My husband and I are considering retiring to Ecuador and have just begun researching. We have read some wonderful things about the country and recently some alarming stats regarding crime. We would appreciate any info you can provide. We are considering the central and southern sierra areas and may want to purchase land (10+ acres) and buy/build a ranch and own horses. In reference to crime, what are the laws regarding firearms for the purpose of self defense? Thanks for the help!
A much better source of information about the areas you are looking at ~ I am thinking Cuenca and Loja? Would be to subscribe to the Online Editions of the El Universo Newspaper. If you sign on using Google Chrome you have an auto-translate feature. Reading the local news is a much better indicator of what is actually occurring in a local as opposed to trying to sift through the differing (and often contradictory) "crime statistics" you will find.
Your other best source is the ther Expat groups -- and you can find them on FaceBook, Yahoo, and on the net. Talk to the people actually living in the areas you are interested in and get first hand info that you can weigh yourself.
Firearms are a volatile issue here. The Government of Ecuador is doing all it can to reduce the number of firearms available. Ecuadorian law also demands that force be met with equal force. Fists with fists etc. Wonderful if you are 20 yoa. Have you thought of getting a paintball gun and paintballs? They hurt like hell and can put any eye out. Plus, even if they run from your house, they should be easy for the police to spot. You really want to check with an Ecuadorian attorney about firearms and the law regarding the use of deadly force. And, I'm not sure you can inport them in your household goods.
Living in Cotacachi for 4 years, I feel safe and rarely think about crime. Robberies, petty theft happens. And it seems to be on the rise as economic conditions impact Ecuador in the same way as the rest of the world. Times are getting tougher.
Most of the things we've had stolen have been from our own negligence or lack of attention to our belongings and to the custom here, which is that it seems to be okay to take things left around unattended. And also to steal if possible to get away with it.
Organized gangs are operating more in the big cities and beaches, according to reports from people living in Quito, Vilcabamba and Manta whom I've talked to.
Cotacachi is in the mountains 2 hours north of Quito, a lovely village of 8000 people at 7800 feet. Often sunny and warm, also cool, even cold when the sun disappears.
My husband and I have purchased 10 acres near an old hacienda to built a house, plant our organic garden, maybe have an alpaca and some chickens, live the green life. We want to attract 3-4 like-minded people to share this land with us.
I have a different take on protecting yourself here. I just found out from an Ecuadorian woman who's lived here all her life that you cannot hurt or kill anyone breaking into your house or you will be prosecuted. I haven't heard about meeting force with an equal force. That may be true, so thanks for bringing up this topic. It needs to be fully checked out.
I was told that if someone breaks in and robs you or threatens you, you can't harm them.
The indigenous have different laws and are allowed by the government to practice their old ways of justice. When they catch a thief, adulterer, murderer, etc., the are free to punish him or her. There usual method is to throw ice water on them, then beat them with nettles for the first offense. The next offense is treated more severely and can result in death.
Robbers in a nearby village were caught last week and punished this way and I have heard of it happening several times but never witnessed it.
In indigenous villages, if you are friendly with them and become part of the community, they have a system for ringing a bell or sounding an alarm if there is trouble at your house and they will come to help you. So get to know your neighbors.
We know a man who brought his guns from the states, but it was a hassle and required lots of paperwork. You can buy arms here but guns are much more expensive and you have to go through a very difficult process to get a gun permit.
My husband and I have a website (pro-ecuador.com) and blog Living in Ecuador Blog - that answers many questions and contains tons of free information.
I am wanting to escape from the US to a country I can own firearms and buy property on time.....make payments. If there is anyone out there who knows the safest, cheapest, and gun friendly country, please contact me at rayblank2002[at]yahoo.com
My advice on crime here is simple. Listen to the expats who live here, not the Department of State. It almost feels like they don't want Americans to settle here.
I live in Quito which I like. I will disclose I am 32 and not retired. I haven't had any issues as of yet but maybe people in their 50's and 60's might be more of a mark than me being young and athletic.
I have been in Bahia for eight months now and find the people very friendly. Complete strangers have warned me about unsafe places to swim, helped me out at the market and befriended me on the streets.But because of the poverty, there is some crime here and it is important not to look like a tourist ( carrying cameras, backpacks, etc.)they are looking for an easy target.I feel perfectly safe here.