By Danielle Norris
Coming to a new country is scary…I get it. I came to Ecuador a little over four years ago and I knew very little about life here. I bet you may have a bit of trepidation too, but no worries, read through and hopefully things will become clearer for you.
I came to Ecuador because I had a classmate back in elementary school that was an international student from Ecuador. She would tell me about her country and what she loved about it. To me, it sounded like paradise. I ended up remembering all her stories, had Ecuador on my “bucket list,” and finally bit the bullet and booked a trip for my 40th birthday. I was adamant that one day I would go there. I needed to figure out for myself why my friend Gabriela loved it there so much, so off I went. Only one minor problem…where do I stay? How do I get around? What province do I want to stay in? I needed to do some homework for sure.
So off I went and researched where I wanted to go, I joined several Facebook groups and I asked A LOT of questions. I found that most people were quite friendly and willing to help you sort things out. In my opinion, if Ecuador, (or any other place), is of interest to you, you need to do your research! If you do have your sights set on Ecuador as I did, I recommend that you rent first before you buy. Why, may you ask? Well, renting gives you the opportunity to explore without the restraints of buying something that you may not love in a month or two. Purchasing property has its benefits, however, I would never purchase until I understood the area, the people, the way to get around…and renting can help with that.
Renting allows you to fully immerse yourself into the area you are in without forcing you to be permanent, it permits you to not be tied down and committed to something that might not fully tickle your fancy. Seeing that we all have a unique set of desires, circumstances, and requirements, renting allows you to choose a location that suits you. Can it be a daunting task? For sure! It can give anyone anxiety, especially if you are a newcomer. You are trying to figure out where to live, for how long and wondering if it is a good, safe place to stay, and in unfamiliar territory…I get it. I have some tips for you if you are contemplating living in Ecuador for some time.
1.Do Your Research!
Ask yourself…do I like the countryside or city living? What activities do I like to engage in? Do I like nightlife and restaurants or the simple life? Am I more into turnkey and luxury, or would I prefer something more basic? Do I want to live on the coast, or inland? Do I need to be close to a hospital? Ask, ask, ask…
2. Understand the Climate
Ecuador is very rich in biodiversity and has four different zones. La Costa (coastal lowlands), La Sierra (Andean mountains), El Oriente (Amazon region), and Galapagos Islands. For example, if you enjoy warm coastal breezes, the Manta area might be for you. The cool thing is that in 30 minutes, you can be in the rainforest, enjoying a completely different climate. Alternatively, you could go to places like Riobamba and see majestic mountains yet be close enough to take the main train that goes to any major city in Ecuador. This way you can gauge what climate you prefer and figure out where the best place is for you. The key is to explore.
3. To Rent is to Explore
The greatest advantage to renting is being able to be protected by shelter without being prevented in experience. I have rented many places over the past four years, and I can say that I have only benefitted from utilizing the rental industry that exists in Ecuador, which has satisfied my individual needs.
I have gone from renting a place from a lady I met on Facebook, to another fantastic lady that loves dogs and cats, to an Airbnb, to a unit advertised through Facebook Marketplace, from word of mouth, to VRBO, and everything in between. I have rented in small and big cities, and I have rented luxury apartments and small humble places. Renting gave me the privilege to experience every spot of this great country, and I would say that renting is the single most important thing you can do if your end goal is to live here.
As someone who is getting into the rental business myself, in the beautiful town of Riobamba, I’d say that if you are interested in renting one of the most important things is learning about the different areas of Ecuador. Examine the neighborhood, figure out what climate you like, find groups and ask people what they like about where they are. Garner some recommendations and talk to owners. There are no stupid questions as they are all relevant to you and your lifestyle.
There are many websites at your fingertips, and many people will be happy to share their thoughts and journeys with you. My journey started as a fluke. I had Ecuador on my bucket list but didn’t know much about it. I personally ended up falling in love with the place, so I just kept coming back. This past year I was able to stay for six months and also brought two of my children with me. Now I want to build a good business here and move in the near future. My advice to you is simple…make connections, research places, and build bonds. These things have truly helped me over the last four years. Rent first and feel things out. Educate yourself on where you would like to be and establish connections with others that have been there and done that…they are your most valuable resource.
I will leave you with one more thing, as a future rental owner, feel free to ask me anything you like about the rental process. I am happy to help in any way I can. I wish you much luck in your adventures in the country I love…Ecuador.