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Peripatetic Soul Investigated Ecuador .. and Decided Not to Go

Congratulations, Peripatetic Soul.

You investigated Ecuador .. participated with integrity over many months on this forum .. and made a decision.

You decided it wouldn't make sense for you to uproot from central Virginia.

You are and have been a great participant in this forum.  You have kept us in the loop.  Great job! :top:

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Things have been changing in the northern countries of South America .. and it will probably affect many potential Expats deciding on the area.  Some including Peripatetic Soul are opting out of a move.  Others are looking to a country even closer to North America that was not on Expat radar for decades:

1.  Ecuador has been having problems with earthquakes, floods, civil unrest and budget issues that affect public healthcare and make contnued progress in infrastructure less practical.

2.  The neighboring country of Colombia has seen the value of its peso drop over 30 percent and basically stay at a depressed level for the past two years.  This currency shift is a major benefit to new arrivals.  (Ecuador uses the U.S. dollar and thus has not seen this type of currency benefit.)  The result is that housing, real estate and almost everything else have gotten far cheaper in Colombia for North Americans, and there's no sign that this result will change soon.

3.  It has been 15 years since then-President Uribe came in and cleaned up the security mess in Colombia's cities created by drug cartels.  It's almost a quarter century since the murderous cartel boss Escobar was taken out.  Over time, North Americans are becoming more aware that Colombia's cities are not the safety nightmare they were in the 80's and 90's.

cccmedia in Quindío, in Colombia's Juan Valdez Coffee Zone

If Ecuador is less attractive and you don't believe in the Colombia miracle .. what's available in this hemisphere?

Here are some thoughts....

Mexico -- Many areas are sketchy because the drug cartels are active.  Can anyone predict that currently-safe areas of Mexico will stay safe?

Central America -- Due to a lack of higher-altitude places favorable to Expats, most of Central America is too hot most of the time.  If a small remote town -- Boquete, Panama, in the highlands of Chiriquí province -- works for you, more power to you.

Venezuela and Brazil -- Dangerous countries these days.  Brazilians speak Portuguese, which hardly any retirees in North America have studied or had contact with.

Peru -- Further away from North America than any of the South American places discussed so far on this thread, except for parts of Brazil.  Lima, where most Expats would go, has serious air-pollution problems except perhaps along the oceanfront.  The winter with grey overcast skies and little sun can last five months in the Peruvian capital.  Cusco:  altitude is too great for most.  Arequipa:  would be a stretch.  It's hardly on anyone's radar.

cccmedia in Quindío, Colombia

And she was able to make her decision without incurring the cost of an exploratory trip, although I sense if she had retired to Ecuador she would have done so without an exploratory trip.

Dear Nards,
On the contrary, I've taught overseas for the majority of my life in Asia, Middle East, etc. and performed due diligence before accepting any long-term university contracts.  Thus, I would never move anywhere without exploring it first-hand, as I've indicated on other posts, e.g., I recently spent considerable time in Panama, but decided against it for various reasons.  I thought I'd be retiring soon, but decided I enjoy teaching too much, so God willing. . .    Perhaps down the road . . . The best to you.
Regards,
PS

Dear cccmedia,
Many thanks for this valuable, up-to-date information.

Yes, we are now experiencing a flood of Venezuelan students at our college for reasons you are well aware of (as well as students from Nepal, Egypt and the ME).

Thank you for all of your informative posts. I hope prospective retirees will read this forum and not subscribe to IL!

Best regards,
PS
.

Interesting comments...

Ecuador has it's problems, definitely. But Colombia has it's own set of problems (as does any place, in reality).

Any assertions that Columbia's drug and civil unrest problems are a thing of the past, should surely be taken with a grain (or perhaps a shaker's worth) of salt.

It would seem that any trickle of expat North Americans choosing to head to Colombia would be more than offset by the number of Colombians themselves heading over the border to - you guessed it - Ecuador. (Some 98% of refugees heading into Ecuador are Colombians escaping drug and violence issues in their home country).

I looked over the local travel warning website to see what warnings come up for Ecuador and Colombia. Both are listed as "exercise a high degree of caution". Both because of violence (robberies, kidnappings etc.) But when it comes to the higher-level "reconsider need to travel" and "do not travel" areas, guess where these mostly are? Yep, Colombia.

As I said earlier, they both have their issues, no doubt. My personal view is that the risks posed in Colombia, either via Narcos or FARC-related civil unrest, are greater overall than the risks posed in Ecuador. Yes, I'm aware of the peace accord entered into between FARC and the Govt. Again, personally, I don't believe the "strife" will end when the weapons are handed in...

Just my 2c worth.

expat_sooner :

Some 98% of refugees heading into Ecuador are Colombians escaping drug and violence issues in their home country.

This 98 percent statistic is not credible.

Venezuelan refugees have more reason to emigrate to Ecuador than Colombians do .. and the Vens are eager to move to EC.

I challenge Sooner to document this statistic with a reliable, verifiable source.  If Sooner cannot provide that, then this 'statistic' should be discarded or disregarded by our readers.

cccmedia from La Zona Cafetera, Colombia

Sadly, expat_sooner's figures are correct.  Various sources put the total number of refugees in Ecuador as of 2016 at 55,000-60,000, of whom 95% to 98% are Colombians:

http://www.acnur.org/donde-trabaja/america/ecuador/

"Hasta septiembre de 2016, el Estado ecuatoriano ha  reconocido a 60.329 personas refugiadas en el país. El 95 % de ellos son ciudadanos colombianos. En promedio, 418 personas cruzan la frontera en busca de protección internacional cada mes. Además, 233.049 personas han solicitado el reconocimiento de la condición de refugiado en el Ecuador, en su mayoría de Colombia, desde 1989 a 2016."

See also

http://www.elcomercio.com/actualidad/ec … acnur.html

However anyone who has traveled and spent much time in Colombia, would most likely not agree with expat_sooner's assessment of Colombia which does not appear to be based on in-country experience.

In addition, how refugees are counted makes a difference - many thousands of Venezuelans who have come to Colombia and Ecuador are "under the radar" because they are not formally refugees but instead are seeking work and integrate as much as they can - they don't line up and report to some refugee counting agency or seek a government agency's help.

I don't currently live in Colombia, but I've been traveling there to various cities for various periods of time since 1996 and have family in Cali, Buenaventura and Bogotá.  If you get your information only from the internet, you might conclude that all of those cities are horrible places with all sorts of bad things happening all the time - that's just not the case.  I feel safer in any of them than I do in Chicago or Detroit!

Thanks OsageArcher. While the figures quoted on the UNHCR website you linked agree with mine, they aren't where I got mine from. I'd take the UNHCR figures as being reasonably authoritative, though. I hope cccmedia can also...

Granted, I haven't been to Colombia. That said, my post wasn't meant to infer that it is universally a "bad" place to be, either. It was more to suggest that it has its share of problems, as does Ecuador.
This was - largely - in response to the original post which characterized Ec. as having issues with "civil unrest" (which Colombia also does), earthquakes (as does Colombia, along with Volcanic activity), and economic/budgetary issues which will make (amongst other things) healthcare and infrastructure spending "less practical". On the latter point, I'd be keen to see any country which relies heavily on oil/gas exports for revenue which isn't facing budgetary issues at present...Ecuador is at least in the position of not only having a few other export markets to tap/increase, but is also looking to other possible revenue streams to reduce their reliance on fossil fuel commodity exports. Of course, for all I know, Colombia is doing the same. There are other countries which could do worse than follow suit (See below).


As for this comment "Venezuelan refugees have more reason to emigrate to Ecuador than Colombians do .. and the Vens are eager to move to EC"

Firstly, I agree with what you're saying. Venezuelans do have more of a reason to emigrate to Ec. than do Colombians. Are they likely to "pass through" Colombia to do so? Unlikely, would be my guess.

Thank you, Sooner and Brother Archer, for successfully meeting the challenge.

It may be fascinating to see how that 95-98 percent statistic* shakes out in the next couple of years, given the recent FARC peace treaty (November 2016) .. and the relocation of ex-FARC soldiers and their re-integration into Colombian society.

Apparently that high-90's-percentage is largely due to the proximity to Ecuador of Nariño and other departments in southern Colombia to which many guerrillas and ex-cartel operatives had migrated.

cccmedia in Quindío, Colombia


*consensus on percentage of Colombians among foreign refugees in Ecuador.

Seeing many more Venezuelans here working and trying to improve job skills (lots of requests for English classes).

Susan_in_Ecuador :

Seeing many more Venezuelans here working and trying to improve job skills (lots of requests for English classes).

https://www.cuencahighlife.com/venezuel … a-ecuador/

Interesting posts and stats.  Having taken many stats classes in college and even graduate level, one realizes very quickly, that you can manipulate statistics to define whatever you want.  Example, just look at the past US election.  I predicted trump would win months before the election, and I'm registered independent and yes I voted by absentee ballot, which is counted in Florida.  However, I hate politics, and based my prediction on the baseball World Series winner and the Chinese monkey prediction, which has been pretty accurate in past elections.  While true, I am trying to be funny if it didn't come across that way.  Also, I can't imagine how anyone can believe any statistics in Latin America countries since the documentation process is really a joke.  For example, I was researching weather cycles here in manta, since the rain levels have been insane compared to my last 4 years here.  I have never experienced lightening or thunder in 4 years and was told it never happens here in manta.  I can't count on my fingers and toes the # of thunderstorms we have had here since January.  My windows leak like crazy and trying to find someone to do gutters here has been impossible.  Anyone reading this that can do it for me, please contact me.  So when it rains all night and heavy like last night, my windows leak and now from all the rain water is starting to seep into and down my walls.   During those times, which has happened often lately, I get no sleep as I go from floor to floor and window to window soaking up water with towels and my wet/dry vac and I get no sleep.  I will be oh so happy when this rain is over.

Sophems :

Interesting posts and stats.  Having taken many stats classes in college and even graduate level, one realizes very quickly, that you can manipulate statistics to define whatever you want.  Example, just look at the past US election.

How does that famous quote go?  "There are three kind of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics."

Sophems :

here in manta .. the rain levels have been insane compared to my last 4 years here.  I have never experienced lightening or thunder in 4 years and was told it never happens here in Manta.... I will be oh so happy when this rain is over.

The water in the Pacific Ocean off Ecuador and Peru has been abnormally warm so far this year.

It's not El Niño, whose latest incarnation ended about a year ago.

However, the current phenomenon has been causing lots of rain .. and may not be done with us.

cccmedia

Well actually the waters are warmer than usual and did not cool down over the cooler months so increased in temperature.

This has caused more rains than expected which our locals are referring to as "30" year rains. And the type of rain is similar to what one gets on the Atlantic coast of Florida, strong squalls producing flash floods. It's bad but no where near the catastrophe of Peru with its deadly mudslides.

So yes, this is an el Niño weather pattern.

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