Deciding where to live in Ecuador can be a daunting yet exciting prospect. Though the country is only the size of Nevada, the choices in lifestyle are many. You’ll need to decide if you’re a beach bum, mountain lover, or maybe even a jungle dweller. Do you want to reside in a large metropolis, a small city, or a quaint village? Those are all important things to factor in to your decision and ones that only you can answer.
Last night I found myself in a quaint little restaurant surrounded by low wooden ceilings, heavy timber doors, hand-painted alcoves, and Beethoven's 9th playing softly in the background. The wait staff was perfectly attentive and my pizza perfectly topped with just the right amount of cheese and sauce.
“What do you do to stay busy?” It’s a question I am asked frequently about life in Ecuador. There seems to be a fear that once you arrive, get settled in, and explore a bit, you’ll run out of things to do and soul-sucking boredom will set in. But I don’t know a single expat who struggles to fill their time and here’s why. Aside from the day-to-day activities of life—grocery shopping, household chores, and paying bills—the country holds a myriad of ways to fuel your interests and keep you occupied.
The city of Medellin, Colombia is many things to many people. For some it is the “City of Eternal Spring” where the weather is always just right and the songbirds are hard at work in the flowers and trees that line the streets. For others, it is a city of innovation where local universities churn out award-winning projects and top-notch students. And for yet others, it’s a place of historical treasure with a past full of gold, colonialism, and a stunning recovery after decades of turmoil.
“Pereira is a small city with just about everything you could want from a large city—an airport, theaters, more shopping than you could ever need,” says Mollee Thermos. “But it’s still not as developed as Colombia’s bigger and more well-known cities of Medellin or Bogota and I like it because of that.”
Colombia's movers and shakers—politicians, business executives, and celebrities—have long used land ownership and country homes as a way to show their money and influence. The more beautiful the setting of their residences, the more bragging rights they have.
When it comes to city living, most people have a few priorities in mind: Easy access to all parts of the city through roads, public transportation, or even walking trails is usually high on the list, plenty of activities and entertainment, and a feeling of safety along with aesthetic beauty tends to complete the package.
I saw a news headline the other day claiming that most U.S. citizens believe that the American Dream is dead. It's not a surprise really. The fading American Dream is one of the reasons that my family and I left our home in Idaho in 2011. Our thoughts of having our own little business were quickly squashed when we considered the amount of money we would need to invest in insurance, accountants, legal advice, and the many permits required. We saw neighbors who had owned their land for generations being forced to sell due to astronomical property taxes. And friends who owned an organic farm were required to jump through numerous hoops to simply grow natural food. It wasn't quite what life in the U.S. was supposed to be, we thought.
Todd Johnston is an adventurous guy. In his 53 years he's traveled to Africa... climbed mountains in Peru and Ecuador...and gone scuba diving in exotic locales. This sense of adventure, along with a desire to live life to the fullest, motivated him to buy a condo in Cotacachi, Ecuador in January of 2012 and eventually move there full-time in February 2014.
Getting the best of both country and big-city life is a tall order. But in the valleys that surround Ecuador’s capital, Quito, you can have a country setting with green mountains in view at every turn, little brick houses tucked in amid lush gardens…and friendly neighbors who greet you with a smile.