Places I could afford to retire

I am a landscaper living in Atlanta. I am from Atlanta originally, but, have also lived in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Vermont, California and traveled most of the US, some of Canada, Europe, Asia, and Ukraine.
Running a small business in America seems to get harder all the time. Or, maybe my heart just isn't in it anymore. I am tired of working all the time and feeling like I am just treading water. So, I am trying to retire this year. I don't have much of a nest egg and cannot afford to retire here.
I started researching places I could afford to retire. Cuenca quickly rose to the top of the list, followed by Belize and Boquete, Panama. In the end, there was no contest, at least on paper, or actually, on screen. I happen to speak Spanish, but, my grammar could use some improvement. I am already working on that. The climate, the cost of living, the local culture, the natural beauty, the currency and so much more make it look like a great place to live. I am sure it isn't perfect. There probably is no perfect place. But, hopefully, it is close enough for me.
I am planning an exploratory trip to find out. At this point it looks like I will be there May 27 through June 5. I would like to know a few people when I get there, at least as online friends. I am excited aboit meeting expats and local people, seeing the sights, checking out places to live.
If anybody has suggestions or advice please get in touch.
Thank you,
Billy Bragg

Billy, I'm in the same boat your in. I'm coming out 5/8-5/11 to explore. I've pin pointed a location called las olas. It's a new development for basically expats. It's design to create a resort like feel with all the typical  amenities. They are in the grading stage and foundation to follow. I'm currently living in Los Angeles


I appreciate the info. It sounds interesting, but, maybe expensive. Do you know the cost on that place?
Most of the nice furnished rentals seem to range from $350 to $700. Unfurnished from $250 up.
I hope you will share what you learn on site since you are going sooner.
Do you know yet where you are staying? I found a great b&b.


Hi billy2633,

I have created a new thread with your post on the Ecuador forum to help you to communicate more easily with the other members.



Hi Billy Bragg (thought you were English)
I'd be willing to tell you what I've learned from this great country NW of Quito on a coffee farm for the past 35 days.


I was raised in Rome, GA...not far from Atlanta and probably can relate to you culturally.  Also I went to school in Rome with some Braggs (Bo and Gary) and had their father, Branch Bragg, as a high school PE teacher.  Perhaps you are related to them?

Anyway, my wife and I moved to Ecuador in 2011, after a one month exploratory trip in November 2010.  By the way, November is a great time to be in Cuenca due to the gorgeous weather and the big independence day celebration that occurs around November 3rd.  May/Jun is when the weather can be a little rainy and temperatures can vary greatly during the day, starting off a little cool and warming up to the low 70's.  Not bad really.

Even so, I would suggest a light long sleeve shirt, more to block the affects of the sun which is very close to the earth at that point and can sneak up on you without you even knowing it.  Also wear a sun block at all times.  Don't try to be the macho type and ignore things like that.  Just a suggestion.

As for Ecuador, we lived there for 4 years but had to return to the U.S. due to the declining health of my mother-in-law.  Our hearts are still in Cuenca though.  Speaking Spanish will be a great help to you.  I consider myself a low intermediate speaker of the language.  Most of the gringos pick up a little bit along the way, but many, for whatever reason, don't put their hearts into learning the language.  At least having a working knowledge of the language enriches your experience greatly.  Also, the locals appreciate your efforts to learn their language and culture.

I would suggest leaving any American attitude or assumptions at the U.S. border.  Many gringos (a term that is used without malice in Ecuador, even among the gringos) can cop an attitude and come off very condescending to the locals.  Losing one's temper is a sure way to have the Ecuadorians shut down and therefore be counter-productive to what you are trying to get done/ 

Go ahead and be mentally prepared to experience everything taking longer to get done.  Things do not be done the way it is in the U.S.  Laugh, be patient, and do not cop an ugly American attitude.  Learn to slow down and go with the flow. Otherwise you will make enemies of the locals, leave a bad impression of Americans (after all we are visitors to their country), and be extremely frustrated.  As the song goes, "slow down, you moving to fast.  You gatta make the moment last"  Chill or as they say, tranquill.

It is less expensive.  I would suggest visiting some to the restaurants that the gringos frequent.  San Sebas (owned by a gringa) near Parque San Sebatian is popular with gringos and has a good breakfast.  As the locals about possible places to live.  They can save you some money as the locals will over-charge you because they think all gringos are rich.  Don't hesitate to negotiate in a friendly manor.  Soon you will learn the true market value of things and can do it on your own.

There are many good doctors in Cuenca.  Many are bilingual.  All of our doctors were bilingual and had some, if not all, their training in the U.S. or Europe.  The private hospitals are good.  By my wife an eye had surgeries when there.  We also had lens implants from a very good ophthalmologist in Cuenca.  Medical services were good and inexpensive.

Those are just a few things off the top of my head.

Also, due to the sharp drop in oil prices, the government now is a bit short of funds.  We visited Cuenca this past January and noticed many of the roads where they are building the lines for the electric tram are in a state of dis-repair.  They are committed to completing the projects, which will be a great plus for Cuenca in reducing the smell of diesel generated by the buses downtown.

Like any town, don't go places at night if you are not familiar with the area.  If you can link up with a local gringo who knows the area, do so.  We usually took taxi's at night so we would be dropped off directly where we are going.  The buses are cheap, but due to my asthma, I didn't ride them much.  Because of my size (6'4, 250 lbs), I was perhaps more open to travel by myself, but usually we went with other couples on trips to places with which we were not familiar.  Most of the crime is petty theft.  Just be mindful of not just leaving things in easy reach for a teenager or young man can grab and run off with.  Don't wear expensive watches or jewelry or other things that say you have money.  Perhaps have two wallets, one with your money and one that you can give to the robber.  My wife and i were never robbed, but a few of our friends experienced some petty theft, but mostly because they were stupid (blunt) and didn't take situational awareness seriously (as a  former Marine, situational awareness is part of my DNA)

I hope you have a great trip.  My wife and I long to move back.

David Akins

I applaud your message , I could not have said it any clearer. I'm sure other expats will appreciate the explicit information submitted.


I really appreciate all the great information. Your comments are much more down-to-earth and practical than most of what I have read. I will be rereading them several times to make sure I absorb everything. I really wish you were going to be there when I visit. Is there anyone you would suggest that I get in touch with who is still there maybe good friends of yours or whatever? Please send me a private message with your email address.

I forgot to mention that I lived in Rome for a couple of years about 1964 or 65. I am not related to that family but I knew of Coach Bragg. He was quite well known in Rome.

Another thing i forgot to mention but for cultural purposes think I should share:  You will find that 99% of the gringos wear blue jeans all the time.  Jeans are of course appropriate in many situations.  They are certainly comfortable and easy to take care of.  I like to wear jeans.  That being said, I found that the Ecuadorians, especially the ones over 40 years old, consider them low class as if you were going somewhere to dig a ditch.  This was told to me by an Ecuadorian friend.  He said it was looked down upon by the locals.  He said ironically, that if the jeans were black or brown, etc., it did not generate the same negative view.

While many people may not care (at least on the surface) what others think of what they wear, they will generally have to accept the fact that they will be treated differently.  No, it may not be right, but it is a fact.  So, if you want to be treated a little bit better, you may want to have some slacks somewhere in your wardrobe.

Walking around town, taking trips, just hanging out.... there is no problem.  But, I would suggest that if you go shopping or banking or to the symphony, to dress appropriately.  You don't need a tie, just some slacks and shirt (which doesn't have to be a dress shirt, but a nice shirt).

If you don't believe me, just pay attention to how the Ecuadorians dress.  After my friend told me the issue, I really took notice (I had been wearing jeans to just about everything).  My wife and I went to the symphony (a new thing for me) and noticed all the Ecuadorians were dressed very nicely but every gringo was in jeans and did look like they had just left a full day of ditch digging a sewer (well maybe that is a bit extreme, lol).  To be honest, I thought the gringos dress reflected disrespect to the Ecuadorian culture in that they did not dress appropriately for the event.  Believe me when I say that as I changed to more appropriate dress when talking with bankers, immigration officials, shop keepers, the symphony, etc., I was treated a whole lot nicer.

Just a suggestion.  Many may choose not to believe me, but.....

Also, just throw all your shorts away.  Ecuadorians, especially adult Ecuadorians, don't wear shorts.  If you do decide to wear shorts, God only knows how one will be treated. (grin)

Avoidance of blue jeans in South America:  If you wear slacks to only one place or one situation, make it when doing international air travel.

Airport inspectors and officials seem to have a lot of discretion in dealing with air passengers, and you want everything to work in your behalf.  For a man, the better-dressed you are, the more you will be treated as a caballero and not a suspect.

Take for instance the infrequently-applied rules (1) you supposedly must have proof of onward-travel or you may not be allowed into a country, (2) you must submit proof of solvency if requested, and (3) you are supposed to have six months remaining before expiration on your passport.

Based on my experience always traveling in slacks and a tie (no jacket, rolled-up shirt sleeves), I never get asked for these proofs, I am asked a few standard questions and they take me at my word.  They only rarely do a close inspection of one bag .. toss out a plum or a banana if I have one .. and then let me move on.

Don’t dress down for the airport and thereby put yourself in a position of being back-roomed for an interrogation that could put your travel plans in jeopardy.


First, I want to,thank you for generously sharing your experience and insights.

Your thoughts about the different types of people in Cuenca made me chuckle. Basically, you are saying they are just like people everywhere.😂 You cannot escape human nature. Granted, it varies in different cultures. But, basically, the types you mentioned are pretty much everywhere. I already met an very judgmental woman online who constantly makes negative comments about other expats.

Your advice about clothing is not lost on me at all, far from it. I get it. Actually, I have been thinking about that and wondering which way to go. I have a few pair of slacks and a nice gray suit which will be useful. I am very disappointed about the shorts. But, I will try to live with it. When weather is warmer here, I live in shorts and push it into fall.

I also went to Coosa my sophomore year. But, I don't usually admit it. It was not a very good school at the time. I had come from Atlanta schools and was so far ahead of 10th grade at Coosa that they made me a junior. I was harassed by some of the kids there because I had good grammer. Somehow that gave them the idea I thought I was better than they were, which wasn't true at all. Ironically, I went to school in New Jersey the next year and was made a junior again because they were more advanced than Georgia schools.

I forget your age. But, did you know Lavita (Mickey) Sullins or Joe Aycock? Those are the only names I remember.

I understand about not putting your friends on the spot. But, I will check out the websites you gave. I wouldn't mind at all if you passed my intro posting or contact info to your friends. They can get in touch if they want, or not. I am sure if they are your friends they are great.

By the way, what are your thoughts about having a car versus a motorcycle or scooter? Lots of people say all they need is the bus system, taxis or a motorcycle. But, being an Atlantan, I am addicted to having a car or truck. Also, if I want to take a road trip, I am not sure a bike is safe. What are your thoughts?

Thank you for all the sage advice. You  have covered some important things not found in the blogs. If you don't mind, I may ask a few more questions as they occur to me.

Best regards,

I have never had a problem. But, I havent been everywhere and I can easily understand how that might be an issue some places. Thanks for the advice.

I agree with wearing appropriate clothing as per events one must attend, including shorts since I live by the Ocean.

In Quito, older men sport jeans all the time, especially in my neighborhood, the financial district. I think it’s not simply about jeans but what you wear with them, and your overall appearance. I see older men wearing blue jeans with leather shoes and dress shirts and sometimes with blazers all the time, in the streets and also in restaurants. It’s just normal attire. But they look presentable, so I think it’s not the jeans but the overall appearance. 

Personally speaking, I've never had issues wearing jeans, going to the bank, I'll wear a dress shirt and maybe a blazer, and never an issue. The same with government places, no issues.

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