Meet me in Ecuador?

Later this month I’ll be returning to Ecuador for several weeks.  I decided to do this to amuse myself and, well, because being retired I can.

Once I decided to go my attention turned to what might be interesting to explore while I’m there.  Mostly I’ll be following my own advice  avoiding the sights, lingering in cafes and parks and chatting up the locals in my broken Spanish.  But I do have two plans.

The first relates to the title of this post.  About six weeks ago I came across this website:

Above the Clouds Retreats

There I met Cheryl, a woman who has followed the road less traveled, and who is now exploring ways to help others do the same.  Boy howdy, did she chose a cool place for it:  El Encanto.  (Beautiful sound track on this clip, BTW.  I recommend you click on it now and have it play in the background while you read.  I am listening to it as I write.)

About ten years ago she left the United States and bought a farm a couple of hours outside of Quito, close by the equator.  She now splits her time between Ecuador and Texas.  This is a person I wanted to meet.

Graciously, she responded to my email and our correspondence began.  Then I, well, sort of invited myself to visit and she, even more graciously, agreed.

Among other things we discussed the idea of adding a financial component to the Retreat.  After all if you’re going to pursue your dream, F-you Money helps.  Over coffee, which by the way she grows on the farm, we’ll discuss how this might work.

If you are a reader of the comments here on the blog, you’ll have noticed people regularly ask for help with their specific financial situations.  Although it is very labor intensive, this is one of the things I enjoy most.  But doing it in a comment or two seems limiting.  My thought is that for the Retreat I’d offer a group talk and Q&A session.  Then, at various times during the week, I’d make myself available to those participants who’d like to sit down for an hour or two and have a private conversation.  If this is something you’d be interested in, please let me know.

When I return, I’ll post a report.  Should Cheryl and I agree going forward makes sense you’ll all certainly hear about the dates and details here.  I’m excited and it would be great to meet you.  Especially in a cool place like Ecuador.

Here’s Cheryl.

She’s got one foot in the Northern Hemisphere and one in the Southern.  In this photo, literally.

After a few days with Cheryl, I’ll head down to Cuenca, currently my favorite city in the country.  It is also the place we’d most likely live were we to move there.  So I plan to spend a day or two looking at some property.  Mostly condos and single family houses.  However, Maribel, the realtor with whom I’ll be working made the mistake of asking, “Do you want to look at farms?”  Sure!  Why not?

From Cuenca I’ll head to the Pacific coast.  It’ll be my first visit.  Word is ocean front Ecuadorean property is a bargain unmatched.  So I’ll poke around the sand and villages there a bit, too.

As regular readers know, I believe in running the rent v own numbers before buying.  While money is not the only factor that enters into the home ownership decision, it is important to know what the relative costs will be.  Most times, here in the USA, renting wins the money evaluation.  But with the steep decline in housing prices, that has shifted in some markets.

From what I saw in Ecuador last year, the balance there may favor buying as well.  We’ll see.  I’ll pick a couple of examples and we’ll run the numbers on them in a future post.  See.  I’m not going there just for fun.  It’s the sacrifice I make for my readers!


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  1. Posted October 14, 2012 at 6:40 am | Permalink

    Sounds like fun…enjoy the highlands and slow pace of life. Long coffee mornings sounds ideal…

    • Posted October 15, 2012 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, it does. Maybe even a bottle of wine or two to while away the evenings too….

  2. Prob8
    Posted October 14, 2012 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

    That would be an interesting evolution for your blog. I look forward to hearing about the trip once you return. Good luck!

    • Posted October 15, 2012 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

      Thanks Prob8….

      …I’ve actually been giving a fair amount of thought as to what, if anything, is next for the blog….

      • Prob8
        Posted October 17, 2012 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

        Hmmm, your reply is interesting/cryptic. I suppose like many things in life, blogs have a lifespan. It’s a purely selfish comment on my part, but I hope your blog has a long way to go. In the unlikely event you are running out of ideas . . . I’d love to hear your thoughts on safe withdrawal rates – especially when following the simple path you suggest with REIT’s and bonds in the mix; frugality/expense management (always nice to hear how seasoned vets in this game handle expenses); expense management while traveling; and how you will handle long-term care costs for you and your spouse.

        • Posted October 17, 2012 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

          Glad it was interesting, didn’t mean it to be cryptic! :)

          What I meant by “if anything’ was maybe I’d simply continue as is. Or whether to make an effort to expand the audience and try to monitize it in some fashion. I like the writing, or more precisely, I like having written. But the mechanical/technical process of blogging holds not interest.

          Funny you suggest a post on withdrawal rates. I actually added that to the list a couple of days ago.

          Frugality/expense management seems a topic handled better by guys like Mr. MM. For me it’s always be the soul of simplicity. I first would save/invest 50% of my income. The remaining 50% I spent. Since I did this from childhood, I never had to back my spending down to get my savings rate up. So there’s a skill set I don’t have. Maybe it’s worth a post, but not much more.

          I am thinking of doing a post outlining the costs behind this Ecuador trip and it’s good to know there is at least some interest.

          Long term care, hopefully in the distant future if ever, would come first from withdrawal rates and then if needed, principle.

  3. Posted October 14, 2012 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

    If only… Ecuador is one place I’ve heard a lot about. We did a refinery project there a few years ago, and I angled and politicked and finagled for a chance to do some site work (a boondoggle, if you will), but alas! to no avail.
    As an abroad-property owner, I’d say definitely rent before buying. The maintenance and upkeep is always a booger. Then again, if it’s a farm we’re talking about, you know where my heart is at…

    • Posted October 15, 2012 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

      Seems oil is the big revenue producer for the Ecuadorian gov’t, so I’m not surprised you had a shot at an assignment there. One problem is that most of the black gold is under indigenous rain forest land and they are not too keen on outsiders tearing up the place…

      I’ll have more to say on the rent v. buy issue as it relates to Ecuador. My guess is the numbers will work, but then as you point out, there are other considerations….

      If I go crazy and buy a farm, maybe you’ll come down and run it for me?

  4. Posted October 15, 2012 at 2:22 am | Permalink

    Whatever you do, make sure your new abode has the high speed Internet. There are some of us who would miss these blog posts. Bon Voyage!

    • Posted October 15, 2012 at 7:45 pm | Permalink


      It’s still a few years, if ever, before we pull up stakes and move. I’ll run out of stuff to write about long before that…..

  5. Posted October 15, 2012 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

    So great! What inspiring people, you and Cheryl. I hope you have a great time, find a promising property, and that Retreat goes well!

    • Posted October 15, 2012 at 10:42 pm | Permalink

      Thanks, FF.

      Both the Retreat (at least my participation) and buying property are just ideas at this point. But that’s what makes life exciting!

  6. BC
    Posted October 23, 2012 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

    Wait, you like to puzzle through the numbers? Sign me up! for the retreat too. Will be extremely interested in hearing how it goes. Plan to check out the books noted on Cheryl’s web site in the meantime.

    • Posted November 21, 2012 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

      Stay tuned, BC….

      …I’m just back as of yesterday and can share with you the Retreat will almost certainly come together for early September next year. And, in addition to Cheryl and me, there will be two other very impressive presenters to meet and hang out with.

      More detail in future posts to come.

      I’d love to see you there.

  7. Posted November 14, 2012 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    Hello Voyager –

    About 12 years ago I worked and lived in Panama. My Panamanian co-workers were also involved on a project in Cuenca, Ecuador – and they would visit for weeks at a time preparing GIS maps for some civil engineering project. I don’t recall specifics, but they always spoke well of the place and enjoyed visiting there. Look forward to seeing some photos! Enjoy your time…and the local coffee.

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