Top 10 Benefits of Retiring in Ecuador & Top 15 Cities to Live in!

Written by Sara Chaca, Attorney – Abogada, January 1st, 2022

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:

Low Cost of Living

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.

High Quality Health Care

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.

Familiarity for Americans and the Like

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.

Temperate Climate Options

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.

Friendly and Welcoming People

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.

Ecuador is Connected and Accessible

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.

Healthy Lifestyle Options

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).

Modern Amenities

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.

Low Property Prices

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.

Residency Visas are Straightforward

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:

  1. Bahía de Caráquez: A charming city on the coast that’s known for its beaches, restaurants and walkability.

  2. Baños de Agua Santa: A mountain town located 3 hours outside of Quito that is renowned for its outdoor activities and waterfalls.

  3. Canoa: A laid-back fishing village on the central coast, with beachfront hotels and restaurants.

  4. Cotacachi: A small mountain village located 90 minutes north of Quito.

  5. Cuenca: A colonial city in the southern mountains, very popular with expats and retirees.

  6. Guayaquil: A port city on the southern coast, and the largest city in Ecuador, with a relaxed Caribbean style.

  7. Loja: A small mountain town in the South, known for its musical roots.

  8. Manta: A bustling beach town on the central coast with plenty of big-city amenities.

  9. Montañita: A popular surfing destination on the southern coast of Ecuador.

  10. Otavalo: Another small town north of Quito, with a well-known textile market.

  11. Puerto Lopez: A small beach town known for its fishing industry and whale watching tours.

  12. Quito: The capital city and the second largest city in Ecuador, with lots of history and culture.

  13. Salinas: A bustling and popular coastal city in the south of Ecuador.

  14. Vilcabamba: A peaceful mountain town not far outside of Loja.

  15. Yunguilla: Another peaceful mountain town not far outside of Cuenca.

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!

For assistance contact Sara Chaca, an English speaking Ecuadorian Attorney (principal office is located in Cuenca but services all of Ecuador). Sara is well known for replying to in less than 24 hours (usually much faster) – plus for every Expat, Sara provides a complimentary consultation regarding immigration to Ecuador specific to your circumstances.

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