Our names are John and Mary Macdonald. About seven years ago, Mary and I got married and I relocated to Ohio. We were both in our mid-fifties and started to make some plans for our retirement. We knew we wanted to live in a warm climate on or near the beach, but an honest appraisal of our financial situation (half a government pension with little or no savings) had us thinking that might not be possible.
At least not in the United States. Rent alone at the, “retirement havens” in the Carolinas and Georgia would eat up almost my entire pension check and the beach areas of Southern California had been priced out of our reach long ago. We found that if we retired near the beach in the South we would probably be strapped for living expenses and could not travel.
With our combined families, we have now twenty grandchildren spread from California to Pennsylvania and scattered through a half dozen states in between. We did not want to be in a position where we could not afford to ever travel to see the kids and grandchildren. I had worked in Federal Law Enforcement and now, after mandatory retirement, my earning potential was limited and it looked for a while like I would be working in the frozen tundra of Northern Ohio indefinitely.
So, we decided to look outside of the box. Mary started doing a great deal of research into retirement options outside of the United States. Mexico was getting more and more expensive and less safe than it had been, so Mary compiled a short list of five or six Central and South American countries that looked like possibilities. The country that kept coming to the top of that list was Ecuador.
(I want to be clear from the start that I have no intention of talking people into coming to Ecuador. We came here because the beach communities are warm all year long, Ecuador is not subject to hurricanes, uses US currency, has a strong infrastructure of roads, etc., has good quality medical care available, and fit our limited budget. Europe, Mexico, or Australia might be your preference and I have no desire to dissuade anyone from following their dream.)
We took an exploratory trip to Ecuador in 2009 and visited Quito, some mountain villages (Cotacachi and Otovalo), and beach communities from Manta to Bahia de Caraquez. We were attracted to a small fishing village called San Clemente midway between Manta and Bahia and met some Americans who were purchasing property there. It seemed like the perfect fit for us, so we went home to dream.
I had to get old enough to start drawing my pension without a substantial penalty and we had a number of other items to work out before we could take the plunge and move internationally. I had a health scare (prostate cancer, surgery, and chemotherapy) that made us both realize that life might not go on forever and we decided to move as soon as I reached sixty and could draw my pension.
In December of 2011 we hopped on a plane, flew to Quito and then drove down to San Clemente. We left a large family and many good friends in the United States and I started writing regular updates to keep them all apprised of our experiences which I sent to a list of about forty people via email. More friends requested to be included in the email mailings until the list grew to seventy or eighty people. A common request was for more pictures, but it was impossible to attach more than three or four pictures with most email service providers.
So – after much prodding from friends and a lot of assistance from others who post to blogs, we have finally set up a blog to keep our friends up to date on our activities and to show as much of our life here in San Clemente, Ecuador as possible. For the next few weeks I hope to simply post some of the information that I have shared in earlier emails with more pictures and then, after we get that up to date, I will try to post regularly so that all can experience the joy of our life here.