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Expats choosing to retire to Ecuador are taking the “road less traveled’ and enjoying it. Though not as well-known as other popular Latin America destinations, Ecuador has an untapped potential that could make it the most popular retirement destination in the region.

There are more options for retirees in Ecuador today than ever before. Improvements in the country’s infrastructure have opened more areas for expats looking for a less cluttered existence.

retire to ecuador

Johnny Gustavo

Retire to Ecuador, Save Money, Live the Life You Want

Ecuador’s cost of living is certainly one of the most affordable in Latin America. It is important to remember, however, that some online claims about living there for practically nothing are overblown. Like anyplace else, how much you spend will depend on the choices you make concerning location, amenities, and luxuries.

The fact that the U.S. dollar is the currency of Ecuador is an important plus. Knowing the cost of things and not having to deal with currency exchange rates certainly makes budgeting for your retirement much easier – especially for those on fixed incomes.

Being able to buy or rent your retirement retreat at reasonable prices is one of the biggest draws of Ecuador. Even in the larger cities like Quito or Guayaquil, a spacious three-bedroom apartment can rent for under $1,500 per month. Rental and sale prices in smaller towns make finding a home much less stressful.

The lower health care costs that are offered in Ecuador certainly make living a healthy lifestyle much easier. Modern state-of-the art facilities provide high quality care at a fraction of the expense for the same procedures in the U.S. Dental care and dental tourism is another area where retiree dollars can go farther and enhance the quality of living for years to come.

An important and intangible benefit to retiring in Ecuador is the more relaxed pace of daily living. Being able to appreciate the natural beauty of the country, without the hectic approach to living found in the U.S., can make those retirement years truly “golden.”

retire to ecuador

Crucita MLS

Investment Potential Continues to Grow

A decision to retire to Ecuador may also provide the potential for a strong return on investments. There are a number of areas that are primed for new projects as expats continue to arrive seeking new housing and commercial options. In addition to already built properties, there is a growing number of undeveloped lots that are available in a variety of locations; both urban and rural.

The beach towns of Canoa and Ancon have a great deal of undeveloped and underdeveloped property that can be purchased quite reasonably. Crucita has become a world-class destination for paragliders and hang gliders. This increase in the tourist trade makes investing in rental properties a viable and potentially profitable action to consider. Along with San Clemente, this area is well on the way to becoming the next Pacific “Gold Coast.”

The beach is not the only part of Ecuador that is an attractive investment option. Cuenca, a World Heritage city in the foothills of the Andes and the Yunguilla Valley are becoming increasingly popular as expat destinations and potential retirement meccas that combine a moderate climate, rich cultural history, and affordable prices.

retire to ecuador

International Realestate

The Beauty of Ecuador – So Many Diverse Locations

One of the most unique features of Ecuador is the wide diversity of regions that can be your retirement destination.

For those whose idea of a tropical paradise is a cosmopolitan city with attractions and entertainments, Quito and Guayaquil are both modern and filled with the kind of amenities one might find in any major city in the U.S. These cities also are the locations of the two international airports in Ecuador; Mariscal Antonio José de Sucre in Quito and Simon Bolivar in Guayaquil.

Cuenca captures the flavor of the Andean Highlands and retains the essence of its rich colonial heritage. The coastal villages of Canoa, Ancon, San Clemente are rustic, laid-back beach communities just perfect for those looking for a more authentic Ecuadorian experience.

For those truly seeking to ‘”get away from it all,” Ecuador also has a number of island communities that could be your retirement paradise. Santa Cruz, Isla Isabella, Pena and San Cristobal are just some of the places expats are beginning to pay attention to.

The continued growth in the number of expats and retirees coming to Ecuador will increase the options available. Some of the small jungle towns, such as Banos, are in the earliest stages of moving from tourist attraction to a destination for expat arrivals to settle and develop.

Even beyond the possibilities of places to live, there are stunning natural wonders suddenly much closer if you are living in Ecuador. The Galapagos Archipelago, the Andes, and the Amazon Basin become more accessible and easier to explore; adding another dimension to the desirability of this Latin American gem.

retire to ecuador


So Many Positives to Choose Ecuador and Things to Consider

For retirees, expats looking for a tropical escape, and investors exploring new options, Ecuador has many features to commend it. Constantly improving infrastructure, growing communities of North Americans and Europeans, and affordable properties are all important reasons to retire to Ecuador.

However, even in a tropical paradise, there are a number of factors that you should examine as part of your decision-making process. First and foremost is that English, while growing in usage, is not the dominant day-to-day language – particularly in the smaller rural villages and towns. An honest appraisal of your comfort level of living someplace where communications may be challenging at times is truly an important step to a happy relocation.

A second consideration is the fact that the more rustic communities also have fewer of the modern amenities of major cities such as Quito, Guayaquil, and Cuenca.  If having ready access to high speed internet, cable television, etc. is a necessity, this could limit the potential Ecuadorian locations that might be right for you.

Patience is an important facet of expat life throughout Latin America and Ecuador is no exception. Travel, particularly where the only option is driving, can take significantly longer; repairs and improvements to infrastructure items such as roads, electricity, and even water, may involve much more time than one might find in the U.S. or Europe.

In the end, the best way to truly know if Ecuador is right for you (and if you are a good fit for Ecuador) is to talk to others who have made the decision. Do your research and, most importantly, visit this unique land of potential and promise and see if it resonates within you and makes you want to retire to Ecuador.

If you’ve never traveled to Ecuador’s northern coast (or if you haven’t in a while), Bahia de Caraquez, known to the locals as Bahia, Ecuador, is one city that’s worth a second look.

Once a bustling port city, Bahia was virtually devastated by El Niño rains and an earthquake in the late 1990s.  Determined to overcome these tragedies, the town re-established itself as an up-and-coming eco-city, and the results have been astounding.

bahia, ecuador

Patriciota Mariz

Bahia’s Climate Makes It an Ideal Coastal Destination

Although it lies just 40 miles south of the equator, on a peninsula at the mouth of the River Chone, Bahia’s climate is surprisingly comfortable. The city lies in a dry tropical belt that experiences relatively low humidity and temperatures averaging around 80 degrees from May through November.

A wet season begins in December or January and can run as late as April.  During those months, the sky is often overcast with evening showers and temps closer to 85 and moderate humidity.

There’s a constant breeze blowing off the ocean, which helps considerably with the heat.  As a result, there’s less need for air conditioning.  You might even find yourself reaching for a sweater or blanket at night.

Such conditions are considered by many expats to be a breath of fresh air from a lot of the hotter, more humid coastal cities.  Many also find they prefer mild, coastal living to the thinner air that plagues the colonial cities that lie at higher altitudes.

Bahia Offers a Great Mix of Residents

Bahia, Ecuador is a city of only around 30,000 regular inhabitants, which allows it to maintain a small-town feel, despite its popularity as a beach destination.  Most of the locals come from very meager backgrounds, but they aren’t looking to take advantage of visitors and expats.

Instead they’re warm and welcoming to the many middle- and upper-class citizens from Quito and Guayaquil who have vacation homes in the area. In fact, Bahia has a reputation for being an incredibly friendly city.

It’s also extremely safe, with the lowest crime rate in all of Ecuador.  Just like with any other foreign city, you should use care not to carry around wads of cash or flash extravagant items. But in Bahia you don’t have to worry about getting swindled by the locals or walking around late at night.

Because Bahia has historically been somewhat cut off from much of the rest of the country, it doesn’t see a lot of international travelers or expats.  However, that seems to be changing.

In fact, on my last visit I was surprised to see that an established expat community does exist, albeit a small one.

Bahia, Ecuador Has Just Enough of the Attractions You Crave

Whatever your tropical passion, you’re practically guaranteed to find a place to enjoy it at least near to, if not in, Bahia.  Yet at the same time, it’s not overrun with tour buses or overpriced souvenir shops.

There are beaches with small waves that are safe for swimming, yet at times steady enough for long boarding.  You can also go water skiing, sail boarding, or fishing. Both hang-gliding and surfing lessons are available just up the road in Canoa.

Bahia offers a plethora of birds and other wildlife. The nearby Isla Fragatas and Isla Corazon are home to a variety of birds. Saiananda is a local park that’s home to deer, donkeys, ostriches, geese, and sloths.  Whale-watching is also a popular pasttime.

There’s also the Chirije archaeologial site and the Rio Muchacho organic farm to explore.

It’s worth mentioning here that Bahia’s beaches are somewhat limited.  Due to significant beach erosion in recent decades, the south shore of the peninsula is narrow and often crowded.  At high tide it can become almost completely submerged. The north (bay) side of the peninsula is polluted and unsuitable for swimming.

In terms of consumer options, Bahia has everything you’d expect to find in a mid-sized tourist destination, including a new modern supermarket.  What you can’t find in town you can easily get from a nearby large city like Manta or Portoviejo.

One other area where some expats might find Bahia a bit lacking is in its cultural offerings.  While it does have a few attractions, like a great museum, it doesn’t have a lot of them.

bahia, ecuador

Bahia’s Eco-friendly Initiatives Keep Everything Nice and “Green”

Bahia is known throughout the country’s as Ecuador’s cleanest coastal city, ever since it established itself as an eco-city, and the benefits are obvious as you stroll along the beach or through the pristine streets of the city.

Eco-friendly behaviors are a part of life in Bahia.  Residents are encouraged to recycle and employ other sustainable practices. There’s daily garbage service, and the town even has its own paper recycling plant.

It was also the first coastal city in Ecuador to ban the use of plastic bags.

Living in Bahia, Ecuador Won’t Break the Bank

Like the rest of Ecuador, Bahia de  Caraquez enjoys an extremely affordable cost of living. A mere $1,000 per month could buy you a very comfortable life there.

Factors that contribute to the low costs include government subsidized fuel (currently around $1.50 per gallon) and low wages. As a result, almost everything is cheaper in Ecuador and particularly in Bahia.

An almuerzo (a typical lunch of soup, salad, rice, and beans with meat) is only $1.50.  You can enjoy the fresh juice that comes with it or spring for a $1 beer to wash it all down.

Other affordable perks include the services of a domestic helper, such as a maid or gardener, as well as inexpensive Spanish schools.

Bahia Has Bridged the Gap for Expats, Tourists, and Investors

What’s kept Bahia de Caraquez off the radar of most expats and international tourists, has been the fact that it was more than a little off the beaten path. Even merely crossing the Rio Chone, on the most direct route to Quito, once took three hours on a small ferry that held only 12 cars.

After the 2010 completion of the 1.25 mile (2 km) Bahia-San Vicente Bridge, however, the river can now be crossed in only 15 minutes.  This longest bridge in Ecuador is expected to considerably boost trade and tourism to the area, as Bahia is now connected to nearby San Vicente, the fishing village of Canoa and basically the entire rest of Ecuador’s northern coast.  

Getting to Bahia has never been easier thanks to the new bridge. There’s an airport in San Vicente, but it’s small and doesn’t run regular flights.  The next closest are in Portoviejo or Manta, both of which are about 90 minutes or less by bus. The flight to these airports from Quito is only about a half hour.

There are also bus services that run to and from cities like Quito, Guayaquil, and Esmeraldas.

bahia, ecuador

Patriciota Mariz

Why Now Is the Best Time to Purchase Bahia, Ecuador Real Estate

Bahia, Ecuador is a town that has clearly reinvented itself. Although it was due to unfortunate circumstances, the city has no doubt benefited from its fresh new eco-friendly image. This fresh start, combined with the drastic increase in accessibility from the new bridge, has brought new life and new interest to Bahia.

In addition to the renewed appeal of Bahia itself, the town is also strategically positioned for growth in the surrounding areas. The area across the bridge just north of Bahia is a naturally beautiful, and largely underdeveloped, coastal region.  With the new infrastructure in place, it’s primed for a big surge in property values.

The bridge has also opened up a new path for the transportation of merchandise that can now be brought through Bahia on its way to the port city of Manta just 30 minutes south of town, making what could become a stop on a major thoroughfare.

As a result, the time is right to buy or invest in Bahia before prices start to rise. Here are a few examples of what you can get for your money in Bahia, Ecuador.

  • Just $75,000 buys you a 2-bedroom, 2-bath beachfront penthouse with an ocean view in a gated complex with a pool and landscaped grounds.
  • For $170,000 you can have a 3-bedroom, 3-bath condo in a high-rise building with panoramic views of the bay, the beach, and the city.

As you can see, Bahia is still a place to score a great bargain on real estate in an area that has the potential for tremendous growth in the near future. Consumer and cultural options that are currently lacking in the area are likely to be introduced soon.

Who knows? Maybe you could be the one to fill a much-needed niche in the city’s scene.

The Ecuador cost of living is among the most affordable throughout Central America for expats, retirees, and investors. Learning how prices may vary from location to location can help make a budget for paradise.

Ecuador Cost of Living


Ecuador Cost of Living – Setting Reasonable Expectations

As more and more interest is being focused on Ecuador as an expat “hotspot”, greater attention is being paid to how much it actually costs to live there. Setting reasonable expectations on what the actual cost will be is an all-important first step in making the transition to the Ecuadorian lifestyle.

Factors That Impact the Ecuador Cost of Living

The old maxim “location, location, location” certainly applies when looking at the cost of living in Ecuador. Larger cities like Quito and Guayaquil will be more expensive than smaller cities and towns such as Cuenca or Ibarra.

Property type and size is another important factor. A one bedroom apartment outside a city center will certainly be less costly than a multi-bedroom unit in the heart of the action. Stand-alone properties can carry a higher price tag than apartment buildings or condominiums.

Deciding how modern or how rustic of a lifestyle to follow will also impact a budget’s bottom line. Air conditioning, high speed internet, cable/satellite television are just some items that may come with a higher price tag than expected.

Even shopping for groceries can impact the Ecuador cost of living. Buying local meats, produce, and products will be more economical than purchasing those stateside items that have to be imported.

Property Values – Renting versus Buying

One of the most important decisions impacting the Ecuador cost of living is whether to buy or rent property. Like most Central American countries, expats have the same ownership rights as Ecuadorian citizens.

With a wide selection of properties that range from turn-key residences to land waiting to be developed, Ecuador has many options. If purchasing is not a viable option, countless rental units can meet every taste and lifestyle. Prices overall are more affordable than many other Central American locations.

Medical Expenses

One item often overlooked in making an expat budget is the cost of medical care and insurance. Ecuador is fortunate in that the major cities (Quito, Guayaquil, Cuenca) provide quality care at a significantly lower cost than the United States. Also there are a number of health insurance providers that are based in Ecuador that offer rates much lower than their stateside counterparts.

Traveling to and from Ecuador

Being able to travel to and from Ecuador is another often overlooked expense in the expat budget. There are several international flights to both Quito and Guayaquil from destinations like Miami (for example).

Since many smaller cities and towns do not have an international airport, an additional cost of shuttle or rental car should be added in. Depending on how often you are planning to travel outside Ecuador, the cost of airfare and ground transportation could be considerable.

Ecuador cost of living


Ecuador Cost of Living – Comparing Cuenca Ecuador to Tempe, Arizona

Cuenca, Ecuador has a “sister city” arrangement with Tempe, Arizona. Comparing the cost of living in Cuenca and Tempe provides a great illustration of the price differences that an expat could expect.

Below is a brief comparison that illustrates some of the basic differences between these two “twinned cities”. Similar differences are reflected in other areas such as food items, clothing, and entertainment.

Item Cuenca Tempe
Utilities Per Month (1 bedroom apt)( includes electricity, heat, water, garbage) $42.50 $546.30
Cable/Internet $43.50 $29.82
Rent (1 bedroom-City) $520.00 $917.50
Rent (1 bedroom-Outside city center) $446.50 $650.00

The cost of living in Cuenca is clearly lower than Tempe, again, depending on the amenities, lifestyle, location, etc. desired. Factoring in all of the potential costs ahead of time can prevent “expat regret” in moving to Ecuador.

Ecuador Cost of Living – Other Matters to Consider

When potential expats start planning their move to Ecuador some items that are not directly part of the budget should also be given consideration. These matters are often overlooked until the last minute and can throw a carefully planned budget totally out of balance.

Buying or Importing a Vehicle

Depending on the location, having access to a vehicle may not be a necessity. However, living outside a city center will almost certainly require having some kind of regular transportation.

Like most Central American countries, vehicle prices will be higher for the same model than in the U.S. A Volkswagen Golf, for example that costs $20,842 in the U.S. may be $25,000 in Ecuador.

By comparison, some expats choose to import their existing vehicle. While this may be less expensive, there is still a considerable cost plus the various import requirements to bring a vehicle into the country.

Regardless of which option is selected, the cost of having a private vehicle in Ecuador will represent a significant upfront expense that could impact a budget.

Shipping Personal Belongings

Many expats want to bring many of the comforts of home (furniture, bedding, appliances, etc.) to their new location in Ecuador. Shipping via ship container is not a cheap prospect and transporting the items once they arrive in country can also involve a major cost.

Ecuador cost of living

Jeffrey Powell

What About All Those Online Claims About Living in Ecuador for Practically Nothing?

There is an old saying that goes: “If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” Many online articles may contain statements that the Ecuador cost of living is minimal; the question that should be asked is “What does that statement include?”

Often, such claims refer only to property prices without taking into consideration all the other facets of daily life. Rather than take these claims at face value, doing due diligence and learning all that can be learned about life in Ecuador, the pluses and minuses of various locations, and what living as an expat will entail, can provide the necessary facts and figures to make the best decisions.

Ecuador does offer a unique and affordable lifestyle for expats and investors. While less expensive than counterparts in the U.S., Canada, and Europe, Ecuador cost of living isn’t the bargain basement price often touted online. How little or how much is spent will vary from person to person and lifestyle to lifestyle.

What Is the Best Way to Learn What the Ecuador Cost of Living Would Be?

The best way to truly understand what it would cost to live in Ecuador is to visit this beautiful South American country. Experiencing daily living in Ecuador can help develop both a plan and a budget for moving to paradise.

Ecuador has been under the expat radar in recent years, being overshadowed by Costa Rica, Panama, and Belize, to name a few. But the potential that is springing up in this South American location now makes this more than just a stopover for the Galapagos or the jumping off point for adventure expeditions to locales such as Vilcabamba. This dynamic growth is on full display in the economic center of Guayaquil, Ecuador.

Guayaquil, Ecuador


Guayaquil – Ecuador’s Financial Machine

Long recognized as the business and commercial hub of Ecuador, as well as being the largest city, Guayaquil is now coming into its own as a desirable location for expats looking for investment potential as well as a diverse and exciting lifestyle.

The competition between Guayaquil and the capital, Quito, mirrors the dynamic friction between those two American cultural and polar opposites – New York City and Los Angeles.

Just as New York is considered the financial and business center and Los Angeles the arts and entertainment mecca of the U.S., the financial engine of Guayaquil contrasts with the cultural highlights of Quito, the capital. For native Ecuadorians this contrast can be summed up in a local saying: “The money is made in Guayaquil and spent in Quito.”

guayaquil ecuador

Johnny Chunga

Bolivar, San Martin, and Pirates – A Brief History of Guayaquil Ecuador

Although formally established by the conquistador Francisco de Orellana as “the Most Noble and Most Loyal City of St. James of Guayaquil” on July 25th, 1538, Guayaquil had existed as an indigenous settlement for some time previous. As part of the Viceroyalty of New Granada (including all of what is now Ecuador, Panama, Venezuela and Colombia), the city grew from a population of roughly 2000 in 1600 to over 10,000 a hundred years later.

The battle for territory and wealth in the New World swept over Guayaquil – known even then as a valuable port of call. French and English pirates attacked and looted the city in 1687 and again in 1709, this time under the command of William Dampier. Although hoping for ransom, Dampier’s men left the city after an outbreak of yellow fever threatened them.

In 1820, local citizens backed by members of a battalion stationed in Guayaquil removed Spanish royalists and declared independence from Spain. This independence was to be short lived as both Peru and Colombia desired this strategic and economic location to be part of their own emerging nations.

It was this set of competing interests that lead the two leaders of South American independence, Bolivar and San Martin to meet in 1822 and decide that Guayaquil should be part of Bolivar’s “Gran Colombia.” To this day, many Guayaquil residents view Bolivar, not as a hero, but as a traitor, who made them give up their independence in exchange for being part of his vision of a unified South America.

Bolivar’s vision did not have a long lifespan however and, in 1830, Ecuador left Gran Colombia to become an independent nation taking with it the cities of Quito, Cuenca, and the thriving and growing port of Guayaquil.

Colonial Ambiance Meets Modern Vision

As Guayaquil has continued to expand both in terms of business and population a conscious effort by local officials to make it an attractive destination for expats and tourists as well as providing investment opportunities has transformed this metropolis from the colonial bastion that it had been to a 21st century destination.

With a population in 2010 of 2,278,691 (per El Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Censos del Ecuador) – or roughly 16% of total Ecuadorian citizens – Guayaquil is meeting the challenges of the 21st century. Not surprisingly, this has resulted in Guayaquil being on the “short list” of many potential expats and those looking to invest in new and growing areas.

Just Like New York City? Almost. Well, Sort of.

Like its North American counterpart New York City, there are pockets of poverty within the affluence. Nonetheless the growth and development that have been experienced since the late 1990s continue to transform this diverse and vibrant metropolis into an important South American hub and destination for those looking to find new avenues for investments or a change of lifestyle. Here are just some of the most interesting and exciting neighborhoods and attractions.

Las Peñas

This is the traditional barrio that has been largely restored to reflect the classic Spanish Colonial style of the city. As a part of the original Spanish settlement, the cobblestone streets, multicolored houses and mysterious hidden courtyards and gardens harken you back to a more romantic time.

Las Peñas is also the location for the most prominent tourist site in the city-the Cerro Santa Ana. The 444 steps up to the top of the hill are filled with a variety of artisans, shops, restaurants, and cafes.

Once you have arrived at the summit you are greeted by the Faro de Santa Ana – a 59 foot lighthouse and the Naval Museum; the latter contains some of the cannon used to defend the city from pirate attacks in times past.

Malecón 2000

Perhaps one of the most ambitious restoration projects through South and Central America, this was the brainchild of the former president of Ecuador, León Febres-Cordero Ribadeneyra whose vision was to revitalize the commercial district of Guayaquil as a place that could be enjoyed by visitors while retaining the dynamic functionality of a 21st century business center.

The Donors’ Pavilion marks the contributions made by Ecuadorians to the revitalization of the country’s largest city and acts as a kind of center point to the entire project. Next to the Pavilion is South America’s first IMAX theater, aptly named the Malecon 2000.

Along the 2.5 kilometer stretch of boardwalk, visitors can enjoy a variety of open spaces, restaurants, shops and the Chamber Rotunda, playgrounds and rest areas and the Jardines del Malecón whose multicolored floral displays have become a source of pride and delight to both locals and visitors who experience Guayaquil’s resurgence and transformation from a Spanish shipping hub to a vibrant and prosperous community fit for the 21st century and beyond.

The Museo Antropológico y de Arte Contemporáneo can be found at the end of the river walk and is an excellent place for a first time visitor to be exposed to fine examples of Ecuadorian art and gain an understanding of the unique social history of this South American jewel.

Parque de las Iguanas

The actual name of the park is Parque Bolivar (also known as Parque Seminario) but for reasons that become immediately obvious to anyone visiting it, “park of the iguanas” is certainly an appropriate nickname. This may well be the only location in a major city where these land lizards, some of which can be more than three feet in length, reside in abundance. Ironically, some of the best hotels in the city surround the park. On the west side, the Municipal Museum is home to ancient Incan relics from one of the earliest cultural groups that inhabited what is now Ecuador, the Valdiva tribe.

The Galapagos

Guayaquil has long been known as the jumping-off point for tours to the Galapagos archipelago. There are a wide selection of tours and tour operators that offer an opportunity to visit one of the most unique and naturally diverse locations on Earth. Having this kind of access to the land of Darwin makes conducting your own explorations both convenient and more affordable.

Expats Have Lots of Living and Employment Options

For those considering Guayaquil as a potential location to retire or move to, it is important to keep in mind that like its North American counterpart, New York City, this is a textbook example of big city living. Obviously prices in the better parts of the city are significantly higher than those outside the city center. Are you moving with a family? Retiring? Relocating for work? These are all questions that should factor into your choice along with budget and security.

Find Your Home

The first, best piece of advice is to do your homework; talk to expats, check online social media sites i.e. Facebook, Twitter to find others who have already completed the journey. Talking to realtors is also important as these individuals have experience answering just the kinds of questions you might ask and, even more importantly, anticipating the ones you might forget.

Some of the communities favored by expats are Samborondon, Los Ceibos, and Via La Costa. While these are all a short distance outside the city center, the types of housing offered mirrors that which is found in the States. The types of housing is mixed with multi-unit structures (apartments, condos) outnumbering standalone houses. Prices vary and depend on the amenities included as well as the size of the unit.

If you are considering buying property, there is definitely a learning curve. While non-Ecuadorians have the same right to buy land and property, the process is different from what you may be used to. This is most definitely an area that you should research before signing on the proverbial dotted line.

Finding a Source of Income

With Guayaquil’s continued growth many American and European businesses are setting up operations and are in need of staff. Ecuador, unlike many other South American countries, has made it much easier for expats to find employment. All that is required for a work visa is a letter from the perspective employer stating the reasons that they are contracting your services and your importance to the company. This is usually done in the Ecuadorian consulate in your home country. Generally, your first employment contract is three months in length.

As business continues to flourish it can be expected that, as the principal economic center in the country, Guayaquil will be at the forefront of creating jobs and in providing opportunities for those who are looking for new horizons while staying with their current employers. The need for skilled personnel by Ecuadorian companies is also increasing and has created a favorable environment for individuals with those skills who are not residents.


In recent years, both Central and South America have seen an increase in the number of retirees, primarily from the U.S., who are relocating for both the difference in lifestyle and the lower cost of living. A number of recent surveys report that most retired couples are living comfortably for under $2000 per month. Significantly lower property taxes, cheaper medical costs, lower rents and entertainment expenses all contribute to the desirability of retiring here.

The unique part of Guayaquil, from the retiree’s perspective is the accessibility to most of the modern conveniences of stateside living. Cell phone and wifi services are plentiful and, with the growth of expat communities in and around the city center, the number of opportunities for social and cultural events is also increasing.

Guayaquil in a Nutshell

From an ancient Valdiva settlement, to a Spanish shipping port, to becoming the economic engine that powers the growth and development of Ecuador, Guayaquil’s history can be summed up in a single word: Potential. At each step in its long and colorful history this South American port of call has continued to advance and move towards the future while maintaining a close connection with its heritage.

As a 21st century destination, Guayaquil can truly be viewed as the “Big Apple” of Ecuador, and with its blend of revitalization, economic dynamism, and cultural diversity, this city is well placed to become an important destination of choice for expats, retirees, and businesses alike. In a very real sense, Guayaquil’s promise for tomorrow is as rich and colorful as the flowers of Jardines del Malecón.

Map of Guayaquil, Ecuador

Guayaquil, Ecuador Fast Facts

It is no small wonder that Ecuador was recently named the second most retirement-friendly country on the planet.

With top of the line medical facilities, low procedure costs (only 7-10% of the cost of similar procedures in the U.S. and Europe according to Ecuador’s Investment Corporation), and a Ministry of Public Health avidly focused on continually improving the quality of public and private medical care within its borders: Ecuador has become one of the most well-praised medical tourism destinations for retirees and visitors alike.

But before you book your medical visit abroad, start buying property, or get your Ecuador visa, it’s a good idea to take a deeper glimpse at the medical system you’re about to jump into, and what your expat or visitor status means in a country with a well-rounded national health system, a myriad of admired private and specialist hospitals, and a widespread network of local rural clinics.

The most important thing to consider is location. The majority of significant facilities are located in the three largest cities in Ecuador: Guayaquil, Quito, and Cuenca.

If you suspect you’ll be needing high-tech treatment frequently you might want to stay close to these centers. The rural clinics, though well-lauded for their well-trained staff and the pleasantness of the visit, often have less equipment and fewer staff fluent in English.

ecuador hospitals

Mount Sinai

But that doesn’t mean the urban centers will be any less personal than a local clinic—Ecuador’s hospitals are known as bastions of personalized and amiable care at more than reasonable costs.

In fact, on an international scale, the Ecuador health system was ranked in the top 20 of efficient healthcare systems by the most recent Bloomberg analysis of World Health Organization (WHO) information—a rapid rise up, given that in 2011 Ecuador only ranked 111th on similar scales.

Here’s a quick guide to some of the most well-noted hospitals in Ecuador to expand on the basic information the U.S. Embassy doles out regarding your expat and tourist healthcare choices in Ecuador.

ecuador hospital


Hospital Alcivar, Guayaquil, Ecuador

Up first is the Hospital Alcivar. The most well-respected and oldest continual hospital in Ecuador, it was founded in 1937 and has continued operating since its inception.

Located in Ecuador’s largest city, Guayaquil, the once small clinic morphed over the past century from being a small specialized orthopedics service to one of the largest and most modern facilities in the country, focusing on a wide array of medical treatments.

Though the hospital has expanded significantly, its orthopedic services remain as one of the best regarded in all of South America.

With the most developed post-graduate medical training program in Ecuador, the hospital Alcivar is also the home of Ecuador’s internationally respected premiere medical journal Actas Médicas, which was founded by its former director Dr. Eduardo Alcívar Andretta.

It has 140 prestigious doctors, a staff of 700+, its own theme song (the aptly named Hymn to Hospital Alcivar), and handles everything from trauma to rehabilitative services, including Neurosurgery, Cardiology, Pediatrics, and Obstetrics. Hospital Alcivar is located close to the commercial center of the city and is within ten minutes of the city’s airports.

ecuador hosptials


Hospital Metropolitano de Ecuador, Quito, Ecuador

Hospital Metropolitano is the most famous hospital in Ecuador. Located in the capital city of Quito, it was founded in 1985 with support from American Medical International (AMI). It is arguably the most technologically and procedurally progressive hospital in the country.

In addition to its bevy of cutting-edge equipment for medical visualization, intensive procedures, and patient monitoring, it is well-known for performing the most difficult types of surgeries (open heart, spine, brain surgery, etc.) and frequently collaborates with well-recognized American medical institutions like the Mayo Clinic and Mount Sinai Hospital.

Hospital Metropolitano is a teaching hospital which trains a huge majority of the doctors of Ecuador as well as international students. It has one of the largest and most well-run emergency rooms in the city.

And in conjunction with the Metrofraternidad Foundation, Hospital Metropolitano is noted for its social work and has special programs which provide its already reasonably priced services as no-cost medical care for the city’s poor.

ecuador hospitals

Hospitalario Kennedy

Grupo Hospitalario Kennedy Hospital/Clinica Kennedy, Guayaquil, Ecuador

Back in Guayaquil, you also have the choice of visiting the smaller Clinica Kennedy, one of the Grupo Hospitalario Kennedy’s many hospitals.

Founded in 1978, Clinica Kennedy is a university hospital with a special emphasis on medical visualization technologies and integrated digital medical record services, in addition to programs devoted to in-vitro fertilization, stem cell research, and molecular biology.

With a staff of over 250 staff medical specialists and only 125 hospital beds, the care offered in its emergency and trauma units, clinical laboratory, diagnostic center, intensive care unit, neonatal intensive care, and cardiopulmonary unit is personal and devoted.

ecuador hospital

Junta de Beneficencia de Guayaquil

Hospital de Niños Dr. Roberto Gilbert Elizalde, Guayaquil, Ecuador

The fourth highest ranked on our list is Ecuador’s premiere children’s hospital: the Hospital de Niños Roberto Gilbert Elizalde. Also a teaching hospital, it focuses in-depth on all aspects of pediatrics.

It provides medical care at several levels and possesses both regular facilities and specialized private facilities for the children of wealthier clients. The hospital uses the cost of their fancier areas to offset the cost of the cheaper but still nice general facilities.

With historic claims back to a nineteenth century clinic at a different site, the Hospital de Niños Roberto Gilbert Elizalde is arguably the oldest hospital on our list. However its current building was finished in 1999 and opened in 2000 to much acclaim.

hosptial ecuador

salud de Ecuador

Hospital Eugenio Espejo, Quito, Ecuador

With the best google reviews (all of our entries have over 4 stars, but at 4.5 this hospital has the populist vote), the fifth entry on our list is back in the capital of Quito.

Built in 1912 at the behest of the national government, Hospital Eugenio Espejo is the premiere national hospital of Ecuador and is the epicenter for the Ecuadorian national health policy and medical education. It features the most comprehensive array of general medical practices, including:

  • Transplant services
  • Service of infectious diseases
  • Orthotic and prosthetic workshops
  • A service unit of comprehensive care for the elderly
  • Rheumatology
  • Imaging services
  • Clinical neurology
  • Internal medicine
  • Physical medicine and rehabilitation
  • Clinical laboratory and pathology
  • Immunology
  • Hematology services
  • Emergency services
  • Epidemiology services
  • Coloproctology services

Don’t Worry, Ecuador Has Quality Dental Care Too

Unlike the other entries on the list, Hospital Eugenio Espejo should be especially noted for offering dental services.

Contrary to conceptions of concern regarding dental service outside the United States, Ecuador is particularly well noted for its excellent dental services. Featuring highly trained dentists and dental hygienists, dental clinics in Ecuador are well reviewed for utilizing the most cutting edge dental technologies and their exceptional performance of procedures at a fraction of the cost of similar work in the United States.

ecuador hospitals

Voz Andes

There Are Many Hospitals to Choose from, Even If They Didn’t Make Our List

Also in Quito is the missionary general Hospital Voz Andes. A cozy 104-bed hospital, it was founded in 1955 by the Catholic Ecuadorian-founded enterprise HCJB Global Hands.

With a well-equipped twenty-four hour emergency room, it handles trauma cases, but it is particularly noted for the rehabilitative care of its physical, occupation, and speech therapy programs and its mental health counseling services.

Though none of Ecuador’s third largest city, Cuenca, made the top five list, there are several well deserved honorable mentions. And as medical tourism rises in the region, it is very likely that these already fine establishments will only continue to accrue further and further medical accolades and reviews.

Hospital Universitario del Rio

This hospital is Cuenca’s newest and fanciest hospital. Opened in 2009, it is a mixture of state-of-the-art technology, spacious rooms, and customer service. Located on the edge of Cuenca, it too, is a teaching hospital whose academic profile is rapidly climbing the ranks of the international medical community.

It features a clinical laboratory, microbiology laboratory, retail pharmacy, as well as units devoted to gastroenterology, adult intensive care, surgery, neonatal intensive care, and pediatric intensive care, among others.

Hospital Santa Inés

In the center of Cuenca is the Hospital Santa Inés (or St. Agnes). The Hospital of Santa Inés is a smaller hospital than the Hospital Universitario del Rio, but as it is located proximally to the University of Cuenca and the parts of town where the majority of expats live—it is much closer and easier to get to its emergency room.

Though smaller, Hospital Santa Inés still features seven floors filled with state-of-the-art medical equipment, well-trained staff, and a well-organized ambulance service.

Hospital Mt. Sinai

The oldest Cuenca hospital, the Hospital Mt. Sinai falls between its two sister medical facilities in the city—like the Hosptal Universitario del Rio it is large. In fact, it is based in several buildings, including several modern ones. But its emergency service department is smaller than that at Hospital Santa Inés.

top 5 hospitals in ecuador


Medical Tourism in Ecuador

In addition to Ecuador’s well reputed and affordable hospital services, the reasonably priced retirement facilities, rehabilitative training programs, and homeopathic medical communities contribute to Ecuador’s status as a medical tourism destination.

The Ecuadorian government seems committed to providing national healthcare at international standards to citizens and visitors alike, going so far as to recently raise its government health budget and to favorably handle recent debts incurred by private hospitals in the nation.

And with such an emphasis, it seems likely that Ecuador’s health system will only thrive further, extending its top-notch urban care out further into the countryside.

Before you settle down in Ecuador, research your current and speculative health needs thoroughly and make sure you are near to the kind of medical service you might require.

Editor’s Note: The rankings are determined by the Cybermetrics lab of the National Research Council in Spain (Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC) which is devoted to identifying the best international digital presences of world hospitals and augmented by expat opinions and reviews.

If you are in Ecuador, reading this, and currently experiencing a medical emergency, you can call an ambulance at 911, the Red Cross at 131, the local police at 101, and if in Quito, the Quito Fire Department at 102.

Living in Ecuador

Jorge Luis G

Are you looking for a change?  One that involves a healthier lifestyle, a more well-rounded cultural experience, and a fatter wallet?

If so, look no further than Ecuador.

With its beautiful surroundings, ever-improving infrastructure, and near-perfect weather, more and more would-be expats are ending their search by finding themselves living in Ecuador.  It’s a great place for investors, young families, retirees, and just about anyone else we can think of.

Here are a few of the reasons that those looking for a better life often find it living in Ecuador.

1. Ecuador is consistently ranked one of the best places to retire abroad.

Each year International Living ranks destinations based on factors like climate, cost of living, and friendliness of the locals in its Annual Global Retirement Index.  Ecuador has been performing well in most categories in recent years.

In fact, in 2014, it came in a close second (with a score of 91.2 to 91.1) to Panama as the #2 overall destination.  The survey results cite a number of reasons that living in Ecuador in retirement is such a great choice, many of which appear later in this list.  Two big ones were its affordability and its variety of lifestyle options.

It’s also an easy place to do business.  Processes like buying property, investing in business, and getting a visa are all relatively simple in Ecuador.

2. Its various micro-climates offer a little something for everyone.

Not only is it blessed with immense natural beauty, Ecuador is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world.  It boasts close to 50 different ecosystems, in a country that’s roughly the size of Nevada.

Overall, most of the country enjoys spring-like weather year round (with merely a wet and dry season), due to its location along the equator.  As in most Central American countries, adjusting the temperature or humidity while living in Ecuador is just a matter of moving up or down the mountain as both generally decrease as you ascend.

The Pacific Coast offers an array of picturesque beaches.  There are also two chains of the Andes Mountains, which offer relief from the heat and a number of historic colonial cities.

There’s also the tropical and humid Amazon Rainforest which is largely unexplored, save a recent spike in adventure travel.  And don’t forget about the breezy Galapagos Islands, a popular attraction among tourists and scientists for decades.

Living in Ecuador


3. Your U.S. dollars stretch a lot further living in Ecuador.

One of the most appealing characteristics about Ecuador is its low cost of living.  With the exception of some harder-to-find consumer goods, most everything is considerably cheaper than in North America.  Also, we mentioned U.S. dollars, because that’s the currency the country uses, since 2000.

You can find a furnished property to rent for as little as $500 per month.  Fresh fruits and veggies for the week (enough to feed two) are fresh, readily available, and will only set you back about $15-$20 per week.  Fuel in Ecuador is subsidized and hovers right around $1.50 per gallon.

While real estate prices have been steadily climbing in recent years, it’s still extremely affordable compared to North American prices (although costs can vary greatly from one city to the next).  You can also splurge on the services of a maid or domestic helper, which will run you about $10-$15 per day.  

All in all, most couples find it possible to lead a satisfying lifestyle living in Ecuador on less than $1500 per month.

4. The country’s conditions are conducive to a healthy lifestyle.

The population of Ecuador is one of the healthiest in the region, particularly in cities like Vilcabamba, which is known as the “Valley of Longevity” as its residents reportedly live longer than in any other place on earth.  

Much of their well-being is attributed to the clean air and clean water.  There’s little pollution, and the rivers that flow down the mountains are fed by the overflow of glacial pools high in the mountains that are rich in minerals and nutrients.

This pure, healthy water nourishes the fruits and vegetables, most of which grow year-round due to the conducive weather conditions.  There’s an abundance of organic oranges, bananas, avocados, almonds, papayas, and more.

Due to the fresh produce, as well as the topographical barriers that make importing unhealthy packaged foods rather difficult, most Ecuadorians eat very healthy diets.  They’re also quite active, tending gardens on the slopes of the mountains and using their own two legs as their primary mode of transportation.

Living in Ecuador

Maurizio Costanzo

5. Ecuador is rich with culture of every kind.

Whether you’re looking for the arts and music offerings of a first-world country or the authentic cultural charm of a developing one, Ecuador is happy to oblige.  It’s home to 13 indigenous populations, many of whom still adhere closely to their native traditions.

You can find groups of natives who still speak their own language and wear their native dress.  Yet at the same time, Ecuador’s larger cities offer many of the luxurious amenities you’d expect from the most highly developed destinations.

Cities like Cuenca, Guayaquil, and Quito have the usual list of cultural happenings, such as symphonies, art exhibits, festivals, and museums.  Cuenca and Quito are also UNESCO World Heritage Sites, which makes for the perfect blend of historic and modern culture.  

The people of Ecuador are friendly and welcoming.  They’re very receptive to foreigners and, as a result, Ecuador is home to people from all over the globe who’ve embraced the country as a fantastic place for enjoying a rich multi-cultural experience.

6. It’s well-connected, both physically and technologically.

Another thing that makes living in Ecuador so convenient is its easy access.  It has two international airports, Quito and Guayaquil, and direct flights from the U.S. are less than four hours long.

You can fly straight to Quito from Miami, Houston, and New York, as well as from nearby Panama City, Panama, and Bogota, Colombia.  Once in the country, local transportation is also widely available, reliable, and inexpensive.

The country also has a high rate of internet connectivity.  Cell phones have relatively good reception, and there are internet cafes throughout most decent size cities.  Many homes have high-speed internet, and the government is actively working to increase this percentage.

7.  Ecuador offers excellent healthcare.

While you might have to sacrifice a few first-world conveniences when making the transition to living in Ecuador, quality health care isn’t one of them.  Quite the contrary.

In most of Ecuador’s larger cities you’ll find world-class medical facilities with the latest technology.  Many doctors speak English, and a large number of them trained in the U.S.  They spend more one-on-one time with patients, often offering their personal cell phone numbers or calling patients at home to check on their progress.

Despite the impressive quality of the medical care in Ecuador, the prices are only a fraction of what you’d pay for the same services in North America.  As a result, it’s become a popular destination for medical tourism.

Patients travel to Ecuador to receive services such as plastic surgery, dental procedures, orthopedics, and more.  The country is also well known for its alternative medicine and natural healing options.

Living in Ecuador

Maurizio Costanzo

8. Ecuador is a great place to pursue the American (or any other) Dream.

Many North Americans these days would agree that the American Dream is broken.  It’s becoming increasingly more difficult to realize success and have the things you want for your family, while still having enough spare time and money to enjoy them.

The reality is, though, that all of the things associated with that ideal quality of life we dream about are available in much greater abundance in Ecuador.  It’s the South American Dream, if you will.

Living in Ecuador you can spend more time doing what you love (in some fantastic surroundings, we might add) and less time doing the bland, tedious, hurried things you wish you never had to do again.

That’s not to say you can’t pursue your passions and live the life you’ve always envisioned in North America.  You can.  It’s just that the ability to do so is now financially out of reach for most of its residents.

Who wants to expend every last drop of their time, energy, and money just to pay the bills and stay afloat in a merely nice suburb when you can work less, experience more, and enjoy the unsurpassed beauty of a place like Ecuador?

Give Living in Ecuador Some Thought

These and other reasons are why so many families are realizing their version of the American Dream, just a little further south of the border.  Ecuador is a great place to live immersed in authentic culture, without giving up any of the modern conveniences you crave, and with still enough left over to explore everything else the region has to offer.

There’s a reason Ecuador continues to top the charts of best places to retire or even visit abroad.  And it’s been further validated by the thousands of expats who now call it home.  Living in Ecuador is more than just a bargain retirement.  It’s a value proposition that’s definitely worth considering.

Map of Ecuador

Ecuador Fast Facts

where is ecuador


There’s a lot of buzz about Ecuador as an expat haven that’s among the world’s best places to retire or live in Latin America.  But not a lot of people know much about it.

Like, for starters, where is Ecuador?  I mean, it’s on the equator, right?  Hence the name. But doesn’t that mean it’s unbearably hot?

And is it a long way away?  How do I get there and how long is the flight?

We’ll answer these and other questions you may have about this popular destination.  But let’s start with the most important one.

Where Is Ecuador on a Map?

There it is!  Right there on the west coast of northern South America.  Between Colombia to the north and Peru to the south.  The equator does pass through it, roughy ¼ of the way down, near Quito.

where is ecuador

Andrew Turner

How Do I Get There?

Ecuador has two main airports.  There’s Mariscal Sucre in Quito and Simon Bolivar in Guayaquil.  Quito’s airport is new and modern.  It even has an on-site hotel that’s currently being built.  However, both are a bit of a hike from the city. The old airport, which was more centrally located, is now closed and is being transformed into a park.

Some travelers also fly into Guayaquil on the coast.  It also has a modern international airport with all the amenities you’d expect, like restaurants and duty-free shopping.  It’s only a few minutes north of the downtown area.

Once in the country, buses are plentiful and affordable.  There are also a number of regional airports, including two in the Galapagos Islands, which can only be accessed via mainland Ecuador.

What Airlines Fly into Ecuador?

U.S. Airlines that offer flights to Ecuador include Delta, United, and American Airlines. TAME, an Ecuador-based airline, flies into New York City.  LAN Ecuador also flies there, as well as Miami.

From the U.K., you can fly American Airlines from Heathrow to Quito.  KLM will also get you to Quito from Heathrow, by way of Amsterdam.

Other airlines that fly into Ecuador from destinations throughout Latin America are Copa, Avianca, Aeromexico, Iberia, and TACA.

Where is Ecuador


Do I Need a Visa to Go There?

Not unless you want to stay for more than three months. By presidential decree, citizens of any country may visit Ecuador and stay for a period of 90 days. You won’t need a visa. However, you’ll want to check with your embassy to see what other paperwork might be required.  For North Americans and most European travelers, it’s usually just a passport and a copy of your return ticket.

where is ecuador

Sara Y Tzunky

When Is the Best Time to Go?

Because Ecuador is located on the equator, it has roughly the same weather year-round.  So there’s really no bad time to visit.  However, depending on the region, some seasons are a little better than others, as Ecuador’s climate varies greatly among its four distinct areas.

The coastal lowlands stay between 80 and 90 degrees.  During the rainy season (December to April), you can expect a torrential downpour pretty much every day.

The Andean highlands are much cooler with daytime highs in the mid 70s.  Nights can get pretty cool with lows around 50 degrees. The rainy season is the same, with April generally being the wettest month and June to September representing the driest period.

The Amazon region is probably much closer to what most people picture when they try to imagine a climate along the equator.  Predominantly tropical lowland rainforest, it’s hot and humid with temps in the 80s and 90s and steady rainfall throughout the year.

It’s still popular among adventure travelers despite its challenging climate.  The frequent showers make for excellent whitewater rafting and kayaking.

Despite being situated almost directly along the equator, the Galapagos Islands get some relief from the heat thanks to the cool Pacific waters.  As result, they enjoy temps between the mid 60s and upper 80s with surprisingly little rainfall.

What Places in Ecuador Should I Visit?

Ecuador is jam-packed with natural wonders and cultural attractions.  Here are some of the most popular spots that you won’t want to miss.

  • Banos is the adventure capital of Ecuador.  It sits at the foot of the active Volcano Tungurahua.  It’s also surrounded by a number of hot spring mineral baths.

  • Canoa is a beach town that hasn’t lost its appeal as primarily a laid-back fishing village.

  • Cotacachi is a small village that’s only 90 minutes from the capital city of Quito.  It enjoys a rich cultural heritage.

  • Cuenca is a beautiful colonial city in the mountains that’s quickly becoming one of the most popular expat destinations in Latin America.

  • Esmeraldas is a cozy beach town that’s a little more laid-back but still one of the country’s most popular.

  • The Galapagos Islands are an archipelago scattered far off the country’s coast. Made famous by Charles Darwin, they’re visited by scientists and nature lovers from all over the world.

  • Guayaquil is the largest city in Ecuador.  A bustling coastal town, it’s a functioning port city with a relaxed Caribbean feel.

  • Loja is another mountain town that’s growing in popularity.  Smaller and more affordable, it’s known for its cultural importance and musical roots.

  • Manta is a beach town that offers coastal living combined with all the big city amenities of a modern industrial city.

  • Montanita is another popular beach town.  Known for its surfing and nightlife, it attracts a whole host of colorful characters from all walks of life.

  • Otavalo is another mountain town that has retained its quaint, authentic appeal.  It’s most famous for its popular textile market.

  • Quito is Ecuador’s capital city.  Located in the mountains, it has a well-preserved historic district and a monument situated on the equator marking the “middle of the world.”

  • Riobamba is the gateway to Mount Chimborazo, Ecuador’s highest peak.  It’s also the starting point of the famous train ride down the Nariz del Diablo.

  • Salinas is a crowded beach town that’s often dubbed the Miami of Latin America.  It’s popular among locals and boasts a number of water sports.

  • Vilcabamba is located high in the mountains. Its water comes from melting glacier pools and is among the purest on earth, possibly contributing to the good health and longevity of its residents.

As you can tell, there’s a lot to see and do in Ecuador.  It’s also one of the least expensive destinations of its kind.  Now that you know how to get there, consider taking a trip to experience the sights of Ecuador firsthand.


Ecuador Fast Facts

  • Population: About 15.49 million
  • Typical temperature: Ecuador is known for its micro climates, learn more here.
  • Major airports with U.S. flights: Quito, Cuenca and Guayaquil. Complete list of airports in Ecuador.
  • Nearest U.S. consulate: Quito and Guayaquil