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Negatives Of Retiring To Ecuador Or Belize

Negatives Of Retiring To Ecuador Or Belize

“Kathleen, we have tried Ecuador and more recently Belize. We hated them both. We feel we have been lied to by your publications. Greedy expat real estate agents will say anything to try to convince people to buy their overpriced buildings.

“What do expats in these countries like? You can smoke, you don’t have to use seatbelts, and you can cheat on your taxes. The expats we have met have all been right-wingers and selfish rednecks.”

–Edith P., United States

Latin America Correspondent Lee Harrison, who lived in Ecuador for almost six years, replies:

No place is for everyone, but many thousands of expats are happy with their decisions to live in Ecuador and Belize. And I wouldn’t trade my 5.5 years in Ecuador for anything. Yet your note, Edith, raises a couple of important issues.

First, it underscores the importance of making a personal visit to the countries you may be considering. Research is important…but a personal visit trumps all. Your experience is the only one that counts. Developing countries aren’t for everyone. Maybe somewhere a little more developed, such as Uruguay or Chile in Latin America or most anywhere in Europe, say, might suit you better.

Second, much of the world has not yet adopted the nanny-state mentality, meaning many countries don’t have laws requiring that you use a seatbelt. Surprisingly, though, you’re allowed to use one anyway if you’d like. You’re also allowed to pay your taxes.

I can’t comment on the expats you met in Belize or Ecuador. I will say, though, that, when living overseas, you pick your friends just as you would back home. There’s no obligation to like every other expat you meet or even every expat you meet who happens to be originally from the same country where you’re from.

My experience with fellow expats has been overwhelmingly good. I can only think of one nasty bunch I’ve encountered (in my opinion) in 13 years. But, mostly, I don’t tend to live near other expats, because I like living in the local community. This is what I’ve done in Ecuador, Uruguay, Brazil, and now Colombia, where I’m currently living. Maybe that would be a good choice in your case, too.

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“Kathleen, how thoughtful and extremely important and honest of you to point out the two biggest expenses of living abroad. I myself live happily by Lake Chapala, Mexico, and have received medical and dental treatment here at about a quarter of the price in Canada where I’m from. It has always been prompt and personal due to the genuine interest of the doctor or dentist I was dealing with.

“However, I have to save every year to do exactly what you mentioned, i.e. visit the grandchildren and friends, paying for airfares, gifts, dinners out with the family, etc. The prices are very different up north compared to here. So I feel you have done a great service by pointing this out.

“Keep up the good work.”

–Judith R., Mexico

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