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Why Some Expats Decide Not to Live in Ecuador (Bad Things?) shares the best travel insights, facts, and photos. When you use our links, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.

Ecuador is a beautiful country full of interesting places to visit and beautiful mountain scenery. The people are friendly, the cost of living is reasonable and the weather is springlike most of the year.

Of course, anyone can learn those facts by reading a guidebook or visiting a tourism website. It would appear that Ecuador, especially Cuenca, is a paradise for retirees or anyone wishing to change their lifestyle.

Bad Things About Living in Ecuador (According to Some Expats)

However, it is good to consider the other side of the coin. Not all guide books or expat blogs talk about the things that some may find unacceptable about living here. In this post, you'll learn about some of the bad things that some expats discover about living in Ecuador. 


Now before anyone gets offended and tells me to “go home if I don't like it here”, let me state that Ecuador is my home and that my family and I love living here, so please don't accuse me of bashing Ecuador with this article.

However, we have met some expats who, after being here for a while, have discovered what you might call “quality of life issues” that bother them so much that they decide to move on to greener pastures.

What did these folks find so unappealing about living in Ecuador?

First, consider the case of a 30-something married couple with a 10-year-old son. We´ll call the couple Jack and Jill. We met them a couple of years ago at a gringo party and since we had something in common, we both had children about the same age, we invited them to our house for a meal.

contact bryan and dena

During the meal, we discovered that Jill was apparently a germaphobe. She could not stand the idea of washing clothes in cold water, even with bleach. (Keep in mind that many houses here do not have a hot water connection for washing machines).

Also, Jill was terrified that her son was going to pick up some dreaded disease just by being here and she, therefore, forbid him to touch anything. She freaked out if she saw him even think about picking up something he found on the ground. As you can imagine, the poor kid seemed to be really stressed out.

Jack and Jill stayed cloistered in an apartment and did not get out much at all. They only lasted about 3 months in Ecuador before returning to the States.

Just for the record, we have never had any health problems living in Ecuador due to any real or imagined cleanliness issues and here in Cuenca, we see very few disease-carrying bugs such as mosquitoes and roaches.

Before moving to Ecuador we lived in the State of Georgia, where we had to protect our kids from mosquitoes who carry West Nile virus and encephalitis along with ticks who spread Lyme disease.

We more than once encountered rattlesnakes on our property where our children ran barefoot through the grass. Tornadoes are very common where we lived in Georgia and we more than once had to huddle in the bathroom or a hallway while one passed nearby.

The health dangers we faced when we lived in Georgia were not imagined, they were real, but we were used to the “dangers” of the country and did not give them a second thought. I don't think that Jill would have survived very long living in Georgia either.

My point is this: there are diseases and dangers no matter where you live and you have to adjust to that fact. But, Jack and Jill were somehow convinced that Ecuador is an unclean and unsafe place to live and decided to move back to the States. They could not relax and settle down here due to their fears and phobias; they were not happy campers.

Next, consider the case of a retirement age couple whom we´ll call Ann and Andy. They wanted to see how life is here in Cuenca before moving down so they wisely came for a visit to check things out. We had the opportunity to chat with Ann and Andy during their visit to Cuenca and they were very candid with us regarding some things that they found unappealing about life here.

good beef

For example, Andy discovered that there are some food items that he really likes, such as pretzels and peanut butter, that are either unavailable or are much more expensive here. Andy also discovered that the beef here is expensive and of poorer quality than what he can get in the States.

Andy commented on the condition of the sidewalks in Cuenca which are often full of holes and other obstacles and noted that his well-worn knees could not take the beating of walking on such uneven surfaces on a regular basis.

Andy also had some trouble finding a particular prescription medication that he needs to take on a regular basis.

Andy admitted to us that for some people these issues, such as not being able to find a certain favorite food, may not seem that important, but for him and his wife they are what you might call quality of life issues that are important to them, especially at their age. Ann and Andy came to the conclusion that, in their case, they are better off living in the States, and that is OK.

They were wise to come down to check things out before uprooting and making such a major move. The other couple in our story, Jack and Jill, moved down sight unseen and they discovered to their dismay that Ecuador is not the place for them.

The lesson for expats contemplating a move to another country is very clear: Do not move to a foreign country without doing a lot of research and visiting first.

In our case, living in Ecuador is a perfect fit and we are glad we decided to live here. We recognize, however, that living here is not for everyone and we strongly suggest that anyone contemplating a move here do what our wise friends Ann and Andy did and come down first for a visit before making a decision.

That way you can get acquainted with the country and be in a better position to know whether or not Ecuador is right for you.

Like Ann and Andy, you may realize after visiting for a while that there are certain things that you can't or won't live without, certain comforts that are important to you personally, and for that reason you may decide not to live in Ecuador. Or, like us, you may fall in love with the country and find that Ecuador is the perfect place to live.

Curious about where to move? Here are 7 reasons that Ecuador is the best country for expats.

This is a post by an American expat living in Cuenca since 2007. 

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Tuesday 9th of February 2021

Homes come with absolutely nothing to heat your home with..

George Vasquez

Friday 19th of June 2020

Born, raised and educated in Guayaquil, Ecuador! After finishing college I moved to US. Lived in New York, New Jersey and California. Out of my 50 years in America, I spent 45 in California and the last 10 in the beautiful Napa Valley. Now, Cuenca is my home town and my wife and I believe it is the best decision we have made. Culture, friendliness, cleanliness, weather, cost of living and the Andes range helped us to make the decision! Of course, being bilingual was a plus that allows us to communicate in both languages and share wonderful experiences from America and the ones we are getting in Cuenca, Ecuador. We are here to stay!


Thursday 28th of May 2020

Good morning. I am 33 years old and I was born in Loja and moved to the US when I was 13 years old. I'm trying to find my true identity. My whole time here in New Jersey I have been thinking of living in Ecuador. I am single with a Bachelor's Degree in Chemistry. I know it will not be easy to move back. However, I do want to try it. My biggest fear is not been able to find a job there. Of course I will need to have a plan and if you have a similar case to mine, please let me know. I am here to learn from others. Ultimately, my decision is to move back and try. Elvis

Jack Henderson

Saturday 14th of December 2019

I agree with Mary wholeheartedly! I too will be returning to the states. Why? Because while I thought I had researched and researched everything before selling it all and moving here with 3 suitcases to Salinas, Ecuador, after 6 months, they have beat me down, taken over $20,000 in "government" expenses-visa, cedula, drivers license, health insurance, rent (double my Ecuadorian neighbors, OF COURSE) etc and I came here with that amount saved up. I go back to the states with nothing. However, I will have peace of mind that I don't have a target on my back, and that target being $ sign. I am sick to death of the hands out because gringos are rich. I am sick to death of the heavy handed government whereby I must show a cedula to even buy my groceries. While I don't have enough money to continue living here, I will return to the states, get a cheap RV and travel around where I "fit in" with other lower class, retired folks looking for a quiet, simple life. This is the exact opposite of what I am wanting for my retired life. I don't see Ecuador changing and becoming more welcoming to expats, thus I will leave, they got my savings, but my life will go on like the average American with not even $400 for an emergency. So while I don't write about snacks, kids, cleanliness, my sole reason for returning is the cost of living. Say what you will, but I can indeed live cheaper and more quietly in the states.

Joe Groomes

Tuesday 22nd of December 2020

Thanks for the truth. You made your point that $ talks. Who wants to live their life looking over their back everyday. Believe me, if you don't when your are there, you will regret it sooner or later.


Wednesday 9th of December 2020

Hello, The way you moved was not rational, at bare minimum you should have visited first and checked out different areas, you needed help settling down, finding the right place, learning the language and integrating into a community. Seeking out a move like you did just because it might seem like a low cost alternative is crazy. Ecuador can be very cheap or very expensive. This $ target on your back comment is quite ridiculous, I'm sure you felt this way, but this consequence has more to do with the fact that you were unprepared and looking like a deer in the headlights in every sense. The same thing would happen to you in many places, including cities in the US. People in Ecuador are very friendly, but nobody is there to comply with your low income retiree needs, behavior like yours is not of any economic benefit to the locals or how expat communities are received. You lost your savings because you made a dumb decision, you should have never left the US.

Mary Jones

Sunday 1st of December 2019

There is basically one reason we are leaving Ecuador after 3 months. The hidden fees, costs, everyone having their hand out trying to dig you for more money and general living expenses. We moved here to enjoy a simple quiet life and it has been anything but that. We have our Visa and Cedula, yes it organized and went well, but it cost us $5000.00. While attaining those documents we got stuck in Cuenca during the riots, so the hotel at $30 a night, ended up being $300 until we could get our $800 each, plane ticket out of there, instead of course the $15 bus fare. I know, bad timing. My husband is trying for his driver's license, so far we are in debt $700 for that and looking at another $250 for driving school. Yes, I know now that we should have had our college degrees but on our cedulas instead of Basico, but hey who knew? No one ever tells you anything unless you ask the exact right question. Our rental is a fair price, but considering it is unheard of to receive your "deposit" back when you leave I must factor that into the equation. While we are frugal shoppers, we are finding that between grocery stores and the mercado, we spend about $400 per month and in the U.S. it is closer to $300. We are also finding that our free medicare in the states cost $0 and our medical here, of course the private for one month was $300, then it is now $100 for IESS. So far, our 3 months has cost around $12,000 and we are trying to live simply. It is certainly our fault that we don't know enough Spanish to discuss when there are problems, however in hiring 3 different translators/facilitators, all 3, yes every last one of them ripped us off in the end. How so? We ask the to translate for us a IESS problem, they do and afterwards say they followed up, without us asking and we now owe another $150. These translators make in one day what a typical Ecuadorian makes in 2 weeks. Again, our bad for not learning Spanish, but had the IESS, bank, private insurance, or cell phone places had someone at least prepared to understand broken Spanish or a computer, maybe we could done it ourselves. We are living on only social security and thought after much (but obviously not enough) research Ecuador offered a nice climate, cheaper living and a beautiful coast. The trash in Salinas in almost unreal, Guayaquil too and while Cuenca the gringo city is clean, we are not interested in cold mountain life. Yes, we have indeed traveled to other 3rd world countries, so we do have a basis for comparison. We are finding our expenses to be greater than the states and life in general harder and more complicated here than in the states, so we will return. It was not a fun experiment and it will go down as live and learn.