Wanted: Retirees to live in Ecuador for a month free

NEW YORK Wed Feb 1, 2012 4:17pm EST

Believers take part in a parade during the annual religious celebrations for ''El Pase del Nino Viajero'', honoring the infant Jesus, in Cuenca January 15, 2012. REUTERS/Guillermo Granja

Believers take part in a parade during the annual religious celebrations for ''El Pase del Nino Viajero'', honoring the infant Jesus, in Cuenca January 15, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Guillermo Granja

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Interested in adventure and exploring new places? An international magazine is looking for volunteers to spend a month in Cuenca, Ecuador to test its potential as a retirement destination.

Applicants must be near retirement age, from the United States or Canada and be willing to relax, explore, shop, try local restaurants, maybe take a Spanish class, and report on their experience during an all-expense paid month in the Latin American country.

"We're not giving away a free vacation," said Jennifer Stevens, the executive editor of International Living magazine, which launched the competition.

"The idea is we will find a candidate who is already thinking about living overseas, is excited about the prospect. We are looking for someone who is adventurous and eager to try something new," she added in an interview.

The winner of the competition, who will be announced on May 30th, will receive round-trip air fare for two, a furnished apartment and $1,500 in living expenses, according to an ad posted on InternationalLiving.com.

The magazine said the competition gives it the opportunity to show readers the benefits of retiring abroad.

Ecuador, Panama and Mexico, in that order, were the top destinations in the magazine's Retirement Index 2012, which assessed a country's retirement potential based on property prices, special benefits, cost of living, assimilation, entertainment, health infrastructure, healthcare and climate.

Malaysia, Colombia, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Spain, Thailand and Honduras rounded out the top 10 destinations in the index.

InternationalLiving.com estimates that a couple can live in Cuenca for as little as $915 per month after rent.

It is the first competition of its kind for the magazine, which is expecting thousands of applicants. If it is successful, Stevens said she is open to repeating the opportunity.

"I'm hoping we can get tens of thousands of people interested," she said.

The contest is limited to Americans and Canadians because they make up the bulk of the magazine's readership.

People interested in entering the competition, either solo or as a couple, should post a video no longer than three minutes to YouTube saying why they would want to spend their golden years abroad, as well as a month in Ecuador.

The competition closes on March 15. Magazine staff will select a shortlist of 20 applicants which will be posted on its website where people can cast votes online. But the ultimate decision will be made by the magazine staff.

"Anyone can vote," Stevens said.

No writing experience is necessary but if the magazine publishes the winner's report, they will be paid its normal freelance rate.

(Reporting by Patricia Reaney; editing by Bob Tourtellotte)

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