How you avoid paying gringo prices in Ecuador

“Just pay me what you will.” Said the local who helped me find my agricultural lot this week.

I was thinking a decent finders fee in the States would be at least a few hundred if not a few thousand dollars, so I was going to offer him a few hundred.

Then I caught myself!

Don’t think like that when you move to another country, I told myself.

Always always always pay the minumum amount accepted by the other person or ‘best price’ even if you think it’s TOO embarrasing low.


Because if you don’t you’re setting yourself up for that person in the future to overcharge you cause he’ll think “well, I’m going to milk it, he can pay it”.

That’s how a lot of people down here think. Rich Ecuadorians know it.

Always play “I’m broke” even if you’re not or you set yourself up to be a target in the future.

Never overpay!

To avoid being “gringoed” insist on them giving YOU the price.

Especially, when you don’t know how much the service or property should cost. And often being in a new land, you won’t know.

Afterall, how much is it to fix a sink in Manta, Ecuador?

“No freaking idea” would be your probable response.

But, hey, they provided the service.

So get THEM to give you their price first even if they insist you give your price first, then, you can negotiate from there to get the BEST PRICE POSSIBLE.

He said, give me a hundred dollars, shocked at the low price I reached into my pocket.

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How To Find The Cheapest (And Best) Farmland In Ecuador

Deciding I was going to lease a farm lot was the easy part.

Now, how do I actually find one with a solid water source, no surprises, near me, and at a good price?

I quickly realized driving around that searching for farm land is WAY DIFFERENT than what I learned when I wrote my guide on how to find the best property deals on the coast of Ecuador.

The tactics are way different. I could be at this for MONTHS with no luck.

Forget the Internet, nothing good listed there.

No ‘for sale’ signs.

No real estate agents.

No asking at street stores or local taxis, they don’t know.

No asking of the farmers, most the people you see working the fields are just farmhands, probably hired for the day, not even from the area. Chances are they haven’t even met the farm owner of the place they’re working nor any other owners in the area.

This was going to be tough.

So, I went to the one local contact I had in the area that was already leasing land and farming himself. Told him to help me look, and I’d take care of him.

And, within a few hours he came and knocked on my door and had 4 different options to choose from.

I chose the one closest to me, and he said it had a good water source as the lot was actually right next to his and literally a Peyton Manning stone throw from my Hotel near the airport in Quito.

The lot is about 1 hectare (2.2 acres), negotiated price of $1250 per year. Before me strawberries were planted there.

So there you have it, to find the BEST deals on farmland, pick an area, go, hang out a while, make a local contact or three and have them help you look. I call them rabbits. Find yourself a local rabbit!

Now, let’s do it!

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Getting your own farm in Ecuador without buying the land

No one in my school growing up in Cleveland, Ohio said they wanted to get into farming.

It was never a realistic option for me or my peers.

Hard to compete with the big boys in North America and their subsidies.

But, down here in Ecuador, the land is so fertile, the water so plentiful, and so many of the wealthy have small to medium sized farms, you can’t help but get curious about it.

But when you really start to talk to folks involved in farming you realize…

…many of them don’t even own the land!

They lease.

Lease the land, pay by the year, one solo payment that gives them rights to grow anything on the land they want.

Particularly where I’m at in the valleys of Quito the land prices are HIGH (compared to the rest of Ecuador) starting around $40-60 per meter.

That would mean 1 hectare would be $400,000 USD!  That’s a lot of money!

So most farmers lease.

In my area they pay around $800-1200 per year.

And I’m going to do just that, afterall, what does a guy from the suburbs know about farming?


So for my first experiment I’d like to do something close to where I live so I can keep my finger on it.

Stay tuned in the coming days and weeks to see how this goes!  I’ll share everything.

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The biggest danger you face in Ecuador…


“What the f@ck was that,” I thought as I sat up in bed.

The noise woke me up.


There it was again, sounded like a gun shot, in my house!

Now, I was really worried.

You see, I was a new arrival immigrant in Ecuador, three plus years ago, with no money and just a carry-on full of belongings, staying in a run-down student housing building on the ghetto south-side of the “Centro” of Guayaquil.

My only furniture was a little-box-bed I was sleeping on.

I was new, I didn’t know that this was NOT a good place to live, especially for a foreigner.


I opened my bedroom door and still rubbing my eyes walked out through the hallway past the other students rooms and into the main area at the front of the house where I saw a gardener working.

“Buenos dias, boss” the gardener said.

I waved and went back to bed.

Later that morning I got a powerful knock on the door, it was another student that was in the building.

“Dude, we’ve been robbed!” He proclaimed.

“What?!?” I was shocked, remember, I was a newbie North American in Ecuadorian student housing. Afterall, this stuff never happened in the cushy suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio where I was born and raised.

We went to his room where it had been ransacked, along with the neighbor, and examening closely my door, it had been broke too, the noise I heard was the burglar trying to kick in my door, twice!

Thankfully, it was a solid wooden door cause if he would have got in and saw me there, it would’ve been two caged rats, only one getting out alive.

And then it hit me, the “gardener” was the burglar, he didn’t have time to get out when I came out and faked it, boy did I feel stupid when I told the other students.

He thought on a holiday weekend a student housing complex would be empty, well, I having no family in Ecuador had no where else to go and was there.

The next day I was out of there, moving to a nicer part of Guayaquil.

You see, the biggest danger you’ll face in Ecuador is from break ins, and yes, Ecuadorians already know this and take measures to prevent against it.

For instance, they put up big walls around the property, live in gated communities, put ghetto glass on the tops of the walls, get big dogs, even let poor local families live on their property so it’s not so vacant.

Usually, robbers in Ecuador will only go for a house that is OBVIOUSLY vacant.

Know this and take it into account before you buy or rent in Ecuador, how’s the security of the house/condo?

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The Exact step-by-step process and costs for getting your (second) Ecuadorian passport

 I got a friend, a young American guy in his early thirties who goes by the name Bart Simpson.

He’s rich, specifically, a “dot com” millionaire.

And his hobby in life now is collecting passports, he has six already to be exact.

A South American one is his next target as it would open up the whole continent for him.

He’s done his homework, and according to him, Ecuador is the EASIEST to get.

So that’s why he’s here.

I was helping him out, and here is the exact process you need to follow to get your second Ecuadorian passport.  

1. After at least 2 and a half years of residency (technically they say 3 years but my contact who works in the Quito office told me you can really apply after 2 and a half years from the day you get your Ecuador cedula or ID card) you can apply for the dual citizenship which gets you an Ecuadorian Passport.  You can not be out of the country during those first 2 and a half years a total of more than 90 days, but you can apply for citizenship anyway even if you pass this limit but you’ll have to submit a letter stating why you passed the limit and hope they still sign off on it.

2. Gather the requirements.  
– Birth certificate, apostilled and translated to Spanish.
– Passport color copy of the passport where you have the residency visa stamp.  Your passport must have at least 6 months of validity.
-Color copy of Ecuadorian Cedula(ID card).
– Get document from civil registry (registro civil) that states first date of cedula (tarjeta indice de filiacion que dice la primera fecha de cedulacion)
– Certificate of compliance (Certificado de cumplimiento de obligaciones) from the SRI (IRS of Ecuador) stating you are up-to-date on any taxes.
– Certificate of compliance (Certificado de cumplimiento de obligaciones) from your local Municipality stating you are up-to-date on any taxes.
– Certificate of compliance (Certificado de cumplimiento de obligaciones) from the IESS social security system of Ecuador stating you are up-to-date on any payments.
– Police record from all the countries (including Ecuador) where you’ve lived the last 5 years. They are currently accepting only federal level checks from countries with a federal government, for Americans, that means an FBI check, apostilled.
– Migratory movement card, obtained in Ecuadorfrom immigration for $4. (Movimiento Migratorio)
– 4 color passport sized photos.
– Proof of Ecuador solvency:  Like a bank certificate, bank statements last three months, for business owners the monthly sales tax declarations, copies of the title (escritura) of any property or businesses you own in Ecuador or a copy of your rental contract properly inscribed in the rental agency (Juzgado de Inquilinato).

3. In person, they require you submit your documentation in Quito in the Immigration office (Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores) on 10 de agosto. You can also submit in Guayaquil.

4. You’ll be called in within a few months to take a written exam in Spanish on basic Ecuadorian history.  it is not pass/fail, it is just to put in your file, and they would like to see some effort.  It is not verbal in anyway but they reserve the right to do some verbal questions if they wish (but they usually don’t according to  my contact).

5. Upon acceptance of application you must publish an ad in local paper announcing your new citizenship.

6. You will then be called in with all the others that day accepted into Ecuadorian citizenship to sing the national hymn (together, not solo) and confirm your new citizenship.  You will need to bring three Ecuadorian witnesses.  You can then go get your Ecuadorian passport.

Duration: about 6 months.

Cost: $200 application fee, $500 acceptance fee, approx $403 publication fee, $285 Civil Registry fee.  All fees are one-time-only, but Ecuador citizenship is for life unless you renounce it.   These costs are the cheapest you can do it for without using an attorney.

Total: Appox $1300.

And to prep for the test, simplifying it and giving you just what you need-to-know, you’d love my weekly newsletter, revealing everything you need to know BEFORE you invest in Ecuador. Unsubscribe at any time:

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