Cotacachi, Ecuador: A Small Town With an International Flair

I love Thursdays in Cotacachi. Every Thursday we have a beautiful farmers’ market filled with expat and Ecuadorean vendors selling their organic food products. There are about a dozen vendors, selling everything from pork products that have been raised on an expat farm just minutes from town, veggies also grown and harvested by an expat near Cotacachi, and coffee (both ground or bean in bags or fresh by the cup) grown and harvested by a couple who live nearby in the Intag Valley. In addition to these vendors, there is a German baker selling the best blueberry muffins, baguettes, and homemade jams and peanut butter in town. There is also a cheese vendor and a table ran by a volunteer from our local animal foundation who makes and sells dog and cat treats.

Cotacachi is a beautiful town located in the Andes Mountains at approximately 8,000 feet. We have a significant expat population here of about 300 to 500 people, several that live here permanently and others that come and go.

When my husband, Brian, and I moved here nearly six years ago, there were few “North American style” amenities, but now our little town is filled with a wonderful assortment of cafés and restaurants—a few owned by fellow expats. Prices have gone up a little in the past six years, but Cotacachi is still a very affordable place to live.

There are all sorts of options for living here. You can own or rent a house in a gated community, purchase or rent a standalone house in or out of town, or there are several apartments/condos for sale and rent in town and outside. In general, houses and apartments are approximately $70,000 to $150,000 to buy and approximately $400 to $750 per month to rent. There are definitely less expensive options available if you look around, but you will find that they may not have the same quality that many people are used to.

Cotacachi is also known for its leather goods. The main street, Callé 10 de Agosto, aka Leather Street, is the most beautiful street you could imagine with leather boutiques and cafés lining both sides. If you wish to eat like a local you can find an assortment of delicious Ecuadorian restaurants where you will get an almuerzo (lunch) for $2 to $3.50 or supper from $5 to $6. You can get a more non-traditional meal including Mexican food, Italian food, or pub food from $5 to $7 for lunch, and $7 to $10 for supper.

Unlike some of the larger cities, Cotacachi does pull in its sidewalks a little early. After 7 p.m. there is not much activity on the streets, unless you are enjoying karaoke at the local expat pub, or you’re out for a night of entertainment with our local expat rock and roll band. The Traveler’s Bar is owned and operated by a lovely family from Texas, and they offer a variety of events including bingo, trivia nights, poker, karaoke, and they even have a “movie and a dinner” night. The “Shades of Grey” are the rock and roll band made up of four musicians from the U.S. who all retired, met here, and formed a band. A few times a year they have awesome gigs where you can spend the night dancing to their amazing renditions of Golden Oldies. They are definitely a highlight for expats and Ecuadorians that live here.

Cotacachi is not to be overlooked if you are planning a trip or considering a move to beautiful Ecuador.

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