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The last two months have been full of serious contemplation about what comes next. It’s not the first time since we’ve been here that we have considered returning to the US. Almost every year, we go through the same routine of evaluating the business and committing to staying here another year – or not.
I just got back from spending six weeks in the US. I spent a lot of time looking at basic cost of living items. This is also influenced my thinking. It was interesting to note that food and produce is generally not a whole lot higher and what it costs here in Ecuador. The two main costs are higher in the US are housing and health insurance. Other than that, I was pretty surprised to find that I could probably have a better standard of living in the US while only having to make not a lot more money than I make here.
If you’ve been a regular reader of the blog, you will know the last year in Ecuador has been fraught with more difficulty than ever before, not just specifically related to our business, but also related to our kids’ education, and the future outlook for Ecuador. We hear from people in all types of businesses about the difficulties they’re having, and the new challenges they are facing with doing business. We see the increase in crime and insecurity here in Quito. We deal with increasingly bad traffic. Exporting has gotten more and more bureaucratic and time-consuming.
With all of these negatives on top, there must be a few positives. First, I’ve seen a growing interest in Ecuadorian chocolate and cocoa products from abroad. This is brought us some opportunities for export. Second, within Ecuador I see a growing impetus in the cocoa and chocolate sector with increased efforts to reach out abroad. Third, I had strengthened several partnerships with local professionals and manufacturers in the cocoa sector, allowing me to provide an increasing range and sophistication of products for export.
So there’s both good and bad going on. But, we’re not sure we want to wait around and see just how difficult to do business and live here in Ecuador. The writing is on the wall for a business – either invest several tens of thousands of dollars over the next few years to comply with new government regulations, or close up. At this point, I’m more inclined to head back home. It doesn’t matter where I am as far as doing business with Ecuador; I have the contacts, the networks and the relationships established. We will be deciding in the next 4 to 6 months what comes next.