Showing posts with label live in Ecuador. Show all posts
Showing posts with label live in Ecuador. Show all posts

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Live in Ecuador Cheaply and Safely

One of the most requested retirement questions I have received is for information regarding Americans living in Ecuador.  I have had friends who traveled there and they had high praise for the country.  In fact, they were so enthusiastic that they sent me a number of articles about how much people seem to enjoy their retirement in Ecuador. It has become a very popular retirement destination, with large communities of Americans in the major cities.   While most of the population speaks the official language of Spanish, the currency is the U.S. dollar, so Americans have very little trouble adjusting to the country.  It is also a very modern nation with great public transportation and high quality medical facilities.

Why Retire in Ecuador

There are several reasons why some Americans might wish to consider moving to Ecuador.  In general, however, most of them made the decision because they wanted to be able to enjoy their retirement on Social Security alone, rather than struggling to just barely get by in the United States. This small country has become so popular, in fact, that the Retirement Living website ranks it as the best place in the world for Americans to retire overseas.

The number one deciding factor I have heard repeated over and over again is that Ecuador is a very cheap place to live, while still affording Americans a high quality of life.    There are a variety of places to live in Ecuador, from cottages on the cool mountainsides to beachfront condominiums.  You may wish to live in a small village or prefer large cities like Quito and Cuenca where you can meet other retirees from the United States.

According to a report in US News and World Report, one charming town in Ecuador is Loja.   It is a small city with a population of about 185,000 people.  The average temperature is 73 degrees during the day and 45 degrees at night, and this is true the year around.  You will not need air conditioning or winter clothing in this tropical paradise.  According to the US News article, Loja is also considered a very safe place to live.

There is a large ex-patriot community of American retirees in many places in Ecuador, especially the larger cities, and some people plan to live there for the rest of their lives.  On the other hand, there are very few ex-patriots in smaller communities such as Loja.  Anyone who is planning to move there permanently should take this into consideration when deciding whether they would like to see other Americans frequently or spend more time among the locals.

The country is located on the equator and has a tropical climate along the beach and a mild climate the year around in the villages that pepper the sides of the Andes mountains.

Ecuador is very affordable.  On several websites I saw the estimate that a couple can have a high quality of life for about $900 a month, plus the cost of their rent, which varies depending on the town they choose and how close they want to be to the ocean.  In addition, for those who choose to buy a residence, homes and condos can be purchased very reasonably.

Food is also fresh, delicious and inexpensive.  One reason for this is because of the open markets where you can purchase tropical fruits and vegetables the year around for very low prices. 

Ecuador has high quality hospitals, while permanent residents are only charged low insurance premiums and co-pays. However, the access to medical care, especially hospitals, is best if you are located in a city. 

The country is very modern and many of the cities have facilities that are popular with Americans such as restaurants, bars, gyms and aerobics centers.  The country also has excellent public transportation including bus service, jet transportation, airports and inexpensive taxis.  (The photo at the top of this article shows one of the country's bus stations.) With such widely available public transportation, some American retirees have discovered that they do not need cars.  The communities are very walkable and, with the easy public transportation, you can get almost anywhere without  an automobile.

State Department Information About Ecuador

As always, I recommend that everyone should check with the U.S. Department of State website before they visit any foreign country, whether they wish to go there on vacation or live there permanently.  As of this writing, here are some of the facts you will find in the State Department report on Ecuador:

Crime is a concern in some parts of Ecuador.  (From what I have read on other sites, this is particularly true in the big cities.)

U.S. bills and coins are accepted everywhere.  The U.S. dollar has been the official currency since the year 2000.

If you plan to live in Ecuador, or even visit there, you should let the U.S. Embassy in Quito or the Consulate General in Guayaquil know.  They have a Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) that will keep you up to date on safety and security information and will also make it easier for friends and family back home to reach you in an emergency.

The Galapagos Islands are part of Ecuador.  If you are planning to visit, you should contact the Consulate General in Guayaquil.

When you enter Ecuador, you will need to have a U.S. passport that will be valid for at least six more months.  If you plan to stay longer than 90 days, you must get a special advance visa before you arrive.

While in Ecuador, you are required to carry identification, including your proof of U.S. citizenship, at all times.  However, since passport theft is a problem, you should carry a photocopy of your passport rather than the real thing.

There is a great deal of  additional information on the State Department website so, before you plan your trip, you should read the full webpage at:

If you are trying to decide where to retire, you may want to check out the index articles below.  Each one contains a brief introduction as well as links to a number of articles on that topic:

Gifts, Travel and Family Relationships

Great Places for Boomers to Retire Overseas

Great Places to Retire in the United States

Health and Medical Topics for Baby Boomers

Money and Financial Planning for Retirement

For more information:

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Photo of Ecuadorian bus station courtesy of

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Live in Ecuador Comfortably on Social Security

For anyone looking for a beautiful, tranquil and cheap place to retire, Ecuador should be at the top of your list.  According to, Ecuador has been at the top of their Global Retirement Index for the past three years in a row.  Here are some of the reasons why:

Affordable Retirement in Ecuador

Americans moving to another country want to be certain that they can afford to live there comfortably, especially if their primary source of income is their Social Security.  In the colonial city of Cuenca, a furnished two-bedroom apartment rents for about $300 a month, and you can buy a condo for approximately $75,000.  A three-bedroom waterfront condo can be rented for $900 a month, if you take out a multi-year lease which will also keep your expenses steady.  Long term leases are a good alternative to buying.  According to International Living, you can live very well in Ecuador for less than $2500 a month, sometimes much less.

The official currency in Ecuador is the U.S. dollar, which makes it very easy to know exactly what you are spending for everything.  A number of banks will accept direct deposits of your Social Security check and there are ATMs almost everywhere.

Another community that is appealing to relocating Americans is Bahia de Carquez on the coast of Ecuador.  Like Cuenca, it has medical facilities, restaurants and groups of other expatriots who get together regularly.

Some things, such as furniture and American style clothing, can be more expensive in Ecuador.  However, if you buy your clothing during visits back to the United States, and you rent a furnished apartment, these expenses should not be too serious a problem.

You will also find that the grocery stores are well-stocked and carry nearly everything you are accustomed to buying in the United States, although not all brand names will be available.

Medical Care in Ecuador

One concern many Americans have when they move to another country is the medical care.  This past January, a couple I know was traveling in Ecuador, when the wife suddenly collapsed in her hotel room as the result of a brain aneurysm.  This could have been fatal, even if it had happened in her home in the United States.  However, she was taken to a hospital in Ecuador where she had a world-class brain surgeon repair the aneurysm, using the latest techniques.  She is back home in the United States, and her neurologist here has expressed his amazement at the quality of the repair.  If you met her today, you would have no idea that this happened to her only six months ago.

In addition to the modern medical facilities in Ecuador, healthcare is quite affordable.  You can buy inexpensive health insurance there, even if you are over age 65.  A retired couple can get health insurance for less than $100 a month from Nova Ecuador, the national insurer.  In addition, a trip to a doctor only costs about $25 - $35 without insurance.

Beauty and Climate

Of course, no matter how cheap a place is, or how wonderful the medical care is, you would not want to move there if it wasn't a lovely, pleasant place to live.  Ecuador has a diverse terrain, ranging from charming beach towns to spectacular mountain villages.  The weather is very temperate.  In Cuenca, the average daily high temperature is in the 70's, with cool evenings.  Some people consider the Ecuadorian climate to be the best in the world.

New Friendships

According to the U.S. State Department, approximately 1.5 million American retirees are living in other countries.  In addition to the opportunity for fun and adventure in another country, many people enjoy the tight-knit groups of friends they find in many foreign countries.   There are currently approximately 5,000 to 10,000 American expatriots living in Ecuador, with the numbers growing every year.

Use Caution When Moving to a New Country

Just because you are living in another country, you should not drop your natural sense of caution.  Even in Ecuador there are thieves, as well as white collar criminals.  Don't be too trusting until you have had time to get to know what you are doing there.  Learning Spanish will help you speak with the local people, although many do speak English.  Contact a local attorney before you move to Ecuador, in order to begin the process of establishing residency once you are there.

If you are interested in learning more about where to retire in the United States or abroad, financial planning, medical issues and changing family values, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional helpful articles.

Some of the other articles that may interest you are:

Retiring in Luxury to Hua Hin, Thailand
Americans Retiring in Panama
Best Places to Retire Outside the US
Cheap Places to Retire (in the US)
The Best Sunny Places to Retire (in the US)
Finding Niche Retirement Communities (in the US)

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Photo of Ecuadorian Market courtesy of