We always love it when a baby boomer strikes out on her own. Regina Potenza is a good example. She roughed it as an expat in Mexico, then when that got old, she went further south. It’s worth reading her story about the Adventures of a Single Female Expat in Ecuador.
I was already familiar with Spanish-language countries; I had lived a happy, interesting, and contented life in Mexico since I was 40 years old. However, after 25 years as a single female expat, it was time to move on. As more and more baby boomers looked to Mexico as their retirement haven, too many gringos moved in on my little pueblo on Lake Chapala. Finally, we even got a Walmart in town, and a casino.
While obtaining a “retirement” visa was easier in Mexico, it had to be renewed on an annual basis with an annual fee. In Ecuador, the “pensioner” visa is a one-time proposition. I had to prove sufficient income once and only once, and now it seems I’ll be welcome here in the town of Cuenca forever.
Single life in Cuenca is an easy transition. Since most expats have not been here for long, they seem open and friendly and welcoming of new arrivals. There are many other aspects of life here that I consider good and valid reasons to choose Ecuador as a good place to relocate. I find a lower cost-of-living than in Mexico and certainly in the U.S. It’s lower for everything from utilities, groceries, nightlife, cultural events, and local transportation. I don’t even own a car anymore, so I have no auto maintenance headaches, gasoline costs, nor license and insurance expenses.
Medical costs are lower too. I have already had an experience with a porcelain crown at a cost of $400 and a gall bladder sonogram for $35. A visit and follow-up care with an opthamologist was $25, and the cost of prescriptions is lower than even Mexico.
Of course there are pros and cons to living in any foreign country. In my case, I find airfare back to the U.S. is costly, as are imported food, and health and beauty items. I am learning to substitute more affordable local products.
Weather is a big factor of living in Ecuador. Some may not like the cooler temperatures at higher elevations. We have sunny days but cool nights in Cuenca. The coastal areas on the Pacific Ocean may appeal more to those who don’t like the sound of that.
While Ecuador may not have the infrastructure and services of the better-known retirement destination of Mexico, it offers me some of the greatest natural gems in the world including the Amazon, the Andes, the Galapagos Islands, cloud forests, volcanoes, and more than 600 species of birds. Since the country is about as large as the state of Nevada, it’s possible and affordable to travel and get to know all parts of the nation. The biodiversity is as staggering as the scenery.
I never lack for interesting options for sightseeing, either: colonial cities, lakes, ruins, hot springs, waterfalls, national parks, cobblestone streets, town squares, handicrafts, and traditional celebrations. All in all, my move to Ecuador and my new life here among approximately 500 expatriate residents was the best decision for me.
You might be interested in the video I worked on that was shot in Cuenca this year by Michael Karsh. The subject is what life is really like for expats who live here. There is no advertising, real estate promotion, nor financial advice, just plenty of practical information, plus interviews with expats like me.