Archive | Ecuador for Investors

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.

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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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.


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.

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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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.

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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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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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Expat Lifestyle

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

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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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Expat Lifestyle

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?

To continue reading and to go onto the next lesson please fill in your email below:

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Expat Lifestyle

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


-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 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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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Expat Lifestyle

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.


It’ll sell like hotcakes.

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My Take on the Assange Fiasco

julian assange ecuador

Unless you’ve been living in a hole the last few weeks, you know that Julian Assange, the founder and hacker behind WikiLeaks requested and was granted asylum by Ecuador.

As a foreigner who lives here in Ecuador, and works in the tourism industry, I have to say I don’t think it was a good decision for Ecuador to get involved in this issue at all.

Why spite the super powers of the world just to show them your sovereignty?

Image is everything when it comes to foreign investment and a small South American country, although very rich in natural resources and probably capable of getting by on their own, still should constantly be on reputation patrol and avoid international powder kegs like this one.

Ecuadorians I’ve spoken to about this issue seem to be indifferent or feel similar to my above stated opinion.

Nonetheless, it’ll be interesting to see how this one unfolds…

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Lesson 7 of 15: Asking Questions – Spanish in 30 min a Day

From your very first moments in Ecuador, or once in any Spanish-speaking country, you’ll have to know how to ask questions…

Right when you get off the plane, you’ll have to ask the taxi driver… “How much?” (Cuánto cuesta?)

Asking Questions

Asking questions in Spanish is very similar to asking them in English. Just add one of the following words to the front of the question, and raise your voice towards the end of the sentence.

Qué- what
Cuándo- when
Dónde- where
Por qué- why porque-because
Cómo- how
Quién- who
Cuál- Which
Cuántos? – How many
Cuánto? = how much

Hay…? – Are there… as answer: Hay… = There is/are… (“Hay” is used for both “Are there” and “There are” in the question and answer form.)


-Hay dos camas?  (Are there two beds?)
Sí, hay dos camas. (Yes, there are two beds.)

-Qué quieres?  (What do you want?)

-Dónde estás?  (Where are you?)

-Por qué vas allí? (Why do you go there?)

Now try to make 5 questions of your own…


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Lesson 6 of 15: Ser vs Estar – Spanish in 30 min a Day

ser vs estar lesson

Today we’re going to cover one topic you NEED to know in order to be understood in Spanish.

And one topic very difficult for English speakers to grasp.

The “to be” verb in Spanish… actually, there’s two, when in Engish there is only one…

Ser vs Estar = to be

Seris basically used to express something permanent, or characteristics of something that don’t change quickly.

For instance…

I am American.  = Soy Americano.

I am a man.  = Soy hombre.

Estar is used to express the location of something or describe characteristics of something that can easily and quickly change.

For example…

I am hot.  = Estoy con calor.

I am in Ecuador.  = Estoy en Ecuador.

Now there’s one usage of “estar” that’s a bit hard to grasp…

We use “estar” when we describe something or someone we see or meet for the first time… for example…

She is cute. = Ella está buena.

These two verbs are used SO MUCH it’s worth it taking a few minutes and memorizing the conjugations of them in the present and past, then practice using them in the following exercise.


(present tense)

I am = yo soy
You are = tú eres
He/she is = él/ella es
we are = nosotros somos
they are = ellos/ellas son

(past tense)

I was = yo fui
You were = tú fuiste
He/she was = él/ella fue
we were = nosotros fuimos
they were = ellos/ellas fueron

(present tense)

I am = yo estoy
You are = tú estás
He/she is = él/ella está
we are = nosotros estamos
they are = ellos/ellas están

(past tense)

I was = yo estaba
You were = tú estabas
He/she was = él/ella estaba
we were = nosotros estabamos
they were = ellos/ellas estaban

EXERCISE: Use the conjugated form of ser or estar in the past or present depending on the sentence…

1. I was happy.  Yo ____ contento.

2. I am from Canada.  Yo ___ de Canada.

3. You were in school yesterday.  Tú _____ en la escuela ayer.

4. He was sad yesterday.  Él _____ triste ayer.

5. She is beautiful.  Ella ______ hermosa.

6. He is cheap.  Él ____ tacaño.

7. I was tired last night.  Yo _____ cansado anoche.

8. I am in love with Tomás.  Yo _____ enamorado con Tomás.

1. estaba
2. soy
3. estabas
4. estaba
5. es
6. es
7. estaba
8. estoy

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Lesson 5 of 15: Talking about the Past – Spanish in 30 min a Day

past tense lesson in spanish

Today, let’s talk about the past.

I know, I know, it’s never fun.

And in fact, you don’t really need to know how to talk in the past tense in order to get your point across in another language.

But it helps!

Expressing the Past in Spanish (El Pasado)

To express the past tense in Spanish, all you have to do is conjugate the verbs you use into the past form like you do in the present tense, how the verbs’ endings change depends on if it ends with “–ar, -er, or –ir”.

But knowing how to conjugate one, you know how to conjugate almost all. (There are a few irregulars.)

The tricky part in Spanish is that there are TWO forms of the past tense.

Noice how the endings of the verbs change according to the subject…

The preterit: Used to express specific, one-time occurrences in the past.

Example: To Work- Trabajar

Yo trabajé
Tú trabajaste
Él/ella trabajó
Ellos/ellas trabajaron
Nosotros trabajamos

The Imperfect: Used to express a recurring occurrence or routine in the past.

Example: To Work- Trabajar

Yo trabajaba
Tú trabajabas
Él/ella trabajaba
Ellos/ellas trabajában
Nosotros trabajabamos

But to express yourself for now using the past, all you need to learn is one form of the past; the most common one, the preterit. Using the preterit EVERYONE will understand you when you talk about the past. Later on you could always learn the imperfect as you improve.

Here is how the verbs conjugate (or change) according to the speaker in the preterit (past) tense.

-ar verbs

To Work- Trabajar

Yo trabajé
Tú trabajaste
Él/ella trabajó
Ellos/ellas trabajaron
Nosotros trabajamos

See how you drop the “-ar” and add the endings according to “who” does the action?

-er and –ir verbs (both –er and –ir verbs change using the same endings in the past)

To go up- Subir

Yo subí
Tú subiste
Él/ella subió
Ellos/ellas subieron
Nosotros subimos

Exercise 2.1: Now you try a couple. Change the verb according to the subject given in the preterit (past) tense.

Example: (vender, tú) vendiste (You sold)

1. (tomar, nosotros) _________
2. (cambiar, ellos) ____________
3. (caminar, yo) ___________
4. (subir, ella) ___________
5. (hablar, tú y yo) ___________
6. (bajar, ellos) _________
7. (salir, él) __________
8. (esperar, yo) _________
9. (rendir, tú) _______
10. (pasar, nosotros) ________
11. (comer, ellos) ________

Hasta manana,

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Lesson 4 of 15: Talking in the Present and Future – Spanish in 30 min a Day

present tense in Spanish

OK, verbs.

I’m sure you were expecting me to mention them soon, right?

Every sentence in about every language needs a verb, or a word describing the “action”.

Verbs can also help us tell whether the action takes place in the present, past or future.

Today, we’ll learn how to talk in both the present and future in Spanish.

Expressing the Present (El Presente)

To express the present tense in Spanish all you have to do is conjugate the verbs you use in the present form. There are three types of verbs in Spanish (ones that end in –ar, -er, and –ir), each of which are conjugated slightly differently depending on the subject of the sentence.

But knowing how to conjugate one, you know how to conjugate almost all of them. (There are a few irregular verbs.)

Here are the possible subjects.
Yo = I
tú/usted = you
él/ella =  he/she
nosotros = we
ellos/ellas = they

Examples: Notice how the verbs change ending according to the subject.

-ar: Verbs ending in –ar change like the one below in the present tense.

To work: trabajar

I work = (yo) trabajo
You work = (tú) trabajas
He/she works = (él, ella) trabaja
They work = (ellos, ellas) trabajan
We work = (nosotros) trabajamos

-ir: Here is an –ir verb in the present tense.

To live: vivir

I live = (yo) vivo
You live = (tú) vives
He/she lives = (él, ella) vive
They live = (ellos, ellas) viven
We live = (nosotros) vivimos

-er: Here is an –er verb in the present tense.

To eat: comer

I eat = (yo) como
You eat = (tú) comes
He/she eats = (él, ella) come
They eat = (ellos, ellas) comen
We eat = (nosotros) comemos

Note: But remember you don’t have to include the subjects (yo, tú, él, ella, etc.) when talking unless you want to emphasize “who” is doing the action: because in Spanish the conjugated verb tells the receiver of the message both the “who” and the “what”.

But if it is easier to talk with them for now, do it, everyone will still understand you.

Exercise 1.1: Now you try a couple. Change the verb according to the subject given.

Example: (comprar, yo) compro (I buy)

1. (andar, tú) _______ (you walk)
2. (perfeccionar, él) ________ (he perfects)
3. (tomar, nosotros) _________ (we take)
4. (cambiar, ellos) ____________ (they change)
5. (poner, tú) ___________ (you put)
6. (buscar, yo) ___________ (I look for)
7. (subir, ella) ___________ (She goes up)
8. (hablar, nosotros) ___________ (You and me (we) talk)
9. (bajar, ellos) _________ (they go down)
10. (salir, él) __________ (he goes out)
11. (esperar, yo) _________ (I wait)

Now you can talk in the present! Keep going to learn how you can talk about the past and future.

Expressing the Future (El Futuro)

Expressing something that will happen in the future is easy in Spanish, because like English, you just put the “to go” verb conjugated in the present tense in front of the verb expressing whatever it is you are going to do.

I WILL run.  OR  I am going to run.  = Voy a correr.

Ir (to go) + a + verb (not conjugated )

Example: Voy a beber (to drink). = I am going to drink.

Ir (to go) in present

Yo voy
Tù vas
Èl/ella va
Nosotros vamos
Ellos/ellas van

Exercise 3.1: Now say you (or the subject stated) are going to do the following things in the future.

Example: (yo) __voy_ a querer. (I will want)

1. (él) ________ perfeccionar la táctica. (He is going to perfect the tactic).
2. (nosotros) _________ tomar la cerveza. (We are going to drink the beer.)
3. (ellos) ____________ cambiar el mundo. (They will change the world.)
4. (yo) ___________ buscar en Google. (I will search in Google.)
5. (ella) ___________ subir las escaleras. (She will go up the stairs.)
6. (Nosotros) ___________ hablar más tarde. (We will talk later.)
7. (él) __________ salir de la casa. (He will go out of the house.)
8. (yo) _________ esperar para ti. (I will wait for you.)
9. (tú) _______ rendir muy bien. (You will perform well.)
10. (nosotros) ________ pasar la prueba. (We will pass the test.)

Now you can talk in both the present and the future.

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Lesson 3 of 15: The Little Words, Possessives – Spanish in 30 min a Day


After yesterday, you should have a good grip on both the alphabet and numbers in Spanish.

That’s the base.

So if you don’t got it, go back and review before continuing with today’s lesson.

Today we’re going to cover all those pesky “little” words that we see in practically ALL sentences in Spanish.

And taking a few moments to memorize them can really help us understand sentences.

The good news is that it is actually quite similar to English.

Noun cases (or the word for “the”): 

English is easier in this regard, because the words have no gender, whereas in Spanish all subjects (whether they are a person or a thing) are either masculine or feminine.

For example:

El – masculine, singular
La – feminine, singular
Los – masculine, plural
Las – feminine, plural

The notebook – El cuaderno
The ball – La pelota

Now notice how the noun cases change in the plural form, or when theres more than one…

Plural form:
The balls las pelotas
The notebookslos cuadernos

Words that end in “a” tend to be feminine, and words that end in “o” masculine. However there are a few exceptions, most notably, the word for “water” (el agua).  For now, just understand how it works, you’ll learn as you go.

When you when to say “a” or “an” in Spanish, whether the word preceeds a vowel or not doesn’t matter. The word you use changes according to the gender and plurality.

un – masculine, singular (a/an)
una – feminine, singular (a/an)
unos – masculine, plural (some)
unas – feminine, plural (some)

More Examples:
A ball – Una pelota
A notebook – un cuaderno
Some balls – unas pelotas
Some notebooks – unos cuadernos

Possessives (How to say something is owned by someone):

When you want to express that something is yours, just replace the article, or word we just learned that means “the”, (el, la, los, las) with the possessives.

mi- my
su-his/her/their and also your (formal)
nuestro- our

mis- my
sus-his/her/their and also your (formal)
nuestros- our

Examples :
el cuaderno > mi cuaderno (my notebook)
los cuadernos > sus cuadernos (their notebooks)

Tengo mis zapatos.  = I have my shoes.
Tengo tus zapatos. = I have your shoes.

So that’s our lesson for today, you don’t have to memorize the noun case of a bazillion words, for today, just understand how it works, how to use “the”, “a, some” and how to use the possessives.

I recommend re-reading and to be sure you really got it!

Hasta Mañana,

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Lesson 2 of 15: Alphabet in Spanish – Spanish in 30 min a Day


Today in lesson 2 we’ll learn the pronunciations of the alphabet in Spanish.

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Lesson 1 of 15: Numbers in Spanish – Spanish in 30 min a Day

spanish alphabet

I love Spanish.

Actually, i love speaking another language, and Spanish is one of the most useful second languages you can learn, it’s true when people say it’s almost like having a “super power”.

Over these next few days, on this site we’re going to study a few of the key aspects of Spanish for beginners …

…so you can acquire the super power.  And learn to speak and defend yourself in Spanish.

Study it, practice it, for about 30 minutes a day.

You’ll be glad you did.

At the end of the 15 days you will know enough to get around and carry light conversations in your new language.

Heck, maybe you could even property hunt in Spanish…

So here we go!

We got to start at the beginning…  numbers…

Numbers… you just got to know this stuff before you come!

Literally, you’ll need to know your numbers in order to catch a taxi out front of the airport!  That’s how quick you’ll need it (in case you were wondering)…

So follow these next two links to listen to and practice both the numbers in Spanish…


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Holiday Weekend “Feriado” Great for Tourism Industry

holiday weekend calendar Ecuador

As reported this week by the El Comercio Newspaper, this past weekend 25-30,000 tourists dispersed themselves around Ecuador, completely filling areas like Atacames on the north coast, Imbabura (the area north of Quito), and Cuenca in the south.

One area that didn’t do so well is the Salinas or southern coastal area, however most attribute the poor performance to the chilly weather and cloudy skies this time of year.

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Internet Connection 31.4% in Ecuador


31.4% of the 14.3 million people in Ecuador have affirmed that they have used the internet over the last 30 days, a 5.7 point increase over the figure compared to 2008, according to MINTEL.

Among people aged 5-15 years old the usage is 38%, among 16-24 year olds 59.4%, and among 25-34 year olds 39.6%.

This shows the serious and incredible lack of connection that Ecuador still has.

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Free 2014 Ecuador Property Price Guide

Don't overpay! Get 2014 Ecuador property price data based on over 500 transactions in this brief, informative report, Normally $64.95, today get it FREE! Fill in below to receive now:

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