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Dec. 7, 2019, 3:53 p.m. EST

These Arizona retirees ‘couldn’t afford’ America — now they live their dream life on $2,000 a month in Ecuador

They haven’t been back to the U.S. in years, and say they don’t miss it much — except for Home Depot and some friends

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By Catey Hill, MarketWatch

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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.”


Jacqueline Mackenzie
The Mackenzies outside their home.

What’s health care like in Ecuador?

The Mackenzies say thus far they’ve been impressed with Ecuador’s health-care system. They both have insurance through Ecuador’s government (which costs about $100 a month total), and their out-of-pocket costs haven’t been too bad. When she had her hip replaced a few years back in Guayaquil, the second largest city in Ecuador, Jacqueline says the out-of-pocket costs were about $1,800. But because they live in a small town, they do have to travel about an hour for some surgeries (when Don had an operation a few years back, he did so in the nearby city of Loja).

You can read more about the costs of health insurance in Ecuador here and read expats talking about the quality and cost of care here.

How hard is it to get residency?

“It’s a nightmare,” Jacqueline says. “It is complicated.” This resource can help you figure out what you might need if you want to stay for an extended period or become a permanent resident.

What do you miss about the United States?

“Not the politics,” jokes Jacqueline — who says it’s her friends she misses most. “I do my best to stay in touch but I do miss them.” For Don, it’s Home Depot /zigman2/quotes/208081807/composite HD -3.07% — “getting parts for building is difficult here, it can take two to three months.”

Bottom line:

Despite the great weather and their simple lifestyle — both of which they embrace — Jacqueline and Don say it’s the people they love most. Don gets together every Sunday with a group of about a dozen expats for brunch “to resolve the world’s problems,” he jokes. And Jacqueline is a member of a “sister circle” of roughly a dozen women where “we try to be as emotionally supportive as possible.” Plus, young people from all over the world come to visit the eco-village, so sometimes “there might be five different languages spoken over one meal,” Jacqueline says.

“Our friends [in the U.S.] think we are crazy, but they also envy us,” Jacqueline says. “An alternative lifestyle can be going overseas, but you can also go overseas and be alternative. We do both.”

/zigman2/quotes/208081807/composite
US : U.S.: NYSE
$ 217.84
-6.89 -3.07%
Volume: 11.81M
Feb. 28, 2020 6:30p
P/E Ratio
21.25
Dividend Yield
2.75%
Market Cap
$237.63 billion
Rev. per Employee
$261,993
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Catey Hill is MarketWatch's senior content strategist. She writes about how to upgrade your life, and helps readers find great deals on products and services. Follow her on Twitter @CateyHill.

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