We're asked over and over again why we choose to live on a sailboat and cruise around the world. It seems so obvious to us. Travel, adventure, seasickness … why wouldn't you? Sometimes we answer, tongue in cheek, that we're trying to sample all the wines, beers, lobsters or epicurean delights of the world. Sometimes we answer that we're trying to figure out where we ultimately want to settle down and, said with a smile, folks are never sure if we're serious. We are. We're always looking for that Utopian kind of place where we'd like to live when we're too old for sailing around on Nine of Cups. Where's the best place in the world to retire?
According to International Living (IL) magazine, Central and South America hold six of the top ten spots for most desirable places to retire in 2013. The major criteria seem to be quality of life, climate, healthcare, cost of living, real estate prices and retirement infrastructure. Certainly, all of these things are important to us, but they're not the only criteria. The top spot has been held by Ecuador for several years running.
Over the years, we've lived in Ecuador on and off a total of nearly two years … on the boat, on land and in different locations. We liked it there … very much. We traveled extensively. It's a small country with diverse climate and topography … seashore, mountains, tropical rain forests. We know several ex-pat Americans who have built homes and settled there, but we wouldn't want to live in Ecuador. We actually considered it briefly. For sure, the cost of living is low. It's easy to get residency. Some areas are extremely beautiful. We speak passable Spanish and could learn more.
Political stability does not seem to be a criteria for IL, but a country that's had over 20 constitutions since it's independence in 1830, is bound to have political issues. Laws in Ecuador change frequently, sometimes without notice. Some call this a “fluid” environment; we call it unsettled and risky. The medical care ranges from very good in the larger cities, to poor and nearly non-existent in the smaller ones. It's a poor country where the rich are very rich and the poor are very, very poor. There is no middle class. It's not our kind of place. We don't want to be the “rich gringos” in an exclusive, securely fenced, high security neighborhood.
We've spent time in Chile. Chile is not on the top 10 list. It's #19. We liked Chile, especially the Puerto Montt area, the gateway to Patagonia. David had emergency major surgery in Chile. We refer to it as “first world/third world medical care”. We received excellent medical care and paid 1/10 of what the same surgery and associated services would have cost in the US. We charged it to our Visa card … frequent flyer miles for surgery … what a deal! Still … it didn't seem like home to us. We know folks who've settled there and call it home though. It's just not right for us.
More thoughts on possible places to retire tomorrow … tune in.