Retirement Around the World – Ecuador

Published on November 4, 2013

Ecuador – the perfect place to retire?  This South American country is idyllic in many ways, from the beautiful scenery, to the food, to the low cost of health care.  The flight from JFK Airport in New York City to Ecuador is about 6 hours; while this may be a long flight, the change in lifestyle will make you feel like you’re in another world. Whether you are down in the valley or up in the mountains, Ecuador is a beautiful country with lots of things to see and do, but be warned – if you plan to live in the mountains, it is going to take some time to get used to the high altitude.

Retiring for Ecuadorians

In Ecuador there are three parts to Social Security, they are:

  1. The Ecuadorian Social Security Institute
  2. Farmers’ Social Insurance and
  3. The Social Security Institute of the Armed Forces

Between these three parts, only one-fifth of Ecuador’s population is covered.  Despite this low number, there is the Human Development Bond which is for elderly people who do not have a pension and are considered to be living in poverty.  Ecuador also has benefits for its senior citizens, aged 65 and up, no matter what income level.  These benefits include:

To have access to these services, all a person needs is a valid I.D. that shows their age.  Under the Elderly Program , the elderly can take classes, socialize and get health care along with many other benefits.

Americans in Ecuador

Ecuador borders Colombia, Peru and the Pacific Ocean and is becoming increasingly popular with American retirees.  In fact, it was recently voted the number one place to retire by International Living Magazine.  It was chosen not only because of its location but also because of the lifestyle afforded to American retirees.

Life is much more relaxed in Ecuador than in the U.S. and the pace of life is much slower. This is a country you go to if you want to live life in a less expensive and more leisurely way.  You can move all of your household goods there duty-free, which makes it very easy for Americans to bring all of the comforts of home with them when they retire. The U.S. dollar is legal currency in Ecuador, meaning that you won’t have to figure out exchange rates or exchange your money.

Also, older people are highly respected in Ecuador and you will find that the native Ecuadorians will give you the same respect they give their own retirees.

If you wish to stay less than 90 days within a 12-month period, then you can go to Ecuador without a visa; however, if you wish to stay longer, you will have to contact your local consulate to find out the requirements for the different types of visas that you can apply for.

Living on Less

Once you begin living in Ecuador, you will find that almost everything is more affordable than what you’re used to.  Renting and buying property is very inexpensive compared to the United States, even in the cities, and day- to- day expenses are much less than they would be here.  Many retirees find they can live comfortably for under $2,000 per month.  A factor in the low cost of housing had been accessibility – until recently many places were hard to get to.  However, in recent years, more roads and highways have been built, making these once-remote locations easily accessible. In these areas, it is easy to buy a nice home for very little money.   If you want to live in a newly- built condo or house, you will be able to find real estate for a fraction of what it would cost in the U.S.  For example, you can rent a three- bedroom apartment in the city center of Quito for around $475 a month.

Health care is also inexpensive in Ecuador.  If you choose to live in one of the major cities, you will find that the hospitals and other medical facilities are state-of-the-art.  Getting a medical procedure done or just going for a check-up will cost a fraction of what it would in the U.S.

Local Life

Not only is Ecuador inexpensive but it is also a country full of things to do.  Some of the most popular activities to do in Ecuador are surfing, exploring the Amazon and hiking.  Ecuador is also home to the Galapagos Islands, where Charles Darwin worked on his theory of evolution.  If wildlife isn’t for you, there is South America’s largest market, Otavalo Market, where you can explore the different stalls and find some true treasures.  Last, but not least, you can head to the equator and stand at the center of the world.

Because of the temperate climate in Ecuador, the growing season is all year-round, so you can buy fresh fruits and vegetables no matter what month it is.  The abundance of produce means that meals are made with fresh, local ingredients, which I think always make the dish better.

Learning the ways of the locals will help with day- to- day life and it is always a good idea to learn the local language – in this case, Spanish.  Taking time to explore and learn about your new country will help you to feel at home there and make the experience that much more enjoyable.

Retiring to Ecuador is a big leap from living in America, but if you do your research and spend time in the country before committing to living there, it may be the perfect place for you.


The resources below contain helpful information:

Senior Citizen Benefits

Pensions in Ecuador

Cost of Living


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