Archive | Ecuador for Investors

Black-listed real estate agents in Ecuador – Background checks

Come on, man

Were you actually expecting a list of names here?

I’m not about to start mud-slinging.

But I will show you how to let the facts speak for themselves and how you can do a FREE background check on anyone you like in Ecuador.

Especially helpful before you do a bigger business deal with someone from or in Ecuador.

Within seconds you can freely see their entire criminal record (if they have one), specifically what they have been convicted of and even some legal matters they were involved in yet not necessarily convicted (as Ecuador isnt necessarily an ‘innocent-until-proven-guilty’ country).  You can even see things like if they’ve gotten seriously behind on child support payments or if they’ve been involved in any kind of fraud in the past.

In fact, it’s commonplace for businesses in Ecuador to check someone out in this manner before hiring them.

All you need to do the background check is their “cedula” number (thats the official, mandatory ID card in Ecuador).

Then go to the site  http://www.ministeriointerior.gob.ec/certificado-de-antecedentes-penales/

Once on the site under “datos del solicitante” you’ll need to put your information.

Then under “datos de la persona a consultar” you’ll need to input the full names and cedula number of the person youd like to check out and click CONSULTAR.  Thats it, on the next screen their criminal history will appear or a message will state they have no criminal history!

Now, no one can hide from you.

Especially helpful in real estate purchases where before the deal goes through the seller and buyer have to exhange copies of their IDs to write up the new deed (escritura).

Now, how to find the best-priced properties in Ecuador? For that and more subscribe to my weekly Ecuador Insiders Newsletter below, you can unsubscribe at any time:

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Investor News/Analysis

Macadamia farming in Ecuador – really?

China, India, Egypt, Jordan, Dubai… I can say one thing after living or visiting those places… what a barren wasteland!  At least the parts I saw.  

But Ecuador is different.  

Truly gifted.  

The green here in the Andes is a special color green, really.  So much water.  The dark black top soil runs so deep.  

All you have to do is find the right altitude and it will have a steady year round climate to grow whatever you like.  

So it shouldn’t surprise that a few innovative farmers have done just that, now profiting from Macadamia.  

Precisely, 3 with significant plantations in Ecuador.  And this week I was hanging out with one of the big three on his lot near the town of Los Bancos in Ecuador in the coastal lowlands  but still a ways from the ocean.  

He began… 

You need to find a place that has plenty of water, yet a lengthy dry season for the harvest time, which in this area is from March to July.  

Preferibly between 300-500 meters above sea level.  The Macadamia trees like 25-30 degrees C.

The Mac farmer continued, “you need at least 3000 trees to have a legit, profitable operation.”  

The trees are planted 9 meters apart so you can get about 150 trees on one hectare.  So 20 hectares is all you need to get in 3000 trees.  

Initial investment

Land in this area of Ecuador is alreayd a bit pricey compaatively to other farm areas of Ecuador because it is already great for Cacao (Chocolate bean) and Palm oil and the locals know it.  The going rate for good, yet vacant, farm land around here is $5,000 per hectare.  So for a minimum of 20 hectares that’s $100k.  

You’ll also need about $50k to prepare raw land ready for planting and to build yourself a small plantation home.  

Then comes the trees.  You can buy the seedlings from someone in Ecuador already growing Macadamia for $8 per tree.  For 3000 that would be $24,000.  

You’ll also need a tractor for Macadamia farming.  He says you can find a used one in good condition in Ecuador for around $15k.  

Production and profits
 
On the high end you can expect 18 kilos of brute, whole nut with shell and all per year per tree… and 15% of that is the inner nut ready for consumption.  Thats about 3 kilos from a top producing tree.  On the low end a tree in this part of Ecuador produces 12 kilos of brute nut shell which provides about 2 kilos of nut ready to eat per year.  

The local wholesale price for Macadamia in Ecuador now is $22 per kilo.  

So thats a per tree annual revenue of $66 (on the high end) which for 3000 trees equates to $198,000 per year.  On the low end that figure would be $132,000.  

Variable costs

The farmer I spoke with says he has 5 full time employees for his 50 hectare plantation.  Each worker makes around $400 a month.  

No electricity is needed on the farm and there is no irrigation system, the trees are fine with the natural rainfall.  He himself drives from Quito every weekend to manage the farm himself.  On the way back to Quito he fills the back of his pick up truck with the weeks output of Mac Nuts.  (He has a processing plant and oven in Quito he says cost him around $200k.)  But he said the plant is not necessary, most growers just sell wholesale, he said he’d buy your nuts at the wholesale price if you produced them.  

Also, during harvest time the farmer hires seasonal workers by the day (around $15 per day is the going rate in Ecuador) and for occasional weed cleanings and things too.  

Benefits of Macadamia

The biggest benefit to growing Macadamia in Ecuador is that it is an uncommon product that most locals don’t even recognize, thus, repelling the common thieves.  Plus, the product can not be consumed until processed by expensive machinery which few have, further repelling the thieves that often snatch the Cocoa beans which can be bought and sold at any streetside wholesaler on any given corner in the Cocoa producing areas.  

Also, obviously, the value-added possibilities of this product are endless.  

You can process your own nuts, package them, add flavors and sell to the bakeries and grocery chains locally, or even export them.  Mac Nuts don’t go bad for over a year after processed according to the farmer.  

Plus, the farmer said local demand for Macadamia is growing significantly and he doesn’t export.

“The local demand has been plenty for me.” 

He continued, “With a farm this size, all you need is one bakery chain to buy your nuts on contract, and you won’t have to look for buyers anymore.” 

The drawbacks…

Of course, there are reasons why everyone is not growing Macadamia.  

Macadamia in Ecuador requires a VERY specific climate, not too humid, not too dry, like the one here near Los Bancos.  

Also, you won’t see any production for the first four years.  And the peak production I mentioned above won’t happen until around year eight.  But the trees live and continue to produce for 50-60 years if well maintained.  

But as a farmer with expenses and payroll there are ways to meet your daily costs for the first few years.  The trees are planted 9 meters apart and are small at first, so you can grow short-sycle crops in between until the Macadamia trees start producing.  

Where I’m at, the farmer grows Maracuya (Passion Fruit) which grows like weeds and can be sold quickly as well.  Also, most macadamia farmers have part of their farm growing Cacao (Chocolate) which is a shorter term crop which reaches peak production at 3 years of age.  

You’ll see ‘Buonamici’s Mac Nuts’ on a shelve near you soon.  :)

And for more off-the-grid crops with huge potential in Ecuador subscribe to my weekly Ecuador Insiders Newsletter below, you can unsubscribe at any time:

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Investor News/Analysis

Beachfront or oceanview in Ecuador?

Good question. 

Well, obviously if you can get your hands on a cheap beachfront property, you should go for it. 

By “cheap” for Ecuador standards, I mean anything less than $50 a square meter ($4.65 per sq. ft).  On the high end, I’ve seen folks ask (and get) as much as $200 per square meter for beachfront land.

But I think entering 2015 the real opportunity is in the oceanVIEW properties along the coast.  

You see, the Ecuador coast is lined with oceanfront mountains like the California coastline providing many properties with a spectacular view.  

And you can still find many of these oceanview properties CHEAP.  

By cheap, I mean for instance, a 400 m2 (4300 ft2) lot with a 180 degree oceanview in Ecuador you could probably find starting around $8,000-$15,000.

Maybe less.  

Us gringos love a view.  

Ecuadorians don’t care much, but that’s what kept the price down so long on these properties.  

In fact Ecuadorians build homes with bedrooms with no windows then when you comment on it they look at you like you’re the crazy one for saying something. 

Buy some oceanview cheap from locals, build something (or not), flip it to a foreigner is exactly the strategy Id suggest for someone just getting into Ecuador real estate.  

And its the strategy I’ve followed and plan to follow again entering the new year.  More on that in updates to come.  

How do I find the best priced properties?  Its a bit more complicated in Ecuador, I answer that and more subscribe to my weekly Ecuador Insiders Newsletter below, you can unsubscribe at any time:

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Investor News/Analysis

Hopelessly lost in Ecuador – The best free Ecuador GPS maps

“Oh sh*t.” I thought as I looked at my friend who I was driving to south Quito main bus terminal.  

Now, anyone who knows Quito knows don’t go to south Quito.  

Its rough.  Locals joke with reason,  ‘go into south Quito and you’ll come out naked.’  

In fact, there’s only one reason I can think of to EVER go to south Quito, and thats to go to the main bus terminal in Quitumbe, where we were going.  

And it was 10pm at night, pitch black.  

I pulled the car over and told my friend, “man, sorry but we are really lost.” 

Should I even try to ask someone for directions in my broken Spanish or is that not a good idea?  I thought.

As we sat there pondering what to do next, among the shadows we saw this figure, it looked like a baby.  A baby selling something.  As it noticed us and started walking towards us my ecuadorian friend from Guayaquil pulled out his phone and opened the WAZE app.  

He said, hey look at this… my friends and I use this all the time.  Its a free GPS with great, detailed maps of Ecuador.  Just plug in where you want to go and it will tell you how to arrive and where you are.  

“And we better get out of here cause that baby is about to rob us,” he finished.

So we did just that and plugged in the Quitumbe Terminal and zipped out of there, and a guided U-turn, and two rights later we were at the bus terminal saying our goodbyes.  

The road detail complete with street names of WAZE, even deep in the ghetto of South Quito, is amazing.  And even the smallest towns on the coast appear too.  

Other users called Wazers even upload info about police stops and traffic problems in real time.  

And its much better than buying GPS hardware like a Garmin for which you then need to buy an Ecuador map chip which may or may not be out of date.  

Plus, try pulling out a Garmin while walking in the middle of the street.  Think not.  Talk about looking like a tourist.  

Or just pull out your phone and open Waze and you can get a quick look at where you are and where you need to go.  Very nondescript!

And its free!  

And by far the best maps of Ecuador I have found!  

So go download Waze to your phone and check it out before you come to Ecuador!

To learn where to find more free maps of Ecuador subscribe to my weekly Ecuador Insiders Newsletter below, you can unsubscribe at any time:

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Q&A

When to fly cheapest from Ecuador: Quito-Miami RT $354

Now’s the time to buy your flight if you plan on flying back from Ecuador to visit the US/Canada in the next few months!  

Wait a month to buy and any reasonably priced fare from now until May will be long gone.  

Working next to the Quito airport in my hotel for over a year and a half now, I’ve got a good feel for whens best and least expensive to travel to/from Ecuador.  

For an expat living in Ecuador, we often have the luxury of picking and choosing when to fly back to North America.  

So why not go when its cheaper?

Right now, its cheaper.  

The high season, and when the flights are more expensive, is late December to early April.  Then again from Late June to early September.  

The low season when you’re most likely to find deals is in May, October/November (now), and until early December.  

The highest of the high season and when you are least likely to find flight deals is in January and July.  (Don’t ask me why, it is what it is.)

Right now, TAME, Ecuadors national airline, has a few low season specials available until the end of this week.  

-Quito to Fort Lauderdale USA for $455 round trip with all taxes and fees included.  Travel whenever you want over the next few months if you buy this week.  (New route special).  Normal price Quito to Miami area around $6-800 USD. 

-Quito to Baltra (Galapagos) round trip $268 (for residents of Ecuador) all taxes and fees included except park fee.  This is the CHEAPEST I’ve ever seen, usually the flights are in the $450 range round trip.  

I recommend buying one of these flight specials NOT online, but in one of the TAME kiosks in the big malls in Ecuador.

LAN, a Chilean airline that flys extensively to Ecuador has an even better special from Quito to Miami, but with restricted dates.  This is the BEST price I’ve seen in two years!  

$354 Quito – Miami round trip all taxes and fees included… but must fly from DEC 10-16 and fly back between JAN 13-24.  Doesnt get any cheaper than this, wait a few days and this price will be gone!   I recommend buying this deal QUICK via kayak.com .  

$429 Quito – NEW YORK Roundtrip, all taxes and fees included.  Promotion offered this week by LAN on their site.  

For more flight specials for Ecuador subscribe to my weekly Ecuador Insiders Newsletter below, you can unsubscribe at any time:

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

The easy way to bring household goods tax-free to Ecuador

One big perk of moving to Ecuador is for new residents to be able to bring their household belongings tax-free.

Under Ecuador law, any new arrival who just got their legal permanent residency visa, albeit a pensioner, investor or even a professional visa based off a college degree, can bring as much as one container of their personal goods tax-free one time after achieving residency.  It could be as little as a few bags, doesnt matter.

And it’s actually easier to do than you think.  

No pricey import agents needed in most non-complicated, normal cases.  

My friend just did it in Canada, then stayed at my place last night.  

Im talking about this week, in October of 2014.  

All he did was go to the Ecuadorian consulate in Canada (where he’s originally from) and filled out a form, paid $50, waited about an hour and that was it, they then gave him everything he needed to pass his sh*t smoothly through customs upon arrival to Ecuador.  

All they ask for in the consulate is the inventory list of what you are bringing.  Proof of your residency (like your visa stamped into your passport and your Ecuadorian Cedula ID card.)  And for new purchases they may ask for receipts, but it is not fully necessary as stated by my friend.

Upon arrival to the consulate in your home country just say you want the form to bring MENAJE DE CASA to Ecuador.  

Then yesterday he arrived to Ecuador with his half dozen bags and big screen TV and on through he went, no taxes charged.  

No problems. 

Just remember you only have a specific time window after getting residency to be able to do this, so try to bring your stuff down within 6 months AFTER NOT BEFORE getting your residency visa!

For more juicy details about Ecuador subscribe to my weekly Ecuador Insiders Newsletter below, you can unsubscribe at any time:

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Expat Lifestyle

My love hate relationship with Ecuador

I swear man, I have a love hate relationship with Ecuador.

Aww, I love Ecuador… as I wake to the sound of hundreds of birds chirping in my yard, I see why Ecuador is a top 3 destination in the world for bird watchers.  Then my thought gets disrupted by the horrid screech of a neighbors rooster, the same one that was crowing at 2am last night… I freakin hate Ecuador.  

 

I love Ecuador… as I lift myself from bed as the warm, gentle breeze brushes past my forehead.  Then I get bit by a mosquito on the arm cause the window was open all night, da*n Ecuador, how do they live and rent properties without screens on the windows?… I hate Ecuador. 

 

I love Ecuador as I get up to go to the bathroom as I’m feeling good cause I’m noticably lighter than I was in the states, and my clothes fit loosely… then my mood changes as I have to literally walk through my front yard to go to the one and only bathroom in my two bedroom house.  And this is new 2014 construction, what were they thinking detaching the bathroom from both bedrooms?  I hate Ecuador.  
I love Ecuador I think as I get in the nice, hot shower powered by a tank of natural gas that lasts a couple weeks which cost a mere $3 due to subsidies provided by the local government.  But my feeling shifts as i tweak the shower knob and the temperature goes from scolding hot to ice cold due to a millimeter shift, really people, you can’t figure this one out?  I hate Ecuador.  
I love Ecuador.  For any man, sitting down with a paper while taking a morning shat is a nice moment of the day… But having to wipe and put the paper in the bin on the side of the toilet is still not easy to get used to, I mean, its hard not to sneak a peak at the skid marks after wiping.  I hate Ecuador.  
I love Ecuador, I think as I walk out to catch a cab and start my day as I’m greeted by friendly neighbors who all wave and acknowledge my existence.  I hate Ecuador I think as the damn roof dog next door starts to bark like he does every time i walk out of my own da*n house.
I love Ecuador, I think as i catch the $1 taxi to the bus stop 10 minutes away… I hate Ecuador when I arrive and the driver changes the agreed upon price on the fly and asks for $2 because the main road was closed and he had to take a detour.
I love Ecuador as I catch the bus after just 2 minutes of waiting, and I had the good fortunate on this day of getting the last seat in the bus.  I hate Ecuador as within 5 minutes the bus packs up and due to all the human mass gets scorchingly hot yet the Ecuadorians at my side happily ride along without even so much as cracking the window.  Really people, were you born in an oven?  Then to top it off within 5 more minutes the people standing in the aisle next to me due to getting more and more squished start to lean in and their buttocks starts to wisk past my cheak with every turn of the bus.  But hey, I think at least this guy wasn’t standing in the other direction or his crotch would be tea-bagging my scalp every time the bus rolled over the slightest bump.
I love Ecuador as I arrive at the mechanic to pick my car up and discover how little I’ve been charged for the work.  I hate Ecuador as I discover the main job I brought the car in for which was supposed to be done last Thursday, now being the following Monday, still isn’t done.  So after waiting 5 hours for them to finish the job, im off to the store.
I love Ecuador as i drift through the aisles of the grocery store admiring and selecting all the delicious exotic fruits… I hate Ecuador as I find out the bathroom cleaning solution that I always buy is no longer available because of some new import restriction… yet im offered no alternative… which prompts me to wonder, “am I the only one who cleans his bathroom in this country?”
I love Ecuador as I then meet up with some friends, boy do Ecuadorians know how to have a good time.  I hate Ecuador as not only our first choice of restaurant, but then our second and third and fourth are all closed because its the day after a holiday weekend.  I guess after a holiday everyone needs a recovery day in this country.  So we ended up buying a bottle and parking in a vacant street to hang out.  Like back in High school.
I love Ecuador while driving home past pedestrians waiting patiently on the side of the road, where they should be, as they do NOT have the right of way in Ecuador… I hate Ecuador when the slightest little drizzle starts and the roads turn into a gridlock worse than LA at rush hour, then as I try to change lanes 26 cars pass before one lets me over.
I love Ecuador as I arrive home and glance at the moon which seems way brighter than any moon I saw growing up in North America.  I hate Ecuador as I realize the moon seems so bright cause all the lights are out in my neighborhood, we’re without power.  Da*n it!
I love Ecuador as I walk in my front door and am warmly greeted by my beautiful girlfriend.  I hate Ecuador when I realize shes being so nice cause shes about to tell me her sister and her sisters kid just moved into our spare room (permanently).
I love Ecuador as I lay down to sleep as the temperature cools down just enough for a great sleep under blankets, I hate Ecuador as my neighbors then begin to blare music until 4am cause one of them just had their sixth baby this year (if thats possible)… thank God for earplugs as calling the cops on a noise complaint wont get you very far in this country!
Aww, just another day in paradise.

For more about Ecuador subscribe to my weekly Ecuador Insiders Newsletter below, you can unsubscribe at any time:

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Expat Lifestyle

The golden fruit of Ecuador – Papaya

 

When you move to a new country and try to sell a product to the locals, there are two ways to do things.

The right way.

And the wrong way.

Especially when it comes to food.

The wrong way, at least if you dont have a multi-million dollar marketing budget, is imposing your “superior” foods on the local population.

For instance, pizza.

Maybe you can make a much better pizza than they have available locally according to your North American or European standards.

But maybe the pizza in Ecuador is the way it is for a reason.. with its more liquidity and almost sweet tomato sauce… cause thats how the locals like it.

Its hard to know as a new-comer.

So all you can do is observe.

And to sell the locals something they already eat like crazy.

Its simply much easier.

Enter Papaya.

But there are two types of Papaya that grow in Ecuador.  The Hawaiian breed and the Criolla breed.  The Hawaiian is smaller and for export primarily, cause the locals don’t eat it.  (Actually, some consider it pig food.)

The Criolla is the gigantic rugby-ball-looking Papaya that is for local consumption only, not export, and boy do the locals love it.

Its truly one of those products where if you grow it they will come.

Papaya Criolla likes a dryer climate, while it can and does grow in the Amazon region its better grown in the coastal region of Ecuador.  Specifically in the areas of Santo Domingo to Independencia or on down to Quevedo.

In these ideal areas, the Papaya can grow without any formal irrigation system in place, its fine with just the natural rainfall in this area.

The Papaya is also best grown on flat or almost flat land.

In these areas land apt for Papaya production usually can be found starting around $3-6000 USD per hectare.  According to my local Papaya expert, 30-40 hcts is the minimum for a worthwhile, highly-profitable Papaya farm.

For today, lets take a closer look at the Papaya Criolla (lets give the locals what they already want).

The Papaya tree has a lifespan of 2 years.  It begins to give fruit at the 8 month mark.

And harvests from there are weekly.

The Costs

The initial costs of planting the crop and preparing the soil average around $4-5k per hectare.

After that, costs are minimal with this crop as for a farm of 40 hectares, all you need is one live-on full-time employee (who makes about $500 a month).  And about 5 part-time employees that from the time the plant begins to give fruit at the 8 month mark, you will need to hire them about 2 days a week paying each $15 a day to harvest, weed and fertilize the crop as needed.

It may also be a good idea, especially starting up, to hire a technician or agro-engineer with experience in the crop, to help manage the technical aspects of the farm.  For a full-time agro-engineer you are looking at minimum $1000 a month, but you could also hire one on a part-time basis.

The Production

Each hectare fits about 1100 Papaya trees.  About 100 of those are masculine and dont bear fruit and are used for future breeding purposes only.

Each tree during its lifespan gives at least 20 fruits, some can give as many as 30 if the care has been good.

Thats 20,000 fruits per hectare per each 2 year cycle.

The Sale and The Profit

The fruit sells wholesale at about $1 per fruit.

The fruit is an easy-sell and is often sold to the retail sellers at open-markets or directly to top-end restaurants.

Thinking in ballpark figures for busy people like yourself, thats $20k per hectare in brute sales over the course of a 2 year period.  According to my expert, the grower can expect about 40% of that is usually the profit for the farm owner.  Thats $8k per hect, every two years… so for a 40 hectare producing Papaya farm, that would be about $320k over a two year period or $160k per year, however youd like to look at it.

ROI

So even if you bought the land at the more conservative $6000 per hct for a 40 hct farm… for a total of $240,000 youd be able to realistically make that money back within a bit over 1 and 1/2 years.  Not bad.

This is certainly a product Im considering for my upcoming agro-investment here in Ecuador.

For much bout Papaya and other profitable products in Ecuador subscribe to my weekly Ecuador Insiders Newsletter below, you can unsubscribe at any time:

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Investor News/Analysis

Are $100 bills worthless in Ecuador?

I see it everyday.

Folks arrive in Ecuador with stacks of $100 dollar bills only to be surprised NO ONE will take them.

Why?

Well, for many years Ecuador has had a problem with fake $100 bills floating down from Colombia. So most merchants are afraid to accept them.

Also, almost no one has change for big bills, not even $20s in Ecuador.

Even local banks will NOT change your $100 bills if you don’t have an account there.

Exchange houses are also out of the question since Ecuador uses the US dollar.

After living here for a few years now, I’ve only found one place nationwide that will reliably accept your $50 and $100 bills…

The big box supermarket stores in the major cities of Ecuador.

So before you head deep in the countryside, hit up that MI COMISARIATO, SUPERMAXI or MEGAMAXI.

Any of those as long as you buy something, even a candy bar, work just fine.

For much more subscribe to my weekly Ecuador Insiders Newsletter below, you can unsubscribe at any time:

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Q&A

Is Chicken farming in Ecuador really that profitable?

Ecuador is closing its borders.

To many imported products that is.

I don’t necessarily agree with it, but it is what it is.

Like it or not, with policies like this there are always a few “winners” and often a lot of “losers” (like the end consumer who now has to pay more for inferior products).

But why not take advantage of the opportunity and start producing one of the products that has now become more restricted to import?

Like Chickens.

Already, one of Ecuadors most popular short-cycle “cash crops” among locals.

It’s great because every 6-7 weeks you “cash out” recouping everything you’ve invested and the take-home-profit.

And its one of those produce it and someone will buy it things.

Everyone eats chicken in Ecuador.

This week I had the chance to sit down with a veteran chicken farm manager at his place during my research.

Here’s the skinny… 

Start up costs, Investment

One of the great things about chicken farming is the small amount of land comparatively you need to get started.  Plus, the land itself can be in the boonies and CHEAP because thats ideal for a chicken farm.  You want to distance yourself from any sizable populations or neighbors cause they may not be fond of the smell.

You’ll need a lot with at least space for one farm house big enough for a sizable population of chickens.  Most chicken farm houses are 20 meters by 120 meters to be precise.  Thats 2400 m squared of land.  Not much.

The lot has to be flat and have a water source.

But many chicken farmers have more than one farm house, for instance 7, with a batch of chickens each, so they can be harvesting a new batch each week providing a steady income so this business pays for itself.

Each farm house this size holds 20,000 chickens.

You can chicken farm about anywhere in Ecuador, but it is ideal in the warmer regions of Ecuador like the coastal lowlands.

In warmer weather the growth cycle shortens to 40-42 days, while in colder highland areas the cycle can be more around 50 days.

Costs

This business is also nice because its not labor-intensive.

You’ll have to pay one farm house keeper per farm house.  They usually make the basic wage in Ecuador ($340/ month PLUS incentives totaling around $800/month).

Every 6 weeks you’ll have to pay about 10 guys $10 a day each for three days to round up the chickens for sale.  Total $300.

The food can run around $7000 per cycle (6 cycle).

Basic services like water and electricity aren’t much in Ecuador but could also cost a few hundred dollars.

The chickens themselves are bought young and little at $.40-.50 cents each.

In total, budget $70,000 USD to raise 20,000 chickens my expert explains.

Income and Production

After 6 weeks the chickens are sold (alive) for $.80 cents per pound. Each chicken weighs around 5.5 pounds.  Total= $4.40 per chicken roughly.

$4.40 x 20,000 chickens = $88,000.

Profit 

Talking in ballpark figures per farm house which holds 20,000 chickens over a lot of 2,400m2 the profit would be roughly $88,000-$70,000 TOTAL $18,000 every 6-7 weeks.

Then depending on personal preference anywhere from 5-15 days will be needed for farm house cleaning and disinfecting between cycles.

Risks

Of course, diseases are the biggest risk, thats why if you have multiple farm houses you want to spread them out and be sure to have only one farm worker exclusively per farm house.  He could carry a disease on his clothes from one house to the other.

But now a days the chickens come vaccinated and this is not a huge problem at all in Ecuador.

Selling the crop is not a problem, just make it and finding a buyer is relatively trivial.  What does vary a bit is the market price like most commodities.

Want more?

Like but what about the technical aspects of the actual chicken-growing, how to get started, buy the best chickens, find the best workers and more?

For that and more subscribe to my weekly Ecuador Insiders Newsletter below, you can unsubscribe at any time:

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Investor News/Analysis

A sneak peek into the rose business in Ecuador


Roses are big money here in the Andes.  

Both Ecuador and neighboring Colombia are deep in the business while flowers are chief exports.  

This week I had the chance to sit down with a 14-year vet rose farmer at his place during my research for my soon-to-be-released Insiders Guide to Agro-businesses in Ecuador.  

I’m also planning a little agro-investment of my own.  

Ecuador roses are considered higher quality than the ones grown in most countries because they were grown at a higher altitude giving them a natural longer-lasting shelf life.  

Grabbing his cup of tea, my friend began, “to start its much more profitable to buy comparable land and build your own farm from scratch.”

As most producing flower farms, if you can find one for sale, often go for a half million or more.  

Start up costs, Investment

But thats the kicker, if you know where (and how) to look, my friend states, you can find land ideal for flower growing for around $15-20k per hectare.  

And you’d need at least 3 hectares for the farm to be really profitable.  

Once you acquire the land, my friend continues, you’d need to invest about $60-70k per hectare to prepare the soil and build the greenhouses.

$15k x 3 = $45k PLUS $60k x 3 = $180k TOTAL $225k on the low end.

Income and Production

You’d then be able to fit 80,000 plants per hectare.  

And each plant gives one rose per every 3 months.  

The roses sell to importers in the USA for around $.25 cents per rose FOB wholesale.  Europe pays more, often offering around .35-.38 cents per rose.  

My friend continues, “but you have to time your production right to hit the predictable demand surges (and price upticks) around western holidays like Valentines Day.” 

Costs

My friend explains that organic fertilizers and other irrigation costs total about $1000 per hectare per month.  

Plus you need about 8 pickers per hectare making the basic Ecuador wage ($340/month each) and you’ll need one sales manager ($1200/month), one production/farm manager like him for ($1500/month), one secretary (minimum wage $340/month) and one export coordinator ($5-600/month)who is in charge of filing all the paperwork needing during exporting and getting the permits.

Profit 

3 hectare farm= 240,000 plants= 240,000 roses every three months = 80,000 roses monthly sold at the lower USA importer price of $.25 a rose = $20,000 net income.  

Land and general production variable costs 3 hectares ($1000 per hectare per month) total=$3000 PLUS labor costs $1500+$1200+$600+$8500= $14,800

But with time as your retain the best pickers you can greatly reduce the number of pickers you need and reduce the labor cost even more if you manage your own sales.  

Total (conservative) estimated monthly profit projection of 3 hectare flower farm = $5200.  

Risks

There aren’t many risks to flower growing in Ecuador, that’s why its such a big industry.  

If there is a frost, it would only kill the flowers, not the plant, but this obviously isnt common in Ecuador where here on the equator you can bank on the climate being the same and predictable all year round.  

But unlike other crops in Ecuador where all you have to do is produce it and drop it off at the processor at the corner, and they’re guaranteed to take it, with roses you actually have to get out there and sell and hire a full-time sales manager or you could be left with unsold flowers on your hands.  

What about the technical aspect of the actual flower-growing part (which you know nothing about)?  

That’s what you hire a farm manager to do.  

So where’s best to find land ideal for flower farming and the best farm managers?  

For that and much more subscribe to my weekly Ecuador Insiders Newsletter below, you can unsubscribe at any time:

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Investor News/Analysis

Will your bags get stuck when moving to Ecuador?

“But I was told if I bought a first-class bus ticket i could take as many bags as I wanted under the bus free.” A friend of mine recently implored at the Quito bus station on his way to Loja.

“Nope, sorry, thats not correct.” The bus attendent flatly stated.  

He and his wife had about 20 bags.  And they had been given bad information, but it was too late.  

Like many these days, they were moving to Ecuador.  

Final destination: Vilcabamba.  

Touch-down point: Quito International Airport.  

You see, Ecuador only has two international airports… Quito and Guayaquil.  

Once you get your things from your home country to Quito or Guayaquil, what are your options?  

How can you move your things both cheaply and securely once in Ecuador?  

Here’s the best 6 options I know about:

1. Airline checked bags.  When connecting domestically, the local airlines only allow one checked bag of 20 kilos (44 pounds) and one carry-on of 8 kilos (17.5 pounds).  

After that, you have to pay $1.50 extra per kilo and maximum you are allowed only a second checked bag with TAME.  With Aerogal, you can have more checked bags but there is still the $1.50 per kilo excess fee.  

So with the airlines, for an extra 20 kilo bag you are looking at $33 to move it to your final destination in Ecuador.  

2. Airline Cargo.  Or just outside the airport in Quito or Guayaquil you can mail the bags through TAMEs Cargo department paying $.70 per kilo.  No limit to how many bags you can send.  They arrive the same day if sent in the morning. So that same 20 kilo bag would cost $14.  

LAN, another domestic Ecuador airline provider, does not provide cargo services except from Quito to Guayaquil or to the Galapagos.

3. SERVIENTREGA.  You could also mail that same 20 kilo bag via a nationwide service called SERVIENTREGA for $15 for the same 20 kilo bag or $17.50 for a 50 pound bag.  The difference is Servientrega delivers your goods to a specific address anywhere in Ecuador door-to-door.  And if they cant find the address you can still track the bag with a tracking number and go to the nearest office for you and pick your bag up.  The nearest SERVIENTREGA office to the Quito airport is in the next small town over about 15 minutes from the airport called PIFO.  In Guayaquil, Servientrega has offices right next to the airport heading towards the bus station.  Usually the package arrives the next day after mailing.  

4. The Ecuador Post Office.  Ecuador does have a postal service that is getting more reliable called CORREOS ECUADOR.  But you can only send packages or bags within Ecuador with a max limit of 30 pounds.  Not doable for this situation.  

5. The Local Bus Lines.  Another option would be to do like most the locals do and send your bags as cargo with the bus lines in Ecuador.  Pick a bus line with your desired destination and send it with them under the bus.  They give you a receipt and then the person you name as the recipient will need to go and pick the bags up upon arrival.  For instance, if arriving to Quito, the bus line LA LOJA with offices diagonal to the Hotel Marriot offer cargo service from Quito to Loja for $10 per bag up to 80 pounds.  The bus line Reina de Camino was the cheapest I found to ship bags from Quito to Manta for just $6 per bag up to 60 pounds.  They have their cargo offices on 18 de septiembre and Manuel Larrea near the Parque Ejido.  

The PANAMERICANA bus line with offices near COLON y AMAZONAS in Quito ship cargo to Cuenca for $8 per bag.  For many other destinations in Ecuador Id go straight to the cargo docks at the enormous Quitumbe Bus Station in South Quito.  

6. The Freight Companies.  Another interesting option would be to send your bags with the freight trucks in Quito although it is not necessarily cheaper than shipping with the bus lines.  There is CITAL on Eloy Alfaro at the ENTRADA AL COMITE DEL PUEBLO in North Quito which goes to Loja, Zamora and other destinations in the far south of Ecuador daily from Quito… the cost is $10 per 50-60 pound bag to ship with them.  And there is ORTIZ, currently the cheapest option I know of to get numerous bags from Quito to Cuenca, at just $4 per 50-60 pound bag.  

So what did my friends do?  

They paid the $10 per bag to ship their excess bags under the bus.

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Q&A

Why Playas is a dud

I got an interesting article from an “expert” forwarded to me this week about how great Playas, Ecuador is.

Insert YAWN here.

My response…

Are you serious? Have you actually been to Playas?

Spent significant time there? Done business there?

I have.

Trust me, there are much better options on the Ecuador coast for investors in 2014.

Sure, Playas looks good on paper… a small beach town near the big malls, hospitals and international airport of Guayaquil, the biggest city in Ecuador.

But the truth is… Playas was the place to invest… 5-6 years ago.

Not now.

Its still the crappy place it was then… but at least then it was CHEAP.

If you´re going to sell me a turd, it better be cheap!

The truth about Playas circa 2014 is that the town is still unattractive, lacks infrastructure for a comfortable expat existence same as it was 6 years ago.

The beach is not attractive comparatively to many other beaches in Ecuador. The beach is horrendously big to the point of just walking across it reminds me of crossing the Sahara desert by foot.

The water. Well, its murky. Playas is situated right where a huge dirty river delta meets the ocean. Its also a bit choppy for comfortable swimming yet the waves aren´t that nice for surfing.

The beachfront… overpriced and all developed due to all the money the wealthy Guayaquil folks have poured into the place.

I know these people. To them, all they know for beaches are Playas, Salinas and the new kid on the block, Montanita. Thats where their beach universe ends.

Nowadays, for a beachfront property in this area you are looking at a six figure investment for even a small house on a tiny lot.

I know of one 3 bedroom 2 bath place beachfront but still far from the water due to the boardwalk out front and big beach that sold for a bit over $100k. Another 2 bedroom crumbling place I know of two blocks back sold for $40k.

Go to the north or south of the city and prices go up even more as many Guayaquil folks have their beachfront villa there.

Playas is actually the same distance to Guayaquil as Salinas in travel time although on the map it looks closer. You´re still looking at 1 hour 30 minutes to 2 hours but the buses that service Playas are chicken buses compared to the nice air conditioned ones that service Salinas.

Unlike most coastal Ecuadorian towns Playas is so spread out you better have a car to live here!

Also, for land or property purchases the municipal in Playas is a royal pain-in-the-arse if you´ve had the displeasure (like myself) to have to work with them.

Other municipalities on the coast like in Manta, PortoViejo or even Santa Elena (Salinas) are MUCH nicer and more efficient.

The seafood is good, but so is it in about anywhere else on the coast of Ecuador.

Basic services like water, electric and Internet… iffy at best. In other words they come and go. Much better on a lot of other beaches in Ecuador.

Also, in Playas, you are REALLY far removed from everything.

Think REMOTE.

You are still an hour to an hour and a half from the next nearest town or city.

In the winter months of January, February and March it rains a lot… its humid and boy are there a lot of mosquitos. Place reminds of Guayaquil (where I lived for about a year.)

Playas also lacks the nice onshore breeze the rest of the more west facing Ecuador coast gets.

Its true the sun comes out more here than on other beaches in Ecuador but I also find it more intense, burning white skin like eggs on a skillet. Plus with the beach so wide theres no where to take cover.

As for Playas, leaving it off your beach property hunting itinerary is a good bet.

The “value” price-quality just isn´t there.

So where is a great investment on the coast right now?

Stay tuned to this newsletter and soon you´ll find out.

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Q&A

How much to make your own road in Ecuador?

I’ve been there, man.

I still remember that day about 2 years ago.

I had a chance to buy a whole mountain with an oceanview behind the quaint little coastal town of Olon, Ecuador.

For $4,000 dollars.

But I passed.

It was rainy season.

And when my Ecuadorian friend and I started walking towards the lot, we didn’t make it cause the road was SO muddy access was impossible.

In fact, some of the cheapest lots still out there are ones that are currently not accessible.

So how much does it cost to cut or lay your own road in Ecuador?

Well, this week I talked to a friend of mine who bought a beachfront mountain himself in Ecuador and cut his own road near Jama on the north coast.

He said upon purchase of his lot he had to cut a 250 meter (820 ft) road just to access his property.

First, he had to hire a dozer with driver that for $90 a day cleared off the shrubs and top soil to make the road. The dozer worked for about 11 days. Total $990.

Then, he had to buy rocks to cover the road.

$35 per truck load. Each load brought rocks for 8 cubic yards.

For his 250 meter road he needed 200 truck loads. Total $7,000.

Then after the rocks where placed he had to hire a dozer again for 3 days to compact the rocks. Total $270.

That’s it!

He had his road and his property just doubled in value for $990+$7,000+$270= $8260!

One tip he mentioned for anyone having to cut a road in Ecuador is to make sure they make the road with a crown shape so the water runs off along the sides and not overtop it.

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Q&A

Whats your perfect altitude in Ecuador?

I´m spoiled.

I´ve been in Ecuador, a tropical mountainous country, too long where you can pick the elevation for you.

And wherever you pick has the same climate all year round.

For instance, where I live in a valley of Quito the elevation is 2398 meters (7867 ft) above sea level.

The climate is just perfect for me.

23-27 C (73-80 F) in the daytime, 15 C (59 F) in the night all year long.

And there´s no mosquitos.

Too high.

However, the next town over is 50 meters higher at 2450 meters (8038 ft) which is about 3-4 F cooler and is too cold for me!

But the town on the other side of where I live back towards Quito (Tumbaco) is about 150 meters lower than where I live at 2268 meters (7440 ft) which is WAY too hot for me, particularly at night when the temperature only dips to around 20 C (68 F). And the mosquitos start coming out!

Now, Quito city proper which is about an hour from me to the east, forget about it, WAY too cold for me. It is about 400 meters higher than where I live at 2800 meters (9186 ft) and WAY TOO COLD. Especially at night or when its raining when Quito drops to 9 C (48 F). Thats cold, especially when most homes dont have heat installed.

So if Quito, Cuenca or Loja are too high and cold for you, try the surrounding areas where you just might find your perfect altitude!

For instance, warmer, lower areas near Quito include… The Valley of Los Chillos, Cumbaya, Tumbaco, Checa, Pifo, Puembo, Tababela and more.

Warmer areas near Cuenca include… Paute, The Valley of Yunguilla, Gualaceo, Chordeleg.

Warmer areas near Loja include… Zamora, Zaruma, Malacatos, Vilcabamba.

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Q&A

The ultimate expat-mobile for the beach in Ecuador for $250

motor-bicycle-ecuador

Trust me, I´ve been there.

I mean, living in a small town on the coast of Ecuador.

The town (Manglaralto) was 4 km from Montanita and had a total of 3 streets parallel to the ocean with about 20 streets perpendicular.

Tiny.

You know, I didn´t really need or want a car.

I could use the frequent/cheap buses for long distances.

Plus, with car prices double or triple what im used to in the US, I wasn´t in a hurry to buy one.

But walking 20 minutes just to buy some fish or veggies can get tiring.

So… let me introduce the ideal vehicle for an expat on the coast of Ecuador… the motor-bicycle.

Literally, its a BICYCLE with a little motor on it and a half gallon gas tank.

You can pedal it like a normal bike if you feeling like getting some exercise or turn on the little motor and away you go.

The max speed with the motor on is 40 km per hr (25mph).

Did I mention you can get 100 km (62 miles) to the gallon!?

And don´t worry about parking, just chain it up (its a bike)!

Got groceries? Put a basket on it.

And no special licenses or insurance needed (so the local policia tell me).

Did I mention one of these little motors put on your bicycle in Ecuador only costs around $250?

Obviously not great for long distances or highway riding but great for zipping around your little beach town.

One place you can buy one I know of in Ecuador is in the suburb of Quito called Tumbaco. The shop is named Taller Turbo and one contact number is 02 2373946.

But they sell them on the coast too.

And by the way, all the cool kids have one.

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Q&A

The secret to finding anything in Ecuador


A friend recently asked…

“Where can I find some duct tape and a tennis ball in Ecuador.” 

Referring to his mom sitting next to him in the case she didn´t shut her trap.  

But seriously, if you´re living in a small town in Ecuador (like me) far from the nearest Supermaxi big box store, how can you find the really random stuff. 

Like an office chair with arm rests.  

A sandwich maker.  

A permanent marker.  

You know, really random stuff.  

Don´t ask on a public forum online, that will just get people annoyed at you.  

Instead, tanslate what you need using a friend or Google Translator and then…

…find a local taxi driver.  

He has to be LOCAL.  

And I can pretty much guarantee if you say the thing in Spanish he will know where to buy it and take you there.  

Taxi drivers are an amazing resource for an expat in Ecuador or anywhere for that matter.  

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Q&A

DIY: Ecuador residency visa in 4 hours or less… for pensioners

 

This week, I broke my own record.

About 4 hours of pounding the pavement in Manta, Ecuador.

2 permanent residency visas for friends of mine.

And yes, its something easy enough you could actually do it yourself, or maybe with the help of someone that speaks Spanish.

You certainly dont have to pay a lawyer thousands to help with your visa.

Here´s the whole process I did:

1. First, make sure my friends brought down the following documents from the USA, their home country…

– Proof of pension (for the both of them to get the visa at least one of them needs a pension of $900 or higher, for a single person the requirement is min $800)

– Marriage certificate

– Birth certificates (just in case, although lately they are no longer asking for these)

– Criminial record check from where they ve lived the last 5 years (the document itself can be no older than 6 months)

– Certificate from the Ecuador consulate in your home country certifying the source of pension document. ( Certificado determinando la percepción de dicha jubilación, pensión) This is a new one since I helped someone with this last year! 

All the above documents need to be apostilled by the Secetary of State in the State they are issued, and the proof of pension needs to be certified by the nearest Ecuador Consulate before coming.

2. Then, we went straight to the Immigration police (in Manta its the Immigration office on 4 de Noviembre, in Quito its the immigration office across from the Mall El Jardin), to get a document for each showing all their migratory movements in and out of Ecuador called the Certificado de Movimiento Migratorio. (cost $5 each) Elapsed time 20 minutes.
3. Then, we made color copies of the info page of both their passports and of the page showing their latest stamp upon entry to Ecuador.  We also had passport photos taken of each.  And then we printed off the official visa application form found here so each person could fill one in. I also bought a manilla folder to put all their documents.  Elapsed time 15 minutes.

4. Then I translated the documents they brought from the States and went to a local notary next to the Pichincha Bank in the center of Manta where I had to verify my signiture as the document translator and get something called a RECONOCIMIENTO DE FIRMA.  ($20).  Anyone can translate the documents except the interested party.  Elapsed time 1 hour 45 minutes.

5. Then in an internet cafe across the street from the bus terminal in the center of Manta I wrote up in Spanish a simple letter stating to the immigration department what they want to do (retire in Ecuador) and why they want to retire here (I said the weather).  Example of letter here.  Elapsed time 10 minutes.

6. Went with all the documents and my friends who were applying (they have to be present or you need to have a power of attorney document notarized) to the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores in the center of town in between the boardwalk area (Malecon) and the big Pichincha Bank.  We got a turn and there was no wait and we turned in the folder with all the above. They also had to pay the application fee of $30 each.   Click here for the official list of requirements.  Elapsed time 20 minutes.

What now?

In two weeks they´ll have to go back to that same office once their visas are approved, pay the visa fee to the window ($320 each one time only) and then they will place the visas in the passports and give you 30 days to get a cedula which is your official Ecuadorian ID card (which (as of June 2014) you can not currently do in Manta, only Quito, Guayaquil or Cuenca).

Then they will be permanent Ecuador residents who can stay in country as long as they like.

Not bad for 4 hours.

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Q&A

Example Ecuador Visa Solicitation Letter

Here´s an example of the official letter immigration in Ecuador asks for when you apply for a visa, just plug in your info and where you are applying and play!
—BEGIN—

2 de junio, 2013.

Manta, Ecuador.

Estimados.

Coordinacion Zonal 4 Manta

Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y Movimiento Humano.

Por medio del presente, yo, John Doe con número del pasaporte 111111111 de nacionalidad estadounidense solicito que se me conceda visa 9-1 de Pensionista y Visa 9-VI de amparo en mi visa 9-1 a mi conyuge Suzy Q con número del pasaporte 111111222 de nacionalidad estadounidense. Ya que hemos decidido residir tiempo completoen la costa manabita ecuatoriana por cuestiones de clima y salud.

Atentamente,

_______________________

John Doe

Número Pasaporte: XXXXXXXXXX
— END—-

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Q&A

5 must-have apps before you go to Ecuador

 

Language used to be a barrier when traveling or living abroad in a place like Ecuador.

Not anymore.

Not with todays technology.

Even 2 or 3 years ago had nothing on what we got today.

Here are my favorite 5 apps for your smart-phone that will seriously break any communication barriers you have in foreign countries…

Without you having to study the local language even for a minute!

5. Word Lens.  This is a truly amazing free app you download to your phone and afterward you just hover your phone over text written in a different language, and this app will make the text magically appear in the language of your choice.  And its accurate too!  Amazing.

4. Translator App from Google.  This free app is amazing!  Want to say something in Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, Chinese or in one of several dozen other languages supported by this app?  Thought you had to study, and actually learn that sh·t? , take courses?  Hahaha, not anymore man.  All you have to do is say the sentence or words you want to say in English and this app will put your words to text, then translate your words to text in the other language AND then it will say the words you want to say in the other language.  And its amazingly accurate!  You may look wierd talking through your phone to someone but its still cool to hear yourself say anything you want in a language like Arabic or Chinese, let alone an easy one like Spanish.  And yes, you can turn it around and have people speak into your phone in their language and the app can spit out what they´re saying in English too!  Love this one.

3. Busuu.  If you do feel like actually studing a foreign language then the best FREE program Ive found that you can download right to your phone is the Busuu app.  Dozens of colorful interactive courses await you, a great way to kill time while on a plane or bus.

2. OneSpeak.  OneSpeak is an interesting little app that is meant to get you out of a pinch in a foreign country by communicating for the basics by pointing to universally understood pictures.

1. WhatsApp / Viber / Skype apps.  I grouped these together because for most they all do pretty much the same thing.  Once installed on your phone (free) WhatsApp is a free instant messaging service based off your phone number which is quite popular in Ecuador.  Viber is a service you can use to call for free to other Viber members from your phone over the net.  Skype is the old-timer but stil arguably best VoIP service for free internet calling to other members and calls to other numbers outside Skype.

There you go.

Now you can communicate with non-English speakers… today!

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Expat Lifestyle

Free 2014 Ecuador Property Price Guide

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