The 23rd of July, 2011 marked the two year anniversary of the day we landed in Guayaquil Ecuador. We spent one day there and then settled in Cuenca on the 24th.
Why Did We Move to Ecuador?
When we lived in Canada we had a fairly normal life, we had a nice house with a backyard, a car, a camper and our own business.
We were happy, we lived close to our family in a small town in the beautiful Annapolis Valley (Nova Scotia), but we were very busy. Our house was a fixer-upper, which meant ongoing renovations, and our business took too much of our time.
We saw our daughter growing up much too fast as the busy months and years passed by, we wanted more time to enjoy her, and do the things we loved to do as a family.
We kept trying to readjust things in Canada to be able to have more time, but nothing worked. The main reason was because of the money we needed to provide for our family, and the amount of work that was required to generate it. So we started looking for a country where the cost of living was lower so that we could work less and still have the things we needed.
We looked into a lot of different countries before we settled on Ecuador. Cuenca Ecuador really stood out to us because of its reputation, which it has lived up to: it’s clean, has good healthcare, not many critters, modern infrastructure (shopping malls, grocery stores . . .), and is alive with culture.
We had also heard about the reputation Ecuadorians have of being patient and thinking well of foreigners, this has proven true, without which we couldn’t stay here.
When we sold our house, business and belongings, it wasn’t easy, but at the same time, it was very liberating.
We were literally going to start over, and this time be determined to keeps tight reigns on the things that were taking time away from what was really important to us.
We have managed to do that for the most part, but we still have to keep an eye on life and at times make adjustments. We just reached the two-year mark and have no desire to move back to Canada.
Why Are We Staying in Ecuador?
We miss many things about Canada, or family, friends, favorite places/foods, and the ease of communication, but the benefits of what this move has brought us will keep us here.
Life in a foreign country is very different than many people think. Often a negative impression exists because of what is featured on news programs. Life in Ecuador is better than what we had been expecting.
We love traveling around this country, we’ve been to Guayaquil, Salinas, Quito, and Galapagos. We’ve also been to many of the small towns surrounding Cuenca like Chordeleg, Paute, Giron, and the Yunguilla Valley.
We have plans to visit many more areas here in Ecuador and hopefully travel to other countries as well.
The process of being immersed in and learning a new language has taught us many things: patience, humility and the ability to laugh at our mistakes, to mention a few.
Learning to adapt to cultural differences has sometimes pushed us outside our comfort zone, which as been very good for our family. We’ve grown in ways that we didn’t anticipate, and we’ve learned to recognize attitudes in ourselves and others, that at times are intolerant and unfair.
These thing have helped us to become better people.
The things that our daughter has learned over the past two years have helped her in many of the same ways. Because she is experiencing these things at a young age, her future will be shaped by her experiences here.
Seeing her learn, grow and change has been very fulfilling for us.
Living amongst a new culture and traveling around this diverse country has made us feel alive with a sense of exploration.
We love to travel because we enjoy seeing new things and different ways of life, but living in a foreign country allows us to really understand the way life works in a different culture.
This is a much different experience than just passing through. We are looking forward to many more years of our simpler lifestyle here in Ecuador.
It hasn’t been all fun and games, we have had our share of stress learning to adapt and communicate. Our immune systems have had a real workout as we’ve been assimilating to the introduction of new germs, but as they say, “it all makes us stronger.”
We’ve been very happy to be able to share our experiences over the past two years through this blog. And even happier that many have told us that by doing this we’ve helped them decided to do something similar. We look forward to sharing much more in the future.
Thank you for following and experiencing this with us.
(You may enjoy reading more about living and traveling in Ecuador.)
31 Firsts During Our First 1.5 Years in Ecuador
Relocating to a foreign country brings with it a long list of firsts. Here are a few of mine.
Since moving to Ecuador, we’ve experienced many exciting new things.
This has been the first time I have . . .
- Stepped on a tarantula
- Not being able to understand a single word being spoken to me
- Google translated out of necessity
- Run dry of known words halfway through a sentence
- Been able to understand and communicate in a foreign language
- Marveled as I listened to my daughter speaking Spanish like a local
- Litter trained a puppy
- Seen parasites
- Hosted parasites
- Eaten Guinea Pig (Cuy)
- Hidden money in my socks, and my top
- Made income from freelance writing
- Been the minority
- Not owned a car
- Feared death by electric shock in the shower
- Overcome my fear of cooking with gas
- Almost overcome my irrational fear of crossing busy streets
- Fallen in love with the Andes
- Hand fed monkeys (!! :))
- Liked a city
- Washed dishes in cold water, with hard dish soap
- Been water bombed by strangers
- Found the head, feet, liver and heart of a chicken in a plastic bag, stuffed inside the chicken before roasting it
- Seen cockroaches
- Bought unrefrigerated eggs
- Frozen in the shower because the propane tank went empty
- Only spent $10 and could hardly carry home all my groceries because they were so heavy
- Not freaked over the absence of seat belts
- Had a sunburn on the top of my head, and feet
- Not flushed used toilet paper
- Felt closer than ever to my best friend in Canada
It’s been a very interesting year and a half for our family, and we look forward to many other firsts as we continue to explore this country and hopefully others.
What firsts have you experienced traveling or living abroad? I would love to hear about them if you want to share by commenting on this post.
This next section was written by our daughter, Drew Haines, back in December 2013.
34 Awesome Things I’ve Done in Ecuador
Whenever you move somewhere new, you experience new things, good and bad. Here are my firsts from my move to Ecuador.
In Ecuador I have:
- seen cockroaches… lots of them (but they weren’t in my house 🙂 )
- seen a moth as big as a small bat… inside our apartment
- eaten a guinea pig (cuy)
- bought a watermelon bigger than my head for only $3.50
- picked up huge green bugs, as big as my hand, and not freaked out (I am a 13 year old girl remember!)
- seen a bunch of men walking around with machetes and with shirts tied over their faces (they had them over their faces for the dust)
- and not freaked out about number 6.
- seen my grandfather jump when a bag of chicken organs fell out of the chicken 🙂
- seen chicken organs in a little bag inside the chicken
- seen a goats head at the market
- been inside a house built entirely out of mud
- not flushed the toilet paper
- had to squat over a toilet because it was sooo dirty and didn’t have a seat
- seen men peeing on the street
- seen women nursing their babies… without being covered up
- seen a truck drive by with people stuffed (and I mean stuffed!!) in the back
- seen a little piglet all wrapped up in plastic for sale at the market for christmas (it was $99.99) 🙁
- gone a whole year and not seen the seasons change
- seen a whole pig for sale on the side of the road on a spit
- ate chicken foot soup
- seen my father and mother eat cow stomach, and had it described to me as “tasting like a barn smells”
- speak Spanish
- taken a shower in an electric shower with only one tap
- seen geese being paraded down the center of the city
- washed dishes in cold water
- seen a little girl crouch down, open her mouth, and have goat milk squirted straight in 😀
- taken parasite medication
- started my own blog and made money
- had someone ask me to do a job for them because of my blog
- living above the clouds
- swimming with a sea lion
- learning to snorkel
- spend all day hiking a mountain
- hiked a volcano
Well, I think those are some pretty good firsts!!
What are some of your favorite firsts??? Please share them in the comments below! 🙂
That’s all for now! Until next time and Happy travels!!!
- About the Author
- Latest Posts
Hi, I’m Dena Haines. And I’m co-founder of Storyteller Travel. I love to cover food, animals, and destinations around the world.
I also blog about photography at Storyteller Tech.
Monday 14th of March 2022
Hi Guys, are you still in Ecuador? We are planning to move there mid September 2022. Just wondering if we could connect prior to our move. My wife and I are from Ontario, Canada. Our email address is email@example.com Would be cool to connect. Thanks!! Enjoy…
Monday 29th of August 2022
@Mike, did you get a reply? I am in Canada, west coast and still considering Ecuador.
Sunday 14th of November 2021
Thank You for writing this blog. Your adventures building a life as a family in a new country are priceless. I too am a Canadian jumping off the fence and relocating with my wife and son to Cuenca, Ecuador in January 2022. It would be comforting to connect with other Expats who have successfully navigated the move to Ecuador in easing our transition. Feel free to contact me. firstname.lastname@example.org Kindest Regards
Monday 14th of March 2022
@Jad, did you end up moving to Ecuador? My wife and I are from Ontario, Canada and would like to connect prior to our move. Thank you!!!! We’ve been watching videos, reading a lot and would like another perspective from others that have boots on the ground.
Sunday 7th of June 2020
What type of parasites are there in food or in the air. I have a problem there.
Wednesday 19th of June 2019
I grew up in the Annapolis Valley, near Gaspereau and I just stumbled on your site while researching Ecuador. I'm 53 years old and my husband passed away on December 30th 2018. He and I had always wanted to live abroad and now that he has passed away I see no reason why I shouldn't live the dream on my own. Your blog has made my mind up and I'm so surprised that you lived in the Valley, it must be fate I found your blog.
Tuesday 9th of July 2019
I wanted to relocate to Cuenca within 2 years. I am 57 years old Canadian man living in Toronto. I can easily have fund for living there. Need guidance to relocate. Can anybody help? My email is email@example.com Thanks.
Thursday 7th of February 2019
Are you still living in Ecuador? How did you find a job? What are your monthly expenses and cost of living. Looking at relocating and starting fresh, less stress, more time and happiness for my family and I. recent single mom