Where Should You Live in Coastal Ecuador?

Since our move to Ecuador a few years back, interest in this country has exploded. We get questions about how best to travel the country and what not to miss…we’re asked which is best: mountain or beach living…and how Ecuador compares to Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama

Here’s my standard reply: While I’m happy to share my personal biases, nothing beats doing your own on-the-ground research. If Ecuador is #1 on your list, don’t pass up the opportunity to check it out. A great way to do this is by attending the upcoming Fast-Track Ecuador Conference.

It will be invaluable to you in terms of the validity and amount of information you receive as well as the contacts you’ll meet. (I…and about 50 other “biased” experts…will share our hard-earned opinions. And you’ll be able to make your own firsthand decisions about what’s right for your particular needs.)

While I have the bully pulpit today, let me set the record straight about something. In a recent e-mail, a reader worried that Ecuador’s Pacific Coast was totally flat and uninteresting. “Like Florida,” he said.

I’m unsure where he got that idea, but I could tell right away that he’s not yet been to Ecuador. If he had, he would know that while there are places where the coast is flat, there are far more other areas where the hills come right to the water and form beautiful smile-shaped bays—at least as viewed from atop one of those jungle-covered hills.

(He’ll see this for himself if he takes one of the post-conference tours in August). I suggested he starts in the south and first checks out the beaches of Playas and Salinas. Being close to Ecuador’s largest city of Guayaquil, these towns have more infrastructure of the kind I would want if I were to consider moving there (health care, shopping, accessibility to airport, social life, etc.)

A home in Salinas, Ecuador for less than $70,000

Despite the proximity to Guayaquil, prices along this stretch of coast are still reasonable. You can buy a three-bedroom house on the first row of the beach in Playas for $55,000 to $100,000.

In the more resort-like Salinas, you can buy a brand-new condo overlooking the ocean and world-class yacht club for little more than $65,500…or a newly renovated three-bedroom, three-and-a-half bath condo with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the ocean for $135,000—and that’s furnished.

Going north, anyone looking for a lively, youthful beach scene will want to check out Montanita—a surfer town that’s a lot of fun for a night or two, but really not for me. At this point in my life, I’d prefer the more laid-back peace and quiet of a small fishing village like Olon, just around the mountain from Montanita.

Several foreigners have purchased beach homes in Olon—one of the few places in the world with a beach and cloud forest (where you can see jaguars, howler monkeys and exotic birds) in such close proximity. A 1,200-square-foot, two-bedroom beach home in Olon is selling for $95,000. (Annual property taxes are less than $200.)

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