bryan and dena haines

About Us: Storyteller Travel

At Storyteller Travel, we cover food, animals, and destinations from around the world.

We love to travel and have covered many of our adventures. Of course, we have lots more planned.

bryan and dena haines
Dena and Bryan Haines, co-founders of

What is Storyteller Travel?

Storyteller Travel is a huge travel resource since 2009. It was founded by Bryan and Dena Haines. All the travel, food, and animal guides are created by a team of travelers.

Why Trust Storyteller Travel?

Bryan and Dena are long-time travelers. They lived in South America for six years and now live in Nova Scotia, Canada. And the whole team are travelers and past expats.

Storyteller Travel Team

Storyteller Travel guides are written by five site authors: Dena Haines, Bryan Haines, Drew Haines, Diane Diegor, and Josh Diegor.

Meet the Storyteller Travel team

Where We’ve Been Featured

Storyteller Travel has been featured (or mentioned) in many notable publications. These include MSN, National Geographic, CNBC,, Mashable, IndieGoGo, IFL Science, Spoon University, Mashed, Transitions Abroad, Cigna Global, and Culture Trip.

Our content has also been featured in Ngaali, Uganda Airlines Inflight Magazine.

What We Cover

This site is divided into the following sections:

  1. Animals: We are fascinated by the absurd world of animals. We cover the animals we’ve seen in the wild – and the ones we want to see.
  2. Destination Guide: Learn about the best attractions around the globe. 
  3. Tasty Travel Food: Learn about local dishes, fruits, and sweet treats from around the world.
  4. Africa Travel: This includes wildlife, gorilla treks, and food. Learn about safari photography, wildlife binoculars, and other safari gear.
  5. Ecuador Travel: We cover everything about visiting and living in Ecuador. Learn about foodnational parkscitiesweatherbeaches, and the city of Cuenca.
  6. Nova Scotia Travel: We are building this set of Nova Scotia attractions. These include lighthouses, beaches, and waterfalls. We were both born here – and love exploring our province. Bryan and Dena Haines

About Bryan and Dena

Storyteller Travel is run by Bryan and Dena Haines. We’ve been travel bloggers for many years. And we love it!

When we moved to South America in 2009, we created GringosAbroad – which has since been merged into this site. It was the largest (most read) site about Ecuador travel.

Storyteller Travel is part of Storyteller Group. Storyteller Group is the publishing and product division of Storyteller Media.

We also run Storyteller Tech, a photography tutorial site. 

Here’s how to contact us

Connect with Bryan: LinkedIn
Connect with Dena: LinkedIn

Bryan and Dena Haines WiseGuides
WiseGuides Nova Scotia Travel Blog

Cuenca Ecuador

About Bryan, Dena, and Drew

When we first moved our young family to Cuenca we spoke no Spanish and had no income. Life was interesting.

We write about Ecuador food, things to do, cities, expat life, real estate, animals, plants and Ecuador news. Our favorite areas include Cuenca, Quito, Salinas, and the Galapagos Islands.

Here are some of the things that we’ve been up to…

Dena Haines Galapagos
Haines Family, Galapagos
Bryan with Galapagos sea turtle
bryan dena haines galapagos


  1. Great blog! Loved the way you expose Ecuador as a beautiful and an attractive destiny not only for retirement but for who is looking for adventures.

  2. Buenos días por favor necesito contactarme con ustedes, por favor me pueden enviar un número telefónico o su correo electrónico?

  3. Hi Bryan and Dena,
    I am an American anthropologist that has been living in Brasil for ten years. So, I am very familiar and adjusted to Latin American culture in general. As you probably know, over the past five years, Brasil has really fallen apart as a country and I am thinking of moving to Ecuador. I speak a little Spanish but am fluent in Portuguese and since the two languages are very similar, I think I would be able to tweak my Portuguese and speak Spanish fluently in a relatively short period of time. Already, I have been following your blog for about a year now and conducting much research about Ecuador. For me, I’m interested in the beach towns as I have been living in a beach city in Brasil during my entire stay here. In terms of finances, I more than meet the official requirements for retirement in Ecuador. However, one thing still confuses me considerably – that is – the requirement for insurance and exactly how that works. Could you please explain further how this new law impacts expats – the particulars, pros and cons of it? Thank you.

    1. Niel:
      My wife and I just signed up for insurance. For the two of us it was $85.00/month. It will draw from our credit card. We used a private company Belgenica. The agent we used in Cuenca also arranged to have our certificate filed with immigration for a small fee. It would be slighly less for a one person plan. Belgenica only covers 80%, other companies such as Salud offers better coverage plans but they cost close to $140/month …. we are in our 50’s and 40’s. In the end we decided the extra cost for more coverage just wasn’t worth it. Health costs are reasonable here. I don’t think we have spent more that a few hundred on medical costs in the two years we have been here, Hope this helps.

  4. Hi, I am moving to ecuador for 5 months with 2 friends and 11 children. We are looking at a house in Pallatanga,Chimborazo. Do you know anything about this area? Will we be able to find schools and sports for the kids there? How is transportation there? Any info you have will be very helpful. Thanks!

    1. Hi Rebecca,
      Question. Are you planning on doing missionary work in Pallatanga? Will you be home schooling? These are the questions that come to mind. It´s a small town in a rural area very much off the beaten path. Ok. yes there must be very nice properties
      with very nice houses, but the majority of the population are poor. Don´t expect to send your kids to a public school. That is not a good option in Quito (the capital of Ecuador) much less a small town that´s about 1-1/2 hours from Riobamba (the closest city).
      We traveled by car last month from Quito to Cuenca via highway 35 and stopped in Riobamba and spent the night at a nice hotel called Hosteria La Andaluza that took in our labrador. Beautiful view of Chimborazo in the morning. That´s the closest I´ve been to Pallatanga.
      My advise is find some place closer to a city . . . unless you´re doing missionary work.
      Good luck and God Bless.

  5. Dear friends I got new stock of this wondefull Coconut oil, got a 260ml for $10 728ml $20 and a gallon $80.
    You cand contact me at my work place wendsday till friday from 12am till 8pm and saturday and sunday from 11am till 8pm. And i make delivery monday and tuesday. Coffee shop MELATTE Presidente Borrero y Presidente Cordoba
    Contact me to tell me what kind of presentation would you like to buy.
    Every monday i get new stock!!
    Coconut Oil Ecuador
    AYAMCOCO coconut oil is extra virgin olive oil pressed cold , so it keeps all its natural properties . Coconut oil is the only oil which, being a saturated fat , not rust when heated, therefore it is the healthiest when frying and cooking option . It contains large amounts of lauric acid and other beneficial fatty acids , which makes it an antibacterial , antiviral, antioxidant and antifungal naturally powerful. Raises the immune system, improves digestion , regulates blood pressure , stabilizes the levels of blood sugar , reduce cholesterol and accelerates the metabolism , so your body will burn more calories a day, which translates into a loss of weight and increased energy and vitality.

  6. Hello,
    I was wondering if you could help me. I am a television producer working on series 2 of Channel 4’s Escape To The Wild about British people who have quit the rat race and moved to live in remote locations around the world. Our show is primarily about living off the land and going to a back to basics existence.
    The research team is currently looking for British couples and families to feature in the series and we’re keen to contact people who may be interested in taking part. The idea is that the presenter will spend around 5 days living with the contributors experiencing their unique lifestyle. Our ideal scenario is one where the individual/couple/family are living off-grid. A large element of the show is about living in the wilderness, so the larger the element of living off the land, the better.
    I was wondering if you perhaps know of any British people living in wilderness locations in Ecuador that may be suitable?
    Looking forward to hearing from you.
    Many Thanks and Kind Regards,
    Cheryl Jackson

  7. Hey everyone! Great article! I live in Vilcabamba, Ecuador and am loving it! Anytime you wanna come visit Vilca, I’d love to meet you!

    1. Planning another three week excursion in April 2017 and will fly into Quito on April 4th where from Quito we plan day trips to the Ibarra Area and after four days by bus to Riobamba for a day or so (where I sponsor a child) then on to Cuenca for several days before a side trip further south to Loha and finally Vilcabamba.. With the events in North America and the World in general Ecuador has become a Dream Probably Cuenca…..First learn some Spanish

  8. Hi Brian,
    This month, I will be travelling in Ecuador for 10 days with a rental car. I will be using the highway from Guayaquil to Manta and then a side trip to Quito from Manta and back.
    – Do you have tips for using the roads or highways in Ecuador?
    – Should I be concerned for my safety while travelling on the highways?
    Thanks, Paul

    1. Hi Paul, the driving is noticeably different here. A few years ago, we wrote about it. Just take your time and watch how the other drivers handle things. Patience is important.
      It’s generally best to avoid driving late at night, but generally, things are safe and normal.

    2. Brian,
      There are actually three highway options from Guayaquil to Manta.
      Option 1: Guayaquil – La Cadena – Cascol – Jipijapa – Manta
      Option 2: Guayaquil – Via a la costa – San Vicente – San Pablo – Montanita – Olon – Ayampe – Puerto Lopez – Puerto Cayo – Jipijapa – Manta
      Option 3: Like option 2, but in Puerto Cayo you follow the E15 (ruta del sol) instead of cutting through the mountain range to Jipijapa and get to Manta ocean side
      Option 1 is the fastest, with option 2 you lose at least an hour over option 1, with option 3 an hour and a half. However, option 2 and 3 follow the E15 (ruta del sol) which is a much nicer drive in terms of landscape following the coast. Which one are you taking?
      All roads to Manta have been considerably improved in the last 5 – 7 years, so it’s fairly smooth now. As Brian mentioned you should travel by day the first time to learn where the speed bumps (policias acostados) are. They are not always advertised very well and are usually found around villages. At night you can easily be in the air before you know you hit one at high speed. Also watch for people and animals on the roads. It still happens to encounter roaming animals such as dogs on high speed roads. I hit one at night and it took the paint off my bumper and my driver side door, also left a nice dent. I was also hit by a motorcycle at night once who was traveling drunk without a driver’s license and with no lights on. Make sure you buy insurance in Ecuador with your rental. All rental companies offer packages with different deductibles. Don’t rely on credit card collision damage waiver or your personal insurance from abroad. If anything happens you’ll be very, very happy that you have local insurance. Have the phone number of your embassy in Ecuador on you at all times when you travel. I did not and police messed with my legal rights after the motorcycle accident. In the end it cost me mainly money that I was “dumb enough” to pay (direct quote from police officer to me when all was done), a scare, and a deep aversion towards uniformed authority, lawyers and the like. The one thing that took care of itself was the damage to the car which was handled through insurance by the car rental company.

      1. Hi Jacob,
        Thanks for the great info. Option 1: Guayaquil – La Cadena – Cascol – Jipijapa – Manta.
        For now, I think option 1 will be it! We will have to travel in the early evening 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm, any concerns with traveling in this time frame?

        1. I will be dark. The sun disappears very fast some time after 6pm. You don’t get the long twilight conditions of a sunset further north or south. I would drive much slower at night than during the day. Be careful and watch the signs for speed bumps once you are off the Perimetral. Take your rental car from the airport, that way it will be extremely easy for you. Coming out of the airport on Avenida America (only one of the two exits goes onto Av America directly) you turn right and then keep left and go over the bridge on top of the intersection. You will end up on the road that at some point becomes the Perimetral and takes you around the city. You just keep going straight. Right around where it becomes the Perimetral you have to take the exit towards Pascuales (look for either Pascuales or Nobol on the exit sign). Once in Pascuales the following sign will only say Nobol, you want to go towards Nobol. Approaching Nobol there is a Y (they were building it into a roundabout, so might be a roundabout). There, you keep left towards La Cadena (the sign actually says La Cadena). From there it is pretty much straight all the way until almost Manta.

    3. … one more thing. Your side trip to Quito is much longer than your Guayaquil – Manta trip, because you will be going up the Andes from sea level, so it will be quite a climb.

  9. Your site seems to be invaded by links to “Wizard Game”. Hit the link to the seafood restaurant and see what I mean. Unless you are getting paid for the hits, in which case, shame on you.

    1. Hi Ted – not sure which link you’re referring to. What page/post did you find that link? We don’t cloak links – and any ads are clearly marked as such.
      Thanks for letting me know – I’ll fix it as soon as I know which link is the problem. This is the first I’ve heard about an issue.

  10. Hello we are from Vail Colorado. My husband’s father lives in the Phiilipinies and is looking for medical attention and a new life in Equador. Has he been in contact with you? If so I would like to understand more about the country.

  11. Hello all
    I was wondering about the mail system there , on my last visit I didn’t see any post office’s.

    1. Hello Scott,
      Many Ecuadorians use the postal service, Correos del Ecuador to make purchases in the USA and it is really designed for this, but it is a little complicated. The vender must send the bought package to a box in Miami where Correos del Ecuador have a building. There I understand they process it checking that a purchase receipt comes with it and that it is not contraband. If you try to send just documents without a reciept you may not get it. This happened to me.
      I use DHL for packages and this works well only it is a little expensive and your package is opened either by DHL or customs.
      The 3rd option people tell me is to have someone you know who is traveling from outside the country to bring you a package. There are restrictions like in USA (maybe more) so you need to check with Ecuadorian customs first and review.
      Good luck,

  12. Hello Bryan & Dena,
    I’m already subscribe to your Newletter and follow you on Facebook.
    I am from Montreal, Quebec,
    I am currently visiting Santo Domingo, and Quito for few more weeks. I will be visiting Cuenca at the end of next week till 7th December, and would like to know if it’s possible to meet you and Dean in Cuenca.
    I am an ESL Teacher and am planning to move to Ecuador in 2015, God’s willing.
    There are many opportunities for ESL Teachers/Tutors however, I am thinking of teaching privately which I believe is the better option.
    I did send you an e-mail earlier and hope you have received it.
    Please confirm,

    1. Hi Lourdes – thanks for your email. Sounds like you’re going to see much of the country. I don’t think we’ll be able to schedule a meetup. We would love to, but we are in the middle of a project right now. All the best on your trip.

      1. Hi Bryan,
        Thanks for your response to my message. I am back in Montreal.
        I had a great time on my trip and received lots of ESL information in Sto Domingo.
        However, I really like the city of Cuenca.
        Now I have to make some serious decisions about my move… lol
        Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas and All the best in the New Year, to you and your family,

  13. Good day Bryan, great to make your acquaintance. I first saw you and your beautiful family on House Hunters International. My wife Judith and I were in Cuenca Ecuador last September through October 2013. We absolutely fell in love with Cuenca. We are planning a second visit in January 2015. I plan to retire there and although we did learn allot in the month we were there I would appreciate some assistance as to where the better and a bit quieter places in Cuenca are. We loved Ordonez Laso and did go through some areas but not all. We are financially ready for this trip as we were last year. Although our goals there are spiritual we would appreciate any assistance you can provide and we thank you deeply. Continued success and blessings.

  14. Hi everyone,
    This may have been answered before but I am having a hard time finding info on pet imports. We became residents this year and brought our pets with us. Due to a problem with the airlines, we had to ship our pets as cargo. We got all the necessary paperwork( from the Dept of Agricultural in Ecuador) to bring them here. We were told by an unofficial source, that we need to update our import permit or get a letter from the Department of Agricultural stating our pets can remain here. I can’t find anything on the DoA website and my Spanish is still in the beginner stages so I’m not having much luck calling the DoA. Do we have to renew an import permit?

    1. Hello Tara,
      Bryan and Dena have a link at the bottom to all these comments: “15 Expats Living in Ecuador”. We are #8 with our dog Lucky imported like yours in a plane’s cargo from Miami. Best thing is to contact an import expert like INSA the one we used. Check out our profile comments for more info.
      Best Regards,

  15. Dear Bryan and Dena,
    I am Christian, an italian post-doctoral fellow at University of Zurich in the field of Cell Biology. I came across a call for open positions at the Yachay Tech University that the Ecuadorian Government is building up (finished already?) in Imbabura provence. I speak Spanish and I might be interested in applying for such position. May I ask you your opinion, if any, about this new research center Ecuador is betting on?
    Thanks for your useful posts,

    1. This is part of the government’s efforts to overhaul the post-secondary educational system and raise it to a higher or internationally competitive level. The government has implemented various measures, one is requiring resident university teaching staff (that would be the one owning a “Lehrstuhl” for you swissies) to hold at least a doctoral degree. Current staff have 7 years to comply. There are not enough people in Ecuador above Master’s level and not enough doctoral programs to fill the gap, so the short term fix is to send people to universities abroad with government grants to obtain the required level of education. I myself hosted a student from Ecuador at my house in Canada who was studying at the University of Waterloo on such a government grant which was quite generous. In the long term the educational system in Ecuador has to be able to provide the required education, so foreign specialists are welcome. New institutions are being created and universities that do not comply with minimum standards are being closed as well. This is still an ongoing process, so you are right on time. I think I saw an inauguration ceremony for Yachay on TV this year, but I am not sure if it was symbolic or if they actually have a campus now. The government is very serious about it, but it is primarily the idea of the current president who is big on education. While he is in power things will move forward. However, one thing that you can never be sure of in Latin America is continuity. There is no guarantee that subsequent governments will be just as supportive of the project. If you apply, take it more as an adventure, expect change of circumstances. I am sure it can be very rewarding for you.

  16. Bryan, Jakob, Stewart, and Max .Thank you all for all the Info and Recommendations.The best thing is that time is on my side,if I have to stay in the states a little longer to save more money it’s ok.I also have nothing holding me down I don’t own anything like a house ,so I can pretty much get up and leave when ready.I’m not talking about opening a fancy bar,just a little hole in the wall type of place,throw some chairs and tables in there a karokee machine,some music and cold beer and were off.Have you ever ate at a little hole in the wall type of restaurant.and boy sometimes they have the best food.My co-worker from Peru says that most people in his country and in his hometown are poor.But says somehow they always come up with money for ALCOHOL. So Max 48 is the new 38 ROGER THAT.
    Again Thank You ALL . Richard

  17. Hey, sounds like a great idea and yes you should live your dream. It takes about three years to fully acclimatize to a new culture. I would work in a bar for a year, find out the best places to do a startup, find my locale, make new friends. Do all this before investing. Take your time dude, 48 is the new 38, so don’t rush into buying.

  18. I’m thinking of leaving the states,tired of government in people’s business.Everyone here is sue happy,they want to sue you for anything,and everyone is offended by something.I just want to live a decent life and that I can afford,so I have been thinking about Ecuador for some time now.I live in san diego califorrnia and I am fluent in Spanish.I have saved about 25k I would like to open a bar in Ecuador,do you think 25k is sufficient .I’m only 48 and single so I don’t collect social security yet.My only source of income would be $1041 a month that I receive from the veterans admistration for military connected disabilities and from this bar that I hope I can open in the future.Not looking to get rich,I just want a nice peacfull and comfortable life.I’m only 48 been in 3 wars grenada,panama,and the gulf war.I’m tired and exhausted.Veterans are not being taken care of here in the states.I did my time now I’ts time to leave.Sorry I went off course.Anyway will my $1041 a month work,and is my 25k a good amount. Thanks

    1. Many expats live on $1000/month or less. I don’t know about costs for bar / restaurant startup. Some things are noticeably cheaper here while other (imported) items can be extremely expensive. If you can work with locally made items it will be much less expensive.

    2. Yes, the monthly income will work if you copy the local lifestyle (don’t expect to be buying large flatscreen TVs and picture taking the bus). I need about $500 a month to be comfortable ex healthcare and not paying rent. If you squeeze it, it can be lower, but you are not going to Ecuador to be miserable either.
      $25k to start a bar sound low. It won’t buy you a locale, you will have to rent until you make enough money to buy it. It might be possible.

    3. Hello Richard,
      You have some good comments here already. Living in San Diego you won’t see too much difference in weather, but the people in general are much more cozy. It’s a different culture, warmer. Most people you meet through friends or often even on the street say hello and “buen provecho” in a restaurant which means enjoy when you meet someone about to have a meal. That’s not a custom in the States.
      Opening a bar you will probably make a lot of friends. Who knows. Jacob’s suggestion of renting out a place is a good one until you find your nich and learn the local laws in having a business with employees.
      Good luck and hope to visit your bar soon!

  19. Hi Bryan and Dena. We are a family of 4 with a 17 year old and a 13 year old mildly autistic son, two cats and a dog. We’re from Toronto (Brampton more specifically), and have been considering Ecuador for some time now. We have had it with the hustle and bustle of North American living as we’ve been here all our lives. At the age of 44 and 41 respectively, and with the loss of one income, we think the universe is giving us a push to make a decision. We are looking at selling our home here and making the trek but after almost 2 years of researching Ecuador, we are still unsure of our destination there. The only apprehension my wife has is not being close enough to expat communities. We don’t want to live in a big city but also don’t want to be to rural. Could you perhaps offer any advice as to where to start? We were thinking of arriving and renting short term so we can get a lay of the land and where we might want to settle in the long term. Also, what would be the requirements as far as a resident visa be for staying long term in Ecuador? We have a couple of online businesses we are in the midst of setting up and would like to run from there. Would you recommend keeping banking ties to Canada? We ‘re not sure about bringing all of our nest egg with us down there. What do you recommend? And last but not least, do you ever Skype with any of your fellow Canadians? Would love to chat about opportunities and perhaps relieve stresses about moving . By the way, excellent site! We visit it regularly. Looking forward to hearing from you. Thanks!

    1. Your plan to move and rent sort term is a good one. It’s best to get a feel of the place, explore the country and then decide where in the country you want to live.
      There are six types of Ecuadorian residency visas. I think it’s best to keep Canadian banking ties. It makes paying income tax (and other bills) much easier. We also use them to receive payments.
      I recommend just bringing the money you need. If you decide that Ecuador isn’t for you, there is a nice set of paperwork, plus a fee (2% I think) for sending funds out of the country. It’s easy to bring money in each month (or as needed).
      We aren’t able to Skype conference with readers – unfortunately there just isn’t enough time. Please feel free to ask your questions on specific posts.

    2. Hi Chris… The exit tax has been raised from the 2% that Bryan indicated to 5%. This is how much you pay to the Ecuadorian government if you want to move money out of Ecuador, 5% of the sum you are taking out. Also don’t make the mistake to think this is a stable and developed country, it’s not. Please, read this before you move money to Ecuador:
      Especially in the last case there were expats who lost close to all of their money and some were forced to go back home. In conclusion, keep 90% of your banking in Canada. Your TD Canada Trust debit card works with many of the major bank ATMs in Ecuador. Only have emergency funds in Ecuador. Personally, I had to fight a 4 month nerve wrecking battle to get my deposit back when the government shut down my financial institution overnight last year. I cannot even imagine the pain for people who do not speak Spanish.

        1. Bryan… I do. It is to maintain equilibrium in the external balance. Ecuador does not have its own currency. If something happens and dollars leave the country they cannot just print more like the FED, it will be subtracted from the system until they run out and go bankrupt. That would be the end of dollarization. With Argentina as example what would happen then is that banks would freeze deposits for a few days, convert them to a new national currency at a set rate, then let the new currency float. By the time you got to the bank the new currency would have lost 50% of its opening value and you would be writing off half your savings. It is in national interest to stem currency outflows. The other tool the government has to balance external trade are the stiff markups on technology and other imported goods, such as cars, which is the reason why your plasma TV is 3 times the price of the same thing in North America. It prevents imports to significantly exceed exports which would also cause more money to leave the country than to come in with similar results. The US or Canada would just take on more debt in a similar case, but remember that Ecuador has not even been on the international bond market for the last few years after Correa defaulted on parts of their debt and kicked The World Bank out of the country, so refinancing could be done only in China at horrendous conditions. This is going to cash strap the country in the years to come and is the real reason why the exploitation of the Yasuni has never really been in question.

          1. In reading your Q&A on handling your finances in Eucador, are you suggesting that we keep our money in the banks in the US(or majority of it)andbring just a certain amount in the local banks? Would online banks be a good alternative for banking?

    3. Hello Chris,
      Another thing worth mentioning is the social security system here.
      I’m guessing that Canada is similar to the States in this system. Workers pay a portion of their
      earnings to run the government, etc. and another portion goes to a retirement, government-run system.
      In Ecuador this agency is called I.E.S.S. “Instituto Ecuatoriano de Seguridad Social” or social security.
      Like anything run by a government this agency is abused, and the savings that were supposed to go towards
      retirement have been spent for other purposes. The I.E.S.S. has been developing a lot of government projects
      such as state run hospitals, office complexes, etc. There are services that help Ecuadorians like medical care, but oops. They spent too much. Now projects like the one I work at are having difficulty getting money owed because they say there is no money.
      USA is headed that way too, but maybe because they keep printing money they haven’t reached that point.
      Anyways, Chris when and if you come to Ecuador I advise to get private medical insurance. I.E.S.S. has it’s own insurance for those that work in Ecuador, but there’s no guarantee that your doctor is getting paid by the government. Apart from other problems, I wouldn’t want a doctor operating on me knowing they’re not paying his salary.
      Good luck and best wishes.

  20. Hi Bryan & Dena,
    Thank you for your very informative Newsletters. I’m also Canadian, living in Montreal,QC.
    I am seriously thinking of moving to Ecuador, most likely to Quito or Santo Domingo. To teach English as a second language. I am a Certified ESL Teacher. In April, 2012 I was invited by an Ecuadorian family, and fell in love with the warmth of the people, they treated me like their long lost relative. During my 12 days stay they took me to
    different parts of their beautiful country. I have been doing my research and getting more information from my friends in Quito ( my Ecuadorian family)… I will like to visit again for a month to look for teaching opportunities and also for rentals… I will keep you all posted. Thanks again,
    Lourdes Marie
    Montreal-West, QC

    1. Hi Lourdes,
      It was great to read your post. This is my dream also, to teach English in Central or South America. I am currently learning Spanish so that I can interact with the locals and I plan to go to the Spanish School in Banos come September. I would love to hear how you are getting on with search for ESL job opportunities in Ecuador.

      1. Hi Max
        Thanks for reading my post months ago. I only read your message today… better late than never.
        I’m currently on a three week visit to Quito and Santo Domingo, Ecuador. I am here to get first hand information on ESL opportunities. I made few contacts and from my opinion it’s better to teach or tutor privately.
        There are opportunities for English (ESL) Teachers however, I realise one has to be ready and available to teach in the country.
        Hope my reply was of some assistance.
        All the best,
        ESL Teacher

  21. Hello Bryan,
    I just realized that You took those great pics of you and Dena with the wonderful landscape
    in the background with some kind of telescoping pole attached to your camera. Where can
    I get one?
    Apart from this I wanted to make a small comment on the elections Feb. 23rd coming up. . .
    It’s not for the president as he was just re-elected last year, but a big one is coming up
    for the mayor of Quito. The current mayor, Augusto Barrera is up for reelection as are
    other congressmen. His biggest opposition, Mauricio Rodas is well known because he was
    a presidential candidate last year. Barrera is of Alianza Pais which is Correa’s party.
    Here’s a link that describes a little more about Ecuador’s government, specifically Rafael Correa:
    I am not very political, but it would be good for people coming to live here to know a little about
    the political climate and government. I don’t know what’s happening with Cuenca’s government.
    Barrera is very unpopular because he has raised fees on just about everything, but has done little
    to show for it. He also had a hand in relocating Quito’s airport far away without having the necessary
    highways ready for its use. Example, the “Ruta Viva” is still about a year away from completion
    resulting in major congestion along small city streets.
    Because he is connected with Alianza Pais it will be very difficult to unseat him as he has the support
    of really the whole Correa machine. President Correa has done good things for the people in general,
    but he has made sure that no one can defeat him.
    That’s it my friends. Do some more research about Correa’s government to gain the knowledge you
    need to make wise choices.
    Best regards.

    1. Hi Stewart – we used a selfie stick – this one has a 37″ length and a flexible head.
      Thanks for your insight on the upcoming elections (2014). I don’t know much about how this system works.

    2. At the Municipal and Provincial level, the local candidates for Mayor of Cuenca and Prefecto of the province of Azuay (for Canadians, this seat would be similar to a provincial Premier) are Paul Granda and Maria Caridad Vázquez, respectively.
      Both are affiliated with Alianza Pais (35), Correa´s party. Granda’s opponent for Mayor is Marcelo Cabrera, who was the former mayor before Granda unseated him 5 years ago. Since coming into office, Granda, who has lived several years in Spain, has spearheaded several restoratations in and around Cuenca, most notably revitalizing public parks, smoothing out major roads and arteries leading into and out of the city, and building extensive bike paths, all in a bid to make Cuenca. A hallmark of his campaign for re-election is the construction of a new Light Rail Transit system (what we Torontonians like to call streetcars), modelled after the system in place in Vienna, all in a bid to make Cuenca a more livable city and cut down on road congestion. It’s only within the last five years that transit control responsibilities were handed over to the Municipality, thus eliminating the bribery that was common when dealing with the police on all matters related to traffic offences.
      Full disclosure: I support Granda and intend to vote for him on Feb. 23. As a Torontonian who grew up using subways and streetcars (and bikes) to get around, I believe investing in public transportation is the key to building great cities and can’t wait to see an LRT system in Cuenca.

  22. Is high speed internet available in Cuenca? Regarding the schools, how do you find the education system there? We have two girls, ages 5 and 2 years old.

    1. Ann-Marie… I don’t know about Cuenca in particular, but I can comment on Ecuador in general. I have seen family members go through the school system in Guayaquil and last December I actually did some volunteer work in Ecuador that involved teaching kids between mostly between ages 8 and 12. Here are some observations:
      1. Kids who have been growing up in the largest urban centres (Quito, Guayaquil etc) are light years ahead of kids from smaller places and rural areas in terms of abstract skills and knowledge. For you this means that the farther you go outside of Cuenca the more school quality will suffer.
      2. Some schools suffer from teaching outdated skills (for example shorthand used by secretaries in times of the typewriter), but there is a push by the government to modernize the entire educational system. In fact, it is being thoroughly reformed right now, so let us see what comes of it. The best schools are considered to be the private ones that you pay for, and that often have foreign roots and offer bilingual education (Broward College –> American college, Colegio Aleman Humboldt –> German secondary school). You will find many diplomat and Ecuadorian elite’s kids at those schools.
      3. When looking at state schools reputation counts. There are big differences between the individual schools. From talking to kids some schools seem to have very loose curriculums and not much structure, other schools especially in the big cities seem to be a lot better organized. Same goes for teacher preparedness, it varies wildly from person to person. In Canada or Germany teacher preparedness is more consistent on a generally high level. Investigate the individual schools before choosing a particular one.
      Good luck!

      1. Hi Jakob,
        I was interested in your comment that you did some volunteer teaching. This is one of the things I would like to do when I retire later this year. My plan is to get a TEFL certificate and look for teaching opportunities in Ecuador where my skill may be useful.
        What was your experience like?

        1. Kevin… I am sure you can find opportunities. Ecuador has undergone an economic boom in the last few years and many people have just started to realize the importance of being able to speak English in the new economic landscape. The demand is rising, because the need is great. The school system does not deliver on foreign languages. In fact in many rural areas it does not deliver in general. If you are also fluent in Spanish your opportunities would be even greater.
          For me it was just an activity change. When I work I can sit on the beach for 8 hours and not see the water because I am watching my computer screen, so I when I took some time off work I wanted to do something totally different. Kids have super powers when it comes to making you forget the regular rat race for a while. Additionally, I did it in a community where I bought some land to build a house, so it was a way to get to know my future neighbours a bit better and what better way to introduce yourself than by contributing to the community. It was a very positive experience. I will do it again when I have the opportunity.

    2. When it comes to the education system, one of the posters here is quite correct in that quality and content differ quite a bit depending on city one lives in and in particularly, what one is looking for. Taking into consideration what system you’re coming form also helps put things into perspective.
      If one is homeschooling their kids, it obviously would make sense to continue that in Ecuador, as the transition to a local school here may prove to be too overwhelming for a child. In my own case, coming from the public school system in Toronto, Canada, where education and behavioural standards are constantly being lowered to the lowest common denominator, we placed our son in a more rigid, traditional private school upon arriving in Cuenca where a lot more is expected from students. For instance, unlike my son’s school in Toronto, his school here has severe penalties for handing in assignments past their due date, all students wear a uniform, must show utmost respect for their teachers, and write exams at the end of every semester – even in the elementary division! This system has done wonders for his transition.
      Note that unlike other countries like Japan or China, where “American” schools are usually the go to place for expat kids, Ecuador isn’t really set up that way. In Cuenca, there are very few schools that would be considered “branches” of international schools (there is however, a German school and a French school, but no American school as far as I know).
      Speaking from personal experience, immersion in a local school can be a truly rewarding for a child.

      1. Hi Melita,
        What is the name of the private school your son goes to and how old is he if you don’t mind me asking. I live in Toronto also and here my 5 year daughter goes to a private school here but we are thinking of moving down to Cuenca.

        1. My son was 14 when we returned to Ecuador two years ago. (we hadn’t lived in Cuenca since he was 4, so for all intents and purposes, he’s considered a “gringo.”)
          Feel free to drop me an email and I’d be happy to share additional info that might help as you consider Cuenca as a potential new home.

  23. You can get the same or better service as ClubCorreos directly from Trans Express ( Trans Express is Miami based . I known of it since forever. They service various countries in Latin America. They work with Laar Courier to do deliveries in Ecuador. Laar is the number one delivery company in the country. I used Club Correos until they left Trans Express. Their reliability went down since. Besides Trans Express/Laar do not charge membership.

    1. I disagree that Laar is the best delivery company in Ecuador. They are the agent for UPS and I’ve found them to be slow, unprofessional and expensive. Servientrega has better coverage, more offices and faster service. On top of all that, they are cheaper.

      1. Brian, what is Servientrega ? Their prices and web site? Had the mot awful experience with Club Correos with the last two deliveries. One, took 3 months and finally arrived int he end of 2013. Another, after a month, still is god knows where. I agree that after Club Correos left Trans Express they became even worse. Need a shipper!!

        1. Servientrega is a courier like DHL, Fedex or UPS, but they are a Latin American company and the leaders in Colombia and Ecuador. I used them for communication with the Canadian Embassy in Bogota, Colombia, from Guayaquil. They used to have a special Government of Canada rate for shipments to the embassy which was very competitive. I found their service reliable.

          1. Well, thanks, that it is nice, but would not work for deliveries from the USA to Cuenca, which was my question to Brian.

          2. When I cared about the shipment arriving I would use DHL or Fedex. Reason: They exist in virtually every country, so the shipment is handled by one company from door to door, no handoff between different companies at the border. If something goes wrong you you know who is on the chopping block. However, DHL got me angry once as I found out that they had secretly outsourced part of the shipping route to UPS. Fedex in Ecuador also claimed once that they had been cruising around and not found the delivery address in Ecuador, but at least they called for pickup, so a phone number is vital.

          3. Well, on the basis of my own experience, I would never, ever recommend either DHL or FedEx to anybody. 1. They subcontract different companies in Ecuador. And those companies charge ADDITIONAL and to insignificant fees. Nor do they handle Aduana well. No better, but MUCH MORE expensive than USPS. 2. In Ecuador, they answer not email inquiries, nor the phone. It takes forever to extract packages from them
            YOU SHOULD REALLY BE MUCH MORE CAREFUL ABOUT YOUR RECOMMENDATIONS. The ones you gave are no good, really

          4. Sorry for your bad experience. I’ve found that most expats that have trouble with shipping into Ecuador either send used goods or don’t speak good Spanish. Both will cause you problems. I don’t know where you live, but FedEx and DHL both have corporate offices in Cuenca – they don’t subcontract out. They are much faster and more reliable than the postal service – just like in every other country. And of course they cost more – they offer a premium service.

          5. Idea… I am sorry that what works for me does not work for you. However, that has nothing to do with me or my recommendation which you can follow or not. Generally, people who give free advice to strangers donate their time to do so, because they enjoy helping others. If you find the perfect shipping service I would be very interested to know.
            I have a close friend who worked for DHL in Ecuador handling their aduana, so if you have specific doubts or questions about their service I can ask in your name.

        2. Hello Idea,
          Just my experience with DHL, they are a bit expensive, but they’ve never lost a package of mine.
          I’ve only had small packages sent to a well established address in Quito where there’s usually someone to answer the door. I realize that may be impossible for some people.
          Because of the cost I try to have packages, (i.e. mail) brought with friends traveling from the States to Quito.

          1. Thanks to all for your replies. Yes, it is true that I do not speak , BUT
            I am not supposed to, because DHL and FedEx are International companies.
            Once again, I do not rate the companies. Have yet to find a good one, I am just reporting my experience. DHL and FedEx both charges additional fees, to the tune of $25 for the deliveries that had been paid in full. Yes, I did manage to have those fees refunded. And yes DHL and FedEx subcontract companies for their deliveries in Ecuador, And the DHL and FedEx of Ecuador have their own management and do not report to the FedEx and DHL, which is why it is much more difficult to resolve problems with them than it was in the USA. USPS is not the best delivery option, but, at least, you can trace their shipments, and they would look for them.
            I have not had many packages lost, but it is is because I am always persistent in getting to the top man to resolve the problem. Club Correos presently has such an awful service in Miami that yesterday, when I picked up my package in Cuenca, THEY told me that the Miami office is “super mal”, with which I agreed wholeheartedly. If more people complained about them, the things might get better. Again, eventually, i have received all my packages, but it takes a lot of the electronic

          2. Idea… DHL is a German company. I bet you have not tried talking to them in German… there is your problem 😉
            P.S. I hope you can laugh about this.

  24. Do expats qualify for home loans if they want to buy in ecuador.Do movie theathers show up to date movies.Can I watch NFL games on tv,or do the come on like a few days later,so buy the time you watch it Its already an old game.Can an expat get financing to purchase an autmobil,or do I need to pay the full price for a car.Does the city of Cuenca have a major airport.If you buy a home in ecuador can you get owners Insurance,Has thier ever been a major earth quake in cuenca,when was the last time cuenca had an earth quake or major flood.These are just questions that i would like to get answer to,this helps me to make some descions.Thank you much.Richard.M

    1. Hello Richard,
      You have many valid questions. Maybe Jakob can come up with a better reply from a Canadian / expat
      Perspective. I got a lot of help from family here so I couldn’t comment about home loans or car purchases.
      Not sure anymore about movies. Having two young kids our lives revolve around them and their activities, and they don’t really sit still for movies. One thing interesting about Ecuador is you’ll find small video stores operating normally selling new movies (copies) for $2 or $3.
      There’s cable tv here (TVCable and others) that I’m sure would have a channel to watch your NFL games.
      Cuenca does have a major airport in the heart of the city. It’s not big, but it’s central so getting to and from is easy, and there are connecting flights to the bigger cities (Quito and Guayaquil) and international cities.
      About earthquakes and floods, Ecuador in general is like living in California. There are earthquakes and floods, but it depends on the region too. Along the coast you could get flooding, but the roads and storm drain systems have been much improved. Cuenca is in the mountains that sometimes gets heavy rains, but really flooding only happens when storm drains get clogged, etc.
      Hope this helps.

    2. Don’t borrow in Ecuador unless you love paying 8 – 20% annual interest. Get financing in North America. Generally, nowhere in the world does money sit so easy as in North America. Only Americans get free money. If you have a regular income, banks virtually throw money at you. The opposite is the case anywhere else in the world. You have to do a lot of convincing and jump through a lot of hoops to get a loan and you pay more interest.
      Movie theatres are just as good as in North America, only cheaper. If you say “home owners insurance” most Ecuadorians will probably just respond “que cosa?”. We sure don’t have any. That does not mean that there isn’t a niche offering somewhere.
      If you build make sure it is not on land that gets flooded easily during rainy season. I have known people who were good for a while and then once a year they lived knee deep in water for a few weeks (for all Dilbert fans out there think Elbonia).
      Yes, there are active volcanoes and earth quakes. I have had my flight cancelled before due the Tungurahua erupting and grounding flight traffic.

  25. Hi,
    We are moving back to US from Ecuador. Trying to find a shipper from here for our furniture.
    Can you give me any assistance>

    1. Hi Dede,
      Have you tried INSA? They may be a little on the expensive side, but they’re very thorough and pack very well.
      Check out my (Stewart Perez) expat comments for more info.

  26. Hey Guys. Just got back from a 10 day visit with family in Ecuador. We had a wedding to attend the first night in GYE but then set off the next day for the mountains in a pair of SUVs. The roads are really much improved compared to my years there as a high school student. We drove thru Pallatanga and then had lunch in Riobamba. My cousin took us to a really nice place called Abras Pungo. It was a combination hacienda with a nice restaurant and really attractive rooms named after various mountains. Great little pond. Lots of ducks. Beautiful. And the food was great. On the topic of food, I took my American GF on this trip. She is particularly vulnerable to digestive issues so we were careful about what she ate. But she had no trouble at all the entire trip. The only hiccup (no pun intented) was upon our return when the Narco police at GYE opened her bag to check on some suspicious looking power bars that she packed just in case. We drove on to Ambato and went to a very remote location near that city that specializes in leather goods. The place is called Quisapincha. My Mom and sister spent loads of time picking out items for Christmas gifts back home. And, of course, there was the compulsory bargaining followed by a “yapa” bonus item at the end of the process. On the drive up the mountain to Quisapincha, we looked across the valley and saw a most astonishing view of Tungurahua. It was erupting at the time and we got multiple shots of the plume. It was an almost perfect mushroom cloud. We then drove on the Quito for a two day visit followed by a two day coastal trip including Salinas and Montanita. I could go on and on about our visit but that goes beyond the intended scope of these posts. My principle message is that Ecuador has improved a lot over the past years and is worth visiting. Security remains a big concern among my family members. If I ever do spend substantial amounts of time there it will only be for a few months a year and then probably at the beach or in the mountains. GYE has its pros as well but it (and Quito) are very congested. Warm regards to everyone. VS

  27. Hi Bryan. I have to tell you that a couple of days ago I saw you and your family on a re-run of ‘House Hunters: International’. I was wondering, would you be able to give me any info on relocating to Cotacachi, Ecuador?

    1. Hello Wendy,
      Bryan has so much on his website he forgets he has an expat family living there.
      “Jamie Stambaugh and Family (Cotacachi, Ecuador)
      Jamie and Bo moved their family (two boys aged 4 and 6) to Cotacachi for a year sabbatical. They blogged their family adventure at They returned home to Crested Butte, CO in October 2012.”
      A couple other facts: Cotocachi is known for leather goods and has about 500 foreigners. It´s a small town.
      Best thing is to go and visit and try it for size. If it´s too small, Otavalo is close by or Ibarra that´s up to city size.
      Good luck!

  28. Don,
    Atacames is a vacation spot for many Ecuadorians living in the sierra (mountains) like Quito and Cuenca. Casa Blanca is a big development there.
    Jacob makes a lot of good points, but i wouldn’t characterize Atacames as the “wild west”.
    I’m assuming that your father was scheduled to arrive at the Aeropuerto General Rivadeneira Tachina in Esmeraldas which is a little north of Atacames, and someone from his hotel, etc should have picked him us. Did you check with the hotel administrator, etc?
    A little late advise, all kinds of people wait at the airports to pick up passengers including hotel shuttles, taxi drivers and others. Very important not to go with someone who’s not from the company that’s scheduled to pick up.
    I pray you find your dad and he is ok.

  29. if there are any expats living in or around atacames, my father who is 79 was to arrive there on july 5th, we have not heard from him since he left. his name is marty , he is french canadian dose not speak spanish, he is apx 5foot 6 inches tall, grey hair and moustash. if any one has seen him could you please email me, or get a message to him to contact his family in canada. my email is thanks

    1. Don… I have not been to Atacames since 2009 due to bad experiences, but used to go there often as there are some beautiful beaches around the province of Esmeraldas. I would not recommend for someone with no Spanish to travel everything north of Atacames alone. It is a bit of Wild West in terms of crime and law enforcement, it feels very detached from the central authority of Quito and local authorities have their own laws (should you ever need them).
      Back in 2009 I knew 2 long term expats (20 years+) in the immediate area (Tonsupa). The first one is Judith Barett, the owner of Playa Escondida, who is a lady from Vancouver. The second one is a Frenchman and is the owner of Cumilinche Club (you can Google it).
      A good place to start is at the local police station that is located one block back from the malecon (main beach). At the police station ask to speak to the “teniente”. If anything happened to your father chances are he will know something. Those guys do sometimes detain people for weeks at a time taking away their cell phones and leaving them incommunicated without a formal legal process or legal representation, so it is a good place to start. Besides, they might know if he is in any of the hospitals. There is a smaller one in Atacames, but if anything serious happened he would have been brought to the main hospital of the region in the city of Esmeraldas (Hospital Delfina Torres). I hope this gives you a start.
      If you find him and he is in trouble, write on this forum and I might have some practical tips.

  30. Hello thank you for your time. we wanted to know regarding Health Insurance where or who do we contact to purchase health insurance and do you have an idea about how much it cost. thank you

    1. My wife was privately insured with BMI for a couple fo years through her employer:
      Back in 2009 a regular plan for an individual would cost around $70 a month, but I am sure that has changed and there is more than one option.
      Foreigners with a resident visa can also voluntarily insure themselves with the IESS which is the government insurance (afiliacion voluntaria). This even allows them to later retire in Ecuador. Contribution is a percentage of your income, if you do not have an income it is calculated on minimum wage. Currently, the minimum contribution stands around $50. I would find out if that is on your Ecuadorian income only, or on your worldwide income. In the latter case this option becomes unattractive, but I do not know that at present.
      If you are in Ecuador short term, you have to go with private. The government insurance has an advantage if you have a whole family to insure as the cost for insuring an individual and a whole family differs very little. However, government insurance is a liitle bit like Canada in terms of wait times and the ability to see the specialist of your choice (you need a referral). Canadians will know what I am talking about.

  31. Hello we have received a message from craiglist of a person who has an apt for rent in Cuenca. She wants us to pay thru pay pal I do not know if that is safe or is she legitimate. We are arriving august 3 and we need a place to stay while we look for an apt. What is your advice regarding the lady from craigslist. thank you. Maria and Jerry

    1. I think you need to be careful, just like anywhere. There are some sites (like HomeAway or AirBnB) that give you some recourse if the person doesn’t follow through. But if you send money to an individual – that you don’t know – you are putting your money at risk. Maybe you can stay at a hotel here and then meet her in person once you see the apartment? Or if it isn’t that much money, maybe it is worth the risk.

        1. Hi Maria
          I’m curious to know how that worked out for you because I’ve been looking a rentals on craigslist. Even though I’m still in the exploring stages, I haven’t contacted anyone. But I have had experience with PayPal only on ebay. I’ve almost been ripped off a couple of times by fraudulent sellers and PayPal always got me my money back. When dealing with PayPal, be sure the person your sending money to is a “Verified” user only. I believe that is the only way your protected with them. PayPal also has phone support so you can call them directly if you have questions & concerns.
          Hope this helps.
          Be Well.

  32. I have a friend that is from Russia living in Quito and she’d like to home school (speaks Russian and Spanish fluently…English is at a survival level). Are you homeschooling? If so do you know of homeschooling families they could get in touch with? Thanks so much!

  33. I am coming to Ecuador to look at the export business. I live in s Florida USA. I am gonna need help in finding people to help me set up. Any ideas would be greatly appreated. We plan on living part time in Ecuador.
    I really enjoy reading your blog

  34. Hi, I have been a long time reader of your blog and am also with you on Linked In.
    Anyway, I wanted to share with you that I am launching (launched yesterday)a brand new social network for travelers, expats, vacationers and people who just like to have fun.
    I would like it it you would check it out. It will grow because I will make it happen.
    Thank you, Patrick

  35. What do you charge for your services? We are in Cuenca for three months to get our visas. After that we will go back to the States and proceed with all the stuff related to the move. While we are here we would like to scout out unfurnished homes to lease for at least a year. Is that anything you can help with? Tom

  36. My wife and I are retired and wish to live on SS so therefore we are trying to move to Salinas to be close to the ocean. We have read all the warnings about not coming to Ecuador on a visa and then trying to get residence, but then the consulate in LA says we need to do a six month visa and then apply for the 9 1 retired resident visa. So as soon as we can find the application for a six month visa (could’nt find on the embassy site) we will begin the process. Since I have never lived outside the us, I do have some general questions, the main one is how easy is it to get money from our US bank account in our hands in Ecuador ie what is the process. I don’t want to have my SS monies deposited in Ecuador until we get settled etc..Also, after reading the list of paperwork needed and what needs to be legally certified (can’t remember the term) I have been trying to find a lawyer that would be willing to a listing of documents so that we don’t leave anything behind. Can any be trusted that advertise on the internet? Would love to hear from others about the above and also anyone who has moved to the Salinas area.

      1. David, thanks for your reply. Would appreciate any info you can help with. Is there another way you would like me to contact you?
        Jerald Koenig

        1. Jerald,
          You need to start by having the right documents and definately have then apostilled. This is the most important thing. You don’t need to get a 6 month visa first, only if you are running out of time, the 90 day time period. I am in the process right now and I would not think about handing the process over to a lawyer, they are all about the money, seriously. I have talked to many gringoes who have paid serious big bucks and it still doesn’t get done for 6 months or a year. It can be done easily by having the right documents, having them apostilled and being patient in the lines with help from an interpreter who speaks perfect English and has helped many No Americans. All of your documents must be translated here into Spanish which will cost at minimum $200.00 per person. Bring everything you can showing your ss benefits, bring current banking and investment account information, birth certificates, local criminal background checks (from where you have lived for the last 5 years), fingerprint clearance records, divorce records if applicable, . As far as transferring money, bring debit cards, everything is done in cash over here. Make sure your banks and credit cards know you are going to be here, so they don’t question the charging/withdrawing activity. The consulate in LA doesn’t give you much information, you really have to be here to know how the process works. I can refer you to who helped me and if you have chosen Salinas to live in, you will need to get a ride into Guayaquil to do all of your business. My email is

    1. Hello Jerald,
      I can share some banking experience here in Ecuador.
      There is no Wells Fargo, Bank of America or Chase Bank here. Citicorp is here and I advise you open an account with them in USA and ask them if it needs to be an international acct. Etc. So yoiu can access your $$ in Ecuador.
      For us paying bills in USA has been with American Express and a Chase account with some difficulty.
      Again, better if you can open an account in a bank like Citicorp that is both state side and in Ecuador.
      Best regards,

      1. I have been using wires between non-Ecuadorian and Ecuadorian accounts. Any bank is good for that, but make sure you are with one of the bigger and more stable banks in Ecuador (Banco Territorial in Guayaquil just went bankrupt). That works very well, but I originally had the problem that my Canadian bank required me to walk into a branch to initiate the wire. I found a provider that was able to do the wire entirely online and set them up for pre-authorized debit on my Canadian account. Now I have no problem moving money entirely online and it costs me $25 a pop to move money to Ecuador (all fees included) + takes only up to 3 days. One good provider in the US for money transfer from a US account is Xoom, and it can be instant.
        For smaller amounts I use a regular Canadian or US debit card at an Ecuadorian ATM machine (Banco de Pichincha, Banco de Guayaquil or Banco del Pacifico). As long as it is on the PLUS network there are no problems. You take out cash as if you were at home up to your daily limit. Banco de Pichincha, however, for some reason has a problem with Canadian cards.
        Personally, I do not see the need to deposit anything into an Ecuadorian bank account. Deposit your SS into your US account and use your ATM card in Ecuador to get it.

        1. Thank you for the information. That makes sense and will have to go to Citibank I guess. No more local credit unions.
          Jerald Koenig

          1. You don’t need Citibank. They virtually have no branch/ATM network in Ecuador, so that’s actually pretty cumbersome if you want to get cash. You want to tap the Banco de Pichincha ATM network as they are everywhere. My US “Plus” network card works like a charm for that (look for the “Plus” symbol on your US debit card). I am with TD Bank in the US and I can get cash up to a limit of $750 daily from any Banco de Pichincha ATM in Ecuador.
            For bigger amounts as I said use wires for which your local Credit Union is good enough.

  37. Hi Bryan,
    My wife and I are retired Vegetarian Canadians and hoping to go to visit Ecuador in April2013 for a fact finding visit for a month. (While we love being Canadians We are getting up in the age and tired of Cold/Snow) We are hoping to bring a pile of Vegetarian food (six to ten Caned or Sealed 300 gms. packages) for our consumption during our stay. We are not sure if this is going to cause grief passing through customs. Any info you can provide will be greatly appreciated. Thank you Very much.
    Nayan Mehta,
    Ottawa, Ont. Canada.

  38. Hey Bryan;
    Haven’t talked in awhile. I have a new ebook out, would you add it to your list of books on Cuenca? It’s “Becoming an Expat in Cuenca, Ecuador” by David Campbell.
    Thanks for all the good work.

  39. We thought we had looked under every rock to find anything that could disqualify Cuenca as our next residence. Finding nothing, it became the choice for retirement.
    We had bought your book and every other we could find on the subject. Many mentione that they would tell it like it is……Then came this….
    This is a disqualifier for us…. Maybe you should review it carefully in light of your recent self prescribed solution to bronchial issues with Brian.
    Any Comments?

    1. Have you visited Cuenca or are you just going on what you read? You should never choice a country/city to relocate to, if you have never even visited.
      We don’t sell a book – I don’t know what book you are referring to. Many of the books on Cuenca are trying to “sell” it – they are very biased and don’t speak from a practical point of view – they try to convince people to move here. If you have been reading our blog at all, you’ll know that we cover the positive and negatives of life abroad. We haven’t discussed pollution much, because it isn’t an issue for us. If you have been reading any of the other blogs about life in Cuenca, you would have read about air pollution. Many of the older expats find it bothersome. I read the report and I don’t see how it makes Cuenca different from any other city. Cities have pollution. If you don’t like it – don’t live in the center. We don’t and we don’t have any problems.
      The problems I was having with the air was that it was too dry. When we began using a humidifier at night the problem went away completely – while it was “self prescribed” it also worked.

      1. Hello Forest,
        Just my expat response working in Quito which is the 2nd largest city in Ecuador I find pollution sometimes bothersome. Mostly it occurs when the buses pass by. Usually I just hold my breath until they pass. Sometimes I see pedestrians using particle masks which are plentiful at hardware stores rated N95. I think it´s a good idea if you have to walk close to where many buses pass.
        Usually the exhaust rises up and away, but if you´re close by when the driver accelerates you´ll get a lung full. I don´t know how motorcyclists do it when they weave between cars and often get stuck behind a bus waiting to pass.
        You definitely have to experience Cuenca or Quito I think to see what you can be comfortable with. You´re not going to get the real taste of life here otherwise.
        Best regards.

  40. Hi Bryan & Dena. Great Site, & Thank You Again. I have a Respratory Problem & at 9,000 feet above Sea Level I would Sufficate. Even 5,000 in Cedar City Utah I had big trouble. If I were to locate in Ecuador with a lower Altitude, What City would you reccomend. Safest being the operative word, right after Altitude. Thanks Again. Guy

    1. We don’t know the coastal area that well – but we did seriously consider Salinas. It is right on the water and is a nice city. I haven’t heard of any unusual amounts of crime – but keep in mind that it is a city and does have crime too.

      1. Hey Bryan,
        Thank you for posting my response to my “fan” Daniel. I was sort of surprised by such a strong blog, but hey “you can’t please all the people all the time”. I do hope he takes me up on my offer, because I really believe he doesn’t even know who I am. That’s the problem with the real estate industry here…too much “crap” flying around about almost everyone.
        Anyway thanks again and like I said “I am not going anywhere” I love this place!
        Take Care,
        PS You don’t have to post this…unless you want to. I just wanted to get a message to you direct. Hope life is treating you good!

        1. Hey Mike – of course. It is a shame that this mis-information exists. We only allow real estate comments on a few specific posts. If something is blatantly wrong or defamatory we will remove it. Please let me know if anything is off. We have deleted a few comments already.
          Thanks again!

  41. My husband and I are thinking about moving to Ecuador and I am having trouble finding what we can bring there. Not the normal household items that I can live without and buy when we get there, the problem is my husbands tools and shop equipment. I am talking about a milling machine and metal lathe and all the automotive tools and the house building tools that he has. Can these items be shipped to Ecuador? And would we have to pay extra duty for these items?
    Any help or web sites where I can get this information would be helpful. I receive your e-mail updates and find them very helpful.
    Thanks, Harriett

    1. Harriett… I can ask my friends who work in the import/export business in Ecuador and usually know customs regulations very well, but from my experience moving between countries you should try declaring as much of it as possible as your personal items. Each country has an exemption on your personal items vs business materials where you pay no tax. Another tip is to find out the exact exemption limits and then arbitrarily declare used items to stay below that amount. There is no way to determine the exact worth of used things, so you can be very creative there. I have declared used equipment that costs thousands of dollars new as $300 value with no problems after I have had it for a few years.
      You should probably talk to someone from Ecuadorian customs or hire someone who moves goods into the country every day as there are also items that cannot be imported used into Ecuador (only new). Again, for some items there are exemptions if they are your personal items. Your case is beyond the advice of amateurs like me.

      1. thanks for getting back to me. If you could check with your friends that would be appreciated. I am having no luck finding the answers I need. I will check with the Ecuadorian Customs. Again thanks

        1. Hello Harriett,
          We used INSA (a shipping company based in Ecuador to help with all the paperwork and shipping itself of all our household. We filled a whole container that went by boat from Miami to Guayaquil.
          INSA had a partner in Miami with Sentry International. Call Ramon Sierra at Sentry. Office phone: (305) 885-8161, cell: (305) 632-0438,
          Not sure he’s still there, but call their office. Someone friendly should answer to help.
          INSA’s contact was Conzuelo Heredia. Office phone: 011 593 224 06065 (calling from USA to Quito).
          Best regards,

        2. Harriett… Please, make yourself comfortable, this will take a while. Good news, you might be eligible for an exemption of duties as laid out in presidential decree number 888 that came into effect in January 2012. It contains all the information about moving your belongings to Ecuador including personal items and items pertaining to a business.
          Here some highlights related to business items in particular:
          Art 4 – Herramientas o Equipo de Trabajo –> This chapter in detail outlines what is considered “Tools and work equipment”. There are some restrictions it seems:
          – If the total value exceeds $30 000 you need to present a business and investment plan for your business in Ecuador.
          – You cannot bring in vehicles as part of your business
          – There are some item classification codes that cannot be included (8428.90.10.00, 8428.90.90.00, 8429.11.00.00, 8429.11.00.00, 8429.20.00.00, 8429.30.00.00, 8429.40.00.00, 8429.51.00.00, 8429.52.00.00, 8429.59.00.00, 8430.31.00.00, 8430.50.00.00). Examples of items that fall under this restriction are according to the document:
          * Lifting, loading, unloading equipment such as elevators, cablecars etc
          * Bulldozers (front)
          * Compactors
          * Front loaders and shovels for front loading
          * Machinery that can rotate 360 degrees
          * Machines that can be used for leveling the terrain
          Art 8 – Menaje de Casa y/o Equipo de Trabajo de tributos – This chapter outlines what you need to comply with to take advantage of the duty exemption:
          – If you are Ecuadorian there are some conditions depending on how long you must have been living abroad and how much time you spent in Ecuador during that time. If you have been in Ecuador too often, you cannot claim the exemption.
          – If you are not Ecuadorian your intent must be to live for at least a year in Ecuador and you need to have an immigant visa (so not a tourist visa)
          – If you do not have an immigrant visa, you need to present a work contract as the reason to move to Ecuador
          – Your stuff must arrive no later than 6 months after you arrive
          – Under certain conditions you can bring in items several times (as opposed to just one big shipment). This is reglamented in the decree.
          Art 9 – Menaje de Casa o Equipo de Trabajo no exento de tributos – Basically, anything they find in your things that cannot be exempt will be taxed.
          There is also the exact procedure outlined, penalties for not complying and so on.
          Here some additional information I got from the Embassy of Ecuador in Canada:
          “Todos los bienes parte de menaje de casa, el vehículo y las herramientas de trabajo que una persona migrante importará al Ecuador, para su exoneración de tributos, deberán haber sido comprados antes de su arribo al Ecuador para fijar su residencia, de ninguna forma se aceptarán menajes de casa, vehículos o herramientas de trabajo comprados después de la fecha de arribo al país.”
          This means that you can only bring in as part of your household move items you bought before your official landing date in Ecuador.
          “Todo artículo nuevo a ser declarado como parte de menaje de casa deberá incluir en la declaración juramentada la factura comercial a nombre de la persona migrante en retorno o a alguien de su núcleo familiar (cónyuge o hijos). En caso de que cualquier artículo nuevo no presente la debida factura de compra, será liquidado con el respectivo pago de tributos, en la partida arancelaria de menaje de casa no exento de tributos (9802.00.00.20).”
          This means that for each new item you need a sales invoice that states your name or the name of your spouse or child.
          For dual citizens that also hold the Ecuadorian citizenship it is mandatory that they enter with an Ecuadorian passport. A peculiarity is that Ecuadorian citizens can also bring in a car, but only up to a value of $20 000 and engine size of 3000 cc ($8 000 and 650cc for motorcycles)
          I hope this helps.

          1. Great job Jacob!
            Our move was a big change for the better, but only with much patience. It´s great that here at GringosAbroad you have folks that give good advise for free.
            Best Wishes Harriett,

      2. Hola Jakob,
        I am planning to start an import business here in Ecuador, and visited and contacted several government agencies here in Cuenca as well as Quito about the specific requirements to set up my business, but all I gotten is the run around from everyone. I have builded and ran other sucessfull businesses in the USA, not sure how to proceed here. Any input/ advice would be much appreciated. I am fluent in Spanish, but even that has not help much.

        1. Hola RRP… Disculpa la demora, pero mis actividades me llevaron a Brasil donde los problemas locales requirieron de toda mi atención.
          When I read your post I recalled reading an excellent blog describing what one person had to go through when registering a “local comercial” in Ecuador with the exact wait times and costs.
          It also contains a link to the World Bank study “Doing Business” which might be interesting further reading. I have personally never founded my own company, so I have yet to make my experiences. Me and my circle of Ecuadorian friends are still quite young and have not been out of university for long, so let’s say we are still building experience before any of us ventures out on their own. However, from my experience dealing with Ecuadorian authorities I know that it is important to know the exact process before you start it, as you will be sent around and you will hear “venga mañana” after being in line for several hours. In such situations it helps knowing what the next step should be and keep hitting them for as long as it takes to get it done. The article gives you good orientation in that. It puts the number of steps to open a “local comercial” in Ecuador at 13, the total time of the process at 2 months, and the cost at $1200 (right up there with Venezuela, which is not a good thing). The information is from 2011.

  42. hey Brian, so you are a Canadian too. You moved from one sunless place to an other.
    I have checked all the reviewed books to learn Spanish. They are ALL great! Still non of them comes with a memory chip…

      1. Right… as always there are no shortcuts to hard work. You have to surround yourself with the language in every aspect of your life. I am currently trying to learn Portuguese due to the business we are getting there and I keep telling my wife I need a Brazilian girlfriend or it won’t move fast enough, but she is putting up quite a resistance.

  43. Hi Bryan and Dena,
    I hope you’re well! I’m an english expat, living in ecuador since 2007. I’m a farmer in the north of Ecuador (intag, near Cotacachi), with a small volunteer project.
    I’m writing to ask your opinion on the following: several ecuadorean neighbours ask me for help in getting in touch with foreigners who might be interested in buying their farms. I don’t know what to answer them, as I know nothing of real estate, and my website and foreign contacts are to do with volunteering and ecotourism. I would love to be in touch with someone who might be interested in helping these people to sell their farms for a fair price to people who are not from Ecuador.
    At present I am almost the only foreigner in the parish, and I think it would be a tremendous help for the local people and their beautiful area if a few more foreigners were interested in moving in, both for environmental reasons and for cultural well-being in an area of low self-esteem.
    Very grateful for any thoughts,
    Ned Cresswell

  44. We have two families with small kids that are thinking of moving down their. One couple has spent time their but the hasn’t. We are coming down to do a little research any suggestions on beach town’s to check out? We would like a smaller town dont want to live with high rises.

    1. Joe… Depending on the type of climate you like there are several options along the coast with different climates and characters.
      In the north there is the province of Esmeraldas, tropical hot and humid with lush green vegetation and a mainly African descent population with the corresponding music and culture with a lot of elements from Africa. Some beach towns/stretches you can check out are Sua, Atacames, the area between Tonsupa and Punta Galera. Atacames is the main beach destination for tourists from Quito, so expect a lot of tourism there. Quito is 4 hours away, and the next major town is Esmeraldas.
      Further south there is the town of Pedernales in Manabi. The surrounding area is beautiful and still green although not entirely as tropical and a bit drier. Until recently, this area was difficult to access and remote, I would have to check on the status of the infrastructure there now (has been a while for me since I was there). They were building a major road from Quito directly to Pedernales.
      Main beach towns in the province of Manabi are Puerto Lopez and Montanita. Climate is decisively more dry and there are some months that feel cool compared to Esmeraldas. Montanita has a reputation for surfers and hippies and streets sometimes smell “funny” at night. Puerto Lopez was a sleepy fishermen village until recently, but has developed a beach and party scene in recent years. If you needed the services of a big city, Manta is an hour from Puerto Lopez, Guayaquil is 4 hours away. Manta had a US military base until recently which has influenced the character of the city. Population is very different from Esmeraldas in that people are mostly light skinned and European looking. The culture changes accordingly.
      Yet another bit further south there are Salinas and Playas (in the provinces of Santa Elena and Guayas), where all people from Guayaquil go for the quick trip to the beach, therefore, local tourism from Guayaquil is big (even more so than Atacames for tourists from the mountains). Climate is driest of all the places mentioned and there are not a lot of trees, but infrastructure is probably best.
      If you go south of Guayaquil there are some nice places around Machala (for example Jambeli), but I have found them not to be popular destinations. Maybe I had bad luck, but I found the beaches polluted compared to all the other places mentioned with the local population not really taking care of their surroundings.

      1. I think we are looking around montanita. We have been to Esmeraldas and Atacmes and didn’t like them but Sua was great but probably to close to the other two towns. The brother in law and i will be in country around the end of february and would like to find someone to take us to see some towns around Motanita.

        1. You can also look around Bahia de Caraquez and Canoa which have been attracting some people as beach towns, but personally I did not get hooked on that region. In Manabi my favourite stretch of the coast is between Olon and Puerto Cayo. It is also reasonably close to Guayaquil. I dislike the province of Santa Elena based on climate and landscape and I also dislike the province of Esmeraldas based on negative personal experiences.
          One word of caution though. It seems that crime that used to be confined to Guayaquil is slowly making its way to the coast. This year I have heard from locals in Puerto Lopez for the first time about an armed robbery at one of the hosterias right off the Ruta del Sol. 4 armed men came in and were apparently robbing tourists staying there. In 9 years this is the first time I hear about it, but thinking about it some places on the Ruta del Sol are very accessible from the road and virtually open to the public, so that you can be in and out within minutes if you are up to something bad.

        2. I know an excellent guide who is Ecuadorian and speaks perfect English who can take you and give you honest answers about anywhere you’d think about moving to. He’s based out of Guayaquil and that’s where you want to start from if you want to head to the Montanita area. If you haven’t found anyone, I’ll get you in touch with him.

          1. The insight of a local can certainly be invaluable, but my experience also is that Ecuadorians, Europeans, and North Americans often look for very different things when trying to find a place to settle down. My in law family is from Guayaquil and we couldn’t be further apart in what is important to us when looking for a place to live, so make sure you take advice from someone who understands your mentality. Another thing to consider is that Ecuador in reality is multicultural on its own. If you ask a Manaba for example you will likely get a different answer than if you ask an Esmeraldeño. Many people are regionally minded and will upsell their own region. To my wife Guayaquil is heaven on earth, in her mind why would anyone ever want to move to a small place in Manabi?

  45. Hi,
    My name is Homer and I’m writing from Travel News ) a real time travel community of travel bloggers, travelers and people who like traveling in general. It’s a free and open community for anyone to participate, think of it as digg but dedicated to traveling.
    We would really like your opinion on it and we would love if you could join the community. It is completely free and you can submit as many links as you want there is no limit and they show up in real time.
    Some more info on Travel News; We started travel news as an application for our friends to share interesting links about traveling but became apparent that a lot of people liked the idea and started to share their links. After requests from users we have added lots of functionality like voting/commenting/mark as favorite/read later, many more will follow. Since August 2012 TN has done a great progress, grew 400% since when it started and we expect that growth to continue, more than 200.000 unique visitors every month with 550.000 page views.
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    All in all we hope to make it a point of reference of finding the most relevant information about destinations and the experiences travelers have in those destination (removing all the noise).
    I hope you join us.
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  46. Dena and Bryan,
    It is great to see a young couple loving life in Ecuador. My husband and I are doing the same. Your website is amazing and it would give me great pleasure to become a guest blogger. If you are interested in my writing style, please let me know and I would be happy to prepare more material for you!
    Erin Elizabeth

    1. My wife and I read Erin’s entire blog and found it very entertaining. I would love to know how much they paid for their land and what they are retiring on.

  47. Hi Bryan,
    I am an award-winning social justice journalist and independent book editor, blogger and copywriter who lives in Ashland, Oregon, and feels the need to take up residence in another country for a better way of life. I am watching the U.S. presidential election unfold on the news tonight and shudder as I see the writing on the wall that does not spell much hope for this sad nation. A friend who is moving to Ecuador forwarded me your site info and it just restored a ray of hope for a better way of life.
    I had to quit my job as a journalist and editor in mainstream news 8 years ago after I could no longer leave my ethics and integrity at the newsroom door in exchange for a paycheck and watching Americans’ First Amendment rights get tossed in the can along with my censored investigative reports about social justice, workers rights, health care and other issues. I launched my own nonprofit national online newspaper 5 years ago and earn my living as a freelance book editor for Amazon and as a freelance copywriter for Web sites and blogs.
    Maybe there is a better way… and a place where we can enjoy quality of life once again instead of living like wage slaves, with our dreams and health in the American dumpster. I just subscribed to your newsletter and will be reading your blog with great interest. Thanks for producing this site and posting so much great info so the rest of us can follow your footsteps and resuscitate the American dream — far from America. You are an inspiration!
    Sincerely, Catherine Rourke

    1. Catherine… Ecuador is surely a beautiful place, but I have to caution you that if you are looking to find social justice, free speech, and the American dream that you believe to have lost in your home country you might be disappointed. We can improve our quality of life on the back of the fact that most people can only dream of the earning power that even an unskilled worker in North America has. Because of low labour costs, services and domestically produced goods are cheap. I pay $1.50 for my hair cut. It takes the owner of the small studio 20 minutes to provide me the service. That means that he can make $4.50 an hour if he has a constant stream of customers, not bad by Ecuadorian standards. I have someone in my family who not so long ago worked at a Sherwin Williams (American company) factory handling dangerous chemicals for $150 a month for a full time job. Thankfully, minimum wage has moved up to $290 since then. I have another family member who worked more than a decade for the construction company Bellamaria SA only to learn one day that the corrupt owner had taken all of the clients’ money and moved to Peru bankrupting the company. She was not even paid the last few months of her salary. Employees were told to take home company equipment as compensation instead. Another family member lost his job in aluminum manufacturing and retrained to do electrical installations in houses of the better off like us, for an initial wage of $260 a month, building the American Dream for others. When I met my wife she was making $200 a month. I am not even going to start telling all the workplace harassment stories. Every two weeks she and her mother would make the bus trip of more than 1 hour to the Caraguay market in Guayaquil to buy food directly from the producers and then carry the bags home in public transportation. That way they were able to afford the food. Shopping at the supermarket was too expensive. In 2000 there was a huge crisis in Ecuador where things got so bad that millions of Ecuadorians left, mainly to Spain. Now, mired in an even deeper crisis in Spain they are coming back, often with not much more than they left with. I suggest you go to Bastion Popular in Guayaquil or the residential zones in Milagro where they do not even have paved roads, yet, and the trash sometimes lies on the streets. Just go in a group of locals or otherwise you might not come out like you came in. The happiest people in my in law family live in Don Juan in Manabi, in a small fishing village right on the beach. They fish for a living and have the life that I would like to have, a simple one. But they would like to have my life, drive cars and go places. I work a lot to make the money necessary to one day be able to live on the beach and watch the ocean every day like they do. They move away from the beach and the ocean to make more money and one day be able to drive a car and buy nice things like I do. It is an odd cycle.
      Ecuador is a place where nature produces in abundance and it is climatically blessed. But it is also true that most Ecuadorians are pretty cash strapped and just getting by. Many are struggling. Corruption is still rampant (but has been getting better recently). In fact, I have stopped counting the dollars that I have spent on corrupt cops, civil servants etc, sometimes unknowingly until someone told me that I had been taken advantage of. This is the reason why I am still sometimes being approached by young women in Guayaquil who try to be my “friends” when I walk alone (every foreigner is rich to most Ecuadorians). This is also the reason why we foreigners can get an 11% return on our investment certificate at a Cooperativa de Ahorro y Credito (Credit Union). The Credit Union extends credits to locals with the invested money, at an interest rate of 17% or higher, so they still make a healthy profit margin. Can you fathom paying close to 20% interest on your debt?
      Did you know that Amnesty International had Ecuador on its watch list for infringements of free speech? The president has been trying for a while to close one of the country’s major newspaper, El Universo, for criticizing his politics. He felt offended. He took the journalists and the paper’s executives to court. I guess you would have to sacrifice your journalistic work ethic right there for a paycheck.
      Of the Ecuadorian people I know there is one group that is doing just fine, and those are people who possess academic degrees in sought after fields such as engineering or foreign trade. The opportunities in those fields have exploded in recent years. Do you see parallels to the US? I do, as my North American employer has just upped the premium for employees to bring new hires on board to $3500 for each new hire. Only a short while back we had 200 open positions across North America and we are struggling to find people for them. Engineering positions with salaries up to six digits if the skills and experience fit. Some call it a labour market crisis and blame China, the president and what not, I call it a skills crisis.
      So, next time we have a ceviche de pescado with rice, soup, and fresh lemonade for lunch for $2.20 all inclusive let us not forget that it comes on the back of the fact that by moving to Ecuador we instantly move to the top of the food chain while we were just Joe Average in our home countries. That will suddenly make you feel very different about the 1% debate in the US.
      By all means, go to Ecuador and enjoy the climate, the food, the nature, the people and culture. But if you are looking for social justice and free speech to resuscitate the American Dream on foreign soil you might get a little frustrated.

  48. It’s great to read about a fellow adventurer. We are planning on moving to Rincon, Puerto Rico in less than a year and are totally psyched up about it. It has taken us quite a while to save up enough money as well as find a property. But we finally have and are ready to make the jump! It is both scary and exciting, but I am so glad to hear that your adventure has been worth it! In just the short time that we’ve spent at our property after buying it, we have already had to deal with Killer Bees, Fires, and crazy cussing Puerto Ricans, so I know that we are going to have a blast! ha!

  49. Since you guys fully understand the significance that House Hunters International can have on a career, was just wondering if you might consider passing this post on in some way. My friends/clients Gary & April Scarborough whom I believe you know will be featured on HHI on Oct. 23. I’ve written this blog posted on my personal site and their business site. Thanks for any help you might give them. ~ Steve …

    1. The HHI episode actually shows the view on my home office on several occasions. When I came to those parts of Manabi for the first time in 2003 there were not even adequate paved roads in the area (Ruta del Sol or Route 15 was a gravel road in some sections) and all there was were sleepy fishing villages. I felt like the only gringo around and if I met foreigners they tended to be Europeans (French, German, Swiss, Italian) or descendants thereof who had made the move to Ecuador in the 70s or 80s. They usually owned some place for tourists on the natural path and were so far and few between that some maps I bought at the store actually marked those places as peculiarities. The place was so remote that I met a guy who had missed the fact that Germany had lost the second WW. What a difference a decade makes. I wonder how the place will look like in another decade. One thing is for sure, very different.

  50. I´m from Brazil and i´m living in Cuenca for 1 year and 6 months.
    I lived in US for 9 years and did house cleaning there for 5 years,now i´m starting a cleaning business here in Cuenca working for the expat people,but i don´t know much how i can let people know about my services,if you can help me i will thank you….

  51. is there anyone who knows of a moving co based in cuenca who can get estimates to move door to door from fl. to cuenca.

    1. Hi Sergio,
      The company we used from Miami is called Sentry International.
      Our contact was Ramon Sierra and we found him and his company to be very professional (they even boxed the couch). Office phone is (305) 885-8161. They have an affiliate company called INSA (International Shipping Company) based in Quito, Ecuador, and they did go “door-to-door” for us. Here’s their info.:
      International Shipping & Storage Co. Ltd. (INSA)
      Country: Ecuador
      Address: Av. Eloy Alfaro s/n y Calle de Las Anonas Quito
      Phone: 02 240 6065
      Ramon should be able to help with Cuenca as well. If not I’m sure he knows another company who can help with your move.
      Best regards.

  52. Hello,
    I am planning to move to Ecuador mid 2013 and wanted to know if there is any business opportunities available in Ecuador. I have a small amount of money I can use to invest with but I don’t know where to put it.
    I am an IT Administrator for a small company. I have a potential idea but I don’t know if there is a market for it.
    Also, are there any local sites like Kijiji or Craigslist in Ecuador?
    My spanish is not good at all but I married a women from Ecuador who will be my translator.
    Thanks for any help!!!

    1. Anthony… Ecuadorians are not big on buying or selling second hand things, people mostly want new. This is maybe part of the reason why you won’t find the kind of buy/sell environment like on Kijiji. Having said this there are online marketplaces. I use as an Ebay/Kijiji substitute.
      As with your idea I advise you to do market research first, as with any business idea. The target market might or might not exist in Ecuador.

  53. Brian,
    Great blog you have here. Been researching the mortgage situation in Ecuador.
    As a lend roughly $10,000 to my grandmother in law to finance their home in Ecuador. As they are literally bankrupt I told them to sell the house.
    The house was appraised $72,000 before purchase, but they bought it for $62,000 because it was their friends house. Now I recommended on putting the house on market to eliminate debt and get at least the difference back. However my mother in law and grandmother in law, has told me that only way to get the money back is if the buyer buys the house all cash according to the bank. If they finance it no money will be coming back.
    I do not know if it’s true but it’s pretty crazy.
    It would be great if I could get some of you knowledge.
    thank you

    1. Ryota… I can see how this makes sense. More than 50% of the mortgage market is now controlled by the BIESS which is backed by the country’s social security fund, so ultimately public funds. This was a government project to drive mortgage interest down and it was successful in achieving that. Since it offers the best rates with state backing, most buyers finance through what is called “bono BIESS”. The only problem is that for the seller to finally get the money from the BIESS the buyer and seller have to jump through a million of bureaucratic hoops, long after the sale/purchase agreement has been signed. A friend of mine waited over a year since the date of application for financing to get the money. Nothing for people who need the money fast. That’s why you can almost always demand a significant discount on the house price if you are a buyer with cash at hand. The buyer who has cash is king as it makes the procedure so much simpler and faster.
      I assume what your family wants to tell you is that if the buyer finances it would take too long to see the actual money to avert bankruptcy.

  54. Hi Bryan, first is all, thank you for your blogs and newly created classified blog. Obviously you and your wife aren’t retirement age, and I don’t believe you have purchased real estate, so how do you get around the $25,000 deposit requirement for residency? If you own a business, such as your online one does that satisfy a requirement for residency? My husband and I will visit in January 2013, and would like to move ther if all goes well, but we aren’t quite at the retirement age (59). What would be our options ? Thanks for any help. Becky

    1. Hi Becky – to get residency, you’ll need to buy a property, make an investment or start a company. If our company was based in Ecuador, we could have based our residency on it (but it is a Canadian company). You can get a number of temporary visas as well. Its best that you speak with a lawyer about the specifics.

  55. Hi, Im 30 years old no kids(three dogs) my husband and i want to sell it all and move to ecuador. Im also from Nova Scotia. A plus is he is ecuadorian but rised in canada. We are not good with computers or internet. Im a farm girl and he is a landscaper. We made alot on are frist house but hate the 10 hour plus work days to just get by. So we want a famliy life buy land and start a bussiness and live easy, simple and together on the coasta, tho he is from close to cuenca. My one and only trip to ecaudor I loved, but questions?1. Should we be shipping everything? Buy a car here or there?

    1. Great to hear from a fellow Nova Scotian!
      In our opinion, you shouldn’t ship everything unless there is a lot of stuff you just can’t do without. It isn’t hard to find (almost) everything here. We brought just 2 bags of luggage each, and have bought everything else here. Cars are expensive here, but shipping a car from Canada is going to cost as well. For me, the paperwork involved is enough to avoid it. Be sure to check with lawyer here before you begin – there are changing rules about importation.

      1. Hi Bryan,great blob! We bought a condo in cuenca and planing to move in the near future,can you give me info if there is a moving co. based in cuenca that can give us an estimate on moving our housewhole door to door from fl. to cuenca? i had no luck on finding one.
        If you do not know of one,can you find out (as time permites) if there is one
        Thanks Sergio & Marlene

    1. Hi John, we are both from the Annapolis Valley – I used to be in Halifax almost every week for work (seeing clients, etc). What do you do in Vilcambamba? Retired, working?
      Thanks for your comment!

  56. Bryan…thanks very much for your prompt and helpful reply. Now, can you please give me the straight info on a monthly budget? (A bit confused…believe I have read too much…lol). I want to rent a nice one bedroom furnished near the center as I have no intention of owning a car. I will probably eat 50% of my dinners out. If you include approx. rent, utilities, internet, cell phone,gym membership, food, local transportation, dining out and entertainment,medical,(and any other costs I am forgetting you would include)…what am I looking at per month approximately? My monthly income without working will be $1,900. and I would like to have some $$ left over to do day trips, etc. Think I will be okay? Thanks again for your opinion, I really appreciate it. Hugh

  57. Bryan and Dena…I am a healthy, single 62 year old male who has done an awful lot of due diligence on Ecuador as a retirement destination without actually visiting. I have settled on Cuenca. I am very seriously considering just packing and coming without an advanced trip there. Can you tell me anything that would discourage that idea? With your hindsight would you do the same or wwere you surprised by anything? Thank you for any input….Hugh

    1. We don’t regret just moving. But many people come, stay for six months and move on. It didn’t fit with their expectations. If you are used to other cultures and things not being like “back home” then you should do fine. Just realize that life is different here. Not just the food and the language but the speed and style of life is different – this annoys many new expats. A visit is always recommended.

    2. Hugh, my experience is only in the US, but I feel it translates internationally. I feel it is easy to buy property but difficult to sell it. I recommend people to rent for at least 2 years because it takes at least 2 years to know if the culture is right for you and if you can tolerate the weather. Even in the US, the culture and weather can vary greatly from state to state, and even city to city. I hope that helps.

  58. Hi All!
    We are flying in to Quito on August23 rd and were hoping somebody could answer a couple of questions? Can anyone recomend a decent hotel for a couple of days in Quito? Somewhere walkable, we won’t have a car. Then we want to fly to Cuenca and look around, as well as Salinas…can anyone give me the easiest way to get from Quito to Cuenca and then to Salinas? We have until Sept 7 to see all three places…Alos looking for places in Salinas and Cuenca to stay…same deal..a decent hotel in an area we can walk and see the towns. we are planning on moving down this winter! Thank YOU!

  59. Hi Bryan
    Congrats for the blog, is great to read good things from my Country and City. I’m Cuencano.
    I have a topic to suggest for your blog, is about a government program, called Prometeo Viejo Sabio, to invite retired scientist, researchers, phd, to move here and share their knowledge in the local universities. Getting a payment, tours, involve in our culture, visit Galapagos, etc, etc, etc.
    You can get more info in the next link:
    You have many followers that can get useful this info
    Sorry for my English, I read your blog to practice.

    1. Hi, this is a reply to the post that promised, but gave no link to the
      government program, called Prometeo Viejo Sabio,
      Anybody has information about this program, PLEASE?

      1. Bryan, my question was NOT about visa, which I have,
        but about the program, whereby people with the USA PhDs are invited to work in Ecuador, to help Ecuador build a good high education system in the country

        1. Having received your explanation of why my message with useful links has not been published (your spam filter), I now understand what happened to the link, published in the original post, to which I first replied.
          The post actually had not only a useful link you/your filter took out, but a very useful suggestion for your blog. There are many of us here, in Ecuador, with the USA PhDs, who want to help Ecuador in building a good High Education system. So, by giving the link, you would HELP ECUADOR.
          Moreover, you could help Drew and other expat kids, because many of us would agree to contribute to the expat kids education.
          As for your filter that is taking out useful information as spam, do not you think it is not a good filter? Would not it be easier to monitor your blog and delete spam, and ban the spammers? Too bad really that the spam filter is set so as to prevent us giving you useful informaiton 🙁

          1. I understand your frustration, but the spam filter actually uses a specific profile of the typical spam comment. I was monitoring it daily and the plugin had a fail ratio of 1 in 10,000 (of actual comments to spam). We have received more than 200,000 spam comments and have published more than 7,000 actual comments.
            There just aren’t enough hours in the day to sort this kind of volume. We use Akismet to filter comment spam – it is the standard in spam filtering.
            You are welcome to share your comment again.

  60. Hi,…After receiving an email from a friend about the best place to retire…I did some search and have been lead to your blog. My husband and I digged in and are really interested by movin overthere. We are a bit adventurous and we believe that Life is Good where ever you are. Just have to decide it and believe. So….We are planning to leave in June 2013. That gives us plenty of time to coordonnate everything.
    We don’t think that we will go before moving for good. We think that we’ve seen enough to be convinced that we will enjoy living in Cuenca.
    A quick question: Is it possible to settle down there as permanent resident even if we do not have a company. We’ve moved a couple of times in our life and we always found work easily. We are good workers. Do you think there place for us in Cuenca ?
    Thanks and looking forward hearing from you!
    Marielle et Pierre
    Québec, QC – Canada

  61. Just happened on your site today and coincidence, saw you all on House Hunters the other night…nice site!

      1. Hy Bryan, I would like to know what you will do in terms of future education for your little girl. I am considering moving there and i have a grade 9 high school and an grade 6. What do you think i should consider for their future in terms of university abroad. What school do you think offers at least something close to canadian standards.

        1. Hi Maria – we are homeschooling Drew right now. We are looking into some online options for high school and university. There are university options here, but I think we are going to direct her to work in English. Of course, its her decision, but we are going to help her learn how to work online (as we do) so she can be more location independent. Because she homeschools now, I can’t help with recommendations of other schools.

  62. Hi, just saw your house hunters int’l episode on the hgtv app for iPad. Loved it, especially that you are a young family and that you chose to rent on a limited budget, things we Cain relate to! We’ve been planning to move abroad for almost two years now, our destination: Costa Rica! We have two young children so we will also be considering homeschooling, as private schools may be expensive. We will also be relying on income made through remote jobs, as my husband is a web developer, but needs to get a remote job or do freelancing. we also both love to write, so the idea of travel blogging either just for fun or for profit sounds intriguing.
    My question for you, and I apologize if you stated this in your blog already somewhere, but did you and your family do a scouting trip first before moving there, just to make sure it would be a “livable” place to move? I can see the benefits of it, but I am also looking at the numbers on this long bill of upcoming moving expenses, and am just curious as to what others have done.
    Thanks, and great blog!! Maybe someday we’ll have our own travel blog and will send you a link!
    Buenos suerte,
    (is that Spanish for good luck? I lived in the Dominican Republic for 3 years and know a little Spanish, but will need to learn more!

    1. Hi Jennifer – thanks for your comment. Our Cuenca House Hunters episode was a blast to film.
      We didn’t visit first, although it certainly is the best thing to do. We felt like if it didn’t work out here, then we would have just moved on to another country. We weren’t planning to go back to Canada. What some families do, is send one parent and one child on an exploring (spying) mission. They can determine if it will work – without incurring so much expense.
      Let us know when you get moved – we would love to profile you on our site. Making money from your travel blog isn’t that hard – but it takes a lot of time.
      All the best on your plans!

  63. Fellow Canadians I just took the plunge and purchased a nice place a couple blocks from the beach in Salinas. I went to Ecuador with my daughter, rented a car for 3 weeks and drove all over. It wasn’t until I got to Salinas when I said, hey I could live here. It’s beautiful and I love it. On the website shows my new place in Salinas Ecuador. I’m selling my home in Niagara Falls, Ontario (also on the website) and moving to Ecuador. Speaking to many Gringos, it seems many love Cuenca. When I finally get there for good I’m checking out Cuenca for a few days. Good luck to you guys and I’ll be checking out this website regularly from now on. If anyone wants some info. about Salinas feel free to ask me, remember I only have 6 week experience there. But I love it! Adios Andy

    1. Hi Andy,
      My wife and I are seriously looking at salinas Ecuador to retire. We were just wondering if you have moved yet and what your experiences have been like so far. We are also fellow canadians (cold lake, Alberta) and are looking at escaping the cold permanently. Any feedback you can give us would be greatly appreciated.

  64. Hey, I just saw you two on House Hunters International. I was so exited when I saw that the new recorded episode was on Cuenca. We are planning a move there very soon. How are you enjoying it their? It seems heavenly. I can’t wait. Were you able to find work? That is my biggest concerns because we too have to find jobs. My husband has worked in all phases of construction for 25 years and I work for a florist and have a fledling natural and organic skin care biz. Do most expats have to start a business in order to support themeselves or is there local work for expats who speak some spanish?

    1. Hi Tammie – we are loving it here. We work online – we run a couple of blogs and do some writing. Many other expats also work online. A number are involved in real estate and tourism. There is work available – the chambers of commerce might be able to help connect you.

  65. Hi Bryan and Dena- Am coming to Cuenca in Marchof 2012. I enjoy reading your blogs and info and will keep reading as much as I can since I know only what I am reading on your Blog website plus a few other bits of info I can pick up Thanks Again- Ed Weidner

  66. Hi Bryan,
    My wife and I are very keen to retire to Cuenca, Ecuador. However I find many conflicting articles on income taxs in Ecuador. I have read that once you obtain Residency you have to pay taxes on “world wide income”, then there are other articles which state that “Ecuador income taxes are based only on income earned in the country”.
    Before we can take the plunge I would like to know what is correct.

    1. Does ecuador tax u on your world wide income when u get a residency visa?
      I thank u in advance.

      1. I don’t believe. I understand that it depends on the tax treaty with your home country. You should check this with your lawyer in Ecuador – don’t take my word for it.

  67. So pleased to find you! I will scour around to see when your episode will be shown on House Hunters; I’ve actually never seen the show but will be watching it all the time when I do find it. Please keep me posted as to when it will be shown. I, also, am planning my retirement currently and have decided that it will happen within the next two to three years, possibly sooner. Cuena, Cotachachi, and Costa Rica have been on my short list of places. I get the Living International Newsletter and Gringo’s so I am besieged with great news all the time.
    My one desire; however, is to rent a home instead of apartment. I grew up in apartments and just love home living. I imagine a smart move would be to live in apt until I could find a home to rent, but I’m hoping that I’ll b lucky and find a house first. I don’t speak any spanish so have been investigating either Rosetta Stone or the Pimsleur method of learning and plan to purchase one of these shortly. Have you any advice on either of these methods of learning “Latin” spanish?????
    I would love to be added to your blogg and will make the effort to do that; don’t know anything about blogging; however, is that what we are doing right now? If not, do I have to go to your Facebook page or a certain site that you “blogg” on???? Help! I want to keep up with you now that I’ve found you!

  68. Brian, I am currently in Cuenca until Nov. 17th. As of tomorrow we will be staying at the Hotel Rey close to town. Trying to look at rentals but needs suggestions for the parts of town we should be checking out. Any help you can give you be very much appreciated.
    Regina Compton

    1. Hi Regina,
      First of the week we spent some time in Puertas del Sol and near Hotel Oro Verde. They have some great apartment complexes. We were pretty impressed with the places there. Also there are some great places in a sector called Santa Rosa (Gran Columbia and Unidad Nacional). Hope this helps!

  69. Hi Bryan, at the beginning of October, just last week I send some questions and comments, they were posted immediately but when I check two days ago it was taking out. What I can do to get back in, the question were very important to me as we are planing to visit Cuenca in January (I am waiting for my passport). Then we will make a decision to move by the end of 2012, maybe sooner!!
    Carmen and Bill

    1. Hello
      I hope this is the right place to post this!
      I have been trying to find a comparison “story”/study re the cost of living in Salinas as compared to other parts of Ecuador. Any suggestions or insights would be much appreciate.

  70. Thank you for your response, one last question regarding cell phones. What carrier do you have and what is the cost. Yes we are going to fly into Cuenca we are going to “check it out” first before we do the move. But most likely it will be a positive move ..thanks again for you time!!!!!!

    1. We currently have Movistar, but are both planning to switch to Claro. Costs are the same, but coverage is a bit better. You can buy plans, but you’ll need an Ecuadorian bank account. Or you can use a pay-as-you-go system that most people would spend $6 – 10 per month at modest use. You can buy a basic Nokia phone for $35-40.

      1. thank you for you quick response , no more questions from my part…. have a lovely life….we hope to be there early next year….

  71. interested in going for a visit in may of 2012 looking at the airline tickets I wondered what city should we fly into when we are going to Cuenca? Do we rent a car from Quito? Please advise and can you a recommend a small pension type of moderate rate for a 3 week stay, thank you, Maria and jerry

    1. Hi Maria – you can choose from either Guayaquil or Quito Airport – they are the two international airports in Ecuador. Most people would take a national flight to Cuenca Airport although you can certainly rent a car as well – depends on your level of adventure.

  72. Hi!
    Very interesting site!
    I’m from Quebec!
    I plan on movinv to General Villamil.
    May I ask how you produce an income in Cuenca? If it’s from the website, what is it that you sell?
    I’m not sure yet to what kind of business I want to operate doen there. I’ve mainly been involved in persuasive copywrititng for commercial or manufacturing companies.
    But my ‘dream’, is opening a small restaurant, by the beach, with typical american fast food (homemade fries, charcoaled burgers etc). I would target expats and locals looking for ‘real’ expat foods.
    I’m a very curious to know how you get an income there for your family, with only a couple of days/week…. I will get more or less 1500$/month coming from interest but I really want to operate a business, as I do here, but on a more relaxed scheduled and with less headaches.

    1. Hi Mike, thanks for your comments!
      I write for – a site owned by The New York Times – for their online business section. We have yet to truly monetize GringosAbroad, but we have a few things in the works. Making money with your travel blog is a viable option. Dena is a travel writer. So with a combination of writing and blogging, we manage to work part time and have more time to enjoy life.
      All the best on your plans!

  73. Saludos Bryan y Dena,
    Gracias por su sitio! Es interesante y muy utíl. Soy estadounidense y he viajado bastante, pero nunca en Sudámerica. Estoy pensansdo en viajar a Ecuador por dos o tres meses. Quiero mejorar mi espanol (es mi tercer idioma) y trabajar como voluntaria…Hay muchos sitios sobre voluntario en Ecuador, pero yo no sé cuales organisaciónes son mejores.
    Para mi, sera perfecta arreglar algo informal, un “homestay” o algo asi. No tengo mucho dinero, pero puedo pagar un poco o ensenar en cambio por una habitación (soy maestra del ingles)…
    Qué piensan? Tienen ustedes consejos para mi?
    Muchísimas gracias, y buena suerte con todo,
    Ann H

    1. Ann:
      I live in Quito-Ecuador and would like to share my appartament with someone (maid included) I live in a beautiful area in Quito (upscale) is called Cumbaya, I live by myself with my maid and if are interested in room and board please email me to:

  74. Okay… you guys are really, really bad. Introducing Eduardo Vega? And, ceramics no less. We’re trying to save money – not spend more 🙂

  75. Bryan – My husband and I are moving to Cuenca in January. We are in the process of getting our XII-IX and plan on staying in Quito on the way over to get the Pensioner’s Visa, etc. We know there was a meeting last night in Cuenca about changes in visas. Were there any changes for either of these two visas?

    1. Hi Judy – there have been some changes over the month of August. Our lawyers have contributed a few posts detailing these changes.
      From what I understand, the biggest change is the need for an apostilled (or notarized) police certificate from your country of origin. Unless you are basing your residency on a corporation – this has changed completely.
      Hope this helps.

  76. Hi Guys,
    I’m in Nova Scotia and just found your site. I am hell bent on making my way to Ecuador at some point in time and retiring there. I am 40 now and refuse to wait until I am “old” to retire! Thanks for the site and feel free to email me at any time with any tips you may have for a fellow Canadian who would like to relocate to Ecuador.

  77. Bryan and Dena,
    We are thinking about finding a location to retire. We like the sound of Cuenca, Ecuador. But, somehow we’ve spread our name around enough to the real estate sharks preying on potential buyers of Ecuadorian property, so as to be baraged with “bargain buys” that I’m not convinced are really bargains, and I’m very concerned about what’s happening to affordible property for would-be expats like ourselves.
    My family bought beach front property in Rosarito Beach, Baja California, Mexico, in the 70’s. As affordable beach front property began to disappear in Southern California, more and more Southern Californians began to buy in northern Baja; both for retirement and for second homes. In the late 80’s, the “Gringo” real estate sharks were “on” to the movement of Americans to the northern Baja coast. We had purchased (actually a fidocomiso, 99 year bank trust lease) a lot on the beach for $15,000. We built a custom home for $25,000; our total investment was $40,000. Realizing the movement of Americans to Baja, developers from L.A. and San Diego quickly began to buy up tracts from the Ejidotariios and develop them into beach front communities with American beach front price tags. What had been available for $30,000 or $40,000 just ten years earlier were now being sold by the greedy developers for $250,000 and up. A condo in Rosarito which had sold for $15,000, soon had a ‘Gringo’ price of $150,000.
    How did the “Gringo” real estate sharks get away with this? They promised the Mexican owners much inflated prices for their properties, but not so much as to preclude a big FAT profit for the real estate shark, and the new pricing still appealed to the “uninformed” American whose property north of the border was worth $400,000 and up.
    What you are talking about here is a phenomenon or trend that repeats every time a new location-living-attraction presents itself to an expatriate; the opportunistic real estate sharks jump into the process to capitalize on the profit opportunities of arbitraging real estate that is low by American standards into real estate that is (by American standards) still lower than could be bought in the U.S., but considerably higher than what had been the norm in the new country.
    It is almost irritating that the “sharks” do this. They do so out of pure greed and with or without realizing they are making their personal profiteering opportunity short lived, they ruin the market for many other expats or retirees who have to then go and find another location where they can afford to buy, rent, and live on a minimal fixed income. And, they considerably lower the long-term price appeal that the location had in the first place. Today, the northern Baja coast has lost much of its price appeal, near-American prices have arrived in northern Baja from shopping, to dining, and to real estate as the cost of living for those who sought lower living expenses are finding northern Baja offers no value greater than can be found in many U.S. midwestern cities and many, many beautiful foreign countries.
    My wife and I will soon be on a fixed income. We will have to find a place where the cost of living WILL stay somewhat static and we would like to be able to maintain a somewhat middle class life style. We are going to look at Ecuador, but if the real estate “sharks” begin to ruin the low cost appeal of living in Ecuador, and we are not able to purchase something before the “ascent” begins, we will be forced to look elsewhere. I believe this has already begun. I get email newsletters about how “so and so” bought beachfront property in Ecuador for $32,000, waited 11 months by sitting on the beach, and then capitalized on the “uniformed-gringo- buyer-mentality” and sold his property to another expat for $150,000. That’s great; we all like to make money, but what’s this doing to the opportunities in Ecuador for those who really are on a fixed income with little investment money?
    Sure, we can move into the family home in Rosarito and we would have no house payment, but as I said, Rosarito is has been “Gringoized”. Restaurants reflect American restaurant pricing now, because of the influx of Americans. Grocery shopping and food prices are more in line with supermarket prices north of the border, and even labor (for maintenance, etc.) is now more in line with what labor would cost in the U.S. A maid in Rosarito is $35 a day. 25 years ago, a maid was $4.00 a day. It’s all because the Americans feel $35.00 a day is less than half the $80 a day they’d have to pay in the U.S. But, the $35.00 a day means the difference between having a maid 5 or 6 days a week as opposed to one day a week.
    Additionally, Rosarito has become a haven for blue collar retirees. Most speak no Spanish at all, show little desire to learn the language, and they have brought with them their Gringo mentality of “home owner association” and expat community cohesiveness, effectively shutting out the culture into which they moved. Many of the blue collar retirees have even searched and discovered ways of ripping off their fellow expats by becoming real estate agents themselves, or labor service agents (as in maid services), or restaurant owners (by partnering with a Mexican partner) and pricing their menus with American prices.
    It almost seems as though the greed of Americans is like a cancer that follows those who are earnestly trying to establish frugality in living and destroy, much as a parasite would, the host and source of their nourishment.
    I guess we can only hope we are able to make a move before the “news letters” on how much money can be made by turning over real estate at the expense of an expat family (on limited income with limited funds available for investment) begin to cause the flood gates to open and make Ecuador unattractive by hiking prices at a pace that wouldn’t happen otherwise.
    Best regards and thanks for the unbiased forum.
    Dury and Helen Cords

  78. Hola…..I enjoy readying your comments very much! I know you are in Cuenca but I am wondering if you could help me anyway. I will be in Quito September 1-6. I would like to look at apartments to rent. I plan to live in Quito. I’m not sure if there are agents or agencies like we have here in the States. Do you know of a realty company or a person you could recommend for me to get in touch with about showing me rentals in Quito? If you do know someone or a company I would appreciate having the information.
    Muchas gracias (about all the Spanish I know!)
    Ben Pilgreen

      1. Hi Ben:
        You can give my email or telephone number to people that are interested in finding accommodation im Quito,I live in Cumbaya willing to help. I have a beautiful appartament (maid included) that would like to share with. I know Hugh Andrew and he has given me your website to get in touch with you. I can help people with accommodations, translations, tour planning, plastic surgery (very affordable in this country) have great doctors and referrals, get acquainted with the city and teach spanish while they here, very reasonable prices.
        My name: Marthy Parada, email:, phone 01159322897423, or 099276295

  79. Hi Brian! I am a Registered Nurse NOT wanting to wait until retirement age to come to Cuenca. I’ve been thinking about what I can do in Cuenca to generate income. Is there a need for Assisted Living-expat or locals? Is there a need for Massage Therapists? I know the medical tourism industry is becoming more popular in Ecuador. What about a “recovery house B & B” type place? Any info would be greatly appreciated.

  80. Hi Bryan & Dena:
    We are planning our first trip (October 25) to have a look around Ecuador. I must have read a zillion web sites on the internet. We are kind of stuck on the coast. I have been looking for a tour or?? say from Manta to Salinas with some stops along the way. We are from Vancouver and I am thinking it may be a good spot to spend (maybe retire) a good part of the year. I need good internet access…using skype. Find a lot of conflicting reports on the coast. Any info. you could give me would be very appreciated. Look forward to hearing from you.

  81. Bryan and Dena – We are settled in Cuenca now and would like to meet you for coffee if your schedule allows it. Please email us back to confirm.

  82. Bryan & Dena – Bill and I will be in Cuenca next week. Since you two have been such a great source of information, we would love to meet you and take you to lunch. We will email you as soon as we get settled and see if your schedule permits a short visit. We will be in Cuenca for the month of June. Looking forward to meeting you.
    Bill and Judy Collins

  83. Hi there, though I would congratulate you on the site, very informative, I would like to offer any help if you need some extra information, specially on the Cotopaxi area, I have lived here now for 3 years, if anybody has questions regarding the area you´re not sure abou,t throw them my way, maybe I can help, my husband an Ecuadorian also has loads of information he might be able to help out with.
    Take care and congrats again

    1. Just thought we would ask you if you know of any local folks who would help in showing a near retired couple around when we visit Ecuador. We are considering Ecuador as a retirement location, as our main residence but not sure if we would be inland or coastal. We want to experience a few areas to help in our understanding of the climates and life styles that are offered by the different regions. We don’t need a large city but we would like to have good coffee, sidewalk cafe with good people watching and some shops to look around in. Any thoughts for us would be greatly appreciated.
      John and Arlene

  84. How wonderful it would be to live abroad in such a location. I'm twenty and plan to move abroad to Ecuador, making the biggest decision of my life — KNOWING there's something better out there for me. So I make the leap. I have bipolar and I feel that I can cure my disease simply by changing my surroundings and starting my life over forgetting my past of the horrible life I lived in the States. Life becomes damn near impossible to carry on a steady life. So Ecuador will be receiving a visit from me within the next 6 months and most likely in an additional 6 months I will be retiring AT THE AGE OF 21 =) This is possible for anyone… Anyone can do this!! Why in the world hasn't the Gringos jumped on this amazing opportunity… Right now I am ridiculed and scolded that I am crazy for moving out of the safety of the United States (SAFETY????) If Ecuador turns out to be what all of you are saying it is I'm ready to retire with my online business being my final income. I have so many skills to bring to Ecuador, I wonder how many technical job sources are available! Thank you for reassuring me after reading about Ecuador in the International Living magazine.

  85. Thanks for post about Techo Cyclo -I actually have a Marin that I love (cross over racks front & back that I am trying to figure how to bring -maybe they can help me!)
    Tom –
    I have got to see yet -do they have email & haba some Ingles?

    1. Hi Tom,
      Yes, they speak some english – the owner at TecnoCyclo, Christian, is hesitant to speak at first, but his English is very good.
      Depends on the airline, but most will bring your bike. My parents are bringing my wife’s Specialized bike – the freight is $150 from the airlines and it doesn't count towards the checked baggage limit. My dad picked up a box from a local bike shop – so it should travel safely.
      Hope this helps.

  86. I My husband and I are here from Edmonton, Alberta area, just checking out Cuenca. We arrived during the Independence Day celebrations and are staying until the end of December. As I sit here, housebound, on census day, I am taking the opportunity to explore the internet. I just stumbled upon your site and am really enjoying it.

  87. Matthew Sabean just gave me your website – worked with your Mom and Dad at our hall build here in Annapolis Royal – great folks. I have a son and his family that live in Panama and want us to buy something there, but this looks interesting. However, I cannot read spanish so cannot understand the real estate ads. Maybe will fly down and visit – what are car rentals like there, or is this a recommended way of travel? And where do I find rentals on line?
    Thanks – looks like you are having fun!!

  88. Hey, guys! Just stumbled upon your site by accident, and wanted to throw you some kudos – been dying to go hang in Ecuador for a while.
    Cheers to everyone getting out there and living life on their own terms!

    1. Hi Ash,
      Thanks for the kudos.
      You really should come to Ecuador. It's amazingly diverse here, you could be hanging out on the beach swimming in warm water one day, and the next – hiking up a snow covered volcano.

  89. Hi Bryan and Dena
    I have just found your web site and have found it quite interesting. I went throught most of it this morning. I'm a Canadian, from Alberta. I have recently been doing some research on Ecuador as a possible location to live either part time or full time. But nothing is set in stone as of yet. We had for years thought it would be Mexico, but it's not cheap thats for sure. We have also travelled alot to the Dominican, and lately thought there may be a possibility, we know a few locals there now. Then I thought Costa Rica, maybe Panama. So now I've come to Ecuador. Yes I know I have been bouncing around. I need to come visit of course. Our biggest desire is to live in a Country with great weather, safe, secure, where a business oppourtunity could be done at some point. Our single adult children would also come if possible. I just don't know what the goverment regulations are on getting a residensy for us all. Do you know where I could get that info from?
    I wanted to ask also how you came to decide on Ecuador as home and if you know of any other whole families that have made the move that we would like to do?
    Again thanks for your site. Have a great life

    1. Hi Denise,
      It can be a hard decision. We did the same thing, sifting through 8 or 10 different options. Here is a post on Why We Chose Cuenca, Ecuador
      In the comment section to this blog, there is contact info for a lawyer here in Cuenca. She can help you with specifics. You need to be careful with what you read online about visas – lots of people put information thats dead wrong.
      Because we have a young family, we know many other families that are here. There are also young singles and lots of retired people – both couples and individuals.

  90. Looks like a great idea. I am almost 60, but my daughter has an expertise in setting up English language schools. So I have now been visiting her abroad in: Korea, Buenos Aires, Glasgow- her husband's home town, Costa Rica and next week I am off to Bogota. You'd think my Spanish would improve, pero est muy malo! So sometimes when kids live abroad it's a perk for the parents.
    BUT WARNING to grandparents/parents. Don't move to the country where your kids are to be close to them, they are likely to move on before you get your boxes unpacked. Happy expat-living,
    Sally Franz
    Author, "Scrambled Leggs"

    1. Hi Bryan. I am already a member & hope to continue. I am wondering how long the flight would be to Ecuador from Edmonton ( same as yours) I think. They quoted my many stops & transfers. I am somewhat Crippled so it is an issue ( Painful Crippled). What Flight or carrier is best. Price secondary. THanks & Love your Site. Guy

      1. From either GYE or UIO we usually have 2 layovers. One in Miami and another one in New York before heading to Halifax. Some flights go direct to JFK. I don’t remember flight times, but generally travel times are roughly 18 hours.

      2. The direct flight from UIO or GYE into JFK has a flight time of 6 hours and minutes. This is my favourite to continue on to Canada. My second most popular hub is Bogota, Colombia, which is also serviced by Air Canada. You can get away with just one layover if you plan it right.

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