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living as expat in Ecuador
Old 03-04-2012, 02:38 PM   #1
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living as expat in Ecuador

Wonder if anyone has first hand knowledge of living as ER in Equador.

Cost of living ( We hear it's low) housing ,activities safety, ,,coastal or mountian cities?
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Old 03-04-2012, 09:01 PM   #2
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There are a couple of companies selling books, tapes, videos, and seminars on retirement in Equador, Mexico, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Panama. One particular company has said that they would not recommend retirement in one of those countries because it is not safe. A few months later, that same company held a seminar in that country on retiring in that country that a few months before they advised against because of safety. Go figure!! The best advice: let the buyer beware!!

To me safety has always been very important, and is getting more important the older I get. If I was interested in a certain destination, I would visit that country myself (not on a guided vacation tour or retirement seminar) before I spent a dime on retirement materials about that country, let alone a thousand dollars on a seminar. Take a vacation, buy discounted airfare, stay at little bed & breakfasts, mix and mingle with the locals, stay out of bad areas (you wouldn't go to bad areas in the states) and see if you feel safe. Once you have the safety issue out of the way your decision should be easier.

Also, the cost of food is very low (in American dollars) in most of Latin America if you eat like the locals. That is, fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, etc. If you have to have processed, prepared American foods (even Oreo cookies), the cost is high because these foods have to be imported.
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Old 03-04-2012, 09:11 PM   #3
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Blog | GringosAbroad.com

This is a blog for a family of 3 who moved to Ecuador in 2009. They were recently featured on an episode of House Hunters International.
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Old 03-05-2012, 12:38 AM   #4
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I spent five weeks in Ecuador in 2010. The goal was to see the country and get a feel for retirement possibilities there. Here's the thread:

Ecuador impressions

Feel free to PM me if I can answer any questions.
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Old 03-06-2012, 02:10 PM   #5
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I want to go to Ecuador, land of the Galapogos and Darwin's formative expedition. What I heard about Ecuador (perhaps someone could confirm this) is that the present government stood up to "onerous debt" agreed upon by earlier corrupt governments who received foriegn money that did not benefit the average Ecuadorian citizen---arrangements that were not supported by the people (not in a democratic postion) ...and the global lenders backed down! Now it is democratic...and better.
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Old 03-09-2012, 09:41 AM   #6
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About a year ago I was looking at an extended trip to Ecuador including Spanish school, mostly because I wanted my Colombian ex-GirlFriend to join me for part of my trip. I did a lot of research on Ecuador and safety there (mostly via forums), among other things. It was unsafe enough that I would not want to retire there. I don't think Cuenca is nearly as bad as downright dangerous Quito and Guayaquil but it is getting worse and foreigners are targets.

I would recommend looking at Colombia (I used to live in Medellin a place I would recommend). It is a much more diverse country in every respect (climate, population, ethnicity, food, etc). It is an up and coming country, having largely overcome its horrible past and is a thriving democracy. And it is a big enough country for its citizens to really have a Colombian identity (Colombia has the second largest number of Spanish speakers in the world behind only Mexico). But Colombia is definitely more expensive than Ecuador because the currency is so strong and investment dollars continue to flow like gangbusters into the country.

I think one reason that Ecuador gets so much publicity is because there is because tourist can only stay 90 days per year, no border runs to fix this (this rule was put into place due to out-of-control criminal activity). The way I recall it, if you want to stay you have to buy property or at least that is the easiest way. And that is why International Living and others of their ilk are all over it because that is how they make money.

I almost couldn't believe how much crime I personally witnessed or was experienced by my friends in my 2.5 week trip to Ecuador in 2005. I thought for sure it had gotten better by 2010, but when I did my research it seemed as bad or worse, much to my surprise. Also, when I was reading the forums, it seemed there were a lot of expats freezing their asses off in Cuenca, having thought it was a more temperate climate.
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Old 03-09-2012, 10:10 AM   #7
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Personally, I need to live on the Ocean and coastal Ecuador and Northern Peru are way to hot for me! If I was looking for an inland city, Medellin would certainly be my first choice. I have many expat friends there and depending on budget I would look to be in Poblado/Envigado/Laureles districts. Emigration might be more difficult if you do not have a pension/SS/annuity. Single guys/gals can live fairly well on $2,000.00 a month, excellent public transportation/no need for a car and lots of interesting places to visit just outside the city.
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Old 03-09-2012, 10:33 AM   #8
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Emigration [to Colombia] might be more difficult if you do not have a pension/SS/annuity.
Yes, this is a big problem, for most people you need a pension, marry a Colombiana, or buy a $200K piece of real estate. You can stay 180 days per calendar year on a tourist visa, that is max, can't fix this with visa border runs.
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Old 03-09-2012, 11:46 PM   #9
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kramer,

Your posts are always interesting to me.

Perhaps my question should be in a separate thread, but where would you suggest going to study Spanish? I have in mind for us an extended stay somewhere, living with a family and using a language school.

Thanks.

(This sounds familiar. Have I asked this question before?)
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Old 03-10-2012, 12:31 AM   #10
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I travelled all over the Ecuador in 2010, and Quito was the only place I felt unsafe. It's also the only place I saw any evidence of crime (a friend's slashed backpack on the bus). I wasn't in Guayaquil for long, but I heard it also has areas to avoid.

Everywhere else felt fine. The worst thing I saw or heard about in the coastal towns (Canoa, Puerto Lopez, Montanita) was the mosquitos. They're fierce and can bite right through your clothes.

I walked all over Cuenca, day and night, and had no problems.

(I suppose it's worth keeping in mind that I'm a good-sized guy who dresses down and knows how not to act while travelling.)

To me, the biggest thing Ecuador has going for it, as an expat home, is the extremely low cost of living. All the stories are true, and you can live like an emperor there for $2,000/mo. And Americans don't have to worry about currency conversion or fluctuation, since Ecuador's official currency is the US dollar.

There are some political issues to be aware of. While I was there some workers went on strike and blockaded some roads. Do your research. As in any developing country, you'll need a flexible mindset.

If you don't need the ocean, I recommend Cuenca. Beautiful with a very European feel.

The coastal towns are very, very laid back. Too sleepy for me to live there, I think. The exception is Montanita, which is wide awake, and loud, and buzzed, 24-7. It's really a twenty-something backpacker bubble--fun to see, but not a place to settle.

The coastal town I could live in is just south of Ecuador in northern Peru. Mancora is its name. There's more activity there, and the vibe felt right. Here's the view from my room.



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Old 03-10-2012, 04:08 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Ed_The_Gypsy View Post
kramer,

Your posts are always interesting to me.

Perhaps my question should be in a separate thread, but where would you suggest going to study Spanish? I have in mind for us an extended stay somewhere, living with a family and using a language school.

Thanks.

(This sounds familiar. Have I asked this question before?)
Hi Ed,
The number one place I would recommend is Baden-Powell school in Morelia, Mexico. Great destination and great school.

Other popular locations are Antigua, Guatemala (never been there) and Quito, Ecuador. Both Guatemala and Quito are cheaper than Mexico, although your flights will probably be more. Morelia is safer than both, especially Quito. Although for a couple week visit, I don't place safety as high on the list. It is long term expats that really need to study the safety issue. Quito, which I would place in the same category as Rio, is bad enough though that even going out of the house at night is a bit of an adventure.
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Old 03-10-2012, 06:24 AM   #12
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Hi Ed,
The number one place I would recommend is Baden-Powell school in Morelia, Mexico. Great destination and great school.

Other popular locations are Antigua, Guatemala (never been there) and Quito, Ecuador. Both Guatemala and Quito are cheaper than Mexico, although your flights will probably be more. Morelia is safer than both, especially Quito. Although for a couple week visit, I don't place safety as high on the list. It is long term expats that really need to study the safety issue. Quito, which I would place in the same category as Rio, is bad enough though that even going out of the house at night is a bit of an adventure.
Thanks for the update, Kramer. That Quito has fallen to Rio safety levels is a real disappointment.
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Old 03-10-2012, 02:44 PM   #13
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Kramer,

I am considering going to Argentina for a few months later this year. Do you have any experience with Language schools in and around Buenos Aires?
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Old 03-10-2012, 03:45 PM   #14
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Here's an excellent blog done by some expat friends of mine who live in Mexico but explored Ecuador extensively as a possible place to live:

KatieJack | Katie & Jack in Ecuador | Travel Blog

FWIW they loved the place and it is certainly cheaper than the gringo havens in Mexico (or Panama, Costa Rica, etc.) but realized that they really had to not only be fluent in Spanish but be willing to only have access to Spanish-language media and arts (Kindle ebooks excepted) and were willing to spend a bit more to do a bit less "going native."
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Old 03-10-2012, 03:56 PM   #15
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Yes, this is a big problem, for most people you need a pension, marry a Colombiana, or buy a $200K piece of real estate. You can stay 180 days per calendar year on a tourist visa, that is max, can't fix this with visa border runs.
I have a friend who was able to stay a year by getting some 19 y/o to apply for a fiance visa. Most people have enough income to qualify but those that don't get a study visa or come to Lima for six months and enjoy the summer until the clock in Colombia starts running again.
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Old 03-10-2012, 10:03 PM   #16
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Kramer,

I am considering going to Argentina for a few months later this year. Do you have any experience with Language schools in and around Buenos Aires?
Sorry, I have not been to Argentina, when are we leaving There are a lot of tourists going there so I am sure you will have plenty to choose from.

I will mention that the Spanish in Argentina is very distinct. Both pronunciation and vocabulary are quite different in the "Southern Cone" of Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay than the rest of the Spanish speaking world.

According to my understanding, the Spanish spoken in countries like Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, and Peru is much closer to Mexican Spanish than the Southern Cone countries.
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Old 03-10-2012, 10:09 PM   #17
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I have a friend who was able to stay a year by getting some 19 y/o to apply for a fiance visa. Most people have enough income to qualify but those that don't get a study visa or come to Lima for six months and enjoy the summer until the clock in Colombia starts running again.
Yes, I found cases of Americans who had entered into what might be called "Green Card Marriages" in order to get residency there. Because without a pension it is difficult. There is no way I can qualify, even if I show them a million dollars in the bank. There is an investor's visa, but requires moving something like $100K into Colombian banks and you must submit an investment plan for approval. I did consider doing that some day, and just investing in Colombian government bonds, but have no idea if that would have been approved.

One guy I met simply had married a Colombiana only for residency status. He had already bought a place on a tourist visa. After 3 years (the required time) they got divorced. He paid her to do this. Another American friend had a "living together" visa (I can't remember what it is called) where you declare you are living together but not married to your partner.
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Old 03-11-2012, 12:06 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kramer View Post
Hi Ed,
The number one place I would recommend is Baden-Powell school in Morelia, Mexico. Great destination and great school.

Other popular locations are Antigua, Guatemala (never been there) and Quito, Ecuador. Both Guatemala and Quito are cheaper than Mexico, although your flights will probably be more. Morelia is safer than both, especially Quito. Although for a couple week visit, I don't place safety as high on the list. It is long term expats that really need to study the safety issue. Quito, which I would place in the same category as Rio, is bad enough though that even going out of the house at night is a bit of an adventure.
Thanks again, kramer! Very valuable advice.
Quote:
It is long term expats that really need to study the safety issue.
This is a very important statement! There is a big difference between visiting and residing. The travel writers never address this. Another reason why I hang on your words.
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Old 03-11-2012, 12:09 AM   #19
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Onward,

I also greatly enjoyed your travel account. I copied it for future reference and will tack on this thread also.
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Old 03-11-2012, 01:23 AM   #20
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Cuenca - Hanging Out...and a Caution | Travel Blog

Quote:
It is long term expats that really need to study the safety issue.
Wow! I checked out that blog and found this! Case in point!

I have read that one of the issues with Ecuador is that the government is not energetically anti-crime, especially petty crime, and that the mugs are getting bolder.

A good argument for staying mobile.
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