Archive | Ecuador for Investors

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!

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

The property flipping dilemma on the beach in Ecuador

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

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

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

So, what’s the opportunity?

Build your own house.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Investor News/Analysis

FBI check now needed to live in Ecuador, really?

I didn´t believe it when I heard it.

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

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

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

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

It really is that simple.

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

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

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

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

Easy… actually it was WAY too easy.

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

So why just for Americans?

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

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Q&A

Rejected by the cartel in Ecuador

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

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

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

I sat down, waited some more.

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

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

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

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

“Yea, I figured as much.” I said.

“So how much?” I asked.

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

“Top line, not after taking out expenses.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I know, it’s wierd.

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

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

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

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

No TVs, no problem in Ecuador

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

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

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

I know.

It’s stupid.

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

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

But not TVs.

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

Thankfully, technology is always one step ahead.

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

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

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

And the resolution is surprisingly crisp.

Obviously not High-def.

But good.

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

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

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

Especially if import restrictions continue to tighten on TVs.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Expat Lifestyle

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

I’m embarrassed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

31. Visit a Chocolate factory in Mindo.

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

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

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

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

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

What to bring to Ecuador? And what NOT to.

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

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

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

What to bring with you to Ecuador?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What NOT to bring to Ecuador?

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

Like…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Q&A

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

This week I closed on my newest Ecuador property.

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

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

The plan…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Foreigners attract more foreigners.

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

What do I NOT like about Puerto Cayo?

Most would still consider Puerto Cayo a bit remote.

It is.

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

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

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

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

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

So get in while you can.

 

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

How I lost 37 pounds in 1 month the Ecuadorian way

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

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

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

Your friends notice, and start to razz you.

You feel down.

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

I had to find something that would work in Ecuador.

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

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

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

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

Think how did the cave-men eat.

That’s a good start.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rinse and repeat.

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

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

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

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, Expat Lifestyle

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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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!

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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.  

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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