Monday, January 4, 2010

For Whom the Dart Points

We’ve made our decision about which country we’ll live in for our two-year family sabbatical.

Diana and I have booked a two-week trip for late February to check out Ecuador. We are leaving the kids with grandparents the whole time, so this is a one-shot deal. This trip is not to decide whether or not Ecuador, but where in Ecuador (or do we bail on the sabbatical altogether and hang our heads in shame?).

We had been examining Uruguay, as some of our many criteria were safety, stability, and security, which Uruguay has in spades. It’s described by many as very European. And so it is, as it turns out to be rather unique in South America in having decimated much of the indigenous population. We’ll, that’s one way to achieve stability, but for the reasons of that rather un-South American culture, a rather tame, agricultural landscape, and, well, just a wee too much stability, we began looking more seriously at Ecuador.

We first started looking after it was rated “best country to retire to” by International Living. Though we are not retirees, many of the reasons were compelling: very affordable, beautiful climate, good health care, easy residency.

I also liked it because it is more off the radar, at least for North Americans. Everyone knows Chile, Argentina, and Peru, but little ol’ Ecuador is an also-ran. But for a nation the size of Colorado, it is remarkably diverse and beautiful. It has the Galapagos Islands, beaches, mountains, jungle, year-round spring climate in many places.

Its currency is the U.S. dollar, so no conversion worries. It is an economically growing place whose economy is mostly cash-based, meaning the global credit crisis is less of a concern and its economy hasn’t been hit as hard (though being tied to the dollar, once a foundation for stability, is now a greater concern).

And as our economy continues to suffer so does the revenue side (investments) of our sabbatical budget. So bang-for-the-buck becomes an ever heavier consideration.

And if International Living is correct about loads of American retirees heading there, the country’s filling up with potential babysitters.

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