Ecuador: The Hidden Paradise Where A Couple Can Live Comfortably On $2,000 a Month or Less
Sell your winter clothes...and get ready for the adventure of a lifetime in the Land of Eternal Spring. Every cliché you've heard about living large on little...on even a retiree's budget...is true in Ecuador.
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- Population: 15,439,429
- Capital City: Quito
- Climate: Tropical along coast, becoming cooler inland at higher elevations; tropical in Amazonian jungle lowlands
- Time Zone: GMT-5
- Language: Spanish (official), Amerindian languages (especially Quechua)
- Country Code: 593
- Coastline: 2,237 km
Famous for its artisanal leather goods, the colonial town of Cotacachi (pictured) features open-air markets and small mom-and-pop stores. For other amenities Ecuador’s capital, Quito, is only two hours away by car or bus. Here you’ll find a three-bedroom, three-bathroom condo, one of six in a secure building. There are great mountain views and at 8,000 feet, there is no heat or humidity. It’s cool in the evenings.
Columbus called Costa Rica “the Rich Coast”—and it still is, with Caribbean beaches and Pacific shoreline that’ll take your breath away. But this nation has much more to offer, too: a year-round tropical climate, modern cities, rain forests, lush valleys and majestic mountains.
To be young is to dream. As kids we fantasize about becoming super heroes, professional athletes, or actors. We start our careers and imagine great success and an early, prosperous retirement. Then “reality” gets in the way. One by one we set those dreams on a shelf. Still, it’s good to keep them around, however dusty. Because sometimes you’ll find them coming to life in amazing and unexpected ways.
On Ecuador’s best stretch of coast sandy coves and verdant hills showcase jaw-dropping views. Prices have stayed low here because it was difficult to get to. But a new highway means that this has changed. Members of Real Estate Trend Alert can buy a lot in the best-in-class project in this area, with a manageable down payment and monthly payments of $470.
Not only is it the finest section of Pacific coast in Ecuador…it’s the finest anywhere. This is a place of explosive colors and contrasts, forests and coves, exotic butterflies and monkeys. Fishing villages and little surf towns dot the coast. Fishermen bring their fresh bounty ashore and sell it from their boats. Pioneer surfers catch waves and enjoy a cold beer at sundown.
About five years ago I heard about a course running in Ecuador that could show me how to make money from travel. I didn’t know anything about Ecuador but was intrigued by the idea. The more I read about it, the more excited I got. The course was about import/export and it was about to show me how I could travel to exotic spots, shop for beautiful, unique artisan-made goods, and turn a profit…
If Ecuador isn’t on your short list of places to travel, add it. Ecuador has mountain towns…tropical coast…the Amazon basin…and it’s also home to the Galapagos Islands. But I won’t dwell on any of that right now; just suffice it to say that if you go, you’ll want to go back.
While in Miami airport recently awaiting a flight home, I struck up a conversation with a fellow traveler. When he learned I lived in Ecuador he was extremely curious and asked many questions about why I was there and how I liked it. Before we parted he said, “Well, I don’t speak Spanish so I couldn’t move to your new country.” He’s partially right.
My wife, Suzan Haskins, and I have lived abroad for nearly 12 years now, in seven different locations in four different countries. And at some point during each of those years, in each of those locations, we’ve asked ourselves, “Is it time to go back to the States?” We’ve said “no” every time…but not for the reasons you might think. We didn’t leave the States because we hated it. We love the U.S. and all the family and friends we have there.
After just a few months in Ecuador, Julian and Casandra bought a property just outside Otavalo, the hometown of one of South America’s largest indigenous markets. Their dream was to turn it into a bed & breakfast where they could indulge all of their interests at the same time. Rio Blanco Bed & Brew was born. “I love to cook,” says Casandra.
We had just pulled out of a perfect…and perfectly deserted…half-moon cove where sand and surf played lazy tag between rock-boned headlands. After driving just a few more minutes north, our driver again turned off the coastal highway and again we dropped into another beach scene lifted straight from a tropical postcard. “Tasaste,” our driver said.
If you’re looking for a beach home and you’re on a tight budget, one country should top your shortlist: Ecuador. Ecuador’s coast is a sleeping giant. For years foreign buyers ignored it as a second-home destination. When it came to buying a place in the sun, they focused on better-known (and more expensive) beach destinations. That lack of foreign buyers is why beach homes in Ecuador remain affordable.
It happens to me every now and then…I look around in amazement and ask myself, “How did I get here?” Right now, here is a small Andean mountain village basking under the equatorial sun in a green valley 8,000 feet above sea level between two extinct volcanoes in northern Ecuador. And of course, I know more or less how I got here. Almost a dozen years ago, my husband Dan and I sold our house in Omaha…
Why do I love Quito, Ecuador? The sweet-natured people…the extraordinary weather…the gorgeous scenery…the great restaurants, shopping, the first-class infrastructure and services…and, of course, the affordability… It’s a city where you can still take a taxi anywhere in town for $1 to $5 and find a menu del dia for $1.50 to $2.50.
My wife and I decided to get off the “hamster wheel” over two years ago. We moved to Cuenca, Ecuador. And we’re now living “life in the slow lane.” After my visit to the drugstore I decided to stop off for a $3 manicure. Shortly after I got back, my wife Cynthia returned from yoga class and is now off to a “ladies’ lunch.” I’ll spend the afternoon writing and painting.
What if you could improve your lifestyle by about 200%…and do it for half what you spend today…why wouldn’t you? You could do it in a place where you never had to shovel snow again…where the weather is always perfect, about 77 degrees during the day and 50 degrees at night—all year round. A place where, in a single day’s drive, you can go from a sophisticated city with true cultural appeal…
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.
Would you like to wake up every morning and feel as though you’re on vacation? I’m used to it, and after two years, I allow myself the luxury of not feeling guilty. As soon as the sun ﬁlters through our bedroom window and I hear the rippling sounds of the Tomebamba River, I think about the piece of la dolce vita I have in Ecuador…
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.
My wife, Suzan Haskins, and I have lived abroad for nearly 12 years now, in seven different locations in four different countries. And at some point during each of those years, in each of those locations, we’ve asked ourselves, “Is it time to go back to the States?”
Some years back, while shopping in Ecuador, my friend and I visited the sprawling market in Otavalo. It’s home to a huge collection of indigenous South American crafts. Music pulsed and the enticing aromas from outdoor grills filled the air. The plaza and surrounding streets were filled with vendors offering everything imaginable. Handbags, antique bowls, jewelry…there was something for everyone.
On Friday I told you about the opportunity to buy a lot at the Jama Campay project on Ecuador’s North Coast. Members of our little group can buy a lot with a starting price of $32,256. With the special member-only finance terms, we can buy this lot with a down payment of $16,128 and monthly payments of $448. But maybe you are looking for something more turnkey?
Ecuador’s nicest 60-mile stretch of coast is now accessible. It’s here, on the best part of this stretch of Pacific Coast, in a “best in class” project, that we can buy a lot from $32,256. This is an “off market” deal—14 lots in this project are only available to members of Real Estate Trend Alert. With the special member-only finance terms, we can buy this lot with a down payment of $16,128 and monthly payments of $448.
If anyone needed a retirement rescue—it was Ron and Terresa Moore. “Our 401k turned into a 201k after the economy went sour in 2008,” Ron joked today. Their story is all too familiar. Back in July 2007, Ron and Terresa made six-figures managing a car dealership, they had real estate and $1.2 million in assets. But fast-forward to December 2008.
As the emcee for many of International Living’s seminars and conferences, I’m used to full attendance at our events, and this one was no exception. Getting more than 300 North Americans to come to Ecuador to explore all that this amazing little country has to offer doesn’t really surprise me anymore…nor do the record crowds we’ve been hosting all over the world at all our recent events.
One of the major concerns for retirees considering relocation abroad is being separated from their grandchildren. My wife and I weren’t grandparents when we arrived in Cuenca, Ecuador over two years ago. Now we have a 1-year-old granddaughter and two more grandbabies on the way.
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.
Many people dream of retiring to a foreign country and starting an exciting new life. But the uncertainty of such a bold transition…and the niggling questions it raises…sometimes prevents those dreams coming true. “What will my life really be like?” “What if I need medical attention?” “What if I miss my family too much?”
My friend Michael was in shock. It was understandable since he’d never seen me “work” in the traditional sense of the word. With all the time I spend eating out, going to concerts and exploring the downtown shops of Cuenca, Ecuador, he thought I was a member of the idle rich.
In Vilcabamba, Ecuador, you feel like you could live forever. It’s no wonder that this boasts of being the “Valley of Longevity,” where long, healthy lives are common and many of the locals claim to be centenarians—living well into their 100s. Perhaps it’s the climate. Just shy of the equator in southern Ecuador and at an elevation of 5,000 feet, temperatures in Vilcabamba average between 65 F and 81 F.
It was time to stop putting life on hold…and time to start living it. “We saw the value of our savings plunge as we were nearing retirement age,” says Edd. “Rather than continue to work for too many more years trying to correct this problem, we decided to retire, relocate, and enjoy the rest of our lives.”
Imagine a country where a doctor personally greets you and takes you into his small ofﬁce for a consultation. Where you have his personal cell number and most “appointments” are drop-by visits with no waiting around. A place where that doctor makes house calls and you won’t be charged for any follow-up visits to the ofﬁce…
The morning mist burns away to reveal an expanse of velvety mountains and the green-carpeted valley in all its glory. Fresh air and blazing blue skies are to be expected here in the Andes. Here, you feel like you could live forever. It’s no wonder that this boasts of being the “Valley of Longevity,” where long, healthy lives are common and many of the locals claim to be centenarians—living well into their 100s.
A round-up of the events you should be chalking down on your callendar. All of these events are expected to sell fast, so book your place early to avoid disappointment.
Every month we take a look at some of the properties available around the world. This time out, we’re highlighting properties that not only provide you with a roof over your head, but an income to boot. Escape to Ecuador’s Yunguilla Valley and surround yourself with blossoming fruit trees and fresh ﬁsh on your own tropical property.
Exhaustive research turned up a city we’d never heard of called Cuenca in the highlands of Ecuador, a country we knew next to nothing about. But Cuenca appeared to meet all of our criteria, and a “look/see” trip confirmed this could be The Place, so we took the plunge… our standard of living exceeds the lifestyle we enjoyed in the States with two six-figure incomes.
When Jack sold his business in South Florida to take a few years off, and his wife retired from the bench, they could have lived almost anywhere… They chose a little mountain town in Ecuador. Jack was Dan Prescher’s guest on IL Radio recently, and they openly discussed what Ecuador has to offer North Americans.
Friends in Ecuador couldn’t decide between the mountains and the beach. So they chose both. Because Ecuador may be the most affordable expat haven ever, you can do that here. For $114,000 total, our friends bought two condos—one beachfront and one with a mountain view. And their monthly expenses are less than $900.
David and Wendy DeChambeau had what many people considered an ideal life in northern Idaho…beautiful natural surroundings, two handsome and talented young boys, a nice home with all the trimmings that make up the American Dream. Yet, they were searching—seeking better economic opportunity, a lower cost of living, and a better climate.
I put down the phone, not for the first time that sunny Sunday morning, and gazed out of the wide lounge window that looked out over Quito’s skyline. The rugged eastern cordillera of the Andes shimmered in the distance under a tropical sun.