As humans, we have a tendency to focus on the fears and the risks of making a change from “the way we’ve always done it.” It’s our innate protection mechanism to keep us safe from harm. We’re here to help you focus on the incredible and unexpected benefits of living abroad in Ecuador.
#1 Living Abroad Will Make The World Seem a LOT Smaller
As a child growing up in the country outside my small Kansas farmtown, the world seemed enormous to me. Watching Nova and Nature and National Geographic with my dad on our tiny Zenith color television exposed me to images I never thought I’d see in real life. They were simply too far away, and too exotic.
And South America was one of the most exotic places of all! In my young and limited mind, it was the jungle continent populated with native tribes who would shoot you with blow darts and hang your shrunken head around their necks as a trophy! Never in a million years would I have thought someday in the future, I would be living there (er, here).
Ecuador is a tiny country in South America that most Americans have never heard of (except for maybe the kerfuffle with Julian Assange).
I have to admit that I knew virtually nothing about Ecuador until it kept popping up as a top expat destination during my research into living abroad.
After living abroad in Ecuador for over 5 years, and traveling toEurope and India in that time, the world seems a LOT smaller than it did before. Everyone is just a plane ride away.
#2 Living Abroad Shatters Preconceptions
My little high school in Gardner, Kansas had 124 students in my graduating class, but we somehow managed to get a foreign exchange student from La Paz, Bolivia.
Her name was Carla and she was very exotic! She barely spoke English, she had dark hair and dark skin and dark eyes, and I was completely fascinated by her.
How did she end up in our tiny farmtown? Did she fly on a plane? Did they HAVE planes in Bolivia? Did they have cars or did they still ride horses there? Did she live in a house? Did it have dirt floors? Did they have electricity and running water? Did they have grocery stores in Bolivia? What about restaurants and movie theaters?!
I’m not sure where these preconceptions came from, but a lot of people from the United States, Canada and Europe have them.
We’ve been raised to believe, either intentionally or unintentionally, that people in less developed parts of the world are stuck in the dark ages without any of the modern conveniences that we “civilized people” take for granted.
I’m sure Carla was shocked and appalled by my questions about life in her home country of Bolivia, but I was a dumb kid and that was 40 years ago.
However, when we told people we were moving to Ecuador, we fielded many of the same questions about dirt floors and running water and grocery stores. Four decades later and the preconceptions are still alive and well for people who have never lived abroad or traveled outside their home country.
After living abroad in Ecuador, our preconceptions have been shattered.
#3 Living Abroad Makes You Realize We’re All Basically the Same
Turn on the international news and you might be led to believe we’re all very different.
People in Iran are NOTHING like us! People in China are NOTHING like us! People in Africa are NOTHING like us! People in South America are NOTHING like us!
After living abroad in Ecuador and traveling to other countries, I’ve come to realize that the vast majority of people in every country around the world are EXACTLY like us.
They just aren’t featured on the news because they’re busy raising their children, working their jobs and living their lives…exactly like us.
#4 Living Abroad in Ecuador Will Drastically Reduce Your Cost of Living
The cost of living in Ecuador is MUCH lower than the cost of living in the US, Canada and most countries in Europe.
Things like food, housing and public transportation cost roughly 1/3 of what we paid back in Denver. Healthcare and medications cost about 1/10th of what we paid in Denver.
We’re using the massive savings to pay off the debt from Amelia’s student loan, my health related expenses and our general over-extended American way of life.
It has been over 5 years since we arrived in Ecuador and we’ve finally paid off our loans! This has led to a greater sense of freedom as we slowly pried off the shackles of our debt. And now we’re free from them!
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#5 The Quality of Food Is Better in Ecuador
One of the things that became painfully obvious on our exploratory trip to Ecuador in early 2017 was that the quality of fruits and vegetables back in the US is abysmal.
It may look beautiful and have a great shelf life, but it doesn’t have any flavor or nutritional value.
Living in Ecuador has reminded us of what fruits and vegetables are supposed to taste like. They taste like they did when we were kids.
They taste like the fresh produce picked from my grandpa’s garden sprouted from, what used to be rich, black Kansas soil. Good luck finding any of that black soil under the crops grown in the US today. It has vanished with the increased prevalence of monocrops and chemicals.
GMO crops are banned in Ecuador’s constitution so you won’t see Roundup being sprayed on them. Monocrops aren’t a big thing here either, unless you count bananas, coffee and chocolate. I’m not sure how you would rotate crops that takes years to produce fruit, though.
The soil that we wash off our veggies (yes, there is SOIL on our veggies) is dark black! The tomatoes are red and juicy (most of the time). The peppers are sweet. The potatoes are buttery without butter.
And best of all, they’re cheap! We often get 3 mangos or papayas or avocados for $1. You read that right. ONE DOLLAR!
High quality, flavorful food may be the benefit of living abroad in Ecuador that we appreciate the most.
#6 Living Abroad in Ecuador Will Reduce Your Stress Level
Well, at least for most things and for most people. If you’re an uber Type A person who likes things done on-time, in a specific way, your stress level might go up.
But if you learn to be more “tranquilo” and embrace the slower pace of life in Ecuador, you’ll be thankful you left the hamster wheel behind.
In the US, and most developed nations around the world, we live in a perpetual hamster wheel, running in circles but never getting anywhere. Most people call it “the rat race,” but a race implies there’s a start and a finish, and that you have a chance of winning.
In the past, that may have been true, but modern reality is much different. Most people live to work, spending most of their days in cars and cubes so they can afford to pay for the car they use to get to the cube, and a house they barely sleep in.
Ecuador is a lot different. People here work to live, choosing to spend more time with family and friends. They start work later, take long lunches and leave work earlier. It’s a much more “tranquilo” way of life and a lot less stressful.
We also feel a HUGE stress relief from not having all the expense that go with owning a car (payments, tags, taxes, insurance, parking, fuel, maintenance) or paying for healthcare or commuting to work or divisive politics. We left all that luggage behind and it has helped to make us much happier!
#7 Living Abroad Helps You Become More Flexible and Adaptable
“Mañana” literally means “tomorrow” in Spanish. But you’ll quickly realize it actually means “someday and maybe never” in reality. That’s one of the cultural differences that takes some getting used to, especially for Americans.
At first, it can be challenging to adapt to the different attitudes and different ways of doing things in a new country.
Some things may be better and some may be worse, but it’s the difference that creates the challenge.
For some people, the culture shock is simply too much to bear so they leave and go back home to the comfortable and familiar.
For those of us who stay, it teaches us how to be more open-minded, flexible and adaptable.
#8 Learning Spanish is Good for Your Brain (and Your Social Life)
Even if you never become fully bilingual in Spanish, learning a foreign language is great for brain health, especially as you age.
According to Swedish researchers, learning a foreign language actually increases the size of your brain while some Italian researchers have linked speaking more than one language with a delayed onset of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s.
Learning Spanish is also a great way to meet new people and make new friends. Many expats enjoy attending language exchanges where they meet other expats from around the world, as well as Ecuadorians who are learning English. It may even lead to romance! Ooh la la!
Learning Spanish is certainly not easy, but we feel like it has added a new dimension to our appreciation of our life abroad in Ecuador.
Talking about learning, if you’re also considering a move to Ecuador, there will be a lot of things you’ll need to learn and adapt to. Don’t make the same mistakes we did in 2017!
Our Ecuador eCourse will make your move to Ecuador easier, faster and cheaper than ours was!
#9 Even If You Still Work, Your Life Will FEEL Like a Permanent Vacation
Working online allows us to live abroad in Ecuador while earning enough income to pay off a lifetime of debt in just 3 years.
Amelia and I still work and yet we feel like we’re on permanent vacation because we don’t commute and have complete control of our schedules.
We aren’t limited to 2 weeks of vacation per year which severely limits how much of the world we can see.
Instead, we live in a part of the world that allows us to explore a little each day when we take a break from working. And since we work online, we can easily travel to other interesting places with just a short bus or plane ride without taking a day off.
#10 You’ll Meet Other Like-Minded People
Having enough courage to leave the comforts of your home sets you apart from most people who only dream of a better life abroad.
By moving to Ecuador or someplace else abroad, you’ll be joining an elite group of like-minded people with a “joie de vivre” that’s energizing and contagious.
When we lived in Denver, nearly all of our friends were work-related. When we hung out with them, all we talked about was work.
We often left social gatherings feeling more stressed out about work than when we arrived!
Here in Ecuador, none of our friends are work related. We met them at social events, Spanish class, restaurants, parks, through our YouTube channel, etc.
We enjoy spending time with them and hearing the stories of their exotic travels and entertaining life abroad.
We’ve also found it very easy to make new friends here. Making new non-work friends back in Denver was pretty difficult as a couple in our 40’s.
We lacked the time or energy to attend social events, as did most other people. With the lower stress, slower pace of life here in Ecuador, people have the time and mental capacity to devote themselves to forging new friendships with other like-minded people.
#11 Living Abroad Will Help You See Your Home Country in a New Light
For better or worse, you won’t look at your home country the same way after living abroad.
You’ll really miss some things and grow to appreciate aspects of your old life that you used to take for granted.
Amazon delivery is one of those things for us, as are many of the discretionary conveniences that make everyday life easier back home. Ecuador has everything we need, but not everything we want.
You may also see some things in a new light that makes you question what you’ve always believed about your home country. Seeing immigration from the other side of the wall has certainly changed our perception of immigrants.
Sometimes, the mind-expanding revelations we’ve experienced living abroad in Ecuador have been downright uncomfortable, but we wouldn’t change a thing.
If you decide to leave your comfort zone, be prepared to be uncomfortable and with being uncomfortable comes growth!
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Living abroad in Ecuador can be an incredible and eye-opening experience.
It can make the world seem smaller, shatter preconceptions, and help you realize that we’re all basically the same. It can also provide significant cost savings, particularly in terms of healthcare and living expenses.
Moreover, the quality of food in Ecuador is better, with a greater focus on fresh, local, and organic produce. So if you’re considering a move abroad, Ecuador is definitely worth considering.
It may challenge your assumptions and push you outside of your comfort zone, but it could also be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life.
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Hola todos! Welcome to my author bio page! Let's see. Where to begin... I grew up in the country on a lake outside a small Kansas farm town. As soon as I could, I got the hell outta there! Since then, I've lived and/or worked in Kansas City, Washington D.C., Denver, San Francisco, and Ecuador. I started and sold a dotcom, wrote a book about it, started a YouTube channel, and now I write a lot. Amelia and I have embraced the Unconventional Life and we want to help you do it, too!