South America Living

Expat Interview – Tim in Cuenca, Ecuador

Editor’s Note: This is an interview from ‘Happy Expat in Ecuador’. Thank you Tim!

Colonial City Cuenca, Ecuador

Colonial City Cuenca, Ecuador

Can you tell us a little about yourself (and family if applicable)?

I’m married and self employed. My wife is retired and collecting SS. My business is estimating reinforcing steel for concrete construction projects in the USA. It is an internet based business, so I can work anywhere in the world where I have high speed internet access and a local printer that can print large format (blue print) sized drawings for me. My wife and I like to dance ballroom dances and we are trying to learn Argentine Tango.

What made you decide to move abroad?

We are political and economic refugees. We started looking into moving out of the US after the US supreme court made the decision to stop the recount in Florida and awarded the presidency to Bush. We were growing sick and tired of the all war all the time policies of the US government started under Bush and continued by Obama.

We were also very tired of the culture of violence that is so pervasive in the US. As we looked to the future, we realized that there was no way that we could afford to live in retirement in the US, especially after the economic meltdown of 2008 when we lost nearly 40% of our retirement funds that were in our 401K plans.

Why did you choose the country/location you are in?

We have always enjoyed the culture of Latin America, and we had hoped to retire in Mexico. However, the violence in Mexico made us change our mind and we started looking at other countries in Latin America to move to. I started looking at Ecuador after reading about President Correa’s initiative to save the rain forest by having governments and companies pay Ecuador to not drill for oil in Ecuador.

We then started researching Ecuador, we also looked into Panama, Costa Rico, Uruguay and Nicaragua as countries to move to in retirement. When we visited Ecuador (Cuenca, in particular) it was an easy decision to opt for moving to Ecuador.

How long did it take to complete the move? Some folks pick-up and go in a few months, others agonize over leaving their home country for years!

We decided to make the move in October, 2011 and we moved to Cuenca in June, 2012.

What were your greatest fears (if any) about moving abroad?

The language barrier. Neither of us were fluent in Spanish. We knew some basic words and phrases, but we didn’t know how we would be able to communicate to get what we needed.

Did you experience much culture shock?

Not really. We just took one day at a time and learned to accept the things we witnessed. The real culture shock came when we returned to the states several months after we moved to Cuenca.

Are you glad you took the plunge & made the move? Any Regrets?

We are very happy we took the plunge and our only regret was that we waited so long to make the move!

What advice would you give to someone contemplating a move abroad?

Research as much as possible. Visit the country where you might want to move to, and when you make the decision to make a major move like moving to a new country to become an ex pat keep an open mind and a sense of adventure when you arrive in your new home. And most important, don’t be an ugly American by trying to change the culture of your new home!

Accept and learn to enjoy the differences between the US and your new home. Learn the language by attending Spanish classes; learn the history; learn the culture; make new friends of the locals;don’t spend all of your time with english speaking people in restaurants and gathering places where only other ex pats congregate (but do have a network of ex pat friends).

Can you share any resources that were helpful to you in the planning process such as websites, expat groups, facebook groups, books, etc.?

On Facebook, Ecuador Expats (ask to be invited to join the group). International Living Magazine (but remember, this magazine is mostly about making money by investing in property and then profiting by selling. There is very little practical advice on actually living in the countries they write about).

Google searches are a must! is helpful. has a list of blogs on the left side of the home page that can be clicked on and one can read blogs by people living in Ecuador and has interesting articles and news stories about life in Cuenca.

Thank you so much for participating and sharing all of this excellent information! Cheers, Molly

More Expat Interviews:
Ande Wanderer in Buenos Aires, Argentina
Rachel in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Walter Rhein
Martin and Luisa in Tarija, Bolivia

Photograph by travel writer and editor Jena Davison, all rights reserved.

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