If Ecuador is the 'Hot' Retirement Location, Why Do 50% of New Expats There Wind Up Leaving?

It's far more about the "software" (peoples' mental programming) than the "hardware" (the country itself).

Online PR News – 30-August-2015 – Cuenca, Ecuador – There is an estimated 30,000 American expats currently living in Ecuador, and more relocating here every week. Yet the evidence suggests that only about 50% of the newbies will last living here beyond three years. Why is that? What goes wrong? Is the Ecuador hype misleading? The answer is, the majority of it is all about the “software," not the “hardware.”

In that analogy, the “software” is all the programming (read baggage) that people carry around in their heads. As a wise person once quipped, “Wherever you go, there you are!”

The “hardware” in the analogy is the environment in which one lives—in this case, Ecuador. Ecuador has pleasant attributes—in Ecuador’s case, many of them— and a few off-putting attributes. It is what it is and largely lives up to its positive billing.
But based on what I’ve observed, the person’s programming has many times more impact on how they view their life experience than the environment itself.

In “Relocating to Ecuador - Eyes Wide OPEN: Quick Reading Bulleted Do’s and Don’ts That the Author Wishes Had Been Available to Clarify Things Before His Own Move to Ecuador (Updated 8.24.15), I lay out the leading reasons why expats return to the States.

-Having unrealistic lifestyle expectations: They expect to surround themselves with a mini-America environment — including not learning the local language — and not fully embracing the local culture. They discover that it is not only hard-to-do, but it is a very isolating and more expensive lifestyle.

-Thinking the cost of living will be lower than it actually is: Some publications claim that Americans can live the lifestyle they’re accustomed to in the US for just $600 a month in Ecuador. Recent surveys say that number is closer to $1200 — $1500 a month.

-Missing relatives and friends: Some expats find that they miss relatives and friends even more than they thought they would. Not being in their usual “comfort zone” compounds that feeling. Returning to the states a couple times a year — or having friends visit you in Ecuador - is more expensive than anticipated when all costs are considered.

-Encountering health issues: Since the majority of American expats are seniors, it stands to reason that health issues play a significant role. When expats learn they have a serious health issue, they often return to the States a) for pre-existing insurance coverage, b) for access to quality specialists that they perceive (perhaps wrongly) are not available in Ecuador, and c) to have family around them to manage life’s necessities.

-Mates embracing Ecuador to different degrees: Often one person in a relationship loves Ecuador, the other one not so much. The resulting stress in the relationship causes either one or both to return to the States.

So, in assessing whether you may or may not thrive living in Ecuador or any foreign country, take an even closer look at your own programming than you do at the prospective country’s “hardware.” Therein lies the best clues.