Six years ago, Sue and I saw our home in Vilcabamba, Ecuador for the very first time. Even though it was our first day ever in South America and we hadn’t even seen the town of Vilcabamba yet, we agreed to buy the property five minutes after stepping through the blue steel gate that was the entrance to the property. And, as it turned out, to our new life.
Crazy? Maybe, but if a good property “speaks” to you then this one “screamed” at us. It was exactly what we had been searching for. We were only on the property for an hour or so that first visit, but it already felt like home, a feeling that intensified as we grudgingly returned to our “life” in Dubai just two days later.
It only required a minimum of discussion on our part to decide to roll the dice and make a move, because if nothing changes, nothing changes. We had to make the change we wanted. So almost one year to the day later, Sue and I did just that by saying goodbye to our old life in Dubai and beginning a 50-hour journey with our three cats, Tissa’a, Iqqy, and Bubbuh, to start a new life in Vilcabamba.
Five years later, we were celebrating the anniversary of the start to that new life with some friends at a favorite restaurant of ours in the small town of Rumizhitana, just north of here. Above in the photo is the view toward Vilcabamba.
With those five years of experience living on the property that we agreed to buy after only five minutes, I considered a question I’m sometimes asked by friends: Is Ecuador everything we hoped?
The short answer is, to use the title from a favorite children’s book of mine by Homer Price, “Ever So Much More So!” The long answer is I don’t think anyone truly realizes how much of their life is in the hands of others, until it is not. Living here, our lives are in our hands about as much as I think possible. Few people can say that, especially from the age of 44, which is what we were when we moved to Ecuador.
We don’t owe anybody any money. We don’t owe anybody our time. No boss, no office politics, no commute. When we get up in the morning, the day is ours. We can do whatever we want (even if that’s “nothing”). While we existed, at best, in our previous location, with our lives in the grip of those with little to no interest in our well-being, we live here in Ecuador.
When I see people reaching retirement at 65 or later, too old, too tired, or too sick (and now maybe even too poor) to enjoy what they worked a lifetime to achieve, I am thankful we won’t be spending 20 or so of our better years toiling away for others in some cubicle somewhere.
While we lead a fairly simple life, it is a very rewarding life—one that cannot be bought, only experienced. It makes me wish I had more time each day, each week, each year. Most importantly, for the first time in my life, I feel free. My life is in my hands. It’s a great feeling to wake up with, each and every day and it’s a feeling I wouldn’t trade for anything.
Editor’s note: John is one of the most popular speakers at the upcoming Fast Track Your Retirement in Ecuador Conference. Don’t worry if you won’t be there in person—we’re getting everything on tape.