Archive | Investor News/Analysis

1 Cell Phone-Related Biz-Opp In Ecuador

“I’m starting to think this is hopeless.” I thought as I visited the fifth store dedicated to selling cell phone protective cases in Quito (Ecuador’s capitol city).

You see, in Ecuador, just like the cars on the road, due to the import restrictions there is a very limited variety of cell phones available locally.

And the cell phone case stores cater to only the most popular brands and models of phones in Ecuador.

Yet, there are many people like me who brought their phone from somewhere else. And my poor-little Motorola smart phone is not a common make and model here.

And it’s da-n near impossible to find a case for it.

But I’m not the only one, there are A LOT of people who bring a phone to Ecuador.

Good luck finding a case for it!

Searching online I had slightly better luck, but the one store I found across country said they were sold out of my case, but could order it and it would be here in a month!

I can only imagine what it’s like in the smaller towns of Ecuador to find a case for their phone.

I think this is an opportunity for someone.

You don’t even need a store front. Selling online in Ecuador would be enough.

This is one example of an under-filled niche in Ecuador. There are many similar ones.

I’d focus on what you know…

Why do I share this idea?

Because I already have a business at the current time and I need a case for my phone before I break it!

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Investor News/Analysis

The Wrong Way To Close A Sale In Ecuador

“You did what?” I asked surprised at my new American friend who told me he just agreed to sell his car to an Ecuadorian girl.

He’s turning down dozens of people calling on his car every day (a car in high demand in Ecuador) because he already agreed with a handshake to sell and was planning on meeting her in a few days. No money exchanged.

“Naw! Man.” I responded.

Maybe that’s how you do business in North America, but that doesn’t work down here.

The first person to pay you in full for the car, get’s the car, that simple. Don’t be holding it for people!

Down here, if there isn’t at least a deposit paid, you got nothing, man!

Words are just hot air.

Handshakes are worse.

Checks are the equivalent of toilet paper, (seriously!) at least, when you don’t know the buyer in a deal like this one.

Particularly, when selling something in high demand down here like a car, if someone asks if they can pay in installments or whatever, tell ’em to f— off, you’re not a bank.

Cash in hand or deposited in bank account… then goods released.

That’s how you do business down here.

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

Roof install costs on the coast of Ecuador- Ecuador house build weeks 5-10

Hi {!firstname_fix},

And on goes the roof!

I wanted to do a house in the typical Spanish style with the red clay shingles.  Plus, I wanted to do a lighter-weight roof with “flex” which would be better for earthquakes than the typical cement roof (losa) common in Ecuador.

Also, I thought it would be nice in the case of a big quake the thought of gypsum and shingles above me appeals to me much more than blocks of concrete.

Plus, i decided to do a four-sided sloping roof with multi-colored clay shingles in a typical-Japanese style.  Rare in Ecuador.

But first came the metal frame…

Labor cost for installation of metal framework for roof (3 days)= $500

anti-corrosive paint $82.50
metal beams for roof $1326
tape $9

Then came the plywood on which goes the shingles are held in place by a little bit of cement.  The costs highlighted below are for the roof, the roof installation cost $580 and took about 2 weeks.

Then came the shingles…

In Ecuador to lay roof shingles costs around $3.50 per m2.  When installing make sure there is a decent slope or you will have big leak problems later!  Trust me, I know from a different property!

Total roof install= 2 weeks.

The total spent on the roof for a three bedroom two bath house was $3,788.09.  

See full costs below of weeks 5-10 of build project…

28.73 chimney
1239.41 plywood for roof
18.84 screws for roof

11.45 electric tubes
6 telephone
7.50 screws for roof
248.86 ceramics for balcony $7.60 per m2
9.22 latex paint
97.30 cable
15.73 bondex roof
11.28 disc for electric saw
8.00 grapa metalica
1492.90 shingles roof (165m2) for 145m2 house
3.00 electric outlet
3.00 gyprocks misc.
1.20 placa plastica
11.54 fachaleta
$580 manual labor for roof. $3 per m2
219.15 More shingles
$7.75 sack of cement 
940 maestro Jimmy for foundation work (out of $9500)
150 metal door and install for water tank
3.00 teflon
13.20 tubes (codo)
17 breaker
81.95 tank for water
73.18 supplies for tank
62.18 cement
210 gas
1810 of 2260 Gypsum drop off installation included materials. $15 per m2
$4.75 cable
17.50 screws for gypsum
160 last payment for electritian
17.65 outlet
30 transport for tiles
1598.25 porcelen for bedrooms at $15.98 per m2 (100m2)
1175.25 porcelen for bathrooms
1200 last payment maestro for laying foundation (out of $9500)
79.11 ceramic tiles
3.25 brush
13.50 screws
23 telephone calls
8.35 tubes varios
31.40 siicone
$103 bondex for roof
$105.69 electric cable
14.58 roof supplies
140 payment electritian
10.79 polimex
40 uplift metal framing for roof
63 stucco for walls
298.58 bondex for flooringWEEKS 5-10- TOTAL SPENT INCLUDING ROOF for 190m2 HOUSE:  $12,207.


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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Investor News/Analysis

3 things to consider before you lie on your property deed in Ecuador

This past week in this newsletter we touched on the reality of Ecuador property in that the municipally appraised values often are MUCH less than the real commercial values the property sells at.

I just want to inform on the reality of the situation, the choice is yours to put the real price you paid on the deed or just the minimum needed or the municipally appraised value.

But there are three things to consider when making the choice…

1. Do you need this property to get an investors residency visa in Ecuador?

If so then you MUST put at least $25,000 value on the property plus $500 for each dependent.  Still valid in 2016.

2. How long do you plan on keeping the property?

Putting the lower amount can help minimize notary and municipal fees now at time of purchase and your yearly property taxes (predios), but keep in mind the next buyer might not want to put the lower amount meaning you’d get nailed with a hefty capital gains tax bill!  So if you plan to keep the property for the long term this may not be an issue.

3. Is there any chance this property could be expropriated by the government?  Like to widen a road (I’ve seen many times in Ecuador), or build a bridge, park, etc…

If so, keep in mind the government only pays according to the low-ball MUNICIPAL APPRAISED VALUE of the property but if you have the higher real value on the property you could make a good case that the property is actually worth that and get all or part of that higher value.
Now, the choice is yours!


Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Investor News/Analysis

Up goes the walls, costs and more: Ecuador building project week 2-3

Now with the floor and columns up time for the walls…

After building with blocks on this house, next time, I’m going to use bricks, why?

Although the labor time is much more, the walls won’t crack, are more solid and after all you may use less cement cause you don’t have to plaster over the walls when finished.

We used 15 cm wide blocks for walls and filled with cement for noise protection.

For a 190 square meter house that we are building on the coast of Ecuador.  We needed 2100 cement blocks at 38 cents each.   TOTAL price $798.

Cheaper than bricks, you bet, and much faster to build!

Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Investor News/Analysis

Why Ecuadorians lie about how much they paid for their property on their deed

3 things you got to know before you buy property in Ecuador…

1. Municipal’s official property appraised values in most cases are WAY out of wack, or under the actual market value.  It’s common to see properties selling in the six figures while municipally valued at $5,000 USD or less.

2. The buyer of a property can put the real price she paid for the property on the deed but must put at least the official Municipal appraised value.

3. Ecuadorians HATE paying taxes, even more then we North Americans do, because I suppose we are more used to it.

Put these three facts together and most who buy property in Ecuador don’t put the actual amount they paid on the deeds but the minimum amount they must put which is the Municipally appraised value.

The reason for this is because it greatly lessens your tax burden, both for your transfer fees at time of purchase and also your annual tax payments (predios) due to the Municipal each year of ownership.

Here is a real life 2016 example of a property I am looking to buy and how putting the actual amount the owner is asking on the deed effects the transfer and notary fees you will have to pay at purchase plus the annual property taxes vs just putting the Municipally appraised amount.

Figures were attained directly from a notary in Ecuador.  

Actual asking price of property: $77,000

$355 Notary fees
$760 Alcabalas (Municipal transfer fees)
$228 Junta de beneficencia (Municipal transfer fees)
$4000 capital gains tax or plusvalia (the seller pays)

Annual property tax payment if based on actual purchase price (predios): $190

Current Municipal appraisal of same property(and the current value on the deed): $37,745 

$237 Notary fees
$377 Alcabalas
$120 Junta de beneficencia
$0 capital gains tax or plusvalia (the seller pays)

Annual property tax(predios) currently being paid based on current appraised value: $71

Conclusion:  Buyer could save over $600 in notary and transfer fees/taxes at time of purchase by just putting the Municipally appraised value.  Could also save over $100 a year in the annual property tax due.  The seller would save greatly in the capital gains tax (maybe something the buyer could ask for concessions on from the seller for saving them so much in tax by not upping deed to actual value).

Possible consequences:  Nothing I know of, everyone does it in Ecuador except when there is a bank loan involved in which case the bank does NOT take the Municipal appraisal but will send a guy to do their own for a more accurate figure on which they will base their loan amount to you.

The choice is yours.

Hasta pronto,

Dom Buonamici
Quito Airport Suites
Guayaquil Airport Suites Mall del Sol
Puerto Cayo Real Estate

Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Investor News/Analysis

Driving from the Ecuador highlands to the coast through the backdoor in HALF the time (just 3 hours)

Many of us expats (myself included) in Ecuador prefer to live in the Andes Mountain region due to the mild, cool climate (and lack of mosquitos) in the center of the country and then invest in a second home or take vacations to the coast.

By Andes region I mean the area starting in Tulcan in the north, then going down through Ibarra, Otavalo, Quito, Ambato, Riobamba, Cuenca, Loja and then on to Peru.

But most who’ve driven it knows it takes 6-8 hours easy to get from Quito to the closest points on the coast.  From Cuenca, it’s a good 3 and a half hours to Guayaquil, then another 2 hours to the closest beach.

Most don’t know there’s a back way to the coast…

In fact, you can get from Ibarra in the mountains north of Quito to the north coast in just 3 hours!

And the road is well paved, scenic and EMPTY too.  It connects Ibarra to Lita, then on to San Lorenzo on the northern most tip of the Ecuador coast.  From there you turn south and within about 45 minutes you are in Las Penas and the other beaches north of Esmeraldas.

When I took this road (route 10) recently I didn’t see a single truck and very few other cars during the whole 3 hours I was on it.

Great for anyone that wants to try the road less traveled by or for someone who wants to live in the Mountains in someplace like Ibarra, yet be close to the coast!


Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Investor News/Analysis

Evictions In Ecuador: How They Work, And What To Do When It Happens To Your Property


“I can’t believe it’s come to this.” I said to my friend as I slid the ski mask over my face a few days ago.

“Got the switch-blade?” he asked.

“Yes.” I responded.

“Got the baseball bat?” He asked.

“Come on man, its Ecuador, ain’t no baseball bats here.” I continued.

“Ok, then got some stick you can use as weapon if needed?” He mumbled.

“Yes”. I replied as I slid it under my belt hiding it from sight.

“OK, lets go.” we both agreed as we walked towards the building, nodded at the security guy we’ve seen a million times and into the elevator we went.

I hoped this wasn’t going to get ugly, I thought, as we went up the elevator about to confront a tenant that did not want to pay the rent nor un-occupy the property.

Then I woke up.

My friend nudged me awake, I was daydreaming, waiting in the lobby of my condo building waiting for the tenant who didn’t want to pay to leave.

He wasn’t leaving.  And I was angry.  Maybe it was the Italian in me, I don’t like it when people steal or try to cheat me.

First time this happened to me or one of my properties in Ecuador.

So what could I or you do in this situation?

I know the laws favor greatly tenants over owners here.  So I was worried.

For that, I talked to a notary/lawyer friend of mine in Guayaquil who prefers to remain nameless.

Here’s what she said:

The legal term for eviction is “desahucio” in Ecuador.  First, you have to go to a notary with your signed rental contract (does NOT have to be notarized) and ask for a document called a “desahucio” which you then have to serve the tenant.

They then have 90 days (3 months) to leave the premise by Ecuador law before you can come with the police and kick them out.  In the meantime, you will have to go to a rental-claims-court (juzgado de inquilinato) and file the claim.

What if you don’t have a rental contract like in my case because the rent was going to be short-term (1 month)?

You can make a declaration of ownership of the property and verbal contract (declaracion de un contrato verbal) with a notary to continue the procedure.

Then, I suggested another solution.  Quicker.  They’re not paying for services so can I just cut their services: water, electric, Internet?

She said yes, just do it.

And after one more warning (and one more night) I did just that with the building staff, first cutting the water, the electric then the Internet to the suite.

And sure enough, within 1 more day after that they were out of there on their own terms.  The whole ordeal of them being in there and us trying to charge them and them not wanting to pay (or leave) lasted about 6 stressful days.

I only let these guys in in the first place based on a recommendation from a friend (that i’m also not going to listen to anymore).

But to avoid situations like this with my short-term vacation rental business in Guayaquil, I have to stick to my rules of no walk-ups, and Internet pre-paid bookings only which I think will help prevent situations like this greatly.

And for rentals of longer terms, be sure you get that contract signed from day one for your property and screen your tenants carefully!


Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Investor News/Analysis

Common setbacks when getting electricity to your home in Ecuador: PART 4 Ecuador coast home build

This week, before the heavy construction begins, we had to bring electricity to our lot from nearby.
First, you may have to install your own transformer.

Just make sure it is at least 5 KW for every house you plan to connect to it.  And make sure the person who installs it is licensed or you could have a problem with the Municipal later!

In my case the whole installation including 3 posts to get the electricity to my lot cost about $3000.

When installing electricity in your home make sure the breaker box is hidden, Ecuadorians will often but the box right in the middle of their living room!  Ouch.

Make sure the light switches are just 100-110 cm off the ground so kids can reach them, often in Ecuador if not told the workers will install the sockets too high.

Also, make sure the voltage is 110 for normal sockets and 220 for the oven and AC installations.

Often electricians in Ecuador plan to make most their money on the cables they steal from you!  So be very careful with this!

Additionally, most electricians in Ecuador charge per point, or per socket installation.  We paid $8-12 per point (or socket).

Often electricians will tell you you need more expensive cable than you really do so they can steal it, careful!

For sockets 12 cable will suffice, for AC or oven 10 cable is ideal.

Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Investor News/Analysis

How to get hotel-type-dollars for your rental in Ecuador- Property Management Opp

“No, I don’t do rentals.” 

That’s a phrase I hear a lot when talking to real estate agents in Ecuador.  Particularly foreigners who are working in Ecuador as real estate agents.  

But I think they’re missing the boat.  

Especially now in 2016 as many locals and expats are opting for renting over buying.  

Maybe it’s distrust in the local government, or the strong dollar, or earthquake worries.  Everyone has their reasons for deciding to rent. 

I started my property management business in Guayaquil a bit over 6 months ago and it’s been going great.  

And I think it’s a BIG opportunity for other foreigners all over Ecuador. 

Ecuador (especially on the coast) just doesn’t have many good, professional property management options.

Many people just lock up their house or condo and leave (which you shouldn’t do in Ecuador due to the risk of break ins of obviously vacant properties).  

Plus, a lot of foreigners are only here part-time and need someone honest to pay the utility bills, property taxes and maintain the general up-keep of the property while their gone.  

And most importantly, show the house, charge the clients and be the liaison for the tenants when problems arise. 

How I do this business in Guayaquil (although I live in Quito) is pretty simple, and similar to what I’ve seen others doing in other parts of Ecuador. 

Here’s what I’ve done:

You can start with not even buying a property, like I did.  Just rent long-term.  

Less risk.  

And then sublease for shorter-terms.  

Be sure the owner knows what you’re doing at the beginning and is Ok with it. 

Find one unit to begin and expand as needed.  

Find a unit in a great location for your ideal client (tourists, expats, etc.), with a 24 hour guard/receptionist and preferably in a building or community that offers the same amenities of a hotel (like a swimming pool, gym, etc.)

Find a location with a bunch of eating options around and your guests won’t even care if you don’t offer a restaurant or breakfasts.

You can still beat the hotels in the area, especially for longer stays (weeks to a few months), because your unit has a kitchen, living room and generally more space and privacy than a hotel can offer.  Plus, hotels charge per person and restrict guests in the rooms which you won’t.  

Having your units in buildings with 24 hour staff means you don’t need to hire ANY employees!  I just have one young, nice bilingual guy who I pay to fix problems as they arise and coordinate cleanings between guests which I pay per job as needed getting a “factura” or official receipt making the work contract-work only.

If things keep expanding I may hire him full-time in the near future meaning I’d have one employee. 
We leave the key with the guests name on it at the reception and the guest is instructed to request it at check in.

Promote and charge 100% online with prepaid bookings only.  Because you or none of your direct salaried employees will be there to charge when guest arrives.  

You can also charge a security deposit in advance online with a service like PayPal which you can refund later with a click.  

As you expand you can begin to manage other properties in the area for other owners for a percentage of the rent.  In my experience, once you’re in the game, they’ll start approaching you!

For instance, in Cuenca and Salinas, two Ecuador expat hot-spots where I see a lot of opportunity for this type of business.  You could rent nice, furnished places where tourists want to be in the $3-400 range long-term and turn around and sublease for shorter stays in the $50 a night range.  

You’d have to cover the utility bills but in Ecuador that’s not much, so you could net around $1000 a month from one unit.  If you keep it full, which I’ve found do-able.  

One thing is for sure, managing rentals is MUCH EASIER than managing a hotel or B&B which requires 24 hour employees (or handcuffing yourself to the site)!

To promote is a great start, but it’s fascinating to me how different it is promoting essentially a vacation rental compared to my 19-room hotel(b&B).  To learn more about that fill in the blanks below…

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Investor News/Analysis

The exit tax advantage foreigners have when buying property in Ecuador

Just like with any Economic decision, there are winners and losers, positives and negatives.

Recently, I used the ever-heightening exit tax (now at 5%) the Ecuador government has put on any money (and now cash) you wish to take out of Ecuador to my advantage in a property deal in Guayaquil.

A friend of mine was about to buy a property and had already agreed on the purchase price after a tough negotiation with a wealthy Ecuadorian owner.

But I had an idea.

As I know wealthy Ecuadorians pretty well and what makes them tick (I partnered with one in my first biz in Ecuador).

-I know almost all of them take one or two “shopping” trips a year to the USA.

-I know they almost all have bank accounts in the USA.

-That they HATE paying taxes and are generally cheap. While in my experience, the poor and middle classes are actually very spendy and don’t save a dime.

-Have almost “zero” liquidity. All the money is usually tied up in businesses, inventory or property.

-And are fearful of the current regime in Ecuador and trying to get some of their assets out of Ecuador.

Keeping all that in mind I told my friend to ask for a 3% discount and extra concessions on the already discounted, agreed-upon price if the payment was made to a USA account instead of brought to Ecuador.

The Ecuadorian owner knew it would cost him 5% to take the money out of Ecuador, so he gladly agreed.

For my friend, an American buyer, it was the same for him to pay from his US account to an Ecuadorian one or an American one (no tax on bringing money to Ecuador, just the wire fee of like $45).

So there you have it, one way to use the new exit tax to your advantage in Ecuador getting an extra discount on a property purchase.

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

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Investor News/Analysis

Is Ecuador the next Venezuela?

I’ve been in a few communal showers, but thankfully never in a prison one.

And so I’ve heard, dropping the soap is “how it starts”.

Similar to that… Ecuador is currently on a predictable path to become another Venezuela.

I for one hope it doesn’t happen, Ecuador now is certainly NOT Venezuela, still very capitalistic, but it’s just history, man.

Like when a country elects a fiery, entertaining ruler who instigates racial prejudices and violence, we know what happens.

Yea, or do we?

Like for the president to kick out the congress, install his own people, intimidate the press, eliminate term limits, install capital controls. On and on it goes until one day you think.. “oh sh*t!”

Like one Venezuelan client of mine said, “Yea, the marches, that’s how it starts, but it doesn’t do a da** thing.”

This week the president just followed the next step in his plan to convert Ecuador into another Venezuela, or Cuba…

Right now, on any amount you try to transfer out of Ecuador over about $1,000, you have to pay a 5% exit tax on the whole amount. And the max you can take out of Ecuador in cash is $10,000 tax free.

Well, the new proposal by the president wants to lower the max on the tax-free cash limit to $1,000. Effectively putting a nice cap on ALL THE MONEY in Ecuador.

Want to take it out? Going to pay that 5% tax.

Among other proposals lost in the wash are what Venezuela already has in place, like putting limits on how much Ecuadorians can spend abroad on their credit cards, etc.

My take, I’ve always been one to say you should never put more than 10% of your total portfolio in Ecuador. Ecuador’s a nice diversification, but that’s it.

Especially now, any money you put in Ecuador better be able to generate you over well over 5% return a year or its simply not worth it.

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

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

The 3 Most Visited Beaches In Ecuador

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Real-life earthquake experiences from around Ecuador

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

They’re wrong.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are actual experiences from around Ecuador:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hasta pronto,

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

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Updates on road closings, openings in Ecuador due to earthquake

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

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

The lights flickered, then came back on.  

And that was it.  

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

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

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

Here’s an update on the road situation nationwide:

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

The road Chillanes-Bucay is still closed.  

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

The outlet road connecting El Matal to Jama is closed.

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

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

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

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

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3 Things NOT To Bring To Ecuador For Resale

Posted on 15 March 2016 .

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

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

At least I paid for my plane ticket.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now its your turn!

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

Posted on 07 March 2016 .

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

Obviously, I’m not going that route.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted on 22 February 2016 .

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

Start to finish. Turnkey.

And they overpay, usually in the six figures.


Hire just for the “grey job” first.

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

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

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

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

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

Posted on 15 February 2016 .

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

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

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

I see this a lot.

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

And selling their stuff at a deep discount.

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

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

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

So how do you hear about the expat fire sales?

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

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

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

Must sell quick!

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

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

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pH setback with land in Ecuador

Posted on 22 January 2016 .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They produce every three months and I already have a buyer in Quito lined up.  Please refer to this link for the specific production expectancies,  .  

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