Ecuador is truly unique. There are many places around the world where you can find cheap land, Ecuador included. But in many of those places, you’d lead an uncomfortable life, far from friends and family and disconnected from the rest of the world. Not so in Ecuador.
The tropical coast of Ecuador is one of International Living's hotspots. It's diverse, it's beautiful, it's largely undeveloped, and, best of all, it's overlooked. You can still buy a beachfront home here for $50,000.
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She’s a wanton woman with a feather beneath her skirt, cause for her constant state of libidinous arousal. Men and women alike are smitten with her overpowering beauty and limitless energy. But she has a temper, this one. When her flirtations are not returned, her anger boils and she quite literally blows her top like nothing you’ve ever seen.
Warm and sunny days…beautiful people lounging on the sand as surfers vie for choice waves… palm tree-lined boardwalks in picturesque beachside towns, dramatic craggy cliffs…the California coast has certainly captured the popular imagination. No wonder; it’s one of the most pleasant places in the world to live. But on the flip side, it also has some of the most expensive real estate in the world and a high cost of living.
Toucans and macaws glide around the lush jungle canopy and scores of monkeys parade through the overhanging branches. Neon-green and electric-blue butterflies of preposterous sizes flit across gurgling streams, while waterfalls drop into deep pools. Welcome to one of my favorites among Ecuador’s secret spots…a place hidden in the east of the country, where indigenous shamans still perform timeless rituals and a small number of adventurous expats have found new lives surrounded by nature.
Picture waking up to the sound of the Pacific Ocean crashing against the rocks outside, the sun bursting through your windows, warming your skin, and the fresh, clean, salt air filling your lungs as you step onto your balcony to survey the scene below.
When moving abroad, renting a place to stay is an attractive option that offers a lot of advantages, whether you’re headed to Costa Rica, Malaysia, France, Mexico, Ecuador, Ireland…or any country. If you plan to buy or build a home eventually, renting allows you to investigate a region and/or community…or several…before you put down roots. You don’t want to be stuck in a neighborhood, region, or home you don’t like.
If you want to increase your future returns while reducing your risk, you should add some emerging-market stocks to your portfolio. It may surprise you that adding riskier, emerging-market assets to a portfolio will reduce overall risk, but it shouldn’t. These markets do not move in lockstep with the U.S. market, which hit a series of all-time highs in the fourth quarter of 2013.
I had just polished off an al fresco meal at an Argentine steakhouse with my family, and was relaxing to the mingling sounds of several street musicians, when the bill arrived. Though I’ve been in Ecuador for some time, I still suffer from reverse sticker shock. A similar meal for four at a restaurant of the same caliber in the U.S. runs well over $100.
In Mexico, Ecuador and Costa Rica properties with stunning views can be bought for as little as $119,000, according to a new report by InternationalLiving.com. “A great view usually translates into a premium price tag. But if a buyer knows the right places to look, he can find properties with world-class vistas for much, much less than you’d expect,” reports InternationalLiving.com’s property correspondent, Margaret Summerfield.
This west-coast destination in Mexico hit the headlines in 1963. John Huston filmed part of Night of the Iguana in Vallarta. The world’s press descended on the town to follow the romance between Richard Burton, a star in the movie, and Elizabeth Taylor. Many viewers simply wanted the real skinny on the famous Hollywood stars. But others were grabbed by Vallarta’s colonial architecture and sun-drenched beaches. Tourists and expats started to flock to this little fishing village. Today, around 50,000 North Americans live in Vallarta…
This thick cover acts as one of the few remaining intact habitats for elusive pumas, jaguars, and other smaller felines. The endangered spectacled bear also calls the Intag home along with hundreds of varieties of exotic birds. As the condor flies, this cloud forest valley is not far from the market town of Otavalo. In fact, it’s only 35 miles away by road. But for years now that one-and-only road has been a narrow, mountain-hugging dirt track accessible only from the towns of Otavalo or Cotacachi.
For many, Latin America conjures up images of steamy, wildlife-filled jungles and beautiful people lounging on tropical beaches, sipping umbrella-bedecked drinks. But there’s a whole other side to Latin America…regions where temperate—even cool—climates and jaw-dropping vistas of snow-covered volcanos are the order of the day.
For three days now, I’ve been telling you that in Ecuador, you can have it all…but at what price? What must you give up to make a good life here? International Living is, at times, accused of seeing the world through rose-colored glasses…of overlooking the bad and omitting the blemishes. If you’ve been here in Quito the past few days, I doubt you’d agree with that.
A great view usually translates into a premium price tag. But you can afford a home with stunning vistas if know the right place to look. For example, I know of one Pacific coast town where a beachfront condo with Californian-style ocean views and a similar lifestyle will only set you back $119,000. You’d need at least three times that to get close to the beach in California.
Yunguilla is a long valley that begins just south of Cuenca and ends near the seaport city of Machala. Its elevation ranges from about 7,000 feet near Cuenca down to 4,500 feet at the Santa Isabel side (closest to Machala on the coast). At its highest point, Yunguilla is 1,500 feet lower than Cuenca, which translates to a warmer climate and very short rainy season. Since the valley is oriented east-west, it gets direct sunshine all day long.
Whether you are looking for a home on the coast, on an island or in a colonial city, these three countries have the best value real estate. If your dream home includes a pool, a big back yard in which to swing from a hammock in the sun, a place close to the beach where you can snorkel, relax with a good book or watch the sunset…rest assured, you can have it—because your real estate dollar stretches further overseas. You can buy a superior property in a better location for the same amount or less than you would spend on a home in the U.S.
Outside the window of the condo I was renting, two huge pelicans sat nodding in the sun. Or so it seemed. Because in an instant, and in perfect synchronicity, they leapt from their perch, pulled in their wings, and dove headfirst to the emerald water below. No small feat since we were 20 floors up. Hmm, I wondered, what’s for dinner? Because, as the pelicans know, these waters are rich with a choice of seafood or every kind.
Crucita is about 40 minutes north of Manta, Ecuador’s largest coastal city. But while Manta is big and busy and full of shopping and social opportunities, Crucita is the opposite. It’s a little fishing village with a produce market, a fish market, but no supermarket… You can get eggs, bread, beer, toilet paper, soap and other necessities of life at some of the local mom-and-pop shops, but for anything more exotic than that, you’ll need to go to Manta or the closer town of Portoviejo.
I’m typing this from the comfort of a lawn chair on the patio of my house in Quito. It’s early December and even though Quito is moving into winter, today is warm and sunny. Quito, Ecuador’s capital (a UNESCO World Heritage site), sits on the spine of the Andes nestled between two mountain ranges and several ice-capped volcanoes. The climate is mild, with high temperatures in the 70s and lows of around 50.
If there were ever two towns that complement one another perfectly, they would be Montañita and Olòn on the coast of Ecuador. About an hour north along the coast from Salinas—one of Ecuador’s best-known and most popular beach destinations—these two beach towns each offer a very different vibe. Montañita is named for the “little hill” that sits at its north end and separates its picture-perfect golden-sand beach from Olòn’s picture-perfect golden-sand beach. It’s less than a five-minute drive from one to the other, and a taxi ride will cost you just $2.
A pound of fresh shrimp—$2.50. Someone to cook and clean for you—$20 per day. Property tax of $200-$250 a year on the beach homes below… It’s easy to see why Ecuador tops International Living’s Retirement Index. It’s a top spot for those looking for a comfortable lifestyle that won’t break the bank. And Ecuador rates as one of the best-value destinations on my beat, too. On the country’s unspoiled Pacific coast, in particular, you get a whole lot more for your dollar. And that applies to real estate as well as your cost of living.
A patchwork quilt of blue-green grass stretches before you, complemented here and there with splashes of fuchsia, lavender, coral, bright yellow… The unmistakable aroma of eucalyptus hitches a ride on a fresh breeze, accented by wood smoke that you can just spy wisping its way out of a red-brick chimney poking from an adobe-walled casita, barely visible on the mountainside far across the way.
You’ve got the options of a cosmopolitan lifestyle in cities like Quito, Cuenca, and Salinas… or a more quiet existence in any number of smaller enclaves where you can garden with a view. And your choices extend to the kind of home you’d like as well—from the convenience of a modern high-rise condo…to the space afforded by a single-family home with a yard…to raw land on which you can build your dream escape.
Buying real estate overseas is different in each country as they all have their own laws and rules to abide by. But once you have an in-country attorney the process should be straightforward. In International Living’s annual Global Retirement Index 2013 we took real estate into consideration when coming up with the best places to retire overseas.
Cuenca is known for its rich intellectual and artistic traditions that match its colonial architecture. It is famous for its colorful festivals and is one of three UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Ecuador. Located on the southern edge of the mountains, Cuenca is Ecuador’s third largest city. Here foreigners have the same rights as citizens to own property…and real estate in Cuenca is a bargain.
Real estate prices in Ecuador are low—among the lowest anywhere. That means you can find some of the best bargains in the world. So if you choose this country, you may decide it makes sense to buy a residence.
Sunday morning breakfasts, poker nights, backyard barbecues, book clubs, church groups, happy hours…expats all around the world know that a sense of community is what truly makes you feel at home.
For many reasons, Cuenca, Ecuador earns top billing as one of the world’s top expat destinations. The cost of living is low—three-course lunches start at $2.50—the weather is great, usually around 65 to 70 F during the day, and it’s never too cold or hot. When we want to travel back to the U.S., it takes us as little as six-and-a-half hours’ flight time to New York (plus you’ll get a major discount on your fare if you are a resident retiree).
There’s no other view in the world like it. In a cliff-top home, there’s nothing between you and the beautiful vista but empty space. You never have to worry about a house going up in front of you or that your neighbor’s new satellite dish will block your line of sight. Badminton in the back yard may be out. But morning coffee and sunset drinks on the terrace are in. If you’re on the seaside, the rumbling waves pounding the rocks below will be your lullaby.
Right now it feels like civilization has forgotten about this place. It’s the coast of Ecuador, running from north of Canoa to Pedernales. One of the last stunning and undiscovered stretches of Pacific coast in the Americas, it is now set to be developed. And if you are interested in buying best-in-class real estate at deep, early-in values, this is a stretch of coast that should be on your radar.
Whether you dream of a pastel-painted, old colonial home surrounded by lush gardens or a super-modern condo just yards from the beach, in locations all over the planet you’ll find incredible value. Affordable, good-value real estate is a “stand-out” factor of the world’s best retirement havens.
Every time you turn around, another travel piece appears about Ecuador’s capital city, Quito. Mainstream travel writers, it seems, are just now discovering what we’ve known for years… that the city is a worthy destination that blends new and old in alluring ways. It doesn’t hurt that Quito is one of the world’s most affordable cities.
Every time you turn around, another travel piece appears about Ecuador’s capital city, Quito. Mainstream travel writers, it seems, are just now discovering what we’ve known for years…that the city is a worthy destination that blends new and old in alluring ways. It doesn’t hurt that Quito is one of the world’s most affordable cities, where you can still take a taxi anywhere in town for $1 to $5 and find a menú del día…usually a four-course meal of soup, salad, meat/rice/vegetables, dessert, and beverage…for $1.50 to $2.50.
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.
Famous for its artisanal leather goods, the colonial town of Cotacachi (pictured) features open-air markets and small mom-and-pop stores. For other amenities Ecuador’s capital, Quito, is only two hours away by car or bus. Here you’ll find a three-bedroom, three-bathroom condo, one of six in a secure building. There are great mountain views and at 8,000 feet, there is no heat or humidity. It’s cool in the evenings.
On Ecuador’s best stretch of coast sandy coves and verdant hills showcase jaw-dropping views. Prices have stayed low here because it was difficult to get to. But a new highway means that this has changed. Members of Real Estate Trend Alert can buy a lot in the best-in-class project in this area, with a manageable down payment and monthly payments of $470.
Not only is it the finest section of Pacific coast in Ecuador…it’s the finest anywhere. This is a place of explosive colors and contrasts, forests and coves, exotic butterflies and monkeys. Fishing villages and little surf towns dot the coast. Fishermen bring their fresh bounty ashore and sell it from their boats. Pioneer surfers catch waves and enjoy a cold beer at sundown.
If you’re looking for a beach home and you’re on a tight budget, one country should top your shortlist: Ecuador. Ecuador’s coast is a sleeping giant. For years foreign buyers ignored it as a second-home destination. When it came to buying a place in the sun, they focused on better-known (and more expensive) beach destinations. That lack of foreign buyers is why beach homes in Ecuador remain affordable.
In Vilcabamba, Ecuador, you feel like you could live forever. It’s no wonder that this boasts of being the “Valley of Longevity,” where long, healthy lives are common and many of the locals claim to be centenarians—living well into their 100s. Perhaps it’s the climate. Just shy of the equator in southern Ecuador and at an elevation of 5,000 feet, temperatures in Vilcabamba average between 65 F and 81 F.
The morning mist burns away to reveal an expanse of velvety mountains and the green-carpeted valley in all its glory. Fresh air and blazing blue skies are to be expected here in the Andes. Here, you feel like you could live forever. It’s no wonder that this boasts of being the “Valley of Longevity,” where long, healthy lives are common and many of the locals claim to be centenarians—living well into their 100s.
Every month we take a look at some of the properties available around the world. This time out, we’re highlighting properties that not only provide you with a roof over your head, but an income to boot. Escape to Ecuador’s Yunguilla Valley and surround yourself with blossoming fruit trees and fresh ﬁsh on your own tropical property.