poverty. With a minimum wage of $400 per month, a large part of the population struggles to make ends meet.
While the minimum wage could be enough for one person with a minimalist lifestyle, lots of families have to live on the income provided by a sole earner, which translates into poverty for many of them.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, things were looking better for people in Ecuador, with fewer of them living in poverty when compared to the numbers from 10 years ago. Prior to 2020, the middle and upper middle class accounted for about 72% of the population in Ecuador, but there has been a decline in the middle-class as a result of the pandemic.
When it comes to the wealthy, they only account for 1.5% of the population in Ecuador, with the top 10% holding 50% of the country’s wealth. However, to put things into perspective, the top 10% of the United States population holds 68% of the country’s wealth, which translates into a greater wealth gap in the U.S. than in Ecuador.
Pickpocketing & Theft
Pickpocketing and theft are a rather common issue in Ecuador. From having your phone stolen to taxi robbery, travelers can encounter several safety concerns in Ecuador.
The good news is that with a little common sense and a few tips, it’s possible to prevent yourself from being a victim of theft.
Try always to pay attention to your surroundings and keep your belongings with you at all times. Keep your bags and pockets zipped at all times. You should also avoid putting your bags in the upper head bins or under the seat when you’re traveling by bus.
Keep your belongings close to you on public transport and never hand them to people who offer to stow them for you for “security.” They may be pretending to work for the bus company, but they’ll take your backpack, and you’ll never see it again. Another method employed by thieves is to slice open a bag placed underneath the seat to take valuables out, so it’s best to try and keep your bag on you at all times and invest in a cut-proof bag.
It’s also important to remember that there may be drug-related violence in some of the neighborhoods in major cities, so it’s always a good idea to know what to expect when you’re traveling to such neighborhoods. If you’re unsure about which neighborhoods are safe and which aren’t, either avoid unfamiliar areas or talk to the locals to find out where it’s safe to visit.
Price Gouging (Getting Gringoed)
If you’re wondering what “getting gringoed” means, it’s when you pay more than a local would for the same thing just because you’re an American (or any foreigner, for that matter). This typically happens in Ecuador because Americans are not used to negotiating, so they tend to pay the asking price, which is often higher than it should be.
Americans generally get gringoed in Ecuador in taxis, at the market, or when they hire a contractor to do some work on their home. To avoid it, make sure you ask what the price is upfront and remember that the culture in Ecuador is a negotiating one, so it’s ok to barter before you buy.
Ecuador can be really noisy at times, which may be something you’re not used to, depending on what country you’re from. There’s music on the beach, people have loud parties, and there are lots of fireworks to deal with.
But it’s not just Ecuadorians having fun that causes the noise — there’s also construction, honking horns, and even roosters. You may also expect announcements over the loudspeakers, church bells, car alarms — you name it.
Living in Ecuador typically means that you have to learn how to live with a lot of noise. It’s just a fact of life, so if you don’t think you’ll be able to cope with it, Ecuador, or Latin America in general, might not be the right place for you.
Street Dogs & Cats
Street dogs and cats are another thing that you need to get used to when you live in Ecuador. There are lots of dogs without collars on the streets, and it’s not always possible to tell whether they have a home or not. They’re generally friendly, but you can never tell for sure, so you may want to remain alert, especially if you notice large packs of dogs coming towards you.
Another issue with street cats and dogs in Ecuador is that people can’t always afford to take care of them properly, so many of the animals are underfed or have various health issues. Because people in Ecuador aren’t fans of neutering dogs, they end up with lots of puppies, which later become strays because they’re just too many of them to be kept as pets.
Some of the dogs you see on the streets in Ecuador are not strays and they go home at night. So even though they are in the street, they actually have a home and family somewhere. Most Ecuadorians have dogs for the purpose of property protection, so the relationship between dogs and humans is a bit different than what you might be used to.
While litter is not such a big problem in large cities where the public administration has crews that sweep up the trash regularly, that is not the case in smaller rural communities. Expect to encounter lots of litter and trash, especially plastic. There’s also a lot of trash on the side of the road in smaller cities and the surrounding areas.
Several new laws that ban single-use plastic are rolling out over the next three years, so you can expect to see a significant reduction in single-use plastic around the country. Many of the provisions in these laws are due to come into effect in 2021, so hopefully the streets of Ecuador are on track to becoming much cleaner in the near future.
Dark & Cloudy
Ecuador has multiple microclimates, but you should expect lots of dark and cloudy days from June through November. It’s not all dark and cloudy in all parts of the country at the same time, as the clouds are related to the geography of the country.
The Amazon rainforest is located in the eastern part of the country. It releases lots of moisture that evaporates, then gets condensed by the Andes Mountain range, which results in clouds, mostly in the high cities such as Quito and Cuenca. The climate is typically drier and sunnier in Salinas and Manta.
Are there TOO MANY bad things about living in Ecuador?
These are the main bad things about living in Ecuador that you should be aware of if you’re planning a trip or even consider moving. The people of Ecuador are amazing and welcoming, the country is indeed a beautiful one, but like most places in the world, there are some dark sides to it.
From income inequalities to lots of noise, you should be prepared for a bit of culture shock when you land in Ecuador. But getting to know and love the Ecuadorian people and their beautiful country is definitely worth it if you have an open mind and are willing to adapt.
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