Tess Torelli January 1, 2018

“I no longer feel anxious and worried when I review my finances,” says Bartley D’Alfonso, retired in Ecuador. “It is very comforting to know that I can now occupy my mind with what fun activities I will do daily, rather than how I would try to survive day-by-day if I had stayed back in the U.S.

“A few years ago, I found myself as a solo retiree with an expensive California condo mortgage to pay for, along with excessive property taxes and increasing monthly homeowners’ association fees.

“Month by month, it was becoming harder and harder to live only on my fixed Social Security benefits and retirement pension. I was feeling trapped, with high anxiety—how was I ever going to continue to live like this? How could I survive? Something had to change…”

It did, when Bartley moved to the highland university town of Cuenca, Ecuador.

“After a three-day real estate tour, I sold off my Californian condo and bought a newly built condo in Cuenca,” he explained. “My three-bedroom, three-bathroom, two-story condo cost $115,500 and get this — my annual property tax was $88 in 2015… $55 in 2016…and this year I paid $44, compared to $4,800 annual property taxes back home.

“And talk about having the senior citizen discount kick in. Under Ecuadorian law, all citizens who reach 65 years of age and have a cedula (national identification card) get to enjoy substantial reductions with the expenses of daily living.

“I recently turned this magical age, and my bus fares were lowered to 12 cents per ride, instead of the regular 25 cent fare. My annual property tax will be halved down to about $25, and all notary fees are now free, saving hundreds of dollars.

“My water bill is discounted by 50 percent, dropping down to an average monthly fee of $3.85. Every six months I can turn in my receipts and receive a maximum refund of $105 per month for any sales taxes paid, which is deposited directly into my local bank account.”

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