Retired at 44 in Vilcabamba, Ecuador


I worked my way through nine years of university to earn master’s and bachelor’s degrees in architecture (and a bachelor’s degree in economics). But I never worked in an architectural office.

Instead, after the first Gulf War ended, I was offered a faculty position at United Arab Emirates University to teach information technology and math. A planned two-year stay turned into eight years. The money was good for a teacher, and seldom do you have the opportunity to encounter such a wide array of interesting people. Later, I returned to Dubai and spent seven years teaching in the UAE’s technical college.

It was there I met Sue, who is Canadian. If there’s someone for everyone, then she’s the one for me. Knowing we had a future together, we started researching retirement property, making full use of the Internet, libraries, networking, country visits, and, of course, International Living.

It was a part-time job for us…and in no particular hurry, we passed on properties that didn’t measure up; settle for less, and that’s exactly what you’ll get. In July 2006, after searching for five years, we found a property in Vilcabamba, Ecuador.

In that community, we found everything we wanted, including:

∗ A low cost of living: We manage quite comfortably on $500 a month.

∗ A low entry cost: Just five figures bought our mountain-view riverfront property.

A good climate: Sue’s from Alberta and I’m from Wisconsin and we both lived in the UAE, so we know nasty weather; but in Vilcabamba it’s always pleasant, so there’s no need for heating or air conditioning.

∗ A healthy environment with lots of water and a year-round growing season: We have coffee and a variety of fruit on the property, and a vegetable garden.

∗ Spanish speakers: With my four years of high school Spanish, we had a head start when we moved to Ecuador; but living where most everyone speaks only Spanish, language-learning opportunities are everywhere.

∗ Internet access: You don’t get the bandwidth like you get in the States, but our access is sufficient for computer types like us.

To top it off, the locals are even friendlier than advertised and it’s such a beautiful, peaceful place. In fact, we were so enthusiastic over the potential to greatly improve our lives by moving here that we decided to “retire” early, at the age of 44.

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