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Retirement in Ecuador

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Wishing to retire in Ecuador? Discover the advantages of retiring in the country as well as the steps to follow…

For the past decade or so, Ecuador has oscillated between the number one and number two spots in polls ranking retirement havens worldwide. The advantages of retiring to Ecuador listed along with these polls are seemingly endless. It all almost sounds too good to be true. So what’s the deal?

Low cost high life

The first thing that usually gets mentioned about Ecuador is how cheap it is. Ecuador, however, isn’t cheap so much as it is a bargain. It’s about the quality and quantity you obtain for the little you spend. This applies to eating, housing, cultural life and health care. While costs vary from region to region, the same amount of dollars will see you enjoy a better standing most anywhere in Ecuador when compared to, say, the States. Most retired expat couples live quite comfortably on a monthly budget of less than $2,000, and in some cases much less.

Afford quality health care

The health care system in Ecuador is recognized as one of the best in South America. Hygiene is emphasized in private clinics and public hospitals alike. Many Ecuadorian doctors have studied either in the US or Europe. At the same time, most treatments cost a fraction of the price they would abroad. Full coverage medical insurance plans for seniors range from $60 to $180 per month. Oftentimes, expat retirees are eligible for the public health system, which covers all medical needs for $60 per month on average.

The perks of being senior

In Ecuador, seniors get something of a V.I.P treatment. Those over 65 are entitled to a series of advantages. And as the constitution extends the same rights to senior foreign residents, you may expect a 50% discount on cultural and sporting events, electric and water bills, and international airfare. Seniors are also spared from standing in line at places like the bank. They can also get refunded a good portion of the existing 12% value-added tax (the national sales tax) by keeping receipts.

Pick your lifestyle

If expenses can vary somewhat across Ecuador, it is in part because the country, albeit small and enjoying a lovely moderate climate all round, boasts distinct regions. Each has its own charms and merits. So whether you prefer the sea, the mountain or the city, you should find a spot in Ecuador that suits your preferred lifestyle. That said, the city of Cuenca has proven an especially popular choice for retirees, an estimated 4, 500 forming a small expat community among the half a million inhabitants.

First steps for expat retirees

All this probably has you rearing to start your tercera edad (Spanish for ‘senior years’) in Ecuador already. Not so fast! You will need to go through formalities first. To live full-time in Ecuador, expats need a residence visa. The majority of retirees ask for one of two immigrant visas that are actually tailored with retirees in mind.

The 9-I pensioner visa entails giving proof that the retiree has a monthly minimum income of $800 from a stable source, usually Social Security from their country of origin. This retiree’s spouse or blood relative may then get a 9-VI dependent visa. An additional monthly $100 must be proven per dependent.

The 9-II investment visas are for real estate and securities investors. The investment must be of at least $25,000.

Paperwork for visas abounds, unfortunately. You can start with filling out the application form for an immigrant visa. Hiring an Ecuadorian attorney to file your application can help you navigate through the process, even from abroad – their fees vary, but can reach $2,000. The government has endeavored to speed up procedures in recent years, and visas are being issued within two months nowadays. Having a visa implies respecting certain conditions, of course. For instance, you won’t be able to be out of the country for more than 90 days a year within a two year period after you’ve obtained residency.
Our article on getting a visa in Ecuador lets you know in more depth what to expect and what will be expected of you.

 Useful links:

US Embassy – Retiring in Ecuador ecuador.usembassy.gov
Immigrant visas cancilleria.gob.ec/immigrant-visas
Pensioner visa cancilleria.gob.ec/annuitant-visa-9-i-foreign-pension

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.
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