Misfits in a Wacky World: Why we’re Moving to Ecuador (Part 2)


Two weeks ago, I explained why my partner Sara and I have decided to move overseas again, why we’re willing and even wanting to leave the US and the comforts it affords.

Sharing how easy it’s been to lapse into a kind of complacency since being home from Haiti (where we lived for a year) and Vietnam (where we were the year before that), I described our struggle with the developed world and explained why we no longer want to take our own privilege as US citizens for granted, but desire, instead, the simplicity of a less consumer-driven economy, a country where we won’t be so insulated by the abundance and resulting materialism of American living.

I tried, in my previous post, however, to emphasize that, for us, this is a lifestyle choice, one our relative wealth and opportunity as Americans allows us to make.  It’s a choice most in the developing world rarely have the chance to make.

Still, the question remains, one a number of you asked several weeks ago, when I first shared our news, why we’ve selected Ecuador as our destination, and the city of Cuenca, specifically.

Below are just a few of the reasons that might interest you.

ecuador map wikipedia 300px-Ec-map (2)

map of Ecuador via Wikipedia

1.     Life-long love of Latin America

I studied Spanish in high school and majored in Latin American Studies, when I transferred to the University of Kentucky in 1981.  But even more importantly, I had a set of second parents who were Spanish-speaking.  I grew used to the sounds spoken in their home, and even if I didn’t always understand each and every word, I loved the music of their language, slept more soundly hearing its rhythms in the distance.  They loved me and comforted me, especially after my dad died.  Their language spoke to the lonely and unloved in me.  I craved the culture of caring in their home.  Perhaps even, I inadvertently came to associate their values with those of an entire ethnicity, so that moving to Ecuador may, on some level, mean moving home, returning somehow to Estrellita and Raul’s warmth and affection.

estrellita and raul PicMonkey Collage

Kathy with Estrellita (L) and Raul (R) during the 1980s

2.     Location and Geography

We selected the country of Ecuador, in particular, for a number of reasons, one being its relative proximity to the US.  Quito, the capital, is a mere 3.5 hour flight from Miami, and because a low-cost carrier connects Lexington to south Florida, we can make that trip for $73 each way.

Also, Ecuador, for most of the year, except for the months during daylight savings, is in the same time zone as the East coast of the US.  Having lived in Vietnam, we know the struggle to communicate with friends and family back home when there’s a 12 hour difference, and we don’t relish having to fly some 30 hours to reach the US either—the time it took to travel from Lexington, KY to Hanoi, for example.

But Ecuador, beyond its proximity to the US, has an enormous amount to offer geographically.  Its topography varies from the Andes that run down the middle of the country to the Amazon in the east and a coast with stunning, largely uncommercialized beaches to the west.  Not to mention, the Galapagos Islands just off-shore, with their giant species of turtles, the place where Darwin developed his theory of evolution and wrote the Origin of the Species.

3.     Climate

We selected Cuenca, more specifically, since my partner Sara hates the cold and I despise heat.  Cuenca, with its perpetual spring-like weather, is a great climatic compromise for us.  It’s just south of the equator, so the there’s little temperature variation throughout the year, but an altitude of 8,200 feet means it rarely drops below 50 degrees Fahrenheit or rises above 75.

cuenca Aerial-View-Cuenca-Ecuador-400x600

Aerial view of Cuenca via Americapictures.net

4.     Affordability

In much more practical terms, however, the cost of living in Ecuador is a fraction of that in the US—many suggest only 25% of North America–some even say a tenth.

For example, one can rent a three bedroom house in Cuenca for a mere $300 a month.  Actually, I know of one family that is paying $250 and another that is paying $280.

Also, because Ecuador is an oil-producing country, gasoline is a mere $1.48 a gallon, and because the rest of economy is agriculturally based, food costs are low and eating out at restaurants rarely costs more than $3 per person—for a several course meal.

(The national currency is the US dollar, by the way.)

5.     Health Care

Ecuador is also known for its excellent and affordable medical care.  And Cuenca is becoming a popular destination for medical tourism, much like Bangkok has been for a number of years.  North Americans are traveling to one of the city’s several medical centers for procedures that cost too much in the US or are not covered by insurance here—especially cosmetic ones.

In Ecuador, doctors, most of whom are schooled in the US, still make house calls for no extra charge, and office visits are less than 25 dollars US, even without insurance.  Also, the most expensive drug I take to treat my bipolar disorder costs a $38 co-pay in the US but a mere $40 in Cuenca pharmacy—the cost even without insurance.  In other words, all of the medications I take are available there, most for a fraction of what I pay here—even with my insurance paying the bulk of the cost. Perhaps, that tells us something about how inflated the prices of pharmaceuticals are in the US compared to the rest of the world.                                                      

6.     People

A number of online sources suggest that Ecuadorians are warm and caring, receptive to strangers, responsive to even lame attempts to learn their language, and many indicate that the Cuencanos remain the warmest among the already warm, kind, and caring.  Even more importantly, perhaps, I have one blogging buddy, Lisa at Zeebra Designs and Destinations, already living in Ecuador, and Sara has a friend and colleague in Quito.

7.     Art and Culture

Last, but certainly not least, Cuenca is considered the arts capital of Ecuador.  Anyone who knows me or reads my blog, recognizes quickly my creative inclinations.  In Cuenca concerts are often free, music is everywhere, and exhibits are frequent gathering places for a large expat community whose numbers are over 1000, mostly from North America.

And besides all of this, Cuenca has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its well-preserved, Spanish colonial architecture and city planning.

So there you have it, folks—just a few of the many reasons we are making this move.

While Sara continues her efforts to save the planet from our new home in South America, I’ll try to anchor our adventure in words—sharing it via blog and periodic pieces in The Huffington Post.

I may be a bit of a bore these days, but I DO have a dramatic past.  Hopefully my future is looking every bit as exciting as my childhood forty years ago.  There may be no mafia involved now, but there will be challenge.  There will be growth and gain, sacrifice and maybe even pain.

We hope you will make this journey with us.  I know you won’t be bored.  You’ll inevitably see yourself in us.  You’ll laugh.  You’ll cry.  And though you may not be an expat, per se, I’ll bet “foreigner” might sometimes describe how you feel, as well, misunderstood even in your own home, among the ones you love the most.

In reading our misadventures, you’ll be comforted to know you aren’t the only one—not the only misfit attempting to survive a crazy, wacky world.

Have you ever felt you didn’t fit in?  Have you ever felt like a foreigner, maybe in your own family, city, school, or country?   How did that isolation affect you?  Will you ever visit us in Ecuador?

Again, please forgive my being an absentee reader of your posts.  I am spending every spare minute preparing our house for the market.  Things should return to normal once we are moved and settled.  I will be blogging from Ecuador.  I’m committed to that!  Love and miss all of you!

Note:  Please visit idiomART, our Etsy site.  In honor of our upcoming move, my holiday cat can ornaments are now on sale for 50% off—marked down from $14 a piece to $7.

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104 thoughts on “Misfits in a Wacky World: Why we’re Moving to Ecuador (Part 2)

  1. I’m sold. I will start dieting now. You start lifting weights. Fitting me into a carry-on can’t be that hard, right?
    On a serious note, I am so, so thrilled for you two. You are both designed for adventure, for going out and experiencing, and I can’t wait to hear all about this new chapter!

    • As you may recall, Tori, I’m inclined to over-pack in the first place. But I’ll do my best to make room for you–and Thomas, of course. Gotta have that boy come along.

      By the way, after out house sells, whenever that might happen to be–Sara and I will be taking a two week road trip, up through Ohio, PA, down to Atlanta, and up to Nashville–so hope to see you then.

  2. Kathy,
    Sounds like a plan and a well thought out plan. You have done your foot work, did the research, giving all the reasons and purposes to experience life from another culture and seemly simpler way of life. Sound divine truly!

    As I read my thought were how can I get there? This is a photographers dream place… etc!

    I wish you the best.

    Love, Jeff

    • Thanks so much, Jeff. You should check it out. Our discovery made it hard to pass up. And it will be a photographer’s dream. Hope you will come and visit–seriously. We would love to have you!

      I truly can’t wait to get there, as long as the getting there doesn’t kill me first! LOL Hugs to you, Jeff!

  3. You convinced me, too! It sounds wonderful. Bronwyn and I have been talking about leaving the US after the kids are grown (the two youngest are in high school now). We have the same climate differences (she loves cold and snowy and I live for summer). And I haven’t had health insurance in 13 years. It would be nice to live somewhere I could actually afford health care. Not to mention I would be willing to sell a piece of my soul for a chance to see the Andes or the Galapagos. I’m so happy for you both and admire your adventuring spirit. I can’t wait to hear about it once you’ve settled in to your new home.

    • Tori, we would LOVE to have you all visit! Seriously, we hope to host lots of friends and share our new world with others. We will have at least one guest room. It will be ready for you both! Wouldn’t that be fun!!!!!

  4. This sounds so exciting, Kathy! I was actually looking at adding a trip to the Galápagos Islands on to my Macchu Pichu trip this year, but that won’t be possible due to lack of leave and money at this stage. But it is certainly on my list! Good luck with the move.

  5. You have written an excellent post that addresses not only, ‘Why Ecuador?”- ‘but also, “Why leave?”

    Cuenca is a well-dressed, well-bred lady, and you’ve made a very solid choice! I hope that your trail brings you here PRONTO!

    Z

  6. I’m already trying to figure out how I can manage to come visit! I do hope your life continues to be exciting but not quite so dramatic as your childhood. Do you have a date yet when you hope to be settled into your new home?

    • We would love to be there by summer, if not sooner, but we can’t go anywhere until our house sells. Keep your fingers crossed, Lisa–and God, we’d love you to visit! I think you need to visit Machu Pichu, as well, if you haven’t already been there! You are always welcome in our home!

  7. In answer to your question dear friend, I have spent my entire life not quite fitting in :) I very excited about your move. Are you familiar with Pat Cegan an American who lives in Brazil? Patcegan.wordpress.com You and she have a lot in common artistically. If you haven’t met her yet I think you will love her.

    • Oh wow, Chris, thanks for the introduction to Pat. I will head over there asap! I had never heard of her. Isn’t it fun how blogging brings like-minded souls together?! Think you will ever make it to Ecuador? I’ve never fit it either, to be honest. And I’m kind of proud of that. Silly, isn’t it? LOL

    • We share that difficulty with fitting in, Lisa. As I said to Chris, I feel kind of proud of that fact–the fact of not fitting in. What I love about blogging is that its given me a group to belong to, but generally not belonging seems to be a badge of courage to me.

  8. Fit in? I have no idea what that feels like. Is it bad that I still feel all pouty about you leaving? I’m such a brat sometimes…….Tell Sara The Walking Dead is only a week away from new episodes. Also, tell her if something happens to Daryl I’m totally boycotting the show. For at least a week. lol

    • Oh, Sista, I DO love you! And feel free to be as pouty as you need to be! I love you just the way you are.

      And, believe me, Sara is all excited about the Walking Dead. I’ll pass along your potential boycot with regard to Daryl. Perhpas, she’ll join you. However, I love your qualifier above–for at least a week. Can’t stay away for too long, can you?

      Hugs to you, my dear!

    • Thanks, Beth Ann! I think you and Chris have a bit of adventurism in you, as well–at the very least, in your full embrace of all that life and love have to offer. One of the things I love about you. Great to hear from you, my friend!

  9. This sounds so exciting, it makes me want to drop everything and head out! It sounds like you’ve thought everything through and are looking forward to the adventure. I’m looking forward to hearing all about through your writing! Thank you!

    • Thanks for reading, Cindy. Great to hear from you. If you ever decide to check it out, we would love to have you visit. Ecuador really has a lot to offer. And I suspect it would benefit your art, as well. I think you would enjoy my friend Lisa’s work. She is my blogging buddy-artist friend in Ecuador. I shared her link in this post. Her work it powerful!

      • For me, Kathryn, retirement is probably at least ten away, and I don’t think, in today’s market, I could move at all until then. I have been seriously looking into international living, though, as a way to stretch my very meager Social Security into a reasonable lifestyle. I’ll be listening closely to how you seasoned travelers handle it!

      • That’s precisely what so many US retirees are doing in Ecuador–stretching their social security. You have articulated perfectly the reality. Most of us can’t live on well at all on the meager amount we’ll get. But in a place like Ecuador many are actually improving their lifestyle upon retirement. Will keep you posted!

  10. I’ve often felt like an outsider, not part of the clique at work. It bothers me sometimes, but after discussing it with my wife I understand that’s it’s their loss, not mine. I see you are planning a road trip before you leave. It would be wonderful if you have the time to swing by our way. Regardless we are planning to visit you before and after your move. I’ve been researching your move and totally understand your choice of Ecuador.

    • Oh, wow, thanks for stopping by. Can’t wait to check out your blog! I SO appreciate your sharing the link. We’re looking for all we can get from on the ground! Heading over to your place right now! Fun “meeting” you!

  11. Incredible, Kathy! Ecuador sounds amazing for all the reasons you listed, and I can’t wait to read about your adventures when you get there. Do you have a timeline for moving in, or is everything still dependent on selling your home in KY? You two are so inspiring!

    • Thanks, Dana. We hope to be there by summer, but in all actuality, we can’t move until our house sells. Need the funds from that to finanance our move. We had two viewings this past week.

      Hope you’re enjoying Arizona! Great to hear from you. Hope you and Marty will consider visiting.

  12. Oh wow! I have totally been living under a rock as of late! Congrats on your BIG move! I can’t wait to read all about it. And yes, I have always felt like an outsider – pretty much my entire life. Didn’t matter if I were in Canada, Australia, or Asia always had that feeling … still do. I think it comes with the territory of being a world traveler.

    • Oh, Jennifer, you haven’t been living under any thing larger than the bolder I’ve found to top of myself. How did that damn thing get there?!

      Somehow knowing that I’m not the only one who has felt like an outsider has made me feel less like one. Great to hear from you!

  13. Thank you for sharing the decision process behind choosing Cuenca as your new adventure. It sounds like you’ve put a lot of thought into the location. It’s wonderful to be able to decide on a location with so much thoughtfulness. So often we just “end up” somewhere through no intention of our own.

    I would LOVE to visit you and Sarah in Ecquador. Is that an invitation? :)

    • Oh, Jackie, we would LOVE you to visit! Wouldn’t that be fun?!

      We’ve been fortunate to have this opporunity–this choice, actually. It’s a luxury so many will never be free to. We’re glad to finally be moving forward with our decision.

      Hope you have a wonderful week, my friend. Stay warm. We’ll be looking forward to your visit!

  14. I’ll admit, I was a bit doubtful at first – but your list of reasons has me convinced! This sounds like a great move for you and Sara (and I would dig the climate, too. How much rainfall do they receive)? Plus, Cuenca looks beautiful. Hmm…maybe Tara and I will have to make a trip down there someday!

    Looking very forward to your Latin-themed posts!

    • You doubted us, Mark! You silly man! It must be the excitement of your upcoming marriage that blinded you, my friend. Actually, I am SO happy for you and Tara, and we would be honored to have you all visit! Hugs of congratulations to both of you!

  15. Okay. Well. I am now convinced that we WILL be visiting. Problem is, I may not want to return home! SO much to look forward to with you and Sara. I can’t wait for your new adventure!

    • You may not want to leave, but that would be even better for us, Colleen! Yippee! Can’t wait to see you here, up in Ohio, and there in Ecuador, as well! Have a wonderful evening, my friend–and stay warm!

  16. Wow after reading your great post I’m ready to pack up and join you in Ecuador. It sounds perfect!
    Although we’ve been living in the States for over a decade, it doesn’t feel like home. I’m so restless and long to find a place where I feel I belong and can live a simple life “far from the madding crowd”.
    […I could also write pages about my not “Fitting in…” ]
    btw I read your post to Mr F and he asks what kind of fishing they have there? (He’s a fly-fisherman).

    Hope you sell your house quickly.

    • I have no idea about the fly fishing, but I need to find out, as another friend of ours was curious about the same thing. If I learn the answer, I’ll be sure to let you and Mr. F. know. If so, we hope you will come visit sometime. Sounds like a wonderful place, I know. So come check it our for yourselves. Great to hear from you today, Rosie!

  17. It sounds like you and Sara are heading to paradise so I hope this move delivers. Will Ralph and Lucy have to be quarantined? I seem to recall you suffering level 11 (let’s get Spinal Tap here) anxiety traveling to or from Haiti with Lucy, or am I imagining that post?

    • Well, perhaps, not paradise. I know that doesn’t exist, but the place does have a lot of things we’ve always wanted.

      No quarantine for the dogs, fortunately. But yes, we has some issues with taking the dogs overseas, but mostly the issues have involved Ralph and Vietnam. With Lucy and Haiti, we only had to deal with an insane vet in Haiti, but once we found one we liked, we had no more issues bringing her back and forth. Truth be told, things are rarely easy transporting dogs overseas, but, in our experience, it’s worth it in the end. Fortunately, we can overnight the dogs in Miami and they will only have to deal with a 3.5 – 4 hour flight from there–nothing like the crazy 30 hours to Vietnam. Thank God!

  18. Kathy, clearly you do not make decisions lightly or on impulse. You have articulated well, thought-out reasons for going. Makes sense to me. So when are you hoping to leave? I’m so excited for you!

    • Well, I wouldn’t say we haven’t made impulsive decisions in the past, but we have planned for years to do this eventually. We would love to be there by summer, but will go when our house sells–whether before or after that. If our house hasn’t sold by June, I will possibly go on and do language school–an immersion course. We’re not sure yet. My Spanish needs LOTS of work. It’s been years since I’ve used much of it!

  19. I’m with Tori, surely I could squeeze into your suitcase. Best of luck and good wishes to you on your new adventure, Kathy! It sounds so exciting (I especially love the weather), I wish I really was going with you.

    • I’d suggest you plan to visit with Tori. Wouldn’t that be hilarious? In the two times I’ve gotten together with her, we’ve had SO much fun! She’d make an entertaining travel companion, as you might guess. Or bring your husband. Either way, you are more than welcome! Would love to have you! And the weather rocks!

    • Goodness, we’d never been to either Vietnam or Haiti before we moved there either. ara had never been to most of the places she lived overseas, including Afghanistan. But we have both spent a good bit of time in the countries surrounding Ecuador–me in Venezuela–Sara there, Columbia, Peru, etc. Ecuador is very small, so there’s very little differnce from the 100 to 200 miles away we have been.

      So–“Brave!” Hardly. Stupid? Maybe. However, we can come home. It isn’t Asia, after all.

  20. Sounds like heaven actually. I think I might be right behind you soon. I grow weary of the race. If I could find a means to support myself I believe I would pack my bags and begone.

    I am with Sara on saving the earth and the world, where do I sign on?

    • I understand. Oh, I understand, all too well. Let us know if you ever want to come check it out. Wish there were more folks wanting to save the world. Glad you’re among them, my friend. Hope your week is going well!

    • Thank you, Renee! I can’t wait. We have a couple coming on Monday for a second viewing of our house. If they buy it, we could conceivably be in Ecuador in May. Keep your realtor’s fingers crossed!

  21. Bless you both with the transition, the journey and the destination. I would never describe you as boring, but even if I did, I think boring can be good if you do it right :D. Best of luck to both of you!

  22. Bottom line is that you did a lot of research to answer the “why” questions. As far as being a foreigner,as a typical outside the box thinker, I’ve have felt like a foreigner many times!

  23. I’ll bet at least half–or more of us–are envying you just a tiny bit. How we’d like to be moving to Ecuador with you. At least for a while. I have felt like an outsider most of my life. As one rather dear friend recently put it, “You’re just weird.” We eat differently than most of the people of this area, we’re much more liberal than most, and heaven knows what else. Can’t wait to read more of your adventures. For you shall surely have adventures GALORE!

    • So, so happy to hear I’m not the only weird one! I have always been eccentric–as Sara characterizes me. Sara is more main-stream than me–but always up for an international adventure–maybe even more so than me. Great to hear from you, Kathy!

  24. Hello, I’m visiting from Terri’s. What a great blog, and nice to learn a bit about Ecuador! My husband and I often feel like misfits and have played around with the idea of ex-patting. Maybe I can live vicariously through you until we’re ready!

    • Hi, Abby, wonderful to “meet” you! Sometimes I think I feel more connected to folks who have felt like outsiders. Wold love you to live vicariously through us–as you consider an ex-pat adventure of your own. Sorry it has taken me a few days to respond to your comment. We sold our house this week, so things have been crazy busy! Thanks for stopping by!

  25. Wow. Wow. Wow. A triple wow. You lead an amazing life, Kathy. I can’t wait to read more about it. Major kudos to you and Sara. Once my ankle-biters leave the comfort of home (which looks to be in 2022…assuming everyone goes to college, I mean, praying everyone goes to college) I’d love to have 1/2 of your travel moxie. xoxo

  26. I looooove love love your new adventure & I look forward to learning more about this culture you are diving into.

    You are amazing and inspiring and beautiful.

    You make me want to be beautiful, too.

    Thank you, Dear. Xxxxx I’m also envious!

  27. I’m looking forward to following you on your new adventure, Kathy. Maybe someday I’ll even make it to Ecuador for a visit. It sounds like a wonderful place. :)

    • Isn’t the currency situation fascinating? Who would have ever guessed. There are semi-complex economic reasons that this change was made–ones I’ve been too busy as of yet to fully investigate.

      Maybe one of these days we can do a flat/house swap. You can use our home in Ecuador and we can use yours in South Africa. Wouldn’t that be fun?

  28. This blog post certainly makes a case for Ecuador. Makes me want to move there right away even though I’ve been five months in the developing world, here in Ghana. I haven’t followed your posts in a while but catching up today has been delightful. Glad to see you are taking the itch to move seriously. Blessings for the transition. I look forward to reading from you.

    • Great to hear from you today. Sorry it has taken me several days to respond to your comment. I’m spending so much time packing and preparing to move that I’m behind in the blogosphere.

      How cool that you are living in Ghana. I know I would love reading what you write from there. However, I don’t see how I’ll have time until we are settled in Ecuador a couple of months from now. Please hang on and be patient with me in the meantime! Love having you read. And thanks for your comment.

  29. After reading this post Kathy, I’ll be waiting with bated breath for your first post written from Equador! It all sounds so civilized, and “easy”, when you consider the costs of living! I had no idea!! Up to this point I had been feeling rather nervous for you are Sara, in anticipation of your impending move. Now it all makes such total sense, knowing what I do about you and Sara through reading your blog and getting to know Sara on blip. I wish you both well, a safe journey and many wonderful and exciting new adventures, along with thoughts of the new people this move will bring into your lives! Hugs to both of you. xxxx

  30. I’m an international teacher, so I move with my job. I have read many wonderful things about Cuenca and would love to live there, if only they had an international school! I’m currently based in Venezuela, so maybe I can hop over on our next long weekend. Do you have suggestions for places to go over a four day weekend?

    -Amanda at http://teachingwanderlust.com/

    • How wonderful to hear from you, Amanda. I think Cuenca would be a great place to visit over a long weekend. And yes, no international school here, but we need one, were you ever inclined to start one. Seriously, it’s a huge need here. If you decide to visit, please get in touch. We’d love to meet you!

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