Archive | Ecuador for Investors

Where’s best to go bird-watching in Ecuador?

birdwatching in Ecuador
A Pelican hanging out off a peir in the Galapagos.

By far the best place to bird watch is in the Galapagos where on a single day you can see the world’s smallest penguin, frigates, blue-footed boobies, finches and more.

Next would be the cloud forests of Mindo where you can see hundreds of different types of birds like the Andean cock-of-the-rock.

Next up would be the Zamora Amazonian area where with luck you can spot a Toucan or go visit the cave where there is a type of bird that ONLY exists in that one cave… Tayos.

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Travel Guides

Done deal. Bought the beachfront lot. Now what?: Part 7 Ecuador Property Search Series

Puerto Lopez Ecuador


This is part 7 of the not-so-commonly-seen look into a real, live Ecuador real estate transaction (of my own with my own money) as I reveal all the dirt as it happens in this rare, completely transparent property play.

OK, so today I came to agreement with the seller to buy his 475 m2 (5112 ft2) beachfront lot near Salinas, Ecuador with title issues for $4300.

What’s my plan?

The plan is to buy—> legalize the title issues—> and resell.

Hopefully all within 1-3 months.

That’s it.

Nothing fancy about it.

I know I’m taking a risk here. I may lose everything I’ve invested.

But the potential reward is really good, based on my experience, the lot, when legalized with clear title, is currently selling for at least 2-3 times what I’m paying for it.

Once when I was 20 I bought a car in San Diego for $350 with title issues.

I didn’t know what I was doing and new to the state.

No problems until I went to register the car.

And I found out I couldn’t register it unless I paid an unpaid tax lein that was worth more than the car itself.

So what did I do?

I tried to sell it to an ex-girlfriend.

But then the cops pulled her over and i felt bad and gave her her money back, then I junked the car, it was essentially non-transferable, no one would buy it with the lein it had against it worth almost double the car (it hummed like a helicopter).

A loss.

This time I did my homework, went to the Registry office beforehand and followed up with numerous “experts” I know down here and have concurred that in fact the title issues of this property as mentioned in the previous posts can in fact be cleared in a timely fashion.

Besides, I must get it right cause my ex-girlfriends in Ecuador probably can’t afford it.

Haha, just joking.

We’ll see.

So what price should I put on it?

Anyway, stay tuned, we’ll see how it goes.

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

Whats the Ecuadorian Lifestyle like?

ecuador lifestyle

Good question.

It depends a little where you are.

On the coast the people are laid back and definitely have the “manaña” mindset.

There’s always tomorrow.

People definitely “work to live” instead of our “live to work” lifestyle.

Ecuadorians in general aren’t quite as ambitious as we are brought up to be, and generally more distrustful (maybe with reason).

Women still look for men to support them and are happy to get married and stay in the kitchen… so to speak.

Girls from less affluent backgrounds have kids VERY young.

Ecuadorians are very family-oriented and Sundays are generally set aside for relaxing and hanging with family.

The work week is from 9-6 with a one or even 2 hr lunch.

Marriage is also expected at younger ages and folks in their 30s un-wed is an odd sight.

Interesting place to say the least!

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Q&A

Bargaining the Deal Ecuadorian-Style. Part 6 Ecuador Property Search Series

Negotiating in Ecuador

$6000?

“Whew, that’s steep man.” I said as we sat down to negotiate the 475m2 (5112 ft2) beachfront lot I found for sale in Ecuador this week.

“Look, I’ve got another opportunity available, whats the minimum you’d accept?” (Mire, tengo otra opcion, digame cual es lo ultimo?) I asked.

“OK, OK, $5000, but that’s if you pay in cash.” The seller rebuttled.

“Well, I would pay that, but the lot has title issues, and I’m going to have to pay extra to fix that, and there’s a certain risk I’m taking on in that the title issues may not even be correctable, so because of that, I’ll pay maximum $4000.” I responded using the title problems as a bargaining chip.

And the bargaining went on…

Here’s 8 tips I have when bargaining with Ecuadorians.

8. Ecuadorians almost always will be willing to round off asking prices. For instance, if they’re asking $28k, they’ll almost always accept at least $25k, but don’t let that be your first offer. In my case, the seller was asking $6k so I knew he’d at least accept $5k.

7. A “no” is never a “hard no” in Ecuador, it just means “no right now”. Be slow, keep calling and be persistent, once they get a comfort level with you they might start lowering the price when initially they didn’t want to.

6. Learn a few key common very Ecuadorian phrases like “Cual es lo ultimo?” (Whats your lowest price?) and “Mira, tengo el efectivo, uno tras otro.” (I’ve got cash and I’ll lay down the bills, one after the other.) “Es mucho.” (That’s too much.)

5. Don’t be afraid to throw out a ridiculously low bid, at maybe half the asking price, they may not say yes but they won’t get offended and it gives you a good starting point for negotiating.

4. Be patient and don’t be afraid to throw a number out there and let it marinate while the seller thinks about it, they just may come around with time.

3. Caution, they may try to change the end asking price or terms on you after they’ve already been settled on if they feel they are selling to cheap. And generally, the spoken word isn’t a binder in Ecuador so once you got a deal it’s best to work fast before they have sellers remorse.

2. Don’t show money. You don’t have to, they’ll take you serious even though you’re dressed like a dirty bum simply because you are a foreigner. If you show money they may be more reluctant to bargain price.

1. Stay out of the picture as long as possible. As I did early on in this post series, try to have a local friend talk for you at least until you get an asking price to be sure you’re getting quoted a price a local would offer to another local, then you can come into the picture.

We’ll see what happens from here, stay tuned!

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

The 2012 Ecuador Population: Facts and Figures

ecuador population

Ecuador has 49 people per square kilometer, but 60% of the population lives in the urban centers of Quito and Guayaquil.

25% of the population is indigenous.

65% is mestizo or of mixed indigenous and European descent.

3% is afro-ecuadorean.

6% pure European descent.

14,666,055 total population (according to the world bank.)

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

5 Day Itinerary to South Ecuador: Off the Beaten Path!

Zamora Ecuador
Zamora Ecuador

Most tourists dont even consider this part of Ecuador, but you know, for me, its actually my favorite part of the whole country!

In 5 days you can visit most of the highlights.

Start off by flying into Guayaquil, stay the night at my place if you arrive late and continue to Machala the next morning.

In Machala you can tour banana or Cocoa plantations and also visit a Hummingbird Sanctuary.

From there continue to Zaruma, a colonial town build into a mountain which was a gold mine back in the day. Here you can also go on a gold mine tour.

After sleeping in Zaruma head up to Loja where youll want to try local delicacies like the Tamal Lojano and Tigrillo.

After visiting Loja by day head to Vilcabamba and sleep there.

Few places in the world are as quiet as Vilcabamba. Relax while you enjoy literally perfect not too hot not too cold weather and eat dishes like Filet Mignon for around $6.

After Vilcabamba head to Zamora, a small town tucked in the Amazon with loads of Orchids growing out of everything, and the National Park Podocarpus a stones throw away. This area also is known for the origin of the shrunken heads that Hollywood made famous.

Head by bus up through the jungle to Gualaquiza, where youll probably be the only foreigner around, just like in Zamora.

From there you can catch transport back to Cuenca where you can stroll the beautiful old town and converse with fellow expats and from there head the 3 hrs down the mountains back to Guayaquil.

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Posted in Ecuador Travel Guides

Cheap Communal Land, Buy or Bust?: 5. Ecuador Property Search Series

buy comuna land in Ecuador

Jeeze, why can’t this ever be easy? I thought earlier today.

I was checking out the cheap beachfront house I told you about in the last update of this series where I walk you through every step of a real, live property deal I’m currently making in Ecuador, you’ll come with me as we go from start to finish or from the buy all the way to the re-sell.

I was a little down cause the house I told you about 2 days ago, and the one I was looking at was “technically” beachfront, but not really, it was kind of far away from the beach although the land separating the house from the ocean was un-buildable do to an estuary or bay area just to the side of the house.

It kind of looked like the house, along with the ones next to it were in a flood plain that may have problems sooner or later.

But the house itself was pretty nice for the low price and you could see the ocean from the front windows.

But I still decided against it.

It doesn’t matter how cheap something is if you’re going to have a tough time finding someone else to buy it.

But I kind of liked the area near Salinas.

So after the sellers of the $21k house left, as I walked out sure enough I found another lot for sale on higher ground, right in front of the ocean I did like.

I called and met with the owner and he said the lot, a beautiful, flat 475 m2 (5112 ft2) lot right on the ocean… beachfront… beachfront… with no busy street in between it and the ocean while also protected by an elevated pitch, was for sale for $6k.

Why so cheap?

Because that’s where it got tricky.

It was “Comuna” land.

And all he had was a “Right of Possession” (Derecho de Posesion).

Remember those 3 key papers I told you to ask any property owner and check out before buying? The Escritura, Predios and Certificado del Registro.

Yea, he didn’t have any of that.

Let me explain. If this sounds complicated its because it is!

“Comuna” or “Communal” land in Ecuador is common on the coast of Ecuador, especially in the small towns, and its when there are lots that have not been registered in the Municipality that are instead “owned and administred” by the local Comunas which serve like Town Councils and to me are quite socialistic.

While Ecuador is divided into Provinces and each province into “Cantones” where each “Canton” has there own Municipal. Within each Canton in the more rural areas you may have several dozen local Comunas.

Comunas will often gift the land to members of the local Comuna but they can’t give out Titles (Escrituras) while instead they give something called an indefinite “Derecho de Posesion” (Right of Possession).

You probably can own for a long time without problems but remember, you are still not regarded as the legal free hold title owner of the land with only a right of possession.

And for a quick buy-resell it definitely wouldn’t work.

I researched this thoroughly 2 years back on a visit to Ecuador I considered buying a lot right in the center of Montanita which only had a right of possession from the local Comuna.

Some will tell you that you can’t legally attain the Title (Escritura) nor sell Comuna land.

They’re wrong.

I know several people who have, in Montanita. But it can be a difficult, costly (and lengthy!) process to legalize the property and attain proper Free-Hold-Title (Escritura) as recognized by the banks and everyone else in Ecuador.

You’ll need a document from the Comuna releasing the property to the Municipality which sometimes the more troublesome Comunas (like the one in Montanita) isn’t always willing to give.

Because once you have a free hold Title (A Municipal-registered Escritura) its yours and not theirs. While its still theres whenever there is a change in ownership you must do it through them having the Comuna board of directors sign off on the sale and they charge a hefty fee (usually around 20-30% of the purchase price) but few buyers tell them the honest amount they paid.

I, like most foreigners and locals in Ecuador, will advise you to only buy property that has proper title (Escritura) as described in my last email.

But as one local told me once, sometimes the price is low enough that you might want to risk it.

What’s the worst that could happen?

Easy, the Comuna could make some excuse to take the property back from you. But its not common.

What will I do?

You’ll find out soon in the next email of this series.

Stay tuned.

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

Discover Ecuador: My Top 5 Day Itinerary

ecuador 5 day itinerary

If you only had 5 days in this little, but diverse country, Id recommend flying into Quito.

Once in Quito see the colonial old town, the best in Ecuador, then go up the teleferico (cable car) which has some spectacular views and a nice hiking trail.

Then be sure to go out partying in EL MARISCAL nightlife district, the TOP place to party, see and be seen in Ecuador.

After 2 days and 2 nights in Quito head south to Latacunga where you can see Quilotoa and Cotopaxi Volcano. Amazing area. 1 Day Bike tours are available from Quito.

From there continue south to Baños, a neat place to eat well and live cheap for a few days. Adventure sports like rafting, hiking and biking also abound.

After Baños Id head to Puyo 60 km away, which is at the mouth of the Amazon Jungle so at least you can get a small taste of what life is like in that region of Ecuador.

Then back 4 hrs to Quito.

Thats what Id do if I had 5 days in Ecuador.

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Posted in Ecuador Travel Guides

Ignorant vs Savvy Buyers in Ecuador. The papers. – Post 4. Property Search Series

guayaquil Guayaquil from above.

OK, so I found a property that peeked my interest.

A 2 bedroom 2 bath one story house that’s supposedly beachfront near Salinas posted for sale online asking $21,000.

Definitely a fixer-upper. Undervalued, I think so.

Today I sat down with the owner in my B&B in Guayaquil.

Like someone who’s done this before I asked her to show me 3 things before I even agree to go see the house… and she did.

1. The Escritura: This is a document registered and legalized by a NOTARY that spells out the recent ownership history of a property, the surroundings and it serves as the legal TITLE or DEED of ownership in Ecuador.

2. The Predios: These are nothing more than the receipts of the annual tax payments to the local Municipal (Municipio) where the property is located proving the property is up to date and properly registered in the Municipal.

3. The Certificate of Registry (Certificado del Registro de Propiedad): This is a ceritificate from the local Property Registrars Office (Registro de la Propiedad) proving the property title has been properly registered.

For all three make sure the Tax ID number of the property matches up (in Ecuador called the NUMERO DE CATASTRO).

Not every purchase is the same in Ecuador, but these are the big three I ask for whenever I find a new property I’m interested in.

They’ll probably supply you with copies.

I’ll then go to the Property Registrar office and order the certificate myself to ensure the property is indeed registered and under the name the seller says it is.

You can then go to the Municipal and get a certificate proving all taxes and debts (Cerificado de no ser deudor) are paid on the property proving their are no leins against it.

Then you could go to the Notary where the current Title (Escritura) has been registered and ask for verification that the “Matrice” as they call it is indeed on file.

Title insurance doesnt really exist in Ecuador, and if it does, it’s expensive, so doing extra diligence like this is always good to prevent headaches.

An ignorant person might assume giving someone money for a property makes them the owner, wrong, in Ecuador these three documents properly registered do.

Should you use a lawyer?

It’s not really necessary, but if you can find one you can trust it couldn’t hurt, but that’s easier said than done!

Now you too are a savvy buyer in Ecuador!

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

My Top Ecuador 10 Day Itinerary

banos ecuador           Banos, Ecuador

For a 10 day trip to Ecuador, Id do what I recommended in the 5 day itinerary as seen below first…

First fly into Quito.

Once in Quito see the colonial old town, the best in Ecuador, then go up the teleferico (cable car) which has some spectacular views and a nice hiking trail.

Then be sure to go out partying in EL MARISCAL nightlife district.

After 2 days and 2 nights in Quito head south to Latacunga where you can see Quilotoa and Cotopaxi Volcano. Amazing area. 1 Day Bike tours are available from Quito.

From there continue south to Baños, a neat place to eat well and live cheap for a few days. Adventure sports like rafting, hiking and biking also abound.

After Baños Id head to Puyo 60 km away, which is at the mouth of the Amazon Jungle so at least you can get a small taste of what life is like in that region of Ecuador.

Then back 4 hrs to Quito.

Then…

In Quito Id fly to Manta, stay one night in Manta or head straight south 25 minutes along the coast to the kiteboarding haven of Santa Marianita.

After Santa Marianita, Id continue heading south and make quick visits to two of Ecuadors nicest beaches, Puerto Cayo and the National Park Los Frailes.

Near Los Frailes Id stay with the Indigenous community at Aguas Blancas near Puerto Lopez where you can take a small tour and see how coastal Ecuadorians live.

From there Id head to Montanita, the hippest beach in Ecuador, where you can surf all day and party all night. If you like the quiet scene instead opt to stay in nearby Olon, but be sure to eat in Montanita by day (try the Ceviche soup carts).

After Montanita Id go to Ayangue for 1 day and 1 night, the best spot on the coast to scuba.  The beach is in a small cove great for swimming.

And after that Id head to Salinas, a small resort town with a nice beach for swimming and some delicious food.  Then off 2 hrs to Guayaquil where you can fly back to Quito (45 minutes) to catch your flight home.

Be sure to visit me at Murali B/B Airport Guayaquil if you pass by Guayaquil!  Ill show you the ropes!

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Posted in Ecuador Travel Guides

The Hunt Begins. How to Search for Property in Ecuador?: Part 3. Ecuador Property Search Series

search for property in Ecuador

“Get down, get down, he’ll see you!” My Ecuadorian friend gasped…

…as we both sat in a car outside a gas station waiting for the seller of a property in Ecuador I was interested in.

The seller arrived.

And we didn’t want him to see me.

You see, I wanted my local friend to do the initial negotiation for me so the seller didn’t know a foreigner was interested.

Because I’ve seen that the price can and does rise – SOMETIMES – when the locals see a foreigner is interested in their property.

But more precisely, they often get stiffer with the price and won’t be as quick to lower it cause they think the foreigner will buy anyway.

So that’s exactly what my friend did, he went inside the gas station and sat down with the owner to negotiate, while I stayed in the car.

There’s advantages and disadvantages to being a foreigner in Ecuador.

A big advantage I’ve experienced is in the business world, where you get “instant cred” and people listen to you just cause you’re a foreigner… it’s true! It also helps with the opposite sex to look different than the norm.

But a big disadvantage is that the locals think you have money, so at times, not everyone, will try to charge you more for things, and if buying property that could mean thousands.

This happens everywhere in the world to foreigners.

I lasted all of 5 minutes in Spain before I got ripped off paying about double for a taxi ride than I should have.

Luckily its not that bad in Ecuador compared to some countries I’ve been recently, like India, where many (not all) of the locals are ruthless and work together to extort as much as they can from overly-trustful foreign tourists, particularly the Japanese are the easiest to fool (I saw).

But they got me too, bast@rds!

It is what it is. It’s all part of the fun.

You gotta play the game by the rules.

And that’s what I did this week as I started my newest property search on the coast of Ecuador.

I’m looking for a great deal.

Could be a lot, a fixer-upper, we’ll see what I find.

First I hit the local paper El Universo where in the Sunday Classifieds ads for properties on the coast will often get mentioned.

Now I’ve hit the coast.

First I’m identifying where I’d like to buy, then specifically which property.

People amaze me when they say they saw nothing for sale.

Actually everything is available.

You just have to do some investigating to discover the owners.

That’s how it works down here.

And I have noticed “the spread” is getting bigger in that the range of prices people are asking is widening, with some asking ridiculously high prices, while others ask the same prices as years ago making this a good time to buy and sell in Ecuador!

But this won’t last forever, the window is closing. In nearby Colombia, Brazil and Argentina the prices are already high.

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

The Hidden Tax that Nabs Expats in Ecuador – Part 2: Ecuador Property Search Series

exit tax ecuador

“There’s like no taxes here.” One friend who’s a foreigner and business owner here in Ecuador told me.

“I know, it’s cool.” I responded.

It’s true, compared to many other countries Ecuador has a very light tax load.

I pay $44 a year property tax on my small 3 bedroom house on the coast.

But there is one tax that exists in Ecuador that doesn’t in the US you should know about in the beginning stages of a property search in Ecuador.

A tax that no one tells you about until its too late.

Ecuador has a “capital exit tax”.

That is, if you try to wire or transfer money out of the country in access of $1000, you will have to pay an unavoidable 5% instant exit tax (as of early 2012) on the money in addition to the normal transfer fees usually occured when transferring money abroad.

Western Union charges it.

So do ALL the banks.

Unavoidable.

Unless you want to carry the money out in the plane with you in cash, but there are limits of usually around $10k when entering most countries.

It may not seem like a lot, but when tranferring out $100,000 that’ll cost you $5,000!

At least there’s no extra taxes to bring money into Ecuador. (Just in case you were wondering.)

So, in this second post of this series detailing every step along my new property search in Ecuador, one I started this week in September of 2012, I wanted to get this point clear right from he get go.

Don’t transfer money in until you’ve found the property you want to buy and you make it to the final stages of the purchase!

Bringing it in, then quickly taking it out could be very costly.

And I doubt anyone has mentioned this, especially if they’re trying to sell you something.

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

Park your Loot at 10% in Ecuador / Negotiating with Cooperativas – Part 1: Ecuador Property Search Series

cooperativa guayaquil

“So what percentage interest did you want?” She asked.

“Well, for me to deposit money with you in a CD, I’d need 10%.” I said to the bank rep in Ecuador.

“But for the smaller amount you’d like to deposit we only offer 8% (annual interest).” She responded.

Then continued.

“Well, OK, OK, we can offer 9%.” She added.

“And I can only deposit it fixed for a month, in other words, I need to go month-to-month. It can rollover into the next month if I don’t need it.” I said.

That’s what the conversation was like this week as I negotiated my interest terms with a “Coopera” where I do business here in Guayaquil, Ecuador.

Cooperas are like credit unions back in the States.

Not quite banks, but they offer better interest rates than the normal banks.

And foreigners can open an account there with just a passport whereas the normal banks in Ecuador often ask for proof of residency and other tedious requirements.

For amounts over $20k you can usually get around 10-11% annual return.

For amounts less than that usually about 8-10% APR.

But whatever rate they quote you, its highly negotiable.

Don’t be afraid to walk out.

They’ll probably call you.

But are they safe?

Just choose a reputable one with a proven track record.

I like Coopera Ltda as they offer good rates, have 12 yrs of experience and have offices in Guayaquil and Cuenca.

But remember you money is not insured nor regulated as it is in normal banks or even like credit unions in the US!

A great first step to any property search in Ecuador is to open an account and deposit your money (probably just sitting around doing nothing) on a fixed month to month CD deposit so that if you need the capital you can get it, and if you don’t it’s at least producing something.

It also gives you an account in Ecuador where you can transfer money to in case of a property purchase.

This is exactly the stage in my property search where I’m at right now, today is the first of a series of updates you’l get from me detailing EVERY step of the way as I begin a new property search and investment on the coast of Ecuador.

I’ll buy.

Then make a play with it.

Maybe re-sell, maybe not, we’ll see what the situation dictates.

I’ll fill you in on all my mistakes, highs, lows, and successes too.

You’ll have a great ‘birds eye view’.

My budget for this experiment is $30k or less, and basically I’m looking for a good investment on the coast.

Other than that, I’ve got an open mind (like you should too when property hunting in Ecuador).

So, stay tuned, my money is now in the Coopera making 9%, this is going to be good!

And I won’t be emailing once a week, I’ll email the important updates to you as they happen.

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Expat Lifestyle

Robbed in Quito, Ecuador

robbed in quito ecuador The Panecillo near where I was robbed.

“Are you serious, an apartment for a total price of $9000 in Quito?” I thought.

I gotta see this one myself.

You see, I’m in the market for a place in the north of Quito in the area starting from the Old Town all the way until about the airport.

This 1 bedroom condo for sale was in the old town, a one bedroom suite in a refurbished, subdivided, old colonial house.

Now, myself, like most folks who have spent significant time in Quito know that there are parts of the old town that are “shady” to say the least.

So I did diligence by doing a quick search for the exact location of the property on Google Maps and the spot checked out, right near the rejuvenated area near the famous “Panecillo” or virgin angel statue on the hill. Well, I doubt the “virgin” part if shes in Quito.

So off I went.

As I pulled up to the property, as can be expected for the price I wasn’t blown away with the house itself, but the suite was nicely finished, and I was right at the base of the Panecillo hill a short walk from the center of the Old Town.

The location was decent, just a block or two away from the nice part.

As I was walking out of the suite I turned left and started walking down the hill on the sidewalk with a big wall to my right.

After about a block 2 younger guys who previously walked past me in the other direction sprinted towards me from the back, one grabbing my shirt ripping the collar, the other pulling out a knife from his belt.

They were yelling something at me and trying to pin me against the wall.

When I saw the knife my heart jumped, this was for real, I was being robbed.

First time in my life. Couldn’t believe it.

Without thinking I reacted.

I threw my left arm up to shield me from the man lunging towards me with the knife and I dove.

Head first.

Right onto the concrete through the little gap that remained between one of the men and the wall.

I slid through, pushed myself upright and started running.

I didn’t look back until about a block later.

And they were gone.

And my hands were covered in blood from when I dove away baseball-style right onto the concrete.

I had lost chunks of flesh in my hands from the fall and my shirt was badly ripped.

I then walked a few more blocks.

I didn’t know what else to do.

Until I flagged down a taxi with my fists closed hiding the blood. I didn’t think they’d pick someone up with bloody hands.

And off I went.

Now, to be fair, in 5 years of being in and out of Ecuador and one year of permanent living, and a whole lot of dumb walking around at night, I can honestly say this is the first time I’ve been robbed in Ecuador and it’s NOT common.

I’d say violent crime is far less common in Ecuador than in the US, but petty theft is rampant just like you’d expect in any poor country.

In other words, if it’s not tied down, it’s gone.

The most common ways I’ve seen people get robbed in Ecuador is by taxi drivers who drive off with all the bags in the trunk of an unsuspecting, overtrusting traveler (seen it happen twice in a year) or when you’re in the bus and the workers of the bus line rumage through the bags and see what they can quickly find (seen guys do this once) while everyone is already boarded.

How can you avoid getting robbed like this?

Travel light, with only one bag so you don’t have to put things in the trunk of a taxi. And have a simple, cheap cell phone, maybe one you buy down here for $40 you can quickly pop an Ecuadorian SIM card in to connect to the local network.

And don’t walk long distances at night in the 3 major cities of Ecuador (Quito, Cuenca and Guayaquil).

Ecuador’s an AWESOME place that I highly prefer to the US, but there is a downside you should know about.

You gotta keep “yo head on a swivel” but for most that’s just part of the fun.

Cowboy rules.

And for more helpful, useful info try my weekly newsletter on Ecuador living and investing, you can unsubscribe at any time:

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5 Mistakes when Bringing Household Goods Tax-Free to Ecuador

household goods to Ecuador|

There’s a lot of bad information out there on bringing your household goods to Ecuador.

Let’s clear the air.

Foreigners moving to Ecuador DO qualify to bring one container… one time… of their household goods TAX FREE just like Ecuadorian migrants living abroad who move back to Ecuador.

In order to qualify you need to have a residency visa and your goods need to arrive in Ecuador within 6 months of getting the visa.

Or within 2 months of your arrival in Ecuador.

Here are 5 common mistakes many foreigners experience when moving their goods…

This info was attained through an interview with Vicente Villafuerte, an agent for INSA International Moving and Storage Company, which can handle your move to Ecuador door-to-door. Contact Vicente at 085370929 or at goecuador@hotmail.com.

1. Shipping before getting the visa. Many foreigners ship before actually attaining the visa, which can be a grave error! Often, the visa process is delayed and your belongings may have to sit in costly storage in customs until you get your visa stamped in your passport and can clear your items. Get your visa first!

2. Applying for the visa from a distance. I recommend getting your visa once in Ecuador, it is much easier, faster and less expensive than applying from abroad but you will need to bring a few documents from your home country so do your homework beforehand.

3. Shipping prohibited items. Alcohol, and things like wine collections can not be brought into the country tax free, period, nor can guns or weapons of any kind. Guns are not permitted to be carried by the general public in Ecuador.

4. Not following the different rules for foreigners. Understand that different rules apply to foreigners when bringing their tax free container when compared to locals. Foreigners can not bring anything with an engine (like a car, motorcycle or plane) tax free in their container. While Ecuadorians moving back to Ecuador CAN bring one car up to 4 years old and with certain CC restrictions. Ecuadorians moving back can also bring one motorcycle or other type of motorized vehicle. The moving company you choose can help advise you if in doubt.

5. Not professionally packing their items. Have your moving company do the packing for you, it is usually included in the same cost and having professionals pack your items could save you a lot against having your items broken in transit. Before packing contact your moving agent to be sure your documentation and packing list are right, often even when you ship fully insured the insurance companies will fight not to honor claims.

By air or by sea?

Generally, if you have more than 15 cubic meters of cr@p it’ll be cheaper and make more sense to ship by sea.

How much will it cost to ship your goods to Ecuador?

Here are a few prices based on recent real-world examples…

Canada-Cuenca 8m3 $6,400

Miami –Cuenca: 1×20’ $7,000

Houston-Cuenca: 1×40’ $12.000

And for the exact process you’ll need to follow in order to bring household goods to Ecuador tax-free, without headaches and at the lowest cost try my weekly newsletter on Ecuador living and investing, you can unsubscribe at any time:

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Lesson 11 of 15: Survival Phrases- Spanish in 30 Minutes a Day

survival spanish

Thanks for sticking with me so far in this 15 day series…

We’ve covered many of the essential aspects of Spanish grammar, for beginners…

From here on out I recommend you read everything you can get your hands on to improve your vocabularly.

And watch movies first in Spanish with Spanish subtitles, then without, to improve your listening abilities.

And once in Ecuador, talk.

Talk talk talk.

You will make mistakes.

But it doesn’t matter as long as you get understood, you’ll get better as the weeks and months pass.

But the first step is the grammar, of which we covered pretty thoroughly these 10 days together.

Now, today on our last day together, let’s take a look at some need to know phrases... phrases you got to know right from your very first day in the country…

Take a moment, and memorize these guys, print out this email and bring it with you if need be…

a. Greetings and Common Small Talk

Hello = Hola
How are you? = Cómo estás?  (informal, “tu” form) / Cómo está usted? (formal, “usted form)

Important Note: In Spanish, they have two ways of saying “you”: an informal way “tu”, and a formal one, “usted”, but you can communicate yourself fine just using one all the time for now, so let’s focus on how to say everything using “tu” for “you”.

Good, and you? = Bien, y tu?
What is your name? = Cómo te llamas?

My name is ______ = Me llamo ______
It’s a pleasure to meet you = Mucho gusto.

Where are you from? = De dónde eres?
I am from _____. = Soy de _____.

How old are you? = Cuántos años tienes?
I am _20___ years old. = Tengo _veinte_ años.

Goodbye = Chao
Excuse me = Disculpe

Thank you = Gracias
You’re welcome = De nada

Yes = Sí
No = No
OK = Está bien

b. Translations

Do you speak English? = Hablas ingles?
Yes, I speak English = Sí, hablo ingles.

How do you say ______ in Spanish? = Cómo se dice _____ en español?
I don’t understand. = No entiendo.

Can you repeat please? = Repitalo por favor.
What does _____ mean? = Qué significa____ ?

c. Taxis

How much to _________ ? = Cuánto es para……?
Take me to _______ please. = Lleveme a _______ por favor.

That’s expensive. But I only have ________. = Está caro. Pero solo tengo ______.
I get off here. = Me quedo aquí.

d. Asking for directions

Where is ______? = Dónde está _____?
I’m looking for … = Busco …

Turn left. = doble a la izquierda.
Turn right. = doble a la derecha.

Go straight = siga derecho
street = calle
block = cuadra

esquina = street corner
here = aquí
there = allí
Is it far? = Es lejos?
Before/After= Antes de/ después de

e. Buses/Trains (autobus/trenes)

Where does this bus go? = Para dónde va el autobus?
When does it leave? = Cuando se va?
One ticket, please. = Un boleto, por favor.

f. Lodging (Alojamiento)

Are there any rooms available? = Hay habitaciones disponibles?
Id like a … for _____ nights.(Quisiera un _____ por ____ noches.)

Single  = Simple
Double = Doble

How much is your cheapest room? =  Cuánto es la habitación más barata?
How much per night? = Cuanto es por noche?

Can I see the room? = Puedo ver la habitación?
I am leaving now. = Me voy ahora.

Hotel: El hotel
Hostal: El hostal

g. to Eat (comer)

One table please. = Una mesa por favor
The menu please. = El menu por favor.
What is that? = Qué es eso?

Do you have…? (Tienes…..?)
-chicken (pollo)
-fish (pescado)
-beef (carne)
-pasta (pasta)
-rice (arroz)
-bread (pan)
-purified water (agua purificada)
-salt (sal)

Check, please. = La cuenta, por favor.
Where is the toilet? = Dónde está el baño?

h. Shopping and Bargaining (Ir de compras)

How much? = Cuánto cuesta?
I´m just looking. = Solo mirando.

Can you give me a discount? = Me puedes dar un descuento?
How is $5? = Qué tal $5?

Give me… = Dame…
expensive/cheap = caro/barato

Do you accept credit cards? = Aceptas tarjetas de credito?
Only cash. = Solo efectivo.

I. Money (Dinero)

Where can I change money?= Dónde puedo cambiar dinero?
Where is an automatic teller machine (ATM)? = Dónde hay un cajero automático?
What is the Exchange rate? = Cuál es la tasa de cambio?

J. Health (La salud)

I am sick. = Estoy enfermo.
Please take me to the hospital. = Por favor, llevame al hospital.
I am feeling better. = Me siento mejor.

K. Relationships (Las relaciones)

Do you have a boyfriend/girlfriend? = Tienes novio/novia?
Are you married? = Estás casado/a?

I am single = Estoy soltero/a.
Do you have a phone? What’s your phone number? = Tienes celular? Me podrias dar tu número?

My number is…. = Mi numero es ….
Want to have a cup of coffee sometime? = Quieres tomar un cafe algún día?

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Lesson 10 of 15: Describing with adjectives, prepositions- Spanish in 30 Minutes a Day

spanish adjectives prepostions

Today we’ll learn a little bit of everything as we kind of tie it all together… like how to use the word “it” in Spanish and how to describe things with the most common adjectives and prepositions.

Read on!

Pronouns and Objects

Pronouns often go in front of the verb in Spanish whereas in English they often come after. Also, in English, the word “it” can be used to represent anything,whereas in Spanish the word for “it” has to agree in both gender (el (mas), la (fem)) and number (los, las) with the noun it represents.

For example:

Tengo la toalla. = Yo la tengo.  (use “la” because the noun is fem.)
I have the towel. = I have it.
Tienes el cepillo. = Tú lo tienes. (use “lo” because the noun is mas.)
You have the brush. = You have it.
Quiero los boletos. = Los quiero.
I want the tickets. = I want them. (use “los” because the noun is plural)
Quieren los pasajes. = Los quieren.
They want the bus tickets. = They want them.

Exercise: Now you try a few

Example: Quiero el cepillo.= Lo quiero. (el cepillo=brush)
1. Quieren la maleta. = ____ quieren.
2. Tengo los zapatos. = _____ tengo.
3. Sabes quien tiene el teléfono? = Mark ____ tiene.
4. Tienes las computadoras? = Sí, _____ tengo.
5. Viste la ropa? = _____ vi.
6. Cambia la gorra. = ______ voy a cambiar.
7. Toco el espejo. = ______ toco.
8. Veo el televisor. = _____ veo.

Indirect Objects (people):

Use when you want to express “who” the action is done to.Depending on “who” use:
Me- I
Te- you
Le- he/she
Les- them
Nos- we

Examples:

-Conoces a Juan? = Sí, le conozco.
Do you know Juan? = Yes, I know him.

-Te lo doy. = I give it to you.
-Nos dice el señor. = The man tells us.

Exercise : Replace the subjects with “le, les, te, me, nos”

Example: Juan dice a Mark que no. = Juan le dice que no.

1. Conoces a Julio y Maria? = _____ Conoces?
2. Qué vas a decir a Juan? = Qué ____ vas a decir?
3. Cuando vas a dar a nosotros? = Cuando ___ vas a dar?
4. Vas a pasar la pelota a Juan? = ___ a pasar la pelota?
5. Yo hablo con Pablo. = ____ habla.
6. Juan dice a ellos a correr. = ____ dice a correr.
7. Juan conoce a Maria? = ______ conoce?

One last important note:

When both the direct and indirect pronouns are next to each other and start with “L”, the first one changes to “se” no matter what.

For example:
Juan da la pelota a Pablo. = Le la da. — Se la da.

Describing things with Adjectives

Adjectives are used the same way as in English to describe something, but in Spanish they go after the word they describe, whereas in English they come before.

Also, in Spanish, they change according to the gender of the noun they describe.

For Example: “el cuarto (the room)” is masculine so the adjective ends in “-o”
-el cuarto limpio = the clean room

And… “La ropa” is feminine so the adjective would end in “-a”
-la ropa sucia = the dirty clothes

Here are the most common descriptive adjectives:

Grande- big
Pequeño- small
El hombre grande (the big man)

Mucho- a lot
Poco- a little
Quiero nadar mucho. (I want to swim a lot.)

Caro- expensive
Barato- cheap
El hotel caro (the expensive hotel)

Bello- beautiful
Feo- ugly
La mujer bella (the beautiful woman)

Limpio- clean
Sucio- dirty
El cuarto limpio (the clean room)

Alto- tall
Bajo- short
El pelotero alto (the tall ballplayer)

Lento= slow
Rápido= fast
el carro lento (the slow car)

Bueno= good
Malo= bad
La película estuvo buena. (The movie was good.)

Prepositions:

Prepositions are used primarily to describe the location of something in relation to something else.

Learn a few of the most common ones and your communication ability just went through the roof.

The most commonly used prepositions in Spanish:

On- sobre
In- dentro de/ en

Above/over – encima de
Under- debajo de
In front of – delante de
behind- detrás de
beside – al lado de
between- entre
inside- dentro de

Exercise: Based on the location of the ball in the picture, insert the corresponding preposition.  Click on Display images in your email reader.

Example: La pelota está al lado del velero. = The ball is beside the sailboat. P (When next to each other “de” and “el” run together to form “del”.)


1. La pelota está ______ el velero. (The ball is ____ the sailboat.)


2. La pelota está ______ el velero.


3. La pelota está ______ el velero.


4. La pelota está ______ el velero.

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Lesson 9 of 15: Spanish simplified/ An overview- Spanish in 30 Minutes a Day

spnaish deconstruction

It’d be nice if someone could take a few minutes to explain to us how the Spanish language “works”.

Well, today that’s what I’m gonna do.

Today we’re going to do a deconstruction of the Spanish language to give you kind of a bird’s eye view of how the language works.

Once you know the basic puzzle, all you need are words (that you can learn as you go) to fill in the blanks.

This vid i made is to give you that much needed framework when starting out in Spanish… QUICK!

Follow the link below to watch now… the total lesson length is 12 minutes.

Click here to watch the video lesson now.

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Expat Lifestyle

Lesson 8 of 15: Expressing likes, dislikes and emotions- Spanish in 30 Minutes a Day

expressing likes in spanish

Mostly when we speak we are expressing how we feel, what we like, dislike and our emotions.

Today, let’s take a moment to learn how to do that in Spanish.

Here we go…

Expressing likes and dislikes

To express likes and dislikes in Spanish, simply use the verb “gustar.”

Literally, “gustar” means “to like,” but it is helpful to think that they use it similar to how we use “to please.”

For example, “me gusta” means “it pleases me” in English, but notice how the word order is reversed.

Me gusta = I like (It pleases me)
Te gusta = You like (It pleases you)
Le gusta = He/She likes
Nos gusta = We like
Les gusta = They like

When you are talking about liking multiple things at once (plural) use “gustan.”

Me gustan = I like them/those.
So if someone asks… “Te gusta la comida?” (Do you like the food?)

You can say for affirmative … “Sí, me gusta la comida.” Or simply “Sí, me gusta.”

For a negative response, say … “No, no me gusta.”

Top 11 phrases used to express emotions (memorize)

Estoy feliz. – I am happy.
Estoy enojado. – I am mad.
Estoy cansado. – I am tired.

Estoy emocionado. – I am excited.
Estoy triste. – I am sad.
Estoy aburrido. – I am bored.

Tengo sed. – I am thirsty.
Tengo hambre. –I am hungry.
Tengo calor. – I am hot.
Tengo frio. – I am cold.
Tengo prisa. – I am in a hurry.

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The Missing ‘High-end’ in Ecuador

ecuador real estate beach

 

 

“What a dump.” My friend said.

While we looked at a middle-class condo for rent in Guayaquil, Ecuador.

But through my eyes, the place looked OK.

Typical for Ecuador, clean, safe, cheap ($300/month) and well located.

It would have worked for me, but not him.

You see, he was used to luxury, high-end, first-class, waterfront living in the USA.

So we kept looking for a different rental.

And we looked.  And we looked.

But as we visited the higher-end, luxury places for rent in Guayaquil, then Salinas, then Cuenca, he noticed one thing.

There isn’t much true “USA-standard high-end” to choose from.

And if you do find it, as he put it…

“Jeeze, this ‘luxury’ place is even more expensive than the same place would be in the US.”

It’s true, the current lack of supply and growing local demand for high-end places- particularly in the big cities of Ecuador like Quito, Cuenca and Guayaquil-  causes the high-end, luxury properties in Ecuador to be very expensive, in fact, often more expensive than a similar-style property would be in the US these days after the recession knocked down prices.

But for cheaper middle-class and lower-class stuff, there’s a ton to choose from.

Now, if you’re willing to scale down your lifestyle to a middle-class Ecuadorian style, and trust me, for most it is a bit of a drop-off in “standard of living” from a middle-class American lifestyle…

…you can save A LOT of money and live very cheaply.

But don’t see it like a “drop-off” just merely a “different” style of living.

A life-style I prefer over that of the US (that’s why I’m here).

Now while luxury places are few and far between, decent middle-class 2 bedroom apartments in decent areas of cities in Ecuador rent for $250-450 a month and are plentiful and easy to find.

In the country-side it can be much cheaper.

And it’s true about electric bills that often run less than $10/month for a 2 bedroom apartment.

Heck, my water bill is often around $5.

And I don’t have a car (cause I really don’t need one!) with so many cheap taxis and buses around that will take me where I need to go for often under $2.

That means no car payments, insurance, parking or maintenance costs.

And I don’t pay any other insurances.

With health care costs so cheap, I just pay out of pocket if I need to.

So yeah, if you can handle the “scale-down” from US middle-class living to Ecuador middle-class living, you can actually stretch your pension much further down here.

But if you’re used to a luxury lifestyle in the US and would like to maintain that in Ecuador, at least your rental cost will likely go up.

Now, you could look at this one of two ways.

From the standpoint of a consumer with few true luxury options.

Or from the standpoint of an entrepreneur.

Or someone that sees a need and fills it.
That’s right.

I wouldn’t build anything in Ecuador unless it was US-standard luxury.

Why?

It’ll sell like hotcakes.

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

Free 2014 Ecuador Property Price Guide

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