Considering the Tradeoffs in Ecuador

by | Feb 15, 2022 | Ecuador | 1 comment

Countdown: 7 days left in Ecuador. How could this month have flown past already?!

We are eager to return to our comfy bed, our dog and cat, garden, and friends. Eager to return to a city where burglary is less of an issue… although my hometown has experienced more burglaries in recent years and they robbed our house.

On the other hand, we are sorrowful to leave this relaxed, interesting lifestyle among friendly people in this tranquil landscape. I shudder to contemplate the amount of work that’s backlogged in my business during our month here. Remembering how strongly we felt the absence of uncomfortable “buzzing” in the atmosphere when we first arrived, I’m reluctant to return to that buzzing sensation again.

Local Connections

I’ll miss the community interactions here in Cotacachi. In the U.S., our neighborhood has narrow roads and no sidewalks, so we drive. This morning I walked to the mercado where the owner knows us.

In Spanish, I asked her a question, and she remembered the product I bought. I asked if she’d seen my husband; she pointed to a shop across the street. Found Gary! I waved to our Spanish teacher as she drove past. Chatted with a friend on the sidewalk. Drank hot chocolate in a cafe while emailing.

The owner had brought us a bag of eggs from her chickens. I gave her some roses for the cafe. In this town, poverty is intense; friendliness and cooperation go a long way.

Visible Poverty

The poverty here can be difficult for visitors to face. Seeing grandparents begging barefoot is hard on the heart. Savvy street dogs with wagging tails are hard to see, though many get adopted by expats.

Gary offers hydroponic advice By Bonnie Willow
Gary offers hydroponic advice By Bonnie Willow

Affordability can be an issue for gringos, who move here for the low prices. They exclaim loudly about how cheap things are. Thus the locals raise their prices, just for expats.

Real estate is a problem. Because of expats proclaiming the prices to be cheap, the sellers raised house prices so that many cost the same as they would in the US.

They sit on the market, not selling. Locals have trouble affording houses. Everyone loses. Renting is still a good bargain.

An expat couple invited Gary to do a greenhouse consultation. They built their dream house here, on a quarter acre within a walled expat community.

It’s a brick house, square with a glass-ceiling atrium in the center.

Construction Challenges

They told us of needing to be present every day during construction. They said, “Unlike building in the U.S., you can’t just hand the plans to a builder and expect the work to be done well.”

At peace with nature By Bonnie Willow
At peace with nature By Bonnie Willow

It’s customary in Ecuador to cut costs and improvise “techniques.” In order for the house to be built according to the blueprint, they had to oversee the work daily.

The result of their diligence is a gorgeous earthquake-proof home, with a lovely organic orchard and views. I took some great photos there.

Those who consider retiring in Ecuador can make a genuine success of it if they keep their eyes open and understand the cultural differences.

The tradeoffs may be a hardship for some people. For the others, trading convenience and luxury may be a small price to pay for being able to leave the rat race and live a life of peaceful simplicity in a community.

Are you considering moving to Ecuador? We would love to help you examine the options.

by: Bonnie Willow

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