“Why would you move to Ecuador?” I get this question a lot. In fact, I asked the same question myself when, three years ago, my husband suggested we move to Cuenca, Ecuador. But now, I know exactly why you should move there…because we did it.
So, when I’m inevitably asked that question during visits home, here are the reasons I give.
Low Cost of Living
Without a doubt, the cost of living in Ecuador is one of the first reasons to consider living here. Living in Cuenca, Ecuador will cost you about half as much as living in Greenville, South Carolina, for instance. A couple can live comfortably here for around $1,600 to $2,400 a month. Many people I know live here quite happily on their social security check alone.
Any Climate You Want
Climate preferences are as individual as taste in porridge: some like it hot, some like it cold. Here in Ecuador, you can take your pick.
Personally, I prefer cool temperatures; that is exactly what I found here in Cuenca, a city of roughly half a million people in the mountains of central, southern Ecuador (La Sierra). In the summer, the temperature is a comfortable 70 F. In the winter, temperatures are about the same.
However, some people find Cuenca to be a bit too cloudy. For people who prefer sun, sand, and afternoons slowly swinging in a hammock, the pacific coast (La Costa) of Ecuador offers tropical temperatures, sandy beaches, fresh seafood, tropical fruits, and plenty of sun.
Of course, there is also the area east of the Andean mountains known as La Amazonia or el Oriente (the East), or simply the jungle. It’s hot, humid, damp from frequent topical rains, and lush with vegetation and life. This area is primarily national parks, tourist lodges, and land set aside for indigenous, traditional tribes respected for their knowledge of plant medicines.
I live without a car. Think of it. No fuel costs, no maintenance, no insurance, no searching for a parking space, no risk of a fender bender ruining my day. Instead of driving a car, I walk. I walk to the market to purchase vegetables and fruits. I walk to the gym and to yoga class. I walk to church on Sunday. I walk to hear the local symphony orchestra perform, for free, every Friday night.
Sometimes, in the dark, or when the distance is long, I take a taxi for a couple of dollars or a bus for a few cents. It is true, all this walking takes a bit more time, but walking through the streets gives me an ever-changing view of the unique and always interesting Ecuadorian daily life. And a benefit of walking is weight loss.
In this country, there is always something interesting going on in the streets. Every church—and there are many—celebrates the feast day of their patron saint with processions, fireworks, and music. At night, in the plazas, bands play, hip-hop dancers practice their moves, lovers gaze into each others eyes, artisans spread their wares out on blankets, and small children run laughing to see how far they dare venture from their mothers.
On the streets, women grill skewers of chicken or push carts loaded with cut up mangos, pineapples, coconuts, strawberries and cherries. This cacophony of activity happens every night; during feast days and holidays it gets even livelier.
There is a massive community of expats already established in Ecuador, in places like Quito, Vilcabamba, Cuenca, and the coast. They make sure that all newcomers are welcomed with a very Ecuadorian kiss on the cheek, so settling in is very easy. This strong community also creates opportunity for entrepreneurs to provide goods and service to the expat market: computer services, meals delivered, personal training, massage services, Spanish history classes, and homemade pies. The ideas are endless.
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