Weather has been a major reason for migrations throughout human history.
Humans have adapted to almost every climate on the planet, but our personal feeling is that they only went to the bitterly cold and insufferably hot spots if they had no other choice.
Most of the time people prefer to live their lives in places where the chances of freezing or roasting to death at some point during the year aren't too terribly high.
Photo by Hugo Ghiara, InternationalLiving.com
Nowadays, towns and cities have insulated much of the world's population from the most immediate threats and discomforts of inclement weather. In a city, there is always someplace to escape the wind, rain, snow, ice and heat. Usually, that's inside.
The price, of course, is having to live in a city with all the associated costs and compromises.
But if you could move to a place tomorrow where the temperatures rarely rise above 85 F, hardly ever fall below 45 F, where you needed neither heating nor air conditioning at any time of year, and where no one has ever shoveled snow... ever... would you do it?
We would. We did. Weather was a huge factor in our decision to move abroad. Not that we don't dearly love our hometown of Omaha, Nebraska. But there are times when it gets so cold or so hot that going outside simply isn't an option. The only real option is staying inside and listening to the furnace or air conditioner relentlessly suck money directly out of your pocket.
Not only did we find a place where our biggest weather decision at any time of year is whether or not to take an umbrella with us for our daily walks... but we also found a place where the air is clean, there is abundant fresh and locally grown produce and public transportation is so inexpensive and reliable that we don't need a car.
Our personal paradise is in the Andes Mountains of Ecuador...right on the equator but at the same latitude as Hawaii. Yes, we have a rainy season when it rains almost every afternoon, but mornings are delightful. And that's what keeps our gorgeous mountains lush and green.
As a friend from Nebraska who visited us said, "You'll never find better weather than this."
We could see the dread in his eyes as he boarded his plane home that February morning...
And the truth is, there are many temperate-climate locations in the world. Most fall within 23 degrees of the equator, between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. At sea level in coastal areas you'll find the climate to be mostly hot and humid. Too much so for us. That's why we moved in and up.
In the mountains in the tropics, it's never too hot or too cold. Every day, rain or shine, is just right. Just the way we like it.
Beyond Ecuador, you'll find these perfect-weather destinations all through the tropics. In the western hemisphere, follow the spine of mountains that cuts through the western U.S. and keeps going straight through Mexico and on to Costa Rica and Panama.
Colombia, Ecuador, Peru...all the Andes nations have majestic mountains and perfect climates. (An added bonus of living on the equator is that the sun comes up every morning at 6 a.m. and sets every afternoon at 6 p.m. It can take some getting used to, but once you do, it just feels right.)
So why isn't the whole world moving to one of these perfect-weather paradises?
Frankly, we don't know. When you're unencumbered by the threat of bone-chilling cold and ice or dangerous heat (not to mention destructive storms) and all the necessary preparations that go with vast seasonal changes, your quality of life is so much more peaceful and relaxed. The weather where we live is so good...and life here is so affordable...that we're surprised we aren't up to our armpits in expats moving here from harsher climes.
Still, our corner of the world is not for everyone.
Ecuador (as is the rest of Latin America, in fact) is a Spanish-speaking country. The government is based on democratic socialism. And you can't get most important things done with just a phone call or the click of a mouse... you actually have to physically go somewhere and talk to somebody in person, in Spanish. And there are some products we can't always get. We make our own sour cream, for instance. And Half & Half... and so on...
But if those aren't deal-breakers for you, then the weather here... in fact, the weather in dozens of spots throughout Latin America and the world... is reason enough to come.
Because if you have great weather, everything else is just that much better.