Moving to Ecuador is far from the scary idea it might have been decades ago. This South American country has quickly become an expat haven for those seeking sun and a low cost of living. Today there are resources and information widely available to make your move to Ecuador smooth sailing. The tricky part can often be sorting through the information, often in Spanish, and deciding how best to approach the relocation.
A big part of any move is the physical transportation of your belongings. If you are relocating from the United States or Canada there are many international shipping options available to you, however it can be helpful to find a local shipping agent in Ecuador to facilitate the move. It can often be easier to find an Ecuadorian company that works with a shipping company in your country, as dealing with the Ecuador customs and import officials is likely to be a bigger hurdle for a foreign company.
A large benefit to anyone considering a move to Ecuador has to be the cost of living. Nearly all locations you are looking at within the country will be apples-to-apples cheaper than you are used to in North America. Ecuador’s year ‘round growing season means that fresh tropical fruits and vegetables are always available in the markets at low prices. Warm, tropical weather is another reason that expats site for relocating to Ecuador. For example, the average high temperature in Loja is 73° (23°C), with a seasonal variation of only 1 degree.
The people of Ecuador are friendly and welcoming, and it’s easy to become a part of the community.
One big advantage of residency in Ecuador is that you can import your household effects, duty-free.
There is a limit per-person of 200kg (440 lbs.) for clothing, shoes, and other personal items; an attempt to slow down Ecuador’s booming grey market for clothing. But otherwise, most reasonable household items won’t be a problem.
The requirements for importing a car have changed over the years, and the rules applied “at the dockside” can be different from what’s in the law. According to the rules issued in September 2011, the ability to import a car is limited to returning Ecuadorians.
In any case, bringing a car is always a hassle and almost never cost effective. For example, it’s almost impossible to find a mechanic to work on an American emissions system, and parts may be hard to find.
Pets will require an International Veterinary Health Certificate, available from most any vet’s office. It must show that all vaccinations are up to date, and be issued within 10 days prior to your pet’s arrival in Ecuador.
Once completed by the vet, the International Health Certificate must be endorsed in the US by one of the USDA-APHIS Veterinary Services offices (or an office in whichever country your pet is traveling from), which will affix a raised seal. Check the USDA for the office nearest you. Do this right away, as the certificate is only good for 10 days from the date of the exam.
Once certified by the local veterinary services office, the certificate should be authenticated and translated into Spanish.
As we continue shining a spotlight on the opportunity Ecuador presents right now for you to retire well even on a very small budget, I want to share another real-life expat story. John Curran and his wife Sue retired to Ecuador from Dubai. Yes, they're enjoying a dramatically reduced cost of living, but, as John explains, that's not the real upside of the move they made. I'll let him tell the story... "Sue and I were living and working in...Read more