When you move to a new country, there are things that you just don’t know about it until you get there (unless, of course, you have someone like me telling you what to keep in mind before your Ecuador move). Here are some things I wish I knew before my move:
1. You’re going to miss your family more than you think.
One retired expat told me that she wished she had a better understanding and appreciation for how much she’d miss her children and grandchildren. Many folks move back to their home country because of this.
2. People speak Spanish in Ecuador.
You might be shaking your head saying, “Duh! Of course, they speak Spanish!” but what you’ll wish you knew was how few Ecuadorians speak English. You’ll wish you started learning Spanish months and years before you moved so you could actually communicate with your new countrymen.
3. Learning a second language is hard – but you can do it!
Gaining any level of fluency in Spanish will require hard work, hours of studying, and a willingness to converse with people daily. People who suggest that you’ll pick up Spanish by just living there have never learned a second language.
4. Buildings aren’t heated so bring lots of warm socks and sweaters.
Higher altitude cities like Cuenca and Quito can be chilly and the cement block buildings hold the cold like refrigerators!
5. Try before you buy.
Don’t buy anything or ship the entire contents of your house to Ecuador without living there for a year. In case you don’t like it, you’ll have the flexibility to move to another city, country, or back home.
6. Even though it’s cheap, some items will give you sticker shock.
The cost of living may be low but many items cost more than in your home country. Appliances, clothes, electronics, skincare products, cars, and other items can cost much more in Ecuador.
7. Bring a good can opener.
Seriously. I’ve heard this from dozens of expats!
8. It’s hard to find larger-sized clothes and shoes.
Unless you’re petite or wear a size small, you’ll have trouble finding large and tall-sized clothes. All pants will be clam-diggers for you! The same for shoes so bring a few extra pairs.
9. Ecuador has peanut butter, but not Q-Tips.
If your computer is on its last legs, buy a new one before coming to Ecuador. Electronics can cost double and the brand you want may not be available.
11. You can’t flush toilet paper.
It’s true. All used paper is tossed in a trash can rather than the toilet. Some say flushed paper can clog old plumbing. It is the same in most Latin and South American countries.
12. The mail system is non-existent.
This is an exaggeration because there is a mail system, it’s just unreliable and slow. Don’t expect to ship things to or from Ecuador without paying hundreds of dollars in shipping and tariffs. Customs may also hold packages for several weeks or months until tariffs are paid.
13. Customs is no joke.
Ecuador has many regulations in place that you should familiarize yourself with. Before packing your suitcases, become familiar with the most current list of items allowable to bring into the country. Visit the Customs website for more information:
14. You’re going to love living in Ecuador and wish you moved there sooner.
You’re going to fall in love with the many kind and gentle Ecuadoreans. You’ll be awe-inspired by the green, rolling countryside, craggy mountains, and snow-capped volcanoes. You’ll get a rush every time you go to the local markets and haggle with vendors. You’ll create a community of expat friends with whom you’ll share holidays and experiences. You’ll wonder why you waited so long.
So, what are you waiting for? If you have any questions, we’re here to answer them.