“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” (Walt Disney)
It’s almost time to go — time to start a new adventure in South America. We have booked our flights to Guayaquil, Ecuador. We leave on New Year’s Day, returning to Nova Scotia in early September for a visit. I’m writing this post to give you an idea of what’s involved with moving and applying for residency in Ecuador.
The last time we made a major move we owned very little — a car, a stereo, a few clothes. We sold the few furnishings we had, cleaned up our apartment, and drove away, all within two months of our decision to move back home.
We packed everything, including our 18-month-old son, into our ’68 Buick Skylark and drove from Victoria, British Columbia back home to Nova Scotia. According to Google maps, this is about 6,000 km or 3700 miles.
This time, we took a little more time in planning — about 2 years — and we’re flying instead of driving. Our trip from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Guayaquil, Ecuador is about 5500 km/3400 miles.
We’ll be living in San Jacinto, a small fishing town on the coast. I checked the temperature there today: 28 degrees Celsius — it’s minus 5 and blowing a gale here in Nova Scotia right now. We are not going to miss winter! Here’s a link to Google Maps: San Jacinto, Ecuador
This is our starting point — we plan to explore more of the coast and, if it’s not too hot and humid, find a permanent place to call home near the ocean. Exploring the Andes and Amazon regions and the Galápagos Islands will come later.
Jorge Lopez will pick us up at the Guayaquil airport. He operates a van and taxi service, and a bed and breakfast. He also speaks English! We’ll stay at his bed and breakfast for a night in Guayaquil. The next day we meet with our visa facilitator, Dana Cameron. She will help us through the residency visa process. Jorge will then drive us up the coast to San Jacinto, a 3 to 4 hour drive.
There are many things to take care of before moving — a lot of little ones, but a few big ones too. Following is a partial list.
***NOTE: The visa requirements stated in this post are for Canadians, and apply at the time of writing in late 2015 — requirements can change at any time and vary by country of residence.
We didn’t have wills until we decided to move. It’s actually quite easy — and it doesn’t cost much if you do it yourself. We did ours with a “will kit” we bought online. Just fill in the blanks and have it witnessed.
2. Power of attorney:
Appointing someone you can trust to handle your money (assuming you have any left at this point) could save you a trip back home for some unforeseen financial transaction.
3. Living will:
Who decides what happens to you when you die? Do you want a burial or cremation? You can have your exact wishes carried out by the people you choose. It’s free, just needs a witness.
4. Visa stuff:
There are several visas available for residency status in Ecuador, including pension and investment visas — we’re going with the investment visa since we are not yet old enough to collect our Canadian pensions.
In order to apply for our visas we needed the following up-to-date documentation as well as a passport:
- An RCMP criminal record check, with fingerprinting. We had to pay for this with money orders (they wouldn’t accept cash, debit or credit card — and they don’t give Air Miles).
- Our original marriage certificate was not good enough — a newly issued copy was necessary.
Next, an attorney copies the documents and notarizes the copies. The copies are then sent to the Governor General’s office (in Halifax in our case) to get a stamp verifying that the attorney who notarized them is authentic. The notarized, approved and stamped copies are then sent to an Ecuadorian consulate in Canada — we chose the one in Montreal. The consulate “legalized” them and sent them back to us.
Next is translation — it’s necessary to have all the documents translated into Spanish. This is where Dana Cameron, our facilitator in Ecuador, takes over. She will translate all the documents to Spanish and meet with us at an immigration office to guide us through the process and act as our translator. Eventually, we will receive our “cedula”, confirming that we are legal residents of Ecuador.
5. Driving record:
A driving record makes it easier to get an Ecuadorian license. If you don’t have a notarized, approved and legalized driving record from your home province, you need to go through the entire licensing process in Ecuador — in Spanish!
With a driving record, you just have to pass a simple, multiple choice test — in Spanish of course. There’s a list of online questions available so that you can study and prepare for the test. Mi espanol no es bueno, so I will be practicing.
6. Selling almost everything:
This is the fun part. You get to rid yourself of the stuff you spent all your money on over the years. You realize how insignificant most of your purchases were — in other words, you see how much money you’ve wasted. It’s amazing how many things you have that you never use.
We sold some things, gave some away, and put a few things in storage.
7. Booking flights:
Flights are expensive. Doing some homework and research, shopping around, being willing to fly on certain days of the year when traffic is low, will get you a flight at a discount. The best tools I found – at the time of writing – were Google Flights and Hipmunk. There are lots of others, so do your research. Google Flights allows you to see prices for multiple days on a graph or calendar — Hipmunk will show you prices for 3 days. We ended up booking through Google Flights…
8. Learning basic Latin American Spanish:
This is hard! I don’t care what anyone tells you. It’s hard!
You need to get an early start. Don’t wait until the last minute. Study every day, even if it’s just for a few minutes.
We used several methods to practice. Check out this post for details: Who Else Is Ready To Learn Spanish.
So, that’s it for now! We’re getting a little excited as January 1st creeps closer and closer. Leaving our family and friends is sad, but we’re looking forward to coming back for a visit next fall — and we haven’t even left yet…