Life, Travel and Retirement in Ecuador.

 
 


 
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Expat Retirement Communities in Ecuador

Retired Couple in Salinas, Ecuador

Many retirees are moving to expat retirement communities outside the United States and Europe to enjoy what they hope will be the best years of their lives. People are finding that their pension does not go as far as it did in the past.

For most individuals in the U.S., a $2000/month pension covers the bare necessities, with little or no money left for leisure, or tragically, emergencies. However, the same amount of money in Ecuador will cover all your living expenses and health care coverage, with about $1000 a month left for travel, entertainment and whatever you want or need. Naturally, a couple would need a lot more than $2000/month for living expenses in the U.S., but in Ecuador that amount would cover a couple’s living and health care expenses plus be able to provide a few frills on the side.

Many retirees also consider the move an escape from the long, cold winters of North America and Europe. By moving to a location on the Equator, retirees can benefit from consistent weather patterns, 12 hours of daylight every day, and mild temperatures all year round.Retired couple rides bike outside Vilcabamba, Ecuador

By some estimates, more than 100 people a day are now moving to Ecuador to experience its amazingly varied climate, unique cuisine, vibrant culture and comfortable cost of living.

Currently the three most popular cities in Ecuador for expat retirement are Cuenca (a high-elevation city in the Andes), Quito (the capital), and Vilcabamba (in the spring-like “Valley of Longevity” to the south). Other attractive locations include Cotacachi, Bahia de Caraquez and Loja.

Cuenca

The city of Cuenca oozes Old World charm with its cobblestone streets, colonial-era churches and stately mansions with wrought-iron balconies. Colorful flags and pastel-painted murals adorn the many markets where residents shop for locally grown vegetables, coffee and other household goods. Cuenca has a very “European” feel in its architecture and culture, and the city attracts a steady stream of homebuyers from that part of the world.

At 2,560 meters (8,400 ft.), the weather in Cuenca is somewhat cool due to the high altitude, and you may see more rain here than other areas of Ecuador. However, the dry season from June to December is an absolute delight, with temperatures averaging 50° F (10° C) at night and 70° F (21° C) during the day.Domes of the New Cathedral, Cuenca, Ecuador

Cuenca is the cultural heart of the country. In this center of art and literature, you can attend the orchestra, a play, a tango performance, or an art opening, and these activities are usually free. There are many historical attractions like the Museo de las Culturas Aborigenes, which houses thousands of Incan artifacts dating as far back as 500 B.C., or the Museo del Banco Central, a massive museum complex with everything from colonial art to exhibits on Ecuadorian currency to botanical gardens. The Ingaprica — the largest Incan ruins in Ecuador — is also nearby.

Retirees here enjoy strolling through this very walk-able city or grabbing a coffee near the tree-lined Parque Abdon Calderon (the central square). The festive open-air markets, which sell locally made crafts (the Panama hat is primarily made in Cuenca), and food attract residents from nearby towns, and the flower market off Parque Calderon is a favorite for locals and tourists alike. Expats and tourists who like the nightlife enjoy Calle Larga, a more sedate version of New Orleans’ Bourbon Street, with its many bars, discotecas and internationally inspired restaurants.

Cajas National Park outside Cuenca, EcuadorMore athletic folks can hike in the nearby Cajas National Park — something you can do nearly year round due to the mild weather. The entire El Cajas region, which includes the park, was recently named a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. Cajas is a perfect example of Nature’s masterful design, where the wind-swept paramos and over 200 lakes (lagunas) unite to create a natural temple. If you are bird watcher, fishermen or avid hiker, this is the place for you.

Cuenca is sometimes called the “Athens of the Andes” because it is a mecca for people who love culturally significant places, the arts, and learning. UNESCO named the historic district of Cuenca a World Heritage Site in 1999. Cuenca is also a great place to learn Spanish as the Spanish spoken here is clear and precise, and the costs to study the language are among the lowest in South America.

But while Cuenca is best known for its cultural contributions to Ecuador, the city also has plenty of modern conveniences, including 18 hospitals, four universities that attract students from all over the world, and a large indoor shopping mall (Mall del Rio) complete with Burger King, Pizza Hut and many other American fast food joints. The nearest international airport with flights to the U.S. and Europe is in Guayaquil, about 243 kilometers away (four hours by bus).

Although the city has many modern attractions, expats find the pace of life in Cuenca less hectic than in cities like Quito or Guayaquil. Cuenca is also affordable: most retirees can live for well under $2,000 per month. You can rent a furnished apartment for as little as $400 per month, an unfurnished apartment from $300 per month, or buy a small condo outright for less than $40,000. Thanks to the comfortable year-round climate in Cuenca, you won’t have to worry about heat or air conditioning, which is another important reason why retirement in this city is as affordable as it is.

To be able to enjoy all that the city has to offer, plan on a budget of $1,500 a month per couple if you’re renting and $1,100 per month if you own your home. You could certainly live here for less, but these estimates will allow you to make the most of your new life in Cuenca.

Quito

Quito, named the first UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979, is a beautiful, sophisticated city supported by a modern international airport and world-class restaurants, museums and shopping. The Spanish influence is everywhere, especially in the colonial architecture and cathedrals.

While just 22 kilometers from the equatorial line, Quito has a climate that is often compared to an English springtime, with temperatures averaging 50° F (10° C) at night and 70° F (21° C) during the day. You can expect afternoon rainfall from October to May.Virgen del Panecillo at night

Quito is roughly divided into three sectors: El Centro (or colonial Old Town) is at the center; North Quito (or New Town) is adjacent to Old Town and is the hip, modern section of Quito; and South Quito, the work-a-day residential district. The greatest concentration of attractions for expats is in the Old Town and New Town sections of Quito.

Like most bustling cities, Quito is crowded, but it is easy to find what you want or need. Public transportation is cheap and readily accessible. Just take it easy until you become acclimated to the high altitude – 9,300 feet takes some getting used to.

Quito offers perhaps the best health care available in Ecuador, with outstanding hospitals, the most modern equipment and technologies, and top-notch doctors and specialists, many of who have been trained in the United States.

Vilcabamba

The healthy lifestyle, amazing year-round weather, plentiful organic food production and clean, abundant mountain water are just some of the reasons so many expats are enjoying their “golden years” in this lush valley in southern Ecuador. It is said that many residents here live to be 100 years old or more, so the region is often referred to as the “Valley of Longevity.” Residents of the area attribute this longevity to low-stress living in a near-perfect climate.Vilcabamba-j-trail

Vilcabamba is situated about 40 minutes from the colonial town of Loja, another popular expat retirement community. At an elevation of 5,000 feet, this area has average daily temperatures between 65° F (18° C) at night and 82° F (28° C) during the day. There are plenty of local activities that allow expats to enjoy the fine weather. Horseback riding and bicycle tours are popular and fun. And the nearby Podocarpus National Forest is a bird watcher’s and nature photographer’s paradise.

The number of permanent foreign residents, as well as part-timers, keeps growing. As a result of Vilcabamba’s growing popularity, some costs have increased in recent years. Still, it ranks as one of the least expensive retirement havens in the world.

Vilcabamba-Church-FountainOne couple that owns their home says they live comfortably on less than $800 a month, even though costs in Vilcabamba have risen in the last five years. They don’t go out often, and they do much of their own vehicle maintenance and home repairs. However, if they need help, the going rate for a common laborer is just $10 a day.

Rents are often higher due to a shortage of affordable housing. However, current residents report paying less than $1.25 a month for gas for cooking and hot water; monthly water bills are just $1.70. Electricity adds another $30 per month. Thanks to the temperate climate, there’s no need for heating or air conditioning. Gasoline in Ecuador costs less than $1.50 a gallon, so even if you must drive to Loja for shopping, it is still affordable.

Cotacachi

About an hour and a half from Quito, the little town of Cotacachi, with a population of about 9,000, is attracting expats who are seeking a gentle, less stressful life. With its friendly people, incredible mountain and valley views, Cotacachi offers low-cost living and most of the comforts you are accustomed to at home.Cotacachi Volcano towers over Parque Calderon

Due to its 8,000 ft. elevation, and being tucked away between two volcanoes, the city’s temperatures tend to stay between 50° F (10° C) and 70° F (21° C), much like Quito. When the sun is shining, which it usually is, Cotacachi is a springtime paradise – warm and inviting – all year round. When the sun does slip behind the clouds, the weather cools, so it is wise to carry a jacket and hat.

Retirees report that a new apartment can be purchased for less than $80,000, and that a couple can live comfortably on less than $1,500 per month for all the basics, including money for travel and dining out regularly. Expats can visit the local market with $5 to spend and return with more produce than you can carry. If one needs modern appliances and gadgets, larger stores are in Ibarra, about 20 minutes away by bus.

Owning a car isn’t necessary – taxis cost only a few dollars and buses travel to many other cities. Cotacachi has a medical clinic; however, most people go to the nearby towns of Otavolo or Ibarra for anything other than minor treatment, or to Quito for major procedures.

A market in Cotachaci, EcuadorCotacachi is known for its handcrafted leather goods and local markets. The town also offers unique immersion into a different culture: Cotacachi is a community hub for the indigenous Quichua people, many of whom wear their brightly colored traditional garb daily, engage in traditional healing practices, and speak their own language.

The nearby lakes and hot springs are major benefits for retirees, and the incredible scenery is beyond compare. Expats and tourists alike can enjoy a hike to the top of the Cotacachi Volcano in the Cotacachi-Cayapas Ecological Reserve, or explore the reserve’s 750,000 acres of protected forests. One can walk along the shores of Lake San Pablo, the largest lake in Ecuador, or Lake Cuicocha, which to this day Quichua shamans use for ritual cleansing. Guided four-hour hikes around the perimeter of the lake make for a great way to spend a morning.

Lake Cuicocha, outside Cotachaci, Ecuador

Lake Cuicocha

There are also delightful hot springs located less than an hour from Cotacachi where, for around $4 a person, you can soak away the hours in thermal pools and enjoy a eucalyptus sauna.

Cotacachi is known nationally for it’s parades and festivals, such as Inti Raymi, a celebration of the sun, yet it’s off the major tourist routes, which allows it to stay a place of serenity – perfect for retirees who simply want to relax and enjoy the natural beauty that surrounds them.

Bahia de Caraquez

Situated on a sandy peninsula in the Manabi province on Ecuador’s Pacific coast, Bahia de Caraquez is drawing retirees from around the world.

Bahia, as the locals call it, is a sleepy little beach town that is a popular vacation spot for wealthier Quito families. This clean, relatively safe town was once a thriving seaport, but the harbor suffered major erosion, and some of the shipping industry moved elsewhere. Today you will find lovely homes with manicured gardens and many top-notch restaurants and resorts, including the world-class Casa Ceibo Boutique Hotel & Spa.Bahia de Caraquez, Ecuador

The local population of 30,000 enjoys year-round warm weather. Shorts and light shirts are the “dress of the day” most of the time. A long sleeved shirt and a pair of jeans would be sufficient for even the coolest evenings.

Earthquakes devastated Bahia de Caraquez in the late 1990s. Since then, residents have rebuilt and improved the town, calling it an “eco-city,” with modern recycling and conservation programs, and bicycle taxis being a popular means of getting around town. Today the city enjoys the reputation of being the cleanest city on the coast of Ecuador.

Bahia de Caraquez seems focused on sustainable growth and development. The city now has a hospital, and the roads are being resurfaced and rebuilt; residents are able to get to the Manta airport in about an hour for flights to Quito and Guayaquil. A new bridge connects Bahia to San Vicente, another beach town.Bahía_de_Caráquez

Expats can enjoy plentiful outdoor recreation, and its location on the coast makes Bahía one of the main tourist centers of the province of Manabi. Of course, there’s the beach, with Bellaca and Playa del Pajonal beaches being favorites with local residents. Retirees and visitors will also enjoy hiking through the Cerro Seco, a tropical forest that surrounds Bahia. Bird watching is a popular activity in Isla Corazon, a mangrove-shaded island across the bay that’s home to birds like the snowy egret, striated heron and white ibis. Plus, Bahia is within relatively easy driving distance of charming small fishing towns like Canoa, San Clemente, San Vicente and Jamal.

Bahia also has a rich cultural tradition. The Bahia de Caraquez Museum was built to showcase the region’s Incan history and archeological findings dating back many centuries. Cabanas Chirje, a rustic resort on a secluded strip of beach that is only accessible by car at low-tide, also has an on-site museum displaying ancient artifacts dating back centuries.

Expats who are looking to buy beachfront retirement property at a bargain will find Bahia de Caraquez a sure bet. This area of the Ecuadorian coast boasts some of the cheapest beachfront property for sale in the world. There are plenty of homes available for under $100,000, as well as condos for less than $50,000.

Loja

Until recently, Loja has been largely overlooked by expats. But Loja is no backwater. Situated in Ecuador’s southern Sierra region with a population of about 200,000 people, Loja offers all the modern big-city services while, at the same time, offering a cultural richness that makes it unique in Ecuador.

Puerta de la Cuidad in Loja, EcuadorIn some ways the local expat community enjoys Loja’s small-town anonymity. It’s their little secret and they like it that way. But now the secret is getting out. As Canadian expat Steve Chorney, who retired to Cuenca, puts it, “If I were to plan my retirement to this country today, Loja is where I’d live.” All things considered, Loja is a perfect choice for retirement.

First off, the weather is ideal. The average high temperature in Loja is 73° F (23° C), with a seasonal variation of only one degree. Nights are always cool, with an average low of 45° F (7° C). So you don’t need heat, you don’t need air conditioning and you can put away your winter clothes and your snow shovel for good.

The people of Loja are friendly and welcoming, and it’s easy to become a part of the community. The town has a small but growing expat community, meaning that a foreign retiree here is still accepted into the local community on his or her own merits, rather than being stereotyped as part of the American enclave.

Loja is a safe city, with less crime than you’ll find in Ecuador’s bigger cities of Quito, Guayaquil or Cuenca. If you use your common sense, strolling the downtown streets during the evening hours is practical and safe. Still, no matter where you are in Ecuador it is always advisable to walk in groups at night.The city of Loja, Ecuador

The countryside surrounding Loja is dramatic and beautiful, with green mountain peaks, idyllic valleys and rushing rivers. There are a number of attractive areas for owning a larger tract of land or a farm. The nearby towns of Malacatos and Vilcabamba are popular vacation spots, with warm climates, charming villages and a pleasant rural atmosphere.

The city of Loja itself is completely walkable, and anyone who can walk a couple of blocks will not need a car for day-to-day life. When you need a taxi, you’ll find them plentiful and cheap. Most rides around town cost a dollar.

For travel between provinces, there is a modern but cheap bus system with routes connecting to the rest of Ecuador, and into Peru. Loja is served by Camilo Ponce Enriquez airport in Catamayo, 30 kilometers (30 min) distant. From there, it is possible to fly to Quito or Guayaquil.

Loja's famous town squareLoja is built around a number of attractive town squares, which serve as the classic city social centers that the Spanish intended them to be. They are great places to relax, meet up with new friends, and people-watch. You can also enjoy a $2 three-course lunch, or just sip locally grown coffee as the crowds drift by your table.

Music plays a big part in Lojano culture, and Loja is, in fact, the undisputed music capital of Ecuador. Many of the country’s best musicians and composers came from Loja, and the city currently boasts two orchestras and a noted music conservatory.

Loja is also a great place to enjoy a healthy lifestyle. Fresh tropical fruits and vegetables are always available in the markets at very low prices. It’s easy to make fresh-squeezed fruit juices so rich and wholesome that you’ll never again be happy with the canned or bottled juices you find almost everywhere else. And there are even a few well-equipped gyms throughout the city, at prices that even the tightest budget can afford.

86 Comments


  1.  
    sam

    my name is sam, im 28 year old male and wish to move to Ecuador. i would really appropriate any advise what will help me, all advise is good advise, and i know the onle way to get the right advise is by speaking the truth, so this is why i will move, live and retire in Ecuador.

    Growing up in Wales was nice, its beautiful country and the UK is good country, I grew up playing many sports and doing adventurous activities. When I was 18 I joined the British army, I loved the army, but bot for the going on operation reasons but to be apart of a family was so nice and we all knew our roles, I got to travel many places too from all walks of life and it really opened my eyes to the world, how lucky we (The UK) was as a nation to have the opportunities we have. After some years in army I went up the ranks and I enjoyed being apart of the team and the fitness, the army was easy for me and I was very proud.
    After my second tour of Iraq I was injured, a 40ml mortar landed on me and went through my leg, im very lucky. Lucky I still be alive and its a miracle I didnt lose my leg. I was hurt for a long time and spent 2 years in wheelchair. During that time I was on alot of medication as you can imagine, and I was abused and used by everyone id held dear, all for the compensation I would recieve, no one cared what happened and only seen what they can take from me. It was a very hard part of my life, I not only been hurt and the possibility of necer walking again (the doctors told me id never put weight on it again because no metal inside) , never play sports again, id lost my job as could never be a commander and on the ground with my mates and id lost my family all in one.
    When I was in the army I was very proud of being in British army and that we was doing our part for the British people. ( the people I worked with and myself wasnt cow boy soldiers, and not act like the movies, we was professional at our jobs) . But after id just been through all that and to be treated the way I was by these people I found id disgusting and was heart breaking. I felt betrayed and in my mind I needed to rebuild myself. I get a war pension and it really is amazing, im very lucky and greatful for it because gives me the opportunity to travel. After I fixed myself and took myself off my medication I fixed a new passport and I just needed to leave the UK.
    I 1st went to Europe and was hard for me at 1st but I soon got into it, meeting new people and learning how to relax and enjoy the sun on your back with no stresses again, I knew that the UK was somewhere I just didnt feel was my home anymore, so I kept moving.
    I ended up in Asia and after going through Europe and getting tired of all the drunk tourists causing havoc everywhere I went to Asia wanted something different. . I started off going island hopping for awhile and was amazing but wasnt quite for me, the Asian languages are hard and the writing is even harder to learn so the communication was missing so I went in land and ended up in the north of Thailand and on boarder of Loaus in the edge of the jungle. I stayed in a small Buddhist community with a village (aprox 60 people) it was perfect, id work on the farm, collect food, fish, help build and work. I got good at the language but it was never the easiest thing to do, to be able to speak with someone properly, it started to feel kinda lonely. After 14 months I returned back to Europe which I took 8 months before coming back to the UK.
    Ive been back in the UK now since last Christmas, ive given it another shot, ive tried to feel at home here but I cant, I know that for me I need to go somewhere and start a fresh.

    I have some friends from Chile and before I come back to the UK they asked me to go to Chile to work and to get away, (I spoke to them how I felt then and my feeling still havnt changed). So that got me intrested in South America. Ecuador has parts of every landscape rolled into one country and with the Pacific coast. Ive always wanted to travel places in south America like Peru for example, Machu Pichu, so to live in Ecuador is amazing so I looked more and the visa doesnt seem to be an issue there aswell and thats a big convenience as I lwarned in Asia and Russia, it can be a nightmare and because of my pension, the cost of living and the currency exchange I can move to Ecuador and live very comfortably and safe money.
    So ive been looking at this as.. in January im going to go to Ecuador and try find somewhere that has nice community, town, somewhere I can talk with people and interact with aswell as get my own place and try build new life, learn the culture, learn the language and start fresh. (I have a Latin American Rosseta Stone learning study on my laptop from last year when was thinking about going to Chile to work so I will study as much as I can now I know this is what im doing ofcourse).

    thank you for your time to read.




  2.  
    Sharon

    I would fly as close to the coast as possible. I took a bus at night from Quito to Canoa, and didn’t like the ride. Of course I couldn’t really see anything, but it just seemed that the driver was going too fast for all of the turns.




  3.  
    Frank

    My wife and I are looking to explore Ecuador next summer for our 30th anniversary to determine whether we’d like to retire there. We currently live in Colorado, but generally keep to ourselves and are looking for a quiet, inexpensive place to retire with good healthcare. Which cities should we target to explore and how much time should we allocate assuming we fly into Quito and get a rental car?

    Thanks in advance!




    • Doug Morgan
       
      Doug Morgan

      Frank,

      The Canoa, Pedernales and San Clemente areas north of Manta are ideal candidates for you, as they are generally quiet and relatively inexpensive. If you want more cultural or fellow expats, Cuenca is your best bet. Salinas/La Libertab/Olon are must developed and have a livelier beach scene. Vilcabamba/Loja are far removed from the madding crowd but are great if you want to escape the big cities.

      Research the above suggestions to see which towns suit your lifestyle. Then I would suggest a month-long trip to fully explore your chosen locations.

      Good luck and take care,
      Doug




      •  
        Frank

        Thanks for the quick reply Doug!




      •  
        Frank

        Follow-on question – would you recommend we fly into Quito and get a rental car there or add a short flight from Quito to Manta and begin our journey from there?

        Thanks again for all of your advice!




        • Doug Morgan
           
          Doug Morgan

          Flights to Manta from Quito run as little as $40 one-way. It would probably be better to fly into Manta then rent a car there. You may want to check for rentals in Manta first, as I’m not sure if you can easily get a car rental.




  4.  
    Paul

    My wife and I are looking into retiring to Ecuador coast. I turn 50 next year and my wife is 46.

    We are thinking of staying in Ecuador approx. 9 months a year from say Feb thru end of Oct. Go back to US for the Holidays Nov, Dec & Jan

    ?my question is what do ppl do about health insurance for extended stays back in US?

    …also ?what is a realistic budget for two? renting?

    Thank you in advance….Paul & Jeannette




  5.  
    hippie99

    Found the section. Thanks again.




  6.  
    hippie99

    Thanks Doug, I navigated thru your drop down menus but didn’t see a Practical section. Please if it may be under another title?




  7.  
    hippie99

    Are credit cards and travelers checks accepted in Ecuador? Is it costly to cash American Express travelers checks? I would prefer not to carry too much cash for my trip to check out the country. Any suggestions for carrying travel funds? Thanks in advance for any info.




    • Doug Morgan
       
      Doug Morgan

      Hippie,

      Refer to our Practical Information section for your questions about traveller’s checks, credit cards and money.




  8.  
    freshly retired

    I have been looking to retire in Ecuador for several months. I am a single 59 year old in pretty good health who has lived in Asia and Europe during my working years. Cannot stand living in the US and want the mountains, pleasant weather, and market places I have been seeing in these expat posts. How do I start to find a nice apartment (furnished as it is easier than moving a household). As long as I can get the internet and cell phones are there I could be happy. I would miss TV and in Europe I had Sky satellite…anything similar exist their?




  9.  
    hippie99

    What is the least costly way to withdrew or transfer funds from a US bank?

    Is ATM withdrawal a good way to get extra travel funds in case one doesn’t bring enough cash for the trip.

    The other question is the transfer of funds deposited by Social Security in a US bank. For retirement to India, State Bank of India USA branch would do a free transfer to its counterpart in India every 3 months with no transfer fees. Is there a Ecuadorian bank with a branch in the USA that offer similar arrangements?

    Thanks in advance for any info.




  10.  
    hippie99

    Thanks for info. Not worry about petty theft I will be vigilant.




  11.  
    hippie99

    Crime on buses? Pickpockets or entire bus robbed at gunpoint?




    • Doug Morgan
       
      Doug Morgan

      Thefts from personal bags and backpacks on the buses. Also pickpockets as well. Just keep your carry-on bags with you at all times and avoid putting them in the overhead bins and you’ll be fine.




  12.  
    Ella-Livingwell

    Hi, I’m in my early 50s and my husband in his late 50s and both of us are finding it more & more difficult to live healthy in the U.S. with the horrible food choices found in our grocery stores (i.e. GMO’s, Antibiotic steroid pumped up livestock, and all the food additives, heavy metals in our food, etc. etc.) and fluoride in our drinking water, etc. — need I say more? Plus it seems “Retiring Comfortably” in a few years here in the USA is now an Unattainable Dream. So Ecuador looks promising and hoping some of you already living in Ecuador can share some helpful information with me in helping me choose a city/town?
    And I have MS and cannot tolerate extreme cold or heat, and because of other ailments I cannot tolerate damp rainy colder climates either.
    So basically I’m looking for a few things in a city/town to move to:
    1) Moderate climate year-round long
    2) Safe town (well as safe as one can be understanding no where in the world is 100% safe)
    3) Access to good healthcare and vets
    3) Enough land to have my own garden and chickens
    4) Clean drinking water
    5) Plus I LOVE the Ocean and would like to be close enough to the Pacific Coast (hopefully less than 1-2 hour drive safely to a nice beach)
    I’ve already ruled out Cuenca and Quito — for obvious reasons — And now, after some research, I’ve narrowed down my choices to the following towns:
    Loja, Vilcabamba, Cotacachi, Bahia de Caraquez
    Can anyone comment on some of the pros & cons of each? We’d like to purchase land and perhaps build our own home and then hopefully live comfortably and enjoyably on a budget of around $950-1550/month.
    Thanks




    •  
      Bill

      Forget Loja, it’s a dump. Ecuadorians don’t even like the place.

      Cotacaci pretty cold. The coast is dangerous … those other two places beside Vilicabamba you mentioned I don’t know anything about them.

      Vilcabamba has great weather year round; amazing place for that and you could live easy there on your budget. Lots of expats … pretty crazy bunch. I have a lot of friends there … I think it’s a wonderful place. But if you consider yourself normal you may not like it there.




      •  
        Ella-Livingwell

        Thanks Bill for the feedback. Vilcabamba does really sound nice. And I love the ocean, so to hear the coast is dangerous saddens me. Do you mean all along the coast? And yes, my hubby and I – I would categorize us as being fun loving and outgoing people – although with my illness it limits my abilities to have the energy to all the things I’d like to – I can still do most things, but I tire so easy so keeping up with friends at gatherings is sometimes a challenge for me- but that’s one of the reasons we’re looking for a nice climate to move to, to live healthier which would hopefully make it easier for me energy-wise – wanting to do more.

        How are the doctors/hospitals? and sorry I have to ask, how are the bugs and mosquitoes? Most of all, I hate spiders and have to admit I have a terrible case of a arachnophobia (lol!) so please be honest – is it something I’d be encountering a lot of? And problems getting in the house? And things like that? Just a little quirk of mine, lol! My poor husband has to spray around our house because of my fear of spiders getting in house lol! and we’re in NJ which is no where near the tropics lol! :)

        How about horseback riding in this town? Are there any nice horse people in the area for places to go riding?




        • Doug Morgan
           
          Doug Morgan

          I don’t know what Bill is talking when it comes to the coast be “dangerous,” unless he’s talking about Guayaquil or Manta. Most crime in Ecuador is restricted to the big cities and the inter-province buses. The coast itself is relatively crime-free and easy-going.




          •  
            Ella-Livingwell

            Thanks Doug for you reply – could tell me what is your favorite city in Ecuador and why? and do you live there? I’m trying to get a feel what city would be meet my needs and unfortunately Cuenca is too high up altitude and colder and rainier for my taste otherwise it sounds like the friendliest and nicest city for Expats/ Americans. Other than Cuenca what could suggest for a warmer climate but still stay relatively safe in a friendly to Americans environment, becuase I’ve heard & read thru other Blogs and Chat rooms that Ecuadorians in Vilcabamba do not like Americans and can be very hostile towards Americans unlike the people in Loja who I’ve heard a more laid back but do not speak a lot of English so I would have a difficult time until I could learn Spanish. Thanks for any feedback you can give me. Best, Ella




            • Doug Morgan
               
              Doug Morgan

              Banos is my favorite town in Ecuador. Well, that and Salinas or Puerto Lopez. Banos is about an hour away from Puyo, which is on the fringe on the Amazon rainforest. Banos is known as the extreme sports mecca of Ecuador. Lots of tourists pass through Banos on their way to the rainforest and all the great rafting and jungle adventures that are there.

              Banos is VERY cheap, has lots of English speaking restaurants and hotels, and is about 4 hours southeast of Quito. Banos has a very moderate climate because the altitude is much lower than Quito and the town itself is very laid-back. There are Spanish schools in Banos as well.

              The only problem is the proximity of the very active Tungurahua volcano, but I would worry about that.

              Salinas is like a little South Beach (Miami) but much cheaper, and Puerto Lopez is a sleepy little fishing village a few hours from Salinas and Manta. Puerto Lopez is the gateway to Isla de la Plata (the poor man’s Galapagos) and the best whale-watching in Ecuador. Every morning you can go to the beach and get fresh caught fish and lobster right of the local boats. You negotiate the prices and the someone is always available to filet your fish right in front of you. Puerto Lopez is cheap, accessible and small enough to lose yourself in.




              •  
                Ella-Livingwell

                Thanks so much Doug for your input and great detail! I love the ocean and would hate not being able to live near or close to it – and to read your comments is great news! & what you’re describing sounds like any of those towns would definitely meet my needs and still in a friendly environment. Thanks again so much!
                Couple more questions, first I heard mosquitoes can be a huge problem by ocean towns at certain times of the year – do you experience this?
                And are there places near the ocean towns where we could ride horses. Thanks




    •  
      Ron

      Ella — Try Puerto Cayo. Just north of Puerto Lopez. Palmera Beach is a gated community with all the amenities. Horse back riding is just down the road. There is also a new “mini-ranch” horse community coming with 2-acre lots with plenty of room for a garden and across the street from the beach. It is by the same developer.




      •  
        Ella-Livingwell

        Ron, thanks so much for sharing that info regarding beach towns; actually a gated community does sound very appealing. I’m still thinking being in a little higher elevation (not too high) might actually be just as nice or nicer so there would be less mosquitoes during rainy months. And Banos that Doug mentioned sounds really nice too but thinking the elevation for my health might be too high? And hoping I can get some additional feedback from other expats who may have lived or live in Vilcabamba because the climate/weather; elevation seems so perfect – so if anyone else can maybe share there experiences with me about that town – just would like to know if what I read is true that although a lot of english speaking expats are there, I’ve read accounts by people saying the Ecuadorians in that area do not like Americans and can be dangerous?; perhaps considering Loja instead would be recommended as far as being in a safer friendlier town/area towards Americans? Again, THANKS SO MUCH to all of you who replied to me & shared your info – your feedback has given me a lot of food for thought helping me narrow down my search for when I come to visit soon so I can concentrate on certain pre-chosen areas to visit!




        •  
          Sharon

          I just got back from visiting Ecuador two months ago. I didn’t like Quito, although I had a great shrimp salad in the Marascal district. And I didn’t like the 9,000 ft. high elev.. Flew to Loja airport, and then took a windy crazy van ride to Vilcabamba. I loved Vilca. The temp. was great. I was here during the windy season, which felt nice during the day or evening. When the sun went down the temp. did not drop too much. Vilca is in a beautiful valley, and I did get mosquito bites in my hotel room. They do provide those things you plug into the wall to keep the bugs away. But I didn’t find out until I was ready to leave. Went back to Quito – couldn’t get a flight (standby) so I went to the coast (Canoa – had a contact there). I was blown away by the beautiful weather on the coast. It may be 85 degrees, but on the beach, with the wind blowing 24/7 I wasn’t even hot. And the wind keeps mosquitoes away. I actually got less mosquitoes (one or two in a two week period) on the coast than inland. Also the beach (and from pictures of other coastal towns in Ecuador) was fantastic!! It was miles long, very wide and very deep. You could be 50 yards or more out into the ocean and still be up to your ankles or knees. Just beautiful.

          Someone I met there also liked Banos. I didn’t think I would be big about the coast, but if I was going to live there that’s probably where I would wind up. There are so many towns/cities on the coast. You really need to read about (see videos on line), and then get boots on the ground to see if it’s for you. I was told the medical is approx. $70.00 per month. And I think it covers most everything. Best!….. Sharon




  13.  
    hippie99

    Do Americans need a visa to spend a few months in Ecuador? Am not seeking residency at this time but like to check it out as a traveler.




    • Doug Morgan
       
      Doug Morgan

      You will get a 90-day tourist visa when you enter Ecuador.




      •  
        hippie99

        Thanks. That is convenient. Perhaps a visit to a bordering country gets another 90 days upon re-entry?




        • Doug Morgan
           
          Doug Morgan

          No, unfortunately, like many South American countries, Ecuador only permits you to spend 90 days in the country during a calendar year period as a tourist. You can get a 90-day extension but that has its own special requirements. See are “Visas and Immigration” section under the Relocation tab for more details.




  14.  
    Doug

    I am very interested in finding out more about retiring in Ecuador.
    Any info would help. Single 65 year old guy.




  15.  
    Segundo

    Great place to be. I lived there for more than 19 years. I enjoyed ever minute of it. Especially the Inca textiles.




  16.  
    Karen

    I am thinking about retirement at age 65, in a couple of years, in Ecuador. I have been researching for a few months and think I would prefer to live on or near the beach. I have been looking at Salinas, Bahia De Caraquez and Montanita. Any thoughts on these three areas? or any suggestions as to other areas?




    •  
      Gary

      Karen,

      Try looking at Puerto Cayo. There are a few nice communities there: Grand Palmas, Palmera Beach, etc.

      Gary




  17.  
    Bill

    Hi Sandi

    The best place in Ecuador for me is Vilcabamba. It’s very friendly … you will know many people fast. But it’s more of a artist funky crazy new age town … Many fun people to talk to.

    The other expat communities are much more conservative and don’t have the great weather. But that’s my take on it




  18.  
    Sandi

    Hi I’m 67 yrs old healthy and active. I’m single and want a locale safe and welcoming for a female. Looking to rent and want cultural and active communities with history. Any suggestions? Sandi




    • Doug Morgan
       
      Doug Morgan

      Cuenca and Quito both suit your needs. Cuenca is slightly lower elevation; truly I would recommend Vilcabamba as your best bet.




  19.  
    DENISE

    WE, 2 COUPLES ARE THINKING OF SPENDING A MONTH OR SO IN DECEMBER 2014 TO JAN 2015 AND WOULD LIKE TO KNOW A CONDO ON THE BEACH CLOSE TO THE CITY CENTRE, WE WOULD RENT A CAR, I THINK.
    WOULD ANYONE KNOW RECOMMEND WHERE WE COULD FIND A 2 BEDROOM CONDO FULLY FURNISHED AND HOW MUCH IT WOULD COST APPROXIMATELY WITH ALL UTILITIES.

    ANY OTHER SUGGESTIONS WOULD BE WELCOME.
    WE ARE FROM CANADA AND REALLY WANT TO GET OUT OF THE SNOW HERE AND WOULD LIKE TO EXPLORE ECUADOR, BEACHES, CITIES AND THE ISLANDS FOR SURE.

    THANKS FOR THE INFO




    •  
      Gary

      Denise ,

      If you don’t mind being out of the city center, then I would suggest Puerto Cayo . It is a beautiful beach town and not too far from other attractions.




  20.  
    Bill

    You will not need an air conditioner in Vilcabamba the weather there is perfect
    Cuenca is cool and damp for me some people like it I do not ..I have lived in both places and Vilcabamba is pretty hard to beat. i was never so comfortable in my life.
    the coast is to hot for me




  21.  
    Darla

    I’m considering moving to Cuenca to retire. Does it rain there everyday? Seems cooler than I first expected? Also, do apartments in Vilcabamba have a/c?




  22.  
    hippie99

    A temperature range of 35-75F is what I consider perfect. How hot does Vilcambamba gets?




  23.  
    Joe

    Thanks for writing. You know how every bit of info is very important. I thought that Loja had more activities. What about healthcare? Car rental when we arrive in Catamayo airport.? What’s the big hype on Cuenca??
    Thanks




  24.  
    hippie99

    Thank you for your info. I read cost of living in Vilcambamba online but it is somewhat outdated. How is the inflation affecting expat living in Ecuador & Vilcanbamba the last several years? It is hard for me to move there until 2016 at the earliest.




    •  
      Susan in QUito

      Every thing in Latin America and in developing countries, like Ecuador esp. and others, is in flux, CHANGING all the time. Please understand that fundamental and you will save yourself a lot of trouble financially, socially, etc. in making a major life change like moving to another country. This is not a sized-down Spain or Chile. This is Ecuador and its cultural past and present is DIFFERENT than everywhere else.

      If you are planning to come here, read everything you can and know what you really are comfortable with, large cities, small and simpler places, sophisticated or whatever you prefer. Travel around and take notes. It is not a process for the faint of heart; it takes time and a LOT OF PATIENCE here and people make errors even even when they are savvy travelers and know the drill in many places they have been.

      Be aware that as the country gets richer (the minimum wage was raised by the govt. in Quito this year to $340 per month) and people “want more” consumer goods and the life they believe they deserve, there is a tide of rising expectations and more crime comes with that. Crime rates (mostly theft, sometimes armed robbery and assaults on rich(er) visitors) is definitely rising in Quito in the 3 years I have lived here — My smart expat friends tell me the same. Come prepared, enjoy.

      I love this country as I find it but I learn everyday something new about it — and have lived in other countries in Latin America, Chile and Argentina. So be brave, be patient and make your own choices — this is my best advice. Check on prices and costs nearer to the time you plan to travel here.

      Buena Suerte.




  25.  
    isabel

    Dear Expats!
    My name is Isabel Noboa, im an attorney and currently living in Quito, Ecuador.
    I also speak fluent english since I went to highschool in the USA.
    Please dont hesitate to email me for any legal or non legal advcie in Ecuador.
    Hope you enjoy your stay

    :)




    •  
      Sharon

      Hi Isabel: I am planning a trip to Quito within a few months. Just waiting for a document from the Ecuadorian Consulate. I would like to start the process of Pension Visa when I arrive. I have one suggestion for someone to help me (a good recommendation). Do you help people thru this process, and if so what is your price? Or maybe you know of someone else who has a good price?
      Sharon




    •  
      Nabil

      Hi:

      May I inquire about practicing law in Ecaudor? Can a Canadian law graduate practice law there?




    •  

      I am considering moving to Cuenca or possibly another smaller town. I am the guardian of my 14 year old grandson. If we move it would be next summer and then he would need to go to high school. His Spanish will be quite elementary.Do you know anything about options for bi-lingual high school ? We will be living on a small income so paying a big fee is not an option.
      Thanks, Martine




    •  
      Rich

      Hi Isabel,

      Can you recommend an area to stay and some hotels in Quito? I would like to see the City maybe this winter and try to get a feel for Ecuador. I have been to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico many times and thought I might end up there. Summer seems like it would be a bit too hot though.

      Sincere Thanks!!




      • Doug Morgan
         
        Doug Morgan

        Be sure to check out our hotel recommendations in the Quito section under the tab “Stay.”

        Doug at Your Escape to Ecuador




      •  
        anne k.

        i would suggest The Hotel Sebastin in Quito. It is very clean! The staff is excellent and the restaurant in the hotel has a very good menu.




  26.  
    Joe

    Hi, any Baptist churches in Catamayo, Malacatos, Vilcabamba, Zaruma, Loja & Machala areas?
    Any preferences for semi-retirement in these areas? Any NGO’s or ministries?

    Our desire is simple: to serve in the community via Church or organizations. Please help!

    Pastor/Chaplain Joe n Raquel. Chaplainjoegomez@aol.com Gracias




  27.  
    Joe Gomez

    Hi, kindly inform me about the differences in Loja, Catamayo, Malacatos, Vilcabamba; anything and everything. Thanks.




    •  
      Bill

      Hi I have lived in Ecuador 4 years You wanted to know about Vilcabamba and Loja .. I really cannot see an Expat living in Loja .. But Vilcabam is close to it very nice and many expats . The weather is perfect every day even when its rains its hevenly.. Their are very nice resturants there and many gringos. Vilcabamba has a wide range of expats very interesting place if you like Good converstaion and there is always some kind of Music going on.
      You will find some people will tell you crazy Gringos live there I find them very fun and friendly. you can find Yoga classes and many new age activities there also. But Loja is very much just a Blue collar working mans town from the many times i have been there i think any active person would be quit bored there.




      •  
        Susan in QUito

        Can you be more specific about Loja, please ?? I’ve lived in QUito 3 years and spent 10 days walking around Loja a couple of years ago. For people who party and drink and drug a lot, it would not suit as the social life is small and potentially boring, I would guess. However with four universities and good public access TV it might be a good place, for some slower-lane people like me..IMO.

        Do you know Loja well? Let me know privately — I plan a visit soon to check out current conditions in Loja. SUEB4BS@YAHOO.COM

        Many thanks. Susan




  28.  
    Georgia

    Hi
    Just moved to Cuenca, Ecuador.
    I am 65 year old retired RN.
    Lots of hustle and bustle in Cuenca but quiet at night.
    People very friendly and always willing to help with directions, restaurant recommendations etc.
    Staying in a Guest House that is very reasonable, clean, friendly … while looking for permanent accommodation.
    Ate at a few places that were very good, reasonable, freshly prepared and fresh ingredients. The chicken is amazing, not like the chicken back home.
    Could let you know when I go to the coast to Salinas or Galapagos.
    Good luck !




  29.  
    Doug

    Hello,

    Looking for advice on best City/Town to live in. I am a 65 year old single/divorced man looking at Ecuador. I love the mountains/valleys and occasional beach. Is it safe for a single man to live in most places, easy to meet people, friends, etc? Looking to become a member of the community. Am a musician (play keyboards), can work on computers, etc. Friendly and outgoing….

    Any advice would help. Many areas sound good. But would like to meet and become friends with people.

    Thanks,
    Doug




  30.  
    Wyn

    I’m an avid motorcycle rider. I’ve been pouring over information i.e. living expenses etc. in Ecuador. Having been unable to find out any info. on road conditions, tour riding etc., is there anyone out there that can provide any information? I’m planning to retire to South America and Ecuador seems like a great place. Just want to find out about riding there.




    •  
      Albert

      Hey Wyn,

      My wife and I visited Ecuador in November/December 2013 and we absolutely loved it. The roads in Ecuador are absolutely the best in all of south america and I know because we have been to Peru, Chile, Argentina and Uruguay. Salinas is a nice town and is in the middle of a building boom with all the highrise apartments going up; however, the prices are still very reasonable at around $70,000 to 100,000 for various sizes of apartment homes.




    •  
      Sharon

      You’d fit in great in any of the coastal towns. I saw a lot of motor bikes, and three wheelers in Canoa. And I’m sure the other beach towns would be the same. From what I’ve seen and read they drive very aggressively and crazy in the town of Quito and on the freeways. They don’t use indicators when changing lanes. It’s like a free for all, as if they’re racing the Indie 500. I think the speed limit on the … very nice freeway… to the Quito airport is 80 mph.




  31.  
    Larry Lane

    I would like information regarding any long term rentals beginning June 1, 2014, preferably completely furnished house, in Cotacachi. Anyone with this type property for long term can contact me at llane48@cfl.rr.com.

    Thanks and have a great rest of the day and rest of the week!

    Larry




  32.  
    Ken

    I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, and have been considering relocating to Ecuador. I’m in my sixties, healthy, active and single.

    I’d appreciate any tips on where I might be relocate. I like to hike, workout, cook, dance, and motorcycle. I’m an amateur sculptor and ceramicist.

    Any information would be appreciated.

    Looking forward to making new friends.

    Ken




    •  
      Bill

      Vilcabamba is the place for you from the discription you gave




    •  
      Susan in QUito

      Hello Ken: I recommend since you are from the Bay Area, you try Quito. I have lived here for 3 years and love the city. I have lived in Northern CA also for 10 years, my property is in Southern OR near Ashland. Usually 1 x yr I return to the States. Lots of art and music here, a rich cultural scene. Also some fascinating development in cine and other areas of photography and the arts. Crime is going up, on the downside. In some case fairly dramatically. STILL NOTHING LIKE THE U.S. — so come, visit and let’s talk about what you are looking for… Susan in QUito sueb4bs@yahoo.com




    •  

      Hi Ken. I just read your post from last year. I ‘m thinking of moving to Ecuador and am just starting to explore. Am also active single, artist, love to dance etc. If you are already there i’d like to hear about how it’s going for you and where you have landed. if you are still in SF maybe we could talk on the phone. I live in Marin.
      Martine




  33.  
    Louis

    I just retired as a teacher and would like some information on the living conditions in any senior community there.




  34.  
    Joe

    I am planning to retire in May 2014 and I am looking for a great place to retire with low cost, I would go with my wife so I am doing a reserch to see what places to retire. I am interested in Ecuador, but first I would go during the summer to check the places in Ecuador. if someone could give me advise . Thanks




    •  
      Paula

      We just got back from exploring Ecuador for a month and have returned home to sell out! It will not matter much if you visit summer or winter as there is only about a 1 degree difference. On the equator its sunrise at 6 ish and sunset at 6ish and the temperature does not vary much. I couldn’t believe but, we didn’t need air or heat. I love to sleep cold under blankets and it’s perfect. Getting out of bed in the morning is chilly but, it quickly warms up. Stick a space heater in the bathroom and you have it made! We only visited towns in the Andes but, we loved it.




    •  
      Peter and Lisel

      Hi Joe: Suggestion– Google “retirement communities in Ecuador” Gives you many choices to pick from. Best wishes in your search.




  35.  
    BarbinBaltimore

    I’m always surprised when they give the temperature range of these towns and say “no heat or air conditioning needed”. I, for one, would want some heat if the nights get down to 45 degrees Fahrenheit! Would anyone who lives in Loja or Cuenca or Quito please comment on if you get chilly at night? Thanks!




    •  
      F. Vottero

      Sure, it gets chilly at night in Quito and Cuenca. But nothing a blanket or two won’t fix.




    •  
      Bill

      yes it gets cold you want perfect weather go to Vilcabamba the rest of tehmountain towns are chilly often




    •  
      Susan in QUito

      In Cuenca it is very cold many times of the year at night. You need Andean-style blankets while sleeping — I lived there for 1.5 months and it is colder overall than Quito. And Quito can be very chilly at night. Both cities are high in the Andes so of course, mountain temps across the world are much colder at night!

      Come check it out for yourself.




  36.  
    GringoTed

    I thought about moving to Cuenca, but now I think Loja may be a better choice.

    Good information. I’ll be sure to look at most of these towns.




    •  
      Georgia

      Me too. I thought Cuenca but Loja sounds perfect.
      No snow but how about mosquitoes?




      •  
        Carlos "ElGringoBueno"

        not a lot of ‘sQuitos at 6,500′ (Loja) or 8,500′ (Cuenca) or 9,300′ (Quito) above sea level. apparently, sQuito’s are only a problem in coastal Ec during 3-4 months per year, i.e., the “rainy” season.

        I’ve been researching Ec towns for retirement over the past 2 months. Lot’s of great options, Loja hit my radar later in the process than Cuenca, but has a lot of advantages. they’re pretty close to each other, so it’ll be easy to compare for yourself once you arrive.




        •  
          Doug

          What do you think of Vilcabamba?

          Checking ‘on-line’ on Cuenca and Quito.
          I like the mtns and a little quieter. Beach once in a while, but not to live there.

          Doug.





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