The 2008 Recession Forced Us To Retire Early — Now We Travel The World

Retirement Snapshot

Edd and Cynthia at the Chichen Itza ruins in Mexico, July 2021

Edd and Cynthia at the Chichen Itza ruins in Mexico, July 2021

Photo credit: Edd Staton

  • Location: Cuenca, Ecuador
  • Age: Edd 73, Cynthia 69
  • Retired At: Edd 61, Cynthia 57
  • Marital Status: Married
  • Profession: Edd, financial services marketing representative; Cynthia, luxury real estate sales

Edd and Cynthia were living the good life in Las Vegas. They had it all: the big house, the high income, and a solid investment plan for retirement. Then, out of nowhere, the Great Recession of 2008 swept away their careers and most of their savings. So, Edd and Cynthia decided to retire early and move to Cuenca, Ecuador, for a lower cost of living. We talked with Edd and Cynthia about their retirement.

Retirement Reality

Retirement Awaits: What does a day in retirement look like for you? 

Edd & Cynthia: Since we live abroad, our retirement life has 3 distinct elements: family visits, travel, and downtime from the first two. 

Family visits involve giving our kids a break from everyday responsibilities and spending as much time with our young grandchildren as possible, often weeks at a time.

Active travel days are exactly that — active. We’re at a museum, taking an interesting day trip, or wandering around exploring wherever we are. That being said, we’ve learned to budget enough time in each place to have rest days doing absolutely nothing (except maybe laundry).

Keeping up with four grandchildren ages 7–11 and being on the road for months at a time are both exhausting. So we cherish periods in between to focus on our health, get caught up on sleep, and write for our website and various publications. 

Your Retirement Plan

Retirement Awaits: Did you have a solid plan going into retirement?

Edd & Cynthia: We did; until we didn’t. Much of our investment portfolio involved real estate, a sector that was wiped out by the Great Recession. Las Vegas was one of the hardest-hit markets in the country.

Best Part About Retirement

Retirement Awaits: What’s the best part about retirement? 

Edd & Cynthia: The best part of the way we’ve designed our retirement is freedom. By paring down our lifestyle, we can, within reason, go anywhere and do whatever we choose. We’ve given up a lot to be in this position yet gained so much more.

Challenges In Retirement

Retirement Awaits: What’s the biggest challenge in retirement?

Edd & Cynthia: This probably sounds odd, but since we are presently traveling full-time, the biggest challenge is constantly thinking about where we’re going to sleep next. Even when we stay in one place for an extended period, eventually it’s time to move on. 

No complaints because we’ve chosen this adventure. We dreamed of chasing great weather around the globe in retirement. Now we’re living that dream, even though the details look a bit different than originally imagined.

Cost Of Retirement

Retirement Awaits: We want people to understand how much retirement really costs. How do you manage your money now? Do you have a budget, meet with your advisor on a regular basis, etc?

Edd & Cynthia: We live on our Social Security budget. During our 12 years in Cuenca, Ecuador, we enjoyed an upscale lifestyle on a monthly budget of $2,000 or less. Now that we’re traveling full time, our budget some months approaches $3,000 a month. Since we no longer have the expenses associated with maintaining a house or a car — haven’t owned one since 2010 — we have more flexibility in our budget.

Retirement Advice

Retirement Awaits: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give someone about to retire? 

Edd & Cynthia: Truly ask yourself, maybe for the first time ever, “What do I want?” Not what my boss, family, or society expects of me. This is the chance to create the life of your dreams. So dream big and get busy making it happen. No regrets!

Things I Wish I Would Have Known

Retirement Awaits: What are a few things you wish someone would have told you about retirement/this season of life/transition?

Edd & Cynthia: It’s funny. When we were young, our elders always complained about how quickly time passed as they got older. For us, the opposite has been true. As lifelong learners, we thrive on new experiences and creating new memories. Last month seems like forever ago!

Best Retirement Vacation

Retirement Awaits: What Is your favorite vacation or vacation spot?

Edd & Cynthia: Ever since we retired abroad, most of our life seems like a vacation!

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