Thinking of Retiring in Ecuador

Hi All, Im new to the forum.  Im Canadian and am searching places for my husband and I to retire too and we've heard that Ecuador is affordable for Canadians.  We've never been there but need to plan a trip there to see what its like.  What advise can some of you offer to Canadians. eg where to live, renting or buying, transportation, medical care and what is involved before moving there.  I know lots of questions but I have to start some place.


Thank you

Wantsunshine#55 :

Im Canadian and am searching places for my husband and I to retire too and we've heard that Ecuador is affordable for Canadians.  We've never been there but need to plan a trip there to see what its like.  What advice can some of you offer to Canadians?

Dear Sunshine,

Welcome to the Ecuador forums of expat.com ...

Consider....

1.  Cuenca, the worldclass retirement haven for English speaking Expats, at 8200 feet altitude.  The beautiful and vibrant colonial city is a U.N. World Heritage Site.

2.  Bahía de Caráquez, Bah-EE-yah day Kah-RAH-kez, if you prefer the coast.

If you post again, tell us more about your interests, level of español and any relevant factors for a potential move.

cccmedia

Even if you are offered the last-chance deal-of-a-lifetime....

Rent, don't buy anything your first year in Ecuador.

Do not ever buy on the seismic Ring of Fire, along the coast.

cccmedia

In general, great advise from CCmedia, except, "not to buy along the Coast".
If the climate and place  suits you, take the chance, I for one chose and bought a bungalow in Tonsupa-Esmeraldas, a placid / tranquil beach town, experienced the past tremblors and survived with no issues.

marcomueses :

In general, great advise from CCmedia, except, "not to buy along the Coast".
If the climate and place  suits you, take the chance, I for one chose and bought a bungalow in Tonsupa-Esmeraldas, a placid / tranquil beach town, experienced the past tremblors and survived with no issues.

Cccmedia is saying don't invest in any ring of fire real estate you cannot afford to lose.

marcomueses :

In general, great advise from CCmedia, except, "not to buy along the Coast".
If the climate and place  suits you, take the chance. I for one chose and bought a bungalow in Tonsupa-Esmeraldas, a placid / tranquil beach town, experienced the past tremblors and survived with no issues.

We expect voting in March on re-opening casinos in Bahía de Caráquez and Salinas.

If you're serious about gambling on the coast, this would be
a better bet than buying property along the Ring of Fire. :o

The epicenters of earthquakes are not predictable.  "A placid / tranquil beach town" is not immune.

Harmless tremors may be all that happens at a bungalow.  Condos in high-rise towers with magnificent ocean views may be subject to wall and construction cracks that render the units unusable.  This happened in 2016.

Reports from the coast indicate that not all buildings have been brought up to quake-proof standards since 2016 and The Big One.  Renting or buying, do your due diligence on safety factors.

As Mugtech explains, don't place a wager you can't afford to lose.  You will probably survive a seismic incident, your property may not.  Renters can skate .. while owners are stuck.

cccmedia

It would be helpful if you could tell us what sort of area you are interested in as Ecuador is very diverse! Big city? Small town? Mountains? Beach? Jungle? etc. There are many great places. I would recommend coming down for a few weeks so you can spend some time in a few different places and see what suits you best.

"The epicenters of earthquakes are not predictable.  "A placid / tranquil beach town" is not immune...

Exactly my point.  The previous earthquake to the one on 2016 happened over a half century ago, no one knows when the BIG ONE will take place,  thus, if the location suits you, I insist , take the chance.

Yes, many buildings were not built to standards suffering the expected consequences.
On the other hand, the new ones, including the tallest one in Ecuador that happens to be in Tonsupa facing the Ocean, had no issues.

MM

Wantsunshine#55 :

What advise can some of you offer to Canadians. eg where to live, renting or buying, transportation, medical care and what is involved before moving there.  I know lots of questions but I have to start some place.

Before moving here the very first thing that I researched deeply was safety. This was of utmost importance because what good is a country/city if one feels unsafe. I won’t get into crime, but statistically Ecuador is one of the safest countries in South America.

Then I looked at other important factors like climate, amenities, cost of living, etc. So, I think you should base your research on what is most important to you. Do the pros and cons if that helps.

Before moving here, Cuenca was one of my choices. Manta was a backup plan in case the altitude was an issue. But since then Quito has been home, and the rest of Ecuador a complement. So, start narrowing down the cities/areas that suit your needs and lifestyle the most. Maybe your first choice will be a hit.

Best of luck.

For first-time Expats, I would agree that safety is paramount.

They should also look for a place where Expats have been successful historically.

These are two reasons that Cuenca is a solid choice.

A third reason is weather.  Cuenca is a bit rainy or cool for some, but it's a far cry from spending a winter in Bemidji, Minnesota .. or a summer in Laughlin, Nevada.

Cuenca also has more Expat-friendly English-language meetups and events than any other place in La República.

Avoid hot, humid, dangerous places such as Guayaquil .. and security-challenged out-of-the-way choices outside the official limits of any city or town .. or with obscure names like Nalgas del Cerdo, Sucumbíos.

cccmedia

thank you for your answer.  I definitely need to do some research as you have mentioned.  We don't speak Spanish at all but I can remedy this buy taking a course in Spanish.  Im unsure of altitude at this time but do prefer being close to a beach.

Safety is also a good thing to remember and staying in areas of where other expats live.  Im just trying to gather as much info as I can lol...so much to prepare for and Ive got the time to do that.  Does the cost of living vary much from city, to small town to beach?  I find the earthquakes to be a scary thing as Canada doesn't experience them very often.  I'll probably have more questions as I put together more information as I go.

Cost of living does vary, you can check out cost of living comparisons on Numbeo.com for a general estimate.

Housing is more highly variable, for a variety of reasons, but as Realtors love to say, it's location, location, location. You'll pay comparatively more for gated communities or posh city locations, like anywhere in the world

You can search olx.com.ec (in Spanish) to browse live listings on rentals. MercadoLibre is also helpful.

Keep in mind that negotiating prices on everything is far more customary in LatAm than in North America. According to my Ecuadorian friends, the settled price is typically around 10% to 20% cheaper than the initial asking price-- if you know Spanish.

Renting property from other expats may incur higher prices.

deleted double post

I come from Canada as well and having lived through the 2016 quake in one of the hardest hit areas, I can say that they are definitely scary. BUT hey, I continue to live here because I love it so much. It's not worth missing out on this life just for the chance that it could happen at some point, somewhere where I happen to be. In the end, there are other things that scare me more in other places, that we don't have to worry about here. Like acts of terrorism, random psychos that basically go on killing rampages or highschool shootings, just to name a few! Plus there are different types of natural disasters everywhere you go.

Some of the areas that I know have an expat population and are close to the beach or at the beach, are (From North to South) Tonsupa, Mompiche, Canoa, Bahia de Caráquez, San Clemente, Crucita, Manta, Puerto Cayo, Puerto Lopez, Ayampe, Olón, Montañita and Salinas. A bit farther away but not too high up is Vilcabamba and Loja.

Hope that helps!

Nadinefdp :

Some of the areas that I know have an expat population and are close to the beach or at the beach, are (From North to South) Tonsupa, Mompiche, Canoa, Bahia de Caráquez, San Clemente, Crucita, Manta, Puerto Cayo, Puerto Lopez, Ayampe, Olón, Montañita and Salinas. A bit farther away but not too high up is Vilcabamba and Loja.

¡Vaya!   

You do get around, Nadine!  Good for you. :top:

  ----

For those that don't need to feel sand under their feet every day, inland Vilcabamba is worth a look by new arrivals.

By percentage of population, it has more Expats, Expat meetups and Expat events even than Cuenca.  This fact may deter some, be welcomed by others.

At 5000 feet of elevation, Vilca has some of the best weather in Ecuador.  The plentiful rain keeps things as green as can be.  They call it the Valley of Longevity.

The added bonus is:  a history of no Ring of Fire earthquake destruction.

cccmedia

Nadinefdp :

It's not worth missing out on this life just for the chance that (earthquake destruction) could happen at some point, somewhere where I happen to be....

There are different types of natural disasters everywhere you go.

This comment about potential natural disasters is undeniable.  I like to put the odds in my favor.

In Ecuador, outside of the coastal areas -- which are occasionally prone to floods, torrential and damaging rains, and Ring of Fire earthquakes -- many inland places have fewer challenges from Mother Nature.

Rockslides do happen on some inland roads.  Fly long distances when possible if that could be a concern for one's travels.

Active volcanoes exist.  The solution here is to avoid them and their potential lava paths when choosing a place to live or do an extended stay. 

Baños in central Ecuador (5971 foot elevation) has an enormous and active volcano, Tungurahua, at the city limits, the name being a Quichua word meaning "Throat of Fire."  Scientists have said that Baños could be destroyed if the Big T -- 16,480 feet elevation, 5098 prominence -- ever produces a massive eruption.

Folks should consider saving their bets for the casinos (probably coming back next year) and not for buying property on the Ring of Fire or living in a volcano-zone such as Baños.

cccmedia


Data on Baños is from Wikipedia and Wikitravel listings for Baños and Tungurahua.

I'll be in Baños, Ambato, and I hope exploring around Tungurahua next month!

lebowski888 :

I'll be in Baños ... and I hope exploring around Tungurahua next month!

Good luck with that, Dude.

I recommend that you stay away from any real estate tours in that area. :cool:

cccmedia

I applaud your comment!,
just one observation, I live in Tonsupa, and, the "expats population" is probably the smallest in Ecuador while the real state availability is huge.


Cheers!
MM

With regard to safety consideration, it should apply to first time expats and seasoned expats as well. Ecuador and South America differ greatly from other parts of the world. Expats even if experienced but coming from other parts of the world should do their diligence as it's quite different here. 

As I previously mentioned, Ecuador is statistically safer than most South American countries, but the decline of crime trend seems to have ended this year. In Quito, assaults and robberies are so far higher this year than last year according to the local press. As far as murders, I haven’t seen numbers reported yet but I won’t be surprised if they are also higher.  I hope  this latest trend is an aberration and crime continues to decline or at worst it flat-lines. To read more Google asaltos robos aumentó quito.

.

lebowski888 :

Cost of living does vary, you can check out cost of living comparisons on Numbeo.com for a general estimate.

Housing is more highly variable, for a variety of reasons, but as Realtors love to say, it's location, location, location. You'll pay comparatively more for gated communities or posh city locations, like anywhere in the world

You can search olx.com.ec (in Spanish) to browse live listings on rentals. MercadoLibre is also helpful.

Keep in mind that negotiating prices on everything is far more customary in LatAm than in North America. According to my Ecuadorian friends, the settled price is typically around 10% to 20% cheaper than the initial asking price-- if you know Spanish.

Renting property from other expats may incur higher prices.

Definitely agree, prices vary even within the same neighborhood. Houses and apartments on the same street can have wide ranging prices. The price of parking alone can add $20-$100 in centro-north Quito. The actual quality of the residence is also a factor. Then there’s the alicuota, a housing fee that pays for maintaining a building. This cost alone can be $200+.

I think when looking for a home to rent, a balance can be found but it'll cost a bit more than the cheap rentals that expats love to brag about. In Quito for instance, the most important thing is a dry home. That's the number one consideration, so if you compromise on other things, don't compromise with this very important factor as it can affect general well-being.

As for food, supermarkets more or less have the same prices and very similar to Mercados. In North Quito, the vendors at the mercados have high expenses as well. They actually complain that they can’t compete with people selling products out their cars.

In terms of clothing and other merchandise, well there’s the fake stuff which is cheap. Then there’s the genuine stuff that costs 2x-3x more than prices found abroad. I think earlier this year they confiscated a lot of fake cosmetics in LA that had human feces in them. So be careful before buying the $2 dollar MAC eyeliner being sold on the streets.  :D

Nadinefdp :

I come from Canada as well and having lived through the 2016 quake in one of the hardest hit areas, I can say that they are definitely scary. BUT hey, I continue to live here because I love it so much. It's not worth missing out on this life just for the chance that it could happen at some point, somewhere where I happen to be. In the end, there are other things that scare me more in other places, that we don't have to worry about here. Like acts of terrorism, random psychos that basically go on killing rampages or highschool shootings, just to name a few! Plus there are different types of natural disasters everywhere you go.

Some of the areas that I know have an expat population and are close to the beach or at the beach, are (From North to South) Tonsupa, Mompiche, Canoa, Bahia de Caráquez, San Clemente, Crucita, Manta, Puerto Cayo, Puerto Lopez, Ayampe, Olón, Montañita and Salinas. A bit farther away but not too high up is Vilcabamba and Loja.

Hope that helps!

As lovely as Ecuador is, it sure does come with risks. I mean, even in Quito there is the possibility of a huge earthquake. But up here in the Sierra what’s most dangerous is perhaps the high UV radiation when then suns beams. This is a danger that residents know very well, and the municipality actually has a color coded chart to warn residents when it’s dangerous. There are also landslides and sinkholes but at the end of the day it’s home.

vsimple :

e. But up here in the Sierra what’s most dangerous is perhaps the high UV radiation when then suns beams. This is a danger that residents know very well, and the municipality actually has a color coded chart to warn residents when it’s dangerous. There are also landslides and sinkholes but at the end of the day it’s home.

The UV at the equator is no joke! In Ohio, I can spend 10 hours outside on summer days, day after day, and barely get a tan. Likewise at a similar latitude in central California. I hadn't had a sunburn 30 years. But Ecuador, I get burns in 2 hours, unless SPF is applied by the bucket every hour or so.

cccmedia :

For those that don't need to feel sand under their feet every day, inland Vilcabamba is worth a look by new arrivals.

By percentage of population, it has more Expats, Expat meetups and Expat events even than Cuenca.  This fact may deter some, be welcomed by others.

At 5000 feet of elevation, Vilca has some of the best weather in Ecuador.  The plentiful rain keeps things as green as can be.  They call it the Valley of Longevity.

The added bonus is:  a history of no Ring of Fire earthquake destruction.

cccmedia

I'd second this area, but would avoid Vilcabamba itself.  Because the town is about half expat, and because it is such a touristy area, the real estate prices are inflated.  You can find property within a 15 minute drive/taxi/bus that is more reasonable and the locals are more sane (Vilcabamba has had some waves of rather... interesting immigrants and they've started to infect some of the locals).  I live in the hills of Malacatos and the temps are about perfect, I can drive over to Vilca in about 20 minutes if I feel like speaking English for a while or Loja (city) in less than an hour for heavy duty shopping or for festivals.

However, it should be noted that this area (other than Loja) is generally bad for rentals.  They're certainly cheaper than the big cities, but instead of say 200-300/month they are now more often 500-600 and not very plentiful.  The cost of groceries and restaurants are, I've heard, much cheaper here than in places like Quito (though that could be people who have expensive tastes and don't eat like the locals).  In other words, it's a good place to settle down, less so for those looking for excitement/hustle and bustle/might want to move in a couple years or less .

lebowski888 :
vsimple :

e. But up here in the Sierra what’s most dangerous is perhaps the high UV radiation when then suns beams. This is a danger that residents know very well, and the municipality actually has a color coded chart to warn residents when it’s dangerous. There are also landslides and sinkholes but at the end of the day it’s home.

The UV at the equator is no joke! In Ohio, I can spend 10 hours outside on summer days, day after day, and barely get a tan. Likewise at a similar latitude in central California. I hadn't had a sunburn 30 years. But Ecuador, I get burns in 2 hours, unless SPF is applied by the bucket every hour or so.

That’s a huge difference and good comparisons so people understand precisely how potent the sun is here. It’s especially potent from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., but thankfully we get plenty of cloudy days from November to June in the capital.

One does have to change their daily routine to avoid too much exposure.

All great advise...thank you everyone.  The sun would be a big concern for our "virgin" Canadian skin and would have to use lots of sunscreen.  So many different places to choose from and not exactly sure what place to start in.  Can anyone advise on bugs or other insects that we may need to be aware of?

Wantsunshine#55 :

Can anyone advise on bugs or other insects that we may need to be aware of?

Hardly any bugs live at Quito's altitude of 9350 feet.

Quiteños may rarely if ever see any bugs in their homes so long as they keep their fruit covered to discourage miniscule fruit flies.

Cuenca is about a thousand feet lower in elevation, so there should be no problem.

On the coast or the cloud forest areas or lowland places, yes, there could be a variety of insects.

cccmedia

Wantsunshine#55 :

All great advise...thank you everyone.  The sun would be a big concern for our "virgin" Canadian skin and would have to use lots of sunscreen.  So many different places to choose from and not exactly sure what place to start in.

I know the choices may seem overwhelming but you have to start somewhere.  :)  As cccmedia mentioned Vilcabamba and Cuenca are good options for retirees for a multitude of reasons. Nadinefdp also mentioned some good options on the coast.

With Vilcabamba, Cuenca and a coastal city, you’ll get a nice dose of what Ecuador has to offer. And whether or not you decide to move here, you will have had a wonderful vacation by visiting those areas.

Major city (Cuenca), town life (Vilcabamba), beaches (Coastal city).

As for the sun, one can live their life around overexposure. For instance I love to run, and do so mainly after 6 p.m. when it’s dark. If the weather is overcast then during the day is fine.

Thank you!  Even in Ontario we experience fruit flies and they have been bad this year.

yes we have to start somewhere lol....I am hopefull that we'll be able to visit Ecuador next year as we are in need of a vacation.  That way I can better plan and make some good sound decisions.  I cant believe that Im actually planning to retire in a different country and am very excited to do so.

even in Canada we have areas that we dont like to live in like the flood plains.  Snow storms can be dangerous along with freezing rain.  We can lose hydro here for days and freeze as we depend on furnaces to keep us warm.  Every country has its own natural disasters.  But however I will trade my winter boots in for warm weather all year round.

Wantsunshine#55 :

All great advise...thank you everyone.  The sun would be a big concern for our "virgin" Canadian skin and would have to use lots of sunscreen.  So many different places to choose from and not exactly sure what place to start in.  Can anyone advise on bugs or other insects that we may need to be aware of?

The thing is, Ecuador is a fairly small country, geographically, it is 276,840 sq km, which compared to your province Ontario at  1,076,395 sq km-- about 1/4 the size. So you could visit all the major points of interest in a 2 or 3 week trip fairly easily.

My experience of insects on the coast is that they swarm at dusk, but insignificant during the day. Some places advise mosquito nets at night.  I plan on visiting Ecuador's interior Amazon region in 2019, I'll be getting vaccinated for yellow fever to be safe. Be aware that mosquito-borne illness is possible in some regions, so check the CDC.

In Cuenca, I didn't even see a fly.

Guayaquil, for the hot and humid city-swamp that it is, in my opinion much less buggy than New Orleans.

vsimple :

One does have to change their daily routine to avoid too much exposure.

Also, using sombrillas/parasols like some elegant Ecuadorian ladies do. I love that.

cccmedia :
lebowski888 :

I'll be in Baños ... and I hope exploring around Tungurahua next month!

Good luck with that, Dude.

I recommend that you stay away from any real estate tours in that area. :cool:

cccmedia

But the land is so cheap!! and the developer promised me the volcano is dormant :lol:  :lol:

Oh, I'm just touring these towns and day hiking for Christmas vacation

sounds sexy lol

thank you for your input on cost of living....such a big difference between Ecuador and Canada.

lebowski888 :
vsimple :

One does have to change their daily routine to avoid too much exposure.

Also, using sombrillas/parasols like some elegant Ecuadorian ladies do. I love that.

Here in the Philippines they use black umbrellas, looks like many are expecting rain.

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