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Latin America Investment News on Viva Tropical

About to Retire? Move to Budget-Friendly Ecuador

Article Summary:

Ecuador has much to offer a budget-savvy retiree; and now many baby boomers are choosing to call this South American nation their new home. Is it a good fit for everyone?

Photo Credit: Inside Tucson Business

Original Article Text From Inside Tucson Business:

Retirement, it’s a big world; how about Ecuador?

While casually perusing my International Living magazine back in April 2010, a headline caught my attention, and my imagination: “Cuenca, Ecuador, International Living’s No. 1 Retirement Haven.” Retirement. Gosh, I hadn’t even given it a thought, until then.

As I continued to read, the pictures were vivid in my mind’s eye, “The heart of the city is its largest plaza, the tree-shaped Parque Calderon, where musicians play in the bandstand and street vendors sell everything from peanuts to dog clothes.”

The more I read, the more I wanted to know. I was feeling drawn to this place and imagined what it might be like to retire in a foreign country. The Internet provided an endless supply of photographs and You Tube videos to fuel my fantasy.

Retirement? After my husband and I discussed it we decided to visit to see if it was everything I envisioned. I was ready for an adventure.

Ecuador has much to offer. Located on the equator, about the size of Colorado, Ecuador is rich in ecological diversity. There are four, distinct geographical areas; the Sierra (the Andes mountains), the Oriente (eastern
rainforests), La Costa (pacific coastal plains) and the Galapagos Islands.
Ecuador’s 14.5 million people are just as diverse and fascinating.
On our first visit to Cuenca, I was impressed by the magnificent, Spanish-colonial architecture, circa 1500s, intact and well-maintained. It is a European-style, bustling city with beautiful churches, immaculate-kept cobblestone streets, great restaurants, shops, hospitals, museums and universities. Four rushing streams with grassy banks and huge trees flow through the city. Along them, residents jog, stroll with their children or walk their dogs.

We could see why Cuenca was declared a “World Heritage Site” in 1999 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). We were not disappointed.

We started to think seriously about retiring in Ecuador and returned last month.

Our goal was to drill down to investigate the options regarding various cities in the Andes and how we might still earn some money while living our retirement adventure and to report the same to you.

Our first stop was Quito, the country’s capital. As Ecuador’s second largest city, with a population of 1.4 million, it is big and bustling. It, too, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. While a grand city, it was very busy and we found the prices were considerably higher than in other cities we visited.
Our next stop was Cotacachi, a great place to visit with many expats in residence. It is a sleepy little town of less than 9,000 people that is known world-wide for it’s leather goods with shops upon shops competing for the business of foreigners and Ecuadorians seeking quality, handcrafted leather goods. A fine leather jacket that would have cost at least $300 in the U.S., I purchased for $140. When my husband Frank found the jacket he liked but couldn’t find it in his size, the store owner measured him and showed him a selection of leather to chose from. The next afternoon, we returned to pick up his very handsome, custom-made leather jacket for $180. We were amazed. These craftsman take great pride in their work and aim to please their customers.

Moving on we visited Otavalo, Ibarra and San Antonio. Each had wonderful custom-made products made by the indigenous people of Ecuador. Textiles, jewelry, sculpture and magnificent roses. I ordered roses the last time we were in Ecuador and several times in between.

Cuenca was our final destination for this trip. We spent most of our time looking at real estate. Buy or rent? Housing is very affordable. For example, it’s possible to rend a furnished three-bedroom, three-bath condominium from $350 to $800 per month. The high-end condos are luxurious and will often have a maid’s quarters as well. A full-time maid and cook wil cost about $300 per month.

The monthly minimum wage is $312 and these jobs are valued by locals. Property taxes are low for home owners. As you might expect, be cautious of “gringo pricing” — the higher prices that can often be targeted at Americans and Canadians.

Ecuador does not have the same system of real estate agents and multi-listing services that exists in the U.S., nor do they have mortgages. It’s cash and a good local lawyer to help you handle the transaction is essential.

Property taxes generally run $100 or less per year. Nice homes can be purchased for $75,000 to $250,000. Many come fully furnished. Utilities are inexpensive. Gas for stores is provided by propane tanks.
Air conditioners and heaters aren’t needed. Daily temperatures range from 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit and evenings drop down to 45 to 55 degrees.
Electronic devices and appliances are expensive.

Eating out can range from $3. for a two-course meal at a local restaurant to prices comparable to what can be found in Tucson restaurants. There is a wide variety of restaurants and cuisines to chose from.

Gary Scott, an American expert on Ecuador — www.ecuadorliving.com — and author of Passport to International Profit, owns a hotel in Cotacachi and writes a weekly blog about all things Ecuadorian. After closure of a credit union-type bank in Ecuador, I asked Scott if it was safe to take your money to Ecuador.

“Live in Ecuador, do business in Ecuador and keep your savings in other countries,” he said.

Scott believes that being global is vital from an investing and business point of view.

He also recomends renting before buying. His favorite place in Ecuador is Bahia, a coastal town of 50,000 people that has one of the lowest crime rates in the country. It is also the first “eco” city in Ecuador.
Ecuador has the most beautiful roses in the world. I have ordered mine from Roberto Ribadeneira — www.ecuadorshop.net. I interviewed Ribadeneira and his English is excellent.

He told me there are many opportunities for individuals to start an export business in Ecuador. Most importantly he said, start small. Don’t buy inventory first and then try to move it. Get samples, send them, then take orders. Use Ecuadorian mail to ship to Florida and FedEx from there for tracking. If you stay small, thre’s no need for permits or brokers and there aren’t any taxes.

Link to Original Article:

From Inside Tucson Business

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