[color-box color=”green”][dropcap]Join[/dropcap] Canadian Expat, Dodie Schadlich, in her first weekly column for “Off the Beaten Path”. Discover, in La Libertad on the south coast of Ecuador, paths rarely seen by expats, which Dodie’s life takes her. Read on as she shares her hilarious story of the “straw that broke the camel’s back” behind her “crazy” decision to move to Ecuador with her husband and 2 dogs [/color-box]
Well, maybe just a little crazy but……..
We made the decision to move to “somewhere south” in 2008, without a real destination in mind. Since I can never seem to do anything half-assed, by 2010 we announced that we were first moving to Florida and ultimately heading to Ecuador.
The reactions were mixed, to say the least. Amid “Are you crazy” to “That is so awesome” we heard just about everything else in between. Even with all the questions and the “what if” devastation scenarios, thrown at us from well-meaning people, we could not have stopped the ball from rolling at that point. Randy and I had already personally gone through the best and worst case scenarios, the “what ifs” and the “how to’s” long before we made the announcement. We were secure in our decision.
Now, I do need to add when I first brought up the idea, Randy said, “Yes dear, that would be nice” and I could tell he was hoping it was a short lived phase I was going through. He soon came to realize, it wasn’t a just a phase.
It is not every day you just up and liquidate every single thing you own and move to a whole other continent where you don’t speak the language.
We didn’t make the decision flippantly; first I had to convince Randy, then we had to make a plan. We researched, studied Spanish, did exploratory visits, and by Sept 2011 we were on our way.
Our daily mantra during that time period was “Keep Your Eye on the Prize”. [pullquote] Life continued to happen while we made our plans.[/pullquote] All kinds of reasons would come up to delay the move; people getting sick, people having babies… all these life events continue to come at you. Feelings of obligation and responsibility pulling at you, feelings that you will miss out on something special, and you may, but ultimately we had to decide, keep moving forward ,or quite possibly 10 years from now, everyone else’s needs will be met, but our own.
Someone very close to me simply asked “Why?” I replied;
I am not sure what the next chapter of my life will bring, but I do know that I see palm trees in the background; that is all I know for certain right now.
The quick answer could have been; the weather sucks up in Prince George British Columbia, Canada. Very few people would argue that point. But that is not the only reason. Wait, please notice the photo below showing Randy shovelling his way to the shop on March 2, 2011… so… maybe it was part of the reason!
Mac Leans Magazine deemed Prince George one of the most dangerous cities in Canada once, yet it was still home to us, with the most amazing people, friends, and family. We definitely leave a little piece of our hearts there to this very day.
Another easy answer could be how expensive the cost of living is. Often in winter, our monthly heating bill alone would be $400.00+.
We would plan for a year, and pay thousands of dollars, to take a 2-week vacation -just to put our toes in the sand. One day, laying on a beach in Mexico, I looked at Randy and said, [pullquote]I think we are doing this all wrong. It is like living our life backward to what we really want.[/pullquote]
As Randy’s 50th birthday approached in May 2010, I swear, I went through his midlife crisis for him. I grabbed a calculator, compared our monthly expenses to CPP payments (Canadian Pension Plan), and thought “Oh My God” as a wave of panic set in. It became very clear that we could not maintain our lifestyle with CPP and our current expenses.
The final event turning point was one April evening, with snow still piled high in Prince George, where I ran out to my vehicle in just my robe and slippers. I slipped on the ice, both slippers coming off my feet and sliding under my car. I found myself sprawled out on the ice partially naked with my robe bunched up around my head and my leg twisted unnaturally under me. I was lying between a 3-foot snow bank and my car. Had I broke my leg, no one would have ever seen me lying there…not that I would have wanted anyone to find me in that particular situation anyways. Damn what a sight that would have been! I picked myself up carefully and, in freezing bare feet, slipped my way back into the house and into bed. My first reaction was tears, but then I broke out into a fit of hysterical laughter. You know, the kind of laughter that only crazy people do.
When Randy got home and saw the slippers in the driveway, his first thought was “This can’t be good.” Upon finding me in the bedroom, he asked, “What’s up with the slippers?” I responded very simply, “We are moving, start packing.”
Did I mention this happened in the month of April? Yes, April which is supposed to be the month of “spring showers leading into May flowers”; well evidently, not in Prince George.
So, what we find ourselves doing now, during the month of April, is picking passion fruit from the vine and checking how big the bananas have grown in our little piece of paradise in Ecuador.
PS…I no longer own slippers, strictly a barefoot girl now.
[color-box color=”gray”]What was behind your move to Ecuador? Was it weather related? What did you friends think? Share your thoughts in the comment section below![/color-box]
Your accident, resulting in your decision to move to a warmer climate made me cringe and laugh all at the same time! I also moved from Canada to Ecuador in June 2011, due in part to weather, only for me, it was the summer heat and humidity that drove me here. Having grown up and lived in Southern Ontario my whole life, I was used to the snow and cold…..not saying I liked it, but I was used to it. The heat and humidity however, I found unbearable and each summer it got worse! You mentioned your high heating costs….we heated with wood, so that wasn’t a factor, but our electricity bill was outrageous! We didn’t have A/C, I never used a dryer and when cooking, I always cooked enough for several days at a time and our hot water heater was propane , yet our hydro bill(that’s Canadian speak for electricity folks) was always in the $400+ each month. Gas then cost about $7 a gallon and land taxes and insurance, sky high. We were also living on a disability pension and my husbands Old Age Pension which was reduced because he took it early (good thing he did because he passed away this past April at age 67) Canada was just to expensive, but it was that hellish summer heat that chased me out of Canada. So, while it was the ice and snow incident that broke the last straw for you and the heat and humidity that did it for me, ultimately we moved to Ecuador for the same reasons. Weather and the high cost of living in Canada! Only difference being, you moved to the hot coast and I moved to the cooler Cotacachi weather, up in the Andes. Have never regretted my move here, though I admit, I miss my family! Good luck in your endeavors in La Liberdad!
Thanks for the laugh out loud moment with your reference to ‘hydro’. It took me a very long time to get out of the habit of using that term. People would look at me with confusion! thanks for sharing your story!
Wonderful article! Enjoyed it very much, especially the BC connection! Wistfully in the planning stages in N Van.
I love North Vancouver. Enjoy the Journey Renee, it is full of amazing fun all along the way!
Loved the story, I haven’t been in Canada but for friends I know it can get pretty cold, definitely summer is the time for my dream vacation on the far north. Just a small pointer, we are on the same continent, far far away but still the same. Glad that you are enjoying the beach, my parents live in Salinas
Some beautiful sunshine coming to Salinas very soon! It may be time to visit your parents!
Well Dodie, I couldn’t have said it better myself! Your article is fun and engaging! My husband and I are Haligonians from Nova Scotia (definition of Haligonian: a person from Halifax, NS, not Halifax, England). Although living right on the coast didn´t bring quite as much snow, I can relate to the photo of your poor Hubby laboring through all that oh so pretty, but oh so annoying white stuff. It would occasionally happen to even us who lived on the coast. We chose to live in Cuenca, and enjoy every single day. We took an early retirement, why? Why not? we asked ourselves. Couldn´t afford to do that in Canada but here , heck yeah! No heat or air conditioning costs, don´t need a car, transit is cheap in Ecuador and we take full advantage of that travelling around this gorgeous country. A rental unit like ours would cost about $1400 a month , here $400. Congratulations on doing it too, having the nerve to sell out and move to a country where we will need to learn a new language ( at least for us because we knew nary a soul who spoke Spanish on the east coast of Canada. Keep writing, you have a gift!
Gracias for your kind comments Barbara and thanks for sharing as well! Halifax is beautiful, but certainly can be cold in the winter.
I am glad you are enjoying your new life here in Ecuador1
As the final job of my life was coming to an end, my daughter (who didn’t know about the job) called me and said “you want to move to Ecuador?” And I said sure do! I continued to work as we planned our first trip, which was to be just a few months, exploratory kinda thing. We knew we could simply go explore another destination if Salinas didn’t work out, but nonetheless we had done our homework by the time we boarded our plane. Four dogs and a Grandson in tow, we headed to South America… SOUTH AMERICA! Still hard to believe we did that! We’ve been called crazy, brave, and adventurous but what we really are is happy. Very, very happy. We stretched that 3 month exploration visit into 2 years if residency because we fell in love with Salinas almost when we deplaned. The Expact community is wonderful here and I know we’ve made lifelong friends. We love the locals, the markets and mercados, the beautiful weather, the low cost of living, crazy fun beautiful cities we’ve visited… just nothing not to love about Ecuador. We consider the inconveniences of living in a developing country to be but bugs on the windshield of life.
Gracias and thanks for sharing!!
JUST HAPPEN TO LAND ON THIS BY ACCIDENT, IT’S FUNNY YOU TALK OF MIDLIFE CRISIS, I’M NOT SURE IF THATS WHAT I’M GOING THROUGH, BUT HAVE BEEN STUDYING ECUADOR FOR AROUND 4 YEARS NOW, I AM YOU, IN THIS SITUATION, TRYING TO CONVINCE MY WIFE TO MAKE THE MOVE TO ECUADOR, BUT SHE’S HESITANT , WE ARE AROUND THE SAME AGE AS YOU AND YOUR HUSBAND AND I WOULD LOVE TO GO NOW AS OPPOSED TO LATER IN LIFE, MAYBE ESTABLISH A LITTLE B&B BUSINESS , OR WHATEVER, WHILE STILL HAVE THE ENERGY. I AM ORIGINALLY FROM VANDERHOOF (100KLM’S WEST FROM PRINCE GOERGE BC CAN) AND NOW RESIDE NEAR VANCOUVER BC , CANADA , SO AS FAR AS WEATHER GOES , IT’S ALL GOOD HERE , BUT THE COST OF LIVING HAS GONE THRU THE ROOF AND THE STRESS OF MAKING ENDS MEET ARE WHAT DRIVES ME TO MOVE TO SOUTH AMERICA ECUADOR , I HAVE CHECKED OUT MANY PLACES IN ECUADOR , LIKE THE COAST VILLAGES THE BEST , BUT WOULD BE OPEN MINDED , THX FOR YOUR GREAT ARTICLE, HOPEFULLY MY WIFE DOES NOT HAVE TO SLIP ON ICE, IN ROBE, NAKED,BREAK HER LEG TO CONVINCE HER LOL
I will be making an exploratory trip to Ecuador in the next few months. It has taken a while to come to this decision but am finally convincing myself. Now I have to downsize my many years of accumulated “stuff.” Not an easy job. I have items from my parents, grandparents and my husband’s family. And then this huge property probably won’t sell quickly. Wish me luck.
I will be coming to Ecuador the end of May to start my research on retiring there in a couple years I’ll be in Quito for a few days in Cuenca for a few days would love to get together with any ex-pats that might be around Cuenca
Awesome article, Dodie, and truly convinces me more and more to take that leap of faith and just do it, regardless of the various obstacles that come along the way. We’ve done this kind of move before except it was from Fresno, California to Portland ,Oregon. Of course we were younger then by about 20 years, but we still pressed on, and we’re better for it. It grew us up, and no regrets. We’re ready and energized for our next adventure / next chapter in our lives.
On another note, I agree with Barbara Beaulieu who wrote at the end of her comment, “keep writing, you have a gift”. I really appreciate your sense of humor in your writings.
Have been planning to re-locate from Kitchener/Waterloo, Ontario to Ecuador for the past 3 years… need to wait until my government pensions kick in so I can prove my income. This will happen inn 2018. I was delighted to read your post and hope you are still in business for when I finally arrive. I subscribe to Cuenca Highlife to get a sense of the country and because I have not yet found an English newsletter that covers the southern coastal region which is where I have s=visited and would like to settle.
Thanks for posting.