Ecuador: The Hidden Paradise Where A Couple Can Live Comfortably On $2,000 a Month or Less
Sell your winter clothes...and get ready for the adventure of a lifetime in the Land of Eternal Spring. Every cliché you've heard about living large on little...on even a retiree's budget...is true in Ecuador.
Ecuador lies in the Northwestern corner of South America, bordered by Colombia to the north, Peru to the south and east, and the Pacific Ocean to the west. At just 175,807 square miles (about the size of Nevada) Ecuador’s small size belies its incredible diversity.
The Andes Mountains form Ecuador’s backbone, and from the top of Mount Chimborazo at 20,600 feet (6,310 meters), the mountains descend on the east to dense tropical rainforests and on the west to balmy Pacific beaches. In between, you’ll find more climates, cultures, and natural wonders than almost any place on earth.
Envision your dream location—an unspoiled beach, a bustling city, university town, quiet mountain village—Ecuador has them all. Choose the place that’s right for you and start enjoying a better quality of life now.
The World’s Best Retirement Haven
In fact, Ecuador has been ranked as the best retirement destination in the world six times in the last seven years due to its exceptional quality of life and affordable cost of living in International Living’s Annual Global Retirement Index.
Fresh fruits and vegetables—clean air and water—year-round temperate climate—no wonder so many expats living in Ecuador say they feel better than they have in years.
Medical care in metropolitan areas is top-notch with costs a fraction of what you would pay in North America. And now all residents of Ecuador are eligible to join the country’s Social Security healthcare system with premiums of less than $80 a month for a couple.
Ecuador offers special benefits to residents aged 65 and older. Public transportation is half price, airfare (even internationally) is significantly discounted, and seniors receive a monthly refund of sales tax paid. Plus you get to go to the front of the line at the bank and grocery store!
Whether you want to live, invest, vacation, retire, or simply relax in Ecuador, you’ll find the perfect combination of climate, culture, and affordability to make your dreams come true.
Book your flights and come take a look at all that Ecuador has to offer. The retirement life you’ve dreamed of is here waiting for you.
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When moving overseas you may be worried about seeing your family back home or saving your money to get to the U.S. when you need to. However some countries offer discounted airfare to retirees—which will lower your travel costs.
For more than 30 years, International Living has been researching the best retirement havens in the world…and every January the Annual Global Retirement Index is released—highlighting the best places for you to retire. This Index ranks the top 24 countries in the world for retirement in 8 categories. The top 10 countries that feature on the list this year each bring spectacular benefits for retirees living overseas—from great health care and ideal climates to a low cost of living and financial perks for retirees. Starting with number 10, here are our top retirement havens for 2014.
Tired of shoveling snow, braving the torrential rain or wrapping up against the bitter cold? If so, check out these top three places to retire for a better climate as ranked in International Living’s Annual Global Retirement Index 2014. With a perfect score of 100 and for the second year in a row, Ecuador comes out top in the Climate category and is the overall runner up in this year’s Global Retirement Index. Lying directly on the equator, it enjoys 12 hours of direct equatorial daylight 365 days a year.
Whether you are looking for a home on the coast, on an island or in a colonial city, these three countries have the best value real estate. If your dream home includes a pool, a big back yard in which to swing from a hammock in the sun, a place close to the beach where you can snorkel, relax with a good book or watch the sunset…rest assured, you can have it—because your real estate dollar stretches further overseas. You can buy a superior property in a better location for the same amount or less than you would spend on a home in the U.S.
We all dream of giving up the rat race, packing our belongings, and moving some where warm and sunny, but why wait until you retire? Moving overseas can be a big decision, even bigger when you have children—but the benefits that make living abroad a good thing for adults are similar to those that make it a good thing for kids. A lower cost of living, healthier lifestyle, varied life and cultural experiences…they all benefit your child’s life in some way. Here are some of the best places to retire for families.
International Living’s Annual Global Retirement Index 2014 has just been released, detailing the top 24 countries in the world to retire to. In the Special Benefits for Retirees category in the Index, we consider whether retirees get a good deal for health care, importing goods, entertainment, airfare, utilities, tax rates, residence and more. Panama, Ecuador and Costa Rica have topped the list in this category.
Outside the window of the condo I was renting, two huge pelicans sat nodding in the sun. Or so it seemed. Because in an instant, and in perfect synchronicity, they leapt from their perch, pulled in their wings, and dove headfirst to the emerald water below. No small feat since we were 20 floors up. Hmm, I wondered, what’s for dinner? Because, as the pelicans know, these waters are rich with a choice of seafood or every kind.
“Many educators will tell you that schools are not in the business to make money,” says Janice Gallagher, who set up a children’s school in Nicaragua. “I, on the other hand, am a business woman, and there is definitely potential for profit. There will not be profit immediately because you will need time to grow and establish yourself. There are several private schools that do turn a profit after several years.”
One of the ways to reduce the uncertainty of moving overseas and setting up your own enterprise is to buy into a franchise—an already proven business model. The advantage of a franchise is that it has name recognition, provides you with the necessary “know how,” and much of the groundwork has already been done, which will increase your chances of success.
When a serious health issue and the loss of my job occurred at the same time as the international financial collapse, we took a huge hit emotionally and financially. Our family’s income was instantly reduced by 65% when I lost my job. Saving for a rainy day had been tough enough…but we were ill-prepared for the several “rainy years” that followed.
My wife, Suzan, and I rarely know too far in advance where we’ll be for the holidays. We haven’t lived in the U.S. for a dozen years now, but around about September or October we start making the decisions about what to do for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year…whose family back in the States we’ll spend which holidays with…and which holidays, if any, we’ll spend by ourselves at home, wherever home happens to be at the time.
It is Christmas morning, and my wife Cynthia and I are celebrating the joyous occasion with our daughter’s family in New Jersey. Tomorrow we fly to North Carolina to do it all over again in the home of our son. When we moved to Cuenca, Ecuador three and a half years ago we had no grandchildren. In the space of 19 short months we experienced our own private “baby boom” and today we have three (and counting?).
Crucita is about 40 minutes north of Manta, Ecuador’s largest coastal city. But while Manta is big and busy and full of shopping and social opportunities, Crucita is the opposite. It’s a little fishing village with a produce market, a fish market, but no supermarket… You can get eggs, bread, beer, toilet paper, soap and other necessities of life at some of the local mom-and-pop shops, but for anything more exotic than that, you’ll need to go to Manta or the closer town of Portoviejo.
I’m typing this from the comfort of a lawn chair on the patio of my house in Quito. It’s early December and even though Quito is moving into winter, today is warm and sunny. Quito, Ecuador’s capital (a UNESCO World Heritage site), sits on the spine of the Andes nestled between two mountain ranges and several ice-capped volcanoes. The climate is mild, with high temperatures in the 70s and lows of around 50.
The devil masks worn for the Diablada de Pillaro (The Dance of the Devils) in Pillaro, Ecuador, have spawned a whole school of art. It’s well worth joining the thousands of onlookers to see the elaborate processions that take place each night from New Year’s Day to January 6. The feast of Edina Bronya, which essentially represents Christmas for the people of Ghana, in west Africa, falls this year on January 2.
Like many parents, my husband David and I have always told our children that they should follow their dreams. We’ve told them that they can be whatever they want to be and live wherever they want to live, but that, most importantly, they should pursue their passions. Of course, deep down we realized that they were never going to follow our advice when we refused to do so ourselves.
To ship or not to ship? That’s the vexing question many prospective expats face about their belongings when moving overseas. On the one hand, there are the mystery boxes in your attic or basement that have remained sealed since that last move. Then there are the books, the keepsakes, and that comfy chair. The china cabinet you cherish and the china inside it. Can you bear to leave these behind and just start over?
First-World cities with every modern convenience, beachfront hideaways, medieval towns, tropical islands, temperate mountain valleys… You can chose your favorite climate, your preferred lifestyle…the place you feel most at home…because the world’s best retirement havens have it all… and for pennies on the dollar, too.
Accurately scoring the world’s top retirement locations is a complex process. So, we’ve broken down each of our categories to give you a “behind the curtain” look at how we put the Index together.
Runner up of the 2014 Global Retirement Index, Ecuador offers sophisticated historical cities…miles of unspoiled, sun-kissed beaches…fertile farmland…and temperate mountain hideaways…and all of it for pennies on the dollar. You can live well for a fraction of the cost of living back in the U.S. And with Ecuador’s official currency the U.S. dollar, you needn’t worry about complicated currency calculations or exchange risks.
“So why did you move to Cuenca, Ecuador?” Even after three and a half years I’m often asked this question, and there are many answers—the low cost of living, temperate climate, proximity of the U.S., excellent medical care, and the wonderful mix of historic architecture plus modern conveniences.
“Don’t worry, you won’t have a problem finding a place to stay,” said my friend as we drove into General Villamil Playas (commonly just called “Playas”), the closest beach town to Guayaquil. “The hotels here never fill up.” He should know. He owns a condo in Playas and drives there easily in just over an hour from his home in Guayaquil to spend weekends and holidays at this beach town on Ecuador’s southern coast, named by some as the “sunniest beach” in the country.
After doing some research online, which included International Living, I moved to Cuenca at age 54. I planned to travel throughout South America, but I just loved it here, feeling no need to go farther south. Then, six months later, at age 55, my teacher’s retirement kicked in, so I could qualify for a pensionado visa, living off my retirement income.
Cut down coconut bunch with machete. Put one or two coconuts in the fridge to get cold. Cut a hole in the top of the coconut. Insert straw…This routine is part of my daily life on the north central coast of Ecuador. My husband Ron and I live in the small fishing village of El Matal near the town of Jama and drink fresh coconut water daily—from our very own coconut trees. El Matal happens to be the setting for the award-winning film Pescador by Sebastian Cordero, but to us it’s just home.
I was asked again the other day what I love most about Ecuador, and as I answered it occurred to me how retired I sounded. I’m not retired, of course, but as I was going over my three big pluses for this country…the weather, the cost of living, and the variety…I realized that all three of these qualities appealed directly to my Inner Retiree.
Are you sick of the rat race? You know the routine…get up, shower, have breakfast, leave the house, get stuck in traffic, put in long hours at the office. Get home, go to bed and do it all again tomorrow. Are you ready for retirement…but looking at your savings you know retirement is out of the question? Here’s how to survive a retirement crisis. You can live a richer lifestyle for less overseas. Many expat couples can live a very comfortable life on a budget of between $1,500 and $2,000 a month…
If there were ever two towns that complement one another perfectly, they would be Montañita and Olòn on the coast of Ecuador. About an hour north along the coast from Salinas—one of Ecuador’s best-known and most popular beach destinations—these two beach towns each offer a very different vibe. Montañita is named for the “little hill” that sits at its north end and separates its picture-perfect golden-sand beach from Olòn’s picture-perfect golden-sand beach. It’s less than a five-minute drive from one to the other, and a taxi ride will cost you just $2.
In the following five countries you will pay less for health care than you do at home. And the quality is at least as good…in fact, many expats say it’s better. Affordable health care isn’t the only reason to move overseas—but it makes the move more attractive. You can get great quality health care for less abroad, lowering your monthly expenses. Panama offers excellent quality health care and modern hospitals in Panama City and other large towns or cities…
Wally and Hazel Mountz thought they had their retirement all figured out. They were building a lakefront home in Georgia when the real estate crash of 2008 shattered their plans. Unwilling to continue working and unable to afford their new mortgage, they started looking abroad. Italy was their first choice, but what they could purchase there would leave them in a rural village without expat companions.
The very thought of moving abroad seems like such an adventure, doesn’t it? The world is full of so many intriguing locations. Which country would you choose? Which city? If you actually pull the trigger and relocate, then the adventure truly begins. Everything is new, exciting, interesting, frustrating, and exhausting all at once. You’re meeting new friends—maybe learning a different language—adapting to a foreign culture, and exploring surrounding areas.
Ecuador has an abundance of restaurants offering cuisine from around the world. Here, our guys on the ground give you their friendly recommendations of five of the best places to eat in Ecuador.
When you move overseas, most things cost less. Health care is cheaper, beachfront property is cheaper and flights are cheaper when you qualify for a retiree program. You can even enjoy a symphony performance for far less than in the U.S., and have a better quality of life for less. Here is a list of five items that are cheaper overseas.
Cuenca, Ecuador’s third-largest city and the economic center of the southern sierra, is well known for its colonial-style architecture, beautiful surroundings and low cost lifestyle. Popular with tourist and expats alike, it is no wonder that Cuenca has made appearances on the best places to retire list. It offers the best city living in Ecuador.
It was Christmas vacation 2009. I turned on my computer and clicked on Yahoo where a headline caught my attention: “The Top 10 Places in the World to Retire.” I had never heard of the number one city listed, Cuenca, Ecuador. But as I perused the other nine cities, I found something wrong with each of them. They were too hot or too cold, or hot in the summer and cold in the winter, which was just what I wanted to leave behind in Chicago; or they were too far from the U.S.
A pound of fresh shrimp—$2.50. Someone to cook and clean for you—$20 per day. Property tax of $200-$250 a year on the beach homes below… It’s easy to see why Ecuador tops International Living’s Retirement Index. It’s a top spot for those looking for a comfortable lifestyle that won’t break the bank. And Ecuador rates as one of the best-value destinations on my beat, too. On the country’s unspoiled Pacific coast, in particular, you get a whole lot more for your dollar. And that applies to real estate as well as your cost of living.
There are many benefits to moving overseas: the weather is better, your quality of life will improve and you will always have something to do. Here are a few quick questions that you should ask yourself before moving overseas. 1. What type of weather do you like? If you don’t like the snow then you should…
With the divisive and toxic nature of U.S. politics these days and the associated economic impact, I understand those who might wonder about our motivation for packing a few suitcases and moving to Ecuador’s coast nearly 18 months ago. While politics and the economy had definitely impacted our lives, our reasons for seeking a life outside the United States had nothing to do with political disagreement.
In the Kisama Heritage Village in Nagaland, northeast India, the Hornbill Festival is a huge celebration of the indigenous warrior tribes of the region. Taking place between December 1 and 7, the festival is named after the Indian Hornbill, a large and colorful forest bird. You’ll need a government permit to visit, but it’s worth it to experience the beauty contest, archery, wrestling, and lots of singing and dancing.
Tucked away in Ecuador’s imposing Andes mountains are hundreds of green valleys where tumbling rivers nourish fertile soils and temperatures are near perfect all year round. These are among the best places to live in the country, and expats are busily discovering them. You’ll meet couples in this mountainous region who report expenses of $1,440 a month including rent. Most do not own a car.
A patchwork quilt of blue-green grass stretches before you, complemented here and there with splashes of fuchsia, lavender, coral, bright yellow… The unmistakable aroma of eucalyptus hitches a ride on a fresh breeze, accented by wood smoke that you can just spy wisping its way out of a red-brick chimney poking from an adobe-walled casita, barely visible on the mountainside far across the way.