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Moving to Ecuador

Source: Flickr | ximena

Ecuador, also known as the Banana Republic, is the land of the Galapagos Islands, the Andes Mountains, and some of the most sought after coffee beans in the world. Surrounded by the beautiful Spanish colonial cities, underdeveloped beaches, outdoor activities, urban life, and mountain scapes, Ecuador is becoming a favourable new home and investment opportunity for expats from all around the world.

The history of Ecuador is rich with culture, with pre Columbian tribes including the Mantenos, Huancavileas, and Incas. Citizens of these tribes were warriors, traders, and craftsmen, erecting cities and leaving archaeological evidence behind, including gold jewellery, pearls, baskets, and pottery. Spanish conquistadors arrived in Ecuador in the late 15th century and colonized, utilizing the vast available resources. In 1809, residendts of Ecuador initiated the War of Independence, to break away from the Spanish king, resulting in Ecuador breaking away from Spain and becoming the Republic of Ecuador in 1822.

The country, with its low cost of living, historical lure, modern amenities in urban areas, and economic growth makes moving to Ecuador attractive to western expats. Ecuador has a steadily growing economy as a result of the introduction of the US Dollar as their main currency and due to exports in petrol, bananas, flowers, shrimp, coffee, cacao, coffee, hemp, wood, and shrimp. Since the oil boom in 2006, investments within Ecuador is a favourable decision, with prices currently low with steady appreciation. Ecuadorian government wants to attract foreign investment, with liberalized investment regulations that allow local and foreign investors to be treated equal, allowing everyone the same rights to enter into the enterprise market. The most popular enterprises in Ecuador are tourism, agriculture and forestry, and fishing and aquaculture.

Job Market

Despite having a growing economy, the job market in Ecuador may prove challenging for expats expecting a higher pay. Considering that Ecuador is a developing nation, there is a high demand for fluent English speakers to teach English, either online or in schools, a job that pays $350 to $500 monthly.

Travel agencies and recreation guides are careers in high demand of fluent English speakers to entertain tourists. If, on the other hand, you're working from home for a company abroad, as a freelancer or looking to start your own enterprise, Ecuador may prove a great place to live.

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Property Information

Finding a place to reside in Ecuador is easy to come by. Whether someone should rent or buy a residence all depends on their short term and long term goals in Ecuador.

Buying an apartment within a City Centre will come at the average cost of $1,240 per square meter and outside the City Centre will cost an average of $1,000 per square meter.

If you don't want to maintain property in Ecuador, renting is affordable. However, because of the developing economy, buying a residence would prove to be a favourable investment because prices are currently lower, but there will be appreciating value. Many expats buy property in Ecuador as investment property or vacation homes for a fraction of the cost in comparison to their home country. Those who own property in Ecuador who are not Ecuadorian citizens will have an easier time gaining residence status in Ecuador. Many expats also, because of the low cost of living, can afford to own multiple homes in Ecuador, which includes city apartments, beach homes, and country villas.

Renting a one bedroom apartment in the City Centre of a major metropolis will cost an average of $471 per month and a three bedroom apartment will cost an average of $1,000 per month.

Renting a one bedroom apartment outside of the City Centre will cost an average of $360 per month and a three bedroom apartment will cost an average of $570.

Cost of living

Residents of Ecuador can enjoy a low cost of living, with an annual average living cost of$17,000 per individual. In metropolis areas, entertainment and world class restaurants are vast and affordable.

A multiple course dinner for two with drinks in a world class restaurant will cost an average of $50. Of course if someone is looking for a quick lunch at a local hub, a meal will cost between $3 and $5.

Groceries from the local supermarket or street venders can be bought at a fraction of the price that expats are used to. Four avocados can be bought for $1, a litre of milk can be bought for $1.10, a dozen eggs can be bought for $2.12, and a loaf of bread can be bought for $1.40.

Ecuador has locally brewed beer as well as imported. Locally brewed beer costs 80 cents per bottle while imported beer will cost about $3.00. Wine, because it is imported from Chile and Argentina, is slightly more expensive, costing an average of $10 to $15 per bottle.

Health care is also available at very affordable rates. There is a public health system with facilities that offer free medical attention, however because of the public demand, it may take some time to schedule an appointment with a doctor. There are private medical insurance companies that offer better health plans, ranging from $15 to $67 per month, depending on the age and needs of the individual. An average visit to a general physician will cost between $20 and $25, while a visit to a specialist will cost between $30 and $40. Doctors in Ecuador are educated in Western medicine, many on whom attended universities in Europe or the United States, so there are high standards in the quality of the care given.

Neighbourhoods

The two most desired metropolis areas for expats to move to are Quito, the capital of Ecuador, and Cuenca. Quito is remarked as being the most beautiful city in South America, noted for its Spanish colonial architecture and awe of being surrounded by the peaks of the Andes Mountains.

Quito’s 1.5 million residents have access to Western amenities, including efficient public transportation, internet connection, and mobile services. Public transportation is both affordable, but crowded. A bus ride will cost 25 cents, and rarely will a taxi cost more than $5. With a bustling metropolis, world class restaurants, and beautiful parks, Quito has many surprises on offer.

  • Old Town: With many churches, theatres, monasteries, and convents, this part of town is calm and within walking distance to attractions.
  • New Town: This area offers newer buildings and a bustling commercial street.
  • La Mariscal: This neighbourhood his an area for the younger crowd, offering residents a lively night scene with bars, clubs, and numerous restaurants.
  • La Floresta: Residents in this newer neighbourhood can enjoy condo living with upscale shops.
  • Cuenca: Has been nominated by the World Heritage Trust site as being one of the best cities to retire. It was also nominated as the most liveable city in Latin America by an international association of urban planners. Cuenca prides itself in historical preservation, education provided by seven universities, and a state of colonial preservation.
  • El Centro: This area in the City Centre is where everything is at. Residents can live in colonial preservation with modern amenities, surrounded by shops, cafes, and bars.
  • Rio Tomebamba: This suburb offers upscale living with tranquillity, perfect for retiring or raising a family.
  • Avenida Solano: This gated and upscale community offers residents posh homes in a safe and calm neighbourhood.
  • West Cuenca: Modern high rise condo living surrounded by parks allows for families and couples to live in modern luxury close to outdoor activities.

Schools and Education

Families with school aged children will have two options for schools: free public schools or private schools.

In the 1980s, the illiteracy rate in Ecuador was at an alarming low, so the government began prioritizing education. Today, there is much debate over whether or not private or public schools offer better education. In many instances, there is speculation that teachers in private schools allow students to move up because parents are paying tuition and there have been instances where private schools are not accredited.

Public schools have to adhere to government regulations, so every teacher has proper certifications and accreditations. Students are required to wear a uniform. In many public schools, the government will offer free basic uniforms for students. Because of lack of funds, some public schools may ask parents for small donations of an average of $30 per year as well as donating a couple of days per year for cleaning because there are no custodians. School days are short, and the many local, national, and religious holidays throughout the year make a school year last approximately 10 months of the year.

Cost of moving

For those looking to move to Ecuador and ship their items, a move of an average family will cost:
From United States 3500 Euros to $4383 USD
From Canada 4500 Euros to $5635 USD
From Europe 4400 Euros to $5510 USD
From Australia 5500 Euros to $6887 USD
From United Arab Emirates 8100 to $10,143 USD

Cities in Ecuador