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
For many, Latin America conjures up images of steamy, wildlife-filled jungles and beautiful people lounging on tropical beaches, sipping umbrella-bedecked drinks. But there’s a whole other side to Latin America…regions where temperate—even cool—climates and jaw-dropping vistas of snow-covered volcanos are the order of the day.
I remember the day I told my neighbor Jo Alice that my wife Ann and I were selling our beautiful waterfront home in Maryland and moving to the beach town of Salinas on the Pacific coast of Ecuador. Jo Alice thought I was joking. I wasn’t. Why would I? In Ecuador our cost of living is $1,200 a month, the weather is perfect, and our condo has sweeping ocean views.
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.
Most mornings Chuck and Kathy Baumgarten can be found leisurely sipping coffee and enjoying the sunrise from their porch. It’s easy to see why if you visit their home. They have one of the most scenic vistas in all of Ecuador. Mount Imbabura seems to rise from their backyard. A 180-degree turn showcases Mount Cotacachi’s golden-hour glow. All the while the market town of Otavalo is nestled beneath them in the valley below.
2014 Fast-Track Ecuador Package
Quito, Ecuador – February 2014
Ecuador has it all: sophisticated historical cities, miles of unspoiled beaches, temperate mountain hideaways… perfect weather year-round… top-notch, low-cost medical care, low-cost health insurance… low-cost transportation (you won’t need a car)… overall, a very low cost of living.
The place was packed; festive and noisy with a funky, thumping rhythm adding to the party atmosphere. It was a mixed crowd—some retired gringos along with a younger North American group accounted for about 60% with the rest a mix of European travelers and locals. Everyone was having a great time. My wife Diane and I were fortunate to snag a table. At the very moment a group stood to leave, I moved quickly to claim the space.
“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…”
Another conference, another 400+ people who know more about Ecuador and living overseas than they’d ever imagined. And again, after this latest Fast-Track Ecuador Conference, more than a few attendees have come up to me with dazed looks in their eyes to say that they’re simply overwhelmed by the amount of information and networking they’ve […]
I’m about to head down the PanAmerican Highway to Quito, Ecuador’s sprawling capital, to attend this year’s Fast Track Ecuador Conference, where I’ll spend the better part of a week with hundreds of people who traveled thousands of miles to see this country for themselves.
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.
There are people who plan carefully for the future—folks who weigh all the advantages and disadvantages of major decisions, then make life changes in careful, graduated steps… My wife Ann and I are not those people. When we announced to family and friends that we were selling our home and moving to the beach town of Salinas, Ecuador, they were—to put it mildly—shocked. Looking back, I can’t say that I blame them.
Imagine if work involved saddling up and taking to the trail instead of being stuck in morning traffic, heading into the office. You don’t need to have a lot of money to work with horses overseas. If fact you don’t need to own much land or spend a fortune buying horses to set up your own business.
InternationalLiving.com’s annual Global Retirement Index names Ecuador, Uruguay and Malta as the best three countries in the world when it comes to climate. Their temperate weather throughout the year, moderate rainfall and little risk of natural disaster saw them rise to the top of the Climate category, one of eight categories in the Index, which details the top countries in the world for retirement in 2014.
John Brenner, a Minnesotan in his late 50s, was traveling in South America looking for a new place to live. The next leg of his trip was from Bogotá, Colombia to Lima, Peru. He was joined by three others, also Lima bound, whom he had met in the Bogotá hostel where he stayed. After an all-night bus ride they reached Ecuador’s border, where they crossed on foot. Once in Ecuador the four had a stroke of luck.
Panama, Costa Rica and Ecuador offer the most attractive programs in the world for retirees—wooing foreign pensioners with special visas and significant discounts on everything from airfare to health care, reports InternationalLiving.com.
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.
For any careful investor it’s important to understand not just the current trend but rather where we’re headed. As such, keep an eye toward the future for the growth leaders of tomorrow. Since 2007, emerging markets have been outspending American consumers. Take a look at the charts here to see how the international growth/redistribution of current consumption trends will change the landscape of international business.
There are people who plan carefully for the future—folks who weigh all the advantages and disadvantages of major decisions, then make life changes in careful, graduated steps… My wife Ann and I are not those people. When we announced to family and friends that we were selling our home and moving to the beach town of Salinas, Ecuador, they were—to put it mildly—shocked.
Most mornings Chuck and Kathy Baumgarten can be found leisurely sipping coffee and enjoying the sunrise from their porch. It’s easy to see why if you visit their home. They have one of the most scenic vistas in all of Ecuador. Mount Imbabura seems to rise from their backyard. A 180-degree turn showcases Mount Cotacachi’s golden-hour glow.
A great view usually translates into a premium price tag. But you can afford a home with stunning vistas if know the right place to look. For example, I know of one Pacific coast town where a beachfront condo with Californian-style ocean views and a similar lifestyle will only set you back $119,000. You’d need at least three times that to get close to the beach in California.
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.
Sometimes my old friends back home have a hard time understanding why I moved abroad. Just last week I was wrapped up like a polar explorer in borrowed coats, helping a friend I was visiting back home for the holidays shovel the drifting, blowing snow off his driveway. “What’s the fascination with living abroad anyway?” he asked through the scarf wrapped around his face to avoid losing his nose to frostbite.
Two years ago, my husband David and I broke the news to our friends and family that we would be moving to Ecuador. We enjoyed much about our life in the States, but we didn’t like the high-pressure work environment and focus on consumerism. We longed to break out of the corporate rat race and have the chance to work for ourselves.
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!”
When I made the move to a small highland town in Ecuador two years ago I knew that my new lifestyle would also come with an education. In fact that was part of the appeal. I would learn Spanish, adopt new customs, and adapt to life in a country halfway around the world. It was going to be great. Guess what? I was right; it is awesome, but not necessarily for the reasons I thought it would be. Sure, my original intentions have come to fruition. My Spanish is coming along nicely and I’ve gained many new friends because of it.
I often catch myself being taken aback by the stunning view of the Pacific that greets me from every western-facing window of my home in San Vicente, Ecuador. I don’t know exactly why I still experience a flash of surprise at the sight at this point. Maybe it’s because less than two years ago, such a thing was merely a dream. Like so many when the Great Recession struck, my husband and I were struggling to maintain the lifestyle we had built over the years.
I used to be like you. Sitting in front of a computer screen dreaming of faraway places…the sun on my face…lazy afternoons exploring forgotten seaside villages…or drifting through market towns in search of exotic indigenous rugs and hammocks to adorn my beautiful, colonial apartment. And then I decided to actually do it! In 2003, I chucked in my day job, bought a ticket to South America, and never looked back.
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?
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.
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.
My wife, Suzan, and I have lived in Ecuador for a long time now, and sometimes we forget how different life here can be from what we were used to back in the U.S. But every now and then we’re reminded pretty clearly, as we were just last week during a trip to Baños de Agua Santa, or simply Baños as it’s commonly called. Baños is a top tourist destination in Ecuador thanks to its incredibly beautiful setting in the Andes.
Attila Gyuris, or AT as his friends call him, can safely qualify as an adventurer… a commercial pilot and motorcycle enthusiast from California, he not only rode his motorcycle on a solo trip through Mexico and Central America to Ecuador when he relocated, he also flies Sikorsky freight helicopters in the Amazon and commercial transport helicopters on Ecuador’s coast.
InternationalLiving.com’s annual Global Retirement Index 2014 profiles the best destinations for good-value living around the world today. The Index considers not only a wealth of statistics, but—critically—more than three decades of expertise and current insights from a network of correspondents around the world.
From special discounts to front-of-line privileges, the respect for elderly citizens and residents shines through in these three countries, ranked best in the world for retiree benefits in International Living’s Annual Global Retirement Index 2014.
When moving overseas you may be worried about seeing your family back home or saving your money to get to the U.S. when you need to. However some countries offer discounted airfare to retirees—which will lower your travel costs.
For more than 30 years, International Living has been researching the best retirement havens in the world…and every January the Annual Global Retirement Index is released—highlighting the best places for you to retire. This Index ranks the top 24 countries in the world for retirement in 8 categories. The top 10 countries that feature on the list this year each bring spectacular benefits for retirees living overseas—from great health care and ideal climates to a low cost of living and financial perks for retirees. Starting with number 10, here are our top retirement havens for 2014.
Tired of shoveling snow, braving the torrential rain or wrapping up against the bitter cold? If so, check out these top three places to retire for a better climate as ranked in International Living’s Annual Global Retirement Index 2014. With a perfect score of 100 and for the second year in a row, Ecuador comes out top in the Climate category and is the overall runner up in this year’s Global Retirement Index. Lying directly on the equator, it enjoys 12 hours of direct equatorial daylight 365 days a year.
Whether you are looking for a home on the coast, on an island or in a colonial city, these three countries have the best value real estate. If your dream home includes a pool, a big back yard in which to swing from a hammock in the sun, a place close to the beach where you can snorkel, relax with a good book or watch the sunset…rest assured, you can have it—because your real estate dollar stretches further overseas. You can buy a superior property in a better location for the same amount or less than you would spend on a home in the U.S.
Whatever you see on our leader board, just remember, we measure here only the very best havens. So the country last on our list—newcomer to the Index Cambodia—is still one of the best in the world. In each of these destinations, you’ll find thousands of folks who have already found their dream retirements. You can too, and this 2014 Retirement Index is designed to get you started. It covers all the bases, revealing a wealth of choice when it comes to a comfortable life overseas…
We all dream of giving up the rat race, packing our belongings, and moving some where warm and sunny, but why wait until you retire? Moving overseas can be a big decision, even bigger when you have children—but the benefits that make living abroad a good thing for adults are similar to those that make it a good thing for kids. A lower cost of living, healthier lifestyle, varied life and cultural experiences…they all benefit your child’s life in some way. Here are some of the best places to retire for families.