General, Estilo de vida

Costa Rica versus Ecuador, Which Country is Your Best Retirement Option? Part I – Immigration

Year after year, International Living, Forbes, and hundreds of other publications release a list of the best places to retire. Do you believe that one retirement destination fits all? Where you spend your golden years is an extremely personal and variable. One expat-to-be may place a warm climate at the top of their list. Another places cost of healthcare above all.  Ever since I published Becoming an Expat: Costa Rica, the questions have poured in. Where can he/she find good quality healthcare, where is the best place to bring a young family, where are the job opportunities best, where is the safest international destination, how much does it really cost, and so on. Once I released the upcoming publication date of Becoming an Expat: Ecuador I noticed something interesting. There was a huge interest from Costa Rican expats! 

The beginnings of a rivalry has since ensued. There are Costa Rican expats that are adamant pura vida life in Costa Rica is far superior than their South American counter parts. Other expats in Ecuador are happy that their affordable wonderland has not been inundated with North Americans who will invariable drive up the cost of living, just as they have done in Costa Rica. 

There is no country fits all, however, this article series will provide some basic information so, you the expat-to-be can decide which country may be best for you, and where to place your energies. 


Costa Rica Pros

Depending on your type of residency, the first two years only require you to stay in country for four to six months. After you have secured permanent residency (which you are eligible for after two years of temporary residency) you only need to step foot in Costa Rica one day a year to maintain residency. 

Costa Rica Cons

The expat movement of today has an increasing number of young professionals, families, and 20 somethings. Generations X and Y are bringing an international life into grasp. Since, they usually don’t come into Costa Rica with a pension, life annuity, or tens of thousands of dollars to lay down, immigration can pose a problem. More often, they are left with one legal option to stay and work in Costa Rica, start a business. For those who aren’t entrepreneur material, they are left in flux.  

Immigration in Costa Rica is a process that will cultivate a new found patience or a madness of furry. The process averages 8 months and the cost ranges from $1000-$3000 depending on your attorney. It is incredibly difficult to accomplish without an attorney 

Ecuador Pros

Ecuador’s immigration process is much most hospitable to both young and wise expat-to-bes. If you have a bachelors degree from an internationally understood college, you have a ticket in! I guess what your parents preached to you growing up was true, a bachelors degree really can make a difference! Also, retirees with a pension, social security, annuity, or trust only need to make $800 per month instead of Costa Rica’s $1000 to qualify (however Ecuador requires you add $100 per month for each additional dependent). 

Ecuador’s immigration process is fairly painless. The average wait time is LESS than 30 days! It is common to seek the counsel of a visa specialist who is often a veteran expat. No attorney is necessary! I know of someone who secured her cedula (residency card) after only two weeks!

Ecuador Cons 

Once you secure residency, you are not permitted to leave the country for more than 90 days per year. Every year after the first two rookie years cannot leave for longer than 18 consecutive months and retain your residency.

Depending on what is important to you either country could have won part one of this series. If your freedom to move about the world is your top concern then Ecuador’s more demanding presence may have turned you off. However, if you are a younger expat-to-be or impatient, Ecuador’s immigration could be more ideal for you. 

For me, Ecuador wins the battle of most hospitable immigration for expats. To find out when Becoming an Expat: Ecuador becomes available subscribe to our newsletter.