South America is not mentioned enough in blogs and advice columns discussing the places around the world for an American to retire or live abroad. In my opinion South America is one of the best options for retirees and expats.
South America may not be as cheap as the places like the Dominican Republic, but it is way more developed than any country in the Caribbean where you can buy a passport for as little as $100,000 dollars. Don’t get confused, some parts of South America have a low cost of living, but not all.
I mentioned a low cost of living because it is one of the most important defining factors that retirees, expats, foreign investors, and young Americans wanting to start a new life take into consideration when they deciding where to move.
One of the countries in South America that is not as well known, but still is starting to get noticed as the optimal place to retire or live in South America is Ecuador. Ecuador has everything an American desires in a foreign country, and it has an easy to navigate immigration system.
The first step in become a resident or a citizen of Ecuador is to apply for a temporary resident visa. You will need the following documents to show in your application:
- Visa form application
- Passport copy, passport must be at least 6 months active
- Document showing a clean criminal record
- Proof of financial stability and that the applicant has the means to provide for himself and his dependents, this is not applicable if the applicant has a job offer from a company in Ecuador
I would not recommend staying with a temporary resident visa. A permanent residency is a much more stable form of living in Ecuador and can transform into a citizenship after a certain amount of time.
There are 7 types of Permanent Resident Visa options in Ecuador:
- Pensioner Visa
- Real Estate Investor Visa
- Certificate of Deposit Visa
- Industrial Investor Visa
- Legal Representative, work, or Religious Visa
- Professional Visa
- Dependent Visa
The Pensioner Visa, which is the visa that American retirees get to become permanent residents in Ecuador requires for the applicant to prove that he receives a pension of at least $800 dollars a month from a trusted source. A bank or a financial institution will do just fine.
The Real Estate Visa is another fantastic and cheap option. It is common for countries to offer real estate visas, but you will not find one as cheap as in Ecuador. You must invest at least $25,000 dollars in real estate which is enough to buy you a house in some parts of Ecuador.
The legal representative, work, or religious visa is given to Americans who have a company under their name. A condition that this visa has is that the workforce of your company needs to be at least 80% Ecuadorian citizens.
A work visa in Ecuador works very similar to how an H-1B visa works in the United States. You need a company from the country to sponsor you, give you a job where your experience meets the requirements, and pay you a good salary.
The industrial or investor visa is also extremely low if you compare them to other countries. In order to begin the application for the investment visa an American must make an investment in a certain sector in Ecuador that the government deems that it needs help.
If you wish to export anything from agricultural products, livestock, minerals, or any relevant natural resource in Ecuador you qualify for this visa. The sum of your investment must equal at least $30,000.
The economic dependence visa is exactly what is sounds like. This is a visa for a dependant of someone who is a permanent resident under any of the aforementioned conditions. Any blood related family member can qualify for this visa.
The Ecuadorian immigration system has one of the fastest paths to citizenship in the world. After 3 years in permanent resident status you can begin your application and become a citizen of the country.
There are a number of American retiree communities in Ecuador right now and I expect the number to continue growing. Ecuador is a great option for you to live and spend your remaining years, send us a message and we will gladly help you with this process.
I hope you’ve found this article on how to get residency in Ecuador to be helpful. For more information, or for assistance with residency in Ecuador or elsewhere, please contact us below by filling out the form, Thank you.