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 wrote:


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

Moderated by Priscilla 7 years ago
Reason : Do not post your personal contact details on a public forum for your own security

How religious it is, and Quito is deemed quite conservative. A lot of people are not religious at all. It's a show for family and tradition in some cases - pressure.

Generalizations are never good. Or in the exact words of my ecuatoriano amigo when discussing how religious Quito is "not too much."

vsimple wrote:

How religious it is, and Quito is deemed quite conservative. A lot of people are not religious at all. It's a show for family and tradition in some cases - pressure.

Generalizations are never good. Or in the exact words of my ecuatoriano amigo when discussing how religious Quito is "not too much."

I obviously haven't spent enough time in Quito to make any kind of informed decision, but do you think it's more of a generational thing?  For instance. My Ecuadorian brother-in-law, and his brother are not religious, but their mother is very religious. She's not in your face, every conversation revolves around religion, but it's an important aspect of her life. Think that globally, minus certain parts of the world, the trend has been that religion has less of an influence on peoples lives (especially younger peoples) than in the past, or at least would seem organized religions appeal has faded. Not sure if peopl's faith has necessarily greatly diminished.

do you think it's more of a generational thing?

I think generational plays a role but it's not limited to that. My closest Ecuadroean friend who is 38 and part of Generation X is not religious at all. But it didn't start with him because his mother who is probably the equivalent of a late baby boomer is also not religious. His uncles are not religious as well, whereas the grandmother is religious. His wife is however religious, but from that circle she's one of the few as even her own brother is not religious.

As for Generation Y or Millennials, not too long ago, a friend of mine doing postgrad at Católica  (university) invited me to her campus. While hanging out with her and her friends in the cafeteria, I observed Nuns and Padres and I commented something like “Oh this university is very religious”, to which they all objected. And we had a conversation about this topic and there's contempt there, not for the university which they love because it has a good reputation with employers, but towards their families who try to instill religion in them, but it's backfiring.

It's very difficult for them, especially for my friend who is torn because she feels obligated to her family because they pay for her tuition and lifestyle. The obligation to partake in religious functions especially during this time of year despite having no inclination. It's very difficult as it depraves her and others in her situation of being who they truly are. Let's just say she and her friends are counting down the days to their careers beginning and having total independence. As I mentioned there is contempt, and the ramifications will be great, how close will these people be to their families when they are no longer have to abide with the carrot and stick method used on them to be religious.

My experiences may seem like a small sample size, but it's definitely not limited to friends I posted about, it extends not only to other people I know but also to people they know. From a misconception context, this is a big social one because there is a perception online that Ecuador is religious and in some ways it's true but it's definitely not true across the board and to generalize is downright wrong.