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Why Some Expats Decide Not to Live in Ecuador (Bad Things?)

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. 


Thursday 16th of June 2022

If you are from America please carefully rethink any decision to move to Ecuador. What most people won't tell you is that the people of Ecuador don't accept foreigners well. I am American and live here as a single mom with my 14 year old son. I have truly given my best to the people here and thought that eventually we would have friends here. But it's just not true. There are people who will be nice to you. However, it's normally because they want something from you. I am a single mom with a disabled son but almost every Ecuadorian I have known has asked me for money. We drive a car that breaks down every week and literally live with the local people. They won't accept you. You will not find friends here. I have met Americans who have lived here for over 20 years and have stayed because of financial reasons and they still have no true friends here. If you want a place where you can enjoy the quality of life, don't move to Ecuador. I wish I never came here. We will be returning to the US as soon as we can. I'm not exaggerating. I have had a lot of money at times in my life and I have lived with very little. I have never been as frustrated and unhappy with things as I am here. Every time I leave my house to go to the grocery store or anywhere it's the same thing. The locals don't treat Americans well. I can't really speak for people of other countries. But, if you're American, don't think you will have friends here or be accepted by the Ecuadorian people, because you won't.

Frank Proske

Tuesday 21st of September 2021

My wife and I are Americans and are considering a move to the Cuenca area. We fully expect that daily life there will NOT be like in Pennsylvania, and that is the adventure that intrigues us. Why move to a foreign country if you expect it will be like home? Anyone who contemplates such a change should honestly look at themselves before and ask if they are willing to embrace change at any level in their lives. What about the changes that have occurred in the States? Are you happy with them? To us it seems more so each day that our country of birth, our home, is becoming unrecognizable, the changes are so radical. So, if we stay we must adapt to a massive changes in the social fabric, unrelenting cancel culture and censorship, and increasing government intrusion in daily life. Inflation is real and worse than our "honest" government is telling us. Taxes are always increasing but we do not see what we are getting for them. Government at every level is failing us. Other posters talk about government corruption in Ecuador and bureaucracy as contributing reasons they left. What, and there is no corruption and bureaucracy in the States? Seems to us like the America we knew is gone. So if we have to adapt to all these changes in the States we can certainly adapt to anything. Are we delusional? Maybe, but life is VERY short. Better to have tried and failed then never to have tried at all. Saludos :-)


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