Great Lifestyle on a Three-Day Week in Ecuador

Todd Johnston is an adventurous guy. In his 53 years he’s traveled to Africa…climbed mountains in Peru and Ecuador…and gone scuba diving in exotic locales.

This sense of adventure, along with a desire to live life to the fullest, motivated him to buy a condo in Cotacachi, Ecuador in January of 2012 and eventually move there full-time in February 2014.

“I didn’t want to wait for a normal retirement to make this move,” Todd says. “I had a diving accident 20 years ago and I was told I would never walk again.” Todd recovered and proved the doctors wrong about his mobility, but he began to think about his future. “I realized I didn’t want to wait another 10 years to retire.”

From his three prior trips to Ecuador Todd knew first-hand about the country’s appeal. The mountains, the climate, and of course the locals. “I like the people here. They’re friendly, low-key, and muy tranquilo.”

Another thing Todd noticed about the Cotacachi area was the demand for a good hairstylist amongst fellow expats.

“People were looking for a Gringo who could cut Gringo hair,” he says.

And so within a month of making his final move to Ecuador’s Andes, Todd was up and running by providing cuts, colors, and whatever other salon services he could manage out of his home. A few months later he began renting a professional space from a local spa for 20% of his profits and these days his chair is always occupied.

Todd only works three days a week thanks to the low cost of living in Ecuador. His penthouse condo unit is paid for in full and so his only housing expense is the $100 per month HOA fee. He pays a monthly average of $6 for electric, $5 for water, and $29 for internet.

“I give myself $100 a week to spend and more often than not I have money left over. I don’t eat out much as I like to cook and now I have time for it. I go to the market for fruits and vegetables and spend $6 or $7 and that lasts me four, five, or six days. My gym membership is just $21 a month.”

With a flexible schedule and four days off per week Todd is still able to travel. He recently visited Ecuador’s Intag Valley with friends.

“I had a river rolling right outside my window. And the beauty of the place was amazing,” he says. Todd also travels back to Nebraska every fall to help his family with the harvest on their farm. And he has plans to explore other nearby countries for several months at a time.

In the meantime, life in Cotacachi suits him well. “It’s awesome, I love it here,” he says. “The weather is perfect since I don’t like heat. The terrace on my condo is huge and I love it—I’m out there all the time.”

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