My Perpetual List for the Expat Move

by | Feb 15, 2022 | Global | 1 comment

The decision is made! Ecuador is going to be your retirement destination of choice. How relieved I was after so much soul-searching to get to that point. The anxiety now turns to a feeling of excitement and anticipation. You are sipping a glass of wine and trying to figure out how to tell your family and friends that you will leave them.

One of my expat friends who moved here from the East Coast of the U.S. told me her family figured that she and her husband had lost their minds. Her folks were sure they were going to Ecuador to live in grass huts. After all, it is considered a Third World developing country.

Time to Start Planning

Contemplating the future by Alfonso Scarpa
Contemplating the future by Alfonso Scarpa

So once that drama is over, it is time to plan. Only a few minor details to take care of, right? Having had a 30-year career in banking and being quite an anal-retentive person, I started my list.

I wanted to plan this move and cover every detail so I wouldn’t have too many unexpected surprises. I had also figured out that my short-term memory is not what it used to be.

Let me make a suggestion. Start your list in a notebook, note app, or word processor. Save it so you can go back over, and over, and over again to make changes. That is how I came up with the term “My Perpetual List.” It seemed that with every issue I addressed, an additional issue would pop up, which caused me to address yet another issue.

An Ever-Changing List

I also ended up printing out those many pages of items and bringing them with me to Ecuador. The process had been ongoing for quite some time, and that information I had saved has come in handy often. Moving abroad is a major life-changer. The better informed you are, the easier the transition will be. Period.

Have you decided you want to take that exploratory trip to Ecuador? I would suggest you start with a separate list for that trip. You will be making a practice run, so to speak. You will get a good idea of what the entire process will be like going forward. You will also be able to decide which city/area is right for you.

I am going to suggest to you some basic tasks I started with. They are general and as you research and plan, you will see how quickly the list becomes perpetual. I kept that list, printed it out, brought it with me, and after many months here in Cuenca I still refer to it from time to time.

List One: For Your Scouting and/or Final Trip

  • Choose what cities/areas you want to visit based on climate, population, activities available, etc. What is your desired lifestyle?
  • Check passport and visa requirements such as how much time you have left on your passport before it expires.
  • Shop airline fares. The major airports in Ecuador are Guayaquil (GYE) and Quito (UIO).
  • Shop accommodations. There are many hostels and hotels and places you can rent reasonably for a month.  Most provide Wi-Fi.
  • Notify your bank that you will be traveling. Ecuador is a cash-centric society. Not all the hotels and stores will accept credit cards, however, there are ample ATMs available that will accept Visa/MC.
  • Cell phones must be international, unblocked, and take sim cards. You can buy local, pay-as-you-go sim cards when you get here.
  • Transportation is easily available in most cities with good taxi and bus service and car rentals.


List Two: for Your Final Trip

  • Checking it twice by Andrew Neel
    Checking it twice by Andrew Neel

    Visa, Visa, Visa. If you plan to move to Ecuador, you will need a permanent visa. Visa types vary. This one will take some real research depending on the type of visa that suits your needs.

  • Bank Accounts. Requirements to open an account vary depending on the bank and better to wait until you have moved here to look for one.
  • Check with your existing bank/investment Firm regarding living outside of the country. They also have requirements and may close your account if they have not been informed that you have moved out of the country.
  • Buying a house vs renting. Many expats, me included, recommend that you rent for at least one year before buying if that is your plan. Real estate laws are very different here and you may find that the area you thought was going to work for you may not be the right place.
  • Medical Care. Ecuador has a social security medical health insurance alternative for Medicare called IESS that is available to expats. Private health insurance is also available. It is a requirement that you have proof of medical insurance when you enter Ecuador. I have also found that some travel insurance is extendable for long periods of time, so it may be another alternative.


These items listed should give you a base to start with. Again, you will find out quickly as you do your research and want to save data and websites; your list will grow exponentially.

For me, the planning stage was when the adventure really began. You are taking tangible steps toward making a dream happen. It is also the beginning of a test of endurance. Be prepared to be frustrated many times. One step will lead to another necessary step, etc. But I wouldn’t have missed this opportunity for anything.

Let us know what you are putting on your list. And Bienvenidos!

By: Cathy McKay