Ecuador… the Bad and the Ugly

| October 11, 2012 | 94 Replies

Ecuador… the Bad and the Ugly

Ecuador... the Bad and the Ugly

It was about six months ago when I wrote an article about Ecuador, the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

I spent a lot of time on the good things about Ecuador, but today we will talk about Ecuador… the Bad and the Ugly.

Dreams to retire early, move to a foreign country, spend my days walking in the park, sipping coffee in a local cafe, reading and writing, are only about nine months away. Living a very simple, relaxing, stress free and affordable life is now within my reach…

At least it looks that way.


What could possibly go wrong?


Did I miss something? Did those International retirement magazines leave something out?



Here is the other side of that golden coin. The not so pretty side of the dream… these items are in no particular order.


  • First of all, we are the minority now. That is the way it works when you choose to live in a foreign country located in South America.  All those nasty things you heard or maybe even said about minorities that live in your birth country… well, you might run into people who think that way about you now. Learning the language will certainly lessen this, but it will happen. Get used to it. It will make you a better person.
  • One of the biggest and ugliest things you might run into are other gringos. Do you know any selfish, self centered, obnoxious people? Well, do you think they magically change when they move to Ecuador. In fact, in all probability these type of people will get worse in a foreign country… When a “know it all” type is placed into a foreign environment, their lack of coping skills outshine every thing else. It can be embarrassing and very uncomfortable to be around these types… but certainly a reality and very familiar to anyone who travels.
  • And if you have a dog that likes to bark and disturb the neighbors… well, keep that little yapper inside or it may not last the first week. Dogs are consider more of a work animal in Ecuador… It’s a cultural thing. They are not revered here like they are in the states or other countries. Poison goes on meat, meat goes over fence, dog eats meat, dead dog. This is just the way it is in some places.
  • And the public peeing and the drunks on the sidewalk can be a put off to some. And the loud music on the buses and even the public nose picking. Again, learn to enjoy your new home and its culture. Nothing you can do to change it. Get used to it.  And remember, finger to inside nose is ok… finger from nose to mouth… never ok.
  • If you are living in the mountains (Cuenca and Quito) and you like to garden… you will find small and medium sized rocks everywhere. Half soil, half rocks, boulders, stones, rubble, pebbles, and slag. The soil is absolutely full of rocks. Mountains are made of rocks…. and you now live in the mountains.  I live in the mountains now and gardening is one big pain in the butt.


Ecuador... the bad and the ugly
  • A lot of us, although we probably will never admit it, have an inner sense of entitlement. If you have been raised in a developed country it is programed into you. You really can’t help yourself. Well, you are not in Kansas anymore. Lose the attitude and remember you are a guest in someone else’s country and you are also a minority… I just love saying that. Did I mention already that you should learn the language.

  • If you suffer from chronic fear of almost everything… then find a group of people you like and stay in groups. Single women and men are easy targets for crime. Pickpockets, muggings, and robberies are on the rise. They happen in Ecuador just like they happen anywhere else. If you are white, then you are probably better off than a lot of the locals. They know it and some of the unscrupulous ones want what you have. So, you guessed it, get used to it.  Be smart and watch out for yourself and each other.


  • Want to buy a nice beach house so you can while away the time with your feet in the sand and the sound of the waves in the background? I can assure you that a nice water view or beach front condo can be had for less, sometimes much less, than $200,000. But before you let go of even one dollar, take a drive along the coast of Ecuador. In many areas you will see what I call a large amount of “Dreamers Graveyards”. These graveyards usually consists of a couple of block columns with a nice decorative entry gate, a few graded roads, and a small building that used to be the sales office. The subdivision developer had a dream to sell beautiful beach front lots, the customers had dreams of a new beach front home, but something went terribly wrong along the way. A lot of peoples dreams are buried right there in all that undeveloped beach front land. Those poor unfortunates will have to live with their bad decisions and may never get used to losing all that money.  Do not pay any more than a 10 percent deposit on anything like this. Never pay for something in full unless it is complete. Do not let a developer use your life savings to fund his project. It never works out. Hence, the untold number of “Dreamers Graveyards”.  Rent, rent, rent, for at least the first year. Did I mention that you should rent the first year? That dream of yours will still be there in a year from now, and you will be so much smarter for it.


  • Ecuador is a developing country. What you take for granted and have had all your life is a luxury to a lot of people in a developing country. Protect yourself and your things. And don’t go out with all that jewelry on, and flashing money and talking all loud and obnoxious like… drawing attention to yourself is the last thing you want to do….


  • And all that money you saved for your retirement. Well, there are people that want that too. Bad people come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. So be careful. Do not give your money away. Do not play the game.


  • Survival seems to beat out integrity and honor these days. So learn to survive. This is the time in your life that you need to be extra careful. There are a few people out there that will take your money, smile, kiss your baby, tell you whatever you want to hear, then leave you holding the proverbial bag. The unlicensed and licensed real estate person, the local landlord that sneaks a 10 percent annual rent increase into your lease, the local shop owner, the property owner who wants to sell you his condo but never gives you the deed, the land developer who has good intentions but can not deliver electric, roads, or even water to the lot you bought from him. This is the reality of Ecuador and many other places in the world. For survivals sake, be smart and stay sharp.


Well, are you still up to the challenge of retiring and living in a beautiful South American country?

Then come on over. The local people are nice, the gringos are nice, the food is wonderful and healthy, the air is clean for the most part, and with just a few adjustments on your part, you will certainly fit right in, and be a happier person for it.


Oh, I forgot a few things….


  • Prices are going up in part because of the expat influx.
  • Cost of electronics, furniture, appliances, and automobiles are outrageous.
  • Large size clothing is hard to find.
  • Car alarms and barking dogs…..
  • Quality shoes are also hard to find.
  • If you make money in Ecuador, you have to pay taxes to the United States if you are still a citizen…
  • Many consumer and food items are scarce, expensive, or not available at all.
  • Sometimes the water goes out for days, the electric grid is not much better in certain areas.
  • Be careful walking… sidewalks are full of obstacles.
  • And of course there is no such thing as right of way. The roads belong to the cars.
  • Ask whether you can flush toilet paper. Some areas you can’t. That means poop in the trash can…
  • If you want to live anywhere other than Cuenca or Vilcabamba, you should drink bottled water.
  • Live on the coast and the bugs, flies, fleas, and mosquitos can be a challenge. Can you say Malaria?



That line from the movie Long Kiss Goodnight is bouncing around in my head right now. “Life is pain, get used to it”.  I prefer the line, “Life is a challenge, stay up for it”!




Please leave your experiences in the comment section. Lets make that journey a little nicer for those that are coming after us. Let it all out. Please don’t be to specific with your stories. Liable and slander are such nasty words…


Favorite and share with your friends on Facebook.


Mandy Patinkin has been to Ecuador…. Turn it up and enjoy his masterful performance.  (Yes, he is the guy from ‘Criminal Minds’)




Have a perfect weekend everyone….


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Category: Living in Ecuador, Moving to Ecuador, Retiring in Ecuador

Comments (94)

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  1. CheryLynn says:

    In 6 months I’ll be able to share some travel experiences after my first visit. Till then, I’ll enjoy reading those shared by others.
    From everything I’ve learned from the expats, you’ve nailed it in your descriptions and warnings here, George. Good and informative writing. :)

  2. miriam weaver says:

    George, I’m only responding because you promised gifts etc…lol! I so appreciate your candid honesty…painful as it is…right on! And you find the fine line of telling it like it is without stepping into the libel/slander shit pile. I prefer the raw and unedited comments on various forums….glad you have this blog where you have more freedom. Keep writing!

    • You know, if you look at all the bad and ugly things I wrote about, they are everywhere, not just Ecuador. I could easily make a longer list of bad and ugly situation that are ongoing here in the states. Fear is our enemy but caution is the word for the day…. See you in Ecuador Miriam… George

      • Forest Falls Mountain Care Matt says:

        George, Sounds like here. Why are you leaving again?

        • Ecuador George says:

          Matt… The two of us get to go exploring a new country and culture. We will learn a second language. And it means we will not have to work if we don’t want to. The cost of living is about a third of what it is here. The food is incredible and not polluted with hormones and chemicals. The locals are very friendly for the most part. Once you establish residency you have access to their educational system and their health care system. Both are very good. Both cost 10 cents on the dollar compared to the states. It also gives us the option with the money we are saving to travel to anywhere in the world we want to for 6 weeks every year. Italy for a month and a half sounds so good to me…. Many other reasons too. The weather is one of my favorite things… Spring like all year long. More good than bad here. Come visit when we get there…. George

      • Burt says:

        That was exactly what I was thinking as I read it. That was simply a description of what it is like to live in any country you were not raised in.

        We have visited 40+ countries in the past 30 years, usually 3 weeks at a time (longest we could get off work). We leave tomorrow morning (10/20/12) for a 3-month stay in Cuenca. Trial retirement — gotta see if I go stir crazy and want to go back to work, or feel relaxed and am ready for the next life phase…:)

        • Ecuador George says:

          Burt, please report back and let us all know. A lot of the readers here would be interested. I love getting lots of opinions from different people because we all see and experience things differently.
          Be careful and see you in Cuenca…. George

  3. tim murphy says:

    good post. hope it scares peopple into not moving here! fortynately for us, we have met and becoome friends with some great cuencanos and they look out for us. our landlords are fantastic; our spanish language teachers are first rate; all the local tienda owners help us when we’re practicing our spanish. will we live in cuenca forever? maybe, maybe not. why we rent, so we have options in the future. it’s a big world, and living in cuenca is a wonderful learning experience. is it perfect? is there anywhere in the world that is perfect? ( besides tuscany, that is. if the euro collapses, tuscany here we come! )

    • Wow Tim…. How exciting to jump right in the middle of the culture. Soak it in buddy. You are doing it the way we want to do it. See you soon, maybe in Italy in 5 years… George

  4. Susan says:

    Great article, thank you
    I’m going to Ecuador for the first time in 4 days
    “Life is a challenge, stay up for it” – for me this is the name of the game
    Im so happy to have this opportunity before i die to step up to the plate and become a better person
    I love your posts, Ty

    • Ecuador George says:

      Susan, How exciting that you are on your way… Please email me with your impressions> I would love to know what you think. Good luck on your new life… George

  5. LeighHudson says:

    Great post, George. Having grown up in Africa and spending the first 34 years of my life there, I don’t think I have ever owned a pair of rose-colored glasses. I believe that because of that experience, I have a bit of a jump on most of the issues and challenges, but I’m also just as certain I’ll get frustrated with them too. We feel fortunate that our Realtor (Amy Pinoargote in Salinas) went above and beyond our expectations, as did the Attorney that represented us in the purhase of our home. We already knew that we did not want to buy in a ‘development’ and bought our ocean-front home in a populated fishing village from an Ecuadorian. Although it has security features, we will be ‘beefing them up’ a lot more for obvious reasons. Home invasions are on the rise in Houston, Texas as much as they are in Ecuador, but at least in Ecuador, we are ‘allowed’ our 10 000v electric fences! For those that have sensitivities to the ways of a developing country, you better check those at the airport. Crush those rose-colored glasses too – they’ll only hinder you. It can’t be stressed enough and I’m grateful the expats are educating others before it’s too late for them to change their plans. The struggles WILL be challenging, but the rewards could also be immense 😉

    • Ecuador George says:

      Leigh, Having expectations that are unrealistic will be a problem no matter what you are doing. Those rose colored glasses should be replaced with a hot red poker… something you can poke yourself with to keep you on your toes. How exciting about already having a beautiful home. Looks like all that work and determination has paid off. Hope to meet you and your husband when we are in your neighborhood. Thanks for the great comment. George

  6. Jill Robbins says:

    Telling it like it is. Very informative!

  7. George, as usual a great post and many astute observations. As mentioned previously on Facebook and in the blogs one of the most asked questions is “Why did you come to Cuenca”. If the only answer is that it’s affordable then most people will be unhappy and probably return to their original destination.

    For my wife and I finances were one part of the equation but truly it was a life change from two stressful unfulfilling jobs that was the main reason we chose Ecuador and specifically Cuenca. Both of us realize that we are not only in a country that has another language but another culture. It’s refreshing to start each conversation off with Buenas xxx y como esta. On a recent return from Oregon I was shopping in SuperMaxi and went over to a clerk and said “Donde esta el arroz integral”? I got a disturbed look and realized that I forgot to say “Buenas xxx” first.

    As mentioned here and in other places learning Spanish is key to flourishing in Ecuador. The wonderful people and the rich culture more than make up for the car alarms and loud music on the bus.

    Muchas gracias Jorge para la buena escritura

    • You mentioned something in your comment Lenny… The personal interaction and the humanity that is still in full swing in Ecuador’s people. The greeting is so important, then we will get to what you want. Very cool and not so common anymore where I am from… Stay well my friend and hasta pronto… George

  8. Schatzi says:

    Great post George. My husband and I just returned from a month-long visit to Cuenca. We had a wonderful time. I think our positive experience had to do with “realistic expectations”. Before our trip, I read blog after blog (almost obsessively) to learn everything I could about Cuenca. I made note of the negatives and learned that many (but not all) of the bloggers who benefit financially from the tourist or expat community do not blog objectively. We discussed, at length, how or if we could deal with some of the downsides. By the time we got there, we knew what to expect and had already made the decision to “deal with it”. On the upside – we were so impressed with the kindness and helpfulness of the Expat community, as well as the beauty and charm of the city and its local citizens. A big thank you goes to you, George, and all the other bloggers out there who share a balanced perspective.

    • Great expectations often lead to disappointment and resentment…. Acceptance is the way to go… look around at what is, digest it a bit, then jump right in. I have made myself so comfortable in my current life that I have stopped growing, stopped moving, and stopped experiencing new things. This big change will throw me back into the game and I am so excited about that. Just getting ready for this new life has taught me so much. Be well and see you in Ecuador. George

  9. Hola George, Your information about Ecuador is absolutely correct, the Expats, like me that left Cuba 52 yrs ago, have to adapt to the culture of the new country and always they will be expats.
    The WORD in any Country that you goes is to be Alert and don’t trust anybody,
    I have lived in the USA and I don’t trust anyone, Negotiate, Negotiate and Negotiate with Landlords ( I am one of them)and with everybody else, look for a person who you may TRUST and let them to translate the contracts etc. ( Attorneys are crook everywhere) use your common sense, don’t overpay for nothing always negotiate! Buena Suerte para todos

    • Gary Jones says:

      I am looking at relocating to Quito, mostly because I love the idea of a spring-like climate year-round. I spent two years in Boquete, Panama and it was downright cold much of the year.

      As George has noted, before I went to Panama I did three months of research and thought I was prepared. Boy, was I wrong! The pretty pictures of the house I had rented didn’t mention that there was no hot water, or a fridge or a stove, all of which I had to go out and buy. My power was shut-off because I had not paid the bill that I didn’t know about because everything was supposed to be included in my rent.

      Worst of all I was ripped off for everything I owned by a Panamanian family who I gave shelter to so they wouldn’t end up on the streets. They stole everything, right down to the batteries out of the remote control.

      So, after that experience, I don’t expect Ecuador to be a lot different. I am just looking for somewhere quiet that I can live out my life on my limited Canadian pension.

      Appreciate any help you can offier. Thanks!

  10. Sue says:

    Hello George: Really enjoy your blog. You provide very informative information and food for thought. We bought an Ocean front condo in Salinas this year and have gone back there to visit few times between my husband & I. It is wonderful learning experiences. One thing I will say, banking culture is little different here. Even to do online banking, one needs some Spanish skills or helps from others to setup things. But once it’s done, it’s very similar to any other country. Good luck on your move. Sue

    • Sue, Are you learning the language? If you are, how is it going. I know very little but more than I did a year ago. I figure lessons and immersion will have me speaking it after about a year. See you in Salinas. We will be visiting in January 2013. George

      • Sue says:

        George: I learn few words and forget because I am not using it often. My husband is little better than me. Enjoy the weather in January. We haven’t plan for next year’s timing yet. Most probably in April/May time frame. How long are you staying in Salinas? Sue

  11. Taylor says:

    Great and gritty post, George! Glad to find you here and hope t find you in Cuenca.

  12. claudia says:

    There are a couple of comments in your post that I’m not sure you’re right about. The first is that prices are going up because of the expat influx. I read an article in Cuenca High Life that disputed that notion, particularly in regard to real estate. —

    The article (link here)
    states that the reason that prices are going up is because of Ecuador citizens who are returning from living in the U.S. or Spain where they’ve made more money and are paying more for real estate. —

    My comment: In a city of 500,000, does it seem logical that an expat community of, possibly, 4,000 (LESS THAN 1%) would influence prices of ANYTHING. —

    The other statement you made about the high cost of electronics, appliances and furniture being outrageous: I had a personal communication with someone who had listed on her blog, the prices of items that she bought: cell phone, W/D, TV, Stove, couch, bed (and maybe a few more) and her total cost was around $1,700. —

    When I questioned her about the low cost (when another very well known website/blogger said the cost would be $7,000), she replied that she purchased items that had been manufactured in Ecuador, rather than buying imports. So…not necessarily true about outrageous costs. —

    I’ve been buying “off-brand” for decades in the U.S. In almost every case, the quality has been excellent. We have been brainwashed by advertising and marketing for so long that we believe we MUST buy name brands, or we’re considered second class citizens. Save your money, buy products that Ecuadorians buy. —

    • Now Claudia… Are you saying that Cuenca High Life has a higher level of credibility than Ecuador George? How could you Claudia?

      Let me break this down for everyone. First of all, I will tell you that a 46″ Flat Screen TV that costs $699 in the states will cost you about $1600 in Ecuador. But with that said, lets look at your example of all those things that your “friend” bought for $1700.

      A very basic phone will cost $50. (A smart phone like an iPhone will cost you $800, and that is $300 more than in the states), but I digress. So, phone, $50.

      Now lets buy a basic washer/dryer, off brand, $900 for the pair.

      A 37 inch Flat Screen TV will cost at least $600 (I do not know of an Ecuadorean company the manufactures TV’s), so these units are all imported and expensive.

      I have seen some of the Ecuadorian manufactured stoves and they look ok. Some brands are better than others but you actually have a choice, so that is good. A price for a notch above the bottom line is about $500. Bottom of the line stoves look like something you might take on a campout so we need to avoid those.

      I do know they manufacture decent furniture locally, and they will even do custom work for a reasonable price. Couch, about $500.

      And, finally a bed. A bed usually consists of headboard, frame, box-spring, and mattress. I have been told, although not witnessed myself, that a good, locally manufactured mattress, cost about the same in Ecuador as it does in the states. I paid $1400 for my last King Size mattress set. I also know that you can get a nice Queen size set at Costco for about $700, so lets use $700 plus another $50 for headboard and frame. So the Bed is $750.

      I will assume that this is all your friend bought.

      So, now I add up all these items and I come up with $50+$900+$600+$500+$500+$750… this totals $3300.

      Almost twice what your friend paid and I used the lowest prices that I consider to be reasonable…

      So, not sure where your friend did this shopping, but I would love to know because I will be buying all these things soon enough…

      I will respond to the second part of your comments in a separate post…

      • claudia says:

        I tried to find her emailed reply to me, but couldn’t locate it. I’ll keep looking and get back to you. I know it’s here somewhere!

        Waiting to hear your feedback on the higher prices because of expats comment.

        Not trying to be a jerk, just want to verify, verify, verify!

        Muchas gracias!

      • Sue says:

        Hello: We bought a 32″ flat screen TV in Salinas (Mall) in middle of Sep, 2012 and it was approx. &600.00. We shopped around in La Libertad business area and in other stores in the Mall and this price was the cheapest. Sue

        • Thanks Sue… Looks like a larger TV might be close to a thousand dollars. I noticed that they do not have to many flat screens over 50 inches because the price is so high. The prices really got high when you went over 40 inches. In the states you can get a 32 inch for $229. A 50 inch is less than a thousand dollars.

          • Mike Bluett says:

            Comparing prices of TV’s is awkward as it is not just about price. You have to compare the same brand and model to get an accurate price comparison between the two areas (or at least the same features).

            Here in Canada there are lots of 55″ TV’s that are over $2000. And then there are some that are just under $1000. It depends on the features.

            Just a word of caution when evaluating the comments.

      • Jo Reason says:

        Hi George,
        Just to add to you information on the flat screen TV, Rivera an Ecuadorian company makes and sells cheaper flat screen TV´s, I bought my stove in 150 USD. a bargain compared to your costs. Our king sized mattress cost us 300 USD, the frame, well, my hubby made it and the wood cost 100 USD and we thought that was expensive. We have also bought more than one phone for 20 USD, cheaper even than your 50 USD budget phone.

        • Ecuador George says:

          Jo… Thanks for the info. I just learned a few month ago about the locally made TV’s. Good to know about these bargains. George

        • Dean says:

          Jo … I have lived in Ecuador for 12 years and I am curious where you bought a stove for 150 dollars. Is it a portable 4 burner? The Rivera brand is cheaper but not much. I bought a couple of those 20 dollar phones. They were terrible quality and after the 2nd one I bought one that would last. 80 dollars. but it still works after 3 years. Mattresses vary by quality. You get what you pay for’ While there are exceptions George is correct for the most part.

  13. ColoradoDave says:

    Hello All.
    Great info. I started my adventure with the idea “I am going to Ecuador for a month to help my mother retire. I changed that notion quickly to “rent the house, quit the job and will give it a go myself”.
    I have traveled a fair amount, so I think I have a small tiny clue about some potential safety/lifestyle issues. I really enjoyed reading your “the bad side” post above. I was looking for that type of information. When I got to the bottom, I said “yep, sounds like what I expected.” Thanks for putting more cement in my plans to move to Ecuador. We will be moving to the San Clemente area to start. Thanks for the info!

    • Ecuador George says:

      Dave, Glad you liked the post. I like knowing as much about a subject as I can. It helps with my decision making process. Good luck to you and please feel free to ask me any questions you have. Ask them on this site so that others will learn from your experience… Thanks, George

  14. Diane says:

    Ummm…let me get this right…the weather’s great, but the music’s too loud; it helps to know Spanish; some people actually get drunk in public, pick their noses and pee on the sidewalk; you could get mugged or ripped off if you’re not careful; there are palm trees and great beaches as well as flies, fleas and mosquitoes and you’ve got to watch out for shady beach real estate deals that seem too good to be true because they are.

    Gee, I guess maybe that COULD cause culture shock… if we weren’t gearing up for Biketoberfest here in this little corner of the First World we like to call Daytona Beach, Florida. Hey, we got all that and more, and you don’t even need a passport! :)

    Actually, I just got back from the South Coast (my second trip) and even walking around late at night I feel safer in Ecuador than I have in most US cities since LBJ was in the White House.

    Palm trees, hammocks, great beaches, supernice people, music everywhere, great cheap seafood, decent local beer…what’s not to like? And if you’ve got even a shred of Parrothead in you, Montanita is a total trip…

    • Ecuador George says:

      Diane, Diane, Diane…. You are so right.

      My guess is you are well traveled, open minded, and might even lien a little to the left. If you are retired and in your sixties, you are my hero. If you are a younger reader of this blog, then you are also my hero for being well read and a person of good taste!

      We will be visiting Montanita in January and hope the music is nice and loud because our hotel room will be in Olon.

      By the way, I also vote Ecuador over Daytona Beach, but only because I am winding down a bit. 20 years ago I would have been all about Montanita, 3 day parties, with Jimmy Buffet all night long. Now, Montanita for 5 hours, quite walk back to the hotel, Margaritaville on the iPod, and asleep at least by midnight. It would seem I am slowing down a bit.

      If you want to share your experiences of Biketoberfest, send me a little story with pictures and I will post them on this site. Would love to see and hear about it.

      Stay healthy and happy,


      • Claudia says:

        George, I lean a LOT to the right and I am well traveled, open minded and agree with Diane, and much that you have said. We have been in Cuenca since the first of November and find it charming, quirky, and worth the inconveniences. We say muy bien!

  15. Leaving Oregon says:

    Its great to see good information on the web about relocating to Ecuador from the Pac NW. We are visiting in Dec. and want to have the reality check done before we go.

    bags X
    passport X
    one way ticket X
    reality X

    I think we have it! Keep it up thanks George.

  16. David says:

    Thanks for the information George. It sounds much as I expected. I am retired and am planning to move to Cuenca next year, as soon as I can get everything done that needs doing. Because I have complained loud and long about immigrants that think we should accommodate their language I am learning Spanish so I won’t be one of “those people” and so I can enjoy the experience more.

    Once a person gets to Cuenca, or any city in Ecuador, what do you suggest is the best way to find a place to rent and how does one find other expats?

    I am single so I’m pretty flexible on just about everything involved.

    • Ecuador George says:

      David… Thanks for the comment. We stayed at the Casa Ordonez in Cuenca and hooked up with the owner Albeto. He knows everything and everyone. We met some nice Americans there too and got hooked into the local social groups. Also join the Ecuador Facebook sites. Lots of people to meet there but watch out… lots of crazy people too. You can always ask me anything and I can also introduce you to people. See you in Cuenca. George

    • Bill says:

      I just returned from a month long “maiden journey” to Cuenca. I rented a room in the home of an “expat” that has been living in Cuenca since 2008. I was able to get plenty of information about everything from a genuine “local”. It would have been a mistake, for me, to stay in a hotel and try to develop a learning curve on my own.

      • Ecuador George says:

        Bill, I bet you have a couple of stories to share… Write me and I will post them on this blog. Love to let everyone know what you learned. George

  17. currybadger says:

    I still think this sounds like a better place to retire then india!

  18. David says:

    Hello George,

    What information do you have on cars? Should I ship my pickup down there or sell it and buy something when I get there? What about the prices on new cars, what can I expect?

    • David, Cars are expensive in Ecuador… New cars are taxed heavy and old cars maintain incredible value. Unless your car is almost brand new you will not be allowed to bring it into the country… Most people I know use the transit system or they buy something once they get moved. Good luck. George

  19. Mary of Tomari Chi's says:

    I just found your blog George and cudos for the great info! Your description of the negatives does sound like Florida as I lived there for awhile a number of years back and it also sounds like living in Chicago and Madrid, Spain which are also places that have been my places od residence in the past. I have been searching for a place I want to live my senior years as I turned 65 last year and truthfully cannot aford to live here in the states while putting up with what they are doing to those of us that raise farm animals and vegetables.

    I lived in Spain for 4 years when Franco was still in power and loved it. It is has changed also over the years and after investigation is not in cosideration for retirement for me. When I came across Ecuador as a possibility right after our elections here which only made me want to expidite this move I put it at the top of my list and have been holding my breath since. I have been afraid that I would find something that was a “deal breaker” as I have with most of the other places I have investigated previously in the last few years. So far all the info has only made me want to be there now so it’s time to take the plunge and come for my 1st visit which I’ve scheduled in February.

    In all my recent research I did find something about bringing your own vehicle which is important to me because I don’t think the busses will pick you up out on your farm which is what my plans are. I am a real estate agent here and have a lead on a farm there. I did find that if you are going to be outside any of the cities – especially the large ones any of our “normal” cars will not last. SUV’s I am told are about it for enduring the terrain so a truck is a must and what I found in my research is Ecuador will allow you to bring in an older truck as long as it goes with you when you leave. I tucked that into my things to look into and not forget list. I am looking for my documented proof of that statement but have not found it right this moment but when I do I’ll send it. One of the things I learned in Spain though was to make sure that if you don’t do your own repair work then it was best to look around – on these investigative trips would probably work – and see which cars/trucks were the most plentiful as they will be the ones that can be repaired the easiest and possibly the cheapest. When I was in Spain we bought a Peugot used from one of the military guys going back to the states. They are made in France and were built for the mountainous terrain they have there. Also the country was filled with Fiats and Seats (pronounced “see oughts” that are the Fiat’s built in Spain.) so this is my plan of action when I come in February.

    I made the decision to make the move preliminarily in December with a targeted departure date right after the 2013 holidays as I know it will probably take that long to make sure all the necessary documents are done, US property is handled, banking is in place etc. When I went to Spain I had the US Air Force to lead me through all that needed to be done and it took 5 months to get ready and I don’t have them to rely on this time.

    So again Thank you George and all the other people on here for their information and experiences. At least it gives me the necessary “food for thought” as I am working through the things I need to handle in this adventure.

    • Ecuador George says:

      Mary, I will not be bring in a car. We will arrive with the clothes on our back and 2 suitcases so I can only tell you a little of what you have asked. I have read that cars imported into Ecuador have to be newer, no older than one or two years, not sure exactly. Otherwise you would need to buy after moving. Used cars have a high resale value in Ecuador so be ready for sticker shock. Sorry, that is all I know. Good luck. George

    • Rhonda says:

      I was very interested to read your post, we are small farmers in eastern Canada, also fed up of BigAg trying to put us out of business!
      We’re looking for a move, and Ecuador is on our list.
      We would also like to continue farming on a small scale, we have to have some acres around us!
      I would love to keep in touch and follow your travels.
      Rhonda Lloyd

  20. Norm in Calif. says:

    After reading all 53 comments, I’ve decided that, at the age of 80 (though I’m a 65-80), that a move to Ecuador may not be in the cards for me. But I am considering a move to a small town in Arizona where costs are low, the climate is friendly, and the residents keep to the right mostly, if you know what I mean!
    Thanks, George; all your info & comments have been a huge help in bringing me to my decision!

    • Ecuador George says:

      Norm… there are a lot of great places in the United States to retire… and it sounds like you found one… Bisbee or Jerome might be fun places… Let me know what you decide because this year I might be writing posts about alternatives to Ecuador. We have been talking about Malta, a large island in the Mediterranean… but we talk about a lot of things… Thanks for the comment Norm, glad the site helped you… George

      • Linda says:

        To any and all who will listen,

        Here is something I hope people will be aware of or remember (if you already know about chemtrails), almost everywhere in the U.S., chemtrails are being sprayed above us, from morning til night, day after day after day….

        If you look up at the sky, especially first thing in the morning and you may see the sky is clear with no clouds. Then you will see at least 2 or 3 planes, going back & forth, up & down, creating many very long straight lines, X’s, and even grids, like tic tac toe and then watch these lines turn into huge cirrus-like clouds and block the sun.

        You may notice an odd smell in the air. You may notice times when your eyes are burning and itching, your nose and throat are burning, you may suddenly feel nausea, skin flushes, flu-like or allergy symptoms that are the wrong time of year. Plants & trees that were doing well for years, suddenly much less healthy or even mysteriously dying. A lot more friends & people in your community suddenly sick with cancer.

        These are not contrails, they are chemtrails, chemical clouds of poison, raining down aluminum nanoparticles, as well as barium & strontium which are radioactive. Soil and rain samples have been gathered and taken by qualified people in their communities, all over the country. These samples have been taken in for professional lab tests and shown to have, GET THIS….30,000% yes….30,000% above normal levels of aluminum.

        It is called “soft kill”…it is damaging plants, trees, killing birds and other animals and worst of all, it is causing a breakdown of people’s immune system and affecting the brain, nerves, heart, lungs – causing heart attacks, chronic extreme fatigue, body pain & cancer. On top of this, microwave frequencies from cell towers are being amplified due to the conductivity caused by the contents of the chemtrails and they are causing depression, anxiety, insomnia.

        The U.S. government, military and shadow governments “cover story” for this is “solar radiation management” that is supposedly for counteracting global warming, but in reality it is causing global warming to become worse….Thus even more fuel to the “cover story” of why this spraying of poisons upon people, plants, animals, soil, water needs to be increased…”Oh, we have to stop global warming” they say. Using HAARP (Google it if you don’t know what it is, you need to know)…Powerful frequencies are being blasted through the ionosphere, and changing the jet stream, causing drought in California, flooding in the Mid-West and huge 5 ft. snow drifts on the East Coast.

        There are military papers, available to the public, just Google “U.S. Military’s 2025 Agenda”. The military papers are there for all to read….it is about world domination, controlling communication, controlling the population, de-population and even mind control. FEMA camps are being set up and there are hundreds of thousands of black, plastic coffins, you can see them on You Tube, clear as day, this is NOT a “conspiracy, this is real”. There are very well-know, respected & qualified “whistleblowers” telling the truth. Ever hear about Snowden? He now lives in Russia, trying to avoid being murdered.

        I am tired of being beat down physically by the poisons in the air I have to breathe day in & day out from the chemtrail spraying. Ironically, even though I live way in the mountains, away from cities, cars and pollution, I (and my fellow citizens) have to breathe these radioactive poisons from the chemtrails that get sprayed from morning until night, day after day, not being able to be outdoors in it due to all the effects on ones health. I feel like a bug in a jar and someone keeps blowing in this poison into the jar, day after day after day. And I am not alone in this feeling.

        There are many people all over this country (even in Alaska!) as well as all over Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand. The citizens of these countries are documenting this, photos, lab tests, even anonymous testimonials from pilots. The documentation is quite profuse.

        So, to make a long story short, I have had it…there is something very sick and twisted going on. A vast majority of people are being slowly tortured physically and mentally (HAARP waves) towards an early demise. It is really beyond my comprehension….The orchestrated sudden collapse of the economy in 2008….where will this end, when is the next collapse?

        I am moving to Ecuador because I will be so grateful to be able to escape this feeling of being a bug in a jar and being poisoned with aluminum and radioactive nanoparticles and stop being bombarded with HAARP microwave frequencies. I will be so thankful to breathe air that is not poisoned (some bus problem!), to see a truly blue sky, with clear, pure sunshine coming through. Real, billowing clouds in the air rather than “fake” cirrus chemical clouds spread across the entire sky.

        I will be so grateful and thankful to be free from the poisoning and mind manipulation here in the U.S., so much so that I am willing to handle being stereotyped as “white trash” due to other gringos behaving in such a way that it for some, it reflects badly on all gringos. I will have to live with the uneasiness of wondering if I may be a victim of crime and having to always be cautious and wary. Even to be treated with prejudice, to me, it is a small price to pay.

        I wish people could recognize that a certain percentage of gringos that are relocating to Ecuador, are people who have been through so much that it has almost broken their spirit, even pushed them towards total hopelessness and thoughts of suicide. And they know that only a small percentage of their life is left. And there are things they had hoped to experience in life, like a long-lasting loving relationship, supportive friendships, better health, peace of mind, perhaps even….happiness. Perhaps some lost their beloved mate of 30, 40 even 50 years. Feeling so hurt & alone…I believe that there are many older, single people like myself, coming from North America, who are NOT “ugly Americans”.

        I believe there are tender-hearted, good people, who just deserve some rest from being weary of the World and life and ridiculous things being perpetrated upon them in the U.S. Tired of what has been going down in the U.S. for a long time now, looking for some peace, maybe even some joy. And those of you who know who you are, this strikes a cord, I pray with all my heart that you and I find it in Ecuador, for many it feels like the last chance to find that elusive thing you seek in life. That despite the “parasitic opportunists” as some call them, that those whose character is different from those who drag the image of all gringos through the mud, I pray we be strong of heart and try to hold the tone of Love, Kindness, Compassion & Optimism and find Peace & Joy in this final chapter in the book of our lives.

        Lastly, I’d just like to say that there is so much judgment and criticism and harshness going on between people “these days” it seems. I think it is so sad, as it really doesn’t take that much to be kind and caring towards one another. I hope that we can see each other as individuals, rather than lumping together stereotypes. Like that saying goes, “What the World needs now, is Love, sweet Love, that’s the only thing that there’s just too little of”.

        Come Feb. 15, 2015, I am going to visit Ecuador for the first time, Cuenca, and I look forward to experiencing in person what I have only read about in blogs and seen in You Tube videos. I am so sorry for the negative effects gringos have had on things in Ecuador and I hope that there are some that are appreciated for positive effects (if any-hey what about good pastries…) they have had. I’d like to think I may have something to contribute, otherwise, why go on in life, what is the purpose anyway? I hope someone’s heart was touched by me today.

        With all sincerity, ^_^ Linda

        • Nancy Allen says:

          Linda, I live near Louisville KY which is home to UPS. I worked at UPS for 16 years. After 11pm the airport is closed to commercial flights so UPS flights can come in and out approximately every 90 seconds all night long until around 5am. THAT is a lot of airplanes overhead polluting our skies! No wonder we have unexplained illnesses, headaches, cancers, miscarriages, depression, and other problems. Thank you for enlightening me. We had already planned our move to Ecuador in three years. It cannot come soon enough!

  21. Mark Tanney says:

    Hi George, I ran across this on another website today. It is a post from someone named Nancy, from Ecuador. She has some pretty tough things to say about gringos. I don’t want to keep beating a dead American, but I thought I’d share this here. This is Nancy’s post (I have not corrected typos):

    It is really interesting to see how the world goes, Like they say, What goes aroung come around. When for hundreds of years USA and other countries have given the cold shoulder to inmigrants from Latin America, now you are the ones who are looking to go somewhere where you can actually could make a living. I am from Ecuador, Lived in Switzerland for 17 years where I did my studies and now in Canada for the past 8 years where I live and workd for a financial institution. I Still have most of my family in Ecuador who are every ocassion cannot stop telling me how annoying is to have bunch of “gringos” moving to Ecuador, My mother says that most of them move there just to have the easy life ” smoking weed, drinking and some other drugs: This is a bad example for our children. I strong beleive that you can make a living everywhere in the world as long as you are a hardworking and responsable person. Please dont give me wrong if you are the type who just want to move to Ecuador and live a healthy life, by all means, but is you think that moving to Ecuador means easy life, you are wrong. We are a country where family values are priority. We don’t tolerate and don’t need what we call “white trash” or people going around on flip flops, dirty and full of tatoos. People can be poor but poor doesn’t mean dirty and careless on how you present to others. By the way Loja is the MOST EXPENSIVE city in Ecuador to live in, the reason been is because 20 years ago many people from that city inmmigrated to Spain making lots of money and coming back to the country paying ridiculous amounts of money for a piece of land or house or a house. Having say that, Ecuadorians are very ‘We are” friendly and warm people, we can help a foreigner as lost as they are not lazy trying to just scam their own government (many USA people still receiving a disability pension while in Ecuador and they move back and forward so they dont lose their disability or unemployment cheque.

  22. IowaDave says:

    Hi, George. Blessings to you! I just discovered your page today, and read with interest. How long have you lived in Ecuador? I’m about 10 – 12 years away from retirement, both financially and age wise. I love the USA, but with the direction our government is headed, I’m afraid that there won’t be a such thing as retirement here by the time I reach that age. Every time you turn around, it seems that there is another tax for something. So, we’re looking into “alternatives”. We’ve been to Honduras twice on mission trips, and although our Spanish is very minimal, we loved the people and the culture. It was quite a culture adjustment; all houses and businesses have bars over the windows and doors, and the banks and convenience stores all have guards with AK-47s at the doors. However, most of the people were extremely friendly and we loved it. We might have considered retiring there, but it has become very dangerous for gringo “Americans” (a misnomer, I know, as they are part of America as well). The missionary we went to help had to move back to the States last year due to many death threats against he and his family. I anticipate my retirement income to be “enough to live on”, but not an abundance. If we make the move to Ecuador, we probably won’t financially be able to move back. Having said all that; I appreciate this blog page. It is good to have all of this information. I don’t expect everything to be absolutely rosy … there are bad people everywhere in the world. We are churchgoing folks, and could probably get along well many different places in the world. Please keep updating with any more tips to retiring in Ecuador. Thanks!

    • Ecuador George says:

      Dave, Everything will be different in 10 years from now. Just do the best you can and there will be a place to retire to. Who knows, it might be right here in the United States by then. Stay tuned, we decided to retire early and just live below our means for the next 5 years. Then, in 5 years, we will travel to many more places and see a lot more of the world… Please stay tuned to this blog and thanks for reading. George

  23. Tom Beard says:

    Hello George:

    We are coming to Cuenca for two weeks at the end of June. Have you had any personal safety issues while in Cuenca? What would you advise for four Gringo’s on seeing the sites and staying safe? Thanks.


    • Ecuador George says:

      Tom, The only time I ever had even a twinge of feeling unsafe was at a local soccer game. Ecuador takes their soccer a little over the top with fist fights in the aisles and they throw things at each other, like half full water bottles. So, just learn to step back from the flying fists and watch out for missiles coming towards the side of your head… Tom, we stay at Casa Ordonez and he sets all that touring stuff up for us. I would for sure take the red or yellow bus that is at Parc Calderon. At $5 a person it is a great bargain. Also contact Mio Tours and take the day tour. Good luck. George

  24. Mike Dixon says:

    George, my wife and I have rented a beach house in the fishing village of Curia, just north of Montanita, for the month of February 2014. We would like to know some more about tropical disease and insect vectors around that area. Are malaria, yellow or dengue fever or any other insect carried diseases prevalent in that area? Are sand fleas a problem at the beach? I can’t wait to visit this beautiful country. I am amazed that you have coastal plains, the Andes mountains and the Amazon rain forest all in such a small country. We hope to see it all! Thanks for posting your blog as it is refreshing to see someone candidly talking about the pros and cons of visiting Ecuador.

    • Ecuador George says:

      Mike, We were in Montanita in January and we had no problems with bugs. We brought bug spray with Deet and only used it the first couple of days. For us, we just did not have a problem. Best to come prepared. Some of the stories are blown out of proportion. Same with all the malaria stories. Yes there is some, but not enough to worry about. Just use spray and if anything, stay inside at sunset. Seems like that is when the bugs were the worse. George

  25. Robert says:

    Hi George,

    I’m planning on moving to Ecuador within the next 6 to 12 months. I have been living in the Philippines for the past 6 years so I’m sure I won’t have a hard time there. From everything I can find out without having been there yet, it seems there are more things to adjust to here than in Ecuador. The one advantage I know here in the Philippines is easy communication. A very large percentage of the population speaks enough English to make it easy for us Americans to communicate.

    I really enjoyed this post and you make a lot of great points and give a lot of good advice, but one thing that you said is not accurate. Provided you are a “bona fide” resident of a foreign country for the entire tax year, an individual most likely will quality for tax exclusion up to more than $90,000 per year. (It goes up every year adjusted for inflation.) For 2013 tax year for example income up to $97,600 is excluded from tax.

    More info is available here:

    I’m not an accountant, but I have been living overseas for a while as I mentioned and I earn money while living abroad.

  26. Violet R Schulert Endres says:

    thankyou for the honesty.. all anybody else says is its wonderful….I need to hear what you say.. one so I can make an informed decion, two so I can be prepared when I get there.. to handle the “challeges”. important.. One page has only good many good things I truely dont trust them.. even great places arent perfect….I still hope to come.. need to check into shipping stuff.. also is it reason able to bring a generator for when the electricity goes out?.. just asking. what shots should I get? and what should get for my pets(cat and dog). cat will stay indoors, dog is a service dog, working dog…he is pretty quite and is never outside alone. does the culture have a concept of that?..Again not trying to be rude, just asking questions. anybody know where I can get health insurance. I go to the doc more than ave.. and am on alot of meds…

    • Ecuador George says:

      Violet… You can buy a generator in Ecuador at a reasonable price. Most of you questions are answered in this blog but you will have to bounce around a bit and read some more. Also you can join Ecuador groups on Facebook and find live people in real time to answer all these questions too. Good luck. George

  27. Steve Andersen says:

    Hi George,
    I’m flying into Guayaquil on July 02 2014 for 2 weeks and rented a car trying to see what the coastal side of Ecuador has to offer.Living close (50 yards) to the beach is what I want,and don’t mind living in a little fishing village,as long as there is fresh water,a sewer system,electricity,etc. that’s close to a city!Have I asked for to much?Any suggestion?
    P.S.Buying the land and building a house is something that will be just fine,since I don’t plan to retire before 2015.

    • Ecuador George says:

      There are Facebook forums that are coastal specific. Ruda del Sol Mates is the first one that comes to my mind. They will have all the answers for you…. Good luck. George

    • Pamela Wadham says:

      Steve Andersen,
      Were you able to retire and find a place in Ecuador? How do you like it?

  28. Erynn says:

    Hi George,
    I have been scouring the internet looking for alternative living situations (I am well traveled, but looking for a new adventure). Ecuador seems to be just the place! The warnings you gave go for just about any country in the world so that doesn’t seem too alarming to me. My biggest concern is expat scams. In general, I am very cautious and not too trusting… However, I wanted to get first hand knowledge on what rental prices will be in Cuenca, because I will be on a strict budget… Could you please provide some more information. Thanks for the read! :-)

    • Erynn,
      You are very wise to hold tight to your money. Most of the scams that I have heard of involve expats doing bad things to other expats. Rents in Cuenca are as low as $200 for a somewhat primitive space to an average of $500 for a decent home or apartment. You can pay much more if you like for luxurious accommodations. Good luck.


      • Hector says:

        Renting is the way to go here, Furniture is also well made and cheap But I do sagest that you bring all of you electronics and your own Bed Mattress and Coverings, And if you going to ship a printer Buy a lot of refill as they are very expensive here

  29. Lynda says:

    Hi George,
    Not sure if you can tweak this piece, but you CAN drink the water in Vilcabamba, too.
    As a journalist, I would like to kindly remind you that it’s PEOPLE WHO…not people that…


    • Ecuador George says:

      Thank you Lynda,
      I will go in and tweak both things if I can find them. I will never have the job as editor, that is for sure. George

      • BajaWIzard says:

        Hey George,

        Love the way you politely put her off.

        First, you did say water OK in Vilcabamba.

        Second, the english language is the worst on the planet. It is so ‘Bastarized’, has no rime or reason to spelling. Only because no one has had the kohunas to correct/change it. Besides the Rockerfellers bought up the educational system so they could ensure poor education hoping no one would figure out what they were up to. Most have not, even with the internet.

        Just another arogant/ignorant American making all Americans look bad.

        We, I think I can speak for most here, appreciate what you are doing and understand what you have to say. Keep it up.


  30. richard says:

    Hi George, I have been living in Thailand since the tsunamy of 04′. In Thailand, poverty is equated with filth. If you are poor, then you live in a dump. It seams to me that picking up the trash around your house doesn’t cost anything. Is it that way in Ecuador. I’m planing to move the end of May, will I be let down, or do even the poor have some self respect. Richard

    • Ecuador George says:

      The poor here are pretty good at taking care of themselves. They are not pigs. The infrastructure is not as upgraded in the poorer areas but it is still ok. I wouldn’t worry…

  31. Mark says:

    Thanks for this site – some very useful info from “real” people. I’m going to a seminar in Canada put on by holaecuador . Wondering if you ever heard of them. I put their link in the message above. Thinking of retiring down there…so much to learn

  32. Bill says:

    Hello George and fellow travelers.

    thank you for all of the information here. It is good to see there are many people out there that want to experience more than just America. Anyway, I have been living and working in Thailand for the last 7 months and I my contract is coming to a close. I have browsed the retirement sites for a couple of years and the two countries that stand out are Panama and Ecquador. I am chosing Ecquador as my next destination after shuffeling the deck. All of the items you mentioned are important to a pleasant stay, i.e. learning the language, respecting the culture and understanidng that you are indeed a “Visitor”, so be polite… sound advice no matter where you live. Thank you George for your honset running commentary.

    Best Bill

  33. Kathryn says:

    Glad I found this place! Will be making an initial visit in a few weeks…just out of curiosity…do ALL the gringos start in Cuenca?? I was drawn to Loja/Vilcabamba area initially..was a little discouraged to see Loja is “the MOST expensive city”…really? I thought that talent of mine only went to tangible goods :(

    My traveling days were curbed for a number of years…ready to get flexible again. Wishing I’d taken spanish instead of french in earlier years.

    Can anyone expound on the “secret of banking”? Seems you have to have a “referral” to open an account? Prefer NOT to deal with Citi….


    • Ecuador George says:

      Lot of questions Kathryn but here is what I can tell you. Cuenca has become much pricier than even a couple of years ago. Rents are up a little, food is up a little, everything seems to be costing more. I think Loja is cheaper than Cuenca. Don’t know anything about the banking you mentioned.


  34. Kathryn says:

    Thanks George! So, how does one open a bank account in Ecuador? Have read you cannot just walk in like in the US.

    I’ll be selling my home in the fall and will have the funds wired to…wherever I wind up..but I thought it might be easier to open in person on my visit this month.

    Thank you!

  35. gaby says:

    Really great info. Im from Trinidad & Tobago. It’s my dream to live in South America at least for a yr. I chose Ecuador for the many positives I see. Im a Spanish teacher but I dont get much practice teaching the basics. Im trying to plan a trip for my 3 wk vacation in December to test out and have an idea of the place. Im wondering if cuenca is the place to stay! and how much money I would need to survive the three weeks? George help!

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