I received an unexpected phone call from a friend about a month and a half ago. As a result of that conversation I'm now writing for International Living, and Cynthia and I are the featured speakers from Cuenca at their "Fast-Track Ecuador" conference in Quito next month, where over 350 attendees are expected.
So far I've written one of their daily Postcards (reprinted below) and a full length article about health care in Ecuador published in the current issue. My association with TerraDiversa was also featured in IL's Fund Your Life Overseas reports, and numerous other projects are in the works.
The topic of our presentation at the conference will be "Keep Dreaming!" The story of our relocation to Cuenca will be interwoven with the message that if you don't give up on your dreams they can sometimes manifest in unexpected ways.
These new developments are simply the latest chapter in the continuous stream of blessings that has defined my life since we moved here. All of them have been spontaneous and serendipitous. Choosing to "go with the flow" seems to be working out quite well so far.
Go With the Flow – or Go Home!
By Edd Staton
Three years ago my wife and I shocked our family and friends by announcing that we had decided to relocate to Cuenca, Ecuador.
Our lives had reached an unforeseen crossroads in the U.S. Both of our ultra-successful careers had been suddenly jettisoned by downsizing, and we were surprised and disappointed to discover bleak employment prospects for folks in their 50s.
Rather than endure years of unsatisfying work for substandard wages, we chose to explore options that would allow us to start living life now.
With the amount of savings we had accumulated, we knew staying in the States wasn’t an option. But if we were to relocate overseas, it had to be somewhere that would accommodate our seemingly impossible wish list:
Low cost of living
Proximity to our family
Excellent medical care
Cultural activities and modern conveniences
Exhaustive research turned up a city we’d never heard of called Cuenca in the highlands of Ecuador, a country we knew next to nothing about. But Cuenca appeared to meet all of our criteria, and a "look/see" trip confirmed this could be The Place, so we took the plunge...
I’m happy to report that, in many ways, our standard of living exceeds the lifestyle we enjoyed in the States with two substantial incomes.
We live in a beautiful two-story penthouse apartment, eat fresh and healthy food, regularly enjoy things we once considered luxuries (like fresh flowers, massages, and mani/pedi’s), and go to free symphony performances and film festivals.
This isn't how it works out for everyone—we know people who arrived in Cuenca around the same time as us, with high expectations. Some have already gone back home or relocated elsewhere. So, Cuenca is not for everybody.
The altitude is 8,400 feet, which doesn't suit everyone. (Summer in Tahoe feels like every day in Cuenca.). You may find the "eternal spring-like" weather too cloudy and cool. If you're looking for a "cheap United States," you'll probably become frustrated by cultural differences.
For example, virtually everything takes a long time. "Manana" really means "not now." Our favorite cereal might be out of stock for weeks. The way we've happily dealt with these frustrations...and the advice I give to anyone who's thinking of a move to Ecuador is: Go with the flow...or go home.
In exchange for leaving behind a culture with impressive efficiency and virtually unlimited choice, we have relaxed into an unhurried flow of life with no clock to watch or rigid schedule to maintain.
We enjoy wonderful relationships with people we’ve really gotten to know.
And with the time previously devoured by work, commutes, chores, and errands...we now pursue hobbies and interests that nourish our minds, bodies and spirits.
Plus we live in a gorgeous, clean colonial city filled with kind and gracious people. So for us, moving to Cuenca has been a dream come true!