Moving To Cuenca, Ecuador, Can Mean Retiring A Decade Sooner

Moving Up By Opting Out And Retiring Overseas

Aug. 21, 2014, Cuenca, Ecuador: Lee Harrison retired more than a decade sooner than expected by relocating to Cuenca, Ecuador.

Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,

"When I was 49, the engineering company I had been working for for many years went through a restructuring. The changes created an opportunity for those of us who were interested to take early retirement."

That's how Latin America Correspondent Lee Harrison recalls the starting point for what has evolved over the dozen-plus years since into a grand adventure overseas.

"My wife Julie and I were ready for a big change," Lee continues. "We wanted an adventure, to take ourselves as far outside our comfort zones as possible. So, when this chance came along to retire well ahead of the timeline I'd had in mind, I jumped at it."

Lee and Julie considered many options for where to retire overseas. Finally, they settled on Ecuador. It seemed to offer everything they were hoping for.

"Sometimes people who've retired to other countries boast that their lives in their new countries are hardly different from the lives they left behind back in the States," Lee says. "That's not the case with Ecuador. Living in Ecuador, you never forget that you're in a foreign country. For Julie and me, this was one of the biggest attractions."

However, the most important reason that Lee and Julie chose Ecuador as the place to reinvent their lives at this stage was the cost of living.


Why These Nine Expats Have Retired To Cuenca, Ecuador

Expats Of Cuenca

Aug. 20, 2014, Cuenca, Ecuador: The appeals of Cuenca, Ecuador, for the expat retiree are many, and the lifestyle options on offer in this colonial city are many.

Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,

Who moves to Cuenca, Ecuador...really? And why?

Emily and Roger Romaine relocated to Cuenca four years ago from Colorado. For this couple of retirees, travel is a priority.

"We have always loved to travel," Emily explains, "and Cuenca is not only a great place to live but also a great launching pad for exploring Latin America."

Emily adds that, as an added bonus, airfares to Europe are generally cheaper from Ecuador than from the United States.

Sylvia Mitchell, a retired school teacher from Indiana, says she chose Cuenca because she wanted to stay active. In addition to volunteering for an animal rescue service and a domestic violence safe house, Sylvia enjoys card games with her friends and her weekly women's lunch group. She says she considered locating in smaller communities in Ecuador but is glad she didn't. For Sylvia, the cultural and volunteer opportunities available in Cuenca are a perfect fit.

David Edwards, a retired U.S. law school administrator, splits his time between Cuenca and a small farm an hour's drive south of town where he tends a garden and raises geese.

"For me it's the best of both worlds," David explains. "I love the country, and I love the city. Back in California I could barely make ends meet with a one-bedroom apartment. Here in Ecuador I can afford to indulge both my lifestyle interests."


Disadvantages Of Expat Communities Overseas

Mean Girls (And Guys) In Paradise

Aug. 19, 2014, Panama City, Panama: Gossip and rumor can plague expat communities overseas.

Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,

High school, small towns, and expat communities all have something in common that you don't hear much about—gossip. I'd pit some expats I've known against any 13-year-old girl in this regard, including, in some cases, the meanest girls on the playground.

Sipping coffee in their favorite morning meeting spots, expats around the world are formulating and perpetuating rumors as I write. Did you hear that Jim didn't pay his rent to Jane this month? Have you heard that that new restaurant on the corner is going out of business already? George, the owner, is too busy chasing his waitresses, I guess, to run the place. And you'll never guess who was caught with a local girl in his apartment while his wife was away...

Sometimes the stories are true...or based on some kernel of truth...but sometimes they have no basis. Some of these tales are concocted out of whole cloth.

In bigger expat destinations, you can steer clear of the gossip mill. Panama City, for example, is home to thousands of expats. They get together to mingle and, yes, gossip. If that's your idea of a good time, you can join them. The good news, though, is that Panama City is big enough that you can also avoid the rumor-mongers if you'd prefer and still have lots of company when you want it.

You'll have a harder time avoiding the gossip hounds in smaller locales. Take the western coast of Panama's Azuero Peninsula, for example, where my Los Islotes development is located. In this more remote region of this country, some of the relatively few expats in residence spend a lot of their time engaged in gossip. As is the case everywhere where this is the case, the reason is simple. These folks have nothing better to do with themselves.


The Low Cost Of Travel In Lviv, Ukraine

This Place Is Dirt Cheap...And Delightful

Aug. 18, 2014
Lviv, Ukraine

Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,

Vicki and I were in Lviv, Ukraine, checking it out as a potential travel base.

Lviv offers easy access to six borders: Belarus, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, and Moldova. The Baltic states lie just beyond. Only Belarus requires a visa; other countries just invite you in, usually with a maximum three-month-stay restriction.

At times in its history, Lviv attached itself to Poland or the Austro-Hungarian Empire. One sees the past in the old cemetery, where those who died in the 19th century display tombstones in Polish or German. Those who died more recently lie under tombstones in Ukrainian.

Ukraine has stayed out of Europe's Schengen region, so Westerners can do three months in Ukraine, three months in the EU, and then back again. Toss in a winter escape every year, or three months next-door in Romania, or both, and most of us can base out of Lviv forever, without hassling with resident visas.

Our first evening in Lviv, we walked across the street from our hotel to the magnificent Opera House. We saw the Lviv Theatre of Opera and Ballet's performance of Swan Lake, a full production with 30-piece orchestra. The hot audience seemed to anticipate every move.

Lviv has three state theaters downtown, all within a few blocks of each other: opera and ballet, theater, and philharmonic. Forget theater; we don't speak Ukrainian. But the other two offer a pleasant diversion in gorgeous surroundings.


A Spurt Of Development Arrives To Cayo, Belize

Comfort And Convenience In Cayo?

Aug. 17, 2014, Cayo, Belize: Kathleen discusses the developments that are beginning to take place in Belize.

Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,

"Belize has great resort product," Belizean businessman Ian explained to me last night, "both budget and ultra-high-end, places that go for US$1,500 per night.

"And many of these resorts—Chaa Creek, Blancaneaux, and Ka'ana, for example—have made names for themselves. They are established destinations. People from all over the world seek them out. However, Belize's regions and towns themselves, other than maybe Ambergris Caye, they remain unknown.

"San Ignacio, for example," Ian continued, speaking of the place where we were sitting enjoying the early evening breeze, "this isn't a destination. Nobody's planning a trip to San Ignacio or anywhere else on the Belizean mainland.

"And this is a shame because some spots in this country are destination-worthy...or, well, they could be. But right now nowhere in mainland Belize supports traffic, not tourist traffic, not business traffic, and not retiree traffic. I feel a responsibility, as a Belizean businessman, to try to change that.

"So I've embarked on a program of local destination development, starting here in San Ignacio. The first step was this square we're looking at right now. Do you remember," he asked, looking at me with a big smile, "what this place used to be? This was a parking lot for old, broken-down buses."

"Yes, I remember," I said.

"But the government committed to an investment here," Ian went on, "and they followed through...and today we have this little public square with trees and benches and an office for the tourist board over there.


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Kathleen Peddicord

Kathleen Peddicord is the founder of the Live and Invest Overseas publishing group. With more than 25 years experience covering this beat, Kathleen reports daily on current opportunities for living, retiring, and investing overseas in her free e-letter.

Her book, How To Retire Overseas—Everything You Need To Know To Live Well Abroad For Less, was recently released by Penguin Books.

Read more here.


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