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With rising retirement costs in the U.S., many Americans are looking for alternatives to living out the post-employment life they’d always dreamed of. Retirees are turning to other countries that offer low-cost retirement options. Ecuador is just one of the many countries that offer economically competitive conditions for U.S. retirees. With ideal weather conditions and favorable economic circumstances, an Ecuadorian retirement could be right for you. Below, we discuss the process of retiring in Ecuador.

How Much Does it Cost to Retire in Ecuador

Retirees considering settling in Ecuador can generally do so on less than $20,000 per year. If you’re wondering how much of your pension or annuity income you’ll need, you’ll generally be able to survive on less than $1,200 to $1,400 per month. The country’s adoption of the U.S. dollar, along with its low cost of living, also affords expatriates many other benefits. Because Ecuador’s constitution guarantees foreign residents the same rights as its citizens, retirees 65 years and older can also save on things like taxes and healthcare. For instance, Ecuador offers retirees tax exemptions on certain utility and municipal taxes. Exemption also extends to registration and notary fees.

Ecuador also gives retirees 50% off all public and private transportation, discounted electric and water bills, free local landline phone service and discounted tickets for cultural and sporting events. In addition to certain tax exemptions, you’ll also receive reductions on other taxes. And if you’d like to travel to other countries, Ecuador offers retirees 50% airfare reduction on international flights.

Ecuador’s Economy

Ecuador is a developing country with a low cost of living. While this could be advantageous for any retirees looking for an inexpensive place to settle, you should do thorough research before making the country your home. The cost factor of retirement is important, but it’s also advisable to pay attention to a country’s political climate. You’ll want to consider factors like Ecuador’s form of government, its crime statistics and its living conditions. Health, education and housing are also important, especially if you plan to bring dependents.

The country also uses the U.S. dollar as its national currency, so you won’t have to worry about any exchange rates. This will make finances and budgeting much smoother, since price conversions won’t be an issue.

Visa Requirements

While moving to a different country can be extremely exciting, it doesn’t come without residency policies. You’ll want to pay close attention to your country’s visa mandates before you move. Ecuador has visa policies like any other country. For pensioners, the country mandates a minimum pension or income of $800 a month, plus an additional $100 for each dependent. So you’ll want to keep this in mind when determining how to budget your Social Security benefit. You should also note that in Ecuador pensioners can qualify for a visa even if they’re younger than 65 years old.

Healthcare

All residents, regardless of income, have access to Ecuador’s public health insurance. You’ll also have the option of private health care. However, the cost of using the country’s public health insurance will be significantly lower than that of using private health care.

It’s also wise to consider some of the country’s local health issues. Conditions such as typhoid fever, the Zika virus and malaria are all prevalent in Ecuador. That’s why it’s important to make sure you’ve received the proper vaccinations and medical treatment before moving. You’ll also want to consider the altitude differences in different areas. Altitude sickness can be common for those adjusting to new elevation levels. But Ecuador also offers coastal cities with lower altitude than its more mountainous areas. Below, we explore some of the most popular cities for expatriates in Ecuador.

Places to Live for Retirees

You’ll have many cities to consider while planning for retirement in Ecuador. The country offers a variety of mountainous and coastal towns, so you’ll have a range of options. Where you settle ultimately depends on what you’re looking for. For instance, if you’re looking for an inland city with favorable living conditions, you may want to consider Cuenca. Located roughly 8,200 feet above sea level, Cuenca has a population of more than 400,000. Its proximity to the Andes Mountains and its range of historic sites and local restaurants have made it a popular destination for retirees. However, if you’re more interested in coastal areas, you’ll also have a range of cities to choose from. Cities like Manta and Bahia de Caraquez border the country and offer their own perks for residents.

Should You Retire in Ecuador?

Ecuador offers a competitive retirement landscape for Americans looking for options abroad. With its low cost of living, favorable weather conditions and free public insurance, the country could be right for you. As with any country, however, Ecuador enforces its own pensioner visa policies, so you’ll want to make sure you’ve familiarized yourself with those before moving.

Because other factor’s contribute to a country’s living conditions, potential Ecuador expatriates should also consider the country from a holistic standpoint. Things such as the country’s political climate, economic developments and health care policies are all important. In addition, though Ecuador offers low-cost living conditions, it’s nonetheless a developing country with economic and cultural differences. The country’s native language is Spanish, so it could be challenging to adapt to such an environment if you aren’t fluent. But if you decide that Ecuador isn’t where you’d like to retire, you’ll also have other countries to consider for retirement.

Tips for Retirement

  • It’s never too early to start saving for retirement. In fact, the earlier you begin, the more money you’ll have to enjoy life after employment. But just how much money can you save for retirement? With the long list of retirement savings plans, it can be difficult to pinpoint exactly what your post-employment fund will look like. SmartAsset’s retirement calculator can give you a better idea of how much you can generate through retirement savings over time.
  • If you’re looking for a more strategic approach to building your wealth over time, a financial advisor could be right for you. Whether it’s investment guidance, budgeting and personal finance tips, financial advisors can help you meet your savings goals. SmartAsset’s financial advisor matching tool pairs you with up to three local advisors suitable to your financial needs.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/monkeybusinessimages, ©iStock.com/seb_ra, ©iStock.com/Milkos

Rickie Houston Rickie Houston writes on a variety of personal finance topics for SmartAsset. His expertise includes retirement and banking. He graduated from Boston University where he received a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He’s contributed to work published in the Boston Globe and has worked alongside award-winning faculty for the New England Center of Investigative Reporting at Boston University. Rickie also enjoys playing the guitar, traveling abroad and discovering new music. He is originally from Wilmington, North Carolina.
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