Retirement in low-cost Ecuador isn’t just for American expats

Retirement in low-cost Ecuador isn’t just for American expats

Retirement in low-cost Ecuador isn’t just for American expats

Affordable retirement in Ecuador isn’t just for expats from the US of A.

Set in South America’s northwest region, Ecuador is bordered by both the ocean and the jungle and bisected by the planet’s longest mountain range. Relaxing on picture perfect Pacific Ocean beaches, trekking through the foothills of the Andes or exploring the Amazon rainforest are just three of the many options available for active expatriates. For those who want something really different, Galapagos National Park holds one of the largest selections of wildlife on the planet, the majority of which is relatively friendly.

If being part of an established expatriate community is an essential, the city of Cuenca is the most popular destination. The former Inca capital is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site in its entirety and its colonial-Spanish environment is genuine and spectacular, as is its traditional music and mild, year-round climate. Cuenca’s cost of living and housing costs are still affordable, and infrastructure improvements over the past ten years make getting around a breeze. High speed internet access is now the norm, and healthcare standards are improving fast without impacting the service’s reasonable costs.

For would-be expats with savings or pensions in US dollars, getting used to the monetary system won’t be an issue as the country actually uses the dollar as its official currency. Another advantage is that dollars can be moved in and out without incurring troubling exchange rate issues. Cuenca’s expatriate community is ready and willing to help new arrivals settle in, but for those who’d prefer to live amongst local people, the small city of Loja is just the place. Another option is nearby Vilcabamba, set in the ‘Valley of Longevity, so-called due to the advanced age of its healthy retirement community.

Since several laws were changed, it’s now far easier to get legal residency in the country, as its minimum income requirement is now the equivalent of just a month’s minimum wage. If residency is the goal, Ecuador’s investment visa programme requires just $40,000 minimum either in a local bank or invested in property. Admittedly, getting used to the local culture, its customs and the language might take a while, and the comparatively high altitude of cities such as Cuenca and Quito also needs adjustment and acclimatisation, but it's worth it for the advantages gained.

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