Moving to Ecuador: Should I Bring a Container or a Suitcase?

When my husband Brian and I decided to pack up our lives nearly six years ago and move abroad to Ecuador, it honestly never crossed our minds to bring a container. We had downsized a few years prior to this trip, so this move was the ultimate downsize for us. We had purchased a house in Cotacachi during our second trip to Ecuador and had visited several times. On each trip we brought a few bags with some household stuff that we felt we would want in the future. On the final trip it was just us, four suitcases and two cats.

Cotacachi is a beautiful town located in the Andes Mountains at approximately 8,000 feet. We have a significant expat population here of about 300 to 500 people, several that live here permanently and others that come and go.

Throughout the years here, I have met several expats who all have different views on this topic. Some moved here like us, to downsize and get rid of the vast amounts of “stuff” in their lives, and some chose to bring a container with the familiar comforts of their previous lives to furnish their new houses.

I have heard positive and negative stories of people bringing containers, so like everything, it is necessary to do your due diligence and speak with people for recommendations on companies, the laws, and prices.

In our case, moving here with just four suitcases was extremely liberating. We were able to design all the furniture in our house, have most of it made locally, and fully furnish the house with everything we wanted for around $8,000. That included furniture for two bedrooms, a living room, a dining room, kitchen necessities, and a sunroom. I’ll admit that we are pretty simplistic and do not like a lot of clutter in our lives, so our house is not full of knickknacks but rather treasures from our travels.

Fortunately, we have scored big on several occasions in regards to buying stuff that others brought in their containers. Occasionally expats who moved here with containers, decide after a few years that they want to move on. I know one couple that took a container of their stuff back to the U.S., but for the most part, many sell everything before leaving. Over the years we have been able to snatch up great things like a Vitamix, a Brinkmann BBQ, some excellent bikes, and even a set of amazing recliners.

There is neither a right nor a wrong way to go in this case, and everyone is entitled to their own opinions on the topic. There are different strokes for different folks as they say. Obviously, everyone puts a different value on their personal stuff and what it means to them both emotionally and monetarily. My advice when considering the options of whether to bring a container or not is to really think hard about how much stuff you actually have, actually need, and what is the meaning behind it? Do you need the stuff to make you happy, or is a new style of life what you are looking for?

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