When I think about my old life in Branson, Missouri, so many things go through my mind… but mostly, I don’t miss it at all. Life in the U.S. is so fast paced…no one has time for one another anymore, most people don’t even know their neighbors. Now that my wife Laurie and I live in Ecuador, everything in our lives is much slower…and a lot less stressful.
Our typical day starts with coffee in the backyard by the pool, followed by pottering about in the garden and then an hour or so of relaxing. Later in the day, we may take a stroll along the nearby crescent-shaped beach that never gets overcrowded, or we’ll make time to visit the local mercado and stock up on fruit and veggies. Several times a month, we’ll get together with other expats for dinner and to catch up.
We made the move overseas for several reasons. Our children were grown and doing well…but we were finding life was getting difficult financially and with levels of government intrusion rising, we just felt the time was perfect for a change.
To help us decide where to go, we attended International Living’s Fast Track Your Retirement Overseas conference in Las Vegas. The vast amount of information and presentations were first class. The entire experience helped us narrow down our choices and it motivated us to do something sooner rather than later. We loved the fact that the conference was so well organized and the presenters were not only very personal but had so much valuable information to share.
After listening to all the speakers and talking to the experts and expats at the event, we decided that Ecuador fitted the bill and planned a visit.
We fell in love with the diversity of the country and the welcoming, friendly people. We chose the small town of Ballenita, just 15 minutes outside the popular resort town of Salinas because it still had the small-town feel we were looking for…here we are part of the community.
Our town has everything we need…several small grocery stores and mom-and-pop style roadside grills where a tasty lunch or dinner will set you back just $5. The town really comes alive after the sun goes down when all the locals get out to shop, eat, and enjoy the fresh evening air.
Our cost of living here is well below what we were spending in the U.S. We can both go out to lunch and get a bowl of soup, drink, and a plate of food for $2.50 each. The produce is amazing (no preservatives at all) and we can load up a bag full of fresh fruit and veggies for under $10. All that healthy food also means we’re healthier…I used to take six pills every day for heartburn but here, I don’t need them anymore. We own a car, which allows us to explore the coast, but gas is only $1.48 per gallon.
After renting here for a year, we decided to build our own house and now have a place with amazing views of the sunrise and sunset. The cost to build it was at least half what it would have cost us in the States…and we certainly wouldn’t have been this close to the ocean.
We recently had first-hand experience with the healthcare system when my mother-in-law, who was visiting us, fell and tore her rotator cuff. For five days in a private hospital room, all medication, food, and surgery, the total bill was $1,700. And the doctor had the best bedside manners I have ever experienced.
I’m an avid fisherman and there are plenty of opportunities for fishing…but even if I don’t catch anything, just being on the ocean is so relaxing. There’s always something going on here in Ballenita to keep us busy. It’s not unusual to wake up and find a stage being set up in the middle of town for a celebration to honor fishermen, mothers, or a battle.
Looking back now, the amazing experience we had at the Fast Track Your Retirement Overseas Conference gave us the motivation and the know-how to make the move to Ecuador.
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