Kids ran excitedly across the sand to dive into the warm sea. Beach umbrellas dotted the sand with splashes of color…yellow, green and red.
On the deep-blue ocean, jet skis buzzed across the bay, and a catamaran sailed serenely away from the marina. Voices called out on the breeze…offering ice cream, cool drinks, and snacks…overpowered at times by the growling engines of expensive cars and motorcycles driving down the boardwalk.
I wasn’t here to party, though. I wanted to see just how far your real estate dollar will stretch in this place. Ecuador’s south Pacific coast has some of the lowest prices for beachfront property out of the countries on our radar. But it’s getting harder to find the super-cheap houses for $50,000 to $80,000 that I found when I first scouted the Salinas area four years back.
Property prices are appreciating steadily. But you can still find a bargain or two…
And you can find them along the beaches around Salinas. These are some of the nicest in Ecuador. At Punta Carnero, big waves roll onto a long ribbon of cream-colored sand. In Punta Blanca and Ballenita, the ocean is calmer, but the sand just as soft. These beach towns don’t have Salinas’ tourist crowds…but they do have some great low-priced beach homes.
Close to Salinas—and only a few blocks from the beach—a three-bedroom, two-bath home with a large patio is on the market for $45,000.
Also for $45,000, you can get a two-bedroom, two-bath house in Ballenita. That doesn’t get you an ocean-view, but the home is comfortable and ready to move into.
I saw a brand-new home in Ballenita, set on a hilltop with ocean views. The three-bedroom, three-bath house has an open-plan living and dining area. It’s on the market for $124,000. Ballenita is starting to attract more foreign buyers. It’s close to Salinas, but with lower-priced homes—and the hillside setting gives panoramic views of the ocean.
Just past Ballenita, the community of Capaes looks chic, with white-painted homes offset by the sparkling blue sea. The complex has a private entrance to a curved, light- sand beach.
A 3,410-square-foot home for sale in Capaes has a rooftop terrace with amazing ocean views. With five bedrooms, a patio, beach access and a pool that you share with only three other neighbors, the price tag comes as a nice surprise: $170,000.
To buy a home of similar quality…in a beachfront community, close to a city…in Panama, Costa Rica, or Nicaragua…you could easily pay twice the price. That’s because Ecuador hasn’t had the sharp upward growth in property prices experienced in those other countries, triggered by a huge influx of foreign buyers. Instead, the local middle classes exert the biggest influence on the real estate market.
But that’s changing. Over the last three years, more foreign buyers are coming to Ecuador…lured by low cost properties, a low cost of living, and a relaxed pace of life. And while they used to focus on highland homes, they’re now waking up to the possibilities of Ecuador’s coast…and its ultra-affordable beach homes.
Editor’s Note: Margaret Summerfield is a director of Pathfinder (IL’s preferred real estate advertiser). She writes for the Pathfinder Alert e-letter. If you’d like a free subscription, just sign up here.