Expats Reveal Why They Fell in Love with Ecuador

Out of all the countries International Living writes about, one in particular shines. It’s topped our Global Retirement Index—our pick of the 22 best countries to retire in the world—five years in a row…has a temperate climate year-round…offers a higher quality of life at an affordable price (cost of living can be as low as $900 a month)…and has a city, town or village to suit every taste or budget.

There’s a lot to love about living in Ecuador…and all the expats we’ve spoken to have fallen hard.

—That includes IL’s two longest-serving editors, Dan Prescher and Suzan Haskins. They’ve been living in and traveling to this beautiful country on-and-off for the past 12 years.

What was it that appealed to them about Ecuador?

“If you’ve ever been here, you’d know the answer to that,” Suzan explains. “It has miles of unspoiled beaches. Rich rainforest. The amazing Galapagos Islands. Historic colonial cities, and clean and healthy rural villages…

“It doesn’t hurt that Ecuador boasts extraordinary weather. No down parkas or snow shovels needed here. In its cities, you’ll find great restaurants and shopping—a truly first-class infrastructure and excellent hospitals.

“And then, of course, there’s Ecuador’s famous affordability. You don’t need a massive income to live well in Ecuador.”

Though Suzan and Dan left Ecuador for a few years to try life in other Latin American counties…they couldn’t stay away.

“We tried out a couple of other places,” Suzan says. “But none of them felt quite like home. So, we came back to Ecuador for a visit… and now we’re back for good. When we add up all that Ecuador has to offer, no other place matches up.”

—Suzan and Dan are not the only people who have compared Ecuador to other Latin American countries…and declared it a winner. When Diane McVicker and her best friend Sharri were suddenly laid off from their office jobs in their late 50s, they decided to look abroad for a place where two retired women could live safely, affordably and comfortably.

“We narrowed our list of probable places to three: Ecuador, Panama and Costa Rica. 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. 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.”

The variety was so great that the pair decided not to settle… They now split their time between living on the country’s Pacific Coast and the colonial city of Quito.

—A change in the job market was what prompted Edd Staton and his wife Cynthia to make the move to Ecuador, too. After being downsized in their 50s, the couple began a search that led them to a city they had never heard of: the colonial city of Cuenca. Far from struggling to pay bills or having to search for replacement employment, the couple today loves how they can enjoy the finer things in life…for much less.

“On a budget of around $1,800 per month, Cynthia and I live in a beautiful two-story penthouse apartment with expansive views of the city,” Edd says.

“We can spontaneously decide to catch a $2 taxi to enjoy a free symphony performance, then stroll home in the cool evening air. I can call any of our doctors on their personal cell phones to make a $25 appointment to see them today—no waiting around.

“And we have a healthier lifestyle here, too, with fresh, inexpensive produce readily available at markets throughout the city and good, filling lunches abounding from as little as $2.”

—For John Curran and his partner Sue, it was love at first sight when they scoped out Ecuador as a retirement destination. The couple today lives in Vilcabamba, a mountainous area, nicknamed “The Valley of Longevity” for its long-living residents. It ticked every box on the couple’s retirement list…and then some.

“We were looking for a rural mountain setting, good weather, a healthy environment, access to clean water, good food, a population that spoke either English or Spanish, Internet access, a bit of land, and just enough of a house so we could live on the property while renovating,” John explains.

“After researching various properties on five continents over five years, we found just what we were looking for in Ecuador: so much so that we agreed to buy our property five minutes after seeing it on our first day ever in South America. We hadn’t even seen the nearby town of Vilcabamba yet.”

While John doesn’t recommend buying a property outright so quickly, for Sue and him, it’s a decision they’ve never regretted.

“In Ecuador we found one of the most beautiful and bio-diverse countries in the world,” he says. “And with a low cost of living, a government that leaves us alone, and some of the friendliest people you’re ever likely to meet, Ecuador more than exceeded our expectations.”

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