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The concept of Americans retiring to Latin America due to the lower cost of living has been around for a long time. When I was seven, I went with my parents to check out the American retirement colony at Lake Chapala in Mexico (where Fred Reed now lives) in 1966. But the idea has never really taken off.
There’s no accurate way to measure the phenomenon, but the Social Security Administration was sending payments to 380,000 retired U.S. workers living abroad in 2014 — up 50 percent from a decade ago.
That has to be under 1% of all American retirees. Presumably a large fraction of people receiving Social Security checks in foreign countries were sojourner workers who went home for retirement.
A new hotspot for American retirees is the old colonial city of Cuenca in Ecuador’s Andes.
The city of Cuenca recently conducted a census that found its municipality alone was home to almost 10,000 foreign retirees, most of them Americans from Texas and Florida. …
In Cuenca, a city of about 350,000 people, they’ve found robust public transportation, an extensive museum network, solid healthcare and markets bursting with fresh fruits and produce. It’s a place where their two-bedroom, two-and-a-half bath apartment costs less than $400 a month. They’ve found that for about $1,500 a month, they can live a solidly upper-class lifestyle, dining out frequently and traveling.
“In the United States, we couldn’t afford to go anywhere,” Susan explained. “We were having to stay home.” …
The city is trying to combat local fears that the retirees are both driving up land prices and bleeding the public healthcare system, she said. And the language barrier has become a source of local irritation. Some restaurants and even neighborhoods seem like English-only spaces.
“Cuencanos are feeling like strangers in their own city,” she said.
The climate is delightful, but that’s because of the extreme elevation: 8,200 feet. Whether to retire to high altitude is a tough decision. You might not mind it at 65, but will you feel the same at 75?
I think Ecuador is in the same time zone as the Eastern U.S. (although, being on the Equator, it doesn’t have daylight savings time). It’s convenient to be in the same time zone as most of your contacts so having a second home at a different latitude but not longitude (e.g., Donald Trump’s main homes are in New York and Florida, while Bill Gates’ summer home is in Redmond, WA and winter home is in Ranch Santa Fe, CA). That’s much more convenient than moving across longitudes (which might be why Hawaii hasn’t ever really taken off as a place for the wealthy to live while still conducting their business).