moving to ecuador

Moving to Ecuador

Ecuador Score
Shithole Paradise

What is Ecuador?

living in ecuador flag

Ecuador is a small country in South America with a great visa and taxes policy

The Republic of Ecuador is a small South American country, bordered by Colombia and Peru.

It also includes the rather famous archipelago of the Galápagos.

As usual, this country used to be a colony of Spain, before gaining independence in 1830. Spanish is still the main language.

Currently, Ecuador is a middle-income representative republic and a developing country.

Like many other Latin American nations, Ecuador is “megadiverse”, meaning there are a substantial amount of endemic plants and animals here.

Ecuador used to have severe beef with Peru over some territory, but that situation got largely resolved a few decades ago, and currently it gets along well with other nations.

In 2000, Ecuador adopted the United States dollar as its official currency.

Ecuador can be roughly divided into 4 main geographic regions: the coast, highlands, Amazon jungle and the islands.

As such, there is great variety in its climate, ranging from a humid subtropical climate, to a tropical climate and even a temperate area.

Ecuador is the first country to recognize the rights of nature, even adding these to its constitution.

The economy of this country is in development – currently it’s the 8th-largest in Latin America, but regrettably it’s very dependent on commodities such as petroleum and agriculture.

living in ecuador map
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Requirements for moving to Ecuador

The requirements for moving to Ecuador are really minimal.

First off, you don’t need to make a lot of money, because a) the cost of living is low and b) you aren’t taxed on your international income. This is the perfect combination, and is definitely a major bonus.

It’s reasonably safe, both nationally as internationally.

In addition, Ecuador has a really great visa policy. As a Westerner, you almost certainly do not need to get a visa in advance, and you can stay up to 90 days. This stay can then be extended.

If you want to stay longer than that, you can apply for Temporary Residence, which allows you to stay for up to 2 years. After this, you can even go for Permanent Residence.

All in all, moving to Ecuador should be really easy for almost everyone.

What is the cost of living in Ecuador?

The cost of living in Ecuador is really low, as can be expected from an average Latin American country.

A single person can expect to live a decent life on a budget of as low as $800!

Anyone with a location independent income can attain this rather easily … and what’s more: you don’t have to pay taxes on this income.

As usual, I would advise you to aim for earning a few multiples of this minimum, however. This is to account for unforeseen circumstances such as sickness, accidents, and just to allow you to live it up a bit.

Get your income up to $1,500 to $3,000 a month, and you can live like a king or queen in Ecuador.

Benefits of living in Ecuador

  • No taxes on your income

    Foreigners (even if they are residents) are only taxed on income they derive from Ecuador, but not from outside

  • Decent visa system

    Most Westerners do not need to apply for a visa before visiting Ecuador, and with an extension this allows you to stay up to 180 days. After this, you can go for Temporary and Permanent Residence, and even become a citizen if you so desire

  • Low cost of living

    A single person can get by on $800 a month, which is really low

  • Beautiful nature

    Ecuador is a megadiverse country, and as such is home to many, many species of beautiful animals and plants. In addition, there are beaches, mountains, jungles, and all kind of natural vistas

  • Galapagos Islands

    Ecuador is home to the famous Galapagos Islands, where Darwin found (part of his) definitive proof for evolution by natural selection. They’re an international treasure, and well worth the visit

moving to ecuador

Downsides of living in Ecuador

  • Earthquakes

    Ecuador experiences earthquakes, which could potentially destroy your house

  • Slow economic growth

    Opposed to many other developing countries I’ve talked about, Ecuador’s economy is only growing at a snail’s pace

  • Low level of English proficiency

    If you want to live in Ecuador, it’s highly advised you learn Spanish, because on average Ecuador ranks as “Very low proficiency”

  • High humidity

    Ecuador lies on the equator (hence the name) and thus boasts a very sweltering 78% humidity. For me, this isn’t such a big deal because I’m used to this by now, but I can imagine that for many Westerners, it’s really uncomfortable at first

  • USD

    Ecuador’s official currency is the United States dollar. While this certainly can be viewed as an advantage at this time, you have to keep in mind that the USD is bound to start performing worse and worse as the country declines and the collapse picks up steam. Being tied to this currency isn’t such a great idea then, and Panama is in the same boat

Moving to Ecuador - by the numbers

Ecuador Score
Shithole Paradise

Climate: 6.3/10

Hours of sunshine (7/10) Temperature (5/10) Rainy days (8/10) Humidity (5/10)
16 C – 60 F

Level of English: 2/10

Very Low Proficiency

Cost of Living: 9/10

Minimum Annual Wage Average monthly cost single person

Taxes on international income: 10/10

Foreign residents of Ecuador are taxed on their Ecuadorian-sourced income but not on income earned outside of the country.

Economic growth: 4/10

Average GDP growth over the last 10 years: 1.3%

Safety: 7.7/10

Global Terrorism Index (10/10) Intentional homicide rate (5/10) Rape rate (8/10)

Visa: 9/10

  • Visa (9/10)

    Most Western visitors can enter the country without needing to get a visa, and they can stay up to 90 days. This can be extended for another 90 days. Staying here for longer than this can be achieved via an actual Tourist Visa, for which you do need to apply in advance. Another option is a Temporary Residence Visa, which allows you to stay here for 2 years, and you can renew it once. If you want to visit the Galapagos Islands, you do need to apply for a Transit Control Card.

  • Permanent Residence (9/10)

    Permanent Residence is possible, if you had a Temporary Residence visa for at least 21 months, or if you are related to a citizen or someone with a temporary residence. However, there is a catch: You aren’t allowed to be absent from Ecuador for more than 180 days per year, for each of the first two years. To me this doesn’t sound like a big deal, it just means you have to spend half your time in the country for the first few years … but if you’re a perpetual traveler, do keep this in mind

  • Citizenship (9/10)

    Possible after 3 years of permanent residence (approximately 5 years of total residence – but it needs to be uninterrupted), or by marrying a national, or by providing a service to the country. You do need to be economically self-sufficient, speak Spanish, and meet a few other requirements. Dual nationality exists.

expats in ecuador

How is life for expats in Ecuador?

Life for expats in Ecuador can be really great – if you speak Spanish.

The cost of living is low, there’s beautiful nature, the country is pretty safe, and moving to and staying in Ecuador are easy.

Not having to pay taxes on your international income is amazing as well.

However, Ecuador is a middling option to move to at best.

The low English proficiency isn’t a big deal if you speak Spanish, but it’s something to keep in mind for sure.

Then there’s the fact that its economy is growing very slowly, and is mostly reliant on commodities such as petroleum. Using the USD as national currency is also a bad idea, in my opinion, in the long run.

Yes, it definitely has some great advantages, but there are plenty of other Latin American countries such as Paraguay which have the same advantages and way less of the disadvantages Ecuador has to deal with.

That being said, you could use it as a Residence flag … but having to spend at least half of the year in the country to maintain this in the beginning isn’t ideal at all.

In summation: Ecuador would be a great country to move to if there weren’t plenty of better choices nearby.

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Check out my new book, available on Amazon!

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