Cotacachi, Ecuador

Cotacachi, Ecuador

Cotacachi, in the Imbabura province, is getting the lion’s share of expat attention these days. Many, especially those of retirement age, are finding their way here to enjoy the perfect weather, beautiful scenery, low cost of living, and especially the tranquil, slow-paced small-town lifestyle.

Like Otavalo and many other villages in this part of Ecuador, Cotacachi (population: about 8,000) is an artisan town. Just 20 minutes northwest of Otavalo, Cotacachi is Ecuador’s famous “leather” town. Artisan shops line the main street and you can buy any type of leather item, from shoes, boots and jackets to coin purses, bags, and suitcases...even upholstered furniture. Prices for all these items are 50% to 75% less than you would pay in the U.S.

Cotacachi has always enjoyed a reputation as a clean, peaceful village, and its plazas are kept neat and tidy. At night the artisan shops close up and only a few restaurants and small mom-and-pop shops are open. On the corners, you may find families congregating around a hot grill, where ears of corn are roasting along with pork and chicken kabobs. The cool, crisp air smells faintly of wood smoke, roasting corn, and eucalyptus. Eucalyptus trees grow abundantly wild, as do palm trees.

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Cotacachi

Ecuador Has Changed Me…

My first stop was Las Vegas for a recent International Living conference. The conference was fabulous and I loved chatting with potential expats and helping answer all of those big questions that need to be asked before an international move. But, in my downtime I began to notice some differences in myself. To start, I found during my first nights away, that I missed seeing the stars. While the lights of the Las Vegas strip are a sight to see, it never truly gets dark in Vegas. I longed for my view from quiet Cotacachi where millions of celestial bodies are visible on a clear evening from the middle of the world. It may seem trivial, but I felt out of place surrounded by man-made replicas of world wonders, when typically I sleep right in the midst of the real thing.

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Retired in an Ecuadorian Mountain Town

In their 30 years of marriage, John and Vickie Kendall had often talked of living abroad. But their work as nurses in the Pacific Northwest kept them occupied and tied to the U.S. They began formulating a plan to retire and then move overseas in the summer of 2013. “We had been to Thailand and were looking at that as a possibility. And we were looking at Panama, Uruguay, and then Ecuador came up, so we were considering all different places,” says John. “But when we got down to it, we realized we wanted to be in the Western Hemisphere so that we weren’t too far away from home.”

Craft Village Ecuador

Explore the Craft Towns of Ecuador

If you’re planning a trip to Ecuador, my advice is simple: Bring the biggest suitcase you can find…two if your airline will allow it. Get on the Andean Craft Trail in the Sierra region along the Avenue of the Volcanoes that cuts north to south through Ecuador. It is full of artisan treasures that you won’t be able to resist. Cotacachi, the village where I live, has a main street lined with leather shops selling jackets, boots, and shoes as well as beautiful handbags and luggage. You can even have things custom-made in a few days. And everything is so much cheaper than you would pay for it in a high-end store—either in the U.S. or in Ecuador. You’ll adore Cotacachi.

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Ibarra: Ecuador’s “Secret” City

There’s a small city in Ecuador that you might never have heard of. But if you’re looking for a retirement destination, it’s got a lot to offer. Called Ibarra, it’s Ecuador’s northernmost mountain city. You’re not alone if it’s unfamiliar to you. Though I, and several hundred other expats, live just 30 minutes away in the small town of Cotacachi, Ibarra gets too little attention considering how attractive it is as an expat destination. Why doesn’t it get the recognition it deserves, you ask? Well, it’s partly because Ibarra lost much of its original colonial architecture to an earthquake over 100 years ago. Not that you’d notice much—the buildings that replaced the wrecked ones are a pretty good replica of colonial style.

Cotacachi, Ecuador

Now This Is the Kind of Winter Weather I Like

I’ve mentioned before how Ecuador made me a huge fan of mountain living. But it’s more than just the mountains that did it for me. After all, there are mountains running the entire length of the Americas, from the far north of Alaska and Canada to the very tip of South America. Almost any mountain range you choose in North, Central, or South America is in some way majestic and breathtakingly beautiful. But—and this is the crucial thing that makes Ecuador’s mountains different for me—none of these mountains are directly on the equator. In nearly every other mountain location in the Americas, seasonal changes make living up at a high altitude a part-time thing, at least for a guy who dislikes snow and cold as much as I do.

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Enjoy an Easy Life in Cotacachi, Ecuador

While most people in Canada are bundling up against the cold right now…and preparing for or enduring heavy snowfall and treacherous ice…Canadians Brian and Janette Sullivan are enjoying the temperate, weather of Cotacachi, Ecuador. A little village located between two volcanoes in the Andes, Cotacachi has such a moderate climate that it enjoys year-round average daily temperatures of 70 F and 50 F at night. That’s just one of the ways that life is easier in Cotacachi…and Janette and Brian are taking advantage of all it has to offer.

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Ecuador’s Coastal Sands and Andean Peaks

Bill Schuler spent a good 20 years working as a tech consultant in and around Minnesota’s twin cities. After devoting much of his life to his career and dealing with frigid Midwestern winters, Bill decided it was time for a change. In July 2012 he left his U.S. home and planted his feet in Ecuador. “I love mountains and was looking for that type of environment, and I was getting pretty tired of the cold winters,” says Bill. These days he doesn’t need a snow shovel, and his life of retirement in the northern Andes gives him just what he was looking for. He has daily views of majestic volcanoes, with a rocky river running through the gully below his house. Snow is nowhere to be found.

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Faster Visa Processing Makes Ecuador an Even Better Overseas Retirement Destination

Better weather and a low cost of living makes Ecuador a great option for retirement, and recent improvements to the immigration process now makes it even easier to gain residence in Ecuador. Ecuadorian lawyer Santiago Andrade says: “President Correa’s administration has improved many of the bureaucratic processes, and business and immigration is not the exemption to this change. I have seen an improvement in the timing of the residence visa process. In the past a visa took around 30 to 45 days to be approved; now it takes two to three weeks.”

The 5 Best Places to Retire in Ecuador

In Ecuador, you’ll not only be in the middle of the world, but you could be on top of it. That’s because thanks to its location on the equatorial “bulge,” the peak of the country’s 20,564-foot Mt. Chimborazo is the point on the Earth’s surface that’s the farthest from the Earth’s core and closest to the sun. There truly is something for everyone here. Mountains, beaches, rainforests, cities, and small towns…all with a price tag nearly anyone can afford. By the way, Ecuador’s currency is the U.S. dollar—no currency conversions necessary.

Incomes Abroad

Cashing in on Other People’s Cast-Offs

Getting into retail without having to invest in stock is a great way to cut down on your initial investment and more quickly make a profit. And it can be very easy. Consignment shopping fits right into that mold. And, as a very American concept, there’s not a lot of competition for it in other parts of the world. If you’re gathering what others don’t want—and finding a market for it—you have a good business model for short-term or long-term retailing. Essentially, with a consignment store you offer a space for others to sell their items in exchange for a cut of the money when the product sells.

Vilcabamba, Ecuador

Which of Ecuador’s Highland Towns Is for You?

I’ve always loved to explore the areas in which I live. Whether I was bushwhacking through wild Alaskan terrain or driving down dusty country roads in Minnesota farm country, I relished the thrill of seeing what’s around the next bend. It could be a fantastic little family-owned apple orchard or a mama moose with newborn twins.

It's-True-Ecuador-Really-Can-Improve-Your-Healt

It’s True: Ecuador Really Can Improve Your Health

I realized years ago that, by and large, happiness is a choice. I’ll admit that there have been times when maintaining that choice has required significant, conscious effort. But, the choice is easier now that I’m retired and living on Mexico’s Riviera Maya. Here it would take considerable, deliberate effort to be anything but happy.

Cotacachi, Ecuador

Indulge for Less in Cotacachi, Ecuador

I worked hard when I lived in the U.S. Not only did my husband and I have intense jobs, we also homeschooled our children and managed our 10 acres of land in northern Idaho. Additionally, because we’d built our off-grid cabin by hand, we had the pleasure of hauling, splitting, and stacking firewood along with pitching snow off the roof and out of the driveway come winter.

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In Pictures: Six of the Best Mountain Towns in Ecuador

Recent years have seen the small South American country of Ecuador attract many foreigners to its borders. The low cost of living, diverse geography, and ease of immigration are just a few factors that make this equatorial nation appealing.

Ecuador

An Ecuadorian Local Treasure We Highly Recommend

Last weekend my wife, Suzan, and I celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary in one of the most unique spots we’ve ever visited. We left our home in Cotacachi before noon and drove north, deeper into the Ecuador province of Imbabura. Our driver had asked if we wanted to take the “scenic route” instead of taking the Pan American Highway, and we happily agreed.

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Starting Over in Ecuador in Our 40s

Two years ago Rob Hamm and Tracey Krause along with their two children relocated from Winnipeg to Cotacachi, Ecuador. Their goal as a family was to experience a new culture, travel, and learn a new language—which they’ve successfully done. But, there was a catch. Rob and Tracey are only in their 40s and still needed to earn an income to support their family. In preparing for their change in lifestyle, Rob took his interest in photography to the point where his photos could provide income. Several months before coming to Ecuador he began submitting photos…

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I’d Never Live on This Caribbean Island…

I’m writing this postcard from a veranda overlooking the Caribbean Sea on a nearly forgotten tropical island. The ocean is showing off several shades of blue and a slight breeze teases the palms. The piña colada at my side completes the picture. But as my family’s annual vacation draws to a close I’m actually a bit anxious to return home to Cotacachi, Ecuador.

TheUndiscovered

The Undiscovered Intag Valley: Ecuador’s Hidden Eden

Tucked into the western slopes of the Andes, 40 miles north of the capital Quito, the Intag Valley possesses that rare kind of climate in which nearly any plant will thrive. Farmers haul in harvests of everything from papayas and passion fruit to carrots and corn. Surrounding their scattered tracts of farmland is a dense jungle of towering palms, broad-leafed ferns and twisting vines. You’ll find more species of orchids than you can count, and a huge variety of bromeliads.

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Moving to Ecuador Saved Chuck and Kathy’s Retirement

Most mornings Chuck and Kathy Baumgarten can be found leisurely sipping coffee and enjoying the sunrise from their porch. It’s easy to see why if you visit their home. They have one of the most scenic vistas in all of Ecuador. Mount Imbabura seems to rise from their backyard. A 180-degree turn showcases Mount Cotacachi’s golden-hour glow. All the while the market town of Otavalo is nestled beneath them in the valley below.

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Moving Our Family to Cotacachi Changed Everything

Two years ago, my husband David and I broke the news to our friends and family that we would be moving to Ecuador. We enjoyed much about our life in the States, but we didn’t like the high-pressure work environment and focus on consumerism. We longed to break out of the corporate rat race and have the chance to work for ourselves.

Penang, a cultural melting pot, is a great place to move to with children. 
© mellsva - Fotolia.com

Best Places for Families to Retire Overseas

We all dream of giving up the rat race, packing our belongings, and moving some where warm and sunny, but why wait until you retire? Moving overseas can be a big decision, even bigger when you have children—but the benefits that make living abroad a good thing for adults are similar to those that make it a good thing for kids. A lower cost of living, healthier lifestyle, varied life and cultural experiences…they all benefit your child’s life in some way. Here are some of the best places to retire for families.

The Rewards of Moving to Ecuador with Kids

The Rewards of Moving to Ecuador with Kids

Like many parents, my husband David and I have always told our children that they should follow their dreams. We’ve told them that they can be whatever they want to be and live wherever they want to live, but that, most importantly, they should pursue their passions. Of course, deep down we realized that they were never going to follow our advice when we refused to do so ourselves.

Moving Overseas With a Young Family

Moving Overseas With a Young Family

Would you willingly move—lock, stock, and barrel—to a foreign country with your grade-school-aged children in tow? I mean, it’s a big enough leap to move yourself overseas, even if you have 60 or 70 years of life experience and a bit of a pension or some Social Security under your belt.

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Moving Overseas With a Young Family

Would you willingly move—lock, stock, and barrel—to a foreign country with your grade-school-aged children in tow? I mean, it’s a big enough leap to move yourself overseas, even if you have 60 or 70 years of life experience and a bit of a pension or some Social Security under your belt.

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A New Life in Cotacachi, Ecuador

Cynthia Collett recently celebrated her first anniversary in Ecuador, although she admits she had been working on this idea of “retiring overseas” for nearly a year before she actually made the move. “A friend came to Ecuador for a work-related conference,” Cynthia says. “And she told me I would absolutely love Cotacachi. “That’s when I started the Internet research. The more I read, the more I fell in love with the culture.”

health care in Ecuador

The Truth About Health Care in Ecuador

When my wife, Suzan, and I heard that we could get what is commonly called an “executive health assessment” in Quito, Ecuador, we decided to give it a try. Our primary care physician, Dr. Davalos, works with Hospital Metropolitano in Quito to put together a comprehensive package of tests that cover all the health bases over a two-day period.

health care in Ecuador

The Truth About Health Care in Ecuador

When my wife, Suzan, and I heard that we could get what is commonly called an “executive health assessment” in Quito, Ecuador, we decided to give it a try. Our primary care physician, Dr. Davalos, works with Hospital Metropolitano in Quito to put together a comprehensive package of tests that cover all the health bases over a two-day period.

Ecuador’s Not Just for Retirees...

Ecuador’s Not Just for Retirees…

“You know what?” my new friend said. “You need to tell this to young people.” We were having coffee during one of the networking breaks here at the Fast-Track Ecuador Conference, and my new friend was much like me… much like the majority of our attendees… nearing or at retirement age and finally ready to have the overseas adventure she always wanted.

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Living in Otavalo, Ecuador

Local legend tells that the two volcanoes are lovers, and when there is snow on Cotacachi’s peak, it means that Imbabura has visited her in the night. The valley between them cradles Otavalo, a city about 34 miles north of Quito, Ecuador.

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The World’s Top Retirement Havens in 2013

Among the top retirement spots in the world this year, you’ll find great variety in the cultural offerings, climates and lifestyles. Each destination is desirable in its own way, but they all offer something increasingly hard to come by at home: A good quality of life for a reasonable price. Among these 22 destinations, you’ll discover places where you can save tens of thousands of dollars…

From Ireland to Ecuador: Properties for Less Than $150,000

From Ireland to Ecuador: Properties for Less Than $150,000

Properties are going on sale all over the world with price tags of $150,000 and less. Below are a range of affordable properties in countries such as Mexico, Ecuador, France, Costa Rica and Ireland. Some of the countries below have witnessed dramatic declines in their real estate markets. As a result, previously expensive properties are now within reach…

Run-Your-Own-B&B-Overseas

Run Your Own B&B Overseas

Own your own four-bedroom B&B in the middle of one of the most beautiful spots in Ecuador. At 8,000 feet, you’re surrounded by mountains. And the climate is ideal year-round—no need for heat or air conditioning—and there’s a large open patio and summer kitchen. The colonial town of Cotacachi, known for its leatherwork, is just 10 minutes away. Otavalo (pictured), a larger town famous for its Saturday open-air market filled with indigenous handicrafts, is just five minutes down the road. The country’s capital, Quito, is just a two-hour drive.

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Traveling to Ecuador for Business and Pleasure

If Ecuador isn’t on your short list of places to travel, add it. Ecuador has mountain towns…tropical coast…the Amazon basin…and it’s also home to the Galapagos Islands. But I won’t dwell on any of that right now; just suffice it to say that if you go, you’ll want to go back.

How to Retire 10 Years Early (Yes, You Can!)

How to Retire 10 Years Early (Yes, You Can!)

Even if you don’t think you’re ready to retire… we learned today that ANYTHING is possible…no matter your age… or the size of your bank account. For example, in 2000, Suzan Haskins and her husband Dan Prescher took an early retirement from their marketing jobs. Ten years early, in fact. These Omaha natives had a modest income, some money tucked away and grown children.

We went to Ecuador in May.  We spent a few nights at El Andino in Quito and  enjoyed it.  We thoroughly loved Ecuador – all areas from Vilcabamba to the coast to Cotacachi.

We plan to build in Checa (Pakakuna Gardens), so we’ll have the “country quiet” but be close to vibrant Quito (which we fell in love with after spending almost 2-1/2 weeks there…walking to various neighborhoods and soaking it all in).  What great people everywhere, tho.

Thanks to IL for many wonderful years of ideas, and boy are we looking forward to the Ecuador lifestyle mixed with our Nova Scotian life (at least for a while longer).

–Diane and Bob Outerbridge

The Next Best Thing to Being in Ecuador

The Next Best Thing to Being in Ecuador

If anyone needed a retirement rescue—it was Ron and Terresa Moore. “Our 401k turned into a 201k after the economy went sour in 2008,” Ron joked today. Their story is all too familiar. Back in July 2007, Ron and Terresa made six-figures managing a car dealership, they had real estate and $1.2 million in assets. But fast-forward to December 2008.

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Three Mountain Retreats in Ecuador

Friends in Ecuador couldn’t decide between the mountains and the beach. So they chose both. Because Ecuador may be the most affordable expat haven ever, you can do that here. For $114,000 total, our friends bought two condos—one beachfront and one with a mountain view. And their monthly expenses are less than $900.

cotacachi

A Better Climate and Lower Costs in Ecuador

David and Wendy DeChambeau had what many people considered an ideal life in northern Idaho…beautiful natural surroundings, two handsome and talented young boys, a nice home with all the trimmings that make up the American Dream. Yet, they were searching—seeking better economic opportunity, a lower cost of living, and a better climate.

Meet the Experts

At the Fast-Track Costa Rica Conference, you’ll meet an unprecedented number of expats who have bought second homes, retired, or started up a business there.

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