I love technology. Ever since I was a toddler, I’ve always been fascinated by the way computers and machines work. Since the world is only becoming more and more reliant on technology, I intend to keep my level of interest high. Having lived in Ecuador for the past few months, it’s made me appreciate technology a little more.
My home country is the Bahamas, and in all honesty, I think that’s the only thing I truly miss about living there is having access to gadgetry. Now being over 2000 miles away from Florida, access is definitely limited.
Ecuador is a much bigger country than the Bahamas, but the level of technology varies drastically depending on which part of the region that you’re in.
I’m currently living in Cuenca, which is the third-largest city in the country. Over the past few years, Cuenca has been progressing pretty steadily into the modern age. To give you a few examples, many of the newer apartment buildings come decked out with connections for fiber optic lines.
There’s also an electric tram project under construction to boost the city’s already good public transport system. There are a lot of public parks all around the city, and many of them offer free WiFi hot spots for the populace.
I cannot count how many little tech shops are littered all over the place. They carry all sorts of things: headphones, hard drives, flash drives, speakers, cell phone accessories, keyboards, mice, game controllers—you name it.
Gizmos and gadgets
There’s a large variety of gizmos and gadgets here in Cuenca. When I first arrived here, I was astonished by having so many options. I didn’t know what to expect, so I just kept browsing around in store after store, marveling at the various items. My excitement level dropped fairly quickly, though. Why? The price.
In some of my past blogs, I highlighted how affordable of a place Ecuador is: food, lodging, transportation—it’s all fairly cheap. When it comes to technology, though, that all changes.
There aren’t many comparisons that I can make between Ecuador and the Bahamas, but if there’s one area where they are similar it would definitely be the price of electronics. Because it’s all imported, the government forces prices to be raised to incredibly high amounts.
In some cases, there are tech products here that cost over twice as much as they would in the USA. For instance, my main profession is gaming journalism, so I deal with basically everything related to video games. While the gaming market here in Ecuador seems to be popular, it’s also shockingly expensive to purchase anything gaming-related.
Technology at double the price
I’ve seen game systems that would cost $300/$400 in the States, that are going for $600 and even as much as $900 here in Ecuador. Seeing that the country uses the U.S. currency, the price hike is simply insane.
Now, it isn’t all that bad. There are a few gadgets like audio equipment (speakers, headphones, etc.) and computer accessories (keyboards, mice, etc.) that are pretty much on par with the States, price-wise.
The main difference is that a lot of these cheaper items are made by companies with the level of quality that you can expect from the typical “Made in China” product.
Cell phones are a big thing here, with the most popular brands being Samsung and other notable Asian companies like Huawei. You can find smartphones as low as $100, to as high as $500 or more. While there are a few Ecuadorians rocking Apple products, they are not plentiful here. The market is simply not large enough for such a premium brand.
Speaking of which, even the more premium Samsung phones (Galaxy S8, Note 7, etc.) are almost nowhere to be found here because they’re just far too expensive for the average person.
So, the main takeaway from this piece is this: If you do come down to Ecuador and you’re a tech-head, just keep your expectations in check.
What you will find is a toss between cheap Chinese products and everything else being ridiculously expensive. As a result, follow in the footsteps of almost all the foreigners that come here and bring your gadgets with you.
Bring technology products from home
If you need to replace something or buy something new, then your best bet is to either wait until you return home (assuming you live in a wealthier country) or have a family member/friend that’s visiting pick it up for you and bring it with them.
I definitely miss being able to order things from Amazon and eBay. I still can actually, but the import fees are simply far too high to justify it.
I love Ecuador but, man, do I miss having free flow access to reasonably-priced technology.
Have you found it easy to access the technology you need in a foreign country? What about the prices?