Quito, Ecuador Report of what it's like to live there

Personal Experiences from Quito, Ecuador

Quito, Ecuador 07/23/19

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

Yes

View All Answers


2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

US. We are from the East coast so we fly through Atlanta or Miami and catch a connection from there. The total day is about 12 hours. The difficulty is that flights leave out of Quito either around 6am or midnight but the flights are short (4-5 hours) so you lose sleep and need the day you arrive to recover. It's such a pain.

View All Answers


3. How long have you lived here?

2.5 years

View All Answers


4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

US diplomatic mission

View All Answers


Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

If you are single or couple without kids, they will put you in modern, very nice apartment high rises in a hip, centrally located part of town where there is nightlife, restaurants, and walkability to other interesting areas. They may also put you in apartment high rises in North Quito, which is quite a bit closer to the Embassy but farther away from fun and convenience. Nearly all families are in one neighborhood in North Quito that is about 10 minutes to the Embassy and 5 minutes to the international school most families send their kids to. The houses vary a lot in terms of how desirable they are (some are gorgeous, modern and sunny with amazing views; others are old, dark, and cold), whether you have a big yard, etc. But all in all it's a pleasant, safe neighborhood with a big park for the kids.

View All Answers


2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

In the time we've been here, the grocery store has gotten more imported food products which has been nice but it's basically fine. Groceries are not terribly cheap - they're almost as expensive as a mid-range grocery store in the US like Giant. There are fruterias all over town where you can get inexpensive and fresh produce.

View All Answers


3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

All of their soaps - hand soap, laundry detergent, dishwashing liquid- are intensely fragrant and filled with chemicals, I've not found anything non-scented here. Less common spices or Asian ingredients are hard to find. And there are very few American brands here so if you are wed to your Rice Krispies or Kind bars, you'll want to bring those.

View All Answers


4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

You can find almost any type of cuisine here, many are subpar, but there are some good ones...and there are new restaurants opening all the time. They are more expensive than you think they should be though, often costing about as much as dining out in the US. Food delivery is becoming more and more common with Uber eats and some other local companies. For those living in North Quito this has been key because there are virtually no restaurants that are not Ecuadorian fare.

View All Answers


5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

I think the biggest recurring problem here is water damage. The houses do not withstand the rainy season. Some folks thus have to deal with concomitant mold or with GSO frequently making repairs at their house.

View All Answers


Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

We use DPO 90% of the time and pouch once in a while. There is a FedEx for important documents.

View All Answers


2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Families with young kids usually hire full-time empleadas who do housekeeping and childcare. Minimum is $400/month plus overtime, other benefits such as social security, and bonuses of 13th and 14th month salaries. When you leave post, you also have to pay them out a hefty sum around $2-3K. Folks with older kids or no kids will go the part-time route or simply hire a maid service, both those costs are very low as you're not locked into a contract in the same way.

View All Answers


3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

The Embassy has a small gym for a very low annual fee. There are gyms, crossfit, yoga studios, personal trainers, etc. I don't really know how much those facilities tend to cost but it's much less expensive than in the US. Personal trainers, massage therapists, etc are very affordable and high quality.

View All Answers


4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Yes. RSO recommends against using ATMs around the city. There's an ATM and bank in the Embassy that we use.

View All Answers


5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

I am not the person to ask but there is one Christian church that I think is in English.

View All Answers


6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

You need at least a basic level of Spanish. You'll get better quickly because of how much you are required to use Spanish. Local classes and tutors are very affordable. The Embassy offers free online training resources and most Embassy sections will allocate some of their budget to cover the cost for officers and spouses to see the Embassy's tutor weekly.

View All Answers


7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Yes. Sidewalks are narrow and uneven, streets are as well. Many places are not ADA accessible. Regional sightseeing would be even more difficult.

View All Answers


Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Many people take Uber and taxis regularly - they are very affordable. I think RSO would say to use with caution but I haven't heard of anything happening to someone in our community. RSO recommends against busses.

View All Answers


2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Small cars are great for the city because the streets and parking spaces are narrow and simply not meant to handle SUVs and trucks. SUVs with high clearance, however, are great for driving outside the city, for example, driving up to Cotopaxi or on bumpy roads in the Otavalo region. Maybe something like a Subaru Forester, Honda CRV, or Toyota RAV4 would strike the balance.

View All Answers


Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes it's generally fast and connected. Via the Embassy, you can get it installed the day you arrive.

View All Answers


2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

People use Claro or Movistar, local carriers, on unlocked smart phones. Whatsapp is the preferred method of communication.

View All Answers


Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

We don't have pets but many people we know do. There are great vets here who are very knowledgeable and kind. There are kennel services but I'm less sure if people think they are good quality. Many people will hire someone or have their empleada care for their animals while they are gone. Animals are not quarantined upon entry.

View All Answers


Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

EFMs take jobs at the US Embassy (there are plenty of jobs that are low skill/low paying) or are educators and work at the international schools.

View All Answers


2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

You can volunteer anywhere but there's no longer anything organized through the Embassy.

View All Answers


3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

The Embassy is business attire. Otherwise around town you'll see the gamut.

View All Answers


Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Pickpocketing, smash and grabs, express kidnapping are the main things. I generally feel safe but I take precautions whenever I am out.

View All Answers


2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

We are at high altitude (9,000 feet) and people have a variety of reactions to that from sleep disturbance to high blood pressure. Others don't really feel it. Medical care is pretty good but for something serious I would ask to be medevaced because they do not have state-of-the-art technologies and resources here. One positive though is that the doctors do not rush you in and out, they are extremely personable and available; it is normal to have your doctor's phone number and text them whenever you need/want.

View All Answers


3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

In North Quito, where the Embassy, school, and neighborhoods are located, is completely fine. As you get downtown and into the historic district there is pollution.

View All Answers


4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

There are only the dry and rainy seasons here. It seems like we go through cycles of environmental allergies more often than in the US. Hopefully an allergy pill would help those who suffer a lot. Food allergies - I think if you specify when you're out, the server will be able to help you find something you can eat.

View All Answers


5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

Nothing in particular.

View All Answers


6. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

The overall climate is spectacular. It's sunny a LOT of the time and in the mid 60s to mid 70s with low humidity. Even in the rainy season you'll get beautiful days or beautiful mornings. It's about as ideal as it gets. The only downside is that because you are significantly closer to the sun with less atmosphere, you will burn easily and quickly. Even Ecuadorians take care to wear hats, long sleeves, and long pants.

View All Answers


Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

Most US Embassy families send their children to Academia Cotopaxi. Overall the school is more than acceptable but it does get mixed reviews from parents (some say children are not pushed enough whereas others report that the literacy program is terrific so do your research). There are other international schools to check out and a few families have chosen the French school or a Christian-based school both of which I've heard positive things about. There are still more international schools with good reputations if you are willing to drive farther.

View All Answers


2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

Academia Cotopaxi will work to meet your child's needs and considers inclusivity an important school value.

View All Answers


3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Tons of preschools are available. The Embassy has two favorites mainly because of their proximity, both of which get rave reviews from parents. There are daycares as well with similarly happy parents. Imagine, a bilingual program, is on the same campus as Academia Cotopaxi and is the most expensive. I think it is around $300/child for the month. You can also pay more for before- and after-care as well as transportation. Paraiso Infantil is a couple blocks from the Embassy and is Spanish only. It is a little less expensive than Imagine and also a wonderful environment.

View All Answers


4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes, just about anything you'd want and the teachers are pretty much all fun, warm, loving, and knowledgeable.

View All Answers


Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

It's probably small to mid-range here and growing. I think overall Embassy morale is pretty good. I have seen Embassy politics that make the work culture difficult at times and sometimes there is social awkwardness because so many folks are in the same neighborhood and so have clear sightlines into their colleagues' personal lives.

View All Answers


2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

People socialize here like they do anywhere...BBQs and picnics at the park, restaurants and bars, tennis, soccer, hiking, volleyball etc. With a good sized group of people without kids and a good sized group of people with kids, there are lots of opportunities.

View All Answers


3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

It's great for everyone.

View All Answers


4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Same-sex marriage is now legal in Ecuador as of 2019 and while there is still bigotry (eg., push back from Catholics and conservatives of which there are a lot) I think there are worse places to be LGTBQ.

View All Answers


5. Is it easy to make friends with locals here? Are there any prejudices or any ethnic groups who might feel uncomfortable here?

It is easy to make friends with locals as long as you're not dealing with a language barrier.

View All Answers


6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

The prejudices we face in the US are reflected here.

View All Answers


7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

We have had a blast touring Ecuador. We have hiked a number of absolutely beautiful mountains/volcanoes within a couple hours of Quito....the Amazon, Mindo, Baños, Mashpi, the Galapagos, Otavalo/Cotacachi, Papallacta, Quilatoa, Cuenca, the coast are all fun and interesting and worth doing. It's a very outdoorsy post.

View All Answers


8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Iñaquito, a huge indoor food market; Nayon, endless plants to buy; Guapalo and La Floresta, bohemian neighborhoods with street art and interesting architecture; Nono, a little town with a little hike to waterfalls; hummingbird and butterly reserves, any number of rustic haciendas in Otavalo or Machachi province, helado de paila - a local ice cream, chocolate tastings, more hikes to waterfalls, and so on.

View All Answers


9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

It is but there is a lot of inauthentic stuff made in China that is crowding out the real crafts. There are shops that only sell made in Ecuador crafts but sometimes it is easy to find the primary source and pay the artist directly. People buy blankets, jewelry, baskets, etc. Pewter (which is actually aluminum) is very popular, and Panama hats (which actually originate from Ecuador) are a big souvenir.

View All Answers


10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Families have very fast and easy drives to the grocery store, work, school, and home ...everything is within 10 minutes of the other and is a major factor in enhanced quality of life for Embassy people. Couples and singles tend to live in a walkable part of town close to entertainment, restaurants, nightlife with work commutes between 30 and 45 minutes. There are several big green spaces with stuff to do. Drivers aren't terrible and traffic isn't nearly as bad as in other Latin American countries. It's just an easy place to live in general.

View All Answers


Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

I wish I would have brought a smaller car for city driving and parking.

View All Answers


2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

YES! This is an awesome family tour.

View All Answers


3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Anything for winter. Bills higher than $20.

View All Answers


4. But don't forget your:

Sunscreen, bug repellant, hats, jeans, hiking clothes & gear, umbrellas, raincoats. I'd expect to bring most of your clothes too as good clothes can be expensive here. In general, if something being of high quality is important to you, then you should bring it because high quality and/or imported items are prohibitively expensive here...and annoying because you know its cost is so much less in the US.

View All Answers


5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

It's super cheesy, but there's a promotional video with former president Correa called Ecuador: The Royal Tour. It gives you a good overview of the diversity of the country.

View All Answers


Quito, Ecuador 07/18/18

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No. Previously have lived in Japan, Mexico, and the Middle East.

View All Answers


2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

U.S. About four hours to Miami, 5 to Atlanta. There are also flights to Houston.

View All Answers


3. How long have you lived here?

One year.

View All Answers


4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Work for U.S. Embassy.

View All Answers


Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Families typically live in a subdivision by the school PK-12 where nearly all the embassy kids attend. Many families live in 'conjuntos' within the subdivision, a group of houses together. Ample space, many have a yard, some conjuntos have a pool. The subdivision has a nice park, playground, tennis, and basketball courts. It is about a 10-minute drive to the embassy and close to the grocery store. Singles and couples without kids tend to live in apartment buildings closer to downtown and the nightlife, shopping district. Many have nice views.

View All Answers


2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

For some things, more expensive, and anything packaged. Some produce not from Ecuador (blueberries, apples) tend to be more expensive. Many things are not of the same quality as the U.S. and people buy much of their supplies, food, toiletries, etc on Amazon or Walmart which arrive in about a week. There are fruit/vegetable markets and for locally grown items it is cheaper. When in doubt though, bring or buy from the U.S.

View All Answers


3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Laundry detergent (but get it online). Cat litter. There really isn't anything you cannot get online and to you in the span of a week. BBQ sauce, dice tomatoes, gnocchi, or kids' snacks. The embassy has a commissary with many of these things but it is more expensive than in the U.S.

View All Answers


4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

A few restaurants deliver. There is a wide variety of places to eat from cheap corner stands to nicer restaurants for brunch/dinner. There is a not a huge variety of restaurants but typically one of each type of cuisine.

View All Answers


5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Not too many mosquitoes in Quito due to the altitude. Typical bugs but not infestations.

View All Answers


Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

We only use DPO. Things arrive in about a week, sometimes less time. Letter mail a little longer. Letter mail going out takes a bit longer still, but boxes out take about 1-2 weeks.

View All Answers


2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Help is abundant. For a full time nanny/housekeeper, expect to pay around $400.

View All Answers


3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

The embassy has a gym, volleyball courts and a soccer field. Some embassy staff run at parks on the weekend. Running races are plentiful here (but don't expect to match you times at sea level). Climbing wall gyms for kids and adults. Hiking is everywhere! For kids there are all lots of parks with good playground equipment, athletics through the school, swimming, soccer, gymnastics classes, etc.

View All Answers


4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Yes, credit cards can be used most places, stores, restaurants, etc. There is an ATM at the embassy and ones at banks seem safe to use.

View All Answers


5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

There are English language services available at a non-denomination church, a few evangelical ones. Catholic services tend to be in Spanish.

View All Answers


6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Life is much easier with a basic level of Spanish. People tend not to speak English. Classes are available at the embassy and lots of Spanish schools here.

View All Answers


7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Most likely, sidewalks are not great.

View All Answers


Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Taxi, yes. There is an app for taxis and many people use Uber. Local buses are not recommended although many backpackers use them.

View All Answers


2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Bring a car with a high clearance. Outside of the city, road are often dirt and rocks. Also, good shocks.

View All Answers


Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes. A few days.

View All Answers


2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

USDH get a work phone.

View All Answers


Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

Yes. People like their veterinarians, some make house calls. No quarantine. Fairly easy to bring in pets. Pets are welcome at many places, parks, some hotels, etc. Lots of dogs here.

View All Answers


Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Local employment can be difficult but people/companies seem to need English speakers so not impossible. Some spouses teach at the schools, work at the embassy and some telework.

View All Answers


2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Yes, lots of places to volunteer if someone wants to. Embassy staff support a charity that works with a variety of places.

View All Answers


3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Formal only for Marine ball. Business/business casual for work. Lots of sweaters, blazers. It is cool in the morning and evening and can get hot in the sun during the day. Bring a raincoat and umbrella. In public people tend not to wear shorts and dress in layers.

View All Answers


Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Petty crime. Watch your belongings and be smart. We are not targets per se, but could be a target of opportunity. It is like any big city.

View All Answers


2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

With altitude, most people adjust in a few days to a week. Make sure to wash your produce. Medical care is good with many English speaking practitioners in every sector. The Embassy has a medical unit for check-ups, shots, routine care, etc.

View All Answers


3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Some days you see smog but in general quality is good. Just a bit thinner!

View All Answers


4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

Not sure, should be okay. I don't know people with seasonal allergies here. For food, you should be able to manage it without too much trouble.

View All Answers


5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

No, it's sunny most days! Brief rainy season but even then you typically see the sun in the morning and rain comes through in the afternoon.

View All Answers


6. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Rainy season for a few months in spring. Summer is warm, dry, during mid-day sun is strong and you will definitely need sunscreen. Evenings and mornings are cooler. But in general, never cooler than 55 or warmer than 75. Pretty great climate. On clear days you can see multiple volcanoes.

View All Answers


Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

Great. Most kids go to Cotopaxi International school right by the main embassy neighborhood. For the lower grades it seems to be great. Activities after school. Baseball in the fall on weekends. Activities during the year. We have no complaints. Older kids may experience some issues but from what I can tell bullying and exclusion is far less here than other schools in Latin America. My son has friends from all over. There is also a Christian international school that some kids go to and seem to be happy with.

View All Answers


2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

Not sure, but I do think the schools try.

View All Answers


3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Lots of preschool options in English and Spanish. Preschool parents seem very happy with their schools.

View All Answers


4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes! Parkour, climbing, gymnastics, horse riding, swimming, karate; there are lots of options here.

View All Answers


Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Decent size. Some Canadians, Brits, regular American expats. Morale within the embassy community is high.

View All Answers


2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Sports clubs, get-togethers, dinners, bars, etc.

View All Answers


3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

It is great for all, especially families since there is a tight community here, we live close to each other, the school is good, safe neighborhood, activities for the kids to do. And there are lots of kids at post. The embassy has a spring egg hunt, Halloween at the embassy and in the neighborhood, Santa and fireman at Christmas. It's good for couples and we do have a good number of single people as well. Great post for people who love to get out in nature and hike, camp, etc.

View All Answers


4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

I think it is decent. There doesn't seem to be rampant discrimination. There is a Pride parade, but I'm afraid I don't know too much about this.

View All Answers


5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Not more than you would expect in a Latin America country. I personally have not experienced any.

View All Answers


6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

You can get anywhere from Quito. The beach, hot springs, Amazon, cloud forest, volcanoes are all within a few hours and all with very different environments and animals. Flights within Ecuador are very cheap, often less then $100 round trip (excluding the Galapagos). There is no reason to be bored here.

View All Answers


7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

See above; you can also visit local indigenous communities and be as on the grid of off it as you want. For us, the parks have been great for kids. Big city park downtown, probably about a mile long. Sports fields, botanic gardens, dirt bike racing, track, skate park, paddle boats, lots of playgrounds - Quito's Central Park.

View All Answers


8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

You can get two dozen roses for $2 or less. Flowers, blankets, wood items, leather. The biggest indigenous market in the continent is about 2 hours from Quito.

View All Answers


9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

We have the things cities have (nightlight, restaurants, bowling, movies (in English), etc. Great for families. Great weather, direct flights to the U.S. Amazon orders in a week. Plenty to do.

View All Answers


Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

You need to find your way a bit, the guidebooks for Ecuador aren't great but you can do a lot of research online, especially if you can do it in Spanish.

View All Answers


2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes! We extended because our son is very happy here.

View All Answers


3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Heavy winter clothes.

View All Answers


4. But don't forget your:

Bring everything you want from home in HHE or ship from Amazon! Sunscreen, bug spray. Toys, toys are expensive here; bring some for your own child and for birthday parties.

View All Answers


Quito, Ecuador 03/04/17

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No, have lived at other Latin American posts.

View All Answers


2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

It's about five hours direct to the U.S, which is nice. American flies to Miami or Dallas, United to Houston, Delta to Atlanta, and Jet Blue to Ft Lauderdale.

View All Answers


3. How long have you lived here?

Two years.

View All Answers


4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

U.S. embassy.

View All Answers


Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Housing is a work in progress. Post begin transitioning to govt leased housing in 2014. There are still some houses toward Cumbaya, but most are in Monteserrin or Gonzalez Suarez. Families are mostly put in Monteserrin in clusters of single family homes called "conjuntos" or apartments. The construction tends to be older, and many people have had problems with black mold and pests. Facilities is not used to dealing with residential maintenance, so expect pushback for each and every work order. Security is visually good, but there have been some home invasions and armed robberies. Some places have yards and others have concrete slabs. That said, it is closer to the Embassy and to the American school, which is convenient. Gonzalez Suarez apartments are nice and large and closer to shops and restaurants, but commute can be 30+ minutes.

View All Answers


2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

As the economy gets worse, the cost of everything is going up. Fruits, vegetables, and meat tends to be a little less expensive than in the States but other products are more expensive. Paper and hygiene products are more expensive and poor quality. Liquor is heavily taxed.

View All Answers


3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Mainly things that won't come through DPO. Shampoo, conditioner, lotions, big things of olive oil, liquor, white wine. The commissary has some stuff but the prices are high.

View All Answers


4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Dominos, Pizza Hut, and Papa John's all deliver. Ecuadorian food is not the best but there are some good restaurants for special occasions.

View All Answers


5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Apartments seem to be in the clear. Since houses tend to be older they seem to have more problems with giant spiders, scorpions, mice, ants, etc. If you can seal up the house, that helps some.

View All Answers


Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

DPO.

View All Answers


2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

There was recently an issue with the Ministry of Labor and now it is virtually impossible for diplomats to register a contract. The employee association used to assist with this, apparently the government won't let them anymore. So now they are pushing people to use a service, where you have little to no say in who you get or how much they are paid. Haven't heard any horror stories yet, but seems like a disaster waiting to happen. Minimum wage is $350 a month.

View All Answers


3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

The embassy has an OK gym and people run boot camps every once in awhile.

View All Answers


4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

ATMs are common, but this is a critical crime post and stories about post-ATM withdrawal muggings are also common. Carry a small amount of cash and be careful and aware of your surroundings.

View All Answers


5. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

You need at least a little, but most people are kind enough to entertain imperfect Spanish. Classes and tutors are widely available.

View All Answers


Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

I think buses are not allowed, but taxis are plentiful and generally safe. In Quito they are required to use meters and the minimum fare is $1.50.

View All Answers


2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

People get by with sedans, but most have mid sized SUVs. Gas is fixed price and not expensive. Lots of Honda Pilots and Toyota 4 Runners. Definitely bring a car and plan to sell it when you leave. Cars are heavily taxed here and you'll have Ecuadorians lining up to buy your car for whatever you paid 2 years earlier.

View All Answers


Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes, the employee association can help set it up. There are a bunch of options but most people seem to pay around $100 for something that will work with Netflix and VOIP.

View All Answers


Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

There are good vet services and boarding places. No quarantine.

View All Answers


Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

There are very few embassy jobs and most require Spanish, even if you don't technically need it for the position. Seems to be the usual WHA ruse. There are a few EFMs in rover slots, consular, one EPAP, and that's about it. Most spouses volunteer with Quito Cares, an organization benefiting different charities around town. Some people have home businesses. Not aware of anyone who works on the economy.

View All Answers


2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Everyone volunteers with Quito Cares, it's a good cause but almost cult-like at the embassy. Proceeds go to a handful of local charities, but it's almost like a social club. There are tons of other worthy causes if you want to branch out, and you could volunteer directly with hospitals and orphanages and domestic violence victims if you wanted to make a greater impact.

View All Answers


3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Business casual, usually. Business sometimes. Formal events are rare.

View All Answers


Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Yes. This is a critical crime post. Crime against mission personnel happens every day. The area around the embassy is not safe, people have been attacked right in front of the main gate. Housing areas are in upscale neighborhoods but muggings happen and I wouldn't walk around after dark. The crime situation seems to be getting worse and not better with the economy and the earthquake aftermath.

View All Answers


2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Fewer than most posts. Zika, dengue, chikunganya, etc are at lower elevations. Food poisoning mostly. Colds and flu do seem to linger here longer than normal. No poisonous bugs. Medical care is OK, the health unit knows English speaking and U.S. trained personnel if that's a concern. Anything requiring major surgery would probably require medevac.

View All Answers


3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Moderate. Seems to be more of an issue toward the city center. The embassy and housing are in the northern area of Quito where there isn't as much traffic. But you still see a haze some days.

View All Answers


4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

There is a rainy season, about November to March. Otherwise it is pretty much 50-70F year round. The sun is very strong so you need to bring sunscreen. Layers are key. You would only need winter gear if you're into mountaineering, and only need summer clothes if you travel to the coast or the jungle.

View All Answers


Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Medium in Quito, but Ecuador is a growing expat destination and there are clusters of Americans all over the country... mainly Cuenca but also on the coast. Morale is pretty good. It's kind of fun to travel around and stay in some of the hostels that expats have set up. They always have interesting stories.

View All Answers


2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Quito has a healthy backpacker scene in La Mariscal, I think that's the closest thing to a real nightlife that you'll find here. It isn't a party town, but there's enough to get you by if you're into that. Head down to Montañita on the weekends if you want more.

View All Answers


3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Mainly for families. It seems like almost everyone has little kids at this post. OK for couples and singles but possibly a bit boring unless you love the outdoors.

View All Answers


4. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Ecuador is very accessible to tourists, take advantage of this to enjoy the country during your tour. Pretty much everything is within a couple hours drive. Coast, beach, boating, farms, remote villages, plantations, mountains, camping, rafting, fishing, zip lining. Great for the outdoorsy crowd. Galapagos is very expensive so don't harbor any illusions about going there more than once or twice. That said, it is worth it.

View All Answers


5. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Papallacta, hot springs right outside Quito. Climb a volcano or two.

View All Answers


6. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Not really, stuff is expensive and not particularly good quality. Our visitors usually buy coffee and chocolate to bring back.

View All Answers


Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

Regional flights are expensive! But it's an easy place to road trip. Highways are in great condition.

View All Answers


2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes. It isn't perfect, but it's a decent place to spend a few years.

View All Answers


3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Expensive jewelry.

View All Answers


4. But don't forget your:

Umbrella for rainy season. Spare car parts. Juicer!

View All Answers


Quito, Ecuador 09/09/16

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No - We have served in Singapore and New Delhi.

View All Answers


2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

USA - 5 hours from Miami and then connect to other cities so time varies.

View All Answers


3. How long have you lived here?

18 months.

View All Answers


4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Diplomatic mission.

View All Answers


Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Housing is old but sufficient. With regular earthquakes and tremors cracked walls are common. Many apartment buildings are new and quite nice. The commute is horrible during morning and evening rush hours. Plan on a 5 mile trip taking 45 minutes.

View All Answers


2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Groceries are surprisingly expensive but not much more than a major city in the USA. Availability of local items is consistent but imported items cannot always be relied upon. An item could be on the shelves one week and then not available ever again. Items from a home-goods store or garden supply store are much higher than in the USA.

View All Answers


3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Having lived abroad plenty I rarely regret not shipping something as I learn to live without. However, I can say that if you do not have access to good international mail (DPO) bring clothing as it is quite pricey in this city and shoes are not of great quality. I laughed seeing that shoes as Payless here cost well over $50 for the cheapest kids' shoes.

View All Answers


4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

There are restaurants of all kinds but good Asian and good Tex Mex are very hard to find. If you eat out a lot plan on spending a lot. We do not. As for delivery, it is available but quite a chore if your Spanish isn't amazing.

View All Answers


5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

No.

View All Answers


Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

DPO, but the local facilities seem fine.

View All Answers


2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Many hire part-time help and I have hear various comments. If you are coming from Asia you might be surprised by the difference in quality of work here. Helpers (empleadas) are usually hired to help with household chores and/or childcare. It is nice to have someone if your Spanish is too weak to help with weekly tasks like ordering gas/water/etc. or even making appointments. Any time I have to use the phone in Spanish my stress level rises.

View All Answers


3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

There are plenty and all varieties but not sure of the cost. With so many amazingly beautiful volcanoes to hike I am not sure why anyone would use the gyms.

View All Answers


4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Cards are accepted and widely used but use with caution and check your bills. ATM lines are always long in the mornings but I would never use them as hold-ups have occurred.

View All Answers


5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Not many. There is one English speaking church (English Fellowship Church) that caters to the missionary groups that come through regularly. There is La Vina, a church with an English service. I understand there is another more ecumenical church with English-language services, but I have never been. Knowing Spanish will give you a much greater selection.

View All Answers


6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

A LOT! There are tutors and classes. I paid $15/hour

View All Answers


7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

YES. The hills are steep and the sidewalks are atrocious.

View All Answers


Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Quite affordable but crowded. I have heard of many young expat girls being harassed on longer bus routes. Use EZ-taxi for taxis and you shouldn't have any problems. Privately hired car services are VERY expensive.

View All Answers


2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

High clearance and 4WD/AWD. Your car will be challenged by the steep hills. Make sure your car comes with new brakes and tires.

View All Answers


Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes but what they say they provide and what you get are two different things. Your internet can be set up in a week but expect outages and skipping if you use it to stream TV.

View All Answers


Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

I use a vet from the Netherlands who has lived here forever. She speaks English and even makes house calls. They board cats and dogs, and the facility is just fine. Animals do not need to be quarantined but make sure you have done ALL the paperwork or your animal might stay locked up in a cargo facility.

View All Answers


Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Teachers in international schools but most hires are directly from the U.S. if they are expat hires. All schools are in need of substitute teachers and ESL volunteer teachers. Pay is low and the hoops you jump through to get paid are high.

View All Answers


2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

MANY -- Pan de Vida serves meals twice a week and is always welcoming help, after the earthquake in April there have been many trips out of the city to help rebuild. As mentioned above there are many opportunities to volunteer-teach ESL.

View All Answers


3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Women's fashions range from professional to knit stretch pants and a t-shirt. Dress is varied based on employment. Men are usually in casual business attire. Formal or semi-formal attire for women is needed for most evening events like special birthdays, diplomatic functions, etc. Women like to dress up -- high heels and dresses either floor length or 6 inches+ above the knees.

View All Answers


Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Women who stand out (blondes) need to take care to be in a group or be very aware of who is around you. Our 18 year old daughter has been "attacked" (grabbed, groped, harassed physically) several times in the middle of the day. Thieves on motorcycles grabbing purses happens on occasion. There have been several armed break-ins as well. Having said this I do not feel Quito is any more dangerous than most large U.S. cities. Its about knowing where to be and when.

View All Answers


2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

The effect of the altitude is real and it will take some time to adjust to it. However the climate makes for a fairly clear air (off the main roads and outside traffic). One of our kids experiences allergies but because the seasons do not really change we have yet to figure out the culprit. There are two very nice hospitals and so far we have experienced super health care. However, I have heard horror stories related to surgeries so many go back to the U.S. for major surgeries.

View All Answers


3. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

If you have a gluten or wheat allergy food will be a challenge as bread is everywhere! I think store labels are pretty clear on items but know the Spanish words for your allergens. If you live in "the Valley" (Cumbaya/Miravalle/Tumbaco) mold can be an issue as water leaks in the old homes are rarely fixed properly.

View All Answers


4. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

With the amazing climate SAD shouldn't be an issue. I think the language barriers which can prevent establishing solid friendships might be the only major issue.

View All Answers


5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Perfecto!! There is a "rainy season" but after living through Asian monsoons, we had to laugh. Every day has been glorious.

View All Answers


Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

I have NOT been impressed with the international schools here. There are 4 main schools that people from the USA usually consider: Academia Cotopaxi, Alliance Academy, Colegio Menor and Colegio Americano. Right off Americano and Menor are mostly wealthy Ecuadorean, and Spanish is the only language of "the playground" even if instruction is in both. Alliance is faith-based and going through some changes making it a bit unstable at the moment but will strengthen again in a year or so. They offer A.P. courses. Cotopaxi is the most popular with diplomats and offers the I.B. program.

View All Answers


2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

AAI offers accommodations and help but parents pay for special education services on top of tuition. AC is new to offering accommodations.

View All Answers


3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

AC offers an amazing preschool but there are several around the city. They are all expensive. Day care isn't common as people hire help. There are after-school programs at both AC and AAI but late bus transportation isn't always available.

View All Answers


4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes -- in Spanish.

View All Answers


Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

It is small compared to other posts and the morale is all over the place. Families that are bilingual with Spanish seem to settle in the fastest.

View All Answers


2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

There are clubs, salsa dancing, restaurants, home parties. People party well into the night.

View All Answers


3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

I wouldn't want to be a single woman here. The attitude towards women is not good. Couples do well if they love to be outside and active. Families do well if kids are younger. Teens can be challenging if you don't want your kids drinking every weekend and going to parties where parents provide the bar.

View All Answers


4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Although being gay is not accepted in this strictly macho and Catholic society, there are communities of gays. There is several groups even in the high schools. However, I still think it would be difficult.

View All Answers


5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Gender equality?? Hahaha! Coastal minority groups tend to be looked down upon.

View All Answers


6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

The weather and sun, without sweating.

View All Answers


7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

We love hitting very small local food establishments as they are much cheaper and you seem to see the "real Ecuador" as opposed to Quito. Of course this is the home to the Galapagos so save your money as its not cheap (cheaper if you are a diplomat as you can get Ecuadorian prices). Many also plan to hike a portion of the Incan trail to Machu Pichu in Peru while living here. Otherwise hacienda stays, volcano climbing, white water rafting, hot springs, etc. can more than fill your time.

View All Answers


8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

There are but after a year they look kitschy and cheap. Some nicer things you can buy are fabrics and wooden furniture made to order.

View All Answers


Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

I was told how amazing the Latin American culture was in terms of hospitality and friendliness. Quito does NOT fit this stereotype. Even friends who have lived in other parts of Ecuador say this city is not stereotypical.

View All Answers


2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Maybe not.

View All Answers


3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Winter clothing (except maybe a few pieces if you brave the seriously high mountains) and your sports car.

View All Answers


4. But don't forget your:

Patience, Spanish.

View All Answers


Quito, Ecuador 08/30/15

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

Buenos Aires, San Salvador, Casablanca, and Jakarta.

View All Answers


2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Washington DC. There are three direct flights to the U.S. currently: via Miami on American Airlines, Houston on United, and Atlanta on Delta. Some additional routes should open in the near future.

View All Answers


3. How long have you lived here?

We lived in Quito from summer 2012 to summer 2015.

View All Answers


4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Working at the U.S. Embassy.

View All Answers


Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Artisan Market – occupying a city block, it has row after row of vendors selling clothing, chocolate, jewelry, trinkets, and other items. At the end of row six you’ll find the ice cream place, which has a variety of fruit-based desserts – yum!

Mercado Iñaquitos - S0° 10.292' W78° 29.145' this is a large market, about a city block, which has a variety of vendors selling meats, produce, etc. It’s one of the cheaper places to purchase fruits and vegetables. It’s not geared towards tourists.

Butcher Shops
El Arbolito – is a deli shop that has decent cold cuts. They make good party platters.
El Cordobes – is our favorite shop. They have two locations: one in Quito and another in Tumbaco. The Tumbaco store is their main one. They can vacuum-seal food, which makes storing things easier. They offer imported meat from Uruguay/Argentina and local cuts. Pretty much everything is good.
Federer – we like their salami the best. Their products are sold in other locations like Supermaxi.
Supermaxi – some people complain about the quality of meat, but we find it’s okay. Their lomo fino (tenderloin) is great and less expensive than El Cordobes.
Swiss Corner – is near Ventura Mall in Tumbaco and has our favorite sausages. Their products are sold in a few other locations like a grocery store in La Esquina in Cumbaya.

Bread stores
Cyrano - is our go-to place for bread. We like their Sin Levadura in particular. They often have Italian-style ice cream under the brand Corfu as part of their stores.
Jurgen – has two locations, one in Quito and the other just off the Cumbaya plaza. It’s a Dutch bakery and has very good bread. Try their tomato/basil rolls.

View All Answers


2. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Quito has a surprisingly good dining scene with a variety of local and international cuisines. Like other places in Latin America, many open after 1830, although some have other hours. Make sure to call ahead if you’re planning a special night out. We’ve starred our favorite spots, and will break them down by category.

American
*Chili’s – located above Supercines (across from Megamaxi, near Quicentro Mall). Awesome Blossom – need we say more?
TGI Friday’s – is located inside Paseo San Francisco and is pretty similar to what you’d experience in the U.S.
Tony Roma’s – is near CCI mall at the top of Parque Carolina. The ribs are pretty good, but hamburgers are disappointing. The food is pricey and not our favorite.
Smoqe - is an American-owned BBQ joint in Cumbaya. It’s not our favorite compared to places in the U.S., but it offers a nice change of pace from other offerings.

Arabic
*El Arabe – is owned by a Syrian family and is located on Reina Victoria in downtown Quito.
Baalbek – 6 de diciembre N23-103 y Wilson a popular joint, it has pretty good food. It gets crowded so make sure to make a reservation in advance. I showed up on a Monday night once and it was completely closed.

Asian
*Zao - is a popular place that costs about $15 a main course. It has nice ambiance and tasty pot stickers.
*Maki – is a Japanese place with good sushi.
*Noe – the most popular sushi chain in Quito, they have locations throughout the city. They also deliver, which is nice to have a different type of carry out.
Ati Korean Grill – we haven’t eaten here, but friends of ours rave about the high-quality food. It’s always packed with Koreans.

Brazilian
Rodizio Botafogo - we had the buffet at this rodizio style restaurant. The food was okay, but I didn’t like the sides very much. For $40 a person it was pricey.

Ecuadorian
*Hotel Gangotena – located just off Plaza San Francisco, it is a historic hotel with a nice restaurant. We recommend making reservations.
La Chosa – this is a very casual place located directly in front of the Swissotel. The food is tasty, and it’s a good way to show visitors different types of local cuisine. They have live music on the weekends.
*La Patria – this is a higher end restaurant located just off the main plaza in Cumbaya. Their portion sizes are quite generous and the ambiance is fun.
Zinc – this is a fun place to go on a Friday night. They have good hamburgers and tapas-type plates.
Ichimbia - S0° 13.167' W78° 30.179', there are a few restaurants in this area (Sol y Luna is good), which has one of the best overlooks of the city. It’s especially nice at night, although traffic can be bad.
El Tradicion – is on Rio Coca, towards the northern end of town. It has very typical dishes, large portions, and is relatively inexpensive.

Empanadas
Campoviejo – is a chain restaurant with locations scattered throughout town. Nothing amazing, but inexpensive and tasty.
*Satuco – offers Bolivian salteñas (sweet, savory, and very juicy) with chicken or beef. They have three sizes, and the small or medium ones are perfect for parties.
*El Cordobes – is actually an Argentine butcher shop. They sell beef and chicken empanadas for $1.50, which are very good.
Chilean – heading towards Mitad del Mundo you’ll find a number of places selling Chilean empanadas.

French
Chez Jerome - S0° 11.806' W78° 28.866'. – is one of the nicest restaurants in town and a good place for an anniversary dinner.
Le Petit Pegale – we haven’t eaten here, but have friends that highly recommend it.

German
Muckis – is the preferred restaurant of the director of Schlumberger. It’s located on the outskirts of town, so going there is a multi-hour affair, but worth it.

Italian
Carmine – is a very high end (and expensive) restaurant. They have lots of weddings here, and the ambiance is pretty.
La Brichola – located in Cumbaya, it has a laid-back atmosphere which includes an outdoor playground for kids, perfect for a weekend.
El Arcadia - is located in La Esquina in Cumbaya. It makes fresh pasta, which is sold at various gourmet stores throughout town.
El Hornero – is best known for pizza but has a number of pasta dishes too. It’s pretty inexpensive and popular with families. Some locations like the one in Cumbaya have play equipment.
Il Risotto – it’s in Bellavista and is a popular upper-mid range establishment.

Mexican
*La Vecindad de los Cuates - this restaurant has two locations: one in Quito and another in Cumbaya. The food is very authentic and comes in large portions.

Peruvian/seafood fusion
These don’t serve plates like aji de gallina or papas de la huancaína. Rather, they focus on Peruvian style seafood or international dishes.

*Lua – S0° 12.457' W78° 28.977' one of our favorite restaurants in Quito, it’s located in La Floresta. Try the sliced octopus with sun dried tomatoes.
*Zazu – often rated as the best restaurant in Quito, we thought it was pretty good, but expensive. I preferred going here for lunch as opposed to dinner. Their chocolate dessert is to die for, and their tomato soup is quite good.
*La Gloria - S0° 12.392' W78° 28.954'. They have a variety of seafood and local dishes. One of their signature plates is a fish covered in a salt paste and baked. Their veal shank is tasty too.

Pizza
Al Forno – has tasty flat bread pizza.
Domino’s – similar to Papa John’s, they have several locations.
Papa John’s – they have restaurants scattered throughout town. It’s not as good as the states, but provides a good taste of home.
*Piola – located inside Paseo San Francisco, this flat bread pizza place is very good and has fast service.

Steak houses
We haven’t eaten at these places, but have had them recommended by friends: Sur, Los Troncos, San Telmo

View All Answers


3. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Quito's high elevation eliminates most pests.

View All Answers


Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Most expats bring items with them as they travel back and forth. Ecuador is severely limiting outside shipments due to currency issues. Make friends with someone at the U.S. Embassy and see if they can send that special item for you. FedEx, UPS, and DHL all operate in Ecuador, but they are expensive options.

View All Answers


2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

We paid our 1/2 time maid $220 a month plus all the other bonuses (13th, 14th, and 15th month bonuses, vacation, local health insurance (IESS), and severance). Make sure to have a written contract.

View All Answers


3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Gyms are everywhere, with prices ranging from $25 to $200 a month. Most decent gyms will cost about $80 a month, pretty pricey.

View All Answers


4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Available everywhere, just be careful of skimmers. Make sure to use ATMs in crowded areas. Some banks have been known to tip off criminals when people make large cash withdrawals from the counter.

View All Answers


5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

There are a few protestant groups, one Episcopalian church, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints which have English-speaking services.

View All Answers


6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

While many people speak English, you need to know Spanish.

View All Answers


7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Ecuador prides itself on helping those with disabilities. For example, businesses have requirements to employ certain numbers of disabled individuals. That said, the infrastructure does not meet the needs of that reality. Sidewalks are narrow, and often have stairs. A fair number of buildings have wheelchair ramps, but they are certainly not universal.

View All Answers


Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Taxis are plentiful, but make sure to use the ones with orange plates. The others are not fully registered. It goes without saying that hopping into a unmarked car is a bad idea. You can also take safe taxis from the major hotels.

View All Answers


2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

We liked having a 4x4 for the extra ground clearance. You'll find Honda, Toyota, Kia, Hyundai, Chevrolet, and a smattering of Chinese makes. Cars are very, very expensive because of local import taxes (think twice the price of the U.S.).

View All Answers


Phone & Internet:

1. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

You have two main options: Claro or Movistar. Each has slightly different prices and coverages. We paid about $20 a month for a plan that included 500 MB of data.

View All Answers


Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Quiteños dress pretty formally, even to go grocery shopping. Tank tops, low cut shorts, baggy pants, etc. would be viewed as inappropriate. That said, people are used to seeing foreigners dress in pretty much anything (or nothing).

View All Answers


Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

There is quite a bit of petty theft and street crime. We avoided certain areas of town, just like we would in any major city, and never had any issues personally. We never took buses, but we do know of several people who were robbed using public transport. There are motorcycle attacks, ATM hijackings (when someone kidnaps you and drives around to different ATMs), and spiked drinks. Again, we never had any issues, and we felt very safe, especially compared to many other places in Central and South America. For example, there are no armed guards or razor wire, like you will find in Honduras and El Salvador. Gangs are not an issue.

View All Answers


2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

There are two decent hospitals: Hospital de los Valles and Hospital Metropolitano. You can find many Western-educated physicians that graduated from top-tier schools such as Johns Hopkins. We found dental care to be very affordable and of pretty good quality. Our pediatric dentist, Natalie Jarrin, was particularly good. Many providers speak English. Health care costs are much lower than in the U.S. For example, a sonogram is about $40 compared to $350+ in the States.

View All Answers


3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Good.

View All Answers


4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Quito's weather is very similar to that in San Francisco - in the high 70's/low 80's during the day, and in the upper 50's in the evening. There are basically two seasons: rainy and dry. During the rainy season it rains most days, but generally briefly.

View All Answers


Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

Quito has several good international schools: Academia Cotopaxi (about 600 students, where most U.S. Embassy children attend), Alliance Academy (an evangelical school), Menor, Condamine (a French-speaking school), a German school, the British School, and Colegio Americano (a more affordable English-speaking school with about 2,300 students). Alberto Einstein and SEK are other options, but they primarily have local kids.

View All Answers


2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

Academia Cotopaxi has not done well previously with special-needs children, but it has had a major shift with the new director. They hired several specialists last year and are accepting children with up to moderate disabilities. Alliance has traditionally been known as the school for special needs children, and they pride themselves on their programs. The British School has also accommodated children with mild cases of autism and dyslexia. We could not find an English-speaking speech therapist in Quito.

View All Answers


3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Nannies are inexpensive, and there are lots of decent preschools. We considered sending our daughter to Ki Kiri Kids, a farm in Cumbaya that doubles as a preschool.

View All Answers


Expat Life:

1. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Yes, all of the above.

View All Answers


2. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Being in Latin America, most people frown on homosexuality. That said, Ecuador has taken a number of steps to be more inclusive, such as allowing the registration of civil unions, which includes gay couples, since 2013.

View All Answers


3. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

*Jardin Botanico is a great way to experience different microclimates of Ecuador, and it’s located in the middle of Parque Carolina. Plan on 1.5 hours for your visit.

Minicity, located between Cumbaya and Tumbaco, is a kids' museum with a bunch of miniature playhouses (doctor’s office, bank, etc.).

*Museo Interactivo de las Ciencias – S0° 14.192' W78° 31.034' this is the best children’s museum in Quito. It was converted from a textile factory and has many hands-on exhibits, including a physics experiment room. In many ways it rivals any major natural history museum in the States. You could easily spend 4 or more hours here.

*Vertigo – We stumbled across this climbing area in Cumbaya, which is just west of Scala mall. It’s open until 10:00 p.m., in case you want to exercise after work. You can pay $7 to have two climbs on their large walls (equipment included) or pay a fee to get in and use your own gear. It’s a fun place for kids' parties.

*Day trips from Quito:

*Boliche – S0° 37.187' W78° 34.429' This ecological reserve is about 1.5 hours from Quito. It has lots of playground equipment and some large spaces to explore. They have two loop trails: one lasts just over an hour, and the other takes about 30 minutes. Their camping areas are surprisingly nice – they have a very large open area with pavilions covering picnic tables and grills. The foliage is unlike any other place we've seen in Ecuador, and it felt like we were in the Pacific Northwest with the large pine trees. Just make sure to arrive before 5:00 p.m., when the gates close.

Cascada San Rafael – S0° 06.222' W77° 35.320' is the largest waterfall in Ecuador and is located about 3 hours from Quito. Drive towards Tena but don't take the turnoff to Baeza. It’s another 60 kilometers up the road from the turnoff. While it’s a long drive on a very windy road, the view is quite pretty. The trail has gravel and takes about 45 minutes. You can also see the Cascada Magica, which lets you get right to the water’s edge (prepare to get soaked) and costs $2 per person. It’s only 5-10 minutes to get to the falls. You can see a collection of orchids nearby (call Edgar Guerrero, the owner, at 0984079953 to confirm a tour, which lasts 30-45 minutes as he explains about different species).

*Cayambe/Coca – this large national park has two main entrances: one from the Papallacta parking lot, and another about 10 kilometers before Papallacta. It’s similar to Parque Nacional Las Cajas in that it’s a very wet high tundra region. You can hike between the two entrances, although it would be very long for one day. Camping is possible, but make sure to bring warm gear. The trails are quite beautiful.

Condor Machay – 17 km from Sangolqui, you’ll find a large waterfall after a 4.1 km hike. It takes about 2 hours and is pretty easy walking. You can camp too.

*Cotopaxi – S0° 40.731' W78° 33.187' there are two principal entrances to the park: one on the northern end, and another more towards the middle. The northern entrance takes you by a number of haciendas where you can overnight (San Agustin has lots of good reviews), horseback ride, etc. It is very bumpy, as it is all cobblestones. The middle entrance is the primary one, and it takes you to a check-in point where you'll have to register before proceeding further. About 20 minutes from the gate you'll get to the parking lot, from where you can start your climb. Cotopaxi has two trails to the Refugio (a restaurant/small house just below the glacier level), one straight up, and another with switchbacks. While the straight trail looks easier, it’s tough going because of the loose rock. With little kids it’s easier using the switchbacks and coming down the straight route. It gets very cold and rainy on the mountain, so be sure to bring weatherproof gear. It takes about 1.25 hours to climb to the refugio and another 45 minutes to reach the glacier.

You’ll find a few lakes in the park, and can hike around the largest one (about 1.5 hours) if the weather is poor on the mountain.

You can camp in a few spots, but make sure to bring warm gear as it’s windy and cold at night.

Places to eat:
Inside the park you'll find an hacienda, Tambopaxi S0° 35.244' W78° 26.934', which is a nice place to eat with great views.

Café de la Vaca – S0° 32.389' W78° 35.000', in between Cotopaxi’s two entrances, this restaurant is very popular with locals. Try one of their varieties of locro – it’s one of the best we've tried.

Guallabamba

Bosque Protector Jerusalém – this unique dry forest is about 45 minutes from Quito. They have several trails, a large swimming pool, a nice playground, and areas for camping. It’s an easy place to camp with families because it hardly ever rains here.

Zoo – S0° 04.296' W78° 21.353' This is one of our favorite zoos ever. While there’s not a huge variety of animals, there’s lots of shade, and some creatures like tapirs and peccaries you won't see outside the Amazon. Plan on 1.5 hours for the tour. It’s about 45 minutes north of Quito.

Machachi – some friends of ours stayed at a place they highly recommend: Hacienda Alegria.

Maquipucuna – http://www.maqui.org/ is an ecological preserve similar to Mindo. While we have not visited, we hear good things about the hiking trails and birding opportunities.

*Molinuco – S0° 25.296' W78° 24.321' this entertainment complex is about 45 minutes from Quito, south of Sangolqui. It has a few zip lines, several climbing towers, trout fishing, and three hiking trails. It’s easy walking, and the kids especially liked the loop tour that took us by a series of waterfalls.

Pasochoa – N0° 50.572' W79° 55.216' is another hiking/reserve area. It’s about 40 minutes from Quito and has quite a few pretty trails.

*Papallacta – S0° 21.718' W78° 08.998' these thermal hot springs are about 1.5 hours from Quito. They have three areas: general pools, a spa, and hotel rooms/cabañas that have their own pools. Temperatures range from ice cold to scalding hot, and our kids loved hopping between areas. Make sure to use sunscreen, even if it’s overcast. UV rays come through the clouds and will burn if you're not careful. It’s very beautiful at night, but be careful driving back in the evening. It almost always fogs over, and visibility is very poor. There’s a decent restaurant inside, or you can bring a picnic lunch.

Pululahua – you can visit this volcanic crater preserve just north of town as a day trip or overnight experience. To access the main area, turn right just after the large Tia warehouse. You’ll follow a dirt road for about 10 minutes to get to the main entrance. It’s another 30 minutes to the crater floor (high clearance recommended). Near the main entrance, you'll see a brick path leading to a camping/picnic area (a 10-15 minute hike). Behind one of the pavilions you'll find a 1 km trail that leads through a bamboo forest. It’s a pretty hike and easy for kids.

At the crater floor you can camp next to the Pululahua Hostel, http://www.pululahuahostal.com/, (although it gets crowded and there are cars passing at all hours during the night). The Hostel can arrange for horseback rides at reasonable rates and even takes PayPal. You can go on several hikes in the crater, even to a small hot spring.

*Yanacocha – S0° 06.509' W78° 34.949' an ecological reserve west of Quito, this cloud forest gives you a sample of visiting Mindo but closer to Quito. They have lots of birds in the area, and the side trails are beautiful. It takes about 45 minutes to hike to the hummingbird feeders (there are three main feeding areas, all fairly close to each other).

View All Answers


4. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Ecotourism options are incredible. In a relatively small area you have beautiful beaches, Amazon rainforests, high Andean tundras, and of course, the Galapagos islands. Within four hours of Quito you can be in a huge range of places. Birding is exceptionally good, and you'll see lots of people coming to observe the various species.

View All Answers


Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Absolutely. Quito was one of our favorite overseas posts.

View All Answers


2. Do you have any other comments?

Other Useful Guides
http://www.welcomeecuador.com

http://birdsinecuador.com/en/ gives good recommendations with maps of specific areas

http://www.notyouraverageamerican.com/ is a blog by an Embassy family that has great photos and recommendations.

View All Answers


Quito, Ecuador 08/18/15

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

Multiple places in Latin America, Africa, Europe, Asia.

View All Answers


2. How long have you lived here?

2003 and have returned multiple times for short visits.

View All Answers


3. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

NGO.

View All Answers


Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Many Ecuadorian houses and apartments have large windows to let the sun in, and design ranges from modern to Spanish/California-like.

View All Answers


2. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Tons of good restaurants at all price ranges.

View All Answers


Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Street security is not great. You hear more and more people talk about being held up in their cars, burglary and "kidnap express" (you get released after extracting cash from ATMs around the city). That being said, I treated Quito like any big city and did not feel more unsafe than in any other big city.

View All Answers


2. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Good.

View All Answers


Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

Multiple schools.

View All Answers


Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Good.

View All Answers


2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Go to concerts (all kinds of music), dancing, restaurants--you name it.

View All Answers


3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

All of the above.

View All Answers


4. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Guayasamin museum in Quito.

View All Answers


5. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Beautiful and varied flora, fauna and geography (coast, cloud forest, highlands, Amazon) in a small country, so it's relatively easy to get to any of those places. Domestic flights are inexpensive, and there is a well-developed tourist infrastructure (i.e. lots of places to go around the country), handicrafts, weather, cultural offerings.

View All Answers


6. Can you save money?

Yes.

View All Answers


Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes.

View All Answers


2. Do you have any other comments?

Locals tend to socialize with their extended families and as a result, I had to work hard to get time with my local friends. Quitenos are more closed and conservative than Guayaquilenos.

View All Answers


Quito, Ecuador 08/02/14

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No, previously posted to Santiago, Chile and grew up overseas in Turkey, Uruguay, and Croatia.

View All Answers


2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

New Jersey; the trip is about 3.5 hours to Miami and 2 more from there to NJ.

View All Answers


3. How long have you lived here?

Over a year... About 15 months.

View All Answers


4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

U.S. Embassy.

View All Answers


Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Mostly apartments... Big, luxurious, modern, incredible apartments. Houses are often smaller and older. Balconies are giant and provide ample entertaining space. Apartment areas are mostly near the Embassy, and the commute ranges from 10 min to 35 min. Some days the main roads are congested.

View All Answers


2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Super cheap, but with ridiculous import restrictions recently imposed by the socialist, anti-American government lots of products disappear off the shelves and reappear randomly. It's a game of chance at the supermarket... Produce, meats, and seafood are all cheap and great quality. Imports are double the cost, especially liquor and wine.

View All Answers


3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

You can get anything here, but what I wish somebody would have told me is how big of a terrace you can have. I would have shipped nice patio furniture.

View All Answers


4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Everything.

View All Answers


5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Eh... Not many, due to the altitude. Some spiders and Mosquitos. Locusts show up now and then, too.

View All Answers


Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

DPO mainly.

View All Answers


2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Fairly cheap, about US$200/month for a day a week, US$350/month for two days a week. The law here makes it expensive though through bonuses, insurance, vacation, etc.

View All Answers


3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes, at the Embassy and out on town. Relatively cheap... But walking up a flight of stairs is more than enough to stay in shape in the first month.

View All Answers


4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Listen to the security briefing... Cloning, express kidnapping, and theft are prevalent concerns.

View All Answers


5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

All of them... But why not try a Spanish mass sometime?

View All Answers


6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

You need to speak Spanish... Learn it, but try here no matter how much you speak. They will help you, they just like that you try...

View All Answers


7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

There are a lot of hills, and 9500 ft. above sea level is no joke. But aside from those issues, modern planning takes handicaps into account.

View All Answers


Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Taxis should be called, buses are pretty wild on the roads so we avoid them. No trains in the city, but there are train tours on many routes between Quito and Guayaquil. Avoid waiving taxis down, and learn about express kidnapping prior to arrival. Pick pocketing is common on crowded buses.

View All Answers


2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Something with power and high clearance will serve you best... I brought a 2014 Jeep Patriot and it has worked out great.

View All Answers


Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes, but it's not as fast as the company advertises. I watch mlb.TV and there is some drag. Packages are fairly priced.

View All Answers


2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Don't talk and walk at the same time! Guard them if they're important to you...

View All Answers


Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

No quarantine, pet care is great.

View All Answers


Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Not really.

View All Answers


2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Plenty, the poverty is noticeable when in some areas of the city.

View All Answers


3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Suit and tie at work, casual modern garb out in public. All normal.

View All Answers


Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Critical crime, and what comes with that. But mostly theft and street crime. Northern border is FARC territory so we don't go there.

View All Answers


2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Heart disease, obesity, respiratory issues should be watched due to the altitude. Medical care is good, first world in most cases. If you wear contacts, consider surgery here or wearing glasses more... Your eyes dry out and itch due to the altitude. I had surgery, couldn't be happier!

View All Answers


3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Great, thin due to the altitude but very clean (except on the main roads).

View All Answers


4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Weather is eternal spring... Clear and dry in the summer, 70s F during the day, 50s F at night. Wet and cloudy in the winter, rain every day for an hour or two, 70s F during the day, 50s F at night.

View All Answers


Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

Several options, most kids attend Cotopaxi Academy. There are options though so consult the CLO.

View All Answers


2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

View All Answers


3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

View All Answers


4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes, at the schools and on the town. Growing up abroad, I recommend getting them into soccer here as it's an international sport, and honestly the only one anyone cares about in the local community.

View All Answers


Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

It's pretty small outside the Embassy. Morale is great in the Embassy though.

View All Answers


2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Hiking, biking, bars and restaurants, sports, soccer games, you name it! Check out La Ronda and the historic center, and there are modern movie theaters and malls throughout the city.

View All Answers


3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

This is a great city for all groups. We are a couple with no kids, and we love it. Families enjoy themselves as well, and singles have abundant nightlife and bar options to meet people.

View All Answers


4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

View All Answers


5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Not really; typical Latin feuds between the government and Native/Indigenous groups

View All Answers


6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Traveling in the country, mainly... Exploring in general always results in some great find. I play a lot of soccer, which is great here. And I love the beach, and there is some beach for whatever you're looking for... Relaxing, family vacation, scuba, surf, party, anything!

View All Answers


7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

If you enjoy the outdoors, this is your post. If you enjoy the beach, this is your post. If you're a skier/snowboarder, this is NOT your post. But that's about all it's missing... Plenty to do and see here, from the coast to the Amazon rainforest. The mountains, the culture is incredible. The views in the historic center, from adjacent hills, or on hikes up the mountains are astounding. Mountain biking is big, as is soccer. If you're active, Quito is great. If you're not, probably look elsewhere.

View All Answers


8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Alpaca blankets and scarves, artwork, artesan crafts, fruit (never seen some things they grow here), pottery, and the abundant seafood choices.

View All Answers


9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Quito is cheap and a major cultural hub of South America. Eating out and grocery shopping is cheap, and sightseeing and adventure tourism as well. Quito's views are spectacular; one thing that has impressed me is the way the sky always changes. Volcanoes surround the city, and from some balconies you can see 3 or even 4 of them on a clear summer day. People a super friendly throughout Ecuador and always want you to love their country as they do.

View All Answers


10. Can you save money?

Yes, plenty... Even traveling a lot, doing tourist things, we still save a lot!

View All Answers


Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

Just the size of my terrace, we did our research and we love Latin America. This place has met or exceeded all of our expectations!

View All Answers


2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Absolutely, I'd come back if I ever get the chance!

View All Answers


3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Negative attitude! Enjoy this place, it's a great post.... Skis or snowboard too.

View All Answers


4. But don't forget your:

Sense of adventure, your camera, surf board, hiking boots, bike, and SUNSCREEN. Sun is super strong in Quito.

View All Answers


5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

View All Answers


6. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

View All Answers


7. Do you have any other comments?

Don't look past Quito, and it's only going to get better unless Correa passes the unlimited presidential terms law and becomes the next Chavez.

View All Answers


Quito, Ecuador 07/05/12

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

This was my 3rd expat experience.

View All Answers


2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Pretty much anywhere to Miami, then 3.5 hours to Quito.

View All Answers


3. How long have you lived here?

I lived there for three years.

View All Answers


4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Posted at the U.S. Embassy.

View All Answers


Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

I lived in Gonzalez Suarez in an apartment. Most families lived in Campo Alegre. My commute was about 20 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the afternoon. At worst, when raining, it was 45 minutes.

View All Answers


2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Most locally grown fruits and vegetables are quite cheap. Imported ones (apples, etc) are quite expensive. MegaMaxi has most everything you'd want. Ecuadorians love mozzarella based on the shelf space allotted it at the supermarket, but most other quality cheeses and ethnic foods are difficult to come by.

View All Answers


3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

I'd bring a bigger car/SUV. My poor little sedan scraped the bottom on many a speed-bump.

View All Answers


4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Most major U.S. chains are here, except for Starbucks. I was surprised with the quality of the up-scale restaurants in Quito -- there is a wide variety of excellent and expensive food available. But costs aren't outrageous for U.S. standards. Most Mexican food there wouldn't pass muster with most Americans. On the low-cost side, many great "cevicherias" around town.

View All Answers


5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

None. I was amazed.

View All Answers


Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

I used the DPO.

View All Answers


2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Available and reasonably priced. It's not a bargain, but much more affordable than in the U.S.

View All Answers


3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

They're are a few, but they're expensive.

View All Answers


4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

They're widely accepted.

View All Answers


5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

View All Answers


6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

I had TVCable until they got their pirated CBS/NBC feeds yanked, then switched to DirecTV.

View All Answers


7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Spanish is a must. Even some in the business community and government don't have an adequate grasp of English.

View All Answers


8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

It's not designed for or been adapated much for people with disabilities.

View All Answers


Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Taxis are dirt cheap. I never had a problem, but I tried to call radio-dispatched cabs whenever possible.

View All Answers


2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Because of the potholes, random speed-bumps (with varying heights), and availability of cool day-trips (most of which involve at least part of the trip on a dirt road), I'd recommend a small SUV...something with decent ground clearance. And gas is cheap, so live it up!

View All Answers


Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

There are a few options. I think I paid about $75/month. It wasn't terribly fast, but was sufficient.

View All Answers


2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Widely used. Much more common than fixed-line phones.

View All Answers


Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

View All Answers


2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

People with pets seemed happy with the basic care they were able to find at a reasonable price.

View All Answers


Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Opportunities were better for those who spoke Spanish. NGOs seemed to offer some decent jobs.

View All Answers


2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

It's quite conservative, so the business world is coat-and-tie.

View All Answers


Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Just the usual concerns in any big city. Express kidnappings were on the rise, but were much worse in Guayaquil.

View All Answers


2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

There were a couple of good international hospitals/clinics.

View All Answers


3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Quito's air quality is quite unhealthy. Diesel-spewing city buses and escolar vans fill the air with exhaust. The long, narrow valley within which Quito is built serves to make this a bit worse.

View All Answers


4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Spring all year. I loved it, but many complained that it was too cold. It was 70-75 most afternoons (but felt hotter in the sun, given the 9,200' altitude), then cooled down to 50-55 at night. It can rain a bit, but usually the sun would make an appearance.

View All Answers


Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

Most people with kids seemed happy.

View All Answers


2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

View All Answers


3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

View All Answers


4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

View All Answers


Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Small. The U.S. Embassy is huge and there are many other missions and NGOs in the city, but it's not a cohesive community.

View All Answers


2. Morale among expats:

Most people seemed to like living in Ecuador.

View All Answers


3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Ecuadorians are very family-oriented and don't seem terribly eager to welcome in foreigners. But I had a great time with my expat friends...good bars, restaurants, in-home entertaining, day-trips.

View All Answers


4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Definitely a good city for families. The experience of singles seemed to depend on the quality of other expats...it was difficult to make meaningful relationships with Ecuadorians. They spend a lot of time with their extended families and didn't seem open to making friends with expats. They were friendly, just kept a distance.

View All Answers


5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Horrible. Still a very closeted place, with very few bars or clubs focused on the gay community. Perfectly safe for gays, as long as you don't display affection in public.

View All Answers


6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Society tends to look down on darker-complected people, especially their indigenous population, but most expats didn't experience many problems.

View All Answers


7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Went to the Galapagos, camped alongside a volcano, river rafted, spent many holidays at nice beach areas.

View All Answers


8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

The old colonial part of Quito is one of the best-maintained in Latin America (still not much to do down there other than sight-see, but it's pretty). Great place for day trips. Volcanic spas nearby in Papallacta. Ziplining, ATVs, butterflies, and tubing in Mindo. Large indigenous market in Otavalo and leather-goods in Cotocachi. Many nice haciendas have been converted into hotels in the countryside. Cotopaxi national park is beautiful. It's possible to hike to the top of Pichincha volcano on the edge of town (the peak's over 15,000'). Baños is a nice weekend get-away. And most beaches are 5-6 hours drive from Quito. Cuenca is a bit further, but it and Cajas National Park are extraordinary. Great place for excursions. Of course, there's the Galapagos islands, which are a must-see.

View All Answers


9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Lots of "artesanias," but you can only have so many of those. Alpaca blankets were a great versatile gift. Nice art market in Parque el Ejido. Flowers are dirt cheap (5 dozen roses and mixed cut flowers for $25).

View All Answers


10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Great day trips outside of Quito (Mindo, Papallacta, Otavalo). The country is incredibly beautiful. Nice beaches, volcanoes, rainforests, and, of course, the Galapagos.

View All Answers


11. Can you save money?

If you don't eat at the nice restaurants or travel around the country much, you could definitely save some money in Quito.

View All Answers


Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Politically it's getting a bit hairy, but I'd definitely go back. Much to complain about, but much to enjoy. I found it very easy to live there. It's a beautiful country, but you have to be sure to get out of Quito.

View All Answers


2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

snow boots/winter gear.

View All Answers


3. But don't forget your:

camping/outdoor gear, vases for all the flowers, bike for the "Ciclovia" every Sunday.

View All Answers


4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

View All Answers


5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

View All Answers


6. Do you have any other comments?

View All Answers


Quito, Ecuador 01/27/11

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

no, I have also lived in Orastie, Romania and Montpellier, France.

View All Answers


2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

North Carolina, trip was about 8 hours, with a connection through Atlanta.

View All Answers


3. How long have you lived here?

six months, so far

View All Answers


4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Educator

View All Answers


Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Apartments in modern buildings or within family homes, generally. The Americans from our school mostly live in the new city, north of Mariscal. It's pretty safe. It's close to Parque la Carolina (a popular place for Ecuadorians to play soccer or basketball) and Parque Metropolitano (a quieter park on top of a ridge with nice views and a forest). Our commute time is about 40 minutes each way, but our school is located pretty far north of the city. I think on average, with the traffic, it can take about 30 minutes to get anywhere from the Centro Historico to the northern parts of the city. We seldom go south of Centro Historico because it is not very safe.

View All Answers


2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

It's easy to shop for groceries. There are several local markets around town - they can be pretty cheap for fruits and vegetables. The main grocery store is SuperMaxi and it stocks a large range of foods, including imports. If you want to buy imported food be prepared to pay twice what you'd pay for Ecuadorian made food (but sometimes it's worth it). Usually our grocery bills run about $350 per month for two people, but I think if you budget well you could spend less.

View All Answers


3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

I can get most stuff here. Bring electronics! They are so expensive to buy here. Also, nice clothes are expensive, so I have friends and family bring me sweaters from home when they visit.

View All Answers


4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Fast food - down in Mariscal there's KFC and McDonalds. Lots of restaurants - Ecuadorian, Mexican, Pizza, Japanese. The more exotic you get, the more expensive it becomes. My husband and I typically spend between $20 to $30 each time we eat out. That's usually a drink and an entree each. The typically little Ecuadorian place that serves "almuerzos" (lunches) only costs about $2.50 for the main meal, drink, and dessert. But the food there is nothing exciting. If you want good "expat" style food expect to pay at least $8-$10 for an entree.

View All Answers


5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

I know there is an organic market not far from Parque Metropolitano on Saturdays. Some of the food in Supermaxi is advertised as organic. I think vegetarians can find things to eat here, but in restaurants it can be more difficult.

View All Answers


6. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

None in Quito. The usual mosquitoes at lower altitudes. I was eaten alive in Mindo and in the Amazonian basin - deet is a must.

View All Answers


Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

I haven't really sent letters, I receive them from the States at my apartment building. Most buildings don't have mailboxes, so the guard holds on to the letters. Be aware if you have anything valuable sent to you. Also, not recommendable to send goods from home. You will be taxed on your goods at two to three times the value. I even have one friend whose package was allegedly sent back to the States because her used clothes were in the box, and it is not allowed to ship used clothing to Ecuador. It never arrived back to her parents in the States, so she lost all of her things.

View All Answers


2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

We have a maid that comes once a week and we pay her $3 an hour.

View All Answers


3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes, but they are expensive. I go to a pool at the public high school near me, but even that is $5 a visit. There's a Curves, which is about $35 a month (if you pay for a year in advance, I think). Then there is a nicer American-style gym for $50 a month (they struck a deal with several Americans).

View All Answers


4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

There are a lot of ATMs around. They usually charge $.50 to use another bank's card, and there might be a limit of $100 to withdraw. You can use credit cards at most large stores. But it's not as much of a credit culture as the U.S. so always have cash available.

View All Answers


5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Yes, there are two I know of. One is a more fundamentalist church. The other is interdenominational, I guess more Lutheran in its liturgy? But welcoming of many faiths.

View All Answers


6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Yes. The Miami Herald is available some places. You can program your cable not to dub in Spanish. We have a basic package that costs about $50 a month including cable.

View All Answers


7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

A lot. It's tough to get by without Spanish.

View All Answers


8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

A lot. The sidewalks are difficult to maneuver with potholes, there aren't always ramps for the handicapped, and the public transportation isn't very sensitive to their needs either.

View All Answers


Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

They are safe enough, again, with precautions. The city bus is usually $.25, to other towns you'll pay between $1-2 for places within 2 hours. A ten-minute taxi ride costs about $2.

View All Answers


2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Be aware your car will get beaten up by all the potholes in this city. And the drivers scare me.

View All Answers


Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Our cable plan includes internet.

View All Answers


2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Within Quito most people use Movistar, and it's good if you pay as you go and don't get a plan. They often have specials to recharge your minutes. Porta has better service in the more rural parts of the country and apparently has better monthly plans. If you want to use a blackberry or Iphone here, bring yours from home. It's about two to three times as expensive to buy one here, and you can get it easily unlocked for about $20 to use with one of the Ecuadorian carriers. A very basic phone costs about $60.

View All Answers


Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

no.

View All Answers


2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

There are some kennels available. I saw one in Tumbaco, it seemed nice enough.

View All Answers


Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Teaching English at private businesses is available, though I don't know how much it pays.

View All Answers


2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Ecuadorian women dress in skirts or long pants and high heels (torture walking up those hills on uneven pavement!). Men often wear suits to work. I usually dress nicely for work. I never wear shorts here.

View All Answers


Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

YES. Quito is not safe. Physically we don't feel threatened, and we walk around all over the city during the day. But, when we get on the buses we watch where our things are. At night we try to travel in groups. It's important to always use your instincts and best judgment and avoid areas that are empty of people or feel wrong. We have had one friend (a guy) that was physically attacked by a group of men and robbed. We also have lots of stories of people being pickpocketed on the city buses, or having bags slashed on intercity buses (usually if you put the bags on the ground by your seat). It's not scary, at least not for me, I'm just always aware of where I am and who is around me.

View All Answers


2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Medical care is cheap and there is a pretty good hospital here.

View All Answers


3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Quito' air is not so good. A lot of buses (probably more buses than any other city I've been in) and they all spew exhaust as they chug up the hills. But outside Quito it's beautiful.

View All Answers


4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Quito has a rainy season. The rain begins every day around 3 and goes until late in the night. Bring umbrellas and rain coats! It gets chilly. At night the temperatures drop to the 50s. Always wear two or three layers, plus a jacket. When it doesn't rain, the temperatures can get up into the low 70s. But the temperature varies so much from 9 am to 2 pm to 5 pm to 10 pm.

View All Answers


Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

Colegio AmericanoCotopaxiColegio MenorI teach at Colegio Americano. Generally the school is well run and the teachers are motivated. Many of the teachers have Masters degrees. A few are not certified in the U.S. The school is mostly for upper class Ecuadorians. They take several classes in Spanish and half their classes in English. But Spanish is primarily spoken in the halls among the students. I have met a lot of teachers from Cotopaxi. I can't say much about the school, but it has a larger gringo population. It has a good reputation. I don't know much about Menor.

View All Answers


2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

Colegio Americano has a special needs coordinator. If you want your child to get individual attention, you need to lobby for it. There are some efforts to get the teachers sensitive to the issues, and teachers meet once a week to discuss students, but it isn't as organized as what I saw in the States. If you want the teachers to take a special interest in your child there, you will need to contact them and tell them exactly what you want.

View All Answers


3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

View All Answers


4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

View All Answers


Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Within our community, there are probably about forty that I know of. I think you could meet more if you go to the English-language churches, or hang out at bars in Mariscal. There are a lot of gringos in this city.

View All Answers


2. Morale among expats:

Medium. Some people don't like the crime. I enjoy the country so much. I don't love Quito, but Ecuador is amazing. And the Ecuadorians that I have met are really nice.

View All Answers


3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

We go to a lot of restaurants and bars, especially in Mariscal.

View All Answers


4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Singles, not bad. At least at our school there are a lot of single teachers and they head down to Mariscal a lot where there are bars and clubs. For couples it's okay as well. There are things to do, though not as many cultural things as in a medium-city in the States. It's harder to find those things, and sometimes I can't figure out how to get tickets for things I want to do. Families might struggle, because it's mostly apartment living and the drivers here are terrible, so you really have to watch your children on the street. There are some parks, but I haven't noticed a ton of playgrounds.

View All Answers


5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Unknown. Generally Ecuadorians are homophobic. Although the laws do protect homosexuals.

View All Answers


6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Gender - it's a macho country. Women are often whistled or hissed at. American women are sometimes frustrated with relationships with Ecuadorian men because they tend not to be as faithful. The main religion is Catholic. I think Ecuadorians are not discriminatory on purpose, as much as they are unaware of other religious beliefs and think they are strange. In terms of race, there is some prejudice against Asians. I don't know so much what the experience is for blacks.

View All Answers


7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

We took a trip over New Year's to Sacha Lodge in the rainforest - that was one of the best trips I've ever done in my life. We saw so many animals and learned so much about the Amazon basin.

View All Answers


8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Mariscal for bars and nightlife. Walks around Centro Historico. Walks to Parque la Carolina and Parque Metropolitano. Karaoke bars along Eloy Alfaro. Take the teleferico and hike up Rucu Pichincha. Really, Quito only has moderate attractions for me. I like getting out of Quito best.

View All Answers


9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Otavalo Market!!! textiles, hats, scarves, paintings, jewelery... all kinds of cool Ecuadorian crafts.

View All Answers


10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Quito is a big, somewhat polluted city. There are some cultural aspects to Quito, but it's not my favorite place. A lot of the comforts of home are available here, for those interested. They have large SuperMaxi supermarkets, that are very similar to what is available in the States. Some very nice malls, though they are a bit expensive (think U.S. prices, or twice U.S. prices for electronics). The country of Ecuador is beautiful and a real treat to visit. There is so much biodiversity here, from the top of 11,000 foot mountains, to the low, hot, and humid rainforest and coast. This is definitely a country for nature lovers and hikers. The Ecuadorians are generally helpful and friendly, just always use caution, especially in Quito and Guayaquil.

View All Answers


11. Can you save money?

yes - We're spending about $3500 a month (including apt, groceries, and travel). We live pretty comfortably.

View All Answers


Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

I would, my husband wouldn't.

View All Answers


2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Winter coat (unless you climb Cotopaxi).

View All Answers


3. But don't forget your:

Street smarts. And electronics.

View All Answers


4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Lonely planet

View All Answers


5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

View All Answers


6. Do you have any other comments?

View All Answers


Quito, Ecuador 05/11/10

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

5th expat experience with U.S. government

View All Answers


2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Miami-Quito is about 5 hours.

View All Answers


3. How long have you lived here?

2 years

View All Answers


4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

U.S. Embassy.

View All Answers


Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

This is a LQA post for U.S. Mission employees, so you bring all your own furniture and find your own housing. That presents its own challenges! Real estate agents operate differently than in the U.S., and it's expected that you view homes with 2 or more agents. Depending on the season you arrive, the housing pool may have some great selections. Or, like us, you may arrive at the end of the summer and need to look at 40+ homes before you find one close to the kids' school, with a patch of green space for the dog, and that doesn't have 1970s pink-and-olive fixtures in all the bathrooms! If you're associated with the U.S. Mission, you'll be accommodated in a hotel apartment for up to three months while finding permanent housing; this is very comfortable. Our kids loved the swimming pool and the chocolates on their pillows every night. The majority of families with children attending Cotopaxi Int'l School try to find housing in the gated community nearby which has single-family houses with yards and is probably the safest area; homes here may be new and modern or damp and outdated depending on what's available at the time. Many singles and couples (and some families) live in apartments around the city; there are many beautiful, modern apartments to choose from, and these tend to be safer, warmer and more likely to have generators than single-family homes.

View All Answers


2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

My grocery bill has been about the same as in the U.S. Local items are less expensive and imported things more expensive, so it evens out. SuperMaxi is the major grocery chain and carries just about everything. They are increasingly carrying organics ranging from cereals and grains to fresh produce too. Fresh vegetables and fruits are abundant and delicious. It is difficult to find unscented soaps and laundry detergents, juices and baby foods that don't have added sugar, some ethnic and specialty foods (like colored sugar at Christmas). But the AERA commissary can special order items by the case or to stock on their shelves. I've noticed my grocery bill has increased about 30% in the past 6 months, so it remains to be seen whether prices will plateau or continue rising.

View All Answers


3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

I mail order or purchase Stateside most clothing, shoes and cosmetics, as good quality items here are expensive. I would bring a good grill and patio furniture; most apartments and houses have balconies or patios, and the weather is delightful for sitting out.

View All Answers


4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

There are many different kinds of restaurants at various price points. If you have to have it, McDonalds, Burger King, Papa Johns, Domino's, TGIFridays, and more fast food places are available.

View All Answers


5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

An occasional spider or silverfish, but generally no bugs. If you go into the valley (Quito suburbs) or further down in altitude, the mosquitoes can be ferocious.

View All Answers


Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

The embassy has a DPO.

View All Answers


2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Live-in or live-out housekeepers and nannies are available. Cost is about $220-$280/month for fulltime live-out housekeeper, but additional required social security and other taxes adds a lot on to the cost. Current labor law makes it difficult to employ a person part-time, but some people do share an employee. Most housekeepers are Spanish speaking, so it helps to know a little bit of the language.

View All Answers


3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

There are gyms of various sizes and quality in different locations. The embassy also has a work-out area, tennis courts and soccer field.

View All Answers


4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

I would NEVER use an ATM on the street here. We get cash and do whatever transactions we need to at the bank within the embassy compound. If banking locally is necessary, it's best to use one inside a mall or building. Usually you get a better deal on a purchase when paying in cash rather than by credit card, so it pays to ask. Mall stores, SuperMaxi and larger vendors accept U.S.-based credit cards. Market vendors, taxi drivers and other small merchants only accept cash and usually in denominations less than US$5 because they never seem to have enough change. USD is the official currency but there are Ecuadorian coins that can be used too.

View All Answers


5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

English Fellowship Church is a Protestant congregation with 2 weekly services, and men's women's, children's and teens groups. There are other English-language services but I'm not familiar with the details.

View All Answers


6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Cable TV is available with local channels, NBC, CBS, BBC, CNN, Home & Garden, NatGeo, History, and many more. Some sports events are blacked out on TVCable.

View All Answers


7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

It's extremely helpful to have some Spanish knowledge, at least the basics to get around, operate in the market, ask and give directions, etc. Of course, more Spanish will enhance your experience greatly. Individual tutors are available at affordable rates, and there are numerous Spanish-language schools including an excellent program at the Catholic university.

View All Answers


8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Some don't adjust well to the altitude and live with low-level fatigue or shortness of breath, but most people can adjust after a couple of days. The city has many steep streets, so walking could be a challenge. There's a habit of planting trees in the middle of the sidewalks, making passage by a wheelchair impossible. Some apartment buildings only have stairs, and no elevators. I don't think it's impossible for someone with physical challenges, just more difficult or limiting than in the U.S. or Europe.

View All Answers


Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Taxis are generally safe in the city; we just make sure the taxi has a legitimate sticker and meter before getting in. For added security at night or when going to the airport, cab companies are available for call. Taxis are very affordable, and thus can offset the need for a second car.

View All Answers


2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

We've appreciated having a small, high-clearance 4WD as there are pot holes on city streets and highways outside the city. This vehicle also has allowed us to explore further afield off the main highways. It may be worth it to ask the regional security officer which vehicles are less likely to be stolen, as there are theft rings that look for specific types/brands.

View All Answers


Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Internet is available at speeds slower than in the U.S. and is not as reliable. Even with a UPS to keep our Vonage lines and home office equipment going, the internet sometimes cuts out for an hour with an electrical outage. But in general, we have good service.

View All Answers


2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

The embassy's AERA association has a monthly cell plan; you pay for only the airtime you use. I recommend an unlocked GSM phone that allows you to switch SIM cards between Ecuador and the U.S.

View All Answers


Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

No.

View All Answers


2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

There are several well-qualified, English-speaking vets. Care, including surgery, is much less expensive than in the U.S. Our vet boards dogs and we've been very happy with the service.

View All Answers


Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Most local jobs have a lower pay scale, and Spanish fluency may be a prerequisite. There is a SNAP coordinator in Mexico City who comes to Quito 1-2 times a year to work with U.S. Mission spouses and assist in employment-related issues. Telecommuting is an option.

View All Answers


2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Business attire is similar to Stateside. Layering works well in this climate. If you wear shorts or sport sandals in public (male or female), you'll stand out and be branded an "extranjero" or tourist. If you like cleavage and stiletto heels, you'll fit right in.

View All Answers


Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Security is the biggest issue for this post; crime has increased dramatically in the past two years. The post is rated CRITICAL. Armed robberies of individuals on the street are common even in the best neighborhoods, and armed gangs will disable guards and break into homes or apartment buildings. We are always watching our backs and having to adjust our lifestyles accordingly -- for example, having to make trips home in between errands because we can't leave anything in the car in a parking lot or street, not driving alone as a single woman in the evenings, dividing cash between pockets and not carrying a purse, etc. The Mariscal (tourist area) is especially dangerous with robberies, scopolamine drugging, and sexual assaults occurring there.

View All Answers


2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

There are a several good hospitals and many excellent doctors here. But definitely ask the Embassy Health Unit who they recommend for doctors, dentists, etc. as they have vetted many and will know the best. Costs for office visits, labs, and surgery are much lower than in the U.S. It's still best to return to the U.S. for treatment of more complex health issues. There are many pharmacies; you can get narcotics over the counter, but have to have a prescription for cold remedies. There are some natural-health stores, but they often sell unfamiliar brands of vitamins and herbs, so its probably best to bring/order these items from the U.S.

View All Answers


3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Quito is in a mountain basin and, without strict regulatory controls, the air in the city is polluted. It is worst in the base of the "bowl" and gets better as you ascend. People with respiratory allergies or dedicated runners will be happier living up further on the side of the mountain.

View All Answers


4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

The weather has been unpredictable the past few years, with some extremely rainy/cold periods, and more recently a drought during the usually wet season. But in general there are two seasons: October to May is rainy and colder (50-60F during the day), though most days it rains some and then clears. May to October is warm and sunny (70-85F daytime), and very windy in July-August. Humidity is perfect. There is a typical mountain effect where you get hot in the sun and chilly in the shade. This is definitely the "city of eternal spring" and the most beautiful climate we have ever lived in.

View All Answers


Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

Most U.S. Mission children attend Cotopaxi International School or the Alliance Academy, though there are French, British and other schools available. We have had a great experience at the Alliance Academy -- experienced, dedicated teachers and accessible, proactive administration.

View All Answers


2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

Both Cotopaxi and Alliance Academy have special-needs departments. I have heard some negative reports about Cotopaxi's handling of special needs, and there is a history of bullying that has been poorly addressed. Alliance Academy has an excellent record with children with learning disabilities and mental and physical handicaps, and works closely with the parents to optimize these kids' educational experiences. I don't think either school has prioritized the education of highly gifted children. If you need English-language PT, OT or speech services, you'll be hard pressed to find it at this post.

View All Answers


3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

View All Answers


4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

There is a Little League association, and the schools have intra-mural, junior varsity and varsity sports. Soccer is a huge sport, so it's possible to join local leagues.

View All Answers


Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

View All Answers


2. Morale among expats:

I think it is excellent for those who are willing to venture out of their comfort zones. This is a developing-world country with its attendant challenges. But my experience has been that there are many groups to join and activities to pursue that make this post a comfortable place to be.

View All Answers


3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Opportunities abound to entertain in-house or go out to restaurants, picnic and hike at Parque Metropolitano (shelter houses are for rent), or attend concerts or cultural events.

View All Answers


4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

For families, yes. Ecuadorians are very family oriented. There are lots of birthday parties, family dinners, etc. In addition, there is an ice rink, bowling alley, swimming pools (with lessons), parks with playgrounds, sports leagues. Traffic, especially at rush hour, can make getting to and from these places a hassle so it definitely makes sense to live on the side of Quito where the majority of your activities are.

View All Answers


5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

View All Answers


6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

View All Answers


7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Otavalo market, Galapagos Islands cruise, jungle river rafting (the most dense area of rivers for rafting at all levels in the world), butterfly gardens, caving, Papallacta geothermal springs, zip lining, hiking and mountain climbing, the historic Old City, TeleferiQo cable cars up Volcan Pichincha for city views, easy travel to Peru for Machu Picchu & Cuzco touring.

View All Answers


8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

View All Answers


9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Leather goods, weaving, Ecuadorian chocolate, wood carving, paintings. Many have wood furniture made, old furniture re-upholstered, and suits custom-tailored at reasonable prices.

View All Answers


10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

For a small country, Ecuador has such diversity in ethnic groups (Amazonian, coastal and mountain groups), micro-climates (paramo, jungle, etc.) and geography (mountains, ocean)which provides a large variety of experiences within easy driving distance of the city.

View All Answers


11. Can you save money?

Yes.

View All Answers


Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes. It's been a great place for us.

View All Answers


2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

$50 and $100 bills; rampant counterfeiting means vendors won't take anything over a $20 bill.

View All Answers


3. But don't forget your:

Sunscreen, sunhats, sunglasses -- the UV Index here regularly hovers between 16-24 (11+ is dangerous). Just a bit of time unprotected can lead to blistering sunburns.

View All Answers


4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

View All Answers


5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

View All Answers


6. Do you have any other comments?

View All Answers


Quito, Ecuador 10/25/09

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

Quito is my sixth post with the U.S. Department of State.

View All Answers


2. How long have you lived here?

3 yrs, 2 mos.

View All Answers


3. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

Quito to Miami is about a 4-hour flight.

View All Answers


4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

U.S. government employee.

View All Answers


Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Quito has beautiful apartments with lovely views of the valley and surrounding volcanoes. There are several gated communities with single-dwelling homes as well - great for families with school-age children and pets.

View All Answers


2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

This administration has highly taxed imported items, so local items are what you can buy at reasonable prices. Imported items are becoming more scarce and, if you can find what you want, it's very pricey!

View All Answers


3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

nothing.

View All Answers


4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

McDonald's, KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Dominos pizza, to name a few - cost is comparable to the U.S.

View All Answers


5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Houses sometimes have the occasional tarantula, scorpion, or rat.

View All Answers


Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

APO/DPO mail.

View All Answers


2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Domestic help is easy to find. I pay $290/month for a day maid who works 8 hrs/day, 5 days a week.

View All Answers


3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Several gyms in the major hotels, there are also private gyms, and Curves for Women.

View All Answers


4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Use caution when using your credit card, and only use ATMs in banks.

View All Answers


5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

View All Answers


6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Cable TV is about $45/month, several channels in English, but you'll need SAP on your TV.

View All Answers


7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

You really need Spanish to live here - you could probably get by with limited knowledge, but to really experience Quito, you need to speak the language.

View All Answers


8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Lack of sidewalks or sidewalks in dire need of repair would impair anyone in a wheelchair from getting around without a vehicle. Taxis are small and I don't know if a wheelchair would fit in the trunk. Most parking lots have reserved parking for handicapped and pregnant women. They do respect this.

View All Answers


Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Taxis are usually safe and cheap. Working meters are uncommon, so you should negotiate the price before you take off.

View All Answers


2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Four-wheel drive, SUV - very popular and Honda, Toyota are here. As mentioned earlier, imported items are pricey!

View All Answers


Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Internet is about $50/month.

View All Answers


2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Moviestar and Porta are the two cell phone companies - they have plans to purchase, or you can buy cards with minutes to recharge your phone. These are sold on just about every street corner.

View All Answers


Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

No quarantine.

View All Answers


2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

There are plenty of good vets here - and several of them speak English.

View All Answers


Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

View All Answers


2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Business dress for work, but on the streets you'll see anything from cut offs to fur.

View All Answers


Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

I haven't noticed pollution in the three years we've lived here.

View All Answers


2. What immunizations are required each year?

View All Answers


3. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Street crimes are on the up here - you can be sitting in your car at a red light and they'll break your window to steal your stuff. Armed robbers are getting brave and coming into small shops and holding up all the patrons inside. Then they'll ransack your car parked outside and take off on foot.

View All Answers


4. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Good medical care, and excellent dental and orthodonture. Braces are $1,900.

View All Answers


5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Quito has fall-like/spring-like weather year round, with a long rainy season.

View All Answers


Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

Academia Cotopaxi has a large international student population, including kids from the U.S. Classes are taught in English.

View All Answers


2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

Academia Cotopaxi has a learning center and a teacher to assist students with mild learning difficulties. They can work with kids with IEPs.

View All Answers


3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

View All Answers


4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Baseball camp, soccer -

View All Answers


Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

View All Answers


2. Morale among expats:

View All Answers


3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

View All Answers


4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Great for everyone....

View All Answers


5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

No clue.

View All Answers


6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

I have not noticed any of these -

View All Answers


7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Teleferico, historic district, theatre, music (Santana will be here next Spring!), day trips to Cotopaxi volcano, shopping in Otavalo and Cotacachi. Longer weekends can be spent on the beach whale watching or going on a cruise around the Galapagos islands.

View All Answers


8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Tagua jewelry, Panama hats, woven tablecloths

View All Answers


9. Can you save money?

Sure, if you truly live on the economy and don't buy imported stuff.

View All Answers


Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Sure would, we've enjoyed it here. Lots to see and do!

View All Answers


2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Sundresses.

View All Answers


3. But don't forget your:

Comfy, flannel pjs.

View All Answers


4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

View All Answers


5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

View All Answers


6. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

View All Answers


7. Do you have any other comments?

View All Answers


Quito, Ecuador 01/01/09

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

Multiple expat experiences in Europe, Africa, Latin America.

View All Answers


2. How long have you lived here?

1.5 years.

View All Answers


3. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

Most common international route is via Miami, which is about 4.5 hours from Quito (if the flight isn't delayed). Other American carrier flights to the U.S. go to Houston (Continental) and Atlanta (Delta). KLM has a one-stop flight to Amsterdam and Iberia also has a daily flight. Regional (non-U.S.) airlines periodically offer good deals to U.S. cities.

View All Answers


4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Affiliated with U.S. Embassy.

View All Answers


Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

For going to the new U.S. Embassy, commutes typically range from 5-30 minutes in the morning, longer going back home due to traffic patterns and time of day. You have to find your own housing, so your commute is largely up to you. A few areas of the city offer standalone houses of varying quality, otherwise it's large, luxury-style apartments for the diplomatic and (shrinking) business expat crowd. Almost all live in the northern half of the city. Maintenance issues are a fact of life, so plan on dealing with landlords for plumbing, mold, and construction-related issues.

View All Answers


2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Supermarkets have everything you need, if not everything you want. Prices are more or less comparable to Washington, DC, although with markups on many imported goods. Fresh milk is almost unknown, although UHT milk is plentiful and not terribly expensive. Local markets are also available for cheaper produce, meat, etc. Specific brands and products sometimes come and go from store shelves.

View All Answers


3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Nothing, although it would be smart to make any major electronics purchases beforehand and ship them with your HHE. Electronics and clothes are pricey and best purchased elsewhere.

View All Answers


4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

American-style fast food is present (McDonald's, Burger King, Pizza Hut) along with local chains, at reasonable prices. There is a good selection of restaurants across the board, from cheap to pricey, including a variety of international cuisines (especially good Italian, Spanish, and steak places). Seafood is also popular, although at your own risk. Very few decent Asian or Mexican places, although a good Vietnamese place (Uncle Ho's) was opened in the Mariscal Sucre district by an embassy spouse.

View All Answers


Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Quito has a DPO (successor to APO) which works reasonably well. Ecuadorian mail service should not be trusted. Courier services like FedEx and DHL are also available.

View All Answers


2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Domestics are available and relatively cheap (price negotiated), although be careful they don't set you up for a break-in.

View All Answers


3. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Credit cards are fine at upscale establishments (hotels, restaurants, supermarkets, stores) with a reputation to lose; otherwise, credit card fraud is rampant. ATMs should be used in a protected area, since armed robberies and murders have frequently occurred around them in exposed areas.

View All Answers


4. What English-language religious services are available locally?

It's tough to find Catholic services in English. Others I understand are available, although again there's not a big demand. A number of evangelical Protestant churches are present in the city.

View All Answers


5. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

No English-language newspapers. Choice between cable and DirecTV, both of which come with English-language channels. Cost dependent on packages selected, roughly comparable to U.S. prices.

View All Answers


6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Very few people speak English, so Spanish is essential.

View All Answers


7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

The usual third-world challenges exist, as outside of upscale hotels and some tourist locations there are no special provisions made.

View All Answers


Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Taxis are very affordable (around US$5 to cross the city) and usually safe, although best to take one from a hotel or taxi stand to be sure. Taxis are metered during the day but have a set price (more expensive) at night. Be sure to ask the price beforehand. Buses and trolleys tend to be packed and embassy employees are told not to use them, although the threat is mostly from pickpocketing rather than anything violent.

View All Answers


2. Do you drive on the right hand side of the road or the left?

Right. Ecuadorian drivers are aggressive and often ignore traffic laws, signals, signs, etc. Defensive driving is the key. Parking is also a problem in many places.

View All Answers


3. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Any type is fine for the city, although don't bring an uncommon model that can't be fixed locally (Chrysler sedans, Mini Coopers, etc.) If you plan to do a lot of day trips, a four-wheel drive vehicle is useful for those unpaved roads in the countryside. Car break-ins are common, you can mylar your windows locally.

View All Answers


Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Internet is available, with broadband services (cable or DSL) running around US$50-$100 per month, depending on speed. Good quality, if not giving you the same bang for the buck you can get in other countries.

View All Answers


2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Three cell phone companies (Porta, Movistar, Allegro) serve the country, the first two being the biggest providers. You can get service very easily, can even buy a kit in a supermarket for around US$40.

View All Answers


3. What is the best way to make phone calls back home?

Skype, other VOIP services also available. Cell phone calls are also possible and of good quality, although relatively pricey.

View All Answers


Pets:

1. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Friends with pets typically leave them with other friends, kennel service doesn't seem to be used much. Vet service is available.

View All Answers


Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Fewer and fewer, due to economic problems and policies put in place by the government that are increasingly hostile to the private sector. Development and tourism-type jobs are available, although salaries are low by international standards.

View All Answers


2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Ecuadorians normally wear standard business attire at work: suit and tie for gentlemen, with both skirts and pants considered appropriate for women; fewer short skirts are seen here than elsewhere in Latin America. The climate is in the 50s-70s year-round, on the cooler side except in the hotter, sunny months (June-August), so dress is keyed to that. Short-sleeve shirts and shorts are unusual, except sometimes during the hotter months. Light jackets and layered clothing are the norm, think San Francisco.

View All Answers


Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Air quality overall is decent, but not when you're behind one of the many large buses belching black smoke.

View All Answers


2. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Crime in Quito has (officially) doubled in the past year, with armed robberies and break-ins of most concern. Law enforcement is largely impotent. Good security practices on the street and for your home are essential. Any apartment building you live in will have a guard and there are several quasi-gated communities as well.

View All Answers


3. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Medical care is reasonable, with two hospitals in the area recommended, one in the city (Hospital Metropolitano). Anything requiring more complicated surgery or modern treatment procedures should be done in the U.S.

View All Answers


4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

There are two seasons in Quito, summer (roughly April - October) and winter (the rest of the year). Winter is rainy season, which typically has sunny days turning cloudy and then raining a while in the afternoon or evening. Temperatures are pleasantly in the 70s-80s during the summer days, varying more in the winter with cloud cover and rain, but usually 50s-70s. Nights are cool and fresh. It should be mentioned that earthquakes are fairly frequent and there are several volcanoes are in the area.

View All Answers


Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

The Embassy-associated American school has a mixed reputation and there have been management issues in the past. There are other international schools available in the city as well.

View All Answers


2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

View All Answers


3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Many embassy families have a spouse who stays at home or works part time, with a nanny.

View All Answers


Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Shrinking, due to most of the foreign oil companies pulling up stakes and leaving; the Colombian diplomats have also been booted out. The diplomatic community is sizable, if fragmented. Don't expect the Venezuelans and Cubans to be too friendly, though.

View All Answers


2. Morale among expats:

Variable. Quito itself has a number of both positive and negative aspects, so people can choose to emphasize one or the other. It's tougher for singles overall, due to the limited and snooty dating pool. The quality of management at work varies, which can affect people's outlook on life. The government is also becoming more hostile to Americans, making life more difficult by doing things like delaying shipments in customs, although it hasn't reached Cuban proportions yet.

View All Answers


3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

You're pretty much on your own here, as the expat community is not very tight. That said, there are house parties, barbecues, etc. on a fairly regular basis, so go out and make friends. Going out to restaurants/bars is easy, although it's necessary to keep in mind parking and security issues. Movie theaters are modern and show first-run films, often in both subtitled and dubbed versions. The arts scene is limited, don't expect lots of world-class plays and ballets.

View All Answers


4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Quito is primarily a family-oriented post, reflecting the city's culture. Couples can also do well, as there are plenty of in-country getaways and Quito offers a good (if not great) selection of cultural and gastronomic attractions. Singles have a more difficult time of it, since they are heavily outnumbered and the night life isn't the high point of the city.

View All Answers


5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Selected areas have gay-friendly establishments. Gays are tolerated, but Quito has a conservative culture, so strong biases exist.

View All Answers


6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Prejudices exist against those of African descent, typical for Latin America. Religions other than the majority Catholicism are welcomed, although not necessarily understood.

View All Answers


7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

A long list of in-country trips could be made. The Galapagos islands head the list, although due to the expense it's probably a one-time thing; also try to plan ahead at least several months if you can't be flexible on timing. The coast is a short flight away, with several good beaches. The Amazon is also highly recommended, with overnight stays in jungle lodges. Meanwhile, a number of nature-oriented day trips (hot springs, cloud forests, butterfly reservations) are available from Quito. Quito has several decent museums (the Guayasamin museum and Banco Central especially) and a rejuvenated Old Town with a number of churches and other historic locations.

View All Answers


8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Ironically enough a lot of so-called local crafts and things like alpaca sweaters are imported from Peru. However, there's some good local art on the market, including paintings and unique crafts like tagu ("vegetable ivory"). Art is not cheap, but you can usually negotiate the price down. On the other hand, flowers are dirt cheap and high-quality, buy them for your loved ones and home.

View All Answers


9. Can you save money?

Yes.

View All Answers


Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Once, yes. Twice, no. A standard State Department tour is three years here, which is a bit long.

View All Answers


2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Heavy winter gear - almost never gets below 50F.

View All Answers


3. But don't forget your:

Sunscreen - light-skinned people outside for more than 15 minutes on a sunny day will get burned, the sun really does pack more of a punch on the equator.

View All Answers


4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Ecuador isn't known for its fiction.

View All Answers


5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Ecuador isn't known for its fiction.

View All Answers


6. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Proof of Life - filmed in Ecuador, so you can see what it's like.

View All Answers


7. Do you have any other comments?

Quito is a place where you have to work to get a lot out of it, but it can bring you rewards if you do. Unfortunately the trend line is down in several respects (crime, economy, political harassment), so the balance may change in the future.

View All Answers


New book from Talesmag! Honest and courageous stories of life abroad with special needs.

Read More