Expand your social circle in Ecuador

Hello everyone,

Moving to Ecuador means leaving one's family and friends behind. Creating a circle of friends or joining an existing one should therefore be paramount in order to fight loneliness in your host country.

But how can one develop a social network in Ecuador? Where and how to meet people there?

How easy is it to meet locals? What about cultural specificities?

Share your advice and experience!

Many thanks in advance,


Moving to Ecuador means leaving one's family and friends behind. Creating a circle of friends or joining an existing one should therefore be paramount in order to fight loneliness in your host country.

In my opinion, developing a social network in a country one migrates to is important with or without family. Then again people are different and have different mentalities and goals, but from my perspective it would be isolationist if one doesn’t develop a social network, especially with locals, in a country they intend to call home. This is actually frowned upon in some societies and some countries actually have assimilation programs where foreigners are systematically assimilated into society. 

But how can one develop a social network in Ecuador?

Some people are employed and that’s the traditional route but other than that I believe there are a number of ways one can achieve a social network here. The key of course is to be friendly and social with people. There’s the purely expat route, and one can make contacts at expat hangouts and also groups and events that expat partake in. I rarely hangout at such places but when I do, making contact is quite easy at least with the expats I met because it’s evident they want to expand their social network as well.  It’s just a flawless experience conversation wise and I think that’s the magnet.  And you’re absolutely right about loneliness; I met a nice gringa who all but admitted to me that she was lonely and longing to go to Europe after her studies. This is an attractive young woman who speaks Spanish and has so much going for her. And as surprising as her loneliness was, some people for whatever reason simply don’t or can’t fit in. It’s worth stating that as important as a social network is, an intimate relationship trumps that, and I’m basing this on people I talk to. This is of course an opinion and generalization because some people are quite fine being alone.

The other route which is social networking with locals I’ll go into that in the local’s question.

Where and how to meet people there?

As I previously mentioned there’s the expat places if you’re not comfortable meeting locals.  With locals in general you can start in your neighborhood beginning with your neighbors. If there‘s mutual interest it shouldn’t be too difficult to make contact, but of course you have to get beyond the greeting.

If you frequent a place in your neighborhood like a café, start with the staff, then with time you will start to see the same faces of customers and then it’s about initiation. If you’re an extrovert it definitely helps, but above all, be presentable, kind and humble to people and the locals will like you.  If you’re afraid to interact with people you’re not going to get anywhere.  So if your Achilles Heel is Spanish then learn it.   

How easy is it to meet locals?

The first Ecuadorian I made contact with was before I even landed in Ecuador. I met him on the flight here and he gave me some tips and contact information. A couple of weeks later I needed a reference and called him up and he said no problem. He doesn’t live here but through him I met another friend who was very helpful during the first couple of months here. Another Ecuadorean friend I met was when I had an issue with my mobile number. I wasn’t receiving international texts, and went to customer service. This dude did not speak one word of English and while waiting to get sorted out we had a casual conversation which I understood the gist of which led to exchanging whatsapp which led to me being in his social circle that consists of a fun and interesting group of people.  Meeting these Ecuadoreans was effortless. In my opinion, if you present yourself properly and by that I mean being socially apt, confident and respectful, Ecuadorians will be receptive and even initiate contact.   

What about cultural specificities?

If we look beyond the culture, and it’s much less so in Quito, then you will realize that the similarities between you and the locals is much greater than the differences.  At the end of the day people are all the same. I understand it’s difficult for some people to grasp that whether they're expats or locals because their minds have been instilled with biases and prejudices but nonetheless it’s a manufactured barrier that one can overcome if they try.

I met an Ecuatoriana soon after arriving here. She later became my girlfriend. And now I have a new family and lots of Ecuadorian friends (most as a result of knowing her). But this is not going to be an option for everyone.

The best thing to do is make sure you get out in public lots and don't feel shy about talking to people (even if your Spanish is not great). Most Ecuadorians welcome friendly conversation.

It has been relatively easy for me, as I had made the decision to fully integrate into the culture here in Cuenca.  Using Latin American Cupid I met several locals who helped me first find my apartment, and later my country house.  My friends helped me find my way around, understand how to navigate Feria Libre, explore Cajas National Park.  When I moved to a small pueblo just outside Cuenca I was the only there are a few of us, as I have helped other gringos find the treasure that I know so well, that being living among the local people.  Now I have a baby with a Cuencana and am fully integrating into her family.  I will open a new restaurant with part of the family, and later build a new house on land the family will give us.  Life is beautiful here once you learn to embrace the local culture, and bringing the much appreciated gifts of a North American.  This is the fulfillment of the prophecy: "When the eagle flies with the condor a new earth will be born."  My 4-month old baby girl is sweet evidence of this prophecy!

I’d like share an update with members here about expanding one’s social circle. In my neighborhood I am friendly with almost everyone. A casual good morning, a how are you, and so on. It’s very normal, and it’s what many locals do. One of these exchanges developed into a friendships and it started after the April earthquake, and instead of just exchanging casual greetings I asked my friend how is your family, and formally introduced myself, name and all.

After that point we didn’t simply have exchanges of greetings but conversations that developed over time and eventually learned that we have somethings in common, namely educating our children to the best of our abilities. My friend takes great pride in his children’s education and asked me for help last month because his son would be taking an English examination and if he passed he’d be admitted into a prestigious program.

At the time, I downloaded some material for him, and also gave him an English-Spanish dictionary. He thanked me, I replied “de nada”, and he took offense to that, and said, no de nada. Since then our conversations increased, he also went out of his way with helping me with something I needed assistance in and his son has been coming over for lessons to prepare him for his exam but mainly hangs out on some Saturdays. His wife also entered the social circle of my family, and it’s a good feeling.

This relationship continues to develop, but I like it because it’s family based.

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