Archive | Ecuador for Investors

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

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

“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

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.

For more on this topic please sign up for my Ecuador Insiders newsletter, revealing everything you need to know BEFORE you invest in Ecuador. Unsubscribe at any time:

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Investor News/Analysis

Is Ecuador the next Venezuela?

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.

For more on this topic please sign up for my Ecuador Insiders newsletter, revealing everything you need to know BEFORE you invest in Ecuador. Unsubscribe at any time:

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

How to open a PO Box in Ecuador

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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

The 3 Most Visited Beaches In Ecuador

This week I got an email from a subscriber…“Hey Dom, I’d like to put a business on the beach in Ecuador, and from your experience, what would be the top3 most visited beaches in Ecuador, based on visitors and not whether they are foreigners or nationals?”

ME: Well, I don’t have the exact statistics (I don’t think anyone does!) but from my experience I’d say the mostvisited beaches in Ecuador are…

1. Montanita- Been THE big, new hot spot on the coast for foreign and local tourists alike since 2011.  This place is packed shoulder-to-shoulder on weekends and holidays but has tourists year-round, every day of the week.

2. Salinas- For decades this peninsula has been the go-to beach getaway destination for locals from the nearby city of Guayaquil, and also from the Cuenca area, and since about 2011 been growing in popularity with foreign expats.  The problem is the noticeable lack of beachfront hotels because most of the boardwalk is covered by condo buildings limiting tourism growth.

3a. Atacames/Tonsupa- For decades its been the go-to spot on the coast for locals from Ecuador‘s capital and second largest city (Quito).

3b. Playas- Another up-and-comer, its proximity to the largest city in Ecuador (1 hour from Guayaquil and a new road coming) helps a lot.

3c. Puerto Lopez- Popular with foreign tourists due to the whale watching (July-October) and its proximity for day-trip excursions to “the poor man’s Galapagos” The island of Isla de La Plata.  But its proximity to one of the largest cities on the coast of Ecuador (Manta) as well as Porto Viejo helps a lot to attract locals on the weekends and holidays.

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

$3,500 Beachfront lot minutes from airport in Ecuador, 250m2

esmeraldas beachfront lot

Today’s Ecuador deal of the day is in an area of the coast that has been completely overlooked by foreigners, yet I don’t understand why because its nice with huge deals to be had and just minutes from an airport with daily commercial flights to Quito.

The area was also not effected by the recent quake.

The lot is 250m2 beachfront to highway.  The highway access is great.  The lot also has water and electric hooked up and did I mention, its right-on-the-water beachfront with no road or boardwalk in front?

The lot is located minutes from the town and airport in Esmeraldas headed to the north.

The owner is asking $3,500 USD negotiable.  (I’d try to knock another $1000 or so off that.)
The only thing I’d check out further before buying is what type of deed the owner has, is it a right of possession from the local communal or a proper notarized, municipally-registered deed?  It was not clear when I was talking to the owner on the phone.  Either way for this price if you like the lot after visiting I’d consider it.  The ownership is still indefinite either way, the main difference comes in the sales process when buying or selling.  (But a municipally-registered deed is always a safer bet.)

To contact the owner of this lot please call 0991969909 (Spanish only), I can not answer any further questions about this lot because I have NOTHING to do with it, I just saw it advertised through my grapevine, and for beachfront, wow, what a deal.

Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Listings - Deals of the Week!

New twist helps my agro investing in Ecuador: Growing lettuce in Ecuador

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My recent experiment growing corn for a passive side income in Ecuador didn’t go too well.

Leased about 1 hectare for 5 months=$500
Costs from planting until harvest= about $200
Fertilizer cost= $200
Sale stalks and corn= $600

=Loss $300.

Obviously, I would not try to grow crops again with that same business model.

But I got in the game.

And word got out locally, and farmers nearby came with proposals.

One local lettuce grower came and said he’s got a contact that sells to Supermaxi who gives him the lettuce plants free then comes to harvest them when ready.

And that he’d take care of the plants, watering, weeding as needed until ready for harvest.

All I’d have to do is put the land.

Then we’d split the proceeds.

He has a large contract with Supermaxi, one of the largest grocery chains in Ecuador.

And taking into account I had vacant  a separate quarter of an ACRE leased property waiting for a specialty product whose plants are still in the nursery and won’t be ready for another 8 weeks (more on that soon).  I decided to put something in the meantime.

So we put 3000 lettuce plants and after 6-7 weeks they harvest it and pay 15 cents each.

Total sale: $450

Completely passive income with buyer already lined up.  AKA I don’t have to get dirty (at all).

And more lettuce plants on the way.  See below for pic.

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors

Real-life earthquake experiences from around Ecuador

 Most say the quake epicenter was near the Ecuador-Colombia border.

They’re wrong.

It actually was a bit further south on the coast as the greater-Esmeraldas area actually didn’t sustain much damage.

Interesting how one town on the coast was barely affected near  a town that just got pounded.

The area most effected was the north central part of the coast from Pedernales-Canoa-Bahia-PortoViejo-Manta which got slammed.

Yet interestingly Crucita, also in the area, didn’t sustain much damage.

Just south of Manta towns like Puerto Cayo and Olon shook but didn’t sustain much damage if at all.

The south coast (Salinas-Santa Elena area) escaped largely unscathed.

The highlands and Amazon regions also sustained little to no damage.

Here are actual experiences from around Ecuador:

Here in Quito, Ecuador, as I mentioned before, I felt the quake, but didn’t think much of it at the time, actually I had felt worse in this area.  The wine bottle danced on the table, but didn’t fall,the lights flickered, then everything was back to normal, no damage here.  It wasn’t until people started texting me with the news that I realized it was more serious on the coast.

A friend in Esmeraldas told me her area was fine and that actually the city of Esmeraldas made it largely unscathed.

A friend in Guayaquil said, “I was at home and it really started to shake, I could hear things falling to the floor from other houses, then the power went out for a half hour.  My neighborhood was in tact, a few blocks away one house lost a wall, that;s about it.”

A friend in Cuenca, David from Cuenca Car Share shared that he was sitting at a stop light and he thought the road was vibrating from some construction work.  No visible damage to buildings.

Lillian Asihene in Quito Centro said, “I am in Quito Centro Historico and live on a hill.  I was sitting at my computer and suddenly felt my house slightly shaking and estimated the time to be about thirty seconds.  I sat just wondering when the shaking would stop.  Since I am very familiar with earthquakes after living in Los Angeles, California, for 35 years, I knew exactly what I was experiencing and was not afraid, but did hope that the shaking would stop soon.  In the mean time, I e-mailed my family and friends in the States to let them know that an earthquake had occurred and that I was OK.  I was definitely relieved when the shaking stopped.  My area was spared the damages that occurred on the coast.”

Donald Logan in Olon on the southern coast said… “Nancy and I were in Olon, on the coast.  We were sitting for dinner at Eddies Taqueria, and Eddie had gone out to get shrimp.  When the large chandelier, chairs, and drink cooler began to move around violently, we quickly went to the doorway for an instant then bolted into the open area in front of the restaurant.  We watched the trees, power poles, and their lines swinging wildly as the quake went on.

We had alerted the rest of Eddies family at the same time, and neighbors and friends huddled in the clear for some time.  Power was out in many sectors of the town till midnight, and we watched as many of the residents pushed to higher ground anticipating the possible tsunami.”

A friend in Ayampe on southern coast said… “We were on the beach and felt the sand jump, then we all run for the hills thinking there would be a tsunami, but that was it, no visible damage in area.”

A friend in Puerto Cayo, a town 1 hour south of Manta, said, “all good here, power and internet went out but I’m not seeing any extensive visible damage to buildings.”

Russ in Manta said, “We live live in Manta on the forth floor,  the building.   It is our apartment building and now it is not livable.”

Roger Lewis in Vilcabamba said, “Had a glass or two of wine, taxi home and standing in the kitchen I thought to myself bloody hell that was damn good wine !!!”

Ed OConnor in Cuenca said, “Here in Cuenca, we are on the second floor of our apartment building. We could feel the building shake and things were vibrating. The TV was shaking and I got up to hold it to make sure it didn’t fall over. When I got up I had the sensation that I was drunk and the room was moving. ”

A friend in Cotacachi said, “I was sitting on the couch when for a moment I experienced what was like an underground train going under me and then I thought, “no, I’m in Cotacachi, not London.”  I was in an adobe one floor house and everything was just sort of moving and the ceiling lights were swinging.  We didn’t lose power here.  I realized it was an earthquake and I’d never experienced one.  I went out onto the porch and saw across the lawns other porch lights swinging and everything was just moving and seemed kind of blurry.”

Patrick Holland in Salinas said, “Minutes before, I had just taken a new medication. So, I felt dizzy. The building did sway a little. It only lasted for a minute, here in Salinas.

Then, I went to the balcony to look at pools and ocean. The pool was in “jacuzzi mode”.
I have since heard that some people have traveled Salinas from end to end, but not too many concerns here.”

Mark in Canoa said, “I’m fine Canoa is a disaster with many buildings completely destroyed.”

Scott in Galapagos at the time, ” Didn’t even feel anything.”

Ecuadorian friends in Chone said, “I was watching TV, and the wall to my room fell over, but the other way from where I was sitting, so all good, kept watching the show a few seconds more until power went out for good.  Not too bad here but roads are bad and the hospital got hit bad too, been without power, water for several days.”

The most interesting take I’ve seen online since the shake was from Court at Freedom Bike Rental who were in Canoa at the time.  Check it out here. 

Hasta pronto,

Domenick Buonamici
Quito Airport Suites– a B&B minutes from the new Quito
Guayaquil Airport Suites Mall del Sol- Luxury suites minutes from the airport in Guayaquil across the road from the Mall del Sol.


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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Investor News/Analysis

Updates on road closings, openings in Ecuador due to earthquake

“Dude, why is that wine bottle dancing on the table.” A Canadian friend said as we were hanging out in the lobby of my hotel near the Quito airport.  

The quake was just powerful enough to be felt but that’s about it in Quito.  The bottle danced but didn’t fall over.  

The lights flickered, then came back on.  

And that was it.  

A little tremor, I thought, and back to business as usual glad I wasn’t going to have to work without electricity (it really sucks when you have a hotel, and its so rare the power goes out here I don’t even have a generator).
 
I had felt earthquakes before, in southern California and other small ones since i had moved to Quito 3 years ago, but this one, while mild and no biggie so I thought, felt different.  

It lasted a little longer than normal (like 20 seconds) and felt kind of “wavy” like we were riding gentle ocean waves.  The other quakes i have felt were more 1-3 second jolts making the windows snap (but not crack).

Anyway, my area (Quito) didn’t have any visible effects, but obviously the central Ecuador coast has been hit hard as I’m sure you’ve seen in the news.  

Here’s an update on the road situation nationwide:

Over the last few days the highways connecting the highlands to the coast from Aloag-Santo Domingo and Latacunga-Mana have been closed due to landslides.  As of today, APR 19 they are both open, but before traveling them inquire to be sure.  

The road Chillanes-Bucay is still closed.  

The road connecting El Carmen – Flavio Alfaro is now partially open (one lane only).  

The outlet road connecting El Matal to Jama is closed.

Other roads closed within the past 24 hrs that now report to be at least partially open for transit:

Highways connecting San Vicente-Jama-Pedernales, Puerto Cayo-Jipijapa, PortoViejo-Crucita.

The roads connecting Guayaquil to Cuenca were unaffected, assume if not listed here the roads nationwide are in fact OPEN. 

Overall: I’d say trying to navigate the central coastal region from Pedernales-Bahia-Chone-Portoviejo for now is best avoided if possible, at best long traffic wait times are probable and at worst the roads may be re-closed deemed un-passable on a moments notice. 

For more updates on the earthquake situation from the ground, please sign up for my Ecuador Insiders newsletter, revealing everything you need to know BEFORE you invest in Ecuador. Unsubscribe at any time:

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Investor News/Analysis

Driving In Ecuador Vs The USA: 21 Major Differences

This week I had the chance to sit down with one guy who knows the roads of Ecuador better than anyone I know, 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).

We started chatting about the differences between driving in the USA vs Ecuador.

1. No right on red in Ecuador.  Hard one to get used to.
1A. Lane-challenged drivers who just kind of mesh, its even worse on the coast in Guayaquil where the lanes aren’t even painted on the larger roads sometimes.

2. Pedestrian laws.  Way different in Ecuador too.  As they should be in my opinion.  Like in nature the bigger object has the right of way, hence the car over the walking person.  Pedestrians must yield to cars in Ecuador, not the other way around like in the USA where cars must stop in the middle of no where so a pedestrian can cross the road.

3. Honking.  Also, Ecuadorians use their horn and flash their headlights A LOT.  I think its because there are a lot of dumb drivers who change lanes or pull out onto highways without looking properly.  Also on curves or at stop signs in country towns.  A flash of the lights is good to let other cars know you are there as they may be planning to zoom past their stop sign.

4. The Roundabouts.  Heard they are starting to get more common in the USA but in Ecuador they are everywhere and they’re great in the countryside.  No one has to stop, its just a continual moving wheel with one simple rule, the people already in the traffic circle have the right of way.

5. Lots of one way streets.  In Ecuador there are MANY one way streets, and they are often not marked.  So you have to kind of guess like by how the cars are parked and other small factors you learn as you go.

6. Parking in VERY tight spaces.  Literally, in Quito Ive seen cars parked on the road with one inch between them and the other car on either side.  You get used to it.  Often you have to park your car in parking lots that force you to fold back your side mirrors.

7. More likely to get car stolen.  Take extra little precautions like don’t park on the street at night in Ecuador.  Trust me you’ll be glad you did.  A friend of mine in my little town showed me how he can disarm an electronically locked car and the alarm within about 3 minutes.  Its practically common knowledge in Ecuador.

8. All stick shift, no automatic cars.  I had to go back to driving class to learn the stick.  Very few automatic cars in Ecuador.  Its just a preference.

9. Traffic cops out for “lunch money”.  When pulled over in Ecuador, you’ll often see the drivers standing out of their cars pleading with the traffic cops.  Often the louder you plea the better in Ecuador.  Some cops when they see you are a foreigner will try to scare you into giving them a bribe, the best way I’ve seen to handle this is to pretend like you really dont speak one word of Spanish, even if you do, then they will often get frustrated and just let you go.

10. Different protocol with accident.  When accidents happen in Ecuador it is generally a shouting match, whoever screams louder wins I guess.  The police come, try to let you sort it out among yourselves, if you can’t, then they will impound both cars until guilt is determined.  In the cases of a death or serious injury they will arrest the parties involved until guilt is determined.

11. “The laying down Cops”.  As Ecuadorians call them “chapas acostadas” the laying down policemen or speed bumps are quite common in Ecuador especially in the small towns on the coast.  Be careful for the teeth rattling home-made ones that aren’t marked and blend in with the road at night!

12. Police stops.  The police stops where they may ask you to open your trunk, they are generally looking for drugs or weapons, not something to be worried about if you don’t dabble in that.

13. All the d@mn buses!  As the bigger object rules in nature, so do the bigger objects (the buses) rule on the roads of Ecuador.  They do pretty much anything they want often cutting you off from the far left lane as they drop off a passenger.

Enter Jack…

14….Toddlers playing on side of road unattended along highway in small towns.   I get it that this is a cultural difference, and have no beef w/ the children helping their families, what bothers me is I slow up when I see this off in the distance, and my fellow Ecuadorians speed up and come around and never let up on the gas as they pass by the children & cattle, as well as the school buses & myriads of children just getting off of the school buses, is what gets to me.
15… Buses with little regard for human life.  There is little to know regard for human life, city busses in town, running & gunning with elderly on board, Inter provincial busses speeding & passing / racing each other in dangerous blind curves sometimes 3 deep in a 2 lane hwy with oncoming traffic.
16…Hwy’s with mud slides, torrential Rain down pours w/ very extremely thick fog, flooding, freak hail storms up to 30″ – 36″ deep, seismic activity in dry desert mtn. areas causing land slides w/ boulders & debris, Volcanic Activity Ash fall out, incredible Commercial Truck & Bus Crashes,
17…Speed trap radar cameras spitting out tix that are applied to you license plate, months later, if you slow up or are maintaining the correct speed limit, and as you pass the camera and another driver is passing your vehicle at the same time, you get a tix also. For rental cars, these are applied to your rental car license plate and put on your debit / charge card.

18. Lax DUI / DWI Laws of 3 days in jail / $360. fine / 10 points off of your license. Many Commercial & Private drivers will have a few beers early in the day hauling heavy loads & passengers, and it does not have to be around the holidays.

19…Branches and logs placed in the road in a curve b4 an accident or broke down vehicle is the ecuadorian way of emergency flares / triangles…..

20…Precarious left turns.  Some will put on left turn signal, and pull over to the right hand side and wait until oncoming traffic clears before making the left turn.

21… Random stopping. Some stop right in the middle of the panam hwy and piss on side of rd. right at a Petro EC 500 meters ahead sign. ..or just stop for any reason at all, oblivious to who or what is behind them?
There you have it, a few of the major differences, other than that, its pretty much the same.

You can reach Jack at journeymanjack.com@gmail.com or 770-828-7913(USA) or 098-743-3009(ECUADOR).

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Q&A

How Much Does A Plumber Cost In Ecuador?

$2.

Thats how much I paid this week when a toilet broke in my hotel and had to call a local plumber over. And he was a new guy, so it wasn’t like I was getting special pricing or anything.

I happened to be hanging out with a business professor from Penn State University at the time.

I told him.. “I didn’t go to business school or anything, but that sounds like good business to me.”

He said, ” In the States plumbers charge $50 an hour.”

I responded, “In a 19 room hotel do you have any idea how many sinks, toilets and doors break on a daily basis?”

So for me, right now, that’s why Ecuador wins.

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Q&A

Do You Qualify For The “Professional” Residency Visa In Ecuador?

Do you have a four year (Bachelors) degree from an accredited university?

Then you qualify for permanent residency in Ecuador if you want it.

Ecuador is one of the few countries in the world that gives away residency to ANYONE with a 4-yr bachelors college degree.  Any degree, any major.

This is how I got my residency.

Its BY FAR a better option than an investors visa if you have a degree, because your residency would be linked to that investment.

But there is one setback though.

You have to register your degree with the Ecuadorian Institute of Higher Learning (SENESCYT) which can take months… not good if you are here on the free 90 day tourist visa stamp you receive upon entry with just your passport.

The last thing you want is for your tourist visa to expire and become illegal.  But in order to extend the visa you are looking at $250 plus an added complication once given the residency visa of having to cancel the visa extension.

However, usually it takes 3-4 months for the Senescyt to validate and register your degree in Ecuador. But it can take longer.

Only after this validation you can start the visa process. Which can take another 2-4 weeks.

Thankfully, you can validate your degree locally in Ecuador from abroad with the help of someone already in Ecuador.

First check to see if your university is on this list.  If it is, you qualify!  You need to send to your Ecuador contact the following items… (easy!)

1. Color copy of your passport.

2.  Original color copy of your degree apostilled (if from a country that does apostles like the USA).  If you are from Canada or a country that does not do apostilles then you need to get this certified by the Ecuador consulate in your home country.  You do NOT need to translate your degree if it appears in English, French, German or Spanish.

3. A brief letter in Spanish authorizing your contact in Ecuador to help validate your degree.

4. This application form filled out and signed by applicant and snail mailed to Ecuador.

If your university is not on the list the wait time just got a month or two longer as first you have to get your school approved then your degree.  In addition to the above documents, except a different application form, you would need to send a copy of your transcripts showing your hours taken, completed, grades, etc. This needs to be apostilled in your home country AND notarized in Ecuador.

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Q&A

3 Things NOT To Bring To Ecuador For Resale

2 checked bags (with items that wouldn’t cause problems entering Ecuador)= $1000 profit.

I’m confident you can do that, because I just did. On my first try.

At least I paid for my plane ticket.

This week I finished selling the last of the products I brought to Ecuador for resale in November.

I made money on everything, although some items fetched less than I was hoping.

And some items took A LOT longer than I expected to sell.  But within 2 months of posting I did in fact sell everything.

Of course, I learned a lot, as my clients were 100% Ecuadorians.

Here are 3 things (or groups of things) I learned the hard way to not bring back for resale on my next go:  

1. GPS equipment.  Through my online research the margins looked really good and the machines themselves were small so I thought this was a no-brainer.  I was wrong, very difficult to sell GPS stuff in Ecuador to Ecuadorians.  There just isnt much demand for it.  I did sell what I brought but in the end on a device that costed me $89 I made like only $10.  I expected much more and I had it posted at $170 for a while but it didn’t move.

2.  Small items with high margins and low dollar amounts.  For instance, I brought back a package of certain quality fake eye lashes I bought in the states for $1 and thought to sell here at the market price around $10.  The fact is, selling online, sure the margin looks good, what is that?  1000% profit.  Low investment, low volume and low weight in bag.  That’s what i thought.  Problem was when selling online everyone expects you to send it to them or meet them and do the transaction.  For a few bucks its just not worth the time, plus, I ended up selling at $4 making $3.  I would not bring these types of items again.

3.  Unknown brands in Ecuador.  Lately, I’ve been a Lenovo computer guy.  I love ’em.  Although they are quite popular in the States, I knew they weren’t well known in Ecuador.  Anyway I brought one back and it was VERY hard to sell for a profit!  i did eventually sell it but for little profit.  I would not bring back anything in the future with an unknown brand locally.  In Ecuador, in my opinion the best known brands for lap tops are Apple, HP, Toshiba and then Dell.

Now its your turn!

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Investor News/Analysis

Key To Early Retirement In Ecuador: 1st Attempt Passive Income

My mom worked for 30 years in the USA as a school teacher, and retired with a few hundred thousand in savings, 2 properties, 1 mortgage, and a $3,000/month pension.

Obviously, I’m not going that route.

But I feel the key to an early retirement is a passive income of at least $3000 a month without it depending on the highly volatile world markets (stocks, bonds, metals).

So this year I’m focused on just that, creating an income of at least $3000 a month passive income (meaning you get it and don’t have to do much of anything)… here in Ecuador.

And I’ll keep you updated on all the wins and losses.

Most entrepreneurs and independently employed lean on rental properties for that income.  I don’t think that is the way to go here in Ecuador because rents are low and tenant laws problematic.

So my focus is going to be primarily on agriculture and Ecuador web-based businesses.

This week I launched my first try at it.  A website for folks who want to rent cars in Quito, Ecuador.

The premise: Rent a cars at the airport are PRICEY, yet the little domestic rent a car places in the city are much cheaper.  So I made a deal with one in the city to deliver and retrieve their cars from the airport here in Quito and I’d make 12% commission on sales I made.  Essentially the idea is to bring the city prices here to the airport  area.  For instance, in the city, the economy cars you can get for $23 a day plus 12% tax (with 60 km).  Same car is about double that in the airport.

The costs: Domain name ($15/yr) built website myself in wordpress (free), signed up for a gmail account and a live chat account (not yet implemented in site) $15/month. That’s it.

The strategy: Once deal was made and site launched I found a bilingual Ecuadorian friend of mine who wants to make extra money who answers the emails and the calls and handles the bookings. The clients deposit to my account, then I split the commissions with him.

Our clients: Mainly Ecuadorians so we don’t have an instant book now feature, most Ecuadorians prefer to email, call, call again and then deposit in bank account to confirm booking.

The sales: In our first week we’ve sold for commissions of $3.60, $22, $20, $32.  Total $77.60.  Not bad for the first week, we’ll see from here how it goes.

One thing I’ve never seen many web gurus talk about are the incredible online opportunities there are in developing countries selling in the local language to locals.  There simply isn’t much decent competition so it is possible to make an impact quickly.

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Investor News/Analysis

The #1 Way Foreigners Overspend When Building A Home In Ecuador

A lot of foreigners will agree to one price per square meter on a new home build.

Start to finish. Turnkey.

And they overpay, usually in the six figures.

Instead…

Hire just for the “grey job” first.

In the grey job is usually included the foundation, the columns, roof and walls. Of course all left in grey, and of course considering the walls are cement block (common in Ecuador) and the roof is the typical walk-able cement “losa”.

When finished then tell the builders “chao”. And proceed to find specialists for the other jobs regarding the house job by job.

For instance, for a 3 bedroom, 2 bath house I’ve seen you can get the grey job done hiring this way for under $10k (just the labor fee, materials not included).

And be sure to pay for the job, not weekly. They will work lightning fast that way.

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Investor News/Analysis

Expat Fire Sales: Where To Buy Your Furniture At The Lowest Prices In Ecuador

“Wow, nice refrigerator,” I told my friend while visiting him on the beach.

“And that’s a new table too.” I added.

“Yea, there was this expat couple that moved back to Alaska. Sold everything quick, got everything for less than half price, they had just furnished the place with all new things months ago.” My friend replied.

I see this a lot.

Folks move here, invest heavily in furniture and even real estate, and within weeks or a few months they’re packing up and moving out.

And selling their stuff at a deep discount.

You know, Ecuador, and Latin America in general, isn’t for everybody.

But it’s an expat fire sale, and its a great way for the rest of us to buy our furniture at often less than half of what the items cost new.

So take my advice and don’t invest too much furniture upon arrival and just wait it out and catch a fire sale or two and fill out your house gradually, you’ll be glad you did!

So how do you hear about the expat fire sales?

Just keep your ear to the ground, a wife always complaining? Maybe a husband? They could be gone soon. These are the best cause you are the first one to hear about it.

Other ways to hear about these are by signing up for the Ecuador expat nationwide newsletter gringopost.com and by checking your local regional paper.

For instance, in Quito check the EL COMERCIO classifieds on a Sunday in the OPORTUNIDADES (green) section for MUEBLES (furniture), LINEA BLANCA (appliances). A lot of people both Ecuadorians and expats moving abroad post that they are selling their household goods discounted here.

Must sell quick!

For kitchen equipment try the NEGOCIOS section where many a restaurant that has gone under is selling off their kitchen equipment. Need a nice industrial stove, freezer or whatever? This is the place to look. Of course this last option would require a bit of Spanish.

There you have it, now you know how to buy furniture smart in Ecuador.

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Investor News/Analysis

How To Get Free Medical Attention Through The IESS In Ecuador

Posted on 08 February 2016 .

OK, so the medical services are not exactly free because you’re paying a monthly premium of around $70 or so.

The IESS is the government managed form of Social Security/medical care in Ecuador. All legal residents and citizens of Ecuador can sign up regardless of age. There are no deductibles you need to pay when treated. All medical services are covered (except some medications you may need to pay out of pocket).

You can also affiliate your spouse for a bit less than half the premium you’re paying.

So how do you get service?

Easy.

After at least three months of being affiliated, you call a number in Ecuador 1-800-1000-000 ext 140 to ask for a “cita” appointment and they will tell you a date and medical center location for the appointment (usually within 2 weeks). Spanish only.

They will book you in with a general doctor first to help diagnose you. Then based on that appointment they will re-book you another appointment for a later date with a specialist or for further testing. This is how they work.

And for emergencies?

For emergencies NOT EVERYWHERE will accept IESS patients so you have to go to a specific IESS hospital in the big cities of Ecuador for free emergency assistance, if you go elsewhere they won’t pay it. Every medium to larger city in Ecuador has an IESS center of medical attention.

That’s it, that’s all you really need to know.

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Q&A

How to get water to your crops in Ecuador

Posted on 24 January 2016 .

Many agricultural lots in Ecuador, like mine, get their water from a "sei-key-ya" which are tiny canals that have been spliced off a nearby river.  

But to actually get the water to your lot you have to go point by point down the sei-key-ya and redirect the water so it reaches your lot.  

The annual fee to participate is minimal, like $20 a year, but you are required to participate in "mingas" which are "clean-ups" of the mini-canals.  

Most folks then have resevoirs they fill then water their crops at their leisure.  

You then have to close the "sei-key-ya" to your lot and let it flow through or you could flood your lot, like I already did once cause I forgot to close the sei-key-ya once my resevoir was full.  
 

Sound complicated?  It´s not.  

A pain, yes, a little bit.  Glad I just leased the lot I´m farming until I learned this, much better to have your own direct water source like an on-site river or lake.  

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Q&A

pH setback with land in Ecuador

"I've never seen a pH like this." The part-time Stevia specialist said to me looking over the results of my soil analysis.  

The pH is over 8.  That's very alkaline.  Too high for a plant like Stevia.  The plant would grow but not produce as much as it should, he continued.  

The ideal, and what most soil has in Ecuador is around 6.8-7 which is a neutral soil that plants can thrive in.  

Now, there is a way to correct the pH in the lot, by injecting about a ton of sulfur, which would cost me around $500.  But there's no guarantee that would fully correct the problem.

So for now, another option I think I'll go with is another crop that is a bit more resistant to the pH.  

But I jumped the gun, live and learn I guess, and have already put a deposit down on the Stevia plants.  

I'm still VERY interested in Stevia, but now I have a bunch of plants due out the nursery and no where t put them.  

40,000 of them to be exact, at 30 cents each.  You can fit them all comfortably on about 8,000 meters of land.

In Ecuador they grow best under 2400 meters in altitude and if there is a daily or semi-daily water source.  

And now I need to find a new home for them, aka, another lot to plant them or someone who would like to buy them?  I paid 30 cents each,  could offer a nice discount depending on how many you buy, just trying to recoup my money here.  

So, learn from my mistake, wait for the soil analysis to come back before making decisions on which land to buy (or lease) and which crops to grow!  
 

Any takers on the perfectly healthy, ready to produce and live 6 years Stevia plants?  

They produce every three months and I already have a buyer in Quito lined up.  Please refer to this link for the specific production expectancies, http://ecuadorrealestate.org/stevia-ecuador/  .  

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Investor News/Analysis


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