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Ecuador

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Directly on the equator lies Ecuador, a small country bordering Colombia and Peru. This small country in South America offers three distinct climates as well the Galapagos islands. Expatriates looking to move abroad are realizing the beauty that Ecuador offers for such a low cost.

Officially named the Republic of Ecuador, the country was home to Amerindian groups that incorporated into the Incan Empire in the 15th century. In the 16th century the country was colonized by Spain and later gained independence in 1820, but as part of Gran Colombia. It left ten years later as a sovereign state. In 2008, the country put in place the current constitution.

Facts

  • Population: 16 million
  • Official language: Spanish
  • Capital: Quito
  • Largest City: Guayaquil
  • Size:109,480 sq miles
  • Currency: U.S. Dollar

Culture

Expats traveling abroad in Ecuador will have access to a completely different cultural experience than they are used to. Many popular expat destinations, such as Belize and Costa Rica, offer a Western civilization in the tropics, but Ecuador is still developing and still holds many of its own traditions, untouched by visiting North Americans. The culture of Ecuador is mostly centered around its Spanish heritage and Amerindian traditions as well as some African Elements.

The population is quite diverse with 13 different indigenous groups. The official language of the country is Spanish, but many locals are realizing the advantages of knowing English. Many locals also speak an Amerindian language such as Quichua, a Quechuan language, spoken by almost 2.5 million people.

Residency

There are many residency options to choose from for expats looking to live abroad in Ecuador, or even just visit as tourists.

  • Tourist Visa: This visa is good for 90 days for U.S., Canadian, and most European country citizens. You must present a passport that is valid for at least 6 months and proof that you will be leaving the country after the 90 days.
  • Pensioner Visa: This is available for retirees who receive a pension of $800 or more from their home country, plus $100 a month for each dependent.
  • Investment Visa: With a real estate investment of $25,000 or industry investment of $30,000, you can obtain residency.
  • Professional Visa: You can obtain residency if you have a college degree and would like to use your skills in an industry in Ecuador. This visa is also available to technical experts looking to work abroad in Ecuador under contract for a company based in the country.
  • Economic Dependence: This visa is for those who are financially dependent on residence, holding any type of visa or a citizen. This includes children, spouses, parents, grandparents, and siblings.

Cost of Living

A typical couple can comfortably live abroad in Ecuador for around $1,600 to $2,400 USD a month, depending on your lifestyle and where in Ecuador you choose to live. Many expats take advantage of the low cost of living and own a main home in the city and own a second home in the countryside or on the beach.

Each city is going to have a different cost of living, understandably so. In the capital city of Quito, you can expect to pay around $1,800 a month as a couple.

Cuenca is a city that is located in the valley of the highlands and offers ideal climate, making it a popular area for foreigners so set up a home abroad. Living in a city like Cuenca, the monthly expenses for a couple could look similar to the following:

  • $500 to $600 dollars a month for a large, three-bedroom home
  • $155 for utilities, including phone, water, electricity, internet, and satellite TV
  • $75 for a maid
  • $450 for groceries
  • $140 for maintenance and fuel for a car (many expats use public transportation, roughly $25 a month)
  • $100 for miscellaneous personal items
  • $200 for entertainment for two people
  • $80 for healthcare
  • Total: $1,700 per month or $20,400 a year

Geography and Climate

Because there are distinct geographical regions of the country, climate ranges depending on the location, mostly depending on the altitude. This allows for many options for those looking to live or retire abroad in Ecuador.

  • La Costa (Coastal)– The Pacific coast of the country consists of the provinces west of the Andean mountains. The land is fertile and is the most productive region in the country. The climate here is a humid subtropical one. Temperatures range from 80 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit daily. There is also a severely rainy season in this region from December to April.
  • La Sierra (Highlands)- This region is comprised of the Andean and Inter-Andean provinces. This is where most of Ecuador’s volcanoes and snow-capped peaks reside. In the residential areas of this region, people tend to enjoy the temperate weather. It often stays around 75 degrees during the day and hits 50 degrees during the night.
  • La Amazonía (Amazon)- Also known as El Oriente, or “the east,” this area holds the Amazon jungle regions. It’s largely made up of Amazon national parks and land set aside for Amazon Amerindian tribes to live their traditional lives. Adventurous tourists flock to this region for the river activities, like rafting and kayaking, and witnessing the various plants and animals, many of which are of rare species. The region is quite humid and temperatures hit highs of 80 and 90 degrees daily.
  • Galapagos Islands- Located roughly 620 miles off of the mainland in the Pacific Ocean. The volcanic islands are home to a fragile ecosystem that showcases a large array of biodiversity.

Last Thoughts

If you would like to explore a new place that takes pride in its indigenous people and culture, consider moving abroad to Ecuador. Even though the country is small, the location and various altitudes gives visitors a lot to choose from. The low cost of living only makes the country more attractive.