Buy in Quito, Ecuador from $46,000; or Rent for $400

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 menu del dia…usually a four-course meal of soup, salad, meat/rice/vegetables, dessert, and beverage…for $1.50 to $2.50. And certainly there are gourmet restaurants where you can spend much more but still not break the bank.

First-rate health care is inexpensive, too. Even at one of the best medical clinics in the city, you’ll never spend more than $40 for an office visit—and that’s with a top-notch, English-speaking specialist.

Property prices are a real bargain. As a rule of thumb, you can expect to pay, on average, $75 to $100 per square foot for an older Quito apartment. Brand-new apartments will fetch more. As for rentals, depending on the neighborhood, size, and amenities of the property, and whether it’s furnished or not, expect to pay $300 to $1,000 a month long-term for a desirable location.

Throw in the year-round perfect weather, and plenty of parks and outdoor venues to enjoy it, and you’ll not find a nicer place to live. That’s why my husband and I have begun to spend more time in Quito these days. Once you learn about all that Quito has to offer, you may want to do the same.

Not long ago, Quito’s Old Town was a place best avoided—where all of life’s seamier side could be found. Today, though, after a multi-million dollar investment by the government and private interests you’re more likely to encounter schoolchildren on field trips and families strolling the famous Calle La Ronda, where comfy restaurants and small cafes beckon and street games like hopscotch and ring-toss are the norm.

This Renaissance—and an abundance of ancient, thick-walled, tile-roofed colonial buildings ripe for renovation (at more than 800 acres, this is the largest historic center in the Americas)—has drawn young professionals and artistic types to Old Town.

You can still find a bargain, though. On a narrow cobblestone street with views of the gothically iconic Basilica del Voto Nacional church, an impressive 3,325-square-foot building is selling for $99,000.

With arched windows and doorways, the building consists of five apartments and two ground-floor commercial spaces. Bring your drawing board; it will need complete renovation.

If you’re looking for something smaller and completely turnkey, a 618-square-foot, one-bedroom/one-and-a-half bath apartment in a five-unit building is for sale just two blocks from the Presidential Palace. Appliances are included, furniture is negotiable, and from the nearly private terrace you’ll enjoy nice Old-Town views. Asking price: $46,000.

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