Retiring in Ecuador and Portugal have intrigued me as possible destinations for stretching my meager retirement funds and experiencing and enjoying new vistas and a different culture. My son’s best friend married a lovely woman from the Galapagos Islands, a province of Ecuador, so I have decided to look into what Ecuador offers first.
Cuenca: photo courtesy of GringosAbroad.com
In a 2014 NBC News article, Amber Payne lists the top five reasons to consider Ecuador for retirement. The first reason is affordability. Payne claims that some retirees say that they can live comfortably on $2,000 per month or less. However, she doesn’t make clear whether this refers to one person or a couple.
While Payne mentions rentals at $600/mo. with no details, I found the following informative 2015 article by Bryan Haines at GringosAbroad.com. In “What to Expect When Renting a House in Ecuador,” Haines gives an honest but positive review of house hunting in Ecuador:
When shopping for rentals it is good to keep an open mind and not judge everything by standards in other countries. I recently accompanied a newly arrived Canadian expat couple on a house hunting expedition and they found an almost new house for rent that they liked. However, the tile in the kitchen was, to be honest, a little on the hideous side. Other than that, the house had everything else they wanted. It had plenty of space, a large yard, was in a good neighborhood and was being offered for $280.00 per month, which is a great price considering the size of the house. I pointed out to them that when renting you have to weigh the pros and cons and realize that there is no perfect house. The big issues such as size, security and convenience always trump minor interior decorating quirks when deciding whether or not to rent a particular house or apartment.
The bottom line is that there are some very nice houses and apartments here for rent and with a little effort you can find a comfortable place for a reasonable price. We have always rented nice houses and have never paid over $300.00 per month. [This is a photo of the house the guest ex-pat and his family rented in 2015 for $260/mo.] With a little help you can deal directly with the owners and negotiate a price within your budget. You don’t have to fall into the trap of inflated rental prices just because you are a foreigner. Not every expat can afford a $700.00 luxury apartment. So, if you are contemplating renting in Ecuador, don’t forget to pack your tool bag and be sure to bring along a positive attitude and an open mind. It will make renting here much more enjoyable. (This article has now been updated and written by a guest ex-pat living in Ecuador.)
I googled up some real estate websites with Ecuador rentals and found that most listings were not that inexpensive. There were quite a few listings for $500-$700/mo for about 800-1200 sq. ft. However, these sites were in English and did not especially look like local real estate offices. Many listings were also on or near the beach. Perhaps, therein lies the difference. I think GringosAbroad.com could probably provide more accurate information on affordable rentals.
I have focused on rentals because even if you should want to own a place, you would probably start out with a rental while getting used to life in Ecuador and determining where in the country you would like to settle down.
Amber Payne also cites the affordability of other living expenses. The website Expatistan provides an updated 2018 chart of the cost of living average expenses for places such as Guayaquil, Quito, and Cuenca. For the most part, the prices quoted for food and other items seem on par with many North American cities, but according to another listing on this website, the cost of living is well below cities such as Boston (52% in Quito) and Minneapolis (54% in Cuenca). Cuenca is listed as having the lowest cost of living of the three cities cited and seems to be a very popular spot for expats. It is located in the Andes Mountains about 3-4 hours drive from the coast.
Amber Payne also notes that Ecuador has several senior discounts, from transportation to entertainment.
One handy feature of living in Ecuador is the official currency, which is the American dollar. Without needing to figure conversion rates, the differences in costs are easily apparent.
I found the following 2014 YouTube video providing useful information on retirement in Cuenca from Live and Invest Overseas. There are several other YouTube videos on Ecuador, some as recent as 2017, providing a bounty of honest information about living in Ecuador. On many, I found the comments by ex-pats below the videos interesting also.
Well, I have covered only the first of the top five reasons Amber Payne cites for retiring in Ecuador. The other four include medical care, accessibility to and from the U.S. and Canada, Ecuador’s beauty and climate, and the charm of Cuenca. I will cover these in subsequent posts, but for now, many of the links provided in this article are a good place to start if you think you might be interested in retiring to Ecuador. On the Live and Invest Overseas website, Kathleen Peddicord discusses Ecuador and other places of interest to retirees. (Note: This is an affiliate listing, meaning that should you go to the website link and purchase any offerings, I may receive a commission but at no cost to you.)
My other posts on Ecuador are