Life on Ecuador’s Coast is a Full-Time Vacation

I’m sitting on my roof terrace looking out at the beautiful Pacific Ocean. It’s an absolutely picture-perfect postcard kind of day here in my new home of Olon, on Ecuador’s coast. And I’m basking in the feeling of being on a permanent vacation. If I turn around, I can see the coastal mountains awash in various shades of green.

While much of the coast here is desert-like, the weather is perfect most of the time, creating a micro-climate that is quite pleasant for people, animals, and the large variety of birds that fly in and out of the terrace and the garden below.

But I remind myself that I’m not vacationing, and that I’m not going to fly back to the rat race in the U.S. anytime soon. This is where I live now, and all I have to do is walk downstairs to be “home.”

A year ago I was living in Florida; I had been there for over 20 years after moving from the harsh winters of New England. I was tired of being cold all the time, and I hated the snow more each time we got another dump of the white stuff.

I moved to a small town on the central east coast of Florida; I settled there because my brother and his family had left the Northeast a few years before to find their place in the sun. I loved Florida during the time I was living there; I thrived in the heat after getting used to it, and spent a lot of time outdoors, much of it fishing, boating, and golfing.

But as I approached retirement age, I realized that staying in Florida might be difficult. The cost of everything was going up faster than the shuttle flights just up the coast. I decided to look for alternative solutions for my golden years.

I came across an article on Facebook one day from International Living. It was about a small Andean town in Ecuador called Cotacachi. The story and the photos of the mountains got me interested…but the idea that I could live well in another country for a lot less money was what got me hooked. I started researching Ecuador; I joined expat groups on Facebook and I signed up for International Living’s Daily Postcards and the monthly magazine, and began devouring everything I saw.

Olon, Ecuador
Beach life in Olon was the perfect fit for Mark.

I had honed in on Cotacachi and the surrounding area, but then I had one of those “wait a minute” moments. I remembered living in Indiana for a year and recalled how much I had hated not being near the ocean. It was then that I shifted gears and started searching for my new home along the coast.

I scoured the internet looking for information on coastal towns and ended up in Olon purely by accident. I had arranged to rent an apartment in Bahia de Caraquez, five hours north, but the owner said he wouldn’t have my place ready for when I was scheduled to arrive. It was time for Plan B.

I saw an ad for my current home on Facebook and contacted the owner. We agreed on an annual rental fee and I arrived at the end of October. It was the best move I’ve ever made!

I have a monthly budget of approximately $1,200. That includes everything; rent, food and drink, utilities, and the Ecuadorian IESS health insurance. I’m also saving several hundred dollars each month without touching my savings, and my checking account balance grows each month. I couldn’t possibly do that in the U.S….unless I lived in a shack.

I live a very comfortable life here in Olon. It’s not a tourist town, and although many of the buildings are not beautiful, the people are and the beach is fabulous. There’s a terrific group of expats in the area, and we share a lot of good times together.

I am so fortunate to have discovered this wonderful little slice of paradise here on the coast of Ecuador. Come join us; everyone is welcome!

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