Your Life Can Be Whatever You Want in Ecuador


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An eternal optimist, Liu-Yue built two social enterprises to help make the world a better place. Liu-Yue co-founded Oxstones Investment Club a searchable content platform and business tools for knowledge sharing and financial education. also provides investors with direct access to U.S. commercial real estate opportunities and other alternative investments. In addition, Liu-Yue also co-founded Cute Brands a cause-oriented character brand management and brand licensing company that creates social awareness on global issues and societal challenges through character creations. Prior to his entrepreneurial endeavors, Liu-Yue worked as an Executive Associate at M&T Bank in the Structured Real Estate Finance Group where he worked with senior management on multiple bank-wide risk management projects. He also had a dual role as a commercial banker advising UHNWIs and family offices on investments, credit, and banking needs while focused on residential CRE, infrastructure development, and affordable housing projects. Prior to M&T, he held a number of positions in Latin American equities and bonds investment groups at SBC Warburg Dillon Read (Swiss Bank), OFFITBANK (the wealth management division of Wachovia Bank), and in small cap equities at Steinberg Priest Capital Management (family office). Liu-Yue has an MBA specializing in investment management and strategy from Georgetown University and a Bachelor of Science in Finance and Marketing from Stern School of Business at NYU. He also completed graduate studies in international management at the University of Oxford, Trinity College.

By Dan Prescher, International Living,

Deborah Miller’s New York-based travel business took a nosedive after the events of September 11, 2001. Her husband, Leslie Payne, had an online job he could do from anywhere, so they decided to seize the opportunity circumstances had handed them.

They took two years off and got on a plane. “Our plan was to explore a bit, then return to New York and our previous lives,” says Deborah. “But those two years never ended. You can never really go back to life as it was once you see what’s out there.”

“We wanted a place that was affordable and quiet, with a community of like-minded people. We wanted good weather, clean air, easy access, and good infrastructure but with no real need for a car,” says Leslie. They found what they were looking for in Cotacachi, Ecuador. Deborah and Leslie settled into the town of about 10,000 people in Ecuador’s northern Andes and never looked back.


“We are able to do what we want here,” says Deborah, “not what we think is expected of us, or what we always expected of ourselves. By choice, we live in a smaller apartment and have fewer amenities than back in New York. We are realizing that in the scheme of things, some things are just not as important as they once were. Should we be worrying that the color of one wall doesn’t match the other as we take our last breath? I don’t think so.”

Leslie says it took some time to adjust to that more-relaxed lifestyle. “The biggest challenge has been letting go of our timeframe,” he says. “We’re finally getting used to things getting done when they get done. Time moves at a different pace here, and there’s no point losing sleep over it. If someone can let go of controlling things and enjoy the unexpected, then life anywhere is a joy.”

If Deborah and Leslie had any worries about keeping busy in Cotacachi, they don’t any more. “One of the best things about living here is that you can truly do whatever you want,” says Leslie. “Deborah wanted to take yoga classes, but there weren’t any here. One morning there was a knock on our door. It was an Ecuadorian woman who was starting a yoga studio and wanted Deborah to teach some classes… Somehow she’d found out that Deborah was a certified yoga teacher. Now we have a beautiful yoga studio with classes and other events.”

“People have started restaurants, tours, bookstores, spas—it is the land of opportunity,” says Deborah. “Basically, you keep yourself busy (or not busy) through your own efforts. Your life here can be whatever you want it to be.”

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