Our $1,800-a-Month Ecuador Life Gives Us the Freedom to Travel

My wife, Rita, and I have always loved to travel. There is just something about visiting someplace new and different, that keeps us feeling young and enjoying life.

Unfortunately, travel can be an expensive hobby, so we used to have to limit ourselves to one or two trips a year. That’s is, until we changed our lives by retiring to Salinas on the Pacific coast of southern Ecuador.

We moved here for the weather, and that has definitely not disappointed. In almost four years, we’ve never had a morning cooler than 66 F. But an interesting side effect of our new home, has really improved our lives. We’ve found that a combination of factors has really freed us to travel to new and exciting places.

First of all, our living expenses dropped from almost $6,000 a month when we were living in the U.S. down to only about $1,800 a month in Ecuador. Naturally, that means we have a bigger travel budget to work with. Also, because we live in a modern, secure condo building in a steady climate, we can just “lock and leave” anytime we want without worrying about weatherproofing or maintenance. Our cost of keeping our home base running while we are gone is less than $500 a month.

Best of all, we found that travel around Ecuador is affordable—and there’s a wide variety of places to visit. We have traveled up and down the coast from Canoa to Machala, and visited places in the Andes from as far north as Ibarra down to Quilotoa in the south. Next year, we will visit the Galapagos, Baños, and the Amazon region. We’ve found that we can usually find a nice, clean, hotel room just about anywhere in Ecuador for $40 a night—and that includes WiFi and breakfast. Regional buses average about $2 per hour (half price for over 65), and airfare between major cities is about $100 round trip per person.

The most exciting part for us is that we have now started expanding our travel range. Since we have such a cheap, affordable base in Ecuador, we’ve started to explore the rest of South America. It also helps, that living in a Spanish-speaking county for four years has given us the confidence to use our new language skills.

We completed a trip to Cusco in Peru, and fulfilled a lifetime goal by hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. Our next stop was Lima, where we enjoyed the large and fascinating capital city of Peru—and of course, the great local cuisine. Then we set off to Uruguay, where we spent two weeks exploring first the coast, and then the capital city of Montevideo. And with Buenos Aires just across the river, how could we resist spending a weekend in the Paris of South America?

We love Ecuador, and have no plans to move anywhere else in the near future. In fact, we’ve applied for citizenship and hope to soon have two passports. But we’ve found that when you live overseas, and especially once you begin to explore a little, you soon start to feel like a citizen of the world. We look forward to seeing more of South America, then Central America, and then…well, just about anywhere. Why not spend a month or two exploring Spain and Portugal, or anyplace else that strikes our fancy?

I don’t know where we may visit over the next few years, but I do know that we would never be able to see so much of the world if we had not made the decision to retire in beautiful and affordable Ecuador.

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