Anyone here from Ecuador or has been there? I may have to spend some time down there to research a business project I am working on, i will be going there with permanent resident status, as I'm not sure how long I may stay. I'm interested to know not just about cycling, but about where would be a good place to live, culture, life in general, differences I can expect from the U.S., things of that nature. Basically anything you can tel me about the country.
If you are going to live in Ecuador, I am assuming you speak fluent Spanish (right?). Ecuador is smaller in size than it's neighbors, but a huge mix of semi-arid to tropical coastline along the Pacific, a high elevation central plateau about 8000' / 2500m elevation, jagged volcanos and 18000' / 4700m mountain peaks, and then dropping to a vast Amazon jungle area east of the Andes. The two big cities where most business is conducted are Quito (capital) in the high elevation central plateau and Guayaquil down on the Pacific coast. Guayaquil is bigger than Quito.
Where have you lived before, outside the US? Ecuador is a world of difference from the US, in fact I can't think of anything the two have in common. The majority are native peoples of many different cultures, which vary quite a bit by region. There is a large percentage of mestizo and some people of European background. If you don't speak fluent Spanish it will be a struggle to get by there. It is a country that is trying to deal with tough social and economic problems, but you will find the people quite hospitable and friendly.
I strongly suggesting a visit to Ecuador before making a choice about where to live. My hunch is that the Guayaquil area is where you might look first. Hopefully you can tolerate warm tropical temps cause it's like that every day of the year. You can hop a non-stop flight from Miami or Houston to Guayaquil in about 6+ hours.
My Spanish is passable, so that isn't a concern, since i figure i will become more fluent as time goes on as I am submersed in it. Aside from the U.S., I have lived in Vancouver Canada, Waterford Ireland, and Cartenga Columbia, all for sort periods(6 months or less). I was looking at Guayaquil, and the Vilcabamba/Loja area. I am not worried about the differences from the U.S., since the only "modern convinces" I care about are internet and cellular, which both seem to be reliably be in place in the areas I am lookng into, all the other differences are all plusses in my opinion, I am not exactly a fan of the American lifestyle. i have lots of family in the U.S. so it would be no problem having anything i wanted and couldn't get there shipped to me. i work in ecommerece, so I will continue to make my current wages as long as I would like to continue my current line of employment, though I am looking into investing in a telecommunication/ISP company in Ecuador. What I have noticed as strange is that all of the websites I have looked into for real estate and apartments always seem to be trying to add on cooks, maids, drivers, and all other manner of domestic help. Is this common there? I'm not really comfortable with having "servents". Perhaps the sites i were looking at were just intended to get foreigners to think they could live like kings for near nothing.
It sounds like you have done some homework and narrowed it down a bit. I still suggest a quick visit there, you could easily get a flight from Chicago at this time of year round trip for $500 or so. Why all the domestic help "bundled" with leases or rentals? I am guessing you are looking in English language websites, not something like a Guayaquil newspaper website. Try this link.
Quite a few apartments, including some furnished in the US$200-400 range in Guayaquil, the only "extra" might be a doorman at the front of the building for security. Of course you know that the US dollar is the currency of Ecuador, since their economy crashed a few years ago and their own currency became worthless.
Anything geared towards "expats" in Ecuador will try to bundle in domestic help. There are a lot of people in Ecuador desperate for work that would love to earn an extra $50 per month. Vilcabamba is much different and much smaller than Guayaquil. There are lots of outsiders who have settled in that town. It's at around 1800 meters elevation so temps are very mild all the time. No tropical heat like Guayaquil. But it would be pretty tough to try and run an ISP there. Much better opportunities in Guayquil where there is a larger population and also much larger business market to reach out to. BTW, I work in telecom for a large cable co that is also a big ISP and telephone company. I've worked in telecom engineering for 30 years, and worked many contract jobs in S America, Russia and other parts of the former USSR.