Moving to Ecuador: What About the Grandchildren?

One of the major concerns for retirees considering relocation abroad is being separated from their grandchildren.

My wife and I weren’t grandparents when we arrived in Cuenca, Ecuador over two years ago. Now we have a 1-year-old granddaughter and two more grandbabies on the way.

Since we’ve reached this milestone, many friends still living in the States have said to me, “Gosh, it must break your heart living so far from your grandchildren.”

It’s interesting how that works out. For example, we visited family for two weeks in March and the whole month of June. And we’re going back in the fall to welcome our newest granddaughter into the world.

It is a completely erroneous impression that because we live abroad we’ll be missing out on our grandchildren growing up. The truth is: We’ll see them more because we’ve lowered our monthly expenses and we’re no longer tied to jobs.

If we were still working in the U.S. we’d have three or four weeks vacation a year and hope we had enough money to visit. Plus, we want to see the world and, perhaps selfishly, do not want every day of our available travel time devoted to family visits.

Now to be fair, our two children live in different states, so there’s no way we could live near both of them simultaneously. Therefore some form of travel would always be necessary even if we still lived in the U.S.

Your feelings toward your grandchildren should be an important part of your thoughts regarding a life overseas. And brutal honesty about those emotions must drive your decision.

I know a grandmother who moved to Cuenca and found herself absolutely miserable being separated from her grandchildren. Although they loved the city and made many friends, she and her husband were back in the U.S. in less than six months.

Do you already have grandkids? Do you live close by and see them often? Are they the light of your life? Then listen to your heart. Moving overseas is probably not going to work out well for you.

But if you are comfortable with visiting maybe not as often as you’d like but for longer periods of time, by all means continue to make your plans.

Most locations in the U.S. and Canada can be reached from Ecuador in hours. With Skype video you can stay in touch for free as long as you like and as often as you desire. You don’t have to physically be there every moment to feel like you’re an important part of your family’s life.

By way of full disclosure, I should say that when we left our little granddaughter after the last visit I bawled my eyes out in the airport. Would I love to hug her every day? You bet. Being apart isn’t easy, but for now it’s doable.

Don’t let the notion of being “so far away” stop you from considering a move across a few borders. You’re retired now! You can enjoy an exciting new life and still visit those grandchildren as often as your budget allows.

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