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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I’ll never forget the night I sat on my living room floor counting the proceeds from my very first day in business. $2,500. Not too shabby for my first attempt. It was downright exhilarating. A few weeks earlier I had made the last-minute decision to jump on a plane bound for Ecuador. Right from the moment I stepped off the plane, everything about the country appealed to me.
The Internet is a wonderful thing. From a small condo high in the Ecuadorian Andes Mountains, my wife, Suzan, and I can view properties for sale in Omaha, Nebraska. (Which, by the way, is the perfect way to see properties in Omaha at this time of year if you no longer own a parka and mukluks…)
My teenage daughter, Sarah, and I were enjoying an afternoon at a beautiful spa near Cuenca after a full morning of shopping. Sinking into the warm mud, I couldn’t help thinking, “I’m getting paid to do this.” Perhaps I should back up. I began importing gorgeous, unique goods from Ecuador five years ago with no experience.
I didn’t know where I was. Well, that’s not totally accurate. I had decided to walk home through a neighborhood I’d never visited before. I was aware of my general location and direction, and I had a sense of how long it would take to be sitting at the dining-room table… so I didn’t need to know my exact coordinates to enjoy my spontaneous exploration.
In Ecuador we found one of the most beautiful and bio-diverse countries in the world. And with a low cost of living, a government that leaves us alone, and some of the friendliest people you’re ever likely to meet, Ecuador more than exceeded our expectations.
A friend and I were enjoying a few adult beverages together recently. He lives in Paute, a small village about a 45-minute commute from Cuenca that is growing increasingly popular with expats.During our conversation he asked me if I would ever consider moving there. I told him that I enjoy walking around the city for another reason. Being out and about keeps me connected.
There is something amazing about the medical system here, and something not quite right with ours,” says Shane Simons, who moved to the tropical island of Penang, Malaysia, eight months ago from Los Angeles. “My doctor in L.A. told me I needed a mole removed from my neck.
Six months from now, you could be living in paradise… for much less than it costs you to stay home. In the best destinations overseas, your dollar just goes further…first-class healthcare is affordable… you can afford a housekeeper or gardener…and live better than you could back home for a fraction of what you pay now…
Whether coming with suitcases or loading a container, people relocating abroad fret about what to bring along on their new adventure. Precious keepsakes, favorite books and photos…there’s only so much room. Well, I can recommend eliminating one thing…
Would you willingly move—lock, stock, and barrel—to a foreign country with your grade-school-aged children in tow? I mean, it’s a big enough leap to move yourself overseas, even if you have 60 or 70 years of life experience and a bit of a pension or some Social Security under your belt.
When the old man waved first, and offered the faintest of smiles, I knew we’d made progress in making Puerto Cayo, Ecuador our home. I begin almost every day with a one-hour walk from our home into town and back. And every day, without fail, I see the same local people, going to the same places in their own morning routine. In the beginning, the Puerto Cayans weren’t unfriendly at all. They just didn’t seem overly friendly.
Cynthia Collett recently celebrated her first anniversary in Ecuador, although she admits she had been working on this idea of “retiring overseas” for nearly a year before she actually made the move. “A friend came to Ecuador for a work-related conference,” Cynthia says. “And she told me I would absolutely love Cotacachi. “That’s when I started the Internet research. The more I read, the more I fell in love with the culture.”
It was the first full day of our vacation in Canada, when my best friend, Sharri, and I got some news that put a different spin on our trip. The company we worked for was being acquired. We spent the next day of our vacation listening to conference calls. Each one basically said the same thing—nobody knew anything about what the future held.
If you move to a foreign country where the native language is different to your own, I’m not about to tell you, “No problem.” On the other hand, even if you’re thinking about moving to a country like Ecuador with Taco Bell-level Spanish skills, I offer myself as evidence that you will not perish.
When my now-grown son was a little boy I used to take him to Baskin Robbins for a cone. He would stare and stare at those 31 flavors. They were all so tempting, and I watched him grow physically agitated as he agonized over his decision. Inevitably he would always pick—chocolate chip. The same thing can happen now to folks scouring the Internet for possible retirement locations.
My grandma, a legendary green thumb, once tried her hand at growing bananas. She was successful, producing exactly one banana… from a plant in a pot, in her living room, in Wisconsin, in the dead of winter. The bad news? I didn’t inherit my grandmother’s green thumb. The good news? Living in Vilcabamba, Ecuador, I don’t need it. And neither will you because the area has such ideal growing conditions that anybody can be successful, even with little or no experience. Here’s what you need to know to get started:
When my wife, Suzan, and I heard that we could get what is commonly called an “executive health assessment” in Quito, Ecuador, we decided to give it a try. Our primary care physician, Dr. Davalos, works with Hospital Metropolitano in Quito to put together a comprehensive package of tests that cover all the health bases over a two-day period.
Panama is the world’s most upbeat country. That’s according to a recent Gallup poll measuring people’s positive emotions in 148 countries. The poll asked locals questions like whether they felt respected and well-rested… whether they smiled or laughed…or learned something interesting the previous day.
It started when I was a boat captain on an authentic sternwheeler. Passengers always had questions, but never more so than when 100 five- and six-year-olds piled onboard for their end-of-the-school-year field trip.
As I meet more and more people who are interested in moving here, I think back to that day in 1984 when Ecuador first came onto my radar… I ran out to the mailbox and saw the letter I had been waiting weeks for—my invitation to serve as a Peace Corps Volunteer somewhere in the world. I tore open the envelope and read… My two-year assignment was to be a rural public health nurse in Ecuador.
That belief in freedom is still driving people today—and some have chased the American dream all the way to Ecuador. Take Cynthia and Ron Kelley. They didn’t want the identikit big house with the white picket fence. They wanted something unique to them—but they could never have afforded to build such a home in the U.S. In Canoa, Ecuador, however…
When my husband, Dan, and I were first married and first started thinking about living overseas, we pored over every issue of International Living and we read every International Living e-postcard. We compared and contrasted, planned and dreamed…Certain we would live in an exotic tropical destination, we wanted it to be relatively close to family and friends back home in the States…
The moment I arrived in Ecuador I knew my decision to abandon my old life in the U.S. was the right one. With the shrinking economy and very little chance of scratching out a living in the home building business, it was time for change.
“You know what?” my new friend said. “You need to tell this to young people.” We were having coffee during one of the networking breaks here at the Fast-Track Ecuador Conference, and my new friend was much like me… much like the majority of our attendees… nearing or at retirement age and finally ready to have the overseas adventure she always wanted.
In Ecuador, you can have it all…but it doesn’t come without sacrifice. At times, International Living is accused of seeing the world through rose-colored glasses… of overlooking the bad and omitting the blemishes. If you’ve been here in Quito the past few days, you surely would not agree with that.
“These are the best years we have left, and we don’t want to waste a single one of them.” That’s Edd and Cynthia Staton’s philosophy. During their 35+ years of marriage, they raised two kids and enjoyed long successful careers. But a few years ago, while living in Las Vegas, they were smacked hard, as many of us were, by economic recession. They both lost their jobs.
“No matter what kind of lifestyle you’re looking for, you can find it here in Ecuador,” I told about 350 people today. It may be a small country, but the variety it has to offer is huge… From palm-lined beaches… to tranquil living in small mountain villages… to modern cosmopolitan living in sophisticated cities like Quito and Cuenca, both of which have historic centers that are UNESCO World Heritage sites.
2013 Fast-Track Ecuador Package
Quito, Ecuador – February 2013
You can afford to retire, and in style! An apartment with spectacular views of the lush Andes mountains or blue Pacific Ocean…a colonial city where the sun shines every day… fresh, healthy food…friends who share your interests… household cleaning help for just $10… You can have it all…
Local legend tells that the two volcanoes are lovers, and when there is snow on Cotacachi’s peak, it means that Imbabura has visited her in the night. The valley between them cradles Otavalo, a city about 34 miles north of Quito, Ecuador.
A dense skyline of high rises juts into the sky, homage to dozens of varied architectural styles. Numerous LED screens displaying advertisements and neon restaurant signs have led some folk to call this “little Hong Kong.” But Panama City is much more than its skyline.
I’ve always been fascinated with South America. So when my wife Dana and I contemplated the “second half” of our lives, it seemed natural to look in that direction. A few episodes of House Hunters International, featuring U.S. expats in Latin America, particularly piqued our interest.
This year find the country that’s right for you…you’re invited to network with the people who can make your move overseas effortless…cut your cost of living in half…and help you avoid the common mistakes made while moving or investing overseas.
Our new friends paused over their meatloaf and mashed potatoes (an expat favorite served by one of the enterprising restaurateurs in our little Ecuadorian town). They had invited my wife, Suzan, and me out to lunch to seek some advice now that they’d been in town for a while.
You can study all the collected data, analyze real estate statistics, crunch the cost-of-living numbers, study weather patterns and more…but nothing surpasses your gut instinct when it comes to choosing a place to live. And believe me, your gut can change—especially as you get older.
Good news about residence visas in Ecuador… In recent months the government has made huge strides to simplify visa applications. There are offices in Quito and Guayaquil, and to better accommodate the continued influx of foreigners, a new immigration office opened in Cuenca last year. All locations have bilingual staff. To live in Ecuador full-time, expats must obtain a residence visa, so getting your paperwork in order before arriving in Ecuador is a must.
During the recent Powerball hype, a friend asked me if I won the lottery, would I move somewhere else? Sure I would! I would move anywhere…but only if you can find me a place that has… 1. Good weather, the kind that doesn’t require a furnace or A/C to cope—just a T-shirt and a sweatshirt. 2. Beautiful scenery…because life’s too short to live someplace ugly.
It’s 5.00 p.m. on Monday afternoon. Time to start thinking about winding down the work day and getting ready to crawl home in rush hour traffic, then spending a few hours at home hopefully relaxing before going to bed… and getting ready to do it all over again on Tuesday. Except I don’t live that life anymore.
The world we cover at International Living isn’t the same one you hear about on the nightly news. We seek out opportunity—not ratings. This frees us, mercifully, from the “if it bleeds, it leads” mandate. So we can seek out the fortuitous instead of the unfortunate.
The bane of cell-phone using travelers, the roaming charge is one of those expenses that can sneak up on you, ruining your happy memories when you get that exorbitant phone bill. Here’s a tip on how to save on these charges in France.