6 Reasons Why You Should (or Shouldn’t) Move to Ecuador (and Tips do so)
Many people look to distant lands for varying reasons; geopolitical risks, lifestyle preferences, health, retirement, cost of living, climate, adventure and freedom – just to name a few.
And depending on what you are looking for and perhaps more importantly why you are looking for it, Ecuador can offer amazing solutions to the above-mentioned topics.
Ecuador has some of the most stunning natural beauty and nature experiences you will find anywhere in the world – volcano’s, lakes, Amazonian rainforest, beaches and related activities, hikes and bike rides of all kinds, action sports, massive National Parks, indigenous interactions, medicine journeys and so much more. Ecuador appears on all the lists of the most bio-diverse countries in the world. It is abundant in natural resources, in many places water literally pours out of the mountains – often you can drink right from streams without fear of consequence!
The climate here is relatively consistent year round (there are seasons but the differences are more related rainfall and wind than temperature) being near (or even on) the Equator, and depending on where you are, spectacular! As the land of microclimates, you can find your preference of cool to temperate to warm temperatures interspersed in a wide variety of locations throughout the country (often dictated by elevation). You can have any amount of humidity you are comfortable with as well as preferred rainfall.
Beyond the nature and climate, Ecuador is safe, stable, easy to immigrate to (for now), has great infrastructure, its culture is friendly and inviting and it is affordable.
Consistently sitting at the top of Best Places to Retire lists, yet still early in the process of international discovery, there are significant opportunities here as well.
So should you pack your bags and embark on your Ecuadorian adventure? Maybe.
Having moved to Ecuador from the States in July of 2013, founded a Real Estate and Relocation Services company, purchased property, executed real estate projects, settled down with an Ecuadorian partner, learned Spanish and dealt with hundreds of clients both coming and going, I am in a unique position to comment on what makes or breaks the expat experience and I have noticed several trends to consider – below are 6 reasons to move (or not) to Ecuador and some tips on doing so successfully.
1. Move for the right reasons (do not move for the wrong reasons) – This is so important, arguably the most important factor in what I have observed as the difference those who enjoy life in Ecuador and those who don't. Move to Ecuador because of the lifestyle, for the climate, the amazing natural beauty, the soil, water and air quality, the wonderful pace of life, perhaps for a project or a dream you may have, etc.
Do not move because you heard it was cheap. This is a great way to be unhappy in Ecuador. There are way too many challenges in adjusting to a new culture and new language if you’re only reason for being here is cost of living.
Tip: Let cost of living be a perk, not the driving force behind your relocation.
2. Understand your problems will follow you – Ecuador is not a panacea for what ails you. While Ecuador can be conducive to a healthy lifestyle, so much so that I have seen many clients health improve quickly after relocating, a change in outer circumstances is never going to solve your problems. Ecuador is a great place to live, and if you attack it in a proactive way, you can set up a really nice situation for yourself and enjoy your life here. However, thinking that by relocating physically your problems will go away is a recipe for disappointment and ultimately moving on to the next promise of a better life.
Tip: Be proactive in your move and come to Ecuador because of things you want to do. Don’t move to Ecuador to escape something or to fix what ails you, your problems will follow and may even increase as you deal with a new culture and language and all that comes with that adjustment.
3. Don’t underestimate the culture shock and language barrier. Culture shock goes way beyond food, clothing and customs – those things are relatively easy to acclimate to. It is deep seeded historical conditioning, worldview and cultural understanding stuff that will get you. In addition, living somewhere where you don’t speak the language is a challenge – expect a significant adjustment period.
Tip: Understand the culture is different and you may not like or understand aspects of it – take the time to figure it out and adapt/adjust as well as to learn Spanish. Do not expect Ecuador to adjust to you and do not fool yourself into believing that the culture in Ecuador is better than yours or has some magical properties that aren’t found elsewhere. It has pros and cons like anywhere in the world, however taking the time to understand it and adjust will go along way towards your having success here.
4. Have your adventure shoes ready (roll with the punches). This could easily be tip #1 and it comes down to attitude. Attitude is the # 1 thing that makes or breaks the would-be expat.
Life has its frustrations, those frustrations can be exacerbated by living somewhere foreign to you.
They key is to maintain a positive attitude, understand that you don’t know everything and that people, in general, are not trying to screw you – keep smiling, keep asking questions and over time you will figure it out all out.
Tip: Maintain your cool, keep an open mind, roll with the punches and above all don’t lose your temper. Visual/verbal displays of displeasure are deeply frowned upon in Ecuadorian culture and too many public displays of anger will quickly alienate you and cause bad vibes and experiences in your life here.
5. Inconveniences abound – there’s no Amazon.com in Ecuador! Can you handle that? Food delivery, while available, is not as reliable, details can be ignored or messed up, punctuality lacking, things can be closed at inopportune times, professionals can lack a degree of professionalism, etc.
Tip: Think long and hard if the conveniences and cultural norms of where you are from can be lived without. Can you live without Amazon?
6. The government, like everywhere, sucks. Dealing with government is never fun and Ecuador is no different. The bureaucracy is slow, peoples attitudes about their work in government are different and without personal connections and the right know how, getting government to cooperate with your desires can be difficult.
Tip: understand that Ecuador is a deeply familial society and that is how things get done. Apply tip #4 in spades. Work the system, it’s not always the front door that leads to the outcome you desire, but if you’re patient, apply tip #4 and keep in mind that you may need to go through social/connected channels should you bump up against a firm no, you will be able to accomplish your goals.