A couple who retired abroad say expat life isn’t quite as ‘exotic’ as you might think

  • Edd and Cynthia Staton moved from Las Vegas to Cuenca, Ecuador about 10 years ago to make their retirement savings stretch after the Great Recession. 
  • They’ve found that most aspects of their lives are just like they would be in Nevada or anywhere else. Most noticeably, the amount of free time they have is greater now that they’re retired, and they describe Ecuador as having a “a slower pace of life.”
  • The two have adopted a lifestyle of walking everywhere and meeting new people, but traveling to visit family and living their day-to-day lives is largely the same as it has always been. 
  • Business Insider is looking for retirement stories to feature in our Real Retirement series. If you’re in or nearing retirement and want to share, email
  • Read more personal finance coverage. 

About 10 years ago, Edd and Cynthia Staton of Las Vegas, Nevada wanted to find a way to retire affordably.

The two had worked in the lending and real estate industries, respectively, and were feeling the sting of the Great Recession just when they wanted to be thinking about retirement. They realized they had to find a way to make their money last, but didn’t want to compromise on the quality of life they had in the States. 

They found out about a community of American expats living in Cuenca, Ecuador, and went on a trip to scope it out in 2009. They made the move shortly afterwards, and haven’t looked back.

Living in Ecuador allowed them to enjoy the cultural vibrancy of living in a city, without the affordability issues they would face in many US cities. Though Cuenca, near the Andes mountains in southern Ecuador, is a far stride from Las Vegas, they don’t feel like their day-to-day life is much different from what it would have been stateside. 

“People think of this retiring abroad or living abroad thing as such an exotic experience,” Edd tells Business Insider. “But, daily life within these walls isn’t much different than it would be if we were in still in Las Vegas or if we were in Paris.”

“Certainly, there are cultural differences,” he continues. “But, we go to bed and get up, we take a shower and brush our teeth, we make a list and go to the grocery store, we make meals, we wash dishes, and we wash and dry clothes just like everybody else does. We just do it here.”

They have four grandchildren in the US, in New Jersey and in North Carolina. But, the Statons say that even visiting them isn’t a huge change. “Had we stayed in Las Vegas, we weren’t going to come over for roast beef on Sunday. To visit them, we would have to get on a plane and travel for hours one way or the other,” says Edd. They visit the US often — something they can afford to do frequently since they save on living costs.

Even the things that are different abroad just aren’t that different

That’s not to say living in Ecuador is exactly like living in Nevada, but many of the changes they’ve enjoyed have been somewhat universal: They have more free time, and can just slow down and enjoy life.

“Oftentimes, we meet friends for a long lunch just to catch up and visit, like two or three hours.” Cynthia says. “We have the gift of time that retirement can give you.” They live like any other retirees, for the most part — they just do it in Ecuador. 

But, unlike many retirees who already have friends at home and family nearby, their move required them to start all over. “We spent a lot of our time creating our community here, figuring out how to make a life here ,and establishing some sort of routines and normalcy. And that all takes a while,” Cynthia says. 

They’ve also changed how they get around. “We adopted a walking lifestyle. So when you take away your car, everything takes longer because you’re walking to and from everything you’re doing,” says Cynthia. While it took them a bit to get used to, they’ve learned to adapt to the new lifestyle of Ecuador. 

The Statons, who run a website and blog to teach others about retirement as expats, have found that Ecuador offers them “a slower pace of life, and no financial stress.” Their lives are both very different from what they used to be — but somehow incredibly similar. 

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