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I spotted this Chinese made car yesterday. Would you drive a car named a Relic?

By lengthening the school year and changing the school calendar, policy makers seem to have ignored or overlooked several things:

  • Shorter vacation times will definitely affect seasonal tourism and decrease revenues.
  • Unifying the coastal school schedule and highlands schedule (previously they ran on different calendars) means that the entire country will go on vacation at the same time, resulting in massive crowding at tourism destinations. It's already bad enough as it is.
  • Families who are accustomed to reuniting during holidays will no longer have this option; there's bound to be some opposition sprouting up somewhere soon…I hope.
  • Many people will not be granted vacation during the 15 day February break, the only one of the entire school year-again, detrimental to the tourism industry.
  • For this year at least, there's certainly many, many people who have already made holiday reservations/plane ticket purchase that can't be refunded. That's our case…and our kids are going to miss school if they have to no matter what.
  • Current teachers already here will not be interested in renewing contracts under the new terms, and teachers potentially recruited from abroad will certainly find better options elsewhere. It will be hard to recruit new teachers based on the new school schedule, as vacation days are now greatly reduced as compared to many other parts of the world.

Just two weeks short of the new school year the government announced a major schedule change. No Christmas or Easter Holidays, with only a fifteen day break between 5-month semesters running from September through January and mid Fedbruary through early July. All this in an effort to increase the school year to 200 days, though even the Ministry of Education admits its an “experiment,” and they don't know how it will result.

The changes only appeared in the papers the 28th of August.

Some teachers at the British School are already talking about resigning if the changes are implemented, given that under their contracts they are already entitled to a certain number of vacation days and this arbitrarily and instantaneously changes all that.

We've heard in the rumor mill that other international schools, namely Academia Cotopaxi, Ecuador's largest school for the US community, are having trouble hiring teachers. Supposedly the government has told them they don't need to hire teachers from abroad as there are plenty of qualified Ecuadorian teachers, and are making it difficult to get visas.

Just the latest and greatest example of arbitrary decisions being made that can affect you, your business and your life, a daily part of life in Ecuador.

Stay tuned.

Back in Ecuador after a month in the US. I heard a lot about droughts, food inflation worldwide, and observed the high cost of groceries. You want to know what food costs in Ecuador? Here it is…these prices are from the local Supermaxi, Ecuador's major grocery chain. There are cheaper prices out there in the local open air markets, and you won't pay the 12% VAT tax added to many items. But hygiene is not as good and storage is usually terrible. I've been sick enoug here to be convinced it's worth it to shop where at least hygiene is halfway decent. You don't want to get sick, so don't take your chances if it's not necessary.

Grapefruit $0.50 kg

Carrot Orange Juice $6.00 per 2 liters

  • Avocados $0.50 each or about $2.70 per kg
  • Potatoes 5 kg sack $2.88
  • Broccoli $0.73/kg
  • Imported Green Grapes $6.66/kg
  • Organic Head of lettuce $0.99
  • Green Cabbage $0.86/kg

Many web sites tout the low cost of living in Ecuador. Many assume that because it’s a poor country in South America, it somehow might be cheaper than where ever else they are. And Ecuador does have lower overall living costs than many other countries in South America, especially if you live outside of the major urban centers of Guayaquil or Quito. But living in Ecuador is still not cheap. Operating a business in Ecuador, despite lower labor costs, is not as cheap as one might expect. Everything has its price. And the low prices in Ecuador are long gone. Sure, fresh fruits and vegetables are very cheap. But most everything else isn’t. Why not? The costs of doing business are passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices. These costs include:

  • 24 hour armed guards needed at most business locations (or paid for through higher per square meter costs for commercial space) are a given nearly anywhere, driving up the cost of doing business.
  • The same goes for living in a decent neighborhood, especially in Quito or Guayaquil-24 hour guard service or at least a daytime presence of a caretaker is required in many areas to fend off crime, and this cost is added to your HOA or condo fees.
  • High tariffs on many imported goods and machinery drive up production costs and thus overall cost of goods.
  • Low productivity, onerous labor laws, and obligatory “13th” and “14th” salaries per year make low labor costs much higher than they appear at first glance.
  • Small user pools make health insurance costs high for very little maximum coverage (most policies max out at $19,000 per year). While medical care is generally much cheaper than say in the US, it is still a heavy burden.
  • Obtaining licenses and permits is time-consuming and onerous, often taking several entire days. Businesses are often forced to close while obtaining these permits, and thus can only make up the lost income but adjusting prices.

Think twice and plan carefully for your next trip or if you are planning on moving to Ecuador for an extended period or permanently.

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Welcome to Destination Ecuador!

Welcome to Destination Ecuador! My family and I have been living in Ecuador for the last four and a half years. We’ve dealt with the worst kinds of red-tape, searched out or ended up making hard-to-find ingredients ourselves, imported equipment for making chocolate confections, learned the import-export business...Continue >>


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