# 1: Ecuador

church in Cuenca---Ecuador

Most International Living readers know that Ecuador has been one of
our favorite locations for overseas investment and retirement for many years. In
fact, we ranked Ecuador as the world’s best retirement destination in 1999, due
to the amazing values created by a series of calamities—economic, political, and
natural—that the country weathered in the previous two years. Now in 2011, for
the third year running, we’ve once again picked Ecuador as the best place in the
world to retire.

Property prices and the cost of living remain inexpensive compared to the
U.S., and downright cheap next to Europe. Unlike other Latin American countries,
real estate prices are holding steady in the face of the economic downturn.

Today, you can rent a furnished, two-bedroom apartment in an historic center
for $220 per month or buy a large condo for $66,000. You can live well for $600
month…and like royalty for double that.

Combine this with Ecuador’s equatorial sunshine; a choice of spectacular
mountain, high plains, jungle or coastal settings; plus the welcoming nature of
the Ecuadorian people, and you have a combination of quality of life and
investment opportunity that’s hard to beat.

The quality of life is unbeatable

Low prices alone do not make an ideal retirement destination. There are
plenty of places the world over where you can buy cheap land, but you wouldn’t
want to live there. This is not the case with Ecuador. You’ll enjoy a top-notch
quality of life here. If you like the outdoors, have dreamed of owning a Spanish
colonial home in a colonial city, or want to spend hours strolling on an
undeveloped beach, then Ecuador will be perfect for you.

Ecuador is gentle…safe…healthy…private…civil. As one expat put it: “It’s like
we are living in the U.S in the 1950s.” You’re guaranteed a quality of life that
just plain doesn’t exist anymore in the States. Up north, violence, materialism,
and increasingly intrusive government policies have whittled away the last
vestiges of the American Dream. Yet here you’re guaranteed a truly extraordinary
lifestyle. And that makes Ecuador the perfect place to retire…or reinvent
yourself. You’ll find like-minded company when you do.

In Ecuador, every cliché you’ve heard about living large on little
money—about settling into the lap of luxury on even a pensioner’s budget—is
true. Ecuador is one of the world’s cheapest places to live.

From the cost of hiring a full-time maid to the price of produce and dinner
at a good restaurant, you’ll be surprised at how little it costs to live in
Ecuador. We conducted an unscientific survey of our expatriate friends and the
conclusion was that it costs about 60% less to live in Ecuador than it does for
a similar standard of living in the U.S.

And healthcare in Ecuador is cheap too. An appointment with the doctor
averages $25 (without insurance). A psychiatrist will charge $30 to $40 for a
half-hour session. Brand name medicines usually cost less than in the U.S.
Generics, which are widely available, are also much cheaper.

Find great opportunities everywhere

There are no restrictions on foreign-owned real estate in Ecuador. Foreign
owners have the same rights as citizens and the ownership is fee-simple and
outright. This is one of the few countries in the world that does not keep a
separate list of foreign property owners. In 2008, Ecuadorian voters passed a
new constitution that guarantees property rights and reinforces the country’s
tradition of welcoming foreigners.

While you can find great buys all over the country, some of the best buys
right now are on Ecuador’s 1,400 miles of Pacific coastline. While prices have
soared out of reach in Central America for many foreign buyers, they remain
reasonable here and have only showed strong appreciation in recent

It’s also one of the few places where a foreign resident or
visitor can blend easily into the community, being welcomed into a new circle of
friends and a new way of life, with relative ease. As a foreigner here you’ll be
treated with respect, and the people will be proud to get to know you.

All of these things combined, make Ecuador our 2011 World’s Top
Retirement Havens winner