Suzan Haskins

Author Image for Suzan Haskins

For more than a decade, Suzan Haskins has been on the lookout for the best “best-of-all-worlds” places to call home…for International Living readers as well as for her husband, Dan Prescher, and herself. During that time, they’ve traveled to nearly every country in Latin America and lived in Lake Chapala, San Miguel de Allende and Merida, Mexico; Quito and Cotacachi, Ecuador; Panama City, Panama; and San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua. They’ve owned real estate in all of those countries, too, as well as in Argentina. Suzan’s no neophyte to serial relocation. Born in Oklahoma, she grew up in Kansas, North Dakota, and New Jersey, before landing in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1976 where she spent 25 years, everyone of them chanting “not another winter here…” In 2001, she and Dan hit the road and haven’t looked back since.

Suzan and Dan have just written the Amazon Best-Seller: The International Living Guide to Retiring Overseas on a Budget.

Suzan also regularly contributes to International Living's Ecuador Facebook page.

Archives

Craft Village Ecuador

Explore the Craft Towns of Ecuador

If you’re planning a trip to Ecuador, my advice is simple: Bring the biggest suitcase you can find…two if your airline will allow it. Get on the Andean Craft Trail in the Sierra region along the Avenue of the Volcanoes that cuts north to south through Ecuador. It is full of artisan treasures that you won’t be able to resist. Cotacachi, the village where I live, has a main street lined with leather shops selling jackets, boots, and shoes as well as beautiful handbags and luggage. You can even have things custom-made in a few days. And everything is so much cheaper than you would pay for it in a high-end store—either in the U.S. or in Ecuador. You’ll adore Cotacachi.

Cuenca

What’s It Like to Retire in Ecuador?

I’m often asked about life in Ecuador and what it might be like to live or retire here. And I’m not shy about sharing my opinion on that topic. I’ve lived in Ecuador off and on for 13 years now. We spent a year in Quito beginning in 2001 and returned here in 2008. So yes, I think Ecuador is one of the best places on the planet to live.The people are wonderful. For the most part, they love foreigners and will go out of their way to help us discover how to fit into their culture and life here. (And they do it all with a warm smile.) The weather is superb. I’m from Nebraska so I am used to frigid temperatures in the winter and steamy hot summers. Here in the Andes Mountains where I live, temperatures hover around 75 F every single day of the year. I don’t need heat or air conditioning, keeping my monthly utility bill at about $24 every month total.

Ecuador

How Much Does It Cost to Live in Ecuador?

“How much does it cost to live in Ecuador?” That’s a question I hear a lot from readers. From masses of anecdotal evidence and my own experience of living here, I can safely say that a typical couple will most likely spend somewhere between $1,600 and $2,400 a month to live in Ecuador. But what you will spend depends very much on your own needs and wants.

A Big Question About Living Overseas

“Won’t you miss your family and friends if you move overseas?” That’s a question we at IL get asked a lot, and the answer is… “Of course you will.” It’s something my husband Dan and I have experience of. We didn’t think about it too much when we moved to Ecuador back in 2001. With the exception of Dan’s mother, none of our family—my parents and our siblings—lived in the same city as we did.

Live in the Town of Hot Springs and Miracle Cures for $1,500 a Month

Perched just five miles from Mama’s summit on her northern side is the town of Baños (population about 20,000). As the lore goes, Baños is Mama’s love child, and she protects it. She’s certainly passed on an inheritance, for—thanks to Tungurahua’s hot temper—Baños is blessed with an abundance of thermal waters. Those waters, and the stunning natural setting, have made Baños a popular spa and outdoor-sports town, as well as home to a small community of expats.

The 5 Biggest Benefits of Retiring Overseas

Do you have any regrets? That’s a question I often ask my friends who are living overseas. And I’d venture that 99.9 percent of the time I get the same answer. “I wish I’d done it sooner,” they say. “If I’d only known back then what I know now…”

Baños, Ecuador: Hot Springs, Waterfalls, and Miracle Cures

For many visitors, Baños’s thermal baths are miracle enough. You’ll find several places to soak away to your heart’s content here, in pools of varying degrees of delicious heat. The most popular public baths are right in town at the base of the 260-foot waterfall called Cascada de la Virgen, where Nuestra Señora allegedly once appeared. A shrine there is dedicated to her and her healing waters.

Are You Cut Out for the Expat Life?

What makes for a happy expat? This is something I think about often, because honestly…not everyone is cut out for the expat life. The rewards are tremendous and it’s a wonderful, life-changing experience, but there are challenges—and most are easy to get beyond. From my experience (and I’ve been an expat for 13 years now), those who thrive living overseas are those who are well prepared ahead of time. They’ve done lots of research and they know what they’re getting into. Overall, they have positive, optimistic perspectives about most everything…

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When You’re Spoiled for Choices Overseas, How Do You Choose?

“We’re looking at retirement options,” she wrote, “and I’ve appreciated your insights, particularly on Ecuador, Mexico, Panama, and Uruguay. I know that seems like a lot of countries, so I’m hoping you can help us narrow it down. We plan to take a trip to at least two of these this year; one country at a time. Which country would you suggest we visit first? And can you please suggest some travel itineraries?”

puerto-lopez-ecuador

What Regrets Do I Have About Living Overseas?

We’ve been living overseas since 2001. We’ve lived in seven communities in four countries (and purchased property in a fifth). We’ve bought, renovated and sold two homes in Mexico and bought and renovated a condo in Ecuador, where we now live. We’ve tried out beach life, mountain life, and both big-city and small-town living. So we know something about the expat life…

salinas-fyl

Why We Couldn’t Retire in Ecuador

When Gary and Kathryn Kelly, both in their 50s, moved to Ecuador from Sargent, Texas, in 2011, they expected this would be where they spent their retirement years. They bought a house at Punta Carnero Beach, about 10 minutes’ drive from the popular Ecuador beach resort town of Salinas, and began refurbishing it.

Ecuador

Who Will You Be Friends with Overseas?

The couple to my left, in their mid-70s, was a “good-ol’-boy” Texan and his pretty, soft-spoken wife. Both were raised as the children of sharecroppers. Across from them, the octogenarian of the group was a nuclear submarine engineer in his native Canada. And at the end of the table sat a former automotive repair-shop manager from California and his accountant wife.

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A Taste of Home on Ecuador’s Pacific Coast

When Gary and Kathryn Kelly, both in their 50s, moved to Ecuador from Sargent, Texas, in 2011, they expected this would be where they spent their retirement years. In Texas, Gary had owned a property tax management company and Kathryn worked as his executive assistant. In Ecuador, they hoped to laze away the days on the beach in front of their home…

vilcabamba-chapel

Find the Perfect Place to Live…and Put Some Money in Your Pocket

Figuring out how to make some extra money doing something you love is a wonderful thing. And many of my fellow expats are doing exactly that. If you’re looking for inspiration, I’d like to share some of those stories with you. In fact, we know of so many such stories that my husband Dan and I devoted an entire chapter of a new book we’ve written to this exact topic. (More about that in a moment.)

pan-beach

Life Lessons from 12+ Years’ Experience Living Overseas

As we approach our lucky 13th year of living overseas, my husband, Dan Prescher, and I are fortunate to have shared so many wonderful, memorable experiences in so many far-flung corners of the world—from Southeast Asia to Europe, and nearly every country of Latin America. We’ve lived in Mexico, Panama, Nicaragua, and Ecuador… In fact, we’ve lived in more than one destination in some of those countries. We’ve learned to speak Spanish, we’ve bought and sold property…

Ecuador

“Enough is Enough—We’re Going to Ecuador”

“Who remembers the economic tsunami of 2008?” Edd Staton asked. “Well, that’s how we got here. Before 2008, we had great jobs and were pulling down good money. Our retirement account was growing steadily and we had big plans for our retirement…which we thought was a long ways off…”

bahia-de-caraquez

The REAL Cost of a Good Life in Ecuador

For three days now, I’ve been telling you that in Ecuador, you can have it all…but at what price? What must you give up to make a good life here? International Living is, at times, accused of seeing the world through rose-colored glasses…of overlooking the bad and omitting the blemishes. If you’ve been here in Quito the past few days, I doubt you’d agree with that.

ecuador-hills

Dream About Your New Life Overseas…Then Do It

Not long ago, I received a note from a high-school friend I haven’t seen in many decades. “Did you follow a dream to South America?” he asked. “Yes,” I replied, “but I’m not finished. I’m still following my dreams.” The thing is, I don’t know where my dreams will take me. I have a very full bucket list of places I want to visit. Who knows how long I might be seduced into staying in any one of them?

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Sun, Sand and Good Living in Ecuador’s Top Beach Town

Outside the window of the condo I was renting, two huge pelicans sat nodding in the sun. Or so it seemed. Because in an instant, and in perfect synchronicity, they leapt from their perch, pulled in their wings, and dove headfirst to the emerald water below. No small feat since we were 20 floors up. Hmm, I wondered, what’s for dinner? Because, as the pelicans know, these waters are rich with a choice of seafood or every kind.

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Small-Town Beach Life in Ecuador

Crucita is about 40 minutes north of Manta, Ecuador’s largest coastal city. But while Manta is big and busy and full of shopping and social opportunities, Crucita is the opposite. It’s a little fishing village with a produce market, a fish market, but no supermarket… You can get eggs, bread, beer, toilet paper, soap and other necessities of life at some of the local mom-and-pop shops, but for anything more exotic than that, you’ll need to go to Manta or the closer town of Portoviejo.

salinas3

Where Ecuadorians Go to Escape the City…

“Don’t worry, you won’t have a problem finding a place to stay,” said my friend as we drove into General Villamil Playas (commonly just called “Playas”), the closest beach town to Guayaquil. “The hotels here never fill up.” He should know. He owns a condo in Playas and drives there easily in just over an hour from his home in Guayaquil to spend weekends and holidays at this beach town on Ecuador’s southern coast, named by some as the “sunniest beach” in the country.

montanita

Two of Ecuador’s Best Coastal Towns

If there were ever two towns that complement one another perfectly, they would be Montañita and Olòn on the coast of Ecuador. About an hour north along the coast from Salinas—one of Ecuador’s best-known and most popular beach destinations—these two beach towns each offer a very different vibe. Montañita is named for the “little hill” that sits at its north end and separates its picture-perfect golden-sand beach from Olòn’s picture-perfect golden-sand beach. It’s less than a five-minute drive from one to the other, and a taxi ride will cost you just $2.

cuenca-colonial

In Photos: Something for Everyone in Ecuador

In Ecuador, there’s something for everyone…from the die-hard adventurer who wants to follow the path of British mountaineer Edward Whymper up the slopes of 20,702-foot Mount Chimborazo to those who want to learn firsthand why Charles Darwin’s 1835 voyage to Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands is called “the most famous few weeks in the history of science.”

An eco-resort is being built on Little Corn, a result of The Corn Islands being a national tourism heritage site.

Corn Islands: Nicaragua’s English-Speaking Caribbean

If you like peaceful beach living, white sands, and blue seas, then you might want to check out Nicaragua’s Corn Islands. Reminiscent of Belize’s Ambergris Caye 30 years ago or Honduras’ Roatan island 25 years ago, this is a spot for pioneering castaways.

Placencia is one of Belize's most desirable locations.

Five Top Places in Belize Where Expats are Moving

There are a lot of reasons you might want to be in Belize right now… For a tiny little country (only about the size of Massachusetts), it has much to offer, especially when it comes to scenery. Turquoise waters and white, silky sand beaches… Fertile farmland… Rolling hillsides dotted with pine forests… Amazing Maya ruins…

ecuador-puerto-lopez

Beach Towns in Ecuador: Which is Best for You?

Where is the best beach town in Ecuador to hang your hat? Well, that depends entirely on the lifestyle, climate, and environment you’re after, of course. Because not every beach town is created equally. That’s especially true in Ecuador, where every journey along the country’s 530–mile long Ruta del Sol coast, from the border with Peru northward to Colombia, takes you through several diverse eco-systems.

panama-zero-stress

Operator, This is Love Calling…

My friend Sarah Booth is a real estate investor who lives in Panama. She owns various types of property in several Latin American countries that she rents short-term to vacationers and others. These visitors come to spend a week or two…or even a month or more…in one of her seaside apartments in Mexico, or in her longer-term rental in Panama City, or in one of the casitas she has built on the grounds of her home at Playa Coronado on the coast about 70 minutes from Panama City.

lake-arenal-lifestyle

A New Life Overseas – No Hard Work Required

Want to move overseas but not sure you can afford it? Good news: there are plenty of places in the world where you can live happily and comfortably on a small amount of income. Places where palm trees sway in the sunshine and where you’ll never again see snow. Sounds pretty decent, doesn’t it? But maybe you’re worried about that “small amount” of income—worried that what you have is just “too small”?

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Meet the Expats who Set Up Low-Cost Businesses – and Prospered

Imagine the place you want to be right now. Maybe it’s swinging in a hammock overlooking turquoise waters, your toes dug into silky-soft, white sand…perhaps you’re sipping wine in a sidewalk café in Paris…or you’re walking in the path of the ancient Incas in an Andean mountain valley.

A Confession: I Misjudged This Ecuadorian City...

A Confession: I Misjudged This Ecuadorian City…

When I first arrived in Ecuador in 2001, a local friend told me that “money is made in Guayaquil and spent in Quito”: Guayaquil being the commercial center of Ecuador and Quito the country’s governmental center.

In Pictures: Beautiful and Low-Cost Ecuador

Ecuador, “The Land of Eternal Spring”, has it all—low cost of living, great health care and one of the most perfect climates in this region.

The Richest Country on Earth (It’s Not Where You Think)

The Richest Country on Earth (It’s Not Where You Think)

Today, Costa Rica is the “richest country on earth.” That’s the conclusion we’ve reached over the three days of discussion we had at the 2013 Fast-Track Costa Rica: Lifestyle and Opportunity Conference.

Is It Crazy to Love Costa Rica?

Is It Crazy to Love Costa Rica?

When we arrived at the airport two days ago, a sign posted above the escalator leading to the customs area read “Welcome to Costa Rica: the Happiest Place on Earth.”

ecuador-fyl

The Most Exciting Journey of Your Life…

There’s only one qualification for moving overseas: you must have an adventurous spirit. If you don’t, then save your time and money and stop reading right here. Certainly, it’s okay to have some misgivings and concerns… You may, in fact, be scared to death, especially if you are selling a home…

A New Life in Cotacachi, Ecuador

A New Life in Cotacachi, Ecuador

Cynthia Collett recently celebrated her first anniversary in Ecuador, although she admits she had been working on this idea of “retiring overseas” for nearly a year before she actually made the move. “A friend came to Ecuador for a work-related conference,” Cynthia says. “And she told me I would absolutely love Cotacachi. “That’s when I started the Internet research. The more I read, the more I fell in love with the culture.”

nicaragua-colonial

Quick Guide to Colonial Nicaragua

Locals who live in Granada, Nicaragua, are used to tourists—maybe now more than ever, especially since The New York Times recently named Nicaragua #3 on its list of “Places to Go in 2013.” It’s not hard to understand what makes Granada so popular. Less than an hour after landing at Nicaragua’s international airport in Managua…

placencia-belize3

The Five Places Everyone Should Visit in Belize

Belize has a lot going for it. For a tiny country, it packs a big wallop when it comes to charm and scenery. For the would-be expat—especially if you’re looking for real value—there are many places that deserve your attention. Places where you can live the laid-back, Caribbean lifestyle of your dreams.

How to Enjoy Tax Day

How to Enjoy Tax Day

Nobody likes to think about taxes, and, if you’re like most people, you probably try to ignore them altogether until tax season rolls around each year. That strategy can cost you big time, especially if you’re living overseas or planning to move overseas this year, full- or part-time.

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