Earning Anywhere

by | Sep 25, 2012 | Archives

We need to be earning anywhere we go because no matter how we look at it… our purchasing power is at risk.

I left high school in mid ”60s and look at what has happened to prices.


Click on photos to enlarge.

Our friend, Charles Vollum, who publishes www.pricedingold.com shows what has happened to the average US wage in terms of gold.


See a link to more prices in gold charts below.

The chart below from Fidelity Viewpoints shows that this trend has not abated in the 2000s.


The ultimate form of inflation protection is the ability to earn through service with your own micro business so we have been posting stories to show how others are doing this as they follow their dreams around the world.

Here is the third in a series by Stephen Milden on Ateam Ecuador about how expats are earning with micro businesses in Cuenca, Ecuador.

How Expats Earn in Ecuador – Part 3 by Stephen Milden

This is the 3rd in the series of how expats have either re-invented themselves or used skills from their previous life to earn in Ecuador. The impetus for  the series stems from the hundreds of emails we receive each month many of which have the question, “How can I earn some money if  I move to Ecuador?” A variation on the theme is, “How can I add to my retirement or social security?”
What follows is an interview I did recently with Lindsay Burton who opened a popular cafe in Cuenca called San Sebas.


Here’s her background:

I was born in Hawaii, but I was born into a traveling family. I grew up all over the world including New Zealand, Belize, Peru, The Philippines, Japan, Texas, Oregon, and also spent some time working in Cambodia.

Why Ecuador and Cuenca in particular?

After traveling to South America I fell in love with the culture here. It reminded me of the family and community culture that I missed so much about Hawaii. When I was 19 I started working with a social project outside of Quito helping children in an area of extreme poverty.  I continued working with the project 3 months every year for about 5 years, and during that time I decided I would love to find a way to support myself living in Ecuador for a long period of time. I came to visit Cuenca 2 years ago after my parents had moved here and fell in love with the city. I went back to Austin, Texas where I was living at the time and sold everything to move here.

Did you plan to open a business before coming?

I had the idea of the cafe for many years now. I have always worked in restaurants and love the service industry. I remember being asked at one point in a negative tone “Well, do you just want to be a waitress the rest of your life?”   My response was, “Well actually, YES I LOVE IT!”


The name comes from Parque San Sebastian which is adjacent to the cafe

How did you decide to open a cafe?

San Sebas was inspired by the eclectic cafe scene that I fell in love with while living in Austin, Texas. When I moved to Cuenca I missed having somewhere comfortable to go sit and work, or read a book and also enjoy a good cappuccino.

Although I love local food, I am not a big rice eater and I missed North American style soups, salads and sandwiches for lunch. San Sebastian Park was also an inspiration for the cafe. The tranquility and beauty of the park, along with the chance to have outside seating is what drew me to this location. I had my eye on this building for months before it was actually available and when it became, I jumped on the opportunity immediately.

What were some of the challenges?

There were many hurdles to overcome when opening the cafe regarding permits, visa issues, contractors and renovations. My Spanish is improving now, but in the beginning my vocabulary was limited, which made it really hard to communicate with contractors and vendors. I could not have done any of this without the help of my mother who worked so hard to assist me with everything she could along the way.


Great place for a burger and a beer

What did you learn that you’d do differently next time?

This is the first time I have ever been a “boss”. It has been a growing process for me personally learning how to manage employees, work, my time and free time. At the Cafe I am stretched thin, and I think the next time I go into business I will be looking for a partner who also has experience in the industry and can help carry the load.


or a vegetarian taco

How is the business going?

The business is going great, we have been very blessed. This year we are rated in the top 10 restaurants in Cuenca with Tripadviser.com and also had full page articles in the local newspaper EL MERCURIO and Miami Herald. We are growing consistently every week and are almost ready to start expanding.


Did I mention the incredible fresh baked desserts?

Any idea what percentage of your customers are local versus expats?

The first few months we were open we were labeled a “gringo hang out”. It was very easy to get the word out to the expat community through web sites and blogs that we were opening. Getting the word out to the locals was a little harder. It has been mostly word of mouth through friends and family that recommend us. At this point I would say that we are about 70/30 expats to locals but every week it seems to be evening out. Sundays are becoming very popular with the locals.


Full house at the cafe

Future plans?

The last 6 months I have been working on training the kitchen and waitresses and getting them solid and comfortable before the next step. Right now we are in the process of renovating our second level and hopefully in the next 2 months we will be expanding our hours to be open at nights as well. I am really looking forward to opening evenings here, and doing some live music events. The atmosphere of the cafe completely transforms at night and is so beautiful. I can’t wait to show it off!


Located on the corner of Calle Sucre and Parque San Sebastian

If you have an interest in starting or buying a business in Cuenca Ecuador, Contact us at Stephen@AteamEcuador and we’ll be happy to let you know our thoughts.

Learn about Cuenca Real Estate tours here.




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