Repatriation #2: Pros and Cons of Going Back

by | Feb 14, 2022 | Global | 1 comment

Determining Whether to Repatriate

A Surprise Opportunity

Late July in Cuenca is deep winter in the Andes. It’s our second winter in Ecuador. The days are bright in the morning, rainy in the afternoon, and downright cold at night.

Since houses have plenty of openings to the outside and no insulation, they correspondingly have no central heating.  Evenings are good for Gary and me (surrounded by cozy cat and dog) to hunker down in front of the space heater, under a blanket, and talk.

Cat in Blanket. by Bonnie Willow
Cat in Blanket. by Bonnie Willow

A couple of weeks ago, our plans to become permanent residents were halted by a surprising invitation to become resident staff members at a retreat center in the mountains outside our U.S. hometown.

Just about everything we want is wrapped up in this astonishing offer. Since our move to Cuenca has been just for a retirement adventure, with no plan for either staying or returning, this offer seems to hand us a ready-made decision to return.

Our jubilation over such a great opportunity is now being tempered as we think about what we’ll be leaving behind in Cuenca. We are just getting comfortable here!

My group of women friends and Gary’s group of men friends are substantial parts of our lives. The tranquility of Cuenca compared to the circus going on in the US feels so nice. The affordability of living can’t be beaten. Gary finished his series of dentist visits, and I’m now replacing many of my old crowns and fillings for 1/3 of the cost. We haven’t yet visited the Amazon or the bird sanctuaries. We love the sunsets in our sweet downtown neighborhood. Is this really the time to leave?


Cuenca Sunset by Bonnie Willow
Cuenca Sunset by Bonnie Willow

Where do we start in making this decision? It feels like just yesterday we were making all these same decisions in reverse: “Should we leave the US and move to Ecuador?”.

Returning to our home country will require far less red tape and paperwork.

The most complex part is to plan to get the dog and cat back by plane.

Since COVID-19, it’s much harder to fly animals internationally.

And speaking of pandemics, we know that life in the US will differ from how it used to be.


To give ourselves a context for this decision, I want to make lists and timelines. That is the way my brain can understand large, complex situations. Here are the lists I’ve decided I need to make.

  • Repatriation Lists by Bonnie Willow
    Repatriation Lists by Bonnie Willow

    Pros and Cons of Staying in Ecuador

  • Pros and Cons of Moving back to the US
  • Plan B In Case The Retreat Center Doesn’t Work Out
  • Pet Travel Vet Requirements
  • How To Ship Important Belongings Back To The U.S.
  • U.S. Embassy Requirements for RePatriating
  • Airline Requirements for Humans / Pets / Luggage
  • COVID-19 Requirements for Returning to Our State
  • Buying or Leasing A Car in the U.S.
  • Pros and Cons of Selling Our House If We Live at Retreat Center
  • I also will make two timelines, working backward from next April when our temporary residency visas expire:
  • Timeline for Activities for Getting Permanent Visa
  • Timeline for Activities for Returning to the U.S.


The Pros and Cons lists should make it clear which choice is best for us. Once these lists are generally outlined, we should be ready to make the choice. Then we can focus on only the lists and timelines related to the future we’ve chosen. Who would have guessed that such a nice surprise offer would entail so much work? If you haven’t yet, check out my previous article Repatriation #1: Having to Consider Going Back. 

by: Bonnie Willow