By now it’s no secret that Ecuador is a very affordable place to live. In fact, my life in the little mountain town of Cotacachi is so inexpensive that I can support my family of four as a part-time freelancer.
Cuenca, Ecuador has caught the eye of many retirees. Thanks to coverage by outlets like NBC, Forbes, and USA Today, the city is gaining more international attention. And here at International Living, Cuenca gets frequent exposure due to our belief that it’s one of the world’s best destinations for living abroad.
As I write this from my home in Cotacachi, Ecuador, I’m sipping a smoothie made from locally grown pineapple, banana, and strawberries. The sun is making its way over the top of Imbabura Volcano, promising another beautiful day.
My husband and I own a spacious three-bedroom home just outside of a pretty mountain town. We also have a 75-acre farm with a small house and five horses. We don’t owe anyone a penny and I support all of our family’s needs by working just part-time.
Ecuador’s coast draws people from around the world who are looking to enjoy sun-drenched beaches, crystal-blue waters, and wildlife—including humpback whales during their seasonal migration.
Summer is such a great time of year. The sun is shining, the kids are out of school, and the barbecue grills are working overtime. It’s one of the most anticipated seasons for most folks, and who can blame them?
''You could hike every day here and see something different,'' says Kristin Simmon-Lowman of her new home in the highlands of Ecuador. ''My friends and I just hiked Fuya Fuya (an inactive volcano), which was wonderful. ''Now we're working up to doing Mount Imbabura (one of Ecuador's most iconic mountains), so we've been getting a training system going to get in shape for that. There are waterfalls all around and a lot of lower foothills.''
It's not a place for your typical expat lifestyle, that's for sure. There are no theaters, no shopping malls, and no gourmet restaurants. You won't head to a local sports bar to watch the Super Bowl or soak in your condo building's on-site pool. But for a certain type of person, Ecuador's Intag Valley holds just the life they are looking for.
"I like quiet, I like privacy, and I have that here," says Tracy Copeman of her home in Ecuador. Tracy and her partner Peter McGoldrick own a home on the grounds of an old hacienda a couple hours north of the capital Quito, near Lago San Pablo. They're a long way from their home of Montreal, Canada, but the couple are loving their new life in the Andes. "The temperature is perfect here in the mountains," Tracy says. "And I have great mountain views. From here I can see Mount Cusin, Imbabura, and if I'm sitting in my chair I can see Cotacachi."
“We have horses, pigs, geese, dogs, and one chicken,” says Deb Swansburg. Caring for so many animals may not sound like a relaxing retirement to everyone, but for Deb it’s the perfect life. Deb spent the last 20 years in New Mexico and she always dreamed of living on her own ranch. She just never expected that her dream would come to fruition near the little town of Cotacachi, Ecuador. But that is exactly where Deb, along with her husband David Meade, are spending their retirement today and they’re keeping busy by managing a small farm.