Archive | Ecuador Q&A

8 things to know before you visit Salinas, Ecuador

“It was too cloudy.”

“It was a ghost town.”

I hear things like this all the time when people describe Salinas, Ecuador.

They just don´t know.

Right now I´m checking in from Salinas, Ecuador on a bluebird sunny day.

The ocean is sapphire blue and very inviting, not a cloud in the sky, and I´m surrounded by women in bikinis (at least thats what Im noticing).

People are on their balconies drinking beer with their friends.

Whats not to like?

But you have to know a few things before you visit (or live in) Salinas to get the most out of it… and be sure to define what you want.

1. Know the weather.  From mid-December to early-May most days are sunny and warm.  From late-May to mid-December its generally overcast.  It makes a big difference!  The ocean turns from blue to grey.  All year it almost never rains on this peninsula blessing it with low humidity.  For me, April is the best month to visit.  Right now!

2. The seasons.  If you like being surrounded by people, come in the high season from late December to early April, specifically on the weekends.  If you like empty beaches come from late April to early December.

3. When to buy.  If you are looking to purchase real estate, be sure to go in low season, when the weather is bleak, and everyone has their ´for sale´ signs out.  The difference in amount of inventory available is astonishing.  The best months to property hunt are August, September, October, right in the midst of low season and when the high season still seems far off.  In high season, almost all the locals and expats take down their for sale signs to enjoy their property. As I speak here in April there is very little for sale.  Ill be back in two months.

4. Where to eat.  People who say they dont like the food here must not have known where to eat.  Try the local treat, fish fillet soup “Chupe de Pescado” at the Restaurante Herminia on the Malecon.  Try eating where the locals eat at the open-air food court Picanteria Super Fausto near the Bank of Pichincha.  Try anything on the menu labeled with ” al ajillo (garlic flavored seafood)” “encebollado”, “ceviche”, ” sancocho” all delicious choices.  For something fried you could always try the “camarones apanados (breaded shrimp)” or the cangrejo (crab).

5. Where to hang out and stay.  Do you want to hang out with other foreigners or the locals?  To find the expat-gringo crowd hang out at the Smokin BBQ next to the El Carruaje Hotel on the boardwalk or try the bar at Hostal Aqui or the restaurants at Big Ralphs or Cocos Hostal.  Go elsewhere if you prefer to hang with the locals.  For cheap places away from the gringo scene you could try any of the many smaller hotels one row back from the ocean like Marvento or Salinas Suites which usually oscillate around $20 per person depending on the season.   For a luxury place try the Barcelo.

6. What to do and where to shop.  Whale-watching is good fun and possible from late-July to early-September.  People dont realize but at the local travel agencies on the boardwalk you can also hire banana boat rides, four-wheelers and even deep-sea fishing or scuba.  For those living in the area to find any household items you may need try the big box stores at El Paseo Shopping Mall.  To get the freshest seafood at the best prices try the Mercado de Mariscos in La Libertad.  For local handycrafts try the handycraft market near the Banco Pichincha on the boardwalk.

7. What its really like.  Take it for what it is.  Salinas from the beginning was built not as a tourist destination but as a weekend retreat for the wealthy folks from Guayaquil.  Another way to store their wealth.  Its a row of high rise condo buildings along the ocean.  If you go one or two blocks back it gets bleak fast as it pretty much looks the same as it did 10 years ago with not much investment.

8. The best beach?  Chipipe vs the main malecon/ San Lorenzo area.  Chipipe, tucked away in a cove, is the nicest beach in Salinas yet most miss it and stay on the main malecon beach area and then come away unimpressed with the beach at Salinas.  Other nice beaches nearby Salinas include Playa Rosada and Ayangue.

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Q&A

Got mine, now how to get your Ecuador Cedula

After you get your permanent residency visa to live in Ecuador, doesn’t matter which type, could be the investors visa, the pensioners visa, or even the professionals visa…

…you’ll then have 30 days to get your mandatory Ecuadorian “Cedula”, or official ID card.

The visa, or what is stamped in your passport, is the more complex part, the cedula which looks like a drivers license, is just a formality but you NEED it or they won’t let you travel out of the country.

It’s happened to me.

You’ll pass through the airline check in counter, then at immigration they’ll tell you sorry, you can’t board the plane without a cedula (if you are in Ecuador on a permanent residency visa).

Besides, having a cedula qualifies you for a lot of benefits, especially senior benefits in Ecuador if you are over 65.

Even if you are not a senior, you can still get special pricing on certain things, like for one, trips to the Galapagos.

For instance, foreigners pay $465 round trip on Tame to the Galapagos from Quito right now.  Ecuadorians or foreigners which have perm resident status with Ecuadorian cedulas pay only $250.  And foreigners pay a $100 per head park entrance fee, people with Ecuador cedulas pay only a $10 per person entry fee upon arrival.

Getting your cedula is a recently streamlined, easy process and one I just did myself this week in January of 2014.

Once you pick up your visa that same day I recommend you get the document CERTIFICADO DE EMPADRONAMIENTO which costs $5 and only takes a few minutes to retrieve from the same immigration office that gives you your visa, in Quito its the one near the 6 de Diciembre and Colon intersection.

With that document you will need to wait 48 hours and then go to the REGISTRIO CIVIL (Civil Registry) on Naciones Unidas y Amazonas (if applying in Quito).

You will need to bring the Certificado de empadronamiento, your actual passport and a color copy of your passport ID page and a copy of your current residency visa.

Upon entering the Civil Registry, you will have to take a turn and pay $5 to the bank counter that is within their offices there.

You will then go down the stairs and to the windows 24 and 25 and wait for your turn to appear on the screen.

Once you are called they will photo you, take your fingerprints and then in one hour you will receive your brand new Ecuadorian cedula!

No more need to walk around with your passport, in Ecuador your cedula is everything, you can even travel to nearby Andean countries like Colombia and Peru with just your cedula.

And of course, no reason to pay a lawyer to get a cedula for you!

Important changes since early 2013 (one year ago):  

Prefice: About a year ago in Guayaquil I helped a few friends get their cedulas.  And since then things have changed a bit, for the better!

A year ago, after applying for the cedula and getting your photo taken you had to come back in 3-5 days, not anymore, in one hour I got my cedula.

A year ago, they asked for an apostilled birth certificate, they never asked for mine although I still recommend bringing it down.

A year ago, they asked for proof of civil status, a marriage certificate or if you were single you had to do a really annoying hassle of going to a notary and doing a sworn statement saying you were single (declaracion juramentada).  Not anymore.  They didnt ask for me to prove my single status.

PS.  I highly recommend getting yiour cedula in Quito although you can get it in a few other cities in Ecuador.  Just easier.

Keep in mind.  

Unlike countries like the US, your civil status appears on your ID card, and if you are married then ANY legal transaction you want to do in Ecuador like sell a real property or a car you will have to have your wife sign off on it!

But what if your legal wife or husband is not in the picture?

In Ecuador, you are pretty much screwed if thats what appears on your ID cedula card.  Your transaction will be greatly difficulted or stopped.  So if they arent in the picture go for single if you can.

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

The Myth about Ecuador Border Runs: How to stay longer than 90 days in Ecuador as a tourist

 
Last week, we covered arguably the easiest way to get a residency visa in Ecuador, and how I got one.

The 9-V Professionals Visa, based off your university degree.

No investment, no pension required.

Believe me, compared to most countries in the world, thats easy!

For instance my brother actually married a Thai girl and he still can´t get his Thai perm residency and has to do costly monthly border runs (like a b*tch).

But Ecuador residency does have its pitfalls, like you have to be in-country at least 9 months a year for the first two years or you could lose your visa.

So if a professonal, investor or pensioner permanent resident visa doesn’t work for you the following may be the way to go.

But the wierd thing is even immigration officials in Ecuador will tell you you can’t do it.

But a friend of mine confirmed, in January of 2014, you can.

The prevailing myth regarding Ecuador tourism is you can only be in Ecuador for 3 months a year on the free automatic visa stamp you get when you enter Ecuador.

They tell you you can’t renew your tourist visa.

And that you only have 90 days a year as a tourist in Ecuador, period.

People plan their whole trips (and lives) around this fact.

Bull sh*t!

You actually can stay in Ecuador for up to 9 months a year, or even more, heck, you can stay perpetually as a mere passer-byer or ‘tourist’ with the following strategy…

It’s proven, first hand to me by a close Canadian friend of mine, as of January 2014.

Enter the country initially with just your passport (valid for more than 6 months) and get the free 3 month visa stamp.  With at least 2 weeks left on your visa stamp apply for the 6 month 12-9 ‘Acto de Comercio’ temporary visa.  You won’t have to leave the country.

Then at the end of the 9 months you’ll have to make a border run to either Peru or Colombia, you won’t even have to stay the night just walk across the border, eat lunch, and come back over.

And you’ll get an immediate 3 month free stamp once again.

Then at the end of these 3 months you’re best to get a 6 month student visa (the 12-5) or the (12-10) 6 month tourist visa without having to leave the country.

For instance there are langauage schools in Quito that will give you your registration papers (what you need for the student visa) for as little as $300.

Then rinse and repeat.

Yes, even though immigration officials are quick to tell you tourist visas in Ecuador are not renewable and border runs will not work either.

I got sucked into the lie once.

I still remember my face at an immigration outpost in Loja with 2 days left on my visa when I was told that my visa was not renewable and a border run would not work.  I don’t know why they say it like that with just a shrug.

No solutions.

You just can’t get the free 90 day tourist stamp consecutively.  You have to follow the strategy above.

But no one told me.

So I overstayed.

I had no choice.

And it was a huge hassle to get ‘legal’ again.

Don’t do that.  Stay legal so you can come and go from Ecuador freely and not worry about being able to get back in the country when you please!

Now you know what I didn’t.

So if permanent residency isn’t your thing at least now you know you can stay in Ecuador for much longer than 3 months as a mere tourist!

And for the complete breakdown of how I got my Professional Residency Visa subscribe to my weekly Ecuador Insiders Newsletter below, you can unsubscribe at any time:

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

Ecuador residency visa: No investment, no pension… no problem

I can’t think of how else to put this.

But sometimes I really think Ecuador is kind of like your friends slutty sister.

She may look good from a distance, but the more you get to know her, the less you trust her and although you may have a casual fling with her, chances of a serious comitment are slim.

It may be funny to hear this from a so-called ‘Ecuador expert’, but the truth is Ecuador is a great place for that exciting high risk-high reward 10% part of your portfolio but its certainly not smart to sell everything and invest it all in Ecuador.

Don’t do that! Seriously.

I’m sorry but while (currently) Ecuador is a great place to casually live, and a great place to generate wealth, its not a good place to store wealth and in fact, like many countries in the world, I’m afraid Ecuadors heading in the wrong direction. A lot of factors there. Just my opinion.

Opps, maybe I spilled the beans on that one.

Ecuador, really not much different from any ‘third-world’ country, is certainly not a smart place to park $25k in a CD for a right to a residency visa. This past year alone one ‘real’ bank failed (Banco Territorial), and one ‘coopera’ or credit union-type-thing failed too.

People lost money. Not everyone got paid back.

And contrary to popular opinion, its also not smart to base your visa off a real estate investment valued over $25k, cause if you sell the investment, you lose your visa, and boy would it stink to get stuck in a bad investment and miss an opportunity just cause your money was tied up for your visa.

While many of us, either too young or for whatever reason, don’t count on a steady pension in order to apply for the pensioners visa.

Well, fear not, there’s another little-known option many of us qualify for.

And you don’t have to invest a cent. Nor do you need a pension.

Besides, the only investments you should make are good ones, not ones based on getting a residency visa.

This type of visa is the one I got.

I got it, all by myself, with no help from a lawyer (it wasn’t necessary).

Recently too, I got approved last month.

Introducing the 9-V Professionals permanent resident visa.

All you need to qualify is a degree from an accredited university and to have the degree validated by the Ecuadorian institute of higher education (SENESCYT).

Its actually even easier than it sounds.

You see, Ecuador immigration law is actually quite dated. Written several years ago before there was a sizable demand of incoming migrants. And understandly, countries without much incoming demand have more open doors, cause it doesn’t matter, on the flip side, a country like the US has the doors so closed to immigrants they often have to do illegal stuff just to get in and stay in.

Some countries offer a Professional type visa for college grads, like Australia, but only for certain majors, the specialists they need. Which makes more sense than the current Ecuadorian system if you think about it.

You see, if they’ll approve someone from my major, they’ll take, well, anyone.

Why?

Well, my major was .. duh duh …duh duh… Spanish.

Yea. Damn. Think they got enough Spanish speakers in Ecuador?

If anyone were screwed it’d be me right?

Well, I guess not, I guess they needed one more spanish speaker in Ecuador, and one that speaks with a gringo accent.

Cause I got approved.

But anyway, now you see, any major will do as per the current Ecuadorian law.

So why don’t more people go for this permanent resident visa type?

They just don’t know.

But what if you don’t have a university degree from an Ecuadorian recognized institution, nor a pension, nor the money or desire to invest thousands in Ecuador?

You’ve got another option or two we’ll be covering in the next week. So stay tuned.

Now of course, I did run into a few irritating challenges during the visa application process, mainly due to lack of experience, and they almost costed me the visa!

For instance, before you even think about applying for the professional visa subscribe to my weekly Ecuador Insiders Newsletter below, you can unsubscribe at any time:

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

Don’t move to Ecuador before reading this: Moving to Ecuador 101

 

“Man, this dude is clueless!”

That’s a thought that often passes through my head as I meet new arrival expats in Ecuador.

But if I moved to a new country cold turkey, the same would happen to me.

But after today’s primer you no longer can plead ignorance… here’s what you need to know before you go:

1. Handle your assets correctly.

Sell depreciating assets like cars, if you leave them whenever it is you try to sell them down the road they will be worth less, a lot less!  They are just chuncks of metal.  Replaceable.  And DON’T liquidate ALL your assets and properties if they continue to make you money, what are you going to do with all that cash in Ecuador?  Lose it, that’s what.  Ecuador is a good place for you but maybe not for your entire savings.  That’s just being a plain da** fool.

2. Know what to bring.

There’s a lot of things that are grossly more expensive in Ecuador than in countries like the US.  Bring all the electronics, brand name clothes and perfumes you are going to need.  Brand name shoes too.  Big screen TVs are also much cheaper in the US.

3. Know what NOT to bring.

There’s a lot of things you can easily buy in Ecuador for around the same price as in the US or cheaper.  Towels, sheets and things like coffee makers, irons, plates and kitchen utensils can easily be found in your nearest SUPERMAXI or MI COMISARIATO (big box stores in Ecuador).  No need to bring!

4. Cell Phones.  

Before you leave the US be sure your expensive smart phone is UNLOCKED and accepts insertable SIM cards.  If it doesn’t or isn’t, than leave it in the US, cause it won’t be any use to you in Ecuador (which works on SIM cards).  I’d say even if it does accept SIM cards I’d still be weary about waving around one of those big fancy Samsung Galaxies or whatever, here in Ecuador, having a nice cell phone makes you a target for thieves.

It’s true, thieves will judge you based on your cell phone, if you maintain a cheapy ‘dumb’ phone you could live in Ecuador for years without anything happening to you.  I myslef have a simple ‘dumb’ phone (I know Ecuador too well to have anything else).

Once in country, to pick up a SIM card visit any CLARO or MOVISTAR store and ask if they have any SIMs for sale, its the same in Spanish.  Get a Claro SIM if you plan on living in Cuenca or the coast.  Movistar if you plan on living in the Quito/Cotacachi/Ibarra area.

The card costs $7, you insert it in your phone and you have an  instant Ecuador phone number you can add minutes to in any cell phone shop or pharmacy in Ecuador.  Many local street stores also offer the service of adding prepaid minutes (recargas).  To get a cheap phone starting around $40 try a mall in one of Ecuadors big cities before going to your final destination… in Guayaquil try the cell phone shops in the bus terminal, in Quito, Id go to EL ESPIRAL shopping center.  Don’t buy used phones off the street, they may be stolen.

5. Managing your currency.

News flash.. Ecuador uses the US dollar as the official currency.  But it can be very hard to make change in Ecuador, and most merchants simply won’t accept $50s and $100s, so dont bring any bills larger than $20s!  Travelers checks are a definite NO NO.  Bring an ATM card attached to the Cirrus network and you can withdraw from about any ATM from your US account.  For large transfers don’t try to bring it down in cash!  Instead, contact your bank in your home country and commence a wire once you have an account to wire to in Ecuador.

6. Opening a bank account.

Most banks in Ecuador won’t open an account for you unless you have a CEDULA and are a legal resident in Ecuador on a resident visa.  You could have a friend recommend you to his bank (which helps a lot in Ecuador), also try the smaller banks like Banco Promerica which seem t have more lenient policies about opening accounts.  Either way, dont have a lot of money in there, there are only 2 banks I’d trust in Ecuador, Banco Pichincha (the biggest bank in Ecuador and where most the locals have their money) or Banco Pacifico (already owned by the goverment).

7. Finding a place to stay the smart way (don’t make any prior reservations for rentals).

I’m weary about finding rentals online before I arrive in a place, because you really are clueless about the area, accept it.  I’ll never forget a few years back when I moved to Santo Domingo, in the Dominican Republic.  I arranged a rental online before arriving and it was right in the middle of the ghetto, literally on the wrong side of the river in the city.  And like most rentals I had alreayd paid a non-refundable deposit plus the first months rent.  Dumb.

Not just for the price, but for a lot of reasons I recommend you do it the right way and stay in a cheapy hotel until you learn the area a bit and search on the ground for the rental that is really right for you.  You can often strike deals with many of the cheapy hotels in Ecuador to give you a weekly or monthly rate.

8. Getting connected to the internet.

In the big cities of Ecuador, getting connected in your home is easy, just go to your nearest CNT or Claro store and hire the service, within a few days they will be installing the internet in your home, doesn’t matter if you are a renter.  Decent plans start around $20 but if you want a faster interent experience pay for one of the plans around $50 a month.

In the small towns of Ecuador the internet is NOT a given so inquire beforehand!  If no internet options exist you can always get a Mobile WIFI HUAWEI stick you plug into the wall or your PC from a service provider like Movistar.  In that case, if there is cell phone coverage you can connect to the internet.  Plans start around $35 a month you can get unlimited internet, but this last option is by far the slowest (almost similar to dial-up).

9. Paying utility bills.

As a renter, you will most likely be required to pay your own electric, water and other bills.  The easiest way to pay them is go to the nearest SERVIPAGOS or WESTERN UNION office and pay them cash.  Some banks also offer the service, just be sure the bills dont expire or you’ll have to go directly to the provider to pay.

10. Learning Spanish on the cheap.

If you try to learn Spanish in the US or online before coming than you just wasting your time and money.  US universities will charge you thousands, private tutors in the US often cost upwards of $20 an hour and you’ll still forget everything they teach you cause you’re not using it.  Even programs like Rosetta Stone are not a good idea… in the US you probably paid $400 for it, in Ecuador you can find a copied version for $10.  Just sayin…
But I’d pass on all those programs!  Instead wait until you are in Ecuador to learn Spanish, and take a class from a local tutor , many would be happy to teach you one on one for around $5 an hour.  Once you got a hold on the grammar, try to read the paper everyday, once you got vocabulary, try to watch the TV everyday in Spanish for comprehension and try to make some local friends that only talk to you in Spanish.  Any age can learn cheaply following that method.

11. Visas.  

Have a clear idea of what type of resident visa you want before you come.  Ecuador is not a good place to simply border hop continually everytime your visa is about to expire like you can in Thailand or Costa Rica.  There is a limit.  Get a resident visa based on an investment, job, pension or on something more creative like a religious mission.  For any of the above visas bring the required docs with you from your home country… the base are 2 copies of an aposstilled birth certificate, marriage/divorce certificate (if applicable) and an aposstilled police record check.

12.  Getting around like a local.  

Don’t be afraid to take buses in Ecuador as a new arrival, they are plentiful and cheap and their destinations are marked on the front.

I remember as a new arrival in Spain with no Spanish skills I was afraid to get on the city bus to school cause I didn’t want to get lost with no Spanish skills, so I walked over 30 minutes to school and back everyday in the freezing cold Madrid winter.

Taxis are also cheap in Ecuador but ask how much they will charge to your destination before you get in.  Know that the drivers will always say they know where your destination is whether they really know or not, you have to learn to read their body language to see if they really know or not.  Ask locals how much a taxi ride should be before approaching a taxi.  Also, know that airport taxis are always more expensive and especially abusive so if you can get picked up or take a bus from the airport all the better.

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Q&A

How Ecuador compares to the big boys

The first thing people ask me when they meet me is…

So why’d you choose Ecuador?  

Good question. 

Well, here’s how Ecuador compares to the other countries where I’ve lived or spent significant time over the last 10 years.

Here’s my take based on my own experiences, despite my critique i really did enjoy each place listed below…

Spain:  Lived in Madrid for 8 months studying abroad.  In this part of Spain the climate swings from dreadfully cold in winter to scorchingly hot in the summer.  Ecuador has much more mild and steady weather.  Also, quite a few, not all, of the locals in Spain were a bit xenophobic, or rascist towards foreigners, specfically gringos like me, not so in Ecuador.

Hawaii:  Studied and worked here for 1 year.  Hawaii IS paradise, but it is expensive too and this is another place where the locals don’t think too kindly of white “howleys” (people not from Hawaii).  Hawaii is small and I think most can get burned out quick.  Ecuador has more variety like the Andes, Amazon and coast plus it has more things to do.  

San Diego, California:  Lived and worked here for 4 months.  Nice weather, beautiful city, tons to do, friendly people, good tex mex food.  Great place with lots of money to make, really no complaints but real estate and rental prices are really high meaning I would have to take on a job I really don’t like just to keep spinning my hamster wheel just to make it.  I prefer being able to have the time to do what i really want to do in a place like Ecuador.  


Lithuania:  Lived and worked in Vilnius for 1 month.  Too cold for me, if I’m going to be sitting through a snowy winter I better have some mountains to ski nearby.  

Italy: Lived in Ascoli for 1 month. Stunning little town on the Adriatic coast where I spent time with long lost relatives, but how would I make a living and the high prices scare me.  The Ecuador economy seems to be moving faster and i see more opportunities in Ecuador.  


Mexico:   Lived in Chihuahua  for 1 month.  If I weren’t in Ecuador I would probably be in Mexico, I love the place, the food, the culture, the people but I rarely felt “at ease” in most parts of this country. 


Peru:  Lived in Lima for 1 month. The coastline of Peru is akin to the Sahara Desert.  Seriously, all the way down!  I’m talking sand dunes and trash blowing in the wind, cool to visit, but Ill stick with living in Ecuador.  


Bolivia:  Lived in Santa Cruz for about 1 month. Nice place with a lot of variety like Ecuador but with no beach.  Economy particularly bad, don’t think I could make a living here like Im doing in Ecuador unless I worked online.  Ecuador wins.  


Brazil:   Lived in Rio and Porto Alegre for about 1 month.  Beautiful place, really high prices, even more costly than the USA these days, it kind of squeezes the fun out of everything.  I’ll stick with the low costs of Ecuador for now.  


Uruguay:   Lived in Montevideo for 1 month.  In my month living in Montevideo I coudn’t figure out why anyone would want to live there?  The beaches are not tropical like most northern US beaches, and you’re really far from the States.  More organized than Ecuador yes, but Ecuador is more “latin” which to me makes it more interesting.  


Argentina:   Lived in Buenos Aires for 1 month.  Never saw people party until daylight… regularly.  And the beef is as good as advertised, so is the wine, and the country is incredibly diverse but the increased cost of living over the last few years and hyper-inflation is a concern for me here.  


Colombia:   Lived, worked and studied here for 1 year.  Colombia may seduce you at first sight as it did me but the culture struck me as simply “wierd” and “tense” after years and years of violence, the drug trade, and being closed off from the rest of the world.  I’ll stick to the more laid back Ecuadorians any day.  


Philippines:  Lived and worked online here for 5 months.  Dirty.  Poor.  Usually i don’t mind it but this place is on another level.  Hot and flat.  Didn’t like the food.  Nice people though who really like foreigners and try to make them comfortable.  Far away from US.  Makes Ecuador look like Beverly Hills, Ecuador much more developed.  Like in most Asian countries there are restrictions against foreign ownership of land limiting possibilities.

Thailand:   Lived and traveled here in Krabi area for 1 month.  Too on-the-beaten-track for me, just hoards and hoards of travelers.  Beaches are amazing, but language is too difficult, Spanish is easier making it easier to integrate with the locals of Ecuador.  


Malaysia:   Lived in KL for 1 month.  About the next blandest place I’ve seen after my hometown of Cleveland, Ohio.  For me, Ecuador has better food, weather, lower prices and more things to do.  


Dominican Republic:   Lived in Santo Domingo for 6 months.  Beautiful beaches and people, vibrant culture and lively music but the public transport was deficient, food was nasty and there were too many guns.  It seemed as though literally every male member of society had one tucked in his pants.  Didn’t make me feel very safe.  Ecuador outlaws guns which for me makes me feel more comfortable than the other extreme which is the DR.  


Vietnam:   Lived in Mui Ne and Hanoi for about 1 month.  Great food!  But here I really felt like a walking dollar sign most of the time, the locals really try to grossly overcharge you whenever they can.  In Ecuador it is not so in-your-face.  


China:   Worked in Shenzhen and Guangzhou for 5 months.  Dont live in southern China in the winter!  You see, the Chinese government outlaws heat in homes below a certain point but trust me, you need heat, its cold, freezing cold inside the apartments in the winter.  I found China hard to get a grip on, I’ve never been more lost, more often as I was there.  Overall I found it good for westerners to make money, but I bet few would consider it a better place to live than their home countries.  


India:  Worked in Bhopal for 1 month.  I’ve never seen so many guys just standing around in the streets all day.  Like most foreigners working in India, one moment I loved india, the next I hated it.  Generally, I felt like a walking dollar sign here while many locals tried to hussle me.  Others were incredily nice inviting me into their home upon meeting them.  Too much of a challenge for me, and too hot, I’ll stick to Ecuador for now.  


Egypt/Israel:   Lived here for almost 1 month.  Countries of extremes and it starts with the people.  Met some incredibly friendly people and the exact opposite, usually within the same day, would not consider this place as one to live in near future.  Politically and socially unstable making me weary about investing.

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

Where’s best for you on the coast of Ecuador?

Like flat oceans good for swimming?  

Or maybe rockin’ waves?  

How about lush green jungle right to the water’s edge?

Or dry-as-a-bone landscapes with low humidity?  

For such a small country, the Ecuador coast has it all… so where should you begin?

Here are my top picks…

flat ocean good for swimming, snorkeling- Salinas, Ayangue, Punta Blanca

surf towns/ good waves- Montanita, Ayampe, Playas, Canoa, Mompiche

Sunniest beaches- San Clemente, Playas

wide, flat beaches good for walking- Playas, Olon, Atacames, Muisne

scuba / hand gliding / kiteboarding / fishing- Ayangue (scuba), Canoa, Crucita (hand gliding), Santa Marianita (kite boarding), Salinas (fishing)

green, lush right up to water edge- Olon, Ayampe, Jama, Mompiche, Muisne, Same, Puerto Cayo

dry, brown, low humidity and less mosquitos- Salinas, Playas, Punta Blanca, Ballenita, Santa Marianita, Manta, Crucita, Machalilla, Cadeate, Valdivia

Quiet spots near the action and shopping- Ballenita, Crucita, Manglaralto, Olon, Canoa, Atacames, Tonsupa

Bigger cities with health care- Salinas+ Santa Elena, Manta, Esmeraldas, Bahia, Pedernales

White sand beaches- Playa Rosada, Muisne, Atacames, Tortuga Bay (Galapagos), Isabela Island (Galapagos)

Palm tree forests to waters edge- Cojimes, Muisne

Established expat community- Salinas, Olon, Puerto Lopez, Manta, Crucita, San Clemente-San Jacinto, Bahia

Off the beaten track/ no foreigners- La Libertad, Chanduy, Palmar, Valdivia, La Entrada, Tunas, Pedernales, Cojimes, Muisne, Esmeraldas

People watch/ women in bikinis, men in thongs/ party towns- Montanita, Canoa, Atacames

Beachfront condos in highrises- Salinas, Manta, Bahia, Tonsupa

Large lots of vacant beach land- Jama area, Cojimes, Muisne

Gated beach communities- Manta area, Salinas area

Beachfront property on smaller lots- Same, San Clemente-San Jacinto, Ballenita, Cadeate, Canoa

Bird and wildlife watching- Isla de la Plata (Puerto Lopez), Everywhere in Galapagos

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

Where to sleep for cheap in Ecuador? My budget picks.

Want to know where to sleep for cheap in Ecuador?

Considering I don’t really have an official home, it’s safe to say I spend a lot of time in hotels. 

So, here are my value picks for all over Ecuador, in other words, where I stay. 

You won’t see the Hilton or Marriot on this list. 

Yes, they’re in the big cities of Ecuador, but if you’re going to stay in a Marriot, why not save yourself the flight and do it in your backyard, cause they’re all the same anyway.  Not much of a way to experience a country.

Most of my picks you won’t find on the net, nor will you be able to reserve beforehand, so just show up and maybe I’ll be there. 

And you’ll quickly notice that rates on the coast and in the smaller towns are much cheaper than in the bigger cities.

Except for my new place in Quito that opened this week and my place in Guayaquil, I dont have any affiliation with any of them except maybe friendship… here goes:

Cotacachi: 
Hostal El Arbolito, Calle Imbabura N 911.  Right on the main square of Cotacachi, spacious well cared for rooms starting at $25/single $40/double.

Otavalo:
Hostal America Inter, Sucre y Quiroga.  Right on the main indigenous market everyone goes to Otavalo to see, renovated rooms with WIFI and private parking suffice starting at $10/person. 

Ibarra:
High end: Hotel La Giralda, Av. Atahaulpa y Juan Francisco Bonilla.  The rooms are cramped but borderline luxury and the assortment of crepes available in the restaurant is to die for, really good, I eat there whenever I pass by Ibarra.  Has pool.  Rates start at $44/single, $58/double.

Budget: Hostal El Dorado, Oviedo 5-41 y Sucre.  Simple, bland, clean place right in the old town center with WIFI, hard to beat the $10/person asking price.  Even better, eat at the Giralda, sleep here.

Quito:
In town… Hostal Veintimilla, Amazonas y Veintimilla.  Whenever I have to stay in town I usually gravitate here, love the location near both the Mariscal traveler/nightlife district and the old town.  Right where a tourist wants to be.  Good cable TV channels in English, Wifi in some of the rooms, and newly refinished bedrooms.  Some may not like the location for the occasional night walkers looming on the city streets outside.  Rates start at $13 per person.

Near new airport:  Of course I’d have to recommend my new place that opened 3 days ago, Quito Airport Suites.  Set a few blocks from the entrance of the new airport, relax in an old Spanish Hacienda setting with WIFI internet, room service, an English speaking staff and airport transfers available 24/7.  Avoid the hour and a half drive to Quito and sleep better while you’re at it.

Mindo:
Dragonfly Inn:  This hotel is my pick for budget travelers, right where you want to be within walking distance of most of the points in the town with wooden rooms. Clean, safe, simple rooms starting around $20 per person.

Latacunga:
Villa de Tacvnga:  An old Spanish colonial turned hotel, the rooms have WIFI and heaters (needed here) and the restaurant has some great dishes (try the trout).   

Banos:
Hostal Nomada, diagonal to the bus station.  Love the location in town and near the bus station and within walking distance to the spas.  The rooms are surprisingly nice for the price ($10/person) but there is no WIFI. 

Puyo:
Hostal Las Palmas, 20 de Julio y 4 de Enero.  This colorful hotel has macaws walking around the lobby and has a character all its own.  Right in town, my pick when in the area.  Rates $15/single $26/double.  

Cuenca:
High end:  Casa del Barranco, Calle Larga.  Right where a tourist wants to be in Cuenca, on the gorgeous Tomebamba River in the Old Town and on the street Calle Larga where most of the cities best restaurants and bars are just a few steps away.  Rates $30/single, $44 double.

Budget:  Hostal Majestic.  Just a block or two from the center of the old town and Parque Calderon, despite the creeky floors and dark rooms this is my pick when I want to save money on a sleep in Cuenca with rates from $8-10 per person. 

Loja:
Hotel Prado Internacional, right on the edge of the old town in Loja this hotel is one of the best value picks in all of Ecuador with luxury-class rooms, an elevator, and a rooftop restaurant with delicious food like the filet mignon and t-bone while enjoying the stunning view of the town for very reasonable prices (approx $25/single, $40/double).  Ask for the owner Lucia, very helpful, tell her Dom sent you.

Vilcabamba:
High end: Madre Tierra.  This hotel-spa doesn’t skimp on the spa portion of the business offering a full array of relaxing treatments at very reaosnable prices.  The restaurant is particularly good, once again try the filet mignon. 

Budget:  Hotel Mandango.  I know the name of this hotel sounds like it should be the name of a male p-o-r-n star, but its actually a decent budget place to sleep right on the outskirts of town with no frills rooms but at $6-8 per person you can’t expect much.  My pick, but Ill go eat in Madre Tierra. 

Zamora:
Eco-lodge Copalinga: A hydro-powered nature lodge great for hummingbird watching right at the entrance of the beautiful Podocarpus Natural Park. (From $25 per person).

Guayaquil: 
Murali Hostal, Garzota 2 Calle La Salle y Tercer Callejon Mz 135, V 7.  At just 2 blocks from the airport entrance and 1 block from the vans to Cuenca and bus terminal this is the ideal place to stay in the more affluent and less noisy north of town if just passing through Guayaquil.  OK, plus I’m the owner.  :)

Playas: 
Hotel Nevada with rooms from $20 per person per night, mainly because of the proximity to both the beach and center of town, also you’re right across the street form some delicious restaurants.

Salinas:
Hostal Aqui is the top expat hangout/bar/hostel in town with rooms starting around $20 per person its a clean, safe, friendly option.

Hostal Marnier, nothing special, but it is also a good pick if looking for a cheaper, safe place to crash for the night somewhat near the beach with prices starting aroud $10 per person. 

Ayangue:
Oasis Ayangue.  Relax between scuba dives at this friendly Canadian-owned hostel/bar/restaurant.  One block off the beach, has pool and some good thin crust pizza.  Tell Paul and Denise I said hi.  Rates start at $15 per person. 

Montanita:
The OCEANVIEW HOTEL on the outskirts of the main town just out of the heavy noise and right on the beach with newly finished rooms with WIFI starting around $10/person per night.  Friendly owners who should charge more, just dont tell them, ask for Tony or Evelyn, tell them Dom said hi.  For longer stays consider my bungalows with oceanviews, WIFI and kitchenettes. 

Ayampe:
LA BUENA VIDA Hosteria… American owned, they also offer surf classes upon request, the rooms are elegant and well sealed against bugs and they feel like they should cost more than they do. Rooms start around $20 per person.

Puerto Lopez:
Im not a big fan of Puerto Lopez so when I get stuck in the area I will usually sleep in the bungalows of the friendly indigenous community just a quick cab ride away in Aguas Blancas in the Natural Park Machalilla.  Hike, take mud baths, mix with locals, sleep for around $10/person. 

Manta:
Not a big fan of the overpriced manta hotels, so i stay in the no frills Hotel Leo: This hotel is my pick for budget travelers, right in the center of town and across from the bus terminal.  Clean, safe, simple rooms with TV and fan await you starting around $12 per person.

Crucita:
For a clean, safe, Spartan, budget option right on the boardwalk I recommend the Marlin Hostal, $15 per person.

Canoa:
My top choice for a quiet, clean, safe place right on the beach is the Hostal Playa Azul, at $8 per person for a private room with a shared bath or $10 per person for a private room with a private bath. 

Bahia:
High-end: La Herradura Hotel, the only hotel right on the boardwalk, ocean front in Bahia.  The hotel has an upscale restaurant and prices start from $20 for the single room, $40 for the double.  Ask for one of the few rooms with an ocean view! 

For budget travelers I recommend y personal fav, La Bahia Hotel, right in front of the Puerto Amistad Bar-Restaurant or the expat hang out of town.  The rooms are Spartan but clean and the price is right, $8 per person and $16 for a double.

Pedernales:
Hotel Arenas, a few blocks from the beach with cable TV and well kept rooms starting around $10 per person.

Machala:
For budget travelers I’d stay at the Hotel Mosqueto, 2 blocks from the main plaza right beside Hotel Montecarlo, singles with fan $12. Acceptable, simple place.  For bigger budgets looking for nice AC rooms, I’d try Hotel Montecarlo (all the taxis know it) 2 blocks form the main plaza. Single $30, Double rooms $40.

There you have it, my picks, as you can see you dont have to break the bank to sleep in Ecuador!

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

Where’s the hottest long-term rental market in Ecuador?

“This is insane, feels like a job interview.”

I thought this week as I found myself being interviewed for the “priviledge” of renting an apartment in Quito.

Next to me was another guy who was being jointly interviewed for the same apartment.

“So why should I choose you?” The owner of the apartment asked.

As I sat up in my chair I replyed… “Well, I’m clean, quiet and pay on time.”

Then she asked the other guy the same question and said OK I’ll call you tonight if I choose you.

As we left other folks interested in the apartment were entering.

She never called back.

I didn’t get it.

Now, I’ve rented in hot rental markets like San Diego, Honolulu, Madrid and China, but I’ve never seen a place where its so competitive to find a decent rental at a decent price.

The demand is huge. Certainly one of the best opportunity areas to own a rental in Ecuador.

It’s definitely not like the vacant, abandoned buildings in many areas of my home city, Cleveland, Ohio.

Quito is at capacity.

But I’m not surprised.

The planes to Ecuador are packed.

People are coming in droves.

The price is right.

Like one friend told me Brazil was like 10 years ago.

Now, the planes to Brazil are practically empty.

It’s too expensive due to the exchange rate. Nice country, but they’ve priced themselves out.

The sweet spot right now, or the rentals that get taken the quickest in Quito are the ones in the north of the city anywhere from the Mariscal/Floresta/Catolica area of Quito up until about the area of the “Y” and the Jipijapa area.

The most in-demand area is the very centric Carolina Park area near the biggest malls in Quito like Quicentro.

That’s where most locals and foreigners alike want to be.

The long-term rental apartments that go the fastest are the 2 bedroom ones in the above area in the $250-400 a month range.

Literally, for decent rentals in the above-mentioned area in this price range if you publish an ad in the local paper by the afternoon you’ve found a long-term tenant.

Really its the quick.

And the wait is only a bit longer if your rental is higher-priced.

Now, you could buy in this area starting around $35-45k and if renting long-term for the above prices would generate a 10% annual return not to mention the capital gains the market is experiencing.

Annual property taxes for an apartment in Quito of this value usually run less than $100. And condo fees are usually less than $40 a month, and the tenant usually pays that.

Nicer and newer 1 and 2 bedroom apartments in the same area can go for around $60k and you could command a bit more rent.

Quito rentals are hot indeed.

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

7 Steps to find the hottest used car deals in Ecuador

“This country never ceases to amaze me.”

I thought when I saw a 2009 model of a vehicle just $1000 less than the 2012 version as I used-car-shopped earlier this week.

Due to the high import tariffs and restrictions on vehicles, cars are not only more expensive than they are in the US, they also retain their value.

It’s true.

It’s not uncommon for folks to buy a used car, use it for a year or two and sell it for about what they paid for it (especially if they got a bit of a deal).

Based on the advice of several locals and my own experience in Ecuador, here’s what I did to find the best deal on the car purchase made this week.

1. Establish what make, model and year you are looking for and browse a few of the most popular websites in Ecuador to determine market value of the car in Ecuador. The most popular sites in Ecuador to find used cars for sale (and where I found the best deals) are:

PatioTuerca.com – Website dedicated to the sale of cars nationwide in Ecuador. Vendors must pay to advertise.
PatiodeAutos.com – Website dedicated to the sale of cars nationwide in Ecuador. Vendors must pay to advertise.
MercadoLibre.com.ec – The eBay of Ecuador.

2. Go to Quito. Here you’ll find the largest selection and the highland people in Ecuador are renowned locally for taking better care of their cars (and belongings in general) than the coastal people in Ecuador. Plus, it helps that the car hasn’t been eroded by the salty, ocean air.

3. Skip the used car lots. I went to about 10 and they were an enormous waste of time if you are looking for something very specific. Chances are they won’t have it, or if they do, the deal isn’t that great or the car is not in very good condition.

4. Visit the car fairs. In Ecuador, these fairs are open to not only dealers but the public too. The most popular ones are in POMASQUI near Quito on the road to the Mitad del Mundo and GUAMANI exiting the south of Quito on the Panamericana on Saturdays and Sundays from 9a-5p.

5. Check the El Comercio Quito paper on Sundays. The other days will have very thin car listings at best.

6. If a deal still hasn’t been found continue searching on the net on the sites mentioned above and always be sure to ask “Cual es lo ultimo?” (What’s your best price?) All the cars I found in Ecuador were negotiable by about $200-1500 off their asking price on cash purchases.

7. Remember it’s a common practice in Ecuador to fiddle with or set back the mileage on a car. Focus on things like the wear on the tires and brakes or have a mechanic check the car to determine true mileage.

Using the above strategy I helped find, and pull the trigger on a 2011 Chevrolet Aveo with AC in ‘like new’ condition with under 30,000 km for $11,000 after a friend and I had determined the average market value of the same car with AC in Ecuador to be $11500-13000.

That’s how you find a used car deal in Ecuador.

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

How to Fly to Ecuador Dirt Cheap in 2013

fly cheap to ecuador

People often complain about how expensive it is to fly to Ecuador.

But it’s true when compared to closer destinations like Costa Rica or Mexico.

Flights from the US/Canada to Ecuador can often cost $1000 or more.

For some it’s a deal-breaker.

But it doesn’t have to be.

I’m spoiled.

I often get to Ecuador from the US for under $180 and now you can too.

Here’s how… But first, remember I said “cheap” not necessarily “comfortable”.

To start, you have to get from where you live in the US to Miami or New York City.

I buy two separate flights. One to Miami/NYC and another to South America.

Or I do it even cheaper and hitchhike, AMTRAK or take the Greyhound bus to Miami.

Then once you’re in Miami (or New York) buy a one way flight from Miami to Armenia, Colombia on my favorite budget airline (that doesn’t yet fly to Ecuador) Spirit Airlines.

Armenia in western Colombia is the closest city to Ecuador they fly.

If you buy at least a month in advance you can get a flight often less than $150, for instance, now I’m seeing flights in late January and early February on the Spirit website for around $135 to Armenia from Miami with taxes and everything included.

In fact, you’ll find Colombia to actually be a nice place to visit.

Plus, Colombia is a place that doesn’t require a roundtrip ticket to enter. Whereas Ecuador officially does require the return although most the time they don’t enforce it yet sometimes the airlines will not let you on the plane to Ecuador without the return passage.

I know, it’s confusing but it is what it is.

Colombia is far removed from the bloody 80’s, 90’s and Escobar years. I should know, I lived there for a year recently and learned of this strategy because I wanted to visit some old friends and get from the US to Ecuador cheap.

A really nice area to visit near Armenia is the “Coffee Triangle” or “Eje Cafetero”.

Once in Armenia take the 2 ½ hour bus ($4-5) to Cali, another interesting town and a famous salsa dance Mecca.

Once in Cali hop a little crop-duster-type plane to Tulcan on the Ecuadorian border with one of the several tiny Colombian airlines that aren’t well advertised on the net like Satena. I’ve caught flights as low as $65.

Or to it even cheaper hop one of the frequent daily buses (15 hours, $20-30) from Cali to Tulcan.

It’s a scenic ride and one beautiful stop along the way is Popayan, a pearly-white colonial town in the southern hills of Colombia.

Then from Ipiales, Colombia cross the border to Tulcan (Ecuador), get your passport stamped and hop one last bus 4-5 hours ($5) to Quito.

That’s it! You made it!

If you’ve been keeping track, if you fly to Colombia and bus it the rest of the way you can get from Miami, USA to Ecuador one way for around $175 in 2013.

Especially great for people who are coming to Ecuador one way!

OR if you are over 65 and have an Ecuadorian Cedula meaning you are an Ecuador resident OR Ecuadorian citizen, you can buy national or international flights for HALF PRICE, any time of the year with the Ecuadorian airlines of Aerogal, LAN or TAME. Preferably buy in person at the airports or by over phone to get the senior discount.

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Posted in Ecuador Q&A

Furniture shopping like a local in Ecuador, what I paid?

It’s true.

One guy once asked me if he needed to bring towels to Ecuador.

Child please, could you be more ignorant?

Anyways I still think people are crazy whenever I hear of people paying ‘an arm and a leg’ to ship their furniture to Ecuador.

As one of my American friends here in Ecuador recently proclaimed he’s never seen anything like some of the beautiful furniture pieces that are coming out of Cuenca these days.

It’s true.

They’re nice.

Especially the woodwork here is amazing.

And if you don’t see something you like you can often find a local artist to make the piece you wish, often by just giving them a hand-written drawing on a napkin.

This week I furnished 3 of my new Tiki huts with ocean views near Montanita on the southern coast of Ecuador.

And here’s what I spent so you can learn how much furniture and other home appliances cost in Ecuador before you come.

Maybe there’s some things you can get much cheaper in your home country.

My first recommendation is if you live in a small town on the coast of Ecuador, buy everything you can in the nearest big city, Guayaquil, and have everything trucked in, prices are often much more favorable that way.

One good big box store found only in the biggest Ecuadorian cities with about any home appliance you’ll need, and where I did MOST of my shopping, is in MI COMISARIATO.

For wooden furniture on the coast try the markets in La Libertad or Atahaulpa.

In Quito, go to the budget furniture market called San Roque.

In Cuenca, ask around cause you have a lot of options.

Here goes… all prices are in USD and be sure to add to prices the standard 12% sales tax in Ecuador.

Glass juice jar = 3.20
Patio table and 4 chair set = 115.18
Toilet bowl cleaner brush = 4.26
Welcome floor mat = 7.12
Plastic juicer = 1.12
Plastic salad bowl = 2.26
Frying pan or skillet = 4.45
Dishwashing soap = .65
Pack of 10 garbage bags = .51
Wood cutting board = 4.98
Can opener = 3.56
Full utensil set for 4 ppl = 8.92
Steak knife = 2.40
Sponge for washing plates = .78
Bed sheet set for queen bed = 20.70
Bed spread = 43.04
Pillow = 4.87
Kitchen pot set with 4 pieces = 16.96
Mini refrigerator = 151.70
Pack of 4 toilet paper = .85
Broom = 2.19
Sink nossle = 19.54
Kitchen shelf = 116.00
Table Fan = 17.85
Mirror for bathroom = 16.06
Coffee maker and pot = 26.78
Electric stove cooker = 16.06
Blender = 16.06
Glasses for drinking = .44
Mosquito netting for bed = 15.45
Sliding door lock = 1.60
Shower curtain = 10.68
Sink = 8.03
Sink under tubes = 4.43
Bathroom mobil carpets = 7.13
Small towel = 6.07
hand towel = 1.43
bed lamp = 11.60
Wooden bed base = 50.00
Brand name ‘Chaide y Chaide’ queen size bed cushion = 120.00
Wooden chairs for kitchen counter = 20.00
Wooden handycrafted night stand table = 25.00
Wooden handycrafted kitchen cabinet = 135.00
Gas stove = 28.00
Gas tank for cooking = 50.00
Window curtains = 6.00

Here are a few pics of how the finished tiki huts near Montanita look furnished from the inside, if you’d like to rent one email me at dombuon AT gmail.com to let me know, $20 a night for one or two people, discounts available for longer stays.

montanita house for rent

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Ecuador Dual Citizenship: How to Apply?

get ecuador second passport

Some get one for the “show”.

Some get one to feel like Bond when the cute airport clerk asks for their passport…

…so their reply can be “which one?”

Some get a second passport and dual nationality for tax, business or other personal reasons.

At least if you are an American who likes to travel you should seriously consider it.

Fact is, a quickly growing amount of countries these days charge Americans a stiff fee for entry visas when other nationalities walk in free or for pennies on the dollar.

China, India, Brazil and Bolivia all fall under this category.

As I discovered last year traveling through the middle east, other surprisingly nice countries are sadly off limits to Americans.

Many in fact.

Thankfully, Ecuador still warmly receives Americans as they do Europeans or Canadians.

And it’s relatively EASY to get dual citizenship and thus a second passport from Ecuador.

After sitting down with an immigration official this week, in December of 2012, here’s what I learned about how you can apply for Ecuadorian dual citizenship…

The main requirement is you need to be a resident of Ecuador for a minimum of 3 years from the date in which you get your first “cedula (Ecuador ID card)” or 2 years if you have an Ecuadorian kid.

You then need to gather the following documents:

1. Birth certificate apostilled (if from a country from within the apostille treaty like the US) or legalized by an Ecuadorian consulate abroad and then translated.
2. Copy of passport notarized and the original with the current resident visa.
3. Copy of cedula notarized and original.
4. Certificate from both the SRI (the Ecuadorian IRS) and the BIESS (Social Security) stating you have no outstanding debts to either. (Certificacion de no ser deudor.)
5. Your Ecuador police record and immigration movement documents. (Movimiento migratorio y record policial)
6. 4 passport photos.

The cost is $700, $200 paid up front, then $500 after being approved.

And there are no language tests, dorky Ecuadorian history tests nor required military service or further obligations upon attaining Ecuadorian citizenship.

Ecuador income is taxed by the Ecuador government, foreign income is not, regardless of if you are a citizen or not.

Currently, unless Peruvian or Colombian all foreigners need to apply for citizenship out of the Quito immigration office on Av. Carrion and 10 de Agosto.

That’s it.

Now you’ve got your Ecuadorian passport and can waltz freely through South America, the Galapagos, the Middle East and Cuba without paying a cent of visa fees or hassles.

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Map of South Ecuador Coast: Montanita, Olon, Salinas

Map of South Ecuador Coast: Montanita, Olon, Salinas

salinas montanita ecuador map

salinas to montanita ecuador map


HOUSE FOR RENT 5 MINUTES FROM MONTANITA

One price for WHOLE HOUSE… fit as many people as you like!

$30 per day, $180 per week, $380 per month.

Quaint house with beautiful 180 degree ocean view for rent 3 minute walk from beach and 25 minute walk to the center of Montanita.

FREE WIFI!

3 Bedroom (with 1 queen bed each), 2 bath, furnished kitchen, stove, mini-refrigerator, patio with hammocks overlooking the ocean, yard, garden.

Free WIFI INTERNET
3 Bed
2 Bath
Terraza with porch with ocean view
Garden
Furnished
Parking area
Kitchen
Pets OK
Guests allowed no extra fees, parties OK
$100 security deposit, can rent for days, weeks or months.
In secured, gated complex with 24 hr guard.

Call Dom at 0969251257, dombuon AT gmail.com to reserve now or write him below to reserve:

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Posted in Ecuador Q&A

How to sell your property in Ecuador… Fast

salinas property

A view from the front of the lot. 

For six weeks I put the sale of a beachfront lot I purchased for resale on hold while I built 3 tiki-style beach huts on the southen coast of Ecuador on a different oceanview lot in time for the upcoming rentals high-season here (late Dec- early Apr).

Now as I mentioned earlier this week, I’m finished building so I’ll focus back on selling the beachfront lot I purchased to resell.

It’s a good lot.

In an area with great potential for short-term growth, flat, on a small bluff elevated about 15 feet over the ocean, 475 m2 (5112 ft2), right on the beach with no road in front, 25 minutes from Salinas in a small, non-commercialized fishing village right in town near water/electricity and I’ve decided to ask only $16k with hopes to sell it quick.  That’s roughly $33 a square meter which for beachfront is a good deal in this area of the Ecuador coast where I’ve seen similar beachfront lots sell anywhere from $35-200 per m2 for smaller lots like this one.

My initial marketing strategy will be three-pronged, simple and inexpensive, we’ll see if and how fast it works…

1. List with 1-2 local real estate agents in the Salinas area.
- Exclusivity is neither expected nor respected in Ecuador by most property sellers, sellers usually let multiple agents list and promote their property and pay the commission to whoever sells it first.  I’ll aim to get the lot listed by a few of the Salinas agents who I know really sell properties.  Not all agents in Ecuador actually can sell!  I’m happy to offer 3-5% if an agent can help find me a buyer and show my lot, well worth it.  I value marketing and sales cause I’m a marketing guy myself!

2. Publish ad in the major local newspaper.
- I plan on taking an ad in the Sunday classifieds of El Comercio, the major local paper in the area, in Spanish targeting the local market.

3. Post on the net (in English) targeting the English-speaking market abroad.
- On my own site EcuadorRealEstate.org where I let anyone selling property in Ecuador under $50k publish for free, or for $20 a month if they are looking to promote a property asking more than $50k.

- Publish ad on Craigslist in English aimed at the foreign market interested in Ecuador property.  It’s free and it’s popular worldwide and a great way to get the property in front of more eyeballs looking for real estate in Ecuador.

- Post on Viviun.com , Its a high ranking site where I can pay a small fee to get my property for sale in front of even more eyeballs looking for Ecuador land.

Hopefully in one of my next updates you’ll learn as I learn through the sale… ;)

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Q&A

What you must bring to Ecuador to get a residency visa

ecuador resident visas

This week I got a question from a friend…

“Dom, I heard you offer a free visa consultation for those interested out of your B&B in Guayaquil, I’m headed back to the US for 3 weeks, what documents and things do I need to bring back to Ecuador in order to get a residency visa?”

Great question.

As with any visa process, there is a laundry list of requirements all attainable rather pain-free once already in Ecuador. BUT there are a few requirements you CAN’T get in Ecuador, so you will need to bring them from your home country.

Regardless of your choice of visa, you will need to bring…

1. A birth certificate apostatized by your secretary of state (for US citizens only) or have your birth certificate certified/legalized by an Ecuadorian Embassy in your HOME country. I recommend getting your documents certified by an Ecuadorian Consulate, some state apostles no longer look like apostles so some immigration officials won’t accept them even though they should. Ecuadorians love STAMPS.

2. A local police record check from where you’ve lived the last five years… you’ll need this document apostatized or legalized by an Ecuadorian consulate in your home country. A federal or FBI check is not necessary.

3a. For MARRIED folks, you’ll need an official copy of your marriage certificate apostatized or legalized/certified by an Ecuadorian consulate in your home country.

3b. For SINGLE folks, your proof of “single” status can be obtained from the Secretary of State in your former home state (in fact NOT from a consulate like the Ecuadorian Cedula employee told me earlier this week), but a certified divorce decree, will also serve the same purpose. This document also needs to be apostilled or legalized by an Ecuadorian consulate in your home country. (THIS IS ONLY NEEDED FOR THE CEDULA, NOT THE RESIDENCY VISA.)

For folks applying for the PENSIONERS resident visa…

4. You’ll need a document serving as proof of your pension from the issuing institution legally apostatized or certified in an Ecuadorian Consulate in your home country. For instance, this can be a BENEFITS STATEMENT from a social security or disability pay out.

For folks looking to get an investors visa the first 3 requirements are all you need to bring to Ecuador, the rest is attainable once here and translations of foreign documents to Spanish IS necessary but can be done cheaper once in Ecuador.

Random visa notes and Q&A based on yesterdays email…

- First a correction, as of July of 2012, you can, in fact, get both your residency visa AND cedula (Offical Ecuador ID card) in Cuenca as well as in Guayaquil and Quito. I think many are still unaware of this, like I was, cause many folks still come to Guayaquil to get cedulas when they no longer have to.

- Sc@m alert… one subscriber emailed me.. “I was told by someone that there were coming changes that would make getting a residency visa harder and that if I give him $1395 that he could get me “grandfathered” in so that I wouldn’t have to deal with all the new requirements.” … my response. This is simply not true, the requirements MAY change, who knows, but their are currently no plans to do so. This sounds like a dishonest sales pitch.

- Question… “[one guy] said he could get me my residency papers right away, but I wouldn’t have to come down right off, they’d be ready for me when I came down. In other words, that’s all bunk too?”

My response… I would NOT start this process from abroad… just wait until YOU ARE IN ECUADOR to begin the residency process… AND DONT use a lawyer who will likely overcharge you and then not do the work! It is really NOT necessary to use a lawyer for visas in Ecuador. This is something you can do yourself if you speak Spanish or to save a bit of hassle you could hire a facilitator (like me when I have free time :)), for instance, I charge $350 and within one month you can get both your residency visa and cedula. That’s about the going rate. Lawyers usually charge double or triple that and often take MUCH longer to complete the job.

- Question: “I just received my 12-1x visa yesterday and am going back the states next thursday. What effect does my leaving have on my visa. Do I save days on the 180 for time spent away?”

My Response… I’ve seen people leave Ecuador with time left on a visa and when they come back they are given ONLY the remaining time until the visa expires. For a different scenario, as for the free 3 month stamp upon entry, for example, if you come to Ecuador for 2 months, leave for a month, and come back they probably will stamp your passport upon entry allowing only a 1 month stay because in a year you are only allowed to be in Ecuador for 3 months on the free tourist stamp. It works similar for visas like in your case.

- Question: “Can you explain the requirements once a residence visa has been obtained? Must a permanent resident reside in Ecuador full time or is part time sufficient?”

My Response… technically, they say officially that you need to be in the country for at least 9 months a year your first two years, but unofficially I know several people who have spent less time in Ecuador with no problems. The only time I foresee a problem is if you plan to apply for Ecuador dual citizenship as allowed after 2-3 years of residency.

- Question: “How long is the residency visa or cedula valid?”

My Response… Residency visas in Ecuador are “Indefinite” meaning you never have to renew them as long as you meet the requirements of which you used to get your visa.

- Question: “I can’t move to Ecuador yet do to my job, but should I get the residency visa now?”

My Response… you can be in Ecuador up to 6 months a year on tourist visas, so just do that if you don’t plan on living here… why go through the hassle and expense if you aren’t even going to live here, for now. If you don’t move here now, chances are you never will… that’s just how life is, am I wrong?

- Question: “Dom, I’m already in Ecuador, but I forgot the aforementioned documents, can I still apply for the residency visa?”

My Response… no! You will need these documents before applying but you CAN send away for them from Ecuador if you have a good friend in your home country who can gather these documents for you and DHL them to you… I just did this this week for someone and from the US to Ecuador DHL delivered in 2 days!

- Question: “Dom, how long does it take to get the residency visa and cedula once submitting the application?”

My Response… 3 weeks to one month. If it takes longer there may be a problem or you may have selected the person to help you get your visa and cedula poorly.

- Question: “Dom, oops, I overstayed my visa in Ecuador, is there a fine or sanctions I will be subject to?”

My Response… As of 2012, there is no more fine for overstaying your visa although corrupt immigration officials may still try to charge you it… I’ve seen it happen, just a few weeks ago!…You can however hold firm and they likely won’t insist. There is however restrictions on when you can come back into the country unless you get approved for a visa before coming back to Ecuador. Always best to stay legal.

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

2012 Changes to Ecuador Residency Requirements

2012 ecuador residency changes

One big reason to move to Ecuador is the ease with which you can become a LEGAL resident.

Trust me, it stinks to have to make border runs every month or two like expats in Thailand, or overstay your visa illegally.

This year, in 2012, I’ve started helping new expats in Ecuador get residency visas or tourist visa extensions while they stay in my B&B in Guayaquil.

And through this work, I’ve witnessed a few changes to the requirements over the course of 2012.

Here they are as I write this on November 23, 2012…

1. A few months ago they abolished the rule that you had to submit your application for residency visas or extensions with at least 30 days remaining before your current visa expires. Now, as long as you get it in while still on a valid visa in Ecuador you’re OK.

2. Around August they started requiring foreigners bring a birth certificate (apostilled or certified in an Ecuadorian embassy abroad) from their home country in order to get the “cedula” or your official Ecuadorian ID card.

3. Over the course of the last year Ecuador has opened immigration offices in both Manta and Cuenca where you can apply for residency visas but in Manta you still cant attain your Ecuadorian “Cedula”.

4. Last week while helping someone get their cedula, I learned of a brand new rule on the books (directly from the Cedula Officials) that foreigners getting first time cedulas need to get proof of their civil state, meaning if they are single, they need to go to their Secretary of State and get a document verifying they are in fact “single” in their home country, or bring an apostilled or Ecuadorian-Embassy-Certified marriage certificate. Before, if you were single just doing a quick sworn statement in a local notary would do. As of now, they still might accept the sworn statement because new laws usually take a while to begin to get enforced.

What hasn’t changed?

Thankfully, for several years now the main qualifications needed for a residency visa have not changed… as of yet. You still qualify for residency in Ecuador if you have a pension over $800 a month (or $900/mon if you’d like to bring a spouse), or an investment in the country legally valued over $25,000.

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

Part 3 Ecuador Photo Diary Series: Montanita

Welcome to part 3 of my on going Ecuador photo diary series…enjoy, post comments at the bottom…Dom

locals hanging out in Montanita Ecuador

locals hanging out in Montanita Ecuador

montanita restaurant cabana

a popular restaurant near the beach in Montanita

montanita clubs

the clubs and nightlife is world class in Montanita

montanita ecuador beach surf

the montanita beach and surf on an overcast day

montanita ecuador deep sea fishing

did you know you can deep sea fish near montanita, write me for more details...

montanita ecuador spanish school

Montanita...I love you too...

montanita real estate

you can still find land lots like this for sale in Montanita

montanita cabana hostel

a montanita cabana style hostel



HOUSE FOR RENT NEAR MONTANITA

One price for WHOLE HOUSE, fit as many as you wish!…

3 bedroom with one queen bed each, 2 full bathrooms, fully furnished kitchen with dining table and mini-refrigerator, patio with hammocks overlooking the ocean, dining area…

montanita home rentals

Furnished kitchen with plates, fridge, refrigerator and gas stove.

Pets OK, garden, yard, parking area.

$30 per day, $180 per week, $380 per month (including internet).

$100 security deposit, can rent for days, weeks or months.

After reservation you will be emailed the key pick up tips.

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manglaralto beach

The nearby beach, just south of Montanita.

 

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Posted in Ecuador Q&A

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Please fill in your desired hat size… 58 is for small heads… 60-61 average size and 62 is for larger heads.

FOR WOMEN ONLY… please specify your hat color preference, ONLY WINE RED, WHITE and LIGHT BROWN AVAILABLE CURRENTLY FOR WOMENS HATS…

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Q&A

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