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Adapting to the climate in Ecuador

Hello everyone,

Adjusting to new climatic conditions is key in any expatriation process. Moving to Ecuador is no exception.

What are the climate characteristics of Ecuador?

How does the local weather impact your daily life, mood or health?

What are the pros and cons of the climate in Ecuador?

Share you advice and help people adapt quickly to their new weather environment.

Thanks in advance,

Priscilla

What are the climate characteristics of Ecuador?

Ecuador actually has several climates, the main two or the obvious contrasting ones are the highland climate and the lowland climate. I’ll elaborate on the highland climate and particularly Quito’s climate as I live here and know it quite well.

Quito’s climate is quite nice with temperatures ranging from 45-80 degrees. During the day it’s like spring and early morning and late evenings it’s like autumn. Days can be sunny, cloudy, or rainy. Often times you’ll have a combination of sunshine with cloudiness. At times it can be cloudy with off on rain for several consecutive days. 

How does the local weather impact your daily life, mood or health?

I love Quito’s climate, and personally it’s ideal. It suits the lifestyle that I enjoy which is walking, enjoying activities in the park, and café culture. It’s also ideal for sporting nice clothes. I’ve lived in a lowland hot and humid climate so excuse my enthusiasm for spring and fall like weather every day. I also sleep much better so that definitely boosts my mood. I’ve read about people suffering from attitude insomnia, so I’m sharing my perspective as people’s bodies will react differently but for me and the rest of the family, so far so good. As for health, the benefits are noticeable. This is not to say my ailment (asthma) has completely disappeared, but it’s much less and is limited to a few nights a month, so all in all a definite improvement. I also feel much more energetic here and this might be due to the weather not beating me down as in not too cold or too hot.

What are the pros and cons of the climate in Ecuador?

The major con with Quito’s climate is that choice of housing is extremely important. To elaborate we first stayed in two temporary apartments in the same neighborhood we are living in now while we were doing our research. The first one was on the first floor and did not have a lot of sunlight. The apartment was often cold and at times felt damp. We were under the impression that heaters were a must, and that’s how it was in Quito. We however moved to another temporary apartment and the difference was night and day. It was warm, dry and enjoyed plenty of sunshine. Based on that revelation we rented a home that was dry and warm and received tons of sunlight.

Here are some numbers for those who like them, and pardon me for typing the following but this is Ecuador and we have plenty of time on our hands.

Right now it’s about 5:00 pm Friday, July 1st (supposedly cooler season), and the temperature outside is 66 F, and indoors it’s 72 F with 50% humidly. These numbers are based on Taylor’s indoor/outdoor thermometer with humidity reader which you can buy at Kywi for $16. Typically the indoor temperature ranges from 76 – 68 F. However the temperature in the master bedroom can be cooler by 2-3 degrees from the rest of the apartment. This is due to its relatively large size (400 square feet), and location at the back of building which despite numerous windows doesn’t receive as much direct sunlight. The solution of course is heating, and we bought a Homebasix  six rack oil radiator ($71 including IVA at Kywi) which we rarely use, but turn on at highest setting 1500W when temps get below 68 F. Giving the size of the room it only increases the temperature by 3-4 degrees even on highest setting, but enough to make it comfortable. There's a review for it on Amazon, and it sells there for $49 + $10 shipping, to give you can idea, so the price at Kywi is not bad.

With the right apartment you can feel warm, comfy and dry. The kids often wear shorts indoors with no socks. The point here is if we had rented an apartment similarly to the first one, heating, would have been a major issue, and would eventually cost a significant amount of money if you don’t want to live in cold miserable place. So take the time to do your diligence with regards housing and spending a bit more might be justifiable.

Here’s additional data regarding Quito’s climate, and this is how it is pretty much throughout the year with variances being minor.

Sunday 3:00 a.m., July 3rd

Outside Temperature: 49 F                                          Outside Humidity: 85%
Inside Temperature: 69 F                                              Inside Humidity: 62%

If you are curious as to why the temperature remains relatively nice indoors without heating despite outdoor being chilly at 49 degrees and humid, the answer is because at this climate the outdoor temperature rarely stays chilly or cold for long. By noon the temps can easily climb towards 80 F. This is why I cannot emphasize enough the importance of selecting a home that is ideally situated in a sunny area.

My friend lives in a house in North Quito near Bicentenario park, and when visiting with a couple of six packs, I joke, it’s not necessary to put them in the fridge. It’s like an igloo in there, and his reasoning is that North Quito is colder than the center. I don’t think Quito has micro-climates, especially when the distance is only 10-15 minutes or so by car with both of us living in the valley.

The problem with his house and many other homes that are cold is not enough direct sunlight. This is one thing that you should not overlook when deciding on the home, because houses and apartments that are in shadier areas are not able to warm up sufficiently and a chill might remain in the dwelling without a heat source. Additionally, homes here don’t come with central heating, and your alternative is to live with the chill like my friend does or to invest in heating and the expense that comes with it. The latter option may be costly, inconvenient and possibly dangerous if heating is continuously via gas canister.

In general higher floors in the valley are good choices, and also homes and apartments that are atop hills. Let’s take Bellavista neighborhood as an example, at the entry and it’s a steep one upwards sunlight is obstructed and it’s quite shady. However at the top of the hill the apartments and houses receive abundant sunlight.

So you might wonder well this info is nice and dandy but in practice how can I go about this as the apartment/house I’m interested in might be viewed on a cloudy/colder day. It doesn’t matter when you view it but take a thermometer and take readings of a few areas inside and compare to outdoor temp. Use the numbers I posted in this thread as a guide. In general a home that receives plenty of sunlight will be warmer even on days when it’s not sunny.  Another indicator is humidity reader as homes that receive more sunshine are drier.

vsimple :

(In Quito,) homes here don’t come with central heating, and your alternative is to live with the chill like my friend does or to invest in heating and the expense that comes with it. The latter option may be costly, inconvenient and possibly dangerous if heating is continuously via gas canister.

At my condo apartment in El Centro, my solution to occasional chilliness at night is a pair of electrical space heaters.  They’re small units, costing under $60 each, and my electrical bills never go above $15 a month.  One little heater in the bedroom, one in the kitchen/dining room area.

I rarely use them, and when I do, it’s usually just for short periods.  Under the covers for sleeping, I never have the heater on.

Unlike cooking, which goes faster with gas, I don’t see any reason to mess with gas heat in Quito.  I have a no-gas policy for the apartment.

cccmedia

Priscilla :

How does the local weather impact your daily life...?

Share you advice and help people adapt quickly to their new weather environment.

When I have a choice, I prefer not to schedule or do outdoor stuff too much between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. in Quito.  The Equatorial sun is intense, so year-round, there are hardly any shadows you can use to moderate the intensity you experience where you’re walking or otherwise active. 

There’s also the fact that you can get sun-burned if you overexpose your skin around here during the noontime hours.

cccmedia

The ideal climate is always in the eye of the beholder.  When it comes to the climate of Ecuador, to me there is a climate for nearly anyone.  Then again, some people like definite change of seasons.  Temperatures at or near the equator are naturally more constant than anywhere on earth.  As you move away from the equator you have more seasonality but within the country of Ecuador, those differences are minimal compared to the continental US.

I've always said that you can 'dial in' your favorite climate in Ecuador.  Since Ecuador has a geographic air conditioner (the Andes Mountains) you can find your favorite temperature range by finding the community that lies nearest the elevation that produces your favorite range of temperatures.  My wife and I enjoyed the cooler daytime highs in the 70's with nighttime lows in the 50's.  You never need heat or air conditioning because you can open or close windows to keep it comfortable inside all year long.  Likewise, there isn't a day that you can't be outdoors enjoying the weather. At 7800 feet elevation, Cotacachi fit the bill nicely for us.  Remember also that some people don't tolerate higher elevations!

During the rainy season(s) you find that there are micro-climates within your area.  Cotacachi for example is within 10 miles of Otavalo but is more arid than Otavalo. 

If you want heat, live on the coast.  If you want to wear a jacket in August, choose Cuenca.  If you want the most moderate temps, I like Cotacachi.  Remember also that insects like the lower altitudes.  Cuenca seems to be out of the insect zone altogether!  Then again, birds like insects so you don't find too many of those lovely creatures in Cuenca.

"The ideal climate is always in the eye of the beholder."

I commend this phrase used my Cyman.
In my case I prefer the coast climate, reason why I chose Tonsupa - Esmeraldas; for many it may be uncomfortable to be exposed to the humidity and sun almost every day, but for me it's ideal, it's what I was looking for.
I did visit other places including Quito and The Valley before buying my present living quarters.
Yes,in Tonsupa fans and A/C is recommended to suit your environment, but for your information, electricity monthly bill never exceeds $20,00

Everything about the climate in Cuenca: Go to Wikipedia, search for Cuenca, Ecuador; click on link 4 (Climate), and you will obtain a very detailed climate/weather chart with everything you might want to  know.

In general, houses and apartments in Quito are built with no central heating as it is not felt necessary. Very few people have heating appliances at home.
Double glazing seems to be unknown, a shame since this would go along way to keeping out noise if you live near traffic.
The climate in Quito is like a mild English summer all the year round, but theoretically there are Seasons although you don't notice them. A few months of the year it rains more often, mostly at night.
Quito is just high enough to not get any mosquitoes which is a blessing, and compared to other capitals of the world there is relatively little air pollution from traffic.

russelleaton :

Double glazing seems to be unknown, a shame since this would go along way to keeping out noise if you live near traffic.

As I was about to move into my Centro Histórico condo in Quito in 2013 along an uphill bus route, having double-pane windows installed was my highest priority.

A local maestro got the job done effectively, although it was not double-pane or double-glaze.  He and his assistant installed separate inner windows in the bedroom and dining/living area to simulate a double pane, although the panes are about 18 inches apart.

I believe the extra windows/insulation also help keep the apartment warmer and comfortable at night.

Lily Bykova, an Expat who also lives in El Centro, has had success with glass insulation and posted a recommendation awhile back at her Day in Quito website.  Google: dayinquito blogspot, etc.

cccmedia

russelleaton :

Quito compared to other capitals of the world... there is relatively little air pollution[/b] from traffic.

That may be true city-wide, but my neighborhood in a hilly part of Centro Histórico contradicts this theme.

Dated buses burning cheap fuel while chugging up Calle Oriente often produce visible fumes near my place, and the narrow calle prevents the exhaust from readily escaping the neighborhood.

Working off Russell’s earlier post about rain eliminating residual pollution in Quito, I now follow this rule as often as possible....

Only open windows on the bus route after a cleansing rain, preferably in the evening after the buses have finished their daily runs.

That rule can be hard to follow during the dry season when Quito has been known to go weeks or longer without a decent rainfall.

cccmedia

Ecuador's weather is totally dependent on the altitude.  I live at 9000' just outside of Cuenca, and the climate is perfect for me.  Very dry, this alpine climate is ideal for cardiovascular fitness, and hiking in Cajas National Park, between 12,500 and 13,500 feet, is even more invigorating.  We are just coming out of a rather long and wet rainy season, but July and August promise to be filled with sunny days and starry nights.  The "summer" weather here is even more ideal, with sunny days, afternoon thunder storms and average daytime temperatures between 65 and 75.  Having said all this, I would qualify my remarks by sharing that I am from the northern parts of the USA, New England and Minnesota, so the chilly nights and mornings are refreshing for me.  Those from the South of the USA will struggle here, as will those in poor cardiovascular or pulmonary health.

Cyman wrote:

The ideal climate is always in the eye of the beholder.  ... Cuenca seems to be out of the insect zone altogether!  Then again, birds like insects so you don't find too many of those lovely creatures in Cuenca.

Cyman, I guess the mosquito that bite me last night here in Cuenca didn't read your post. Actually, we have a variety of insects in my neighborhood and also a variety of birds. We even get flocks of parrots visiting occasionally. There are swallows (big insect-eaters), doves, hummingbirds and several other varieties of seed and insect eating birds. I didn't see many birds in El Centro, so if that is the only part of Cuenca you visit, insects and birds may be rare. Just saying.

Dorothy, living in Cuenca

This January (in Quito) has been the wettest month in over a year. And what happens when the sun doesn't come out for a few consecutive days? The temperatures inside homes drops. My apartment is now 62 degrees at 10:00 p.m. Normally it's above 70, and t-shirt comfortable in the evenings.

It'll probably drop a bit more throughout the night.

The solution is obviously some Sun, but in the meantime the heater is being put to use. It's been awhile since I last used it.

Hopefully the rain that we've been experiencing since the beginning of the year has ended. Rain of biblical proportions I might add.  :D   

I learned a little lesson from all the rain - blackout insulating curtains are not a good idea. I was planning on getting some but not anymore, my place needed every ray of the incremental precious sun we received during this time.

Sure enough, El Comercio (Ecuadorian newspaper) today printed an article stating that the rainfall Quito experienced in March was historically significant and the most ever recorded.

The good news is we've had 6 successive days of sunshine to start off April. Rain or sun it's all good as far as I'm concerned, the important thing is how to deal with it in order to be optimally comfortable

http://www.elcomercio.com/actualidad/ma … namhi.html

Last night got a bit chilly around 10:00 pm at night, it was 50 F/ 10 C degrees outside, and temps inside dropped to 65 F/18 C degrees. So I turned on the heat at 900 watt level and the temp increased to 68 F/ 18 C degrees and quite comfortable.

Total cost 900 watts x 3 hours x $0.19 cents per kilowatt = $0.51 cents

This is what I’m talking about, you don’t need to spend a fortune to keep indoor temps warm. And in last night’s case I didn’t even use the highest heater setting. Which will be required at some point when temps drop down to low/mid-40s F/ 4-7 C outside. And worse when it starts to get cold from sunset as the heater will need to be on much longer, but nevertheless heating costs are very reasonable.

Important dates: The start of the rainy season was September 28-29, 2017, and since then, in Quito, we have had rain almost every day. Another important date, September 23, 2017 or the equinox, and perhaps there is a correlation between the two. I will observe if such a consistency exists over the next few years, for Quito at least.

vsimple :

Important dates: The start of the rainy season was September 28-29, 2017, and since then, in Quito, we have had rain almost every day. Another important date, September 23, 2017 or the equinox, and perhaps there is a correlation between the two. I will observe if such a consistency exists over the next few years, for Quito at least.

Will be interesting to find out what your observations will be. Wouldn't it be the vernal equinox in Ecuador?  Would imagine that there would be a correlation between that time of year, and more rain.

j600rr :
vsimple :

Important dates: The start of the rainy season was September 28-29, 2017, and since then, in Quito, we have had rain almost every day. Another important date, September 23, 2017 or the equinox, and perhaps there is a correlation between the two. I will observe if such a consistency exists over the next few years, for Quito at least.

Will be interesting to find out what your observations will be. Wouldn't it be the vernal equinox in Ecuador?  Would imagine that there would be a correlation between that time of year, and more rain.

I'm not sure the newspaper stated it was the autumn equinox if that's the vernal equinox. What will also be interesting will be the amount of rain we receive January to May. Earlier this year we saw record
amounts of rain during that span but this was across the region.

I recall Nards Barley stating somewhere that he's observed longer and wetter rainy months over the past few years.

So we'll see.

Blackout curtains are ideal for good sleeping.  For good light (and privacy) the solution is to have lace curtains behind the blackout curtains. Lace curtains (called 'visillo' in Spanish) are cheap to buy in Quito.

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