A couple of months ago I arrived in Quito, Ecuador, expecting to settle here for a few years, maybe more. However I’ve decided it is not for me. At least I don’t think so. I’ve returned to the UK for a while to cool off.
Moving to any country is tough, especially during a pandemic. And it’s also very personal. I really struggled in Quito, Ecuador, while I know others who live there and love it.
I’ve lived in Lebanon, India, Syria (pre-civil war) and many, many more places. But nothing prepared me for life in Quito.
Just to make clear, my husband loved it in Quito and he adored Ecuador in general. Many friends of mine lived there and loved it. But I didn’t.
Now I know I may get some backlash for this post. I hate whining and I was hesitant about offending anyone who loves it here. But this blog isn’t sponsored by a tourism board or hotel. I’m going to tell you like it is, for me, at least.
I think one of my main issues was not being prepared for the reality on the ground. I read about how wonderful Quito was, but I didn’t think of the possible disadvantages which would affect my personal lifestyle.
Now, the disadvantages I encountered might not be a big deal for you. In fact, depending on your preferences, you might love Quito. But I didn’t and here’s why…
Here are the bad things about living in Quito, Ecuador for me personally:
The bad things about living in Quito
I can deal with a bit of pick pocketing, but I’m not cool with the level of and type of crime here.
I grew accustomed to seeing guns while working in a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon, but in Quito it felt different. In Lebanon, I felt the guns were there to protect me, whereas here in Quito I felt threatened. In Lebanon I personally felt welcome as a foreigner, whereas in Quito I felt unwelcome.
One day I took a stroll from the hotel to a park with my three children. At one point we became separated and I was concerned my eldest child was going to be taken from me. Now, my kids are fine, but still, it felt aggressive, to put it mildly. I’ve since asked local friends and hotel staff and while I was extremely unlucky, they all advised me not to go out alone with my kids again.
Now, that’s not to say that kids in Quito are kept locked up inside. The issue is that I have three young children and they’re inclined to walk ahead or run around. I’ve been advised to keep my youngest in a sling and the other two on a leash (literally), but I can’t stop my kids wandering off. Kidnapping, while very rare, does happen, I was told.
Since the pandemic hit, crime has been on the rise it seems. That’s not to say people don’t take their kids with them on the street. Some do, including foreigners. But from what I’ve seen most parents are very, very cautious.
Sexual assault and rape is an issue here, too. Of course, that’s not to say the problem doesn’t exist elsewhere in other countries. I spoke to some Ecuadorian women here and they said that the country is moving in the right direction. People are starting to question a macho culture.
I know that travel safety sites often exaggerate, but still, they make for grim reading. Date rape drugs seem to be an issue. Never accept a flyer, perfume sample or any freebie from anyone in the street, I was advised.
Express kidnappings, especially of tourists using unofficial taxis, are another problem I am told. Travellers are taken to an ATM where they’re cleared of their savings, or sexually assaulted or raped.
Again, just to underline, I am fine, my kids are all fine. If you’re in any doubt, read the latest statistics, ask locals for their advice and take sensible precautions.
Expat life in a bubble or in fear
Maybe I’m panicking too much. But I tend to trust locals and they all advised me against me walking with all my kids on the street alone.
So my solution would be to stay at home, go to the mall (urgh, no thank you!) or head to the countryside. Based on this, I feel my life would be stay in a bubble all week, then escape to the countryside on weekends. I’m not sure I would want do this.
Maybe I’m worrying too much, but I’m a mum of three small children and I personally did not feel safe where I was in Quito.
Security is a personal feeling and I do not like the feeling of living in fear. As for the bad things about living in Quito, for me this is the worst. For me, personal safety not just a lifestyle preference, it’s a dealbreaker.
Seeing security guards patrol condominiums with big guns and bullet proof vests made me feel uneasy. For some people guns make them feel safe, for me it was the opposite.
I’ve done a lot of research and it seems relocation agents are rare in Quito. Due to a miscommunication at my husband’s company we weren’t offered support for our move.
In case you’re wondering – a relocation agent acts as a one stop shop for helping find accommodation, registering at the hospital, providing cultural / security advice and anything else you might need when moving to a new country.
Relocation agents are locals who are very tapped into the city. They understand the perspective of the foreigner too, so can give advice on what to do, or what not to do. They’re connected with realtors, they can advise on schools, and can point you in the right direction in the case of a medical issue.
Housing agents do exist, but relocation agents are rare. There are forums on Facebook with locals and expats keen to help, but not professional services that I’ve seen in other countries.
There are people on social media claiming to offer their services to foreigners, but they’re not relocation agents. Unless you’re moving with a multinational company or large organisation which has solid experience of relocating workers to Quito, you might find yourself on your own.
I did eventually find a small relocation agency, but I didn’t get the impression they would be able to find us a suitable temporary home.
I moved without contacts or assistance, and I struggled to find my way around. Now, if you have close friends in Quito, or if you have family there, then chances are that your experience will be completely different to mine.
In it alone
If you are moving with a large company or experienced organisation, you may be OK. If you have family in Quito it’s a different ball game. However Quito is not an easy city to move to. You’ll need support, contacts, some insider help.
A lot of the time I’ve felt like I’m fumbling in the dark. My kid got a concussion and I didn’t know which hospital to take him to. In any case, I didn’t have functioning internet to search online. Thankfully I have a friend of a friend whose sister-in-law happens to be a brain surgeon (what are the chances?!) and I managed to get the support I needed. My kid was OK.
House hunting, getting help in an emergency and even grocery shopping has been a struggle for me though. (I couldn’t leave my apartment due to COVID-19 quarantine restrictions and I couldn’t order food in easily without an ID or local mobile phone number).
I’m immensely grateful to the Ecuadorian people who have tried to help, but at the end of the day I need more. I can’t rely on a friend with her own kids, job and busy life to find me a house, take my kid to the hospital, show me around…
Lack of temporary housing
Airbnb does exist, but it’s not as developed in other countries. The pandemic put a lot of properties out of reach. The majority of the properties I contacted on Airbnb were actually no longer available for rent.
We’re a family with three small children and it was really hard to find suitable temporary accommodation.
We stayed in the only accommodation we could find at rather short notice. The lock was broken, the oven didn’t work, there was no heating or blankets, the internet didn’t work properly and as some windows didn’t close properly we got really cold at night. Due to security concerns, and general inconvenience, I eventually transferred to a hotel.
Now, if you’re moving with a multinational this may not be an issue for you. Large companies tend to have their own temporary accommodation.
For those moving without the arsenal of a big multinational, it’s tricky to organise short term leases. You’ll have to sign a minimum one-year contract (usually two years).
In my experience I found that most owners would provide very basic furniture (e.g. no TV, no bed linen, no cutlery etc). So we’d basically have to ship or buy stuff.
In our case we’d have to make do until our furniture arrived (three months) and then we would continue with the same rental contract and sell anything we’d bought.
I wasn’t prepared to sign a long term contract and buy a load of household essentials having just arrived in a city I didn’t even like. Investing so much money at the start felt like such a gamble.
Quito enjoys a series of microclimates, so it very much depends on where you live as to your weather that day. It’s pretty normal to experience thunder, rain, scorching heat and humidity, all in the same day.
There is very little difference to the temperature all year round. The only difference is more rain in the winter, I’m told.
While the weather outside of Quito is warmer, on the whole I was been really cold living in Quito. The houses and hotel I stayed in were cold and came without heating (or aircon). For about two hours per day it was too hot, but in the evening it was really, really cold. I wore warm socks in bed and most days I went round the hotel in a hoodie and body warmer.
Outside of Quito it’s more tropical which makes for a much more pleasant climate. However, it also means a lot of mosquitos. It seems I was the breakfast, lunch and dinner for a swarm of insects one weekend. My husband’s legs were so inflamed with bites they looked like they’ve been inflated with a bicycle pump.
It’s a small issue, but nonetheless it’s worth noting that the so called ‘spring all year round weather’ that everyone raves about isn’t a dream come true for all.
The bad things about living in Quito are personal
Moving to a new country is always tough. However there is one thing waiting out it out until it gets better, and there is another thing being irresponsible as a parent. In Quito my kids were bored, tired and fed up. For the most part I felt exhausted, tired and often, scared.
I can deal with a lack of vegan restaurants. I can cope with dog dirt. A bit of cold weather doesn’t put me off. But as a mother, the crime scares me so much.
As mentioned, it’s very personal. My husband loves the laid back lifestyle. He doesn’t get the unwanted attention I do. He doesn’t freak out for the kids’ safety like me. He would gladly settle in Quito for a long, long time.
I got chatting to a family of Ecuadorians and even they held a difference of opinion among themselves. The daughter said I should stick it out, the father suggested moving to the countryside and the mother recommended moving to the UK or Uruguay as soon as possible (Uruguay is another option I’m toying with).
A friend whom I met online and is relocating at the same time as me hates Quito too, all for the same reasons. Too dangerous to live in the city, and too boring to live outside, she lamented.
Another travel journalist friend described Ecuador as ‘rather boring’ and the ‘Belgium of South America’. I think that’s being unfair to Belgium.
It’s true that we’ve also been unusually unlucky. No doubt my impressions have been shaped by a series of misadventures. I appreciate that many of the bad things about living in Quito apply to may other cities, too.
Holiday yes, life no
The fruit in Ecuador is amazing. The nature outside of the city is beautiful. There are amazing travel opportunities. But for me, as a mother of three young kids, security is a deal breaker. I know other families love it, but not me. Not yet, at least.
If you’re considering a move here, my only advice would be to visit before you move. Quito is a marmite city. Husband loves it. I hate it. Who knows how you will feel?
I would gladly vacation in Ecuador again, but I have no desire to live there. Taking a holiday in a place is very different to living there.
I think I was also very, very unlucky. The combination of a security incident in the park, a lack of support / contacts, and pandemic related issues all combined into a terrible first impression.
Call me stupid, call me ignorant, call me unlucky, I do not want to live in Quito.
Are you moving to a new city? If you do like your city, but you’re struggling to settle in, you might also want to check out my tips here.
I really feel for you on this post. I used to live in Italy and I was offered a ‘better’ job than the one I had if I moved further south to a city called Bari. I absolutely hated it there! And I really loved living in Italy before I moved there. I didn’t have kids and I was single, so I had the luxury of quitting and moving back to where I was. I can imagine how you feel – I have 3 children now and I think I would hate it if I felt they weren’t safe. I think Uruguay would be much better than Quito. I stayed in Quito for a little while many years ago. I think even then I was warned about going out alone.
Thank you Anna. I’ve also heard of Bari, and it doesn’t sound like the high life for a young singleton!
It’s nice to hear you understand. The sad truth is that people who haven’t experienced things like us will judge and give dumb advice (Like when I decided against a move to Nigeria someone told me to take my unvaccinated newborn baby there and ‘just fly back’ if he contracted a disease…).
I may HAVE to return to Quito, which fills me with dread, but it would not be a choice on my part. I’d just have to get through it. For now though, I’m just making the most of life in the UK with my family.
Same thing can happen in any city, . Better check crime records per city and relax remember Kim Kardashian worst crime experience was in Paris
Absolutely. As I say it was more a feeling. I spoke to journalist friend and like you, she recommended the crime stats. Although they didn’t make for great reading to be honest. If I did have to move to Quito I’d just choose to live in a much smaller bubble than I’m accustomed to, I think.
No place is perfect and many places will not be ideal for us base on our expectations, needs and preferences. At least you gave it a go and from the post, it seems like you gave this decision a lot of thought. I felt similarly when I lived in Kuwait- although it was an easy life for me professionally, outside of work, the country just rubbed me the wrong way so I left after 9 months. Thanks for sharing your personal experiences!
Hi Aneesa, Firstly, I love your blog! It is refreshing to see someone blogging for the sheer love of it. I really appreciate your honesty. I do make a living from my blog, but I’d like to think it is authentic and I’m not afraid to post stuff from the heart, even if people might disagree with me.
Thank you also for the kind words re my post here. I may return to Ecuador at some stage, but it will be with more support and a back up plan. I’m not stressing yet as with the pandemic everything is so topsy turvy, right?
And interesting to hear your thoughts re Kuwait. I have heard it can be really challenging. One of my friends loved it, but another who was not in work at the time really struggled. All the best, Nina x
I completely agree. We moved here three months ago and it was fun for a week but you VERY quickly run out of things to do, save for going to the mall and restaurants like you said. Dirty, boring, and a feeling of lawlessness. Don’t even get me started on the meat and cheese quality, after having lived in Germany and the US for many years that is a dealbreaker! We quickly learned that Quito is not for us and will be returning to Los Angeles soon. Thanks for posting this, I was glad to hear that we are not alone in our disdain for this city.
Thanks James. Sorry to hear you had a similar experience. The old saying, “well if you don’t like it here, then you can leave” rang true for me. I didn’t like it, so I left!
I totally agree, I’ve lived in Africa, Europe and the Middle East and nothing compares the miserable 10+ years I spent in Quito! I hated every minute and even though I still own a business in the city I refuse to return…..stay away unless you enjoy blatant corruption, noise, trash, pollution and the unfriendliest people you ever wish to meet!
Gosh, sorry to hear that. And 10 years?! The people I met were, on the whole, lovely. But yes, personally, the dog dirt and general feeling of lawlessness made me very uncomfortable. As I say though, my husband loved it, so hey…?!
Me dió risa leer tu publicación! Es muy cierto! Yo soy ecuatoriana, quiteña, viviendo en el extranjero. Ni loca viviría en la ciudad de Quito. Es más, mis padres salieron de la ciudad hacia Cumbayá hace más de 30 años.
La verdad es q yo voy de visita sólo a Cumbayá. No recuerdo la última vez q fuí a Quito, y tengo mucho miedo de ir a la ciudad con mis hijos.
Cumbayá y Tumbaco son muy “Suburban” pero aún así hay mucha gente viviendo allí. No hay necesidad de ir a Quito para encontrar centros comerciales, restaurantes o cafés, incluso hay muchos colegios buenos para los hijos, aunque la renta sea más cara por allá, creo q vale la pena. El clima es mejor q Quito. Yo me siento a gusto ahí en el valle, ese sería el único lugar a donde yo iría a vivir.
Quito no se puede comparar con una ciudad europea o de medio Oriente. La gente con dinero no vive, ni invierte, ni se divierte en la ciudad. No way! Quito no es París.
Yo te recomiendo salir de Quito, e ir a Cumbayá o Tumbaco. Por lo menos por allá se siente q la gente es más educada, más responsable, más amable. Hay clubs y lugares para los niños, las escuelas están cerca, los condominios y urbanizaciones tienen mejor mantenimiento. Cómo te digo, yo ni loca viviera en Quito.
Lo único q le salva a Quito es q es mejor q Lima. Lima es horrible hasta de visita!
Gracias por su respuesta. Me alegro de no haberte ofendido! Como digo, fue un sentimiento muy personal. Tengo amigos que vivieron en Quito muchos años y les encantó.
Me quedé tb en Cumbaya, pero parece que no estábamos en una buena zona … o tal vez tuve muy, muy mala suerte. Creo que fue una serie de hechos desafortunados, mal tiempo, situaciones peligrosas y ya…. no podia mas.
Para ser honesto, ¡quizás tuve solo muy, muy mala suerte!
Aún así, no creo que Ecuador fuera para mí, así que voy a Uruguay.
A ver, a ver…
I spent 6 weeks in Montevideo, Uruguay right before the pandemic started (with a short stay in Buenos Aires). I fell in love with both cities and have been unable to go back due to the border closures in both countries. As an alternate, I have chosen to go to Quito for a month so I read your article with interest and concern. I am from Southern California, am a single mature gay male, so no children to worry about. I have read that crime is an issue in Quito, but to be honest I heard the same things about Montevideo and BA before I went and I never felt like I was in danger in either city. Dog poop was rampant in both cities – and the sidewalks in Montevideo are atrocious and even dangerous to walk on. BA is much more cosmopolitan and fast-paced that Montevideo; Montevideo is very laid-back and slow. The locals love grilled meat, potatoes and pizza – not a lot of culinary choices but I hear things are getting more diverse. I have to say I met some amazing people in both cities and went same great restaurants and bars. One thing I did was book a couple local experiences and walking tours through Air B & B and was able to interact with locals who were really proud to show their cities off. I made some lasting friendships while there, including some expats I met through Facebook groups. Since I have been back in the states, I learned a little Spanish and am looking forward to Quito. I found an amazing (and cheap!) Air B & B flat in the La Floresta neighborhood that seems to be close to everything and looks relatively safe, modern and clean. I don’t mind a little grit and grime – I’m wondering if the children weren’t a factor would you have felt the same way? I really do appreciate your writing this as (like you say) it’s an authentic opinion. I heartily recommend Montevideo – but it’s not Paris either. Buenos Aires maybe a good choice for you.
Thank you for your comment. I am so glad you got a lot from both cities and with this attitude (and a bit of street savvy caution) I’m sure you’ll love Quito, too.
Yes, I think the fact I have small children greatly impacted on my impression of Quito. If I were young and childless I would have felt very differently about Quito, I’m sure. I’m sure my younger self would be bored to tears in Uruguay whereas now I relish the opportunity to move somewhere a little more chilled. (I’m now looking to move to PDE instead of MVD so even quieter!)
I also wonder if I felt less safe as a woman in Quito…? Some catcalls and unwanted touching made me feel uneasy. But yes, the main issue was relating to my children’s health and security.
I’ll also say that I was extremely unlucky in Quito. One disaster after another warped my perception slightly I’m sure. As I said, I can only write from my personal experience and that was traumatic in my case. While there were some parts I enjoyed (I made some great friends) I feel it would be dishonest to pretend I enjoyed the city. However my husband has travelled many times to Quito and loves it more every time he goes.
Keep me posted on your travels. I hope you have a wonderful time and I wish you all the best
Just found your blog. I am in Quito Now for 7 Days at the Beautiful Dann Carlton Hotel.
I usually stay at the JW Marriott or an Air B&B. I love Quito and the Mountain climbing and Airport that get’s me back to the USA or South America.
In the 5 years i have been coming here i have never felt unsafe , just sometime discriminated against until the Ecuadorians find out im American.
All places have good and bad and discrimination of some group, as one of my favorite places Montevideo Uruguay does.
As you said Quito may not be a place you want to live but its a cool place to visit. I find much more crime in Flordia ,Texas and many other United States.
I wish you well in your travels and hope you do the best thing one can do, which us travel extensively as long as you may.
I started traveling with passport at 5 years old as my father was a 1st Sargent Airbourn Army Ranger and grew up in Schwinfurt Germany.
I fell in love with Brazil and moved there in 1989 when most people told me it was the most dangerous country to live in. I would have been a fool to miss out on the fun i had 4 years after the fall of the military dictatorship until today in 2021.
So everyone listen and find tbe place or places that suit you best and travel travel travel.
Best wishes to all and Especially Nina for the great blog.
Sammy “The Road Warrior”
Firstly, thank you for your kind words. I think it would have been so tempting to scream that I had got it all wrong, so thank you for your tact!
As I see you understand travel and life abroad is personal and quite often down to luck too. From what I am hearing I was extremely unfortunate in Quito. And as I know you understand that when I myself had a bad experience I can’t pretend it was all good. I feel a lot of bloggers sugar coat bad personal experiences. In my case at least, Quito was extremely traumatic and I felt my kids were not safe on one occasion in particular.
However, it is so refreshing to hear you had a good time. I lived in Syria for a while and my fiance came to visit and he didn’t really ‘get it’. Just like I didn’t get Quito. He was marvelling at the beautiful buildings, whereas after my ‘incident’ I was worried my kids would be snatched. Meanwhile in Syria I was chatting away to the people, feeling totally inspired, really alive, marvelling at the mosques and my husband was grumbling about faulty toilets. It is so personal, right?!
I think I’m a bit too traumatised to return to Quito anytime soon so it’s great to hear more about the many, wonderful, positive sides of the city, too.
I’m hearing a LOT of grumbling about Uruguay on Facebook expat groups, but it still think it will be worthwhile for my personal situation.
Wishing you all the best in your travels and life abroad. And again, thank you
I live in North Carolina. I have some friends that are a older married couple no children. They are in Ecuador right now. The wife is hell-bent on moving to Quito. They are friends with another American couple that have been living down there. When they announced thatThey wanted to move to Ecuador, all of their friends looked at them like are you kidding? They will be back to the states next week. I’m very anxious to hear what their impressions and opinions are now if they have been there.
Well, as I say it is very personal right?
I feel some online reviews shy away from when things go wrong, and in my case they did. Very wrong.
However I’m not saying Quito isn’t for other people. I do wonder how I’d feel if I didn’t have kids for example… perhaps it wouldn’t have been so tough for me. On the other hand I know families who love life in Quito so… who knows?
I loved Antwerp, Santiago and (pre civil war) Damascus which I know lots of others didn’t, so it’s very personal. But I do read all these rankings claiming Quito is THE place to relocate to and I’m like hmmmm? Really ? Not for me.
I wish your friends all the luck. They may adore it, just like my husband did.
Hola, se que este es un blog de estilo de vida de mujeres pero solo entre por curiosidad para informarme, soy de otra ciudad del Ecuador y me toca mudarme a Quito por tema de estudios universitarios , tengo mucho miedo mudarme porque me toca vivir solo y hacer todo solo, las compras, movilizarme, situaciones de emergencia medica, pero lo que mas me pone nervioso es la seguridad, el crimen de esa ciudad y no se como evitar todo, no se si me podrías dar recomendaciones para los robos en esa ciudad, porque Quito siempre se a caracterizado por se una ciudad muy peligrosa si no la mas del pais. Yo vengo de la ciudad de Loja, Ecuador y el contraste entre ciudades es diferente, en mi ciudad hay arboles en todos lados, es super limpio todo, las veredas están limpias y brillando, las casas son bonitas, se podría decir que toda la ciudad parece ser habitada por gente de clase media y claro que hay lugar con casas mas modernas de gente de mas dinero, transporte de bus y taxis son modernos y limpios, puedes caminar a la madrugada al salir de una fiesta y solo que no te pasa nada, pero lo que mas destaca de todo es que es una ciudad muy verde por donde cruzan dos ríos y por eso ha ganado muchos premios, ahora pasar de eso a Quito va a ser un gran reto para mi.
Gracias por tu comentario y eres muy bienvenido en mi blog. 🙂
Me parece genial que me aclares que no todas partes del Ecuador son como Quito. Es un país enorme, muy diverso y realmente no quiero que la gente deje de visitarlo.
En segundo lugar, tuve muy, muy mala suerte.
También tengo hijos y soy mucho más consciente de la seguridad ahora que cuando era soltera.
Para mí, cada vez que me mudo a cualquier lugar, soy más cauteloso durante las primeras semanas. Hablo con los personas viviendo en Quito para tener una idea de qué hacer y qué no hacer…. No creo que sea yo la mejor persona para aconsejarte sobre qué hacer en Quito! Seguro que ya sabes mucho más que yo! Mi único consejo sería hablar con los personas de alli, preguntarles por sus consejos y no ser tímido para ser más cauteloso al principio hasta que se sienta cómodo.
Solo para tranquilizarlo nuevamente, que mi esposo viaja regularmente y ama Quito. También me pregunto si viviendo allí como hombre te sentirás más seguro.
No quiero asustar a la gente, pero mis blogs siempre son honestos y desafortunadamente mi experiencia personal fue mala. Sin embargo, el tuyo puede ser genial.
I wish you a great time! Un abrazo,
PS espero que entiendes mi espanol … un ano en Inglaterra y casi me olvido de todo!!
Hola, Me mude temporalmente a Uruguay, y elegí Punta del Este. Punta del este tiene un buen colegio y a precios razonables (International College). Es bastante verde, ventoso y fresco, llegando a ser frio unos 4 meses al año. El transporte publico es seguro y se puede ir a Montevideo en dos horas. He vivido en ambas ciudades y con hijos me quedo en Punta del Este y viajo a montevideo algun fin de semana que quiero a actividades puntuales (ej. ballet del sodre, conciertos). El costo de vida es similar a Costa Rica o Chile, pero los alquileres temporales en el verano suelen ser caros por el turismo argentino (la frontera se reabre el en dos días a turistas). Uruguay cuenta con una tasa de vacunación alta (79% con dos dosis) y Punta del Este es un lugar seguro para vivir (algunos niños de primaria van solos a la escuela en bicicleta o caminando). Internet es muy buena, hay fibra óptica y es estable para telework (en particular videollamadas). En relacion a vivienda es difícil conseguir una casa en buen estado en alquiler anual, para eso hay que ir mas hacia el este (unos 30 minutos) a Manantiales. SIn embargo hay una buena cantidad de apartamentos con hermosas vistas, todos son amueblados (no mudarse con muebles porque es muy difícil conseguir algo sin, diría que no existe. En Montevideo es lo contrario). He vivido en varios paises y con familia, por lo que si quieres mas informacion me avisas. De mi experiencia creo que todos los lugares tienen sus cosas buenas y no tan buenas y cuando uno se muda cambia unas por otras, por lo que depende de las preferencias en donde uno se siente mas comodo.
Gracias Juan, tienes toda la razón, depende de las preferencias personales. Yo como tu me siento mucho mejor en Punta – decidimos venir a Punta y hasta ahora a mi me encanta. Me siento súper bien acá. Cómo dices muy seguro, la calidad de vida para familias estupenda… pero si a ver si conseguimos un apartamento!
I have lived in 6 different countries, including Uruguay. Please, don’t consider living in Montevideo. You will have the same feeling you had when you lived in Quito. You live in fear of thieves breaking into your house or having your bag snatched or worse being threatened with guns or knives ti get your telephone or your money. I lived in the poshest area of the city Carrasco, and at least once a week there was a scary crime story. What is more when I lived there, there were gangs coming into posh hotels and restaurants, arriving with guns, threatened everyone and taking valuables from the business and customers. Punta del Este is also famous for the Christmas robberies. My husband broke his contract and we left because it was horrible to live like that. The cost of living is also very high for what you get, they rarely rent furnished apartments and we had to buy overpriced fridge and cooker. Montevideo has a long winter which is damp and humid and AC or heating is unknown. It’s a boring place too, not much to do, therefore locals scape to Buenos Aires to see some action.
Thank you for your comment. I’m so sorry you had such a tough time. I decided on Punta del Este in the end. I haven’t been here long but so far it feels very safe. I’ve never been to Montevideo but from what I hear it’s very different here. Yes, Christmas robberies do happen here I understand, but only when you’re out of your home, and it’s more common in houses than apartments. I’m told violent crime is very rare here in Punta.
Again, as I say it’s so personal. While statistically Punta del Este is much, much safer than Quito, it’s also a feeling. Personally I feel safe here. I walk around pretty much anyway, I can carry a bag, talk on my phone in the street, drive at night – none of these things would have felt feasible for me in Quito.
Perhaps some might find it boring here, but as a mum with small children and some great friends here, it suits me very well.
I hope you managed to find somewhere good to settle finally.
Wishing you all the best
Hi Nina, we are a retired US couple living in Cuenca, Ecuador for the last three years. A totally different experience from Quito, which does seem less safe to us. While we love Cuenca, we are going to take a scouting trip to Quito soon to check out one of the better neighborhoods in north Quito. We feel nervous about flights and the ability to exit the country to get back home in an emergency. Cuenca has an airport but the schedules usually mean a very long delay in Quito, last trip was an 11 hour layover each way. Since we have permanent residence and have acquired an apartment full of furniture and a dog, we think we would like to stay in Ecuador. Even though we don’t have youngsters, as you do, safety is still our biggest concern. The high rises with armed security will give you peace of mind. I know you might not be used to that, but it is important. As far as walking about with three young children, you might want to wait until your husband can join you. I get treated differently, even here, than when my husband is with me. That is limiting, I know, but best to be cautious. The patriarchy lives on for at least the next 40 years.
Wear a cross body handbag (like Travelon), nothing in back pockets. Never hail a cab on the street. Wear athletic shoes. Keep scanning the crowd and if you get that spidey sense that something is wrong, duck into a bank or shop where there are other people. Never use ATMs on the street. Malls are boring, I know, but safer when you want to have lunch with the kids. Don’t go out at night, even together, and especially in el centro.
We were much more nervous when we first arrived, but are comfortable now. However, Cuenca is one of the safest cities in South America, so our impression may be skewed. Get a stun gun. They are legal. The type that has a button that can be pushed to make a menacing sound and electrical display. That usually will scare away an attacker or mean dog without having to stun anyone.
In conclusion, we would say that Ecuador is still overall a nice place to live and certainly a bargain. There are plenty of things to see (check out Cuenca, only a $45 flight). Get an apartment with east west facing windows (warmer) and at least 4 floors up (noise!). Get into a building with more than one elevator in case one goes out.
Thank you for all this excellent advice. I have heard so many good things about Cuenca. While the pandemic means life is certainly not simple I’m sure, I have heard that Cuenca is exactly as you describe. Cuenca was not an option for me, though, so in the end I decided on Punta del Este, Uruguay.
All your advice about getting by in Quito seems very sensible. Everything about footwear, taxis, handbags, a stun gun etc.
I’m sure if I were without kids and in more of an adventurous mood I might be tempted to try Quito, but right now I’m very content with an easy (if pricey) life with my kids in Punta del Este, Uruguay. Yes I am not saving nearly as much as I would if I were in Quito but I feel my kids are safe here, and consequently I feel happy here too.
Wishing you all the best and thank you again
So sorry this has been your experience! I am Brazilian Ecuadorian and my dad is an embasados we lived in Quito for 15 years. I have lived in Panama Uruguay Brazil US UK Ireland and Spain. I love Quito and every diplomat I met and their kids too. It is very personal and a loooot has to do with knowing people but believer I find that to be the case in many countries. I absolutely hate Dublin and as I am Afro Latino I feel UK and Ireland are incredibly unsafe because of racism! And Dublin is incredibly boring and it has a rent crisis.
I am sorry you experienced this and it’s valid and I do feel Quito it’s dangerous but nothing compared to Santiago Lima Brazil or Argentina right now to be honest ( I have friends from every country in the world lol) so for anyone trying to move there it can be great but as anywhere in the world is good to know people before they go. I met sooo many Irish and Americans that are obsessed with Ecuador and they lived there haha
Thanks for your comment. And yes, I really want to underline that it’s nothing to do with the people. The people in Quito were incredibly lovely to me (apart from ‘the ones’ who made my stay so horrible !) I have some great friends in Quito, from Quito and we remain in touch.
As you say it’s very personal. I know some people would find Uruguay utterly boring, but as for me I love the pace of life here. With three kids, safety is so important for me right now and this was the deal breaker for me with Quito.
And as I say, I was no doubt very unlucky too. I lived for a couple of years in Santiago, travelled around the city, took public transport, with my baby and I never had any issues. The only thing I would be careful in Santiago was not to walk around at night time. However I drove, took local taxis, and I personally never had anything but a wonderful time. I have read about crime related issues in Santiago, but personally I never experienced them. Maybe I was unlucky in Quito, lucky in Chile… who knows.
Anyway, again I hope you’re not offended. This has nothing to do with nationality. I see so much online about how wonderful Quito is, and I got so excited to move there. However my experience was anything but wonderful. Yes it was cheap, but I felt so incredibly unsafe. It just wasn’t worth it for me. As a mum of three, safety is my no.1 priority right now.
Anyway, thanks for posting and take care wherever you are in the world. All the best,
Interesting take on Quito. I appreciate the candor. Nothing irritates me more on travel blogs than people who minimize or deny the negatives.
Thanks Jim, as I say some of my friends love it, but I didn’t. I’m glad my honesty doesn’t offend you!
Didn’t know what hospital to take your kid to??? The closest …if there’s an issue ….
Unfortunately not all hospitals are adequately equipped for trauma and in the pandemic some were facing overcrowding. In the end the care my kid received was excellent but it was a stressful journey to get there.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I also went to Quito with great hopes but quickly learned that it wasn’t for me – (1) I felt a sense of lawlessness and lack of safety almost everywhere I went, (2) It was very cold when the sun wasn’t up but central heating is not a thing, (3) Given the lack of safety, most locals spend their time in malls and restaurants so there isn’t much to do. I left as soon as I could with my tail between my legs.
Sadly, this was much my experience. But I know many others who loved it. A friend who loved the outdoors spent all her weekends in the nature outside of Quito. She adored it and was baffled that I had such a rough time. So it’s personal, I guess.
I’m sorry it wasn’t for you either, but I’m glad I’m not alone. I feel a lot of blogs shy away from the uncomfortable truth that Quito is not for everyone.
All the best