“The time for a complete change was long overdue,” says Gloria Gilbere, a single 70-year-old, who made her move to Ecuador in the summer of 2016.

Even though previously thriving in large, action-packed cities, she now wanted to live in a small town…where people actually know each other…and tranquility is not a foreign language. “From the moment I arrived in Cotacachi, I felt the entire town hugged me and said ‘you are home’,” Gloria says. “The colorful buildings and patchwork stones that make up the streets look like a staged movie set. The hardworking people of the town always have a smile and a greeting for any stranger they meet.

“I was looking for a place with high-speed internet, low crime, and access to organic food. Since I still travel at times for my work, I also wanted a reasonable commute to a large city with an international airport,” Gloria says. “And I have never done well in hot and humid climates. The year-round, spring-like weather high in the Andes—was the final deciding factor for the move to Cotacachi”.

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In order to avoid financial surprises upon arrival, Gloria did her homework. “My cost of living here is one-fourth of what it was in the U.S.,” she says. “An example of my weekly shopping at the local mercado (market) is a purchase of seven avocados, three mangos, seven bananas, four papayas, six yellow onions, fresh garlic, organic butter, one pound of free-range chicken, and one pound of ground beef—all for about $20 to $25.”

As often as possible, Gloria samples local cuisine. “One of my favorite activities is to head to a nearby restaurant for a crispy taco. “I must warn you, it is habit forming,” admits Gloria, “I pay $5.50 and the food fills my entire plate.” Her most-frequented eateries accommodate her food allergies with a smile…remembering what she can and cannot have.

Gloria lives on the main street in a beautiful Italian-style penthouse and is able to walk everywhere in town. “I don’t miss the stress of car ownership,” Gloria says. “I use a bus for local transportation to nearby towns as needed. If it rains, I can use a taxi for $1.50 to reach anywhere in Cotacachi.”

Gloria says healthcare in Ecuador’s large cities is top notch. She chose to purchase private healthcare insurance, which costs approximately $225 a month and fully covers most things (a bargain compared to U.S. insurance prices).

“I have been an entrepreneur my entire life and still work hard by choice. Sometimes I work from home and other times I am onsite at a spa clinic. I consider my projects a way of life rather than work. I have written close to 20 books and publish articles monthly. I also teach health-related seminars and do nutritional consulting online.”

For anyone considering a move abroad, Gloria offers this advice: “Be comfortable with yourself because your support system isn’t coming with you. If you look at your glass as half full, then Ecuador will fill it to the brim.

“I’m living the best part of my life in the small town that stole my heart.”

This article originally appeared on InternationalLiving.com.

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