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Two Years in Ecuador: Why We Moved and Stayed (75 Firsts)

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!!!


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 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. 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.

Marlene Schardt

Sunday 7th of June 2020

What type of parasites are there in food or in the air. I have a problem there.

Stacey McLean

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.

Kajal Chowdhury

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 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