What about Ecuador?

If you once lived in Ecuador, but resettled in Nicaragua, why?

Or, if you also researched Ecuador, but came to Nicaragua instead, why?

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Nicaragua vs Ecuador

Higher standard of living in Ecuador, gas is only $1.48 a gal. Nicaragua is much warmer, the weather in Ecuador is aways variable in the mountains and cloudy on the coast. Check my Ecuador videos on youtube

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9cQtgPxOpMc Ibarra, Ecuador

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E1UPXWwScv8 Otavalo Ecuador

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XpqNzwBq7LI Urcuqui, Ecuador

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NRPPdSEx-_s Cotacachi, Ecuador

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5xQte989ltw Bahia de Caraquez, Ecuador

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GwsAhzIvMDo Cuenca, Ecuador

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4f0_m9otcvo Quito, Ecuador

Yikes! More thoughtful replies!

Somehow I made the mental leap from "Keeping it Real in Bolivia's Cordillera Real: Global Test Photo Essay" to wondering about Ecuador.

Can't recall how, but the Bolivia pictures definitely stirred dry-air barren-land lust. Is probably my upbringing on the Plains. As a Plains woman on vacation once said on being asked how she liked the scenery in the U.S. northeast, "What scenery? The damn mountains are all in the way."

Overall, it's going to be a tradeoff. Everything is.

Sitting in a dirt village tin shack enduring months of rain while covered in bugs is one extreme. Going broke within weeks in a highly polished, beautiful city full of interesting, educated people, none of whom I know or can communicate with is another.

Money is not likely to be a terrible problem although the amount I have might not be much in anyone else's eyes. I'll have a small income starting in July, doubling in three years, plus enough in savings to cover several years of expenses, if it comes to that.

Right now I have one steel folding chair, four folding tables, a filing cabinet, and the rest of my furniture is cardboard boxes. A couple of computers, a scanner, printer, a sewing machine, and some cameras is the rest of my material wealth. Am willing to take only what I can carry if it comes to that, since I basically live in my head anyway.

Thanks for the long reply, Rebecca. That's about what I was thinking.

And mjt had a succinct statement too. Some good things better elsewhere, some bad things maybe less bad, or not.

But it's all a tradeoff anyway.

In case anyone is interested, the Living in Ecuador Blog looks like it might be worthwhile.

No Sniveling!

Thanks all.

My biggest problem is that I'm not rich. But then if I was, someone else wouldn't be. I guess that would be rude.

Well, on further consideration, screw them.

But I'm still not rich enough to go rooting around in various places, so Pretty Soon Now I'll have to make my move and live with it.

Part A: Thanks for the comments.

Part B: The thing that really appealed to me was the thought of daytime highs of 65F and nighttime lows of 50F, but too often Wonderland seems to duck behind a tree when the word is out about my arrival.

Part C: It seems like the residency requirements may be a bit easier to navigate, but I'm not sure yet. Apparently, the Ecuadorean constitution states something to the effect that all are equal, meaning that foreigners officially residing there are equal to citizens in all ways, aside from voting (and another thing I can't remember at the moment).

Part D: I found a really nice blog TheExpatJournals.com, unfortunately now defunct. The woman behind it described Panama as fun for a while, but moving toward what seems to be the Costa Rica model: bigger roads, more advertising, more shopping, less genuine-ness. She likes Cuenca: Top 20 Reasons I like Cuenca.

Part E: Nicaragua seems more like a country kit that you can help assemble. Appealing that way. Tidy-perfect makes me nuts. And Ecuador definitely has denser population and larger cities overall, which are both against my religion.

No Sniveling!


In the tropics, temperature is primarily a function of altitude. While there are no places at 2000 meters or more to live in Nicaragua, there are places that get close. For example, we are at about 1400 meters. The hottest day here is cooler than the hottest day in Los Angeles, California. The coldest night is warmer than the coldest night in LA. Weatherwise, hard to argue with.

One way to do this if you're not rich

If you qualify as a pensionado, you can live reasonably comfortably in a department capital that's not Managua or in a smaller town that's not a tourist resort. The northern hilly areas are cooler. If you want to go smaller than Jinotega, take a look at San Raphael del Norte, which is not a department capital, but even cooler (temps) than Jinotega.

If you're not rich, don't drag stuff here. Shipping a container is not cheap. For the same price, you can furnish your apartment/house for $2,000 or so with really nice wood furniture (what I did). Big library? Get a Kindle for all your pre-1926 stuff (huge number of classics you can down load for free from Gutenberg Project) and bring only things that are critical.

The minimum nut as an investor resident is something like $50K (maybe less but not less than $30K). If you're really poor, you can't really afford a business start-up. From your bio, I don't get the impression you ran a business in the US and without Spanish, you can have serious problems -- people have lost thousands of dollars their first years here trusting the wrong people. If you can afford to take risks, that's one thing, but if you can't, don't.

I'd advise you to have a minimum Bug Out fund -- your call on what that should be, and a credit card might suffice (I've got a credit card with not much balance and a couple thousand in a US bank). Intur/Migracion no longer requires a $2K deposit against deportation that they used to require for pensionados, but figure what you'd need to get home plus what resources you'd have at home (people with family/friends who can help need less; people without that help need more). Having to be bailed out by the US Embassy would be embarrassing and you have to pay them back, and they're the Feds and may be able to go after Social Security funds.

If you come in as a pensionado, you can't legally work in Nicaragua for a local employer (ask someone else on whether you can start a company). You can make any amount of money from work done for a non-Nicaraguan firm (telecommuting, remote work), but if you're on US Social Security, there are some gotchas, some which only apply to people who took early retirement, some of which don't.

Be somewhere you can find people who share some of your interests. They're all genuine real Nicaraguans, whether they solicit you for Dr. Who videos or are ox drivers or finca owners/bureaucrats who speak seven language and quote Russian proverbs at you (the Russian proverb was "better a million friends than a million dollars).

Janie at the Luna y Luz is an excellent reference for Esteli, just as Suzanne Wopperer is for Jinotega.

If you can rent for around $80 to $150 a month, food and incidentals are another $200 a month, so you've got a bit of leeway with a sub-$1,000 pension. You have to spent US $600 a month minimum here as a pensionado. I sometimes have to work a bit to do that and was living on less when I was still paying regular car insurance and credit card bills out of my pension. I'd suggest spending a year here learning Spanish and meeting people before buying land or a house or starting a business that requires an investment, especially if you've never lived outside the US before.

Rebecca Brown

Ecuador in a Heartbeat

Just too far way fro the USA for when i wanted to move. And the places I liked were 4-5 hour from Quito, so the trip back is a trek. Other than that, no comparison. Everybody has their own stichk...but aside from the distance to USA NICA is a 5 Ecuador is an 8 in my book. Let's not start a rating war...just a different opinion.ZZT

S.A. vs. C.A.

For many people it is the same per Peru, Bolivia, Colombia, etc. - though with the exception of Colombia, living in a smaller city or town in Central South America will make those international treks even more time-consuming. For such people (me, too), almost everything that they like about Central America is magnified in South America, while many of the things they dislike about Central America are the same or perhaps even minimized in South America. Flights, pension or business income minimums, residencia, and property ownership often end up the stumbling blocks, but there are usually workarounds to the last two, just as there are in almost any country.

Ecuador vs. Nicaragua

We spent a month in Ecuador several years ago, while researching places we might want to live. Here are the indisputable factual reasons that Nicaragua was better for us:

1. Nicaragua is a shorter/cheaper flight from/to the US

2. Traveling between major cities in Nicaragua is FAR easier, because they are closer together, and Ecuador is very mountainous.

3. (May be out of date, and from memory) Ecuador's residency laws prevented you from spending more than 6 months a year there if you weren't a resident, AND forced you to stay in the country at least 6 months a year if you were.

Culturally, the Ecuadorian coastal and mountain people are quite different. You see some of that in Nicaragua, but it is more pronounced in Ecuador. So it's a bit difficult to talk about the entire country as if it were one place. Also, whatever experiences one person has will be quite different from another. The exact time and place are different, so the exact people you interact with will be different. And your own backgrounds, biases, and expectations will shape things, as will mundane things like whether you got a good night's sleep. So the highly biased and probably entirely inaccurate reasons that Nicaragua was better for us include:

1. Nicaragua has far less annoying noise. For one thing, the music in Ecuador tends to be loud reggaeton, rather than moderate 80's rock.

2. Nicaraguans (as a sweeping generalization) seem more "genuine" and helpful. The folks in Ecuador were quite pleasant, but we didn't connect with them the same way we immediately did in NIcaragua.

3. Ecuadorian drivers are far crazier than Nicas. As one example, drivers in Guayaquil tend to drive centered ON the lines, rather than between them.

4. Main highways in Ecuador were (at that time) in far worse shape than the Nica roads were when we first visited a couple years ago.

In many ways, the countries are similar, or at least comparable. Areas where neither country had an advantage:

1. You can choose coastal (hot) or mountainous (cool) climate.

2. Foods, while different, were comparable. (Speaking as a vegetarian,)

3. I don't remember costs being radically different, although I assume Ecuador would be more expensive.

4. Ecuador uses the US$, which is convenient, but could make economic tough times tougher for them.

5. Ecuador has oil, which is a nice resource to have, but which draws unhealthy attention from superpowers, as well as pollution.

6. In both countries, you find people who speak crisp Spanish, and others who slur and mumble in challenging ways.

7. English is not widely spoken in either country. In both, many people speak a tiny amount of English, and are hesitant to use what they do know.

8. Both have some great expats, and some really disfunctional expats and/or expat communities.

9. Both have some pretty amazing natural features (Galapagos, Ometepe, jungles, volcanoes).

That's all I can think of off the top of my head. Based on what we read, we had certain expectations when we went to Ecuador, and they were shattered. If we had gone in with lower expectations, we might have liked it more. But twenty minutes after crossing the border into Nicaragua, we felt at peace. So for us, there was an emotional/spiritual connection, and whatever we like about Nicaragua might just be a rationalization to back that up.

I love Jinotega in utterly non-rational ways

My guess is that you make your life work in the place you feel emotionally connected to. Without the connection, the first bumps may send you back to where you came from (and no matter how much you love a place, there will be bumps).

Rationally, I suspect that picking a country to live in is like the differences between Nikon and Canon -- one may have more features than the other this year and not the next. Most of the arguments are over trivialities. If it feels good in your hands, it's the right camera. If you feel connected to the country, what's happening from year to year can be worked through. Mexico has serious problems in some areas now; five years from now, it will still be Mexico, but perhaps with better features.

Seeing if a country works for you at that emotional level is why the exploratory trips are good. Nothing other people say really is as relevant as whether you connect emotionally with the country or not.

I thought Esteli would be better than Jinotega, but I got creeped out a bit by Esteli. I'd like to visit, but I don't think I'd like to live there.

Rebecca Brown

One difference is the amount of money needed to retire there

It is, I think, something like $850 per person (most countries in SA and CA ask to see proof of income and have minimums ranging from $850 to $1500).

Rebecca Brown


Most of what you have to say fits what two different people I know concluded after their investigation other than neither was concerned with the distance/time to the US.

On the residency issue, I believe this is still the case but, "legally", this is the same in Nicaragua. I have no idea if Ecuador enforces these laws and none of us have any idea if Nicaragua plans to enforce them in the future.

I have never heard that it

I have never heard that it is illegal for non-residents to remain in Nicaragua for more than 6 months per year. As long as you exit the country to renew your visa, you can come back. In Ecuador, you literally could not be there more than 180 days per calendar year, period.

And I vaguely remember hearing something about how after you apply for residency, you are supposed to remain in Nicaragua for some amount of time that first year, but I don't remember hearing restrictions after that. My memory is that Ecuador was much more restrictive for residents, too. I could be wrong.

One thing I forgot to mention was crime: I feel a bit safer in Nicaragua, but overall I can't say that I perceive vast differences between the two countries. There are/were some areas in northern Ecuador that were being affected by the Columbian drug problem, so had some kidnappings. Ecuador has more/larger cities, which have those city problems you would expect.

Nic residency

for many years has allowed the 180 days, leave for 3 days option. I think this has been mostly to accommodate the foreigh NGOs that do most of the good deeds in the country. Likely this will continue forever, but it could change any day. Politics is politics.

A minor issue-- come stay for 6 months and see if you like it. When I researced this stuff about 5 years ago, one source said ecuador had a 9 month pay-a- the-border option.

Big latin cities are grungy, but they have their benefits , too: culture, shopping, medical care, etc. every country down here has nice sections in which to live, nice places to visit or do business.

``Vote for me—I`ll set you free`` Anon.

Be advised of c4

Your 90 days, renew once, is for 4 countries, starting when you first enter any one of them. Nic, Hon, guate, salvador .

``Vote for me—I`ll set you free`` Anon.