Good living, great weather and excellent medical care make Ecuador the top spot for retirees.
Sunset at the Yasuni National Park, at the Ecuadorean Amazon forest. The tiny South American country has been voted the best place in the world to spend your twilight years. Photo: RODRIGO BUENDIA/AFP/Getty Images
The tiny country of Ecuador has been voted the best place in the world to retire to.
Located in the remote north-west region of South America, Ecuador has a population of just 15 million. But it is proving attractive for expats – with a cheap cost of living, good weather and top-class yet affordable health care.
Expats qualify for health care by paying a small monthly fee, while those looking for employment will find applying for a work visa much easier than in many Western countries.
Property is relatively cheap to buy or rent, particularly beachfront villas considering the premium normally attached to them. Rural locations are even cheaper and there is no tax to pay on importing your goods from overseas.
The country topped a poll on the International Living website, which is about overseas retirement. The site used its international network of writers, editors and expats to assess factors ranging from how easy it is to make friends in the country to the ease at which one can get around.
Jim Kennedy, a British expat retiree who moved to Ecuador last year, said: “If you are a senior citizen you can qualify for some discounts on eating out and travel. But these things aren’t expensive anyhow, so your pension goes a lot further out here.”
Ecuador, where Spanish is the official language although English is widely spoken, also has an excellent safety record by South American standards.
Paul Green, a spokesman for Surtrek South American Travel (www.surtrek.com), said: “My wife and I are currently renting a three-bedroom, comfortable apartment in the capital Quito’s safe yet bohemian village of Guápulo. We wake up daily to truly breathtaking mountain views through the bedroom window and our rent is a mere $200 (£129) a month.”
The 57-year-old semi-retired expat added that there were no heating bills given Ecuador’s warm climate, and a combined phone-internet-English channel TV package costs $50 (£32) a month.
This makes it affordable for him keep in touch with friends and family back home via Skype, Facebook and email.
He added: “A French neighbour of ours who works for the UN pays more than double what we do for a fully furnished place. It all depends on what you need and what you want to pay. Some say it’s half the cost of living in the US, while I would argue it’s even less to live here without compromising style and comfort.”
High-quality hospital care is also a major attraction, especially for retirees, while health insurance premiums are low for those who prefer not to use the subsidised public system.