How to Retire in Ecuador

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Contributor, Benzinga
April 4, 2021

Ecuador is an attractive retirement destination for expats. This South American country offers a high living standard at a low cost. Benzinga reveals the details on how to retire in Ecuador so you don’t miss out on this great destination.

Cost to Retire in Ecuador

Your Social Security benefit, pension or annuity can go far in Ecuador. A retiring couple can live comfortably for about $1,800 per month. A single person can retire well for around $1,400 per month. Plus, Ecuador uses the U.S. dollar as its currency. This eliminates any currency transfer fees. This table shows what a $1,400 per month budget pays for a single person.

ExpensesCost per Month
Luxury 2-bedroom apartment$400
Weekly maid service$80
Car maintenance and fuel$140
Monthly total$1,440

If you receive near the average monthly Social Security benefit of $1,470, you can afford to retire in Ecuador. But living on such a tight budget can be risky. Emergencies, unforeseen events and fees can leave you strapped for cash. Also, you may want to take a trip or have an occasional party. You’ll need to save around $350,000 to securely retire in Ecuador. This amount will double your monthly budget for about 20 years. 

Requirements to Retire in Ecuador

Like many countries, the process of establishing residency can be tedious. But the requirements are very simple. You must prove that your monthly income is at least $800 from a reliable source to secure a 9-I Ecuador retirement visa. If your income source comes from an annuity, you must show the fund’s ability to pay the monthly minimum for 5 years. Investing $25,000 in local real estate is another option. 

How to Get a Visa to Live in Ecuador

You must reside in the country for at least 21 months on a temporary 9-I Ecuador retirement visa to get a 9-I permanent Ecuador retirement visa. Here are the steps to get a temporary visa:

  1. Request an appointment.
  2. Download application forms
  3. Present a valid 90-day passport with an immigration stamp on it.
  4. Present a valid 30-day migratory movement from the Ministry of the Interior.
  5. Provide verifiable proof of subsistence.
  6. Pay a $400 fee.

A spouse or a blood relative of an Ecuadorian citizen can bypass this process. You can get additional information on this website.

Does Ecuador Have Retirement Benefits for Foreigners?

Ecuador offers foreigners the same rights as citizens. By getting your Ecuador retirement visa, you can join the country’s public health insurance program. A $66 monthly fee will entitle you to free doctor’s visits, free emergency care and discount prescription drugs. 

If you are over 65, you can take advantage of the following benefits:

  • Discount airfare on flights starting from Ecuador
  • ½ price on public transportation
  • ½ price on entertainment and sporting events
  • Eligibility for a refund on sales taxes

Places to Retire in Ecuador

Looking for city life or country life in the dense jungle? Depending on your preferences, here are some options.


Cuenca is the most popular place to retire in Ecuador. Its blend of easygoing culture and big-city assets attracts an international array of expats. It offers a large shopping center, 18 hospitals and 4 universities. The total population of Cuenca is around 350,000. About 8,000 are American expats. Despite its growth in popularity, Cuenca is still very affordable. You can live comfortably within the $900 to $1,500 range.


Nestled in the Andes, Loja is popular for its music and rich Spanish culture. Its mild climate offers balmy weather year-round and a short rainy season. Loja’s museums, shops and historical buildings are within walking distance. Plus, it has a lower crime rate than most Ecuadorian cities. Loja is an underrated place to retire in Ecuador — not many expats live there. This helps keep the cost of living in this city extremely low. Loja is a good choice if you want a traditional Ecuadorian environment. 


The capital city of Quito is Ecuador’s second-largest city, with 2.5 million residents. It features all the big city attractions and the beauty of nature. You’ll find shops, concerts, nightclubs, galleries and theatres. The surrounding landscape features scenic mountains, craters and volcanic peaks. Quito offers a growing expat retirement community but the cost of living is very affordable. Rent for furnished apartments ranges from $425 to $740 per month. Quito is home to numerous Christian missions owing to the experiences of missionary Elisabeth Elliot in the early 1950s.


Seeking coastal living? Salinas could be your ideal place to retire in Ecuador. It offers a beach resort atmosphere and breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean. San Lorenzo and Chipipe are among the most popular beaches in Ecuador. The pace in Salinas revs up during the tourist season and slows down during the off-season. Plus, it’s only a 2-hour drive from Ecuador’s largest city, Guayaquil.

How to Save for Retirement Now

Saving to retire in Ecuador can be easier than you think. If you didn’t start saving for retirement in your 20s, you’re not out of luck or time. You can use many retirement investment options. Check out the best investments for retirees for more information. 

401(k) and IRA accounts are simple, solid investment options. A 401(k) is an employer pension plan. It gives the employer the option of contributing to the plan. A traditional IRA is an individual retirement account. Using age as the determining variable, this table shows the annual percentage of a $55,000 annual salary you would need to contribute to a 401(k) account to reach over $350,000.

Current Age404550
Age of Retirement656565
Annual Salary$55,000 $55,000$55,000
Contribution Percentage10%15%25%
Current 401(k) Balance$0$0$0
Annual Rate of Return7%7%7%
Total Employee Contribution$137,500$165,000$206,250
End 401(k) Balance$360,921$350,904$358,409

Saving early in life is a definite advantage. To reach the $350,000 range, older workers must contribute a higher percentage of their annual salaries. Fifty-year-old workers could reach the $350,000 mark with a 15% annual contribution by postponing retirement for 5 years. Find out whether your employer will match a certain percentage of your annual 401(k) contribution; any amount provided by your employer increases your retirement savings.

Although past performance is no guarantee of future returns, common stocks have a 10-year-annual return of 10%. Higher returns come with high risks. A good online broker can help you explore this option. Mutual funds can give you about the same return as the 401k and IRA plans. They can require less risk-taking than common stocks. Regardless, it pays to learn as much as you can about all the investment options. Find more information in our list of best retirement planning books.

It’s not easy to put aside $600 to $800 per month for retirement savings, so consider putting aside $150 to $200 per week. Some employers will automatically deduct your 401(k) or IRA contribution from your paycheck, or you can offset your savings contribution by taking on a side job.