A recent report unveiled a surprising winner in the top expat destinations. Ecuador came out on top; trumping Luxembourg, Mexico, Switzerland and the USA to name but a few.

So if you’ve always wondered where the happiest expats live and where it’s easy to make new friends and meet new people? That’s Ecuador without a shadow of doubt.

How reliable is this information? ‘To arrive at our ranking of the most and least popular expat destinations worldwide, the results of several sub-indices were averaged. These include the General Quality of Life Index, Ease of Settling In Index, Working Abroad Index, Family Life Index (where applicable), Personal Finance Index, as well as the results for the question: “how satisfied are you with life abroad in general?”. As this last factor is a single question, it carries disproportionate weight in the overall country ranking’.

Ecuador emerged as the top destination for its high ranking in the various sub-indices, notably the Personal Finance index. The South American country enjoys number one spot as expats are generally pleased with their financial situation.

The South American country also ranks as the top destination for personal happiness. Nearly half of the expats questioned said they are ‘very happy’ with their lives in general. It is therefore unsurprising that around 42% of expats say they are considering staying in Ecuador forever with a massive nine out of ten being satisfied with their lives.

It’s not all flowing money and shiny-happy faces however. Ecuador has a less-than-average result when it comes to the language barrier. Around 37% agreed that it is very tricky to live in Ecuador without having a good grasp of Spanish, although one in three expats agreed that Spanish was relatively easy to learn. There are Spanish language schools in Ecuador offering cheap beginners courses in most major cities. 

It is also worth pointing out that the average age of expatriates in Ecuador is well above the global average. Having ranked fifth in the working abroad Index it is evident that most people move to Ecuador for retirement rather to work in Ecuador. It is worth mentioning, however, that Ecuador tops the chart for the shortest working week at 34.4 hours, much lower than the global average of 41.0 hours.

Ecuador also enjoys high ranking in leisure options and travel and transport.

It has been said that Ecuador is the very centre of the Earth and home to four worlds. There are lots of tours to the Galapagos Islands which are home to an array of wildlife and stunning scenery; The Amazon rainforest which is described as the ‘lungs of the world and is a great place to volunteer in Ecuador and give back’; the Pacific Coast has more than 1,000 km of beaches in a totally tropical climate; and for those keen on long walks there is the Andes which house heritage cities, an avenue of volcanoes and a delicious climate in the highlands.

If that’s not enough for you then maybe baroque architecture, indigenous textiles and chocolate may tempt you. Or maybe you’re a fan of Orchids? Affectionately known as ‘The Land of Orchids’ Ecuador is home to four of the five subfamilies of orchids that exist around the world, with more than 1,714 endemic species.

Or if flowers don’t take your fancy maybe trains do? The Ecuadorian Cruise Train was awarded by the British Guild of Travel Writers as the best wider-world project. The train travels around 456 kilometres, connecting the coastal region with the highlands.

So if you’re undecided about a destination for relocation, keep Ecuador in mind because you may find the highly friendly country more homely than home.


Best Places to Live in Ecuador


Most people have generally heard of the capital, Quito, but according to a recent report, one of the most popular up-and-coming locations to move to is now Cuenca (pictured above).

The region isn’t as well known as others in South America, and has a relatively small population (both expat and local) and comparatively low property prices.

Other aspects which recommend it are the weather, the peaceful atmosphere and the minimal cost of living.

Healthcare in the area is also significantly cheaper than in North America and Europe.

The scenery is spectacular, it’s warm pretty much all year round and, great for adventurous expats, Cuenca is close to the dramatic El Cajas National Park. There are also a host of festivals and parades to enjoy throughout the year, primarily celebrating the history, cuisine and culture of the region.

Another draw of Cuenca is El Centro – a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This 16th century city of striking architecture, cobbled streets and quaint shops is a wonderful place to spend the day exploring.

Of course, Cuenca isn’t for everybody.

For one thing its position in relation to other places and amenities makes it more suited to the active retiree.

The quality of the healthcare available is also generally below the standard you would expect in places like the US and Europe. If you are in poor health or don’t like the thought of falling ill in a very culturally different environment Cuenca may not be the retirement location of your dreams.

Also, although Spanish is the most widely spoken language in Ecuador there are several variations: Equatorial Pacific Spanish, Andean Spanish and Amazonic Spanish. Which variant is spoken depends on the area. There are also many local dialects in use, so at times you may find it difficult to understand or make yourself understood.

But if you’re in good health, are quite adventurous and like the idea of learning new dialects Cuenca might just be the location you’ve been searching for.