This is part of our Ecuador Expats Series.
Our Life in Ecuador: Todd & Heidi Gorishek
The Expats: Todd & Heidi Gorishek
Connect with Todd and Heidi
Where are you currently living?
My wife Heidi, my adult son Easton, and I are currently living in Cuenca, Ecuador after being displaced by the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that hit April 16th in Bahia de Caraquez.
We had arrived in Ecuador and lived in Bahia de Caraquez January 11th, 2016.
We moved to Cuenca April 27th, 2016 after staying in Bahia de Caraquez to help our friends and the local community with the aftermath of the quake.
Photos of Ecuador Quake
What's Your Story?
I began a journey of intense personal exploration when I turned 40. I count this as my second “midlife” crisis. The first was when I turned 30 and left my corporate job to return to school and pursue a career in the medical field.
At 50 I began serious plans to move to Ecuador, leave my career as a pharmacist, and begin my career as a men's life coach. I guess this could be considered my 3rd midlife crisis. That was three years ago.
I am married to a wonderful woman Heidi, and I am a father of two terrific young men, Chase and Easton.
My oldest son Chase is currently at the end of a 27 month Peace Corp service mission in Guyana, South America, and will be joining us in Ecuador when he is finished. This is the first time any of us have lived outside of the US.
When did you get the idea of living in Ecuador?
Through my journey of self-exploration I started to see the world and my place in it differently. I shed the dogma of working 30 years and retiring with the gold watch.
I longed to participate in different cultures, with different people, learning a different language; all the while knowing that at our deepest levels, beyond differences of language and customs, we share similar fears, hopes, and needs.
Since money is a reality for obtaining food and shelter, I needed to live somewhere I could afford. I wanted to experience South America, learn Spanish, and live on the warmer part of the Pacific Ocean. Ecuador filled the bill for me.
After talking about making this move for years, I chose to step into my fear and make it happen. It was a journey for my wife as well who had to step into her own fears.
For my younger son, he saw it as an opportunity to experience life in a new way early in his adult life.
Our planned time in Ecuador is open-ended. Our intention is not to leave before we are fluent in Spanish.
How's your Spanish?
Myself, my wife, and my son moved to Ecuador without knowing the language. It was challenging the moment we set ground on our arrival at the airport.
Because of translator apps it isn't impossible to communicate, but it is cumbersome and difficult. We enrolled in Spanish lessons within two weeks of arriving and began the process of learning Spanish.
Learning Spanish at 53 is more difficult than I thought. I had visions of being somewhat conversational within three months and that did not happen. It is taking a lot of work, and I am getting it, but it is much slower than I hoped.
What I hold true is that it is my responsibility to learn the language of the country I am living in. This is done as both a show of respect for the people here and my own ability to participate in the local culture.
How do you make your living?
I have enough savings to live on before retirement, and I intend to continue to work. My plan is to develop my coaching practice via the internet.
Ecuador is more expensive than I initially imagined. Any name brand product from dish soap, to peanut butter, to electronics, to clothing, to vehicles can be anywhere from twice to four times the cost in the US.
What can be cheaper is fresh produce and meats from the local farmer's markets. Rents are also cheaper, but rising due to the influx of expats to the area. This applies to buying property as well.
Ecuador was my chosen destination to explore and experience life outside the US. It was what I expected as far as immersion in the language and availability of services. I didn't give much thought to product options but was surprised at the limited options and choices of goods.
The overall cost of living seems higher than what I expected, but still much less than living in comparable accommodations in the US.
What do you love about Ecuador?
I love the coast of Ecuador. The beaches are beautiful, the water is warm, and the sunsets are glorious. I enjoy the small towns and villages with locals who sit outside their homes along the streets, smiling or observing, but quick to say Buenas as I walk by.
The mountains of Ecuador are green and lush. The air is cool and the sun is hot.
Cities like Cuenca are busy and can be noisy with the constant activity of people walking, on buses, in taxis, and driving their cars. The old city is filled with hundreds of architecturally fascinating buildings, churches, and cathedrals.
Read more about the comparison: Best Place to Live in Ecuador? Mountains vs Coast
The celebrations of local holidays and traditions fills the squares with the colors and sounds of a rich Ecuadorian heritage. Where I have lived, Bahia de Caraquez and Cuenca, I have always felt safe. There is crime, but it seems low, and I have never felt at risk in my surroundings.
Before deciding to move to Ecuador, join fb groups like Ecuador Expats and take time to review housing and services as offered on GringoPost. A lot of the “feel” of Ecuador can be ascertained from these sites.
When you do make the move to Ecuador, come open and without expectations of anything like a US, or first world, experience. It will make the transition much easier.
Hungry for more? Here are another 32 Ecuador Expat stories