Friday, February 14, 2014

The Bird's Eye View on Moving to South America: David Sasaki

David Sasaki's contributions are found on two of my favorite Facebook sites: What's Happening in Cotacachi Ecuador and Ecuador Expats. You can also find him by simply searching David Sasaki. All sites are extremely informative with a good mix of news about Ecuador and networking between current and prospective expats.
For anyone who has considered relocating to another country, or wonders what makes someone else do it, I thought I'd share some of David's thoughts on living in Ecuador. As his FB site explains, he lives in a small town, Cotachi, north of Quito. The photos he shares of the mountains around his home are nothing less than stunning.
So my first question for David was how did you go from 'I could move to South America' to 'let's do it?'
David explained, "My wife and I came to Ecuador for a short visit to see if we liked it. We did. We went back home, sold our house, and came to Ecuador with just suitcases." He said both he and his wife lean toward the adventurous side of life, so the idea of moving was appealing to both of them.
Having said that, he also "needs stability" and doesn't like to constantly be on the go. Therefore, Cotacachi provided a good mix of exotic locale, but with small town roots.
I asked David what surprised him most about moving to Ecuador. His answer is a cautionary tale for those of you considering the move. "There are some expats who try to take financial advantage of new arrivals," he said. Therefore, if you are considering moving, be very cautious about trusting other people simply because they also come from the USA.
On the other hand, David noted, "The people of Ecuador have been very welcoming. Some are cautious around foreigners which is understandable." We also found that to be true. Once again, you have to be careful not to trust people too much until they earn that trust. Caution is a good by-word.
I asked David about all the news media hype regarding Americans moving to Ecuador and how that has affected things there. He said, "The cost of living has been going up. While it's still cheaper to live in Ecuador than in the US, it's not as cheap as it was a few years ago. And the cost of living depends on your lifestyle."
That's an excellent point. When you read that a meal in Ecuador costs around two dollars, keep in mind the writer is probably referring to rice and beans. If you want to eat like a king, you will pay considerably more.
While some commentators report that the average stay by Americans in Ecuador is less than three years, David tends to dispute that number. "I think people are just making guesses," he said. "There are no official figures."
David would know. He is as well informed as anyone I have run across about the country. His FB sites offer what most Ecuadorian sites do not, a great number of news articles on the country.
I asked him what he missed most about living in the US. His answer was short and sweet: "Not much really except maybe family and a few good friends." What does he most appreciate about Ecuador, besides the great beauty? He is glad to be out of the "rat race mentality." Tranquilo, which means to be tranquil or to chill out is a popular word in South America.
He suggested if someone is interested in investigating a new culture, rather than trying to impose their culture on others, they would enjoy Ecuador. But that's an important point. Those who hear life in Ecuador is dirt cheap and who see the people as their personal servants give Americans a bad name and sour Ecuadorians on all of us.
Ecuador is not the southern wing of the United States. The culture is different, the people are different. If you are considering moving, that's important to realize. Also, English is not the official or unofficial language. At least trying to learn Spanish is important.
David's advice: Find an area that suits your lifestyle. "I'm not a beach person. I love the mountains. My wife and I made a decision early on that we did not want to live in a city. We prefer small town life. I think if their financial resources allow it, people should visit first to see if they like Ecuador. The country is not for everyone."
Wise words from someone I admire. If you are considering Ecuador and want to learn more about it, I believe you will enjoy David's sites.


  1. I enjoyed our three weeks in Ecuador. I could see us going back and staying longer, not so many worries and stress. Even in restaurants people are slower and that can be irritating until you get used to it and learn to take the extra time at the table to converse, The people are beautiful in more ways than one.

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  3. Stay away from Ecuador Expats Facebook. You won't get accurate information there. Anyone who says anything negative about Ecuador is ganged-up on and told to go home. If you disagree with anything posted by the moderator or his friends you will get censored or kicked off. There are much better places to get uncensored information on Ecuador.