How To Travel to Ecuador from the United States

Ecuador is more comfortable and more affordable than ever, and traveling to Ecuador from the USA is easier than ever. In this article, you’re going to learn about several of the options at your disposal for getting to Ecuador, and how to get around once you’re here.

Booking a Flight to Ecuador

Direct flights from the United States land in the nation’s two international airports: the capital city of Quito and Ecuador’s largest port city of Guayaquil. There are no direct international flights to Cuenca, Loja, Salinas, Manta or any of the other large cities in Ecuador.

Your estimated time in the air depends on your departure city in the United States, and your arrival city in Ecuador. It takes about 4 hours to reach Quito from Miami, and 4.5 hours to reach Guayaquil from Miami.

The price for a trip ranges between $150 to $650 when you book a couple of weeks in advance. Unfortunately, if you need to hop on a flight last minute, it could cost you more than a thousand dollars.

Direct flights to Quito from the United States

Travel to Ecuador Airplane

In Quito, the new Mariscal Sucre International Airport (UIO) is located outside the city and takes about 30 to 45 minutes to drive to El Centro from the airport. From the Quito airport, you can catch a connecting flight to the smaller domestic airports such as Cuenca, Manta and Loja.

Latam recently added a direct flight to Cuenca BUT you still have to go through customs in Quito. The total flight time is 6 hours 30 minutes and the flight is offered daily.

Direct Flights to Guayaquil from the United States

In Guayaquil, the modern José Joaquín de Olmedo International Airport (GYE) is located inside the city and only a short cab ride to hotels, malls and tourist attractions. There are no connecting flights to Cuenca or most of the other cities in Ecuador.

  • Miami – American Airlines or LATAM
  • JFK (New York) – JetBlue or Avianca
  • Ft. Lauderdale (Florida) – Spirit or JetBlue

Transportation Options from Quito Ecuador

Most of the international flights land very late at night so we recommend staying overnight in your arrival city so you can enjoy the breathtaking views of Ecuador during the day as you travel to your final destination.

You can rent a lounge chair by the hour in the business center at the airport if you only have a few hours to wait and don’t want to leave the airport. Head outside from the main terminal and cross the arrivals/departures area to reach the business center and food court.

There is also a Wyndham Hotel located at the airport, but you’ll need to take a taxi or the hotel shuttle. It’s not walkable from the terminal. There is also a new Holiday Inn near the airport. It takes about 15 minutes to get there from the airport due to a lack of turn-around spots, but only 5 minutes to get back to the airport. We’ve stayed at both hotels and they’re very nice.

Flying from Quito to Guayaquil, Cuenca, Manta or Loja

Travel to Cuenca Ecuador

The cost of flying from Quito to Guayaquil, Cuenca, Manta or Loja is generally between $45 and $100 depending on factors such as the amount of time in advance that you reserved your seat, the airline, and whether you are buying round trip or one-way tickets.

Flying from Quito to Cuenca, Guayaquil and Manta usually takes about 40 to 50 minutes of flight time.

Flying from Quito to Loja takes about an hour of flight time. However, the Loja (province) airport is located in Catamayo, which is about a 45 minute drive from the city of Loja and about 90 minutes from Vilcabamba.

Ecuador Domestic Regional Airlines from Quito (Direct Flights)

  • LATAM – Guayaquil, Cuenca, Manta and Coca
  • Avianca – Guayaquil, Cuenca, Manta and Coca
  • Aeroregional – Guayaquil, Loja and Coca

Riding the Bus

Transportation by bus from Quito to Guayaquil takes an average of 8 hours, with a cost of around $10 to $15. You can also hire a private driver or taxi with a cost ranging from $200 to $400.

Traveling from Quito to Vilcabamba

From Quito, you can fly to the Loja province airport in Catamayo (about 1 hour for around $50 to $90). It takes about 90 minutes by taxi or bus from Catamayo to Vilcabamba. A drive from Quito to Vilcabamba is long but beautiful, taking about 14 hours and costing more than $200 for a private driver.

Traveling from Quito to Salinas

To get to Salinas from Quito, you’ll need to take a 45 minute flight to Guayaquil before taking a bus or taxi to Salinas. These flights generally cost between $45 to $95.

Driving from Quito to Salinas will take you about 10 hours via bus, and costs between $15 to $30. In comparison, a taxi can cut that time to 8 hours for $300 and $500.

Traveling from Quito to Manta

From Quito, you can book a flight to Manta, which takes around 1 hour. Prices range from $55 to $200 depending on the airline, trip, and date you book the flight.

Although it is cheaper to travel from Quito to Manta by bus with an average cost of $10 to $30, it is time-consuming as it takes about 10 hours to get there. If you intend to hail a taxi or private driver, it will take 7 to 8 hours with a cost of $150 to $300.

Transportation Options from Guayaquil


There are currently no domestic flights between Guayaquil and Loja, Manta or any of the other small regional mainland airports except Cuenca. Latam currently offers a  daily flight between Guayaquil and Cuenca.

The majority of domestic flights from Guayaquil go to Quito and Galapagos so if you book a flight direct from, for example, Miami to Guayaquil to Cuenca, you will be flying back to Quito before continuing on to Cuenca.

Therefore, we recommend flying into Quito if your final flight destination is Cuenca, Loja, Manta or any of the other regional airports.

Traveling from Guayaquil to Cuenca

Many people drive to Cuenca from Guayaquil, especially if they have a lot of luggage and/or pets.  Plus the drive through s El Cajas National Park is beautiful.

The drive takes 3 to 4 hours. Under normal circumstances, a private driver will charge roughly $100 to $150. Interprovincial buses and busetas such as Operazuaytur cost $8 to $12 per ticket

Traveling from Guayaquil to Vilcabamba

There are no flights from Guayaquil to Vilcabamba so you’ll need to travel overland. A bus will take you there in about 7 hours for an average cost of $15 to $30. If you take a taxi or private driver, it may take less time than a bus, but it’ll cost $140 to $180.

Traveling from Guayaquil to Salinas

There are no flights between Guayaquil and Salinas. A bus will generally take you to Salinas in less than 3 hours at an average cost of $3 to $10. The express CLP Bus also goes to Salinas.

A taxi or private driver will take less than 2 hours but cost more, usually between $50 to $80.

Traveling from Guayaquil to Olón/Montañita

You can take an interprovincial bus from Terminal Terrestre in Guayaquil to the Olón/Montañita area, but you’ll need to transfer in Santa Elena near La Libertad.

You can also take the CLP Bus from Terminal Terrestre in Guayaquil to both Montañita and Olón. It stops in both towns and ends on the north side of Olón.

A private driver will charge around $100.

Traveling from Guayaquil to Manta

There are no direct flights from Guayaquil to Manta so you will need to travel overland. To take a bus, you will spend an average of $10 to $30 for the 4-hour ride to Manta from Guayaquil. If you prefer a taxi or private driver, it will take you about 2 hours and 45 minutes to get to Manta and cost around $100.

Traveling from Guayaquil to the Galapagos Islands

Currently, the only flights to the Galapagos Islands depart from the Guayaquil Airport. Therefore, if you book a flight from Quito to Galapagos, you will be making a stop in Guayaquil on the way.

What to Do When You Land

Cuenca Ecuador Bridge of All Saints

You can’t grasp the depth and beauty of Ecuador until you experience it first-hand. Ecuador is a great holiday destination, especially if you live in the Midwest where the winter weather chills you to the bone. The sights, sounds, and smells of paradise hit you wherever you go, providing a fantastic contrast to the cold winters in the United States.

Whether it’s Cuenca, Guayaquil, or the capital city of Quito, you’ll find yourself amazed at the culture expressed in Ecuadorian society. Everything from churches and architecture to the various heritage cities scattered across the county that exude Ecuador’s unique culture.

On the flip side, nature is always present in its abundant and diverse wildlife. Explore the same Galápagos Islands where Darwin launched his theory of evolution or witness the annual return of humpback whales seeking the warm waters bordering Ecuador’s coast.

Exploring the County & Nature

You’ll find your visit to Ecuador enriched when you explore some of its hidden paradise cities. Taste and feel the liveliness in popular cities with their sights, restaurants, and nightlife. Just on the periphery lingers the richness and serenity of nature that blends perfectly with Ecuador’s thriving culture of hospitality.

Planning a Trip is Easier Than Ever

Ecuador Volcano Tangara

If you’re looking for a fun vacation destination or choosing to relocate to Ecuador, it’s more convenient than ever. You’ll save a lot of money on airfare if you book your flight several weeks or months in advance.

November to January is the highest season in terms of air traffic, meaning you’ll pay for more a flight. The cheapest time to fly, according to Kayak, is October.

However, if your goal is to be in Ecuador during the warmest and sunniest time of year, you’ll want to visit between December and May. It’s very cloudy and much cooler from June through November.

Check out our detailed article Weather In Ecuador & Best Time to Visit Ecuador for more information.

When you’re booking your flight to Ecuador, keep in mind that the two international airports are in Guayaquil and Quito. Your trip will have to touch down at one of those two airports, after which you can catch a connecting flight to a domestic airport or drive to another city.

There are far too many wonderful places to visit in Ecuador with far too many transportation options to cover them all here. Ecuador has a vast, affordable and easy to navigate public transportation system so you won’t have much difficulty getting around. If you stay overnight in your arrival city, your hotel will be able to help you find land transportation to your final destination.

Wherever you end up, you’ll quickly be immersed in Ecuador’s natural beauty, and you’ll feel welcomed by Ecuador’s warm and inviting people.

Watch Our Video About How to Travel to Ecuador


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Cotacachi Ecuador vs Ajijic Mexico (Pros & Cons)

Are you considering a move to Mexico or Ecuador and wondering which expat destination to choose? Both countries have plenty of options, but two towns that stand out are Ajijic in Mexico and Cotacachi in Ecuador.

These two picturesque mountain towns have a lot in common, but also some unique features that may sway your decision. In this article, we’ll compare the pros and cons of living in each town.

Ajijic Mexico Pros & Cons

Ajijic is a picturesque mountain town on the shore of Lake Chapala, Mexico’s largest lake. The town is located about an hour south of Guadalajara and is close to major cities and airports.

The area is popular with expats because of its incredible views, walkability, variety of restaurants, and outdoor activities.

The town is home to a large number of foreign residents, which means there are many perks available to them, but also a few downsides caused by its extreme popularity.

Ajijic Mexico Pros

  • Beautiful, designated a UNESCO World Heritage site
  • Lakeside location
  • Comfortable year-round climate with lower elevation at 5,000 feet
  • 30-minute drive to the international airport in Guadalajara
  • Lots of expat amenities and English-speaking locals
  • Great for retirees
  • Plenty of shopping options, including Walmart and grocery stores
  • Nightlife options available

Ajijic Mexico Cons

  • Housing is expensive
  • Very populated and touristy
  • Can feel like “America-lite”

Cotacachi Ecuador Pros & Cons

Cotacachi is a picturesque mountain town located about 90 minutes north of Quito, the capital of Ecuador. It has a population of around 9,000 people, and a lot of them are expats. Cotacachi is also close to major cities and airports and has incredible views and a variety of outdoor activities.

Situated between two inactive volcanoes, the town is small, clean, and quiet, making it feel more authentic than Ajijic. The town is also close to world-famous shopping at the Otavalo market and has a supportive group of expats. However, it doesn’t have major medical facilities, and the full grocery store is 30 minutes away in Ibarra.

Cotacachi Ecuador Pros

  • Small, clean, and quiet
  • Located in a picturesque mountain setting with incredible views
  • Close to world-famous shopping at Otavalo market
  • Hiking and outdoor activities available
  • Supportive group of expats
  • One of the most affordable cities in Ecuador
  • Weekly organic market
  • Quito is 1.5 hours away

Cotacachi Ecuador Cons

  • High elevation can be a challenge for some
  • Cool temperatures and rainy climate
  • Major medical facilities are not available in town
  • Airport is 1.5 hours away
  • Longer, more expensive flights back to the US
  • Not many nightlife options available


When deciding between Ajijic and Cotacachi, it comes down to your personal preferences and priorities. If you’re looking for a small community with cooler temperatures, Cotacachi may be the right fit for you. The town is more affordable than Ajijic, and it feels very authentic. On the other hand, if you have a larger budget and want to be closer to the US with a warmer climate and plenty of expat amenities, Ajijic may be the perfect fit.

Watch Our Comparison Video About Cotacachi and Ajijic


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Unexpected Benefits of Living Abroad in Ecuador

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

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 to Europe 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

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

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!

#5 The Quality of Food Is Better in Ecuador

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

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)

Learning Spanish is Good for Your Brain

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

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!

If you like the idea of working online, we’ll show you how to earn reliable online income from anywhere in the world with any skill set so you can take your freedom BACK! Learn more and sign up.


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.

Watch Our Video About Why We Love Being Expats


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This newsletter covers topics we don’t share ANYWHERE ELSE! You’ll get all sorts of timely information about living abroad and expat-relevant news that might affect your plans to travel or move abroad.

Enchanted Encounters at La Casa del Venado near Cayambe Ecuador

Amelia and I visited La Casa del Venado, which translates to The House of the Deer. It’s a magical animal sanctuary nestled in the rolling hills of Ecuador near Cayambe. We were joined by our Ecuadorian friends, Gene and Mateo. Gene was SO excited to to see the small Peruvian deer!

While we waited outside the gates, I heard a cat meowing, but couldn’t locate it. Upon further inspection, he had been sleeping in the branches of a dense shrub-like tree. After a short chat from the tree, he climbed down and posed for a picture on the grass, still damp from the morning dew.

The park greeted us with a menagerie of creatures. Tiny Peruvian deer with velvety coats nibbled on leaves, while majestic emus with dinosaur-like feet strutted about. There were alpacas with fluffy fur, peacocks with iridescent feathers, and bunnies with twitchy noses hopping about.

We excitedly fed carrots to the animals and Amelia giggled as the Peruvian deer ate from her hand. The emus gobbled up the treats with the typical mechanical precision of a bird, and one almost snatched Amelia’s necklace! We were in awe of the incredible beauty and diversity of the creatures that surrounded us.

It was so peaceful and relaxing to roam the grounds, taking in the sights and sounds of the animals. We snapped pictures, marveling at the exotic birds with bright, jewel-like plumage, and the friendly cats that meowed loudly while following us around like dogs.

There were several other stops on our itinerary for the day, so we reluctantly said goodbye to the animals and made our way back to the outside world. But we carried with us memories and photos of the magical creatures we had encountered.


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This newsletter covers topics we don’t share ANYWHERE ELSE! You’ll get all sorts of timely information about living abroad and expat-relevant news that might affect your plans to travel or move abroad.

Cotacachi Ecuador Real Estate Tour

Cotacachi is one of the most popular places in Ecuador for expats to call home so we were really excited to do a real estate tour of several amazing properties for sale in the area.

Cotacachi Ecuador Real Estate TourOne of the properties currently on the market is a beautiful four-bedroom, four-bathroom house with a large garden and stunning views of the surrounding mountains. It features high-quality finishes, a modern design, and all the amenities you need to enjoy a comfortable and peaceful lifestyle.

Another great property available in Cotacachi is a three-bedroom, two-bathroom house with an open-concept living area and a beautiful fireplace. It is located in a quiet and secure neighborhood, just a few minutes away from the town center, and offers breathtaking views of the Imbabura volcano.

Overall, Cotacachi offers a unique opportunity for expats and real estate investors who are looking for affordable properties in a beautiful and culturally rich location.

Whether you’re looking for a cozy apartment, a spacious villa, or a charming country home, Amy Prisco and her team, can help you find the perfect property to suit your needs and budget.

Watch Our Cotacachi Real Estate Tour


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The Panoramic Beauty of Cotacachi Ecuador

We recently visited Cotacachi, Ecuador to film a real estate tour for our YouTube channel. This picturesque mountain town is truly mesmerizing and we always enjoy our time there!

Cotacachi EcuadorNestled between two inactive volcanoes, Cotacachi and Imbabura, the views are simply stunning with clouds forming over the top of the volcanoes. The town is walkable and incredibly clean with bike lanes making it even easier to explore.

The town has many restaurants and coffee shops, perfect for taking a break and enjoying the local cuisine. It’s also a great place for window shopping, with numerous stores selling handmade items and artisanal crafts.

In the center of town, Parque Central is a highlight with its beautiful old church, large palm trees, and colorful flowers. Parque San Francisco also has a church and often vendors selling food and crafts.

Cotacachi is a popular destination for expats from the US and Canada because of its affordability and high quality of life for a low cost of living. We can see why they have chosen to make this town their home, as it truly offers everything you could need in a peaceful and beautiful setting.

Overall, we had a fantastic time in Cotacachi and would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a charming and affordable mountain town with breathtaking views.

Watch Our Video About the Pros & Cons of Cotacachi Ecuador


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The Dark Side of Cuenca Ecuador!

Cuenca is a popular expat destination in Ecuador. It’s a beautiful city with a colonial center and friendly people. Cuenca’s healthcare is high quality and affordable. The cost of living is also relatively low. But, there is another side to Cuenca that is not so pretty.

The cloudy, rainy weather during some periods of the year is a lot to handle. Panhandlers, a steady rise in crime, noise, high elevation, pollution, and heavy traffic when it rains are other negative aspects of Cuenca.

If you’re considering relocating to Cuenca, you’ll find the information below helpful.

This post details the cons of Cuenca that expats wishing to relocate should know.

The Rainy, Cloudy Cuenca, Ecuador Weather

The Rainy, Cloudy Cuenca, Ecuador Weather

It is often cold and rainy in Cuenca throughout the year,  but it is also sunny and beautiful some of the time.

The nights can be chilly, and the days dark, cloudy and windy. Daytime, on the other hand, can be very hot and windy, with UVs reaching a high of 11.

It can be damp and cold when the temperatures dip into the low 40s F / 5 C and feel much more like Seattle. The weather changes are also drastic. It could be super hot, and then, in just half an hour, it’s raining!

Cuenca has had more rain recently, causing floods in parts of town and on the outskirts. There are also mudslides in Cajas, making it difficult to drive along the windy road.

Four rivers run through Cuenca, and they can get inundated with water. There were flash floods in May 2021. Rivers and streams overflowed, and river Tarqui broke its banks and completely changed its course.

The 8,400-foot Cuenca Elevation

Cuenca is a high-elevation city. Mind you, we’re referring to the city’s elevation and not altitude. Sometimes elevation and altitude are interchangeable terms, but altitude refers to the height of an object above the Earth’s surface, while elevation is the height of a place above sea level.

The high elevation means high exposure to UV rays, which can go above 11 on the UV index scale.  Always wear your sunscreen and a hat to avoid sunburns.

The air is thinner in high-elevation areas like Cuenca compared to lower regions. The higher the elevation, the less air there is per unit volume.

Additionally, in high-elevation zones, the air pressure is much higher than at lower locations, so the air is less able to hold gasses and particles.

High elevation makes breathing more challenging and may lead to breathing problems. You’ll get headaches (lightheadedness), fatigue, and even altitude sickness. Unfortunately, you’ll only know you have altitude sickness when you get there.

The best way to deal with the effects of high elevation is to acclimate yourself gradually. Start by spending a few days in locations with high elevation, then gradually increase your time there. You can also take a cup of Mate de Coca, which relieves altitude sickness symptoms  quickly.

More Crime in Cuenca

More Crime in Cuenca

This one’s a bummer because the tranquil, beautiful Cuenca was once one of the safest cities to live in. The crime rate was very low. And it’s still down according to this Crime Index, but it would be naive to think crime does not happen, especially after the pandemic.

Petty theft and pickpocketing made for the highest criminal activities. However, current figures from the police show there is an increase in criminal activities, and they link it to more drug trafficking activities in the area.

The police listed five unsafe areas, asking everyone to be vigilant. The crime hotspots are La Merced, Feria Libre, Mercado Nueve de Octubre, Cayambe, and the bus station.

Occasionally, a petty thief would grab your backpack. Sometimes they’d slash it open in a bus when you are not looking or mislead you to put it in the overhead bin as you travel, only to find your valuables missing.

Some will make you think you dropped something and run off with your bag when you face the other direction.

The thieves are primarily after the valuables and, in most cases, won’t harm you if you hand them over without a fight. Electronics are a target because they are more expensive in Ecuador.

It’s NOISY in Cuenca Ecuador

Noise is a significant problem in Cuenca, Ecuador. There are many buses, cars, and motorcycles on the road, and they can be loud. The delivery guys use dirt bikes which have annoyingly loud engines.

They’ll go by every ten to fifteen minutes if you live in a busy neighborhood. The noise from those delivery dirt bikes is so loud that it rattles the windows.

Some people like to take their Zumba dance class at 6: 30 in the morning, which will impact peace and tranquility if you want to sleep longer.

Also, Cuenca lies directly below the airport’s flight path.  Planes frequently land and take off over the city, which can be pretty noisy.

Folks in Ecuador also have giant speakers on stands in their houses and they blast loud music at night. Every once in a while, there is a party or karaoke, which can be quite annoying if you like peaceful evenings.

There is also the dog-barking and  roosters that go off all night from 3:00 am. A sound machine helps to drown out the noise while you’re sleeping.

Pollution in Cuenca, Ecuador

Cuenca sits in a giant intermountain basin of the Andes mountains at an elevation of 8517 feet. Although pollution is not as high as in some US states, it’s still a significant concern inside the city.

When there is no wind, exhaust fumes from buses, diesel trucks, delivery trucks, motorcycles, and odor from trash trucks pollute the air. There are also some old smog buses that go through the historical city. The government is slowly phasing them out with low-emission diesel ones.

Fortunately, the Tranvía has started taking some passengers, and air pollution is decreasing. Some residential areas do not experience as much air pollution.

Additionally, there could be ash from The Sangay volcano, which last erupted in 2021, and ash was everywhere.

The Panhandlers in Cuenca

There are panhandlers all over Cuenca, Ecuador, especially Venezuelan refugees. Often, they’ll run after Americans (Gringos) across the street asking for handouts, sometimes accompanied by ‘rent’ children to make them seem more in need. Ecuadorians, Americans, and Europeans also panhandle.

Crowding in Cuenca Ecuador

Cuenca is a walkable city with many tourist attractions, so lots of tourists come to visit it. There is a higher population in Ecuador now compared to 2020 due to tourism, which has picked up lately.

Heavy Traffic in Cuenca

With a high population, the traffic is also bad. It is especially terrible during rush hour. Currently, a cab ride that would normally take ten minutes can take 30 to 45 minutes.

It gets worse when it rains or when there is an event. You’ll need to plan ahead when it’s raining, or if the Ecuador football team is playing, as there will be no cab in town. Watch out for their world cup dates in November to be safe.

Cuenca Can Be Isolated

There are only three roads in and out of Cuenca. This means that getting supplies can be hard if protests or strikes occur.

If these roads are barricaded, any movement in and out of the city is practically impossible. Luckily, there is an airport where you can ship supplies, or leave.

Living in an Expat Bubble

Some foreigners want to recreate their American or Canadian lifestyle in Cuenca and thus live in an expat bubble, with no interaction with the locals.

However, living in an expat bubble is not ideal, as you’ll be missing out on some great experiences. Though it might be uncomfortable at first, try to learn the language and take part in Ecuadorian activities. You’ll discover that Ecuadorians are good-natured people and have an interesting culture.


No place is perfect. Although Cuenca, Ecuador, is an ideal place to live in, it has its dark side. Parts of the city hav heavy traffic, overcrowding, pollution, panhandlers, and it can be loud.

Some people find the elevation or the weather (or both) too much to handle and relocate to a town in a lower elevation.  Plus the crime in certain areas is concerning and should be a factor when you’re researching neighborhoods.

Watch This Video About The Dark Side of Cuenca Ecuador


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Discovering the Sights, Sounds, and Tastes of Sangolquí Ecuador

We woke up early on a Thursday morning, eager to explore a part of Quito, Ecuador that we had never visited before. Sangolquí is located in Valle de los Chillos, which is a suburb on the southeast corner of the Quito metro area.

A Beautiful Day to Explore Sangolquí Ecuador

Sangolqui EcuadorIt was a perfect day to visit this picturesque mountain town, and it greeted us with a bright blue sky and an ideal temperature. The sun was shining, and the air was filled with the sounds of the bustling town.

Our first stop was Parque Central, the large square at the center of town where a beautiful white church stood in stark contrast against the blue sky. It was the perfect vantage point to get the flavor of Sangolquí, its people and its colorful architecture.

As we continued our tour of the town, we were delighted to find that several of the streets had been converted into pedestrian walkways. This created a European feel, and it was enjoyable to simply stroll and take in the sights.

A couple blocks from the church, we stumbled upon Centro Cultural Villa Carmen. The cultural center has a small park with large palm trees and a peaceful atmosphere. It was the perfect place to rest and soak in the beauty of Sangolquí.

After leaving the park, we noticed two young street musicians playing stringed instruments. They were extremely talented and their music added to the ambiance of the town.

Sangolquí is famous for its maíz (corn) and there are several sculptures around town honoring it. In fact, the valley where Sangolquí is located is called Valle de los Chillos in honor of the Chillos corn grown by indigenous people in this area for more than a thousand years.

Thursday Outdoor Mercado in Sangolquí Ecuador

Sangolquí Ecuador MercadoAs we made our way towards the weekly outdoor mercado, our senses were overwhelmed by the sights and smells of the local cuisine. The market was a vibrant hub of activity, with vendors selling everything from fresh produce to handmade crafts.

However, one of the most memorable experiences of our visit was when we came across a stall selling cacho, or fried worms! Sangolquí is also famous for this delicacy and the elderly lady vendors could be heard yelling “CAAAACHOOOO!!!” throughout the market.

We were told that cacho tastes good, but that was not on our menu for the day. Instead, we had our tastes set for yet another type of treat that appeals to a wider range of palates.

Sangolquí Ecuador: More Than Just a Historic Town

If munching on bugs isn’t your idea of a great meal, don’t worry! Valle de los Chillos has plenty more to offer:

  • Clean and safe environment
  • Pedestrian-only areas
  • A young, vibrant population thanks to the prestigious ESPE university
  • Historic buildings and plenty of parks and green spaces
  • Golf course communities
  • Convenient location close to San Luis mall, downtown Quito, and the international airport
  • Excellent healthcare facilities, including doctors and hospitals
  • A lush, green landscape due to higher rainfall
  • Moderate temperatures ranging from 10°C (50°F) lows to 29°C (84°F) highs

Valle de los Chillos: Pretty Awesome, but Not Perfect

While Valle de los Chillos is an enchanting destination, there are a few downsides to keep in mind:

  • High elevation at 2,500 meters (8,200 feet)
  • A large population of 300,000 people, comparable to the size of Cuenca
  • Traffic and ongoing road construction
  • Proximity to Cotopaxi, an active volcano, posing risks for lava and mudflows in low-lying areas and potential ash concerns

Final Thoughts About Sangoquí Ecuador

We ended our tour back in Parque Central at Heladería Victoria. This place has been in business for more than 80 years and claims to be the “legitimate and original artisans” of helado de paila, which is shaved ice cream. It has a texture and flavor that’s similar to sherbet, except it’s made with shaved ice and fruit juice without milk. We each enjoyed a double scoop and it was delicious!

Valle de los Chillos and the historic town of Sangolqui are hidden gems near Quito, Ecuador. With their rich history, beautiful surroundings, and exciting market scene, they’re well worth a visit. While there are a few downsides to consider, the overall experience of exploring this charming area is unforgettable.

Our visit to Sangolquí was an unforgettable experience filled with delicious food, charming sights, and memorable experiences. We will definitely go back to this beautiful Ecuadorian town in the future.

Watch Our Video from Sangolquí Ecuador


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Mountains vs Coast of Ecuador: Deciding Where to Live

If you’ve chosen Ecuador as your new home abroad, your next decision you need to make is whether to live in the mountains or on the coast.

In this article, we will discuss the pros and cons of each option to help you make an informed decision.

The Mountains of Ecuador: Pros & Cons

Let’s start with the mountains of Ecuador, usually called “La Sierra” by Ecuadorians.

Pros of Ecuador Mountain Living

6. Cuenca, EcuadorLiving in the mountains can provide you with a more developed and culturally rich environment.

The mountain cities like Cuenca, Quito, Loja and Cotacachi have the old, Spanish colonial architecture, but they also have suburbs with all the modern amenities like high rise condos, malls and newer hospitals.

You’ll have access to more activities and things to do in La Sierra, especially outdoor activities like hiking and birdwatching.

The healthcare system is also better and more affordable than the coast, and you won’t need air conditioning since the weather is cooler and spring like year round.

Finally, since the temperatures are cooler and the elevation is higher, you won’t have many bugs to contend with.

Cons of Ecuador Mountain Living

San Francisco Plaza New Cathedral Cuenca EcuadorHowever, there are some downsides to living in the mountains.

The high elevation can cause altitude sickness, and there are risks of sunburn and dangerous UV rays. We’ve had issues with both while living in the mountains.

In fact, I struggled with the elevation for more than two years! Losing weight, doing more cardio exercise, and curtailing the wine and beer consumption helped me finally overcome it.

The weather can also be volatile in the mountains, with sunny mornings followed by rainy and chilly afternoons. The best time to visit is during December to May, as the summer months can be cloudy and cool.

Finally, the smaller mountain towns like Vilcabamba and Cotacachi can be isolated, with road closures due to landslides and paros (national strikes) making transportation difficult.

The Coast of Ecuador: Pros & Cons

Now let’s talk about living on the coast of Ecuador.

Pros of Ecuador Coastal Living

Mountains vs Coast of EcuadorLiving on the coast gives you access to beautiful beaches and ocean activities, if that’s your thing.

When we lived in Olón, we loved taking long walks on the beach, sometimes twice each day. Amelia even learned how to surf!

If you enjoy surfing and a small town vibe, Olón, Montañita, Ayampe, Canoa and a few other small coastal towns will be perfect for you. Santa Marianita, about 20 minutes south of Manta, is ideal for kitesurfing.

If you prefer a more developed city with modern amenities like shopping and hospitals, Salinas and Manta are better options.

We lived on the 15th floor of Ibiza, a high rise resort-style condo on Murciélago Beach. The views were amazing, the condo was modern and beautiful, and I enjoyed swimming laps in the pool most days.

Finally, the weather is warmer on the coast compared to the mountains so if you prefer temperatures in the 80s F / 27-ish C then you will probably like the coast better.

Cons of Ecuador Coastal Living

Olon Ecuador BeachHowever, there are also downsides to consider if you want to live on the coast of Ecuador.

The crime rate is higher in the coastal region, with drug trafficking and robberies being more common.

The weather can be hot and humid, and there are bugs galore! Lots of bugs! Especially in the Olón/Montañita area where it’s more jungle-like. Bugs aren’t as bad in Manta since it’s much dryer.

The off-season can also be dreary and drizzly, with long stretches of cloudy weather from June through November.

One of the main reasons we left Olón was due to the 7 months of clouds with virtually no sun. We did not have the same experience in Manta during the year we lived there.

Tourists on the weekends and holidays can make things crowded and noisy, especially in the touristy towns like Salinas, Montañita and Olón.

Then after they leave and go back home, the place is dead! Lots of shops and restaurants close on weekdays, especially during the off season.

Additionally, there are smaller expat communities, fewer cultural activities to enjoy, and the cost of living can be higher, especially if you want to live in a high rise condo on the beach.


The mountains and coast of Ecuador each have their pros and cons for expat living. It ultimately comes down to personal preference and priorities.

If you enjoy outdoor activities, cultural events, and a cooler climate, the mountains may be the better choice for you.

However, if you love the beach, warm weather, and a more laid-back lifestyle, the coast may be the way to go.

It’s important to do your research and visit the areas before making a final decision to ensure it’s the right fit for you.

Watch Our Video About the Mountains vs Coast of Ecuador


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Medellín Colombia: A Jungle With a City In It!

Colombia has been on our list of must-visit places for a long time. So after a lot of research and a few recommendations, we decided to embark on a journey to Medellín.

Medellin ColombiaAfter a relatively short travel day from our home in Ecuador, we arrived in the vibrant neighborhood of El Poblado, with its bustling streets and lively atmosphere. Our AirBnB offered a breathtaking view of the city, allowing us to take in the beauty of Medellín from above.

One of the first things we noticed was the abundance of large trees, colorful flowers and plants with enormous leaves. It felt like we were walking through a jungle with a city in it!

As we explored the city, we stumbled upon a world of flavors at local restaurants like KaimeAMA Restaurante, and Florez Food Garden. The food was so delicious that we found ourselves returning to the same places way too many times!

We spent our days soaking in the sun on the patios of these restaurants, surrounded by the sounds of people from all over the world speaking different languages. We felt right at home amidst the diversity.

As we walked the streets of El Poblado, Sabaneta, Laureles, La Floresta and other areas during our visit, we were impressed by how developed and modern it was. The city is truly special, full of life and energy.

Our trip to Medellín was far more surprising and memorable than we expected. And far too short! We left with full hearts, full bellies and a full camera, eager to share our experiences with you.

We can’t wait to return to this beautiful city and continue our adventures, but next time, we’ll stay longer than a week!

Watch Our Video from Medellín Colombia


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