International Living in Ecuador: A Guide For Ex-pats

El Panecillo hill Quito

Ecuador has a diverse population, topography, and ecology. Hence, it is famous for ex-pats seeking a peaceful life, with a diverse selection of places to reside.

Ecuador appears to have everything, from the Andes Mountains to balmy tropical beaches, clean air, and a steady year-round temperature. 

Families and professionals favor university towns and cities, while retirees and those seeking a slower pace prefer tranquil mountain regions.

We met a lot of ex-pats in Ecuador, so we tried to gather as much information as possible about their living situation in the country. This article will guide you about living in Ecuador.

Cost of Living in Ecuador

The man is surprise he can use US dollars as an official currency of Ecuador

Living in Ecuador is fairly cheap compared to most countries. Ex-pats may expect to pay significantly less in Ecuador than in the United States and most parts of Europe on everything from lodging to public transportation to entertainment and dining out.

Ex-pats frequently report that they can live comfortably on between $1,600 and $2,200 per pair. Several residency alternatives are available, and the process is relatively simple for retirees with a pension.

Your lifestyle choice has a significant impact on your monthly cost of living. There are plenty of local products to choose from, which are more affordable. 

Ex-pats can take public transportation for roughly $0.30 for every bus trip and a private taxi for between $2 and $5. Many people do not possess cars because imported American autos incur high customs fees.

A single person spends approximately $785 monthly on rent, utilities, food, transportation, and other outgoings. While a family of four spends roughly $1,952. The average monthly wage is $536, or $6,432 per year.

Safety in Ecuador

Me at one of the streets of Quito's old town

Although Ecuador is reasonably safe and has lower crime rates than neighboring South American countries, petty crime is a severe problem in major cities like Quito and Guayaquil.

Civil unrest in Guayaquil in 2022 also produced travel disruption and warnings, with political protests sparking an increase in other criminal activities and violence.

Muggings are widespread in popular tourist areas. Therefore, foreign nationals should stay alert, avoid walking alone at night, and be aware of motorcycle thefts. They should also carry a duplicate of their passport, keep the original in a secure safe, and avoid carrying more cash than necessary.

It is best to avoid traveling near Colombia’s borders, which is known to have a highly organized crime and drug trafficking rate. Read more about safety in Ecuador in my big article.

Finding A Home in Ecuador

Our room in Otavalo, Ecuador

Property for rent in Ecuador is frequently promoted locally, with signs put outside declaring “se alquila” or “se arrienda,” both of which imply “for rent.”

Since Spanish is the local language, you may need a translator if you want to rent a home from the owner and are not fluent in the language.

Based on the information we have gathered, no laws prevent foreign nationals from purchasing property in Ecuador. You must seek legal approval if you plan to acquire a home within 50 kilometers of the border or coast.

We also spoke with an ex-pat who paid over $25,000 for a home. He added that the purchase qualified him for a resident visa and, after four years, citizenship. This qualification, however, is still conditional on meeting all of the necessary criteria.

According to ex-pats we met during our travel, a one-bedroom apartment costs an average of $366 per month in the city center. On the other hand, a one-bedroom apartment elsewhere in the country costs around $250 per month.

Property prices range around $1,000 and above per square meter, depending on the location. 

Healthcare in Ecuador

Ecuador’s healthcare system is reliable in cities but can be inadequate in rural areas. Hence, the reason most of the ex-pats we met live in the major cities.

Public hospitals offer free services, and private healthcare is provided at various prices. 

Ex-pats in Ecuador are required to obtain comprehensive medical insurance, as do all foreign nationals. 

The Ministry of Public Health manages healthcare through the Sistema Nacional de Salud, which includes hospitals and health centers.

Education in Ecuador

Pre-primary schools in Ecuador admit pupils as young as four years old. Nurseries are also available for children as young as two years old.

On the other hand, primary school starts at the age of six in first grade and continues until the age of twelve in sixth grade. Secondary school is divided into two three-year phases known as the basic and varied cycle.

Students can opt to continue their education after secondary school, while schooling is only compulsory from the age of six to fourteen.

Many ex-pats in Ecuador choose to enroll their children in private schools. A private school in Ecuador costs an average of between $50 and $200 per month. On the other hand, university tuition fees range from $800 to $1,500 for a 15- to 18-week semester or half-term term.

Climate in Ecuador

tram in Cuenca Ecuador

Ecuador’s proximity to the equator results in a humid tropical climate for most of the country. This climate is more prevalent around the coast and in the lowlands.

Because of the high altitude, the climate in the mountain region is milder. The country’s average temperature ranges from 73 to 79 degrees Fahrenheit. Read more about the Ecuadorian climate here.

Reasons Why Ex-pats Choose To Live in Ecuador

Café Mosaico in Quito

We have listed the common reasons we hear when we ask ex-pats why they chose to live in Ecuador.

Ecuador’s Natural Beauty

View of Cotopaxi volacno from the bottom

Ecuador’s diverse animals, natural landscape, and temperate climate influence the local culture and improve people’s quality of life. Due to its distinct wildlife and vegetation, Ecuador has various cultural heritage sites, including the Amazon Rainforest and the Galápagos Islands.

The perfect combination of magnificent scenery and a pleasant climate indeed makes socializing more appealing for ex-pats. Additionally, it is a beautiful international destination if you seek a better quality of life. 

Ecuador’s Unique Customs and Traditions

Tradition is significant in Ecuador; even more prominent cities like Guayaquil and Quito have expanded and modernized while retaining their cultural centers. 

While family reunions and religious holidays dominate Ecuador’s social life, there are other festivals held throughout the year that provide chances for parades, traditional food and music, and dance.

The nightlife in Ecuador is vibrant in the larger cities, although it is quite limited in the smaller villages. 

While Spanish is the official language in the country, it is not difficult to connect with Ecuadorians because English is also commonly spoken, owing to the country’s tourism.  

Low Cost of Living in Ecuador

Nuema restaurant in Quito

For ex-pats in Ecuador, the cost of living is relatively inexpensive, with typically low housing, local transportation, and other amenities.

Ecuador ranks third overall in the Ex-pat Insider 2019 Cost of Living Index. The country also ranks fifth in the Personal Finance Index, with 78% of ex-pats satisfied with their finances.  

While gasoline can be expensive, public transportation and taxis are affordable in the country. Thus, owning a car in the country is not really needed. Furthermore, because the US dollar is the official currency of Ecuador, ex-pats from the US can save any currency exchange fees. 

Ecuador’s Proximity to the US

Most US citizen retirees prefer to settle in Ecuador because of the convenience of returning to the US.

You can easily find a flight to the US from Ecuador’s major airports (Quito and Guayaquil), and most smaller cities have their own airports to which you can connect flights.

Internet Services in Ecuador

Ecuador is a haven for digital nomads. Internet access is readily available nationwide and is simple to set up. There are many internet service providers to pick from, and they offer different pricing and plans. You can check and compare providers to find the best fit for your needs. 

Most cafés, malls, airports, and hotels have a wireless connection outside your home, at least in major cities. If you rely on mobile data, you can connect quickly in larger cities, which may be difficult in high-altitude areas or remote towns.  

Ecuador’s Warm and Welcoming Locals

Image with the hotel owner in Otavalo, Ecuador

Ecuador’s people are generally warm and friendly. Their kind gesture encourages foreigners to settle in. Ecuadorians are also best known for their optimism and generosity.

Ecuador’s Diverse Population

While it may not be your usual ex-pat hotspots like Singapore or the UAE, many people worldwide relocate to Ecuador. The country has grown its ex-pat population and continues to increase today.

Ecuador’s Variety of Activities

Pailon del Diablo Waterfall in Banos Ecuador

Given the country’s terrain diversity, there are plenty of activities to do in Ecuador. People can enjoy kayaking, mountain climbing, mountain biking, and sightseeing at the region’s active volcanoes in the highlands.

Most of the ex-pats we have met are inclined to adventurous and adrenaline rush activities that the country offers.

For laid-back people, they find Ecuador’s coastline region ideal for them. The area is teeming with businesses that provide whale viewing and scuba diving excursions. Because of the lack of industrial activity in the region, the marine habitats around Ecuador are among the most vibrant. 

Most tourists and ex-pats enjoy the pristine beaches, which are comparable to the beauty of the Caribbean.


Most individuals we talked to chose to live in Ecuador mainly for the promise of a better quality of life, beautiful scenery, a low cost of living, and friendly natives.  

While some people believe that living in a country like Ecuador would be difficult due to cultural differences, this couldn’t be further from reality.

Currently, Ecuador is a popular retirement destination for ex-pats from all over the world. Its culture contributes to Ecuador’s vibrancy and ease of integration.

Although Spanish is Ecuador’s official language, many Ecudorians speak English well. Life is easier because you won’t have to learn Spanish from scratch, although you will most likely learn common phrases while living there.

Since the language barrier is not a main problem, it alleviates the difficulties of integrating or relocating.

Ecuador has a lot to offer to foreign nationals. It is not a popular destination for ex-pats for no reason. If you are retiring or planning to study and relocate, Ecuador is indeed an excellent option.

About the author

Oleg Galeev

I'm Oleg, and together with my wife, we've explored Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, journeying through more than 20 cities (Quito, Cuenca, Banos, Tena, Puyo, Guayaquil, Riobamba, Otavalo, Mindo and more) and nearly every island in the Galapagos (including iconic ones such as Bartolome Island, San Cristobal Island, Isabela Island, Santa Cruz Island and more). In this blog, I give you my real thoughts about each place we visited. This info can help anyone planning a trip to the Galapagos Islands or mainland Ecuador. I'm just a traveler, not a tour company, so I'm not trying to sell anything. That means I'll tell you the truth—both the good and the bad — about traveling in Ecuador based on what we experienced.

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