Edd Staton

Author Image for Edd Staton

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

Footloose and Fancy Free in Cuenca

That’s the usual reaction my wife Cynthia and I get when we tell attendees at International Living conferences that we haven’t owned a vehicle since we moved to Cuenca, Ecuador, six years ago.
When we were considering the notion of relocating abroad, part of our strategy was to find some special place in the world where as many of the negatives as possible could be eliminated from our lives. That included having to climb into a vehicle every time we left our home. After too many years on the suburbia merry-go-round, we were more than ready for a change.

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Find Your Own Fountain of Youth Overseas

You read it here first—I’ve discovered the Fountain of Youth. Funny thing is, turns out it’s not a fountain at all. Nor is it located in just one place. In fact, it can be found in many places if you know where to look. Confused? Let me explain. I celebrated a birthday recently and it was a weird feeling. No, not that I’m getting older: actually, just the opposite. Since we moved to Ecuador almost six years ago, I know I feel younger than when we arrived, and I believe I have aged less than the number of years marked by the calendar (the same is true for my wife, Cynthia).

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An Insider Tour of Cuenca’s Culinary Delights

Dining out is perhaps the favorite activity of gringos. (That’s what expats are called by locals, and it’s not a derogatory term here as it is in other parts of the world.) That goes for Cynthia and me, too. So I’m excited to take you on an all-day culinary tour of Cuenca to highlight some of our favorite places to eat.

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Making Money With Music in Cuenca, Ecuador

Brian Gary quit the U.S. after the downturn and is delighted with the new life he has created in Ecuador.

“I had developed a very successful real estate business,” Brian says. “All was going great until life went sideways with the economic meltdown in 2008, and we decided it was time for a change.”
“I’ve been fortunate to travel all over the world for a large part of my adult life, and I thought it was important for my family (wife Chelsea and three kids) to experience other cultures,” Brian says. “But since we’re not retired we needed to find a place where we could earn an income.”

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The Climate in Cuenca, Ecuador

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 Goldilocks, want our weather “just right”…not too hot and not too cold…

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Low-Cost Living and Great Retiree Benefits in Cuenca

“We love the fact that our retirement income goes so much further here,” says Leanne Crawley of her and her husband’s retirement in the mountain city of Cuenca, Ecuador. “Our quality of life is so much better than it was in the States, when we were both working too hard. We’re thankful for the friendships we’ve made with people from all over the world. Living in Cuenca, we experience a sense of peace and joy that we’ve never known. We are truly blessed.”

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A Tour of Cuenca’s Culinary Pleasures

For years our hometown of Cuenca, Ecuador, has been crowned one of the world’s top retirement destinations. From my home, a short walk from the historic center of this colonial gem, it’s easy to see why. The low cost of living, the temperate climate, and the excellent medical facilities make for a comfortable life, and you’ll find plenty to do. I must admit, though, that when my wife Cynthia and I first arrived in Cuenca over five years ago, the culinary scene left a lot to be desired. But there has been an amazing transformation in Cuenca’s dining options.

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5 Reasons Why Cotacachi Could be the Place for You

Ecuador has long been an expat favorite due to its mild climate, biodiversity, friendly people, and ease of immigration. The most difficult part of moving to Ecuador though is deciding which part of the country to settle in. Coast or mountains? City or small town? Luckily there are many choices, but one place that has been catching many an expat’s eye is the mountain town of Cotacachi. Take a look at the following five reasons why Cotacachi might be right for you.

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Living Overseas, Every Day is Like the Weekend

When I’m corresponding with one of my International Living editors on Friday’s, he always ends his emails with “Have a great weekend!” I invariably chuckle at this because for me as an expat in Cuenca, Ecuador, every day is the weekend. Not by usual time measurements, of course. Expats don’t have special calendars filled with only Saturday’s and Sunday’s. It just feels that way.

Always an Adventure in Quito, Ecuador

“Every morning I wake up in Quito, it’s with a sense of amazement at how great my life is,” says Rami Amit of his new life in the Ecuadorian capital. “I absolutely love my hometown,” says his wife Daphna of their retirement haven. “Quito offers so many options that it’s impossible to be bored.” This diversity of cultural, entertainment, and dining options enticed the Amits to Quito in the first place.

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The Falklands: Penguin Paradise in the South Atlantic

There are certain islands on almost everyone’s bucket list: Hawaii…Tahiti…the Falklands. The Falklands? Okay, maybe not. But if you happen to find yourself in the Atlantic Ocean, 300 miles east of Argentina’s Patagonia region, you’ll certainly enjoy a memorable visit to this isolated and unusual archipelago.

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5 Best Neighborhoods in Cuenca, Ecuador

There are many reasons Cuenca has been one of the hottest expat destinations on the planet for the past few years. This UNESCO World Heritage city of a half million residents boasts a temperate climate, low cost of living, top-notch medical care, and proximity to North America—not to mention lots of modern amenities like malls, cinemas, great restaurants and shopping.

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I Happily Left Stress and a Frantic Pace of Life in the U.S.

During a recent visit with family in the States I was playing with one of my granddaughters who is just learning to talk. We had several activities going at once in the playroom and I told her we were multitasking. She replied, “Yes, we are monkey-tasking.” This malapropism stuck with me because it so innocently describes how our “monkey brain” works away when we have a lot going on.

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Finding a Profitable Niche…In Ecuador

David and Sandy Kraft were living in a cabin in the small town of Hayesville, NC when one evening David asked, “What do you think about retiring overseas?” Sandy replied, “I’d love it. Where…France…Italy?” “Ecuador.”

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Swapping Cold Canadian Winters for a Spring-like Climate in Cuenca

When the time came in 2010 to retire and choose the location for a part-time home far from the cold Canadian winters, Michael Keith and Susan Birkenshaw knew exactly where they wanted to go. Five years later, while folks back home battle the biting cold each winter, Michael and Susan enjoy the year-round spring climate (and incredibly low cost of living) in the Ecuadorian mountain city of Cuenca.

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Three Great 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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What Things Cost in the World’s Best Retirement Haven

One of the many great things about living in Ecuador is that flights to the U.S. are frequent and easy. You can fly nonstop from Quito to Miami in four hours and from Guayaquil to New York in less than seven hours. I’ve just returned to Cuenca after spending some time visiting family back in the U.S. Being in the States got me thinking about how much I spend on everyday items like food here in Ecuador.

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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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