Questions & Answers

What is the typical person like who moves to a Latin American country? Someone who doesn't mind less conveniences in exchange for the reasons they move there. Normally they're at least somewhat exceptional and willing to take risks to realize the changes they want in life.

What do think about some of the mostly highly advertised overseas southern locations? Well, I've been to the Panama islands called Bocas del Toro, and to the Panama mountain retreat, Boquete, and wouldn't want to live in either place. Why? Because there's nothing there (civilization-wise). They're a buyers nightmare. And Boquete is so overclouded and rains so much I'm sure I'd commit suicide to escape the depression. People dream of island escapes but once they're there for a few weeks all the nothingness gets to them. Which is why I like it here. Not too much stuff, and not too little. Anything else I need I cheaply import from the US by Skybox (click here to read more). About Brazil, all the cities are horridly oversized and choking on their own auto exhaust. No thank you. About Argentina, their economy crashed but they are recovering. Besides that they are a very snobbish people who will criticize you even if they don't know you. Very arrogant. Click here to read about other countries.

Is it easy to make friends there? Much much easier than in 1st world countries but many times the people have an exterior coldness to them that quickly melts away when they see you are a sincere person that just wants to chat. But they may be very reluctant to invite you to their home to meet their family because they may be ashamed of their house.

What are the biggest advantages to Ecuador over other Latin American countries? Good weather and lack of pollution. The problem with most South American countries is that the big cities have a LOT of pollution because the people all remove pollution controls to get better gas mileage on their cars. And many use them until they are absolutely unrepairable, so you can imagine the smoke that some cars are putting out. For example, Chile is one of the most orderly Latino countries but the main city is extra heavily polluted since the mountains stop the air flow from the ocean like what happens in Los Angeles California. Also, San Jose in Costa Rica has mountains all around it and the high altitude prevents complete burning of the cars combustible fluids (since there's less oxygen in the air) which results in high levels of pollutants. You could just live out in the boondocks but for anything other than very basic stuff you have to go into the big city anyway. That's why Cuenca Ecuador is a decent choice since the capital city has only 270,000 (within city limits) and it's not too polluted, and there's almost always a breeze to take away pollution. Also the abundant local produce isn't overly sprayed with chemicals (which I experienced in Costa Rica). Also you are allowed to import vitamins and anything else health related (except for seeds) which is often prohibited in other Latino countries.

What are common first impressions upon arriving there in Cuenca? The small size of the airport, how easy it is to get through customs, the number of self assigned porters wanting to carry your bags for you (for a fee of course), the friendliness of people in service jobs and how patient they are with your lack of Spanish, how many close calls there are on the road as drivers squeeze past each other, how modern the malls and many businesses are, and how few policemen there are hanging around because of the lack of criminals (quite opposite of Paraguay).

How does the general cost of living compare to 1st world countries? Generally it is incredibly cheap to live here.

What cultural events are available in Cuenca? There's art galleries and theaters. In 1999 UNESCO declared Cuenca a world cultural heritage site . The beauty of the buildings and surrounding landscape is all the culture I need.

Can someone get around OK just by public transportation? Yes, very easily. One way fares are 25 cents for any of the many bus lines that transport the majority of the population here who are without their own vehicles. Waits at bus stops is 1-10 minutes, depending on the bus line you want. Also there are plenty of taxis although they are typically about $1.50 a ride.

What hotels do you recommend for staying at when I arrive and why? In the center of town there are various hostels available starting at $8 a night. Also there are nicer hotels to stay at such as the Hotel Cofradía del Monje for $26 a night, and the  Hotel la Casona for $42 a night. 

Are there road cops with radar guns radiating drivers all over the place like in the USA? Ha! No way! The beauty of these poor disorganized countries is the lack of controls. I was so sick of cops and big brother everywhere in the USA.

Are there any dangers to look out for? Mostly just petty thievery. Never leave your car unlocked and better yet only park it in an attended parking lot. Don't walk around at night and if you do then carry a spare wallet with small change in it that you can give to a thief. All in all the chance of being a victim of violent crime is much less here than in cities of the same size in the USA.

Are there fast food restaurants there? In the 2 malls are Kentucky Fried Chicken, Burger King, Pizza Hut, and one or two others.

Are there any restrictions on foreigners owning land or houses or vehicles? No, not at all. The only necessary thing is having the money to buy the house/land/vehicle.

Do you use wells, springs or rivers for drinking water? City water is from the river and doesn't taste as good as the bottled water here, but most gringos drink it without any complaint.

How valid are the land titles? Very valid.

What do you think about foreigners shipping their house furnishings down there? Most everything you need is available there, so why go to the expense of boating your stuff in? Even if you can't find what you want, you can have a local furniture maker specially produce what you want. Like all poor countries, the people are good at being creative since they can't afford to import everything they want.

Is it hard to learn Spanish? Not at all if you are willing and able. Latinos don't laugh at speakers of bad Spanish like Americans laugh at speakers of bad English. So don't be afraid to risk looking foolish. Latinos actually love to see you doing your best unashamedly although in the end you may have to write what you are saying since they won't understand you unless you are speaking with a Spanish accent.

Should I think of bringing my car? I wouldn't advise it since it's expensive, not immediate (since it's a long boat trip), and involves many hassles. Everything you need is here, including just about every make of car to choose from.

Should I bring heavy winter clothes also? Well, not really. It's only down to 55 or 60 degrees in the morning. That's more like being "sweater weather".

Are there TV programs and radio channels and movies in theatres in English? Of course. In almost every country in the world American entertainment dominates since it's of the highest quality. Cable TV has many English channels and Soft Rock (in English) is easy to find on the radio. Sometimes the movies in the theatres have the normal English audio but display the Spanish translations at the bottom of the screen.

What advice would you give for someone who wants to escape from America without leaving a trace? I'd read the article at

How does one renounce U.S. citizenship? Well, of course you should live away for an extended time (say 5 years) before deciding that you want to stay away. Click here to read how to do it.

What does a typical house in S. America lack that is considered commonplace in the USA? They may lack bug screens but there's not many flying insects here. Also the construction is mostly concrete (which is fireproof and lasts forever) with very little wood  and the roofs are tiled clay which can last a lifetime.

Do I have to apply for a VISA from the Ecuadorian embassy here before I come down? Not if you are a US citizen. Check with your Ecuadorian embassy to see if its required for your people if you are not of the USA. If your flight schedule leaves you in Brazil for more than 8 hours (I think that's right) you'll need to get a VISA from their embassy also which requires your passport, a couple photos, and around $50. (A VISA isn't a credit card, but rather a legal stamp in your passport giving you permission to be in the country for a certain amount of time.)

Are there work opportunities for gringos there? Not hardly anything, and what is available hardly pays anything (typically $300-$400/mo).

How are the banks there? They are OK. They're more stable than the banks in Paraguay.

What are some of the main reasons people often move to third world countries? To get away from over-developed schizophrenic societies, over controlling governments (ie: Patriot Act in the U.S.), stop paying U.S. taxes, health damaging genetically altered food, terrorist attacks, and the New World Order. (Which is coming into existence in all developed countries.) Also they often want a slower life style and friendly neighbors which is what they find here. Or maybe they want to marry one of the most beautiful women in the world. (Latinos have won the Miss Universe contest more times than any other race.)

What is the political climate like there? Here it is more truly democratic since the president can be more easily thrown out if he is a disappointment to the people. I like the current president, Correa.

Do you have to have an Ecuadorian drivers license to drive on the roads? No, you can drive with a passport and your own drivers license if it isn't expired.

Aren't you painting an overly pretty picture of life in South America? sigh. yes. I have to admit that these people can only be loved if you consider them as cute children. But unfortunately they aren't children with an excuse for their behavior and they need to grow up. Click here if you want to read about how incredibly frustrating it can be living here.