September 25, 2015

Why Wait for Retirement? Move Abroad at Any Age: Mission Possible

Why wait until you almost 70-years old to experience life abroad?  When we first started talking about moving somewhere abroad, it was “a dream come “maybe” true” someday and I thought, “we’ll never really do it”…it was like an impossible dream.  But here we are, enjoying our frugal, happy, healthy life abroad. 
Punta Blanca Ecuador
When we used to take vacations abroad, we didn’t know anything about how to go local. Was it safe? Would we like it enough to be able to actually do it? Besides that, we were on vacation and so it was much different. As vacationers, it is expected to stay in swanky beach resorts and dine in expensive international cuisine restaurants. And we all know that vacationing abroad for just a week to ten days is not necessarily cheap!
 

So, when we started looking at Cuenca Ecuador we went in knowing full-well we were going to do it like the locals, meaning find local housing and shop in the local markets. In other words we did not move to Cuenca thinking we were going to live in luxury for less because seriously folks, there is no such thing. Luxury apartments in Cuenca and Quito will cost you almost just as much as in the U.S. And then when you come out of your luxury building you are smack dab in the middle of not so luxurious surroundings. You either like it here or you don’t, meaning if you’re straddling the fence now in Cuenca, you’ll most-likely end up leaving back to the U.S.
 

We didn’t visit Cuenca first on a discovery trip either; nope, we just came here, started renting, applied for our visas and now we’re residents of Ecuador.  Some people can do that. However, we wouldn’t recommend doing what we did just in case Cuenca is not a good fit for you and your family.

A little background is in order:  as traveling missionaries, we had lived in at least ten different cities in the u.s. in the last 25 years.  Therefore we had the benefit of our experience and hindsight into knowing ourselves.  Many people coming here fit into the 'retirement' label, meaning in most cases but not all, they've been living in the same city doing the same things day in and day out for the last 25 or more years.  It takes time and pushing yourself outside of your 'box' to get to know yourself and what really makes you happy.
 

We also spent two years doing research just on Cuenca Ecuador alone, before we made the move and we knew mostly what we were getting into.   I say “mostly” because the international travel press exaggerates and hypes things up quite a bit using hot button language such as "live like a king" and "paradise" to describe a, uhm, place.  Just a place folks.  There's lots of them on planet earth.   

We are also very much do-it-yourselfer type of people and so it worked fine for us.  We saved thousands of dollars from the start just by building all of our furniture.  And of course, most of our readers know, our rent is $250 a month. 
 

We’ve been noticing a younger-set of people moving to Cuenca and they simply bring their online work with them. Some of them are website designers, some have established websites that make money, and some of them still work for an employer but can work from anywhere in the world like accountants who already work online from their home in the U.S. Notice I said “established”. Well that’s what you need if you move abroad.
 

The misnomer that Cuenca Ecuador has of being cheap, certainly does not mean that coming to Ecuador will work for you.  Everything is not cheap in Ecuador. It’s best to already have a source of income when you come to Cuenca.  If you cannot afford to visit on an exploratory trip then it probably is not right for you and perhaps you should stay where you are planted.
 

Many employers allow their employees to work from home now and it makes it possible for younger folks to make the adventure or dream to move abroad come much sooner.  But don’t count your chickens before they are hatched by thinking you can just come here and then find work, or write a blog, or start on a new adventure locally that makes money. FIRST you should have your finances already in order.
 

To get your Ecuador residency visa, you will have to show proof of a permanent and ongoing income from your employer or other source.
 

And lastly, just be careful, if you come in blindly and behave as if you don’t know what you’re doing, it will cost you. Knowing some Spanish is a really good idea and an asset when visiting and moving to Latin American countries, so you will not get taken advantage of in anyway not just price gouging but in other ways as well.
 

You can make the move abroad become a mission that is possible if you already have an established source of income and you do your diligent research before visiting/moving here.  And to get the inside scoop on how to make your move successful, easier, cheaper, etc.  check out our DIY Cuenca Landing Guide, the book some say has been their best friend in Cuenca Ecuador.

Until we write again…

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We're an Expat Family of Five, Living Frugal, Healthy and Happy Abroad. We live in Cuenca, Ecuador and travel the Ecuador coast whenever we get a chance. We just adventured throughout the country of Panama for five weeks! Come along and enjoy some of our experiences with us!

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