Archive | Ecuador for Investors

Will your pet be detained upon entering Ecuador?

Recently a friend of mine brought her pet to Ecuador… here´s what went down…

First, before coming she made sure she had the necessary documents: A vaccination certificate for international travel and a certification from an FDA approved veternarian that the pet was healthy. All of which needs to be done right before traveling and for extra security I´d get all the documents certified by an Ecuador consulate before coming.

The airline in the USA initially caused concern saying she MUST have a “pet broker”, but she got around this explaining she had a friend lined up that was going to help her. Before flying check with your airline on if a broker is NEEDED or not to board the plane, usually not, but some are more strict.

If possible, bring the pet as a carry-on as if they are in the cabin they often can just walk right out with you upon arrival, if they come in cargo, and you arrive late at night the pet will stay detained until the next business day.

Her dog was too big to ride carry-on. So it spent the night detained in customs.

The following morning she went to the Quito airport, where she was told she had to go to the UNITED CARGO pick up offices in the nearby town of Tababela.

There, she was told she had to go to another building near the airport to pay an environmental inspection tax of about $28, from there on to Customs where she had to pay another small fee and wait for another inspection.

After that she had to go pay the storage of the dog for the night which was $15 in order to release the dog. The payments were made in a nearby bank, no bribes, no brokers needed.

In all the spots she was asked for the documents she brought from the states plus the bill of lading and her BOARDING PASS!

The whole process took about 8 hours so don´t expect it to be quick!

T.I.E. my friend, This is Ecuador.

For more specific information on this I´d call an Ecuador consulate in the US. They´ll tell you what you need to gather.

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Q&A

Is Ecuador the new American dream?

Dom,

“So, where you from?” I asked.

“Gambia,” the guest in my hotel responded.

“Wow, Gambia, I thought, where the heck’s that?” I thought.This young guy I was chatting with was obviously an immigrant, fresh off the plane, about to try his luck inEcuador.  Just like i was 3 years ago.

You see, Ecuador is the NEW American dream, a place where you can truly come with nothing and hit it big.

So let’s look at what America was and what Ecuador now is:

Accessible to newcomers.  While the US has long since “shut it’s doors” to new immigrants from developing countries, Ecuador remains wide open for about anyone from anywhere in the world.  Foreigners can easily own land and businesses and have the same rights as the locals.

Low taxes.  This was one of the main reasons Europeans left in droves for America, a place that was once a place with a much lower tax burden, just like Ecuador is now compared to North America.  Income taxes (many pay under 10% of their income), property taxes (usually under a few hundred dollars a year per property).  You name it, they’re LOW in Ecuador!

LOTS of opportunity.  Literally, ANTHING you want to do, any business you put, chances are Ecuador needs it.

Cheap land.  With the Oklahoma land rushes a thing of the distant past in North America, land is still cheap inEcuador, its where i bought my first house for $14k 3 years ago when I could only have dreamed of buying something back in Montana, the last place I lived in the US.  For me, it’d be depressing living in a place like Canada or Australia or California where young people can only DREAM of owning their own property without a 30 year nuse mortgage around their neck.

Low labor costs.  Before Ecuador I lived in China where i worked at a factory and I can tell you those guys in inner China don’t make a whole lot less these days then the minimum wage worker in Ecuador.  For instance, my colleagues in China made around $300 a month while in Ecuador the minimum wage is about $350 a month.  Still low for sure, breeding lots of entrepreneurial opportunities.

Low lawsuit concerns.  In the US, its well documented people sue like it’s their job, in some cases it is.  I for one would be paranoid about opening a business there while in Ecuador the inefficiency of the legal system actually prevents most cases from even happening as most settle differences out of court.

So, what’s one thing you’ve always wanted to do that you couldn’t in your home country?

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Expat Lifestyle

Expansion complete: the surprising difference between a 6 and 23 room hotel

Often, the first business most of us expats think of putting in our new country is a guesthouse.

It´s not a bad idea cause you really don´t need any formal education on the subject to do it. It wasn´t my plan either, I just kind of fell into it.

First in Guayaquil, partnering with a friend to start a small guesthouse, then here in Quito.

But most people start like I did in both Guayaquil then Quito: with five o six rooms.

My advice… don´t!

Unless, you really enjoy it of course.

Why?

Well, a few months back i finished an expansion from 6 to now 23 rooms.

And what´s the surprising difference between running the two, or between a small and a large guesthouse?

Nothing!

Really! The costs are ALMOST the same and either way it´s still a 24 hour business.

Even the email load is about the same.

Time invested… the same! It´s a 24 hour business either way! You need at least one person there ALL the time unless your cheap and want to handcuff yourself to the place.

Before, with six rooms, I had one person at night, one cleaner, and one part timer receptionist in the daytime with a part time cleaner that works when the full timer has off.

Thats two full timers and two part timers.

Now, with the 23 room place I´ve needed to add one more full time cleaner so i now have two cleaners daily, yet the same part time afternoon receptionist and the same night receptionist.

That´s it!

And cause I serve dinner I´ve had to hire a part-time chef cause with that many people one person can´t cook and attend the clients like they could before.

So what´s the difference between 6 and 23 rooms? One more full time cleaner and one part time chef.

But the difference in revenue is substantial.

It´s simple math, if you can charge $50 a room and fill the place, with just 5 or 6 rooms thats $250-300 a day revenue minus all your expenses equalling a bottom line of NOT MUCH.

But with over 20 rooms you can obviously generate over 4 times as much (with minimal increased expenses) if you can keep it full.

So if you are going to do it, do it big. Below is a pic of the new addition that was completed at my hotel near the Quito airport, total build time, roughly 3 months.

hotels-near-quito-international-airport

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Q&A

The difference between car insurance in Ecuador vs the US

Yesterday, I hired private car insurance for the first time since i moved to Ecuador.

It’s true that most Ecuadorians just go with the state mandated liability insurance that covers damages to third parties (previously known as SOAT) that costs about $45/year. But that still doesn’t cover YOUR car in the case of an accident or theft.

There’s actually a lot of companies to choose from, some international… to name a few: MapFre, Constitucion, QBE, Equinnoccial.

The policies work pretty similar to the ones in North America, as I’m sure the whole concept of insurance was created there.

But in Ecuador things are not always as they seem. The consumer is not nearly as well protected as you’re used to in North America, thus, the businesses down here are noticeably more sneaky.

The biggest difference I see is in the deductibles.

Usually, in North America you have an easy-to-understand flat deductible, any damage past that value the insurance pays, up to that point you pay.

Well, after analyzing several options in Ecuador, the insurance companies all seem to have three values which can serve as the deductible, stating that the higher value one in a particular case will reign supreme.

For instance, my new policy states in the case of an accident, the deductible is 1% of the insured value of the car OR $200 OR 10% of the cost of the damage…. WHICHEVER is higher.

So for my $18,500 car in the case of a complete loss due to theft or crash or whatever I’d be on the hook for $1,850 (10% of the damage which is the highest amount in this case).

Read the fine print in Ecuador!

Here are two English speaking insurance agents in Ecuador that come highly recommended by friends of mine (although I admit I haven’t worked much with either of them yet)…

In Quito… Mauricio Davila email mdavila10@hotmail.com

In Cuenca… Luisa María Castro, BLUE BOX ASESORES, 0983958876 lcastro@blueboxinsurance.com

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Q&A

Expected returns in Ecuador, and how Ecuadorians double them

A lot of people don’t know this about me… but I actually have an Ecuadorian mentor.

He’s born and raised Ecuadorian, from Guayaquil, self-made, about 50, and currently owns a hotel in Salinas, a rent a car company in Guayaquil, and a few other smaller hotels in Guayaquil.

I actually partnered with him when I part-owned a hostal in Guayaquil, my first significant investment in Ecuador. I wouldn’t have had the guts to do something like that on my own when I first got here, he showed me the biz.

Anyway, we still keep in touch, and one day we were talking and I asked him what he considered to be a good investment?

He responded, “20%…” OK I thought, that’s good.

But he wasn’t finished… “a month”.

“Wow, really? That’s how rich Ecuadorians think?” …was all that went through my head.

But after being here a while (3 years +) I can honestly say its true, for a lot of investments in Ecuador, that’s about the return you should expect.

Remember, like most places in Latin America, Ecuador should be considered a higher risk investment, and the returns should substantiate that.

So, how do Ecuadorians double their returns?

Rent.

Yea, I learned this here in Ecuador. Rent the property and put the business, or rent the business, redo it and really put it to work and you will often see 100% returns on your now much smaller investment and get your money out within 2 or 3 months!

Sometimes it makes sense, but you don’t necesarily have to own ‘the trains’!

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

Keeping your car legal in Ecuador

Got a car in Ecuador?

Worried the papers might not be up-to-date and the next time you´re pulled over might be your last?

I got several friends with cars in Ecuador and almost all of them have cars with expired registrations and are subsequently illegal for transit.

When really, it´s pretty easy to keep your car legal, I think most expats just don´t know how to do it.

Once you have a car in Ecuador, each year you have to pay the annual “matricula” or registration.  It´s more expensive for newer or more expensive cars, yet with each passing year the amount to pay goes down considerably.

For instance a $22,000 new car may have a “matricula” payment of around $600 while the same car 3 years later may only have to pay around $200 in the annual “matricula”.  You can consult by plate number how much you´ll have to pay at the folowing link.

When you have to pay in the year is determined by the last number of your license plate. For instance, plates ending in “1” have to pay in February of each year while “2” has to pay in March and so on until “0” has to pay by November.  You can pay in advance.

To pay the amount due all you have to do is go to any bigger bank in Ecuador like a Banco Pichincha with your Matricula card, hand it to the teller, and they´ll tell you how much to pay.  Make sure you keep the receipt, and that´s it for newer cars, you are done!

Now, every three years or so you will have to go into the ANT (Agencia Nacional de Transito) office nearest you and renew your Matricula card after you have paid the amount due in the bank.

For cars usually 3 years or older, after you pay in the bank you will need to get an annual car “revision” where they will check primarily for emissions, the lights, suspension, alignment and brakes and the cost for smaller cars is around $28.  Pretty straightforward.

For a car revision you will need to apply for a turn in Quito at this site.  For Guayaquil, try here.  Manta and Cuenca also have their revision points, just Google “revision vehicular MANTA” or wherever.

For newer cars, usually three years or younger the revision is not necessary, you can also verify by a sticker on the windshield if a revision is necessary for your vehicle.  It´ll say EXEMPT (Exento) 2013, 2014, 2015 or whatever.  This link helps too for general info on your vehicle and also to see when it last passed a revision.

Also, to register your car for the current year keeping it legal to transit, you will also have to pay any outstanding fines or you will be forced to do so before payng the annual registration payment at the bank, you can see if your car owes at this link.
That´s it!  Now you won´t have to sweat it next time you´re pulled over in Ecuador. You´re legal!

 

 

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Q&A

Getting Internet (data in your phone) anytime anywhere in Ecuador – Not always as easy as you think

I know, I know, I get it.

Staying connected to the Internet is more important than water, electricity for you.

We´ve reached that point in our society.

Problem is, in Ecuador, the Internet connection is not so good, especially in the small towns.  Even hotels that advertise they have WIFI, often will be having network problems.

But there is something you can do about it.

First, go to BestBuy USA or whever and get an UNLOCKED smart phone with a SIM card slot, BLU are the cheapest starting around $100.

Then once in Ecuador buy a SIM card for $7 that gives you an Ecuador number and gets you on the local network.  There are only two cell phone service providers in Ecuador Claro and Movistar.

OK, once you have the SIM card in the phone, activated, go to any local street store that sells RECARGAS or minutes.  You can add $1, $3, $5, $10 or more.
Once the minutes are added, to activate the credit as DATA INTERNET

For Claro dial: *123# and then follow the prompts.

For Movistar: After loading $5 of credit, Send a text message to the number 334… with the word “siete” then you’ll get a response and respond to that message with the command “INTR7”.  Thats it, you ll get a confirmation of 200mb of DATA surfing over a period of seven days.

When you’re on a limited mega count, try to avoid watching videos or downloading things as this consumes most of your megas.  Social media and email consume very little megas.

This way anyone, even a tourist in Ecuador, can stay connected anywhere, anytime, no matter if the WIFI is down.


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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Q&A

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Q&A

Getting electricity to your lot in Ecuador

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

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

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

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

In a few days he was done.

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

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

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

Where’s best to exchange money in Ecuador?

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

So, where has the best exchange rates?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Expat Lifestyle

Making sense of the new Ecuador Inheritance Law

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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5 Ecuador beaches suffering from receding sand line- buyer beware

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The nicest beach in Ecuador is…

portete-ecuador

portete-beach-ecuador

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

“Me neither,” I responded.

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

Portete.

I know what you’re saying, where?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Travel Guides

Getting water to your lot on the coast of Ecuador

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

Electricity can come later.

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

Thankfully, this time it was easy.

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

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

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

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

installing-water-to-lot-in-ecuador

So for now the water is free.

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

Gotta love Ecuador!

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Q&A

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

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

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

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

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

That´s cheap!

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

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

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

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

The best driving routes, and driving times in Ecuador

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

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

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

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

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

MINDO

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


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

THE NORTH COAST: PEDERNALES, BAHIA, ESMERALDAS

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

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

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

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

THE CENTRAL COAST: MANTA, CRUCITA, SAN CLEMENTE

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

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

THE AMAZON: TENA

The Quito Airport Suites to Tena?  

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

The mid-Sierras: BANOS and AMBATO


The Quito Airport Suites  to Banos/Ambato?


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

QUITO AIRPORT TO CUENCA

From the QUito Airport Suites to Cuenca?  


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

QUITO AIRPORT TO GUAYAQUIL

From the Quito Airport Suites to Guayaquil?

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


GUAYAQUIL to CUENCA

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

From Cuenca to Loja?

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

From Loja to Guayaquil?  

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

From Guayaquil to the coast(Salinas, Montanita)?  

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

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

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

The total came to 36 hours or $900.

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

puerto-cayo-house-for-sale

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Investor News/Analysis

Is there really NO car depreciation in Ecuador?

 

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

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

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

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

Is this normal in Ecuador?  Why?  

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

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

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

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

Not in Ecuador.

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Investor News/Analysis

How to get a building permit in Ecuador in 3 days

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Altogether the permit cost $135 and took 3 days.

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

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

And now I´m also ready to build!

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Investor News/Analysis

The property flipping dilemma on the beach in Ecuador

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

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

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

So, what’s the opportunity?

Build your own house.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Investor News/Analysis

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