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What Should you Bring When Moving to Ecuador

AgentImage  | January 4, 2018

Imagine the stress of moving to a new house. Now multiply that stress by 1000 and that is the stress you feel as you prepare to move to a new house in a new country. How are you supposed to know what you will need for the rest of your life? Do you ship everything down or just buy new stuff when you arrive? What if they don’t have what you need?!

I’m sure these thoughts have crossed all expats minds at least once or one hundred times as they prepared to take their life abroad. They sure crossed mine. And because everyone and every situation is different, every solution is different.

I can’t say that I have the right answer for you but in sharing my experiences, I hope I will be able to answer some of your questions and put your mind at ease as you prepare to start your exciting new life in Ecuador.

“Maybe I will just bring everything with me?”

Some people’s first thought might be to bring everything with them. Some people literally need every item that they currently have in their life and that is okay! However, the general consensus is that shipping becomes extremely costly, aggravating and time consuming. There are some companies that are very helpful and if shipping is necessary, they are the ones to talk to because they know the ins and outs of packing, transporting, and getting through customs. However, it is a long costly process and may make your move more stressful than it needs to be.

“Can I get what I need in Ecuador”

I decided to bring only what I could fit in my two very large suitcases. My airline allowed 2 free checked bags so I knew that was my limit. But this left me with the question, “can I get what I need in Ecuador?”

Calling Ecuador a developing country leaves the image in some people’s minds that they won’t be able to find basic day-to-day life supplies. Let me help; Ecuador is not primitive. Ecuador has pretty much everything you need or at least some version very similar, maybe even better. My shampoo, my makeup, my vitamins, my house décor, my kitchen supplies, my office supplies, my furniture, my building materials for my business, all easily bought upon arrival. To this day, the only thing I haven’t been able to find is ranch dip mix, but I think we can all agree that this is not life or death.

I tried to bring as much as I could because I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to find it in Ecuador but in the end, I have always been able to find the Ecuadorian version of that United States product. In addition bringing things from the US does not guarantee you will be able to find replacement parts for them here in Ecuador. When I brought my printer with me, I soon came to learn that I couldn’t find the proper ink cartridges. I wish I had saved that space for something like family photos which can’t be bought.

“Where will I buy everything?”

Big department stores have brought a whole new meaning to convenience. Going to one location and literally being able to buy your food items, household items, health items, toys, tools, car parts, etc all without ever having to leave the store. This won’t happen in Ecuador. Finding specific things may take some searching; you have to know where to look. Department stores do not exist in the smaller towns like where I live in Puerto Lopez but they do exist in the cities however, this doesn’t guarantee that making a trip to multiple stores in order to get everything on your list is out of the question.

You need paper? You go to the paper store. You need fabric? You go to the fabric store. You need new batteries? You go to the corner store where they sell all of those small “end-of-the-aisle” types of things. The way of life is slightly different therefore, the organization also remains different. It takes a little bit of patience and a lot of asking others for help, but without a doubt, you can almost always find what you are looking for.

What should you bring then?

Clothes, shoes, and those personal items that make you happy or are 100% necessary.

Ecuadorians are on average shorter and smaller than the rest of the world which can leave someone who is 5’10” with a size 9 shoe frustrated when shopping. Also clothing is generally more expensive here so take advantage of space saver bags and pack as much clothing as you feel you will need. All types of clothing and shoes are available, but it is not worth it when they are so easily packable.

Family photos, your child’s favorite stuffed animal, important prescriptions, these are something that you won’t be able to replace in any part of the world. These are what you should fill your suitcase with.

The availability of household items is not something to stress over. Some things may take a little searching around but you will be able to get what you need. And if it turns out that you absolutely can’t find it, adapt or do without! That’s why I moved to Ecuador is it not, to learn a new way a life, to learn to adapt and be flexible? I did not move to Ecuador to live exactly how I lived in the states.

Just because you are moving here doesn’t ever mean you will go back or won’t be in contact with someone who travels between your home country and Ecuador with frequency. Many people ask and offer to bring items from other countries because sometimes we just can’t live without a certain item. I still get my contact lenses from the states and when people visit I have them items purely for the fact that they are cheaper in the states. Can I live without them? Yes. But sometimes I just need that ranch dip mix.

Don’t stress about packing. If you forget something, you can get it when you arrive. And once you arrive, you may realize you don’t even need it.

Don’t be afraid to start living the life you’ve always wanted. Ecuador awaits