Retire in Ecuador? I think it’s a good idea!
I’ve been living in Ecuador for over a year now. My significant other and I have lived in North American, Europe, and Asia – we’ve traveled to over 30 countries – and I think it’s safe to say that Ecuador, right now, is probably the place that we have considered retiring in the most.
The beauty, the culture, and the benefits all play a major role in this decision.
I’m going to break it all down and tell you why Ecuador is an amazing option when it comes to retiring.
Prefer to watch rather than read? Here’s a video I made that has all the info
Climate & Natural Beauty
Ecuador is packed with natural beauty. The world’s biggest ocean hugs the west side of the country, the world’s largest jungle caresses the east side, and right down the middle – lovingly stroking – is the world’s longest mountain range. For a country that’s about the size of Arizona, there are so many options when it comes to what sort of environment you want to live in.
Most people choose either the beach or the mountains and then visit the other options for vacations. If you like it hot, the lowlands or coastal region is better for you. It’s cooler in the mountains, but for the most part it never gets really cold. It might drop to as low as 8 degrees Celsius or 48 Fahrenheit in the Quito area.
I live in Quito and I love the weather there. You don’t need any sort of temperature control for your home. At night it’s much cooler, but that’s great for sleeping. In the day, you just have to avoid the sun and you won’t get too hot.
Because Ecuador is on the equator, the temperatures don’t really change throughout the year. Neither does the sunrise and sunset.
Cost of Living
If you want a breakdown of costs per month to live in Ecuador, check out my cost of living in Ecuador video or blog post. I tracked my spending for a year so my numbers are accurate, at least for my lifestyle. I spend $792 a month to live here. That being said, as a retiree you might want to add the cost of medical insurance to that. I’ll get into those costs in a bit, but for now I want to talk about the amount you might be able to knock-off of my monthly budget if you are over 65.
Senior Benefits in Ecuador
As a resident of Ecuador, even as a foreigner, you’re entitled to a number of senior discounts in Ecuador. They include: discounts on electricity and water, 50% off public and private transportation – this includes flights from certain airlines (including ones that fly internationally), 50% off for your landline phone (only old people still use landline phones so that one doesn’t really make sense to me), plus multiple tax breaks including sales tax, property tax, and a special tax break on the purchase of vehicles.
After living in Asia, I have to say that Ecuador’s proximity to North America is a factor that I really appreciate. Just living in essentially the same timezone as my friends and family in North America is great for my social life. It also means more people coming to see me. No one wanted to take a 20 hour flight to Asia for just a week-long vacation, but a 6 hour flight is much more reasonable.
There are a lot of direct flights to and from cities in the US, including New York, LA, Miami, Chicago, Houston, and Atlanta. If you fly to Florida or Texas, you can be in the US in about 4 hours.
Air Canada had a direct flight from Toronto that will hopefully come back once things settle down in the world.
With a stopover in Mexico or Panama, there are even more options for getting to North America.
Healthcare in Ecuador
In Ecuador there are private healthcare insurance options that start at around $60 a month.
There is also a public healthcare option if you’re a resident of Ecuador. It costs 17.6% of your monthly income and entitles you to in-hospital care, outpatient care, prescription drugs, eye care, and dental care – all 100% free. If you want to add your family members to this plan, they cost just an extra 3.41% of your wages per person. Your wages as a retiree would be your pension, however you don’t necessarily have to claim all of it.
Medical costs are obviously much cheaper than in the US. There are specialists with modern technology in Ecuador. We had to get some medical imaging done and we went to the very best place in all of Ecuador. It only cost $70. A check-up with a general practitioner costs about $30.
Many doctors are trained in the US or in Europe. Every doctor we’ve been to has spoken English.
Ecuador also offers a healthy lifestyle with it’s plethora of cheap fruit and vegetables, it’s clean air, and it’s many outdoor activities. There’s a lot of great hiking, which can be done any time of the year. If you live on the coast, swimming in the Pacific is a great way to stay healthy.
The Culture of Ecuador
Now, I realize that some people aren’t in it for the culture. They want to retire and have all the comforts of home. They’re not interested in adapting to the local way. There are quite a few places in Ecuador that are essentially retirement communities for expats. Cuenca, Cotacachi, Salinas, and Cumbaya are the most popular. If you move to one of these cities I think it will be easier for you to adapt, and probably easier to find like-minded people.
That being said, Ecuador is great for its culture and I highly recommend you get into it at least a bit if you are going to move here.
Some people might claim that Latin Americans have a reputation for being loud, rambunctious, or macho – but Ecuadorians are very polite and mostly mild-mannered. When my significant other and I leave our building and pass-by a neighbor, they always say, “buenos dias” to both of us individually, not just to us both at the same time. This actually took some getting used to. If you pass a family of 5, you should say ‘good day’ five times.
Ecuadorians are very family oriented. They believe that life needs a good balance of work and play.
They like ‘good music’ and when I say that I just mean music that I also enjoy. The grocery store is often rocking some 80’s rock. We’ve been to Beatles symphony concerts, Oktoberfest parties, fair trade markets, car shows, and other festivities that would fit right in to my home country.
The Visa Process
Because there are a lot of expat retirees here, there are quite a few services for people who want to retire here. For the right amount of money they’ll take care of everything for you.
If you want to do it on your own, it’s totally possible.
There are a lot of visa options when it comes to foreigners wanting to retire in Ecuador. The two most popular being the pensioner’s visa, which requires you to prove a minimum income of $400 per month (this recently changed from $800 a month), and that also covers dependents.
There’s also the investor visa which requires you to have 40,000 dollars in an Ecuadorian bank, or a real estate purchase worth at least that much.
Once you get in the system, you are entitled to all the rights that the locals have.
I’m going to end this by saying that not everything is roses here, there are negatives to living in Ecuador (post about the negatives of living in Ecuador is coming soon). There will be frustrations, but if you’re looking for a beautiful place where your money will go further: consider Ecuador.