Recently, I was sitting on a terrace overlooking the Pacific Ocean, while enjoying a beautiful sunset, a bottle of wine, and the company of my wife Cynthia and two friends. "Man," I said to them, "it's great to be on vacation." Everybody laughed. I knew why. It's because, as Cynthia put it, we were taking a vacation from our "vacation." Though we're all retirees living in Cuenca, Ecuador now, years ago we left behind a stressed out, overscheduled, unsatisfying world—perhaps much like yours. In that former life, we worked our tails off day after day to "enjoy" weekends jammed with chores and errands, occasionally grabbing dinner at a chain restaurant. Our few weeks of vacation never seemed long enough to truly decompress and relax.
If you want to set up business overseas, you will most likely consider doing it by yourself. But if you don’t have the language and you’re not familiar with the country itself, this can be a daunting prospect. A solution could be partnering with a local.
Whether coming with suitcases or loading a container, people relocating abroad fret about what to bring along on their new adventure. Precious keepsakes, favorite books and photos…there’s only so much room. Well, I can recommend eliminating one thing...
A friend and I were enjoying a few adult beverages together recently. He lives in Paute, a small village about a 45-minute commute from Cuenca that is growing increasingly popular with expats.During our conversation he asked me if I would ever consider moving there. I told him that I enjoy walking around the city for another reason. Being out and about keeps me connected.
I didn't know where I was. Well, that's not totally accurate. I had decided to walk home through a neighborhood I'd never visited before. I was aware of my general location and direction, and I had a sense of how long it would take to be sitting at the dining-room table... so I didn’t need to know my exact coordinates to enjoy my spontaneous exploration.
Good news about residence visas in Ecuador... In recent months the government has made huge strides to simplify visa applications. There are offices in Quito and Guayaquil, and to better accommodate the continued influx of foreigners, a new immigration office opened in Cuenca last year. All locations have bilingual staff.
It's 5.00 p.m. on Monday afternoon. Time to start thinking about winding down the work day and getting ready to crawl home in rush hour traffic, then spending a few hours at home hopefully relaxing before going to bed… and getting ready to do it all over again on Tuesday. Except I don't live that life anymore.
Getting your residence in Ecuador has a number of benefits. Within 90 days of obtaining your visa, for instance, you can ship your household goods duty-free. And if you’re 65 or older, you are entitled to all sorts of special treatment—half-price bus transportation anywhere in the country, half-price tickets to movies, plus sporting and cultural events, discounted airfare, a free land-line telephone, and refund of your 12% IVA (value-added) tax.
Many expats living here are thrilled when they experience significant weight loss and overall improvement in their health. Two friends of mine, David Akins and his wife Karen, relocated to Cuenca, a lovely colonial city sitting at 8,400 feet altitude in Ecuador's southern highlands, a year and a half ago.
IL correspondents sometimes share their monthly budgets to help readers get a feel for the ongoing costs of living abroad. Items such as rent, utilities, and food are self-explanatory, but what about that nebulous "entertainment" category? Expenditures can vary wildly from person to person depending on individual interests and taste.