When I suggest Ecuador as a place for living and investing, most people give me the same blank stares I received when I suggested Panama for the same reasons back in 1999.
For those of you with foresight and a sense of adventure, blank stares from mainstream audiences are excellent indicators. Blank stares usually indicate great opportunities for unique experiences, eccentric lifestyles, and rewarding investments.
Most people know very little about Ecuador, and what they do know is very often a combination of misconceptions and half-truths. Ecuador is often associated with political instability, economic volatility, poverty, and partnerships with Hugo Chavez, Venezuela’s socialist dictator.
My intention was to investigate for myself and my readers what Ecuador is really like as a place to visit, live, retire or invest.
After two lengthy visits over the last two years, my initial impression of Ecuador is extremely positive and my visits have dispelled most of the negative myths associated with Ecuador as a nation. Many of the misconceptions about political instability and danger have worked to keep Ecuador’s cost of living and property prices very low.
I’ve found the people to be extraordinarily friendly, and the existing tourist infrastructure under utilized despite a wealth of diverse attractions. Ecuador has not been overdeveloped or over-infiltrated with foreign interests which, believe it or not, is usually the true source of crime and drug problems (take Mexican and Costa Rican resort areas as examples).
In terms of safety, I would not hesitate to claim Ecuador to be a safer place than Mexico or Costa Rica, certainly in terms of criminal activity against tourists. Of course, many Ecuadorians are extremely poor by Western standards, but for the most part, poverty does not translate into high crime levels except in the heavily populated urban barrios of Guayaquil and Quito.
Planes, taxis, and buses run safely and efficiently in Ecuador. In fact, when flying between the highlands and the coast, travelers will be pleasantly surprised at the high level of organization and efficiency. There are rarely line-ups to check in, security is a breeze (no frisking or long line-ups), and nearly all of the primary destinations within Ecuador are reached in under an hour and for under $80.
Ecuador and its people do not appear as impoverished as one might expect of a developing nation with a history of economic turbulence. On the contrary, Ecuador and the bulk of its citizens should be considered wealthy and prosperous. In my view, per capita GDP is not a measure of true wealth. A measure of true wealth is affordable access to healthy food and water that is locally produced, a sense of community spirit and respect for one’s neighbours and a lack of unnecessary government regulation and taxes. By these measures, Ecuador stands out as one of the wealthiest nations on Earth.
With regard to political stability, Ecuador is in many ways more democratic than Western nations. Ecuadorian people are willing to get off their behinds and support grass roots movements to stem corruption, protect the environment, and ensure the voice of the people is heard. Political rallies are part of the culture and receive active participation from all ages from small children to grandparents. Communities genuinely care about what happens with the limited funds coming from government – a rather stark contrast to the indifference demonstrated by the majority of U.S. and Canadian populations.
Property rights are guaranteed in the constitution and apply equally to foreigners and Ecuadorians alike. Ecuador’s current government has decided to play hardball with the large mining and oil companies by imposing rigid environmental standards and ensuring that a healthy share of the profits return to the Ecuadorian treasury in the form of taxes. Many analysts point out that Ecuador simply refuses to “sell out” by accepting the bribes or “contributions” that are normally sufficient to allow large multinationals to rape and pillage in the name of capitalism, leaving the locals with very few of the benefits their land ought to endow. Ecuador is the first nation on Earth to endow Mother Nature with constitutional rights.
Overall, Ecuador is an exciting and potentially very rewarding opportunity to learn, explore and adventure into a developing nation full of potential.
EcuadorAtYourService.com is a good place to make direct contact with experts on the ground who can help make your dream a reality.