Two Years in Ecuador: Why We Moved and Stayed (75 Firsts) shares the best travel insights, facts, and photos. When you use our links, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.

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 . . .

  1. Stepped on a tarantula
  2. Not being able to understand a single word being spoken to me
  3. Google translated out of necessity
  4. Run dry of known words halfway through a sentence
  5. Been able to understand and communicate in a foreign language
  6. Marveled as I listened to my daughter speaking Spanish like a local
  7. Litter trained a puppy
  8. Seen parasites
  9. Hosted parasites
  10. Eaten Guinea Pig (Cuy)
  11. Hidden money in my socks, and my top
  12. Made income from freelance writing
  13. Been the minority
  14. Not owned a car
  15. Feared death by electric shock in the shower
  16. Overcome my fear of cooking with gas
  17. Almost overcome my irrational fear of crossing busy streets
  18. Fallen in love with the Andes
  19. Hand fed monkeys (!! :))
  20. Liked a city
  21. Washed dishes in cold water, with hard dish soap
  22. Been water bombed by strangers
  23. Found the head, feet, liver and heart of a chicken in a plastic bag, stuffed inside the chicken before roasting it
  24. Seen cockroaches
  25. Bought unrefrigerated eggs
  26. Frozen in the shower because the propane tank went empty
  27. Only spent $10 and could hardly carry home all my groceries because they were so heavy
  28. Not freaked over the absence of seat belts
  29. Had a sunburn on the top of my head, and feet
  30. Not flushed used toilet paper
  31. 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.

31 firsts
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:

  1. seen cockroaches… lots of them (but they weren’t in my house 🙂 )
  2. seen a moth as big as a small bat… inside our apartment
  3. eaten a guinea pig (cuy)
  4. bought a watermelon bigger than my head for only $3.50
  5. picked up huge green bugs, as big as my hand, and not freaked out (I am a 13 year old girl remember!)
  6. 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)
  7. and not freaked out about number 6.
  8. seen my grandfather jump when a bag of chicken organs fell out of the chicken 🙂
  9. seen chicken organs in a little bag inside the chicken
  10. seen a goats head at the market
  11. been inside a house built entirely out of mud
  12. not flushed the toilet paper
  13. had to squat over a toilet because it was sooo dirty and didn’t have a seat
  14. seen men peeing on the street
  15. seen women nursing their babies… without being covered up
  16. seen a truck drive by with people stuffed (and I mean stuffed!!) in the back
  17. seen a little piglet all wrapped up in plastic for sale at the market for christmas (it was $99.99) 🙁

    chrismas pig for sale: $99.99
    christmas pig for sale: $99.99
  18. gone a whole year and not seen the seasons change
  19. seen a whole pig for sale on the side of the road on a spit
  20. ate chicken foot soup
  21. seen my father and mother eat cow stomach, and had it described to me as “tasting like a barn smells”
  22. speak Spanish
  23. taken a shower in an electric shower with only one tap
  24. seen geese being paraded down the center of the city
  25. washed dishes in cold water
  26. seen a little girl crouch down, open her mouth, and have goat milk squirted straight in 😀
  27. taken parasite medication
  28. started my own blog and made money
  29. had someone ask me to do a job for them because of my blog
  30. living above the clouds
  31. swimming with a sea lion
  32. learning to snorkel
  33. spend all day hiking a mountain
  34. 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!!!

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  1. 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 Would be cool to connect. Thanks!! Enjoy…

  2. Hello,

    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. Kindest Regards

    1. @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.

  3. 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.

    1. 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

  4. 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

  5. Are you still their, got a 2015 update. We have 9 children and have been looking into Cuenca for about a year and a half. Thinking about inner city for a few years to learn cultural and language. Then into the countryside, not in favor at this point in looking for a gringo haven .

  6. I am an American expat working as the Administrator of my family’s beach house business just south of the Ecuador border in Northern Peru. We have beach condos for rent directly over looking the Pacific Ocean. We have amny Ecuadorans visit our beach and would like to get the word out a little more. We have a pool and direct access to a very quiet sandy beach. More information is available at

  7. Hey Guys,
    I just happened across your site and have a quick question for you – what was the legal red tape like when moving from Canada to Ecuador?

  8. Hi guys!
    Great blog!
    I am so grateful that I found your inspiring story. I am a Canadian and we have been planning to make the move to Ecuador by next January 🙂 With my son only being 2 1/2 we have been getting a lot of flack from our family and friends.. I know that there is so much more out there, and am just so sick of this rat race. We are a young family and I look forward to being able to embark on this adventure as a family.. more family time, and being able to be an active part in my son growing up. Thank you for your story, you have truly given me the confirmation I needed to keep my head up and keep charging forward. The naysayers were almost starting to convince me that I was crazy.. lol.


  10. Hi Bryan and Dena!
    So Nice to see an up to date chat. My husband and I have been searching for some time now to find out more information on Cuenca from expats who live there. Just a few questions if you may. My husband takes meds for his health that are for his liver. He needs them and cant go without them. I had seen in another post from someone, should we ship meds here or can we get them there? He is on medicare….can he use this there. We are hoping to make a trip to visit soon but so we can make an intelligent decision on where we want to go, but it all keeps bringing us back to equador. Another question is….I am able to work. What is the employment like there for Americans. Thanks so much and look forward to hearing from you.
    Pamela JOnes

    1. I think medicare depends on the specific plan and provider, but in general it won’t cover you after a set number of days or months out of your home country.
      We don’t use prescription medication on a regular basis, but from what I’ve heard almost everything is available.
      Many expats work in Ecuador. Some in specialized fields and others in sales, real estate or tourism. Spanish will be an important factor in almost every job you are considering.

  11. Dear Sir/Maam.
    I enjoy your blog also and want to say please keep up the great information, My wife and I and 2 small children are looking to make a move too ecuador from florida within the next year, I also have a few questions so here they go, I have done lots of researching but there is a limited amount on what I am about too ask, We used to live in Thailand and the Philippines, I also lived in Bali, all very reasonable places to live and tropical, The Philippines which is where my wife is from got a little pricier on rents and electric and there gas is about 6 dollars a gallon so its costly, the pollution is terrrible there and health care is poor to say the least which is one reason we left, we left thailand for different reasons, under giovernment order , foreigners can only live there for 6 moths out of the year unless they deposit over 50k U,S in a bank and show a certain income to reside there. the 6 months a year got us which is why we decided to go to the philippines, while there I had contractd H.I.V through a blood transfusion as did my wife from me, Our first question is of course medical care, can I get A-tripla medicines there, and what type of insurance do you recommend as this medicine is very expensive running about 2000 a month each , also I have insurance here so if I dont get insurance , can I have my medicines safely sent to ecuador within 3-5 days without worrying about it being stolen, this is life and death medicines, so we need to have it daily. or would it be better to just get it there and switch insurance policies, so we can get the appropriate medicines to live, next would be English speaking schools in Cuenca, since this seems to be a real safe area and clean with good medical care are there good schools for my 4 and 3 year old fro them to learn Spanish as well as English, they have adapted well from Tagalog to English already and throwing into Spanish may confuse them even though Tagalog is alot like Spanish. Third is cost of living I read its real cheap so let me tell you what I am looking for a long term 3-4 bedroom home either in cuenca or by the coast, where its a little warner , this is for germ and health reasons but as I mentioned medical care is mandatory as is safety and access to shopping malls and modern conveniences,and lastly I am looking to suplement my income I am retired from the federal government so get a decent pension but I am also young enough to work or own a business which I have done before how is the prospect for opening a small upscale sports typpe bar in Cuenca with a gringo/ local flair showing soccer./baseball and football games along with nighly entertainment from locals including karaoke with small outside area for people watching is there a demand for that sort of thing or can I work in a local hospital as I am a certified ultrasound tech, is there a need for workers there for this and can I find work if the business aspect does not pan out, I am sorry for all the questions but I like to know everything before I visit and do alot of research myself and find out it was a waste of time. thank you again, and best of luck too you and yours.

  12. I was in Quito in January for a couple of weeks. Couldn’t make it to Cuenca on that trip. I’m jazz pianist by trade but am independent financially. The music scene seems to be primarily folk music which is understandable. Is there a variety of music in Cuenca that would appeal to a jazz enthusiast like myself? Also what were the issues with altitude acclimation, if any?

  13. My wife and I are planning our 1st trip to Cuenca and plan on renting a place and using it as a home base and venture out from there. Hoping to move in next year or so if we like what we see. I need to try and reserve a furnished place to live for January and February. I see some furnished apartments that are available now but they rent by the month so if someone rents between now and January and wants to keep renting they wouldnt be available for the 1st of January. In your opinion what is the best way to reserve ahead. I guess one would need to try and check to see if someone was checking out at the end of December so that its not rented when I get there. Any advise?

    1. Airbnb has short-term rentals all over the world. Check out I have an apartment I rent out in the US through them. They are an excellent company to do business with.

  14. Hello guys!!!!
    I´m not a ¨gringo¨ but i am a expat too.I`m from Brazil and live in Cuenca for 1 year 6 months.I lived in US for 9 years and did house cleaning for 5 years,now i´m starting a Cleaning business here working for the expat people,i just don´t know much how to the people know about my services.If you can help me with some idea i will be thankful.

  15. Hi Bryan, Thank you so much for your blog. I just came across this today and it’s been very helpful. My husband and myself are coming for a 2 week visit to make 100% sure that Cuenca is the place for us to retire. In the 2 weeks that we’re there in November what do you think the most important things that we should accomplish.

  16. Unfortunately, I was just robbed in Banos and returned last night and cut my vacation short. I have travelled to 60 countries so I am always diligent. I travel with both a moneybelt and a small wallet which only contains small amount of cash. The only day I brought my CC and ATM cards were to go mountain biking and then I was pushed against a wall a 3 people reached in my front pocket and robbed me. I am 6’4″ but I cannot take on 3 people.
    Needless to say, I had only $50 in my bag and my passport and no access to cash. My trip was ruined and I had to manage an overnight 6 hour bus ride back to Quito being dropped off in the middle of nowhere on a dark street at midnight once to change buses. United Airlines was amazing and got my on a flight back home due to this emergency.
    I was on my way to Cuenca but never made it. Cuenca is probably an Oasis but I thought the rest of Ecuador to be unsafe. Gringos are always a target and they will look to pickpocket or worse rob you at any opportunity. I’m sorry but if you cannot be out at night and have to take taxis between neighborhoods, I think retiring in Ecuador could be a nightmare. I prefer Asia to poorer countries in LATAM.
    Shit happens and I accepted it and turned it into a positive light but I have no desire to ever return to Ecuador. And I came prepared understanding that this was a serious problem and it happened to me

    1. Hey Leo, so sorry to hear of your bad experience. Despite best efforts that stuff can happen. We got robbed at gunpoint two months ago so we can relate. I don’t know if I agree that Gringos are a target. Our foreign friends haven’t had that many problems with crime – but many of our Ecuadorian ones have. In certain tourist areas, I think tourists might be targeted for purse / camera snatchings. But we are the only Gringos in Cuenca that we know of that have been robbed at gunpoint.
      Glad to hear you are going to continue traveling. Crime certainly is a concern in Ecuador.

      1. Okay, okay…
        Hi Bryan!
        This one really got my attention. I have my mind set that my husband and I will retire to Cuenca (it still will take a few years though), but safety is very important for us. I know that life is no pic nic anywhere and that there is danger in any place, but I will appreciate if you elaborate more about your experience. Was it in Cuenca or somewhere else? daytime? where in the city? how did it happen?
        We will be much older than you are now when we move, so we understand that we will have to be more careful. But I really would like to have a better idea, of what could potentially happen (hopefully not).
        I hope that you won’t mind to share.
        Thank you very much.

        1. Hi Norma, I understand your concern. I’ll be writing in detail about this over the next couple of weeks. It happened here in Cuenca at nighttime. The odds of this happening are very low – but we were doing something kind of dumb. Watch over the next month for a detailed post.

  17. Hi Bryan and Dena,
    Saw you guys on House Hunters International this week. Didn’t realize yo have been there since 2009. Are you still in Cuenca? We are coming down in late August to hopefully relocate in Cuenca.
    Is it all you thought it would be? Beach or Cuenca? How has the rains been? Are the long term rentals still good?
    Les ands Claudia

    1. Absolutely, we are very happy here. Yes, we are still in Cuenca. Not much rain recently, but a few months ago it was torrential. Despite what some have been writing, there are lots of long term rentals available and for reasonable prices. It really depends on where you are looking and what agency (if any) you are using. We’ve had great success walking the street and looking for “For Rent” signs. The local paper often has lots of listings as well.
      All the best on your plans!

  18. Dear Bryan and Dena,
    Your blog rocks! I like it because of its honesty and the useful/well researched information you share with your readers.
    I’m from Ecuador (Quito) living in the USA for almost 20 years now. We are currently in FL (my american husband and our 2 small kids). I’m tired of being stressed out about finances and the demands that my husband’s job puts on him. I stay at home with the kids but feel sad that my husband is missing out on the day to day interactions with our children.
    I’ve been looking and looking all over for other alternatives so we can simplify our lives, but I’ve been too overwhelmed with the amount of information to make a decision and work on it.
    Family is VERY important to us…it’s our priority. We want to give our kids a good education, filled with diverse cultural experiences…a healthy, safe, and loving environment…with both of us actually there to share those moments with them. I’m so inspired by what you did (giving up the security of your own country and move so far away for the benefit of your family values)…I want to do that too!
    I have not been to Cuenca but always heard it is a very pretty and safe city.
    Thank you for this blog and for inspiring me to do something about our current situation NOW and not later. Who knows, maybe we’ll meet someday…in Cuenca 🙂
    P.S. There is a strong posibility that my husband would keep his current job and work virtual. Can you tell us anything you know as far as handling taxes? Do you pay american taxes or ecuadorian? Obviously we would need a top of the line internet connection, can you recommend the best one you know of? Gracias!!!

    1. Thanks for your comment and your feedback – we love it!
      We moved for many of the reasons you detail. We both work online and internet in the cities has been good. We lived in a small town for a year and the internet was not good. We use TV Cable and they have reliable service.
      We are currently paying Canadian taxes. I’m awaiting a ruling from the Cdn government to tell us how to proceed this year. I’m not sure what they’ll say.
      All the best on your plans.

  19. Hi people…! Im from Ecuador and I read that people are asking a lot of things about Quito and diseases, well, living in Quito its more expensive than living in cuenca, cuenca is the 3rd best city here, but for me its the best, diseases? hmmm the only problem that Ive noticed about canadians and americans here its because the sun… the get burned their faces quickly… in QUITO its more cold than cuenca, cuenca have the perfect climate 🙂

  20. Loved your information. I am coming to look at Cuenca in March. Please can you get me an email for: Hotel Boutique Los Balcones, It looks lovely, but I would like to talk directly to them rather than go through I hope that you can do this. Thank you, Barbara

  21. HI there friends, I get the impression you have had a very exciting 2 years in Ecuador. For young people like your self it is an experience that you will share along time with your loved ones. Like you sat you have no desire to move back to Canada. I like reading about your adventures, Its time to start on a story based on your life. I’m sure it would be interesting. Chow for now E & R.

  22. THRILLED to have found your blog!! I’m a Haligonian, recently retired, and seriously considering an adventure in retiring internationally…Ecuador being first on the list. I’m SO inspired by your CAN-DO attitude! Please tell us a little about safety for single ex-pat women. I’m planning a trip there next spring, plan to stay several weeks, to explore, to look at long term rental properties, and to determine whether Ecuador will “fit” with what I need as I approach my sixties. Will be following you closely!!

  23. Thanks a lot for your site. It’s great.
    My wife and I are very intrigued by the idea of moving to someplace with a different culture, near the ocean, inexpensive and with a slower pace. However, the schools that our nine year old’s go to now are great and we are concerned that we will not find top notch schools in Ecuador. What are your thoughts about that?

  24. Hi B & D. Enjoyed your 2 yr blog. We liked the ‘fairly normal’ in bold text. 🙂 Everything is relative isn’t it? We know you 2 did a lot of research before making your move, and clearly it is working for you. Good for you! Enjoyed your visit last month. Maybe one day we will get together again, elsewhere. 🙂
    R and L

  25. My wife and I are talking about moving to Quito or Cuenca.Which city is a safer
    city to live in?Also those numbers for cost of living are they fairly accurate.Please
    let me know.

    1. Hi Robert – regarding safety, really depends on who you talk to. We haven’t lived in Quito but felt very secure when we visit and explore. Quito is a very livable city.
      About costs, we posted our actual costs. As you will see from the comments, some people feel its way to much – others not enough. Really depends on your lifestyle.

  26. There is one thing I am curious about, earthquakes and volvanos. What is the seismic activity like in the area you live in.
    I am a Canadian and retiring soon. I am looking at other countries because seriously I won’t be able to reitre in Canada and live with any degree of comfort. I have been looking at communities in Panama, Honduras, Crotia, Uruaguay and Ecuador. What countries did you look at and what were your reasons for selecting Ecuador?
    I no sooner land on a place that I think I will like then somewhere else turns up looking just as or more attractive. My sister says that Bali is a great place to go to. I just don’t know.

    1. Hi Betty,
      It can be so hard to sort out the best place to relocate! For us it was all about medical care, climate (not wanting to be too hot) the absence of disease (malaria, dengue . . .) and avoiding as many natural disasters as possible.
      Cuenca is in a very good location in regard to all of those things. Natural disasters can happen anywhere, but some places get more than others. Cuenca is not really close to any volcanoes and it’s a very old city, so no recent earthquakes. Ecuador also uses the U.S. dollar, and Ecuadorians are very friendly to foreigners.
      I’m sure that there are lots of other places with the same mix of good stuff as Cuenca, it’s just a matter of sorting out what’s best for you personally. I don’t know much abut Bali, but it’s interesting to sort through all these different places. What an amazing planet we live on!
      Have fun, and all the best with your plans.

        1. Hi Robert – I’ve heard that for other countries, but not in Ecuador. But it could be the case – I’m not a senior – but I haven’t heard that. But if you are moving here it probably won’t be a big deal anyway. Power bills range from $15 to 40 per month. Water is less than $10 for most people.
          You will save on bus fare in Cuenca – you get 50% off. But you will need a special bus card. So instead of $0.25 you can pay $0.125. Our daughter qualifies for a youth rate, but getting the card was more hassle than it was worth, just to save a few cents.
          Hope this helps.

  27. I am on my 7th year as an expat living in the Dominican Republic, although before that I spent some time traveling through Ecuador and Peru before moving here. I loved Cuenca as well, and I love your site! I am just getting started blogging my adventures. Thanks for putting out such a great blog about life as an expat; it’s inspiring!

  28. Hey, condradulations on two years. I myself am planning a move to quevedo ecuador in or around october or november. I really fell overwhelmed try to get everthing in order and having to to sort out what we take with us. I am very excited and I agree that I do want to take more advantage of the time to spend with my kids. They are 2 and 4 now but they do do grow up so fast.
    I wanted to know if you had some tips on how to better organize all the things that need to be done before the big move. I just have this anxiety that I am going to forget something and then it will be to late.
    your response would be greatly appriciated. thanks.

    1. Hi Erika,
      Wow, that’s a question I could write a book answering! I’m not sure how you are organizing things now, but the main thing that helped us was a running list. We just wrote down everything that we needed to do and prioritized it by date, which things needed to be taken care of first. We would check off things and add other things as time went by. Once things were down in writing we felt much more relaxed.
      It also depends on what things you need to take care of. A move like thins can be a lot more complex for some than for others, depending on the set up you have where you are living now.
      Some of the main things (which I”m sure you already know) are making sure you have enough time for your immunizations to take effect before you move. Also taking care of all your banking, figuring out how you will get the money you need from where you are now to where you will be needing it once you move. Also any legal documents you will need for visa purposes once you move , birth certificates, marriage license . . . Those are the things coming to mind right now that are time sensitive.
      As far as stuff goes (cloths, furniture, electronics . . .) you can get it all here (although electronics are more expensive) so don’t stress too much about that. You may want to pack English books, they are hard to find here, but you can order them online, so that’s really a personal choice.
      Hope this helps.
      All the best with your move.

  29. Questions. I am from the United States. For people want to rent a furnished apartment, how much would it cost for either a one or two bedroom. Nothing fancy. Like a flat. I don’t mind another city. I read there are walmarts in some cities. How picky are the landlords and how much down is required. I am on U.S. Social Security. Do they banks accept direct deposit from the U.S. & is it easy to get a checking account? I heard you can live on $1,200 U.S. or less in Ecuador, is that true? How is the internet access & how much? How much would a full size bed cost? What utilities are included with rent? What utilities are included are not included in the rent? How much is a landline or would a cell phone be cheaper? Do they have debit cards or they mostly a cash society? No rush on the answers. It will be a long time before we or I would move.

    1. A few comments on Internet / Telecommunications and utility services. True High Speed Internet Service (similar to what is available in the US) is available in parts of Cuenca, Quito, and Guayaquil. You need to check the coverage maps for each of these cities. I have 4 Mbps UP and DOWN international speeds for about $80/month in Quito – works great for Skype and MagicJack, and video calls. The major cellphone carriers also offer “3G” Internet service for about $60 / month. And for about $20/month you can get DSL service from the phone company (slow, but OK for email). MoviStar and Claro are the two big cellphone carriers (about $10 – $15/month for voice and text messaging). A landline in your apartment (probably in your owner’s name) is about $8/month. Calls get expensive if you call other “networks”. Use landlines to call landlines, MoviStar for MoviStar, Claro for Claro. Until you have legal residency (a cedula number) most of your utilities will need to be in your owner’s name. I pay about $10/month for water, $40/month for electricity. Rent prices are really about where and how you want to live ($150 – $500/month).

  30. Hi there,
    I’ve been reading your blog for a couple of weeks now and just wanted to say thank you for the information.
    My wife and I are flying to Ecuador in just a couple of days. We are heading to the coast first but are planning on spending 5 or 6 days in the Cuenca area as well. Something like August 2nd or 3rd – the 7th or 8th.
    We’re very interested in relocating to Ecuador next summer, after our daughter graduates from high school. This trip is all about figuring out if we feel like we can make a home in Ecuador for ourselves.
    Thanks again for all your effort.

    1. Hi Terrence and Betsy,
      How was your trip?
      Let us know what you thought of Ecuador and Cuenca. Did you like it? Were you surprised by anything? Was is different than you were expecting? Do you think you’ll be relocating here next summer? (Wow, I’m not used to asking the questions, it’s kind of fun, but I’ll stop now :))
      Thanks for your comment

  31. Hi Brian, just writing to say that my operation that removed the brain tumor that I had to go through up here in Canada wasn’t really an easy thing to have to endure, but I’m getting better now.

    1. Hey Nathan,
      I’m so happy things went well. How are you feeling now? We should chat via email: bryan @ gringosabroad dot com Its so great to hear from you. Please send me an email…
      Your buddy,

    2. Hi Nathan,
      It’s so good to hear from you, we’ve been thinking about you. So happy to hear that you are feeling better!
      We miss you, and your family.

  32. Hi Bryan and Dena,
    Thanks for your posts especially this one. It was a stressful challenge getting here. This post has helped sooth some of the anxiety. We had wonderful help from family here in Ecuador too. We’re looking forward to enjoying Ecuador. We hope to make it permanent. Thanks again for your positive and realistic blogs.

    1. Hi Jim, welcome to Cuenca!
      Yes it is stressful making a move like this. I would suggest taking a walk through the center, stopping at a bakery, and munching while people watching at Parque Calderon. Works for us 🙂
      See you soon

  33. Enjoy to items, and insights. We are looking for a place to move to along the coast, and Ecuador is on our top five list. We have Ecuadorians friends that live in Quyaquil (sp?). We plan to visit them next year. Several others from our church have visited and really enjoyed the time. Look at least once a week for info. Your’s just adds to our further desire to see the land more. Thanks and congrats on your 2 year anniversary.
    Doug and Diane Fraser
    Weatherford, TX

  34. Happy two year anniversary! I’ve been enjoying your blog for the last few months and am thankful for all the useful information. My wife and I will be visiting Cuenca for the first time over the Christmas holiday. Not only are we looking forward to a wonderful experience but will be exploring with an eye toward moving there next year.
    Best regards,
    Paul Domer
    Charlottesville, Va

    1. Hi Paul,
      Thank you for you comment. We are glad to hear that you’re finding the information useful.
      Moving abroad is a very exciting experience!
      All the best with you upcoming trip to Cuenca.

  35. Congrats on the two year anniversary.
    It’d be great if you could provide more details on what you said here about the different points you alluded to. (E.g. where you had to practice tolerance, and how it’s helped your daughter).
    Also would like to know more about the germ issues you mentioned. One of the big reasons we are planning to move to Ecuador is because my wife gets very sick during the winter here in Canada. She ended up in ICU last winter from the flu (she has some chronic health problems that affect her immune system). We were aiming for the siempre warm climate of Ecuador to lessen these issues.

    1. Hi John,
      Thank you for your comment.
      In this post I mentioned recognizing attitudes in ourselves and others that are at times intolerant. In talking about tolerance issues, what I have in mind is more a matter of how we feel things “should” be done because of the way we’ve always known them to be done, than a matter of real ethical issues. For example, when people from North America first arrive here and need to get things done, they come to find out that the businesses close for a couple of hours in the middle of the working day.
      This difference causes some to talk negatively about the culture and the way business is done here, when in reality a culture that chooses family over money (I guess that part is ethical) is to be admired. I would consider the negativity an intolerant attitude, and some hold onto it. Learning to accept things that are different than what we are used to, and learning to see traits/attitudes in others that are best avoided, has helped us to be able to take a closer look at ourselves and become better rounded people. Seeing our family accept new ways of doing things, and learning to see things in a more positive way is helping our daughter learn to be flexible and unafraid of change.
      If your wife has a problem during the winter, I would definitely recommend a warm climate here in Ecuador. I would not say that Cuenca and Quito have warm climates. They can be warm, but can be very cool as well, on the same day, all year round. And because the homes are made of concrete, they stay cool inside, even when it’s warm outside I often need a sweater inside. The coast is much warmer than the sierra, but with a little research some warmer areas can be found in the sierra as well.

      1. You forgot to answer this one: Also would like to know more about the germ issues you mentioned?

        1. Hi Christianne,
          Sorry, I was thinking I addressed this when I mentioned the cool climate.
          During our first six months to a year, we had more clods than what was normal for our family. I’ve heard other expats say the same thing about their first year here. I think it’s a combination of new germs, and the cool climate in Cuenca. In Canada the cold weather brings ill health with it, I’m no doctor but it seems that cool or cold weather makes fighting germs harder for the immune system. Also because it’s always cool inside the homes here, it’s not as cozy as it was sitting by the wood stove in Canada when we were sick 🙂
          Bryan has a harder time with this than Drew and I, so it may also depend on each individual. So I was saying that if a person has serious problems, they may want to think of a warmer climate than Cuenca. But I really think each family needs to check it out for themselves. Cuenca does not have a cold climate, but it can be cold and damp at times, creating a chill that goes right through you.

  36. Can’t believe it’s been two years. We still miss you guys. But one of the important things are, that you guys are happy, and i know you have good reasons for being there. I bet that little girl is a big girl now. Rae and I both send our LOVE. Eric and Rae. Cheerio.

    1. Hi Eric,
      We miss you guys too. It’s so nice to have friends from back home commenting on our blog.
      Yes, Drew has grown a lot over the past two years! She misses you all too, and sends her love along with ours.

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