By Edd and Cynthia Staton
When we were planning our move to Cuenca, Ecuador in 2010 there were so many unknowns. How would we adapt to a new language and culture? Where would we live? What about our visas?
One important thing we did feel confident about was shipping our household goods. We had the good fortune of connecting early on with Paul Wilches of Relocation Services of Ecuador, and multiple conversations with Paul via Skype assured us that our possessions were in good hands. Sure enough, the door-to-door move was flawless.
Fast forward to 2016, and Relocation Services of Ecuador is still a leader in its field, having to date successfully shipped over 350 containers into the country.
What’s the secret to the company’s success? Perhaps more than anything, RSOE delivers North American-style customer service. Both Paul and his partner, Nathaly Consuegra, speak excellent English, and they understand the uncertainty that customers feel shipping their household goods to a foreign country.
Paul says, “We provide a complimentary consultation to every single client to make sure they understand the entire process from start to finish. Then we are in constant contact through email or Skype to keep them informed of the progress of their shipment.”
For example, many people are not aware that they can only ship their belongings duty free after they have received a residency visa. Otherwise, the shipment remains is Guayaquil incurring expensive rental fees until the visa is obtained.
According to Paul, shipping household goods usually makes good economic sense. Too often, he says, new expats think they can save money by buying appliances and furniture in Ecuador. “Of course you will be purchasing appliances if you buy a new condo. But North Americans don’t understand when you rent here, you are usually expected to furnish all appliances yourself.”
And if you prefer U.S. brands, be prepared to pay premium prices. Import taxes and fees can skyrocket the cost of an $1,800 refrigerator to over $5,000 in Ecuador! Nathaly says, “Instead of paying Ecuadorian prices for a refrigerator, stove, microwave, washer, and dryer, you can pay the same amount of money to ship your own appliances plus all the rest of your household goods.”
She qualifies her statement saying, “But there are some restrictions on what can be brought into Ecuador. The biggest one is no motorized vehicles. That means no cars, motorcycles, scooters, or 4X4’s. Guns, ammunition and explosives are not allowed. Then there are some odd restrictions, like no filament lightbulbs and no more than 10 bottles of liquor.”
Paul adds, “The country also places limits on the quantity of items that can be legally shipped. You can’t bring in 20 big screen TV’s, for example, or cases of Jif peanut butter.”
There are three basic sizes of containers: 20-foot, 40-foot, and 40-foot-high-top. Paul says shipping a 20-foot container costs from $7,500 to 8,500, depending on how far your home is from the nearest port. Interestingly, both 40-foot containers are the same price although the high-top is a foot taller, and while twice as long are priced only about $1,000 more than the 20-footer that is half the size.
For this reason, most people choose the largest container so they are not restricted by the amount they can ship. But if you wish to bring a smaller amounts, Nathaly points out there are other crating options to suit your needs.
Paul shares that the options don’t end there. He says, “Your household goods can be loaded from any location — your home or a storage facility. If you have a friend or relative to coordinate the loading process you could travel to Ecuador ahead of your container to begin your expat life.”
Bottom line: shipping your household goods to Ecuador is not a do-it-yourself project. Put your trust in a reputable, professional company that understands all the in’s and out’s of this country’s complex and ever-changing rules and regulations.
From our personal experience, plus those of hundreds of other satisfied clients, that company is Relocation Services of Ecuador.