Accommodation in Ecuador

When looking for accommodation in Ecuador, expats will need to consider various aspects such as their budget, their preferred areas, and the type of housing they want to live in.

Expats on assignment for a multinational company usually prefer to rent accommodation rather than buy, but those planning on staying in Ecuador permanently may want to explore the option of purchasing property.

Types of housing in Ecuador

Compared to many other countries, housing and property in Ecuador are cheap. Large cities with high-density populations such as Quito and Guayaquil are the most expensive but are also among the most popular destinations for expats.

Many expats choose to rent apartments, either in divided-up private houses or apartment buildings. The occasional townhouse in a gated community, called an urbanización cerrada, is also available. Both furnished (amueblado) and unfurnished (sin amueblar) apartments are readily available, although unfurnished apartments are much more common. 

Finding accommodation in Ecuador

Two of the main ways expats can find housing is by looking online or reading the local newspapers. Another option is scouring the neighbourhood by foot or car looking for signs that read Se Arrienda (for rent). Word of mouth is also an excellent way to find a good deal, so don't be shy to talk to locals and ask around about places to rent. Otherwise, accommodation can also be found by going through a real estate agent.

Living near the city centre is preferable since the transportation options will be much more robust. Supermarkets and small family grocery stores are usually conveniently located in most Ecuadorian neighbourhoods. It's also a good idea to speak to locals to find out which are the safer parts of town. 

Beware of price inflation and fraud – expats might run into what is wryly termed as 'gringo tax' (higher prices for foreigners). To avoid this, expats should bring an Ecuadorian friend along when viewing accommodation and negotiating contracts and prices.

Renting accommodation in Ecuador

Leases are in Spanish, so expats will need to get someone to translate before signing, whether a professional translator or a willing local. The contract is most commonly for a year, but longer leases are also possible. Before moving in, a deposit of the equivalent to one to three months of rent (depending on the owner) must be paid. When it comes time to make the deposit, don’t be surprised if the owner asks the tenant to pay in cash as Ecuador is a cash-friendly society. Alternatively, they might ask for a deposit directly into their bank account.

Ecuadorian construction standards are often low, so it is also important to carefully check the premises before signing the lease or paying a deposit. Make sure the lights, shower, sinks, toilet, doors, windows and electrical outlets all function. Potential tenants should decide whether they want to pay more for a hot water heater (and whether it includes both shower and sink), or whether they can live with an electric shower. Ecuadorian buildings are generally not heated, and although one may find tile roofs romantic, they often leak.

Some housing will include all utilities in the monthly rental fee but in most cases bills such as gas and electricity are for the tenant's own account.

Heidi Schultz Our Expat Expert

Heidi Schultz holds a master's degree in Spanish from Harvard University. She has lived in Ecuador since 2010. Currently, she works as a translator and writing instructor in English at the Escuela Politécnica Nacional. In her spare time, she draws, writes and explores Ecuador's mountains, caves, and beaches.

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