Ecuador’s NEW Digital Nomad Visa (Rules & Requirements)

We’re happy to introduce you to Maite and her team at Gringo Visas. Tell us more about your situation here and we’ll send an immediate introduction email.

In March 2022, Ecuador announced changes to its Rentista Visa, which effectively makes it a Digital Nomad Visa. If you have online income from abroad, you may qualify for this Ecuador temporary residency visa.

If you are a digital nomad or work remotely for a company abroad or as a freelancer, you need to show an income of $1,275/month + $250/month/dependent, or a yearly income of $15,300 + $3,000/year/dependent. These amounts are based on bank statements for the previous 3 to 12 months.

Additionally, you need to prove you work for a real corporation or LLC by providing the legal business documents. If you are a freelancer, you need to have your own legal LLC.

You may also need proof of your work contract or employment that states you will continue to earn an income for at least 2 years after you move to Ecuador.

You’ll also need to provide an FBI background check, a state police report, a marriage license for a dependent spouse, and birth certificates for dependent children.

You also need to provide proof of health insurance either from a private Ecuadorian insurance company, or from an international plan that specifically states you will be covered in Ecuador.

All of these documents must be less than 6 months old and they need to have an apostille (except the bank statements). If you’re from Canada, the documents need to be legalized by the Ecuadorian consulate. Then they need to be translated into Spanish by a certified Ecuadorian translator and notarized by an Ecuadorian notary.

For more details about Ecuador temporary resident visas and some tips to make the application process go more smoothly, check out our full article.

Download our Ecuador Cost of Living & Moving Calculator.

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Ecuador Overhauled Its Residency Visa Laws (February 2022)

We have a new March 2022 video about the updated visa laws.

We’re happy to send an email introduction to you and Maite at GringoVisas.

Ecuador changed its temporary residency visa requirements on February 18, 2022. The income requirements have changed for the pensioner visa, the investment amount has changed for the investor visa, and the new Ecuador digital nomad visa is finally available.

Most of the changes are being phased in over the next month, and there are still a lot of unanswered questions, but we did our best to cover the highlights. Once we have more details about how the laws are being implemented in reality, we’ll share an updated video, probably in the next 4 to 6 weeks.

Download our Ecuador Cost of Living & Moving Calculator.

And be sure to check out our other channel, Amelia And JP, where we show you what it’s REALLY like to live in Ecuador.

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Buying a Home In Ecuador

The process for buying a home in Ecuador, whether it’s a piece of land, a house or a condo, is quite a bit different than the United States and other countries. Thankfully, we were able to sit down with Ryan Kelly from Ecuador Shores Realty in Manta, Ecuador to answer a long list of questions and walk us through the process of buying a home in Ecuador.

If you would like to get more information about buying a home in Ecuador, please submit our referral form and we’ll send an immediate email introduction to our preferred real estate agent in the area where you’re looking.

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Raising Kids in Ecuador: Sports, Activities, Socializing and Cultural Differences (2021)

If you’re considering a move to Ecuador with your children, this interview with Jason and Michelle from will help you prepare for the differences you’ll encounter.

Jason is an expat from Australia who met the love of his life in Ecuador. Michelle is an Ecuadorian born in Quito who has two children from a previous marriage. This makes them a blended family with a unique inside, as well as outside, perspective on raising children in Ecuador.

If you would like even more information on this topic, checkout this guide from Jason and Michelle on their amazing blog:

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10 Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Exploratory Trip to Ecuador

If you’re considering a move abroad to join the expat ranks, use these 10 tips to get the most out of your exploratory trip to Ecuador. As you’re scheduling your visit, plan to spend as much time as possible in Ecuador to explore your future surroundings and make preparations for your move.

Tip #1 – Thoughtfully plan your trip

1. Thoughtfully plan your trip

Some careful initial planning will help you maximize your time in Ecuador so that you can see as much of the country as possible while identifying a place you might like to live.

If you have at least a month to travel in Ecuador, take a national bus tour. Buses are a popular way to travel in Ecuador. The private and public bus systems are safe and reliable. Three of the top tour companies you should consider are Ecuador Expat Journeys, Wander Bus and Ecuador Hop.

Ecuador Expat Journeys provides a guided tour across the country geared specifically towards expats. They do a great job of introducing you to towns and properties, giving you local insight into the areas where you may want to live.

Wander Bus and Ecuador Hop are hop-on/hop-off buses. When you depart, you have the option to stay in multiple places for a few days at a time or even longer than that.

Since they’re both self-guided tours, you’ll have more control over the itinerary, but you’ll also be responsible for your activities. Both companies will give you an excellent high-level tour of the main cities. The most popular routes start in Quito and stop in popular tourist cities, such as Cuenca, Montañita/Olón, Manta, Salinas, Guayaquil, Baños Ambato, etc.

Tip #2 – Don’t overbook your itinerary!

Manta Ecuador

If you’re only planning to stay for a week or two, choose just one or two cities to spend most of your time. It takes awhile to travel between the major cities so you’re better off focusing on just a couple. There will be plenty of time to explore more cities and areas after you move to Ecuador!

Check out our article, Best Cities to Live in Ecuador for Expats for a detailed list and review of popular expat cities in Ecuador, but two of the best options are Cuenca and Manta.

Cuenca tends to feel more like home for many expats, and this is where you should start if you’re not an experienced world traveler. Though you may need a little bit of time to adjust to the high elevation, you shouldn’t experience too much culture shock. Consequently, Cuenca is full of expats and many English-speaking Ecuadorians, so you’ll fit right in.

Manta and the surrounding towns are great to visit if you want to live near the beach. It’s also an expat enclave with more expats than Salinas, Playas or Olón. Manta is also more developed than many other places in Ecuador, with more amenities and access to better hospitals, too. It’s also safer than Guayaquil if you’re concerned about security.

Tip #3 – Stay as long as you can!

The New Cathedral Cuenca Ecuador

If you’re planning a move abroad, stay as long as you can on your exploratory trip to Ecuador so you get a real feel for the country and its people. While you can always move back home if you don’t like living in Ecuador, moving abroad can be costly so you’ll want to make sure the place you choose is a good fit for you.

We visited Ecuador for 10 days on our exploratory trip back in 2017. We stayed 2 nights in Quito and the rest in Cuenca, which was the city we had chosen as the first choice for our move abroad. A week in Cuenca was enough to confirm our feeling that we could be happy living there.

However, if there are several potential cities on your wish list, you will need much longer than a week to not only visit each of them, but to get a good feel for what it’s like to live in each city.

You get a 90-day tourist visa when you arrive at the airport—there’s no need to apply for one in advance. At the end of the initial 90 days, you can apply for a 90-day tourist visa extension.

Keep in mind that you can only request the tourist visa extension once every five years. If you want to stay longer, we recommend applying for a Temporary Residency Visa.

If you can stay for 6 months, that’s plenty of time to take a good look around the country!

Tip #4 – Focus on where you want to live in Ecuador

4. Focus on where you want to live in Ecuador

Don’t try to do too much on your exploratory trip by trying to squeeze in a trip to the Galapagos or the Amazon. Those are really cool places to visit, but it’s best to save them until after you move to Ecuador for two main reasons.

First, Ecuador residents get discounts on travel to the Galapagos, which will allow you to travel more conveniently and affordably after you move.

Second, going to these fantastic destinations won’t help decide where to live. Visiting them will detract from your focus, which is trying to determine where you want to live!

Tip #5 – Keep it authentic!

5. Keep it authentic!

The best way to explore Ecuador is to live like a local to get a real idea of what it will be like after you move.

To start, rent a place with a kitchen so that you can shop for fresh local foods at the mercados and grocery stores. You’ll experience some of the amazing local produce by making some meals instead of eating out all the time. Check out what’s on TV, visit some local museums, events or attractions to get a feel for how you might spend your free time.

Several housing options will serve as an excellent base for your in-country travels and let you connect to the cities you visit. Apartamentos Otorongo or Gran Colombia Suites are great places to stay in Cuenca. Short-term rentals listed on AirBnB, (for Cuenca only), or (like Craigslist for Ecuador) are also worth a look as you plan your trip.

Tip #6 – Get to know the neighborhood

Cuenca Ecuador from Turi

Once you’ve narrowed your desired destination down to a particular city, spend some time in the neighborhoods to investigate your new potential home. Different areas offer different experiences within the same city.

The best approach will be contacting rental agents in advance to arrange neighborhood tours for when you arrive. Xavier at Apartments Otorongo gives an incredibly informative Cuenca neighborhood tour.

There’s also an enjoyable Cuenca city bus tour that will take you around Cuenca, but it’s mainly for tourists so you’re better off exploring the neighborhoods with the help of local guides.

Tip #7 – Start the visa process before you leave

7. Start the visa process before you leave

If you’ve fallen in love with Ecuador and are ready to plan your move, start the visa process while you’re still in the country.

It’s best to meet with a visa agent in person before you head back home. Their fees can be as high as $1,000 or more so you might feel more comfortable transfering money to them if you meet in real life.

You’ll also have a better idea of what you need to do and what documents you need to collect when you go back to your home country. Here’s some more information about the types and requirements for Ecuador Temporary Residency Visas to help you prepare.

If you would like to meet with a qualified Visa Agent while you’re visiting Ecuador, please submit our Visa Agent referral form and we’ll send an immediate email introduction.

Tip #8 – Meet with a shipping company

8. Meet with a shipping company

Shipping household goods from abroad allows you to take your belongings with you to your new home. If you plan to do this, meet with a potential shipping agent while you’re in Ecuador.

Shipping a container can cost between $2,000-$10,000 so you’ll want to be sure that you’re comfortable with your agent before you wire the money. Here’s a complete guide to shipping a container to Ecuador so you’re better prepared for your meeting.

If you would like to discuss your container shipping options with a qualified shipping agent while you’re visiting Ecuador, please submit our referral form and we’ll send an immediate email introduction.

Tip #9 – Arrange to meet other expats

9. Arrange to meet other expats

Talking to other expats over coffee or a cerveza should be high on your list of priorities during your exploratory trip to Ecuador. Speaking with those who have already moved to your future home can be invaluable.

Reach out to expat groups on Facebook or the community of expats that we host on Patreon/Discord. More often than not, they’ll be happy to share their love of Ecuador and local insights with you.

Talking to expats who already live in Ecuador can give you a more accurate perspective of what it may be like to live in Ecuador while allowing you to ask some crucial questions. They can also provide you with input on optimal neighborhoods and advice on where to eat and what to do during your visit.

Tip #10 – Have fun in Ecuador!

10. Have fun in Ecuador!

Sure, you’re in Ecuador to take care of business on your exploratory trip, but there’s no reason why you shouldn’t plan to take in some of the beautiful sights during your visit. Ecuador is full of unforgettable vistas and a wide variety of natural wonders.

If you’re heading to Cuenca, play tourist by taking a city bus tour or planning a day to relax in the hot springs in Baños Azuay.

If you’ll be primarily visiting the coast, head to Isla de la Plata or book a jungle hike to see some Howler Monkeys.

For those visiting Vilcabamba, plan a hike up Fandango or visit Podocarpus National Forest if you’ll be near Loja. You could easily pass an entire week in Quito traveling to the Baños Ambato or the Mindo cloud forest!

Get the MOST out of your exploratory trip to Ecuador!

Planning an exploratory trip to Ecuador can be challenging and exciting. A bit of initial planning with these tips in mind can help you maximize your stay to get a good survey of the landscape and facilitate your move.

The most important goal of your exploratory trip is to determine if you can comfortably live in Ecuador as an expat/immigrant. Visit Ecuador with an open mind, but be prepared for a little culture shock. And if you’re visiting the high mountain cities like Quito or Cuenca, give yourself a few days to adjust to the elevation.

Spend the majority of your time living like a local and laying the groundwork for your eventual move abroad, but take some time to smell the roses so you experience just how magical Ecuador can be.

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Schools in Ecuador: Public, Private, International & Homeschooling

If you have school aged children and you’re considering a move abroad, you have several different options for schools in Ecuador.

In this interview with Jason and Michelle from, you’ll learn about the different types of schools (public, private, international and homeschooling) as well as the pros and cons, and cost of each option.

Michelle is an Ecuadorian from Quito with two children while Jason is an expat from Australia. They met here in Ecuador and got married, making them a blended family.

Their perspective may be a little different than parents with expat children since Michelle’s kids speak Spanish natively. However, they are extremely familiar with the various school options in Ecuador, especially the cost/quality comparison.

Head over to Schools in Ecuador for a detailed analysis of the different school options and costs associated with each.

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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.

Expat Life in Ecuador: 10 Surprising Facts About Ecuador

Before we moved to Ecuador in 2017, we had a LOT of preconceptions about what expat life in Ecuador would be like.

Most of these ideas were fed to us by a lifetime of news media stories, movies, TV shows and government travel warnings, which continue to paint Central and South America with one broad brushstroke.

However, after several years as expats, we’ve learned that many of our preconceptions were just flat wrong, so in this article, we’re going to share 10 surprising facts about Ecuador that we discovered after moving here.

#1 Dogs Walk Themselves

Dog Walking Himself Vilcabamba Ecuador

The first surprising fact about expat life in Ecuador, which is quite a bit different than most places in the United States, is that dogs often walk themselves.

When we lived in Cuenca, several neighborhood dogs made the rounds at the same time each day, trotting by our house and leaving their marks on the corners.

Ecuador does not have leash laws and most dogs don’t have collars. While they are allowed to roam more freely, they’re often very protective of their own territories. We avoided certain streets in Cuenca, as well as in Olón, to avoid a potentially violent confrontation when we walk our dog, Daisy.

There are several animal rescues and education programs underway throughout Ecuador to improve the living conditions of dogs and cats, but they still have a very long way to go.

#2 The Temperatures Are a Lot Cooler Than We Expected

Cuenca Ecuador Cool Temperatures

Before we moved to Ecuador, we expected it to be much warmer, similar to Mexico. While it is much warmer in the Amazon Rainforest located in the eastern third of Ecuador, the rest of Ecuador is much cooler than you might expect from a tropical country on the equator.

In Cuenca, average high temperatures range from 64-72°F (18-22°C) with average low temperatures ranging from 48-52°F (9-11°C). However, it can get below 40°F (4°C) at night so you will need a jacket in most of the mountain cities.

Even on the Pacific coast, some areas are cool during the cloudy season from June through November with overnight low temperatures near 60°F (15°C).

Check out our Weather In Ecuador & Best Time to Visit Ecuador article for more on this topic.

#3 People Want To Practice Their English With Us

Do You Speak English

We were often stopped on the street in Cuenca by Ecuadorians who wanted to practice English, and it occasionally happens in other parts of Ecuador, as well.

Expats are generally taller, lighter skinned and dress differently so we’re easy to spot. And since Ecuadorians are so friendly and welcoming, most don’t hesitate to talk to us.

Several times in Cuenca, we were stopped by college students who were tasked with asking native English speakers on the street a list of questions as part of a homework assignment. They would speak to us in English and we were instructed to respond in English so they could practice.

English is considered a lingua franca, or bridge language, which means a lot of people around the world speak it as a second language. Ecuadorians who speak English are often qualified for better jobs and tend to earn a higher income, so we’re more than happy to help them.

However, it does make it more challenging for us to learn Spanish!

If you would like to learn Spanish from an amazing instructor who was born and raised in Cuenca, we recommend Christina with Walking Spanish Lessons. We featured one of her classes in this video: Cuenca Ecuador Walking Spanish Lessons. Due to the pandemic, she is now offering classes over Zoom for remote learning. Tell her Amelia And JP sent you!

#4 There Is No Postal Delivery System in Ecuador

DHL Guayaquil Downtown

Correo del Ecuador is the official postal service in Ecuador, but it was scheduled to be liquidated in 2020 due to the high cost of running it and competition from private delivery companies. However, as of this writing, it is still in operation at limited capacity and reliability.

Both DHL and FedEx have offices throughout Ecuador in the larger cities, but they don’t offer home delivery so you need to go to a physical office to pick up a package or to send one.

Servientrega is a home delivery courier service that operates throughout Ecuador for an additional fee based on the distance they must travel to your home and the size of the package. We have confirmed with several people that this service does work, but it can be costly and it could take a week or more to get your package.

While claims to ship to Ecuador, the best way to ensure your package arrives is to have a friend or family member bring it with them when they visit, or use a mule service such as or You can also find and provide mule services through the Ecuador Mule Forum on Facebook.

A home delivery postal system isn’t the only thing we miss about the United States. Check out our “10 Things We Miss About the United States as Expats in Ecuador” video for more. 

#5 Ecuador Can Be Modern And Developed

Plaza Lagos Samborondon

In the United States, we’re led to believe by the news media, movies and TV shows that most countries outside the US, Europe, Canada and Australia are very undeveloped.

When we told our family and friends we were moving to Ecuador, we fielded questions about whether our house had dirt floors and indoor plumbing. We had done the research and knew that Ecuador was more developed than that, but we’re still occasionally surprised by just how developed parts of the country are.

We featured a really upscale neighborhood in a video about Samborondón (pictured above), located just north of the Guayaquil airport. Amelia found it difficult to compose her thoughts in that video because she felt like we had been transported to Miami or San Diego.

All of the major cities in Ecuador have modern malls and business districts that would look normal anywhere in the US or other “developed” countries.

#6 Ecuador Has Awesome and Affordable Public Transportation

Cuenca Ecuador Tranvia

Quito has a relatively new subway system, Guayaquil has a new gondola system and Cuenca has a new Tranvia rail system. There are also comprehensive city and interprovincial bus systems throughout Ecuador.

All are very affordable, costing 35 to 50 cents for local fares, $1 to $3 for city-to-city fares, and less than $10 for interprovincial fares.

You can also take private busetas (small buses) and luxury buses between cities for less than $15 per ticket.

#7 It Takes a Long Time to Get From City to City in Ecuador

Blue Bus Olon

The main highways in Ecuador are paved, but most of them have 2 lanes and run through towns like the old 2-lane highways in the US.

There is no high speed interprovincial highway system that bipasses towns or cities, so the average speed for a long distance road trip is usually around 35 miles per hour (56 kph).

Several of the newer highways leading into larger cities like Guayaquil have 4 lanes, but they’re toll roads with old-school toll booths. This often means long delays while the driver waits to pay the typical $1 toll. We waited in line at a toll booth for over an hour on one trip from Cuenca to Guayaquil.

#8 Ecuador Uses The US Dollar As Its Currency

Ecuador US Dollar

One of the things that surprised us about Ecuador is that it is on the United States Dollar.

Ecuador uses the exact same currency as the US, which makes it a really easy transition for US American expats because we don’t have to do any currency conversion math in our heads!

Unlike the US, Ecuador uses dollar coins far more than dollar bills, and half dollars are very common. They also have some of their own coins based on the obsolete Ecuadorian Sucre, which was replaced with the US dollar back in 2000 when the Sucre had essentially become worthless due to hyperinflation.

These coins are the same size as the US half dollar, quarter, nickel and dime, but they have images of prominent Ecuadorian historical figures rather than US presidents.

Ecuador Coins Sucre

Ecuador is not the only country that is on the dollar. In total, there are 5 US territories and 7 sovereign nations that use the US dollar as their official currency.

This is just one of the many reasons we chose Ecuador for our expat life abroad. To learn about the other reasons, check out our article: Should You Consider Living Abroad in Ecuador?

#9 There Are A Lot Of Expat Owned Businesses in Ecuador

MOMO Olon Ecuador

Most expats who move to Ecuador are retired, but many come here to start a business, like Anahi from Argentina and Johan from Sweden. They owned a restaurant in Vilcabamba before they moved to Olón, where they started MOMO, a gourmet restaurant and specialty food shop.

Here’s a list of several expat businesses in Ecuador:

Some of these expat companies are full time businesses with full time income, while others are hobby businesses providing supplemental income.

The Ecuadorian government and citizens are very happy when expats move to Ecuador and start businesses, especially when they create jobs.

They aren’t as appreciative if the business only caters to the expat community, which fosters an “expat bubble.” If you start a business in Ecuador, try to involve the local community as much possible.

#10 Ecuadorians Are Incredibly Warm And Welcoming

Luis Cuenca Ecuador

Not long after we started our expat life in Ecuador, this gentleman (Luis) stopped us on the street to say hello and welcome us to his country. He was a native Ecuadorian who lived in the US for several years and wanted to speak English with us.

Before long, several members of his family had joined us on the street to talk to us. They asked if we would like to join them for a cerveza in their yard where several people were enjoying a beautiful Sunday afternoon.

We told him how much we loved his country and it brought tears to his eyes. He told us, “mi país es su país,” which means, “my country is your country.”

That was the first time we heard that phrase, but it wasn’t the last. Even before we started our YouTube Channel, we heard that phrase often from welcoming Ecuadorians. And we see it even more in the comments on our videos.

If you are friendly and make an attempt to speak Spanish, the Ecuadorian people will be very warm and welcoming to you. In their culture, they never meet a stranger.

Expat Life in Ecuador

We did a lot of research about expat life in Ecuador before we moved here. We watched as many videos and read as many articles as we could find. However, they didn’t do this magical country justice.

Even though we thought we were prepared and knew what to expect, we were still surprised about several aspects of expat life in Ecuador. We do our best with our YouTube Channel and this website to share what expat life is really like in Ecuador, but we know it’s impossible to accurately reflect it. You really need to experience it for yourself.

You may also enjoy the articles in our Start Here Series, which covers a wide variety of topics about moving to and living in Ecuador.

Watch Our Video About Expat Life In Ecuador

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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.

Guayaquil Ecuador: Hotels, Malls and Restaurants Near the Airport

If you’re planning a trip to Guayaquil Ecuador, here’s a handy guide for hotels, malls and restaurants near the Guayaquil International Airport.

In case you missed it, we shared a video on our YouTube channel about our long weekend in Guayaquil. We showed the Sheraton Hotel where we stayed, Mall del Sol where we shopped and ate, and we visited the Guayaquil airport to say goodbye to an old friend.

Several of our viewers asked for more details about our experience in Guayaquil, and especially about the price of Apple products in Think, the Apple Authorized Retailer, so that’s the focus of this article.

Guayaquil Ecuador: The 40,000 Foot Overview

Guayaquil Ecuador Building Cerro Santa Ana

General Information About Guayaquil Ecuador

We had several comments on our video about how developed Guayaquil looked. The part of town where we stayed near the airport and Mall del Sol is very “first world,” but there are large parts of the city that are still very poor and underdeveloped.

Miles of sprawling barrios with cinder block houses line the highway heading west out of town fulfilling the stereotype that many US Americans have about developing nations. However, some parts of Ecuador’s major cities feel just like any other developed city in the US, Canada or Europe.

Guayaquil and Quito (the capital city) are roughly the same size with about 3 million people. Guayaquil is Ecuador’s major economic driver and is home to Ecuador’s largest port.

Tourist Attractions in Guayaquil Ecuador

Guayaquil also has a number of popular tourist attractions, such as the Malecón 2000, Cerro Santa Ana (Santa Ana Hill), Cerro Blanco and Parque Histórico in Samborondón. These areas are well guarded and very safe during the day.

Safety in Guayaquil Ecuador

Guayaquil is also Ecuador’s most dangerous city with a high crime rate compared to other major cities in Ecuador. However, Guayaquil is still safer then the most dangerous cities in the US, such as Chicago, St. Louis, Detroit and Baltimore.

Most of Guayaquil’s crime occurs in the lower income areas of town, so if you stay in the more developed areas and don’t walk around the city at night, you’ll minimize your risk.

The two main causes for concern as tourists are pickpockets and taxi drivers. Always keep your possessions secure in locked zippers or safety belts. It’s best to leave your valuables in the hotel safe, but you’ll be fine taking pictures with your phone. Just pay attention to your surroundings.

We recommend using the Uber or Cabify apps to request cabs in Guayaquil, or use the hotel drivers/shuttles. These are much safer options than hailing cabs on the street since there will be a record of the fare.

Unfortunately, whether true or not, Guayaquil taxi drivers have a reputation of driving unsuspecting tourists to a bad part of town, taking all of their belongings, and leaving them to fend for themselves. We have never met anyone who has experienced this, but we regularly get comments on our videos about this type of crime from Ecuadorians who live in Guayaquil so it’s something to keep in mind.

Hotels Near the Guayaquil Airport

There are several hotels near the Guayaquil airport that are also conveniently located to malls and restaurants.

Air Suites Hotel Guayaquil Airport (Low Budget)

Air Suites Hotel Guayaquil Ecuador

The Air Suites Hotel in Guayaquil is only a few blocks from the airport, it’s very affordable and they accept pets. We’ve stayed their several times and it typically costs about $35/night.

The rooms are small, but very clean and the location is convenient to the airport, but there aren’t many dining options nearby and no one speaks English who works there. They do offer a limited breakfast.

We walked about 8 blocks to Mall del Sol for dinner one evening while it was still light, but we wouldn’t recommend walking there or back after dark. You can take a cab for about $2.

Holiday Inn Hotel Guayaquil Airport

Holiday Inn Guayaquil Ecuador Airport

We’ve never stayed at the Holiday Inn Guayaquil Airport, but it has been recommended to us by friends and viewers. It’s walking distance from the airport, making it the most convenient. Rooms run $80 to $100/night.

The Sheraton Hotel

The Sheraton Hotel

We often stay at the Sheraton Hotel across the street from Mall del Sol when we visit Guayaquil. It’s close to the airport, it has a walking bridge to the mall, and it’s now part of Marriott so we get points that we can use on future trips.

The hotel rooms are extremely luxurious and the hotel itself is very high end. We usually pay $70 to $100/night to sleep in arguably the most comfortable bed we’ve ever had. In Denver, rooms in a comparable hotel would easily be more than $300/night!

The people who work the front desk/check-in counter speak English, but most of the other staff does not. English is spoken by a lot of people in Cuenca, but not in other parts of Ecuador, so it’s a good idea to study your Spanish and bring a translator app with you when you travel throughout Ecuador.

Courtyard by Marriott Guayaquil

Marriott Courtyard Guayaquil Ecuador

UPDATE: The Courtyard by Marriott Guayaquil by San Marino Mall is no longer in operation, an apparent casualty of the pandemic and quarantine. We’re disappointed to learn that it has closed because it was a really nice hotel in a great location.

None of these hotels offer many food items for speciality diets so you won’t find a lot of vegan or gluten-free options on the menu. They cater to a largely international and wealthy Ecuadorian audience who tends to eat traditional fare.

Malls Near the Guayaquil Ecuador Airport

There are several high-end malls and shopping areas near the Guayaquil Ecuador international airport.

Mall del Sol

Mall del sol

Our viewers were especially surprised by Mall del Sol. You could drop this mall anywhere in the United States and people wouldn’t know it was from Ecuador. It even has a lot of the same stores and fast food dining options as any mall in the US, including Fossil, Clarks, Forever 21, McDonalds, Burger King, KFC, etc. This mall also has a Sukasa, which is a home store similar to a Crate & Barrel.

Think Authorized Premium Apple Reseller

Premium Apple Seller

We were really impressed with the customer service at Think, an Apple Authorized Premium Reseller and Repair Center. They were very knowledgeable about the products and very eager to help us with my laptop, which had a battery recall.

Below, I’ve included a few photos of the price and specs labels for the iMac and MacBook Pro (as of August 2020). Unlike a true Apple Store back in the US, Think only has a couple of options available in the store with a VERY limited color selection for each type of device.

The prices are also a lot higher. For example, the 21.5 inch 3.0 GHz iMac at Think costs $2,005 while it’s listed for $1,499 on the Apple website. That’s about 50% more. The base 13 inch MacBook Pro model costs $2,364 at Think while it’s listed for $1,299 on the Apple website. That’s almost double the price!

You’ll also notice that the prices are prominently shown with financing, which is extremely common in Ecuador. You can finance EVERYTHING. Even $20 toasters! However, you get a steep discount for paying in cash or charging it to your credit card.

iMac MacBook Pro Prize MacBook Pro Prize

San Marino Mall Guayaquil

San Marino Mall Guayaquil Ecuador

San Marino Mall is very similar to Mall del Sol, although it feels a bit more compact and crowded. It has many of the same international chain stores that you’ll find in malls throughout Ecuador’s major cities. It also has a nice food court with a Noe Sushi.

Plaza Lagos Town Center in Samborondón

Plaza Lagos Samborondon

Plaza Lagos Town Center is a high-end outdoor mall in the upscale Samborodón township located about 10 minutes by cab north of the Guayaquil Airport. We’re constantly amazed  by how developed parts of Ecuador are and we like to bust the “3rd world” myth whenever we have the chance.

This outdoor mall is one of the nicest we’ve seen, ANYWHERE! The stores and restaurants are VERY fancy! And expensive! You can expect to pay United States/European prices at this mall, which is a popular place for wealthy Ecuadorians to see and be seen.

Restaurants Near the Guayaquil Ecuador Airport

There are lots of restaurants to choose from near the Guayaquil Ecuador airport, mostly located in or around the three nearby malls.

Restaurants in Mall del Sol Guayaquil Ecuador

Mall del Sol has a big food court with a bunch of typical unhealthy American fast food chains, but we were really surprised at the healthy food options in the mall. The Freshii where we ate for lunch was delicious, and a place called Biscuits by Nané in the same area was equally good.

Both had loads of vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free and traditional fare that would be considered fast casual like a Chipotle or Tokyo Joe’s in the US. Our lunch at Freshii cost $19.94, which included two entrees and two bottles of water.

Our favorite “treat” place to eat in Ecuador is Noe Sushi. We typically pay $60 to $80 to eat dinner there, depending on how hungry and “thirsty” we are. We often enjoy a carafe of saki, which is $15 for a large. Saki is quite a bit more expensive in Ecuador because it’s imported. A glass of wine costs about $6.

A typical meal like this back in Denver would easily cost over $120.

Noe Sushi


There are also several restaurants located next to the Sheraton hotel, including a Red Lion.

Restaurants in San Marino Mall Guayaquil Ecuador

San Marino Mall has a large food court with a variety of Ecuadorian and traditional fare restaurants. They also have a restaurant called Go Green (there’s also one in the Mall del Sol food court) that is similar to a Chipotle with bowls, burritos and salads.

The San Marino Mall also has a Noe Sushi and several other restaurants located in the area near the mall.

Restaurants in Plaza Lagos Town Center Mall

Plaza Lagos Restaurant Samborondon

We had a delicious lunch with some Aperol Spritzers at Tinta Café in our Samborondón video. The mall has several high-end restaurants that serve mostly traditional fare: American, Italian, Mexican, etc. They even have a Sweet & Coffee and a wine bar, but they have very few options for special diets. You can expect to pay similar prices as the United States at these stores and restaurants.


If you’re flying into Guayaquil Ecuador and plan to stay overnight or for several days to enjoy the tourist attractions, you’ll find lots of options for nice hotels, malls and restaurants near the Guayaquil airport.

That part of the city is very well developed and mostly safe during the day, but you’ll want to take common sense precautions just like you would in any major city to avoid being the victim of a crime, especially pickpocketing.

The cost of living in Ecuador is low, but the cost of things are high. Restaurants, hotels and public transportation (including taxis) are much more affordable, although there are a few exceptions like Plaza Lagos. However, anything with a plug, especially electronics, are 30-100% more expensive in Ecuador than the United States, and you’ll find a smaller selection with fewer options.

However, if you plan to stay in Ecuador, it’s easier to get things repaired if you buy them here, so you have to weigh the hassle of servicing things against the higher cost of buying them.

Most people don’t realize that Ecuador has a lot of wealthy people and a growing middle class (at least before the pandemic). While a large percentage of the population lives in poverty, it’s not a nation of poor people as the news media portrays it. We really enjoy showing the higher end areas as a contrast to our rural beach town and they also help bust the “3rd world” myth.

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Is CUENCA Ecuador the BEST Expat City?

Cuenca has been near the top of “best expat cities” list for nearly a decade, and a lot of expats live in Cuenca because of its international renown. However, if you’re still in the planning stages of your move abroad, you may be wondering, is Cuenca Ecuador the best expat city for me?

In this article, we explore all the things that make Cuenca an amazing place to start your new life in a foreign country, and we share a few reasons that may make you continue your search for a new expat home.

Is Cuenca the Best Expat City in Ecuador?

Before we share the main drawbacks that led us to leave Cuenca for one of Ecuador’s beautiful, rustic beach towns, let’s take a look at all the wonderful things that Cuenca has to offer expats.

Cuenca Is a Modern, Developed City with Old World Charm

Is Cuenca Ecuador the Best Expat City

Cuenca has all the modern amenities of a developed city like hospitals, malls and car dealerships, but it still maintains an old world charm with its beautiful, Spanish colonial architecture. The iconic blue domes of the New Cathedral can be seen from most vantage points in the city and make for amazing pictures to share with your friends and family. You’ll find a new, irresistible photo op around every corner in Cuenca.

Cuenca Has an Airport

Cuenca Airport

One of the amenities that makes Cuenca so appealing to expats is the airport located just a short cab ride from the heart of the city. While the airport claims to be international, nearly all flights go to Quito with an occasional flight to Guayaquil. You’ll also need to walk down stairs upon exiting the plane since there are no gangways, but the airport itself is very nice with a small food court on the second level and a tasty coffee shop on the first level by the ticketing counter. The flight to Quito only takes 45 minutes so it’s much easier than making the 8+ hour drive to Quito, or the 3+ hour drive to the Guayaquil international airport.

You Don’t Need a Car in Cuenca

Cuenca Ecuador Tranvia

Cuenca’s new Tranvia will take you from the airport through El Centro and out to the Don Bosco neighborhood on the southwest side of town. The expansive bus system will take you anywhere inside or outside Cuenca. Taxi rides are very affordable and most fares cost between $2 and $3 with a $1.50 minimum. Cars are much more expensive in Ecuador than in countries like the United States, and interest rates on car loans are very high, so luckily the wide variety of inexpensive transportation options mean you don’t need a car in Cuenca.

Cuenca Has LOTS of English-Speaking Ecuadorians

Most Cuencanos who are under 30 years old speak English, and many older Ecuadorians who lived in the US or Europe when they were younger also speak English. That means it’s a really easy place to start your life abroad if you’re not yet fluent in Spanish. With language apps widely available, speaking Spanish isn’t a requirement anywhere in Ecuador, but being able to communicate in English makes the transition to a new city and culture much smoother.

Cuenca Has LOTS of Spanish Schools & Teachers

Walking Spanish Lessons Cuenca Ecuador

If your goal is to learn Spanish, Cuenca is a great place to study the language. There are a variety of Spanish schools, teachers and language exchanges to help you learn and practice. We HIGHLY recommend Christina with Walking Spanish Lessons, whom we’ve featured in this video on our YouTube Channel: Cuenca Ecuador Walking Spanish Lessons.

Cuenca Has a Large Expat Community

Cuenca Expats

While many adventurous expats move to a foreign country to spend time with locals and experience a new culture, others move abroad mainly to live a more affordable, higher quality of life. These types of expats appreciate having other like-minded, English-speaking people to talk to and to provide social support. Cuenca has one of the largest expat communities in South America with thousands of immigrants from the US, Canada and Europe, making it an ideal place to start a new life abroad.

Cuenca Has a Variety of Modern, Upscale Housing

Cuenca Ecuador House

Your friends and family may think you’ll be living in a dirt floor house with no indoor plumbing when you move to Ecuador, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. While building standards aren’t quite the same as in the US and other developed countries, Cuenca has a large selection of modern, upscale housing to choose from. Whether you want a freestanding home, a row home or a high rise condo, you’re sure to find something that will make you feel right at home for a fraction of the cost compared to similar housing in the US.

Cuenca Has Excellent Pet Care

Cuenca Pet Care

If you’re planning to take your fur babies with you when you move abroad, Cuenca has a number of English-speaking veterinarians and pet care providers. You’ll find pet supply stores in most neighborhoods and malls, and you can even take your dog to daycare for a playdate. Your dog will also enjoy long walks along the linear river parks and in Parque Paraíso. And there are plenty of opportunities to adopt dogs and cats from several different animal rescues in Cuenca. Check out our recent article, Ecuador Pet Care, Pet Sitting & Pet Food for more on this topic.

Cuenca Has LOTS of Fun & Entertaining Things To Do

Cuenca Things To Do

If you’re an activity-oriented person, Cuenca will NOT disappoint! There are tons of things to do in Cuenca! You’ll find lots of museums to visit, like the Inca ruins at Pumapungo and the Museum of Modern Art in San Sebas. Cuenca has great walking tours, river walks, restaurants, social gatherings, music events, and more. Plus, a short 2o minute cab ride will deliver you to the hot springs in Baños Azuay southwest of Cuenca for a relaxing day of soaking in the therapeutic waters and pampering in the spas.

There are LOTS of Amazing Day Trips Around Cuenca

Cuenca Day Trip Cajas

Cuenca is centrally located near several of Ecuador’s incredible natural and historical sights like El Cajas National Park with its herds of photogenic llamas. You might also enjoy the waterfalls of Girón, the handmade guitar makers in San Bartolomé, the filigree jewelry in Chordeleg, the orchid farm in Gualaceo, the indigenous market in Cañar, the church built into the side of a mountain in Biblión, or the Inca & Cañari ruins in Ingapirca. And if you’re really brave, you’ll love mountain climbing at Cojitambo in Azogues! All of these attractions and more can be enjoyed on day trips from Cuenca!

Cuenca Has High Quality Medical Care & English-Speaking Doctors

Cuenca Medical Care

Medical and dental tourism in Cuenca is rapidly growing in popularity due to the availability of high quality care at a very affordable price. Many medical practitioners speak fluent English and most trained in the US, Europe, Argentina or Chile so they’re well educated and knowledgeable about the current science and procedures. Most private hospitals and newer public hospitals also have the same modern equipment that you would see anywhere in the US. If you have chronic health conditions or you’re just getting older, you may appreciate having Cuenca’s high quality medical care at your fingertips.

Cuenca Has a Large Variety of Delicious Restaurants & Cuisines

Dining out at restaurants in Cuenca is not only delicious, but varied and affordable. You can find most cuisines, such as Indian, Italian, Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, Japanese, American, Gourmet, Vegetarian, Vegan, and plenty of Ecuadorian. In addition to serving food that tastes amazing, you’ll also often find yourself taking pictures of the artistic creations put down in front of you because aesthetics are just as important as flavor to many chefs in Cuenca. You can buy an Ecuadorian lunch, called El Almuerzo, for $1.50 to $3 while most popular expat dinners will cost around $7 to $10 per person.

Cuenca Has Great Coffee Shops

Cuenca Coffee Shops

Ecuador grows some of the best coffee in the world, and now they’re FINALLY opening coffee shops to serve it. Gourmet coffee shops are growing in popularity, especially in Cuenca. Goza Espresso Bar is Ecuador’s version of Starbucks and they have several locations in Cuenca with both indoor and outdoor seating. Café Ñucallacta and Yaw Ecuadorian Café are also tasty coffee shops with good atmospheres and outdoor seating. If you’re a Starbucks addict, you might be disappointed to learn that it hasn’t made its way to Ecuador, yet. However, you’re sure to enjoy the rich flavors and varied menus at Cuenca’s numerous coffee shops.

Cuenca Has Modern Grocery Stores & Several Large Mercados

Cuenca Mercados

If you want high quality, low cost fruits and vegetables, Cuenca’s large, rustic mercados are the best option. But if you’re looking for packaged and/or refrigerated items, or you prefer shopping in modern grocery stores, you’ll find plenty of those, too. The renovated Supermaxi in El Vergel is now like a Whole Foods in the US, and there are several other Supermaxi’s in Cuenca. Other modern grocery store chains in Cuenca are Akí and Coral Hipermercados, which is like a Super Walmart.

Cuenca Has Several Speciality & Organic Shops

Cuenca Specialty Shops

Holistic living is very popular among Ecuadorians, who appreciate the value of non-pharmaceutical options to healthcare needs. You’ll find plenty of speciality and organic shops in Cuenca selling everything from fair trade chocolate to gluten free flour to CBD oil to cruelty free shampoo. Semilla Tienda Saludable (healthy seed shop) is one of our favorite stores and a great place to start your search for specialty items in Cuenca.

Cuenca Has Numerous Visa Agents

Ecuador Temporary Resident Visas

If you plan to stay in Ecuador past your 90 tourist visa, you’ll likely need to enlist the help of a qualified visa agent. While it is possible to get a visa on your own without help, the process has become much more complicated over the years and very nuanced. The rules and regulations are not clearly defined, so you may get different answers from different government representatives and the success of your application often comes down to the relationships your visa agent has cultivated. Since Cuenca has one of the largest expat populations in Ecuador, there are also a lot of visa agents to help you navigate the confusing process of getting a temporary resident visa. For more information about Ecuador visas, check out our article: Ecuador Temporary Resident Visas.

Major Drawbacks of Living In Cuenca

While Cuenca is quite possibly the best expat city in Ecuador, if not the world, it does have a few major drawbacks that may impact your decision to move there.

Altitude Sickness

Cuenca Elevation

Cuenca sits at 8,400 feet (2.560 meters), which is well over a mile and a half above sea level. That means the air is very thin and the sun is very hot (when it makes a rare appearance). After an initial adjustment period of a few days to a week, most people have no long term effects from the elevation, but others aren’t as fortunate.

Common symptoms of altitude sickness (more aptly named elevation sickness) are dizziness, shortness of breath, skin flushing, nausea, vomiting, dehydration, headaches, forgetfulness, difficulty walking, drowsiness, and/or sleeplessness.

If you have spent time in high elevation cities without these symptoms, you will likely be just fine in Cuenca. However, if you’ve never spent time at a high elevation before, you won’t know if it affects you until you get there. If your body doesn’t adjust after a week, you may want to search for a lower elevation city.

Cool, Cloudy Weather

Cuenca Cloudy Weather

Cuenca sits just to the west of the Amazon jungle so all the moisture that evaporates on the eastern side of Ecuador is condensed into clouds when it hits the high Andes mountain range. Combine that with the high elevation in Cuenca and it’s a recipe for lots of cool, cloudy days.

During the cold/dry season from June through November, you’ll rarely see the sun for more than a few minutes at a time, and often not for days or weeks at a time. During the warmer/wet season from December through May, you’ll ironically get more sun between the rains, but it’s still very cloudy most of the time.

Cuenca is called the land of eternal spring, which elicits images of sunny days and green grass and blooming flowers, but it’s also cool and cloudy during spring, which is a more accurate interpretation of the term.

During the cold months, temperatures can dip below 40°F (4.5°C) at night and rarely go above 70°F (21°C) during the day. Central heating is very rare in Ecuador, so you might need space heaters and warm blankets to stay warm.

During the warm months, daytime temperatures are typically near 80°F (26.5°C) and rarely reach 90°F (32°C). If you’re a fair weather fan, the constant Seattle-like cool, cloudy weather in Cuenca may not be your cup of…coffee.

Too Easy to Speak English (If You Want to Learn Spanish)

While the large number of English-speaking Ecuadorians in Cuenca makes the transition to a new country and culture easier, it can also make it difficult to learn Spanish. It’s simply too easy to speak English in Cuenca so you may not feel enough pressure to learn the native language, and many expats don’t.

If your goal is to become fluent in Spanish, you might prefer one of the other popular expat destinations in Ecuador where English is not as common. Check out our article, Best Cities to Live in Ecuador for Expats to see where other expats choose to live.

The Drive Through Cajas to Get to Guayaquil

Cajas Drive

If you fly into Guayaquil on your way to Cuenca, or if you visit the coast from Cuenca, you’ll need to drive through El Cajas National Park.

On your first trip, you’ll be awestruck by the natural beauty. You might even appreciate some new angles and scenery on your second trip. But by the third time driving on the winding mountain two-lane highway and down through the cloud forest with zero visibility heading toward Guayaquil and the coastal region, you’ll be firmly over the 3 plus hour commute.

You can fly from Cuenca to Guayaquil, but the flights go through Quito so it will take much longer than driving and cost 10 times more than a buseta with Operazuatur and 20 times more than an interprovincial bus.

There simply is no easy way to get from Cuenca to Guayaquil or the southern Ecuadorian coast without driving through the nausea-inducing Cajas.

This isn’t a deal breaker for most expats, but it is an inconvenience that does get tiresome.

Is Cuenca Ecuador the BEST Expat City?

All things considered, if you don’t have issues with the elevation or the cool, cloudy weather, Cuenca is still the best expat city in Ecuador, especially for new expats. Cuenca’s modern conveniences, housing, healthcare and services make it an extremely easy place to land and get your feet wet if you’ve never lived abroad before.

After living in Cuenca for over 2 years, we decided to move to the coast, primarily because of my worsening altitude sickness and Amelia’s lack of appreciation for the dreary weather. If Cuenca was 4,000 feet (1.200 meters) lower in elevation and a bit warmer and sunnier, we may have never left.

We have no regrets about living there and we still feel like it is the best expat city in Ecuador, and maybe all of South America.

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.

Ecuador Pet Care, Pet Sitting & Pet Food

If you’re planning to move abroad with your furry family members, you likely have many questions about the availability and quality of Ecuador Pet Care, as well as pet sitting/boarding, and dog and cat food options.

Overall, Ecuador is very pet friendly, and most people, Ecuadorians and expats alike, have one or more dogs and/or cats. That means there are plenty of options for grooming, pet sitting and veterinarians. However, there aren’t nearly as many options for pet food as we’re used to back in the US, and the cost of quality pet food is very high.

In this article, we’ll share our experience with Ecuador Pet Care in Cuenca and Olón, as well as a few options for pet food, including our very own recipe for Cheap & Healthy Homemade Dog Food.

You may also be interested in our article about Traveling with Dogs or Cats to Ecuador from the United States…

Veterinarians in Ecuador

Veterinarians are very common in Ecuador, and most neighborhoods in the larger cities have one. However, many of the smaller rural areas do not have a veterinarian so you might need to drive an hour or more if you’re planning to live outside a city.

Olón Vet Clinic

Olón Ecuador Vet Clinic

We’re very excited about our new veterinarian clinic here in Olón! Prior to this new clinic, most people took their pets to Xavier Merchan in La Libertad, which is about an hour drive south of here. That was the closest location for quality pet care and grooming services.

However, now we have a much closer option! The folks at Coastal Animal Rescue of Ecuador (CARE) worked together with the comuna leaders and neighborhood volunteers to get the clinic up and running. In just the first 2 weeks of operation, the clinic served over 100 furry patients!

The clinic is located a half block west of the main highway through Olón on Avenida 3 de Diciembre, which the road that runs between the main mercados toward the ocean.

If you would like a quick tour of the new vet clinic in Olón, we featured them in this video:

Many of the local Ecuadorians cannot afford the cost of pet care, so the clinic mainly runs on the fees collected from those who can afford to pay for services, as well as recurring donations through the CARE Registered Non-Profit. If you’re in the US, all donations made to CARE are fully tax deductible and go directly to helping our furry Ecuadorian friends in Olón and nearby comunas.

If you would like to help a local family take good care of their dog or cat, you can learn more about making a one-time or recurring donation on the CARE website… Amelia and I donate $50 per month to help out!

Cuenca Animal Clinic

Cuenca Animal Clinic Teeth Cleaning

When we lived in Cuenca, we took Daisy and Alicia to the Cuenca Animal Clinic that was located near our house in the El Vergel neighborhood. They came highly recommended by several expats we knew, and now we recommend them, as well.

They were GREAT with our dogs, they speak English and they offer a variety of services for dogs and cats, including annual exams, toenail trims, anal gland expression, and teeth cleaning.

On the visit featured in our video, Daisy had her annual exam, toenails trimmed and teeth cleaned. The cost varies by the size of your dog, but the final bill for Daisy was $70 plus $12 for Frontline (flea and tick treatment). An annual exam without the dentistry typically costs between $15 and $20.

The Cuenca Animal Clinic also sells some higher quality dog food, as well as supplements, heartworm and flea/tick treatments.

Dog Grooming in Ecuador

Ecuadorians love small breed, designer dogs like Pekingese, Havanese and Shih Tzus, so there are more options for small breed groomers, but you still have lots of options even if you have a bigger dog.

Grooming at the Olón Vet Clinic

Olon Ecuador Vet Clinic GroomerAs we showed in our video, you can now get your dog groomed at Olón’s new vet clinic. Daisy is a short haired Heeler/Border Collie mix so she doesn’t need haircuts, but she does need a regular bath and toenail trim. Alicia is a Toy Poodle so she needs regular grooming or she looks like a giant black cotton ball. We’re very happy to have a groomer so close by now!

Maxi’s Pet Care in Cuenca

If you have a small dog (less than 20 pounds), we highly recommend Maxi’s Pet Care in Cuenca for grooming and boarding. Maxi is a tiny little Chiguagua who belongs to Jessica, the owner, groomer and pet sitter.

Maxi’s Pet Care – Grooming & Pet SittingWhile Jessica typically only accepts small dogs for the services she provides, she made an exception for Daisy, who weighs about 30 pounds. We took Daisy over to Jessica’s for a play date to see how she behaved around the smaller dogs. She made mom and dad proud so she was allowed to come back for baths and longer term stays.

We were really happy with the quality of the grooming services Jessica provided. She made Alicia look like a young pup again! And Daisy always came home all bushy and clean smelling. Jessica even picked our girls up at our house, and dropped them off so we didn’t need to worry about transportation.

Jessica is truly a dog whisperer! Follow her on Instagram for some of the CUTEST dog photos you’ll ever see! We have no idea how she gets the dogs to pose like they do! She also shares pictures and videos each day that your dog stays with her so you can see your fur baby while you’re away.

Contact Jessica directly for current pricing.

Dog Wash Ecuador

Dog Wash Ecuador

We also took Daisy to Dog Wash Ecuador in Cuenca on occasion. They were located near our home so it was a short walk to get Daisy a bath. She REALLY dislikes water and being wet, so giving her a bath is a huge pain for all involved. We prefer to let the professionals handle it.

We only took Daisy there a couple times, but they did a good job for a good price so we feel comfortable recommending them.

Pet Boarding & Pet Sitting in Ecuador

One of the great things about living in Ecuador is that it’s really close to lots of amazing places to visit, like the Amazon Rainforest, the Galapagos Islands, Machu Picchu, Patagonia, and so many more. While you’re busy exploring inside Ecuador and throughout South America, you’ll want to know your fur babies are being well taken care of back home.

Boarding Your Pet in Ecuador

Pet boarding in Ecuador isn’t nearly as common as hiring a pet sitter to take care of your dogs and cats while you’re away from home. In fact, there are no boarding options near our current rural comuna of Olón. Our only option is to hire a pet sitter, or take Daisy and Alicia to a friend’s house. They’re older dogs and don’t travel well so we can’t take them with us.

However, you will find several boarding options in larger cities like Cuenca, Guayaquil and Quito. Whether you’ll be gone for just the day or for several weeks, we highly recommend Jessica with Maxi’s Pet Care in Cuenca if you have a small dog.

One thing we really like about Jessica’s operation is that she doesn’t kennel the dogs. They’re free to run around and play with each other, and Daisy and Alicia are able to sleep in the same bed together.

Jessica even has a nice doggie playground and they are taken for a walk every day, weather permitting.

Ecuador Pet Care at Maxi's Pet Care Cuenca

The best way to find reputable places to board your pet in Ecuador is by word-of-mouth so start by asking other expats who they trust to watch their pets while they’re away. That’s actually how most things operate in this country.

The next best option for finding places to board your pets is by asking for recommendations in Facebook Groups like Ecuador Expats, Cuenca Expats, Olón Life or Amelia And JP’s Unconventionals.

You can also ask for a recommendation on, or search their past pet boarding recommendations.

Finding a Pet and/or House Sitter in Ecuador

If you’re like us, you’ll probably prefer hiring a pet/house sitter to stay at home with your fur babies while you’re away. Keeping your pets at home while you’re gone reduces their stress level and it’s also nice to have someone watch your house rather than leaving it empty.

Again, the best option to find a pet or house sitter in Ecuador is to ask your friends and fellow expats for referrals. Allowing someone to stay in your home and be responsible for your pets while you’re travelling can be very stressful so you’ll want to make sure the person you hire is completely trustworthy.

We only hire someone who we know personally, or someone who came highly recommended by a friend we know and trust. We invite them over to meet the dogs and see how they interact well before our planned trip to makes sure everyone gets along and we like the sitter. You can expect to pay $10 to $20 per day for someone to stay at your house, depending on the number of pets.

We know a couple of pet/house sitters in the Olón area, so if you need a referral, drop us a note through our contact form…

Pet Food in Ecuador

High quality, store bought pet food is very expensive and not widely available in Ecuador. While grocery stores such as Supermaxi, Mi Comisariato and Tía sell pet food, most of it would be comparable to Purina Dog or Cat Chow, which actually is available here. However, they don’t have the highest quality ingredients.

Dog Food in Ecuador

Here are some of the dog food options at the Tía in Montañita:

When we were in Cuenca, we bought PRO PAC® Ultimates™ Meadow Prime™ at a small pet food store by Supermaxi El Vergel. However, it’s imported from the US and it’s VERY expensive: $32.50 for 2kg (4.4 pounds)! Daisy and Alicia ate about two bags per month so that was as sizeable amount of our monthly budget!

During the quarantine, we weren’t able to go back to Cuenca when we had planned so we ran out of the PRO PAC dog food pretty early in the lockdown. Consequently, we decided to try a less expensive brand that we can buy locally at Agrolon, which is an animal and garden supply store here in Olón (they have NO web presence but you can find them one block east of the main road near the soccer field).

They carry several different brands of dog and cat food, but some friends recommended Canimentos from BioAlimentar. It’s made in Ecuador so it has a smaller environmental footprint than PRO PAC and it only costs $7.50 for a 2kg bag, which is a huge cost savings for us. Plus, the dogs seem to really like it and they both seem very healthy with shiny coats and fast growing toenails so we’re going to continue with it.

We feed them CANi Adultos in the morning, and a combination of CANi and our Cheap & Healthy Homemade Dog Food (see below) in the evening.

Cat Food in Ecuador

We don’t have cats so we don’t have much experience with cat food or care in Ecuador. However, we snapped some photos of a few options for cat food and kitty litter at Tía in Montañita:

Cats aren’t nearly as common as dogs in Ecuador, so the selection of cat food is quite a bit smaller.

Cheap & Healthy Homemade Dog Food Recipe

Since quality dog food is very expensive in Ecuador, many expats choose to make their own dog food with affordable, high quality, whole food ingredients.

Dogs are true omnivores so they can eat a combination of meat, vegetables and legumes. We have a meat-free kitchen so the food we cook our dogs only has lentils and vegetables; however, we know several expats who make their own dog food using meat, rice and vegetables.


  • 400g brown lentils (uncooked)
  • 400g green peas (fresh, frozen or dry soaked)
  • 400g carrots (chopped)
  • 400g sweet potato or pumpkin (peeled and chopped)


Add all the ingredients to a pressure cooker and cover completely with water plus about an inch for good measure. Pressure cook with the vent closed on the beans setting for 24 minutes. You can also boil all the ingredients together in a large pot until the lentils are cooked and everything is soft.

The serving size varies based on the size of your dog, but we feed Daisy (she’s 30 pounds) about 1 cup for dinner with a little CANi sprinkled over the top, and she gets about 3/4 cup of CANi for breakfast.

Alicia is only 7 pounds and nearly 20 years old so she doesn’t eat much of either: about 1/3 cup of CANi in the morning and 1/4 cup of the homemade dog food for dinner with a little CANi mixed in. We soak Alicia’s CANi in water to soften it up because she has lost most of her teeth.

The options for vegan pet food in Ecuador are non-existent. We never found any in Cuenca, and we never found the nutritional supplements that are added to pet food so we opted to feed them a combination of homemade and store bought dog food to ensure they get all the nutrients they need.

Ecuador Pet Care Conclusion

There are lots of different veterinarians, groomers, sitters, boarding places and pet food options to choose from in Ecuador, and it’s a very pet-friendly country so you’ll often find water bowls and treats at restaurants with outdoor seating and at pet-friendly businesses.

We’re very happy we brought our two rescue dogs with us to Ecuador, and we know lots of other expats who brought their pets with them, or adopted pets when they arrived. Truly, the worst part of bringing your pets to Ecuador is getting them here. Once they’re here, it’s easy to keep them happy and healthy.

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