This is part of our Ecuador Expats Series.
Ecuador Expat Life: David Day Living in Canoa, Manabi
The Expat: David Day
Where are you currently living?
In December of 2004 I arrived in Quito after some years traveling in and out of Peru. In Quito I bought a cheap Chinese motorcycle and began touring Ecuador. Eventually I made it to the small coastal fishing village of Canoa, Manabi.
There wasn't much here at the time – just some fishing boats on the beach and bamboo/wood houses scattered around the sparse community. I fell in love with the simplicity, the ambiance, the fresh seafood and the warm hospitality.
Canoa still doesn't have a stop sign or red light but it has grown tremendously in the short time that I have been here. When I first arrived my cheap motorcycle was the only one in Canoa.
What's Your Story?
I was fortunate to have traveled the majority of my life. My father, a retired chemistry professor, loved to spend his summer vacations exploring the world. As a child I spent time with my family traveling extensively through Mexico, Canada, and the good ole' USA.
Eventually, in my freshman year of High school, my father took the family across Europe to settle in Vienna, Austria for a year-long sabbatical. The traveling only escalated once I left the nest.
I have since been blessed to have traveled throughout Latin America, Europe and Asia. I am a semi-retired Math instructor. I taught many years at a small university in Louisiana – SLU.
Now I am enjoying a relaxing and healthy life in Canoa with my Ecuadorian wife, Laura, my stepdaughter Gabi and our new 5-month-old son, Orion.
When and where did you get the idea of living in Ecuador?
Timing was everything. I arrived in Ecuador with a pocket full of change and a wide open future. Landing in Canoa was an accident but it didn't take an Einstein to see it had potential. I bought a small lot one block from the beach in 2005, build a modest house and have been here since.
Getting my first 3 month tourist visa extension was easy. After a few attempts to find the correct building, I paid my 75 cents and walked out with three more months in my passport. In those days things were much more relaxed.
In 2007 I did the paperwork to get my permanent resident visa. The process was much more personal back then.
You actually got assigned a caseworker who sat down with you in a private office. Mine was very attractive and personal and helped me obtain my visa in record time – one week. It's a good thing that I made the move to get my resident visa when I did. Shortly after I was legal Correa was elected and the wheels began to turn.
The whole visa process, buying property, getting building permits, getting your cedula (ID card), etc… all have become more time-consuming and impersonal since the good ole' days. If your Spanish is poor please look for a competent person to help you with these legal issues. Be sure this person is legit.
How's your Spanish?
I spent several months living in Thailand before coming to Ecuador. I loved southeast Asia and seriously considered moving there. However, I never felt comfortable not knowing the language well. I was already 75% fluent in Spanish, so, I opted for living in the Latin world.
Coming to Ecuador speaking Spanish well made an incredible difference. There was no getting lost, not knowing how to get the right deals, finding affordable lodging or food and meeting the locals.
Without a good command of the language I recommend you find a reliable guide to help you get around safely.
This will eliminate the hassle and potential of getting overcharged at every turn.
What do you do?
I am currently working for Roches Brewing Co. We are one of very few micro-brewing companies in Ecuador. This is a brand new operation based out of Canoa, Manabi.
The master brewer has many years of brewing experienced and our beers are considered by many to be the best in Ecuador. Our beers are sold in Cuenca so if you get a chance please give us a try.
I am also working as a bilingual personal tour guide.
How do you find the cost of living in Ecuador?
Utilities are cheap. Food is cheap. Labor is cheap. Medical care is cheap and reliable. Gas is cheap.
Hotels are cheap. I can stay in Quito near the Mariscal in a very nice Hotel for $15/person (Ricks Hotel – Reina Victoria y Carrion). I can get a full meal (almuerzo) for $2.50. I pay $2.25 for a tank of propane gas that will last me two months. I could go on…
What do you love about Ecuador?
I have an in-depth personal experience survival guide which covers this category.
I want to thank Bryan and Dena for allowing us to share our stories an helpful tips.
Please be careful. If you are going to build, start with a tall brick wall around the construction site first. You will want it anyway once the building is complete. Home invasions are becoming more and more common.