Once again we bring you another relevant update about security measures and why homes need to be walled and windows barred. when living in Latin America. This 4 year old article (first published April 2012) really needed some updates.
Notice all updates are in red.
Update 2016 - Some armchair travelers when they watch our videos remark about the tall iron gates that surround homes and the bars on the windows and don't understand it. They haven't even been here (yet) and they are already in mild shock.
That's why we write articles like this one so people will have a better idea what's behind all these security measures. Also, most of Latin America is like this, not just Ecuador.
Welcome to Latin America...or should we say, "Are you sure Latin America is a good fit for you?"
Why do people in North America lock their doors and windows at night? To keep thieves out, right? In North America thieves don’t care if you’re home or not, they just break in and steal what they want and in some cases if you cannot defend yourself properly, they’ll kill you. They call this “home invasion” up north. Most cities of the same size in North America have much more violent crime than Cuenca Ecuador.
Update 2016 - This has changed. It is common practice in both Panama and Ecuador to break into houses when occupants are home and some of these home invasions are violent. It's been happening in Panama for quite some time but some folks with vested interests are keeping it hush hush...sad, really sad. It's only gotten worse there.
And now that Ecuador is seeing more and more foreigners moving there, the country has been seeing more and more home invasions against foreigners. Be aware, we now advice expats have electric fencing around the perimeters of their houses, dog(s), alarms, motion detectors, cameras, etc and lots of wisdom.
The difference in crime between the U.S and Ecuador is that in Ecuador (excluding the bigger cities) it mostly is not violent. I say, mostly, because there have been some violent robberies by criminals from Guayaquil in Cuenca.
Update 2016 - Big change here. home invasions, especially those in gated communities have become more violent, sending expats to the hospital. The Ecuador coast and Vilcabamba have seen the most home invasions, however Cuenca is not immune to such violence.
Update 2016 - Scoffers of crime in Latin countries complain about how ugly the tall gated walls are and bars on the windows but if you are going to live in a house in Ecuador and/or Panama you need this protection! To sweep personal security and crime under the rug would be unwise at best.
Update 2016 - Another update we feel needs mentioned is the opening of your gate to strangers, which can and does result in armed robberies of expats. If you're going to open the gate to people you don't know then why even have a gate and an in-house speaker phone to the gate? We know of 3 instances where expats have opened the gate to strangers and as a result, got robbed, two of them happened on the Ecuador coast and the other right here in Cuenca.
Until we write again, you might like to read these related articles about how to stay safe when living in Latin America.
We're an Expat Family of Five, Living Frugal, Healthy and Happy Abroad. We live in Cuenca, Ecuador and travel the Ecuador coast whenever we get a chance. We just adventured throughout the country of Panama for five weeks! Come along and enjoy some of our experiences with us!