Unexpected Perks of Leaving the USA

Our return to the United States was a stark reminder of what our life used to be like before we moved to Ecuador.

We were stressed about so many things: Cost of living, work life balance, inflation, gas prices, politics, and healthcare.

According to the World Happiness Report, the United States ranks at number 16, but for us, that’s a hard statistic to swallow.

Spending a month back in the U.S. was a good reminder of what our life used to be like before we moved abroad. It was stressful, frantic, busy, unhealthy.

We spent a huge chunk of our time driving. We ate out way too much and we both gained weight because we didn’t have time to cook or exercise.

After 1 month, we left the U.S. feeling a year older!

After returning home to Ecuador, it didn’t take long to get back to feeling happy and healthy so in this article, we’ll share 10 reasons why we’re happier living abroad and why we think you will be too.

New Adventures

Living abroad brings a constant sense of adventure. It’s a chance to immerse yourself in a new culture, language, and activities.

In the U.S., we often found ourselves stuck in the same routine, eagerly awaiting the weekends for a brief escape.

In Ecuador every day is an opportunity to learn and explore, and every weekend feels like an adventure as we discover the incredible beauty of this country.

Global Friendships That Go Beyond Work

Amelia's birthday party with multinational friends in Cuenca Ecuador, July 2022.Back in the U.S., our conversations often revolved around work and our professions. Our friendships tended to be with people from similar backgrounds.

However, in Ecuador, we’ve forged meaningful relationships that go far beyond work. We talk about our lives, share experiences, and engage in various activities with friends from all over the world.

It’s a chance to learn about different cultures and worldviews, broadening our horizons.

A More Affordable Lifestyle

The cost of living in the U.S. was a constant source of stress for us. Rent for a tiny one-bedroom apartment alone consumed a significant portion of our income.

Healthcare and everyday expenses, such as food and transportation, were prohibitively expensive. In Ecuador, we’ve discovered a more affordable way of life.

Our rent here is a fraction of what we paid in the U.S., and we no longer need a car. Healthcare costs are significantly lower, making it accessible to everyone.

Better Food

Colorful strawberries and apples in the Loja Ecuador Mercado.Ecuador has spoiled us with its higher quality, better-tasting, and more affordable food. Healthy eating is not only achievable but enjoyable here.

Restaurants take pride in presenting their dishes, turning every meal into a delightful experience.

A Healthier Lifestyle

Our time in the U.S. often had us stuck in traffic or sitting at our desks for extended periods. Unhealthy convenience foods became our go-to because we were too exhausted to cook.

Ecuador’s climate and abundant green spaces have encouraged us to walk more, and we’ve lost weight as a result.

We can enjoy year-round walks without extreme weather conditions, whether in lush green parks or along beautiful beaches.

Accessible Healthcare

In the U.S., we often had to wait for months to get a doctor’s appointment, and emergency care was prohibitively expensive. This led to postponing necessary medical visits.

In Ecuador, we can see a doctor promptly and communicate directly with them. Even without insurance, healthcare here is affordable, making it easier for us to prioritize our well-being.

A Commute-Free Life

In the U.S., Amelia spent hours stuck in traffic during her daily commute. Now, with the flexibility of working online, we spend more time together, reducing stress and improving our overall quality of life.

A Life with Less Stress

Amelia and JP by a waterfall in Mindo Ecuador May 2022.Ecuador offers a calmer pace of life. We no longer worry about making ends meet, allowing us to save for our retirement and enjoy each day without the rush and chaos of our previous routine.

Para-Political Bliss

One of the great advantages of living abroad is being removed from the political turmoil of the U.S.

Ecuador has its own unique challenges, but we’ve found peace in being detached from the political baggage we left behind.

An Expanded Worldview

Living abroad has broadened our horizons and shattered stereotypes and myths.

The world no longer seems as intimidating, and we’re excited to explore more places long-term, armed with a newfound understanding and appreciation for different cultures.

Final Thoughts…

Our quality of life has significantly improved since we left the U.S.

Ecuador has become our happy place, but the benefits of living abroad are not limited to a specific location. Regardless of where you choose to live, the adventures, global friendships, affordability, better food, and improved healthcare can lead to a happier and more fulfilling life.

So, if you’re seeking happiness, don’t hesitate to explore the world beyond your comfort zone—you might just find your own version of paradise.

Watch Our Video About the Perks of Living Abroad



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Amelia Basista
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I grew up in the Chicagoland area and spent most of my career working as a sales rep in the commercial lighting industry. I still work online for a company in Denver doing sales CRM administration. YouTube is my part-time gig, but I'm so happy we can share our Unconventional Life and hopefully inspire you live yours!

2 replies
  1. David T
    David T says:

    Being born and raised in the U.S., and being in my ‘60s now, I think I can say why the U.S. gets as high a ranking as it does (especially compared with conditions in other parts of the world). 1) There is ample employment and opportunity to earn money, if you want to. Unskilled, skilled, or professional employment are available. Want more money? Get a higher paying job, work more hours at existing job, or get a part time job. I was mowing yards in my neighborhood back in the ‘60s when I was ten. The second thing is shopping. Walmart, Dollar General, Home Depot, etc., etc., are available as well as ebay and Amazon. If you want to buy something, it is probably easier here than anywhere else in the world to buy whatever you want. And if you don’t have the money but are employed, credit is easy (not saying that is a good thing!). If you want more education, it is easier to obtain if you work for it. And the ‘American dream’ (not necessarily reality) of ‘freedom’, having a voice in government, etc. These three general things are not available in most other parts of the world. The elephant in the room is the cost of living (“Well, it’s just a part of life.”) … California has become so expensive that people are moving out in droves. QUALITY healthcare, as you know, is severely lacking … it is expensive and you don’t get the treatment you need. Our food in general is so processed and has so many preservatives in it that you don’t even need embalming fluid when you die! You may be able to DRINK the water in the U.S., but municipales water is loaded with chlorine and with fluoride (both toxic chemicals). But the bottom line that so many people around the world see is that you can make money. And that makes most people happy, even if they’re miserable in their jobs. They see that “We can go to the beach on the weekend.” Because I earn enough during the week to afford that luxury. If people really looked at their lives in the U.S. and considered ALL factors, I don’t believe they would be nearly as happy. Getting out of the ‘rat race’? …. Now THAT is happiness!


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