Say you’ve never been to Ecuador.  What comes to mind?  It’s on the equator so it must be hot.  But there are mountains, so maybe it’s cold?   Are there big cities?   What about the crime rate?   Does anyone speak English?   We’ll help you wade through all your questions as you contemplate what it would be like to retire in Ecuador, if even for a little while.

First of all, Ecuador is, indeed, on the equator.   This South American country is just south of Colombia, west and north of Peru.   The Pacific lies to the west, as do the Galapagos Islands which are part of Ecuador.   There are four distinct regions: the eastern tropical jungle, the Andes mountains in the middle of the country, the coastal region, and the islands.   Each region has its own microclimate.   While the coastline can be very hot at the lower elevations, it still has an ocean breeze.  The mountains can be cool or cold.  The tropical jungle of the east is, well after all, a tropical jungle.

Just a little smaller than Nevada, Ecuador has 15 million residents, mostly along the coast and in the mountain valleys. 

Parts of Ecuador are quite modern with high rise condos, fabulous resorts, wifi, cable TV and all the amenities you would expect to find in the US.   These havens like Cotachi, Manta, and Salinas are home to thousands of expats who call this paradise home.

Ecuador uses U.S. currency, is financially solvent, and since 1975, is a democracy with free elections.   Petroleum accounts for 40% of the exports, followed by bananas, and seafood.   There is ongoing development of hydroelectricity from the snowmelt in the higher elevations.   Transportation includes improvement in the Pan-American Highway, the Ecuadorian Railroad through the mountain valleys, and several new or improved roads.  There are several international airports with regularly scheduled service, the largest being in  Guayaquil.

Healthcare in Ecuador is interesting.  There are completely free public walk-in clinics in cities and major towns.   There are well-equipped general hospitals in major cities or the capitals of provinces, smaller towns have smaller facilities as well.   Employed people have a different health system through their employers (also available to the retired who buy into the system) where healthcare is available through private doctors and hospitals.  The whole heathcare system is being revamped in Ecuador.  Be aware that malaria exists.

There are pro’s and con’s with every single place on earth.   The expat pro’s of living in Ecuador include a low cost of living, really friendly people, great weather, a slower pace, a simple life, cheap healthcare, really clean air,  the music and the fresh food.    Some of the expat con’s include extreme poverty pockets in most every part of the country,  the crime rate and chance of being robbed is high, bureaucracy is a nightmare, very few natives speak anything but Spanish, it takes forever to get something done, some rural areas have no concept of sewer or what to do with trash.  Never, ever count your money in public or show a display of wealth.  Ever!

Of all the places we’ve been and stories we’ve heard,  rural Ecuador is the one with the most culture shock for Americans and Canadians.    While the people are very friendly and willing to help you with your Spanish, there seems to be a notion that what’s yours is mine.   Those of us used to a service based economy and ‘customer satisfaction’ may have a harder time in Ecuador.  If you are a “type A personality” (you know what I mean), Ecuador may not be the right place for you.   This is their country, and you either adapt to the slower pace or you don’t.  Many expats chose to live in an area with other like-minded people where they can speak English to each other and share stories.

At Retirebook, we promised to bring you the good, the bad and the ugly.  We just have to mention the dogs and cats on the streets in Ecuador, and for that matter in most of South America.   The government estimates there are more than 100,000 stray dogs and cats on the streets with no one to care for them.   You are not encouraged to pet these animals because there are no vaccinations and there is a rabies problem.  There are very few veterinarians, except in the bigger towns and cities, and spaying and neutering is almost unheard of.   There are no shelters or animal control.   In fact, it is hard to find dog food in Ecuador.  Dog feces can be a real problem on the streets.   Expats from the US and Canada are doing what they can.   If you want to retire in Ecuador and are an animal lover – please join them and do what you can.   Animals need to be happy too.

Ecuador is a beautiful place.   Warm sandy beaches, fishing villages, amazing culture and people.  The countryside is full of incredible wildlife and colors.   There are rivers, mountains and beaches.   The weather is fabulous if you pick the right region for you.   Some like it hot, some don’t.

You can live in Ecuador for under $1,800 per month, easy.

Let’s look at a couple of places we’ve discovered with other expats who find this to be their paradise!

Living in Ecuador
Pros: Very Low Cost of living, Friendly people, Great Weather!
Cons: Language, Crime Rate
Best Places to Live: Cotacachi, Cuenca
Favorite Inexpensive Events: Any parade!
Did You Know: Right on the equator, the sun comes up at 6 AM and sets at 6 PM, every single day!

Retirement in Cuenca Ecuador by ABC News

They misquoted – over 600,000 SS checks are sent overseas each month!



A Video Tour of Cuenca Equador

A short video by a retired American military officer.   Cuenca is an expat haven!



Beautiful Ecuador!

Here’s a little video tour of what you can expect to see in the Ecuador countryside.


Retire in Loja, Ecuador

Loja, one of the oldest cities in Ecuador was founded in 1548.  Approximately 210,000 people call this lovely place home including expats who came to retire in Loja, Ecuador.  The city sits in the southern inland portion of Ecuador at 6,758 feet.   The weather is very...

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Retire in Ibarra, Ecuador

Ibarra is a little bit of heaven in the mountains of Ecuador.   The mild temperature (70-80's F) every day is just perfect for the many Americans and Canadians who have immigrated.   Most homes and apartments have fireplaces when the weather gets chilly at night.  ...

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Retire in Cuenca, Ecuador

No retirement blog on Ecuador would be complete without something on Cuenca!   A mountain town in the south central part of the Andes, Cuenca has a metro population of about 400,000 and about 500 expats live here permanently.  Many, many more have seasonal homes and...

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