Archive | Ecuador for Investors

Ecuador dual citizenship myths debunked- How to get around the 90 day rule

There’s really only one simple requirement that qualifies you for an Ecuadorian second passport (aka Ecuador dual citizenship)… you need 3 years of permanent residency after getting any of the resident visas and obtaining your “cedula” ID card.

In fact, I was told by my source in immigration you can actually apply after about 2 and a half years.

That’s it!  By far the easiest South American passport to obtain!

But there is a lot of mis-information out there on this subject, mainly us gringos regurgitating random stuff we read on online forums.

1. Will getting dual Ecuadorian citizenship cause me to lose my original citizenship and passport?  No!  Not if you are from a country that allows and recognizes dual citizens like the USA, Canada, Ecuador and Great Britain to name a few.

2. Will getting Ecuador dual citizenship create an EXTRA tax burden for me?  No. Ecuador like most countries not named THE US…tax only income made in Ecuador, doesn’t even matter what nationality the person that makes it is, if you are given an official Ecuadorian purchase receipt (factura) you have to pay tax to Ecuador on it.  If not, no.  Ecuador does not tax foreign made income.

3. Isn’t Ecuador one of those mandatory military service states?  Actually yes, it is, but T.I.E. my friend (this is Ecuador)… to get out of it all an Ecuadorian male has to do is pay a tiny fine (last I heard it was well under $200).  And truth be told, they would only be interested in you and possibly enforce it if you were 18-21 anyway.  In fact, its not at all like the US, or like you think, there is actually a surplus of demand from locals to join the forces, and many who want to join are left out!  Really!  There just aren’t that many spots.

Now the biggest, baddest two myths that prevent most us gringos from even trying…
4. Isn’t there a new law that states you must be out of the country for a maximum of 90 days TOTAL for the three years prior to applying for residency?  Actually, this is CORRECT, BUT T.I.E. my friend (this is Ecuador), I know you probably think like a gringo and everything is black or white, right or wrong, I get it, I do too.  But this is Ecuador, the land where who you know and what you know often prevails.  For instance, to get around this one in a totally legit, legal way you can right a letter and submit with your application explaining the extenuating circumstances that caused you to be out of country more than the time allotment.  For example, a death, a health issue, etc… of course substantiated by apostilled proof from a doctor or whatnot helps.  Its not a given they would pass it, but its possible, one ecuadorian immigration official working in the Quito citizenship office informed me THIS MONTH, June 2015 in Quito.  I would personally apply in Quito too, not Cuenca, they just seem nicer.

5. Isn’t there a nasty verbal exam of my Spanish level?  No!  The exam is actually WRITTEN, which makes it MUCH easier, yes, it is in Spanish, but with some test prep like the guide I’m offering today you should be fine.  You will have to sing the Ecuadorian hym, but that is when you have ALREADY been accepted and you won’t be by yourself, but with everyone else sworn in that day so I’m sure you could find a way to ‘fake it til you make it’ like you did back in high school choir class.  As for the written exam, the official told me you really have to B#MB it to fail it and yes, they’d let you take it again.  They just want to see some effort.  He also said the older you are the less they expect you to speak decent Spanish.  So NO, there is no verbal exam but yes, some basic Spanish chit-chat would be nice to know going in, you know, stuff you can learn in a few weeks of Spanish lessons.

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Q&A

Getting electricity to your lot in Ecuador

And on goes my building project on the coast of Ecuador.

Next up, electricity, not necessarily a sure thing in Ecuador.

But in this case, the electricity was about 100 meters away from my lot, maybe a bit less, so it wasnt a huge deal hooking it up to my property.

Total cost $2450 for everything, one guy did it all, installed two posts, one transformer for max 2 houses, and also did the certification with the electric company and got the meter installed.

In a few days he was done.

If I build more houses in the near future i can trade him the transformer i got for a more powerful one and he will discount the full price of the one i have.

As for installing the electrical outlets and breakers in the home itself, normally, I now electricians in Ecuador charge $12 per point, or per outlet installed. We found one recommended local that will do it for a total of $700 the whole house.

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Q&A, Investor News/Analysis

Where’s best to exchange money in Ecuador?

Got Euros or another foreign currency, or maybe want to buy it in Ecuador getting out of the USD while it's strong?  

So, where has the best exchange rates?

 
First off, for the best rates be sure to exchange your money in one of the only two cities in Ecuador with international airports… Quito or Guayaquil.  

In the smaller towns of Ecuador it may get very difficult to even find somewhere that will exchange money, let alone at a good rate.  

In Guayaquil, where I lived for about a year, I recommend the small exchange houses found in the CENTRO near Av. 9 de Octubre.  

In Quito, this week in June of 2015, I checked all the places I know to exchange money.  

On XE.com while the international rate USD-EUR was $1.128-1…

The buy rate means how much in USD they´ll give you for 1 EURO, the sell rate is how much USD you have to pay them for 1 EURO.  
 

In the airport the rate was …  BUY … $1.07 SELL… $1.39  (by far the worst).

In Western Union in downtown Quito… BUY … $1.09… SELL $1.19 (not so good!)

In the biggest bank of Ecuador, Banco Pichincha, the rates were… BUY … $1.15… SELL $1.22  (good buy rate!)

On the street corner where money exchangers have been for years with big wads of cash on Av. Amazonas and Vicente Ramon Roca they were offering … BUY $1.12… SELL $1.18.  (average)

At Del Bank, a smaller bank in Quito, they were offering… BUY $1.02… SELL $1.23 (worse)

Then, there are the little exchange houses along AMAZONAS in the MARISCAL sector… 

The best rates I found were at MIL CAMBIOS S.A. on Wilson and Amazonas BUY $1.14 … SELL $1.15

and… CAMBIOS NUEVO MILENIO on Amazonas and Carrion  BUY $1.15 … SELL $1.20   

So, in the end, both the best BUY and SELL rates could be found in the smaller exchange houses mentioned above along AV. Amazonas in Quito although Banco Pichincha wasn´t too shabby.  

Also, remember for exchanging larger sums in Ecuador it is accepted to negotiate a slightly better rate.

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Expat Lifestyle

Making sense of the new Ecuador Inheritance Law

This week (June 2015) the Ecuador president is sending a new bill to the Ecuador Assembly to seriously hike the inheritance taxes the rich will have to pay.Important news for us property investors.

As it lays now, folks in Ecuador with inheritances under $66,000USD dont pay any tax.  For inheritances valued $100,000, they pay a 5% tax.  For $200,000 10%, $300,000 15% and up until the max for inheritances over $796000 you´d pay 35%.

The new law does two things… for one, it creates two separate tables, and distinguishes between indirect heirs who are not direct (spouses, children) and direct heirs.

The second thing the new proposed law will do is really stick it to the wealthy while not effecting much the lower class.  Heirs that inherit money or property valued under $35,000 will pay no tax.  And, in the same example above, heirs who inherit $100,000 will pay a 7.5% tax, $200,000 a 17.5% tax.  But at $300,000 you really start to see the difference, now you´d pay 32.5% tax compared to 15% tax from before.

At fortunes over $566,000 youd pay 47.5% tax if you are a direct heir, 52.5% tax if you re an indirect heir compared to now when you pay 25%.

For indirect heirs who inherit over $849,000 you´d have to pay a whopping 77% tax! I think this will effect the country in two ways…

1. More people will buy property directly in the names of their kids to avoid this tax.

2. High-end properties over $300,000 will sell VERY SLOWLY if they sell at all.  Prices will drop for the high-end as they´ll have to offer serious discounts while most of the Ecuador rich will look to move their ´big´ money abroad.

But I think what you really have to worry about is what´s in the silver lining here.  If this tax gets approved this could open the door to more tax hikes… particularly for the rich.

ANd it continues to create a dangerous mentality of  “its OK to take from the rich cause they probably got their money anyway from robbing and stealing from the poor”. I´ve already heard tax reforms for a new capital gains tax may be in the mix.

But, I´ve always been one Ecuador “analyst” that recommends you only put maximum 10% of your portfolio in Ecuador, with a particular focus on less expensive Ecuador property (usually under $150k) cause I think that´s where the opportunity is in this market.

To see links of the current inheritance tax table click here, for the proposed one click here.

To share this post on Facebook heres the link ecuadorrealestate.org/new-inheritance-law-2015/

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Investor News/Analysis

5 Ecuador beaches suffering from receding sand line- buyer beware

Although the Ecuador coast still has some extraordinarily good buys, and many beaches not at all effected by erosion, here are five places on the coast I would avoid buying front-line beachfront property due to the noticeably receding sand line.  
 
In other words, the beach there is disappearing fast and who knows, your investment could go with it.  
1. Engabao- The largely unknown step-sibling of playas, while only a few minutes drive from Playas the beach and scenery change dramatically in Engabao, while in Playas the beach is large and expansive, in Engabao the beach faces a direct direction and gets pounded hard by the surf, while surfers like the area, erosion is evident, this beach is disappearing.  

2. Chanduy- Chanduy faces the same direction and is on the same beach head as Engabao, just maybe a 45 minute drive west.  Chanduy is a unique fishing town with zero tourists that´s literally at risk of falling off into the sea unless the town invests quickly in some anti-erosion boulders or something.  

3. Las Tunas- A small ´very local´ town on the central coast near Ayampe, Las Tunas gets pounded by big surf, and erosion is evident, this is one place I may buy oceanview property but not beachfront.  

4. Jama/ El Matal- Famous among expats in Ecuador due to the several expat communities in the area, El Matal´s recent problems with tidal surges and disappearing beach are well publicizied.  

5. Mompiche- An otherwise beautiful little town with a fun vibe, good food and good surf, most non-surfers simply don´t stick around long cause most days theres simply "no beach left" or anywhere to walk.  Erosion is evident.  

But I am pleased to say that most of the rest of the Ecuador coastline does not seem to have this problem as the beaches are pretty much in the same spot they were 5-6 years ago when I first visited Ecuador.  

 
And in the towns above, although I dont recommend buying right on the beach, an oceanview property or a near-the-beach property could still be a great buy.  

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The nicest beach in Ecuador is…

portete-ecuador

portete-beach-ecuador

“I didn’t know Ecuador had anything like this!” My Ecuadorian friend said upon arrival.

“Me neither,” I responded.

It was a couple weeks ago, and we had just arrived to BY FAR the nicest beach I’ve ever seen in Ecuador.

Portete.

I know what you’re saying, where?

It’s small, and undeveloped, but I’ve visited over 80% of the Ecuador coastline and walked maybe 40%, and its the best.

Truely caribbean-esque white sand, turquoise water with nothing but palm trees in sight.

Portete is a small island just off shore a few kilometers south of Mompiche on the north coast of Ecuador about an hour or so south of Esmeraldas.

You park your car in a guarded lot and then catch a small motorized dingy a few minutes to the island. To your right you will be able to see the all-inclusive luxury resort De Cameron and straight ahead the palm-fringed islet.

You’ll think you were in the Caribbean, or southeast Asia as most Ecuador beaches don’t have this feel.

There are places to eat as you can see in the pic below by the shrimp lunch I had right on the beach there for $3, but to sleep I’d stay in nearby Mompiche where you can find decent rooms with AC and WIFI for around $15 per person.

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Travel Guides

Getting water to your lot on the coast of Ecuador

Before we could even think about building anything here on the coast just south of Manta, Ecuador, we had to get water to the lot.

Electricity can come later.

Like with most things in Ecuador, its usually either ridiculously easy or excruciatingly difficult.

Thankfully, this time it was easy.

Like usual in Ecuador, we asked our neighbors how they got water and found out there was a newly installed city line right near our property.

The expats near us were Ok with letting us plug in but said they invested to bring the line where it was so they asked us to chip in with a one time “tip” of $180.

We paid it, and with their blessings we plugged right in with our “T” as you can see in the pic.

No meters yet in this area of town but they will soon be installed so I´m told.

installing-water-to-lot-in-ecuador

So for now the water is free.

In a previous property I owned south of here on the coast I was plugged into the city line and paid around $4 a month.

Gotta love Ecuador!

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Q&A

Budget airline arrives in Ecuador, brings lower prices to USA: Get RT Miami-Quito under $400

VivaColombia is a budget airline based out of Colombia that just made getting to the US from Ecuador and vice versa a whole lot cheaper.

And not just once in a blue moon, pretty much anytime you want to go in 2015 you can find a roundtrip flight QUITO to USA (MIAMI) for around $400 with my below method.

I noticed chatting to guests at my hotel near the Quito airport, as of last month, April 2015, VivaColombia has upped its frequency of flights to a few a day (which has lowered the price) from Quito to Bogota.

So first, buy a Quito to Bogota round trip with Viva which is going for around $185 taxes included.

That´s cheap!

Then, use Spirit Air, another personally-preferred budget carrier, to get roundtrip from Bogota to Miami which I´m seeing start around $249 taxes included.

That´s $434 taxes included, roundtrip, everything.

This is currently the cheapest way I´ve seen to get from North America to Ecuador in 2015.

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Q&A, Ecuador Travel Guides, Expat Lifestyle

The best driving routes, and driving times in Ecuador

This week I had the pleasure to interview someone that knows the roads of Ecuador better than ANYONE I know.

Jack Abercrombie, an American expat from Atlanta who has lived in Ecuador for over 7 years now and has a heavy-duty truck he uses to help expats move heavy loads of belongings within Ecuador.

With all the new roads in Ecuador, his tips are far better than any GPS I’ve seen.
Enter Jack.
Hey Jack, help us out, what’s the best way to get from the Quito Airport or better yet, my place, Quito Airport Suites which is just a few minutes from the UIO Quito airport, to Otavalo?
OTAVALO & COTACACHI

Sure Dom, Exit Tababela onto the roundabout and head towards the airport on the new airport road called the ‘Conector Alpachaca’ until just before the airport and take a left at the mini-roundabout there onto the other new road ‘ruta colloa’ , then watch for the signs to Otavalo after a few kilometers and veer right and up the panamerican highway all the way up.  Don’t go the way through Quinche, lots of traffic, dangerous curves!  AVG DRIVING TIME 2 HRS.

To get to Cotacachi just pass Otavalo and continue up the Panamerican a few more minutes until you see a sign COTACACHI and a turn off to the right which will veer left and go over an overpass.  Continue 10 more minutes, ABOUT 15 minutes from Otavalo.

MINDO

Whats the best way to get to Mindo from the Quito Airport Suites?


Take the new airport road called the ‘Conector Alpachaca’ until just before the airport and take a left at the mini-roundabout there onto the other new road ‘ruta colloa’ until CARCELEN in North Quito and continue you see an overpass and veer right (dont go under it) until the Condado SHopping Mall roundabout, make a right go north on Manuel Cordoba Galarza past Mitad del Mundo the road changes to E28 and hangs left and you ll be in Mindo in 1.5 hrs.  TOTAL DRIVING TIME 2 HRS.

THE NORTH COAST: PEDERNALES, BAHIA, ESMERALDAS

So do you recommend this route to get to the coast?  Pedernames and Esmeraldas?

Yes!  Beats the Santo Domingo route as that road has frequent wash outs and land slides and closures.  Plus they just completed the new road to Pedernales.

Get to Mindo.  Then pass it and continue westbound on E28… past Los Bancos veer left at gas station , stay on E28 to La Concordia, follow signs to La Independencia RUTA LAS VILLEGAS, get to 382 turn right, go north on 15 for Esmeraldas or south to catch the road to Pedernales, look for the roundabout and signs for PEDERNALES.

Once you hit Pedernales head south along the coastal road to get to Canoa or Bahia de Caraquez.  DRIVINGTIME 8-9 HRS FOR EITHER PEDERNALES OR ESMERALDAS.

THE CENTRAL COAST: MANTA, CRUCITA, SAN CLEMENTE

To get from the Quito Airport Suites to Manta and Manta area (Crucita, San Clemente)?

Exit Tababela on to main highway to the right towards Quito, (take E35 south) until PIFO roundabout. Go on  top of offramp to Baeza (or left on 28C), then after a few short kilometers take a right on E35 to SANGOLQUI until big hummingbird roundabout Tambillo E35 bypass Quito and go to E20 Aloag, follow the Santo Domingo signs South E25 bypass around Santo Domingo, tie back to 382 west , eat in Nuevo Israel, then continue until El Carmen bare left on E38 Chone follow signs to Tosagua 383 to Rocafuerte, road turns into E15 hang right follow signs to Manta.  Thats it, easy!  DRIVING TIME 9 – 9.5 hrs.

THE AMAZON: TENA

The Quito Airport Suites to Tena?  

Exit Tababela on to main highway to the right towards Quito, (take E35 south) until PIFO roundabout. Go on  top of offramp to Baeza (or left on 28C), pass Papallacta, Baeza then road forks E45 troncal amazonica take right going south, pass Archidona and hit Tena.  DRIVING TIME 2 HRS 45 MIN.

The mid-Sierras: BANOS and AMBATO


The Quito Airport Suites  to Banos/Ambato?


Whatever you do, SKIP GOING THROUGH INNER-CITY QUITO!  
Exit Tababela on to main highway to the right towards Quito, (take E35 south) until PIFO roundabout. Go on  top of offramp to Baeza (or left on 28C), then after a few short kilometers take a right on E35 to SANGOLQUI until big hummingbird roundabout Tambillo E35 bypass Quito and go to towards E20 Aloag on  AUTOPISTA GRAL RUMINAHUI back to E35 troncal de la sierra… (take the new bypass around Latacunga)… then follow route 493 which enters Ambato… for Banos take the  2 paso lateral to the left until E30 pass Pelileo.  Follow the signs.  TRAVEL TIME 3 HRS 30 mINS.

QUITO AIRPORT TO CUENCA

From the QUito Airport Suites to Cuenca?  


Follow the same route to Ambato as stated above and just continue south on the E35.  That’s the best route.  DRIVING TIME 10 HRS.

QUITO AIRPORT TO GUAYAQUIL

From the Quito Airport Suites to Guayaquil?

Follow the same route as to Manta UNTIL Santo Domingo, then make a left and go south on E25 to Quevedo … AVOID THE RIOBAMBA ROUTE AND THE LATACUNGA TO COAST ROAD lots of fog and rain.  continue to Babahoyo and then Duran then you’ll pop out at Guayaquil after 9-10 HOURS.


GUAYAQUIL to CUENCA

How about getting from Guayaquil to Cuenca?   Take the highway across the Samborondon bridge through Duran to 40A to route 25 to 582 through the Cajas national park, there are other ways to get there but they are not reliable.  DRIVING TIME 4hrs.

From Cuenca to Loja?

Take the one and only highway that connects the two, DRIVING TIME 4-5 HRS.

From Loja to Guayaquil?  

SKIP going through Machala as there is a reason to avoid the roads in this area if possible (security concerns).  Go back through Cuenca and down to Guayaquil.  DRIVING TIME 9-10 HRS.

From Guayaquil to the coast(Salinas, Montanita)?  

Its actually easier to navigate Guayaquil than most gringos make it out to be. Just get to the Mall del Sol in the Garzota part of town.  Then follow the AV. Juan Tanca Morenga north on out of town and follow the signs to LA COSTA.  Once on the coastal highway its a straight shot to Santa Elena, where you’d turn right to go up the coast to Montanita or head straight and veer left to go to Salinas.  DRIVING TIME 2 HRS to Salinas, 3 HRS to Montanita.

Hey Jack, tell us more about yourself and the services you provide?
Sure, as Dom said before, I help expats with heavy loads get from point A to point B in Ecuador.  My truck is designed for heavy loads while most Ecuadorians cars are NOT making them unsafe on with the loads on the slick Ecuadorian highways. In Atlanta I was a Union sheet metal worker and heavy equipment sales, contact me at Journeymanjack.com@gmail.com or call my local phone at 0988066508 (593988066508 from USA) … USA phone 7708287913…

 

 

 

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Q&A, Expat Lifestyle

And we’re off! Foundation prep. Ecuador coast house build part 1.

So this week we broke ground on the 3 bedroom, 2 bath oceanview house here south of Manta, Ecuador.

The first step was to level the ground and dig the holes for the foundation and septic system all in one shot.

As you can see in the pics (click display images in your email reader) in came the heavy manchinery, which I rented for $25 an hour with specialized driver included.

The total came to 36 hours or $900.

Next step, get water to the lot, easier said then done, maybe, stay tuned!

puerto-cayo-house-for-sale

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Investor News/Analysis

Is there really NO car depreciation in Ecuador?

 

Today I sold my car in Ecuador.A 2013 model Chevy N300 mini-van for $13,000 USD.

I bought it one year ago from a used car dealership here in Quito for $13,000 USD.

So, I used the car for a year, put 26,000km on the car (16,100 miles), scratched it up a bit and still didn´t lose a cent on it.

No big repairs were needed, just oil changes, new tires.

Is this normal in Ecuador?  Why?  

Actually, yes!  Cars are so expensive here due to the import restrictions AND cars retain their value quite well.If you shop around a bit it´s common to buy a used car at market price, use it for a year or two and then resell it for at or just below what you paid for it.

In my own experience, I´ve seen for most car types and models in Ecuador, cars depreciate about $1,000 per year of use.

It never ceases to amaze me when in Ecuador people will drive a new car off the lot and then try to resell it a short time later for $500 less than they paid for it!

In places like the US you´d lose 30% of the cars value instantly or more!

Not in Ecuador.

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Investor News/Analysis

How to get a building permit in Ecuador in 3 days

Building permits can be tough in Ecuador, but they can also be ridiculously easy.

Depends a bit on the project and the municipal where it´s located.

In my experience, the municipal in Playas Villamil is really a pain.  Quito not so much.  While the municipals in Santa Elena (Salinas area), and Jipijapa (for area of coast south of Manta) are pretty easy.

My experience this week at the municipal of Jipijapa getting a permit to build my 170m2 (1829ft2) house on a 330m2 (3552ft2) lot was pretty straightforward.

The hardest part was the week or two wait for the municipal to send an inspector to define the construction limits or as they say here “linea de fabrica”.  It helped my architect knew somone in the municipal who owed him a favor (I guess).

Once that happened I had to go to the municipal with a signed official copy of the architectural plan which after heavy negotiating cost me $500 for a plan guaranteed the municipal would approve.  If not, he´d redo it.

Plus, I had to take several copies of the property deed (escritura), certificate of registry (certificado del registro de la propiedad), electrical plan also made by the architect, and a copy of the 2015 property tax payment (predios) which for my property cost well under $100.

Altogether the permit cost $135 and took 3 days.

The requirements are basically the same all over Ecuador but every municipal will have their particularities.

So now on the blueprints, permit, the 2015 tax payment and a few other minor things i´ve now spent a total of $900.

And now I´m also ready to build!

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Investor News/Analysis

The property flipping dilemma on the beach in Ecuador

OK, so I have flipped property on the Ecuador coast with success.

But it’s obvious to me now after doing it that that’s not where the real money is.

You see, truth-be-told, a lot of the cheap, Ecuadorian-made homes, especially on the coast, simply don’t meet North American standards, and chances are you’d spend more to fix it up then the whole place is even worth.

So, what’s the opportunity?

Build your own house.

And that’s exactly what I’m going to do starting later this week.

Can’t say I don’t practice what I preach.

Below is the plan for my new project… in Puerto Cayo, just south of Manta on the coast with a beautiful oceanview and a short walk to the beach.

Might be a little hard to see, its just a quick pic from my cell phone of the blueprints the architect gave me.  The nice oceanview is to the bottom right of the plan.

 But here’s my thinking based off my experience selling property on the coast of Ecuador.  

3 bedroom, 2 full bath.  That’s as small as I want to go, even though most people who move here or retire here are moving down as a couple or a solo person, I’ve seen they still prefer at least 3 bedrooms because they like having at least one guest room for their kids/friends visits and one room they can use as an office or storage den.  While 4 or 5 bedrooms is often a little much.

2 non-master bedrooms separated by bathroom.  This is nice cause the people in one bedroom won’t have to walk through or outside the room of the other to get to the bathroom.

Spacious kitchen with island.  Important for extra space and entertaining.

Plenty of closet space with walk-in closet in master bedroom.  From my experience, especially women really focus on closet space, important!

Laundry room with door to exterior so folks can take advantage of the nice weather and walk outside to hang clothes on a line like the locals if they wish.  Plus, you got to have your machines inside and out of the elements to prevent from rapid erosion in that ocean air.

A dining area and patio with a BBQ area and sliding glass doors that take full advantage of the nice oceanview.  Especially us North Americans, like a good BBQ on the beach.

2 sinks and a bath tub plus shower in the master bathroom which will also be extra spacious.

Raised floor of house by about 1 meter so that even if there is a 2 meter fence around the property the house will still have a nice oceanview over the fence.  Plus this should help keep moisture and insects out.

Spanish-tiled roof with porcelen tile floor.  The roof because thats the style most expect when down here  and its good for insulation and the flooring because with the humidity of the coast that’s really the best option (easy to clean, carpet forget about it!).

1-story only making it good for older folks who don’t do stairs.  Plus, this will lower construction costs a lot because I won’t have to invest in a lot of rebar as needed when making a floor-roof (losa in Spanish).

An outdoor shower for getting the sand off before entering the house.  This also has to be easily unaccessibled if the house is going to be vacant for a long time, don’t want this to turn into the community shower.

170m2 (1829ft2) of construction on a 337m2 (3627ft2) lot.  Nice spacious house with a small but cozy yard for a garden or the pets.

Minimal use of wood and metals with a focus on materials like aluminium and other materials that won’t erode like crazy in the salty ocean air.

So that’s the basic concept and thinking behind the plan, if you have any suggestions just click on reply to this email.  I’ll keep you informed every step of the way from the ground breaking to the sale!

 

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Investor News/Analysis

FBI check now needed to live in Ecuador, really?

I didn´t believe it when I heard it.

In fact, even though it´s not my main business in Ecuador, I´ve helped over a dozen people get their residency visas to live here in Ecuador.

And the last couple I helped just 3 months ago in mid-December.

The last several I´ve helped it just took one day.  So I just charged a daily fee ($150).

One day.  In and out, file submitted.  Approved in two weeks.  Come pick up visa, get cedula (Ecuador ID card).  Stay in Ecuador as long as they want.

It really is that simple.

But now, as of 2015, I confirmed in the Quito immigration office talking to the officials a few days ago in March, it´s just got a bit harder.

Specifically harder for Americans, or people from the States, who want to live in Ecuador.

Americans now need a state-wide police check AND a federal FBI level check, which sometimes can take months to attain.

Before, a simple police check from your local town would suffice.

Easy… actually it was WAY too easy.

And easy to game the system if you know what I mean, so maybe this change is ultimately good for Ecuador but for us people applying to live here it just got a bit more complicated.

So why just for Americans?

Well, the new requirement officially states, people from countries with a federal government need both the state check AND federal police check, but really, as one friend who does this for a living tells me, they are only applying this new visa requirement to Americans and Canadians (for now).
Better time than ever to consider getting a second passport!

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Q&A

Rejected by the cartel in Ecuador

“This isn’t exactly how I pictured it would be.” I thought to myself, as I sat on an uncomfy couch in an office with all white undecorated walls.  The receptionist seemed to be going through the motions of her job.

I expected a scene with hot women in bikinis serving cocktails while men in all white suits sat around a pool smoking cigars, and of course dudes with machine guns in the corner.

Finally, a young guy came out and waved me into the next office.

I sat down, waited some more.

And in came another guy, also young, younger than I expected and in casual attire.

“So why do you want to join our organization?” He asked pointedly.

“Well, it just seems profitable.” I continued.  “I mean, to have a monopoly on a certain business type within a certain area.”

“You know, once you’re in there’s no way out.” He said.

“Yea, I figured as much.” I said.

“So how much?” I asked.

He said, “$2500 a month rent plus 30% of all sales.”

“Top line, not after taking out expenses.”

“And you need someone there 24 hrs a day.  And they have to be certified persons only.” He finished.

Wow, I thought, no way I can make money like that.

I said thanks for the interview and excused myself.  I could tell they weren’t all that interested in me, and nor was I in the opportunity.

You see, I was interviewing for a space in the new Quito airport based off a proposal I had sent prior about putting a lugagge storage center.

I referred to the airport administration people as a ‘cartel’, cause to me it kind of felt like one, and I felt on the outside although they are not a ‘cartel’ as you or Hollywood would probably define it.

Sure enough, they took my proposal of a luggage storage center/locker area and gave it to someone else, probably one of their cronies at a discounted price, and they’ll be opening any day now.

You see, things sometimes work different in Ecuador.  People aren’t always motivated by money.  Sometimes its more of a who-you-know or even rich people putting trophy businesses that don’t actually make money, but serve as a place to stash their cash.

I know, it’s wierd.

But they can’t stop me from getting into the business in a different way, a way that would have scared the sh!t out of me if I would have opened paying the high rent in the airport.  From my hotel near the airport, for several months now successfully, I’ve been offering bag storage pick up and drop off service for a fee of $5 per pick up(total) and $1 per bag per day for storage.

You see, paying the airport rent, they are probably going to charge around what they do in the Guayaquil airport, $7 per day per bag, and more for bigger pieces like surf boards.

Of course, there will be people who will pay it for the convenience if leaving bags for 1 or 2 days, but for storage 3 days or longer as long as I provide a reliable service I think I have them beat if I can offer the same thing for less than half the price.

But hey, you know, there’s a reason for everything and this newsletter is not just about my successes as an expat and entrepreneur in Ecuador, but also my failures.
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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Expat Lifestyle

No TVs, no problem in Ecuador

“I can’t believe that just happened, man!” My friend mumbled, still fuming from his experience upon arrival to the Quito airport.

“I just had to pay $250 in import tax for this TV I brought that doesn’t even cost that much in the States.” He continued.

“It comes out to about the same as just buying one here, and I wouldn’t have had to lug it around all day!”

I know.

It’s stupid.

Ecuador doesn’t even let you bring ONE TV over 25 inches with you from abroad, even if its for personal use.

With just about anything else, even cell phones and computers, they’ll let you bring one or two on your person as you travel to Ecuador as they’re deemed for personal use.

But not TVs.

Obviously, they’re trying to protect the raging Ecuadorian industry of TV production.  (Insert sarcasm here.)

Thankfully, technology is always one step ahead.

And on my last trip back to the US about 2 weeks ago, I found a viable option.

It was my second to last day in the States, and as I walked through a Kohl’s store with my mom in Montana, I noticed something interesting.

Originally meant for gamers, I saw these new-age, ultra-cheap home projectors that you can plug directly into your Direct TV cable box, your XBox or DVD player that then project on any surface, but preferibly a white wall, a picture up to about 120 inches.

And the resolution is surprisingly crisp.

Obviously not High-def.

But good.

And they only cost $55 as of the last week of December, 2014.  And if you sign up for a Kohls card, you get 30% off.  Total spent, $38.50.

They are not common in Ecuador, and upon arrival to Ecuador I quickly checked with a few of the biggest electronics stores to see if they carried them.

Nope.  Not yet.  But I think they could be BIG in Ecuador in the very-near future.

Especially if import restrictions continue to tighten on TVs.

What I really like about these are that they are more portable than a normal TV, and for someone with a property on the Ecuador coast… I feel more comfortable leaving this in there when I’m not there for long periods of time then an expensive TV (huge target for thieves).

Here’s one example of one for sale on Amazon complete with USB port for projecting images from a computer or smart phone as well as the HDMI and 3 pronged outlet cords for projecting TV programming from your cable box.

Here’s one example of one I found on Amazon… http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00MAH0CTU?psc=1 

In fact, can’t say I don’t practice what I preach… I’m in the market for about 10 of them right now.

So, if you’d like to bring one down with you let me know!

You could bring one or two down with you hassle-free for sure as they would surely be deemed for personal use.

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Expat Lifestyle

My 2015 Ecuador bucket list: Must dos no one knows about

I’m embarrassed.

Embarrassed that I’ve lived in Ecuador for three years now and still haven’t done or seen much of what Ecuador has to offer.

So naturally, one of my New Years resolutions is going to be to actively start doing the things I want to do in Ecuador.

This is actually an open invitation so if you’d like to join me on one of these just let me know.  Some of whats on the list was on my list last year, but I didn’t get around to it.  This year I will!

1. Stay at the hotel in Papallacta that pumps volcanically heated water right into each room making for a great bath.  Afterward have a trout lunch.

2. Hike, or attempt to hike Cotopaxi, a 19,300 ft volcano just 50 miles from Quito.

3. Explore the largely undiscovered beaches of the Esmeraldas province and in the meantime surf the pristine waters of Mompiche.

4. Have a drink, dance and hang out for a night with the artists/hippies and see if they will show me how to make some of their jewelry along the infamous cocktail alley of Montanita.

5. Hitch-hike up the coast from Montanita.  I’ve heard its easy in Ecuador.

6. See the most remote area of Ecuador, the Yasuni, in the Amazon region before they start their planned drilling, besdies its my best chance to see big Amazonian game like jaguars, anacondas and pumas.  Another less intense option would be to fly to the city of Coca and go in canoe alng the Rio Napo to an  Eco-lodge.

7. Take the train through the high Andes from Ibarra to Salinas (a different Salinas than the one on the coast).

8. Hike arguably the most beautiful area of Ecuador from the Lagunas de Atillo to the largest waterfall in Ecuador, the San Rafael Falls and the Volcano Reventador area.

9. Visit the Saquisili (near Latacunga) thursday market for an interesting more authentic (less touristy) look into indigeous highland life.

10. Go silver bargaining along the main plaza in Chordeleg (near Cuenca) where silversmiths flex their creative muscles.

11. Try hand-gliding for the first time off the cliffs of Crucita or Canoa on the coast.

12. Bike down the entire Ecuador coast from Esmeraldas to Salinas.  Hope I get to do this one.

13. Watch the Tungurahua Volcano erupt at night from the look out over Banos.  Tours can be arranged in one of the many agencies in Baños. Cost $20 per person.

14. Observe the amazing Pink river dolphins as they frollic in the unique flooded rainforest of Cuyabeño in northern Ecuador.  Tours can be arranged once on the ground out of Quito or Lago Agrio.  Anacondas, monkeys and sloths are also possible to be seen.  Canoe Tours start from $40 per person.  

15.  Scuba dive in the crystalline waters of Galapagos off Wolfe Island where its common to see schools of hundreds of Hammerheads and dozens of whale sharks.  2 Dives start from around $130.  Best arranged once on the ground in Santa Cruz Island near the port in Puerto Ayora with local dive shops.

16.  Snorkel with the worlds smallest penguin, gigantic manta rays, big marine iguanas and (friendly) reef sharks off las Tintoreras on the picturesque snow-white sands and turqoise waters off Floreana Island in the Galapagos.  Day tours to Isabela arranged in Santa Cruz start around $65/person.

17.  Eat two buckets of the locally-famous garlic crab at one of the best crabhouses (Manny’s Crangrejal) in Guayaquil, a city known for its numerous crabhouses.  Near San Marino Mall any taxi will know where it is.  $12.

18. Hunt for fossils along the banks of the Nangaritza River, the only river that connects the Amazon to the Pacific Ocean, high in the Condor Mountain Ridge (Cordillera del Condor).  For more try lindoecuadortours.com  $25-50 /person.

19. Deep-sea fish for Marlin and Whale-watch in August off the calm shores of Salinas.  Trips can be arranged in one of the several agencies along the boardwalk.  Cost: Whalewatching from $20 per person, deep sea fishing price varies depending on amount of people.

20. Visit a coffee farm near Ibarra and learn the whole process from harvest to belly.

21.  Hummingbird watch and observe thousands of butterflies at a butterfly farm in the cloud rainforests of Mindo.  Tours can be arranged once in Mindo. Start from $20/person.

22. Trout fish in one of the surreal apline lakes in the barren Cajas National Park near Cuenca.  Tours can be arranged with Terra Diversa in Cuenca.

23. Go way off the beaten path and discover the Lost City (Ciudad Perdida) of Ecuador’s Amazon.  Extreme adventure available through local guides only out of Nangaritza.  Cost: Highly negotiable.

24. Pamper myself with a the natural mud bath in the mud pools in the dry rainforest of Machalilla National Park and spend the night playing volleyball with the local indigenous and later sleeping in one of their tiki huts.  From Puerto Lopez hire a motorcycle taxi and pay a few bucks from them to take you to the indigenous community of Aguas Blancas in the park.  Cost: $10 for the day tour to the mud baths and $10/person for the night.

25. View thousands of Orchid species and hummingbirds along the well-kept trails of the Podocarpus National Park easily reached in a $4 taxi ride from the town of Zamora.  Free entrance to park.

26Get a taste of ancient Incan life by hiking the 10km trek from El Tambo to Ingapirca, ancient Incan ruins and effectively Ecuador’s own “Machu Picchu”.  You can also take a train, taxi or bus which can be arranged out of Canar.  Ruins Entrance fee $6.

27. Get certified as a glider plane pilot in Santo Domingo through a one month course with a local flight instructor.  They say if you can fly a plane without an engine you can fly a plane with one.  Course starts around $1300. 2015 prices yet to be released.

28.Learn to kite surf with an instructor against the strangly barren cliff landscapes of Santa Marianita near Manta.  Classes can be arranged on site.  Prices vary.

29. Zip-line through a Banana plantation in Machala and learn all the ins and outs of the interesting business with CristyViajes.  Tours start around $20 per person.

30. Fish for Pirana in Laguna Pañacocha, a beautiful black wáter lake backed by cloud forests.  To get there, hire a local canoe where the Rio Panacayu meets the Rio Napo, to get there you’ll need to take a Nuevo Rocafuerte Canoe hired in the town of Coca.  Price varies depending on season.

31. Visit a Chocolate factory in Mindo.

32. Hike the Quillotoa Volcano and witness the majestic, stunning turquoise-colored lake in the volcano’s crater.  Can be done solo by taking a bus from Latacunga and getting off near the base.  Cost: $4 bus fare from Latacunga.

33. Mingle with sexy locals dressed to the tilt during the 2 hour river-boat cruise on the all-you-can-drink boat ‘Morgans’ which leaves every night from the boardwalk (Malecon) of Guayaquil. $15 per person includes all you can drink.

34. White-water raft and try kayaking for the first time in the lazy to fierce rivers around the city of Tena where the activities have made the town famous.

35. Explore the rarely-visited beaches north of Esmeraldas while at night dancing salsa to afro-latino beats after eating the local delicacy of Shrimp cooked in spiced coconut milk (encocado de camaron).  I’m sure I’ll feel like I’m in the Caribbean.  Cost: $5-6.

36. Just for fun one day try panning for gold in Yantzaza with the locals in the southern Ecuador Amazon.
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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Travel Guides

What to bring to Ecuador? And what NOT to.

This week I´m checking in from Miami, FL.  

First time I´ve been in the USA for a bit over three years since moving full-time to Ecuador.  

And now, it´s quite clear to me what is SIGNIFICANTLY cheaper or easier to find in the USA compared to Ecuador.

What to bring with you to Ecuador?

1. Laptops.  In countries like the USA, lap top computers are not just cheaper than in Ecuador, but the variety is much greater.  For instance, want something specific like an i7 processor?  Best buy in USA and bring to Ecuador.  Maximum 2 allowed per person.  

2. Cell phones.  There are very strict import regulations in Ecuador on cell phones thus jacking up the local prices.  Best bring from USA.  You can bring a maximum 2 down per person per trip.

3. Apple products.  Apple computers, iphones, ipads and anything else Apple is best brought from USA.  

4. Footwear.  Name-brand shoes like Nike tennis shoes can be double the price of the same shoe found in USA.  Moral of the story, bring down!  Womens high heels´ are often MUCH less expensive in USA, too.  Bring, the local Ecuadorians already know this!

5. Cosmetic products like specific facial creams, make-up.  Again, these products can be hard to find or double the price in Ecuador.  

6. Lingerie.  The good, name-brand stuff, even Victoria Secret, can be double or triple the price in Ecuador.  

7. Name-brand jeans.  Levi, Tommy, all that can be triple the price in Ecuador, and even still, when buying in Ecuador you are never quite sure if what you´re buying is REALLY authentic.  Know what I mean?

8. Designer sun-glasses.  Much cheaper in USA.  But the cheapies for $8 that break in a few weeks can be found in Ecuador.  

9. Projectors, DVD players, other specialty electronics.  These type of products can be hard to find or simply double the price in Ecuador.  

10.  Video game systems, i.e. XBox 360, PlayStation.  Often these systems can be over double the price of similar systems found in USA, plus, the games are much cheaper if bought in USA.  Personally, Id buy both the system and games cheap in a pawn shop in USA, then bring down.  

11. Musical equipment.  A Keyboard in Fry´s of Las Vegas costs $99, the same keyboard is over double the price in Ecuador.  Nuff said.  

12. Fishing, hiking and other extreme sports equipment.  Its not the price here, its that these type of specialty items are simply hard to find in Ecuador.  Best to bring.

13. Security equipment.  Systems like security cameras and other specialty home or personal security equipment are best brought from the USA.  

14. Baking equipment.  Specialty items like cookie-cutter molds, mixers and other items related to baking can be non-existent or far more expensive in Ecuador.  

15. Designer jackets, leather, pleather, etc.  More variety and cheaper in USA.

16. Specific food spices and sauces.  For instance, stadium-mustard with that unique flavor is hard to find in Ecuador.  

17. Liquor.  Things like Tequila and many other liquors can be much cheaper in USA compared to Ecuador, but you can only bring up to 3 liters per traveler according to this recent article from the Ecuador customs (Aduana).  

18. Big-screen TVs.  MUCH cheaper in USA, a 32 or 40 inch TV is often half the price in USA at a place like Walmart compared to Ecuador.  While a 32 inch, flat-screen LED Sony in Ecuador starts around $440, the same TV or similar can be found in USA for around half that or less!  But according to the Ecuador customs, you can only bring ONE TV up to 24 inches tax-free per traveler unless you´re bringing one down in your one-time-only tax-exempt shipment from USA after attaining residency in Ecuador.  

For more import restrictions for travelers to Ecuador, try this article.  

What NOT to bring to Ecuador?

Almost as important as what to bring is what NOT to bring, in my hotel near the airport in Quito I meet a lot of foreigners everyday that haul things to Ecuador unnecessarily due to the fact that they are readily available or cheaper in Ecuador.  

Like…

1. Sheets, pillows and bed linens.  One set of sheets for a double bed in Ecuador start around $18 and are of good quality.  

2. Towels.  Dont bring towels, they are cheap and plentiful in Ecuador.  

3. Furniture.  Ecuador has some very nice and reasonably priced furniture.  Most are happy acquiring here.  

4. Sweaters, hats. Also plentiful and reasonably priced in Ecuador.  Alpaca is the norm.  

5. Belts, wallets, other leather objects.  Also cheap and readily available in Ecuador.  

6.  Designer lamps, lighting.  Ecuador also has some beautiful designs not available in USA.

7. Jewerly.  Ecuador has some very nice, unique gold, silver and other options available at reasonable prices.  

8. Peanut butter.  It´s a myth peanut butter is hard to find in Ecuador.  Actually in any big box store like Supermaxi you can find it.  
 

 

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Q&A

Why I just bought in Cayo, Ecuador? The next big thing?

This week I closed on my newest Ecuador property.

Four 330m2(3552ft2) lots, together, with an oceanview a short walk from the beach in Puerto Cayo.  The lots are flat and have road access, water, internet and electricity nearby (which matters!).

Each one cost $8,500 USD ($25/m2), total $34,000 USD.

The plan…

…build a townhouse on each and resell.  I’ll send updates on how it goes.

But for now, why’d I choose Puerto Cayo?

Just like I liked Manglaralto (a small town near Montanita) when I bought a property there 2 years ago, and then watched it explode with development, foreign investment and a subsequent surge in prices… I like Puerto Cayo entering 2015.

It’s got one of the most spectacular oceanviews of nearby cliffs and offshore islands of the whole coast of Ecuador.  And rare for Ecuador, the ocean on a clear day can have a turquoise color due to the multi-color rocks beneath.

The beach has surfing, an activity that attracts foreign interest and gives people something to do.  It´s something Manglaralto doesn’t have, but nearby Montanita does.

I like the proximity to the city of Manta (population about 200,000) which is about an hour away, with decent shopping, big box stores and the nearest airport.

I like that its in the Manabi province on the central part of the coast, compared to Santa Elena, the province on the southernmost part of the coast, where the locals have a serious litter problem.

I love the seafood options people have in the oceanfront cabanas near town, and that the town is relatively safe, I know folks who live there that sometimes leave their doors unlocked.

I like the fact it is a sleepy town instead of a party town like Montanita or Crucita.

I also like that there are already a good amount of foreigners and foreign investment in the area, but that you can still find cheap land if you know how to look, like I explain in my full guide.

Foreigners attract more foreigners.

In short, I think the place could explode in the short term.

What do I NOT like about Puerto Cayo?

Most would still consider Puerto Cayo a bit remote.

It is.

It still lacks a lot of things like things to do, shopping, etc.

Also, there’s not many taxis in this town for some reason, and the distances can be far to walk.

Basic services can be iffy.  Not all lots have easy access to the city water system and the Internet, meaning you should inquire first!

In this area, beachfront land prices have already jumped in the last couple years due to foreign investment, the cheapest I found in my search was around $60-80 per meter.  3-4 years ago the prices started around $20-30 per meter in this area for beachfront.

But you can still find inexpensive oceanview lots a short walk from the beach for around the price I found mine at.  Thats the opportunity.  Foreigners love a view and Puerto Cayo has it, and at a good value for now.  But the place is poised for some serious possible appreciation in the short-term (1-3 years).

So get in while you can.

 

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Investor News/Analysis

How I lost 37 pounds in 1 month the Ecuadorian way

When most people move to Ecuador, myself included, they lose weight.

Its not that they get hit by a never-ending case of Montezuma’s revenge, but the food down here is simply more natural, you know, not so genetically altered as in ‘the developed world’.

But recently, primarily due to working the night shift at my hotel near the airport in Quito, I started to ballon up.

Your friends notice, and start to razz you.

You feel down.

So I decided to do something about it.  But a lot of the info and diets I found online were not for someone that lives in a small Ecuadorian town like me.  Good luck finding Quinoa and Chia and other wierd stuff in the tienda on the corner.

I had to find something that would work in Ecuador.

My journey started with a brief chat with a nutritionist from the States that stayed in my hotel.

He said, “there’s a lot of conflicting info online and people don’t know what to eat to lose weight.  Just focus on three things…

1. Eat less (Mass can neither be created nor destroyed, want less eat less.)
2. Don’t eat processed food (anything that comes in a shiny rapper.)
3. Eat lots of fruits and veggies (they fill you up but are mostly water.)”

So I combined that with a little bit of a low-carb diet plus a twist of a Paleo diet.  I do agree with the Paleo diet in that a lot of what we put in our bodies our bodies were not meant to ingest.

Think how did the cave-men eat.

That’s a good start.

So I cut out the pasta, potatos, rice and bread from my diet.  I also cut out the sugar, refined sugars, dairy and other foods in the ‘grains’ category. We are, in fact, the only animals who drink milk after infancy.

And I focused on eating foods high in protein and natural fats, like fruits, veggies, fish, meat, poultry, nuts, avocados, olive oil.

Thankfully, fruits and vegetables are plentiful and CHEAP in a place like Ecuador.  If you make that the focus of your diet, you could spend literally cents on the dollar to eat everyday.

So, to prove to myself I could do it, I went the first 24 hours without eating anything.  One full day.  And I was fine.

That proved to myself that we really don’t need as much food as we think we do.

Then I settled on a diet full of Ecuadorian recipes like…

Breakfast- Veggie omelet with fresh squeezed OJ (no bread).

Lunch- Chicken-stuffed avocado (veggies and chicken mixed with a hint of sour cream then placed in an avocado) or Chicken con palmito (Chiken baked with diced Amazonian palm heart), or Grilled Andean-Trout with veggies.  Or maybe I’d have a Ceviche (Ecuadorian-style fish soup minced in lime juice with tomato and onion), or a Corvina fish (not farm raised, but from the ocean) cooked in garlic (al ajillo) or Encocado (cooked in coconut curry Esmeraldas-style).

Dinner – Something light like a vegetable soup, an apple or two, or maybe a salad with a bit of tuna.

Rinse and repeat.

The good news for me is I found exercise not all that important to lose weight, it helps, but more its the diet that matters.

I’m not a professional or anything so what I mention here should be taken with a grain of salt and cross-checked with your local expert, but I can only say what worked for me, in Ecuador, and I can say I lost 37 pounds in about a month dropping from 177 lbs to about 140 lbs.

And let me tell you, if you’ve never done it, losing 37 pounds makes you feel great, like superman or something!  Totally worth it.

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Expat Lifestyle

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