A number of people have asked me “Of all the places on this great big blue marble, why Ecuador?” A very good question and one I shall try to answer from the heart and, hopefully, without sounding like a travel service.
When one is retired and on a fixed budget, money can only go so far. Social Security does not give consistent increases in benefits checks and anything it does give is taken back with an even larger increase in Medicare. For example, my Medicare cost was $104; however, with the $1.00 or so increase for 2017, my Medicare payment jumped to $108! This means that benefits received will be less than what I received last year. Luckily, I don’t have to pay for the part D (prescription drug coverage) as I have that through Tricare and don’t thus don’t need this additional expense through Medicare.
Out of Social Security one has to pay mortgage, groceries, utility bills and property taxes. You also hope that there are no unexpected expenses such as a car repair or dental work. Medicare does not provide for dental (unless it’s surgery), eye exams, etc. and they pay for ever less. With Social Security not even keeping up with cost of living, it makes money extremely tight. I’m luckier than most with the benefits I have, but it still makes for a tight balancing between what is necessary and what one can do without.
With the way things are going, my expenses will continue to grow while my benefits income continues to shrink. We are already worried about how much longer our retirement income is going to last because once that is gone, there is no fall back.
We had heard many stories of people retiring to places like Belize, Panama, Costa Rica and Ecuador, to name a few places. So we started doing research on all the places we would like to live. Panama was a little too warm for our liking, had too many bugs and didn’t appear to have what we were looking for in terms of cost savings, safety, ease of residency requirements and such. Belize had a lot to offer; however, it is getting pricier so savings are not what they were at one time and, again, appears to be safety issues. We even attended an International Living Conference in Quito, Ecuador to get information and to explore what Ecuador had to offer.
After much research, exploring and visiting, we decided that Ecuador, especially Cuenca, had all that we were looking for in a retirement country — great climate (lows in the 50’s at night and 72-75 during the day), not difficult to get residency visa, low-cost of living, excellent health care facilities and medical facilities, safe, walkable cities, uses U.S. dollar, and is welcoming to expats. Yes, learning Spanish will be a challenge, but then anything worth having is worth the challenge.
One can rent a 2-3 bedroom, 2 bath apartment either furnished or unfurnished from $250 a month, to $800 month and most include utilities. Even without including utilities, they only run between $30 and $80, month. Fresh fruits and produce are available year round and one does not have to wait for something to be in “season” or be gassed or ripened in a warehouse. Taxi fares run $1.50, plus they have an excellent bus transportation system. You can walk anywhere, there are wonderful bike paths that are separated from the highway, you don’t need heat or air conditioning and can sleep with your windows open without worrying about mosquitoes and such. Pensioner’s medical insurance can be had as a supplemental for as little as $70 and the majority of prescriptions are over the counter.
If one wants to dine out, meals are relatively inexpensive. For example, we had a wonderful dinner that consisted of soup, salad, bread, vegetables, t-bone steak and drinks and the cost of the meal for the two of us was $9.00! So in order to be able to live a good life and have our dollars stretch further, we are moving to Ecuador.
At this point in our lives, we are doing something for us. Our children are grown with lives of their own and if we wish to visit, they are only a 4-hour flight away. Another plus of living in Ecuador is that the cost of a round trip ticket is considerably less originating from there than from the U.S.
This is why we chose Ecuador and if you are thinking of moving to another country. Be sure to do your homework, weigh the pros and cons of living overseas and if possible, go explore for 2-3 weeks before you make your decision. You have nothing to lose and, perhaps, a whole lot to gain.
I hope you’ll follow me as I make the journey through all the paperwork, shipping of furniture and setting up a home in Ecuador. It is my hope to take the “scariness” out of the process and provide information that could be useful as well as showing any snags that may occur and why they might have happened.
I leave you with this, don’t be afraid to live your dreams, dare to do something you’ve always wanted to do. When I am no longer able to travel, I’ll have wonderful memories to look back on instead of wondering “what if …”
Enjoy a few more pictures of Ecuador, until next time.
Terri at the Drake’s Nest