Live Abroad Now Articles

These are the main articles on Live Abroad Now that will show you the way out.

How to Embrace a New Culture

Moving to a new country can be an exciting, but also overwhelming experience. One of the biggest challenges to foreigners is understanding the local culture and customs.

In this article, we will explore various ways to gain a better understanding of the local culture in different countries. From learning about traditional customs and norms to immersing yourself in the community, we will provide tips and resources to help you navigate your new home.

Learn About the Culture Before You Arrive

Before you even set foot in your new country, it’s a good idea to do some research on the local culture. This will give you a basic understanding of what to expect and help you prepare for the transition.

Look for information on the country’s history, customs, traditions, and etiquette. You can find this information in books, online articles, and travel guides and videos.

We did a lot of research online when planning our move to Ecuador.  We read blogs, watched videos, and followed the Ecuadorian news to learn more about the culture and current events in the country.

You can also reach out to expat groups, embassies, or other organizations that can provide more in-depth information.

Immerse Yourself in the Community

Once you arrive, the best way to gain a deeper understanding of the local culture is to immerse yourself in the community. Join local clubs, groups, or organizations that interest you. Attend cultural events, festivals, and celebrations. Volunteer for local causes to meet people from different backgrounds.

Amelia joined a dance group, we attended cooking classes in Spanish, attended lectures, parades, fairs and community events.  We met a lot of locals, learned a lot about the priorities and norms of the country, and made new friends.

Speak to locals and ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask if you don’t understand something. You may find this challenging  at first, especially if you are learning a new language, but try your best. We’ve found the people throughout Latin America to be welcoming, kind, helpful and patient.  Most people are happy and willing to help you!

Immersing ourselves  in the culture and engaging with the locals  helped us feel more confident and at home. You may feel a little uncomfortable or uncertain at first, but you’ll have a more rewarding experience by putting yourself out there and trying some new things, while having fun!

Learn the language

Learning the language of your new country is one of the most effective ways to gain a better understanding of the culture.

Not only will you be able to communicate with locals more effectively, but you’ll also be able to understand cultural references and idioms that might otherwise be lost on you.

Look for language classes in your area, or consider hiring a private tutor. Additionally, there are many online resources and apps available to help you learn a new language.

It’s also great to practice speaking the language with native speakers as it will give you a chance to learn the colloquial language which is different from the formal one. Find a language exchange to practice with other learners and meet new people.  We enjoyed attending the language exchange meetups hosted by the Young expat and English speakers Cuenca group, and you don’t have to be young to attend!

We  took group classes and private lessons.  We spoke as much Spanish as we could even though we felt so awkward and self conscious at first!  We  definitely struggled and we needed to use hand gestures to help explain our bad Spanish. We smiled a lot, laughed at ourselves a lot, and tried to be patient with ourselves. The locals were incredibly patient and helped us with pronunciation, corrected our sentences, and taught us the local sayings. We still mess up at times but it has gotten a lot easier.  Plus we are able to experience more because we don’t have the language barrier holding us back.

Respect the Culture

Remember, it’s important to respect the culture of your new home. Be mindful of local customs, traditions, and etiquette, and avoid making assumptions about how things are done in your home country.

Cultural differences can be a source of richness and diversity so try to approach them with an open mind. Being respectful and understanding of the culture will help you build a stronger relationship with locals and become a part of the community.

Understand Cultural Norms

Cultural norms are the unwritten rules of society that dictate how people should behave in certain situations. These norms can vary greatly from country to country, and it’s important to understand them in order to avoid any cultural faux pas.

For example, in some cultures, it’s considered rude to be direct and straightforward in conversations, while in others, it’s seen as a sign of respect.

In some cultures, it’s considered rude not to accept a gift, while in others, it’s considered rude to accept a gift too quickly. Being aware of these norms can also help you to avoid any misunderstandings and to communicate effectively with locals.

Understand Customs and Traditions

Customs and traditions are an important part of any culture and can be a fascinating way to understand the people and their history. Customs are the traditional practices of a culture, such as the way people greet each other, the way they dress, or the way they celebrate special occasions.

Traditions are the beliefs and practices passed down from generation to generation, such as religious beliefs or cultural festivals.

Understanding these customs and traditions can help you to appreciate the culture more and to participate in cultural activities.

For example, if you are living in a country that has a strong tradition of family and community, such as Ecuador, it’s good idea to participate in community events and in the holiday festivities.  It is also common for your Ecuadorian neighbors to invite you to their  home for a meal or coffee.  If they do, say yes! You don’t want to miss an opportunity to engage with locals and learn more about their lifestyles and traditions.

Embrace the Differences

Moving to a new country can be challenging, but it can also be an incredible opportunity to learn about new cultures and ways of life. Embrace the differences and try to see them as a way to grow and learn.

Remember that culture shock is normal and that it will take time to adjust. Be patient with yourself and with others. And most importantly, keep an open mind and a positive attitude. This will help you to adapt to the new culture and to make the most of your expat experience.

Conclusion

Gaining knowledge of the local culture is a vital aspect of being a foreign resident. To achieve this, you should research the culture before arriving, actively participate in the community, learn the language, and show respect for the culture. This will help you adapt to your new home and make the transition more comfortable and enjoyable.

Additionally, understanding cultural norms, customs, and traditions will help you navigate social situations and avoid any cultural faux pas. Embracing the differences will help you to adapt to the new culture and to make the most of your expat experience.

With patience and a positive attitude, you’ll be able to gain a deeper understanding of the local culture and truly call your new home your own.

This Video Might Interest You:


Planning a move to Ecuador?

The Ecuador Expat Now eCourse covers every step from A-to-Z! 

CLICK HERE

Get Qualified, Trustworthy Recommendations

Need help with your visa, finding a place to live, shipping a container, health insurance, private driver or something else?

We're happy to introduce you to our trusted and qualified relocation experts in Ecuador!

Amelia And JP NewsletterFREE Weekly Expat Newsletter

Sign-up for our FREE weekly newsletter and get immediate access to:

This newsletter covers things we don’t share ANYWHERE ELSE! You’ll get all sorts of timely information about Ecuador and global expat news that might affect your travel or move decisions.

Join Our Community!

Cuenca Ecuador ExpatsWe've assembled a supportive community of current and future expats who are eager to share their experiences, answer questions and offer encouragement as you embark on your move abroad.

Once you become a member, you'll also gain access to a variety of exclusive benefits that will help you make a smooth transition to your new life abroad! And you'll get more immediate access to Amelia And JP! 

How to Prepare Your Children for a Life Abroad

Enrolling in school abroad can be an exciting and rewarding experience for both children and parents. Not only does it provide a unique opportunity to learn about different cultures and ways of life, but it can also open up new academic and career opportunities.

However, the process of finding and applying to schools, understanding the education system, and preparing children for life in a different country can be overwhelming.

In this article, we will explore some tips and considerations for enrolling in school abroad to help make the transition as smooth as possible.

Finding and Applying to Schools

The first step in enrolling in school abroad is to research and find schools that are a good fit for your child’s needs and interests. You can start by looking at international schools, which typically offer curriculums and teaching methods that are similar to those in your home country. These schools are often a good choice for expat families because they provide a sense of familiarity and continuity for children. If you’re moving to Ecuador you’ll find excellent international schools in Quito, Cuenca, Manta and Salinas.

You can also look at local schools, which will provide a more authentic cultural experience but may have a different educational system. These schools are often a good choice if you are looking to fully immerse your children in the local culture and language.

When applying to schools abroad, it’s important to pay attention to the application deadlines and requirements. Some schools may require entrance exams, interviews, or additional documentation, so be sure to check this information well in advance.

Additionally, some schools may have a limited number of spots available for international students, so it’s important to apply as early as possible. You’ll also need to look into the tuition fees, as they can vary greatly between schools and countries.

Understanding the Education System

Each country has its own education system, and it’s important to understand the differences before enrolling in school abroad. Some countries may have a different school schedule, grading system, or curriculum than your home country.

It’s also worth researching the language of instruction, as some schools may teach in a different language than your child is used to.

You’ll need to understand the education system as much as possible and consider how it compares to the system in your home country to ensure that your child will be well prepared for their next step in education or career.

Preparing Children for Life in a Different Country

Moving to a different country can be a big adjustment for children, so you’ll want to prepare them as much as possible.

This includes helping them learn about the culture, customs, and language of the country they will be moving to.

It’s also a good idea to talk to your child about the expectations and challenges of living in a different country and how you will support them during the transition.

Involve your children in the planning and decision-making process, as it will help them feel more invested and excited about the move.

Another important point to consider is the social aspect of the move. Finding friends and building a social network can be challenging for children, especially if they don’t speak the language.

Look for extracurricular activities and clubs that align with your child’s interests, as it will provide them with opportunities to meet other children and make friends.

Additionally, it’s a good idea to look into local expat groups, as they can provide a sense of community and support for both children and parents.

You can find expat parenting groups on Facebook, such as Expat Parents in Cuenca and Expat Parents Quito. We also have a channel in our private chat community dedicated to parenting.

Conclusion

Enrolling in school abroad can be a great opportunity for children to learn about different cultures and ways of life, but it does require careful research, planning, and preparation.

By understanding the education system, researching and applying to schools, preparing children for life in a different country and focusing on building a social network, parents can ensure that the transition is as smooth as possible for their children.

It’s also important to remember that moving abroad is a journey, and it’s okay to have moments of uncertainty and difficulty.

It’s essential to stay positive and open-minded and to take advantage of all the opportunities that come with living in a new country. With patience and support, both children and parents can thrive in their new home abroad.

Watch this Related Video Next


Planning a move to Ecuador?

The Ecuador Expat Now eCourse covers every step from A-to-Z! 

CLICK HERE

Get Qualified, Trustworthy Recommendations

Need help with your visa, finding a place to live, shipping a container, health insurance, private driver or something else?

We're happy to introduce you to our trusted and qualified relocation experts in Ecuador!

Amelia And JP NewsletterFREE Weekly Expat Newsletter

Sign-up for our FREE weekly newsletter and get immediate access to:

This newsletter covers things we don’t share ANYWHERE ELSE! You’ll get all sorts of timely information about Ecuador and global expat news that might affect your travel or move decisions.

Join Our Community!

Cuenca Ecuador ExpatsWe've assembled a supportive community of current and future expats who are eager to share their experiences, answer questions and offer encouragement as you embark on your move abroad.

Once you become a member, you'll also gain access to a variety of exclusive benefits that will help you make a smooth transition to your new life abroad! And you'll get more immediate access to Amelia And JP! 

Medical Tourism: Escape The USA Healthcare Scam!

Healthcare and Health Insurance in the United States is a huge headache that can rightfully cause you a lot of distress. We know people who work jobs they hate or even delay retirement simply because they need health insurance. It doesn’t have to be that way!

Before we moved to Ecuador, JP had two surgeries on his back that ended up costing almost $1,000,000. After that, our health insurance premiums skyrocketed. It’s a familiar story, but we found a happy ending, going outside the States for our healthcare needs. 

We’ve compiled a list of the top 10 countries that have better health care at a fraction of the cost. Now you can plan your next medical procedure along with the trip of a lifetime! 

What is Medical Tourism? 

The concept of medical tourism may sound a little out there, but it’s becoming increasingly popular, and for good reason! In many of these locations, you can pay for a month long medical tourism trip and still spend less than you would to get the same procedure in the United States. 

Medical tourism companies can help you get connected with doctors and ensure you have everything you need, including the proper visas. Another option is to apply for permanent residency, allowing you to stay there and pay a lot less for your healthcare. Global health insurance is also available, and if you exclude the United States from the list of places you get treatment, it can be extremely affordable. 

Let’s jump in and look at our favorite places to get medical care! 

10. France

France is known for its high quality – but low cost – healthcare.  Every year, CEO world puts out a ranking of the top healthcare systems in the world, and this year France ranked number seven! 

There is even a specific healthcare system for foreigners called Protection Universelle Maladie (PUMA). It allows access to state healthcare after only three months of residence. If staying in France for three months isn’t quite what you’re looking for, you can also turn towards private or global health insurance to help cover the costs. 

If France sounds like the perfect place to get your medical problems dealt with, you’re not alone. Medical tourism is incredibly popular in the area. You can enjoy all the romance and beauty that is in France while getting the care you need. 

9. Spain 

If you’ve ever dreamed of living where they filmed spaghetti westerns or where delicious Spanish wine is made, you might want to consider medical tourism in Spain. CEO World ranked Spain number 8 on its list of healthcare systems. 

This country features both a public and private healthcare system. If you’re looking to use the public system, you’ll need to contribute income tax and social security, but there are extremely affordable options for private insurance. In fact, some of the prices are as low as what we pay in Ecuador! 

Spain is incredibly popular for medical tourists because of its beauty and culture, as well as the long-term options for visas. 

8. Czech Republic

Ranked number 14 by CEO World, we love the Czech Republic because of its excellent health care, multiple options for visas, and low cost of living.  They are known far and wide for their excellent universal healthcare. 

If you’re looking to become a permanent resident in the Czech Republic, you are required to get private health insurance. There are lots of English-speaking practitioners, and medical tourism is popular, so they will be familiar with your situation and know how to deal with it. 

One of the unique offerings in the Czech Republic is its spa designed specifically for cancer survivors

7. Portugal 

With their state-of-the-art facilities and significantly less expensive procedures, Portugal is very popular among medical tourists. CEO World ranked its healthcare number 22, and treatment there can cost between 50-30% of what it costs in the US. 

Public health insurance is available for both citizens and residents, so if you go there as an expat, you’ll have no trouble using their system. It’s almost free, paid for with taxes and social security. 

6. South Korea

South Korea was ranked number 1 by CEO World! It’s known for being safe and affordable, as well as having lots of things to do and see while visiting. That, combined with their available one-year medical visa, makes South Korea a very popular destination for medical tourism

We have heard from lots of friends that it’s a joy to live in South Korea as a foreigner, so this is one destination you won’t want to write off. 

5. Thailand

An excellent option for medical tourism, Thailand is ranked number 13 by CEO World. Thai hospitals are some of the best in the world, and the procedures cost a mere 10-20% of what you would pay in the US! 

Thailand is a popular destination for expats because of its exciting culture and low cost of living, so you may want to consider a longer-term visa. You never know if you might fall in love with the country! 

4. Malaysia

Even though CEO World ranked Malaysia number 34, the only ranking lower than the United States, we’ve done our research and believe that it’s a strong choice for your procedures. While the pandemic hit this healthcare system hard, they are back on track to returning as one of the top healthcare systems in the world. 

They’ve been putting a lot of effort into their medical tourism, which isn’t a surprise because their hospitals are top-notch and provide care for as little as 20% of the cost in the United States. Malaysia does have public healthcare that expats can access, but you’ll end up paying higher rates, so private health insurance is a great option – and not too expensive. 

You aren’t required to have health insurance in Malaysia at all, so if you want, you can pay out of pocket for procedures. 

3. Argentina 

Argentina is one of the best countries for healthcare in South America. CEO World rated it number 27 out of all the healthcare systems in the world. They have private health insurance that’s extremely affordable and just recently started to include medical marijuana. 

The healthcare costs are 60-70% cheaper than those in the States. There’s so much to experience in Argentina over your stay, and with a one-year medical visa available, you’ll have more than enough time to enjoy this country fully.  

2. Mexico 

A long-time favorite of medical tourists from America, Mexico is easy to get into and offers high-quality procedures at a fraction of the cost. Ranked number 29 by CEO World, Mexico’s healthcare system is 3–4 times less expensive than the US.

There are even hospitals all along the border that cater specifically to medical tourists! Many doctors got their training in the US, so they speak fluent English. There are both private and public insurance options, so no matter what, you’ll be able to find an option that works for you. 

1. Ecuador

It should come as no surprise that our favorite place to get healthcare outside the US is Ecuador! Ranked number 25 by CEO World, it came in five better than the States.  

Our costs here are so low we’re always shocked when we go to the doctor to get anything done. We have health insurance that covers both of us for only $192 a month (with JP’s pre-existing condition).

We haven’t had any major procedures done since coming to Ecuador, but we know people who have had cancer treatments, shoulder injuries, and heart surgeries that they were very happy with. In general, healthcare will cost a mere 25% of the cost in the States, and many doctors speak English. 

You will deal directly with the doctor right away; you won’t have to spend weeks or months just interacting with nurses or admin staff. So many people come here for dental tourism as well, and it is significantly cheaper even with travel. 

Bottom Line

Healthcare can be such a complicated and stressful thing to deal with. We hope that by making you aware of the options, we’ve opened your eyes to the whole world of possibilities available to you with medical tourism. Happy healthy travels!

Watch Our Video About Medical Tourism


Planning a move to Ecuador?

The Ecuador Expat Now eCourse covers every step from A-to-Z! 

CLICK HERE

Get Qualified, Trustworthy Recommendations

Need help with your visa, finding a place to live, shipping a container, health insurance, private driver or something else?

We're happy to introduce you to our trusted and qualified relocation experts in Ecuador!

Amelia And JP NewsletterFREE Weekly Expat Newsletter

Sign-up for our FREE weekly newsletter and get immediate access to:

This newsletter covers things we don’t share ANYWHERE ELSE! You’ll get all sorts of timely information about Ecuador and global expat news that might affect your travel or move decisions.

Join Our Community!

Cuenca Ecuador ExpatsWe've assembled a supportive community of current and future expats who are eager to share their experiences, answer questions and offer encouragement as you embark on your move abroad.

Once you become a member, you'll also gain access to a variety of exclusive benefits that will help you make a smooth transition to your new life abroad! And you'll get more immediate access to Amelia And JP! 

Building a Strong Social Network as an Expat

Introduction

Moving to a new country can be an exciting and enriching experience, but it can also be overwhelming and isolating at times.

One of the key ways to make the most of your time abroad and feel at home in your new community is to build a social network.

Building a social network can take time and effort, but it’s worth it in the long run. Having a strong network of friends and connections can provide support, companionship, and a sense of belonging in your new home.

In this article, we’ll explore some tips and strategies for building a social network as an expat in a new country.

Join Local Clubs and Organizations

Amelia Julio Axe Throwing Cuenca Ecuador

One of the easiest and most effective ways to meet new people and build a social network is to join local clubs and organizations.

These can be related to your passions and interests, such as sports, arts, volunteering, or your profession. By participating in these groups, you’ll be able to connect with like-minded people who share similar values and hobbies.

Amelia joined a dance troupe which really pushed her out of her comfort zone! She also took yoga classes and we both  joined a gym. These activities gave us other things to focus on and created a sense of normalcy. Plus we engaged with people from all over the world!

Joining a club or organization can also provide a sense of purpose and structure, and can help you feel more connected to your new community.

Attend Community Events

Another great way to meet new people and learn about local culture is to attend community events.

Many countries have a rich calendar of festivals, concerts, and other events, and participating in these is a great way to immerse yourself in the local community.

You might also consider hosting your own event, such as a potluck or game night, to bring people together and strengthen connections.

Attending events is a great way to meet new people and make friends, and can also help you learn more about the local culture and traditions.

Volunteer

Giving back to your community is a great way to meet new people and make a positive impact.

Look for volunteer opportunities through local non-profits or organizations, and consider finding ways to use your skills and expertise to make a difference.

When we lived in Olón, we organized a food fundraiser during the pandemic. Most of the locals depend on tourism for their income, so when the lockdowns happened, they went hungry. We met a lot of locals and other expats from all over the world and formed long-lasting friendships with them from this volunteer activity.

Volunteering can be a rewarding and meaningful way to build connections in your new home, and can also help you feel more connected to your community.

Take a Class

Whether you’re interested in learning a new language, taking up a new hobby, or improving your professional skills, taking a class is a great way to meet like-minded people.

Look for opportunities to learn something new and interesting, and you’ll be sure to find people with similar interests.

We took group Spanish classes in Cuenca where we met made a lot of friends while learning more about the city and the culture. It was a great way to connect with other people who had just moved to the area. We also went to language exchange meetups where we met locals and foreigners.

Taking a class can also provide a sense of structure and purpose, and can help you feel more engaged and connected in your new home.

Use Social Media

While it’s important to make real-life connections, social media can be a helpful tool for finding and connecting with other expats in your new country.

We have a vibrant community of current and future expats on our private Discord Server who not only support each other online, but also organize activities and meetups offline. Some have even started dating!

Join groups related to your interests and use social media to stay connected with friends and events. Just be sure to balance your online interactions with in-person ones, and remember that social media is only one part of building a social network.

Be Open and Friendly

Unconventionals

Finally, remember that building a social network is all about being open and friendly. Don’t be afraid to initiate conversations or invite others to join you in activities.

When we first moved to Cuenca we stayed in Apartamentos Otorongo where we met a lot of residents who had just moved from the U.S. like us.  We all shared information, went out to eat, played cards, and became good friends.  We also commiserated at times about the cultural differences and some of the difficulties we were having with Spanish.  We appreciated have others who had similar experiences and understood our feelings.

The more you put yourself out there, the more likely you are to build meaningful connections in your new home. Be genuine and authentic, and you’ll find that people are more likely to respond positively and want to get to know you better.

Building a social network can be intimidating at times, but don’t be afraid to reach out and make the first move. Remember that everyone is looking to make friends and build connections, and by being open and friendly, you’ll be more likely to make lasting friendships.

Also, be patient. Building a social network takes time, and it may take a while to find people you really connect with. Be persistent and keep trying, and eventually you’ll build a strong and supportive network of friends and connections in your new home.”

Conclusion

Building a social network as an expat can be challenging, but it’s also a rewarding and enriching experience. By following these tips and strategies, you’ll be well on your way to making new friends and feeling at home in your new community.

Remember to be open and friendly, and to take advantage of the many opportunities available to connect with others. With a little effort, you’ll be able to build a strong and supportive social network in your new home.


Planning a move to Ecuador?

The Ecuador Expat Now eCourse covers every step from A-to-Z! 

CLICK HERE

Get Qualified, Trustworthy Recommendations

Need help with your visa, finding a place to live, shipping a container, health insurance, private driver or something else?

We're happy to introduce you to our trusted and qualified relocation experts in Ecuador!

Amelia And JP NewsletterFREE Weekly Expat Newsletter

Sign-up for our FREE weekly newsletter and get immediate access to:

This newsletter covers things we don’t share ANYWHERE ELSE! You’ll get all sorts of timely information about Ecuador and global expat news that might affect your travel or move decisions.

Join Our Community!

Cuenca Ecuador ExpatsWe've assembled a supportive community of current and future expats who are eager to share their experiences, answer questions and offer encouragement as you embark on your move abroad.

Once you become a member, you'll also gain access to a variety of exclusive benefits that will help you make a smooth transition to your new life abroad! And you'll get more immediate access to Amelia And JP! 

10 Reasons Ecuadorians Leave (And Why it Shouldn’t Deter You)

Immigrating to a new country takes a lot of time and thought, so of course, you want to be sure that the place you’re moving to is just right. Many would-be expats interested in starting a new life in Ecuador look at the immigration statistics and see that lots of Ecuadorians are leaving their country. This can be troubling.

We know that the cost of living in Ecuador is low, the weather is great, and the culture is beautiful. So the question remains, why are Ecuadorians leaving, and should it deter you from settling down in the country? 

We’re going to take you through some of the most common reasons people leave Ecuador, and hopefully, you’ll see that it’s not as foreign as you might expect. 

10. Better Education for Their Children

The public education system in Ecuador is indeed lacking. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t any good schools here. There are many thriving international and private schools, but these can be more expensive.

While wealthier Ecuadorian families may send their children to these specialized private schools, many middle- and working-class Ecuadorians cannot afford the tuition. So, for these parents, finding a better educational opportunity for their children is one of the main reasons they leave Ecuador.

9. Studying Abroad

Many Ecuadorian students choose to leave the country for their higher education. This is because they want to be exposed to new cultures and ideas, and they feel that they can get a better education elsewhere.

You’ll find many doctors, engineers, architects, and even musicians who went abroad to get more specialized training in other countries. While some of these students stay in the countries their schools are in, many of them return to Ecuador to start up their businesses and practices.

8. Visiting Family in Other Countries

This is a big one. Because so many Ecuadorians have family members living in other countries (the U.S., Spain, Italy, Argentina, etc.), they often choose to leave Ecuador for extended visits with loved ones. This is especially common among the older generations of Ecuadorians who have children and grandchildren living abroad.

7. Healthcare

There is a misconception, even among Ecuadorians themselves, that their healthcare system is not up to par with developed countries. Much like with schooling, while the public healthcare system can struggle with funding and doctors, the private system is fantastic. 

Private healthcare here is easy to navigate, affordable, and has exceptionally well-educated professionals working within it. While experimental treatments are often more easily accessible in places like the United States, regular everyday healthcare in Ecuador shines. 

The doctors are not as quick to prescribe drugs when lifestyle changes will do the job, and you can have access to prescription medications that might not be available in the United States.

6. Concerns About Corruption

Many people in Ecuador are concerned about corruption and political instability within their country and believe that it will be better somewhere else. However, there is corruption all over the world.

Living in a different country can protect you from these concerns because you don’t have the historical baggage that comes from being born and raised in a country and knowing the ins and outs of every issue. 

In fact, when people we talk to describe corruption within the government, it’s often similar to how lobbying operates in the United States.

5. Increase in Crime

Unfortunately, over the past few years, Ecuador has seen an increase in crime. This is likely due to a variety of reasons, including the current economic situation and political instability. While petty crime such as pickpocketing and bag-snatching is common, there have also been reports of more serious crimes such as home invasions and robberies. There’s also been an increase in drug cartel and gang activity which is worrisome to Ecuadorians. 

 Of course, this isn’t to say that crime doesn’t happen in other countries – it does. But for many Ecuadorians, the increase in crime is one of the main reasons they’ve decided to leave.

4. A Desire to Experience Other Cultures

For some Ecuadorians, living in their home country can feel a bit like being in a bubble. Sure, there are different cultures within the country, but many people never get the chance to experience life outside of Ecuador. 

Additionally, travel can be expensive and time-consuming from Ecuador. So, for some people, leaving the country is simply a way to open up their world and learn about new cultures.

3. A New Adventure

This is similar to wanting to experience a new culture; however, some people have been bit by the adventure bug. If it’s cycling, skiing, or rock climbing, some Ecuadorians leave to get closer to their ideal adventure locations. 

These people may not move abroad, but they certainly spend quite a bit of time abroad, sometimes taking several months off from work to experience the world. While this is a foreign concept to many Americans, it’s common practice in Europe, and in many other parts of the world

2. Learn a New Language or Improve Their English

While some people might leave Ecuador to learn a new language, others do it to improve their English. In a globalized economy, being bilingual or trilingual is seen as an asset. 

Many Ecuadorians who want to work in international companies or pursue careers in fields like medicine or law know that they must brush up on their English before being competitive in the job market.

1. Better Economic Opportunities

While the cost of living in Ecuador is quite low, that can also translate to lower wages. For many Ecuadorians, leaving the country is a great way to find work that will allow them to send large amounts of money back home.

There are also quite a few entrepreneurs in Ecuador, and they will leave to make money that they can use to build a business when they return.

The Great Return

In recent years we’ve seen a big increase in people moving back to Ecuador after spending time abroad. Many of them move home for the same reasons that you would want to settle down in Ecuador. There’s a lower cost of living, the culture is rich and exciting, and the people are kind. 

There is also the added bonus of returning to families and having less discrimination than they may receive as an immigrant. 

There are lots of misconceptions about all Ecuadorians being illegal immigrants, but in reality, there are many more people who can legally move to other countries. 

Conclusion

To sum it up, Ecuadorians leave Ecuador and move back to Ecuador for the same reasons everyone leaves their home country or moves back to it. People are the same everywhere, so the fact that many Equadorians are becoming expats should not prevent you from living the dream along the equator.

Watch Why Ecuadorians are Leaving Ecuador


Planning a move to Ecuador?

The Ecuador Expat Now eCourse covers every step from A-to-Z! 

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Cuenca Ecuador ExpatsWe've assembled a supportive community of current and future expats who are eager to share their experiences, answer questions and offer encouragement as you embark on your move abroad.

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48 Hours In Cuenca Ecuador: The BEST Itinerary to Experience the Gem of Ecuador

We were so excited to be able to return to one of the most beautiful and vibrant cities in the world, Cuenca Ecuador. There’s so much to do, and we were able to pack a lot into 2 days.

If you’re lucky enough to be visiting Cuenca for a few days and want to make the most of your time, here’s an out-of-this-world itinerary to experience the breadth of the city in just 48 hours!

Day One

Birding in Parque Paraíso

Thousands of bird enthusiasts flock to Ecuador every year to experience the unique and thriving bird population. With over 1650 species of birds (including 132 types of hummingbirds) we have the highest density of birds in the world!

Our guide Carlos was so knowledgeable, and with his help, we were able to spot over 20 different species of bird in just 2 hours. Even if you aren’t usually interested in bird watching, seeing so many hummingbirds and waterfowl in one place was an invigorating experience that you won’t want to miss!

Tipping Your Hat at El Museo del Sombrero de Paja Toquilla

This museum is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Cuenca, and it’s clear why. Not only were we able to learn all about the history of the Panama hat, but we were able to get our own custom hats to take on the rest of our adventures!

Although the straw hats are named for Panama, they were worn by the indigenous people of Ecuador for hundreds of years before making their way north in the early 1800s. Popular during the California gold rush, Panama hats gained international fame when President Theodore Roosevelt wore one on his visit to the construction site of the Panama Canal.

While the history and behind-the-scenes tour is fascinating, one of the most memorable parts of this museum is the store. There’s a plethora of unique, handmade Panama hats for you to explore, and what’s more, they’re all completely customizable.

If you want a hat resized, fitted with a new band, or made completely from scratch, they’re able to provide whatever alterations you desire. It’s a bit like the Willy Wonka factory of hats!

While you wait for your hat to be made perfect, you can enjoy the café upstairs, complete with one of the most incredible views in the city.

Visit Diverse Markets like Casa Yangoe

If you know us, you know how much we love organic produce. That’s why we couldn’t miss the new market right near the hat museum. Casa Yangoe featured fresh fruits and vegetables, sourdough bread, handmade indigenous clothing, and of course Ecuadorian chocolate.

Explore Culinary Delights at Restaurants like LaMaria Cocina Libre

We consider Cuenca to be the culinary capital of Ecuador, so if you’re only visiting for a short time, tasting the local food is a must. LaMaria was an excellent choice for us because it was born as a tribute to the women who worked to protect Ecuadorian culinary traditions.

The menu featured a variety of gourmet traditional dishes including veggie ceviche, avocado, corn tacos, and more.

Experience the Wild Side at Prohibido Centro Cultural

With so many museums to choose from in Cuenca, it’s fun to get a bit off the beaten path and explore something more macabre. Prohibido Centro Cultural is an extreme art gallery that showcases the dark side of the city’s artistic imagination.

Eduardo Moscoso was constantly at odds with the more conservative town leadership of Cuenca before founding this museum. It feels a little like a haunted house, with depictions of demons, skulls, and destruction. The museum is small but packs quite the punch.

Cleanse Your Artistic Pallet At La Lira

If darker art isn’t your thing, right next door is a more traditional art gallery. La Lira features different artists every couple of months, so it always has something new to see. They also host poetry and book readings along with live music performances.

Walk Along History in the El Vado Neighborhood

This might just be the most significant point of interest in Cuenca because without it the city might not exist at all. El Vado was the first neighborhood created by the Spanish in 1557. The original residents had to wade across the Tomebamba river to enter the city, leading to the name El Vado, which translates to “the ford.”

The area also features a beautiful Palo Ensebado sculpture depicting a traditional game involving climbing a pole to get prizes. This is a great way to see the vibrant culture year-round.

Day Two

Be Transported to the Incan Empire at Pumapungo

This free museum holds stunning artifacts from the ancient Inca Empire. Clay pots, ancient tools, art, and even shrunken heads abound!

While the inside of the museum is, of course, a joy, our favorite thing to do is walk around the grounds. They feature ruins from the 1400s, and if you’re lucky you might spot some llamas on the hills.

Let Your Cares Wash Away At Piedra de Agua

Just 15 minutes from El Centro is THE best spa in South and Central America. Piedra de Agua won the title just this year after opening in 2008. Enjoy thermal pools, mud baths, and delicious food and refreshments surrounded by breathtaking nature.

The hot water used at this spa comes from a spring that’s 4000 meters deep. They have food to cater to any dietary restrictions, so long as you call ahead and let them know.

We were able to enjoy the cave experience in a romantic underground area just for us. With various spa treatments and Champagne flowing, it was a one-of-a-kind experience that we will not soon forget.

Beyond the 48

There’s truly so much to do in Cuenca, this guide only scratched the surface. We have other guides to fill out your itinerary if you have more time.

From the New Cathedral to San Francisco Plaza, there’s always more beauty and culture to take in. And of course, you can’t miss the world-famous Cuenca flower market.

We recommend budgeting a full week to take in all this amazing city has to offer.

Conclusion

While two days may not feel like a lot of time to experience the culture and beauty of one of Ecuador’s oldest cities, if you know what you’re looking for you’re sure to experience something unique and exciting.

From breathtaking views to shrunken heads to underground spas, there’s an adventure around every corner. We know once your time is done, you’ll be jumping at the chance to spend another 48 hours in Cuenca!

Watch the 48 Hours In Cuenca Video


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WHY EXPATS LOVE COTACACHI ECUADOR (mostly)

Cotacachi, Ecuador, is one of the most popular cities in Ecuador among expats. It’s a small, slowly growing and developing town in the Andes Mountains gaining popularity for its rich culture, climate, low cost of living, and scenic beauty.

Tucked between Volcan Cotacachi and Volcan Imbabura mountains, Cotacachi, Ecuador, is the ideal expat destination for several reasons. Individuals and families looking to enjoy the pleasures of small-town life will love this location.

If you are wondering whether you should retire or move to Cotacachi, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of this town to help you make an informed decision regarding your new life abroad.

Pros of Visiting/ Moving to Cotacachi, Ecuador

Also called the “City of Peace,” Cotacachi, Ecuador offers tranquility and serenity at its best. Here are some advantages of moving to a small, hidden town with a casual, low-key reputation.

1. Affordable

Ecuador is a generally affordable country with a low cost of living. Affordability is particularly at a peak in smaller towns, including Cotacachi. It is the perfect location for expats and retirees on a budget.

For example, the pleasant year-round weather in Cotacachi, Ecuador, eliminates the expense of a heating system in the house. That way, you can save money on your electricity bills. Similarly, you can buy locally-grown produce at mercados to avoid expensive grocery shopping.

Although monthly expenses largely depend on personal needs, managing finances in Cotacachi is not usually a struggle for expats. You can enjoy the scenic paradise on a low budget for the rest of your life, living a dream.

While everything is budget-friendly in this Ecuador town, real estate is the most significant variable. The housing may be expensive, though you can easily find affordable apartments and homes for your family. For instance, local builders offer appealing condos and houses for foreign retirees and expats.

2. Lots of Restaurants

While many expats overlook this consideration, understanding the importance of cuisine is essential. You cannot enjoy your time in a country that does not offer a variety of food. Ecuador is diverse when it comes to cuisine.

Throughout Cotacachi, you can find a vast variety of local and international cuisine. The town’s expat community cannot stop raving about their love for Cotacachi’s ethnic restaurants serving cheap and delectable food.

Many restaurants, like Vandanam Indian, have a “menu del dia” or “almuerzo”  consisting of a  salad, soup, main course, dessert, and beverage. Eateries in Cotacachi, Ecuador, are almost cheaper than cooking at home.

There are also cozy cafes and coffee places like Rio Intag Café, Red Rabbit Coffee Lounge, and Café Roma offer welcoming spots to relax and hang out with friends or family.

3. Fun and Exciting Activities

Cotacachi, Ecuador, maybe a small town, but it offers a lot to visitors, expats, and retirees.

Even with its slow pace and relaxed vibes, the town does not disappoint social and outgoing people. Cotacachi may be the ideal location for such people. Making friends and having a fun and exciting time are easy tasks here. While the locals make great friends, you can join expat meet-ups to interact with people with similar stories.

Festivals and parades occur throughout the year, and expats can participate alone or with their family/ friends. If you like exploring new places, Cotacachi offers plenty of fun day trips you can choose from. Similarly, you can indulge in physical activity by hiking around the rim.

Bird watching is another popular activity in Cotacachi, Ecuador, while you can also try photography at horse processions and other events.

4. Safe

Cotacachi, Ecuador, is home to several hundred expats. Each expat can vouch for the town’s safety, among other benefits. The crime rate is generally low, even at night. Cotacachi’s people are not a late-night community, reducing the risk of petty crimes like snatching and theft.

The little mountain village has a population of 9,000, and approximately 45 indigenous communities live in the surrounding countryside areas. Unlike other expat locations in Ecuador, over half of the Cotacachi population is indigenous. That is another reason why people are friendly and caring.

5. Shopping Opportunities

You will love Cotacachi if you are an outgoing person who enjoys shopping. Cotacachi offers many shopping opportunities for visitors, locals, and expats/ retirees.

This Ecuadorian expat location has everything from affordable groceries to high-end goods. For example, Sunday is a market day in the mountain village when you can find various items, including fresh vegetables and fruits, flowers, and ground spices. There is a weekly organic market that is excellent for fresh produce.

In addition, the local stores are full of great-value products, including shoes, garments, woven baskets, etc. The mercado and Otavalo Market are ideal places to find affordable and quality products. You can also find high-end textiles from local artisans to decorate your new home as an expat. There are also small mom-and-pop stores scattered throughout the town.

What else? ATMs are easily accessible!

6. Large Expat Community

The entire country of Ecuador has become an expat magnet in recent years. While several Ecuadorian towns are home to many foreign retirees and expats, Cotacachi has one of largest expat populations.

The town in the Northern Sierra’s central location has a very active expat community. Foreigners continue to pick Cotacachi for relocation, given its fantastic benefits. The low living costs, scenic landscape, and pleasant climate are a few of the top reasons expats choose to locate here.

Cotacachi is excellent if you want to minimize cultural shock and make your move as smooth as possible. The welcoming expat community will ensure a comfortable transition, helping you adjust and settle quickly.

Not to mention, a large expat community means you can find many people who speak English.

7. Beautiful and Clean

Cotacachi is true to its reputation of being a beautiful and clean Ecuadorian town. You will never find the peaceful village’s plazas dirty; they are always kept tidy. That may be why you will not find any pesky insects in the town.

While the clean buildings and streets are compelling, the fresh air keeps expats flocking to Cotacachi. Families enjoy the cool and crisp air, sitting amidst an abundance of palm and eucalyptus trees. Given the stunning scenery and perfect weather, it may be the cleanest and most scenic town in Ecuador.

What is the best part? Two majestic mountain ranges flank Cotacachi, and you can see several volcanoes, including Volcan Pichincha and Volcan Cotacachi. The clean environment calls for different bird species to make homes in the town. The birds add to Cotacachi’s natural beauty.

8. Easy to Get Around

Cotacachi’s clean weather makes it an excellent place in terms of health, but the greenery and fresh air are not the only things that can help improve your health. Cotacachi is a walkable town, thanks to its small size, clean streets and roads, and safety.

Whether it is grocery shopping, meet-ups with friends, or errands, you can walk to the location. Many Cotacachi expats and visitors lose excess weight only after a few months in the town.

That said, Cotacachi also offers reliable transport, including plenty of buses and taxis. Traveling around and outside the mountain village is easy- it only takes ten minutes to go to the Otavalo commercial area and one-and-a-half hours to reach the Quito airport!

Cons of Visiting/ Moving to Cotacachi, Ecuador

Cotacachi, Ecuador, is the perfect expat destination if you enjoy the natural beauty and a casual, laid-back lifestyle. The Ecuadorian town is also safe, easy to get around, and offers many activities.

However, you might not like a few things about Cotacachi. Here are a few advantages of relocating to Cotacachi, Ecuador.

1. High Elevation

You probably love mountain living if you enjoy peace and quiet. However, not everyone prefers making a home in a town at a high altitude. Although the untouched nature of a mountainous area may want you to live there forever, it has drawbacks.

Cotacachi, Ecuador, is situated at 2400 meters/ 7900 feet above sea level. You must be prepared to experience an entirely different life if you plan to move here from a sea-level city. For example, mountain living presents accessibility difficulties. You may not be able to find many amenities usually available in cities.

2. Chilly Weather

A higher altitude means thin hair, which leads to a cooler atmosphere. While many people love the cooler air in a mountainous area, they may not prefer it for a lifetime.

Besides the cold, the mountain village is often cloudy and rainy throughout the year. Cotacachi’s elevation can cause altitude sickness and unfortunately you probably won’t know if it will affect you until you are there.

3. Limited Medical Services

Excellent healthcare is among the most critical things people look for in an expat destination. Like most small mountain towns, medical services are basic in Cotacachi, Ecuador. At most, you will find an IESS hospital and a small private clinic in the town.

4. Small Town

Cotacachi is a small Ecuadorian town, which some people may find unappealing. Although it is still bigger than Olón, Cotacachi is smaller than other cities.

Small-town life can make many individuals and families feel isolated. They may feel cut out or too far from the rest of the world. Additionally, small areas can create more opportunities for conflicts, rumors, etc.

Bottom Line

Lately, Cotacachi has seen an influx of foreigners, including visitors and expats/ retirees. More people are picking the village town to relocate, for several reasons. Although small, Cotacachi has a lot to offer for expats. It is affordable, allowing expats to enjoy a comfortable life at a low price.

Additionally, the Ecuadorian town is beautiful and clean- precisely what a nature-loving expat individual or family might want! What else? You will find reliable transport, excellent shopping opportunities, and a large expat community in Cotacachi.

Lastly, the town is also incredibly safe, with a low crime rate. Cotacachi, Ecuador, also offers a lot to do in the town!


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Top 10 Expat Countries for 2022, According to InterNations

Are you planning to move abroad to enhance your quality of life? The process is complicated and you have several things to consider before you take the leap.

Your first and most difficult decision is to decide where you want to live. To help people who are planning their move abroad, InterNations asked 12,000 expats in 181 countries what they thought about their home away from home. So in this article you’ll learn about the top 10 expat countries for 2022 according to the people who already live abroad.

Top 10 Expat Countries

InterNations ranked the top 10 based on several factors: work opportunities, ease of settling in, quality of life, health, safety, culture, locals, climate, cost of living, and language.

As you read through these countries, keep in mind that the respondents are from a variety of demographics, including younger people who work overseas. Some of these countries may not be the best places to retire, but they may be great places to live and work.

10. Singapore

Although Singapore is generally an expensive country with a high cost of living, the destination offers exceptional perks for expats. Besides being one of the cleanest locations, it offers excellent housing options. Expats can get a mortgage or rent a home; remember that property and rentals may be expensive.

The small island country of Singapore is ranked #9 on the Global Peace Index, suggesting that it is safe. According to the CEO ranking, it is  #19 on the Quality of Life Index, so you can expect a  good time living in Singapore.

What are some of the best things about expat life in Singapore? You can benefit from fantastic healthcare facilities. With the #24 ranking on the CEO Healthcare Index, Singapore offers universal healthcare- among the best in the world.

Furthermore, expats vouch for Singapore’s excellent education and reliable transport.

9. Australia

Australia has a strong economy, but the country is quite expensive. Nevertheless, Adelaide, Perth, Melbourne, and Sydney make excellent expat locations.

Why? English is widely spoken throughout the country, so you do not have to worry about a language barrier. The cultural shock is also less than in many other countries, though you may feel isolated as Australia is quite far. With a #27 Global Peace Index, the country is incredibly safe for locals and expats.

Besides excellent education, Australia offers various sports and job opportunities that make it enticing for young expats. Not to mention, the quality of life is excellent in this nature lover’s paradise, with a laidback lifestyle. Furthermore, Australia is ranked #6 for healthcare, eliminating that concern.

8. Thailand

Thailand’s tourism is known worldwide and it is among the world’s most visited countries. Tourists flock to the country for its rich culture, exciting history, and well-developed modern buildings. Besides attracting vacationers, Thailand offers fantastic benefits for expats.

Locations like Chiang Mai, Phuket, and Bangkok are popular with expats for several reasons. Thailand is affordable, beautiful, and safe! It ranked #38 on the Quality of Life Index 2021 and #103 on the Global Peace Index.

Besides having a low cost of living and crime rate, Thailand boasts stunning mountain ranges and beaches. What else? The country offers excellent healthcare, ranking #13 on CEO Healthcare Index. Not to forget, Thai cuisine is loved among expats.

7. Vietnam

It may not be as popular a country, but Vietnam is great for expats looking to move abroad. Whether you are a young individual or a retiree with kids, this country will not disappoint.

Vietnam has a sizeable expat community of close to 100k. However, more expats are choosing it, thanks to the excellent advantages. While it has a lot to offer, the low cost of living in the growing economy should be compelling enough. The best part is that you can find incredible luxury rentals at super-affordable rates.

What else? Vietnam has an exceptionally low crime rate- ranked #44 on Global Peace Index. It is generally safe, so you can rest assured that residing in the country will not risk your family’s safety. Vietnam’s healthcare is also reasonably good; it ranks #66 on CEO Healthcare Index.

6. United Arab Emirates- UAE

The United Arab Emirates comprises seven emirates, with Dubai and Abu Dhabi being the most popular. It is among the top expat locations regarding the diverse people in the UAE expat community.

No income tax policy and a wide range of job opportunities are the primary reasons expats prefer the UAE. Although the cost of living is high in these emirates, the incredible cities with stunning infrastructure and beaches make them worth moving in.

While Arabic is the primary language in UAE, nearly everyone, including locals and expats, speaks English as a communication medium. Most expats do not experience much of a cultural shock, though the UAE is quite conservative as it is an Islamic state.

Although extremely family-friendly, women’s rights may be restrictive. Additionally, you must dress modestly in public in all UAE, with each emirate having its laws. For instance, Sharjah bans mingling with individuals of the opposite gender unless you are married to them.

Nevertheless, UAE offers excellent education, safety, and healthcare, among other benefits. It ranks #60 on the Global Peace Index and #20 for healthcare according to CEO World.

5. Spain

Are you an expat looking to move to a country with a laid-back vibe? Spain should be your number-one choice; it offers several incredible benefits for expats!

The European country is known for its rich culture and history, modern cities with a stunning infrastructure, and beautiful natural attractions. Every year, many tourists flock to Spain to have a relaxing vacation.

That said, Spain is just as popular among expats, and rightfully so. The country is ranked high on the Quality of Life Index, coming in at #20, and it is ranked extremely high for health care; CEO World ranks it #8.  Though petty crimes may be a problem, it is a highly safe country. It ranks #29 on the Global Peace Index. Spain boasts pleasant year-round weather, with lots of sun. While it can get dry and hot during the summers, expats enjoy the warm climate.

It is affordable, with popular locations like Barcelona and Madrid comparatively expensive. While it offers many benefits, the language barrier can pose difficulty as English is not as widely spoken.

4. Portugal

Besides being a popular tourist location, Portugal is excellent for relocating. Expats love the country for its friendly environment and locals, rich culture and culture, and great food and wine. It is incredibly family-friendly; perfect for expat couples with kids.

The country is affordable and has a generally low cost of living, though the energy costs have increased in recent years. The housing options may also be a little expensive in popular expat areas.

The high rates are mainly due to the increasing demand for rentals in these locations. Therefore, you might want to avoid homes in areas like Porto and Lisbon. Coimbra, Viseu, and Braga are the more affordable options.

Additionally, Portugal has a low crime rate, ranking #6 on the Global Peace Index. Not to mention, the country offers good healthcare for its residents; it ranked #22 on CEO Healthcare Index.

3. Taiwan

InterNations ranked Taiwan third out of ten expat countries for its excellent benefits and facilities.

New Taipei City, Taoyuan, and Kaohsiung are most preferred by individuals and families looking to relocate, with Taipei topping the list. A large number of English speakers is one of the significant reasons for Taipei’s popularity among expats.

Apart from the language ease, Taiwan is known for its friendly locals who never fail to make expats feel welcomed. The locals are incredibly accepting of Westerners, so you do not need to worry about adjusting.

Taiwan is generally safe for locals, expats, and visitors, ranking #20 on the Global Peace Index. The country ranked #15 on the Quality of Life 2021 Index, thanks to the solid infrastructure, reliable transport, and affordability.

What is the best part? Taiwan ranks number #2 on Healthcare Index- promising medical help for everyone!

2. Indonesia

Interestingly, Indonesia is the world’s largest archipelago, comprising an extensive group of five major and thirty smaller islands.

Thanks to Indonesia’s excellent nightlife, stunning landscape, shopping opportunities, and rich culture, it is popular among tourists and expats. Who would want to miss the world-famous beaches and volcanoes, after all? Not to mention, Indonesia has a lot to do, you will love the exciting activities on the diverse islands!

Currently, Indonesia has a reasonably large community of 350k expats. The country is highly affordable, having an incredibly low cost of living. Jakarta is among the cheapest cities, perfect for expats. The huge cities boast a busy yet laidback lifestyle, and you will find significant cultural diversity.

Safety is not an issue in Indonesia, as it is generally pretty safe- ranked #47 on the Global Peace Index. Healthcare ranks #52 on Healthcare Index, though medical facilities are quickly improving.

UPDATE:  Indonesia just passed some restrictive laws that apply to citizens, residents, and tourists limiting personal freedoms and freedom of speech.

1. Mexico

InterNations ranked Mexico as the number 1 expat country for many reasons. However, the proximity to the US and the American lifestyle remain on top of the list.

While it is excellent for expats from all across the world, Mexico is particularly great for Americans looking to move abroad. The best part about relocating to Mexico from the US is the significantly low cost of living. The country is much more affordable than many parts of the US.

You can choose from multiple expat-friendly cities for relocation, including Mexico City, Puerto Vallarta, Playa Del Carmen, Chapala, Merida, La Paz, and more. Mexico has a rich culture and boasts many attractions and activities. For example, you can find excellent beach destinations in the country. Not to mention, the weather is fabulous and Mexican cuisine never disappoints.

Besides, Mexico ranked #46 on the Quality of Life 2021 Index. What else? It isn’t ranked as high for safety, ranking #137 on Global Peace Index, but many areas in the country are generally safe.  And the healthcare is very good- ranked #29 on Healthcare Index.

Bottom Line

We hope the above list helped you narrow your expat destination options. You can pick one of the top ten expat countries listed by the InterNations, according to your preferences. Most options have a low cost of living and offer incredible benefits for expats.


Planning a move to Ecuador?

The Ecuador Expat Now eCourse covers every step from A-to-Z! 

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This newsletter covers things we don’t share ANYWHERE ELSE! You’ll get all sorts of timely information about Ecuador and global expat news that might affect your travel or move decisions.

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Cuenca Ecuador ExpatsWe've assembled a supportive community of current and future expats who are eager to share their experiences, answer questions and offer encouragement as you embark on your move abroad.

Once you become a member, you'll also gain access to a variety of exclusive benefits that will help you make a smooth transition to your new life abroad! And you'll get more immediate access to Amelia And JP! 

Reverse Culture Shock: 22 Wild Things That Took Us by Surprise in America

They say that distance makes the heart grow fonder, and after 5 years of living in Ecuador, we were prepared for a huge dose of nostalgia going back to the United States. However, there were a lot of things about the US that felt really foreign to us!

Here are some of the most shocking (and sometimes hilarious) things that required some readjustment. Number 22 had us laughing out loud!

 1. Extreme Heat

During our time in the US, the temperatures soared to 105F. While not a cultural issue, it was a huge adjustment for us as the weather in Ecuador is reliably temperate. It rarely goes above 75F / 24C, and there isn’t much fluctuation between seasons.

Hanging out all day in the air conditioning with its dry air certainly took getting used to, and we’re thrilled to be back in the cool Ecuadorian climate.

 2. Drug Ads

It was impossible to go a day without seeing an ad for a drug or medication. They are all over the television and on billboards. After three years without these showing up, it was a bit of a shock to hear all the side effects listed off, especially DEATH!

 3. Fancy Highways and Bridges

Driving around in Ecuador, you become accustomed to having two-lane roads. You’ll find a few with four lanes, but nothing like the infrastructure you see in the US. Navigating the huge looping bridges and highways was a big change, but seeing all that architecture and engineering blew us away.

 4. Driving Everywhere

Speaking of highways, we spent a lot of our time in the US driving from one place to another. We’re spoiled in Ecuador with it being so walkable. It would be physically impossible to get things done in the US without a vehicle of some kind.

 5. Rushing Around

When so much of your day is spent in the vehicle, it can be hard to find time to make a meal or slow down. There’s always an energy of “I have somewhere to be,” which isn’t common in Ecuador.

 6. Gas Is Expensive

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In Ecuador, we don’t need a car, so gas prices have been the furthest thing from our minds. Even if we did need fuel though, gas prices are regulated in Ecuador, so they never get too high. That’s not the case in the US. We found ourselves spending three times our monthly transportation budget in just a week, all because of the ridiculous price of gas.

 7. Limited Public Transportation

We see so many buses and taxis on the roads in Ecuador that they feel like part of the scenery. On the off chance that something is too far away to walk, there’s a plethora of public transit options to get you where you need to go.

There was a distinct lack of opportunities for public transit anywhere we went in the US, which took some getting used to.

 8. Food Prices

Walking through a grocery store in the US gave us serious sticker shock. Every single item was exorbitantly expensive, which we expected, but it was worse than we could have imagined. There was also a lot of shrinkflation, meaning that we were spending more for even less food than before.

 9. Everything is Extremely Homogeneous

One of the things we love about Ecuador is the diversity, not only in culture but in stores and architecture. During our time in the US, we started to feel stifled by the aggressive sameness of the houses, malls, restaurants, and stores. Everything was a chain, and we saw the same storefronts and food options again and again.

10. Strip Malls Are Everywhere

The convenience of a one-stop shop can’t be denied. Everywhere we went in the US, we could count on being able to get what we were looking for in one shopping trip. This isn’t possible in Ecuador, as every store will have different things. If you’re in a new place, it can be a bit of a scavenger hunt to find everything you need.

11. Staff Shortages

Since the pandemic, America has been struggling with labor shortages. This is a huge change since the last time we were home, and it was almost eerie to see help-wanted signs in every window. The biggest shock was coming into a store and seeing only one person working in an area that used to have four or five.

12. Empty Shelves

This is another big difference from when we left the US. The transportation crisis and manufacturing shortages have led to empty shelves in many stores, which felt like we were in an apocalypse movie. This has gradually improved over time, but it was a noticeable change when we visited last summer (August 2022).

13. Eating Out

As a side effect of rushing around so much, we found ourselves eating out more often than not. It was nice because there was a huge variety of places to eat; however, we ended up spending a lot of money and gaining some weight.

The prices felt otherworldly: in Ecuador, if we decide to go out for a nice meal, it comes out to only $10-$15 per person. In the US, it was triple that, even for lunch.

14. Tipping Culture

No matter how much or little people interacted with us, they expected a tip. We have grown accustomed to only tipping for service that is above and beyond, but in the US, tipping is used to subsidize low wages, so we felt obligated to give a lot more than we would have otherwise.

15. Flavorless Produce

Fruit and veggies in the US didn’t taste like anything. We were so upset about unripe, low-quality produce because we’d been spoiled for years with rich and diverse fruits and vegetables in Ecuador.

16. Weight Gain

We’ve heard again and again from our friends that everyone gains weight when they return to the States. Between the convenience of snack food, lack of walking, and frequency of eating out, it seems inevitable. Plus, when food doesn’t taste as good as you’re used to, you’re bound to eat more because you aren’t satisfied.

17. Automated Everything

From vending machines to entire stores, automation in the US is through the roof. We could get everything by simply tapping our phones. This was great for convenience, but it felt like something out of a sci-fi novel.

18. Credit Cards

Cash barely made an appearance on our trip. Everyone uses a credit card or mobile phones for every purchase, no matter how small.

19. Fast Delivery

Same-day and next-day delivery is not a thing in Ecuador, so the prospect of being able to order something at night and receive it by the following day was mind-boggling. When we left, Amazon Prime shipping would get things to you within two or three days, so this was a huge change.

20. New Technology

The US gets more technologically advanced by the day. We were floored to see charging stations, Teslas, and other electric cars everywhere we went. In grocery stores, there were even digital displays to show you what was in the fridge without needing to open it – though oftentimes, the shelves behind the screen were empty.

21. Sloppy Clothes

Everyone dresses very casually in the States, which was quite a change from the everyday fashion in Ecuador. It’s not uncommon to see Ecuadorians walking around grocery stores in suits or dresses, while Americans will go out in a simple t-shirt and baseball cap.

22. Pubic Hair Commercials

By far, the strangest thing we saw during our time in the States was a commercial for grooming your pubic hair. It featured singing and dancing cartoon hair pleading with the viewer to give them the attention that hair on other parts of the body received. As funny as this was, it was certainly a representation of how ridiculous many things in the US have become.

If you think these culture shock moments were funny, you’ll love hearing all our other stories of being immigrants in Ecuador. Check out our content to learn how you can move to a new country and start having your very own reverse culture shock! We’re sure about one thing: we’re thrilled to be back home in Ecuador!


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Top 10 Countries with Cheap Rentals (Read This First!)

Renting a home or apartment in the United States is notoriously expensive. And this is not about to get any better any time soon. A tiny one-bedroom apartment with one bath in Denver can cost upwards of $1,800 per month.

It is increasingly difficult for people to find affordable rental options, especially for those living on a tight budget. But did you know that you can live comfortably and affordably in various other places around the world? You don’t have to spend an arm and a leg renting a home.

In fact, many countries, including Vietnam, Ecuador, France, and others, offer incredibly cheap rental options that may surprise you. They range from tropical paradises to bustling cities and everything in between. Moving out of the United States doesn’t have to mean sacrificing quality or comfort.

In this article, we’ll explore the top 10 countries with affordable rental options and why they are so cheap. You don’t have to live in the US to enjoy a comfortable and affordable place to call home. So buckle up and get ready to explore the world of cheap rentals!

1. Lyon, France

France is a lovely country with breathtaking views and rich culture. It’s no surprise that it’s a popular tourist destination. But did you know it has some of the cheapest places to rent while still maintaining great quality?

Lyon, for example, is the 2nd largest city in France and is known for its affordable housing options. Located in the Rhone-Alpes region of the country, Lyon has a lot of charm, with a bustling city center and plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy.

As the birthplace of cinema, there are also many cultural attractions. The city has museums, street-side cafes, great restaurants, and local markets. The city also offers an extensive public transportation network, making it easy to get around. However, it’s still walkable, making it even easier.

Safety is also a priority in Lyon, so you can rest easy knowing that you and your family are safe wherever you go. The city has many English-speaking expats, so finding a roommate or someone to show you around should be no problem.

A one-bedroom, one-bath apartment in the suburbs of Lyon can cost as little as $800 a month. It would come fully furnished and include all amenities, so you can move in without buying furniture. You can find such a place offering 64m² (700 ft²) of space, with kitchen, living room, bedroom, bathroom, and even a balcony with a nice view.

2. Pisa, Italy

Italy is a popular tourist destination, and it’s easy to see why. It has some of the most beautiful cities in the world, with picturesque views, delicious food, and vibrant culture. Cities like Rome and Florence are truly a sight to behold.

But Italy isn’t just for tourists. It has some of the most affordable rental options for those looking to live there. Pisa, located in the Tuscany region, is a great city to consider if you’re looking for an affordable place to rent.

Pisa is a university town and home to the famous University of Pisa, founded in the 12th century. You will find many places to visit here, from archaeological sites to art galleries. The city also has an extensive public train transportation system, making it easy to get around.

It has weekly markets in the Centro Storico, the historic center of Pisa, where you can buy local produce. You will also find many bars and restaurants and quaint cafes and shops in this area.

The coastal areas are exemplary tourist attractions, with some of the most beautiful beaches in Italy. Locals in Pisa are very friendly and helpful. Once you move in, you will quickly feel like part of the family.

One of the best things you can do to save money in Pisa is to avoid tourist restaurants and eat at local eateries. You can also find genuinely affordable accommodations. A newly renovated two-bedroom, two-bath apartment with a balcony, fully furnished kitchen, and air conditioning can cost around $853 a month. To top it all, it’s also located in the heart of the city.

It would come with a parking space and is close to local shops, cafes, bars, and restaurants.

3. Davao, Philippines

The Philippines has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, a rich culture, and a warm climate. Unsurprisingly, it has become a popular destination for travelers and expats alike.

Beautiful cities like Cebu, Manila, and Davao are great choices, offering a mix of modern amenities and local charm. But what’s even better is that the cost of living here is incredibly low.

For example, in Davao, one of the safest cities in the Philippines, you can rent an affordable two-bedroom, one-bath condo for $472 a month. For this money, you can get a 45m² (5,484 ft²) apartment located in a building with a pool, clubhouse, gym, and 24/7 security, and close to malls, shops, restaurants, and cafes.

The Philippines has outdoor activities, from hiking and trekking to whitewater rafting and kayaking. It is also home to several cultural attractions, including centuries-old churches and museums.

The city offers great, affordable food options with various restaurants and cafes. It has many shopping malls and outdoor markets, and the locals are friendly and hospitable.

Living in the Philippines is a great option for those looking for an affordable and comfortable lifestyle. The average cost of living per month ranges from $1,000 to $1,500, depending on your lifestyle and needs.

With its modern amenities, plenty of outdoor activities, and friendly people, it’s no wonder why so many people call the Philippines home.

4. Medellin, Colombia

Colombia, the only country with coastlines on both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, is an amazing place to live. It has a rich culture, diverse landscapes, and vibrant cities.

The city of flowers, Medellin, is a great choice for expats looking to relocate. It is the 2nd largest city in Colombia, known for its beautiful architecture, strong economy, and friendly people.

Medellin has excellent weather, a low cost of living, and affordable healthcare. It has only two seasons, rainy and dry, which means you will experience warm temperatures year-round.

It is home to the only metro system in Colombia, the Metro de Medellin. With it, you can get around quickly and cheaply.

Medellin is also a great place for people who love the kitchen. It has a farmers’ market to buy fresh fruits and vegetables.

The cost of living in Medellin is relatively low. For instance, a newly furnished two-bedroom, three-bath condo offering 110m² (1184 ft²) of living space in a secure building can cost around $977 (3.7 mil pesos) monthly. This condo has a balcony off the bedroom and a study area. It is located in El Poblano, a convenient and safe neighborhood with plenty of restaurants, cafes, bars, and shops.

Colombia is an amazing country to call home. Located in the middle of Colombia, Medellin offers stunning views, vibrant culture, and plenty of outdoor activities.

5. Chapala, Mexico

Despite its reputation, Mexico is a fantastic place to live and an excellent choice for expats looking for a vibrant culture. From the stunning beaches of Quintana Roo to the hustle and bustle of Mexico City, there is something for everyone.

Lake Chapala, in the state of Jalisco, is a great option for those looking to live a relaxed lifestyle. It is Mexico’s largest expat community, home to a mix of American, Canadian, and European expats. Around 20,000 expats live in the area.

The town of Chapala offers stunning lake views and plenty of outdoor activities. It has a vibrant culture, with various festivals throughout the year. The weather is ideal for indoor and outdoor activities since it is 5,000 feet above sea level.

The cost of living is roughly half that in the U.S. and Canada, making it an ideal location for those looking to stretch their retirement savings or enjoy a lower cost of living. A 140m² (1,500 ft²) single-family home in a gated community can be as low as $800 per month. It would come fully furnished, with a gardener, internet, cable, and a pool included in the offering.

Ajijic is another charming fishing village with more expats located near Lake Chapala. However, it is slightly more expensive than Chapala. Guadalajara airport is only 1 hour away, making it easy to travel in and out of the area.

6. Cuenca, Ecuador

Ecuador uses the same currency as the U.S., the American dollar, making it easy to use for expats. With its stunning landscapes and breathtaking views, Ecuador is an ideal place to live for those looking for a relaxed lifestyle.

Ecuador is home to numerous cities, each offering its own unique culture and environment. Cuenca, located in southern Ecuador, is a great choice for those seeking an affordable and tranquil lifestyle. It has a vibrant culture, with various festivals throughout the year.

Cuenca is known for its colonial architecture and cobblestone streets. It is a UNESCO world heritage site due to its stunning architecture and beauty. The city is surrounded by majestic mountains, volcanos, lush vegetation, and numerous rivers.

The great restaurants and unique shops make Cuenca a great place for foodies. It also has plenty of outdoor activities, including hiking, biking, bird watching, and more. Cuenca is walkable, but public transportation is also available.

Ecuador has many visa options for expats, ranging from retirement to digital nomad visas. It has a lower cost of living than most places in the U.S. and Canada, making it an ideal place to live. A three-bedroom, three-bath house with a courtyard and fountain can cost around $800.

The example we’re looking at is a 1,800 ft² house that comes fully furnished and includes a master bedroom, shower, jacuzzi bathtub, and an outdoor deck. It is located in El Vergel, a neighborhood in Cuenca known for its safety and convenience. The tap water is drinkable, and the electricity service is reliable.

The great thing about Ecuador is that it offers a mix of culture, nature, and affordability. Cuenca is the perfect place for expats to live comfortably, explore the beautiful scenery, and enjoy a relaxed lifestyle.

7. Da Nang, Vietnam

From its vibrant cities to its stunning countryside, Vietnam is a great destination for expats looking for adventure. It is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world and has a low cost of living. The average cost of living ranges from $1,000 to $1,500 per month, depending on the city.

Da Nang is known for its stunning beaches, spectacular mountain views, and vibrant culture. It has two world-class golf courses, a bustling nightlife scene, and plenty of outdoor activities. There are various international schools for expats interested in staying long-term in Vietnam.

Da Nang is a highly livable city due to its clean and friendly environment. It is known for its lush vegetation, spectacular views, and vibrant culture. Many expats have decided to call Da Nang home due to the low cost of living and numerous attractions.

You need a visa or visa approval letter to stay in Vietnam for over 15 days. You can apply for a Vietnamese multi-entry visa, which allows you to stay up to three months in the country. In addition, there are various work visas available for those seeking to stay long-term.

The cost of living in Da Nang is fairly low, with a luxury two-bedroom, fully-furnished apartment, with a large master bedroom, internet, and air conditioning, costing around $850 per month.

Da Nang in Vietnam is a great destination for expats who want to explore the culture, enjoy the stunning scenery, and live affordably.

8. Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Cambodia is a fantastic destination with stunning beaches, plenty of outdoor activities, and vibrant culture. It is known for its rich history, lush vegetation, and beautiful temples. The cost of living in Cambodia is fairly low, and most expats can live comfortably on a budget.

Phnom Penh is the capital city of Cambodia and the most populous city in the country. It is a great destination for expats due to its natural beauty, vibrant culture, and low cost of living. The city is known for its bustling nightlife scene and numerous attractions.

You can walk around the city to explore its attractions, such as the Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda, or take a tuk-tuk for a more comfortable ride. There are also plenty of restaurants, cafes, and markets that cater to all kinds of budgets.

Expats looking to stay long-term in Cambodia must apply for a work permit. The work permit is valid for one year and can be renewed. In addition, you need to have a valid passport and provide proof of sufficient funds to receive a visa.

The cost of living in Phnom Penh is fairly low, with a luxury two-bedroom apartment costing around $600 per month. For this money, you can rent an 85m² (910 ft²) apartment located in a central area and which comes fully furnished and has a large master bedroom, internet, and air conditioning.

Phnom Penh in Cambodia is an excellent destination for expats looking to explore the city’s culture, enjoy the stunning scenery, and live affordably.

9. Atenas, Costa Rica

One of the smallest countries in Central America, Costa Rica is a popular destination for expats. It has stunning beaches, amazing rainforest hikes, and vibrant culture.

Atenas is a small city in the Central Valley of Costa Rica and one of the most popular destinations for expats. It is known for its peaceful atmosphere, stunning views, and friendly people.

The cost of living in Atenas is relatively low, with a luxury two-bedroom apartment costing around $625 per month. Such an apartment would provide 90m² (970 ft²) of living space, would come fully furnished, and would include internet, air conditioning, and a large master bedroom.

While in Atenas, you can explore the city’s culture by visiting the local markets and churches or take a guided tour of the nearby rainforests.

The Costa Rican government requires expats to obtain a valid residency permit through the National Immigration Office. You must provide proof of sufficient funds and a valid passport to receive the permit.

The residency permit is valid for one year, and you can renew it after the expiration date. Costa Rica is a great destination if you want to explore the country’s culture, enjoy its stunning scenery, and live affordably.

10. Chaves, Portugal

Portugal is the oldest nation in Western Europe, known for its stunning beaches, beautiful architecture, and delicious cuisine. It is an increasingly popular destination for expats due to its high quality of life and low cost of living.

Chaves, located in northern Portugal, is one of the best places to rent in the country. It is a small city with plenty of attractions, including a castle, old churches, and numerous parks.

Despite being a small city, Chaves is home to all the necessary amenities. A luxury two-bedroom apartment costs around $650 per month. This price is inclusive of internet and air conditioning.

For this money, you’ll get a 90m² (970 ft²) apartment that comes fully furnished and is located near the city center with easy access to restaurants, shops, and other attractions.

Chaves is 10km south of the Spanish border, making it an excellent base for exploring Portugal and Spain. The area is also known for its hot springs, which are a great way to relax and unwind.

The residents of Chaves are warm and welcoming, providing a great atmosphere for expats. They are also friendly to tourists, making exploring the city and its culture easy.

Takeaway

Living as an expat abroad can be a great experience. From the vibrant culture of Ecuador to the stunning scenery of Vietnam, there is something for everyone. Each country offers something unique with its low cost of living and great amenities.

If you’re looking for a new adventure, make sure to explore the options of living abroad. Visit our website, Live Abroad Now, to learn more about life in Ecuador and other countries worldwide. Learn how you can live abroad easy and hassle-free.


Planning a move to Ecuador?

The Ecuador Expat Now eCourse covers every step from A-to-Z! 

CLICK HERE

Get Qualified, Trustworthy Recommendations

Need help with your visa, finding a place to live, shipping a container, health insurance, private driver or something else?

We're happy to introduce you to our trusted and qualified relocation experts in Ecuador!

Amelia And JP NewsletterFREE Weekly Expat Newsletter

Sign-up for our FREE weekly newsletter and get immediate access to:

This newsletter covers things we don’t share ANYWHERE ELSE! You’ll get all sorts of timely information about Ecuador and global expat news that might affect your travel or move decisions.

Join Our Community!

Cuenca Ecuador ExpatsWe've assembled a supportive community of current and future expats who are eager to share their experiences, answer questions and offer encouragement as you embark on your move abroad.

Once you become a member, you'll also gain access to a variety of exclusive benefits that will help you make a smooth transition to your new life abroad! And you'll get more immediate access to Amelia And JP!