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32 Ecuador Expats Talk About Living in Ecuador

Thinking about a move to Ecuador? Meet 32 Ecuador expats and learn about what life is like in Ecuador as an expat.

Ecuador expats

Ecuador Expat Journeys

While every expat’s Ecuador relocation is unique, you can learn a lot from each experience. Each expat interview offers insight into what you can expect during your move and transition.

In this huge guide, you’ll meet 32 expats in Ecuador. While it’s great to read books about expat life, nothing replaces first-hand experience.

The expats featured in this article come from many backgrounds and countries. While there are many retired expats, there are also business owners and young married couples. 

These Ecuador expat interviews address the most common questions and concerns that future expats have. These include:

  • language learning
  • working abroad
  • getting settled
  • cost of living in Ecuador
  • what they love about living in Ecuador
While the majority of the Ecuador expats are still in the country, some have returned to their home country or moved on to another one. There are many reasons why some expats might decide not to live in Ecuador.


Ecuador Expats: Meet 32 Expats From Around the World

Living in Coastal Ecuador

Inge Van den Herrewegen Living in Santa Marianita

Inge is from Oudenaarde, Belgium and decided to move to Ecuador after traveling through Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, French Polynesia, Chile, and Peru.

Read her full story.

After hearing about the small coastal town of Santa Marianita, she headed north and decided to stay. She now has a family, including two sons. She runs Punta la Barca – a small hosteria on the coast, and gives kite-surfing lessons.

Dave and Robin Zinck Living in Loja, Giron, and San Jacinto

leaving Ecuador
Dave and Robin moved to Ecuador in January 2016.

They explored much of the country and lived in three areas: San Jacinto (near Manta, on the coast), Giron (in Yunguilla Valley) and Loja, in southern Ecuador.

After 1.5 years in Ecuador, they decided to return to Canada.

Read their full story

Andra and Josh Carter Living in Otavalo Ecuador

Andra and Josh Carter Mompiche Ecuador

Andra and Josh moved to Otavalo in 2011. In September 2017, they moved back to the United States.

Read their full story

In 2014, they worked with a group of local Ecuadorians to create a cafe in Otavalo – La Cosecha Ecuador. This collaboration has resulted in an incredible location that serves thousands of customers a year. It is a Lonely Planet’s Top Pick for Otavalo and rated on #1 on TripAdvisor in both the city and the province.

Cassie McClellan Living in Otavalo

Cassie McClellan Ecuador ExpatCassie and her husband have been living in Otavalo since 2012.

In this interview, Cassie shares why they moved, what they love about life in Otavalo, and how they are learning Spanish.

Read her full story

Their experience has been different than many expats in Ecuador. They have run a small bed and breakfast – and also a microbrewery.

You’ll especially want to check out what they love about Ecuador at the end of the interview.

Deborah Hughes Living in Manta

Deborah Hughes 4000 miles blog

The Hughes family moved from South Lake Tahoe, California to Manta Ecuador.

In this post, they discuss why they chose to live on the coast – instead of in Cuenca, high in Ecuador’s Andes mountains.

Read why they chose the coast: What’s the best place to live in Ecuador? Mountains vs Coast

Gregory Diehl Living in Vilcabamba

Gregory Diehl Vilcabamba Ecuador

Gregory Diehl left California at 18 to explore our world and find himself.

He has lived and worked in more than 50 countries, chronicling the enlightening lessons he learned in the Amazon bestseller: Travel As Transformation.

After traveling the world, he chose to settle in Vilcabamba. Here’s why: Read his full story

Damaris de Jimenez Living in Cuenca

exploring and living in ecuador

Damaris came to Ecuador in 2009 looking for a break from the typical American routine.
What she found is adventure (and her future husband). Read her full story

Rick and Dana Racinskas Living in Salinas

living in salinas rick dana racinskas

Rick and Dana are a married couple of 40 years. After checking out both Belize and Ecuador, they moved from Texas to the beach city of Salinas, Ecuador.

Read their full story

Since they arrived, they have opened Chipipe Villa – an assisted living retirement home for expats and Ecuadorians.

Check out our complete guide to Ecuador beaches

Todd & Heidi Gorishek Living in Cuenca

our life in ecuador heidi todd gorishek

Todd and Heidi moved to Bahia de Caraquez (on Ecuador’s coast) in January 2016. After the earthquake hit that town on April 16th, their family moved to Cuenca.

This is their first international move and they are loving their new life in Cuenca.

Read their full story

Todd writes a daily blog about life in Ecuador at Todd Talk in Ecuador.

Linn Vermilion Smith Living in Pakakuna Gardens, Chaca

Linn Vermilion Smith Ecuador

Linn’s journey from the US to Cuenca, the coast and then back to the Andes (near Quito) is one that many expats can relate to.

After arriving in Cuenca in 2010, they decided to look for a warmer climate. (Some expats find it cold in Cuenca.)

After a short period on the coast, they settled in Chaca – just outside of Quito – in a small community called Pakakuna Gardens.

Read her full story

Why I Decided to Move to Loja Ecuador: Jesse Bayer

jesse bayer ecuadorIn 2013, Jesse moved from New York to the province of Loja in Southern Ecuador.

Jesse was a real estate investor in New York City and offers a unique perspective on real estate in Ecuador.

Read his full story

Jesse is co-founder of Abundant Living Ecuador – a real estate and relocation services company based out of Loja.

Mark Cowtan Living in Capaes, Salinas Ecuador


In December 2012, Mark and his family moved from Northern California to Salinas, Ecuador.

He is British and his wife is Peruvian.

Read his full story

A couple of years ago, Mark’s family was featured in House Hunters International.

Why We Sold it All and Moved to Cuenca Ecuador (Haines Family)

dena-haines-expatBack in 2013, I (Bryan) wrote this overview of why we decided to sell everything and move to Cuenca, Ecuador.

Dena also wrote her expat profile about our life in Cuenca – after we had lived there for a year and a half.

A couple of years ago, Dena wrote What’s it Like to Live in Cuenca Ecuador? This has been one of our most read articles on the site.

And our daughter, Drew, also wrote about what it was like for her to move to Ecuador when she was 8-years-old: My Move to Ecuador: From the Eyes of an 8-Year-Old Canadian Girl

David Day Living in Canoa, Manabi Ecuador

david-day-Canoa-Manabi-Ecuador-iconDavid lives in Canoa with his Ecuadorian wife and two children.

He has worked with a micro-brewery in Canoa and also as a tour guide.

Read his full story

Stewart Perez Living in Cumbaya, Ecuador

ecuador-expat-Stewart-Perez-iconStewart and his family moved from Florida to Cumbayá (Pichincha Province).

He works as a property and construction manager.

Read his full story

House Hunters International Ecuador: All 14 Episodes

house-hunters-international-ecuadorWith it’s popularity among expats, it’s little wonder that Ecuador has been in the sights of House Hunters International.

Back in 2012, our family was featured in a House Hunters International episode in Cuenca.

See all 14 Ecuador episodes

Curious about HHI? See our behind the scenes in House Hunters International.

Gary Sisk Living in Cuenca, Ecuador

gary-sisk-cuenca-ecuadorGary moved from the States back in 2011.

Since then, he wrote a book about his move (Why Ecuador for Me) and a blog.

Read his full story

His story is one of our most highly commented of all of them.

Jamie Stambaugh Living in Cotacachi

Jamie is a young mother of two boys who lived in Cotachaci for just over a year.

In her story, you’ll read what it was like to school her two boys in the local school system.

Read her full story

Jamie gives this important tip: “I think being very honest with yourself about what you can and cannot handle about your living space will help a lot when budgeting for a place to live.”

Christina Ring Living in Otavalo

After visiting Ecuador on her honeymoon, Christina and Thomas decided to move two years later.

Christina is from Germany and now operates 4 Volcanoes Lodge. Christina wrote a piece about owning horses in Ecuador.

Read her full story

Learn more about her lodge

Your Turn

Do you have a question you would like to ask an expat? Just visit their specific page and ask it in the comment section.

Diana Wolf

Friday 15th of July 2022

So glad I found this site. I’ve been thinking about Ecuador for a couple of years now. It was just a “wish I could” daydream I thought wasn’t possible. As a 73 tr old woman with a minimal income I’m researching how to live on a limited budget. I first started thinking about vanlife in the US after stumbling on to some videos on YouTube- hundreds of videos later it dawned on me I could travel all over. Does anyone have any information on mobile living: Ecuadorian vanlife, nomad life? I’m thinking of costs- and also safety, home base- Maybe renting a spot to park a van/camper. Thanks

Elaine Pilkington

Saturday 30th of April 2022

I am looking for retired British ex Pat's living in Ecuador Trying to find their view as it could be very different from those from USA as the 2 countries are vastly different Different priorities and needs?.


Sunday 10th of October 2021

lovely to see all these engaging comments. I am just beginning to explore Ecuador and hoping to journey there this year.


Monday 29th of March 2021

Hi there, I recently purchased a property in Salinas, I would like to know if anyone can recommend a good security company. I'm looking for a security system that will alert the police if anything happens.

Does anyone know of any that I can contact?

Also, how do people feel about home insurance in Ecuador? Is it worth it? I heard it can be very expensive.

Mary Jones

Wednesday 18th of December 2019

You should all think hard about moving to Ecuador if you a) haven't spent several months here or b) haven't looked into the visa and retirement cedula process and drivers license. The visa process and cedula process will take about 6-7 months and cost around $7,000, as everything must not only be original, but must be apostilled, which is another $150 per document. The drivers license will be around $1500 which includes the 2 week drivers class you must take. If you don't plan to drive, there are both town, city and country wide buses. However, there is no real schedule and you better be in good shape to hop on and off while the bus is moving as they certainly don't wait for you to get on, off or even take a seat. The health care is free if Ecuadorian, if not you will pay for private insurance, not sure how good it is. Only after you get your cedula and private health insurance can you switch to IESS health insurance. IESS health insurance is not a percent of your social security, it is a flat rate of about $80 for one person and another $15 for the spouse. Not sure how good it is either, but it doesn't even take effect until you get your cedula and private insurance AND you must pay for it for 3 months before you can use it. Very odd indeed. This is a 3rd world country so unless you plan to live in Quito or Guayaquil, your eating habits will have to change dramatically. There is no refrigeration in the outlying towns so there will be no "cold" food, ever. If you can adjust your eating, great, the produce is good and there is rice. The rent is cheaper than the states, but you will easily pay double what your Ecuadorian neighbor pays. Cuenca the gringo mountain town has cheap rentals, otherwise along the coast rent is rather high, easily $1200 plus. Remember if you chose Cuenca, there is ONLY ONE road in and out. If they block it, you are stuck. (yes that happened to us) The phone and internet will run about $80 per month if you can get it depending on where you live. There are no malls, gyms, movie theaters or anything else you may be used to in the states unless you plan to live in the two big cities-Quito or Guayaquil although Salinas has a small mall. As for banks, well they are not stable in the least. First of all, only after obtaining a cedula can you get a bank account. I was with one of the four biggest banks here. I tried to wire my retirement money from my U.S. bank to Ecuador through SWIFT. Well, my entire retirement monies went missing for almost 2 months. I had to hire an attorney to go to the giant bank jefe here several times to try to find it. Apparently, wiring money from a U.S. bank to Ecuador is very, very problematic, read, don't do it. Finally, as for real estate, you will find that the realtors are happy to sell you something and pretend it is all legal. Beware, most of the time it is not legal and you will find later you don't really own anything. Certainly gringos are not allowed to own beach front property, it is a country law. As for other properties, I know of several that lost money as it all fell through either after they paid, or after they moved a year into it all. If you want to build, you must have more patience and spanish skills than the rest of us. While in general the Ecuadorian people may be gentle, they are poor and see gringos as targets for money, money, money. Everything will cost you more than a local, the bus, the taxi, the car, the rent, the health insurance, the mercado, everything. Personally, I am not finding my quality of life here suitable for me. I love the beaches and the tad lower cost of living, but it is not enough for me to stay. Good luck to the rest of you.


Friday 26th of June 2020

You hate it there!


Thursday 18th of June 2020

Driver's license: - apostille document: 50 dollar - translation + notary for this document: 50 dollar - application: 140 dollar Total costs for Ecuadorian driver's license: 240 dollar Visa: - apostille documents: around 100 dollar - translations + notary for these documents: around 100 dollar - application + visa: 450 dollar Total costs for visa: 650 dollar I really wonder why you are mentioning such high costs.