Ecuador vs Colombia…Which is Right for You?

In 2006-2007 I lived in Colombia for a combined 12 months between stays in Argentina and El Salvador. But since 2005 I have been living on and off in Ecuador.

I love both places, but even though they may seem similar on the surface, they are very different. Both with their pros and cons, you just have to pick your poison, like picking between a blond and brunette.

Here they are, compared:

Costs: Ecuador wins. Ecuador housing, public transport, healthcare and real estate are all cheaper. Food in both places is cheap. The only thing that is cheaper in Colombia are the flights from the US.

Food: Colombia wins. If you are a seafood fan, Ecuador will win in your book, but if not, things like a toasted arepa and a “bandeja paisa” in Colombia are to die for.

Weather: Ecuador wins. In Colombia, the wweather on the coast is almost year round scorching hot, whereas in Ecuador the weather on the coast is very mild and pleasant. Both places have an Andean mountain scene with fertile valleys with eternal springlike weather. i.e. see Medellin.

Beaches: Ecuador wins. A select few of Colombia’s caribbean beaches are stunning but they are just too hard to get to (like Tyrona) and Cartagena is a nasty dodgy dump (sorry but its true).

People: Colombia wins. Ecuadorian people love foreigners (especially ones from Europe, Australia and the USA) but not as much as Colombians do. This was kind of a no brainer. Colombian people can be stunningly kind, especially to visitors.

Attractiveness of the Women (and men): Colombia wins. Both the men and women looking for a mate will be happier in Colombia. Colombian women are flat out amazing, especially in places like Medellin, where every third women you see could be a super model in another country…but Ecuador is under-rated let me tell you.

Real Estate: Ecuador wins. Colombian property (in the cities) has already bubbled a bit as the US property boomed from 2003-2006. Ecuador just recently is starting to get discovered, but is still much cheaper and still high quality.

Residency options: Ecuador wins. It is not hard to get residency in Colombia but in general the DAS (immigration) is a pain in the ass (don’t tell ‘em I said that). In Ecuador, everything from overstaying to getting different types of visas is easier.

Business Opportunities: Ecuador wins. I can only speak from personal experience, but Colombia still kind of has that “mob has the final say” mentally in business and you always kind of have to watch over your shoulder to be sure you’re not competing with someone you shouldn’t…in Ecuador you don’t have to worry about that weird stuff.

Healthcare: Ecuador wins. I cut my head open and had to wait for hours bleeding in a Colombian waiting room to get attended, so I’m biased I guess.

Public Transport: Ecuador wins. In Ecuador buses are a quarter, and they are EVERYWHERE. Taxi fares start at $1. In Colombia, city buses are also everywhere, but cost almost $.60-.70 per ride with the heightened exchange rate over the last few years. Taxis are also double the price of Ecuador.

Expat Community: Colombia wins. For a long time there were hardly any expats in Colombia, so the small numbers really hardened the core of the expat community and to this day is very united and active.

Safety: Ecuador wins. Colombia has made HUGE strides since 2003, and I’d venture to say Medellin is now the safest city in all of Latin America, even walking around at night, but Colombia still has it’s rebel fights in the countryside and in the jungle, as long as that’s still there, Colombia won’t go very far. In Ecuador, the people are smaller and much more docile by nature. Guns are a rare sight. The most common crimes are petty theft, if a robbery does occur, it is often with a knife not a gun.

Overall: Ecuador wins. Hey this is an Ecuador blog, what did you expect? Well, seriously, I chose Ecuador for the atmosphere, it’s just way more laid back and westernized compared to Colombia, which is truly a world of it’s own (and I felt quite alone in it).

Hope that helps! Dom

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