There I stood, close to a 100-foot cliff. Could I do it? Would I dash forward and trade the security of solid ground for the adventure of soaring on the warm thermals of Ecuador’s north coast? How did I even get here?
It’s a familiar story. My wife Jan and I had been preparing our retirement parachute for many years. We were readying for the jump when the economic ground we were standing upon began to crumble.
We had spent 36 years together raising a family, building a business, upsizing our homes and establishing ourselves within our small community in central Washington. Our plan was modest and the progress steady. We would stay the course, build equity in our business and home and then when our time came, we would sell both.
A comfortable retirement in the warmer climate of Phoenix, San Diego or Miami would naturally follow.
All was going as planned. Then the crisis of 2008 roared into our lives and this, along with the years that followed and a bursting property bubble ripped apart our efforts and those of nearly everyone else we knew.
Devastated and demoralized, Jan and I realized we no longer had the time, strength or stamina to rebuild. Like so many others of our generation, we found ourselves facing a difficult choice. We could delay our retirement and plow ahead, or we could think outside the box.
My wife is the one who first suggested we look for a home on an entirely different continent. We began our research and discovered we could trade in the familiar U.S. retirement locations for more affordable (and exotic) destinations overseas. Over time, we narrowed our target to Ecuador.
We wanted warm weather and beachfront property with a view, so we honed in on the beautiful beaches of the north coast—in particular, on a stretch of wide beach in a sparsely developed area between Canoa and Bahia de Caraquez.
For the first time in years, we were feeling exhilarated and full of hopeful anticipation. We rented a lovely two-bedroom, two-bath condo on the beach between Canoa and Bahia, overlooking gardens and an infinity pool out to the sand and the sea’s edge. I could take a few steps out the front door in the morning to surf and Jan could relax and read under an umbrella on the warm sandy beach.
Another expat couple in the complex took us under their wing. Their story, we discovered, is similar to ours. And today, instead of more years spent working at home, they’ve retired…and live comfortably here at the beach on only $800 a month.
Jan and I spent our days visiting the surrounding area, including both Bahia and Canoa. We considered the advantages and drawbacks. We reviewed our projected retirement budget to determine whether it was a fit. Sitting on the balcony with our morning coffee, we instinctively knew the decision was made. This was the place. This was more than we had dreamed our retirement budget would allow.
So…there I stood on the cliff top…ready to rush toward the precipice. Did I make the jump? You bet. And as I soared like a bird above the ocean I spotted the tract of beachfront where a new condo complex would soon be rising—the site we will call home once it is completed. We had signed the paperwork that morning.
Some might say this was a foolish leap of faith. I say: Life is short. If you find your old trusted parachute is too tattered to carry you into the future, it may be time to look for a different one, just like we did.
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