My wife Rita and I had a very good life in the United States. We lived in a beautiful riverfront condo a few hours from Washington, D.C. We had a boat, good friends, and access to great seafood and fresh produce in season.
But there was one major drawback—we realized that we were both working full-time and not really able to save much for retirement. Property taxes, condo maintenance fees, and other cost of living expenses showed us that when we retired, we would be on a razor-thin margin…and if any unexpected problems came up, or if we wanted to travel, we would have to dip into principle.
Then we discovered Ecuador.
Ecuador has some of the best weather in the world, and something for everyone. There are warm, sunny beaches and temperate-weather mountain options. You can pick the climate you like best, and this ecologically diverse country has so much to satisfy you.
Preferring the warmth of endless summer, we sold our boat, cars, and home in the U.S. and purchased a beachfront condo in Salinas on Ecuador’s southwest coast, where we have lived for two years now.
A wonderful benefit of this varied and moderate climate is the bounty of fruits and vegetables you can enjoy.
Imagine fresh strawberries, all year round, for $1 a pound or less (that’s right, Ecuador uses the U.S. dollar for currency). At our local mercado, we can get tropical fruits like pineapples, papayas, bananas and mangos, and also your more familiar fruits like apples, pears and berries—and all at a fraction of the cost of foods in the U.S.
When we visit the vegetable vendors, if we spend more than $10, we can barely carry home the 10 or 12 pounds of produce that buys us. Seafood lover? Ecuador has some of the best shrimp and tuna in the world, with many other varieties available from the Pacific Ocean and its many lakes and streams.
A greatly reduced food budget is only part of the lower cost of living. Public transportation is cheap and easy to use, utility costs are low, and housing is affordable.
We were able to cut our monthly expenses from $6,000 a month in the U.S. to just $1,500 a month in Ecuador. The cost of living is so low that we have both retired early, and are able to live very well off of freelance writing and rental income from an investment condo we bought here in our building. In fact, we can also travel and explore the country without touching our retirement nest egg.
We have also been pleased to find that the people of Ecuador are among the friendliest and most easy-going people you will ever meet. It is wonderful to feel welcomed by the local population, even if you have limited or no Spanish-speaking skills. In addition, Salinas like many cities and villages in Ecuador has a growing expat community of North Americans happy to help and to share their experiences.
The best part of living in Ecuador is what happens when you put it all together. With year-round good weather, fresh and healthy foods, combined with a low cost of living and friendly locals—you find yourself naturally living a life with less stress and more reasons to be out in the fresh air. The pace of your life seems to slow down, even though you find new and exciting things to do on an almost daily basis. This adds up to a healthier, happier lifestyle. We’re glad that we traded a good life in the States for a better life in Ecuador.
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