Ecuador - Baby Boomers Retirement Answer
As baby boomers approach retirement age they are being faced with a dilemma. “Can they survive on the pension and benefits that they originally thought would be sufficient?” With nearly 7000 people reaching the age of 65 every day for the next several years, this question is weighing heavily on their minds. The volatility of the economic circumstances adds to this quandary.
Baby Boomers Dilemma
A recent survey conducted by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College indicates that the average family with the primary head of household reaching retirement age has less than one-quarter of the finances required to maintain their standard of living. This study was based on average salary and 401(k) balances along with the assumption that a person needs 85% of their working income to maintain a comfortable lifestyle. This has led many baby boomers to the conclusion that they must either:
- Continue to work fulltime or part-time until an older age
- Find a less expense lifestyle
Studies show that although most baby boomers expect to retire from their present careers when they reach retirement age, 76% maintain that they will continue to work in some capacity. There are a number of individuals who plan to persevere in some job capacity for challenge and mental stimulation. However, the unpredictable cost of healthcare, housing and necessities play heavily on their minds.
Is Ecuador the Answer?
Ecuador is considered by many to be the ideal retirement country. It is consistently ranked among the most affordable destinations for those confined to a fixed income by “International Living” magazine and normally occupies the top position. A recent article appearing in US News and World Report stated, “Ecuador is emerging as the world’s most affordable retirement haven.” This information can provide the ideal option for those who want to retire on a limited income while maintain a comfortable lifestyle.
Retirement Destinations in Ecuador
Although there are foreigners living throughout the country of Ecuador, three locations draw the most attention: Quito, Cuenca and Vilcabamba. Quito is the capital of this tiny country and its rich cultural diversity provides a plethora of activities such as symphony, opera and theater productions. Cuenca, located a short plane flight south of Quito, has a more European flare and a peaceful cadence that allows for relaxation. Vilcabamba, in the province of Loja, is situated in the “Valley of Longevity”, noted for its healthy and restful lifestyle. All of these cities are situated in the sierra providing a spring-like climate all year round.
Quito and Guayaquil both have large international airports with direct flights from various cities in North America, South America and Europe. Local flights can be engaged for travel to the smaller towns and villages throughout the country. Many retirees opt not to purchase vehicles as the bus and taxi system is quite affective and relatively inexpensive. For a few dollars a traveler can visit the coast for a quick dip in the ocean or travel to the jungle to be harassed by playful monkeys.
Housing, whether renting or buying, can be relatively inexpensive depending on the needs of the individual. A comfortable western style three-bedroom townhouse with approximately 120 m2 (1,300 ft2) of living space can be rented for under $400 per month. The purchase of a similar unit would cost in the range of $50,000 - $70,000, depending on the area. This house would be in a gated community near various amenities such as shopping center, gym, pharmacy, etc.
Utilities are also fairly reasonable. Due to the amicable climate of the sierra, heating and air conditioning is seldom needed. If a person is settling on the coast AC may be a necessary addition. Hot water and cooking is generally provided by bottled gas, which at this moment is less than $2.50 per tank. Local phone service is nominal and international calling can be acquired using high-speed Internet. Cable TV is available with English speaking stations and network channels including ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, BBC, etc. If opting for all the above services an occupant could expect to pay under $100 per month.
Being on the equator, Ecuador has an all-year growing season. Whether it is spring items such as strawberries and asparagus or summer harvest like watermelon and corn, there is a never-ending fresh supply. From large supermarkets to farmers markets, there is an abundance of healthy and inexpensive fruits and vegetables at the disposal of the frugal shopper. Foreign items are also available, although at a slightly higher price.
Healthcare is constantly on the minds of the newly retired and can be a deciding factor when considering a retirement home. Hospitals, especially in the larger cities, are modern and hygienic. Many doctors in these facilities have been trained abroad and are proficient in all technological advances. A consultation is normally under $30 per visit making this a medical marvel. Pharmacies are readily available with all essential medicines in inventory. For those who wish to have additional medical insurance, it can be acquired through several agencies for less than $100 per month. (This is for an individual of retirement age.)
Ecuador is certainly an inexpensive place to live but there are other considerations that should be taken into account before embarking on an international retirement lifestyle. Culture can play a large role in how one will interact with their surroundings. Learning a new language can be daunting for anyone, especial those who are a little older and less adaptable. The difference between cold-climate cultures and hot-climate cultures can be astounding, making it more arduous to modify one’s customs. It is recommended to visit the country, and particularly the target area, and spend several months learning and understanding these differences before advancing to that new home. It is better to know if this is the proper move before finding out that adaptation is impossible.
There are many reasons that Ecuador has been designate a “Retirement Haven”. Its climate, affordable housing and relax lifestyle make it a paradise for many. If the cultural adjustments are made, this can prove to be a ideal dream home of a lifetime.