We’re Thriving on Ecuador’s Coast

On Tuesday, I will open my Ecuadorian bank account. No big deal; just a savings account with an ATM card. So, why am I so excited?

When we arrived in San Vicente, Ecuador nearly 18 months ago, my wife Diane and I were as prepared as we were able to be, which is to say: we had a lot to learn! We had done our best to get ready for our transition, while attending to the myriad tasks necessary when making an international move.

Yet, there was no way to learn the ropes of daily living until we got here on the ground for ourselves.

Stepping from the modern, efficient infrastructure and technology-rich culture of the U.S. into a small town on Ecuador’s coast was just the sort of grand, life-changing experience we wanted.

Our life immediately slowed to a very healthy, almost sleepy pace compared to our old one. Life is simpler here. In the small, coastal community of San Vicente where we live across the bay from Bahia de Caraquez, farming is mostly done by hand with donkeys to assist and fishing is most frequently done from small, crude hand-made boats with fisherman tossing hand-tied throw nets.

In Ecuador, our stress and financial worries have melted away, too.

Our initial Ecuador budget was established at $1,500 per month, an amount pretty tough to survive on in the States, at least with any sort of comfort. Here on the coast, we were able to move into a beautiful, furnished, two-bedroom, two-bathroom condo in a low-rise, gated complex. The complex boasts two pools, gorgeous landscaping and I can throw a rock and hit the Pacific surf. The monthly rent for this lovely place? $450.

We’ve slashed our other costs living in Ecuador, too. We buy most of our food locally at the large open market. Fresh fruits and veggies are plentiful and inexpensive, as is the local seafood. A week’s worth of farm-fresh produce runs us around $6. Our electric bill is $25-$30 per month. Gasoline for our very-used 4WD goes for $1.48 per gallon and our car insurance is $65 per year…yes, that’s per year!

Our Spanish continues to improve. Learning the names of fruits and vegetables, meat and various types of fish happens daily as we shop. With continued practice, our pronunciation gets better and we rely less on our charades-skills than we used to.

I am excited about opening a bank account because it is one more indication that we have made a life here. My Ecuadorian driver’s license is tucked into my wallet next to my official national I.D. card, or Cedula. Our social circle includes both Ecuadorians and expats. I know where to find the things we need and what to ask for…in most cases. We are settled into our home and our relaxed, comfortable life.

Our early days as expats were so extraordinary that I collected the stories and wrote an e-book called, “Our Ecuador Retirement…The First 8 Months.” I sometimes reread segments to measure how far we’ve come since then.

We are no longer just surviving; we are thriving here on Ecuador’s coast and that silly, simple bank account is just another marker that San Vicente is truly home now.

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