Capital Investment Advisors

#21 – Recession Blues to Ecuadorian Views: Edd and Cynthia’s Retirement Adventure

Edd and Cynthia Staton were on track for a happy retirement, but life had other plans. The Great Recession killed their careers, home value, and savings. Instead of throwing in the towel, they devised an outside-the-box solution: moving to Cuenca, Ecuador.

Initially, they were banking on the lower cost of living to make ends meet. Today, their story is a testament to the power of resilience and adaptability. They’ve transitioned from surviving to thriving! Residing in a 3,000-square-foot penthouse apartment, they can still afford a housekeeper, dine out frequently, and cover health care costs. They even walk to their favorite yoga studio.

Ex-pat life has become more common for retirees in the U.S. According to the Social Security Administration, the number of retirees drawing Social Security outside the U.S. saw a staggering increase between 2007 and 2017.

Those looking to do so in the future might want to ask Edd and Cynthia for tips. They’ve authored three Amazon #1 best-selling books, are regularly featured in major media, and run their own online program: Retirement Reimagined!

The affordability of living in another country has given Edd and Cynthia the freedom to explore the retirement happiness they’d always dreamed of having. If you’ve ever considered the idea, today’s episode is a must-stop on your itinerary.

Read The Full Transcript From This Episode

(click below to expand and read the full interview)

  • Edd Staton [00:00:00]:
    We are kind of examples of people that didn’t give up on our dreams. We had dreams. They were shattered, as the story we told you in 2008. And we were like, you know what? Instead of just saying, well, I guess you’re gonna have a bad retirement or a miserable retirement. Miserable retirement. How can we make this work with what we have?

    Ryan Doolittle [00:00:25]:
    Do you ever wonder who you’ll be and what you’ll do after your career is over? Wouldn’t it be nice to hear stories from people who fake figured it out, who are thriving in retirement? I’m Ryan Doolittle. After working with the retire sooner team for years and researching and writing about how they structure their lifestyles, I know there’s more to be learned, so I’m going straight to the source and taking you with me. My mission with the Happiest Retirees podcast is to inspire 1 million families to find happiness in retirement. I want to learn how to live an exceptional life from people who do it every day. Let’s get started. Ed and Cynthia Staten, thank you so much for joining us on the Happiest Retirees podcast.

    Edd Staton [00:01:08]:
    We are happy to be here, and we’re actually honored.

    Cynthia Staton [00:01:12]:
    So thank you for inviting us.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:01:14]:
    The honor’s all on this side of the screen now. So I first became aware of you because you were on Wes’s retire sooner podcast, and you were such good guests that I stole you over to my show.

    Cynthia Staton [00:01:26]:
    Well, thanks. We have a lot of fun on that podcast, so hope we have fun on yours.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:01:33]:
    Sure, I hope so. I’m having fun. So let’s get into it. So you have such an interesting story. We don’t have to stick to a script or anything. You live in Ecuador. I don’t know anyone else who does. And I had never heard of the city you lived in, but the more you talk about it, the more familiar I become with it.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:01:51]:
    So why don’t you just tell our audience why you moved to Ecuador and we’ll start there.

    Cynthia Staton [00:01:57]:

    Edd Staton [00:01:58]:
    All right. That’s.

    Cynthia Staton [00:01:59]:
    Why don’t you go ahead.

    Edd Staton [00:02:00]:
    All right. So we were in Las Vegas. We lived most of our lives in Atlanta, where you are right now. But we had moved to Vegas for a job change and changes scenery. Quite honestly, after living in the south our whole lives and peak of our career, solid retirement plan, beautiful home, living the american dream, basically. And then 2008 happened, the great recession, and suddenly everything that I just told you wasn’t true anymore. We not only lost, we not only lost our jobs, we lost our whole industries that we worked in our house, lost two thirds was value. Our investments and savings were in freefall.

    Edd Staton [00:02:44]:
    It was a very grim time, to tell you the truth.

    Cynthia Staton [00:02:47]:
    We had to. We had to come up with something else because life wasn’t working out the way we imagined it to be working out at that point. So.

    Edd Staton [00:02:56]:
    Yeah. And we figured even if things turned around, they kept saying, oh, things are going to get better. Things are going to get better. Well, they didn’t. But we realized even if they did, like, immediately, we had lost so much so fast at our age, which I was a year away from collecting early Social Security, and set is a few years younger than me, we just didn’t have time to get our house back in order. Just unless we wanted to work till we were dead, basically, which is not our plan.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:03:27]:
    No, that’s not a fun plan to think about. Yeah.

    Edd Staton [00:03:31]:
    So, anyway, we realized we have to come up with a plan b, because there is no plan a anymore. And I told Cynthia, you know what? I think we need to move to a lower cost of living. And she’s like, well, okay, that makes sense. I said, but I’m talking about not moving to Fargo, North Dakota, or something. I’m talking about moving out of the country.

    Cynthia Staton [00:03:54]:
    And that’s when I said, what? What are you talking about? You know, I just had never envisioned that we always wanted to travel in retirement. But as far as uprooting our whole life and transplanting ourselves to another country, I just. I just wasn’t ready for that.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:04:14]:
    I guess it had never really entered your mind. Probably right. Well.

    Edd Staton [00:04:17]:
    Well, the irony of this, Ryan, is that our retirement dream was to kind of own fractional properties at different locations around the world and chase perfect weather. Well, as we moved to one place at Quake, Ecuador, that has perfect weather. So that. That was one of. To kind of circle back around when Cynthia finally kind of got on board, because she realized, as I did, we. It wasn’t like this was the best option. We felt like it was the only option.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:04:52]:

    Edd Staton [00:04:53]:
    But she said, if we’re going to move to a place, we’re going to do this.

    Cynthia Staton [00:04:57]:
    Yeah. It has to be more than just about the money, because we were talking about creating a new life somewhere. Somewhere that we could afford to pay for in retirement. So that’s when we sat down and we made our wish list about what would be the things that are important to us. So climate was one of them, for sure. In addition to the people’s living, healthcare was another one. We wanted a walkable city, sort of a mid sized city, and then cultural activities, restaurants, things like that.

    Edd Staton [00:05:31]:
    And a proximity to the children as well. Yeah.

    Cynthia Staton [00:05:33]:
    Because we, you know, we knew we’d be going back and forth to the states. We didn’t have any grandchildren at the time, but we suspected that they would come along eventually. And they did.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:05:43]:
    And they did. Yeah.

    Cynthia Staton [00:05:46]:
    Yeah. We wanted to be able to be part of their lives, and so we needed to factor in those travel expenses periodically, you know, in our budget, and could we. Could we still do that? So, anyway, that was the wish list.

    Edd Staton [00:06:01]:
    And that’s how we. So we did it failed quake, Ecuador. I did online just totally by a serendipitous sort of situation. And Internet research in 2008, 2009 was not the way it is in 24. It was pretty sketchy about a place like this, especially, but everything that we saw sounded like it was just too good. Everything on our wish list.

    Cynthia Staton [00:06:26]:

    Edd Staton [00:06:27]:
    So we decided, well, let’s go take a look.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:06:30]:
    We were just, like, visit to see.

    Edd Staton [00:06:32]:
    Yeah. Well, a scouting trip to kind of see if there was anything that we weren’t researching about that was just terrible.

    Cynthia Staton [00:06:41]:
    Well, yeah, yeah.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:06:42]:
    I mean, right?

    Cynthia Staton [00:06:43]:
    Yeah. Literally, I wanted to go not only to see where our new home was going to be, but to look for reasons why we shouldn’t do this, because.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:06:55]:
    This is too good to be true type of thing.

    Cynthia Staton [00:06:57]:
    That’s exactly right.

    Edd Staton [00:06:59]:
    With our financial situation, we did not have the luxury of saying, oh, let’s go check out San Miguel de Linde in Mexico, and then maybe we can go look at Lisbon. And we. Time was not on our side, so we needed to just go for it. So we spent only ten days here, which is not what we recommend. We think two weeks minimum. And as long as you can be in a place to actually experience life there and get out of vacation mode. But, yeah, it was better than we expected, to tell you the truth. So we got on the plane after ten days, and Cynthia said, well, I.

    Cynthia Staton [00:07:37]:
    Guess we’re moving to Cuenca, Ecuador.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:07:41]:
    Wow. It’s a very cinematic moment there.

    Cynthia Staton [00:07:47]:
    It took us about a year. People are curious about that. Well, how long does it take to get ready to do something like this? Well, everybody’s different, and everybody’s life is different. So it took us about a year to really unravel our complicated life and figure out sort of all the things we needed to do to get ready to move. But you can do it in a shorter amount of time. Like I said, it just depends on how complicated your life is.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:08:15]:
    Yeah. When you went down there, you mentioned you knew grandkids were coming and it had to be accessible. So where do they live? And why was Cuenca the right move for that?

    Edd Staton [00:08:26]:
    Well, here’s an inside tip for your listeners. If you’re thinking about doing something like this, just dialing it back to when we were in Las Vegas. Both of our kids lived on the east coast, so we were constantly, even back then, in a situation. Oh, it’s too early to call. Oh, it’s too late to call.

    Cynthia Staton [00:08:46]:
    Time zone matters.

    Edd Staton [00:08:48]:
    It really does.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:08:49]:

    Edd Staton [00:08:50]:
    We ideally wanted to put ourselves in a north south situation, and we are in the eastern time zone right now. We’re in central because Ecuador, being on the equator, doesn’t have any need to fool with daylight savings time. It’s groundhog day here. Every day. As far as when the sun rises, it says, yeah, so we wanted to be north south. That ruled out, obviously, places like the far east because it’s that first word, far.

    Cynthia Staton [00:09:21]:
    Well, even places in Europe. I mean, you have to make sure that you schedule phone calls and, you know, it’s not. It’s not that easy.

    Edd Staton [00:09:32]:
    So traveling, there’s jet lag. So with us, we go north south, take a nap from the trip, and we’re good to go.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:09:40]:
    Okay, so that was. Wait there on the east coast, you said?

    Edd Staton [00:09:45]:
    Yeah. New Jersey and North Carolina.

    Cynthia Staton [00:09:47]:

    Ryan Doolittle [00:09:47]:
    So. So it is pretty easy to go up from Cuenca.

    Edd Staton [00:09:52]:
    Okay, well, we have to go to Quito. There’s no international airport here, so we could fly from Guayaquil or Quito, the two cities that are bigger than ours.

    Cynthia Staton [00:10:02]:
    And have international airports and so. But, yeah, it’s about a 40 minutes flight from Cuenca to either one of those cities to get an international flight.

    Edd Staton [00:10:11]:
    Oh, okay.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:10:12]:
    So you just connect and then go.

    Edd Staton [00:10:14]:
    Yeah, that’s not bad. We normally go into Newark or one of the New York airports to have access to New Jersey. And one of my standing jokes is that queens is the third largest city in Ecuador. There’s a lot of Ecuadorians there. And so that.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:10:33]:

    Edd Staton [00:10:34]:

    Ryan Doolittle [00:10:35]:
    And then I didn’t know that.

    Cynthia Staton [00:10:37]:
    Yeah. So the demand really keeps the prices affordable.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:10:41]:
    Oh, wow. Yet another reason this was the perfect place to move.

    Edd Staton [00:10:46]:
    Well, I’ll give you. We’re planning our next trip right now. And I looked yesterday looking for a miles flight. The same miles to go from keto to. You’re going to Raleigh?

    Cynthia Staton [00:10:58]:
    Yeah, yeah, yeah.

    Edd Staton [00:11:00]:
    For her to go from Quito to Raleigh to North Carolina was going to be the same number of miles to go from Raleigh to New York.

    Cynthia Staton [00:11:08]:

    Ryan Doolittle [00:11:09]:

    Edd Staton [00:11:09]:

    Ryan Doolittle [00:11:10]:
    Oh, my gosh. That’s crazy. Okay.

    Cynthia Staton [00:11:13]:
    It is.

    Edd Staton [00:11:14]:
    It was like 17,000 miles for either one of those. Okay. So it was quite remarkable.

    Cynthia Staton [00:11:21]:
    So that adds to our lower cost of living because, you know, flying in and out of somewhere, if you, if you like to travel or want to travel because of, you know, family or whatever, in retirement, if you’re on a fixed income, of course you’d have to budget that.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:11:36]:
    Yes, absolutely. And you had mentioned moving to Ecuador. You had to make sure that it wasn’t just affordable because you don’t want to just afford to be miserable. So what made cuanca, right?

    Cynthia Staton [00:11:49]:
    I like waiting to say that.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:11:54]:
    So what made Cuenca like, what about the city? Made it more than that, you know, it made it a great place to be.

    Edd Staton [00:12:02]:
    Well, all the things Cynthia said, the weather here is springtime all the time, and we’re very much goldilocks. People of that regard don’t like it too hot or too cold.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:12:12]:

    Edd Staton [00:12:13]:
    And it really is, it’s just, it’s in the seventies every day and in the fifties every night all year. So if you, if you’re a season, oh, I love the seasons. This is not a good place for you. That’s why Cynthia was saying it’s different for everybody and one person’s wish list as someone else’s deal breaker list. If you want to be a balmy beach climate, this is not us. We’re at 8400ft in the Andes mountains.

    Cynthia Staton [00:12:38]:
    And that’s, I’ll just, I’ll just point that out. Even though we’re close to the equator and people have in general think, oh, it’s really hot and muggy, tropical kind of climate.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:12:48]:
    Yeah, that’s what one would assume, yeah.

    Cynthia Staton [00:12:50]:
    Yeah. Well, because we’re in the Andes, the southern Andes, and in the mountains, so it’s 8400ft and you think, wow, it must be really cold there, but it’s not because of the equator. And so that’s why we have this. What we think is ideal weather is because of the elevation and it’s green, it’s beautiful, and flowers bloom all the time. I think the plants and the trees get confused because we don’t really have season, so. Yeah, but stuff is always blooming here.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:13:23]:
    The plants are like, it’s kind of always good here. I guess they’ll just keep growing.

    Cynthia Staton [00:13:27]:
    Right. And, yeah, I mean, that’s the same for all the food that’s grown. It’s a 365 growing season, so we have an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables all the time. It’s just an interesting climate that we live in.

    Edd Staton [00:13:43]:
    Yep. So there’s that factor, like Cynthia said, we have a pedestrian lifestyle. We sold our car before we came here and haven’t owned a car for 14 years. And this department that we’ve moved into. Yeah. The apartment we’ve been to last fall after we came off the road from traveling two and a half years full time. Everything in our life now is within about a ten minute walk.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:14:08]:
    Okay. I wanted to get into that because I had heard you talk about that before, and, you know, I’m the kind of typical American who doesn’t know enough about other countries. Right. And so when you’re talking at first about being in Ecuador, I’m thinking, oh, my gosh, I hope they’re safe. Are they, like, near a jungle? You know, obviously I need to know more. And you mentioned I walk out my door and in ten minutes I’m at my yoga studio. So it’s that then I’m thinking, this sounds like Brooklyn or something, where, you know, is it like you can just walk around and there’s coffee shops everywhere? Is that what the city’s like?

    Edd Staton [00:14:43]:
    Well, it depends on where you are. We’re in the modern suburbs, which is. I say suburbs. It’s a five minute drive from the historic downtown. Cuenca is a UNESCO world heritage city, but that’s the center. We’re in a part to the west of downtown, affectionately called gringo Landia, which is.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:15:09]:
    Right, it’s called Gringo Landy. But I think you had said that, ironically, it’s mostly native Ecuadorians who live there. Right?

    Edd Staton [00:15:17]:
    Yeah, but there is a concentration of expats here, and it just. It’s an affectionate name, the gringo thing. It’s not gringo go home. They call us that. But it’s. It’s not in a derogatory way at all, so. Yeah, but quite honestly, we’re in a modern building with two elevators and a 24 hours guard. Our gym is right up the street, less than five minutes from here.

    Edd Staton [00:15:42]:
    The yoga studio is about five minutes over there to the.

    Cynthia Staton [00:15:46]:
    And we have coffee shops and restaurants and friends that live around. We can get to all this in 15 minutes or less. And it’s just. It’s fantastic. I mean, it’s really. It’s a small city, and that’s the appeal. It’s not the size of New York or Chicago or anything like that, but everything is so manageable. And taxi rides, I mean, you can get anywhere for less than $3 in the whole city.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:16:12]:
    Oh, my gosh. Okay.

    Cynthia Staton [00:16:14]:
    And so if we don’t feel like walking or, you know, if it’s an appointment across town or whatever, we will just. We have an app on our phone. We call a taxi, and it shows up at our front door, and we hop in, and there we go. It’s really easy.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:16:29]:
    Incredible. Is there a city in the United States that you would compare it to, or it’s just beyond comparison?

    Cynthia Staton [00:16:37]:
    Well, I think our first experience with this sort of walking lifestyle that we’ve come to love is Charleston, South Carolina.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:16:46]:
    Oh, okay.

    Cynthia Staton [00:16:46]:
    When we had the opportunity to live there, when we first became empty nesters, Ed’s job took us from Atlanta to Charleston, and we lived on the peninsula. We rented a house in the historic district. We didn’t know how long we were going to live there. And again, we could walk out our door and do so many things just within 15 minutes, and I think we got hooked, really? And so, yeah, so when we were in a situation where we thought, all right, well, we’re going to recreate our life somewhere. What are the things that are important to us? And that popped up. It’s just like, we want to be able to walk everywhere like we did when we lived in Charleston.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:17:31]:
    Well, so tell me, why are you two happy retirees? And why should people, or what can people get from you about, you know, how can they sort of emulate what you’ve done?

    Cynthia Staton [00:17:43]:
    Oh, big question.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:17:44]:
    Yeah, I know. I know. We’re having fun, but we gotta get to business, too, you know?

    Cynthia Staton [00:17:48]:
    Well, I know. Well, I think that we have found in retirement the financial freedom and the freedom of time that I think a lot of people, you know, are looking for when they think about retirement. So, Ed, you can expand on that a little bit.

    Edd Staton [00:18:07]:

    Ryan Doolittle [00:18:07]:
    I mean, yeah, come on, Ed.

    Edd Staton [00:18:09]:
    Well, that’s. Cynthia Hannah said it. We are kind of examples of people that didn’t give up on our dreams. We had dreams. They were shattered, as the story we told you in 2008. And we were like, you know what? Instead of just saying, well, I guess you’re gonna have a bad retirement or a miserable retirement. Miserable retirement, yes. How can we make this work with what we have? And I think a lot of people miss that.

    Edd Staton [00:18:39]:
    They just have this really straightforward approach to how things are gonna work. And if they don’t work out exactly like that, it’s just easy to say, well, I guess that’s just. It didn’t work. And our message is retirement abroad or whatever. Don’t give up on your dreams. The game is never over unless you quit.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:19:02]:

    Edd Staton [00:19:03]:
    So don’t quit. Just figure it. Figure something else out. We were talking to someone earlier today, and I said, to them, you know, it’s like if you don’t have everything, if everything didn’t work out, what are you willing to give up to get what’s still most important? You’ve got to be able to make sacrifices if moving out of the country seems like a sacrifice to you. But the reality is, what’s it going to look like if you don’t consider something like this, if you don’t have a good situation financially?

    Cynthia Staton [00:19:39]:
    Yeah, and I mean, that’s the thing. I mean, we know, I mean, math does a line. You look at the numbers and, and most people don’t have enough money, they think, to have a comfortable retirement. Well, I think a lot of people visualize their retirement as just being exactly like their life now, except they’re just not working, so.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:20:01]:
    Exactly right. Yeah.

    Cynthia Staton [00:20:03]:
    Yeah. And it’s like, well, Yannis, of course you don’t have enough money to fund why kind of retirement if you’re not working? So. So that’s why it takes being a little bit creative and try to imagine not just a retirement that you can afford, but a retirement that you can be happy with. And, I mean, you know, I remember when we came here, we still had a lot of energy, so we just volunteered to kind of work for people and do things. And one thing led to another. We volunteered to help some friends, local friends with a tour company.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:20:43]:
    Oh, wow.

    Cynthia Staton [00:20:44]:
    Because, well, suddenly we didn’t have the money to travel, but we still wanted to travel. And guess what? We got to travel because we were working and writing for this tour company. So those are the types of things that are hard to imagine about your future self. You know, how that’s going to work out. But if you get creative, I think that people can have a better return than they possibly think they can.

    Edd Staton [00:21:14]:
    Yeah. Cause really, Ryan, we came here in 2010 trying to survive financially at least. Much to our surprise, we’ve thrived to the degree that these last 14 years have been the happiest years of our lives.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:21:29]:
    That’s amazing.

    Edd Staton [00:21:30]:
    That’s not a bad message for your listeners.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:21:33]:
    I don’t know. Yeah, that’s exactly the message that I was hoping for. Yeah. Cause you want your life to just continue to get better, and it seems like that’s what happened with you.

    Edd Staton [00:21:44]:
    Well, that is the case as far as how our retirement life is changing. Or is it changing? Honestly, it just keeps getting better and better. The name of our program is retirement reimagined on our website, and we’ve reimagined our own retirement numerous times over these 14 years. Yeah, like I alluded to, we just, after Covid, we put our stuff in storage and hit the road for two and a half years. I mean, who does that?

    Cynthia Staton [00:22:18]:
    Well, you know, yeah, we became homeless on purpose, but we figure, again, figuring it out, how we finally got to the point of feeling like we could travel more for ourselves. I mean, the first ten years, our exotic travel, I’ve said this before, was to New Jersey and North Carolina, you know, to make sure that our grandchildren knew who we were and to spend time with our family. So we did that kind of travel back and forth. And then, you know, once they got old enough and they do know who we are, then we thought, you know, we need to do more of the traveling that we’ve always wanted to do. So then you have to look at your budget. Well, how are we going to pay for that? Well, we decided that one way we were going to do it was to give up our apartment and that would free up our rent money.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:23:09]:
    That frees up a good amount of money. Yeah.

    Cynthia Staton [00:23:13]:
    To go towards our travel and using credit cards strategically for miles and points and all that sort of thing. So again, back, you know, to circle back to what Ed said, what, what are you willing to give up? So we weren’t willing to say, well, I guess we’re never going to be able to travel. That wasn’t an option for us. A better question is how can we do this? How can we make this happen? A lot of people would not have done what we did, which is to basically give up our home and put our stuff in store.

    Edd Staton [00:23:46]:
    Yeah, we were used to the giving of our own bar. We’d already done that to home here.

    Cynthia Staton [00:23:51]:
    Right. We created another hunk.

    Edd Staton [00:23:54]:
    I know I’m just teased.

    Cynthia Staton [00:23:55]:

    Ryan Doolittle [00:23:56]:
    I mean, but once, once you’ve moved to Ecuador, it seems like that would open up your confidence to try things like that, you know, hey, we tried something huge and it worked out, why not try this?

    Edd Staton [00:24:07]:
    Well, and that’s true for expats in general. They don’t often stay put once they survived the first one and then really realize this one as hard as I thought it was going to be because this is where it’s often the hardest, between your ears. So they’ll go places like the Cuenca. We know people that used to live here, that now live in Mexico, that live in Spain, that live here, that live there. So we kind of develop friends all over the world by holding still.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:24:36]:
    Yeah, there’s a really big expat community in Cuenca itself, right. Of not just Americans but there are a lot of Americans there.

    Cynthia Staton [00:24:45]:
    Yeah, Canadians, Americans, people, you know, from Europe. You know, this has become a city with many people from all over the world, and that’s been kind of a surprise to us. But it’s a great place to live, you know. The secret’s out, I guess.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:25:04]:
    Yeah, I know. I think you guys hit it before it was big, but of course, whenever you two go somewhere, it becomes the it place to be.

    Edd Staton [00:25:12]:
    Oh, is that.

    Cynthia Staton [00:25:15]:
    I don’t know about that, but worst of all, I don’t know.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:25:20]:
    So before you retired, I mean, your situation’s a little different because retirement was sort of dictated to you in a way, right? I mean, but did you have a purpose before that changed in retirement, or was it just such a big transition that you wouldn’t really find it that way?

    Edd Staton [00:25:40]:
    Honestly, I would say we were like a lot of Americans. Beyond that idea of the fractional ownership thing that may or may not have actually come to fruition. We never clue what we were going to do over time. We were just working and making money and thinking, well, I mean, we weren’t thinking about it. That was just something once in a while with a glass of wine. Would it be great if kind of thing the fractional ownership idea and chasing the perfect weather. But, I mean, a lot of people, these surveys you read about, well, a recent survey that I just saw said that Americans, 30% of Americans, said they would consider living in another country. There’s a big difference when considering and getting on the flank.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:26:28]:
    Yeah, yeah. And if considering is only at 30%, then the people would actually do it is, right.

    Cynthia Staton [00:26:37]:
    Very small. But anyway, you know, back to your. The question about purpose. It has studies that demonstrated that it’s really important for people approaching retirement to kind of figure that out, because a work life is a huge commitment in your life of time. And so I think the happiest retirees are those people that actually spend a little bit of time before it happens, thinking about what they will do in retirement, what will get them out of bed in the morning. And there’s so many choices about things you can do. And we’ve seen that develop here in our expat community in Quaker. You know, there were no groups or organizations to do anything here, and that’s all developed in the last 14 years.

    Cynthia Staton [00:27:27]:
    And it’s just. It’s been wonderful to be part of that community and watch it grow like that.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:27:34]:
    But did you help build it? Seems like you probably helped build it.

    Cynthia Staton [00:27:37]:
    Well, we did. I mean, because we all needed to. And I think that that’s just our human nature, really, is when you go someplace where you don’t, where you don’t know anybody and you trying to make a life there, you need to build your support system, your community. And so it was fun because so many of us were doing it, not having a clue how we were doing it, but we were doing.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:28:02]:

    Edd Staton [00:28:03]:
    And I’ll tell you one thing I personally did in that building thing you’re talking about, when we got here, like Cynthia said, there was. There was no expat infrastructure whatsoever. The only thing we had was one gringo night at a local bar downtown where the only thing that people had in common is that we were in Cuenca and had a drink in our hand. Basically everything else was off the plane.

    Cynthia Staton [00:28:28]:
    But you know what? No one missed it because that was an important gathering place.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:28:35]:
    You had to cling to that. Yeah.

    Edd Staton [00:28:37]:
    So what I personally did was that was on a Tuesday night, I think. And I said, you know what? One time a week is not enough. So I organized to put together a second grid go night.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:28:49]:

    Cynthia Staton [00:28:53]:
    Anyway, you know, from those beginnings, you know, we now have bridge clubs, fishing clubs, singles clubs, writing groups, we have all sorts of knitting groups. We have church services that people have started, english speaking church service. I mean, there’s everything and anything you can imagine being here. And then, you know, the gringos that we have, one that’s from Texas, and she missed her barbecue sauce, so she decided to start making barbecue sauce, and we bought.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:29:23]:
    Oh, really?

    Cynthia Staton [00:29:26]:
    So, you know, all of these people, if you ask everybody, what was your purpose when you came to quake, Ecuador? They would probably say to not starve to death and not perish.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:29:39]:

    Cynthia Staton [00:29:42]:
    That was our purpose.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:29:44]:
    Yeah. Okay, so with all these activities, what would you say are some of your favorite core pursuits? You’ve gotten into some of them. Yoga. I don’t know if you both go to the gym or you both do yoga or it’s one or the other, but. But tell me about that and some of the other ones that you love doing.

    Cynthia Staton [00:30:00]:

    Edd Staton [00:30:00]:
    Yeah. Well, the health and wellness is one of our core pursuits. And Cynthia goes to a studio. I’m not a big class guy, but I do yoga on my own. We both go to the gym to do cardio and strength training. So that’s really a big, big priority for us, for obvious reasons. But they don’t seem lobbies to a lot of people. But that’s just.

    Cynthia Staton [00:30:20]:
    Yeah, I mean, being physically fit and paying attention to our diet and, you know, we have an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables and great food. It’s not genetically modified here, and it’s just, it tastes like it used to a long time ago in the states. But anyway, that’s, that’s important for us mainly because we’re interested in longevity. And if you, if you want to live a long time, we’re, we do, and we have to do our part in order to support that pursuit. So anyway, that’s why we commit time to it. It gives us the energy, I think, to do other things in life in our age, and we’re interested in feeling good and being healthy. So it takes time, takes a commitment.

    Edd Staton [00:31:06]:
    So that’s one another is as far as values and all that sort of thing. We really are passionate about sharing the message that we’re sharing with you and your listeners right now about this alternative. Retire, a retirement alternative to just working forever or not working forever and having a lousy retirement. Basically, it’s. Those are two really bad choices.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:31:37]:

    Edd Staton [00:31:38]:
    And that’s what a lot of people are faced with. I mean, when I read on one hand that a recent study says that the average american thinks they need $1.6 million to have a comfortable retirement, and then I read another one that says the average savings is 80,000.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:31:53]:
    Yeah. There’s a big gap. Right.

    Edd Staton [00:31:59]:
    It’s a Grand canyon.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:32:01]:

    Edd Staton [00:32:03]:
    So it’s just people have got to come to internal truth about their situation, whether it’s that you don’t have enough money, you just know it, or that other thing that you’re afraid you’re going to run out of money because, I mean, we’re pushing to be triple digit people and, you know, we have to pay for that. Yeah.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:32:24]:

    Edd Staton [00:32:25]:
    That money’s no.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:32:28]:
    Right. Right. Yeah. Now, with all that working out, all that health and wellness and working out, do you think you could save money by not having a washing machine because you can just wash your clothes on your six pack ab muscles. Does that help?

    Cynthia Staton [00:32:45]:
    When we moved to this apartment, and it’s not unusual here, apartments typically don’t come with appliances. You buy your own. And so we had money set aside to make that happen, and I was thrilled to have a new washing machine.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:33:01]:
    Okay. Okay. Well, that’s good to know. Yeah.

    Edd Staton [00:33:04]:
    Well, I will tell you this right. People don’t think about this, but a big benefit, hopefully, of keeping your health and wellness at a high level is to avoid the long term health expenses that are estimated to be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars for average in lousy health. So, so that’s just, it’s kind of.

    Cynthia Staton [00:33:27]:
    Counterintuitive it’s a money saving strategy.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:33:30]:
    Right. You save money on the back end.

    Edd Staton [00:33:32]:

    Ryan Doolittle [00:33:33]:
    By not getting sick and having to go doctor and all that. Yeah, that’s important. I’ve heard you talk about it, but I want my listeners to hear the healthcare that you get in Ecuador sounds really robust.

    Cynthia Staton [00:33:46]:

    Ryan Doolittle [00:33:46]:
    You’ve had really good luck with it. Right.

    Cynthia Staton [00:33:48]:
    And that was on our wish list. I mean, we were in good health when we made that wish list, but we knew, you know, we’re not. Every year we get a little older, so we need to think about that and not just pretend that it’s going to be there when we need it. So we did investigate and. Ed, why don’t you tell.

    Edd Staton [00:34:06]:
    Yeah, well, first I’ll tell you. We do maintain our Medicare in the states because.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:34:11]:
    Okay. Okay.

    Edd Staton [00:34:12]:
    You never know.

    Cynthia Staton [00:34:13]:
    Well, and we’re in the state, so we want to be covered when we’re there.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:34:16]:
    Right? Yeah.

    Edd Staton [00:34:17]:
    And if you opt out and then decide at a later date to opt back in, the penalties can be severe that you pay for the rest of your life. So we just, we do maintain that. But the health system, national healthcare system here, once you’re a legal permanent resident, well, you know, to be permanent resident, you can be a temporary resident. Once you have residency, you can apply to be part of the national healthcare system. And our premiums, they started out 70 something a month, but now they’re 90 something a month total for. Wow. And it’s 100% covered, zero deductible, and no restrictions for pre existing or age. So that’s pretty good coverage.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:35:05]:
    That is great. Yeah.

    Cynthia Staton [00:35:06]:
    And I’ll just add, we’ve, over the years, I mean, we’ve both used the healthcare system and we’re very pleased with it. It’s excellent. And it’s not just Cuenca. There’s great health care and other places around the world, and it’s just the United States does not have necessarily the best system. I mean, I know we have good doctors there and the care, you want to assume that it’s good, but in the system itself, many of us know that it doesn’t work as well as we would like it to.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:35:39]:
    So if. Yeah, if people were thinking about becoming expats, but that was, if healthcare was the thing holding them back, they might want to take another look at it.

    Edd Staton [00:35:48]:
    Yeah. I’ll tell you, from not only our experience here, but our travel experiences over those two and a half years and other travel that we’ve done throughout the world, the healthcare around major cities is excellent. A lot of it even if it. English isn’t a first language, a lot of the doctors there have trained abroad, so they are conversing in English. Yeah. Doctor I just went to see yesterday, he trained in Paris. So, I mean, they. All over the place.

    Edd Staton [00:36:19]:
    But, like, in the States, you’re going to get better coverage in. Around care. Yeah. Around care. Around a major metropolitan area than you are on the stick somewhere.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:36:31]:

    Edd Staton [00:36:32]:
    Well, that’s the same here, too. But to go back to what you were saying earlier, bits think Ecuador. Wow. What are the, you know what. What’s going on?

    Cynthia Staton [00:36:41]:

    Edd Staton [00:36:41]:
    You go to doctor or which doctors, right, exactly.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:36:44]:
    I mean, that’s the kind of, I guess, ignorant, I’ll admit it. I have that ignorant thought. Like, I don’t. I don’t know what to picture, you know, so.

    Edd Staton [00:36:52]:
    So doctors here don’t have a bone in their nose and a grand skirt on and all that sort of thing.

    Cynthia Staton [00:36:59]:
    But you know what? But you know what? In the Amazon, you may come across someone that looks like that. So.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:37:04]:
    Really? Okay. And is that pretty close to you or.

    Cynthia Staton [00:37:08]:
    No, no. I mean, it’s just. That’s why that’s. It’s so important, all these things that we’re talking about.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:37:16]:

    Cynthia Staton [00:37:16]:
    One, two, put your own boots on the ground. If you’re seriously considering going somewhere and making a life that’s outside of your borders, you need to go there and you need to, you know, make an appointment with a doctor, go sit down and talk. Talk to someone, go check out the hospital or. You know what I’m saying? You can do all of those things. It’s not. You don’t have to guess at any of this, really.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:37:42]:

    Cynthia Staton [00:37:43]:
    You know, you would be amazed at some of the people that have come here, and we met a lot of people on their scouting trip because we say, oh, let us know when you’re coming. We’ll meet you for coffee or whatever. And one of the things we asked him. So have you been to the grocery store yet? No, haven’t been there. Well, you’re gonna go to the grocery store, so we’re on the way. Go with us. So we take.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:38:05]:
    Oh, wow, that’s great.

    Cynthia Staton [00:38:07]:
    Yeah. So just going. Going to the grocery store and seeing that. Oh, yeah. This. It looks like what I’m used to. You know, it really.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:38:15]:
    It looks like you’re at a grocery store.

    Cynthia Staton [00:38:17]:
    It’s just because you are. We do have markets and we have little, you know, we have a variety of different places where you can buy food, and the markets are. Are great. We happen to go to the grocery store. We’re really close to one, and that’s what we’re comfortable doing. But anyway.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:38:36]:
    Yeah, well, okay, tell me, what does a perfect day look like for you?

    Cynthia Staton [00:38:42]:
    Well, as I’ll let Elle describe, it’s kind of. I mean, he’ll say, well, it’s really not that interesting. It’s kind of boring, but, you know.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:38:51]:
    No, I think Ed said the perfect day for him is just looking into your eyes. That that makes it.

    Cynthia Staton [00:38:57]:
    Well, you know what? He doesn’t have enough perfect day.

    Edd Staton [00:39:04]:
    I haven’t had that thing in the last 53 years.

    Cynthia Staton [00:39:09]:

    Ryan Doolittle [00:39:13]:
    It was my fault.

    Edd Staton [00:39:14]:
    Yeah, but really, um, our day. It’s funny, we wrote a blog recently about what expat life is really like. And the reality is, after you get over the speed bumps, that you got to get settled in and get your residency and figure things out. Our life’s not that much dimmer than anybody else’s. It’s just in a way, cooler place. But.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:39:40]:
    That’S a great line. I hope you use that.

    Edd Staton [00:39:43]:
    But our perfect day is we get up when we want to, which isn’t like 10:00 in the morning, but we don’t get up by an alarm. We ease into the day just kind of checking our online world, having a cup of coffee and a pastry. After we’ve had a healthy breakfast, we go to the gym or the yoga studio or whatever most days are. Our heaviest meal is lunch. There’s lots of cafes with us, special one that we enjoyed near here where they have a full course, amoezo. It’s called meal of the day, with soup and juice and an entree and a dessert for $3.50. And then we’ll run errands or work on our website or writing assignments that we have, since we’re freelance writers, in the afternoon light. Dinner, an hour of tv, max normally, and go to bed pretty early.

    Edd Staton [00:40:41]:
    We, tomorrow night we’re going over to friends house or something like that. But we don’t have a. Our perfect day is just a day that we’ve created that doesn’t involve people pulling on our time and wanting our schedule to beat their schedule, which we’ve got real comfortable just saying, no, that’s not going to work for us.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:41:03]:
    Oh, yeah.

    Edd Staton [00:41:04]:
    And so it’s just a kind of a normal day, but it’s our day.

    Cynthia Staton [00:41:08]:
    That being said, that we do say yes to a lot of things. And like, for instance, this evening, we’re getting it. We have a gentleman and his wife. He’s 85, and he sings regularly, karaoke at a restaurant, bar, music venue. That’s, again, about a 15 minutes walk or less from where we live. So we got a gentle reminder from him earlier that he was singing tonight, so we’re gonna go listen to him singing.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:41:40]:
    Wow. Okay. That sounds like fun.

    Cynthia Staton [00:41:43]:
    And have some cheap tacos that are supposed to be really good.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:41:46]:
    Oh, okay. And is there any chance you’ll end up on stage singing or.

    Edd Staton [00:41:50]:
    No, there’s a huge chance that I’m.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:41:53]:
    Like, the forecast looks good.

    Cynthia Staton [00:41:57]:
    Yeah. Yeah. So, yeah. Ed, you know, is a music guy. He.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:42:03]:
    Oh, really?

    Cynthia Staton [00:42:04]:
    Yeah. Often he can’t remember what he had for lunch yesterday, but he can remember the lyrics to songs from the sixties. So I don’t know. I don’t know how that works, but it does.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:42:13]:

    Cynthia Staton [00:42:14]:
    You know, a day in the life of Ed and Cynthia is pretty. I mean, this is a huge highlight that we’re talking to you. I mean.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:42:23]:
    It’S a highlight for me.

    Cynthia Staton [00:42:26]:
    Days. It’s just like, you know, I tell people we shop for groceries. We do. I do the laundry. You know, we both do stuff in the kitchen. It’s just pretty much normal life, but some more.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:42:39]:
    I like normal life. I like schedules. I think that’s. That sounds great. Yeah. And then on the weekends, maybe you can mix it up a little or whatever, you know, or on a Thursday night karaoke, you know?

    Edd Staton [00:42:50]:

    Cynthia Staton [00:42:50]:
    Sometimes we see friends and we, you know, we’ll decide to have an outing, go somewhere, I don’t know, go somewhere different from lunch that’s maybe not in our neighborhood, and then catch up with people. I mean, we try to stay in touch with friends, and we publish a blog about every other week, usually. And so that takes a little work to actually produce that and get that out and publish. But I don’t know. It’s life on our schedule, and if we don’t, then who cares? We just, you know, skip away.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:43:23]:
    I love it. It’s life on our schedule. Or if not, who cares?

    Cynthia Staton [00:43:30]:
    It’s not like people are sitting around biting their nails waiting for the next greatest thing we’re going to say.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:43:37]:
    Well, you never know. You never know.

    Cynthia Staton [00:43:40]:
    But all these things that we’re talking about, you know, if you think about it, they contribute to our happiness. And, you know, that’s different for everybody. But unfortunately, I think so many people don’t think about it. That’s the problem. They. They just keep wadding through their life, and, you know, it’s like you have to participate in creating your happiness. You really do.

    Edd Staton [00:44:07]:
    So, Ryan, you were asking. We were going back and forth on email prior to this, I was telling you about an article that we’ve just turned in about the one thing that the happiest people have in common.

    Cynthia Staton [00:44:20]:
    And what do you think it is?

    Ryan Doolittle [00:44:21]:
    Oh, I got it wrong and I still don’t know. And I feel like I want to know. Do I keep guessing or can you tell me?

    Cynthia Staton [00:44:29]:
    I think we need a drum roll for the reveal.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:44:31]:

    Edd Staton [00:44:33]:
    Because the first word of your podcast is, I’m reading it here is happiest. So let’s reveal.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:44:41]:
    Okay, let’s.

    Edd Staton [00:44:42]:
    One thing that, I mean, we did research on this, we didn’t just make this up, but the one thing that the happiest people, not just retirees, have in common is that they value time over money. Oh, they treat time is the precious asset that it is. They’re very judicious about the way it’s spent and they don’t squander it and freer it away, which kind of plays into a lot of the, that’s the reason I brought it up, because it plays into a lot of things we’ve been talking about.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:45:12]:
    Yeah, for sure. They know they don’t value the time when they realize when, when you actually think about it, that’s much more valuable. I mean, it’s, well, they’ll do things.

    Edd Staton [00:45:23]:
    Like using money to buy time. There was offloading crap you don’t want to do, like housework or yard work. And. But people that value money thinks that’s extravagant a lot of times, even if they got the money to pay for it. So it’s a mindset thing.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:45:41]:
    Definitely. Yes. Okay. That’s a great answer. I’m going to continue to use that all in my life. And thank you for sharing it.

    Edd Staton [00:45:50]:
    Yeah. So let’s get back to laughing now that we’ve talked about that.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:45:52]:
    No, I love it. And I wanted to ask where, so if people want to find out more about you, tell us where, where they can go.

    Cynthia Staton [00:46:00]:
    Well, they have to go to our website. We, we decided to set up a website because we wanted to spread the good news about retirement. okay. Ed and Cynthia lanes and we decided to do this really to try to just let people know that there was another option if they’re struggling to figure out how they’re going to pay for retirement, whether they can ever retire, just to talk about what we did and let them know that, of course, this isn’t for everybody, what we do, but we found that it wasn’t being written about. I mean, every, the gloom and doom was being written about, but there was no good news about retirement in our generation. So that’s why we started the website and we created a program. But we’ve written so much about the subject and give it away for free because we do live on our Social Security budget, and it’s not something that, you know, we needed to do for work to create money to be able to have a nice life and a good lifestyle living here in Ecuador. So that’s what.

    Cynthia Staton [00:47:13]:
    That’s where people can go to read about it and subscribe to our blog. We write about all sorts of things. And. Do you want to add anything to that?

    Edd Staton [00:47:22]:
    Yeah, well, it’s. My name is weirdly spelled with two D’s.

    Cynthia Staton [00:47:26]:
    On purpose.

    Edd Staton [00:47:26]:
    Yeah. So it’s on purpose. Oh, yeah. So it’s Ed and

    Ryan Doolittle [00:47:32]:
    Well, I’m so glad you do it. And it’s such a service to people who are looking for that thing in their life and they aren’t sure where to find it or if they should try it or not. So thanks for providing that for people. Really great resource.

    Cynthia Staton [00:47:47]:
    Yeah, it’s fun.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:47:50]:
    As we wrap up here, is there anything else you wanted to add that I didn’t ask? Any other jokes or karaoke songs you might want to throw into the mix? Don’t ask.

    Cynthia Staton [00:47:58]:
    Yeah, no. I hope overall that your listeners get an idea that. Huh. Maybe I don’t have to think about my retirement in quite the same way. Maybe there is a different way I can think about it. And who knows how that’s going to end up for many people that retire. But that’s what, what I hope. Ed, you have anything to add to that?

    Edd Staton [00:48:25]:
    Yeah, I mean, another thing about expat life is it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. We have, we know people that live in Mexico part of the year and rent their house out and then go back during the better weather to their home.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:48:44]:
    Oh, yeah.

    Edd Staton [00:48:45]:
    That sort of thing. So there’s other ways than just. And that’s really, if you’ve got the. In a position to do this, being a part time expat is a great way to dip your toe in the water without fully committing. Fully committing. I mean, these people, the northern people, say the northern people, the northern people.

    Cynthia Staton [00:49:06]:
    The people that live in northern latitude.

    Edd Staton [00:49:11]:
    We’re from Atlanta, so we’re talking about those northern people. But, you know, they’ll go to Arizona or to, or to Florida for the winter. Well, go a couple hours further south and have an adventure and it’s even cheaper.

    Cynthia Staton [00:49:27]:
    Try out all the goods. Yeah, yeah. So encourage people to do that. Don’t be afraid. You know, fear holds people back from doing so many things that would add some spice to their life.

    Edd Staton [00:49:40]:
    Yeah. Fear is. It’s between your ears more than it is in reality, as I was alluding to earlier.

    Cynthia Staton [00:49:47]:
    Yeah, I like using that as an acronym. False evidence appearing real. That’s what.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:49:54]:
    Oh, wow. Okay. Well, Ed and Cynthia, thank you so much for joining us on the Happiest Retirees podcast. It’s been a real pleasure.

    Cynthia Staton [00:50:02]:
    Thank you so much. We have.

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