Articles Related to Residency in ecuador


Rainfall is great in Medellin (66 inches versus 35 inches in Cuenca), but the average sunny day is just a bit higher in Medellin. 

The city with the "perfect weather" for you will be a matter of your own taste.

Establishing residency is fairly easy in both Colombia and Ecuador, with low thresholds for visa qualification in both countries. In Colombia, the pensioner's visa requires an income of a little less than US$1,000 per month, while in Ecuador the level is even lower, at US$800 monthly. For an investor-type visa, Colombia's options start at around US$34,000 for a one-year temporary visa, while Ecuador requires US$25,000 for full, permanent residency.

So Ecuador has lower thresholds for permanent residency, both for the investor and the retiree.

Colombia's visa, however, is quicker and easier to obtain, with fewer required documents. Also, Ecuador imposes restrictions on being out of the country during your first two years of residency, while Colombia has no such restrictions. 

The cultural scene in Medellin is remarkably similar to that in Cuenca. This is surprising because Cuenca has around 600,000 people in its metro area, while Medellin has about 4 million. In both cities, you can enjoy orchestra, theater, art openings, museums, and a generally sophisticated cultural scene. You'll pay a fee for most of these in Medellin, while in Cuenca they're usually free. 

The infrastructure is good in both cities. You'll enjoy drinkable water, reliable broadband Internet, and dependable electricity, water, and phone service. 

Also, both cities are very walkable, and both have excellent and cheap public transit systems. If you decide to drive, you'll find traffic jams equally maddening in both cities. 

Real estate costs are cheap in both cities by Latin American standards. I prepared a survey recently that compared costs in Medellin, Montevideo (Uruguay), Fortaleza (Brazil), and Panama City. For comparable properties and areas, prices in Medellin's El Poblado are the lowest on a per-square-meter basis.

But Cuenca's prices are lower. 

A nice, two-bedroom apartment in Cuenca might cost around US$80,000...while that same apartment in a comparable neighborhood of Medellin would cost more than US$120,000. You can find Cuenca-style pricing in Medellin but not in the best neighborhoods. 

For the lifestyle you'll enjoy in Medellin, the real estate is a tremendous bargain. And the same is true in Cuenca; for the lifestyle it offers, it, too, is a tremendous bargain.

But the lifestyle in one is nothing like the lifestyle in the other, which brings us to the ways these cities differ. (As Medellin is such a large and diverse city, I'll focus on its El Poblado neighborhood for my comparisons.)

Medellin's El Poblado offers a modern, upscale ambiance. It has elegant shopping, spotless infrastructure, glistening new buildings, and more fine-dining that you can imagine. New luxury brick high-rises look down from lush, wooded hillsides. Tall trees line the well-maintained streets. And El Poblado is only one of many desirable areas in this city.

On the other hand, Cuenca is one of the Americas' premier Spanish-colonial cities and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The old cathedral was built in 1557, the historic architecture is well preserved, and the streets are cobblestoned. You'll even see evidence of the Inca occupation from the early 1500s. Yet just outside the historic center, Cuenca also offers new, modern high-rises. So you could live in a modern home, yet have the historic center within walking distance. 

El Poblado is a First World environment; you'll be hard-pressed to find a U.S. city that can beat it. Cuenca is part of a developing country with some Third World characteristics like poor sidewalk and building maintenance. 

Access to the States is easier from Medellin than from Cuenca. Medellin has daily nonstops to Miami, while you'll need to connect (and possibly spend the night) in Guayaquil or Quito when traveling to and from Cuenca. This adds a day to the trip, as well as the cost of lodging and taxis. 

The expat community is far smaller in Medellin than in Cuenca. I can find expats in Medellin—at a local coffee shop or the Irish pub—if I look for them, and a couple of Americans are signed up at my gym. Otherwise, I don't see them around.

In Cuenca, the expat community is big, estimated between 4,000 and 5,000 people. These folks are making a cultural imprint on the city. I'd say that impact is positive. Since the infusion of North Americans to this city, there's been an explosion in the number of nice cafes, restaurants, and book shops, as well as other expat-owned services and businesses. Today in Cuenca, you can find most anything you might be looking for and, normally, an English-speaker to deal with in the process.

But whether an expat community of that size is a positive or a negative for you is a matter of choice. 

The cost of living is higher in El Poblado than in Cuenca, due in part to the exchange rates. Ecuador uses the U.S. dollar, so dollar-holders don't feel the pinch of a weakening currency. Colombia has a strengthening Colombian peso. 

The basics in Medellin (food, entertainment, utilities, public transit, taxes, and HOA fees) cost me about US$1,850 per month. I believe in Cuenca the total cost would be about US$1,250 for the same lifestyle. Many people live for less than that in Cuenca, but I'm using an apples-to-apples comparison from my own experience.

Bottom line, neither city is expensive, but Cuenca is definitely less expensive than Medellin. 

Which is the better retire-overseas choice?

Impossible to say. Manhattan is not inherently better or worse than New Orleans, after all...but it's a lot different. And the same goes for Medellin and Cuenca.

I see Ecuador as a cultural adventure where life is as different as you can get from the United States or Canada, short of moving to Asia. When I retired to Cuenca at age 49, I shunned places like Medellin, Chile, and Uruguay, because they were too much like the States. I wanted something as different, enriching, and exciting as I could get, and Cuenca fit the bill. 

Today, I think of Medellin as a way to reward myself. It's a treat to be here. Medellin is a way to enjoy perfect weather and an elegant lifestyle that I couldn't afford in the United States. When I bought my place in Medellin 10 years after I'd left the States, at the age of 59, it was exactly what I was looking for at that stage. I wanted an elegant, luxury lifestyle at an affordable price, and Medellin fit the bill. 

And that's the real reason that Medellin is now my "ideal retirement spot"...when it used to be Cuenca. 

You've heard a dozen times that the "perfect retirement location" is different for everyone. But there's more to it than that. 

Your "perfect spot" can also change with your taste, your age, and your experience living abroad. And that's really part of the fun.

This living overseas thing is an adventure and a journey of discovery that need never stop.

Lee Harrison

P.S. Could Cuenca, Ecuador, be your dream retirement destination? The only way to find out is to come see for yourself. We're preparing for the launch of our September Live and Invest in Ecuador Conference. Put your name on the list for VIP attendee perks and discounts here.

 

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May 26, 2014

"Kathleen, excellent piece on the elections under way in Colombia. Having lived in Colombia in various cities as a Peace Corps volunteer and staff...married a beautiful Colombian and our son was born there...Colombia is my "patria chica" (homeland), as they say. Please let me know if I can be of any assistance in this beautiful country with the best Spanish spoken in the interior...the best in Latin America!"

--Bob A., Colombia

No presidential candidate received the required 50% or more of the vote in yesterday's elections in Colombia, meaning the two candidates who received the most votes (Zuluaga and Santos) will now compete in a runoff election to take place June 15. We'll keep you posted.

***
"Kathleen, just want to thank you for all the information that I didn't even know I needed. However, my brain is so full that I shall indeed rely on theaudio of the conference you've promised to send. Mainly to convince our children that we have not lost our minds!"

--Denise C.., United States, attendee at last week's Live and Invest in Colombia Conference

 

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Nonetheless, I speak with many expats who are considering both Medellin and Cuenca, trying to choose between the two, and so I am asked often to compare these cities. As these are two of my favorite cities in Latin America, it's an interesting and fun comparison to make, and Medellin and Cuenca are surprisingly similar in a number of ways.

Both cities enjoy great weather, with no bugs, all year. I didn't use heat or air conditioning in Cuenca, and I don't use them here in Medellin.

But the weather is not the same. Medellin is warmer, with daily highs averaging around 81°F (27°C), lows in the 60s, and 1°C of seasonal variation. In Cuenca, monthly average highs vary from 65° to 71° depending on the time of year, and nightly lows are also correspondingly lower.

Rainfall is higher in Medellin (66 inches versus 35 inches in Cuenca). Nonetheless, Medellin sees more sunny days, on average, annually, than Cuenca.

Does either of those descriptions qualify as "perfect weather" for you? As with all retire overseas factors, it's a matter of your own tastes.

Residency is fairly easy to establish in both Colombia and Ecuador, with low thresholds for visa qualification in both countries. In Colombia, the pensioner's visa requires an income of just under US$1,000 per year, while in Ecuador the level is even lower, at US$800 per year. For an investor-type visa, Colombia's options start at around US$34,000, while Ecuador requires but US$25,000.

Colombia's visa, however, is quicker and easier to obtain, with fewer documents required. Also, Ecuador imposes some restrictions on your travel during your first two years of residency in that country, while Colombia imposes no such restrictions at any time.

The cultural scene in Medellin is remarkably similar to that in Cuenca. This is surprising because Cuenca has around 600,000 people in its metro area, while Medellin has about 4 million. In both cities, you can enjoy orchestra, theater, art openings, museums, and a generally sophisticated cultural scene. You'll pay a modest fee for most of these things in Medellin, while in Cuenca they're usually free.

The infrastructure is good in both cities. You'll enjoy drinkable water, reliable broadband internet, and dependable electricity, water, and phone service.

Also, both cities are very walkable, and both boast excellent and cheap public transit systems. And if you decide to drive, you'll find traffic jams equally maddening in both cities.

Real estate prices are cheap in both cities by South American standards. I did a recent survey that compared real estate values in Medellin, Montevideo (Uruguay), Fortaleza (Brazil), and Panama City. Apples to apples insofar as that's possible (that is, comparing comparable properties in comparable regions of each city), Medellin's El Poblado is the winner.

That said, note that prices in Cuenca can be lower. A nice, two-bedroom apartment in Cuenca might cost around US$80,000...while that same apartment in a top-end neighborhood of Medellin might cost more than US$120,000. You can find Cuenca-level pricing in Medellin, but it won't be in the best neighborhoods.

For the lifestyle you'll enjoy in Medellin, the real estate is a tremendous bargain. The same is true in Cuenca--for the lifestyle it offers, it, too, is a tremendous bargain.

However, the lifestyle in one is nothing like the lifestyle in the other, which brings us to the ways these cities differ. (As Medellin is such a big and diverse city, I'll confine my comparisons to its upscale neighborhood of El Poblado.)

To start, Medellin's El Poblado offers a modern, upscale ambiance. It has elegant shopping, spotless infrastructure, glistening new buildings, and more fine dining that you can imagine. New, brick, luxury high-rises look down from lush, wooded hillsides. Tall trees line the well-maintained streets. And El Poblado is only one of many such desirable areas in this city.

On the other hand, Cuenca is one of the Americas' premier Spanish-colonial cities and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The old Cathedral was built in 1557, the architecture is well-preserved Spanish colonial, and the streets are cobblestoned. You'll even see evidence of the Inca occupation from the early 1500s. Yet just outside the historic center, Cuenca also offers new, modern high-rises. So you can live in a modern home, yet have the historic center just a short distance away.

El Poblado is a First World environment; you'll be hard-pressed to find a U.S. city that can beat it. On the other hand, Cuenca is part of a developing country, where you see evidence of the Third World...things like sidewalks in poor repair and unmaintained structures.

Access to the United States is easier from Medellin than from Cuenca. You can fly direct to Medellin from Miami (flights are available daily), whereas you'll need to connect (and probably spend the night) in Guayaquil or Quito when traveling to Cuenca. This adds a day to the trip coming and going, as well as the cost of lodging and taxis.

The expat community is far smaller in Medellin than in Cuenca. I can find expats in Medellin--at a local coffee shop or the Irish pub--if I look for them. And a couple of Americans are signed up at my gym. But you won't normally see your fellows around.

In Cuenca, the expat community has grown dramatically since I lived there. Today's estimates put between 4,000 and 5,000 expats and foreign retirees in this city. They are making a cultural imprint. Most of their impact is positive, in my opinion, but whether an expat community of that size is a positive or a negative for you overall is a matter of choice.

The cost of living is higher in El Poblado than in Cuenca, due in part to currency exchange rates. Ecuador uses the U.S. dollar, so dollar-holders don't feel the pinch of a weakening currency in this country. Meantime, Colombia has a strengthening Colombian peso. The stronger it gets, the more dollars you need to maintain the same standard of living. Bottom line, your living costs in Medellin would be noticeably higher than in Cuenca.

The basics in Medellin cost me about US$1,750 per month (food, entertainment, utilities, public transit, taxes, and HOA fees). I believe in Cuenca this total right now would be about US$1,250. Neither city is expensive, but Cuenca is definitely more affordable.

And the winner is?

There is no winner. Neither city is "better." Manhattan is not inherently better or worse than New Orleans, say, but it's certainly different. The same goes for Medellin and Cuenca.

I see Cuenca as an adventure, a cultural adventure. It offers a lifestyle that's as different as you can get from the United States or Canada without leaving the world's European-based cultures. When I retired to Cuenca at age 49, I shunned places like Chile and Uruguay, because they were too much like the United States. I wanted something as different and exciting as I could get, and Cuenca fit the bill.

Today, I think of Medellin as a reward to myself. It's a treat to be here, a chance to enjoy perfect weather and an elegant lifestyle that I couldn't afford in the United States. When I bought my place in Medellin 10 years later at the age of 59, it was, like Cuenca had been a decade earlier, also exactly what I was looking for. I wanted an elegant, luxury lifestyle at an affordable price, and Medellin fit the bill.

That's the real reason that Medellin is now my "ideal retirement spot," when it used to be Cuenca...or Punta del Este...or Montevideo...or Itamaracá, Brazil.

You've heard a dozen times that the "perfect retirement location" is different for everyone.

But there's more to it than that.

That "perfect spot" is not only different for everyone, but it changes for everyone, too, as your tastes, your age, and your experience level at living abroad change.

As it does, you'll find that the adventure and excitement of discovery need never stop.

Lee Harrison

Editor's Note: We'll continue this comparative analysis, considering the pluses and minuses of Colombia as a retirement and investment haven relative to other places you may be considering spending your time and your money, when we convene in Medellin in May for our Live and Invest in Colombia Conference.

The VIP places for this event are filling very quickly. More details are here.

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--David Morrill, on the benefits of living in Cuenca

"Ecuador is unique in that foreign retirees living here with a pensionado visa are allowed to get a job if they want to. In most other countries, pensionado visa holders are prohibited from working..."

--Attorney Bruce Horowitz, on options for acquiring residency in Ecuador

"One big plus for us living in Ecuador is the medical care. It's so much more personal than in the United States. We have two young children. We can speak with their pediatrician anytime we want to, and he'll spend an hour or more at a time answering our questions. Of course, it's nice that health care is also so much cheaper here than in the States..."

--American expat-entrepreneur Jeff Stern, on why he and his wife have chosen to raise their family in Ecuador

"One thing I still appreciate very much about Ecuador is that it is a genuinely non-intrusive government. Nobody's reading your e-mails here..."

--Lee Harrison, on why Ecuador

"Americans are very trusting. This is partially a cultural thing, but it's also because Americans count on recourse. We come from a place where there's a functioning judicial system...and where the Better Business Bureau is always on our side. You need to recognize that Ecuadoreans don't come from the same background and don't approach life or business from this point of view..."

--American expat-entrepreneur Jeff Stern, owner of Gianduja Chocolate, www.giandujachocolate.com, on doing business in Ecuador

"One of my favorite things to do on a Sunday in Ecuador is drive to Ayanque beach, about 30 minutes north of Salinas, where I live, and have a lobster lunch. Tables and chairs are right on the beach. I take off my shoes and dig my toes into the sand while I crack open my lobster and watch the surf. I order a couple of beers and make an afternoon of it. Great day...for all of about US$8..."

--American expat Mike Sager, on the beach life in Ecuador

"If you buy a US$40-a-square-foot house, you're getting a US$40-a-square-foot house...remember that as you compare real estate prices and values..."

--American expat and property developer Mike Cobb, on investing in real estate in Latin America

"You learn that you have to pick your battles. Things work the way they work here. You'll run out of time and energy before you'll change anything. You need to accept that..."

--American expat-entrepreneur Jeff Stern, owner of Gianduja Chocolate, www.giandujachocolate.com, on doing business in Ecuador

"Historically, the United States has taken a self-assessing approach to taxation. This has made the country unique in the world. We Americans report our own income and figure our own tax due. No more. FATCA is the end of this. Now the IRS is going to take the tax itself, pro-actively, at the border..."

--U.S. tax attorney Chris Braun, on preparing for the implications of FATCA legislation

"At first I loved the lack of regulation in this country. Then I realized that this is a double-edged sword. I could make a U-turn or go the wrong way down a one-way street without worrying about getting a ticket, for example. But I didn't appreciate it when I encountered another guy coming at me the wrong way down a one-way street..."

--Lee Harrison, on the pluses and the minuses of living in Ecuador

"My best advice for anyone going into the import-export business in Ecuador is to start small. Focus on a few specific products of really good quality. Avoid commodity items. You want a better margin than that..."

--Exporter Roberto Ribadeneira, owner of Ecuador Shop (aka Latin America Shop), www.ecuadorshop.net

"One big selling point for products from Ecuador is that they are handmade. This isn't China. We don't mass-produce things here. Everything is special and therefore more sellable...more competitive..."

--Exporter Roberto Ribadeneira, owner of Ecuador Shop (aka Latin America Shop), www.ecuadorshop.net

"Don't use the public health care...avoid the long-distance buses (because they have horrible safety records and crash regularly)..."

--American expat Jeff Stern, on things not to do in Ecuador

"Ecuador is definitely a 'pay-as-you-go' choice when it comes to health care. That is, I'd say that the cost of care is definitely so low you don't need to worry about investing in health insurance..."

--Lee Harrison, on considering your options for health care in Ecuador

Kathleen Peddicord

P.S. These are a handful of the topics, ideas, recommendations, insights, discoveries, and tips shared during last week's Live and Invest in Ecuador Conference in Quito. Every presentation by every speaker was recorded and is being edited now to create our all-new Live and Invest in Ecuador Home Conference Kit.

Today only, this everything-you-need-to-know-about-Ecuador resource is available at a pre-release discount that saves you more than 50% off the retail price.

This pre-release offer ends at Midnight tonight, Feb. 19. Go here now to take advantage of the prelease of our Live and Invest in Ecuador Home Conference Kit while you still can.Continue Reading:

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A young man then got on the PA and announced that everyone had to leave the gate area and pass through this ad-hoc security before returning to their seats. So, barely 50 yards from our last security check, American was setting up their own, including a hand pat-down. All passengers had to get into another long line to re-enter the now cordoned-off gate area. Anyone who'd bought a bottle of water for the flight after the first security check had it confiscated.

After passing though this new security lane, anyone who wanted to use the rest room or buy a coffee had to repeat the process upon re-entering.

And, on this particular day, American ended up with Dallas and Miami planes switched at the gates. So the passengers all had to move to a new gate area and repeat the process. More lines and more bottled water confiscations.

All around the concourse, the passengers bound for other countries snickered as they watched us being herded around like cattle.

Everyone who travels knows that American's dinosaur business and operating practices have landed them in bankruptcy. But in this case, that's not the problem.

The problem here is that the flight was bound for the United States, an aggressor nation and the world's self-appointed policeman. As a result, we're also a target of aggression and a victim of retaliation.

Be assured that I'm not trying to make a political statement on U.S. policies; there are plenty of other writers out there who can debate those issues. My point is the consequences of those policies. The result is that the United States must keep a close watch on its citizens and visitors. Luxuries like buying a bottle of water for the flight--or a bottle of rum...or perfume from the gift shop--aren't permitted for us.

This morning's experience points out one of the small pleasures of diversifying your life overseas.

I'm officially a resident of four countries. Not because I'm a residency expert; I just followed their simple directions and applied. And when I'm bound for Colombia, Uruguay, or Ecuador, I can travel with dignity...as a resident of a country that still enjoys its freedom. My laptop stays in its case...I leave my shoes on...and I can count on only one brief passthrough security. It's only when I'm bound for the United States that they're obligated to treat me like a terror suspect.

And the sense of freedom infringement doesn't end at the airport.

Colombia doesn't feel the need to monitor my e-mails and calls...Uruguay doesn't bother to film my activities on the streets...and Ecuador doesn't insist on patting me down at its airports. At Brazil's São Paulo departure lounge, I can pass quickly through the South American screening, and avoid the U.S.-bound line of shoe-removers and laptop-separators.

Contrary to what many believe, international diversity has nothing to do with politics, protesting, or escaping from whoever may be president at the time. It's about having choices.

No country offers more convenient living than the United States; and as a tax-paying U.S. citizen, I'm entitled to enjoy living there any time I want.

But likewise, I'm also entitled to enjoy the 50s-style values and freedom of Ecuador...the old-world ambiance, secure banking, and currency advantages of Uruguay...and the upscale lifestyle and low costs of Medellín, Colombia. Any time I choose.

And I can switch from one to another on a day's notice for any reason that strikes my fancy, from world politics to next week's weather forecast.

That's the real freedom that comes with international diversity.

Lee Harrison

Editor's note: You can join Lee this Feb. 13th at our Live and Invest in Ecuador Conference, in Quito, Ecuador. There's still time to claim your US$200 Early Bird discount. And, remember, if you're a subscriber to the Overseas Retirement Letter or the Simon Letter, you are entitled to an additional discount. Follow the link to learn more about our Live and Invest in Ecuador Conference.Continue Reading:

 

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Kathleen Peddicord

Kathleen Peddicord is the founder of the Live and Invest Overseas publishing group. With more than 25 years experience covering this beat, Kathleen reports daily on current opportunities for living, retiring, and investing overseas in her free e-letter.

Her book, How To Retire Overseas—Everything You Need To Know To Live Well Abroad For Less, was recently released by Penguin Books.

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