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?
“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...
“Here’s your lunch,” my neighbor Eloisa proudly proclaimed as she thrust a squawking, flapping mass of feathers into my arms. “How do you like to kill your chickens?” “Ummm, I don’t,” I replied. “I don’t like to kill my chickens!” She gave me a perplexed look and no doubt wondered how I had managed to survive all these years without knowing how to transform a live bird into a feast for my family. But she graciously took the knife, did the dirty deed, and walked me through the steps of cleaning, plucking, and finally cooking the bird in her wood-fire oven.
It was late in the evening...well after dark...and I had just finished up an interview in the countryside outside of Vilcabamba, Ecuador. The lodge where I was staying was also in the country, but on the opposite side of town. As I slid into the passenger seat of the taxi truck I hesitated, wondering if getting in was such a good idea. I am an adventure-loving traveler. But I'm also a product of a U.S. childhood in the '80s.
Who doesn’t love the chance to view exotic birds and mammals in the wild? Many people pay thousands of dollars for the opportunity to do just that with African Safaris or treks through Asian jungles. But here in Ecuador, where I’ve lived for four years, sightings of exceptional animals are commonplace. With Ecuador holding four main geographical regions (the Andes Mountains, the Amazon Basin, the Pacific Coast, and the Galapagos Islands) along with dozens of microclimates and pockets of unique ecosystems, the animal viewing can be spectacular.
Deciding where to live in Ecuador can be a daunting yet exciting prospect. Though the country is only the size of Nevada, the choices in lifestyle are many. You’ll need to decide if you’re a beach bum, mountain lover, or maybe even a jungle dweller. Do you want to reside in a large metropolis, a small city, or a quaint village? Those are all important things to factor in to your decision and ones that only you can answer.
“What do you do to stay busy?” It’s a question I am asked frequently about life in Ecuador. There seems to be a fear that once you arrive, get settled in, and explore a bit, you’ll run out of things to do and soul-sucking boredom will set in. But I don’t know a single expat who struggles to fill their time and here’s why. Aside from the day-to-day activities of life—grocery shopping, household chores, and paying bills—the country holds a myriad of ways to fuel your interests and keep you occupied.