The Truth About Retirees in Ecuador

“These are the best years we have left, and we don’t want to waste a single one of them.”

That’s Edd and Cynthia Staton’s philosophy.

During their 35+ years of marriage, they raised two kids and enjoyed long successful careers. But a few years ago, while living in Las Vegas, they were smacked hard, as many of us were, by economic recession. They both lost their jobs.

Enough is enough, they decided. It was time to stop putting life on hold and time to start living it.

“We saw the value of our savings plunge just as we were nearing retirement age. Rather than remain in the States and continue to work for too many more years trying to correct that problem we made the decision to relocate so we could retire and enjoy the rest of our lives,” Edd says.

Today, Edd and Cynthia live in Cuenca, Ecuador. It’s a pretty colonial town in Ecuador’s southern Andes, known for its iconic blue-domed church spires. It’s the most popular city in Ecuador for foreign retirees, and based on the photos they showed today, that’s with good reason.

“There’s so much to do here,” Cynthia said. They’re volunteering…. they helped with improvements to a local school. They work out, eat healthy… and they have a more active social life than they’ve ever had before. And they’ve become partners in a business with an Ecuadorian friend.

It’s a tale with a classic storybook happy ending.

Edd and Cynthia have been living in Ecuador for four years now. But even though they moved all their worldly possessions here (minus the vehicles, which they don’t need and “don’t miss”), they haven’t cut their ties back home.

Their kids and grandkids live back in the U.S.

“We don’t want to miss out on watching the grandkids grow,” Cynthia says. “But our kids live in two different states, so no matter where we resided, visiting them would involve travel. With the money we save living here in Ecuador, we’ve found we can fly to the States several times a year and visit for weeks with our kids and grandkids. So the truth is, we spend much more time with them now than if we’d stayed in the States and continued working.”

In Cuenca, Edd and Cynthia found a three-bedroom apartment to rent in a beautiful neighborhood. All the furniture and appliances they had shipped from the States fit perfectly.

They walk most everywhere they go (or take a bus for 15 cents or, when they want to splurge, a taxi—usually no more than $2 or $3.)

They say they feel so much healthier. But are they happy?

“Oh yeah. No complaints,” says Edd. “We’d do it all again. By moving to Ecuador, we’ve placed ourselves in a position to pursue a different path—enjoying things we’ve always wanted to do.”

This wasn’t the only story like this we heard today….

I’m Suzan Haskins, reporting from the International Living 2013 Fast-Track Ecuador: Lifestyle and Opportunity Conference in Quito. I’ve been to a lot of conferences in a lot of countries—including Ecuador—over the last several years but this one is remarkably different.

For one, Ecuador has just topped International Living’s Global Retirement Index for the fifth year in a row. There are many, many reasons for that. And at this conference, we’re exploring every one of them.

If there’s a topic that has to do with living and investing anywhere in Ecuador, it’s on our agenda.

And while Ecuador is a small country, it’s huge with what it has to offer…from those golden palm-lined (and largely deserted) beaches to tranquil, rural village-living in the mountains to modern city-living in sophisticated cities like Quito and Cuenca, both of which have historic centers that are UNESCO World Heritage sites. (Imagine living next to a centuries-old Spanish-colonial church or home once occupied by the likes of Simon Bolivar.)

In Ecuador, you can have it all…that’s kind of the unofficial theme of this conference, if you ask me.

Here’s just some of what we’ve been discussing (and keep reading to learn how you, too, can tune in and hear it all):

  • The importance of assimilation into the local culture. Expat Roger Lurie came here with the Peace Corps six years ago and has decided to stay. (He painstakingly built his own home in a gorgeous Andean setting in a remote corner of the country.) His astute advice: “Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference here. Ecuador is not a ‘little America’ and it never will be.”

He and Sarah Dettman—who has lived in Ecuador for nearly 30 years—shared their outstanding insights into the culture. If you plan to visit or move to Ecuador, don’t leave home without these expats’ insider knowledge.

  • Import/export expert Allison Talbert shared her hard-won tips for making money from all the wonderful artisan crafts Ecuador is known for. If you love to shop… and want to get paid for it… listen up.
  • Ecuador attorney Dr. Roberto Moreno explained how to legally structure your property purchase in Ecuador (it’s absolutely safe, but the legal system here is different to what you’re used to so this is need-to-know information).

And a word about banking: Ecuador has no treaty with the U.S. and does not share banking information with the U.S.

  • Want to avoid the most common mistakes foreign property buyers make? (That’s us, folks…but it doesn’t have to be.) Pathfinder Real Estate’s savvy Margaret Summerfield shared her advice and tips—ten of them. Do not miss these if you’re considering ever buying property in Ecuador.

Plus, we drilled down into some of those popular expat destinations in Ecuador, getting the firsthand lowdown from experts and expats alike. (And there’s more to come tomorrow.) Such as: What’s it like to live in these places? What’s the real cost of living? What kind of infrastructure and amenities are there? What’s the weather like? What’s the expat community like…and what do they do for fun and fulfillment?

But What About Health Care?

Tomorrow at this conference, we’ll be getting into the real nitty-gritty of medical care in Ecuador.

Health care is an important consideration for all of us these days, so we’ll be hearing from an array of insurance professionals… and one of the most respected private practice physicians in Ecuador is on hand to offer advice and answer questions.

We’ll also learn how some expats can qualify for Ecuador’s public health care system. It costs $68/month and it’s a one-time fee that covers just about everything… doctor’s visits, lab work, prescriptions, hospitalization, even optical and dental. Attorney Santiago Andrade will explain all the details…

The Next Best Thing to Being Here

After what we’ve learned yesterday and today (and there’s one full day yet to come), I can’t imagine anyone leaving this room without a personal strategy for making a streamlined transition to a better life here in Ecuador.

And there’s so much more I’d like to share with you. There’s just far too much to jot down all the details here. (And like I said, there’s another full day ahead and more to come tomorrow.)

But… there’s a way that you can get every bit of the important information from the International Living 2013 Fast-Track Ecuador Conference…

You can have all the most important information and benefits from this event …

All of the things we’re learning here… where to find the best deals on rental properties… where to find those rentals… how to analyze and compare real estate prices in Ecuador… where the best medical facilities are…

What is it that makes Ecuador so special? (Did you know that the first hospital in South America was founded here? Or that modern hygienic procedures were introduced here 100 years before they were elsewhere in the world?) Our good Ecuadorian friend Oswaldo Munoz was on hand this morning to introduce us to “his” country, of which he is rightly proud.

Once you hear Oswaldo wax poetically (as he does) about it all, you’ll instantly gain a distinct appreciation for this country and its customs.

Oswaldo, Sarah, Edd and Cynthia, Roger and many others are on hand to share their expertise and tips for the best and easiest ways for you, too, to “dip your toes in the water” here in Ecuador.

…Plus we’ve been privy to countless pointers, tips and contact info that you can use right away…

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