Calling the United States (or your home country) from Ecuador is cheap and easy. You have lots of different services and apps to choose from, and several may already be installed on your mobile phone or laptop.
The most common mode of communication within Ecuador is WhatsApp. Most people use it as their primary communication tool because it’s free with most of the mobile phone carriers; they don’t charge for any messages or data related to WhatsApp or Facebook.
The main benefits of WhatsApp are that most people outside the United States use it so as you meet people from around the world, you can easily exchange numbers. You can also send text and voice messages, as well as make voice-only or video calls. And it works on all smartphones.
Aside from the privacy issues that have recently come to light, the major downside to WhatsApp is that whoever you call or message also needs to have the app installed on their phone. WhatsApp isn’t very common in the US so you may need to convince your friends and family back home to set it up, but ours were fine doing it.
We pay $2.99/month for the basic Skype International Plan. We have it setup with our US-based phone numbers (that we still have, see WiFi Calling below) so calls look like they’re coming from those numbers in the US. There are no funny international ringtones or expensive international calling fees.
The main benefit of Skype over WhatsApp is that you can call any phone number, not just another WhatsApp number. We mainly use Skype to make business related calls for Amelia’s job.
If you, as well as your friends and family, are Apple product lovers, you can use FaceTime to make free video calls to the United States from Ecuador.
The major downside is that both sides of the conversation need to have an Apple device because it doesn’t work with Android or any other mobile operating system.
Whether you use Facebook anymore or not, you probably still have your Facebook account. That means you can use Facebook Messenger to send and receive chat messages, or make video calls. And since most people have a Facebook account, it’s easier than using WhatsApp to communicate with people in the US.
Zoom has exploded in popularity for business use since the pandemic began, but you can also use it for personal calls to get the whole gang together for a face-to-face virtual hangout.
With the free Zoom plan, you can host up to 100 participants in a 40 minute hangout. Not bad!
Amelia still works for the same company back in Denver, so we still have our US based phone plan with Verizon for business reasons.
The nice thing about Verizon (and a few other mobile carriers) is that they offer a Verizon WiFi Calling feature on their mobile phones. As long as we’re connected to the internet via WiFi, we can make and receive calls just like we were connected to a cell tower back in the US.
This option has two major downsides, though. First, it’s expensive! We still pay $94/month for our two phones on our Verizon plan. Compared to our $40/month Ecuador plan for 2 phones with Claro, that’s really expensive!
Second, in order to set it up, you have to be connected to BOTH a Verizon cell tower AND have a WiFi connection. Since Verizon doesn’t have any cell service in Ecuador, you won’t be able to activate it here.
This may not be a big deal if you’re bringing your phone with you, but we had to replace my phone and we couldn’t activate the WiFi calling on the new phone until we returned to the US and could connect to the Verizon network.
Similar to WiFi Calling, magicJack is a Voice Over IP (VoIP) service that allows you to make international calls without the international fees of a traditional phone carrier.
With this service, you have two options for making calls to and from the United States. The first option requires a dongle that plugs into a standard USB port on your computer and to a standard telephone jack. That means you will actually need a landline to use it, which many places in Ecuador don’t have.
They also have a magicApp for mobile, which allows you to make free magicApp-to-magicApp and magicApp-to-magicJack calls anywhere in the world.
The main drawbacks of this option are that you need a landline for the magicJack, and the service has an annual fee plus international fees for several countries. You would also need to buy the magicJack dongle while you’re back in the US or have it muled to Ecuador.
Once you’re living in another country, it will be very easy to stay connected to everyone back home.
It’s a good idea to figure out how you want to call home before you move abroad because you may need to activate services or help your friends and family get setup before you leave.
DISCLOSURE: THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS, MEANING WE GET A COMMISSION IF YOU DECIDE TO MAKE A PURCHASE THROUGH OUR LINKS. THERE IS NO COST TO YOU AND SOMETIMES YOU'LL EVEN GET A DISCOUNT BY USING OUR LINK. PLEASE READ OUR DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO.
Get the Free Move Abroad Checklist
PLUS, there are several other free perks in our Live Abroad Toolkit we think you'll enjoy!
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!