We get a lot of prospective newcomers that read our blog and contact us for advice and with questions. We also run into people almost on a weekly basis who come to Ecuador to "check it out" because of all the great things they've heard. We are always happy to help...after all, many who came here before us were instrumental in our decision to relocate here and we would have had a much more difficult time if they had not been welcoming and helpful to us. After spending two years in the process and a little more than a year as full-time, permanent residents, we can now tell you, without hesitation, that we made the right choice for us. We are unabashed fans of this wonderful country and its people.
How many times have you relocated before now? How did you handle that? Do you only associate and/or socialize with people who have the same interests and values as you? Can you live without many of your favorite American brands? Can you make the effort to learn some Spanish? (Yes, folks, that WILL be a necessity...you don't have to be fully fluent but you DO need at least a rudimentary knowledge of the language in order to fit in here!) Are you capable of the many new things you will need to do and learn? Do you understand you will need to adopt a lot of new ways of going about everyday life? How difficult will it be for you to be separated from family and old friends for extended periods of time? Can you adjust to a lifestyle that is very, very different than what you are accustomed to "back home"? Many people, after reading the highly positive, benefit-laden articles on the wonders of moving abroad, will mistakenly assume that moving to Ecuador will allow them to enjoy the lifestyle they were used to "on the cheap". Sorry to burst your bubble, but it simply ain't going to be like that! It IS a different country, different culture and different lifestyle.....like anywhere else you might choose to live, there may be many highly wonderful, positive things about it but there will also be some challenges, difficulties and some absolute negatives. The real question is...are YOU prepared to handle a major change in YOUR life? In order to take advantage of and appreciate the many positives there are, and in order to minimize the impact of the unavoidable negatives you will have to adjust how you lead your daily life. Are you prepared to do that? If your answer is NO...I would advise that you don't come to Ecuador!
This self-examination and assessment of your ability to adjust is truly as important as all the research you will do on learning about Ecuador and what it offers and requires as a potential new home. Don't fail to do it before you make your final decision!
3. Know what you want, understand what you will minimally need and make your expectations realistic:
(Let's face it folks... these people earn their living selling ads to the companies who want to sell YOU what you need to relocate here...they have a vested financial interest in painting the rosiest possible picture as to the benefits of relocation and in keeping the mention of any possible pitfalls or problems to an absolute minimum! They are not, nor will they ever be, concerned about being 100% accountable for telling you everything you probably should know. That's NOT the reason they are publishing their magazine! Keep in mind, accountability in fact-finding is YOUR responsibility, not a magazine's. It's also not the responsibility of a government agency, nor is it really the full responsibility of a relocation service....you are are going to have to take this bull by the horns and meet the challenge face on. If you want your relocation to work, it's up to YOU to make it happen!)
It isn't lying to say you can rent a 3 bedroom house in a major city in Ecuador for under $350 per month. It can be done! However, it could be considered a type of distortion to assume that people immigrating here from the USA would actually want to live in that house! It certainly won't have any appliances in it, utilities will NOT be included, plumbing may or may not be fully functional. There certainly will be no alarms nor security and no internet. The curtains and light fixtures, if any at all, will likely have been removed by the previous tenant as he vacated. Any cleaning, repairs or remodeling prior to moving in will be totally your responsibility, not the landlord's (oh, and after you do them, you might expect a rent increase because the value of the property just increased and your landlord could get more from a new tenant!).
Know what you would like to have in a home here. Know, too, what you want in terms of lifestyle, in events, social activities, transportation, etc., and know what your minimum requirements are in each of the categories you measure. Know, as well, what your budget will allow for each of those. Then (and ONLY then) begin to research how well those needs can be met here and what the cost will be. You will have to do a lot of looking...some things may come well under your budget, some may not. Generally everyday cost of thing and healthcare is much more affordable here than in the US. Owning a car, buying fine wine, and owning a fully furnished ranch home with full blown security plus all the amenities such as a gym or swimming pool may very well cost you much more than it would back home! It will cost you big time, both financially and stress wise to ship a container of personal belongings. On all these matters, you have to your homework and do it well. Trust me, it will be harder to do this accurately for Ecuador than it would be for you to do locally back home. However, in order to make a good decision, you need to invest the time and effort it will take to do it well.
4. The overwhelming majority of the work needs to be done BEFORE you ever leave your current home:
Will it be cumbersome gathering all the information you need stateside? Yes, and because of that, some people actually schedule a trip to Ecuador just for research purposes. If you do so, plan that trip well and make it much more than just a "touristy" "look-see" adventure. It will pay big dividends and solve many of your problems in advance. It's simply a matter of doing your homework and that will take time and effort.
5. Do your homework and make an informed decision:
Ecuador is a truly amazing, beautiful country, one of the most unique on Earth and it has a lot to offer as a potential new home. We give thanks virtually every day that we decided to come here and we feel
amazingly blessed to have had the opportunity to "restart" our lives here in Cuenca. We don't have all the answers for you but by doing this blog we hope to put you on the path to finding the answers for yourself.
We'll leave you with the following pieces of advice:
It is impossible to ask "too" many questions,,,,,keep asking, keep researching, keep doing your homework. (We're still learning and we started our process over two years ago!)
Always remember, you're moving to a totally different country. While the overall cost of living is less, some things you are used to will cost much more. You are NOT going to find your former lifestyle at a discount here...be prepared to make some changes and adjustments. Some will be modest, a few even fun, but some may be hard.
People are different here. It's not just the Ecuadorians that are different, it is also your fellow "gringos". If you adjust to a new life here, you will become different, too. The very process of relocation and adjustment will make you a different person than what you were before you came....be prepared for that.
Hopefully, you haven't been discouraged by our admonitions in this blog, just awakened to look at this whole process a little more realistically than before. If so, it's time to roll up those shirt sleeves and get to work! Take your time, do it right, do it thoroughly, and, most of all, find a way to enjoy yourselves along the way. If it all works out, it may well become the most rewarding thing you've ever done. If not, and your decision is that it's best for you not to come, you will have learned and grown as a result of your efforts in ways you can't yet imagine. That experience, in itself, may help lead you to your heart's desire.
Best wishes from us in your quest as we continue ours: "juntos en el camino de la vida."