Americans increasingly financing sneakers, sweaters… These retirees ‘couldn’t afford’ to stay — now live on $2,000 a month in Ecuador

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Eyeing That Sweater? It’s Yours in Four Easy Payments

Fintech firms pitch installment plans to consumers increasingly reliant on borrowing

Sean Gauthier wouldn’t think of using credit cards to buy sneakers.

“I try to save them for an emergency situation,” said Mr. Gauthier, a 38-year-old nightclub manager in New London, Conn. “If I start online shopping with my credit card, I’ll start getting nutty.”

These Arizona retirees ‘couldn’t afford’ America — now they live their dream life on $2,000 a month in Ecuador

They haven’t been back to the U.S. in years, and say they don’t miss it much — except for Home Depot and some friends

At 72, Jacqueline Mackenzie has lived in nearly every state in the U.S. (her father was in the military and moved the family often), spent six years in Mexico and traveled all over the world.

But it’s in Vilcabamba — an Andean foothills town in southern Ecuador — where the retired teacher plans to spend the rest of her life.

“The climate is just unbelievable — never below 58 [degrees Fahrenheit] or above 86,” says Mackenzie, who moved to Ecuador with her husband, Don, in 2013. Jacqueline, who loves to garden, adds: “You can grow 365 days a year. It is a gardener’s paradise.”

‘Our friends think we are crazy, but they also envy us. An alternative lifestyle can be going overseas, but you can also go overseas and be alternative. We do both.’

Jacqueline Mackenzie

Though Vilcabamba is small (the town and surrounding valleys are home to about 4,000 residents), plenty of expats, particularly Americans, Canadians and Europeans, live there: “There are a lot of aging hippies,” Jacqueline jokes. Vilcabamba is particularly appealing to people who love an outdoorsy lifestyle — hiking and bird watching are popular here — and it, along with most of Ecuador, has a strong ecological bent. In 2008, Ecuador was believed to have become the first country in the world to extend constitutional rights to nature, with one passage of the document spelling out that nature “has the right to exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles, structure, functions and its processes in evolution,” as the New York Times reported at the time.

This ecological leaning is one of the big reasons the Mackenzies moved to the country. They live in a so-called eco-village — residents here seek to have minimal impact on the natural environment and give back to the planet. “We do what we can in whatever way we can to live a life that’s less consumerist,” Jacqueline says.

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