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I’ve been a digital nomad since 2015 and lived in Ecuador, Australia, and Mexico until I returned home to the US this year and am now car camping on the West (Mountainous) Coast. I’m in marketing as a freelancer so have tremendous flexibility. I earn ~$100k per year doing this and am transitioning into working on my own projects instead.
What was your overall impression of this destination? Would you recommend this location to other nomads?
This is the most beautiful part of Ecuador and has tons of accessible trails and activities, all with great views of the surrounding mountains. You could live there happily, there are a lot of transplants there who are simply there for the outdoors.
What was the cost of living? How much did you spend on accommodation, food, transport, and entertainment?
This is an extremely affordable country and especially Vilcabamba. You could easily live for under $1,000 per month there. While I was there, I earned about $1,000 per month and never felt like I was on a budget.
What can you share about the culture here? Are there any cultural norms visitors should be aware of?
Ecuadoreans are beautiful, warm, inviting, and full of life. Spanish is spoken there but the younger generations speak English well. There are lots of expats there anyway so it’s easy to meet people.
What languages are primarily spoken?
Spanish and English. It was very easy to get around, most people spoke English.
What was your experience finding, booking, and staying in accommodation?
Everything is so cheap and affordable. Accommodations for just a couple hundred dollars a month and groceries are from local farm stands. Restaurants are affordable and offer an eclectic mix of international cuisines, thanks to the expat community there.
What working spaces are available to digital nomads? Are there co-working spaces or cafes where it is feasible to work?
There are cafes and outdoor seating areas. There’s also great cell service if you need to work somewhere else.
What was the food like? Is it easy to find great restaurants? Are groceries readily available?
Plenty of eating options, though not a culinary destination due to its remote location and size. But you’ll find very affordable options.
What visas or permits are required to enter the country, how long can you stay, and what other legal issues might be relevant to nomads here?
Ecuador currently has a nomad visa that makes it easy to stay there long-term.
What’s the connectivity like? Is Wifi access readily available in accommodations and public places? What kind of internet speed did you get? Was mobile internet readily available? What was the cost of a SIM card and the process to get one?
I never had any issues with connectivity in this location. On the coast, it was terrible. In this location, my cell data worked perfectly and all of the accommodations came with solid internet.
What is there to do for fun here?
Lots of hiking and spiritual ceremonies, like San Pedro.
What is the social scene like? Is it easy to meet and connect with locals and/or ex-pats?
It’s a real hippie vibe so there’s lots of yoga, ecstatic dance, and other things like that. There are also lots of hikers passing through so if you’re more into that scene, then you’ll find outdoor lovers to explore the trails with.
What’s the weather like?
Perfect! It’s the Valley of Longevity, Eternal Spring, and a bunch of other great names because it has consistently good weather.
What else should people know about the destination? Can you share any interesting stories or fun facts?*
It’s close to the Peruvian border and next to a famous national park, so there is lots to explore when (if!) you tire of Vilcabamba.