New Article on Lifestyle Migration in Ecuador

By Matthew Hayes

‘We Gained a Lot Over What We Would Have Had’: The Geographic Arbitrage of North American Lifestyle Migrants to Cuenca, Ecuador

I really recommend this article – it re-introduces and makes a place for economic structures in understanding lifestyle migration through the concept of geographic arbitrage.

Abstract: This article reports on the results of 69 individual qualitative interviews in Cuenca, Ecuador, conducted with lifestyle migrants in 2011, 2012 and 2013. Many of the North American migrants interviewed are in Ecuador for economic reasons, a motivation that has been under-theorised in lifestyle migration literature. The paper develops the concept of geographic arbitrage to explore the motivations and strategies of migrants in a context of structural inequalities and geographic differentiation in labour costs. Geographic arbitrage consists of relocating day-to-day expenses to low-cost locations, a strategy that is perhaps of increasing importance in North American, given the lack of retirement security there. The paper argues that the strategy of geographic arbitrage of North Americans to Cuenca is framed by powerful players in the field of international lifestyle marketing and by the socio-economic context of the migrants themselves.

Access it at


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