Common misconceptions and clichés about life in Ecuador

Hello everyone,

Old clichés die hard, as the saying goes... and living in Ecuador can generate lots of misconceptions in the eyes of the people.

What are the most common misconceptions about the expat lifestyle in Ecuador?

What are the most common clichés about life in Ecuador in general?

Did you have a biased view of the country before moving there? What is you view now?

Thanks in advance,


I'd say the biggest misconception is how "cheap" it is.  Many people come here thinking they'll be able to live like kings with a pauper's income. Granted, it isn't as expensive as many places as Europe and North America, some things are equally or more expensive - especially many imported goods (think favourite foods, liquor and electronics).

The second misconception is (strangely) the opposite. Living in a "third world" country brings to mind lawlessness, wrenching poverty and lack of technological advancement. For the cities and larger towns, this isn't the case. The internet is alive and well here (relatively speaking), criminality is fairly low and, while there is extreme poverty in places, there is also a thriving middle class and people with money.

I would say that there is some truth to each cliché or misconception, but be prepared to have both challenged on arrival.

I have to comment on... the lack of comments.

As a moderator myself of...another... expat site, I can tell you that creating "leading questions" to get posters to respond and thereby increase traffic to your site rarely works.  What does work? Encouraging vibrant conversation, updated and on-point communication, and (in context) a bit of passion from your readership.

While I adore the look and feel of this site, and I really do, allow your readers and posters to volunteer their experiences and you will truly reap the rewards of an organic growth in both hits and participation.  Pushing for responses and input just doesn´t do it (says 6 years of experience in Expat___ .com land and over 17 of forum moderation online).

By the way...yeah ...the answer is the one the last poster gave.  That´s about it.  Good response!


Top Ten Other Misconceptions About Ecuador

10.  You can move to Ecuador without having visited first, and things will work out.

9.  Buying a home in Ecuador in Week 1 is almost as easy as crossing from New York State to Connecticut and making a standard purchase.

8.  Altitude, schmaltitude... it never bothered me on my week’s vacation in Colorado.

7.  Earthquake, huh?  That must mean there’s some great property deals I can take advantage of.  But I’d better hurry up and grab one.

6.  Ecuador -- it’s just like Mexico, only with 15 percent fewer Mariachi bands.

5.  I’ll get a visa, a car and a house all in the first month, “no problemo.”

4.  I’ll live like a king for under a thousand a month.  I read it in an international-lifestyle magazine.

3.  I’ll just fly in .. rent a car .. and drive down from Quinto to Cunca on the first day.  What could go wrong?

2.  Who needs to spend extra on an attorney or a visa facilitator?  I can ace that whole ‘immigration’ thing on my own.

And the #1 misconception about Ecuador....

1.  Who needs Spanish?  I'll just go to the market and point out what I want.  If you want three bananas, just hold up three fingers.

Mostly spot on. One side note, we did our own visa without a mediator or lawyer and while it took longer (mostly due to "expired" documents) it wasn't completely horrible.

Spanish is an excellent idea. Now in year three we have a pretty good handle on it, but when we did our residency visa, we were newbies to the language, that was THE hardest part of the process.

I thought of one more... "I can move to Ecuador even though I need a scooter or wheelchair to get around...accessibility won't be a problem there."

Entertaining as always, cccmedia!

... I´d say I taught him everything he knows... but that would be bragging :)

PEI Red:

The most expensive costs are rent and food on a monthly basis. So, if you are from the US the cost of living is definitely less. I pay $400 US per month for a very nice unfurnished 3 bedroom 2.5 bathroom apartment with great views. I doubt if you could find rent like that in the US.

Food costs can be lower if you shop in the mercados. If you shop at Supermaxi all the time and tend to buy a lot of imported items then your food costs are going to be higher, but probably no more than if you were living in the US.

Yes liquor can be much higher. Again if the items are imported they cost more. But there are many types of alcohol that are made in Ecuador and are reasonably priced. If you are an alcohol connoisseur then it would be best to build up your stock when visiting outside Ecuador.

If you happen to be from Canada or another country where the exchange rate is high, the cost of living is still better but not by much.


I guess you are being somewhat facetious with your misconceptions. They definitely do not apply to everyone.

I would say #9 is accurate and #4 is somewhat correct. You can definitely live for less money in a reasonable style, but not like a King. For example, I could not afford to have a full-time maid in Canada but I can here.

What I was trying to get across (obviously poorly) is that while the cost of living IS cheaper, you can't come here with $800 USD a month and live like a king, which is what some ill-advised people believe. If you are married to North American or European brands, they are also quite dear here. That's all I was trying to say.

Thanks for clarifying.


You know that I love you and what you say, but for my two cents, #10 is not always wrong.  I moved without ever having visited and things are just lovely.  Likely an exception...


HelenPivoine :


You know that I love you and what you say, but for my two cents, #10 is not always wrong.  I moved without ever having visited and things are just lovely.  Likely an exception...


Not an exception, since plenty of expats including me have moved here without an exploratory trip.  The common factor I have found among these folk is that they all are economic refugees and their desire to save on the cost of an exploratory trip trumps the logical approach of checking out a place before moving there.

Please send me a link to your expat site. I will be in Ecuador in February!

Mil gracias,

Joanna_ B

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