These Retirees Couldn’t Afford America — Now They Live Their Dream Life on $2,000 a Month in Ecuador

These Retirees Couldn’t Afford America — Now They Live Their Dream Life on $2,000 a Month in Ecuador

At 72, Jacqueline Mackenzie has lived in nearly every state in the U.S. But it’s in Vilcabamba — an Andean foothills town in southern Ecuador — where the retired teacher plans to spend the rest of her life. MarketWatch reports:

The Mackenzies live on about $2,000 a month, most of that coming from Don’s pension (he’s retired from the military), they say. “We couldn’t afford the States, but here we are rich,” Jacqueline says — adding that they now live in a home with a “million-dollar view.”

Their biggest expense when they first moved to Ecuador was rent: They paid $400 a month for a three-bedroom house on a quarter-acre of land before they moved to the eco-village last year; now they don’t pay rent, having built their home for about $38,000. They lease the land for free because they help out at the eco-village; when they die their home and most of its contents will go to the owner of the eco-village. They paid for the house through a combination of savings and loans.

Now they spend the biggest proportion of their money on food — roughly $375 a month — in part because, as Jacqueline says, they are committed to eating organic whenever they can. Other significant expenses include transportation — they don’t own a car but spend about $350 a month on taxis — and health insurance. That costs them about $100 a month, though they do have out-of-pocket health-care costs like doctor’s appointments and prescriptions, which can add up. Internet service costs them a little over $80 a month, and a mobile-phone plan costs $28 a month. They also spend money on things like gardening tools, gardeners, seeds, trees and soil.

In addition to their simple lifestyle, they save money by not having a television — “we’ve not had access to a TV for eight months, so we are entertained by nature’s sunrises and sunsets,” Jacqueline says — and by not traveling a lot and not eating out. “We like the rural lifestyle,” says Jacqueline. “Eating out is not a big deal to us. We’ve already been to bazillions of concerts and plays. Now we listen to music with a glass of wine on the patio.”

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