Disadvantages of living in Ecuador

Ericka & Stefano

Most tourism blogs highlight the wonders of living in Ecuador, which is true, but we also have a lot of negative aspects.

In this blog post, we will discuss the disadvantages of living in Ecuador from our perspective as Ecuadorians.

I believe it is equally necessary to show what is wrong with a country, not to make it look bad, but to bring people back to reality.

To be honest, some of the bad things we will show you below were not always issues in the country. Sadly, the pandemic made everything worse.

Despite the fact that we haven’t lived in other countries, you may still compare our experiences to your own.

Criminality and delinquency

It may be our largest problem at the moment, and it is the greatest disadvantage of living in Ecuador.

Following the pandemic, crime in Ecuador has skyrocketed, particularly in major cities such as Guayaquil and Quito, as well as in regions such as Manabi and Esmeraldas.

While crime has always existed in cities around the world, the issue of drug trafficking in Ecuador has disrupted the country’s peace.

Prior to the government of former President Rafael Correa, the foreign military base ‘Forward Operating Location’ (FOL) operated in Ecuador, specifically in Manta, to monitor sea and land drug trafficking routes that usually end up in Mexico.

Under Correa’s “socialist” administration, the U.S. base in Manta was removed, and since then, drug trafficking has spread like cancer, whose metastasis we continue to struggle with 14 years later.

Today, there are not only thefts and robberies, but also kidnappings and hired killings (“sicarios”).

I don’t want to scare you, but this is what’s going on right now. Ecuador wasn’t always like this.

The only places that are somewhat peaceful are the little towns of the Highland region, where indigenous justice is practiced. In a few coastal towns, the same thing happens: if they catch a thief, they don’t turn him over to the police, but the same community can kill him.

But this does not take away the fear of being assaulted at any time.

The cost of living is on the rise

In Ecuador, the minimum wage is $450 USD, while the Family Basic Box for a family of four costs approximately $767 USD.

Purchasing a car here is twice as expensive as in Peru or even the United States. For the average Ecuadorian, electronic equipment, clothing, and other accessories are too pricey.

The main reason is Ecuador’s high tax rates.

While many people choose to purchase items from abroad because they are less expensive, you must adhere to the “4×4 rule” or your order may end up costing you more money than you originally paid.

As a result, many individuals opt for businesses that employ individuals who frequently travel to the United States in order to import more expensive accessories (in order to avoid paying the excessive taxes).

It may appear that we are not good citizens for doing it. But I’ll tell you what once occurred to us: we spent $500 on an audiovisual equipment that was unavailable in Ecuador. To our astonishment, we had to pay $450 more in taxes to bring it in legally.

It was absolutely out of our budget, which is common among small business owners (especially when contrasted to the budgets controlled by major corporations).

Food is the only thing that is inexpensive, at least.

Perhaps if you compare the income of a foreigner from Europe or the United States who comes to visit us, our country is not so expensive.

However, if they must reside, it can be a little pricey. Or at least that is what we know about the numerous backpackers and outlanders who travel our nation.

Bad public transportation

In Ecuador, there is no metro system.

Although public buses are available throughout the country, the fastest mode of transportation is only available in main cities such as Quito, Guayaquil, and Cuenca; however, they fail to get to every part of each city.

Despite the low cost of the bus pass, there is no comfort, and many buses get stuck in traffic.

Not to mention the crime going on inside the buses, which we talked about at the beginning.

In addition, many citizen take up to three buses to get from home to work, and if you want to travel to remote touristic destinations, you may have to do the same (unless you hire a taxi, go on more expensive trips, or rent a car).

Buses of Ecuador

Political Instability and Corruption

Another one bad thing of living in Ecuador. And perhaps in all of Latin America.

Ecuador has undergone periods of political instability and government transition throughout its history. This might cause uncertainty and jeopardize the country’s economic and social stability.

Corruption is felt everywhere, not just in politics, but also in business, the law, and the workplace.

The biggest sign of corruption that we see every day is in the justice system. When they catch thieves or killers, they let them go right away. Most of the time, money is involved, but the fear of crime also corrupts the system.

Access to high-quality health-care services is limited

Even though Ecuador has both a public and a private health care system, services may be limited and of lower quality in some remote places.

If something bad happens to you outside of a big city, you may be treated at a local hospital, but you will probably be better off going to a hospital with better equipment, which is usually in a big city.

In addition, Ecuador’s social insurance is not covering medicines or treatments for many Ecuadorians, and the state has not improved public hospitals.

So, maybe the public health system is pretty good for simple medical care. But for major illnesses or more complicated situations, the private system is necessary, which is very expensive for the average Ecuadorian.

Instable Basic Services

While many cities provide basic services, most rural areas do not.

Even in the city, there are sometimes water or power outages, but people typically receive notification ahead of time.

When it comes to the Internet, it’s not the best in the area, and it’s even worse in Galapagos and other rural places (where the Internet is not even available).

Unlike in other parts of the world, you cannot drink tap water here. If you do that, you will get sick.

Poor service in terms of processes and duties

Ecuador has faced bureaucracy and corruption issues at many levels of government and in numerous sectors.

These issues might have a negative impact on the efficiency of administrative procedures.

Many of them aren’t clear, and sometimes you have to ask from different places to finish them.

There is also the issue of corruption and a lack of foresight. For example, in the last two years, it has taken longer to update passports or ID cards because of a “lack of material.” Can you believe it?

Risk of earthquakes

Ecuador is located in an active seismic zone due to its placement in the Pacific Fire Belt. This means that earthquakes are possible in some areas of the country, particularly around the coast.

Ecuador’s most recent big earthquake, measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale, occurred in the province of Manabi in 2016.

Even though the center of the earthquake was in Pedernales, which is north of Manabi, a bridge and several houses fell in Guayaquil.

So, as in Chile, it generally shakes here.

Earthquake Ecuador-Manabí

Infrastructure in development

Even though there have been a lot of attempts to improve infrastructure, especially in cities, there are still parts of the country where roads, public transportation, and basic services are limited or of poor quality, especially in rural areas.

We’ve already discussed how the problem is a lack of government attention and, of course, corruption.

Why corruption? Because there is no such thing as a meritocracy here.

If you are a friend of someone in the government, you will be granted a work concession, but this is precisely why the works will be delayed due to a conflict of interest.

So nothing improves.

Corruption also leads to many works being overpriced but of poor quality. This is due to the fact that it is not done by companies that merit it, but rather because of nepotism.

Language and cultural barriers

Although Ecuador is a warm and diverse country, foreign visitors who do not speak Spanish may face cultural and language challenges.

It can take time and effort to a foreigner to learn the local language and adjust to local traditions.

On the other hand, English is not widely spoken in Ecuador and most people only know basic English.

Bilingual education in Ecuador is weak, particularly in the public system.

Furthermore, most citizen including ourselves, learned English in part through school and in part through music, video games, movies, and so on.

Therefore, if a foreigner comes to Ecuador without knowing Spanish, he may be able to communicate if he visits tourist spots, but it is unlikely that he will be able to carry on a conversation fluently.

But this occurs to everyone who travels internationally. We are the ones who must adapt, not the country.

See also: Do people in Ecuador speak English?

I’ll leave you with those 10 things that sucks of living in Ecuador. To be honest, those were the first things that sprang to mind, but I’ll be noting more as time goes on 😀

Bad things of living in Ecuador according to an expat

I’d like to end this post with a different point of view: from an expat.

Maybe what we, as Ecuadorians, perceive to be bad is not the same as what a foreigner living in Ecuador considers to be negative.

On YouTube, I came across this video, which I thought was really fascinating. I recommend you watch it:

About the author

Hey there! We are Ericka and Stefano. As longtime citizens of this amazing country, we are honored to serve as your tour guides and offer our firsthand experiences, insider advice, and must-see attractions in Ecuador. So be prepare for an exciting journey through Ecuador’s unique treasures.

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