Is Ecuador the Right Place for You?

Ecuador has been at the top of so many international retirement indexes and lists in the past few years that folks are beginning to wonder if there isn’t some kind of conspiracy at work.

After all, how can a single country meet every one of the requirements that retirees are looking for overseas?

Simple answer—it can’t. No place can.

I’ve lived in Ecuador very happily for about five years all together, and I speak from experience. Just one example off the top of my head… As I write this, there is a dog barking in the neighbor’s back yard. It’s been barking since last Thursday. I’m not kidding. It stops occasionally to drink water and take a five- or 10-minute nap, but otherwise it’s been barking 24/7 for the past several days.

This is something that in the U.S. would be handled with a single phone call to the local animal shelter. Here, it’s nobody’s business unless they choose to make it their business…

And if that’s a deal breaker for you—and I know a lot of people for whom it is—Ecuador, or at least the part of Ecuador I’m living in right now, will not meet every one of your requirements as a place to retire.

It will also not meet your requirements if you are looking forward to living exactly like you do in the U.S. and having every service, convenience, and brand of consumer item you’re used to in the States.

Ecuador is not “U.S. Light.” It’s Ecuador, and it is what it is. And one thing it’s not is the U.S. Many of the things that happen here will not be familiar to you, and some will completely mystify you. Some of the things you’re used to in the States do not exist here. Some do exist here, but at much higher prices than in the U.S. because they have to be imported.

So why come here at all?

I said at the beginning that I’ve been living happily here for about five years all told, and I mean it. Because, for me, there is no more beautiful, comfortable, and affordable place on the planet.

Note that those are all subjective values. Beauty and comfort and affordability mean completely different things to different people.

But for me, beautiful is that incredible extinct volcanic peak that I can see through the mountain pine and eucalyptus right outside my kitchen window and the immense, green, fertile valleys that surround the little town where I live.

Comfortable for me is the weather up here at 8,000 feet in the Andean mountains. You’d think it would be bitterly cold, but I’m also on the equator, which means that even at this altitude the temps rarely exceed 75F during the day and 50F at night all year around, so two wool blankets and the windows are my entire heating and air conditioning system. And the seasons up here amount to Dry and Less Dry, with a few weeks of Rainy thrown in each year.

For me, that defines perfect weather. Not that Ecuador doesn’t have miles of tropical Pacific coast beaches and hectares of steamy, fertile Amazon jungle for people who like those things. I just prefer life up here in the mountains.

And affordable for me is me and my wife living in a modern condo, eating very well from both the local farmers’ market and a grocery store (both within walking distance), having dependable hot water, electricity, satellite TV, high-speed Internet, and a limited but adequate selection of wine, beer, and liquor close at hand, all for about $1,500 a month.

That doesn’t include personal travel or rent, since we own our condo, or any extraordinary expenses like new furniture if we want it or remodeling the place if we feel like it. And it doesn’t include all the associated costs for a car, which we don’t have, don’t need, and don’t want. Both public and private transportation are readily available and affordable. ($1 gets us anywhere in town via private taxi and 25 cents gets us a 20-minute bus ride to a nearby town).

But it does include everything else that make my life worth living…especially when you add in the beauty and the comfort.

And if I get an itch for something extraordinary that I can only get in a huge metropolis…Quito, a city of several million people, is just a two-hour drive away via the PanAmerican Highway.

So while Ecuador can’t meet every one of the requirements that every single retiree is looking for overseas—no single country can—it sure is beautiful and comfortable and affordable enough to qualify for me.

Even with the neighbor’s dog.

And there are a lot of expats I know here right now who’d agree with me.

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