Financial Independent: Retiring In A Foreign Country

by mhanrahan

I retired from my job on June 14 of this year. Over the previous 3 years I had been preparing for my retirement by getting rid of everything I owned (selling what I could, donating the rest), selling my condo, and getting a retirement visa (jubilado) for Ecuador.

The requirements were a little confusing, with a lot of contradictory instructions on the website (www.cancilleria.gob.ec/ ), but overall, a fairly easy process. I was able to get a lot of questions answered by making a personal visit to the Ecuadorian Consulate in Los Angeles.

What I had to do ahead of time:

  1. Fill out a visa application.
  2. Submit a color copy of my passport.
  3. Provide copies of my 3 most recent bank statements.
  4. Get fingerprinted at the local sheriff’s office and file for FBI and California Department of Justice background checks. These documents had to be translated into Spanish and apostilled.
  5. Pay $450.

I’m not old enough to get social security (I’m 61), and don’t have a pension. If you do get these benefits, there is also a document you need to provide stating what those benefits are.

On my second trip to the Consulate in Los Angeles, I had all the documents ready and an appointment at 9:30 am. I provided them to the consular agent, he went through them with me, then had me come back at 2:30 pm to pick up the visa. He took a photo of me on his cell phone and this was used as my official photo for the visa. For this type of visa, you have to get a 2-year temporary residence visa to start out with, and after that, I will be eligible to apply for a permanent residence visa.

Funny story that almost sidetracked the whole process: I had done a lot of volunteer work for California state parks and one of the requirements to become a volunteer was to get fingerprinted. This showed up on both of the background checks, written in very cryptic English (CA ST PKS), which was then translated into very cryptic Spanish. The consular agent was convinced that this well-intentioned activity was some sort of criminal endeavor and I had to patiently explain to him how I had been volunteering in our beautiful state parks.

Arriving in Ecuador, I went through customs in about 30 seconds, getting a warm welcome to my new adopted country. I had an AirBnB apartment for the first month, using that time to get oriented and find a long-term place to live. In order to get an apartment, I had to open a local bank account, which required getting a cédula (national ID card), which required getting local health insurance. I found out that COBRA from my old job was not going to be valid in Ecuador.

I’ve finally got all of the administrative details taken care of and moved into my new apartment on August 1. It’s a penthouse apartment in a very nice safe neighborhood. The building is very modern, with a gym, sauna, game room, movie theater, and spectacular rooftop terrace that looks out at the volcanoes that surround the city. The rent is $850 a month (the official currency of Ecuador is the US dollar), which includes the “alicuota,” the equivalent of a condo fee for the building.

Now it’s time to go out and explore my new country.