Bad Things About Living in Ecuador

Ecuador is a beautiful country with amazing people, but like most countries on the planet, there are also some bad things about living in Ecuador. Some of them are to be expected just like in any other country in the world, while others are specific to developing countries.

So, if you’re thinking about visiting or moving to Ecuador, there are several downsides that you need to take into account. From income inequality and pickpocketing to noise and litter, here are some of the main disadvantages of living in Ecuador.

Income Inequality 

Income Inequality 

Income inequality is one of the worst things about Ecuador. The wealth gap is quite significant in Ecuador, with approximately 26% of the population living in poverty. With a minimum wage of $400 per month, a large part of the population struggles to make ends meet.

While the minimum wage could be enough for one person with a minimalist lifestyle, lots of families have to live on the income provided by a sole earner, which translates into poverty for many of them.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, things were looking better for people in Ecuador, with fewer of them living in poverty when compared to the numbers from 10 years ago. Prior to 2020, the middle and upper middle class accounted for about 72% of the population in Ecuador, but there has been a decline in the middle-class as a result of the pandemic.

When it comes to the wealthy, they only account for 1.5% of the population in Ecuador, with the top 10% holding 50% of the country’s wealth. However, to put things into perspective, the top 10% of the United States population holds 68% of the country’s wealth, which translates into a greater wealth gap in the U.S. than in Ecuador.

Pickpocketing & Theft 

Pickpocketing & Theft 

Pickpocketing and theft are a rather common issue in Ecuador. From having your phone stolen to taxi robbery, travelers can encounter several safety concerns in Ecuador.

The good news is that with a little common sense and a few tips, it’s possible to prevent yourself from being a victim of theft.

Try always to pay attention to your surroundings and keep your belongings with you at all times. Keep your bags and pockets zipped at all times. You should also avoid putting your bags in the upper head bins or under the seat when you’re traveling by bus.

Keep your belongings close to you on public transport and never hand them to people who offer to stow them for you for “security.” They may be pretending to work for the bus company, but they’ll take your backpack, and you’ll never see it again. Another method employed by thieves is to slice open a bag placed underneath the seat to take valuables out, so it’s best to try and keep your bag on you at all times and invest in a cut-proof bag.

It’s also important to remember that there may be drug-related violence in some of the neighborhoods in major cities, so it’s always a good idea to know what to expect when you’re traveling to such neighborhoods. If you’re unsure about which neighborhoods are safe and which aren’t, either avoid unfamiliar areas or talk to the locals to find out where it’s safe to visit.

Price Gouging (Getting Gringoed)

Price Gouging (Gringoed)

If you’re wondering what “getting gringoed” means, it’s when you pay more than a local would for the same thing just because you’re an American (or any foreigner, for that matter). This typically happens in Ecuador because Americans are not used to negotiating, so they tend to pay the asking price, which is often higher than it should be.

Americans generally get gringoed in Ecuador in taxis, at the market, or when they hire a contractor to do some work on their home. To avoid it, make sure you ask what the price is upfront and remember that the culture in Ecuador is a negotiating one, so it’s ok to barter before you buy.

It’s NOISY!

Noise

Ecuador can be really noisy at times, which may be something you’re not used to, depending on what country you’re from. There’s music on the beach, people have loud parties, and there are lots of fireworks to deal with.

But it’s not just Ecuadorians having fun that causes the noise — there’s also construction, honking horns, and even roosters. You may also expect announcements over the loudspeakers, church bells, car alarms — you name it.

Living in Ecuador typically means that you have to learn how to live with a lot of noise. It’s just a fact of life, so if you don’t think you’ll be able to cope with it, Ecuador, or Latin America in general, might not be the right place for you.

Street Dogs & Cats

Street Dogs & Cats

Street dogs and cats are another thing that you need to get used to when you live in Ecuador. There are lots of dogs without collars on the streets, and it’s not always possible to tell whether they have a home or not. They’re generally friendly, but you can never tell for sure, so you may want to remain alert, especially if you notice large packs of dogs coming towards you.

Another issue with street cats and dogs in Ecuador is that people can’t always afford to take care of them properly, so many of the animals are underfed or have various health issues. Because people in Ecuador aren’t fans of neutering dogs, they end up with lots of puppies, which later become strays because they’re just too many of them to be kept as pets.

Some of the dogs you see on the streets in Ecuador are not strays and they go home at night. So even though they are in the street, they actually have a home and family somewhere. Most Ecuadorians have dogs for the purpose of property protection, so the relationship between dogs and humans is a bit different than what you might be used to.

​Litter

Litter

While litter is not such a big problem in large cities where the public administration has crews that sweep up the trash regularly, that is not the case in smaller rural communities. Expect to encounter lots of litter and trash, especially plastic. There’s also a lot of trash on the side of the road in smaller cities and the surrounding areas.

Several new laws that ban single-use plastic are rolling out over the next three years, so you can expect to see a significant reduction in single-use plastic around the country. Many of the provisions in these laws are due to come into effect in 2021, so hopefully the streets of Ecuador are on track to becoming much cleaner in the near future.

​Dark & Cloudy

​Dark & Cloudy

Ecuador has multiple microclimates, but you should expect lots of dark and cloudy days from June through November. It’s not all dark and cloudy in all parts of the country at the same time, as the clouds are related to the geography of the country.

The Amazon rainforest is located in the eastern part of the country. It releases lots of moisture that evaporates, then gets condensed by the Andes Mountain range, which results in clouds, mostly in the high cities such as Quito and Cuenca. The climate is typically drier and sunnier in Salinas and Manta.

Are there TOO MANY bad things about living in Ecuador?

These are the main bad things about living in Ecuador that you should be aware of if you’re planning a trip or even consider moving. The people of Ecuador are amazing and welcoming, the country is indeed a beautiful one, but like most places in the world, there are some dark sides to it.

From income inequalities to lots of noise, you should be prepared for a bit of culture shock when you land in Ecuador. But getting to know and love the Ecuadorian people and their beautiful country is definitely worth it if you have an open mind and are willing to adapt.


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News & Current Events from Ecuador

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Every Friday, we send an email with current expat-relevant news from Ecuador (in English). It contains the latest information about covid, travel restrictions & guidelines, government actions, volcanoes, flooding, crime, and more. Basically, anything significant from the prior week that affects expats. We don't share this information ANYWHERE ELSE!

In addition, you'll also gain immediate access to our Ecuador Cost of Moving & Living Calculator. And it now contains a Low Budget Cost of Living option.

Get Even More Guidance!

You're not alone! We have a supportive community of current and future expats who are eager to share their experiences, answer questions and provide support to help take the mystery out of your move.

Plus, you'll gain immediate access to dozens of patron-only videos and posts, and your support helps us continue sharing this magical country with you.

Ecuador Culture Shock 101: Things That are Strange to Expats, but Normal to Ecuadorians

Transitioning to Ecuadorian life comes with a few surprises that may leave you scratching your head as you adjust to the Ecuador culture shock.

Here are a few things that Ecuadorians do a bit differently than Americans. Some of these Ecuadorian quirks are fascinating, some are endearing, and a few of these strange customs are downright dangerous!

Voting in Ecuador

Voting

Voting in Ecuador is mandatory for adults between 18 and 65. If you’re 16 or 17, over 65, or a permanent resident who has lived in Ecuador for at least 5 years, you are also allowed to vote, but it’s optional.

Ecuador is currently in the midst of a democratic presidential election. Initially, there were a whopping 16 different candidates on the ballot!

In order to win the election, a candidate must either get 50% of the popular vote, or 40% of the popular vote while beating all other candidates by at least 10%.

Since there was no clear winner in the first round of elections, a runoff election is set to take place between the two leading candidates in April 2021, and again, everyone must vote.

Elections are held on Sunday’s so most people are available to vote without taking time off of work. However, employers are legally required to give workers time off to vote.

Things get a little stranger when you learn that there are no alcohol sales in Ecuador during the three days leading up to the elections. Apparently, this law is in place to ensure that everyone is sober when they walk up to the ballot box, as well as to prevent candidates from using free drinks as incentives for votes!

Driving in Ecuador

Driving

If you’re accustomed to turning right-on-red, as many do in the US, you might experience some Ecuador culture shock when you start driving.

Strangely enough, right-on-red really isn’t a thing in Ecuador. Instead, expect to see people turning LEFT-on-red and into oncoming traffic while dodging pedestrians!

ALWAYS look and NEVER assume you have the right-of-way!

Banking in Ecuador

Banking

Ecuador is Cash-based

Ecuador is a mostly a cash-based society thanks to a large number of mom-and-pop shops in the country. Consequently, you won’t use debit or credit cards nearly as often as you did back home.

Big stores and chain restaurants do accept them, but you’ll need cash to get through most of your daily interactions. Only a few small stores or restaurants accept cards, so you’ll need to pay with cash most of the time.

Bank Accounts in Ecuador

Since everyone uses cash, there are often really long lines at the bank and in front of ATMs when you go to withdraw money.

Additionally, banks hire armed guards to protect their customers. It’s common to see bank customers carrying bags of money into the bank, so the extra security is a necessity, but the show of force might cause a little Ecuador culture shock on your first few visits to the bank.

Opening a bank account in Ecuador is also different. Instead of opening an account online in just a few clicks, you have to physically visit at a local bank branch. You’ll also need to provide two letters of recommendation to the bank from people who are willing to vouch for you before you can open an account in Ecuador.

Check out our article Money and Banking in Ecuador for more on this topic.

Safety Concerns in Ecuador

Safety Concerns

Expats arriving in Ecuador will be astonished at the number of blatant safety violations that regularly occur. Over time, as you get more familiar with the country and your Ecuador culture shock diminishes, you’ll find these situations less shocking.

Lack of Safety Standards in Ecuador

In Ecuador, you’re pretty much responsible for your own safety since there are very few safety standards in place for workers or for the general public.

There is no OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration like in the US) to create and enforce safety regulations to protect workers from their companies (or from themselves).

Seriously, don’t be surprised to find sidewalks that aren’t blocked off when workers are throwing chunks of cinder blocks from two stories above you. That actually happened to us in Cuenca. You’ll come across similarly dangerous situations all the time.

Keep your eyes open to keep yourself safe. Since Ecuador is a relatively non-litigious society, you don’t have much recourse if something happens. Look out for open trenches, missing manhole covers, and flying cinder blocks.

Weak Building Codes in Ecuador

Like other parts of Latin America, there are plenty of unfinished homes. Unlike in the US, where the dwelling must be inspected and certified as safe before people are allowed to occupy it, many houses in Ecuador are in varying stages of completion.

You’ll see part of the house finished with exposed rebar sticking out of the top floor, waiting for the next addition. This practice is common for several reasons.

First, we’ve heard that homeowners aren’t required to pay taxes until the home is finished so they have a financial incentive to delay completion.

Second, many homeowners build what they can afford and add on as they can afford to build more. Others choose to leave room for potential expansion to accommodate a growing Catholic family.

Finally, some land agreements require construction to begin by a certain date, but there is no requirement to end by a certain date so builders rush to start the project, but then stop once the entry gate is built and a part of the foundation is poured.

No Postal System in Ecuador!

No postal system!

Expats often experience severe Ecuador culture shock when they learn that there’s no coordinated mail delivery system in Ecuador. There are no mail trucks or mail carriers to deliver letters and packages directly to your home or office on a daily basis.

If you need to send things inside Ecuador, there is a private courier service called Servientrega that you can use if necessary. They are affordable and reliable, but we had to go meet our delivery driver in the center of town to get our package. Since exact addresses aren’t common in Ecuador, he couldn’t find our condo building.

Limited Online Shopping in Ecuador

Since there’s no postal system to make regular deliveries, online shopping hasn’t quite caught on in Ecuador. Instead, you’ll need to visit markets and malls to get what you need. This may prompt you, as it has several expats, to adopt a more sustainable, minimalist lifestyle.

Though Amazon claims to deliver to Ecuador, it often takes several weeks or months to receive a package. Even worse, on occasion, packages have been intercepted and held for ransom by customs or shipping agents who require hundreds of dollars to release them!

One friend had a package shipped to Ecuador from Poland by her mother. The shipping costs were prepaid, but when our friend went to pick up the package at the shipping center, she was told that it would cost an additional $100 to get it. If she declined to pay, they would charge her or her mother $200 to to ship it back to Poland. She paid the $100 ransom to the shipping company, which shall remain nameless.

If you’re planning an expat life in Ecuador, it’s best to leave your online shopping habits back home.

Carrying Copies of Government ID Cards

In Ecuador, everyone has a cedula, which is a government-issued ID card. Many Ecuadorians don’t drive, but they must still obtain a cedula if they’re 18 or older.

Since pickpocketing is a common occurrence in Ecuador, and since it’s annoying and costly to go through the process of getting a new cedula, most Ecuadorians leave the original at home and carry a laminated copy or a photo on their mobile phone. However, if you need to conduct legal or financial transactions, you’ll need the original.

Strange Holiday Traditions in Ecuador

Holiday traditions

Christmas in Ecuador

Ecuadorians have a few Christmas traditions that expats will find strange. For Christmas, locals buy dolls that symbolize Baby Jesus, dress them up and carry them around. And there’s even a Baby Jesus parade that takes place every year in Cuenca!

New Years Eve in Ecuador

On New Years’ Eve, Ecuadorians create papier-mâché mannequins called monigotes that look like people they love, people they hate, sports figures, politicians, cartoon characters, animals, or anything else that has personal significance. Then, they tie these dolls to their cars or display them at their houses.

At midnight, to start the new year, they set these dolls on fire and jump over them. As a result, many people are sent to the hospital with severe burns each year. While we have enjoyed this tradition for several years, it still makes us feel a little Ecuador culture shock on occasion.

Carnaval in Ecuador

Like most other South American countries, Carnaval is a huge celebration in Ecuador. The youth have a great time partying, but most of the older Ecuadorians prefer to stay home and safely out of the way.

In a uniquely Ecuadorian twist, these celebrations usually include pelting participants (or complete strangers) with water balloons, water guns, buckets of water, muddy water, eggs, foam—really anything that will make a wet mess!

And you’ll often see young people throwing these things from moving cars so always stay alert when you’re walking around during the week leading up to Carnaval in Ecuador or you risk a wet, messy bout of Ecuador culture shock!

Prostitution is LEGAL in Ecuador

Prostitution

Most expats will find it pretty shocking that prostitution is legal and regulated in Ecuador, especially since Ecuadorians are thought to be very Catholic and conservative.

While it’s still generally frowned upon, it’s not uncommon for married men to frequent some out-of-the-way motels that essentially function as brothels.

There are plenty of motels on the outskirts of town that rent rooms by the hour for this purpose. Most are hidden behind high walls for discretion, but everyone knows what you’re doing if you’re spotted turning into one of these places.

These hourly motels aren’t just for debauchery, though. Since many Ecuadorians live under the same roof as their parents and grandparents, young couples visit these motels for privacy and alone time.

Larger cities like Cuenca and Quito have dedicated red-light districts where prostitutes can easily be found. We’ve been told that the cost is shockingly low for the various services that are provided, while the women are shockingly beautiful.

Ecuador may be a largely Catholic country, but Ecuadorians are very open-minded and liberal about some things. A short walk down any of the beaches in Ecuador will reveal a plethora of dental floss thong bikinis worn by all ages and sizes of women. You may even spot the occasional topless sunbather and speedos are popular with men. You’ll also see sex stores in regular shopping malls and suburban neighborhoods.

When it comes to sex, drugs and alcohol, Ecuador is more like a Mexican soap opera than a conservative 50’s sitcom, which might cause some culture shock for more traditional, conservative expats.

Ecuador Culture Shock Is REAL

Ecuador Culture Shock 101

Expats arriving in Ecuador may do a double-take at many of the strange things Ecuadorians do, but it’s an integral part of the country’s charm. Where else can you routinely see people causally carrying machetes to chop bamboo and perform other jobs? There truly is no place like Ecuador.

Be prepared for some culture shock since there are plenty of significant differences that you’ll encounter. Driving and banking will require some initial adjustment on your part, but you’ll find that these changes are pretty essential to getting along with an Ecuadorian way of life.

Assimilating these new traditions and experiences only adds to the uniqueness of living in Ecuador and getting to know and love the Ecuadorian people.


Follow Us on Social Media

News & Current Events from Ecuador

Ecuador Costs of Moving and Living

Every Friday, we send an email with current expat-relevant news from Ecuador (in English). It contains the latest information about covid, travel restrictions & guidelines, government actions, volcanoes, flooding, crime, and more. Basically, anything significant from the prior week that affects expats. We don't share this information ANYWHERE ELSE!

In addition, you'll also gain immediate access to our Ecuador Cost of Moving & Living Calculator. And it now contains a Low Budget Cost of Living option.

Get Even More Guidance!

You're not alone! We have a supportive community of current and future expats who are eager to share their experiences, answer questions and provide support to help take the mystery out of your move.

Plus, you'll gain immediate access to dozens of patron-only videos and posts, and your support helps us continue sharing this magical country with you.

Low Cost of Living in Ecuador: Can you live on LESS than $500 per month?

Is it possible to live in Ecuador for less than $500 per month? The short answer is yes! Expats and retirees flock to Ecuador for its tropical weather and beautiful, biodiverse landscapes, as well as for the low cost of living! Depending on where you choose to live, it’s entirely possible to live well in Ecuador on a very small budget.

People worldwide—including US, Canadian, and European expats—have discovered that Ecuador offers many affordable options to choose from. Besides the prospect of pleasant weather and stunning scenery, you can also look forward to minimizing your expenses and stretching your income!

In this article, we’ll take a look at the typical monthly expenses you can expect to incur living in Ecuador. This is a guide to everything you need to know to make a $500 budget work well for you.

You’ll find information on housing options, health insurance costs, food, and transportation that will allow a single person to live quite well on a low budget.

Housing

Low Budget Housing in Ecuador

Housing is often the largest budget consideration. It’s also what makes moving to Ecuador so attractive for people who leave Canada, Europe, or the US. Although coastal options and larger properties will cost more money, it is entirely possible to find safe, comfortable housing for less than $300/month.

Here are some things you’ll want to keep in mind when you look for housing on a tight budget.

Hostel or Private Room

Although you’ll have to share amenities like a kitchen and bathroom in these setups, you can find a safe, spacious place to live in Ecuador for between $100-$200/month in a hostel or private room in someone’s home.

For example, a friend secured a well-appointed room in a house living with an Ecuadorian family in Cuenca for $110/month. Though she only had a small corner of the fridge to herself and shared a bathroom with her host family, she enjoyed the experience and lived on a very low budget. As a bonus, living with an Ecuadorian family allowed her to quickly learn the local culture and become fluent in Spanish.

Private Housing in Ecuador

If you elect to rent a private house, condo or apartment, there are plenty to find below or around the $300/month mark in smaller cities and towns throughout Ecuador.

Here are some things that you’ll want to factor into your housing search:

Furnished, Semi-furnished and Unfurnished

There are some pretty dramatic differences between the types of listings for rental properties in Ecuador.

Furnished homes are move-in ready and have everything you need, including kitchen items, like pots and pans, and linens, like sheets and towels. Consequently, they’re more expensive.

Semi-furnished homes have appliances, like a stove and refrigerator, but you’ll have to provide everything else, such as pots, pans, plates, bedding, etc.

Unfurnished units will not have anything included—sometimes you’ll even need to provide your own blinds and light fixtures!

If you decide to go with an unfurnished or semi-furnished place, you can find reasonably priced second hand furniture at moving sales or local consignments shops.

If you’re planning to ship your belongings to Ecuador in a container, check out our article about Ecuador Shipping Company Costs and Process for more on that.

Ecuador Housing Location

Desirable properties on or near the beach, or centrally located housing in popular cities such as Cuenca, usually charge higher rents, but there are plenty of places with great views and surroundings that you can rent on a budget.

Paute (which has a thriving expat community) and Azogues are about 45 minutes from Cuenca, but offer a host of cheaper housing alternatives. Inland cities like Cotacachi, Ibarra, or Otavalo also have very affordable housing options. You might find that you need a car to get around those areas rather than rely on public transportation, so that could be costly.

For more ideas on affordable coastal living options, check out our Affordable Beach Town Rentals in Olón Ecuador video to see opportunities like the Casita in Las Nuñez, which rents for $350/month.

Health Insurance

Health Insurance in Ecuador

You are no longer required to have health insurance to live in Ecuador. That rule was dropped from the tourist, temporary and permanent visa requirements in 2020.

However, you will probably choose to purchase either private or public health insurance, which will run you about $80/month/person. You’ll pay more or less than that depending on your age, pre-existing conditions, and whether or not you smoke.

Private Insurance in Ecuador

For private insurance, in addition to the monthly premium, you can expect a nominal $100 annual deductible and a $10 copay per visit for low deductible plans. You can also purchase a high deductible plan with gap insurance, which has the benefit of lower monthly premiums.

These plans cover you at 90% in-network and 80% out-of-network. Pre-existing conditions are covered after a two-year waiting period with private insurance plans.

Public IESS Insurance in Ecuador

After you obtain your temporary residency visa AND your cédula, you can enroll in the Public IESS health insurance plan for a similar monthly premium.

Under the IESS coverage, you’ll have no copay or deductible and everything is covered at 100%, including doctors visits, surgeries, hospital stays and medication.

However, you must go to doctors, hospitals, and pharmacies in the public IESS network. Pre-existing conditions are covered after a 3 month waiting period.

To learn more about this topic, check out our article, Ecuador Health Insurance: Private vs. Public IESS.

Cuenca Mercados

Grocery Costs in Ecuador

Budgeting $50/month/person for groceries is a reasonable amount in Ecuador, especially if you buy most of your fruits, vegetables and beans from the local mercados rather than the grocery stores.

Meat, dairy, eggs and processed foods are more expensive in Ecuador, so if you eat a plant-based diet or limit your consumption of those products, you’ll save a lot of money.

Transportation

Transportation

Ecuador is well-connected with a reliable public transportation system. Each ride costs about 35 cents in Cuenca and 50 cents along the coast.

Cab rides in Cuenca typically cost between $2 and $3, while on the coast they cost $1.50 to $5 depending on how far you travel between towns.

Interprovincial buses will take you from city to city throughout the country for just a few dollars per trip.

Realistically, you can get by on about $20 per month for transportation if you stay local and limit your cab rides.

Mobile Phone

Mobile Phone Service in Ecuador

WhatsApp is included in most mobile phone plans in Ecuador, and it’s used by most people to stay in touch using the free public Wi-Fi that’s available throughout the country.

Many expats choose to get a monthly phone plan that includes data for about $20/month. You can also go the prepaid route and spend a few dollars a month on minutes that you use until you run out. Depending on how heavily you rely on your mobile phone, this option can save you a lot of money over the course of a year.

Potential Extras

Potential Extras

Many rentals include utilities like water, internet or electricity.

In warmer areas in the coastal or Amazon regions, electricity isn’t typically included because air conditioning preferences lead to varying costs that are hard to predict. Depending on how cold you like it, and how efficient your place is, you’ll probably pay between $20-$100 per month in electricity charges.

Basic, residential internet service costs about $30/month with Netlife on the coast or PuntoNet in Cuenca, and faster speeds will cost more.

Some extra costs that you might incur are bottled water delivery, for about $20/month. However, plenty of people in Cuenca enjoy the tap water.

Propane costs vary widely, from $2-$3/month to $15 or more.

Montanita Ecuador Almuerzo

Incidental Expenses

Dining Out

Though the best way to save money on food is by shopping at the mercados and cooking at home, there are affordable dining options that you can enjoy on a low budget.

Local-run restaurants that serve typical Ecuadorian fares like chicken, fish, soup, rice, plantains, and juice are very affordable. Almuerzos, which are sizeable lunch portions, normally run between $1.50 to $3 for a hearty, authentic meal.

Depending on where you go and what you eat, you can dine out a few times a week on a $30 monthly dining budget.

Entertainment

Ecuador offers plenty of free entertainment options, such as local walking tours, free museums and free concerts. Local parks are outfitted with free outdoor workout equipment, and the beautiful beaches and most national parks are free, too.

These are plenty of fun ways to entertain yourself on the cheap in Ecuador.

Clothing & Shoes

Local brands of clothing and shoes are more affordable than imported brands, like Nike or Skechers. You can find plenty of options in malls, small stores or pop up shops that are in line with what you’d expect to spend on clothes or shoes back at home.

Conclusion

Yes! It’s more than possible to live well in Ecuador on less than $500 per month!

Frugal couples can easily manage on $700-$800 per month since the cost of housing won’t increase with more people.

Health insurance is reasonably priced, but will be a significant budget consideration. Beyond that, fresh, healthy food is very affordable in Ecuador. Almuerzos at local restaurants and fresh fruits and veggies from the mercados will allow you to eat well on a low monthly budget.

Transportation, utilities, and incidentals are also inexpensive compared to high cost of living places like the United States, Canada and Europe. The low cost of living in Ecuador continues to attract expats from around the world.

With a little creativity and little frugality, there are plenty of ways to make a $500 monthly budget work well for you in Ecuador, while providing lots of enjoyment and a higher overall quality of life.


Follow Us on Social Media

News & Current Events from Ecuador

Ecuador Costs of Moving and Living

Every Friday, we send an email with current expat-relevant news from Ecuador (in English). It contains the latest information about covid, travel restrictions & guidelines, government actions, volcanoes, flooding, crime, and more. Basically, anything significant from the prior week that affects expats. We don't share this information ANYWHERE ELSE!

In addition, you'll also gain immediate access to our Ecuador Cost of Moving & Living Calculator. And it now contains a Low Budget Cost of Living option.

Get Even More Guidance!

You're not alone! We have a supportive community of current and future expats who are eager to share their experiences, answer questions and provide support to help take the mystery out of your move.

Plus, you'll gain immediate access to dozens of patron-only videos and posts, and your support helps us continue sharing this magical country with you.

11 Reasons to Move Abroad in 2021

Have you considered what it would be like to pack up your life and move abroad to a new country? If you have saved up some money, work as a freelancer, are considering early retirement, or you’ve joined the “remote working” society that has become so prevalent in the last year, moving abroad may be easier than you once thought possible.

In these unprecedented times, working at a job you love does not necessarily mean you have to work in the city where your job is located. As long as you have a reliable internet connection you can have your cake and eat it too. You can earn your high-wage American paycheck while taking advantage of the lower cost of living in a different country.

If moving abroad sounds appealing to you, read on to learn more about the perks of living in a distant location, far from home.

#1 Move Abroad for a Fresh Start

#1 Move Abroad for a Fresh Start

Moving to a new and foreign destination allows you to create a fresh start for yourself—the world becomes your oyster!

Starting fresh does not mean you need to transform your life completely, but you can finally take the opportunity to change bad habits, focus on the things in life that you truly love, and meet new friends who can have a profoundly positive influence on you.

A fresh start in a new country allows you to wipe the slate clean and get your life in order.

#2 Move Abroad to Pay Down Debt

#2 Move Abroad to Pay Down Debt

When deciding where to start your life anew, be sure to take the local cost of living into consideration.

In countries such as Ecuador, where the U.S. dollar is also the official currency, you won’t need to worry about calculating currency exchanges in your head. The cost of living is also much lower compared to living back in the states, affording you the opportunity to spread your money out much further.

Other countries in Southeast Asia like the Philippines, Malaysia, Laos, Cambodia, Indonesia and India are even MORE affordable than Ecuador! However, they’re much further away and you might experience more of a culture shock if you’re leaving the United States.

Depending on where decide to move abroad, your cost of living could be 1/3 or even less than you’re paying back home.

Check out our Cost of Living in Ecuador: A Guide for Expat Budgeting article for more on this topic.

#3 Move Abroad to Save For Retirement

#3 Move Abroad to Save For Retirement

Living abroad as an expat affords you the opportunity to develop a more aggressive strategy for saving for retirement.

Again, a lower cost of living allows you to live comfortably for less money, so the money you save can be invested into your retirement account. If you structure your retirement savings strategy the right way, you should be able to save much more money while living abroad, which will allow you to enjoy a better retirement when you get older.

The key is continuing to be frugal with your money, even when the exchange rate or cost of living works out well in your favor. Don’t adopt a more luxurious lifestyle just because you can.

#4 Move Abroad to Retire Early

#4 Move Abroad to Retire Early

If warm weather and sandy beaches are calling your name, consider becoming an expat and retire from the workforce earlier than the standard average age of 67.

We know several military, police and firefighters who retired after their 20 years of honorable service and moved to Ecuador. Their pensions weren’t enough to live a comfortable life back in the United States, but they can live a very comfortable life in Ecuador without working anymore. Imagine retiring in your 40’s or 50’s while you’re still young enough to enjoy life!

Moving abroad could be the ticket to realizing an earlier retirement, thanks to cheap real estate prices and being able to stretch your money out further.

#5 Move Abroad for a Better Work/Life Balance

#5 Move Abroad for a Better Work Life Balance

If you can’t afford to retire yet, one of the benefits of working remotely is that you can achieve a better work/life balance since you won’t be spending as much time commuting to a job. Less time in a car means more time at home with your family and friends.

You could also live in a vacation destination so you can enjoy the beach or the mountains every day instead of just when you take time off from work.

And since you don’t need as much money if you live in a low cost of living country, you may find that you don’t need to work as much. It’s a beautiful thing!

#6 Move Abroad for Medical or Dental Care

#6 Move Abroad for Medical or Dental Care

One of the biggest perks of moving to a country with a lower cost of living is that you will be better able to afford costly medical and dental procedures you may have been putting off.

You may be surprised to learn that reputable doctors and specialists are available in lots of countries, and you will find that it is perfectly safe and much more affordable to have medical and dental work completed abroad.

According to CEOWORLD Magazine, in 2019 Ecuador had the best healthcare system in the Americas south of Canada. They looked at Overall Healthcare, Infrastructure, Professionals, Cost, Medicine Availability and Government Readiness. Ecuador ranks 25th among the 89 countries they evaluated, barely losing to Canada (23rd) and beating the US (30th). The top 9 countries are in Asia and Europe, and number 10 is Australia.

Not only can you save between 50% to 90% having your medical and dental treatments taken care of abroad, but foreign medical and dental insurance policies are much cheaper than purchasing these policies from insurance companies based in the United States.

Check out our FAQ #6 – What about HEALTH INSURANCE In Ecuador? for more on this topic.

#7 Move Abroad to Expand Your Worldview

#7 Move Abroad to Expand Your Worldview

The best way to learn about a new, fascinating culture is to experience it firsthand by living abroad.

While living in your new country, spend time indulging in foreign cuisine at fine restaurants and roadside haunts, learn about the history of its people through museum visits and getting to know the residents in your community, and by exploring the country’s major cities and the roads less traveled out in the countryside.

Moving abroad might also give you a new appreciation or at least a new perspective about your home country. Immersing yourself in a new culture is truly a mind-altering experience that can dramatically expand your worldview.

#8 Move Abroad to Get Inspired with Fresh New Ideas

#8 Move Abroad to Get Inspired with Fresh New Ideas

Part of the allure of living in a foreign country is that the colors, smells, sights, and sounds are all different than those you have experienced while living at home. All these new sensory experiences can inspire you with fresh new ideas and dreams.

Seize the opportunity of living in a vibrant place to come up with new plans for the present and future. Have you ever wanted to write a book, learn a new craft, or embark on a new career journey? Moving abroad has the power to help you change your perspective and turn your dreams into a reality.

You’re also likely to notice that day-to-day life is much different in other countries than what you have experienced living in the United States and other developed nations. In many parts of the world, big corporations and retail chains do not rule commerce like in America. Small, family owned and operated businesses are still the norm, which means there is also a lower barrier of entry for entrepreneurs.

You might even be inspired to return home and start a new business based on the fresh new ideas you have while living abroad.

#9 Move Abroad to Learn A New Language

#9 Move Abroad to Learn A New Language

Living abroad offers the perfect opportunity to learn a new language, which is great mental exercise to keep your brain active and pliable as you age.

Engage in activities like reading road signs and local newspapers/blogs so you are exposed to, and immersed in, the new language as you go about your day.

Instead of trying to work through a language learning program, get out and practice the language of your new country with the locals. To quote Xavier Montezuma, an Ecuadorian friend who is fully fluent in English, “Language is meant to be spoken; not studied.”

You will also find locals who are more than happy to help you learn their language. Do not be ashamed if you struggle at first—most people will be flattered that you are attempting to adapt to their culture.

#10 Move Abroad to Meet Someone Special

#10 Move Abroad to Meet Someone Special

Whether you are looking for a new best friend or a romantic partner to spend your life with, moving to a new country provides you with the opportunity to meet someone special.

It is often much easier to meet new people when you move to a new place because you are less wrapped up in your daily routine and are more open to new experiences.

When you first move to a new country, you will have more free time available, especially if you make a solo journey to the country without your friends or family.

You might meet a fellow expat with common interests, or maybe even a local. Once you “carpe diem” and start living life to the fullest, you suddenly become a lot more attractive to other people!

#11 Move Abroad for a Gap Year

#11 Move Abroad for a Gap Year

If you’re trying to decide what you want to study while in college, or whether college is even right for you, consider taking a gap year and moving abroad to open your educational horizons.

Experiential learning through immersing yourself in a new culture will provide a much more impactful educational experience than reading about world affairs in textbooks. Learning through experience better prepares you to tackle real world issues once you return to school or enter the workforce.

Are You Ready to Move Abroad Yet?

Whether you are young and want to take an adventure before settling down into a career, are considering early retirement, need to reduce your cost of living, or would just like to broaden your horizon and experience living in a different culture, moving abroad may be the perfect solution for you.

The beauty of moving abroad is that it doesn’t have to be forever, but it can change your life forever!


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News & Current Events from Ecuador

Ecuador Costs of Moving and Living

Every Friday, we send an email with current expat-relevant news from Ecuador (in English). It contains the latest information about covid, travel restrictions & guidelines, government actions, volcanoes, flooding, crime, and more. Basically, anything significant from the prior week that affects expats. We don't share this information ANYWHERE ELSE!

In addition, you'll also gain immediate access to our Ecuador Cost of Moving & Living Calculator. And it now contains a Low Budget Cost of Living option.

Get Even More Guidance!

You're not alone! We have a supportive community of current and future expats who are eager to share their experiences, answer questions and provide support to help take the mystery out of your move.

Plus, you'll gain immediate access to dozens of patron-only videos and posts, and your support helps us continue sharing this magical country with you.

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 Amazon.com 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 USAValet.net or APShipping.us. 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.


Follow Us on Social Media

News & Current Events from Ecuador

Ecuador Costs of Moving and Living

Every Friday, we send an email with current expat-relevant news from Ecuador (in English). It contains the latest information about covid, travel restrictions & guidelines, government actions, volcanoes, flooding, crime, and more. Basically, anything significant from the prior week that affects expats. We don't share this information ANYWHERE ELSE!

In addition, you'll also gain immediate access to our Ecuador Cost of Moving & Living Calculator. And it now contains a Low Budget Cost of Living option.

Get Even More Guidance!

You're not alone! We have a supportive community of current and future expats who are eager to share their experiences, answer questions and provide support to help take the mystery out of your move.

Plus, you'll gain immediate access to dozens of patron-only videos and posts, and your support helps us continue sharing this magical country with you.

Weather In Ecuador & Best Time to Visit Ecuador

Many of our YouTube Channel viewers are curious about the weather in Ecuador, the best time to visit Ecuador, and what to pack for a visit to Ecuador, so we’ll shed some light on those topics in this article.

Since Ecuador is located on the equator in a tropical region, most people expect it to be hot, wet and humid like the Congo or Indonesia. However, the weather in Ecuador is much more complicated and nuanced than that.

The weather in the Amazon Rainforest that occupies the entire eastern side of Ecuador is much different than the weather in the high Andes mountain range that runs north and south through the center of the country, which is also much different than weather in the Pacific coastal region occupying the western third of Ecuador.

Ecuador Topographical Map

And, of course, the Galapagos Islands located about 600 miles (965 kilometers) west of the Ecuadorian mainland has its own weather patterns, although similar to the Pacific coastal region.

The weather in Ecuador, the best time to visit and what to pack for your trip depends largely on what part of Ecuador you want to travel to or live in, but before we discuss that, you’ll want to understand how Ecuadorians define the seasons, which may not be what you expect.

Winter vs. Summer in Ecuador

If you’ve been watching our videos for a while, you’ve heard us refer to “the dark days of winter” and “the hot days of summer.” If you’re from the US or Canada, you have a pretty solid understanding of these two seasons: It’s cold in the winter and it’s hot in the summer.

But what if you grow up someplace where the daylight hours are always the same, and the high temperatures between winter and summer vary by less than 10 degrees F (5 C)?

We’ve received numerous comments from Ecuadorians who tell us that we have the seasons backwards. According to our native viewers, winter is from December to May and summer is from June through November. That’s the same as it is in the US and elsewhere in the northern hemisphere.

However, most of Ecuador is in the southern hemisphere, which defines its winter and summer as the opposite of the northern hemisphere.

For example, winter in Chile and Argentina is from June 21st to September 21st; that’s when it’s cold and it snows. Summer is from December 21st to March 21st; that’s when it’s hot and sunny.

The picture below of Amelia dripping with sweat in her bikini top was taken on February 16, 2020 during what Ecuadorians call “winter.”

Winter In Ecuador

Winter In Ecuador

Summer In Ecuador

Summer In Ecuador

The picture of Amelia wearing a jacket during lunch at South Indian Restaurant one block off the beach was taken on August 10, 2020 during what Ecuadorians call “summer.”

The scientific definition of “summer” states that it’s the warmest time of year, while “winter” is defined as the coldest time of year. The hot and cold season may vary by location, but the definition of winter and summer remains the same, at least according to science.

But in Ecuador, winter is defined as the rainy season, even though it’s hot and sunny most of the time, while summer is defined as the dry season, even though it’s cooler and cloudy most of the time.

These definitions of winter and summer may not make sense to us North Americans, but that’s how Ecuadorians define them. When in Rome, do as the Romans do so we will now be referring to the sunny, hot, wet “winter” season as the hot season and the cloudy, cooler, dry “summer” season as the cold season to hopefully minimize confusion with our North American and European viewers who might be planning a trip here.

Weather In Ecuador

Despite the numerous microclimates in Ecuador, for the most part, it’s hot or at least warmer from December through May, and cooler and cloudier from June through November.

It rains more from December through May, but it’s also much sunnier with most of the rain occuring at night or in spurts rather than daily. Ecuador does not have a monsoon season like other tropical regions.

Weather In Cuenca Ecuador (and the Mountains)

Cuenca Ecuador Weather

Moisture evaporates in the Amazon Rainforest and is condensed by the high Andes mountains, which explains why most of the mountain cities such as Cuenca and Quito are often cloudy.

Also, due to the high elevation with Cuenca sitting at 8,400 feet (2.560 meters) and Quito sitting at 9,350 feet (2.850 meters), it’s often much cooler than you might expect from an equatorial region.

In the chart above from the World Meteorological Organization showing average weather stats in Cuenca, the red line indicates the average high temperatures (64-72°F / 18-22°C) while the blue line indicates the average low temperatures (48-52°F / 9-11°C).

These are just averages. It occasionally drops below 40°F (4°C) during the cold season in Cuenca, and above 85°F (29°C) during the hot season.

The turquoise bars represent average monthly rainfall (1-5 inches / 20-123 mm). The months with the most rain are March and April, but again, it’s sunnier during those months, too.

Humidity is not very noticeable in Cuenca due to the high elevation, but the UV index is very high so remember your sunscreen, hat and/or umbrella even if you’re just taking a short walk around town.

The lower mountain cities like Vilcabamba are much warmer and drier than Cuenca and Quito, and there are several mountain micro-climates that are very desert-like. However, you can expect similar weather conditions throughout most of the high mountain region of Ecuador.

Weather In Guayaquil Ecuador (and the Coast)

Guayaquil Ecuador Weather

The coastal region of Ecuador also has numerous micro-climates. Driving from Guayaquil west toward the coast and north to Manta, you’ll pass through deserts, jungles and rainforests multiple times. However, the general weather throughout the coastal region is similar to Guayaquil.

In the chart above from the World Meteorological Organization showing average weather stats in Guayaquil, the red line indicates the average high temperatures (84-90°F / 29-32°C) while the blue line indicates the average low temperatures (68-75°F / 20-24°C).

Again, these are just averages. It occasionally drops below 60°F (15°C) during the cold season in Guayaquil, and above 95°F (35°C) during the hot season.

The turquoise bars represent average monthly rainfall (0-13 inches / 1-332 mm). The months with the most rain are February and March.

It’s also sunnier throughout the year in Guayaquil and much of the coastal region than it is in the mountains with a few micro-climate exceptions.

For instance, due to the low mountain range east of Olón that runs about 20 miles (32 kilometers) along the coast, the towns from Manglaralto north past Ayampe experience more clouds and cooler temperatures from June through November than other areas in the coastal region. Both Manta and Salinas are much sunnier and warmer, similar to Guayaquil.

Humidity varies a lot depending on the weather and the season. During the hot season when it rains more, the humidity is much higher while it tends to be lower during the dry season.

During one of our visits to Guayaquil, it was very dry one day, cloudy and humid the next day, then dry again on the third day. Since much of the coastal region is desert-like, you won’t notice as much humidity as you might expect for a country located in the tropics.

I grew up in eastern Kansas south of Kansas City, spent a lot of time in north-central Texas, and lived in northern Virginia. The humidity in the coastal region of Ecuador is nothing like it is in the eastern and central United States when the air is so thick you can barely breathe.

Weather In Puyo Ecuador (and the Amazon)

The Ecuadorians refer to the Amazon region as El Oriente, which got its name from the original Ecuadorian government in 1861.

The province of El Oriente originally contained the two cantons (counties) of Napo and Canelos, but it was dissolved in 1920 by the local canton governments. However, Ecuadorians still refer to the region as El Oriente.

According to ClimatesToTravel.com, Puyo, Ecuador and the other cities/towns in the Amazon have similar weather throughout the year without many seasonal variations. Puyo sits at 3,300 feet (1.000 meters) above sea level, so it’s a bit cooler than the lower elevation areas in the eastern part of the Ecuadorian Amazon.

High temperatures in Puyo range from 77-81°F (25-27°C) with low temperatures ranging from 61-63°F (16-17°C). As you might imagine, it rains a lot in the Amazon Rainforest with average monthly rainfall ranging from 12-15 inches (295-390 mm). January and February have the least rainfall on average, with less than 12 inches (300 mm).

With all that rainfall in a tropical rainforest, it’s very hot, wet and humid in El Oriente.

Weather in The Galapagos Islands

Galapagos Islands Weather

In the chart above from the World Meteorological Organization showing average weather stats in the Galapagos Islands, the red line indicates the average high temperatures (79-86°F / 26-30°C) while the blue line indicates the average low temperatures (68-73°F / 20-23°C).

The turquoise bars represent average monthly rainfall (.3-4 inches / 8-107 mm). The months with the most rain are January through April, but those are also the warmest months and the best time to visit if you hope to spend time in the water.

When Is The Best Time To Visit Ecuador?

The best time to visit Ecuador in terms of weather is during the sunny season from December through May. This is especially true if you’re planning a beach vacation.

The water temperatures are mostly constant along Ecuador’s coast, ranging from 73°F (23°C) in January up to 79°F (26°C) in May. However, the cooler air temperatures combined with the ocean breeze mean it’s too chilly for most people to swim without a wetsuit during the cold season. You also won’t see enough sun from June through November to get any sort of suntan to show off when you go back home.

If your dream is to walk on miles of empty beach or go whale watching, and you couldn’t care less about swimming or suntanning, visit during the cold season from late June through early October when the Humpback Whales are passing by and the beaches are mostly empty.

Puerto Lopez Whale Watching

If you like crowds and festivities, the best times to visit Ecuador are during the first week of November during Cuenca Days, the week between Christmas and New Years, and Carnival in mid to late February. If you prefer fewer people and cheaper lodging, you might want to avoid those times.

The best time to visit the Galapagos Islands is also from December through May when the temperatures are warmer so you don’t get too cold on those amazing boating, snorkeling and diving adventures.

If you’re planning a trip to the Amazon, the time of year doesn’t matter very much since the weather is mostly the same year round.

What to Pack for Your Visit to Ecuador

The type of clothes, accessories and supplies you should pack for your visit to Ecuador depends on the area(s) you plan to visit.

What to Pack for the Mountain Region – Cuenca, Quito, etc.

San Francisco Plaza New Cathedral Cuenca Ecuador

When you’re packing for your trip to the mountain cities in Ecuador, bring clothes that you can layer. The temperature can vary widely throughout the day in the mountain cities, from 40°F (4°C) when you wake up to 85°F (30°C) by mid-afternoon when the sun is out.

It can also vary widely within the span of an hour, going from sunny and warm to cool and rainy so you always want an umbrella, rain jacket, hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, water and a small backpack to carry everything. Bring comfortable shoes because Ecuadorian mountain cities are very walkable.

We don’t recommend hiking shoes or boots for the cities because the sidewalks are hard and uneven so the cleats can cause you to trip on things. However, if you plan to visit El Cajas National Park or go hiking in other natural settings, you’ll want a good pair of hikers and maybe walking sticks.

What to Pack for the Ecuador Pacific Coast, Galapagos and Amazon Regions

Guayaquil Ecuador Building Cerro Santa Ana

In general, you’ll want to pack shorts, sandals, short sleeve shirts, a hat/do-rag, sunglasses, sunscreen, bug repellant and your bathing suits when you visit the warmer regions of Ecuador.

You also may want hiking shoes and pants, as well as a backpack with a camelback for water if you’re planning any jungle hikes.

If you’re planning to visit the coast or the Galapagos during the cooler months from June through November, you may want to bring a mask, snorkeling gear, a lightweight wetsuit for swimming or surfing, a light jacket or windbreaker, and some light pants.

Conclusion

To recap, Ecuadorians call winter “summer” and summer “winter,” but we’re guests in their country so we should use the terms they’ve been taught since childhood.

However, if your goal is to lay on the beach and get a suntan or enjoy water sports, you’ll want to come during “winter,” which is from December through May. If you want to visit when there are fewer tourists and it’s more tranquilo, or you want to go humpback whale watching, the best time to visit is from June through November. The height of whale season is from July through the end of September.

What to pack for your trip to Ecuador depends largely on when you visit and where you visit, but as a general rule, pack layers and bring good shoes because you’ll be walking a lot. But don’t worry too much if you forget something because you can always buy it in Ecuador and help out the local economy.

Ecuador is a WONDERFUL place to visit as a tourist or live as an expat/immigrant. If you’re considering a move to Ecuador, you might want to checkout our Start Here Series, which is full of useful information that will help reduce the mystery of moving abroad.


Follow Us on Social Media

News & Current Events from Ecuador

Ecuador Costs of Moving and Living

Every Friday, we send an email with current expat-relevant news from Ecuador (in English). It contains the latest information about covid, travel restrictions & guidelines, government actions, volcanoes, flooding, crime, and more. Basically, anything significant from the prior week that affects expats. We don't share this information ANYWHERE ELSE!

In addition, you'll also gain immediate access to our Ecuador Cost of Moving & Living Calculator. And it now contains a Low Budget Cost of Living option.

Get Even More Guidance!

You're not alone! We have a supportive community of current and future expats who are eager to share their experiences, answer questions and provide support to help take the mystery out of your move.

Plus, you'll gain immediate access to dozens of patron-only videos and posts, and your support helps us continue sharing this magical country with you.

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

Saki

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.

Conclusion

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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How to Work Remotely as a Digital Nomad or Digital Expat (from ANYWHERE in the world)

How to Work Remotely as a Digital Nomad or Digital Expat is a topic that is gaining more and more interest each day. Due to the pandemic and the shuttering of offices worldwide, which has caused a massive growth in the number of people working from home, it has become even more feasible to work remotely from anywhere in the world.

While it is possible to earn income from a job in another country, there are other options that may allow you to earn more money working fewer hours. Plus, you can start before you leave home so you minimize your risk of moving abroad and ensure a smooth landing in your new expat destination.

Is Getting a Job Abroad Realistic?

While it is possible to get a job abroad, it may not be the best option to earn income as an expat, especially in countries like Ecuador. Here’s why.

Local Language Fluency if Often Required

Local Language

Most businesses require their employees to be fluent in the local language because most of their customers do not speak English. If you’re not fluent in the local language, it will be very difficult to find a job.

This is especially true in Ecuador where Spanish is the official language. Even though Cuenca has a lot of English speaking Ecuadorians, most people don’t speak English and even fewer speak la lingua franca in other places outside Cuenca.

In fact, according to the 2020 English Proficiency Index for Latin America released by Education First, Ecuador ranks LAST for English proficiency out of the 19 countries in the study.

Spanish fluency is a requirement to get a job at most businesses in Ecuador, as well as in other Spanish speaking countries.

A Specialized Skill Set is Often Needed

Doctor

If you have a specialized skill set or education, you may be able to get a job and have a translator supplied for you. For example, Ecuador has a foreign doctor program that encourages doctors to move to Ecuador.

There are also programs to teach a foreign language to students in Ecuador, but the pay is very low: $4 to $5/hour.

When we were doing research to move abroad, we briefly considered New Zealand and Australia. However, even though we have marketable skill sets for available jobs in those countries, they have age and health requirements for immigrants that we didn’t meet.

You may have a specialized skill set that qualifies you for a job abroad, but the pay may be very low and there may be other factors that prevent you from getting a job in your preferred country.

You Might Need a Visa That Allows You to Work Remotely

You need a visa type that allows you to work in another country. Some visa types are specifically for work, others allow you to work, and others prevent you from working.

We have a Professional Visa in Ecuador, which allows us to work remotely, as well as get a local job, if we want to. Ecuador also has a Volunteer Visa that allows you to work as an unpaid volunteer, and a Work Visa that must be sponsored by an employer.

You’re allowed to work remotely in Ecuador with most of the temporary resident visa types, but the same is not true in other countries.

You Might Need to Pay Local Income Taxes

Income Tax

If you get a job abroad, you also need to pay income taxes to the country and province where the income is earned. If you work remotely and earn income online from clients in other parts of the world, you may not owe any local taxes.

In Ecuador, any income earned from companies based outside Ecuador is not taxable inside Ecuador. That not only saves you money, but it saves you the hassle of filing tax returns in Spanish.

Most Low Cost Countries Also Pay Low Wages

Low Pay

In popular expat destinations like Ecuador, Colombia, Peru, Belize, Panama, Costa Rica, Mexico, etc., the local wages are very low. It’s difficult to earn enough money from a job to live even a basic American middle class lifestyle in many countries.

The minimum wage for a full time job in Ecuador is $415/month (2021). That’s about $2.59/hour. Moving from a country like the United States to Ecuador with a monthly budget of $415 before taxes will likely be a drastically different lifestyle for you.

We recommend a budget of at least $500/month/person after taxes for a basic lifestyle in Ecuador, and a budget of $800/month/person after taxes for a more comfortable middle class lifestyle.

See More: Cost of Living In Ecuador (2020)

You Might Have Stiff Competition

Stiff Competition

Being a foreigner is often a hindrance to finding a job. This is especially true when there is stiff competition for work, which is common in most developing countries.

Ecuador, Colombia, Peru and other countries in this region have a lot of Venezuelan refugees who need work. Ecuador is prioritizing Venezuelan work visas so they can get jobs here and start paying into the social systems they’re using.

Since they already speak fluent Spanish and they’re willing to work for low wages, they are stiff competition to other foreigners looking for the same jobs.

If your dream of becoming an expat hinges on finding a full time job abroad, you might want to start thinking about Plan B.

How to Work Remotely & Make Money Living Abroad

If finding a job abroad isn’t the best option, then what is? Working remotely as a digital nomad or digital expat might be easier than you think. Here are several options.

Work Remotely from Anywhere in the World with Your Current Job

Work Remotely

One way to work remotely is to convert your day job into a virtual job. This is the most viable option for earning income abroad, as long as your employer will allow it.

Amelia works remotely for a commercial lighting company back in Denver, Colorado. She manages their sales CRM tools, sales incentives and manufacturer visits. 100% of her job can be done online.

When we lived in Denver, she worked in the office about 20% of the time and at home the other 80% of the time. When we decided to leave Denver, she told her bosses that she needed to be 100% virtual and thankfully they were ok with that.

Having Amelia’s full American salary while living in a low cost country like Ecuador has allowed us to pay down the debt we racked up from Amelia’s student loan and the lost income following my spine surgeries.

I also work remotely, but my job as a web designer has always been virtual. When we moved to Ecuador, most of my income came from my managed web hosting clients back in the United States. They pay me a monthly fee to host and maintain their WordPress websites.

Since our YouTube Channel has grown, we’ve started earning income from ad revenue and from our patrons on Patreon. As a result, I’ve stopped taking on new web design clients so I can focus on growing our YouTube and Blog business.

We also know another expat who worked as a medical transcriptionist for a doctor’s office back in the United States. She already worked remotely so when she moved to Ecuador, her employer didn’t know she left the country. With modern communication technologies, it’s easy to appear like you’re right next door even when you’re halfway around the world.

Work Remotely Doing Online Gigs

We live in the virtual age. More and more tasks can be done online from the comfort of your home, wherever your home happens to be. You can make money working remotely as a digital nomad or digital expat as long as you have a reliable internet connection and a few basic skills.

Work Remotely as a Website or Graphic Designer

Web Design

I built my first website back in 1995 while working for Sprint in Kansas City. Since then, I’ve built hundreds of websites for small businesses, as well as some very large business management systems for large corporations and the US government. My entire career has involved web design, software development and the Internet.

However, it’s much more difficult to make a living in the web business now than it was 20 years ago due to the wide availability of virtual workers from low cost countries. As a web or graphic designer, you’ll be competing with people in countries like India, Pakistan, Russia and China where the cost of living is a fraction of that in the United States or Canada.

It used to be common to charge thousands of dollars to build a relatively simple brochureware website. Now, you’ll be lucky to get a few hundred dollars, assuming you don’t lose the job to someone in India who will do it for $50.

To be honest, web design is a loss leader these days. It’s a way to get a business onboard with a web hosting, managed web hosting, SEO or social media management monthly subscription service.

My clients have paid me far more in managed hosting fees over the past several years than the original cost of building their website. Once I get a client onboard with managed hosting, they rarely leave. If they do cancel their service, it’s usually because they decided to delete the website or close the business.

If you’re in the web design business and don’t offer a monthly subscription service, you’re leaving most of your revenue on the table.

If you’ve never done web or graphic design, I don’t recommend starting now unless you live in a low cost country and can live on a small income. It also takes years of experience to become really good and efficient.

Check UpWork.com, Freelancer.com and Fiverr.com for web and graphic design of gigs.

Work Remotely as a Content Writer

Constant-Content

The web is made of content. Although video and images are extremely popular, the written word still dominates search results and eyeballs. In order to stay relevant, a website needs to produce high quality content on a regular basis. That means companies need writers.

The easiest way to get paid to write while working remotely is on websites like Constant Content, UpWork.com and Fiverr.com. If you’re a good writer with a broad range of experience or the ability to research, you can make a decent living writing content for other companies.

A few years ago, I submitted two business articles to Constant Content, which were subsequently purchased for roughly $80. I spent about 4 hours writing them, so my pay rate was about $20/hour. Not bad.

As an expat, you’ll also have valuable and unique experiences for the readers of International Living and similar media outlets. IL pays up to $350 if they publish one of your articles.

Some people make a full time salary by writing articles for companies and content brokers so this is a viable option for how to work remotely and make money living abroad as a digital nomad or digital expat, as long as you’re a good writer.

Work Remotely as a Social Media Manager

Social-Media-Manager

Business social media accounts require constant attention. In order to stay top-of-mind, companies need to post relevant and interesting content to their social feeds throughout the day and week.

A lot of companies, especially small businesses, don’t have the bandwidth to handle this time consuming and tedious workload so they outsource it to social media managers who are experts at getting attention online.

If you live on social media and understand how to attract eyeballs with your posts, this may be a viable way to earn income abroad as a digital nomad or digital expat.

Check UpWork.com, Freelancer.com and Fiverr.com for social media manager gigs.

Create Video and Podcast Transcription/Subtitles

The need for transcription services is a rapidly growing. There are millions of YouTube Channels and Podcasts that need transcriptions, translations, closed captions and subtitles for three main reasons: Search Engine Optimization (SEO), the hearing impaired, and foreign language speakers.

Transcriptions for Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO

YouTube uses a pretty sophisticated speech-to-text transcription system, but it’s still not very accurate, especially with foreign sounding names. It rarely understands the names of towns and businesses here in Ecuador when it attempts to generate automated English subtitles for our videos; however, it needs the subtitles to accurately optimize our videos for search results.

For example, the city of Guayaquil is often translated as “why I kill.” That’s actually a decent phonetic translation, but it’s obviously a very bad phrase to have in our subtitles for both SEO purposes, as well as the hearing impaired.

If names are misspelled or words are inaudible to the non-human transcription system, our videos won’t be as easily discovered in search results. Most large channels and podcasts with meaningful income streams pay humans to transcribe videos so they’re more accurate and more discoverable.

Closed Captions For the Hearing Impaired

Closed-Captions

It’s estimated that roughly 5% of views on YouTube are from hearing impaired viewers. That’s a lot of people who won’t be able to watch your YouTube video or listen to your podcast if you don’t have closed captions.

In addition, research shows that videos with closed captions have 12% more views and 80% more people watch them all the way to the end. As a channel or podcast continues to grow, the raw numbers associated with these percentages become huge. That means closed captions become increasingly more important as the size of your audience grows.

Translations for Foreign Language Speakers

Translations

Our VLOG is based in Ecuador, but we primarily target viewers who live back in the United States and are considering life abroad as a US expat.

We have a relatively small percentage of Spanish speakers who watch our videos, but as our channel grows, we’re getting more requests for Spanish subtitles.

Rev.com is one of the most popular transcription services. You can signup and start transcribing right now. The website charges $1/video or audio minute for English transcriptions, and $3/minute for Spanish transcriptions. They pay their transcribers $0.30-$1.10 per audio/video minute so you need to be a fast and accurate typer to earn a decent living in this field.

If you speak English and another language fluently, you can earn considerably more income by translating videos and podcasts. Even if English is your only language, you can still earn an income living abroad by transcribing videos and podcasts.

Check out Rev.com, UpWork.com and Fiverr.com for transcription and translation gigs.

Work Remotely as a Telemarketer or Customer Service Representative

Telemarketing

Several years ago, long before we considered moving abroad, I hired a telemarketer to make cold calls for my web design business. They advertised on CraigsList.org in Denver, but were based in the Dominican Republic.

The husband and wife team were both telemarketers from Southern California, but they couldn’t afford to live there as the cost of living skyrocketed, so they became expats and started working remotely from abroad.

They started in Costa Rica, but the 6 months of rain per year was too much for them so they moved to a beach town in the Dominican Republic where it’s much sunnier. With high speed internet available in most countries, it’s easy to use Skype or MagicJack to make calls anywhere in the world.

If you have the mental stamina to make cold calls, or the patience to deal with unhappy people on customer service calls, you can work remotely and earn an income abroad as a telemarketer or customer service representative.

Check FlexJobs.com, UpWork.com and similar virtual job sites for telemarketing and customer service freelance jobs. Or advertise on CraigsList and similar classified ad websites to work remotely as an independent contractor.

Teach English Online to Adults and Children

Teach-English-Online

We know several expats in Ecuador who earn the majority of their income from teaching English to Chinese children through websites like VIPKid.com. You can earn between $14 and $22/hour, but there are a few downsides.

For example, you have to commit to a certain number of hours per week so it’s not as flexible as other remote working jobs. Plus, if you’re in the western hemisphere, you’ll need to work either very early in the morning (4AM to 8AM) or very late at night (10PM to 2AM) since China is in the eastern hemisphere.

The main requirement for these types of remote working jobs is English fluency. We have a Russian friend who speaks English fluently as a second language and passed the test to teach English online so you don’t need to be a native speaker to do this online job.

Start Your Own Business Abroad

Start a Business

You may have never felt the entrepreneurial calling before, but it’s actually a great option for expats to make money living abroad. That’s because many of the products and services we take for granted back home aren’t readily available in developing countries.

While this isn’t necessarily a remote working income stream, we know lots of expat entrepreneurs. 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. It really depends on your skill set and your goals as to how much money you can earn from your own expat business living abroad.

How to Decide What to Do

Make-a-Decision

Deciding what type of remote working you want to do is the hardest part, especially if you’ve spent your career working a traditional white or blue collar job back in your home country.

Working remotely or starting a business may be a completely foreign concept, but there’s a really good chance you can find something that resonates with you. The real question is: How do you decide what to do?

Do What You Already Know

Do-What-You-Know

The most important point to take away from this article is to do what you already know how to do. This could be related to your career or a long-term hobby, but the key to earning income now is to start gaining expertise years ago.

If you don’t know how to touch-type, doing transcription or web design or programming probably isn’t a good option for you. To make a decent living in a typing heavy field, you need to be able to type quickly AND accurately.

If you’ve never built a website before, it’s unrealistic to think that you can start working remotely tomorrow by providing web design services. There is a steep learning curve that is masked by user-friendly web design platforms such as WordPress, SquareSpace and Wix.

It’s just not as easy as it looks and your customers will have unrealistic expectations that you’ll need to manage. If you’ve never done it before, you don’t know what you don’t know.

If you’re struggling to find something that will allow you to make money while living abroad, start by looking at what you already know how to do, as well as things you already enjoy doing. If you’re qualified to give advice on a topic, you can likely start earning income from it and work remotely from anywhere.

Identify a Demand (NOT a Need)

Dogs

There is a difference between a need and a demand. Your goal is to do something with a demand that has been unrealized or under tapped. There may be a need for a product or service, but if there isn’t demand for it, you won’t be able to earn an income from it.

For example, there is a huge need for dog and cat neutering services in Ecuador. However, there is also a cultural bias against removing a male dog’s, um, manhood. While neutering is growing in volume here, it’s mostly done on a volunteer basis because the locals aren’t willing to pay for it. That’s the difference between a need and a demand.

The list of expat businesses above are primarily successful for two reasons: the founders did what they already knew how to do, and they filled an unmet demand (not a need).

Determine If You Have What It Takes to Work Remotely

Perservance

It takes a lot of self discipline to work remotely, get your own gigs or start a business. A lot of people simply don’t have what it takes to work from home or be their own boss. They’re easily distracted and lack the motivation to work without someone breathing down their neck.

The easiest way to determine if you have what it takes is to start doing it now while you’re still at home. If you can start earning additional income while you’re still working your day job, that will prove the concept and you’ll know for certain that you have what it takes to work remotely from anywhere in the world.

Be Prepared for Hard Work and Slow Progress

Hard-Work

If you want to start an expat business or get online gigs, it will take twice as long and cost twice as much as you think it will. You need to plan for that.

Patience, determination, consistency and perseverance are required traits for entrepreneurship, regardless of where you start your business. It takes a lot of hard work to start, operate and market a new business. If you build it, no one will come unless you promote it like crazy!

Avoid Remote Working Scams

Avoid-Scams

There are lots of people selling digital nomad and work remotely snake oil. They will tell you what you want to hear and encourage you to do things at which you’re not likely to succeed.

While doing some research for this article and the related video, I found people recommending things like online poker, day trading and bitcoin investing. These ideas don’t qualify as earning an income abroad; they’re just different ways of GAMBLING abroad.

The charlatans who push these scams tell people who can barely use the Internet that they can learn how to build websites or do search engine optimization. And they’re happy to share their “secrets”…for a fee, of course.

Please don’t give your money to these con artists or believe what they say. Much of their advice is absurd and will end up costing you more money than you’ll ever make. Some people have lost their entire life savings on these scams.

Consider Multiple Streams of Income

Multiple-Streams-of-Income

We have income from Amelia’s job, my web design clients, ad revenue on YouTube and our websites, and Patreon membership fees.

Several of our friends in Cuenca teach English online while also teaching yoga and fitness, or writing content for the web.

Even if you have a stable day job back home, it’s always a good idea to have multiple streams of income in case one of them goes away unexpectedly. The same is true if you want to work remotely and earn an income living abroad.

Study the Local Language

Walking Spanish Lessons

As I mentioned before, speaking the local language is critical if you want to find a job in your new country. However, it’s also important if you want to start a business.

In Ecuador, it’s pretty easy to function with just English, but your life will be much easier and your business more successful if you can speak at least a little Spanish.

Start Before You Leave Home

Start-Now

You don’t need to wait until you arrive in your new expat home before you start working remotely or earning income online. In fact, it’s best if you start right now so you have time to prove the concept before you need the income.

If you want to earn money online, it’s easy to get started in your spare time. First determine what you want to do and then start doing it.

Don’t get buried in the busy work or worry about getting everything just right before you launch. Just start. Sign-up on a website and apply for a job or gig or start writing. See how it goes. Learn and adapt.

If you want to start a business in your new expat destination, you can get a lot of the research and planning done before you get there. Figure out where you’re going to get the products or how you’re going to provide the services. Create your brand image and write your business plan.

More importantly, start reaching out to other business owners who have already started a business abroad. Ask them questions about the process, requirements, costs, and marketing methods that work well where you want to live. You’ll be surprised at how helpful some entrepreneurs are when other aspiring entrepreneurs ask them questions.

If you’re worried about how to work remotely or earn an income living abroad as a digital nomad or digital expat, the best way to alleviate your concern is to start doing it now. You have lots of options at your fingertips and there are lots of ways to make money living anywhere in the world. The hardest part is getting started.


Follow Us on Social Media

News & Current Events from Ecuador

Ecuador Costs of Moving and Living

Every Friday, we send an email with current expat-relevant news from Ecuador (in English). It contains the latest information about covid, travel restrictions & guidelines, government actions, volcanoes, flooding, crime, and more. Basically, anything significant from the prior week that affects expats. We don't share this information ANYWHERE ELSE!

In addition, you'll also gain immediate access to our Ecuador Cost of Moving & Living Calculator. And it now contains a Low Budget Cost of Living option.

Get Even More Guidance!

You're not alone! We have a supportive community of current and future expats who are eager to share their experiences, answer questions and provide support to help take the mystery out of your move.

Plus, you'll gain immediate access to dozens of patron-only videos and posts, and your support helps us continue sharing this magical country with you.

7 BIG Expat Mistakes to Avoid When You Move from the United States to Ecuador

Here are 7 BIG expat mistakes to avoid when you move from the United States to Ecuador. Being prepared for these cultural differences will improve your experience and help you make a smooth transition to your new life abroad.

#1 Don’t Believe The Negative Stereotypes

Movies, TV shows and the news media in the United States do not portray Latin America in the best light. The entire region south of the border is often the butt of jokes or used to draw a contrast between the “civilized” north and the “UNcivilized” south.

When the news media features Latin America, it’s usually about national protests or an attempted coup by some ruthless dictator. Rarely do we see what normal, daily life is like for the millions of people who live and work here.

We’re taught from very early that Latin America is dangerous. Lawless. Run by drug lords and corrupt dictators. Why? It’s financially beneficial to foster a fear of the unknown: If we’re too afraid to leave home, we won’t spend our money elsewhere.

However, very few of the negative stereotypes are actually true, and those that are true, are often exaggerated. While there are dangerous places in Latin America, just like there are dangerous places in the United States, most places are very safe. And Ecuador is one of the safest countries in Latin America.

You may also be concerned about the quality of Internet access outside the United States. Internet access in Ecuador’s major cities and along the coast is very fast and reliable. In fact, our service with NetLife is twice as fast for 1/3 the cost compared to our Comcast service back in Denver. We pay $45/month for 75Mbps up and down.

Our Claro mobile phone service is also very fast and reliable. The more populated areas in Ecuador have 4G coverage while the less populated areas have 3G. We were visiting Salinas last year during a planned power outage for maintenance and Amelia was able to run her Zoom conference call over the mobile hotspot without any lag or technical issues.

Our belief in the negative stereotypes perpetuated by the media kept us from moving abroad sooner, but after more than 3 years of living in Ecuador, we realize that it’s not much different than the United States.

It’s civilized and has all the modern technological necessities. The vast majority of people are really nice, they spend time with friends and family, and they work hard to put food on the table, just like the rest of us.

#2 Be Patient

When we first arrived in Ecuador, we stayed at a short-term apartment hotel in Cuenca called Apartamentos Otorongo. For one monthly rate, they take care of everything (Internet, utilities, daily housekeeping) so our time was freed up to find a rental house, setup our Ecuador mobile phone, work on our temporary resident visas, sightsee, etc.

We were thankful to have the freedom and flexibility that provided because we needed all the patience we could muster to get everything setup in our new home abroad.

In Ecuador, as in most Latin American countries, there is a concept called “mañana.” This word literally translates to “tomorrow,” but in reality, it means, “not today.” It might mean tomorrow, next week, next year or maybe never. It took us awhile to learn this cultural difference and it still tries our patience after 3 years.

Our first experience with “mañana” came soon after our arrival in Ecuador when we rented our house in Cuenca. We looked at several houses before we found one that we liked, and Amelia wanted it before we even saw the second floor!

We told the landlord that we wanted to rent his house and asked about putting down a deposit and signing the lease. He said he would be in touch “mañana” to discuss next steps.

Several days went by, but we had not heard from him so we sent a WhatsApp message reiterating our desire to rent the house as soon as the current renters moved out (in less than 2 weeks). He responded immediately and told us the house was ours and he would be in touch “mañana” about signing the lease.

Several more days went by without a peep so we messaged him again. This time, we were able to set a date to go sign the lease and put down the deposit. We moved into the house a couple days later. Cutting it so close to the move-in date caused us a lot of stress, but didn’t seem to concern him at all.

Another cultural aspect that is different in Latin America compared to the United States, is the concept of 3’s. It takes at least 3 times to do anything, such as sign a lease, get a mobile phone, repair the washing machine, open a bank account, pay the utilities, etc. Rarely is a job done right the first time, and according to our Ecuadorian Spanish teacher, this is not limited to expats; it happens to everyone.

Living in Ecuador or any Latin American country requires a level of patience that you may not be used to.

#3 Ask a LOT of Questions

As a general rule, Ecuadorians do NOT volunteer information. If you don’t ask a specific question, they won’t volunteer the answer even if you think, or later find out, it’s a critical detail.

That means it’s really important to ask a LOT of questions when you’re engaging with Ecuadorians about the services they provide. Don’t make any assumptions based on the lack of communication, other than to assume they’re omitting something that you might think is very important.

Also, follow up regularly via email, WhatsApp, text message or phone, whichever is their preferred method of contact. And don’t be afraid to ask for a regular status update.

#4 Don’t Have a Scarcity Mentality

A lot of people struggle with the scarcity mentality. It’s easy to become trapped by the mindset that you’ll never find anything as good as this, whatever “this” is. And it’s even easier to fall into this trap when you move abroad to a new country due to the constant uncertainty.

Cuenca Ecuador House

We looked at 10 different houses before we found one we liked in Cuenca. Two different rental agents showed us houses and condos, but we either didn’t like them or they didn’t allow dogs.

Each time we looked at (and ruled out) a potential rental, our scarcity mentality gained a little more control over us. We became convinced that if we did find someplace we liked, we needed to jump on it immediately or risk losing it!

It wasn’t until several months later that we realized there are LOTS of different places to rent in Cuenca and throughout Ecuador that would work just fine for us. Several of our friends rented houses or condos that were equally as nice, or nicer than ours. And they allowed dogs!

For some reason, the two rental agents who showed us rentals did not show us anything that would work for us. Perhaps this ties back to the last mistake to avoid: Ask a LOT of Questions! They didn’t seem to understand what we wanted even though they both spoke fluent English.

We were also concerned that we wouldn’t be able to find the speciality items that we wanted or needed. The United States is a very consumer-minded country, so it’s easy to find even the most obscure items at nearby stores, or have them delivered to your door by Amazon.

However, shopping in Ecuador is quite a bit different. Home delivery isn’t a thing here, and it often takes several trips to multiple different stores to find something that’s close enough to work, but may not be ideal.

We’ve learned to embrace the scavenger hunt and accept that we might have to go without some things.

#5 Don’t Make These Timing Mistakes

If you’re selling a house or car, or bringing your pets to Ecuador, be sure to give yourself enough time to get everything done. Things always take longer than you anticipate, so build a nice buffer into your plan.

Our house was in a highly desirable suburb of Denver in the best school district in Colorado so we assumed it would sell very quickly. Even though it was a seller’s market at the time, it still took 5 months to close. We hired an estate sale company to sell nearly everything in the house, but that took more than 2 months to schedule, prepare and execute.

We sold my car several months before we moved to Ecuador, but we needed Amelia’s car until closer to our departure date. That meant we only had a couple of weeks to list it and sell it outright. In the end, we sold it to the Audi dealership for significantly less than we would have made by selling it to a private buyer.

If you’re bringing your dogs or cats to Ecuador, there are a lot of rigid timelines to follow for exams and shots. We made a timing mistake with one of the booster shots for Alicia and had to reschedule our trip.

If you make a timing mistake with your pets, the airline won’t allow them on the plane so it’s really important to work with an APHIS accredited veterinarian and create a calendar so you don’t miss any important dates.

Since Daisy is not a service dog and she’s too big to fit under the seat in-cabin, she had to fly in the temperature and pressure controlled cargo area.

However, the outdoor temperature must be within a certain range that’s not too hot and not too cold for the airlines to check a dog into cargo.

We moved to Ecuador at the end of September, but it was too hot to fly her then so we made plans to go back in November to get her. She stayed at grandma and grandpa’s house in the Atlanta area while we got settled into our new home in Ecuador.

Upon our return, the Atlanta area had a freak blizzard and the temperature plummeted to record lows. Instead of being too hot, it was too COLD to fly her out of the Atlanta airport, so we rented a car and drove to Miami. We had to change our flights and pay for an expensive one-way car rental.

It’s impossible to plan for every contingency, but there are a few timing mistakes that you should be able to avoid with sufficient awareness and planning.

#6 Don’t Make This Banking Mistake

Ecuador is a cash society. Only big stores and nicer restaurants accept credit cards so you’ll need to regularly withdraw money from the ATM to fund your living expenses.

We made a huge mistake by not planning ahead to minimize our ATM fees. Our Colorado-based banks charge a 5% international ATM withdrawal fee, and most of the local banks in Ecuador also charge a fee ranging from $1.50 to $5 per transaction with $300 to $500 withdrawal limits.

Including our $800/month rent in Cuenca and our $800+/month living expenses, we were spending more than $80/month just on ATM fees!

After complaining to some expat friends, they told us about Charles Schwab, which doesn’t charge international ATM fees and refunds all fees charged by the dispensing bank.

We attempted to open our account remotely from Ecuador, but they required us to visit a branch in the United States to show proof of ID so we couldn’t finish the setup process until our next trip back to the US.

If you would like to setup an account with Charles Schwab, here’s our affiliate link, which will give us a credit on our account and helps fund these types of articles and videos. Note that you will need to setup a brokerage account first, but you don’t need to use it. Once the brokerage account is funded, you can open a checking account, which comes with an ATM card.

You can also open an Ecuadorian bank or coop account and fund it with a wire transfer for a one-time fee in the $30 to $50 range. While most Ecuadorian banks charge an ATM fee, it is still less than most US banks charge for international transaction fees. You can also pay some of your bills online if you have an Ecuadorian bank account.

We paid several hundred dollars in ATM fees by moving to Ecuador without a Charles Schwab account, making this one of the BIG expat mistakes to avoid.

#7 Study Spanish. A LOT of Spanish!

According to the 2020 English Proficiency Index for Latin America released by Education First, Ecuador ranks dead last for English proficiency among the Latin American countries they studied. You won’t find a lot of English-speaking Ecuadorians, which means at least some Spanish proficiency will greatly improve your quality of life in Ecuador.

Ecuador English Proficiency

We both took Spanish classes in high school and college, but that was a long time ago so we used language apps like Duolingo and Fluenz as a refresher before we moved abroad to Ecuador. We studied a LOT using those apps, but it wasn’t nearly enough.

If we had it to do over, we would take official Spanish classes and attended language exchanges to practice conversational Spanish in the year leading up to our move to Ecuador.

Drop us a note through our contact form if you would like us to connect you with our Spanish teacher in Cuenca. Christina started Walking Spanish Lessons before the pandemic, but now she offers remote learning via Zoom. She is a native Cuencana with a linguistics degree from La Universidad de Cuenca so you’ll learn both proper Spanish and some of the unique phrases you’ll hear in Cuenca and elsewhere in Ecuador.

While Spanish fluency is not a necessity, your quality of life will be greatly improved and your stress level significantly reduced with at least some Spanish proficiency.

Conclusion

These are the 7 BIG expat mistakes to avoid when you move from the United States to Ecuador. By preparing ahead of time and knowing the pitfalls to avoid, your transition to life in a new culture will be smoother, less stressful, and more enjoyable.


Follow Us on Social Media

News & Current Events from Ecuador

Ecuador Costs of Moving and Living

Every Friday, we send an email with current expat-relevant news from Ecuador (in English). It contains the latest information about covid, travel restrictions & guidelines, government actions, volcanoes, flooding, crime, and more. Basically, anything significant from the prior week that affects expats. We don't share this information ANYWHERE ELSE!

In addition, you'll also gain immediate access to our Ecuador Cost of Moving & Living Calculator. And it now contains a Low Budget Cost of Living option.

Get Even More Guidance!

You're not alone! We have a supportive community of current and future expats who are eager to share their experiences, answer questions and provide support to help take the mystery out of your move.

Plus, you'll gain immediate access to dozens of patron-only videos and posts, and your support helps us continue sharing this magical country with you.

Ecuador Shipping Company Costs and Process: Relocation Services of Ecuador Interview Highlights

We interviewed Ecuador shipping company owner, Paul Wilches, founder of Relocation Services of Ecuador, to learn about shipping household goods to Ecuador. He discussed the logistics, process, import regulations, timeframes and costs to pack up your house and move everything to Ecuador from anywhere in the world.

Relocation Services of Ecuador Container Options

The container size you’ll need varies by the number and size of household items you’re planning to bring to Ecuador. For entire houses, you may need a 20 or 40 foot express container.

20 Foot Shipping Container

20 Foot Shipping Container

40 Foot Shipping Container

40 Foot Shipping Container

You can also ship a pallet or a lift van for smaller loads. A pallet is a wood base stacked with boxes and shrink wrapped. It’s the least secure option.

Wood Pallet

Wood Pallet

A lift van is a wood box that can be sealed shut.

Lift Van

Lift Van

Ecuador Shipping Company Process

It takes 3 to 4 weeks from the date of order for a container to be delivered to your house or storage unit for loading. If you live in a congested area, such as downtown in a big city, you may need to move your household items to a storage unit outside the city because there may not be enough room to park a large container on the street near your house or apartment.

You will need to pack your household items and keep a VERY detailed inventory of what is in each box. It needs to be VERY specific. For example, it needs to list the number of mens shirts, womens shoes, neckties, underwear, number of DVDs, number of kitchen utensils, etc. Simply stating that it contains clothes is not specific enough. EVERYTHING needs to be on the inventory list.

It currently takes 32 to 35 days from the time the container, pallet or lift van is picked up in the United States to deliver it to your new home in Ecuador. If you are unable to be in Ecuador when the container is set to be delivered, it will need to be stored in the United States and shipped once you’re able to come to Ecuador and sign the customs paperwork to accept your shipment.

You have 180 days from the date of your last immigration stamp in your passport to bring your container into Ecuador duty free. If you have been in Ecuador longer than 180 days when your container is scheduled to arrive, you will need to leave Ecuador and return to Ecuador to get a fresh stamp in your passport or be subject to the import taxes on your entire container.

Express Containers

Paul’s Ecuador shipping company offers a home-to-door service for express containers. This means the container will be delivered to your house or storage unit in the origin city, and you’ll be responsible for loading it or hiring a loading crew. You’ll have about 4 hours to load it so you may want to hire a few guys or invite your friends over to help.

Once the container is loaded, it’ll be driven to the nearest port city and shipped to Ecuador. Once it clears customs in Ecuador, it will be driven to your house and unloaded into your house. You’ll be able to tell the crew where to put things, but they won’t unpack boxes or setup furniture.

Pallets and Lift Vans

For pallets and lift vans, Relocation Services of Ecuador offers a door-to-door service. This means a crew will deliver the pallet or lift van to your house, load it, secure it and take it away.

When it arrives at your new home in Ecuador, the Relocation Services of Ecuador crew will unload it into your house, but they won’t unpack boxes or setup furniture.

Items You CAN Bring to Ecuador (and Legal Limits)

You can bring most household items to Ecuador, but there are a few legal limits on the number of items you can bring. A household item is anything used to fill or maintain a house or apartment. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Major Appliances: Stove, Oven, Refrigerator, Dishwasher, Washer, Dryer (Limit 1 Each, New or Used)
  • Small Appliances: Blender, Microwave, Mixer, Coffee Maker, Toaster Oven, Toaster, Cooktop, etc. (Limit 2 to 3 Each)
  • TV, DVD Player, Stereo, Air Conditioners, etc. (Limit 1 Each per Person + 1 for the Family)
  • Computers (Limit 2 per Person)
  • Dishes, Silverware, Glasses, etc.
  • Tools: Hand Tools, Tablesaw, Electric Generator, etc.
  • Furniture: Beds, Sofas, Tables, Chairs, Patio Sets, etc.
  • Holiday Decorations, Paintings, Rocks, etc.
  • Lawn Mower (thoroughly cleaned of all grass and dirt)
  • Gas Grill (without the propane tank)
  • Clothing and Shoes (Limit 200 Kilos/440 Pounds per Person)
  • Empty Safe (without Money or other valuables)
  • Alcohol/Liquor (Limit 23 Liters per Family)
  • Commercially Packaged Food in Sealed Containers

Items You CANNOT Bring to Ecuador

You CANNOT bring the following items to Ecuador. It’s EXTREMELY IMPORTANT that you don’t pack anything that might trigger an inspection. In the United States, port inspections cost $3,000 to $4,000.

  • NO Guns, Weapons or Ammunition
  • NO Flammable Items: Propane Tanks, Hair Spray, Gasoline, WD-40, Turpentine, Aerosol Cans, etc.
  • NO Cars, Trucks, Motorcycles, Golf Carts, etc. Nothing with a motor that’s used for transportation (unless you’re a returning Ecuadorian citizen, but then you need to apply for a special program and meet specific requirements)
  • NO Cash, Gold, Silver, Jewels, etc. (carry them on the plane and declare them at airport customs if the value exceeds $10,000)
  • NO Incandescent Light Bulbs (only CFL or LED light bulbs are allowed in Ecuador)
  • NO Agriculture Products: Seeds, Plants, Trees, Fruit, Herbs, etc.

Ecuador Shipping Company Cost

The cost varies by type and size of container; however, as a rough estimate, Relocation Services of Ecuador can ship a 20 foot container from the United States to Ecuador for $7,200 and $8,500.

Relocation Services of Ecuador charges include:

  • The Container, Pallet or Lift Van
  • Delivery of the Container, Pallet or Lift Van to the House or Storage Unit
  • Pickup and Loading of Boxes (for Pallets and Lift Vans)
  • Transportation to the US Port
  • Ocean Freight from US to Guayaquil, Ecuador
  • US and Guayaquil Port Fees
  • Guayaquil Inspection Fees
  • Legal Expenses to Legalize the Shipping Inventory
  • Inland Transportation from Guayaquil to Anywhere in Ecuador
  • Unloading Into your House or Apartment

If you would like us to connect you with Paul Wilches at Relocation Services of Ecuador, drop us a note through our contact form and we’ll send an email introduction.


Follow Us on Social Media

News & Current Events from Ecuador

Ecuador Costs of Moving and Living

Every Friday, we send an email with current expat-relevant news from Ecuador (in English). It contains the latest information about covid, travel restrictions & guidelines, government actions, volcanoes, flooding, crime, and more. Basically, anything significant from the prior week that affects expats. We don't share this information ANYWHERE ELSE!

In addition, you'll also gain immediate access to our Ecuador Cost of Moving & Living Calculator. And it now contains a Low Budget Cost of Living option.

Get Even More Guidance!

You're not alone! We have a supportive community of current and future expats who are eager to share their experiences, answer questions and provide support to help take the mystery out of your move.

Plus, you'll gain immediate access to dozens of patron-only videos and posts, and your support helps us continue sharing this magical country with you.