The 1 hardest thing for a nice guy doing business in Ecuador

I’ve got a confession to make, I’m a nice guy.

If you’ve ever met me you know, kinda short, kinda soft-spoken, generally nice.

And being nice in a place like Ecuador isn’t necessarily a virtue, it’s a handicap.

But I’ve done pretty good here economically (so far) in spite of it.

As I covered earlier this week, Ecuadorians are GREAT people, but it’s a bit more animalistic down here during conflicts, they have to see it in your eyes you mean business, they have to taste it, or they’ll try to walk all over you.

You can’t rely on the police as much to have your back.

Specifically, in the businessworld in Ecuador (a country where negotiation is common), the biggest challenge for me as a nice guy is to hold firm on my price for pure optical lenses when people ask for discounts. Especially when I really want to sell. Sometimes I’ve even found myself discounting before people even ask. As a nice guy you want to be accommodating, but that’s a big no, no!

​​​​​​​You have to value yourself and what you’re doing.

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Dodging a shark: The dangers of buying vacant land in Ecuador

“Oh, man, here he comes again.” I said to an Ecuadorian friend as I saw my neighbors big black pick up pull up to my property near Salinas on the coast.

The car stopped, he got out and walked up.

I had previously explained to my friend that my neighbor used to be the owner of the whole hill I was on overlooking the ocean, and that he had sold a lot to the person that sold to the person that sold to me.

But now he was hassleing me because he said on my deed is only 500m2 yet in actuality my lot is closer to 700m2 if you count the downward slope onto the main road from my main lot.

Now, he was bothering me to pay him for the extra 200m2 I was occupying or he would sell that to someone else.

Yet, most of that space is un-usable anyway because it was too close to the main road.

But consulting in the municipal of Santa Elena where the deeds are registered, they told me actually mis-measurements of lots are quite common and don’t mean much.

So, this time as my neighbor walked up once again to hassle me, he was intercepted by my Ecuadorian friend who got in his face and told him to get lost and stop trying to take advantage of a naive foreigner (me, at the time).

That’s all it took.

He never bothered me again.

I learned something from that about how things work down here. Ecuadorians respect force or threat of force, and that’s about it.

Strength, in other words, not necessarily the “oh it’s the right thing to do” ethics that may be enough in places like North America where you can rely a bit more on the legal system and the police to help you out.

So, how can you prevent situations like this?

Buy lots that have CONFIRMED time-tested boundaries marked by older looking fences, GPS coordinates specified in deed, or landmarks outlined in deed. I would like to install a new fence in my yard, so I’m going to hire these contractors for help.  I also visited bubdesk for lot of help. Talk to the neighbors to confirm before buying if possible.

Fence costs are calculated as a cost per linear foot. The easiest way to estimate the cost is to determine the cost of a single fence panel and then multiply that cost times the number of panels required to achieve the total length of the fence. First, measure the perimeter of the area to be enclosed – while doing this make note of any special situations that will influence to cost such as gate(s) or difficult terrain. If a fence already exists that will be replaced with new materials then simply count the number of fence panels that are present. Wood privacy fences are almost always spaced with posts 8 foot apart on center (this means the measurement from the center of one post to the center of an adjacent post is 8 feet) but always measure to confirm. Lumber is available in standard 8 foot lengths and offers a balanced solution of cost and strength. Spans longer than 8 feet will likely have problems with sagging unless the 2×4 cross beams are upgraded to 2×6 dimension – this also changes the appearance of the fence panel. The fence rails should be 2×4 lumber from pressure treated pine or cedar wood. The style of privacy fence and the choice of wood used on the pickets will have the biggest impact to the aesthetics of the wood privacy fence installation.

If there is a need to set the posts at some other length, be sure to choose an increment of 2 feet (i.e. 6 foot, 8 foot, 10 foot, 12 foot etc… ) otherwise installation will require every cross beam to be cut to length. What about the premade panels available at the local home improvement store? These premade panels are often made from pressure treated pine with three cross beams that are 1.5×2.25 inches and frequently sag after installation. The cheap fence panels can be suitable for urgent repair purposes but are not recommended for use when installing a new or replacement fence.

Wood fence posts must be pressure treated and rated for ground contact. Galvanized steel fence posts offer longer life after a higher initial cost for the post and the post rail brackets that are required. Many homeowners dislike the appearance of the steel posts but this can be overcome by a simple coat of paint or wrapping the steel post in a wood enclosure.

And it sure helps to have some local friends.

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How much should you pay a caretaker for your beach house in Ecuador?

Good question.

Not much.

I’ve owned several properties on the coast of Ecuador, and currently own one for sale.

All I can say is how much I pay. I pay a local guy $10 a week to go to the house once or twice a week at different times and check if everything is OK, dust and sweep up a bit, water the plants and just kind of spend a bit of time there.

That’s it.

He also shows the home to interested buyers upon request. So one important requirement is that he has and answers a cell phone.

Like anything in Ecuador, always try to pay the locals the going rate, or a little bit better, or they will probably label you a rich gringo, get greedy and want more and more and more.

Best to ask other locals how much they pay for similar services before paying yourself.

NEVER have the mindset of, “well, in the USA we pay this much for a similar service, so anything less would be a deal”.

Newsflash: this ain’t Kansas anymore, think like that and you will overpay for sure!
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The difference between Cuenca and the rest of Ecuador

Most foreigners who move to Ecuador, move straight to Cuenca.

It’s a nice place, but it’s actually quite similar to most of the other colonial mountain towns in Ecuador.

So what’s different about Cuenca to me as an occasional visitor?

The variety and quality of cuisine options from all around the world.

World-class chefs from all over with hole in the wall eateries abound.

Compared to the rest of Ecuador, even Quito, the (good) food options are usually limited to the beans, plantains and rice and your choice of dead animal.

I’m not complaining, I love Ecuador food. But if you get the itch, I’d say try Cuenca Ecuador Realty.

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The first 10 things gringos notice in Ecuador


“T.I.E. This. is. Ecuador.”  I find myself often telling my brother (from the USA) who is currently visiting Ecuador for the first time.

The things he initially notices crack me up when I’m just used to it being here a few years now.

Here were a few things he noticed first in Ecuador, and found strange…

1. Grass growing on power lines in Ecuador.  Unexplainable.

2. Ghetto glass.  Or broken bottles cemented into the tops of property walls to prevent break ins.  Interesting idea.

3. Whole extended families on motorcycles.  Slightly illegal in the USA, he found it strange the sight of a father, mother and two kids and the family dog on one motorcycle in Ecuador.

4. Street dogs humping in the street.  A common part of any Ecuador landscape. This one he found particularly hilarious.

5. Random cars with police-colored strobe lights.  Not exactly legal in USA.

6. Pissing in Public.  The ease with which male Ecuadorians pull up in public was impressive to him.

7. Cars parked on sidewalks making the pedestrians walk in the street.  A common sight in Ecuador.

8.  How close the buses whiz by you when biking on the road in Ecuador, literally they pass just inches away.  This one made him flinch.

9. Cars pulling other broken-down cars with a rope.  Not precisely legal in the USA yet a common sight in Ecuador.

10. No windows (or TP) or any ventilation of any kind in many gas station bathrooms in Ecuador.  The hot, humid stench of one particularly on the coast will make you want to shower right then and there.


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