Archive | Ecuador for Investors

Galapagos Flight Special RT $176, the best I’ve ever seen

galapagos flight special

Until December 23 there is a flight special on Tame to the Galapagos roundtrip from Guayaquil for a total of $176 for anyone with an Ecuadorian Cedula… you can be a foreigner, you just need to be a legal resident of Ecuador with a cedula to qualify.

You must travel before the end of March 2013.

I’ve never seen a special this cheap to go to Galapagos!

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Expat Lifestyle

Mompiche: A deserted surf paradise turned resort

mompiche

Few people outside surfers knew about Mompiche, a little, lush green cove with great waves (lefts) until Ecuador’s first all-inclusive luxury resort went in, De Cameron.

Its retained its low-key vibe but prices have risen since the resort finished in 2009.

Where to stay on a budget?

Id stay at my budget pick, the DMCA Surf Hostel with basic rooms with cold showers starting around $8 per person.

Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Travel Guides

Tena, an Explorers Paradise

tena ecuador

Tena reminds me of my time traveling Laos. An ideal tropical, jungle area full of fun, interesting travelers chatting it up over a cold beer after a days worth of heavy duty adventuring.

Many come to Tena to try the world-class white water rafting and kayaking. Class III and IV rapids abound, guides can be hired throughout the city.

Also try a hike through Parque Amazonico, a 27 hectare island with nice signs along a walking trail marking unique wildlife.

As well, in one of the many local outfitters you can arrange jungle and indigenous tours for as little as $25.

Where to stay?

My pick is the Hotel Brisa del Rio on Orellana. Nice atmosphere with big rooms and on top of that you are right on the riverfront with rooms starting from $8 per person.

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Travel Guides

Ayangue: The top place to scuba in Ecuador

hotel-ayangue-ecuador

Ayangue reminds me of the Galapagos, both above the water and below it. It’s a tiny cove with a small, sleepy town and a handful of dive operators. That’s it, but its nice.

What to do?

– Try the seafood at one of the many huts along the beach.

– Swim and snorkel in the table-top flat ocean in the cove.

– Hike the nearby oceanfront cliffs.

– Para-glide in nearby San Pedro.

– Visit the nearby Playa Rosada beach.

– Scuba dive! Its cheap and its good!

Where to stay?

My top pick for a Hotel in Ayangue is the Oasis Ayangue. Can’t beat it, Wifi, hot water and good thin crust pizza one block off the beach.

Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Travel Guides

Coca, should you go?

Coca is one of those small towns that don’t really leave an impression on you, one way or the other. It has a nice river boardwalk and the locals are friendly to visitors, but most still pass right on by. It is the main jumping off point to the Yasuni National Park and other river excursions through the jungle.

Babaco

Babaco, a typical fruit of the Coca region.

Where to stay?

My pick is Hotel Oasis on Camilo de Torrano with basic, worn-out fan rooms starting around $10 per person. Be sure to check out the nice views of the river.

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Travel Guides

Muisne: An Authentic Ecuadorian tropical island

muisne ecuador

Muisne has a unique ‘backwater’ feel, a run-down town, a tropical island, an enormously wide beach, at times completely deserted. Muisne has a feeling all its own and is best for explorers wanting to get far off the beaten track. Take a Mangrove tour with Fundecol.org.

Where to stay?

My value pick whenever I’m in the area is Hostal Las Olas with a restaurant and rooms starting around $10 per person.

Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Travel Guides

What to do in Lago Agrio?

lago agrio

Lago Agrio is a sketchy border town most tourists dont venture. It is however the main jumping off point to the Cuyabeno Jungle Wildlife reserve, a unique flooded rainforest. Also, a visit to nearby Dureno can give you a taste of what primary rainforest is like.

Where to stay?

My pick is Hotel Selva Real on the corner of AV QUITO Y COLOMBIA with basic, clean rooms relatively mosquito free starting at $15 per person.

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Travel Guides

Papallacta – Pamper yourself in this Andean Spa Town

papallacta ecuador

A few hours from Quito on the road to the Amazon lies a steamy spa town famous with local vacationers, Papallacta.

What to do?

Bath in the Thermal Hot Springs in the Termas de Papallacta about 1.5 km before you reach town.

Where to stay?

My pick is the Hosteria La Pamapa de Papallacta. Basic, clean rooms with on-site hot springs to enjoy, Prices start from $20. 2320624.

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Travel Guides

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

It’s true.

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

Child please, could you be more ignorant?

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

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

It’s true.

They’re nice.

Especially the woodwork here is amazing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

montanita house for rent

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Q&A

Ecuador Dual Citizenship: How to Apply?

get ecuador second passport

Some get one for the “show”.

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

…so their reply can be “which one?”

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

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

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

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

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

Many in fact.

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

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

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

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

You then need to gather the following documents:

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

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

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

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

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

That’s it.

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

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

Map of South Ecuador Coast: Montanita, Olon, Salinas

Map of South Ecuador Coast: Montanita, Olon, Salinas

salinas montanita ecuador map

salinas to montanita ecuador map


HOUSE FOR RENT 5 MINUTES FROM MONTANITA

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

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

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

FREE WIFI!

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

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

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

Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)

Arrival Date, Length of stay and questions:

 

montanita-real-estate

montanita-condo-rentals

montanita-hotel-near-beach

 

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Posted in Ecuador Q&A

How to sell your property in Ecuador… Fast

salinas property

A view from the front of the lot. 

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

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

It’s a good lot.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Q&A

Final costs of the tiki hut building project in Ecuador

I’m done. Six weeks, 3 tiki huts built with oceanviews near Montanita.

3 VERY different styles.

Non are luxury, but two of the three are nice for the middle-end or middle-higher-end traveler while one without much of a view is for the budget backpacker/surfer type.

Remember when I got quoted $3000-3500 for each tiki hut? And when I said I knew of others in the area that pull in around $50 a night on the weekends and $20 or so a night on weekdays?

Well, I built mine with kitchenette, balcony, 1 bedroom, 1 bath ensuite with WIFI for new arrival expats and travelers looking to rent anywhere from 3 days to one month, maybe while they search for something else long-term.

Well, here are the exact FINAL COSTS of the construction of each…

Tiki Hut 1, The budget option with little ocean-view built with a cement floor and cement block with the “Sing” metal sheet roofing so common in this area of Ecuador. It has WIFI and a mini-stove and bathroom (all in the same room) while the shower is behind a curtain out back. I hope to rent it to a surfer or backpacker for around $100 a month or $5 a day for shorter time periods. It’s good enough for me and someone not very picky, I could live there if I needed to live somewhere rent-free. It is very soviet-esque but comes furnished with bed, table, chair, Wifi internet, electric cooker, sink, and a half bath with the shower around back which does have a curtain. Currently its listed for rent at $85 a month.

ecuador tiki huts

Total build time = 6 days. (One Ecuador workweek).
Total size = 16 m2 or 172 ft2

FINAL COSTS

Floor and mini-support columns
-8 sacks of cement at $6.65 = $53.20
– 1/2 m2 of sand = $9.15
– 1/2 m2 of rock = $10.20
– 6 Rebar of 8mm = $31.86
total= $104.41

Walls
Cement block (250 units) = $77.50
6 Sacks of cement = $39.90
Door = $45
Lock and door knob = $12
No glass windows installed, only cement block windows with mosquito screens.
=$174.40

Roofing
7 sheets of metal “Sing” = $77
4 wooden support cross beams = $36
Mosquito netting = $25
= $138

Installations
Toilet and sink = $95
Shower head = $8
Electricity installation of one light = $24
3 points of water and plumbing installation (toilet, sink, outside shower) = $60
Random plastic tubing, wiring and electric/plumbing accessories = $34.68
Electric stove = $14
= $235.68

Labor = 2 men, one lead builder (maestro $150) and an assistant (oficial $90) for one week, total = $240

TOTAL COST $892.49

 

Tiki Hut 2, I bought this All-wooden hut pre-built from a builder I know from the Ecuadorian Amazon, Tena region. It took 3 days for them to install it on my location elevated a few feet above the ground. It has a wooden balcony, wooden floor, wooden walls, a “sing”roof, a beautiful oceanview, one bedroom, one bathroom, a sink, kitchenette, mini-refrigerator, WIFI, one queen bed, closet, one full bathroom with a hot electric-powered shower with a tile floor and vinyl-covered walls.

I had to tile the floor myself first laying a small web or rebar, then laying a 5 cm layer of cement, then laying the tile… and then I had to stick vinyl on the bathroom walls with rubber cement as well as install the water and electricity outlets and hook up. For rent (based on market prices) at $20/ night, $95/week or $230/month, the price is the same for one or two people.

ecuador building contractors

Total build time = 7 days.
Total size = 24 m2 or 258 ft2

Total cost of pre-fabricated wooden hut installed on site= $3200.

Total cost of bathroom supplies, tile for floor = $56
Vinyl for bathroom walls = $72
Installation of plumbing (4 points) = $84
Installation of electricity (4 points) = $48
Toilet and bathroom sink set = $85
Electric shower head = $24
Sink for kitchenette with accessories = $56
Electric wiring, plastic tubes and other plumbing and electric accessories = $78
Labor (2 days to install bathroom floor, lead maestro) = $50

Total cost = $3753

 

Tiki Hut 3, This was my baby, and boy I had no idea what i was getting myself into. By far the most labor intensive and time consuming, I designed the hut myself based off similar “mixed” models in the area. Due to inexperience building these types of huts (it was my first time) I made mistakes all along the way that caused me to go about $2k over budget (see the end of this email for details).

By “mixed construction” I mean a building that uses a mix of both eco-materials like bamboo and normal construction materials like cement and brick. My idea was to build an elevated structure a few feet off the ground with a cement, tiled floor and walls made partially of brick and bamboo.

The roof would have bamboo cross beams and a typical-for-the-area grass roof with a hidden layer of heavy-duty plastic and mosquito netting to keep the bugs out. The hut would have a balcony, one bedroom, one full bathroom with electric-powered hot shower and a kitchenette area complete with a countertop, sink, mini-refrigerator, one queen bed, closet, WIFI and a dining table for two. I did it, and it looks great, but not without learning a lot along the way. For rent (based on market prices) at $20/ night, $95/week or $250/month, the price is the same for one or two people.

ecuador builders

Total build time = 5 weeks
Total size = 30 m2 or 322 ft2

TOTAL COSTS

Labor costs
4 laborers for 3 weeks (2 lead builders, 2 assistants), 3 laborers for additional 2 weeks (2 lead builders, 1 assistant)
Lead builders (maestros) I paid one $150 a week and the other $140 a week.
Assistants (oficiales) I paid $90 a week
Extra $80 for extra men the day we poured the floor
Total= $2250

Material costs unit cost total cost
5.5 m3 of rock for construction $20.35 111.93
3 m3 of fine sand for construction $12 36
5 m3 of large-grained sand for construction $18.30 91.50
72 Sacks of cement $6.65 478.80
1 screwdriver $1.34 $1.34
11 Material transport cost $7 77
25 Rebar of 12mm $11.77 294.25
39 Rebar of 8 mm $5.31 207.09
18 Rebar of 10 mm $8.19 147.42
31 steel wire for tying rebar $.88 27.28
1 Wire #14 100m $27.50 $27.50
2 Paintbrushes $1.87 3.74
2 Pairs of rubber gloves $1.60 $3.20
1 Flex meter $3.03 $3.03
1 Net to filter sand $3.16 $3.16
45 4-meter boards of low quality wood for construction purposes $3.40 $153
28 m2 large floor tiles for bedroom and kitchen 5.18 $145.04
1 SIKA 4kg Acelerante $5.37 $5.37
2 Red Teflon Paolo $.41 $.82
2 drain piece for shower $2.25 $4.50
10 nails for cement 2.5” .08 $.80
20 nails for wood 2.5” .84 $16.80
1 Tube Connector $2.09 $2.09
1 Tube 110 mm $10.04 $10.04
10 Viruta #8 $.60 $6
10 lbs of 2” nails $1.63 $10.63
3 lbs of 3” nails $1.63 $10.63
Tubes for plumbing $2.65
34 Bamboo thin 4 meter stalks for construction purposes $3 $102
3 4×4 wood cuartones $6.35 $19.05
1 mangle (wood beam) 5 meter $13
2 doors nicely finished $70 $140
2 Door lock $12 $24
6 Caja Rectangular Plastigama Plumbing accessories $.76 $4.56
1 Caja Octagonal .76
5 Tomac 1228 2.37 $11.85
1 Tomac P-68 2.14
2 Interruptor 1100 1.79 $3.58
8 Perfiles 4x4x2.3 2.61 $20.88
2 Brushes for wire 1.60 $3.20
2 Viruta #8 .58 $1.16
2 Windows with wood frames nicely finished $100 $200
25 stalks of diced Bamboo $3.50 $87.50
15 m2 of Beige tile $9.06 $135.90
7 m2 of Sabina Beige tile $7.81 $54.67
30 units of designer bathroom tiles $.76 $22.80
4 Bags of Porcelain, grout $1.73 $6.92
16 Sacks of Bondex Titania 20kg cement $4.24 $67.84
4 Sacks of Bondex Premium 20kg cement $12.41 $49.64
Varios Tubes and plumbing/electrical accessories $478.89
2 Electric saw blade $4.50 $9
10 Cabo ¼ $.22 $2.20
1 metal sink $28.57
30 m2 Black heavy-duty plastic for roofing $1.56 $46.80
3 units Maderol 1000cc $10.26 $30.78
2 Piola Nylon Ponte Selva #6 $1.87 $3.74
8 Sack Granite pebbles $2 $16
1 Codo 50×90 Plastigama 1.20
1 Sifon 50mm Plastigama $4.01
2 llave de pared for kitchen plumbing $21.87 $43.74
3 Tubes for toilet 1/2×7/8 2.36 $7.08
16 screws 8×2” .05 $.80
1 6” brush Wilson 9.55
8 Rosetron Bakelina .58 $4.64
1 Connectors for bathroom sink $9.82
8 Tiras (wood for construction) 1.56 $12.48
10 Cuartones (wood for construction) 2.93 $29.30 744.5
6 units sandpaper #120 .35 $2.10
3 units sandpaper #80 1.35 $4.05
3 units sandpaper #180 .35 $4.05
1 unit handicraft wood for balcony $60
6 bundles palm frowns for finishing roof $25 $125
Other wood costs for construction not calculated above $100
2000 Bricks .21 $420

Total material cost: $ 4306.86

Total cost = $6557.36

Final conclusions, lessons learned, notes to self + you:

– Buy pre-fabricated if you can find a design you like! It will save you time, hassle and money!

– Build on the ground, not with an elevated floor to save costs on rebar and time. This error cost me a bit over a $1000 and caused me to go over-budget!

– Build with cement block and the typical metal-sheet roofing when feasible to economize, use brick for decorating and highlighting only. Bricks are very time-consuming to build with.

– Shop around for doors and windows prices range greatly.

– When building an elevated floor or multiple floors find someone to rent you their construction wood planks, the ones they use to hold up the cement.

– Have your own pick-up truck type vehicle during construction and save greatly on transport costs.

– Once your floor and support columns are in most of the heavy lifting is done and you can reduce personnel.

– Always be prepared for construction projects in new countries to cost 50-75% more than you planned for if managing yourself.

– Although feasible and even a bit fun, if you aren’t a builder it’s really not a good idea to manage a construction project yourself.

– There is a reason Ecuadorians build like they do, and like I followed with TIKI HUT #1, don’t reinvent the wheel, try to build as they do to economize but maybe while adding a few “perks” that add value to your place and make it somewhere you’d like to live.

-Building with eco-products like Bamboo actually is MORE expensive than building with cement and cement block.

– Buy as many fixtures, furniture and materials as possible in the nearest big city to save costs, on the southern coast that would mean buying in Guayaquil.

-Buy all the rock, sand and cement bags you will need for the project beforehand to save time and costs considering you have a place to put it.

– If building on your own get at least a couple “expert” opinions beforehand, I only got one, wasn’t enough, wish someone would have told me at least what I just told you, it would have saved me thousands!

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

An ambulance ride in Ecuador

ambulances in ecuador

“Jeeze, that was some crazy sh*t.” I thought as I sat in an ambulance on the coast of Ecuador this week.

I started to recollect what happened as I sat next to the nurse looking down at my friend as the ambulance sped along.

Moments earlier we were on the construction site of where I was in the last day or two of completing 3 tiki huts or “cabañas” on the southern coast of Ecuador.

In the final moments of the day, the lead builder was cutting a piece of wood for the balcony of one of the huts with an electric saw when… “zip” it kicked back and caught him in the shirt.

I was about 30 feet away so I saw it all go down.

At first, his look was of shock, then relief as he thought he missed getting knicked, then as he checked his shirt he realized there was a hole in it.

He lifted up his shirt and … wow… he saw the 6 inch slice in the side of his belly exposing his fat and underneath, different color things that I confirmed later were in fact his intestines.

I had never seen a cut like that.

He waved me over and grabbed my shoulder while another worker took his other shoulder and we walked quickly to the nearby clinic while he held his side. It was conveniently only 1 block or so away.

Once inside we went to the emergency room where he quickly got taped up. The small clinic had to ambulance him to the nearest hospital with surgeons that could stitch him up.

Once we finished the almost hour long ambulance ride he went into surgery, where he stayed for the next 3 hours.

He had to spend the night in the hospital but by the next day he could walk out of there.

He will have to stay off his feet for a couple weeks but the docs said he didn’t cut anything vital, so he should be OK soon.

The total bill from the hospital stay, surgery and ambulance ride = $0 (It was a public, free hospital.)

A few things I learned from the incident:

– Ecuadorian construction sites are VERY hazardous places, don’t just meander through them like you would a park. Proceed with caution, heads up!

– When hiring workers off the street and managing a project yourself you not only have to police them to be sure they’re working, but also to be sure they’re working safely. For instance my worker (and friend) was cutting a board horizontally in the air when he shouldn’t have AND he was looking away from where he was cutting. As well, the nurse at the hospital said construction accidents are quite common but the most common is when workers fall great distances.

– Most public, free hospitals in Ecuador are in fact pretty good and can be relied upon in time of need. Just be sure someone is there that can run to a nearby farmacy and buy you medicines as the doctors ask for them.

– The tool he was using wasn’t mine, but don’t lend Ecuadorian workers your fancy power tools that you may have brought from the US, they will probably say they know how to use them when they really don’t. Let them build how they know how to build.

– I knew this already listening to stories from other people in Ecuador, that’s why I had one of the workers stay back at the job site when the accident happened. But in time of emergency don’t abandon valuables, some sly locals will seize the opportunity to rob you, it’s sad but it’s how it works in poor countries sometimes.

And remember, as always, before you make any investment in Ecuador, you’re going to want to sign up for my weekly, Ecuador Insider’s Newsletter below where I spill all the beans on investing in Ecuador (You can unsubscribe at ANY time):

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Expat Lifestyle

A Guide to the Valley of Longevity:Vilcabamba

vilcabamba

Vilcabamba is THE place to go in Ecuador if you just want to veg-out in absolute tranquility. The weather is near perfect and on most days you can hear a pin drop.

Where to stay in Vilcabamba?

Hotel Mandango: My pick for budget travelers with clean, simple rooms that start around $6 per person.

What to do in Vilcabamba?

– Swim in the nearby lazy streams.

– Rent a bike and bike around town.

– Hike the nearby hillsides.

– Try the Filet Mignon at Madre Tierra Guesthouse.

– Get a facial and a massage at Madre Tierra Guesthouse.

– Check out some real estate with one of the several local agencies with offices around the main plaza.

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Travel Guides

What you must bring to Ecuador to get a residency visa

ecuador resident visas

This week I got a question from a friend…

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

Great question.

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

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

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

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

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

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

For folks applying for the PENSIONERS resident visa…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Zamora, a Gem of the Ecuadorian Orient

zamora-ecuador

Zamora, the gateway to the southern Amazon region, refreshingly cool due to its altitude, Zamora has a unique feel surrounded by waterfalls, rivers and orchids. If you like bird watching and hummingbirds this is the place to visit, just 1 hour from Loja with the new road.

Where to stay in Zamora?

Copalinga: A hydro-powered nature lodge great for hummingbird watching. (From $25 per person).

Hotel Betania:Francisco Orellana My pick for budget travelers with clean, simple rooms that start around $12 per person.

What to do in Zamora?

– Kayak or rafting on the Rio Bombuscaro.

– Visit nearby Parque Podocarpus.

– Rappelling up the nearby waterfalls.

– Bird watching near the Rio Bombuscaro.

– Take a Orchid watching tour.

– Swimming in the nearby streams

– Paintball in the local course.

– Canopy in the nearby mountains.

– Fishing in the nearby streams.

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Travel Guides

2012 Changes to Ecuador Residency Requirements

2012 ecuador residency changes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What hasn’t changed?

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

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

What to do in Loja?

tigrillo
El Tigrillo

loja-ecuador

Loja is an interesting place. Some acquaint it to a mini-Cuenca, but it actually has a flavor all its own. The people are very proud of the heritage, are very into the fine arts, classical music and they even have their own gastronomy, and arguably the best coffee in Ecuador.

Where to stay in Loja?

Hotel Prado Internacional: Near the old town, this is by far the best value for buck place in Loja, with top quality although cramped rooms for a reasonable price ($20 per person).

Hotel Londres:Sucre 07-51 My pick for budget travelers with rooms that start around $7 per person.

What to do in Loja?

– Meander the Old Town. Its one of the most picturesque in Ecuador.

– Visit nearby Parque Podocarpus.

– Visit the locally-famous zoo.

– Try the local eats like the TAMAL LOJANO, TIGRILLO, and LAS HUMITAS.

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Travel Guides

My Take of Chordeleg

chordeleg-ecuador

chordeleg

If there’s somewhere in Ecuador that has a true eternal spring-like climate, maybe it’s Chordeleg. Besides the wonderful climate, Chordeleg is neat to visit as the country’s top silver destination. The silver shops line the streets all around the main plaza.

Where to stay in Chordeleg?

Residencial Gualaceo: Gran Colombia 3-02 In nearby Gualaceo, this is my pick for budget travelers for the warm atmosphere and cheap prices with rooms starting around $8 per person.

What to do in Chordeleg?

– Go jewelry shopping in and around the main plaza in town, Ecuador’s finest!

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Travel Guides

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