Ecuador Expat File
Donald Ballantyne

Home Country: Canada

Currently living in: San Clemente, Ecuador

Learn more about Donald's adventures on his blog:

What made you want to move abroad?

We were born and raised in Ontario, Canada. My wife and I had moved around Ontario and the East coast due to my career and I had travelled the world as a sailor in the RCN.

After we retired in 2010, we realized we didn't want to spend the rest of our lives living in an apartment even if it was overlooking Lake Huron, and so began our 2 year quest.

How did you decide to move to Ecuador?

After researching Belize (too much crime), Panama (the new Florida) and Ecuador, we locked into San Clemente. In January, 2017, we rented a condo across the road from the beach.

After communicating with other expats and visiting larger cities and towns and after looking at the socio-economics and government of the country, we went home to mull over what we learned. We were very interested in the health insurance available and found the government insurance was more than adequate for our needs. With all we learned, we contacted Zambrano Asociados in Portoviejo and began the immigration process.

When did you move to Ecuador?

My wife and I moved here on January 2, 2018 with too many clothes and too much luggage.

Initially, we were thinking of moving all our furniture but the cost was prohibitive and went with 10 suitcases. We would have and may still go with Manabi Marine Logistics out of Manta. Very helpful and easy to deal with.

What was the hardest part of moving?

This may sound silly but our hardest thing was leaving our 9 year old schnoodle with my wife's sister and brother-in-law. With Skype and other apps we could keep in touch with people, but dogs just don't get it in a computer screen. We are planning a trip to pick her up and bring her back.

What challenges or joys have you had that you didn't expect?

  1. Finding a good bread flour.
  2. Language
  3. Medical help
  4. Marcelo (he's our go to guy) 
  5. Six hours of sun every day
  6. Birds
  7. Good, fresh fish right out of the nets on our beach, vegetables that still have dirt on them from the farmers market in Charapotol, fruit with medicinal properties (i.e. papaya seeds to get rid of parasites)
  8. What? Parasites? Fact of life when there is no safe water to drink except bottled water delivered to your door
  9. Doctor Christina who makes house calls for $30 plus the meds (in my case, a needle intravenously, one in the arm and one in the butt).
  10. John and Mary, neighbours who are an email away with answers to all our questions.
  11. Drills for tsunamis periodically.
  12. A literal bump then some swaying in a chair with rubber legs, at least that's what the earthquake  felt like. So far, we've experienced a 4.5 and 4.7 quake 31 km off the coast and 10 km deep.

What do you love about Ecuador?

We love the climate, the people, the food, the ease of getting around once you realize there is no car in the driveway. Buses that cost 25 cents, cabs that will take you anywhere for $1.00 to $130.00. Swimming in the warm salt water ocean. Taking naps whenever you want. History of civilization. A climate to suit every need from 80F where we are to sweater weather in the mountains and everything in between - from over 9,000 ft elevation in Quito to San Clemente at sea level.

What don't you like about Ecuador?

Bugs. Mañana. We had to get used to both. Nothing, it seems, gets done in a hurry. Sometimes you just have to wait until "tomorrow" and bugs are evidence of a non antiseptic existence where we are coddled in Canada.

Would you recommend Ecuador to others? Why or why not?

We would and have recommended Ecuador to others. Our blog gives a pretty reasonable picture of our lives here. Obviously, if you don't like, bugs, dirt roads, crazy cab drivers, laid back lifestyle, needing to plan ahead (mañana) with just about everything, January rainy season (and I mean rainy), then you have no sense of adventure and this wouldn't work for you.

Thanks to Donald for sharing his story and photos! Learn more about his life in Ecuador on his blog:

Do you have an Expat Experience to share? Click here to add your story.

› Donald Ballantyne

Follow me on:  

Follow Me on Facebook
Follow me on Instagram!
Follow Me on Pinterest
My Ecuador Blog


Have your say about what you just read! Leave me a comment in the box below.