Why Retire To Ecuador?
Baby boomers, the term given to people who were born between 1946 and 1964, are joining the ranks of retired folk at a rapid rate. According to statistics from Investopedia.com, about 10,000 baby boomers retire from working each day. As thousands are making this quick migration from the work force into a life of leisure, some have decided to pull up stakes and move from the life they’ve known for years to a new retirement destination, often in another country. One of the most popular havens for baby boomers seeking a better life after retirement is the small South American country of Ecuador.
Many factors contribute to Ecuador’s growing reputation as a great place to settle during retirement. These include, but are not limited to, its inexpensive cost of living, rich culture, varied climate, improved quality of life, and favorable weather. More and more baby boomers are viewing retirement to Ecuador as a legitimate opportunity for the next phase of their lives and are making this opportunity become a reality.
A Diversified Landscape
Ecuador is a diverse, beautiful country with a variety of flora, fauna and animals. Although the country only covers less than a percent of the land mass of the globe, it is home to ten percent of the animal and plant species of the world. Ecuador’s variety extends to its landscape which includes impressive volcanoes, tropical jungles, sandy beaches, quaint cattle ranches, modern cities, and coastal fishing villages.
There are four primary geographical areas within Ecuador. These include: the Sierra mountains, the La Costa (Pacific coastal plains), the Galapagos Islands, and the Oriente (the eastern rainforests). Retirees tend to gravitate towards Ecuador’s cities, most of which are found in the mountainous regions of the country.
Favorable Climate and Weather
Ecuador lies directly on the equator, which means it experiences 12 hours of direct sunlight every day of the year. Temperatures vary little in Ecuador throughout the year, with very little differentiation among seasons. The country does have a rainy season, from December to May, when temperatures countrywide average in the 70-degree Fahrenheit range and being outdoors is pleasant. From June through November, in what is known as the dry season, skies tend to be cloudier and temperatures are a bit cooler. One added benefit of the temperate weather: because temperatures are so moderate in many of the city areas in which retirees have settled, heating and cooling homes is unnecessary, saving an added expense.
Retirees who move to Ecuador praise the country’s agreeable weather. Most retirees to Ecuador settle within the mountain cities such as Quito and Cuenca. These cities enjoy cooler daytime temperatures averaging in the 70- degree Fahrenheit range and comfortable nighttime temperatures in the 50- degree Fahrenheit range, at elevations climbing to 10,000 feet above sea level. By contrast, temperatures on the coast at the beach average between 80 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. The rainforest area, of course, is a bit warmer and more humid.
Quality of Life
One of the predominant reasons that retirees are choosing Ecuador as their retirement haven is its high quality of life. Although for decades Ecuador has been known as a poor, developing country, in recent years, the Ecuadorian government has been investing money into improving its infrastructure, educational systems, and health care systems. Therefore, retirees who settle in Ecuador learn that they can enjoy the same technological luxuries such as cell phones and Internet to which they have become accustomed back home. One of the most striking features in Ecuador that highlights the progressive nature of the country is its new international airport, the Mariscal Sucre International Airport, that recently opened near Quito. This international airport is filled with modern amenities travelers have come to expect and welcomes incoming visitors from all countries.
Retirees who move to Ecuador will be happy to learn that the country’s health care system is top-notch. With the recent government investment in its health care system, health care in the country is of high quality and quite inexpensive. Hospitals within the country are well-respected, employing recognized specialists and containing state-of-the-art technology. Prescriptions can be obtained for about one-third of the cost that they would be in the United States. This is important to many baby boomer retirees who may be on medications to control some of the inevitable health problems that unfortunately accompany the aging process.
If for some reason retirees in Ecuador have need of nursing home care as they age, this is available as well. Nursing home care in Ecuador is priced at about 40% of the average monthly cost of a nursing home in the United States. It is as high-quality as the healthcare Ecuadorians have come to expect and enjoyed.
The Culture of Ecuador
The stress of daily life to which working Americans have become inured is something that is almost unheard of in Ecuador. Ecuadorians value time in a different way than Americans have traditionally viewed time. This country’s culture values family above all else. Additionally, patience is a virtue practiced by most natives. Some American retirees may have a hard time getting used to the slower pace of life in Ecuador, but they quickly come to realize that things don’t need to happen immediately. This slower pace of life and valuing of free time also has its own health benefits, as many retirees discover that they have more time to exercise, eat right and focus on improving their health. Retirees will also meet many new people, natives and ex-patriots alike, some of whom will become fast friends.
Communication in Ecuador is a breeze for new retirees settling there. While the official language is Spanish, with the recent influx of North Americans to the country, English is spoken virtually countrywide. Additionally, the country has kept up with technology, so retirees find it easy to keep in touch with friends and family back home via telephone and the Internet.
Cost of Living
Ecuador’s official currency is the U.S. dollar, which makes it even more affordable for American baby boomers to retire to this appealing nation. Retirees in Ecuador have discovered that the cost of living is quite low in Ecuador, with food, labor and technology all easily affordable. Many baby boomer retirees in Ecuador report owning a primary home in the city and owning a second vacation home in the beach or country, all while living on less than $20,000 per year. They quickly and happily realize that plenty of time and money is left over for traveling and owning luxury goods to which they have become accustomed in their former lives.
Senior citizens retiring to Ecuador can receive discounts and benefits if their income falls within a specified limit. These include discounts of up to 50 percent on things such as transportation, admission to cultural and recreational events, and electricity, telephone and water services. These benefits are another reason that many baby boomers are attracted to Ecuador as a retirement haven.
Dining out is a favorite pastime of retirees in Ecuador. They are surprised to find that food at the country’s restaurants, bars and cafes is quite good and very inexpensive, making dining out often an easily affordable luxury. Cultural events such as the theater and musical performances are often free to attend, keeping baby boomer retirees happily occupied in their free time.
Retirees who could not afford to hire housekeeping help in the United States will be happy to learn that this is a very cost-effective strategy to keep one’s Ecuadorian living quarters clean. Many hire full-time, live-in maids, while others enjoy the freedom of having part-time housekeeping help come in periodically to beautify their homes.
Renting a modest two-bedroom home in Ecuador averages just $300 per month in city areas. Retirees who choose to own their own home find that this is even more affordable in Ecuador, as property taxes are quite low (the highest at just half a percent). Purchasing land is not a hassle in Ecuador, either, with one of the only real stipulations being the fact that permission is needed if one wants to purchase land within 30 miles of Ecuador’s coastal areas. Apartments may cost from $80 to $90 per square foot to purchase, while homes average $65 to $75 per square foot. Transportation costs can be nil as well, especially for retirees who choose to settle within Ecuador’s cities where everything is within walking distance. Even for retirees who decide that they do want the convenience of owning a car, fuel is quite inexpensive with the price of regular gas averaging under $1.50 per gallon.
Residency visas are quite easily obtained in Ecuador. These will allow retirees to live in the country and come and go easily (with some obvious restrictions on the length of time one can be away from the country and still maintain a residency visa). If a retiree decides to become an Ecuadorian citizen, this can be accomplished after three years of uninterrupted residency in the country.
These reasons highlight why many baby boomers are making the wise choice to join the 16 million who already call Ecuador home and retire to this gorgeous country. Its temperate climate, surprisingly low cost of living and slower pace of life are just a few of the myriad of arguments that can be made for moving to Ecuador in one’s golden years.