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
In our years abroad, my wife, Suzan, and I have met expats who told us clearly that it was their intention to live someplace where they never saw another expat again. Although I admire the spirit and determination of this kind of total immersion, I can’t help but recall what an expat in the real estate trade in Mexico told us many years ago.
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…
If you are interested in buying into a franchise business but have no idea where to begin, you might start with a franchising broker, who can help match you with a suitable business. MatchPoint is a franchise broker an international network of franchise consultants operating in the U.S., Canada, Latin America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.
When I quit my job to travel the world for a year‚ the last thing I wanted to do was work. Well, at least not in the capacity that I used to as an editor in Manhattan. In fact‚ part of the reason I left the country was to take a break from the New York corporate rat race.
This west-coast destination in Mexico hit the headlines in 1963. John Huston filmed part of Night of the Iguana in Vallarta. The world’s press descended on the town to follow the romance between Richard Burton, a star in the movie, and Elizabeth Taylor. Many viewers simply wanted the real skinny on the famous Hollywood stars. But others were grabbed by Vallarta’s colonial architecture and sun-drenched beaches. Tourists and expats started to flock to this little fishing village. Today, around 50,000 North Americans live in Vallarta…
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.
A couple of years have passed since I made my way from northern Idaho to middle-of-the-earth Ecuador, but thanks to modern technology I’m able to keep up on the news and happenings from my friends back home. Recently though, it’s begun to feel as though I’m farther removed from them than by the space of a single continent.
This thick cover acts as one of the few remaining intact habitats for elusive pumas, jaguars, and other smaller felines. The endangered spectacled bear also calls the Intag home along with hundreds of varieties of exotic birds. As the condor flies, this cloud forest valley is not far from the market town of Otavalo. In fact, it’s only 35 miles away by road. But for years now that one-and-only road has been a narrow, mountain-hugging dirt track accessible only from the towns of Otavalo or Cotacachi.
Just this month, I took an editorial trip to Ecuador to scout out what opportunities it offers to you today. I’m happy to report that it still has everything that you could look for in retirement and more—beautiful, temperate weather in the highlands and hotter weather toward the coast; warm, friendly people (expats and locals […]
It’s great to have step-by-step guides, especially for big and potentially complicated tasks. Moving yourself out of your home country to a completely new and different culture…and language…certainly qualifies as a big and complicated task. It involves many more steps than just five, but considering only the preparatory phase—the phase before the actual move—here are five essential steps to take before you move to Ecuador.
Although my wife, Suzan Haskins, and I write a lot about retiring overseas, we’re not officially retired. We write for a living, and even after we do reach official retirement age, I’d be very surprised if we didn’t continue our work writing, editing, and traveling. We know more and more folks in the same situation. They have no intention of retiring in the traditional sense and will probably work at something well past any official retirement marker or milestone they may pass.
I’m very lucky to be doing what I’m doing. I’m even luckier to be doing it from where I’m doing it, which right now is Ecuador. I’m a writer, and I trained a long time to do this, although not really on purpose. And I never thought it would lead me overseas. My undergraduate training was in journalism. Just the facts, ma’am. Who, what, when, where, how, and why…and maybe a job at the local newspaper. (Remember newspapers?)
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.)
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…
Tucked into the western slopes of the Andes, 40 miles north of the capital Quito, the Intag Valley possesses that rare kind of climate in which nearly any plant will thrive. Farmers haul in harvests of everything from papayas and passion fruit to carrots and corn. Surrounding their scattered tracts of farmland is a dense jungle of towering palms, broad-leafed ferns and twisting vines. You’ll find more species of orchids than you can count, and a huge variety of bromeliads.
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.