How to retire EARLY in Ecuador and….make a living at the same time

by | Mar 30, 2012 | Archives

How to retire EARLY in Ecuador and….make a living at the same time.

By Jean Marie Butterlin

This is part I of a series of articles on ways to live in Ecuador  but at the same time earn a living. I will showcase expats that have come down to Bahia and are far from drawing any retirement income .  I’d also like to show you what I am doing myself as far as making a extra income in Bahia.  There are so many opportunities that I have called the Ecuadorian coast,” The Land of Opportunities”.


Jean Marie Butterlin (center) with wife Pascale.

A)   the expense side of the LIVING equation:

There are lots of reasons to come and live in Ecuador from the beautiful beaches, nice weather, nice people to low cost of living.  We have had lately quite a few younger delegates on our tours that were looking at living in Ecuador now while still in their forties. They certainly have learned to think outside the box.

One way to look at the whole Living in Ecuador picture is to trim all unnecessary expenses from all kinds of insurances, fancy restaurants, car payments, mortgage payments, country club fees, gas, expansive food, designer clothes, etc…

One has to make a list of what is important and what can be shed.  One might ask “What is the lifestyle that I would like to have?”

Talking to recent expats in Bahia, most of them live very comfortably (that includes wine, vodka, beers, restaurants 5 times a week) on $1,200/month (that does not include rent).

Having less stress, eating better, living outside, exposure to sun are all factors that should also limit health care costs.

B)   The income side of the LIVING equation:

Many younger expats coming down have kept rentals in the US or have some savings.

Making money in Ecuador is really not that difficult when someone has one of this 2 things :

–       A trade- meaning some knowledge or skill or passion that can be monetized either locally or over the internet.

–       Some Money to invest in income generating businesses.

In this series of articles, I will give you examples and ideas of what others have done to make a good low stress living and still enjoy a nice lifestyle.  Each case will be further developed later.

1-    Meet Anna and Henry : as I have already mentioned previously in an article, Henry (now everyone calls him Enrique) lives in Bahia in a nice flat one street from the beach with his wife and daughter.

Henry is a forty something retired firefighter and a wise investor.  He has 2 passions : fitness and helping his local firefighter colleagues from Bahia.

He teaches every morning 2 classes of aerobic on the beach for free and he has 15 to 25 students attending faithfully every morning at 7 :30 and 8 :30.

How was he able to retire at forty?  By planning and investing wisely and thinking outside the box !  He lives on his retirement and from the income of his investmenst in the US and has adapted to the Ecuadorian lifestyle without sacrificing what he considers a good lifestyle.  This enables him to do what he loves and offer it to the local community.

This has required PLANNING, getting some skills in INVESTING and some SOUL SEARCHING to look for a better, cheaper place to live.

2-    Meet Jean-Marie, another Frenchman, who ives 1 hour north of Bahia on $600/month with his 2 young kids.

I will write more about his idea of making $12,000 wooden/brick cabins (600 sq.ft) overlooking the océan in a pristine secluded area north of Bahia.

I will promote his idea in the future and show our tour clients how you can not only enjoy Bahia on the malecon in newly built luxury condos for about $100 to $120/sq.ft with spectacular views but also spend some time on week-ends in a wooden cabin overlooking a 5 mile almost empty beach.  Yes,there are 2 families of fishermen and a few occasional guests of 2 nearby lodges that you could encounter when walking down the beach.

3-    Meet Larry Pioli and his nice development north of Jama overlooking the ocean.  He was in development in the US but has decided to come and live in a less stressful area with more potential.

4-    Agriculture is another income generating ressource : see :

5-    If you have a passion, there are ways you should be able to write about it and become a Publisher.  Merri and Gary with their son-in-law, David Cross their webmaster, have put forth a super nice Writers Camp that is a step towards extra earning in Ecuador :

6-    Meet Paul who is an electrical engineer and works in Bahia exactly like he would in the US except that he works part time only doing his electrical studies for big buildings. He lives on much less and  and yet much better.

7-    What about a Bed & Breakfast? I have studied many cases in Ecuador from luxury boutique hotels to $10/nigth hosterias.  Future articles will tell you all about my findings…and yes there is money to be made without too many headaches and too much work!  (It is not what conventional wisdom would have it.) As a matter of fact I am pioneering a new concept in that field. When it is ready in a couple of months, I will tell you all my secrets.

8-    What about a concierge service to expats? Again I have done extensive research on that topic on what expats need, what they can find easily, not so easily and where the pitfalls are.

The key is to ask yourself the right questions :

–       How can I retire (or semi-retire) NOW ?

–       Where do I want to retire ? What is a place that will fit my needs?


Pascale Butterlin and Ecuadorian friends enjoy an afternoon picnic.

Until next article,

Jean Marie