Best country for expats

Why Ecuador is the Best Country for Expats [7 Reasons] shares the best travel insights, facts, and photos. When you use our links, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.

What is the best country for expats? Ecuador is almost always on the radar for future expats planning a move to Latin America. In this post by Sara Chaca (Attorney /Abogada in Cuenca Ecuador) you’ll learn about seven factors that make Ecuador the best country for expats. Bio at end of post.

Best country for expats

Why Ecuador is the Best Country for Expats

Moving abroad is something that foreigners can/will dream about their entire lives, though few ever actually do so (i.e. only 1-3% of Americans currently live outside the US).

But unlike winning the lottery, thankfully it is one of the few aspirations in this life that is generally quite well within a foreigner’s control and grasp, and not at all out of the palatable financial range of most middle-class Americans, Canadians, Europeans, and Australians.

The same can reasonably be said nowadays for China’s and most of Asia’s and the Middle East’s middle class too, with many Africans even being able to qualify to jump aboard that same such now most hospitable concept.

That said, where oh where to jump to, per an expat’s compass and evaluation of the world map, relative to the old saying, “Look before you leap”?!

Ecuador is the best country for expats
More reading: What’s it like to live in Cuenca Ecuador?
Well, as an Ecuadorian Immigration Attorney, I’m here to tell you, that from my thousands of expat clients over the years, the things that most expats hold near and dear, plus require and/or desire, in making their move to another country, are in fact found in high affinity as well as in plentiful quantity, all within the beautiful country of Ecuador.

In fact, I would venture to say that per my clients who have traveled the world over, they routinely advise and inform me that Ecuador is literally “the hostess with the mostess”, when compared to all of the other countries they’ve lived in, visited for extended periods and/or bought property in.

And so, in this short article, I shall list to the very best of my ability, those such things that my many worldly expat clients have stated to me, which demonstrates in good faith and explanatory reasons, “Why Ecuador is the best country for Expats” to move to (precisely as the title of this article states):

1. Ecuador uses the US Dollar – and only the US Dollar

It’s true, Ecuador’s official currency is the US dollar.

This is something that expats usually don’t take into account enough (or at all, or rather just take for granted) when first deciding where and how to move to another country.

The plain truth of the matter though, is that the ability of one to count, pay, receive and plan, all on the basis of the currency that they’re most used to (including that the rest of the outside world at large generally accepts across borders without any issue..), is truly huge!

As, it’s very easy to mistake the various classifications/denominations of bills and coins in say, Mexico, Peru, and the Philippines, whereas, clearly that’s not going to happen to at least the likes of Americans, Canadians, and Europeans (plus other nationalities) that routinely and uniformly make use of the US Dollar.

Not to mention, that US credit card companies don’t charge foreign transaction fees on one’s purchases made in Ecuador, since there’s never any currency conversion to do and so one isn’t put in the frustrating position each month of having to review their bank and credit card statements trying to figure out if the correct amount was charged (nor debating whether to pay in cash vs. credit card so as to have one less charge to need to analyze and potentially dispute at each month’s end).

Reasons to live in Ecuador
Moreover, there’s never any need to visit an Ecuadorian bank (if one doesn’t want to), so as to convert their dollars to pesos or some other unfamiliar currency or pay a commission to the bank for same (did I forget to mention that bank lines in most competitor South American, European and Asian countries are notoriously aggravating at that?).

Finally, as per this point of the US Dollar making life “oh so easy” in Ecuador as compared to other countries on the menu of living abroad, it’s also very reassuring to most expats that checks drawn/written on their US bank accounts are widely accepted in Ecuador by native persons, businesses and companies, large and small, and usually regardless of the amount of money involved or the reason for the purchase (though of course purchases of less than $100 are generally best paid in US Dollar cash in lieu of US Dollar checks).

2. The gift that keeps on giving – again the US Dollar, per how far it goes!

The subtitle referenced “Gift” being, just how very much you can buy with the US Dollar in Ecuador itself.

That is to say, a furnished apartment in lovely Cuenca (for example) might only run you $500 per month, plus a maid for that same apartment (part-time or full time) would only cost you another $10-15 per day.

Your grocery bill for a single individual or couple won’t likely break $25 per week, and eating out will only add maybe an additional $3-5 per meal (with leftovers to spare).

Electric, water, cell phone and internet – $100 with most single individuals or couples who hang their hat in Ecuador (by the way, Ecuador even manufactures and sells its world-renowned stylish “Panama Hat” for both men and women at less than $20 for a real beauty of a natural sunblock for one’s head and nose at that).

Plus, in most cities of Ecuador, the street designs and area zoning is so intelligently done that there’s really not much need to have a car at all – the bus and taxi system (plus light rail in Cuenca itself) is super efficient and won’t cost you more than $0.30 to $3.00 to travel from one side of most any Ecuadorian city to the other!

Reasons to move to Ecuador

3. Ecuador has World Class Healthcare, plus just plain “good health” too

IESS, being its acronym, is the Ecuadorian State Government Health Plan, which provides 100% coverage for ALL persons/families that sign up for it, which amazingly only currently costs around $70 per month for any Primary Applicant, plus less than $15 per month additional for any familial Dependent(s).

As an IESS insured in Ecuador, you are entitled to free necessary healthcare (including catastrophic coverage) and necessary dental care at government-affiliated Doctors, Dentists, Clinics, Hospitals, Imaging Facilities, etc.

There are ZERO limitations for preexisting conditions, and IESS only requires a 60-day waiting period to be able to start using it fully for any/all medical and dental conditions that are reasonably deemed medically/dentally necessary to be treated.

On top of that, since most expats only use their IESS for purposes of major operations and catastrophic events, the cost of a private pay English speaking doctor isn’t usually more than $20-40 for a consultation, plus prescription drugs are usually sold for 5-10% of what the same drug or its equivalent costs in the US.

Ecuador is also a great believer and sponsor of preventative healthcare, meaning that parks, walking trails and health food stores abound – even Ecuadorian supermarkets sell popular expat new age food items like sprouts, hummus, extra virgin olive oil, and the pharmacies are ripe with Chia/Flax Seeds, Vitamin C and don’t forget that Ecuador’s strong direct sunlight at the equator causes your body to produce all its own natural Vitamin D on a daily basis in mere minutes of beneficial exposure (simply duck for cover, put on a hat or apply a smidge of sunscreen for the face, after having had a 15-30 minute consecutive spurt of sun on your uncovered skin).

Learn more about expat health insurance.

4. Climate & Biodiversity galore – ooh, ahh, how did nature bless them so?

Ecuador is home to nearly 50 different types and variations of climate/ecological areas, all within a land that is the approximate size of the US state of Colorado. 

Here’s more about the size of Ecuador and its 24 provinces.

One simply controls their temperature by their altitude in Ecuador, and traveling from one city or corner of Ecuador by bus, taxi or car is a synch – in an hour to several hours you’ve gone from one side of Ecuador to the other on most any point of the trajectory, and kept your same time zone in Ecuador all the while (there’s no daylight savings time in Ecuador so no need to set your clock backward or forward either – the sun rises around 6:00 AM and sets at around 6:00 PM all across the country, all year round).

Its beaches are second to none, its oceans offer whale watching tours and world-class fishing, and of course, it boasts the internationally famous Galapagos Islands as all it’s own.

Puerto Lopez Beach Ecuador

More reading: What is Ecuador Famous For? 16 People, Places, Food

In short, whatever type season, weather or type natural sights or animals, birds and butterflies you wish to see, Ecuador has more than got you sufficiently well covered.

what is Ecuador famous for

5. First class infrastructure and technology (hint: Wi-Fi is everywhere)

Though once (and still at times) considered a third world nation, that now antiquated past reference speaks nothing as to Ecuador’s undeniable triumph at providing free Wi-Fi in virtually every city park throughout the entire land, light rail that connects any area of a city to any other (think Cuenca..), fabulous new roads and tunnels, modern buses/taxis, first class water & theme parks, as well as brilliantly laid out 5 star Hotel Resorts all across the country.

On top of that, many (if not most) of the providers of service in Ecuador (particularly in the hospitality industries) speak English and encourage online ordering systems/website use as well as free cell phone applications, so as to assist and connect customers and those same providers of service.

facts about quito ecuador

6. Culture, along with opening an eye to the rest of the world too

Located at the northwestern corner of South America, and less than the distance from the Panama Canal as the peninsular shaped state of Florida is long, Ecuador has for many hundreds of years been a most important point of destination, investment and shipping, for foreigners of both east and west, that have found or enjoyed their own little slice of heaven in or about the country.

As a direct result, this has caused a tremendous amount of multicultural influences across Ecuador, with even many of its people appearing at times to look or live as though they are from Asia (think Chinese influence..), yet then when you look again, you see their Spanish and Incan common ancestors coming through their smiling faces, all together in a vibrant mix with their North American and European influences (even African, Australian and Middle Eastern influences at that), per those who came before them that ventured to “venture” in Ecuador, since its also located in a perfect place geographically to benefit from the international trade routes and plain old “international trade” at that (quite helpful to know and benefit from, per those with an eye on opening a business/company in Ecuador..).

7. No wars, no terrorism, no extremists, no hurricanes, low crime rate, etc.!

Lest we forget, the world isn’t perfect, and so to that extent, neither is Ecuador either.

That said though, the unfortunate state of our present tumultuous world being what it is, shows us that things can always be a whole heck of a lot worse elsewhere, and so on that basis, one can easily relish (and joyously so at that!), that upon moving to Ecuador, the all too familiar foreign wars, terrorism, extremists, hurricanes and most crime for all intents and purposes, is being left by the wayside, as it is alternatively being exchanged for a generally pleasant and tranquil way of life in Ecuador, which boasts a level of relative safety and desirable weather that the vast majority of the rest of the world is quite envious of, to say the least!

As, besides an occasional earthquake (the last newsworthy earthquake occurred several years ago in an area on the northern coast of Ecuador), there simply isn’t much in the way of violent displays of nature in Ecuador (nor violence in general), to either write home about or to have to “return home” because of it.

Choose the best country for expats
And so now, noting full well the above information and much-appreciated wisdom of my expat clients for your benefit with respect to the above, you can easily see that the country of Ecuador is right there (here!) waiting for you, fully ready to be explored, its people longing to be befriended, and its natural species and awesome sites prominently showing off their breathtaking colors and views to your order.

Just remember, all you need is Ecuador, for purposes of your next exploratory trip abroad – simply book your plane ticket to come visit this beautiful country at any time of year, so as to check out all that you’ve been missing elsewhere up through this point, and where your life can/will take you next, in beautiful Ecuador!

Sara Chaca Ecuador immigration lawyerBio: Sara Chaca (Attorney – Abogada) is a seasoned Ecuadorian Lawyer, who principally serves expats in making their moves to Ecuador, as well as for any legal issues that arise or become actionable for her expat clients to undertake in their new lives here in her beautiful country.

Sara resides in Cuenca with her family, which consists of her American husband and 2 daughters (as well as her parents and siblings), and when not working, she enjoys spending time with her family in Cuenca’s majestic Cajas Mountains and local parks & fairs of Cuenca, plus visiting the coast as well as the many gem towns of Ecuador.

Sara’s personal email address is and her personal cell phone number is 099.296.2065. Sara has a less than 24-hour first response policy, in that if you email or call her, she WILL return your first email or first phone call in less than 24 hours (more typically closer to 24 minutes).

Most importantly, all first-time consultations with expats for any type Visa or Legal matter(s) are always FREE OF CHARGE.

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  1. I live in Cuenca. I think Sara’s article is spot-on. I would add a couple additional thoughts: 1) Cuenca is a perfect sized community. It is referred to as a city buy it really feels like a large town. Cuenca is a place you come to, spend some time and you find that it just feels like home. 2) The Cuencanos are excellent people; family oriented, hard working, peaceful, smart and they take pride in their community. The community is spotless and there is no rough-stuff here.

  2. Moving to Ecuador after 12 years in Costa Rica has been one of the best decisions in our life. We adore Cuenca and are still exploring this paradise. The article rightly reports the benefits.
    PS: I was surprised at the low percentage of US citizens 3% living outside of the US.
    The state of healthcare, politics, cost of living were key in our decision.

  3. I am closing in on a decade here outside of Cuenca, in the mountains, with my horses. All my friends are Cuencano vaqueros. I am charmed every day. To friends, I sum it up with “quality of life and cost of living.” I am a proud citizen.

  4. I am 86 years young, strong and healthy! Do I get any senior privllege in Ecuador? Thanks! In advance Doug.

  5. Hello,
    I am planning ahead for a couple of years to live abroad with my husband and child. I am a hospital registered nurse. Would it be difficult to get a job as a nurse? My Spanish needs much improvement.
    Thank you!

  6. We are certificates tesl teachers and have taught in China and Vietnam at university level. Are their opportunities in Cuenca and how much could you earn?

    1. Yes indeed, there are opportunities in Cuenca for tesl teachers, and they can earn up to perhaps $1000-1500 per month or more. You would come to Ecuador on a Professional Visa(s) in such case – simply email me at for more information as to the Professional Visa(s) if you’re interested in moving to Ecuador.

  7. Sara, I admire you as a brilliant female attorney. MY husband Tom & I are thinking about moving to Cuenca since our last year vist! I am a chiropractor and wonder If I could use the professional visa status to move and wether chiropractic has demand considering language barrier.

    1. Hello Vida. Thanks so much for your such kind words, and glad that you enjoyed reading my article and wish to move to Ecuador with your husband Tom!
      Absolutely you and your husband can move to Ecuador on a Professional Visa using Tom’s Chiropractic Degree, simply to become Residents of Ecuador on that basis (i.e. you as Tom’s Dependent). Practicing in Ecuador as a Chiropractor naturally has its own requirements with the Ecuadorian Public Health Ministry and such, so those things we would naturally discuss in more detail via email, apart from this Q&A forum itself. That said, please send an email to me at for us to continue the discussion of the Professional Visa and/or practicing as a Chiropractor in Ecuador, if that be Tom’s and your desire as you said in your message. Have a lovely evening ahead, Vida!

    2. Hello Vida. Thanks very much for your kind words, and so glad that you enjoyed reading my article!
      As per your question, YES, you can move to Ecuador on a Professional Visa using your Chiropractic Degree, and your husband be your Dependent in doing so too. There are MANY Chiropractors in Ecuador, and in fact I currently utilize one myself in Cuenca (an American Chiropractor at that). Please email me for the specifics to that effect at my email address of – looking forward to speaking with you soon, Vida!

  8. Living in Ecuador has been on my radar for a few years now and I have some questions that I cant seem to find the answers too mostly centered around education. I have custody of my granddaughter and she has some physical and mental disabilities. The primary being that she is blind. Is there a school for the blind in Manta? What are the private schooling options for her since she has several special needs?

  9. Many people move to other Countries for many different reasons,EG Economic freedom and paying for lifestyle, some the weather as getting older feels hard on health in colder climes ,some to have reset of there entire life and get out and away from the rut they dug themselves in ( Same annoying relatives and quasi friends same bad job that does nothing for them) so it is different for everyone . My question is what is the leading reason? Thanks Michael Tom Mclaughlin BC Canada

    1. I did it to make my retirement funds stretch further, but I would not have moved even for that reason had I not loved the city. I did two exploratory trips here, one for 6 weeks and one for 4 months. Now, after living here for 18 months, if I won the lottery tomorrow, I would still live in Cuenca.

  10. Well written article, but based on our experience in Cuenca, it’s a bit over the top a la IL. Living in Cuenca, as charming as it is, presents it’s share of different customs to sort out, a language barrier for Gringos who speak zero Spanish, sometimes being charged gringo prices if you don’t know the local price and the potential of being isolated from the society if you choose to only associate with gringos. The costs quoted are in many cases for people living at a lower level than many middle class American are used to.

  11. Hi Sarah,
    Question about new immigration law. Our understanding was after 2 full years of residency you could be out of country for up to 5 years. My daughter was told at the airport she could only be gone 6 months. Do you know if they have settled this yet?
    Thanks, Diana Valentine

    1. Hi Diana,
      Thanks for writing. As per your question, the rule is precisely as follows (this I 100% guarantee you of, per my daily dealing with this most important matter on behalf of the many hundreds of Expat clients I serve):
      Once you officially receive your Temporary Ecuadorian Residency Visa, you are permitted to leave Ecuador for UP TO 90 DAYS IN EITHER OR BOTH of your first two years of Temporary Ecuadorian Residency (i.e. in other words, you ARE PERMITTED to leave Ecuador UP TO 90 DAYS in EACH of your first two years of Temporary Ecuadorian Residency). Later on (i.e. 2 years later from now), once you apply for and receive your Permanent Ecuadorian Residency Visa itself, your Permanent Ecuadorian Residency will generally be indefinite (i.e. for forever), UNLESS you leave Ecuador for MORE THAN 180 DAYS IN EITHER OR BOTH of your first two years of Permanent Ecuadorian Residency (i.e. in other words, you ARE PERMITTED to leave Ecuador UP TO 180 DAYS in EACH of your first two years of Permanent Ecuadorian Residency). The rule beyond the first 2 years of Permanent Ecuadorian Residency, is that you can leave Ecuador for up to 5 years in a single trip, and then return to Ecuador for even just a single day, and then be permitted to leave Ecuador for up to yet another 5 years, and so on and so forth (only if you wish to be able to apply for and receive Ecuadorian Citizenship itself would you in such case be required to not leave Ecuador for more than 180 days in your third year of Permanent Residency itself as well, so as to by virtue of same be able to qualify for Ecuadorian Citizenship following that then time, if additionally desired by you in the future).
      Any other questions or Visa needs for here in Ecuador, please send me an email to – I will be glad to respond to you in ALWAYS less than 24 hours (typically in closer to 24 minutes!).

    2. @Attorney Sara Chaca,

      Hello, Sara. I too appreciate your energy, passion for Ecuador and legal expertise.

      And I am confused by what you wrote above. I two places it says 90 days in either or both first 2 years and in two other places it says 180 days. Am I misreading it somehow? Thanks!

  12. Dear Bryan,
    Just in time. Yes, I’ve been to Ecuador and loved it but have not been able to return for many reasons. Now I am contemplating returning again for real. I have one predicament that must first be solved and perhaps you can help direct me. I take eye drops for glaucoma which are successful in keeping down my pressure which avoids sight loss. Problem, how do I find out if I can get this medication in Ecuador? No one in USA can tell me and this includes the company that produces it. I did try calling a number I was given but since the operator spoke Spanish, I understood very little. Hopefully you have some suggestions. Appreciate it and thanks.

    1. Dear DEVE Kurt,
      Thanks for writing, and am glad that you enjoyed reading my article!
      As per your question, my American husband owns and operates the “Find Health in Ecuador Clinic” here in Cuenca Ecuador (, and so Ana Maria who is the Administrative Assistant at the “Find Health in Ecuador” Clinic is promptly able to research and advise you via email reply if the specific medication and dosage that you need is available in Ecuador, and at what price..Simply reply back to me at and I will introduce you to Ana Maria via email, for her to do so as a FREE service for you.

    2. I live in Cuenca. My roommate takes Lanaprost (spelling?), which is sold in several pharmacies here. It may be more expensive here than in the U.S. She used to pay around $38 for it in Cuenca, but the one time I bought it for her, it had come down in price. My memory may be playing tricks on me, but I thought it was around $24.

      1. Hi Dena,
        Thanks for writing! The following answer to your question is courtesy of my American husband’s Dental Clinic, “Find Health in Ecuador Clinic” (found at
        The medicine, Latanoprost, is available in Ecuador in pharmacies “Monte Sinai” or “Fybeca”, as it is the same Latanoprost with different brand names, depending on the number of milligrams that you take, as they are available as 0.05 mg for $25.50 and Latof 0.005 mg for $16.71 (both in eye drop form).
        Have a great day, Dena!!

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