Edd Staton

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Edd Staton is International Living's Cuenca, Ecuador correspondent. After he and his wife Cynthia were both downsized from successful careers in 2008, they decided to explore options to retire early and live abroad. But they feared there was no place on the planet that could fulfill their seemingly impossible "wish list."

Their research turned up a location they had never heard of, in a country they knew next to nothing about--Cuenca, Ecuador. Intrigued that this small UNESCO World Heritage City appeared to offer everything they were seeking, an exploratory trip was immediately booked. A year later, in May 2010, Cuenca became their home and has exceeded all expectations.

Edd is a frequent contributor to IL publications, and he and Cynthia are the Cuenca representatives at IL conferences. Edd also regularly contributes to International Living's Ecuador Facebook page.

Archives

Cuenca-Ecuador

The Secret to Fun in the World’s Best Retirement Haven

My wife, Cynthia, and I moved to Cuenca, Ecuador, almost five years ago with no plans other than to have fun and look for interesting opportunities. Retirement had kind of taken us by surprise. The “Economic Tsunami of 2008″ slapped us pretty hard, so that retirement had arrived sooner than expected. Still, we had for years been envisioning what it would look like: a life where we were free to pursue the activities and interests we wanted to and not be held hostage by busy careers and hectic schedules.

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The Climate in Cuenca

Our daughter in New Jersey hasn’t seen her yard for months because it’s covered with snow. Our son in North Carolina finished raking leaves a while back just in time to get out the overcoats in preparation for the frigid weather ahead. My wife Cynthia and I, we’re weather junkies, who like the climate to be perfect…not too hot and not too cold… The thermometer was already getting close to 100 degrees when we left Las Vegas for Cuenca, Ecuador almost five years ago. We’d had enough of that scorching heat—as well as the humidity and chilly winters in the southeast where we previously lived…

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Goldilocks and the City of Cuenca

Once upon a time there was a girl named Goldilocks who wanted to move abroad. Now Goldilocks was very particular—she wanted everything to be “just right.” One day Goldilocks was reading her International Living magazine and learned about a city in Ecuador called Cuenca. The more she read, the more excited she became. Goldilocks thought, “Wow, this place seems perfect!” Being very particular, she decided to visit Cuenca to see for herself.

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Enjoy a Low Cost of Living in Cuenca, Ecuador

My wife and I have lived in Cuenca, Ecuador for years and continue to be amazed at how far we can stretch our dollars while enjoying a high quality of life. Let’s break down some of those costs so you can compare your current budget with what you might expect to pay in Cuenca, beginning with activities that are free. How much does it cost to attend the symphony and museums where you live? Guess what—there is no charge for either in Cuenca. How about your gym membership? The city offers free Zumba classes in parks all over town several times each week.

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Why You Won’t Find Any “Gringo Nights” in Cuenca

The expat community was much smaller when my wife Cynthia and I arrived in Cuenca in 2010. Back then, there were maybe only 500 or so, and a lot of those were old Peace Corps folks who had been here quite a while and faded into the landscape. As part of the first big wave of gringos to hit town, all of us were pioneers who truly needed each other for assistance and support in our new adventure. Cynthia and I would introduce ourselves to every North American we saw (on the street, in a restaurant—it didn’t matter) and exchange contact information. It was actually a good way to get to know people; problem was, we really had no place to get together.

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Discover the Hidden Treasure of Living in Ecuador

Could there be a more perfect country for ecotourism than Ecuador? With four distinct regions in an area the size of Colorado, Ecuador offers endless possibilities for adventure travel. You’ll find the Galapagos, Pacific coast, Andean highlands, and the Amazon… Ecuador is, per square mile, the most biodiverse country on the planet and numerous expats have moved there to become part of the ecotourism industry. Back in the 1980s, Richard Parsons was based in Quito and one day, while enjoying a leisurely drive through the Tandayapa Valley, he and his wife Gloria stopped and struck up a random conversation with a man cutting up a tree.

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A Move to Ecuador is Like a Life-Long Vacation

Recently, I was sitting on a terrace overlooking the Pacific Ocean, while enjoying a beautiful sunset, a bottle of wine, and the company of my wife Cynthia and two friends. “Man,” I said to them, “it’s great to be on vacation.” Everybody laughed. I knew why. It’s because, as Cynthia put it, we were taking a vacation from our “vacation.” Though we’re all retirees living in Cuenca, Ecuador now, years ago we left behind a stressed out, overscheduled, unsatisfying world—perhaps much like yours. In that former life, we worked our tails off day after day to “enjoy” weekends jammed with chores and errands, occasionally grabbing dinner at a chain restaurant. Our few weeks of vacation never seemed long enough to truly decompress and relax.

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Video Tour of Coastal Ecuador

Punta Blanca is a beautiful, exclusive area on Ecuador’s southern Pacific coast. Only about a four-hour drive from colonial Cuenca, where I live, Punta Blanca has a super-convenient location 30 minutes north of Salinas, the country’s most developed resort area, and 30 minutes south of the always happening party town of Montanita. Because Punta Blanca is residential, you need a vehicle to get there and to get around, as there are no stores or restaurants within walking distance. Rentals are available, and visitors are treated to a gorgeous and isolated beachfront experience with lots of activities and amenities nearby.

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Escape the Economic Storm Clouds with Life in Ecuador

2008 was a very tough year for my wife and me. At the time, we were living the good life in Las Vegas—big home, high-paying jobs, investments that were propelling us toward our retirement goals. Then what I refer to as the “Economic Tsunami” hit, and we were among the many casualties of that global financial meltdown. When we both found ourselves downsized, we naively thought, “No problem. With our skillsets we’ll have no trouble finding another great job.”

What We Found in Colonial Cuenca, Ecuador

Before my wife, Cynthia, and I relocated to Cuenca, Ecuador from the U.S, we made an exploratory trip. Even though only a few years previously, we had never even heard of Cuenca, we were pleasantly surprised by what we found. The city more than lived up to its UNESCO World Heritage designation with carefully preserved colonial architecture throughout the historic district. Plus while there we were thrilled to attend a free outdoor symphony concert. That’s right—free!

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Cuenca, Ecuador: A Low-Cost University Town Buzzing With Activity

Expats have flocked to Cuenca, Ecuador in recent years for its great weather, low cost of living, and excellent health care. But most people aren’t aware until they arrive here that my hometown boasts five universities. And because Cuencanos speak what is recognized as the purest Spanish outside of Spain, we also have many Spanish language schools attracting study abroad students from all over the world. Great university towns are known as cultural hubs and artistic centers with a fun, vibrant atmosphere, and Cuenca is no exception. No, you won’t find wild tailgating parties happening during the fall—they play that “other kind” of football here.

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The Good and Bad—Banking in Ecuador

Moving abroad can be the start of the most exciting and fulfilling chapter of your life. I arrived in Ecuador over four years ago and I’ve never been happier. Stress has vanished; I choose how to spend my time; and I’ve never had so many wonderful friends.

Loja, Ecuador: A City that will Surprise You

Until a few days ago my knowledge of coffee was as follows: buy a bag at the store once in a while and drink a couple of cups to get me going each day. I’ve just returned from an extremely interesting tour, organized by the owner of a local coffee shop here in Cuenca, Ecuador, with a new-found appreciation for my morning beverage.

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An Added (Secret) Bonus of Living in Ecuador

There’s a lot to love about Ecuador—the amazing biodiversity; great weather; the low cost of living. And in the larger cities like Cuenca, where I live, the excellent medical care and cultural amenities are an added bonus. I’ve been kept up to date on the miserable winter in the States through Skype conversations with my two children. Right now I’m looking out the window at blue skies and am looking forward to yet another day with temperatures in the 70s.

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How to Get By with a Little Help from Your Friends in Ecuador…

I recently watched the Grammy salute to the Beatles commemorating their performance on the Ed Sullivan show 50 years ago. Yes, I was among the 73 million households glued to the TV set on that historic night. A song that Paul and Ringo performed on the show, “A Little Help from My Friends,” got me thinking about how getting things done where I live in Cuenca, Ecuador is so much easier when you are open to the assistance of others.

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What Do Retirees Overseas Do All Day?

But nature abhors a vacuum, and I know of no one here simply staring out the window wondering how to spend their time. During four years of living in Cuenca I have been amazed to observe the many creative outlets foreign residents dream up to be active and productive. Free from the yoke of employment (although many expat-run businesses have sprung up) folks are starting foundations and volunteering, learning Spanish and teaching English, tending animals and growing food, traveling in Ecuador and far beyond its borders.

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Three Day Trips from Cuenca, Ecuador

You have probably heard of Cuenca. It’s Ecuador’s most popular retirement haven, home to thousands of contented expats, colonial architecture, verdant parks, galleries, museums, and plenty of bars and restaurants. But that’s just the city itself. Since arriving, my work with a local tour company has helped me uncover some of the best day trips.

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People Always Ask, “What Do You Do All Day?”

Retirement is the perfect time to try on old dreams and see if they still fit. After graduating with a degree in journalism I embarked on a career path that had absolutely nothing to do with my field of study. But I loved writing and never gave up on the possibility that one day I would be able to pursue my interest. Today I sit here at my computer happily sharing this message with you.

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No Experience Required for Profits in Ecuador

Barbara Wilson, from Michigan, launched Mindo Chocolate Makers in Mindo, Ecuador in 2009, with no experience. Originally she and her husband, Joe Menza, ran a hostel and restaurant, but when Barbara couldn’t find good cocoa for her brownies, they decided, “Let’s make our own!”

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Life Just Gets Easier in Ecuador…

It’s interesting what you get used to—and what you forget about that you used to be used to. Since moving to Cuenca, Ecuador three and a half years ago my wife and I have noted how much simpler our life has become. For us moving abroad and retirement went hand in hand, so we’ve attributed this phenomenon to no longer having careers with the accompanying stress and pressure.

The best locations in Yunguilla, a long valley area, are less than an hour’s drive southwest of Cuenca.

The Valley Lifestyle—Just One Hour from Cuenca, Ecuador

Yunguilla is a long valley that begins just south of Cuenca and ends near the seaport city of Machala. Its elevation ranges from about 7,000 feet near Cuenca down to 4,500 feet at the Santa Isabel side (closest to Machala on the coast). At its highest point, Yunguilla is 1,500 feet lower than Cuenca, which translates to a warmer climate and very short rainy season. Since the valley is oriented east-west, it gets direct sunshine all day long.

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The Spirit of Christmas in Ecuador

It is Christmas morning, and my wife Cynthia and I are celebrating the joyous occasion with our daughter’s family in New Jersey. Tomorrow we fly to North Carolina to do it all over again in the home of our son. When we moved to Cuenca, Ecuador three and a half years ago we had no grandchildren. In the space of 19 short months we experienced our own private “baby boom” and today we have three (and counting?).

All Your Stuff: To Ship Or Not To Ship?

All Your Stuff: To Ship or Not to Ship?

To ship or not to ship? That’s the vexing question many prospective expats face about their belongings when moving overseas. On the one hand, there are the mystery boxes in your attic or basement that have remained sealed since that last move. Then there are the books, the keepsakes, and that comfy chair. The china cabinet you cherish and the china inside it. Can you bear to leave these behind and just start over?

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Travel Adventures in Ecuador

“So why did you move to Cuenca, Ecuador?” Even after three and a half years I’m often asked this question, and there are many answers—the low cost of living, temperate climate, proximity of the U.S., excellent medical care, and the wonderful mix of historic architecture plus modern conveniences.

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Turn Your Hobby into a Monthly Income in Ecuador

Wally and Hazel Mountz thought they had their retirement all figured out. They were building a lakefront home in Georgia when the real estate crash of 2008 shattered their plans. Unwilling to continue working and unable to afford their new mortgage, they started looking abroad. Italy was their first choice, but what they could purchase there would leave them in a rural village without expat companions.

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The Kicks and Perks of Life in Ecuador

The very thought of moving abroad seems like such an adventure, doesn’t it? The world is full of so many intriguing locations. Which country would you choose? Which city? If you actually pull the trigger and relocate, then the adventure truly begins. Everything is new, exciting, interesting, frustrating, and exhausting all at once. You’re meeting new friends—maybe learning a different language—adapting to a foreign culture, and exploring surrounding areas.

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Living in Cuenca, Ecuador, Has a Downside…

A lot of folks look forward to and truly enjoy the change of seasons. Spring blossoms…the warmth of summer…fall foliage…bundling up in winter. I would not be included in that group. I’ve never been a fan of cold weather. Whenever it snowed I enjoyed walking around and throwing snowballs for about an hour. Then I was ready for it to go away so I could put on a bathing suit.

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Find A Property Bargain in Ecuador

You’ve got the options of a cosmopolitan lifestyle in cities like Quito, Cuenca, and Salinas… or a more quiet existence in any number of smaller enclaves where you can garden with a view. And your choices extend to the kind of home you’d like as well—from the convenience of a modern high-rise condo…to the space afforded by a single-family home with a yard…to raw land on which you can build your dream escape.

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Ecuador vs. United States

My wife and I just returned from a three-week trip to the States to visit our family. We babysat the grandchildren, ate some wonderful meals out, and purchased clothing and other provisions to bring back. We have lived in Cuenca, Ecuador for three-and-a-half years, and with each journey (there have probably been more than 10 by now) we come to appreciate more and more how fortunate we are to embrace the best of both worlds.

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An Insider’s Guide to Buying Property in Ecuador

Real estate prices in Ecuador are low—among the lowest anywhere. That means you can find some of the best bargains in the world. So if you choose this country, you may decide it makes sense to buy a residence.

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Living a Relaxed Lifestyle in Cuenca, Ecuador

For the last three years, I’ve lived in Cuenca, Ecuador. During that period I’ve experienced a profound transformation in the way I approach life. This beautiful mid-sized colonial city has a special magic to it. Shy vendors in our open mercados…

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How to Find a Business Niche in Ecuador

Sometimes a business idea appears as if by magic. Rich Westcott worked full time as a magician in the U.S. for 20 years, performing over 700 times a year at the peak of his career. As the economy took a downturn and his work began to wind down, he and his wife Patricia realized they were facing a dim future.

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A Slice of Pie Funds a New Life in Ecuador

Dedicating your life to the service of others can open up a world of possibilities. You could become an activist to save small family farms. Maybe live in Nicaragua for a year. When you can bake to-die-for pies, you might even open a restaurant in Cuenca, Ecuador

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Cuenca, Ecuador: What Your Research Won’t Tell You

Much has been written in International Living by me and others about the tangible benefits of living in Cuenca, Ecuador—the low cost of living, the temperate climate, the lovely colonial architecture, excellent medical care, and cultural amenities plus modern conveniences.

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“Our Retirement Was Coming Off the Rails”

Shortly after my son graduated from college, I talked to him about life. I told him that life is like that first big hill on a rollercoaster. At his young age, he was slowly going up…up…up…and all he could see were blue skies ahead. I, on the other hand, had crested the top…

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Making Connections with Local Entrepreneurs

If you want to set up business overseas, you will most likely consider doing it by yourself. But if you don’t have the language and you’re not familiar with the country itself, this can be a daunting prospect. A solution could be partnering with a local.

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Confessions of a “Taco Bell” Spanish Speaker

When my wife and I were actively considering moving abroad we created a specific checklist of what we were looking for: a low cost of living…ideal climate…proximity to our family in the States…excellent medical care…cultural activities…and modern conveniences

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My Advice: Leave this “Baggage” at Home

Whether coming with suitcases or loading a container, people relocating abroad fret about what to bring along on their new adventure. Precious keepsakes, favorite books and photos…there’s only so much room. Well, I can recommend eliminating one thing…

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Health Care in Ecuador: A Top Haven for Quality Care Overseas

Patty and Mike Grimm have been in Ecuador for nearly three years. During that time, “we have pretty much covered the gamut of medical care, including dentistry, eye exams and glasses, emergency rooms, colonoscopy, mammogram, gallbladder removal, treatment for ulcers (endoscopes), and serious back treatments,” says Mike.

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Good Expat, Bad Expat: Which Will You Be?

It’s exciting to explore your options for better living (at lower prices) overseas. I know when my wife Cynthia and I were doing it, we read every article in International Living…lots of expat blogs…we “eavesdropped” on forums. We couldn’t wait to experience the expat world for ourselves.

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Sign up for our free daily Postcard e-letter and we'll immediately send you a FREE RESEARCH REPORT on the most desirable —and cheapest— retirement havens available to you today.

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