Why Kris and Mike Moved to Ecuador from Canada

Kris And Mike left Canada and moved to a small rural beach town in Ecuador. Here is their inspiring story about Living the Life You Love!

We owned a beautiful home on a lake in northern Ontario Canada. It was our dream home.

I was retired and Kris owned and worked at her small-town decor store. We loved to travel but other than that we never even talked about moving anywhere else, even within Canada.

Why would we? We had everything and were happy.

How the Pandemic Affected Our Plans

Kris and Mike in EcuadorWhen the pandemic came in 2020, Kris’s store was shut down and she was off work. We caught up on lots of jobs around the house and enjoyed the summer, but eventually, we needed more to do.

When the short Canadian summer was over, we started watching House Hunters International. We love to travel and enjoyed the possible locations we could visit. What we realized is how expensive it is to live in Canada and how big the world is with so many countries that were so interesting to us.

Over a lot of months, we gradually came to the conclusion we should leave Canada for another country around January 2021. Amazingly we came to this conclusion together at the same pace.

It started as a 3-5 year plan but soon we both realized we need to make this happen soon. Were we serious or not? We developed a 2-year plan.

Why We Chose Ecuador

Next came the fun part of picking a country. We started, like everyone else, searching for “Best places to retire in the world”.

We saw the international living website’s top 10 list and narrowed it down to a few countries: Ecuador, Panama, Mexico, Portugal and Costa Rica made our top 5.

Kris and Mike Woodpecker in Ecuador

We had travelled on vacation to all those countries except Portugal so we knew a little about them from the perspective of someone vacationing. That of course is very different from living there.

I am a bit of a research junkie so I built a spreadsheet and modified the International Living criteria to match our priorities. I also gave weights to all the criteria based on what was most important to us. That was something International Living did not do.

That narrowed it down to Ecuador, Panama and Costa Rica.

Portugal was eliminated for two reasons. First, they still have winter, although it’s mild, and second, we wanted to be in a similar time zone to our family.

We eliminated Panama and Costa Rica because of two major reasons. Based on our research, it looked like they had already had large increases in the cost of living. The second and more important reason for us was the Americanization of those countries. Because of their convenient location close to the United States, it is not surprising to see that.

We have nothing against our many American friends; however, we wanted a country that was much more international. Ecuador has a much more international feel and that appealed to us very much. So Ecuador rose to the top.

Research Research Research

We watched every YouTube Video we could (thank you Amelia And JP). We joined every Facebook group in the areas we were considering moving to. And of course, we did two exploratory trips.

When Kris and I did our first trip to the coast of Ecuador, we totally fell in love with the whole area from Manglaralto all the way up to Ayampe.

Lush beautiful foliage in rolling hills behind probably the best beaches in Ecuador. You can walk these beaches for hours.

Each beach town from the party place Montanita to the sleepy beach town of San Jose has their own unique vibe and they are only a few km apart. They are all a short distance from each other and easily accessible via a cheap taxi or even a much cheaper bus ride.

Remember though, if you like lush areas, they come at the price of less sun and more rain. It’s important to do your research and limit your surprises too as few as possible.

The Push and Pull of Our Decision

Kris and Mike Outdoors in Ecuador

We talked a lot about why we were moving from Canada. We love Canada. We have family and grandchildren there. And why Ecuador?

We STRONGLY believe it is a push and pull. What is pushing us from Canada and what is pulling us to Ecuador? If you don’t have both, then your chance of long-term success in your move is greatly diminished.

Factors that pushed us away from Canada:

  • Climate – Winters are way too long. This became a bigger factor as we got older. Goodbye, winter.
  • Cost of Living – Not a huge factor in our decision, but leaving Canada allowed Kris to retire at least 7 years earlier. The gap is only increasing with the current huge inflation difference between Canada and Ecuador.

Factors that pulled us to Ecuador:

  • Nature – For its size, Ecuador is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world. With both of us loving nature and our nature walks there was no better place that fit our criteria with such accessible areas to explore. In fact, you can’t escape it.
  • Welcoming Ecuadorian People – based on our previous trip and our exploratory trips to Ecuador, we were overwhelmed by the kind, welcoming hospitality of the Ecuadorian People.
  • Climate – In Ecuador, you can basically pick your perfect climate to live in. Because the Andes split Ecuador in half, you can pick
    spring-like conditions in many of the valleys or choose the coast for a much hotter and more humid climate. The choice is yours.

The Naysayers

In every big life decision, you have your supporters and the people who think you are crazy.

The decision to sell everything and move to another country seems to attract a lot of people who think you are crazy. Also, a few who admire you chasing a dream.

They comment directly or indirectly about things like:

  • Aren’t you worried about crime?
  • How can you leave your grandchildren?
  • Will all the garbage, noise and dogs roaming free bother you?
  • You can always come home if it doesn’t work out.

The Naysayers can be broken down into two groups:

  • Family members and friends who are genuinely concerned and, over time, they will become supporters as they get educated. They may even visit you.
  • Family members and friends who, for many reasons, only see the risk and not the benefit and will never change. These people, unfortunately, will be a casualty of your move.

The bottom line is all the benefits must exceed the drawbacks. No place is perfect so don’t expect it to be perfect. Was your home in Canada or the United States perfect?

Concentrate on what is pulling you to your new country so that you can Live the Life you Love.

Negative stuff will happen but if you pick the right place, those negative things will be no big deal.

Live the Life You Love

Kris and Mike Sunset in EcuadorKris and I started our Youtube Channel Kris And Mike to document our journey and life in Ecuador.

One of the themes we discuss is about living the life we love, and we promote and encourage others to do the same thing.

It doesn’t need to be about moving to another country, either. So many people are not living the life they love. They feel trapped. Trapped in jobs they don’t like. Trapped in relationships. Trapped in a lifestyle they can’t afford. Essentially, they’re living out their life in monotony, unhappiness, despair and denial.

The reality is, you really are in control and can make decisions to totally change almost anything. Think of why you CAN do something rather than why you CAN’T do it.

Our Life Now

Kris and Mike Dogs EcuadorWe moved to Ecuador on the coast just 5 km north of Olón on January 5th, 2023. We live on a hill just outside of San José with a spectacular view of the ocean as well as the hills of San José.

We bought our house and did not rent against all conventional wisdom. We go into detail about why we did that in one of our videos. However, for most people, it is certainly a good idea to rent first.

Although our house and yard are being renovated and we have had lots of visitors from Canada, we can honestly say we are living a very tranquil life. Being outdoors in nature so much as well as being on the ocean and getting so much more exercise it feels like I am on some drug. The people have been so welcoming and the nature we came for has not disappointed us. It truly is amazing for us.

One huge additional benefit that we did not realize is that we are much healthier. I have lost 15 lbs in three months without trying. Just a better active lifestyle. Kris has lost weight too and gained lots of muscle from all her beach walks.

In addition, we are eating much less processed food and more fruit, vegetables, fish and seafood that all taste amazing. Red meat intake has decreased dramatically. Again, all without trying. We probably have added years onto our life with our move.

Yes, bad things happen. We had a strong earthquake that really scared us and we had some flooding in our house that will need to be fixed. We had no power for 3 days!

But for every bad thing, we have 20 good things to enjoy. It makes it easy to deal with bad things when you are living the life you love.

Watch a Video from Kris And Mike About Moving to Ecuador


Kris and Mike
 >> See More

We sold our house and our store, took our dogs, and retired to Ecuador. You can watch our journey unfold and our Expat life in Ecuador on our Youtube Channel - Kris and Mike. We love nature photography and our channel will focus not just on our new lives in Ecuador but also on us capturing this amazingly diverse country. Are you thinking of maybe moving abroad? Are you ready to move out of your comfort zone? Well, maybe it's time to “Live the Life you Love!”

2 replies
  1. Joseph Louis Cioffi
    Joseph Louis Cioffi says:

    Liked your post and will be checking you out on Youtube for sure! We also have narrowed our global search to Ecuador for similar reasons. However, we do have two kids; A 10 and 15 year old. That does make a difference, ie; schools, language, leaving their friends, etc. Also, I’m a little confused; you say your close to the beach yet your close to San Jose? San Jose is in the middle of the country in the highands?? Anyway… anxious to see your Youtube videos?

    Joseph & Maryan


Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *