The ABCs of Retiring to Ecuador
By Suzan Haskins, International Living

It happens to me every now and then…I look around in amazement and ask myself, “How did I get here?”

Right now, here is a small Andean mountain village basking under the equatorial sun in a green valley 8,000 feet above sea level between two extinct volcanoes in northern Ecuador.

And of course, I know more or less how I got here. Almost a dozen years ago, my husband Dan and I sold our house in Omaha, Nebraska, and left the U.S. to live in Ecuador’s capital city of Quito. It remains one of my all-time favorite South American cities.

After a year in Quito, we spent a few years kicking around some of the rest of Latin America. But four years ago, we found ourselves once again drawn back to Ecuador.

What, exactly, lured us back? There are three big reasons…I call them the ABCs of Retiring to Ecuador.

A = Adventure. I don’t know anyone who retired because they wanted a more boring life. And I can tell you from experience, living in a country like Ecuador is one way to make sure that you encounter something new, interesting and challenging just about every day of your life.

Whether you’re already an adventure seeker, or are finally ready to bring some new faces and faraway places into your life, living in Ecuador is about the surest way I know of to literally broaden your horizons and to see and do things you’ve never seen or done before.

B = Better Lifestyle. What do you want to improve about your lifestyle when you retire? Eat better? Breathe cleaner air? Exercise more? Have more involvement in the community? Leave the rat race? Never shovel snow again? All of the above?

Let me tell you about the village where I live. (And this is true of most of Ecuador.) The local fruit and vegetable market is chock full of produce that was grown on local farms. Much of it was still in the ground yesterday… and some of it was even walked into the village by the farmers themselves.

We can walk from one end of the village to the other and back home in about an hour, and at an elevation of 8,000 feet, it’s a great daily workout, and the air is clean and pristine.

Along the way we meet and talk to an extended circle of friends and neighbors, both local and expat, so we’re always tuned in to what’s happening in the community.

And the school kids are the only ones who run races here. For just about everyone else in the village, the pace of life is relaxed and unhurried. My husband and I feel like we not only quit the rat race… we left the cage. And snow? Only on the mountaintops…daily daytime temperatures hover between 60 and 70 degrees.

C = Cost of Living. Dan and I love the U.S. and are proud to be U.S. citizens. In the States you can get 30 varieties of anything you want, any time you want, anywhere you want. But variety is only one of the spices of life, and when we realized that we could enjoy this fantastic lifestyle for about half the cost of living back in Nebraska, the logic was hard to deny.

In Ecuador, the food, property taxes, utilities, and medical care (including health insurance) are significantly cheaper than in the States. And in most of those places, local services and infrastructure like Internet, satellite TV, and good quality hospitals and doctors are readily available.

You’ll have your own reasons for wanting to move or retire outside the U.S.—and there are an ever-growing number of places around the world that may make better sense for you than Ecuador. But for us, Ecuador is one of the most beautiful and affordable destinations in Latin America, and it has almost all the amenities and infrastructure we need. We feel healthier here and we’re enjoying life. That may not be “how” I got here, but it’s certainly “why” I am here.

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