Written by Sara Chaca, Attorney – Abogada
June 1st, 2019
Ecuador is quickly becoming a popular choice for retirement. For multiple consecutive years now, it has been ranked either as the number one, two or at least in the top five on the Annual Global Retirement Index by International Living. It’s a great choice for people who are looking for a moderate climate, a low cost of living, and a high standard of living, including excellent medical care and cultural experiences. If you’re considering moving abroad when you retire, Ecuador should definitely be on your list. Here are ten reasons why Ecuador is a great retirement destination:
Ecuador features a very economical cost of living that is highly appealing for many retirees. Many people aren’t sure if they’ll be able to maintain a modest lifestyle on their retirement funds, but in Ecuador, only $2,000 a month can easily support a couple in a modest home. Housing and utilities are considerably less expensive than compared to the US and other countries, and transportation is quite cheap. Senior residents enjoy discounts on public transportation, cultural and sporting events, utilities, and more.
Many retirees worry about their growing health care needs when considering retiring abroad. Expats in Ecuador are generally very satisfied with their health care. A large majority of doctors speak English or have English speaking nurses/staff members, and many of the doctors were trained in the United States before returning to Ecuador to practice. Hospitals are well-equipped with modern technology, plus have an abundance of specialists in all fields. The cost is also very low, most typically ranging between 10-25% of the cost of comparable medical care and health insurance in the United States.
While one of the appeals of retiring abroad is the chance to experience new things, it can be difficult to be completely immerse oneself in a foreign culture. For people who are nervous about taking that step, Ecuador offers enough familiarity to help expats ease into life in their new country. Because, English is spoken widely, particularly in the major cities like Cuenca and Quito, and the official currency is the US Dollar. You’ll also find chain restaurants and international cuisine galore.
Whether you want to spend leisurely days on the beach or take adventure hikes through the mountains, Ecuador always has something for you. City or country living are both quite affordable, and many expats even have a second home or regularly stay at Hotels or Airbnb’s across the country, because of the low prices. There are four general regions in Ecuador: the costal lowlands, the Andes Mountains, the Amazonian region, and the Galapagos Islands. Most people live in either the lowlands or the mountains, while the Amazon and the Galapagos make for excellent travel destinations. The coastal lowlands feature miles of coastline bordering the Pacific Ocean. The temperatures tend to be on the warmer side, around 80 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit, with a rainy season from December to April. Since Ecuador is right on the equator, the temperatures are about the same year round. The Andes Mountains run through Ecuador in two parallel chains, and the weather in this region is cooler, with highs of only around 75 degrees Fahrenheit and lows in the low 50s or upper 40s. The rainy season is in the winter and spring, and April is generally the wettest month of the year. Almost half of Ecuador’s land mass sits in the Amazon basin, and the region is mostly tropical lowland rainforest. It’s a great adventure travel destination, with rivers that are suitable for kayaking, and beautiful wilderness full of birds and other animals. Unlike the lowlands and mountains, it’s rainy year-round in the Amazon basin, and consistently hot and humid. The famous Galapagos Islands are another great place to visit. They’re often cooler than the rest of the country because of the cooling effect of the Pacific Ocean, though can still get plenty hot too depending on the time of year. These islands are protected because of the amazing variety of wildlife and plant life that exist there. They have many species that are “endemic” – meaning they exist nowhere else in the world. They are truly a unique place and well worth a visit for anyone who appreciates the bounty of nature.
You’ll find that Ecuador is generally a very welcoming country. There are expats from all around the world who call Ecuador home. There are also more than a dozen native indigenous groups who still flourish in the country, speak their own languages, wear native dress, and practice traditional customs. The melting pot of Ecuadorian culture will feel like home in no time.
While it may sound far away, Ecuador is only about a 4-hour plane flight from Miami, Florida or Houston, Texas in the United States. You can fly direct from those cities in the US, plus even from more distant others like Atlanta, Georgia and New York City, so it’ll be easy to go visit family and friends, or have them come to you. Travel in the country is easy as well, with widely available public transportation that is very affordable. You’ll also have no trouble getting online, so you’ll be able to stay in touch with everyone back home. Most public parks these days often free Wi-Fi, most homes are connected to the Internet, and there is good cell coverage in the majority of the country as well.
It’s easy to maintain a healthy lifestyle in Ecuador, with the ripe availability of fresh fruits and vegetables in all the markets, clean air and water, plus highly walkable cities. Most residents go on foot to the market as well as to other places in their town, or at least to where public transportation is widely available (i.e. buses and taxis). Healthy cooking is easy, with fresh produce available year-round because of the equatorial climate. That same climate also makes it easy to participate in outdoor activities year-round (though you’ll need to be prepared for regular downpours in the rainy season).
You won’t miss the comforts of home when you retire in Ecuador. If you like visiting museums, attending concerts, and other cultural activities, you’ll find plenty of them in the larger cities, and many of them are free or discounted for senior residents at that. If you enjoy international cuisine, you’ll find a menagerie of restaurants to try in any city within Ecuador. There are also great vacation spots across the country, boasting world-class hotels and beach resorts.
If you’re able to buy property, Ecuador is a great place to make that investment. Property prices are generally much lower than in the US, and there is a Residency Visa option linked to one’s property that is available for investors. The government’s investments in infrastructure have been improving property values nationwide for most of the past decade or more, so your investment is likely to be worthwhile, plus appreciate in value over the years. There aren’t any restrictions for foreigners who want to purchase apartments, houses, farms or just plain land to build upon. Even if you prefer to rent a place in a city/town of Ecuador, you may if you have the available resources, want to consider purchasing a second home in the country or near the beach as a retreat for yourself and a place for your family to stay when they come to visit – listing it on Airbnb can also make for a handsome monthly side income, whether you choose to live/stay in Ecuador or not.
There are several Residency Visa options available depending on your situation: Pensioner, Investment in either Bank Certificate of Deposit, Real Estate or a Business, Professional, and more. Naturally, it takes a little bit of time to prepare to apply for and obtain a Residency Visa, but through the help of competent legal counsel who specializes in Ecuadorian Immigration, it can all be well coordinated ahead of time and thus be done seamlessly and desirably devoid of any hassles or headaches.
Best Places to Retire in Ecuador
By now you’ve seen that there are many advantages to retiring in Ecuador. The low cost of living and high quality of life, including great medical care and plenty of benefits for seniors, cause it to be a great choice if you’re looking to make the most out of your retirement funds (as well as your retirement in general) and have a sense of adventure. There are several towns and cities that are popular among expats moving to Ecuador, and so one of them (as shown below in alphabetical order) is sure to fit your style:
Assuredly, with all these exciting reasons to move to and/or retire in Ecuador, plus endless activities, great climate, natural food, notable destinations and more to choose from, you’re sure to find something that’s right for you in making your move to this beautiful country!
Sara Chaca (Attorney – Abogada) is a seasoned Ecuadorian Lawyer, who principally serves Expats in making their moves to Ecuador, as well as for any legal issues that arise or become actionable for her Expat clients to undertake in their new lives here in her beautiful country. Sara resides in Cuenca with her family, which consists of her American husband and 2 daughters (as well as her parents and siblings), and when not working, she enjoys spending time with her family in Cuenca’s majestic Cajas Mountains and local parks & fairs of Cuenca, plus visiting the coast as well as the many gem towns of Ecuador. Sara’s personal email address is email@example.com and her law office’s fully informative website is www.ecuadorvisas.com for you to visit at any time of day or night – plus, her personal Ecuadorian cell phone number is 099-296-2065 and her Toll Free “800” phone number for US & Canadian callers is 1-(800)-655-1581. Sara has a less than 24 hour first response policy, in that if you email or call her, she WILL return your first email or first phone call in less than 24 hours (more typically in closer to 24 minutes). Most importantly, all first time consultations with Expats for any type Visa or Legal matter(s) are always FREE OF CHARGE.