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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- Population: 15,439,429
- Capital City: Quito
- Climate: Tropical along coast, becoming cooler inland at higher elevations; tropical in Amazonian jungle lowlands
- Time Zone: GMT-5
- Language: Spanish (official), Amerindian languages (especially Quechua)
- Country Code: 593
- Coastline: 2,237 km
Own your own four-bedroom B&B in the middle of one of the most beautiful spots in Ecuador. At 8,000 feet, you’re surrounded by mountains. And the climate is ideal year-round—no need for heat or air conditioning—and there’s a large open patio and summer kitchen. The colonial town of Cotacachi, known for its leatherwork, is just 10 minutes away. Otavalo (pictured), a larger town famous for its Saturday open-air market filled with indigenous handicrafts, is just five minutes down the road. The country’s capital, Quito, is just a two-hour drive.
It was November 1, 2001, and we had jettisoned our previous lives to begin anew in Quito, Ecuador. Just as the thick fog that wrapped its arms around us that night, the future felt fresh and full of possibility. Our Ecuadorian friends greeted us with cheers and hugs and loaded us up for the short ride to the home we’d rented for the coming year. In one of the city’s most charming neighborhoods, it had four bedrooms, two bathrooms, a guesthouse…
In Ecuador, every day is a memory maker. But some more than others… Like the time three of us stayed at a friend’s beachfront house in Olón, with a bamboo bar overlooking the ocean. We dubbed it the “Sand Bar,” for its sand floor. (The owner paid just $50,000 for this house, by the way.) Long into the night, the guys played guitars and sang…
IL correspondents sometimes share their monthly budgets to help readers get a feel for the ongoing costs of living abroad. Items such as rent, utilities, and food are self-explanatory, but what about that nebulous “entertainment” category? Expenditures can vary wildly from person to person depending on individual interests and taste.
Everyone who moves to Ecuador has a different reason for doing it, but they all have one thing in common… they’re glad they did. Earl Phillips and his wife, Jan, almost lost everything they had spent 36 years working for when the property bubble in the U.S. burst. But after Jan suggested moving from their home in central Washington to the coast of Ecuador…
Many expats living here are thrilled when they experience significant weight loss and overall improvement in their health. Two friends of mine, David Akins and his wife Karen, relocated to Cuenca, a lovely colonial city sitting at 8,400 feet altitude in Ecuador’s southern highlands, a year and a half ago.
I moved to Cuenca, Ecuador. I did it for all the right reasons—and discovered an exciting new life beyond the curtain of fear that keeps most people stuck at home. I’ve been living here for two years now, and my expat experience thus far has vastly exceeded expectations that were pretty high to begin with. One of the most impressive aspects of life in Ecuador is the quality and affordability of health care.
In exotic, welcoming, warm-weather destinations all over the world—from Colombia to Korea—you can live better for less. But, alas, you can’t live for free. Many retirees fund their lives overseas through savings, Social Security, and pensions. But those aren’t your only options. In this golden age of the portable career, we know readers cashing in with freelance work from every corner of the planet.
Venice is one of the world’s most romantic cities, a place where graceful vessels glide along 700-year-old canals in the shade of historic mansions. Lots of people come to visit, but not many get to stay. You could, however, by taking advantage of one of the many opportunities that exist for funding a life overseas. In fact, there are more of these opportunities than ever these days, opportunities that often don’t reveal themselves until you are on the ground.
In the U.S., you cannot do what I have done here in Ecuador… you’d have too much debt to worry about,” says Kevin Sheehy, who bank-rolled his first venture—a Vietnamese restaurant—in the cool-weather capital of Quito with just $14,000. One business opportunity led to another, and today his success overseas means that Kevin enjoys the flexibility to live in a place he loves (the weather is spring-like year-round) and spend four months every year traveling.
Famous for its artisanal leather goods, the colonial town of Cotacachi (pictured) features open-air markets and small mom-and-pop stores. For other amenities Ecuador’s capital, Quito, is only two hours away by car or bus. Here you’ll find a three-bedroom, three-bathroom condo, one of six in a secure building. There are great mountain views and at 8,000 feet, there is no heat or humidity. It’s cool in the evenings.
Columbus called Costa Rica “the Rich Coast”—and it still is, with Caribbean beaches and Pacific shoreline that’ll take your breath away. But this nation has much more to offer, too: a year-round tropical climate, modern cities, rain forests, lush valleys and majestic mountains.
To be young is to dream. As kids we fantasize about becoming super heroes, professional athletes, or actors. We start our careers and imagine great success and an early, prosperous retirement. Then “reality” gets in the way. One by one we set those dreams on a shelf. Still, it’s good to keep them around, however dusty. Because sometimes you’ll find them coming to life in amazing and unexpected ways.
On Ecuador’s best stretch of coast sandy coves and verdant hills showcase jaw-dropping views. Prices have stayed low here because it was difficult to get to. But a new highway means that this has changed. Members of Real Estate Trend Alert can buy a lot in the best-in-class project in this area, with a manageable down payment and monthly payments of $470.
Not only is it the finest section of Pacific coast in Ecuador…it’s the finest anywhere. This is a place of explosive colors and contrasts, forests and coves, exotic butterflies and monkeys. Fishing villages and little surf towns dot the coast. Fishermen bring their fresh bounty ashore and sell it from their boats. Pioneer surfers catch waves and enjoy a cold beer at sundown.
About five years ago I heard about a course running in Ecuador that could show me how to make money from travel. I didn’t know anything about Ecuador but was intrigued by the idea. The more I read about it, the more excited I got. The course was about import/export and it was about to show me how I could travel to exotic spots, shop for beautiful, unique artisan-made goods, and turn a profit…
If Ecuador isn’t on your short list of places to travel, add it. Ecuador has mountain towns…tropical coast…the Amazon basin…and it’s also home to the Galapagos Islands. But I won’t dwell on any of that right now; just suffice it to say that if you go, you’ll want to go back.
While in Miami airport recently awaiting a flight home, I struck up a conversation with a fellow traveler. When he learned I lived in Ecuador he was extremely curious and asked many questions about why I was there and how I liked it. Before we parted he said, “Well, I don’t speak Spanish so I couldn’t move to your new country.” He’s partially right.
My wife, Suzan Haskins, and I have lived abroad for nearly 12 years now, in seven different locations in four different countries. And at some point during each of those years, in each of those locations, we’ve asked ourselves, “Is it time to go back to the States?” We’ve said “no” every time…but not for the reasons you might think. We didn’t leave the States because we hated it. We love the U.S. and all the family and friends we have there.
After just a few months in Ecuador, Julian and Casandra bought a property just outside Otavalo, the hometown of one of South America’s largest indigenous markets. Their dream was to turn it into a bed & breakfast where they could indulge all of their interests at the same time. Rio Blanco Bed & Brew was born. “I love to cook,” says Casandra.
We had just pulled out of a perfect…and perfectly deserted…half-moon cove where sand and surf played lazy tag between rock-boned headlands. After driving just a few more minutes north, our driver again turned off the coastal highway and again we dropped into another beach scene lifted straight from a tropical postcard. “Tasaste,” our driver said.
If you’re looking for a beach home and you’re on a tight budget, one country should top your shortlist: Ecuador. Ecuador’s coast is a sleeping giant. For years foreign buyers ignored it as a second-home destination. When it came to buying a place in the sun, they focused on better-known (and more expensive) beach destinations. That lack of foreign buyers is why beach homes in Ecuador remain affordable.
It happens to me every now and then…I look around in amazement and ask myself, “How did I get here?” Right now, here is a small Andean mountain village basking under the equatorial sun in a green valley 8,000 feet above sea level between two extinct volcanoes in northern Ecuador. And of course, I know more or less how I got here. Almost a dozen years ago, my husband Dan and I sold our house in Omaha…
Why do I love Quito, Ecuador? The sweet-natured people…the extraordinary weather…the gorgeous scenery…the great restaurants, shopping, the first-class infrastructure and services…and, of course, the affordability… It’s a city where you can still take a taxi anywhere in town for $1 to $5 and find a menu del dia for $1.50 to $2.50.
My wife and I decided to get off the “hamster wheel” over two years ago. We moved to Cuenca, Ecuador. And we’re now living “life in the slow lane.” After my visit to the drugstore I decided to stop off for a $3 manicure. Shortly after I got back, my wife Cynthia returned from yoga class and is now off to a “ladies’ lunch.” I’ll spend the afternoon writing and painting.
What if you could improve your lifestyle by about 200%…and do it for half what you spend today…why wouldn’t you? You could do it in a place where you never had to shovel snow again…where the weather is always perfect, about 77 degrees during the day and 50 degrees at night—all year round. A place where, in a single day’s drive, you can go from a sophisticated city with true cultural appeal…
My wife is the one who first suggested we look for a home on an entirely different continent. We began our research and discovered we could trade in the familiar U.S. retirement locations for more affordable (and exotic) destinations overseas. Over time, we narrowed our target to Ecuador. We wanted warm weather and beachfront property with a view.
Would you like to wake up every morning and feel as though you’re on vacation? I’m used to it, and after two years, I allow myself the luxury of not feeling guilty. As soon as the sun ﬁlters through our bedroom window and I hear the rippling sounds of the Tomebamba River, I think about the piece of la dolce vita I have in Ecuador…
There I stood, close to a 100-foot cliff. Could I do it? Would I dash forward and trade the security of solid ground for the adventure of soaring on the warm thermals of Ecuador’s north coast? How did I even get here? It’s a familiar story. My wife Jan and I had been preparing our retirement parachute for many years. We were readying for the jump when the economic ground we were standing upon began to crumble.
My wife, Suzan Haskins, and I have lived abroad for nearly 12 years now, in seven different locations in four different countries. And at some point during each of those years, in each of those locations, we’ve asked ourselves, “Is it time to go back to the States?”
Some years back, while shopping in Ecuador, my friend and I visited the sprawling market in Otavalo. It’s home to a huge collection of indigenous South American crafts. Music pulsed and the enticing aromas from outdoor grills filled the air. The plaza and surrounding streets were filled with vendors offering everything imaginable. Handbags, antique bowls, jewelry…there was something for everyone.
On Friday I told you about the opportunity to buy a lot at the Jama Campay project on Ecuador’s North Coast. Members of our little group can buy a lot with a starting price of $32,256. With the special member-only finance terms, we can buy this lot with a down payment of $16,128 and monthly payments of $448. But maybe you are looking for something more turnkey?
Ecuador’s nicest 60-mile stretch of coast is now accessible. It’s here, on the best part of this stretch of Pacific Coast, in a “best in class” project, that we can buy a lot from $32,256. This is an “off market” deal—14 lots in this project are only available to members of Real Estate Trend Alert. With the special member-only finance terms, we can buy this lot with a down payment of $16,128 and monthly payments of $448.
If anyone needed a retirement rescue—it was Ron and Terresa Moore. “Our 401k turned into a 201k after the economy went sour in 2008,” Ron joked today. Their story is all too familiar. Back in July 2007, Ron and Terresa made six-figures managing a car dealership, they had real estate and $1.2 million in assets. But fast-forward to December 2008.
As the emcee for many of International Living’s seminars and conferences, I’m used to full attendance at our events, and this one was no exception. Getting more than 300 North Americans to come to Ecuador to explore all that this amazing little country has to offer doesn’t really surprise me anymore…nor do the record crowds we’ve been hosting all over the world at all our recent events.
One of the major concerns for retirees considering relocation abroad is being separated from their grandchildren. My wife and I weren’t grandparents when we arrived in Cuenca, Ecuador over two years ago. Now we have a 1-year-old granddaughter and two more grandbabies on the way.
Six years ago, Sue and I saw our home in Vilcabamba, Ecuador for the very first time. Even though it was our first day ever in South America and we hadn’t even seen the town of Vilcabamba yet, we agreed to buy the property five minutes after stepping through the blue steel gate that was the entrance to the property. And, as it turned out, to our new life.
Many people dream of retiring to a foreign country and starting an exciting new life. But the uncertainty of such a bold transition…and the niggling questions it raises…sometimes prevents those dreams coming true. “What will my life really be like?” “What if I need medical attention?” “What if I miss my family too much?”
My friend Michael was in shock. It was understandable since he’d never seen me “work” in the traditional sense of the word. With all the time I spend eating out, going to concerts and exploring the downtown shops of Cuenca, Ecuador, he thought I was a member of the idle rich.
In Vilcabamba, Ecuador, you feel like you could live forever. It’s no wonder that this boasts of being the “Valley of Longevity,” where long, healthy lives are common and many of the locals claim to be centenarians—living well into their 100s. Perhaps it’s the climate. Just shy of the equator in southern Ecuador and at an elevation of 5,000 feet, temperatures in Vilcabamba average between 65 F and 81 F.