A Moving Decision

Since our move to Ecuador a few years ago, we’ve seen lots of new faces and met many folks that moved here from their hometowns in the states and Canada. We have then seen some of those folks leave because they were unprepared for the differences between back home and Ecuador. This past week I heard of two more couples heading back to the states. Some of us had little choice in our move due to financial considerations versus quality of life and came with eyes and minds open to embrace the differences and make them work. Others came simply because they felt that they would find more happiness somewhere else… Everyone’s illusions of a place are different, some are unrealistic, some based in fact and reasonable. And a lot depends on your money situation and if you go city or country. But expectations play a big part.

I have no interest either way as to whether folks move to Ecuador or not except to maybe have them as friends.  I do not sell real estate, am not developing a condo project nor will I ever try to sell you Avon. Joe and I have lived outside of the USA for over six years. The reason we moved was totally based on need. If we had the money, a home that was paid off or near being paid off, in an area that we considered safe and health insurance we would never have left the US.  We left because we could not live there on Joe’s social security alone. To be able to maintain a simple lifestyle there I had to work a big full-time job, that job required that I be away from Joe for somewhere between 10 and 12 hours per day. This was not acceptable and that was a job that actually was paying for our insurances: medical, life, home, cars and leaving little for savings or our eventual retirement.  It was a difficult decision because back then there was little written up about moving out of the country and actually I don’t remember one blog about anyone’s adventures in a foreign country. It was a leap of faith, based on many factors but mostly it all came down to money. How much did we need to live comfortably outside the US?

There are many compelling reasons to make a move to Ecuador. All the hoopla you have heard or read about being able to live here on $500 a month, have a full-time maid and gardener and go out on the town almost every night spending pennies to eat like kings and queens, Yeah right!!! If that is the reason you are moving DON’T DO IT ! Because the above statements are false and misleading. Yes, some things in Ecuador are less expensive that is if you don’t need Jiffy Peanut Butter or Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, these items are made in the US and shipped great distances to be stocked at your local Super Maxi.  If instead, you can live out of a tienda or the public mercado you can eat well for much less than what you would pay in the US. A friend living in Northern Florida just told me a few days ago that Sea Bass is $39.99 per pound at Publix supermarkets.

In our little town (can’t speak for city living here – that would be someone else’s blog)  this is what we find. A big city – Quito, Cuenca etc. will have greater availability and different prices. As we have no interest in city living at this point in our lives, we will tell you what we know from our little town life.

Here you can buy fresh (right out of the sea fresh) corvina (sea bass) for $3 per pound. Are you going to find every fish variety you are used to? No. Will the mercado carry all the vegetables you love? No. Can you live here without white asparagus, morel mushrooms, A&W Root Beer or fresh turkey legs? If you answered Yes, you will probably be happy in small town Ecuador. If you require that your supermarket carry all your favorites everyday you will be sadly disappointed. The other big item that everyone needs to be aware of is that most tiendas have very little processed food items, there is no freezer section with TV type dinners the exception may be a small freezer for ice cream, there are very few canned or boxed goods available and what is available is high-priced. This is an area of the country that cooks from scratch. The bigger supermarket chains like Super Maxi carry many US products but the price may shock you compared to what you paid in the states and again their canned, boxed and frozen sections are very limited yet hold much more than a local tienda would, could or ever will.

It was culture shock going back to cooking from scratch. It is time-consuming, hard work and if you are not interested in cooking you will find it very difficult to survive here. Yes, for a time you will eat at the local restaurants and probably completely enjoy that freedom. In time eating fish prepared the same way at all the restaurants may bore you and your memory foods will call to you. Not a bad thing mind you,  but they will need to be made from scratch. You may not be able to find the spices or condiments that you once used. In our experience it is very difficult and expensive to ship from the US to the small towns so that was not an option for us. Making several trips a week to Guayaquil to the big supermarkets was not particularly appealing to us – 5 hours in buses plus another  half hour or so in taxis each time.  Making my own pickled jalapenos, hot pepper salads, bread & butter pickles came naturally from a desire to make our house feel like home. Preparing broths, sauces and spice blends from scratch also became a given! Today I spend much less time than I did in the beginning because I have learned how to buy, freeze, cook, pickle, more efficiently.  If you like to can things, don’t be surprised when you cannot find canning jars, lids or rings.  Need parchment paper, not in Playas! Looking for a silicone cookie sheet liner, not even found in my travels around Guayaquil.  Need an oven temperature gauge, I had my friend Joe bring it from the US on his last visit because I checked out several of the bigger stores in Guayaquil and found nothing. These things were not deal breakers for us, but to some it could dramatically effect how you handle everyday life in Ecuador or any other country that is not your native country. THIS is not the USA, what you expect to find on the store shelves is almost never the reality.

Do you need a great deal of outside stimulation?  If you answered Yes, your city choices shrink considerably because you are not going to find opera or the symphony on the beach in Salinas or Playas, nor will you find Lord & Taylor or Macy’s around the corner.  Yes, if you live in Cuenca or Quito you will find many of the activities that you have enjoyed back in the states as well as bigger stores for your shopping but most areas of this country are poor and have little of the things you take for granted in the states. No Wendy’s all night drive thru or Starbucks or Denny’s. Of course most of the time we think that’s a GOOD thing!

When we were first looking into moving out of the US we did a great deal of soul-searching, individually and collectively. First we thought about what we were looking for individually. I had this idea in my head like in the movies you see of the woman in France or maybe Italy, carrying her groceries home from the market — a fresh bread tucked under her arm and a small tote with just enough food for today’s meal. Joe saw financial peace of mind, not needing to worry about the money, having enough to enjoy a quiet, tranquil life…When we came together to discuss our collective thoughts, they boiled down to a small town, a little life, quiet walks, good food and nice weather. Annie Dillard wrote, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”  We were not looking for a big life, just a little quiet life and we worked hard to invent that life for ourselves. God has truly blessed us, first with the insight to see what we wanted which meant getting past all the “stuff”  and then blessing us again with that little life.

I have dear friends, well we actually have never met, but they still are dear to me. We have emailed back and forth for some time now. This couple has thought about making the move to retire in Ecuador. They made an exploratory trip back several months ago. Looked at many areas with an Ecuadorian driver who gave them a pretty good tour of the countryside. After they returned to the US they thought long and hard looking at what they had, what they would need to give up and how they would adjust to moving away from everything and everyone they knew.  I still do not think they have come to the final decision but their questions lead me to believe they may visit again but not move here permanently.  If you can live comfortably in the US, why would you move to Ecuador? That was one of my questions to them, can you afford where you are living currently, do you have a calm and peaceful existence, have you surrounded yourself with the people and things that you need to make your life fruitful, what do you require of the area where you live???  These are the deep question that take time and considerable contemplation to answer truthfully. At this point in all our lives we have a comfort level that we all require. It was a very difficult decision to give up everything material we had accumulated in our 32 year marriage. To move everything to Panama was unrealistic. The cost of transporting it was out of our budget, the time, effort and just sheer aggravation that I have witnessed from others seemed like torture and personally Joe and I could never had the patience six years ago to undergo that amount of suffering just for some stuff…

These are the things every person contemplating a big move out of their comfort zone needs to think about. These questions cannot be answered in one conversation, it requires a great deal of self-analysis to find what deep down feelings each of us may be holding back — this is not the time to hold back, this is the time to open up and dig deep to find out what will make YOU happy. It does not matter what anyone else thinks, feels or does, it is about the individual. How much change can you handle? Even though I know better my mind reverts back to “How things are done back in the states” it is unrealistic to think that you will get the same treatment/service outside of the US. Especially if your Spanish skills are not reasonably good. Most things here cannot be handled with a telephone call, in person visits to the telephone company, cable company are expected and most often anything you do requires that you have a color copy of your cedula attached to whatever you want to do. The rules are different here and just because they are foreign to you does not mean that they will change anytime soon or maybe ever! I had one acquaintance say, “they need to get their act together” he was speaking of the telephone company not getting his bill to him before they cut off his service, sorry but it is not going to happen here. The individual is responsible for knowing when his bills are due and paying them before the deadline, the phone company, cable company, electric company and the water company may or may not get you a bill on time or ever. We need to be flexible and work within THEIR system they are not going to make changes just because we are Expats…this is how things work here, get over it and learn the system, you will be much happier if you work within the system instead of trying to buck it!

This article is to help with the analysis part of your thought process. It is not to scare you out of moving, or push you to move, only to help open your mind to the entire experience. We love our little life, we would not change it for the world, if we won the lottery today we would give the money away at this point, because we have come to learn that our happiness has nothing to do with money or possessions.

Our little life is enough!

65 thoughts on “A Moving Decision

    • Hi Mary & John, thanks for your comments. We are here already and have made the mental adjustments (I hope) to be able to cope with most of the differences. So many folks have no idea how different living here is compared to Wherever, USA that they are coming from. Hope this helps them make the adjustments necessary to be happy! Kisses, N

  1. Pingback: Morning Update – Monday, June 18, 2012 « South of Zero

  2. Nancy, thank you so much for your insight. My husband and I are visiting Cuenca right now to explore the possibility of making a new home here. We have been researching expatriating for about 5 years and are about a year away from making our dream happen. Our reasons for leaving the states are financial , like yours. We are debating between Cuenca and Boquete , Panama. We are making this life changing move much earlier than most, we are both 46 . We live in the Silicon Valley in California. And we know that if we stay where we are it will require that we never retire or we can sell our house and retire now. We both want a much simpler life with time to enjoy each other and pursue our hobbies as well as discover new interests and hopefully make new friends. I’m actually the more social one of the two of us and one of my biggest concerns is not about missing all the stuff that I’m accustomed to having or the frustrating way they do things in a different country.. I really need to connect with people . Both my husband and myself have never been drawn to a big city and Bouquete Panama has been on the top of our list. I wanted to check out Cuenca because of all the blogs I’ve read about all the art and symphony ( never actually been to a symphony in my life) and theatre available . But we have mostly been interested in living in a smaller town that gives us access to a larger city for things the small town doesn’t provide. And the higher elevation of both Cuenca and Boquete give us the cooler climate we love. All this to say, you are living in a small beach community and I’m really wandering if you have made many friends where you are? In my heart I realize that no matter where we end up life is what we make it. I suppose I’m just reaching out to because your most recent post was written for me:) I’m in exactly that place, although expatriating is already the path we are sure about, it’s just deciding between being close to a city like Cuenca or more secluded in a mountain community like Bouquete. Sorry this got so long. Anyways …. Your post has been really helpful and I thank you for sharing your perspective . Holly😊

    • Hi Holly, Thanks so much for your comments. Joe and I lived in Dolega about half way between David and Boquete for 3 1/2 years. I still miss all the wonderful folks that I met there and now call family. You are both so lucky to be able to retire at such a young age, good for you. I hope you find everything that you want! Nancy

  3. Well said Nancy, having lived in Central America as a young girl I KNOW exactly what you are talking about, it is simply a different life style, it is a simple life with no bells and whistles compared to the USA, folks have to understand that. I personally do not think I could go back and get use to it, having said this I have truly great memories of Guatemala and Honduras always having fresh fruits and vegies, home made breads, we never ever had anything frozen, it was a slower paced no hussle life. You and Joe are happy and content and that is all that matters. Love and miss you! Ana

    • Hi Ana, Thanks for your comment. It was a difficult move for us but if you leave with an open mind and heart and in our case the motivation to make it work, it can work!!! Have a wonderful day, N

    • Lisa, thanks for your comment. I hope this helps folks who are sitting on the fence wondering if they can make it work in a different country. It is all a matter of attitude…having a good one in some very strange and exasperating circumstances has truly helped us. And knowing that life is not perfect and neither am I has stopped me on several occasions from trying to strangle someone!!! ha ha

      • I’m lucky that I let most frustrations roll right on off my shoulders!
        You’re right about being on the fence; I have had several friends that allowed me to give them a push off the fence – in fact, one thanked me with that phrase! i asked the other how many more good full moons did he have left in his life while he lived his safe responsible walter mitty life.. i should write a post about that friend, who is now a free-lance pilot and flies all over the map! Z

  4. Nancy, what a great article! It is true information written by someone who has been here for a few years… We share your thoughts and philosophies, we are also the same age as you. My husband and I have been here for so long that now we can’t eat US processed food when we visit, it makes us sick! My question is, how are you making pickles without the canning jars? I found a recipe for just making and keeping in the frig for up to 2 months…I’d like to know if you found jars for pickling here?

    • Margarita, your approval is heartwarming. I have read many of your Facebook posts and must say I have agreed with you so often you would think we were sisters in our thinking. Thank you for your comment! As to the canning, I have been cheating a bit. I have been buying mayonnaise, olives and on occasion pasta sauce in medium and quart sized jars when I can find them. I make pickled eggs, cucumbers, peppers, jelly or jam even have pickled grape leaves but alas I must keep them in the refrigerator because I am afraid that the lids will not seal…I will tell you that everything I have done so far has sealed. When I go to open the top pops telling me that the lid seals tight…but I won’t take the chance in making someone sick so I just keep all in the refrig. My next trip back to the states I am going to bring some lids with me. Classico spaghetti sauces can be found here and is packaged in a beautiful heavy duty quart jar. I plan on making that my hobby for the next year, every shopping trip I am going to buy a jar of sauce.. ha ha Nancy

    • Hi Steve, I am flattered that you posted my article to your blog. Joe and I visited Puerto Cayo two years ago when we first came to Ecuador. And we also loved Puerto Lopez and have friends in Las Tunas who have been their for several years now. I hope that all goes well with your purchase. Nancy

      • You’re very welcome. I thought it was quite insightful and right on target. Immersing yourself in the culture without judgment is SO important. I love the Ecuadorian people and would never intentionally insult them. We love Cayo for “all the right” reasons you mentioned. There’s not that much to do! I’ll be perfectly happy watching the sun set on the South Pacific every single night. We are building from our remote location now, but will be back in our new home during Christmas and New Years!. Keep up the good posts. I love reading your insightful posts.

      • Nancy: You’re repost was a real hit yesterday. People are still hitting on it from around the world. You should be getting some clicks via my site. On another note, I may be interested in communicating with you further. I’m just on the brink of becoming a contributing writer to International Living Magazine. I think the story you and your husband have would be a great profile. Keep up the good work. – steve

        • Hi Steve, I did have more hits than normal myself. I really don’t think IL would appreciate my article. And again it is one man’s opinion, I cannot speak for anyone except what we have experience on our travels. Have a great day, Nancy

  5. Great blog, Nancy. I not only did not EXPECT things to be the same as in the States. I did not WANT things to be the same as in the States. If I did, I would have stayed there. Great insights!! Sue

    • Hi Sue, thanks for your comment. You are one of the very few who understands that things away from the states can be so different. I am not sure Joe and I fully understood how different things would be when we moved to Panama. But you learn very quick and thank God we were open to the many changes and differences. I know I am a better person today because of the challenges our move caused! Much more flexible, more relaxed about so many things that I would never have been in the past. Life is good! Nancy

  6. Thank you for writing this. You are very insightful and thoughtful, and I’m glad to know there are other American expats in Ecuador who think this way.

    Don’t get me wrong, there are times when I’ll be waiting in a restaurant for over an hour without my drinks and start getting frustrated by the different standards in service, etc., but you just need to accept those things and move on. It is not our place as expats to be judging our adoptive countries. We have chosen to be here, and if we wanted to live somewhere that is just like home, they maybe we shouldn’t have left home.

    • Hi April, Your comments are much appreciated. Thanks for taking the time to write. It has been a journey of enlightenment for us, each day we learn something new about this country and in-turn we learn something about ourselves. We are blessed, truly blessed. Have a wonderful day, Nancy

  7. Hi Nancy,

    Your blog is delightful and insiteful. I can feel your joy through your writing. We are in our second phase of the Ecuador adventure. After one week in November we are going for two months, July and August, in Cuenca to live like a “local” to see what it is like for us. To both be happy It is really hard to dig deep to come up with what we both want out of the experience. The constant under current of financial worry here in the US is very stressful. We only have one life to live and I want to feel like a younger person, freed of the cloud of despiration. Ecuadorians have found the joy, as I hope we will.

    Joyce

    • Thanks Joyce, we are working hard at making this part of our lives the best and if you can feel the joy from my writing then I guess we are doing pretty darn good!!! I am so happy that you are starting your Ecuadorian Adventure soon, I wish you Godspeed. Thanks for your comments. Nancy

  8. Nancy, I could have not said this better myself!! Great blog! We have lived in Bahia de Caraquez for three years and have not regretted our decision to move here from Canada. I very much enjoy your posts! Take care

    • Deborah, We have read many of your posts on Pachamama. Thanks for your comments, I appreciate that you read about our adventure. Blessing, Nancy

  9. Fantastic post Nancy, well said.
    I am in the throes right now of sorting through decades of ‘stuff’ – my estate sale will be held in mid July, and it is chaos right now but will be worth it. After all, it is just ‘stuff.’ However, like you posted, people can get pretty attached to their ‘stuff.’ I’m feeling little heart tugs here and there, but ultimately, we plan on bringing suitcases, and a few footlockers, mainly for tools and kitchen items (I LOVE to cook).

    For people that hate or don’t know how to cook, living in Ecuador can be a bit of a shock – like you said, everything is from scratch. But for me, that is the way I like to cook and when I was working crazy long hours, I didn’t have the energy nor time to cook the way I enjoy. Looking forward to cooking for expats, and others once we get to Ecuador….

    We should be in Bahia by the end of the year, if all goes well with the houses selling…..
    Tami

    • Hi Tami, Thanks so much for your comments. You are well ahead of me! When we decided to move Joe found me standing in the middle of our living room not knowing which way to turn, where to start was almost impossible for my brain to understand….you need to get rid of everything!!!! WHAT! I was a possession person, not that I loved my possessions over people but what would I, could I do without my STUFF!!! That is what I am taking about in the soul searching — it was so hard for my mind to grasp the thought of moving with a few suitcases and a few boxes…Now I can do anything, because I do not have all this STUFF to drag around with me…it is quite freeing or cathartic as some folks would say!

      I like you love to cook, never had the time back in the states to really do a great job, here I get to do such wonderful dishes with seafood it is just amazing. First that we can afford it and second to make such classy dishes just warms my heart.

      I am so happy that you have your plans made and wish you luck and God grace to move with peace in your hearts for your next life adventure. Nancy

  10. Hi Nancy: That is a wonderful article and should be published in International Living. They tend to mislead people with their articles and are not always realistic about the cost of living. It all boils down to your expectations and appreciation. You and Joe are soul mates and this contributes greatly to your contentment and happiness. All persons contemplating moving out of the US really should read this article. Many come here with unrealistic expectations and want to make it “like the US.” Not a good thing! Thanks much. Patricia

    • Hi Patricia, Thanks so much for your comments, not sure if IL would want an article that actually makes them look like they mislead folks..but if just a handful of folks read this post and it makes an impression on them it would make me truly happy.

      Joe and I met in 1969 and are best friends first. Not that we agree on everything all the time, that would be wonderful but a bit delusional on my part. We do try to have a firm grasp on what is important to us, what is not necessary in our lives and how to tell the difference. We work at our relationship every day, it is a living thing and needs to be nurtured. Some days are harder than others! ha ha But after being married for 38 years knowing each other for 43 years it is like we have been together forever!!! And it works for us.

      I agree with you that some folks have an unrealistic view and boy is it a shock when reality hits them. Nancy

  11. Nancy, you have written so many informative articles, so far this is the best. We have several properties in and out of the US, but we have chosen our condo (still under construction) in Salinas as our final retirement home…but we will sell only the home where we currently reside when we finally make the move.

    • Hey Rolie, Good to have you comment and thanks for your kind words. Enjoy your new place in Salinas when it is completed, I’m sure you will just love everything about your retirement. Nancy

  12. Nancy, I always look forward to reading your blog and your post today is a great example of why. I appreciate your honest assessment of life in Ecuador. Your blog is just excellent! Thank you for taking the time to share it with all of us.
    Vicki

  13. Hi Nancy! Enjoyed thoroughly reading your article- Very thought provoking -Worth reading by somebody who wants an insight of moving to ecuador or anywhere for retiring or reliving!Just curious as to why you guys made a move from Panama to here in Ecuador?Keep the good ones coming -Best wishes for you & Joe—Yusuf

    • Good Morning Yusuf, Thank you for your kind words. I am happy that you enjoyed my comments. Living in Panama was excellent, we had great neighbors, a good small town, most everything you could want from an area but NO BEACH and very little fresh fish. The country is almost completely surrounded by water but there were very few beach towns and that was our dream to live close to the beach. Towards the end of our stay violent crime starting to make its way into our area, we were Expats and felt we would be a target sooner or later, our last month in the town we literally moved into a hotel in David because three families were terrorized over one week only a few blocks from our home…Sad as I do consider many of those neighbors as family…Nancy

  14. Thank you for the honesty, Nancy. I truly appreciate your perspective. Living a simple life is my dream but I can see how it would be a nightmare for many others! It sure is different living here than back home in the States.

    To begin a simple life is why we came to Ecuador! We love the country but now we just need to find our paradise! You can read more about our adventure at atruetalltale.wordpress.com

    Here’s to the little life!! Cheers!

    • Luna, thank you so much for your kind comments. I started to read Plan B and The Beginning but it has so much in the articles it will need to be left for later today or tonight, your adventures sound so familiar, ja ja. Things are never what you expect and rarely what you have been told here in Ecuador!!! A little life is wonderful! Nancy

  15. I absolutely love Equador, especially the Galapagos Islands.
    My biggest dislike is the fumes from the vehicles, that’s in Equador, of course, in the Galapagos Islands it was not a problem. I felt such deep peace there, I plan to go back and visit for a longer period of time.

    The other thing that I love about Equador is the weather is generally compatible with being outside a lot. As well, the flowers are so delightful and many smell heavenly.

    I can certainly understand why you both chose to live there.
    Small town sounds the best, less violence and quiter.

    • H Genie, thanks so much for your comments and following our adventure. Hope you get your wish and are able to visit Ecuador again very soon, Nancy

  16. My husband and I just returned from Ecuador last week new have decided to purchase a home in Punta Carnero and will be moving as soon as we have all of our ducks in a row. Your post is spot on with what we discovered while we were there. Determining what we could live with and what we could live without was huge. My husband had a heart attack (at age 56) the day after we returned home. I now know that any sacrifices we will make to live in Ecuador are a small price to pay to be able to spend more time together. I appreciate your very honest and candid posts.

    • Hi Heather, first my best wishes to your husband for a very speedy recovery so you can get to Ecuador and your beach living! Thanks for your kind words we also made a wonderful choice in retiring to a simpler lifestyle, we just got back from three glorious hours on the beach ourselves. Maybe now we will even take a quick nap in the hammock before we decide what we are having for supper. What a life! Nancy

  17. Nancy

    currently living in FL, evaluating possibility of retiring in Ecu or CR.

    i have quickly skimmed your blog posts and re healthcare, saw only the one issue about a throat issue. my questions are the following: are there top quality specialists available of the kind that seniors (60+) would need to use, and what is the availability of top quality prescription drugs of the kind that seniors might need, or do those have to be purchased thru a US pharmacy?

    also, how is the internet service?

    thanks

    • Good Morning Tom, Your questions will take some space to answer so I will email you with my response some time today, Nancy

  18. Nancy,
    Wow! Thank you so very much for your insight into not just Ecuador, but in taking that big step away from the US. Your June 18th should be, for anyone who reads it, a watershed event in their decisionmaking process. You are to be not only thanked relentlessly for your observation skills; rather, you are to be commended.
    Gratefully,
    Dan

    • Dr. Dan, thank you for your kind comments. It is a big decision leaving everything one knows, to move away from all that is comfortable and easy…This is a good life but is different from what we had in the US. I wish we knew then what we know now, information only makes the process easier! Nancy

  19. Hi Nan, I was going to ask permission to reprint your wonderful article on Ecuador-Expats.com since it has received such rave reviews here and in the blog community, but I noticed above that Steven Watkins has already reprinted it and you were OK with it. So I just went ahead and posted it. Hope you don’t mind. It’s at:
    http://ecuador-expats.com/2012/07/04/what-life-is-really-like-in-ecuador/
    And I put in a link back here so maybe you will get some more visitors! 🙂
    Congratulations on getting a place of your own on the beach! Good luck with all the repairs that go with it.

  20. Nancy you mention if you think you can live on $500 a month dont come here. What would you say a reasonable budget would be. I dont think we would purchase because we are thinking of spending 4-5 years there and then 4-5 in Panama and then 4-5 in Belize. Roaming Nomads I guess!! We are 50 and have saved enough for about $3000 a month. We were going to continue working until 55-58 and then we’d have about $4000 a month. But after researching we are thinking we could quit now and enjoy exploring. Our son and his wife ages 30 already have they are in Bangkok Thailand.
    Thanks
    Karen

    • Hi Karen, First I guess you would need to answer some additional question about yourselves: what level of life style are you expecting if your lifestyle requires a great deal of entertainment, specialty food items, good quality liquors and wines you will probably go way over $3k per month. What meds do you both take, things are cheap here but not if you both are taking 20 different meds, smoke, drink and want to party hardy all the time it could really run into money even here. So it is very hard for me or anyone to give you a realistic figure…For $3k you can live very well here IMHO. It all depends upon where you want to live and how you want to live. Salinas is more expensive than lets say General Villamil Playas for rentals. A friend just got a quote of $800 a month to live in a condo on the malecon in a 25 year old building in Salinas, that probably does not include the maintenance which would run at a minimum $100 per month probably more, electricity $40+ no a/c, water $10-20, internet $25 for CNT, phone $7 just local, cable $35-$100, bottled water, kitchen gas and laundry service are very cheap, but you would need a cell phone maybe two cost depends upon usage— do you see where I am going. Also, buying all your food at Super Maxi instead of the Public Mercados will run into more money. You need to decide the style of life you want to live and fit your budget to that style. I don’t want you to answer my questions those are just for you to take a look at what you and your husband want with your retirement. I am thrilled that you are going to do this before retirement age and even more excited to hear your son and his wife have done it at 30. They need to write a book on how they did it, they would surely make a mint from all the folks out there who are looking to make a move. I loved our time in Panama would you be doing PC or Boquete or Vulcan or Cerra Punta? Blessing, keep me posted on your progress. N

  21. Good article, Nancy. Yes, if one does not adjust to the facts that one must be very patient about things and expect things to be don’t the same way as in the US, they will be heading back to the US soon. It sort of reminds me of when folks from the northern part of the US decided to move South (to Georgia or Florida). The new transplants got frustrated with the slower pace of the South and the different culture. Those that started each sentence with “up North, we do it this way” were soon packing for the return trip. This is what happens in Ecuador.

    We have enjoyed our 14 months in Ecuador. We also moved here because of finances, primarily the cost of healthcare. We have been in Cuenca the entire time and have made some very good friends, enjoy our church, and have a nice apartment. Unfortunately, I have not adjusted to the colder weather. Thus, we will be exploring Salinas in the near future.

    Keep up the good posts. You are doing a great job!
    David

    • Hi Again David, You are going about your adjustment in the right way, poco de poco…I think you will like the coast. Nancy

  22. Nancy, Hi! I followed the link from Theresa in Merida’s blog (What do I do all day?) – What a nice post. I am also looking forward to exploring the rest of your blog.

    I’ve lived in Mazatlán, Mexico for five years – we moved here for the same reason as you two, plus a few others. It’s been a great five years, too. We don’t intend to ever go back. Well, except to visit family now and then…

    I did a post that hit on most of the points you made in my blog not long ago. Although you gave many more examples, it is amazing how similar our thoughts were. If you want to read the post, it’s here: http://www.countdowntomexico.com/2011/07/19/how-to-be-a-successful-expat/

    Take care and I look forward to reading more of your site right now.

    Nancy (Yep, same name, too!)

    • Hi Nancy, thanks so much for reading about our adventure. You sound like you are having one of your own as well. I am going to go to your blog now and do some reading, be well and thanks again, N

  23. Pingback: Best blog post I’ve ever read about moving to a foreign country | What do I do all day?

  24. Pingback: Best blog post I’ve ever read about moving to a foreign country | What do I do all day?

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