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The World’s Most Romantic Retirement Havens

It’s that time of year again—the birds are singing, love is in the air, and hopeless husbands are trawling gas stations for that last bunch of flowers. It must be Valentine’s Day—that special day when you spoil the one you love, devote your attention to one another, and escape momentarily from the humdrum of everyday routine. It can be a wonderful time, no matter where you are, but it’s undeniable that some locations have a certain je ne sais quoi that adds that something special to the occasion.

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Penthouse Condo for $95,000 in Salinas, Ecuador

Something really unusual happened in our beach community of Salinas, Ecuador last week. People were posting pictures on Facebook, and it was the topic of conversation in all of the restaurants and bars. What was this noteworthy event? It rained! It actually clouded up and rained—well, a hard drizzle anyway—long enough to make some puddles and wet the streets.

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“Bravely” Living a Life of Luxury in Ecuador on $1,300 a Month

At least once a week, I receive an email with the words “you’re so brave.” I chuckle to myself because everyone back in the States thinks my husband, Mark, and I are so courageous. In reality, I think exactly the opposite… What’s brave about retiring at age 55 to one of the world’s top retirement destinations—Cuenca, Ecuador—with spring-like temperatures all year long (lows in the 50’s and high 70’s) and not having to work unless I absolutely want to (I’m a freelance writer).

Ecuador

The “Big Easy” Way to Discover Your Dream Retirement Destination

Is the idea of retiring overseas just a bit intimidating? You’re not alone if you think so.

I meet hundreds of expats every year who feel just as you do. They’re excited about the chance to squeeze every bit of fun and adventure out of their retirement years by exploring new cultures…and yes, saving tons of money…and living a more carefree life in a pretty-as-a-picture, fair-weather destination overseas.

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Reclaiming the American Dream in Ecuador

I saw a news headline the other day claiming that most U.S. citizens believe that the American Dream is dead. It’s not a surprise really. The fading American Dream is one of the reasons that my family and I left our home in Idaho in 2011.

Our thoughts of having our own little business were quickly squashed when we considered the amount of money we would need to invest in insurance, accountants, legal advice, and the many permits required. We saw neighbors who had owned their land for generations being forced to sell due to astronomical property taxes. And friends who owned an organic farm were required to jump through numerous hoops to simply grow natural food. It wasn’t quite what life in the U.S. was supposed to be, we thought.

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American Pie Funds Life in Perfect Weather in Ecuador

Before coming to Ecuador, Robin Stock and her husband, Joe, lived in Wyoming, where she worked at a local diner as a waitress and pie-maker.

They imagined living somewhere exotic where their money would go further and winters would be either milder…or non-existent. So three years ago they moved to Cotacachi, Ecuador, on Thanksgiving Day to begin their expat adventure.

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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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Great Lifestyle on a Three-Day Week in Ecuador

Todd Johnston is an adventurous guy. In his 53 years he’s traveled to Africa… climbed mountains in Peru and Ecuador…and gone scuba diving in exotic locales.

This sense of adventure, along with a desire to live life to the fullest, motivated him to buy a condo in Cotacachi, Ecuador in January of 2012 and eventually move there full-time in February 2014.

Panama

Top Four Countries in the World for Retiree Benefits

Panama, Ecuador, Mexico, and Belize earn top rankings as the countries with the best retiree benefits and discounts in the newly published 2016 Global Retirement Index from InternationalLiving.com.
The 2016 Global Retirement Index lists the top countries where retirees can live better for less around the world. But as well as offering a lower cost of living, some countries stand out in the category of significant retiree benefits and discounts, including savings on transportation, entertainment, social services, visa costs, and healthcare.

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Enjoy a Shot of Coco Loco

Lying on the equator, Manabí province, on Ecuador’s northern Pacific coast, enjoys a year-round growing season, and the locals are adept at using all of nature’s offerings. One clan that has deep roots in the San Vicente community is preserving an age-old family recipe that you have to be drinking age to enjoy. The clan specializes in turning locally sourced ingredients into an unusual—and unusually packaged—Manabían liqueur.

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Don’t Let Fear Hold You Back From Your Dream Retirement

A few years ago, my wife Diane and I packed our lives into six suitcases, Diane tucked our beloved Chihuahua, Carmine, under her arm and we set off to build a new life in a small coastal village on Ecuador’s northern coast, a country we had never visited.

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Dine Outdoors in January in Beautiful Cuenca, Ecuador

“Can you meet me at Puro Cafe at noon?” asks my husband, Mark. The times and locations of our rendezvous may change, but my response is always the same—yes! Who can say no to meeting for coffee at one of the quaint sidewalk cafes in picturesque Cuenca, Ecuador with its cobblestone streets, majestic churches, and irresistible Old World charm?

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Low Costs and the Perfect Climate in Ecuador

My wife Rita and I had a very good life in the United States. We lived in a beautiful riverfront condo a few hours from Washington, D.C. We had a boat, good friends, and access to great seafood and fresh produce in season.

Panama

The Top 4 Countries in the World for Retiree Benefits in 2016

Imagine a place where sunshine is ubiquitous, a high-quality lifestyle won’t cost the earth, and as a retiree, you’re treated like a VIP…you’ll get a red-carpet welcome and be rewarded for your age and experience. Places like this exist…and they have claimed the top spots in the “Benefits and Discounts” category in International Living’s 2016 Global Retirement Index. In many countries all over the world you can live better for less.

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My Love Affair With Ecuador’s Capital City

From the moment my husband Tyler and I landed in Quito with our two kids, two-and-a-half years ago for his assignment at the U.S. Embassy, I knew the city was one of the most beautiful I’d ever seen. We’d lived in the U.S. and other countries around the world but we immediately fell in love with Quito. We’ve always enjoyed the places we’ve lived in but I haven’t adored a city in the way I adore Quito since I lived in my hometown of Chicago.

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5 Things to do in Puerto López, Ecuador

Although living in Cuenca, Ecuador, seems like a year-round vacation for me, it’s still nice to get away for a few days to explore other parts of this beautiful country. And one spot that’s well worth a visit is the small coastal village of Puerto López.

How Teaching English Opens Doors Overseas

How Teaching English Opens Doors Overseas

I am very fortunate to have the opportunity to travel severals time a year to places like Ecuador, Panama, Costa Rica, and Mexico. You might wonder how I became so lucky? Well, seven years ago, I came to Mexico to teach English as a second language. This allowed me to fulfill my dream of living abroad and immerse myself in another culture.

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Discover the Charms and Low Costs of Ecuador’s Secret City

Ecuador’s colonial cities of Quito and Cuenca have captured the hearts of many expats looking for a more relaxed style of life. But I’ve discovered a city, often overlooked, that is one of Ecuador’s hidden gems and is perfect for my active lifestyle. Guayaquil is a port and the country’s largest city. It’s got a reputation for business and industry…but that’s not the place that I have come to know and love over the past few years.

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The World’s Best Places to Retire in 2016

Retiring abroad is easier and more affordable than ever before. These days it really is possible to spend your days relaxing beneath palm fronds on a Caribbean beach, enjoying farm-fresh produce in a mountain haven with year-round spring weather, or wandering the storied streets of a historic and cultured European city…or all of the above. But with so many choices available, finding the right one can seem daunting.

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The Best of Big City and Country Living in Ecuador’s Valleys

Getting the best of both country and big-city life is a tall order. But in the valleys that surround Ecuador’s capital, Quito, you can have a country setting with green mountains in view at every turn, little brick houses tucked in amid lush gardens…and friendly neighbors who greet you with a smile.

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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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Cotacachi: Buy for Under $100,000 in Ecuador’s Andes

There’s something special about Cotacachi, Ecuador. It has a magnetic quality that draws people in and makes them want to call this town home. Maybe it’s the magic feeling of having two sacred mountains stand guard over this little valley town. Perhaps it’s the crisp, clean air and the perfect blue of the equatorial sky. It could be the friendly and welcoming atmosphere that envelops this area. Or maybe it’s the whole package.

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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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The Perfect Retirement Awaits You…

Perhaps you long for your own cottage on a quiet beach…a grand apartment in a city vibrant with concerts and cafés…a mountain villa where the air is crisp…or even your own vineyard amid gently rolling hills. Whatever you fantasize about, come to the New Orleans Marriott this April with that idea in mind. Dream big.

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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.

Ecuador

The Easy Way To Make Your Money Go Further

Imagine if you could snap your fingers and instantly cut your monthly expenses in half. You’d effectively double the value of the money you budget for monthly expenses. It would mean the cash you once used for monthly bills would be available for other uses. There are hundreds of beautiful retirement locations around the world where this is possible. For the past 15 years, my wife, Suzan Haskins, and I have lived in many of them.

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Is Moving Overseas Brilliantly Crazy?

“I think you’re brilliant,” a friend said to me on a visit to the States last summer. Believe me, it’s the first time I’ve been described that way. “You know what you want and you figure out how to make it happen. You’re not afraid of failure. You really are brilliant in that way.” Hmmm…wasn’t this the same person who thought I was slightly off kilter…far on the other side of crazy…15 years ago when I mentioned I was going to quit my job and move overseas?

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Enjoying a Carefree Life on a Social Security Budget

My journey to Cuenca, Ecuador began with a discussion with friends in their home by the beach in Panama. We were all disenchanted with the U.S.—the regulations, the taxes… We concluded that there’s no American dream anymore.

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Can You Really Bag a Beach Home for $78,000?

For most folks, the perfect way to start a day is with a stroll on the sand or a dip in the ocean. Owning a beach home so that they can do it every day is at the top of many wish lists. Many people think they can’t afford to do that. Understandable: When you take the limited supply of beach property and combine it with strong demand, what do you get? Sky-high sticker prices. But you can still bag a beach bargain in some overseas destinations

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Five Magical Mountain Towns in Panama

You can’t help but feel happy in Panama’s highlands. The views are inspiring, with verdant pines and bougainvillea bursts covering the hillsides. Hidden gems include streams, waterfalls and even hot springs. Not to mention some of Panama’s best flora and fauna…including hundreds of species of colorful birds, orchids, and more. To be sure, Panama is known for its stunning Caribbean islands and popular Pacific beaches.

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We Feel Right at Home in This Sunny Ecuadorian City

From our balcony, aided only by a pair of binoculars, my husband and I sit and watch whales breach, roll, and spout all day long. Before I lived here, I figured that you’d have to hire a boat and go out for miles to see whales—but not here. For some reason—perhaps the famously deep water that makes Manta, Ecuador a major fishing port—the whales come to us. And not only whales. Everything from quaint fishing boats to gigantic cruise ships to old-world “Tall Ships” pass by, providing constant novelty from the comfort of our balcony.

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The Three Best Restaurants in Cuenca

“Hey, where do you want to go eat tonight?” was not a question we asked each other much when we moved to Cuenca, Ecuador five-and-a-half years ago. It wasn’t that we weren’t hungry. You see, while our hometown had other outstanding attributes you’ve possibly read about—great weather, low cost of living, excellent medical care—interesting dining options were few and far between.

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Burn Away the Old Year in Ecuador

Ecuadorians are famously fun-loving people, who party every bit as hard as they work. This is magnified during the winter holidays, when throngs of visitors from Quito descend on the Bahía-San VicenteCanoa corridor on the northern coast for their family vacation. Over the last few weeks of the calendar year, the broad sidewalks of Bahía’s malecón (boardwalk) fill with vendors.

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No Alarm Clock Needed in Cotacachi, Ecuador

When asked what they like most about their new life in the small mountain town of Cotacachi, Ecuador, Jay and Nancy Keattering reply, “No alarm clock!” The couple escaped their busy corporate jobs in 2014 and can be found still enjoying everything that life in the high Andes offers…a slow pace of life, fresh produce, low-cost healthcare, and great living for under $2,000 a month.

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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Happier, Healthier, and Wealthier in Salinas, Ecuador

For almost two years now, I’ve been living with my wife in a beautiful beachfront condo on the Pacific Ocean. That sentence alone might lead you to believe we live an expensive lifestyle. But not so. Thanks to the savings we made in moving our lives to Salinas, I have been able to retire this year at the ripe old age of 57. Here, I am happier, healthier, wealthier, and enjoying life to the fullest.

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Live Where It’s Spring-Like Year Round

As the savage North American winter begins to bite and the snow and ice pile up, many of us find ourselves yearning for warmer climates elsewhere. Imagine a place that’s never too hot or too cold—just perfect. Outside, the birds are chirping, while gardens and wildflowers bloom in multicolored glory. You can walk around in a light tee-shirt at any time of year. Throw out your coat and boots. Forget about heating and air-conditioning bills and suffering through sweltering heat and humidity.

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