It was the first full day of our vacation in Canada, when my best friend, Sharri, and I got some news that put a different spin on our trip. The company we worked for was being acquired.
We spent the next day of our vacation listening to conference calls. Each one basically said the same thing—nobody knew anything about what the future held. Since Sharri and I were both over 55, we were pretty sure what that meant: we wouldn’t have jobs after the acquisition.
In a way, we were lucky to be away from the office. It gave us time to talk things out and try to decide what we wanted to do. It also meant we didn’t have to be present for the initial phase of hand-wringing that always follows such an announcement.
I had family in the Southwest and had just inherited half of a house from my parents so I figured I could retire to Phoenix if necessary. Sharri wasn’t in the same position so she started thinking about what else she would like to do. She’d been a lawyer for a long time and really didn’t want to practice law anymore.
It was then that Sharri found International Living through a travel blog she received and sent me the link. The prospect of retiring overseas was one that we started to seriously consider. I had always wanted to live abroad and had assumed it would be Europe. Based on our research, though, Latin America started looking really appealing.
We narrowed our list of probable places to three: Ecuador, Panama and Costa Rica. Panama was a serious option for a little while. With that in mind, we attended IL’s Fast Track Panama in Panama City. Immediately we knew it wouldn’t work for us—much too hot. We had both lived in Phoenix—if we wanted heat we could live there!
Next we considered Costa Rica. It was so much easier to get to from the western US, where my family is, so it kept coming to the top of the list.
But there was something about Ecuador that kept drawing us to it. Cost-of-living wise, it looked like a much better location for two retired women. Costa Rica had been booming for quite for a while, which meant that property prices were higher than in Ecuador. And Ecuador has such a varied climate, with the mountains and coastal areas and amazing diversity of ecosystems that our choice of where to live was very varied.
Our minds were made up after we visited a second International Living conference, the Real Estate Investment Forum, held in the Dominican Republic. We got to see the types of property that were available in each country and typical prices.
Shortly after, and in spite of the distance from my family, we ended up buying property on the northern coast of Ecuador. We both fell in love with it—and with Ecuador. Because our accommodation on the coast wasn’t finished yet, we decided to live for a while in Quito, where we currently still live.
We’ve come to love Quito just as much and are thinking seriously of buying an apartment there, which we will rent out when we’re not using it.
And my best friend, Sharri, and I get to spend a lot more time together now than we ever could. Originally we were each going to build houses on the Pacific Coast but then we decided since we spend all of our time together anyway, why not build one larger house and share it? So now we’re sharing a condo on the coast and another one in Quito. We can rent them when we aren’t using them. It’s really the best of two worlds.
I think back to the vacation when the world changed for us and I’m amazed how far we’ve come. Instead of worrying about whether or not we would have jobs with the new company, we took control and decided we didn’t want to work in corporate America anymore.
We both still have close family and friends in the States and we will always stay connected to them. But we’re enjoying the freedom to pursue our interests and experience a new country and culture.
Our lives have changed so much since that first conference. Who knows, we may decide to investigate another location in a few years. Our lives are just beginning and it’s a wonderful feeling.
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