About Moving to Ecuador
Can I get dual citizenship and an Ecuadorian passport?
Any foreigner who has been a legal resident for three years may acquire an Ecuadorian passport (and nationality) after due process. Ecuador allows its citizens to be dual nationals, provided the country of origin (such as the U.S. and Britain) permits this.
Can I use my cell phone from the U.S. in Ecuador?
Yes, although must phones are programmed to use only the frequency ranges that are in the region where they are sold, they can be “un-locked” for less than $25.00 at most cell-phone repair shops, of which there are many.
What do I need to open a bank account?
Just a valid passport and one other piece of picture ID.
What’s the best way for me to get my stuff shipped from the U.S.?
A container is by far the most economical way. Ecuador allows you a one time duty free shipment of your household goods. You have six months from the time you enter the country with the intent to establish domicile to get your one time duty free shipment into the country. However, you must have your cedula (government issued ID), or risk paying storage if it enters the country before you get your Visa.
Can I bring my pets?
Sure, you can bring pets, birds or domestic animals into Ecuador. If you are coming from the United States by plane, then you can bring your pet with you. You need a veterinarian to sign an animal Health Certificate stating that the animal is free from contagious diseases and is up to date with the required vaccinations. Then the document must then be legalized by the USDA office of the State where you live within 10 days of your flight. Finally you must take or send your documents to the Consulate at the Ecuador Embassy to be certified.
Can I use my ATM card to get money out?
Credit cards and debit cards that have the “PLUS” and “Cirrus” logos can be used at the ATM machines of all major banks here to withdraw money. There are also dozens of locations where you can send or receive money with Western Union or Money gram.
What kinds of jobs can I find?
Some people coming from other countries to Ecuador do not work jobs but, rather they start their own business or invest because the business opportunity is far greater for those that have a little money, however…
Entry level jobs in Ecuador pay about $200.00 per month. There is a lot of demand for English teachers because of the fact that many Ecuadorians want to learn English. It is a job many English-speaking people choose because it does not require you to speak any Spanish whatsoever. It pays around $4-$5 per hour which is high for Ecuador since many people only earn $7-$10 a day.
What currency does Ecuador use? Is it stable?
Ecuador only uses US dollars for their currency and does not accept any other currency. All transactions are done in dollars and they accept all denominations except two dollar bills. Many stores don’t take hundred dollar bills but the banks will. How stable it is, is up to you to determine.
What’s the food like in Ecuador?
Ecuador has a much wider variety of food than most other South American countries, comparable to the US. They have supermarkets here which are well-stocked and clean with all the same foods as is in the US with the exception of real maple syrup (they have the other kinds), sour cream and sharp cheddar cheese (there is mild cheddar here). They have many farmers markets which are literally overflowing with fresh garden-grown fruits and vegetables, both North and South American varieties, as well as organically grown meat. There are many different types of restaurants here, anything from Pizza parlors to Sushi bars.
What is the weather like?
Ecuador is on the equator. Lower elevation areas will be hot and humid, like Guayaquil which is near the coast, while higher up areas where Cuenca and Quito are located will have both sunshine and rain most days. The temperature in Cuenca varies between 60º and 80º and you will want to wear a long sleeve shirt and a thin coat which you will want to take on and off throughout the day as the temperature changes. In a nutshell it never gets either too cold or too hot here in Cuenca.
Do I have to learn Spanish?
You will need to learn Spanish to really be comfortable living here; however you don’t need Spanish, at least not in the larger cities. There are many English speaking people here. In fact a surprising number of Ecuadorians speak English well and many can carry on a basic conversation in English.
Will I have a problem finding clothes?
There is a good selection of clothing here. The people here are pretty small so if you are six feet tall or more you will find the clothing selection limited. For example you can get a new pair of brand name Levi jeans for $11.00 in one of the local street markets. If you have big feet, you will not be able to find shoes that will fit you. Ladies 9 1/2 shoes are hard to find here and men’s size 11 or more are not available here.
Will I be able to get Internet?
Yes, high-speed Internet is available in the three main cities. You can get DSL through the phone company, cable internet through the cable TV company, or even get high-speed service through the cell towers. Out in the country, you can get high-speed Internet with a satellite dish, if no other methods are available.
What are the people like down there?
Most of the people here are respectful and hard working. They are more friendly than in western nations. They are less stressed, more laid back and not in a hurry, especially the Indigenous people who live in the country. They seem to go out of their way to avoid confrontation. Family relationships are very important to the people here and family members tend to cooperate well with each other. There is very little anomosity towards North Americans here. In fact, many Ecuadorians have either lived in the US or Canada, or have a relative that lives there. They have a very positive attitude toward foreigners.
Why did the foreigners who live in Ecuador choose Ecuador over other South American countries?
Ecuador is very modern for a third world country. Land here is less expensive than in other S. American countries and the roads and conveniences are better here than in Paraguay and Bolivia where land is cheaper still. The Ecuadorian government is friendly to emmigrants and you are allowed to open bank accounts, become permanent residents, start businesses etc. without too much hassle. Other S. American countries do not have all the components for an enjoyable life, as does Ecuador. Many ex-patriots are happily intermingled with the Ecuadorian people & culture. They enjoy experiencing the natural beauty of Ecuador, having low monthly living costs, and not having to sacrifice any of the comforts that they are accustomed to having in the United States.
What kind of public transportation do they have?
Cuenca has a pretty good bus system. It costs 25 cents to ride the bus and you can buy a bus card so that you don’t have to keep using coins (which are always in short supply here). It is easy to catch a taxi as there are so many roaming around that you usually don’t have to wait more than three minutes to get one. Short taxi trips cost $1.50 and you can go anywhere in the city for $5.00 or less.
Can I import my car?
You can import a car made within the last three years. If you want an older or classic car, you must buy it from somebody here because they won’t let you import it. Check the prices of cars they sell here first because you will be taxed.
What is there to do down there?
There are many types of tours, anything from biking, hiking and horseback riding into the mountains, exploring Inca ruins, shopping for Ecuadorian souvenirs, seeing the country from a bus or in a private vehicle, hanging out at the beach, or touring the Galapagos islands. Cuenca has movie theaters, bowling alleys, shopping malls, disco tecs, concerts, rodeos, polo matches, soccer games, dancing lessons, many types of seminars from financial to religious, parks everywhere for family outings, plus visiting other ex-pats at the weekly Ex-Pat night. There are many retirement communities here that are made up of Americans and Canadians with many things available right within the retirement community. There is plenty to do here.