The low prices in Ecuador are a big attraction for expat retirees. Both the cost of day-to-day living and real estate are far cheaper than in the United States.
In Cuenca, the monthly budget for a couple renting an apartment is just over US$1,300 per month. This would allow a comfortable lifestyle. If you own your own property these costs drop to just over US$1,000 per month.
Penny pinchers can get by on even less.
When you retire in Ecuador, you can receive up to 50% off public transportation, utilities, recreational activities, and events, reduced or eliminated income, capital gains, estate, property, vehicle, and sales taxes. You are also eligible for duty-free importation of household goods and expediated services (skipping the lines in places like banks).
A pensionado visa in Ecuador allows you to work even though you’re meant to be retired. This means you have the option of topping up your pension by doing a part time job such as teaching English.
Ecuador’s great package of senior benefits:
In general Ecuador is a safe and peaceful place to live. Expat and tourist numbers are both increasing and the majority of people are reporting that they feel happy and safe in Ecuador.
But, like anywhere else, crime exists. This is especially true in big cities. The wealth divide in Ecuador is pronounced in places. If you take care not to walk into the rough parts of town you will be fine.
Ecuador is not a rich country and you need to take this into account. If you are someone who likes overt displays of wealth, Ecuador might not be the country for you.
Speak with locals and expats before you move to Ecuador. They will give you the lowdown on the neighborhood and the info you need to know.
Ecuador comes with the threat of natural disasters. The country is full of volcanos and earthquakes are an ever present threat. You are unlikely to fall victim to either of these, but there’s always a chance.
Ecuador also includes some wild countryside. Jaguars and anacondas can be found in the Amazon but most people don’t venture into these areas without an experienced tour guide.
The area close to the Colombia border is a no-go zone. This area is made up of thick jungle and guerilla groups hide out here. Nobody ever goes here, but it is worth noting.
Cuenca is the expats favorite city to retire in Ecuador and it’s easy to see why. But before we get into that it’s best to mention something upfront. Cuenca sits at an altitude of 8,300 feet (2,530 meters). This makes it a bad choice for anyone with breathing difficulties.
The altitude shouldn’t pose a problem to everyone else, although you will take a few days to get used to it. However the altitude is the reason for one of Cuenca’s best features, the climate.
Ecuador has a pleasant climate. The weather remains Spring-like throughout the year. The daily highs are between 64 degrees and 54 degrees. The night-time lows between 50 and 44 degrees.
You get some cold day where you will want to light a fire or turn the heating on. There are also hot days you can enjoy outside in shorts and t-shirt.
A higher standard of life is one of the main reasons that expats choose to retire in Ecuador. In Cuenca the standard of living is arguably the highest in the country.
Cuenca has a thriving cultural scene, easily the best in Ecuador. Theatre, opera, museums and touring exhibitions can all be found in Ecuador. The prices are reasonable, and for exhibitions and museums often free.
Salinas is a coastal city with a modest population of around 50,000. If you are looking to retire in Ecuador to a coastal city with amenities Salinas is your best bet. Other coastal towns are generally undeveloped, but Salinas has plenty going on.
It also has its own international airport. This makes getting to and from Salinas straightforward and much easier than in previous years. It’s also having a positive impact on property prices in the area.
Salinas is warmer than the mountain areas, without being uncomfortably hot. The summer here is between January and April. During this time the average high is 79 – 82 degrees. The coldest part of the year is between July and October. At this time average highs fall to between 69 – 72 degrees.
Average lows are between 73 –75 in the summer and between 65 – 62 in winter.
This makes it great weather for the beach. The waters here are clean and safe for swimming. Offshore you can find excellent fishing.
Salinas has lots of cafes, bars and restaurants. Unlike other beach towns in Ecuador you won’t run out of places to eat or drink. Salinas is a popular tourist town with both tourists and Ecuadorians. Many of the countries great good like to holiday here, including the President.
The number of tourists remains steady throughout the year. If you are looking to retire part time, you can earn decent money by renting out your property while you are away.
The seafood is a specialty here. All of it is fresh and very affordable. The fishing here is world class. Lots of the big sport fish can be found offshore and fishermen come from across the globe.
The stretch of coast Salinas sits on is rich in history. Traces of civilization dating back 9000 years can be found. There are lots of interesting day trips to be had to historical sites.
Quito is famous for being the 2nd highest capital city in the world. A UNESCO world heritage site, the Old Town is well preserved. The Old Town doesn’t have a heritage park feel thanks to the fact that people have always lived there.
Quito is one of the top places for historical living in South America. Quito is the stopping off point for trips out to the Galapagos Islands. It is also close to the equator, you can take a bus out of the city to stand on the center of the world.
Quito is a safe place to live with a strong police presence. Relations between the police and residents is a credit to the city. The police are not corrupt and generally lookout for the people they are supposed to be serving.
The average temperature doesn’t change much throughout the year. The average high stays between 66 – 68 and the average low falls to 49 – 51. Despite the seemingly low temperatures, you will need to wear sunscreen and take care when outside on a sunny day.
The dry season runs between June and September. The rest of the year is the rainy season. The rainy season is when the weather is warmest.
One of the big attractions of retiring in Quito is the city itself. It’s spectacular. The views across the city are as good as you can find anywhere. Quito is a green city with plenty of parks. These are safe and well maintained. Perfect for exercise or simply relaxing.
Quito is home to more than 2.5 million people and has excellent infrastructure. Culturally there is plenty to do. Theatres, museums and art galleries are all of a high standard. Quito has three trolleybus systems that area cheap and reliable way to get around. You absolutely don’t need a car in Quito.
Medellin in Colombia offers a high standard of living and a similar climate to the mountain towns in Ecuador. Medellin is more expensive but there is more to do and is more developed in terms of infrastructure.
Durango in Mexico is another option for mountain living at an affordable price. The Chiriqui district of Panama is slightly lower, and thus warmer, and definitely more expensive. But it has a well-established expat community and plenty to do and see.
Salinas is a safe well developed beach city at a great price. It’s hard to find many places in Latin America that can compete directly.
Cartagena in Colombia is one option. This Caribbean town has a rich history and plenty to see and do. Prices are slightly more, and the weather is a little warmer.
The Sao Paulo coast of Brazil is also worth considering. Fortaleza has affordable real estate and is a growing tourist location.
Panama has some great options for retiring by the coast. The Pacific cast has some really affordable options such as our own project at Los Islotes. This is a quiet and remote part of the world though, without the amenities of Salinas.
Mazatlan in Mexico offers a similar lifestyle and they are more familiar with English-speaking residents. Retiring here has the big advantage of being close to the United States. You can easily get back to visit family or in case of emergencies. The cost of living here is a fair bit higher than in Salinas though.
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