The Smartest Choice of All Was to Move to Ecuador

Posted on February 12, 2013 by Suzan Haskins

I first visited Vilcabamba back in 1987. Back then, there were no phones. I remember chatting with a number of people who were more than 100 years old. I always joked that the people lived so long in Vilcabamba because there were no phones!

Vilcabamba, Ecuador is such a healthy, stress-free place that residents commonly live to be 100 or more

“No matter what kind of lifestyle you’re looking for, you can find it here in Ecuador,” I told about 350 people today.

It may be a small country, but the variety it has to offer is huge… From palm-lined beaches… to tranquil living in small mountain villages… to modern cosmopolitan living in sophisticated cities like Quito and Cuenca, both of which have historic centers that are UNESCO World Heritage sites.

In Ecuador, you have lots of choices in the way you design your life.

But is it safe? What about the politics? The health care? Are the people really as nice as you’ve read? Or the quality of life as good? Or the cost of living as low?

That depends pretty much on you.

My experience doesn’t matter. Only yours does.

If you listen to other expats—anywhere in the world—you’ll hear about good experiences and bad ones. Ecuador is no different.

All I can say is that my experience here has been overwhelmingly positive. I truly love my life here. And so does John Curran, it appears…

“The Ecuadorians are polite and peaceful people. They enjoy a simple, laidback way of life,” he said. “A 20-ounce beer is just 75 cents a bottle. And our tax bill is $57.50.”

By the way, he said, it’s nice to live in a place where “annoying creatures like the Kardashians are not news.”

John and his partner, Sue, live in Vilcabamba in southern Ecuador—also known as the Valley of Longevity. It’s such a healthy, stress-free place that residents commonly live to be 100 or more… so you gotta figure it’s a very good thing that living there costs so little!

John and Sue, who are right around 50 and have been retired for more than five years now, have a very long life ahead of them.

That’s why they’re in Ecuador, John says. “We’re not wealthy. We were teachers.” And while education has its rewards, he says, “money isn’t one of them.”

Being teachers, John and Sue knew that if they did their homework and made smart choices, they could retire and live the kind of lives they really wanted to live.

The smartest choice of all was to move to Ecuador.

In Ecuador, the weather is so perfect you don’t need heat or air conditioning (except on the very hottest days)—which means low, low utility costs. And property taxes are pocket change.

Food costs for John and Sue are practically nil seeing as they eat fresh-off-the-vine produce from their garden and sweet, juicy fruit from the dozens of fruit trees—banana, papaya, plantain, lime, lemon, orange, mandarin, and more—that grow on their small property on the edge of town. Occasionally they go out for a beer. (A frosty cold and delicious 22-ounce Pilsener is just 75 cents in stores… or $1.25 in most small local mom-and-pop restaurants where you’ll commonly pay just $2 to $4 for a delicious homemade meal.)

But things in Ecuador haven’t been all peaches and cream for John and Sue. After a nasty fall from a horse that necessitated quick local care, Sue was whisked by ambulance to a hospital an hour away, where she spent three nights in a private hospital room with a CAT scan, X-rays, lab tests and so on.

Still, her total bill—for all that—was less than $800. Not bad.

And of course, I could go on and on with stories about life in Ecuador.

Even though Vilcabamba has changed a lot in the last 25 years, it is still a peaceful and beautiful valley. I still go back to visit once or twice a year.

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