The 7 Reasons Why Ecuador Is Popular among Expats
To begin with, people in Ecuador seem to be exceptionally friendly and warm, also toward foreigners. This way, locals and expats can coexist in harmony in an ever-growing multicultural community. In their spare time, expats can appreciate this country for the variety of outdoor leisure options, as the climate and wildlife offer much in Ecuador. The culture is also very rich, with vibrant colors, lively music, and tasty food.
Other, more practical aspects, such as the cost of living and personal finance, are further positive characteristics of what this country has to offer. However, services such as travel in-country, public transportation, infrastructure, and general access to some technological services is more restricted.
1. Ecuador Has the Ideal Natural Landscape and Climate
Ecuador’s vast wildlife, natural scenery, and temperate climate reflect on the local culture and add to the quality of life of the people. With a unique fauna and flora, Ecuador counts with many cultural heritage sites such as the Amazon Rainforest and the Galápagos Islands, the former comprising species of fauna and flora found nowhere else in the world, and the latter included in the World Heritage List according to UNESCO. Also included in this list are other places in Ecuador such as the Sangay National Park, the Historic Centre of Santa Ana de los Ríos de Cuenca, and Qhapaq Ñan — an antique Inca road system.
Regarding the weather and climate in Ecuador, 86% of expats are satisfied with it, as reflected in the Expat Insider 2019 survey. This is not a surprise: the entire country enjoys twelve hours of daylight, 365 days a year due to its proximity to the equator. Furthermore, the overall warm temperatures in Ecuador do not change much throughout the year, so the seasons of spring, summer, winter, and fall pass unnoticed. In Quito, the average temperature is around 17°C, while expats in the coastal lowlands can look forward to around 25°C. The one seasonal change, however, is that of precipitation, but wet seasons differ depending on the geographical features of the region.
During the warmer months in Quito, you can easily go for a walk in the afternoon in summer clothes. However, you will probably need to take an extra layer in case the sun hides behind some clouds, as this can change the temperature drastically. Moreover, cold-weather gear is needed for high-altitude hiking and mountain climbing any time of the year.
All in all, the perfect combination of stunning landscapes and a pleasant climate certainly makes socializing more appealing for the community in Ecuador, and a perfect destination abroad if you are looking to improve your quality of life.
2. Ecuador’s Lively Community and Traditions Make It Unique
Another reason why expats might want to move to Ecuador is its social life. Ecuador comes in sixth within the Leisure Options subcategory of the Expat Insider 2019 survey, and over three-quarters are satisfied with the socializing and leisure activities in Ecuador. While social life is usually centered around family gatherings and religious holidays, there are also several festivals taking place during the year that provide opportunities for parades, traditional food and music, and dance. Nightlife in Ecuador is relatively lively in the bigger cities, but in smaller towns it remains quite limited.
In fact, tradition is quite prominent in Ecuador; even bigger cities such as Guayaquil and Quito have developed and modernized, but not lost their cultural cores. From handcrafted products to historical monuments, most cities in Ecuador, and especially Quito, conserve part of its past in some way.
However, it’s safe to say that Ecuador is a place with a relevant mix of many traditions and cultures, as its international community has experienced an unprecedented growth lately. The official language is Spanish, although natives from Ecuador also communicate in Quichua, as well as in ten other, not as widely spoken native languages. However, it is not difficult to communicate with locals, as English is also widely spoken, mainly because of tourism.
3. Ecuadorians Are Exceptionally Welcoming and Cheerful
Nine in ten expats agree on the fact that the population in Ecuador is generally friendly. This warm welcome is of help for expats to settle in — Ecuador even ranks among the top 5 countries worldwide on the subject of feeling at home in the Expat Insider 2019 survey.
Ecuadorians are said to be rather indirect with their dialogue, though. As they usually speak diplomatically and with courtesy, they might find blunt verbal communication quite rude. However, non-verbal communication can also be very revealing.
Ecuadorians also tend to be quite optimistic and see the bright side of things. The family core is very important here, and almost all leisure time is centered around it: families tend to gather for meals or spend public holidays together.
Similar to other Spanish-speaking countries, the relationships and common courtesy within the local community are especially important in Ecuador, so do not be surprised when someone you have never seen before says buenos días (good morning) to you when commuting, or you see neighbors helping each other out with the groceries.
4. Your Personal Finances Could Improve in Ecuador
In Ecuador, the cost of living is quite low for expats, with usually cheap housing, local transportation, and other services. The country ranks quite high (third overall) in the Cost of Living Index of the Expat Insider 2019 survey and fifth in the Personal Finance Index, with 78% of expats there satisfied with their finances.
A spacious flat in Quito’s city center costs significantly less than in other capital cities, while rent is a bit higher but still very affordable in Cuenca. The same is true all over Ecuador for utilities, phone bills, and groceries. Healthcare is quite affordable in Ecuador as well. Going out for a meal or for drinks is cheaper than in most countries, too, especially in smaller towns. The only exception is fuel, but public transportation and taxis are often very cheap, so there are some alternatives to owning a car. And with the US dollar the official currency in Ecuador as well, expats from the US can even avoid any costs associated with currency exchange.
5. There Are Difficult Travel Connections but Good Internet Services
However, not everything is great in Ecuador. Mainly due to roadworks, it is often easier to travel to different cities by plane. If you are going to the countryside or smaller towns, travel via road might even take you twice the time the distance would’ve suggested originally.
It is common to use buses to travel between bigger cities, while for other less populated regions, it is common to use camionetas (trucks) and busetas (minibuses). An alternative to these is the train, but only a few routes exist and are limited to touristic destinations. In any case, you should keep in mind to avoid traveling during the night for your personal safety.
Regarding public local transportation in the capital, Quito, this is a cheap but unreliable service. Buses run throughout the city, but there are no bus stops — you have to stop it when you want to get on and off! Unlike the trolley bus lines that also run throughout Quito, buses are likely to get stuck in traffic, too. Cuenca and Guayaquil’s public transportation is more reliable and comfortable than in the capital, Quito. You should keep in mind, though, that public transportation in Ecuador is usually packed, exposing you to risks such as pickpocketing.
If you’re concerned about your internet connection in Ecuador, you should not worry. This is a widely available service in Ecuador and easy to set up at home. With many internet providers to choose from with different prices and plans, make sure to compare to get the best fit for your needs. If you require a wireless connection outside your home, cafés, malls, airports, and hotels are the places to go, at least in the big cities. If you rely on mobile data, you should be able to connect easily in bigger cities, though this might become a challenge in places of high altitude or small towns.
6. You Can Live Unique Experiences in Ecuador
Ecuador offers many unique experiences in nature, such as climbing to the top of the Cotopaxi volcano in the Andes. On the other hand, if you would like to discover the true culture of Ecuador, you should visit Quito, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Not far away from Quito, there is the Ciudad Mitad del Mundo (Middle of the World City) monument (pictured), where you can stand on the equator line — something you cannot do every day!
Especially important holidays in Ecuador are Carnival, usually hosted in February or March, and Independence Day on 10 August with fairs, military parades, and cultural events. Moreover, music is usually present in other local festivals, as well as colorful costumes and typical dances. The most famous traditional music form is pasillo, usually played with a guitar and rondin (a flute-like instrument). However, yarabi (a sentimental music form) and pasacalle (accompanied by a dance) are also very popular traditional music genres.
The food in Ecuador is delicious and also a clear highlight, with cheese empanada, yuca, locro de papa (potato soup), and seafood as the main traditional dishes. For dessert, arroz con leche (rice with milk) and flan (similar to crème brûlée) are popular picks here.
7. You Will Meet Plenty of Fellow Global Minds
While it might not be your typical expat hot spot such as Singapore or the UAE, people all around the world move to Ecuador for its promise of a higher quality of life, gorgeous scenery, low cost of living, and warm and welcoming locals.
“I love that there’s less stress, people are kinder and not in a big hurry, the food is cheaper and healthier, the weather is great, and healthcare is affordable. Life is just simpler and more enjoyable,” according to an expat originally from the United States.
So, if you are looking for a more meaningful life and want to discover unique places, Ecuador might just be the right option for you! And you won’t be alone: the InterNations Community in Ecuador is over 11,000 expats strong and growing rapidly — so take this chance to join fellow expats and global minds in Ecuador.