“Are you serious, that really happens?” I said…
…in response to a friend who told me… “Once you buy property in Ecuador, don’t change the name on your water or electric service bills because once they see a foreign name on there they’ll hike the prices up on you.”
“Just leave your place in the old owner’s Ecuadorian names.”
After first hearing this from several foreigners, than verifying it myself I can honestly say in the small towns of Ecuador this happens, but not in the larger cities.
In fact, there is no tangible benefit to switching the services into your name, it’s easy, only takes a few minutes and can be done in just a few minutes with a quick stop at where you pay your water and electric bills. All you need to bring is a copy of the properly registered title (Escritura) in your name and be ready for about a $20 fee.
Overcharging of foreigners happens all over the globe, not just in Ecuador… I remember on my first trip abroad, I landed in Spain only to promptly get ripped off by an airport taxi driver paying about double the normal fare.
Now, it is true, anything “energy” related is CHEAP in Ecuador, often less than a third the price of neighboring Latin countries like Brazil or Colombia. My water bill for my small house on the coast was $4 a month, now more like $7-8 since changing the name. My Electric bill is around $15 a month (I haven’t changed it to my name). A Natural Gas tank refill costs $2.50, and did I mention a gallon of gasoline costs $1.50?
Why so cheap? Well, the government subsidies help.
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