“What would make you move out of the US?”
That’s a question of lot of people who are considering retiring in another country ask themselves. Often times it’s simply about being able to live a better life in a country with a lower cost of living. Or, maybe just the romantic idea of learning a new language and exploring a new world that they haven’t seen before. Or, they are simply looking for a less complicated life.
But the world has changed in the last 6 months. The idea of just living a better life is being replaced with the idea of being able to survive a worldwide pandemic.
Add to that the issues of protests and confrontations across the globe, evidenced nowhere more than in the US. Riots prompted by police brutality. Murder statistics continuing to rise in major cities. The cost of goods rising faster than the ability for retirees to save more money.
This year, during the COVID-19 pandemic, tens of thousands of people are moving both in and out of the US. They are seeking safer places, with less density, and with a cost of living that means they still can afford to live better in a new place.
Ecuador’s image took a hit
So, what does this mean for Ecuador, a country that for a short period of time was the epicenter of the coronavirus in South America?
Will people shy away from the country now, or will they still see it as one of the best options for retirement in the world?
That question is hard to answer, but while the country had a tragic beginning to how it handled the start of the pandemic in Guayaquil—its financial center—many experts agree that since then, it has had one of the best responses in South America to preventing the spread of the virus.
“The things that Ecuador offered expats before the coronavirus haven’t gone away, in fact some good things have come out of the tragedy that make the country a smart choice for people looking to move out of North America,” says Daniela Cordero, one of the founders of Ecuador Legal Services.
“Ecuador still offers expats a much lower cost of living than many other countries, and its crime rates are extremely low. And in cities like Cuenca, life is much simpler for the expats who’ve moved here,” adds Daniela.
One of the challenges that the country will face is getting past the tarnished image of its healthcare system, after the world’s intense focus on the disaster that occurred in Guayaquil early on in the pandemic. With hospitals overwhelmed almost immediately, the city was hit extremely hard by the virus. Healthcare experts say that the number of deaths related to COVID-19 in the city are hard to assess and may never be fully known.
“What we saw in Guayaquil was obviously not acceptable to any of us in the country. We saw holes in our healthcare system appear that had never been evident before. But people need to realize we also saw the same thing in New York city, one of the top areas for healthcare in the world,” said Juan Pablo Cordero, Daniela’s brother and partner in Ecuador Legal Services.
“But what happened afterward is what the world now needs to see. Our healthcare system has been strengthened with more technology, more outpatient services, greater access and even hundreds of more critical care beds throughout the country. We have a better system now than what expats have long considered to offer everything they needed.”
Juan Pablo added that one of the other things that expats in the country are now starting to see is that they need to plan for the worse and not assume that they will always be able to run back to their home county for healthcare.
“We’ve seen a huge increase in the number of expats looking to create Wills and Last Testaments since the pandemic occurred. We’ve also seen more interest in how to set up Trusts, how to transfer their properties as donations, and even asking advice on how to invest their money safely in the country. The turmoil across the globe has made people see how much they need to legally protect themselves in the future,” said Juan Pablo.
For Daniela, the pandemic has meant even more interest in her other business, Cuenca Expat Health Insurance. “We’ve been growing that business steadily over the last couple of years, but obviously with the health emergency, we have had huge growth in interest and questions over the last 4 months.
She added, “We speak English, we have family who are expats in the US, we are backed by a major health insurance company. But most of all, word of mouth among the expat population has been our most important tool in growing our business. People trust us and we take that seriously.”
Expats are going to need more legal services
Both Juan Pablo and Daniela agree that the changes the world has had to make in the last 6 months have meant that a deeper level of legal help needed to be offered to expats. They believe that many of the challenges that expats will face in the coming years, beside immigration issues, will revolve around constitutionality.
“We’ve got several Constitutional experts on our legal staff. We know that Constitutional law here in Ecuador is the most important way to secure rights for our expat clients. To be honest, many other firms can offer legal services, and help with routine immigration, but few have the depth of expertise that we offer. We have 42 law partners across the country. We can help expats settle in Manta, Quito, Guayaquil, Cuenca and even any small town in the country,” said Juan Pablo.
“Expats need to be handled quickly and honestly, but they also need to have transparent legal services. They need to work with lawyers who will tell them up front what they will face, how it will be dealt with and how long something may take. While our rule of law is similar to North America, it has significantly different Constitutional guarantees that they need to be told about. We pride ourselves on doing just that, “added Cordero.
Over the next few years, as society deals with the long-term effects of COID-19, the idea of becoming an expat will grow—and so will the legal issues they will face.
So, Juan Pablo’s best advice is worth considering. He says, “Every expat should find a lawyer they know understands them and who they can trust to take them thru all of their experiences in Ecuador. Not just immigration, but also inheritance, death, and even repatriation to their home country. They need a law firm that can help them over time, not just in getting their residency visa.”
Ecuador Legal Services specializes in Constitutional Law and helps expatriates with all of their needs, from obtaining legal residency to creating investment plans, handling health issues and even planning for liquidating their assets if they decide to move back to their home country.
Juan Pablo Cordero has 15 years of experience in Constitutional Law and worked in the governmental legal system for 5 years—his experience and overall expertise allows him to be able to guarantee a 20-day turnaround time for immigration visas.
Daniela Cordero is one of the founding partners of Cuenca Expat Health Insurance and is well known as hands-on service provider in the Cuenca expat community. She brings her customer service commitment to Ecuador Legal Services and prides herself on responding to her clients in a rapid, honest and transparent manner.
Ecuador Legal Services contact information:
Phone: 099-520-6384 (from outside Ecuador: (593) 99-520-6384 )