I retired when I was 49… 13 years before I’d planned.
And it wasn’t because I’d struck it rich. Quite the opposite. I had an average income and moderate savings… less than most of my coworkers who stayed behind to continue working.
I was able to retire at that age for two reasons:
I retired abroad… and I chose my country wisely.
Financially, there’s no other way I could have pulled it off.
If you think the retirement that you’ve always dreamed of is slipping away, I can guarantee you there’s a solution.
In the end, I was shocked at how financially easy it was.
For most of my adult life, I thought that retiring overseas was for the very wealthy… not for an average person like me.
I first got the idea to retire abroad while browsing in a bookstore in Scottsdale, Arizona. I found a book written by a guy who had retired early and was living comfortably abroad—splitting his time between Costa Rica and Mexico—on a very modest income. He was an honest writer… and a regular middle-class guy like me.
His book changed my thinking entirely.
Instead of working until I’d earned a pension large enough to live well in the States, I realized that I could retire years earlier… and still have plenty of money to live well abroad.
Instead of working until 62 as planned, I found that I’d have enough to live overseas comfortably prior to age 50.
Instead of hoping for good health in my old age, I could retire when I was relatively young, fit, and able to enjoy a life of fun and adventure.
But it was critical that I choose the right country.
Few countries offered a cost of living low enough to meet my needs. And of those that did, most were places I didn’t want to live… places that were cheap enough, but didn’t offer the comfortable, convenient, and exciting lifestyle that I was hoping for.
But one country fit the bill perfectly… with benefits to spare.
It was Ecuador.
In fact, Ecuador exceeded my expectations in every way.
I had hoped to find a decent house at a reasonable price. But instead, the proceeds from my small A-frame in Quarryville, Pennsylvania, bought me a beautiful home of over 5,100 square feet… in the best neighborhood of Ecuador’s most beautiful city.
I expected low property taxes on that home… but was amazed to find that they were less than US$200 per year.
I wanted to save on utilities… but was taken aback by the huge savings that come with a climate that doesn’t require heat or air conditioning.
I had hoped for a country with abundant natural beauty and diversity. And again, Ecuador exceeded my expectations, with staggering Andean peaks… magnificent colonial cities… hundreds of miles of Pacific coastline… the Amazon rainforest… and the Galápagos Islands.
And, most critically of all, I needed a low cost of living. I had only modest savings and a small pension… which needed to stretch more than 30 years.
Once again, Ecuador exceeded my expectations. I had allowed for what seemed like a small budget… but ended up spending even less.
In fact, I even managed to add to my savings, which was the biggest surprise of all.
In Ecuador, I found enriching lifestyles for every income level.
A couple settling in small towns can live on around US$750 per month. In a rural setting, two of my close friends are living on less than US$650 per month.
If you’d be happier in a beautiful, 16th-century colonial city—with its theater, orchestra, art shows, restaurants, and cafés—you can do that starting at US$1,200 per month (under US$1,000 if you own your own house).
To put this in perspective, of the more than 61 million retirees now collecting Social Security in 2020, the average payment is US$1,503 per month.
So who can live in Ecuador on a Social Security check? Almost everyone. The average Social Security recipient can do it with room to spare.
And what’s amazing is that you’ll do more than just live. You’ll live well… a wealthy and enriching lifestyle that just wouldn’t be possible back home.
Best of all, you’ll have the experience and adventure of a lifetime.
When I retired to Ecuador, things were different… it was a lot of work for me.
I covered the country from top to bottom in a rental car—with limited Spanish at the time—exploring unknown regions via poorly marked roads.
Working with the Ecuadorian officials, I had to figure out how to get a residency visa from scratch.
I wanted to learn Spanish, but had no idea which language schools were any good… among hundreds that were marketing their programs.
After picking my city, I had to find an honest real estate agent and navigate a disorganized market with no multiple listing service. It was every real estate agent for himself, with me at their mercy.
After selecting a home, I didn’t know an English-speaking attorney. I had to go to the U.S. Embassy to try to find one.
Hardest of all, I didn’t know anyone who lived in Ecuador… that is, no one who had already moved here, who I could ask for help.
In other words, I didn’t just drop into a paradise, like Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz.”
But you can.
That is, you can land in Ecuador and hit the ground running with your new life laid out in front of you.
In fact, you can condense all my months of effort into just three action-packed days… and come away with more knowledge than I did.
After more than 20 years of living abroad, I am no longer easily impressed… but I’m still in awe of life in Ecuador.
When I retired here, I settled in the colonial city of Cuenca, a former Spanish capital and city of the Incas. I’d often stop, take in the surroundings of my 16th-century city, and just marvel at the fact that I was really living this life.
Imagine heading out the door bright and early each morning, bound for the local bakery. If you time it just right, you can catch the warm cinnamon rolls just as they’re coming out of the oven at 7:15 a.m. A rich cup of Ecuadorian coffee goes perfectly as you settle down at a small table with the morning paper.
You’ll walk the cobblestone streets that saw the traffic of the early Spaniards in the mid-1500s and the Incas before them. The colonial architecture, with iron balconies and center courtyards, will take you back in time.
While Cuenca has a new, modern mall on the edge of town, the historic center still features large and colorful indigenous markets, some taking up more than a city block. You’ll also discover tiny, hole-in-the-wall shops, each one selling its own specialty as they have for centuries.
Today, you’ll find surprises hidden among the old adobe buildings of downtown Cuenca. Today’s historic center also has small sidewalk cafés, English book shops, fine dining, and a handful of bistros and expat gathering places. It even boasts Indian and Middle Eastern restaurants, along with the traditional Ecuadorian venues and international restaurants.
In the evening, you’ll find plenty of restaurants, bars, clubs, and discos. But you can also take in a tango show or a play at the theater… or spend an evening at a (free) concert by the symphony orchestra… or attend an art opening at a gallery hidden within the old convent… or take in an exhibition at the modern art museum.
Cuenca is the cultural heart of Ecuador and a benchmark for colonial cities in the Americas.
But Cuenca’s not your only choice for good living in Ecuador.
Monday I’ll introduce you to some of your other great options for living a big lifestyle in this country on even a very small budget…