10 Years of Blog Archive

Sunday, March 29, 2015

About the '10 Best Places to Retire in the World'

Here's an article we found recently that sort of resonated with us because it goes outside the usual paradise (retire abroad) commercials. Let us know what you think?

Note: the link in the article is no longer active on the original article, however we all pretty much know the countries that are on the list of "10 best places to retire in the world", give or take a country every couple of years. Also, Discover Cuenca Ecuador writers did NOT write this article, we are merely reposting it from another blog. "Please see the source".


 They obviously haven’t been to any of these places recently. After extensive travel over the past two years, much of which to these locations to check out the affordability, I am finding that my home in Florida is cheaper and better.  I guess this depends on the quality of life and lifestyle you can afford.  For me, a young retiree on a fixed income trying to make it stretch, I can not see the value in many of the places on the list.  The target budget in these articles always seems to be about $1000 per month or just about the average Social Security retirement amount.  I make a little more than that but still do not see how these places could work.

Fist, and most important, let me address safety.  Over the past few years Central and South America have become increasingly more dangerous.  I’m not sure if it is because the drug trade or poverty but violent crimes have been on the rise.  I just returned from a month long trip to Roatan Honduras and many places in Ecuador on 1/24/2014 so this info is pretty recent. 

In Roatan I considered taking a ferry to the mainland and busing to the capital city of Tegucigalpa.  While researching the route, I was advised by all of the many people not to attempt this.  They explained that the route was not safe.  This was an eye-opener to me since I have driven and taken buses throughout many countries in Central America.  I took their advice and flew to Miami to catch a flight to Quito Ecuador.  After later research, I found that San Pedro Sula Honduras is THE #1 most dangerous city in the world!  Ecuador was not safe either.  On my first day in the country, my tablet was pick pocketed getting off the train at rush hour.
Noticing signs like these in the historic district in Quito were not comforting either.  I understand that Quito is a big city and with any big city there is crime but it seems to be everywhere.  Visits to Guayaquil and Esmeralda were cut from the itinerary due to advice and safety concerns.  Every Western person I talked to had negative personal experiences to share.  I met another retiree who, like me was exploring the list.  He had been to many of the places too and shared his knowledge of the theft, robberies, rapes and murders he was informed about by other ex-pats in all of the Latin American countries.  

Even the luxury retirement areas are not sheltered from the problems.  I visited the island of Boca De Briceno just south of Canoa Ecuador.  This place is connected to the mainland by a long bridge and has many high-rise condos for the affluent.  While there, I noticed a local restaurant with many Western patrons.  I talked to the 8 people at one table and found it astonishing that each had been robbed.  One man had his Harley stolen from underneath him while he was at a light.  Another, was duct taped to his bed while he was sleeping and robbed at knifepoint.  He was not an easy target either.  His house was a compound with 10 foot walls, dogs and security cameras.  The robbers poisoned the dogs, cut the power and scaled the walls to rob him.  Another lady had lived in Ecuador her whole life and shared a story where her family were victims of an armed invasion on a rural farm North of Quito.  The police seem to be either part of the problem or not willing to be part of the solution.  No one dares file a report for fear of future retaliation.  These problems are not isolated to Ecuador.  The entire Latin American region is experiencing the same.

Next, I will share my experience on prices.  I live in Central Florida so I often compare goods and services to what I would expect to pay there.  I am not affluent nor do I travel that way so all of my examples are on the low-budget side.  Meals seem to cost about the same in many of these countries.  Grocery stores may have better prices on fruit but meat costs more and rice and beans are cheap everywhere.  Lodging can be found for as low as $200 per month in many Latin countries but a room rental with all utilities included in Florida can be found for $400 per month.  

There is no comparison to the quality of US homes vs. the rest of the world when it comes to building standards and utility service so I think the numbers are a bit misleading.  To find anything close to what most people are accustomed to I think the budget would have to be much more than $200.  Building costs are not cheaper either.  I met a person who was building a new home in Ecuador and he had spent $75k already and was only about 1/2 finished with construction.  The same or better home could be bought or built in Florida with $150k budget.  I do not have personal experience with utility costs around the world but understand that electric is very expensive.  Many of these countries do not have air conditioning for this reason.  If you do find a place with ac, I understand that running it will cost you quite a bit.

Last, these are third-world countries.  They do not have the infrastructure of the first-world but are all trying to keep up with prices.  I think the Internet is mostly to blame.  Everyone can see what a burger costs anywhere around the world and no one wants to sell it for less.  For the moment, Asia seems to provide the best deal.  I visited Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Indonesia for 7 weeks from August – September of 2013 and enjoyed the trip.  The prices and people seemed good then but a reporter was just shot in Thailand the other day during their protests.  During that trip, there were border conflicts between Cambodia and Vietnam too.  

Third-world countries will always have volatility.  Their government corruption and wage inequality will always create friction between locals and ex-pats.  I was told once by a couple who owned property in Costa Rica that the best way to become a millionaire there was to bring two million.  They had experienced the government laws that were created to tax them and erode their home value.  Even the best countries today might be the hot-spots and war-zones of tomorrow.

In summary, I would advise anyone looking at this list to visit but never buy in these countries.  I too was looking for a cheaper alternative for retirement and have been chasing this list.  The more I see and experience third-world countries around the world, the more I appreciate the value of the US.  I will still travel the world in search of these bargain countries and keep you posted.  However, I have no plans to sell my home in Florida.

Source: imup2.com  First Published Feb 3, 2014

We're an Expat Family of Five, Living Frugal, Healthy and Happy in Cuenca Ecuador! Enjoy the Discover Cuenca Ecuador blog!


  1. Hi, not sure but did you write this Angie and does this mean your moving back to Florida? This article makes Ecuador seem very bad, while I live in the USA and there is always the danger of a drive by shooting, car jacking and it's not safe to walk the streets. Many tourists are killed in the USA wondering what the comparison is. Not sad if people don't move to Ecuador but this is very scathing while the USA is not pick-nick either, just saying.

    1. No, I didn't write the article. Found it online. I don't think it is making Ecuador (or any S.A or C.A country) look bad at all, I think it makes the travel writers who constantly hype and glamorize all of these countries look bad.

      We're just showing another view from a traveler who has been to many South America countries. She is talking about her experiences and observations.

      Now while we believe Cuenca to be fairly safe for expats when they follow safety guidelines, other areas in Ecuador may not be as safe. She is not just talking about Ecuador either but other Latin American countries too. I think for a well-rounded view we should read all sides and talk with different people who have traveled to the "hyped up" S.A countries.

      Most people considering a move abroad want to know and should know everything, not just the good parts. I'd want to know everything about a place before moving there, that way I would be prepared instead of assuming everything is great, which many folks are not prepared when they come to a totally different culture and environment. They believe what they read (the hype) as all good and great, and then come here and get disappointed; it's not what they expected and many are leaving....just saying...

    2. Now, let's be completely honest about what is happening in Florida right now

      A Sun-Sentinel report said that Broward County police would be “assisting members of the U.S. Special Operations Forces who are undergoing urban warfare training.”


      The exercise was accompanied by very little media coverage


      I know. I know. It sounds like some "wacky conspiracy theory," but it's happening on the streets of the USA.

  2. This is actually a blog posting, not a news article. There's no reason to think any of the people lied to her, although I do find the party of eight tales hard to swallow. If that were happening around me, I would leave the country. There are plenty of less expensive, very safe areas in the U.S., where I live (Prescott, AZ) among them. I could retire within my means in Prescott, but I would never be able to travel. An EC retirement would allow me to travel. Here's the original post.


  3. Hi! I read this article and was pretty upset by how the writer depicted Ecuador in particular. I just left Ecuador Dec 11,2015 after almost 2 month there on a scouting mission. The truth is that I found the place to be very safe (safer than the US, look at murder rates and such) I am a single woman and independent. I walk everyware took public buses & cabs and was able to get around with no problem. Yes if you are open to it the locals will tell you were you should not go to. Mostly common sense. Try getting lost on the south side of Chicago or getting off the plain in Miami and the rout to the beach is thru Liberty City. Many, many tourist specially German tourist lost their lives or were robed on such trips. To the point that the German government told its citizens that Miami was not a safe place. Since then the rout to the beach has been changed. The crime has not changed you just don't go thru certain areas. No one that lives there takes that particular rout to the beach. This is in USA. I found the people of Ecudor to be helpful, gentle people for the most part and had NO problems my entire trip there. I will be moving to EC in the next 6 month to yr. I find it safe, in expensive, fantastic medical and culturally affordable. I went to the Symphony 4 times in my time there for free each time. Have you priced the Symphony in the US in any major city? Sorry but this persons opinion/experience is so different from my experience that I had to write a response.
    On the other side I found most Gringos to be enjoing their time & life there. I also noticed that the Gringos were much much nicer and friendly then they are in their home country. I guess they are learning from the EC people how to live happy in EC, because they seam to be Happy there. The people that are not, I think are people that have no interest in EC or the people and are just looking for a sheep place to live. That will not make any one happy. Needs to be more than how sheep it is. Thank you

    1. Hi Martha, thank you for sharing your experience of touring Ecuador. All experiences are helpful. The writer of that particular article had a different experience as far as crime goes...perhaps she was in the wrong place at the wrong time...Yes, Cuenca is pretty safe now but other areas of Ecuador are not as safe as Cuenca...It's still a good idea to be on your guard when exploring Ecuador. We're glad you enjoyed Ecuador. There's a lot to like about living here. Thanks for sharing.


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