It can be difficult if not impossible to convince some people that countries outside of their home country are not 3rd world countries on the brink of collapse, but in most cases there are beautiful 3rd world countries near where you can live a great life without spending a lot. For most in the west, Mexico or Central America has beautiful countryside, warm climates, and a huge discount on what they’re currently paying to maintain their quality of life. There really isn’t a reason to struggle in your retirement if there countries within reach that you can life for a fraction of the cost. You don’t even need to worry that you’ll be the only one from home there are there are usually already large expat communities all over these countries waiting to help you move in and acclimate to your new home.
At 72, Jacqueline Mackenzie has lived in nearly every state in the U.S. (her father was in the military and moved the family often), spent six years in Mexico and traveled all over the world.
But it’s in Vilcabamba — an Andean foothills town in southern Ecuador — where the retired teacher plans to spend the rest of her life.
“The climate is just unbelievable — never below 58 [degrees Fahrenheit] or above 86,” says Mackenzie, who moved to Ecuador with her husband, Don, in 2013. Jacqueline, who loves to garden, adds: “You can grow 365 days a year. It is a gardener’s paradise.”
‘Our friends think we are crazy, but they also envy us. An alternative lifestyle can be going overseas, but you can also go overseas and be alternative. We do both.’
Though Vilcabamba is small (the town and surrounding valleys are home to about 4,000 residents), plenty of expats, particularly Americans, Canadians and Europeans, live there: “There are a lot of aging hippies,” Jacqueline jokes. Vilcabamba is particularly appealing to people who love an outdoorsy lifestyle — hiking and bird watching are popular here — and it, along with most of Ecuador, has a strong ecological bent. In 2008, Ecuador was believed to have become the first country in the world to extend constitutional rights to nature, with one passage of the document spelling out that nature “has the right to exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles, structure, functions and its processes in evolution,” as the New York Times reported at the time.
This ecological leaning is one of the big reasons the Mackenzies moved to the country. They live in a so-called eco-village — residents here seek to have minimal impact on the natural environment and give back to the planet. “We do what we can in whatever way we can to live a life that’s less consumerist,” Jacqueline says.