Retirement in Ecuador: facts you need to know about education in Ecuador, how safe and stable the country is and how to buy real estate.
The Legatum™ Institute claims that the quality of education in Ecuador could be improved by increasing the educational funding per student, which is low compared to international standards. A teacher to pupil ratio of 1 to 23 puts them in the bottom 50 countries world wide. From my personal experience with class sizes in Germany and Ireland, 23 pupils per class seems pretty good.
If you want your child to attend an international or bi-lingual school, you should plan for settling in Quito or Guayaquil. Although Cuenca is said to have bi-lingual schools as well, I couldn't find much information on line. Some expats say that private schools in Cuenca call themselves bi-lingual, but in reality are Spanish schools who teach English classes as well.
Below is a list of international schools in Ecuador with a web presence, which follow either the American or British style curriculum. The admission process seems to be pretty straight forward and involves an assessment in English and Maths. None of the schools have information about admission or tuition fees on their sites.
Before deciding about a potential retirement in Ecuador, you should
know how safe and politically stable the country is. Since its
independence from Spain in 1822, the political history of Ecuador was
an up and down between periods of stability and instability. Especially
in the 19th and early 20th century, presidents, dictators and juntas
changed in record time.
Because of its mostly non-violent nature, the political instability had little effect on expats and foreigners. Immigration and visa policy stayed largely the same for more than 20 years, which is good news for your retirement in Ecuador.
Unfortunately the crime rate has not been the same for the last 20 years. According to the Overseas Security Advisory Council's 2009 report, the murder rate in Ecuador has doubled over the last 25 years. Depending on what resources you look at, Ecuador's murder rate is stated with 19 murders per 100,000 people (that's about 4 times higher than in the U.S., but only half the rate of Columbia) or it doesn't even appear amongst the top 50 countries rated by murder per capita.
Whatever statistics you believe, you should be cautious when traveling or living in Ecuador. As in most countries, the major cities have the biggest crime problems. Tourist areas, like beaches and hiking trails, are preferred targets of criminals. Using public transport can be risky too. Especially Guayaquil has a bad reputation for violent robberies and assaults happening in taxis. It's best to only use radio-dispatched taxis there rather than hailing one from the streets. You can obtain the phone numbers from the American Consulate General.
There are no restrictions on foreign-owned real estate in Ecuador. In fact, buying property could qualify you for residency. Most properties are sold by word of mouth and never make it into the newspaper classifieds or onto agents' lists. Therefor it's a good idea to hire an agent who works mostly with foreign buyers, especially if your Spanish is limited to non-existent (like mine).
Once you've found a
suitable property for your retirement in Ecuador, get an English
They will do the title research for you, investigate possible problems
with the so-called "derechos y acciones" (these "rights and shares" are
rights granted to heirs when property owners die without a will),
prepare the purchase contract and register the property at the Land
Registry. Expect to pay around 1% of the purchase price for the
Real estate taxes and transaction fees in Ecuador are amongst the lowest in the world, and will in general not exceed 1.5% of the purchase price. Note that all taxes are based on the municipal value of the property, which is normally much lower than the actual sales price.
Annual property taxes ("pedio") are low too. They vary between municipalities and are normally a bit higher for city properties than rural ones. In Quito, for example, property taxes are between 0.07% and 0.3% of the municipal value. For a house in Quito, valued at $100,000, the maximum property tax would amount to $300 per year.
To get a feel for the property market in Ecuador, I would recommend you browse through the following web sites:
For your retirement in Ecuador, learn about Cost of Living * Climate * Infrastructure & Internet Access
For your retirement in Ecuador, get the facts about Visa & Benefits * Health Care * Culture & People