While many Americans believe they cannot afford to retire abroad, with rising costs of retirement in the United States, the reality is many cannot afford to stay. For budget-conscious retirees, or those who did not accumulate the nest egg they had hoped for, one of the most popular overseas destinations is Ecuador, where a retired couple can live on less than $1,200 a month. While a typical budget for a retired couple is likely to be more in the range of $1,600-$2,400 per month, Ecuador is firmly among the nations with the world's lowest cost of living for retirees.

Ecuador’s Economy

While it is not the strongest economy in the region, it is improving—depending heavily on the export of oil, bananas, shrimp, gold, and other agricultural products. In response to a national economic crisis in 1999, Ecuador adopted the U.S. dollar as its national currency. This makes planning to retire in Ecuador much easier, as Americans do not need not worry about exchange rates. Using familiar currency also helps keep prices in perspective while shopping to identify good deals.

Inexpensive Public Health Care

Ecuador’s health care system is among the best in Latin America. The country was ranked 43rd overall in the world in 2018, according to Bloomberg. The United States ranked 54th. The bottom line is that the healthcare needs of retirees costs dramatically less in Ecuador than in the United States.

Participants in the public health care system receive all medical procedures, screenings, and medications completely free of charge. There are no co-pays or deductibles, dental care is included, and prescriptions are free or highly discounted. When a hospital is unable to perform the procedure required, the state transfers the patient to a capable private hospital and covers all charges incurred. While the public health care system is an amazing value, patients should expect to encounter long wait times and a great deal of paperwork along the way.

Inexpensive private insurance is also available, but with medical visits and procedures costing so little, many choose to pay medical costs themselves. Most procedures cost 10%-25% of those performed in the United States, and medications can cost as little as 30%-40% of what they would cost in the United States.

Discounts for Retirees

One of the most senior-friendly countries in the world, Ecuador provides a high standard of living for its senior citizens. Ecuadorean citizens over 65 are literally sent to the front of the line. To give them more time to relax and enjoy their retirement, by law, seniors do not have to stand in line for everyday chores, such as paying bills or banking.

Seniors also pay lower property taxes and are eligible for 50% discounts off all public transportation, national and international airfares, all cultural, sports, artistic, and recreational events, and even monthly bills, such as electricity, water, and telephone service. 

Low-Priced Luxury in Cuenca

Located near El Cajas National Park, Cuenca has a beautiful natural setting. High in the Andes at an elevation of 8,400 feet, Cuenca features an ideal climate with year-round temperatures in the mid-70s and a majestic landscape with snowy peaks rising above beautiful lakes. The area's old-world architecture has a distinctly European influence, which many have likened to Barcelona and Paris.

Most expatriates in Cuenca use public transportation rather than owning vehicles. Bus rides cost 25 cents, and taxi rides usually cost between $1.50 and $2.50—and seniors get a 50% discount. With so much locally grown food, it is easy to eat healthily and save money on grocery bills. For example, avocados cost just 25 cents, and a head of lettuce is 50 cents.

You can rent a one-bedroom apartment in the city square for about $360 per month, or buy a small condo for less than $40,000. The comfortable year-round climate in Cuenca saves residents on energy costs because heating and air conditioning are rarely necessary. To enjoy all that the city has to offer, plan on a budget of $1,600 a month per couple if renting. These estimates take into account a relatively active lifestyle, as most locals in the area live on much less.

Cheap Beachfront Property in Bahia de Caraquez

Many who dream of dirt-cheap beachfront retirement property quickly fall in love with Bahia de Caraquez. This area boasts some of the cheapest beachfront property in the world. There are plenty of homes available for under $100,000, as well as condos for less than $50,000.