Best cities for retirement in Ecuador

Hello everyone,

An increasing amount of people want to spend their retirement abroad. Would you consider giving a few tips to those looking into Ecuador for their retirement?

What are the most attractive cities for retirees in Ecuador?

Why are these the best cities in Ecuador for retirement (quality of life, cost of living, climate, health, security, etc.)?

Are there any specific areas in Ecuador where there are special retirement schemes or retirement-friendly residential areas?

Are there any activities suitable for retirees in Ecuador?

Do you have any tips on where to start looking or how to choose a suitable city for one’s retirement in Ecuador?

If you have, yourself, chosen to spend your retirement abroad, please tell us what city you have chosen and why?

Please share your experience.


A lot of people will tell you that Cuenca is the best city for retirement in Ecuador. The people are friendly, there's always a celebration of some kind going on, and it's easy to get around the city. The cost of living can be high if you only hang out at the Gringo places, or it can be low if you choose to venture where the Ecuadorians go. I've never paid more than $300/month for rent but I've mainly lived on the outskirts of Cuenca (Sayausi, El Valle, and Nabon). When I lived near El Centro (Gaspar Sangarima y Juan Montalvo) I only paid $200. It wasn't a luxurious high rise, but it did have 2 bedrooms, a storage room, 1 bathroom, kitchen, and dining area - unfurnished and no appliances. My mom chose an unfurnished high-rise condo with 3 br/5 baths (yes, 5!), balcony with a view, large kitchen with stove/oven combo and pays $600 not including utilities or internet. The point is, the cost of living is what you make it. I choose to shop at the local mercado (tres de Noviembre Mercado) and pay $15-$20 a week for my fruits and veggies. My mom likes to go to SuperMaxi and spends much more. I like to walk pretty much everywhere I go and if I happen to make a purchase that won't fit in my cloth shopping bag, I take a taxi to carry it all home. My mom likes to take a taxi everywhere so her outings are more costly than mine. Average taxi fare is $4. Senior citizens get major discounts on certain services. I think they get reimbursed up to $200 per month so keep your receipts.  The government health insurance, IESS, costs about $75/month. Electronics and anything imported can be very expensive but I hear that a lot of people have their belongings shipped so they don't have to buy any major items when they get here. I came with whatever I could fit into 2 suitcases. If you plan on driving, cars are VERY expensive. So that's about it for the cost of living.
As for things to do... what do you like? Cuenca offers concerts, art, museums, theaters, cinemas, shopping malls, nail salons, hair salons, massages ($20), coffee shops/restaurants/bars-cheap to pricey, festivals almost every week, low and high-end gyms, parks with exercise equipment-trails-and playgrounds, riverwalks, bike rentals, buses (.35 in town)/shuttles to anywhere in Ecuador for a very affordable price (less than $50), or take a plane for around $100 or less, hostels can be found for $20 a night but you can also spend $200 a night depending on what you like. You can find tours to a variety of activities that usually take you just outside of Cuenca.  Maybe take one to go horseback riding, zip lining, or hang gliding. For something more relaxing, go to the small zoo, a coffee plantation, or take in a mud bath in Banos. I've not taken any of the following classes but I have seen them around town... Spanish lessons, martial arts, pottery lessons, cooking lessons, painting lessons, and driving lessons. I'm sure you can find whatever it is you're looking for.
The hospital and dental care are above excellent. I've had cleanings, a crown, mercury fillings removed, and orthodontia. I've been pleased with all dentistry and prices. I had an emergency room visit that required a cat scan and stitches. Again, very pleased with service and price ($350). I had an eye exam and bought my glasses in Cuenca, but I was not happy with that experience. However, there are SO MANY places you can go to for this service so get on GringoPost and ask for a referral!
The weather is a plus! For the most part, it stays between 65 and 75 degrees F, with no humidity. If you like to grow plants, this is the place to do it. EVERYTHING seems to grow here. However, if you're a farmer, the food is so cheap at the mercados that there's really no need to farm your own food. Cuenca doesn't really have 4 seasons. It's either rainy season or it's not. So basically, keep a light jacket and an umbrella in the closet. Many people use their umbrella to shield them from the sun.
I have lived in Cuenca for 5 years and I absolutely love it. I have visited/vacationed in Quito, Loja, Guayaquil, and different areas along the coast. I've lived in Sayausi, El Valle, and Nabon, but no place is quite like Cuenca. At the end of the day, it's the people who make the difference. Cuencanos are some of the friendliest and most helpful people I have met in Ecuador. You can see the kindness of the people when you are walking around town or walking through the markets. They welcome expats with open arms and you get a strong feeling that you belong.

Somewhat off topic, but I'd rather know the best towns/villages for retirement... I suppose most retirees are much older and want to be closer to hospitals and such, want to speak English, want an expat community and want more conveniences.  I wanted the exact opposite.

Back on topic, I chose to retire near Malacatos, a parish/village about an hour south of Loja.  I can drive to the city to shop or to pick up things I order through OLX.  And my road has, at the most, ten people living on it.  That's still too many in my book, but I haven't yet found a less populated area with a similar/better climate (hence the desire expressed above). 

The Loja region has the "best" (most comfortable) climate of all the places I looked into in Ecuador.  Also, driving and crime wise, Loja has been the sanest city I've seen in Ecuador (Cuenca would be 2nd and Guayaquil driving is insane).  Cuenca has entirely too many expats for my taste and can get too cold.  Quito is even colder so I've avoided it completely and, as such, can't speak to driving or crime there.  Guayaquil's an oven with way too many people, crazy driving, and too much crime.  For younger retirees from more rural areas, I'd recommend Loja.  For older "city people", I'd imagine Cuenca is the "best" - as long as they have good heaters.

Edit: Was confused by post above, so looked it up:
Average temp in Cuenca=56-60 F / 13.5-15.5 C > Average low=46-50 F (8 -10 C)
Average temp in Loja=61-63 F / 16-17 C > Average low=52-54 F (11-12 C)
Average temp in Malacatos=70-71 F / 21-22 C > Average low=57.5-60 F (14-15.5 C) … ca-875185/ … loja-4233/ … s-875170/.

Good to have some retirement updates on Ecuador. Sounds like Cuenca and Loja would be high on my list. Loja is big enough to have a city pool and is warmer than Cuenca. I am looking for one of the warmer locales in Ecuador with some farming as I grew up with farmers and like that pace of life. Also like cycling and hope to be riding for another 5 years.

The best part is it sounds like the people of Ecuador are decent people.

Thanks to all of you contributing to the forum.

What type of biking do you want?

Road biking. I used to race in the US and Colombia. Still like to go for 1-3 hour rides on the roads.  Something like these rides … o-15582172

Google maps looks as if the roads are very ride able.

I do road biking (well triking) as well. My first home in Ecuador is in Cuenca which has nice but short trails. The best road bike trail is adjacent to the road from Guayaquil to Salinas. The trail goes most of the way but stops like 39 kilometers from Salina. Nice trail and no other bikes on it. Issue it is in middle of nowhere.  My second home will be on the coast in Canoa and it is beautiful there. The bike trail is short but the roads are nice, not crowded, and the shoulders are huge. A bit warm. I will bring my trike in August and get a fat tire trike for riding the beach on the coast. Ecuador is no Colombia when it comes to biking so one must take care when riding on the road.

And what type of farming

Dirt farming. Gardening. Tractors. Is the type of farming that we did though we tried cattle and sheep.

This is my house on the beach with the bike path.

And this is the road with shoulders on a few of the roads by the beach.

This is my house on the beach with the bike path.

How many acres? What did you grow?

The title is deceptive.

Folks think you're giving a list of best retirement cities in EC.

Title should indicate people are to respond to the question, In Your Opinion, What's the best retirement location in EC?

Adding in your opinion is not needed as all know it is as opionon.

Are you still in Kentucky, facing the Ohio river? Gay marriage is legal in Ecuador now, so pack your feathers and move there. haha 🦜😜🤡

There is no best city or best cities. Too much depends on individual lifestyle preferences, budgets, Spanish proficiency, climate preference, need for socializing, and ... the list goes on. Like anything else, there will be a bit of give and take ... and it all comes down to personal preferences. The word "best" is so highly subjective as to lose all meaning, as others are quick to throw down their personal favorites ... which may have little to zero to do with your own lifestyle ideals. Don't get caught up in that trap. Come ... explore ... decide for yourself.

The Loja area sounds lovely. I too do not want to live in an Expat community. However I have heard that there are no Spanish language schools in Loja or Malacatos.  Is that correct?

susanilla :

The Loja area sounds lovely. I too do not want to live in an Expat community. However I have heard that there are no Spanish language schools in Loja or Malacatos.  Is that correct?

No language "schools" of which I'm aware.  There are people offering classes in Vilcabamba (about 15 minutes south of Malacatos).  Though all the classes I've seen are at "gringo" prices.

You may want to take what people say about Loja with a grain of salt - including my comment, ha ha.  For me and some other people, living in rural areas outside Vilcabamba, going to Loja is like walking on broken glass.  Loja is useful, but ugly, I always say.  You can buy things that are not available in villages like Malacatos and Vilcabamba.  But then, you can return home, to the greenery and avoid the craziness of Loja, the dirt, the traffic, etc.  If you live in a village, you can bus into Loja to see free symphony orchestras playing and return late at night.. You have options.  Bus  for seniors from Vilcabamba is only 85 cents, last one leaves at maybe 7.40 p.m. from Loja.  If you want more direct access to healthcare, stay in Loja, but you may not enjoy it unless you live on the outskirts, where there is some relief from the city.  Depends on what makes you happy.  As people on this forum have said, it is so very individual a thing, choosing where to life. Good luck.

susanilla :

The Loja area sounds lovely. I too do not want to live in an Expat community. However I have heard that there are no Spanish language schools in Loja or Malacatos.  Is that correct?

I assume that you don't speak Spanish if you are looking for a language school? Being in an ecuadorian only city will get very lonely and frustrating fast. On the whole, people do not speak English (any).

Why do you want to be somewhere where there are no foreigners? No one to speak to. No one to socialise with?

I have been studying Spanish for 3 years, and want to become much better.  My wish is to live in a place that has a language school and do a homestay (live with a family that does not speak English), and then take intermediate/advanced classes several times a week.  I guess some people might call this immersion?   

I was actually in Vilcabamba last year and it was beautiful, but so overrun with Expats that I would not choose to live there, even for a few months.   I was embarrassed to watch the way the Expats treated the Ecuadorians to tell you the truth.  When I was able to speak Spanish with Ecuadorians I was told that most of the expats had no interest in learning to speak Spanish more than a few words, were driving the prices up, that many of their families could no longer to afford to live there, and it was said with downcast eyes and sadness.

ok, sounds like a reasonable decision for valid reasons. Just often some people say the same, but haven't consider all the factors of moving to a city with no English speakers.

Was passing through Loja today and I saw a sign saying English / Spanish school. I cannot for the life of me remember the name, but there most definitely are there :)[at]-3.9973302,-79.1992262,19z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x91cb480661b91d2d:0x8e12137cdc1eee09!8m2!3d-4.0078909!4d-79.2112769

on 10 de agosto between jose joaquin de olmedo  and calle juan jose peña

That would be wonderful if you could get more information!

The market in Loja for teaching Spanish to native English speakers is exceedingly small.  There just aren't enough English speakers in Loja who need and want to learn Spanish to make such a business viable - the native English speakers in Loja, and there are undoubtedly a few (but very few compared to bigger cities in Ecuador), already know Spanish and/or do not wish to take classes.  Your best bets for schools teaching Spanish to foreigners would be in Cuenca and Quito.

But there are a few schools in Loja that teach English to native Spanish speakers, which is what you'd expect: … ntro-loja/ … b=overview

You could always ask them to recommend someone to teach you Spanish, or volunteer yourself to be an English teacher for them.

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