Lesson One: “The FYI on Passports,” to all potential extended visits to Ecuador, keep in mind that you CANNOT TRAVEL ON A PASSPORT THAT HAS LESS THAN 6 MONTHS remaining anywhere outside the USA! I would highly recommend if you have less than 2 years left on your current passport and you plan on truly immigrating or being Mission Minded that you get a new passport before you take the plunge. WHY … Because your residence visa is tied to your passport and when the passport expires so does your Ecuadorian visa/Stamp and after obtaining your new passport you MUST apply for a new Ecuadorian visa/Stamp. Yes, it is easier and yes it can be done fairly easy but things can go wrong, rules can change and it will cost financially plus some translations and notary fees will be attached. Also, if you come to Ecuador and apply for the 6 month visa expecting to spend other 6 months in USA, allow for the extension of the extra 90 days because it does not start until you get the extension. ONCE the extension comes to a close it is SIX Months until you can come back into Ecuador and it may cost more that $2000 per person to take care of it. Just Plan Ahead!!
Next crazy fun, Julia tells me that she went to local police station (Ballenita, Ecuador) and asked for “panic button”. Panic button is number you call and police come right out to your house because they already have your information and GPS for your house. She gave them the information and they programmed the phone and they tried it out. Bingo, an alarm went off in the police computer and a map showing how to get to her house popped up and she yells out, “Hot tamale, it works!” Now if she has a problem she doesn’t have to worry about what number to dial or how to describe (in Spanish) where we are, only problem is IF the outside does not appear to have forced entry they will just turn around and go back to the station. Also on the Police, they can’t take money, so if you run into issues take out your cell phone or camera and start taking pictures while making notes as this has proven to eliminate any potential bad guys taking advantage or causing problems for Americans.
Onto banks, so Banco de Pichincha appears to be the largest and most reputable bank all over Ecuador: Quito, Gayaquil, Ambato, Riobamba, Salinas just to mention a few of their 202 locations, just passing on what I was not as I have no real experience in this area yet.
Medical procedures: check out the many medical, dental or plastic surgery facilities throughout Ecuador just be sure to go to a large city for any procedure. You will save many thousands of dollars off the same procedure done in USA. Not only will you save thousands of dollars but their costs include onsite recovery area with full nurse services, meals and bedrooms with great views for the next 48 hours.
It’s very difficult to get a real estate agent (per se) to take you around and show you apartments. First, the time and cost vs. their commission does not allow it, second, there is no MLS type system and, third, the listings come and go quickly. Good luck….best bet is be patient and be ready to walk ‘about!
Until next time … keep it REAL … REAL FUN that is, Brenda 🙂