Retiring in Ecuador: a complete guide
Ecuador has much to offer US retirees and potential future residents. From the reasonable cost of living to the accessible visa process, here’s everything you need to know if you’re considering retiring in Ecuador soon.
With an estimated 10,000 Americans currently based there, including many older folk, Ecuador is regularly voted one of the best countries to live in as an expatriate.
The Republic of Ecuador is known for its breathtaking natural wonders, rich cultural heritage, and wealth of biodiversity. There’s much to love and appreciate about life in the sovereign state.
There’s also much to be aware of before committing to such an important relocation decision. The climate is springlike and comfortable, but the infrastructure in certain areas is underdeveloped or underregulated. The culture is inviting and welcoming, but in many ways, very different from what you might be used to in North America.
What’s the average cost to retire in Ecuador?
Whether you’re retiring to Ecuador, Thailand or Turkey, one fact will remain the same: Before settling on a decision, you'll need to confirm that you’re 100 percent able to afford the costs associated with retiring to the country you choose. This will include visa application fees, packing and moving expenses and living costs once you’ve arrived.
Overall, the cost of living in Ecuador is about 54 percent lower than in the US, which is good news for most. In the Ecuadorian city of Cuenca, for example, a retired couple needs around $20,400 annually to get by.
Expats in Ecuador also enjoy the same rights as Ecuadorian citizens, meaning as foreign resident retirees, you’ll get the chance to benefit from:
Halved prices on all public and private transport (including international flights)
Discounted electric bills
Discounted water bills
Free local landline phone services
Discounted tickets for certain events
Tax exemptions and reductions
As you’re budgeting for a potential future in Ecuador, note that one of the minimum requirements for the Ecuador Retirement Visa is proof that you’re earning a minimum monthly income of $1,275. You’ll also need to add $250 to that figure per dependent if applicable.
Which visas do I need to retire in Ecuador?
There are two ways to retire to Ecuador if you’re a US citizen permanently, provided that:
You meet the minimum income requirement for a retiree (detailed above).
You have purchased private health insurance covering at least 90 days.
You have passed an FBI background check and have a clean criminal record.
Firstly, you can visit the country as usual for any other vacation and apply for an Ecuador Retirement Visa while there. To do this, you must have prepared some documentation in advance, including a certificate guaranteeing your income (and thus your ability to live, pay bills, etc., as a retiree in Ecuador).
Secondly, and more commonly, you can apply for this visa in person or online from abroad. If you choose the online option, you must still attend an in-person interview at your nearest Ecuadorian embassy.
US citizens can enter Ecuador for 90 days within a year without a Retirement Visa. Still, they must have health insurance coverage for that 90-day timeframe and pursue visa options if they want to stay longer.
Later down the line, if you choose to remain in Ecuador permanently, you’ll have the chance to get an Ecuador Permanent Residency Visa, often referred to as a PRV. You can apply for this 21 months after you receive your Ecuador Retirement Visa and start living in the country.
Where are the best locations in Ecuador to retire?
The best place to spend your relaxing retired days in Ecuador depends on your lifestyle and the amount you have to put towards your home and living expenses (as certain areas will be costlier than others). Some of the most popular options, from sandy beaches and warm seas to vibrant, bustling cities, are as follows:
Cuenca City, Cuenca – Cuenca is the third largest city in the country and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s a stellar retirement destination if you’re hunting for a laid-back lifestyle, a mild climate and excellent cuisine.
Puerto Lopez, Manabi – this attractive port town is popular with tourists as it’s known to have some exciting nightlife to offer. It’s perfect if you’re looking for a retirement destination that will still provide you with plenty to do, from bars to bikes and hikes.
Mompiche, Esmeraldas – for those looking to spend retirement in serenity, Mompiche is ideal. It’s a small town best known for its beautiful beaches, active yoga scene and opportunity to learn Spanish.
What are my healthcare options in Ecuador?
Ecuador has a national social security healthcare system open to residents of any age. It’s called Institute Ecuatoriano de Seguridad Social, or IESS, and foreign residents can enroll for a monthly fee charged at 17.6 percent of their income. Since this system has its limits, expats often also have private health insurance.
You’ll find it’s far cheaper to get health insurance and medical treatment in Ecuador than in the US. Dental care is also significantly cheaper, costing 80 percent less than similar care in the States.
Understanding the housing market in Ecuador
Ecuador homes will usually be cheaper than homes in the US thanks to the country’s overall lower cost of living. Certain areas are, however, still more expensive than others. For comparison:
|Location||Rent per month for a one-bed apartment||Apartment price per square meter|
What happens to my retirement benefits if I retire in Ecuador?
If you’re eligible for Social Security, you’ll still be able to collect and receive these payments in Ecuador, and you won’t be taxed on this income by the Ecuadorian government. If you maintain a US bank account, it should be easy enough to receive and withdraw monthly benefit checks around the country.
There shouldn’t be much of a barrier regarding holding onto and maximizing your retirement benefits. Also, since you might save on living costs by moving to Ecuador, your relocation decision could see you giving yourself more disposable income than you anticipated.
It’s always worth consulting a financial expert when making significant life decisions like moving abroad – so why not speak to a financial advisor and get their take? A financial advisor can help you plan and realize your dream retirement.
Senior Content Writer
Rachel is a Senior Content Writer at Unbiased. She has nearly a decade of experience writing and producing content across a range of different sectors.