It occurred to me that the primary thing keeping many people from making and acting upon the expat decision is fear of everything they will miss back home. Then I realized that budding expats like myself really only have half the information necessary to fully evaluate that. The other half resides in our target country, a place we have yet to live, work, eat, play, and build memories. So I thought I’d turn the tables and ask a few experts–people who have already made the leap–a “simple” question.
“What is the one thing you’d miss most about Ecuador if you were forced to move back to the First World?”
Here are the first three responses I received:
“What I would miss most is that sense of community. Here, your neighbors aren’t just people who live in a house near you. Your storekeepers aren’t just people who sell you stuff. The taxi drivers aren’t just anonymous backs of heads that you give an address to. I love that when I walk home, the people stop me to chat, greet me by name, or ask me about my day. If I don’t have enough cash on me, the storekeepers let me take what I need and pay them later. When I was looking for a job, my friends asked their friends, who asked their friends, and because pretty much everyone either knew me or knew of me, I had several options within a week. People look out for each other and help each other, because that’s what you do when you are part of a community, and that is what I would miss the most.”
“It’s almost impossible to reduce the list down to just one thing we’d miss if we left Ecuador. The completely honest answer has to be cost of living. We live a wonderful life free of money worries. This liberates us to enjoy the next two items on the list which are weather and the people. We are from Vancouver, Canada and now live in Cuenca. The weather here is like Vancouver towards the end of June. Warm days and cool nights. Heaven for us. Probably not if you’re from Florida. After 4 years, Cuenca is now truly home.”
–Brian Miles & Shelley Reeves
“The question is not simple by any means. It only took me about 15 seconds to come up with a hundred different things I would miss if we left Ecuador, but the short answer after some consideration and thought would be the lifestyle. The lifestyle is completely different than almost anything that we have experienced. I guess Joe said it best: he would have loved to have taken us and Jennifer, our daughter, back to the 1950′s. The family life back in the 50′s was so much more simple than life today. And the lifestyle here is quite “retro” if you will, not nearly as much technology as the states, so many less stressful things to concern ourselves with, less government intrusion, less rules, less distractions and choices, less almost everything. In our minds less is actually more! So my one word answer would have to be lifestyle but that would encompass everything we have experienced and learned since moving to Ecuador. The people, the food, the weather, the fresh fish and seafood, and the people! Everything revolves around the kindness of these beautiful people. Each day I find many new things to be thankful for, many new people who have shown us some form of kindness and just the wonder of being in a small town with so many advantages. It is an advantage knowing your neighbors, watching their children go to school each morning, hearing peoples lives go on around you and actually being a part of their lives. It has been a total blessing.”
Aside from being great bloggers, I think of these people as modern day Lewis and Clarks. Or at least pioneers. While the rest of us hunker down among the people and things that make us feel “safe and secure,” these people are out there experiencing a whole new world of endless possibilities. And I get the sense that they know exactly which side has the greener grass.
We can’t wait to meet them there someday soon and–as Brian Miles & Shelley Reeves put it–“enjoy a $1 beer together.”