Ecuador anyone?


Sun Lovin' Lizard
10 Years
Sep 12, 2009
Nor Cal
DH and I have had to rerack our retirement plans. He is working now but was out of work for over 3 years and we went through most of our retirement savings during that time. I am on disabilty due to degenerative disk disease. Now we are starting from scratch and don't think retirement here in the U.S. is possible. Well it's possible but it would mean an awfully meager existance.

After watching my folks struggle I'm not sure I'm up to the stress of such a tight retirement. We are helping them out right now as well by paying their phone bill and giving a little towards their rent each month as well as making extra when I cook to give them a break but they are still struggling.

I did some research and found out that you can retire anywhere and still collect your Social Security. DH is a couple of years away from collecting but we know there may not be anything left by the time I retire. And if my health continues to improve, as it has been, I will be off of disability soon.
Many countries look like they are much more likely places to retire than here but we are afraid to have our kids so far away, even though we could then afford to travel more due to a drastically reduced cost of living.

I know we would still be on a budget and that it is easy to spend as much as you make if you're not careful but we are both very frugal (good thing or we wouldn't have survived as long as we did when DH was unemployed) and we know what's possible now since we have been doing so much research.

So... in the interest of continued research, have any of you here on BYC thought about or actually moved to another country for economic reasons or are you currently an expat living outside your home country with advice for us? We were interested in Ecuador because we both speak a little spanish and it would be easier, for us, to learn this language. Ecuador is a very reasonable place to live and the people are very friendly there. The crime rate for violent crimes is very low (please don't tell me about the 1 instance you heard of where someone faced a violent end there because I can quote you hundreds of stories that happen here in our own country for every 1 you can tell me) and the weather is fantastic.

The cons I worry about are distance from loved ones, transistion to a new way of life (no we don't want to live in an "Expat Community" in a condo with all the other english speakers that never venture out of their condominium complex), rules and regs about purchasing property as a foreigner (so I can have all my animals and my hundreds of chickens
) and, I'm ashamed to admit it but yes, I am even afraid of what kind of scary poisonous creatures I may encounter in such a lush area. The last one is probably pretty silly since I know I'm always being asked how I deal with all the rattlers here in the desert when I've only seen 3 rattlers in my life and those 3 were running away from me!
But snakes are the one thing that kinda freaks me out.

So any thoughts? Any concrete information you'd like to share? Any questions you've had regarding this topic that you'd like to share? Hopefully we can tap the brains of those that have some experience with this.
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I was born in Ecuador and visited twice as an adult. Quito is like any large city. Rural areas are, well, VERY rural with medical care sometimes hours away. They had a coup there last week, so Goverment stability is something to consider. If I were moving back there and wanted to go rural I would move to Shelmera. I don't think I spelled that right, but it is actually two towns, one of which has a very nice (for the jungle) hospital with English speaking doctors. You can either drive or fly into Quito where there is also a good hospital---Voz Andes Hospital. The hospital in Shel is associated with this one. Shel is also the jungle hub for MAF (Missionary Aviation Fellowship) and you could het flights out easily if needed. The people are very nice and the location is beautiful.

A friend just bought a place down in Belize for a great price. You might also look at Costa Rica.
Yes I read about the "attempted coup" but there are differing reports as to what really happened. It is clear that an assasination attempt was made but it is not clear that it was an attempted coup. Being a baby boomer I have seen a few assasination attempts in this country as well so I will keep an eye on the situation there but I am not crossing Ecuador of our list of possibilities because of this one incident. Except for this situation they have had a very stable government for many years now.

Many folks reporting on this situation have said that President Correa has actually strengthened his position since the uprising. Anyway, we are not retiring for another couple of years so we are looking at a lot of options and this situation will be watched as well.

We did look at Belize (we have friends that live there), and there are many plusses. The national language is english and it is more affordable than here, though it is still too expensive to make a relaxed retirement a possibility, which means visiting the grandkids would be even harder (a horrible thought, we enjoy our grandchildren very much). Costa Rica is not quite as friendly as Ecuador (though it is still a very safe country for expats) and is also not as reasonable, so the above concerns apply, but I have to admit that the fact that they have a women President right now does say a lot of positive things about that country and how they view women...

There are so many wonderful possibilities it is very hard to narrow it down but we are not ready to limit our options quite yet. We are still in the questions phase (not quite entirely out of the dreaming phase) at this stage. We are planning on staying within 30 minutes of a major city though, where ever we decide to go.
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I lived in Ecuador for two years. I've been back to visit once in 1999 for a couple of weeks. We just turned down the opportunity to back with friends in August. I have continued to stay in contact with friends there over the years.

There are three distinct climate zones in Ecuador (Eastern Amazon Rainforest, Mountains, Western desert and/or rainforest) {You could include the Galapagos in the later, but transportation to and from is costly}and that is a plus, you don't have to travel far to get to any of them.


-They use the U.S. Dollar there so there is no currency exchange.
-Cost of living is good. Especially in rural areas.
-If you don't mind the altitude, the climate is PERFECT. I would love to live in the mountains somewhere in a rural area not far from Quito. They have the four seasons there every day. Winter from 8PM to 6AM (you are asleep or inside then anyway) Spring from 6AM until about 10AM. Summer from 10AM until about 4PM. Fall from 4PM to 8PM. Can't beat that. Depending upon monsoon flow or El Niño, there is a wet and dry season that lasts 6 months each. Except for western coastal deserts, water is abutdant.
-The food there is so very much more nutritious. The richness of the volcanic soil has not been depleted. If you could find a rural place on the east slope of the Andes you would have almost a 12 month growing season for lots of different fruits and vegetables. It would be great to be able to be self sustaining. With a garden and chickens, goats for milk and meat and blankets for cold nights and windows for warm days it could be a paradise for you. The variety of fruits is amazing and they have many different varieties of melons that are the most delicious you'll ever taste. Lots of different flora and fauna.
- I did meet folks who went there to retire. They stayed to themselves and were cautious. Some started little businesses that helped to pay the bills.


- Almost all government officials are corrupt, including the current crooks at the top. They take $$ from the US and IMF and it is spent on leaders in government and their families and very little makes it into the infrastructure and for poor families. There is very little middle class. The rich live in gated/guarded communities. The poor live in very poor conditions.
- Health care is still substandard there... and is usually costly to foreigners. Even in big cities like Quito and Guayaquil, you have to boil the water and then cool it so as not to get dysentery. (I arrived in Ecuador at 205lbs and was 155lbs within 6 weeks... great weight loss reduction but NOT a good way to loose weight) You can find American trained physicians and even dentists there, but they will cost you dearly.
- Crime and theft is still common. There are con artists looking to take advantage of folks who don't speak the language. You would need to surround yourself with folks that you could really trust. I was robbed there a goodly number of times back in the late 70s and had some attempt to rob me in '99.
- It's costly to travel back and forth from the states.
- Public transportation is good when they are not on strike, but when they go on strike, everything is at a standstill.
- There are the occasional burps from volcanoes in the mountains. I went through a number of earthquakes there -- even when I took my wife there in 1999 we had a number of scary tremors.

My time there: I spent 3 months in north Quito (not far from Mitad del Mundo), 3 months just south of Panecillo in south central Quito. 3 months in Libertad, near Salinas out on the peninsula on the Pacific Ocean and 15 months in and around Guayaquil.
Life in the mountains is much more laid back. I traveled to Otavalo and Ibarra on the north. You can get some great leather goods and things made from wool or alpaca there for very little $. I traveled south to Latacunga, Ambato, Baños and Riobamba --- gorgeous areas. I traveled to Sigsig, Azogues and Cuenca. (Did you know that Panama hats are made in Ecuador?!) I traveled the west coast from Libertad, north through Machalia a rainforest national park (PHENOMENAL), to Jipijapa, Quevedo and Manta. I also spent time traveling around Daule and Milagro and the train route from Duran to Riobamba. (I don't think the train runs anymore) I traveled south to Santa Rosa and Machala as well. Do you like bananas? It's the banana capitol of the world. I never did get to Puyo or the Amazon. I never did travel to Esmeraldas, Chone or Santo Domingo nor to Loja.

I would LOVE to retire there, but I'd have to be married to someone else and that's not going to happen so that's that.

I know TMI. But you asked.
You might want to look into Uruguay. Stable gov't, higher standard of living, lots of horses, good beef, climate like coastal Virginia/NC, hydroelectric electricty. However, it is a socialist country so taxes there are higher. Their dialect also a has a lot more French/Italian influence so the pronounciation won't be quite like the standard Spanish you're used to hearing.

Costa Rica is another good option.

Puerto Rico might be another and you can keep US citizenship.
Hi Sunny:

Someone at work was talking about retiring in Portugal! Said lots of positive things. Might be too expensive though to fly back state side. Good luck!

Thanks Carol, I hadn't heard much about Portugal. I'll have to check that out.

michickenwrangler, yes I've heard good things about Uruguay too but you're right the cost of living is a little high. Just like Costa Rica and Belize. Still cheaper than here though. I'm afraid that french is a language I can't seem to grasp at all. Not sure why. Maybe because I grew up in Southeren CA and I was never exposed to French until I was much older.

Mahonri, I have heard about the corruption in the government (a problem in all the Latin American countries (and a problem in most countries as well, according to the natives) but the information I've gotten from other folks is that the health care is world class these days and about a third of what it costs here in the States. Many of the Doctors there (in the large cities anyway) are trained in the US or in Europe. It is especially reasonable for folks over 65 as there are many discounts for the elderly. The elderly also command great respect there. You don't even wait in line if you are over 65. It is national law that the elderly automatically go to the front of the line.

Water that our system is not used to is always a problem. Ecuador has very similar water standards to the U.S. (although I'm not sure that's a compliment). I would never drink the water in a new place though. It takes some time for our bodies to adjust to a different set of microbes. Ecuadorians complain of the same thing when they visit here which isn't surprising. The fact that you would retire there if your circumstances were different says a lot. Thank you!

Yes, I'd also heard about the abundance of fresh, organic fruits there. I think that may be the reason folks live so much longer there.
I also knew about the Panama hat being made there. In fact that is where the Panama Hat originates from. A small town named Montecristi. Most of the panama hats are made in the large cities now but it is still a thriving business in Montecristi.

This morning the news is that all is back to normal in Ecuador and that the reality of the "coup" is that it never was a coup and it never was a kidnapping. Just an argument between the police and the President that mushroomed when he lost his temper. (sounds a little familiar to an old lady like me but that's another story). I know that is probably partly damage control (not necessarily a bad thing) but we also know how much the media loves to blow things out of proportion for a good story.

I'd also heard that life can be a little more difficult for expats that don't speak the language. That won't be a problem for DH and I. My spanish is understandable now and DH and I are starting lessons soon. I know my spanish is horrible but the natives in Mexico are soooo sweet about it! They seem to appreciate my pitiful attempts even though my sentence structure stinks and I only know how to speak in present tense.
I've heard such good things about how friendly Ecuadorians are (even more so than Mexico) that I'm not stressed about that end of it. DH and I are both very outgoing.
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