Ecuador: 'magic' and 'madness'

expat retirees Schenck
Susan Schenck has traveled extensively since moving to Ecuador four years ago.
  • Name: Susan Schenck
  • Age: 58
  • City: Cuenca, Ecuador

For retired teacher Susan Schenck, life in Ecuador has been a mix of "magic" and "madness."

She moved to Ecuador four years ago and has been living off of a pension of less than $20,000 a year. She says she lives as well in Ecuador as she did earning more than three times that amount back in San Diego.

"I always knew I would never be able to afford retiring in the U.S. because it's just so expensive," said Schenck, who wrote about her experience in her book "Expats in Cuenca, Ecuador: The Magic & The Madness."

Related: 4 questions to ask before retiring overseas

Thanks to Ecuador's much lower living costs, she has room in her budget for organic groceries and activities like salsa dancing and yoga. She also dines out and travels often.

But living in a developing country has its drawbacks. Criminals often target "gringos," with schemes ranging from pickpocketing to kidnapping, she said. Still, Schenck said she doesn't worry too much.

"They might kidnap you to steal your ATM card, but they're not going to physically harm you or kill you," she said.

First published October 14, 2014: 6:19 PM ET

Partner Offers

Find Homes For Sale

Most Popular