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Overall safety concerns

As someone who is in the very early stages of researching the country and trying to map out a plan of attack, one of my biggest worries is the safety of my family if we move.  I have read the reports from the state department on the safety of the areas, but how realistic are they really, because those reports sometimes tend to be more scary than actual life.  Does anyone have any experiences, good or bad, dealing with any criminal activity?  And ultimately what, in your opinions is the safest area to move to?

Consider Cuenca .. safer than most areas due to to the relatively larger number of Expats .. distance away from sketchy border areas .. and the historical safety of the city.

Do not consider remote farmhouse properties outside of town where you would be isolated.

cccmedia

I have lived in Manta for 4 years.  3 years ago, we got up, fed our dogs, and took them for a long walk.  (We lived in a diff place and I was wanting some exrcise).  I made my husband take an expandable cane that day cause the place above where we lived, had 2 dogs that weren't secure, and my dogs were, and they would try to attack my dogs.  They would even circle my dogs like they wanted to attack them and we were on a Main Street.  The owner would do very little in rectifying the situation.  We were dressed In tshirts and cotton shorts.  No cell phones or personal belongings.  A group of kids tried to assault my husband by ripping off his necklace.  At first I missed the whole thing cause I was getting my dogs to go to the bathroom.  When I turned around the tall kid facing me tried to act like he had a gun.  I never thought he did, cause it would be out.  I looked at him and screamed at the top of my lungs NO!!  I scared him, his friends ran off, and I scared my husband.  Then my husband whipped out the retractable cane and he thought it was a gun and ran.  The only time in my life anything like that has ever happened to me.  Then I had to fight the dogs getting back to my condo. 

The only other weird thing that happened to me, was Christmas Day last year, we ran out of wine.  My security guard of my association told me I would be fine to walk up the street to the open store.  As I walked up the street, at like 1:00 pm, each housing development had a guard on the main street to which I smiled and said Merry Christmas in Spanish. I thought nothing of it cause I never walked up that way before.   They all smiled and said the same thing.  I got to the store bought my wine, vodka and smokes.  I then went back in and asked to buy paper cups for the security of my HOA so they could have some vodka,  when I said that, the lady, who wasn't so nice to me before, considering I spent over $50, gave me the cups for free, yelled at her husband and made him walk me to my house.  I kept saying no and he kept saying yes.  Never in my life have I paid so much attention to my surroundings and lost all faith and trust in humanity.  Maybe I'm just paranoid, as many like my husband would say, until you read the femocide reports in ecuador for this year.  And honestly, if you are an expat and fight back even in you own home, you could be charged.  So I say no body, no crime, and I have an American chainsaw.  Honestly, I'm against all violence, I hate guns, but I keep a heavy fireplace poker by my bed.  I'm gonna fight to the end, cause at least I know there's a price to buy myway out of prison even if it's cause I had to protect myself.

Whaussler :

As someone who is in the very early stages of researching the country and trying to map out a plan of attack, one of my biggest worries is the safety of my family if we move.  I have read the reports from the state department on the safety of the areas, but how realistic are they really, because those reports sometimes tend to be more scary than actual life.  Does anyone have any experiences, good or bad, dealing with any criminal activity?  And ultimately what, in your opinions is the safest area to move to?

Quito like any other big city has areas that are safer and others less so. We have our share of big city crime from robberies to murders but in all it's much safer statistically than most other big cities in South America. As a general rule from parque ejido to parque bicentenario as well as the valley areas of cumbayá and tumbaco are the safest, and within all these areas some are safer than others.

Comparisons are always sought but are never easy to do, but here's one list complied by Mexican anti-violence think-tank Seguridad, Justicia Y Paz (Security, Justice and Peace) and ranks each city according to homicide rate per 100,000 residents.  So, not a measure of less serious crime but definitely a list you do not want your city to be on and [spoiler alert] no Ecuador city makes the top 50!  Cannot say that for many cities throughout Central America and South America.  St. Louis is #1 in the U.S. with a global ranking of #13. 

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article … erica.html

A few observations by looking at that telling map.

1. Brazil, Mexico and Venezuela account for 70% of most murderous cities

2. Almost all murderous cities are on the coast. Heat plays a role?

3. Venezuela is probably the most dangerous place because some cities don’t even collect statistics anymore. So instead of having 5 top 50 cities, they should have had 7. The video “kidnap alley”, which I saw a couple months ago also claimed that in many cases police don’t investigate and criminals no longer worry about leaving forensic evidence behind. All of that information is corroborated by Venezuelans I know in Quito.

Pre-2013, probably Guayaquil or even Quito would have been on a list like that because the murder rate was much higher than it is now, but countries and cities change especially when institutions have been strengthened as is the case here.

Also IMO, a distinction should be made when giving advice about safety for tourists and expats. While expats are initially like tourists the reality is over time one should hopefully be more aware of surroundings. Here’s a practical example, when I travel to a destination as a tourist I would not wear an expensive watch. But living in Quito, I do so, and not to show of,f but because it’s my home and I am comfortable and aware my surroundings.

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