Archive | Ecuador for Investors

1 Cell Phone-Related Biz-Opp In Ecuador

“I’m starting to think this is hopeless.” I thought as I visited the fifth store dedicated to selling cell phone protective cases in Quito (Ecuador’s capitol city).

You see, in Ecuador, just like the cars on the road, due to the import restrictions there is a very limited variety of cell phones available locally.

And the cell phone case stores cater to only the most popular brands and models of phones in Ecuador.

Yet, there are many people like me who brought their phone from somewhere else. And my poor-little Motorola smart phone is not a common make and model here.

And it’s da-n near impossible to find a case for it.

But I’m not the only one, there are A LOT of people who bring a phone to Ecuador.

Good luck finding a case for it!

Searching online I had slightly better luck, but the one store I found across country said they were sold out of my case, but could order it and it would be here in a month!

I can only imagine what it’s like in the smaller towns of Ecuador to find a case for their phone.

I think this is an opportunity for someone.

You don’t even need a store front. Selling online in Ecuador would be enough.

This is one example of an under-filled niche in Ecuador. There are many similar ones.

I’d focus on what you know…

Why do I share this idea?

Because I already have a business at the current time and I need a case for my phone before I break it!

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Investor News/Analysis

Why I Really Moved To Ecuador

Oh, man.

I’ve been avoiding this question ever since I started this blog a few years back.

Yet, this is the first thing people ask me, how did a guy from Cleveland, Ohio end up in Ecuador?

Lie every time.

OK, maybe not “lie” but I always give a very vague, “blow off” answer like, “came to visit, liked it”.

I think many expats have reasons for moving abroad which aren’t exactly “bragging material”.

My reason was probably a lot different than yours, too.

So, do you want the long or short answer?

The short answer goes back to why I moved abroad in the first place… the women.

At age 22 when I left the USA for good… going out, partying, dancing, drinking, and dating primarily occupied my mind.

Of course, as I’ve gotten older my reasons for living abroad do and have changed, I’m not proud of that original reason, but in high school I got no love, man. Picture a young guy dressed for a party walking through sand dunes in the desert. Definitely graduated high school a virgin. It was rough.

College was better, though.

But my dating life really took off when I graduated and moved abroad. It pays to be different than the local norm, what can I say?

But the long answer of why i moved abroad and also chose Ecuador is more complex.

I was invited to Ecuador initially by an Ecuadorian friend I had made living in Madrid, Spain. He picked me up from the airport and we went to a friends house where a national soccer game was on and I just meshed right in with his group of friends. I was 22. And MAN Ecuadorians that age know how to party!

From day one I was already enamored with the fun-loving, welcoming Ecuadorian people.

Then I left Ecuador and lived in other countries in Latin America and Asia, but I kept coming back to Ecuador to visit.

Then, I read something online while living in the Philippines about how to sell e-books online for cash, so i wrote one on Ecuador real estate, where I saw potential (back in 2008-09).

And it sold.

And because of it I started a blog on Ecuador while not even living there, just based off my past visiting experiences. And it grew until one day I was sitting in China in 2011 thinking, what am I doing here? Let’s go back to Ecuador and grow this thing… Ecuador was just beginning to be touted as the NUMBER 1 retirement destination in the world by many international publications.

So I came back.

This last time you could say the reason was this blog, then with an Ecuadorian friend I started a business in Guayaquil, bought some property, sold it, bought some more. Then, started a business on my own in Quito.

Snow-balled from there.

So my reasons for moving to Ecuador changed over time, which will probably happen to you.

Now, the reason I STAYED here primarily was for my blog and as I see it more opportunity than the USA offers me.

Before I left the USA, my only real job in the USA was as a telemarketer for a mortgage company in Oceanside, CA for about one month and a half. I hated it. You see, i majored in something vague and the only opportunities I saw for myself in the USA were sales, real estate agent, sell insurance or financial advising.

To me, all that just looked like that phone I had to stare at when i tele-marketed. Putting on a tie everyday and pushing the iron-coffin to work everyday in rush hour wasn’t for me.

Down here I’m the star quarterback!

Literally, as the leader of an American Football club in Medellin, Colombia (before I lived in Ecuador) I discovered guys in soccer countries mostly throw like girls. They never developed that skill-set, and I was the de-facto quarterback with the rifle arm (compared to them). In the USA I was never the quarterback.

And of course, I met someone special. But I also LOVE the food, the mild warm climate, the laid-back people, and of course the low cost of living. I like the foreigners that travel here too, usually the more adventurous ones compared to the fanny-pack-wearing-Cancun-resort-types.

I don’t think moving here just cause it’s “cheaper” is a good reason in and of itself. But hey, not like my initial reason was any better!

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Q&A

The Wrong Way To Close A Sale In Ecuador

“You did what?” I asked surprised at my new American friend who told me he just agreed to sell his car to an Ecuadorian girl.

He’s turning down dozens of people calling on his car every day (a car in high demand in Ecuador) because he already agreed with a handshake to sell and was planning on meeting her in a few days. No money exchanged.

“Naw! Man.” I responded.

Maybe that’s how you do business in North America, but that doesn’t work down here.

The first person to pay you in full for the car, get’s the car, that simple. Don’t be holding it for people!

Down here, if there isn’t at least a deposit paid, you got nothing, man!

Words are just hot air.

Handshakes are worse.

Checks are the equivalent of toilet paper, (seriously!) at least, when you don’t know the buyer in a deal like this one.

Particularly, when selling something in high demand down here like a car, if someone asks if they can pay in installments or whatever, tell ’em to f— off, you’re not a bank.

Cash in hand or deposited in bank account… then goods released.

That’s how you do business down here.

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Expat Lifestyle, Investor News/Analysis

Roof install costs on the coast of Ecuador- Ecuador house build weeks 5-10

Posted on 12 November 2016 .

Hi {!firstname_fix},

And on goes the roof!

I wanted to do a house in the typical Spanish style with the red clay shingles.  Plus, I wanted to do a lighter-weight roof with “flex” which would be better for earthquakes than the typical cement roof (losa) common in Ecuador.

Also, I thought it would be nice in the case of a big quake the thought of gypsum and shingles above me appeals to me much more than blocks of concrete.

Plus, i decided to do a four-sided sloping roof with multi-colored clay shingles in a typical-Japanese style.  Rare in Ecuador.

But first came the metal frame…

Labor cost for installation of metal framework for roof (3 days)= $500

anti-corrosive paint $82.50
metal beams for roof $1326
tape $9

Then came the plywood on which goes the shingles are held in place by a little bit of cement.  The costs highlighted below are for the roof, the roof installation cost $580 and took about 2 weeks.

Then came the shingles…

In Ecuador to lay roof shingles costs around $3.50 per m2.  When installing make sure there is a decent slope or you will have big leak problems later!  Trust me, I know from a different property!

Total roof install= 2 weeks.

The total spent on the roof for a three bedroom two bath house was $3,788.09.  

See full costs below of weeks 5-10 of build project…

28.73 chimney
1239.41 plywood for roof
18.84 screws for roof

11.45 electric tubes
6 telephone
7.50 screws for roof
248.86 ceramics for balcony $7.60 per m2
9.22 latex paint
97.30 cable
15.73 bondex roof
11.28 disc for electric saw
8.00 grapa metalica
1492.90 shingles roof (165m2) for 145m2 house
3.00 electric outlet
3.00 gyprocks misc.
1.20 placa plastica
11.54 fachaleta
$580 manual labor for roof. $3 per m2
219.15 More shingles
$7.75 sack of cement 
940 maestro Jimmy for foundation work (out of $9500)
150 metal door and install for water tank
3.00 teflon
13.20 tubes (codo)
17 breaker
81.95 tank for water
73.18 supplies for tank
62.18 cement
210 gas
1810 of 2260 Gypsum drop off installation included materials. $15 per m2
$4.75 cable
17.50 screws for gypsum
160 last payment for electritian
17.65 outlet
30 transport for tiles
1598.25 porcelen for bedrooms at $15.98 per m2 (100m2)
1175.25 porcelen for bathrooms
1200 last payment maestro for laying foundation (out of $9500)
79.11 ceramic tiles
3.25 brush
13.50 screws
23 telephone calls
8.35 tubes varios
31.40 siicone
$103 bondex for roof
$105.69 electric cable
14.58 roof supplies
140 payment electritian
10.79 polimex
40 uplift metal framing for roof
63 stucco for walls
298.58 bondex for flooringWEEKS 5-10- TOTAL SPENT INCLUDING ROOF for 190m2 HOUSE:  $12,207.

ecuador-house-for-sale

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Investor News/Analysis

The first 10 things gringos notice in Ecuador

Posted on 10 November 2016 .

 

“T.I.E. This. is. Ecuador.”  I find myself often telling my brother (from the USA) who is currently visiting Ecuador for the first time.

The things he initially notices crack me up when I’m just used to it being here a few years now.

Here were a few things he noticed first in Ecuador, and found strange…

1. Grass growing on power lines in Ecuador.  Unexplainable.

2. Ghetto glass.  Or broken bottles cemented into the tops of property walls to prevent break ins.  Interesting idea.

3. Whole extended families on motorcycles.  Slightly illegal in the USA, he found it strange the sight of a father, mother and two kids and the family dog on one motorcycle in Ecuador.

4. Street dogs humping in the street.  A common part of any Ecuador landscape. This one he found particularly hilarious.

5. Random cars with police-colored strobe lights.  Not exactly legal in USA.

6. Pissing in Public.  The ease with which male Ecuadorians pull up in public was impressive to him.

7. Cars parked on sidewalks making the pedestrians walk in the street.  A common sight in Ecuador.

8.  How close the buses whiz by you when biking on the road in Ecuador, literally they pass just inches away.  This one made him flinch.

9. Cars pulling other broken-down cars with a rope.  Not precisely legal in the USA yet a common sight in Ecuador.

10. No windows (or TP) or any ventilation of any kind in many gas station bathrooms in Ecuador.  The hot, humid stench of one particularly on the coast will make you want to shower right then and there.

T.I.E.

Hasta pronto, if you liked this you’d love my Insider’s newsletter on living and investing in Ecuador,

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Expat Lifestyle

How to pay for your trip to Ecuador with barter

Posted on 21 October 2016 .

 

The basics are cheap in Ecuador: food, water, utilities, gasoline, natural gas, shelter.

Consumer goods are expensive in Ecuador (much more so than North America): Clothes, shoes, electronics, perfumes and liquor to name a few things.

The reason is the protectionist import policies the current government has imposed with strict regulations and high tariffs.

But this has created an opportunity for the casual traveler to Ecuador that I think VERY few are taking advantage of.

You see, if you bring just one or two units of any one item the customs officials will deem the items as for personal use only.

No problem.  Wave you on through.

And at the same time there is a BUNCH of people in Ecuador (Ecuadorians and foreigners) running businesses that I’m sure would be willing to exchange their services for an item they want/need brought from the USA.

Pay your trip with barter, basically.  

Instead of exchanging cash for a service you are offering a service for a service.

First, you could plan your trip and decide what you want to do and where you want to stay.

Then, you could email the travel providers you plan to work with (hotels, car rentals, tour providers, AirBnb hosts, etc.) and see if they would like something brought from the USA, they could pay you back just what you paid for the item based on your receipt and give you their service (like a hotel night) free in exchange for you bringing the item (s) down to them.

Some would accept, some may not.  As a hotel owner in Ecuador, I’d know I’d listen to someone offering me this.

 

Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Expat Lifestyle

Car accident in Ecuador

Posted on 11 October 2016 .

“Oh, sh-t” I thought as I sat there looking at the motorcyclist on the ground.

I had tried to make a quick U-turn (where maybe I shouldn’t have) and a motorcycle trying to zip around me on the right clipped my bumper and him and his bike went tumbling down.

He quickly got up and got in my face as I still sat in the drivers seat.

“Give me $1000 now for the damage on my bike!”  He shouted as his bike laid in the street.

“Hey, I got insurance buddy,”  I said in my muffled Spanish.

Then… “Wham”!

A big noise made me cinch my face muscles.  I looked over my shoulder and I couldn’t believe my eyes!

While the motorcyclists bike laid there in the street and he was arguing with me to give him a quick buck, another car came and run over his motorcycle!

It was now completely wrangled around the under-organs of the car that just passed over it.

The bike now totaled.  Before, it was damaged but he probably could have just drove off.

Now, there were two angry Ecuadorians yelling at each other and me to one side.  You see, in Ecuador during a car accident I think the locals think that whoever can yell the loudest will be granted the right of way.

Within a few minutes the police showed up.

Immediately, the police said all the vehicles would be impounded until a traffic court could determine guilt, unless we could work something out.

Then he asked for our documents.

License and registration.

And to my surprise, but I suppose not uncommon in Ecuador, both the motorcyclist and the other car driver had no license nor proper registration.

So the policeman quickly looked to me, the calm, bewildered foreigner with the proper documents and said to me… “give the motorcycle guy $100, give that car driver $150 cash… and get out of here.”

My truck just had a few scratches on it after-all.

“Yes, officer,” I said joyfully and away I went!

That’s how a car accident more or less works in Ecuador.

The wild west?  Yea, with these kinds of things I’d say so.

STORY PROVIDED BY …

Jack Abercrombie, a guy from Atlanta who has been living in Ecuador a few years now.
He has a truck he uses to help new arrival expats in Ecuador move large loads of goods and pets within Ecuador.  You can reach him at journeymanjack.com@gmail.com or 770-828-7913(USA) or 098-743-3009(ECUADOR).  Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/journeymanjack 

 

Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Expat Lifestyle

3 things to consider before you lie on your property deed in Ecuador

Posted on 06 October 2016 .

This past week in this newsletter we touched on the reality of Ecuador property in that the municipally appraised values often are MUCH less than the real commercial values the property sells at.

I just want to inform on the reality of the situation, the choice is yours to put the real price you paid on the deed or just the minimum needed or the municipally appraised value.

But there are three things to consider when making the choice…

1. Do you need this property to get an investors residency visa in Ecuador?

If so then you MUST put at least $25,000 value on the property plus $500 for each dependent.  Still valid in 2016.

2. How long do you plan on keeping the property?

Putting the lower amount can help minimize notary and municipal fees now at time of purchase and your yearly property taxes (predios), but keep in mind the next buyer might not want to put the lower amount meaning you’d get nailed with a hefty capital gains tax bill!  So if you plan to keep the property for the long term this may not be an issue.

3. Is there any chance this property could be expropriated by the government?  Like to widen a road (I’ve seen many times in Ecuador), or build a bridge, park, etc…

If so, keep in mind the government only pays according to the low-ball MUNICIPAL APPRAISED VALUE of the property but if you have the higher real value on the property you could make a good case that the property is actually worth that and get all or part of that higher value.
Now, the choice is yours!

 

Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Investor News/Analysis

Up goes the walls, costs and more: Ecuador building project week 2-3

Posted on 29 September 2016 .

Now with the floor and columns up time for the walls…

After building with blocks on this house, next time, I’m going to use bricks, why?

Although the labor time is much more, the walls won’t crack, are more solid and after all you may use less cement cause you don’t have to plaster over the walls when finished.

We used 15 cm wide blocks for walls and filled with cement for noise protection.

For a 190 square meter house that we are building on the coast of Ecuador.  We needed 2100 cement blocks at 38 cents each.   TOTAL price $798.

Cheaper than bricks, you bet, and much faster to build!

Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Investor News/Analysis

Why Ecuadorians lie about how much they paid for their property on their deed

Posted on 24 September 2016 .

3 things you got to know before you buy property in Ecuador…

1. Municipal’s official property appraised values in most cases are WAY out of wack, or under the actual market value.  It’s common to see properties selling in the six figures while municipally valued at $5,000 USD or less.

2. The buyer of a property can put the real price she paid for the property on the deed but must put at least the official Municipal appraised value.

3. Ecuadorians HATE paying taxes, even more then we North Americans do, because I suppose we are more used to it.

Put these three facts together and most who buy property in Ecuador don’t put the actual amount they paid on the deeds but the minimum amount they must put which is the Municipally appraised value.

The reason for this is because it greatly lessens your tax burden, both for your transfer fees at time of purchase and also your annual tax payments (predios) due to the Municipal each year of ownership.

Here is a real life 2016 example of a property I am looking to buy and how putting the actual amount the owner is asking on the deed effects the transfer and notary fees you will have to pay at purchase plus the annual property taxes vs just putting the Municipally appraised amount.

Figures were attained directly from a notary in Ecuador.  

Actual asking price of property: $77,000

$355 Notary fees
$760 Alcabalas (Municipal transfer fees)
$228 Junta de beneficencia (Municipal transfer fees)
$4000 capital gains tax or plusvalia (the seller pays)

Annual property tax payment if based on actual purchase price (predios): $190

Current Municipal appraisal of same property(and the current value on the deed): $37,745 

$237 Notary fees
$377 Alcabalas
$120 Junta de beneficencia
$0 capital gains tax or plusvalia (the seller pays)

Annual property tax(predios) currently being paid based on current appraised value: $71

Conclusion:  Buyer could save over $600 in notary and transfer fees/taxes at time of purchase by just putting the Municipally appraised value.  Could also save over $100 a year in the annual property tax due.  The seller would save greatly in the capital gains tax (maybe something the buyer could ask for concessions on from the seller for saving them so much in tax by not upping deed to actual value).

Possible consequences:  Nothing I know of, everyone does it in Ecuador except when there is a bank loan involved in which case the bank does NOT take the Municipal appraisal but will send a guy to do their own for a more accurate figure on which they will base their loan amount to you.

The choice is yours.

Hasta pronto,

Dom Buonamici
Quito Airport Suites
Guayaquil Airport Suites Mall del Sol
Puerto Cayo Real Estate

Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Investor News/Analysis

How starting a hotel moves you towards your dream

Posted on 15 September 2016 .

“Oh, man, empty” I thought…

This past week I went to the inauguration of a friends restaurant here in Quito, Ecuador.

Empty.

It’s tough to start a restaurant, he’ll probably be done within a month or two.

Later that same afternoon, I had to rush out of there to go serve dinner to 32 people in my hotel who were staying there.

I don’t even like having to serve food.  I wouldn’t if I didn’t have to, there’s just not many options near me.

But that’s my point.

Maybe your real dream is to start your own restaurant, or transportation service, or relocation specialist, or real estate agency, sell art work, do surf tours, or Hummingbird walks… whatever…

It’s much easier to get clients for any of the above when you have people sitting on your couch staring at you practically begging you to feed them and give them interesting things to do.

So first host them. Then sell them what you really want to sell them.

Start a B&B, hostel, hotel or even just offer lodging via AirBnb.

 

Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Expat Lifestyle

Stolen groceries in Ecuador

Posted on 26 August 2016 .

“That’s strange,” I thought glancing in my rear-view mirror as I parked on a rather vacant street about to walk to the nearby market.

I thought it was strange that a taxi pulled up right behind me and parked within inches of my car when they had the whole vacant street to park alongside.

Anyway, i got out of my car and without looking back I quickly pressed the electronic lock button on my key and off I walked to the open-air market in Quito, Ecuador.

As I walked back to my car with the groceries, I opened my trunk and to my surprise, the trunk was completely empty!

Prior to the produce market I had went to Supermaxi (like a walmart of Ecuador) and bought the bulk of my hotels groceries for the week, about $300 worth.All of those groceries, that once filled my trunk and back seat… were gone.

Robbed.

I figure someone had pulled up behind me and nudged open my back door before I had electronically locked my car which activates the alarm, emptied me out and left.

I imagine it was the guys in the taxi that pulled up right close to me as i parked.

T.I.E. (this is Ecuador)… better always be looking at your car when locking it before you walk away!

 

Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Expat Lifestyle

Driving from the Ecuador highlands to the coast through the backdoor in HALF the time (just 3 hours)

Posted on 21 August 2016 .

Many of us expats (myself included) in Ecuador prefer to live in the Andes Mountain region due to the mild, cool climate (and lack of mosquitos) in the center of the country and then invest in a second home or take vacations to the coast.

By Andes region I mean the area starting in Tulcan in the north, then going down through Ibarra, Otavalo, Quito, Ambato, Riobamba, Cuenca, Loja and then on to Peru.

But most who’ve driven it knows it takes 6-8 hours easy to get from Quito to the closest points on the coast.  From Cuenca, it’s a good 3 and a half hours to Guayaquil, then another 2 hours to the closest beach.

Most don’t know there’s a back way to the coast…

In fact, you can get from Ibarra in the mountains north of Quito to the north coast in just 3 hours!

And the road is well paved, scenic and EMPTY too.  It connects Ibarra to Lita, then on to San Lorenzo on the northern most tip of the Ecuador coast.  From there you turn south and within about 45 minutes you are in Las Penas and the other beaches north of Esmeraldas.

When I took this road (route 10) recently I didn’t see a single truck and very few other cars during the whole 3 hours I was on it.

Great for anyone that wants to try the road less traveled by or for someone who wants to live in the Mountains in someplace like Ibarra, yet be close to the coast!

 

Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Investor News/Analysis

Evictions In Ecuador: How They Work, And What To Do When It Happens To Your Property

Posted on 13 August 2016 .

{!firstname_fix},

“I can’t believe it’s come to this.” I said to my friend as I slid the ski mask over my face a few days ago.

“Got the switch-blade?” he asked.

“Yes.” I responded.

“Got the baseball bat?” He asked.

“Come on man, its Ecuador, ain’t no baseball bats here.” I continued.

“Ok, then got some stick you can use as weapon if needed?” He mumbled.

“Yes”. I replied as I slid it under my belt hiding it from sight.

“OK, lets go.” we both agreed as we walked towards the building, nodded at the security guy we’ve seen a million times and into the elevator we went.

I hoped this wasn’t going to get ugly, I thought, as we went up the elevator about to confront a tenant that did not want to pay the rent nor un-occupy the property.

Then I woke up.

My friend nudged me awake, I was daydreaming, waiting in the lobby of my condo building waiting for the tenant who didn’t want to pay to leave.

He wasn’t leaving.  And I was angry.  Maybe it was the Italian in me, I don’t like it when people steal or try to cheat me.

First time this happened to me or one of my properties in Ecuador.

So what could I or you do in this situation?

I know the laws favor greatly tenants over owners here.  So I was worried.

For that, I talked to a notary/lawyer friend of mine in Guayaquil who prefers to remain nameless.

Here’s what she said:

The legal term for eviction is “desahucio” in Ecuador.  First, you have to go to a notary with your signed rental contract (does NOT have to be notarized) and ask for a document called a “desahucio” which you then have to serve the tenant.

They then have 90 days (3 months) to leave the premise by Ecuador law before you can come with the police and kick them out.  In the meantime, you will have to go to a rental-claims-court (juzgado de inquilinato) and file the claim.

What if you don’t have a rental contract like in my case because the rent was going to be short-term (1 month)?

You can make a declaration of ownership of the property and verbal contract (declaracion de un contrato verbal) with a notary to continue the procedure.

Then, I suggested another solution.  Quicker.  They’re not paying for services so can I just cut their services: water, electric, Internet?

She said yes, just do it.

And after one more warning (and one more night) I did just that with the building staff, first cutting the water, the electric then the Internet to the suite.

And sure enough, within 1 more day after that they were out of there on their own terms.  The whole ordeal of them being in there and us trying to charge them and them not wanting to pay (or leave) lasted about 6 stressful days.

I only let these guys in in the first place based on a recommendation from a friend (that i’m also not going to listen to anymore).

But to avoid situations like this with my short-term vacation rental business in Guayaquil, I have to stick to my rules of no walk-ups, and Internet pre-paid bookings only which I think will help prevent situations like this greatly.

And for rentals of longer terms, be sure you get that contract signed from day one for your property and screen your tenants carefully!

 

Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Investor News/Analysis

Common setbacks when getting electricity to your home in Ecuador: PART 4 Ecuador coast home build

Posted on 25 July 2016 .

This week, before the heavy construction begins, we had to bring electricity to our lot from nearby.
First, you may have to install your own transformer.

Just make sure it is at least 5 KW for every house you plan to connect to it.  And make sure the person who installs it is licensed or you could have a problem with the Municipal later!

In my case the whole installation including 3 posts to get the electricity to my lot cost about $3000.

When installing electricity in your home make sure the breaker box is hidden, Ecuadorians will often but the box right in the middle of their living room!  Ouch.

Make sure the light switches are just 100-110 cm off the ground so kids can reach them, often in Ecuador if not told the workers will install the sockets too high.

Also, make sure the voltage is 110 for normal sockets and 220 for the oven and AC installations.

Often electricians in Ecuador plan to make most their money on the cables they steal from you!  So be very careful with this!

Additionally, most electricians in Ecuador charge per point, or per socket installation.  We paid $8-12 per point (or socket).

Often electricians will tell you you need more expensive cable than you really do so they can steal it, careful!

For sockets 12 cable will suffice, for AC or oven 10 cable is ideal.

Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Investor News/Analysis

How to visit the Amazon in just 1 DAY in Ecuador- plus $100 all-inclusive 4-day trips

Posted on 13 July 2016 .

I know, I know…

You don’t do mud, mosquitos, humidity, or ‘getting dirty’ in general.

Thus, visiting the Amazon doesn’t interest you.

But Ecuador offers something NO OTHER SOUTH AMERICAN COUNTRY OFFERS.

Ease of access to the Amazon.  it’s right there, you can drive right in (no flights needed)!

Just 3 Hours by car from Quito (the capitol city) and you are in Tena and then Misahualli, where the paved roads end and the full-blown Amazon jungle starts.

Compared to other South American countries, to experience the Amazon you don’t have to fly in and spend 5 days without internet (unless you want to).

The other day, in Quito, I said, “hey, I got a free day, let’s go to the Amazon.”  And off we went.  Once there we went deep in by canoe and spent one night there and were back in Quito by the next afternoon!

Once in Misahualli we took a motorboat on the great Napo River (that empties into the Amazon).  Met with natives, visited an indigenous community, got spiritually cleansed by a local Shaman (holy man)…(for now, passed on the Ayahuasca, although may consider it in near future)

…saw dozens of species of monkeys, toucans, an anaconda, a leopard, alligators, and parrots.  Had the opportunity to eat worms off the grill (which I declined), instead ate a whole local Tilapia lunch for $3.

Plus, a highlight for me was when I met a cool local who explained to me about current and ancient hunting techniques in the jungle by the natives.

My advice if you go is to give yourself at least two days, and right in the port you can hire anything you want to do.  There are a few agencies you can hire activities like day canoe trips into the Amazon, indigenous village visits, tubing in nearby rivers, or a visit to the local Amazonian animal rescue center.

Wait until you are there to book your accommodation as the cheapies are not online.  I stayed at one very acceptable place on the river with pool called France Amazonia Lodge and it was like $15-18 per person.

Anyway, definitely a great day (or two) trip from Quito most foreigners NEVER DO because they think going to the Amazon requires a large time and monetary investment like in most other countries.

And for the $100 (per person) all-inclusive 4 day Amazon trips including all accommodations (some camping), transportation by motorboat, guide and food which leave from Misahualli ask at the agencies in the port, they can set it up, try Ruben at the N Pakcha agency in the port 0983276201 NO EMAIL, although I have NOT used him, and have NO affiliation with him, just talked to him at his office there.

 

amazon-river-ecuador
A river in the Amazon.

anaconda-ecuador
Can you see the Anaconda?

worms-amazon-ecuador
Grilled worms, anyone?

tapir-ecuador
A Tapir

shaman-ecuador
A Shaman or local witch-doctor if you will?

monkeys-misahualli

hotel-france-amazonia-ecuador
Hotel France Amazonia where I stayed, nice place, about $18 per person.

community-ecuadorOne local community I visited.

Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Travel Guides

How to get hotel-type-dollars for your rental in Ecuador- Property Management Opp

Posted on 16 June 2016 .

“No, I don’t do rentals.” 

That’s a phrase I hear a lot when talking to real estate agents in Ecuador.  Particularly foreigners who are working in Ecuador as real estate agents.  

But I think they’re missing the boat.  

Especially now in 2016 as many locals and expats are opting for renting over buying.  

Maybe it’s distrust in the local government, or the strong dollar, or earthquake worries.  Everyone has their reasons for deciding to rent. 

I started my property management business in Guayaquil a bit over 6 months ago and it’s been going great.  

And I think it’s a BIG opportunity for other foreigners all over Ecuador. 

Ecuador (especially on the coast) just doesn’t have many good, professional property management options.

Many people just lock up their house or condo and leave (which you shouldn’t do in Ecuador due to the risk of break ins of obviously vacant properties).  

Plus, a lot of foreigners are only here part-time and need someone honest to pay the utility bills, property taxes and maintain the general up-keep of the property while their gone.  

And most importantly, show the house, charge the clients and be the liaison for the tenants when problems arise. 

How I do this business in Guayaquil (although I live in Quito) is pretty simple, and similar to what I’ve seen others doing in other parts of Ecuador. 

Here’s what I’ve done:

You can start with not even buying a property, like I did.  Just rent long-term.  

Less risk.  

And then sublease for shorter-terms.  

Be sure the owner knows what you’re doing at the beginning and is Ok with it. 

Find one unit to begin and expand as needed.  

Find a unit in a great location for your ideal client (tourists, expats, etc.), with a 24 hour guard/receptionist and preferably in a building or community that offers the same amenities of a hotel (like a swimming pool, gym, etc.)

Find a location with a bunch of eating options around and your guests won’t even care if you don’t offer a restaurant or breakfasts.

You can still beat the hotels in the area, especially for longer stays (weeks to a few months), because your unit has a kitchen, living room and generally more space and privacy than a hotel can offer.  Plus, hotels charge per person and restrict guests in the rooms which you won’t.  

Having your units in buildings with 24 hour staff means you don’t need to hire ANY employees!  I just have one young, nice bilingual guy who I pay to fix problems as they arise and coordinate cleanings between guests which I pay per job as needed getting a “factura” or official receipt making the work contract-work only.

If things keep expanding I may hire him full-time in the near future meaning I’d have one employee. 
  
We leave the key with the guests name on it at the reception and the guest is instructed to request it at check in.

Promote and charge 100% online with prepaid bookings only.  Because you or none of your direct salaried employees will be there to charge when guest arrives.  

You can also charge a security deposit in advance online with a service like PayPal which you can refund later with a click.  

As you expand you can begin to manage other properties in the area for other owners for a percentage of the rent.  In my experience, once you’re in the game, they’ll start approaching you!

For instance, in Cuenca and Salinas, two Ecuador expat hot-spots where I see a lot of opportunity for this type of business.  You could rent nice, furnished places where tourists want to be in the $3-400 range long-term and turn around and sublease for shorter stays in the $50 a night range.  

You’d have to cover the utility bills but in Ecuador that’s not much, so you could net around $1000 a month from one unit.  If you keep it full, which I’ve found do-able.  

One thing is for sure, managing rentals is MUCH EASIER than managing a hotel or B&B which requires 24 hour employees (or handcuffing yourself to the site)!

To promote AirBnb.com is a great start, but it’s fascinating to me how different it is promoting essentially a vacation rental compared to my 19-room hotel(b&B).  To learn more about that fill in the blanks below…

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Investor News/Analysis

The exit tax advantage foreigners have when buying property in Ecuador

Posted on 06 June 2016 .

Just like with any Economic decision, there are winners and losers, positives and negatives.

Recently, I used the ever-heightening exit tax (now at 5%) the Ecuador government has put on any money (and now cash) you wish to take out of Ecuador to my advantage in a property deal in Guayaquil.

A friend of mine was about to buy a property and had already agreed on the purchase price after a tough negotiation with a wealthy Ecuadorian owner.

But I had an idea.

As I know wealthy Ecuadorians pretty well and what makes them tick (I partnered with one in my first biz in Ecuador).

-I know almost all of them take one or two “shopping” trips a year to the USA.

-I know they almost all have bank accounts in the USA.

-That they HATE paying taxes and are generally cheap. While in my experience, the poor and middle classes are actually very spendy and don’t save a dime.

-Have almost “zero” liquidity. All the money is usually tied up in businesses, inventory or property.

-And are fearful of the current regime in Ecuador and trying to get some of their assets out of Ecuador.

Keeping all that in mind I told my friend to ask for a 3% discount and extra concessions on the already discounted, agreed-upon price if the payment was made to a USA account instead of brought to Ecuador.

The Ecuadorian owner knew it would cost him 5% to take the money out of Ecuador, so he gladly agreed.

For my friend, an American buyer, it was the same for him to pay from his US account to an Ecuadorian one or an American one (no tax on bringing money to Ecuador, just the wire fee of like $45).

So there you have it, one way to use the new exit tax to your advantage in Ecuador getting an extra discount on a property purchase.

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Investor News/Analysis

Is Ecuador the next Venezuela?

Posted on 24 May 2016 .

I’ve been in a few communal showers, but thankfully never in a prison one.

And so I’ve heard, dropping the soap is “how it starts”.

Similar to that… Ecuador is currently on a predictable path to become another Venezuela.

I for one hope it doesn’t happen, Ecuador now is certainly NOT Venezuela, still very capitalistic, but it’s just history, man.

Like when a country elects a fiery, entertaining ruler who instigates racial prejudices and violence, we know what happens.

Yea, or do we?

Like for the president to kick out the congress, install his own people, intimidate the press, eliminate term limits, install capital controls. On and on it goes until one day you think.. “oh sh*t!”

Like one Venezuelan client of mine said, “Yea, the marches, that’s how it starts, but it doesn’t do a da** thing.”

This week the president just followed the next step in his plan to convert Ecuador into another Venezuela, or Cuba…

Right now, on any amount you try to transfer out of Ecuador over about $1,000, you have to pay a 5% exit tax on the whole amount. And the max you can take out of Ecuador in cash is $10,000 tax free.

Well, the new proposal by the president wants to lower the max on the tax-free cash limit to $1,000. Effectively putting a nice cap on ALL THE MONEY in Ecuador.

Want to take it out? Going to pay that 5% tax.

Among other proposals lost in the wash are what Venezuela already has in place, like putting limits on how much Ecuadorians can spend abroad on their credit cards, etc.

My take, I’ve always been one to say you should never put more than 10% of your total portfolio in Ecuador. Ecuador’s a nice diversification, but that’s it.

Especially now, any money you put in Ecuador better be able to generate you over well over 5% return a year or its simply not worth it.

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

How to open a PO Box in Ecuador

Posted on 17 May 2016 .

,

Contrary to popular belief, Ecuador does actually have a decent post system (Correos Ecuador).

The problem often is the place where you are living or renting doesn’t have an easily find-able address.

My first house purchase in Ecuador had the legal address… “The white house near the Hospital in Manglaralto.”

Yikes.

So to receive mail in these cases I suggest opening a PO Box… its easier than you think.

Just go to your nearest Correos Ecuador Post Office with a copy of your passport, your real passport and a utility bill from where you live (it doesn’t have to be in your name) and ask for a BUZON.

The rent price is $22 a year and iits about the size of a shoe box… you get the key.

If items larger than that come for you, you’ll get a slip in the box saying to ask the receptionist for your larger package.

Thats it. Foreigners who are not residents of Ecuador can open one as well with just their passport.

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Q&A

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