What is the best country for expats? Ecuador is almost always on the radar for future expats planning a move to Latin America. In this guest post by Sara Chaca (Attorney /Abogada in Cuenca Ecuador) you’ll learn about seven factors that make Ecuador the best country for expats. Bio at end of post.
Why Ecuador is the Best Country for Expats
Moving abroad is something that foreigners can/will dream about their entire lives, though few ever actually do so (i.e. only 1-3% of Americans currently live outside the US).
But unlike winning the lottery, thankfully it is one of the few aspirations in this life that is generally quite well within a foreigner’s control and grasp, and not at all out of the palatable financial range of most middle class Americans, Canadians, Europeans and Australians – the same can reasonably be said now-a-days for China’s and most of Asia’s and the Middle East’s middle class too, with many Africans even being able to qualify to jump aboard that same such now most hospitable concept. That said, where oh where to jump to, per an expat’s compass and evaluation of the world map, relative to the old saying, “Look before you leap”?!
More reading: What’s it like to live in Cuenca Ecuador?
Well, as an Ecuadorian Immigration Attorney, I’m here to tell you, that from my thousands of expat clients over the years, the things that most expats hold near and dear, plus require and/or desire, in making their move to another country, are in fact found in high affinity as well as in plentiful quantity, all within the beautiful country of Ecuador. In fact, I would venture to say that per my clients who have traveled the world over, they routinely advise and inform me that Ecuador is literally “the hostess with the mostess”, when compared to all of the other countries they’ve lived in, visited for extended periods and/or bought property in.
And so, in this short article, I shall list to the very best of my ability, those such things that my many worldly expat clients have stated to me, which demonstrates in good faith and explanatory reasons, “Why Ecuador is the best country for Expats” to move to (precisely as the title of this article states):
1. Ecuador uses the US Dollar – and only the US Dollar
This is something that expats usually don’t take into account enough (or at all, or rather just take for granted) when first deciding where and how to move to another country.
The plain truth of the matter though, is that the ability of one to count, pay, receive and plan, all on the basis of the currency that they’re most used to (including that the rest of the outside world at large generally accepts across borders without any issue..), is truly huge!
As, its very easy to mistake the various classifications/denominations of bills and coins in say, Mexico, Peru and the Philippines, whereas, clearly that’s not going to happen to at least the likes of Americans, Canadians and Europeans (plus other nationalities) that routinely and uniformly make use of the US Dollar.
Not to mention, that US credit card companies don’t charge a foreign transaction fees on one’s purchases made in Ecuador, since there’s never any currency conversion to do and so one isn’t put in the frustrating position each month of having to review their bank and credit card statements trying to figure out if the correct amount was charged (nor debating whether to pay in cash vs. credit card so as to have one less charge to need to analyze and potentially dispute at each month’s end).
Moreover, there’s never any need to visit an Ecuadorian bank (if one doesn’t want to), so as to convert their dollars to pesos or some other unfamiliar currency or pay a commission to the bank for same (did I forget to mention that bank lines in most competitor South American, European and Asian countries are notoriously aggravating at that?).
Finally as per this point of the US Dollar making life “oh so easy” in Ecuador as compared to other countries on the menu of living abroad, it’s also very reassuring to most expats that checks drawn/written on their US bank accounts are widely accepted in Ecuador by native persons, businesses and companies, large and small, and usually regardless of the amount of money involved or the reason for the purchase (though of course purchases of less than $100 are generally best paid in US Dollar cash in lieu of US Dollar checks).
2. The gift that keeps on giving – again the US Dollar, per how far it goes!
The subtitle referenced “Gift” being, just how very much you can buy with the US Dollar in Ecuador itself. That is to say, a furnished apartment in lovely Cuenca (for example) might only run you $500 per month, plus a maid for that same apartment (part time or full time) would only cost you another $10-15 per day.
Your grocery bill for a single individual or couple won’t likely break $25 per week, and eating out will only add maybe an additional $3-5 per meal (with leftovers to spare).
Electric, water, cell phone and internet – $100 with most single individuals or couples who hang their hat in Ecuador (by the way, Ecuador even manufactures and sells its world renowned stylish “Panama Hat” for both men and women at less than $20 for a real beauty of a natural sunblock for one’s head and nose at that).
Plus, in most cities of Ecuador, the street designs and area zoning is so intelligently done that there’s really not much need to have a car at all – the bus and taxi system (plus light rail in Cuenca itself) is super efficient and won’t cost you more than $0.30 to $3.00 to travel from one side of most any Ecuadorian city to the other!
3. Ecuador has World Class Healthcare, plus just plain “good health” too
IESS, being its acronym, is the Ecuadorian State Government Health Plan, which provides 100% coverage for ALL persons/families that sign up for it, which amazingly only currently costs around $70 per month for any Primary Applicant, plus less than $15 per month additional for any familial Dependent(s).
As an IESS insured in Ecuador, you are entitled to free necessary healthcare (including catastrophic coverage) and necessary dental care at government affiliated Doctors, Dentists, Clinics, Hospitals, Imaging Facilities, etc. There are ZERO limitations for preexisting conditions, and IESS only requires a 60-day waiting period to be able to start using it fully for any/all medical and dental conditions that are reasonably deemed medically/dentally necessary to be treated.
On top of that, since most expats only use their IESS for purposes of major operations and catastrophic events, the cost of a private pay English speaking doctor isn’t usually more than $20-40 for a consultation, plus prescription drugs are usually sold for 5-10% of what the same drug or its equivalent costs in the US.
Ecuador is also a great believer and sponsor of preventative healthcare, meaning that parks, walking trails and health food stores abound – even Ecuadorian supermarkets sell popular expat new age food items like sprouts, hummus, extra virgin olive oil, and the pharmacies are ripe with Chia/Flax Seeds, Vitamin C and don’t forget that Ecuador’s strong direct sunlight at the equator causes your body to produce all its own natural Vitamin D on a daily basis in mere minutes of beneficial exposure (simply duck for cover, don a hat or apply a smidge of sunscreen for the face, after having had a 15-30 minute consecutive spurt of sun on your uncovered skin).
Learn more about travel and expat health insurance in Ecuador.
4. Climate & Biodiversity galore – ooh, ahh, how did nature bless them so?
Ecuador is home to nearly 50 different types and variations of climate/ecological areas, all within a land that is the approximate shape and size of the US state of South Carolina.
One simply controls their temperature by their altitude in Ecuador, and traveling from one city or corner of Ecuador by bus, taxi or car is a synch – in an hour to several hours you’ve gone from one side of Ecuador to the other on most any point of trajectory, and kept your same time zone in Ecuador all the while (there’s no daylight savings time in Ecuador so no need to set your clock backward or forward either – the sun rises around 6:00 AM and sets at around 6:00 PM all across the country, all year round).
Its beaches are second to none, its oceans offer whale watching tours and world-class fishing, and of course it boasts the internationally famous Galapagos Islands as all its own.
More reading: What is Ecuador Famous For? 16 People, Places, Food
5. First class infrastructure and technology (hint: Wi-Fi is everywhere)
Though once (and still at times) considered a third world nation, that now antiquated past reference speaks nothing as to Ecuador’s undeniable triumph at providing free Wi-Fi in virtually every city park throughout the entire land, light rail that connects any area of a city to any other (think Cuenca..), fabulous new roads and tunnels, modern buses/taxis, first class water & theme parks, as well as brilliantly laid out 5 star Hotel Resorts all across the country.
On top of that, many (if not most) of the providers of service in Ecuador (particularly in the hospitality industries) speak English and encourage online ordering systems/website use as well as free cell phone applications, so as to assist and connect customers and those same providers of service.
6. Culture, along with opening an eye to the rest of the world too
Located at the northwestern corner of South America, and less than the distance from the Panama Canal as the peninsular shaped state of Florida is long, Ecuador has for many hundreds of years been a most important point of destination, investment and shipping, for foreigners of both east and west, that have found or enjoyed their own little slice of heaven in or about the country.
As a direct result, this has caused a tremendous amount of multicultural influences across Ecuador, with even many of its people appearing at times to look or live as though they are from Asia (think Chinese influence..), yet then when you look again, you see their Spanish and Incan common ancestors coming through their smiling faces, all together in a vibrant mix with their North American and European influences (even African, Australian and Middle Eastern influences at that), per those who came before them that ventured to “venture” in Ecuador, since its also located in a perfect place geographically to benefit from the international trade routes and plain old “international trade” at that (quite helpful to know and benefit from, per those with an eye on opening a business/company in Ecuador..).
7. No wars, no terrorism, no extremists, no hurricanes, low crime rate, etc.!
Lest we forget, the world isn’t perfect, and so to that extent, neither is Ecuador either. That said though, the unfortunate state of our present tumultuous world being what it is, shows us that things can always be a whole heck of a lot worse elsewhere, and so on that basis, one can easily relish (and joyously so at that!), that upon moving to Ecuador, the all too familiar foreign wars, terrorism, extremists, hurricanes and most crime for all intents and purposes, is being left by the wayside, as it is alternatively being exchanged for a generally pleasant and tranquil way of life in Ecuador, which boasts a level of relative safety and desirable weather that the vast majority of the rest of the world is quite envious of to say the least!
As, besides an occasional earthquake (the last newsworthy earthquake occurred several years ago in an area on the northern coast of Ecuador), there simply isn’t much in the way of violent displays of nature in Ecuador (nor violence in general), to either write home about or to have to “return home” because of it.
And so now, noting full well the above information and much appreciated wisdom of my expat clients for your benefit with respect to the above, you can easily see that the country of Ecuador is right there (here!) waiting for you, fully ready to be explored, its people longing to be befriended, and its natural species and awesome sites prominently showing off their breathtaking colors and views to your order.
Just remember, all you need is Ecuador, for purposes of your next exploratory trip abroad – simply book your plane ticket to come visit this beautiful country at any time of year, so as to check out all that you’ve been missing elsewhere up through this point, and where your life can/will take you next, in beautiful Ecuador!
Bio: Sara Chaca (Attorney – Abogada) is a seasoned Ecuadorian Lawyer, who principally serves expats in making their moves to Ecuador, as well as for any legal issues that arise or become actionable for her expat clients to undertake in their new lives here in her beautiful country.
Sara resides in Cuenca with her family, which consists of her American husband and 2 daughters (as well as her parents and siblings), and when not working, she enjoys spending time with her family in Cuenca’s majestic Cajas Mountains and local parks & fairs of Cuenca, plus visiting the coast as well as the many gem towns of Ecuador.
Sara’s personal email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and her personal cell phone number is 099.296.2065. Sara has a less than 24 hour first response policy, in that if you email or call her, she WILL return your first email or first phone call in less than 24 hours (more typically closer to 24 minutes). Most importantly, all first time consultations with expats for any type Visa or Legal matter(s) are always FREE OF CHARGE.