Retirement in Ecuador

by Linda McFarlin

Suddenly retirement in Ecuador is the best news around.  Ecuador is being touted as a South American retirement haven, competing with favorites like Mexico, Costa Rica and Panama.  Rapidly increasing prices for land and housing are making those destinations less desirable for people on fixed incomes, pensions or those who just want to reduce their expenditures.

Retirement in Ecuador = Low-Cost Luxury

Recently named as the top retirement destination in the world for the fifth consecutive time, based on a survey by International Living, Ecuador’s appeal is quickly becoming obvious to savvy savers.  The cost of living is so low that Gary and I are able to live very comfortably on less than $1000 a month after set-up expenses like housing, furniture, and appliances have been paid.  

In Cotacachi unfurnished houses and apartments are not that easy to find, but are still to be had for around $200 a month and up, plus utilities.  Furnished houses and apartments are more, from $400-750 a month.  A new 2000-square-foot brick house on 1/4 acre in a gated community is less than $135,000 and a new 3-bedroom condo is priced at $54,500.

Labor is cheap and retirement in Ecuador means that you can afford to hire a maid, guard, chauffer or gardener for as little as $15-$18 a day.   

Retirement in Ecuador can amount to a life of luxury in many ways.  Finding huge succulent strawberries in the market for $2 a kilo, which is 2.2 pounds, means pure decadence to me.  We dine on a 4-inch chateaubriand in a quiet garden restaurant, complete with immaculate table linens and fresh roses, for around $12.  At the same time, luncheons at a local comedor are still around $2.50. Just the thought of such low-cost extravagances makes me feel like a queen!

Affordable Health Care

Health care in Ecuador is a retirement dream. A root canal is around $120, fillings for $18. A bridge is around $150. Implants are $1000 per tooth, including a zirconia crown.  Click here to read about an excellent dentist in Ibarra.

A sparkling new medical clinic has opened in Ibarra with 22 specialists.  An office visit is $25 and the doctors are personable and helpful.  X-rays are $5 - $10.  Lab blood tests are typically $1.50 per item tested.

Because Ecuador is only the size of Nevada, its remarkable diversity is easy to reach.  You can loll on the beach in the morning and take a $65, half-hour flight to the mountains, arriving in the afternoon.  Both a home at the beach and one in the mountains can be purchased for the cost of a vacant lot in many countries! If you are over 65, air and bus tickets are 1/2 off. 

Good transportation comes in the form of buses so numerous that you can travel without having to make reservations.  Travel by bus costs about $.50 for every 15 miles or $1 an hour.  Cabs cost more but a 1½-2 hour trip from Quito to Cotacachi can be had for $50-55.

Retirement Visas are an Easy Way to Gain Residency

If you can provide documented proof that you have an income of at least $800 per month, plus $100 more per month for a spouse or dependent, you can receive a retirement or pensioner visa.  This is just one of the ways you can become a resident of Ecuador.  A retirement visa will grant you all of the benefits of an Ecuadorian citizen except the right to vote.

If you don’t have a pension, a $25,000 real estate investment or bank CD deposit here will suffice.  You do, however, have to live in-country for 9 months in each of the first two years you are here. (Note: visa requirements constantly change so check the requirements in effect at the time you are ready to apply.)

With the savings that retiring in Ecuador brings, the wise retiree is then free to travel more, relax more, invest more.  Engage in new hobbies or indulge a new passion.  The good life in Ecuador is waiting for those who choose to retire in Ecuador’s welcoming and sunny environs.

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