I Could Never Afford This “Private Beach” Paradise in the U.S.

My wife, Heidi, and I moved to Ecuador from Utah just over a year ago. We wanted to swap the regular routine back home for a more stimulating, affordable lifestyle. We first lived in the beach community of Bahia de Caraquez but moved to the temperate mountain city of Cuenca last April. While we enjoyed the city’s grandeur and the natural beauty of the mountains, I realized I wanted to get back to beach life. It’s where my soul thrives most.

Heidi and I decided on Olón to be our family’s next home. We planned a one-week stay there to look for a rental that met our requirements. We wanted a three-bedroom, two-bathroom, furnished house on the beach or with an ocean view.

I immediately loved the feel of this small coastal village on the Pacific. It felt like I was back “home.”

As we made our way to the hotel, a woman sitting outside in a chair watched as we walked by, and then smiled when I said, “Buenas tardes.” As we passed a local tienda (store) the owner inside, seeing my unrestrained smile, smiled too and waved at me. I could already tell the pace would be easy here.

We spent a week looking for our perfect “slice of paradise.” We hit pay dirt when we found a three-bedroom, two-bathroom, redbrick home five minutes north of Olón, in a community called San Jose. Our new home is on the beach and has a huge terrace overlooking the ocean with palm trees swaying in the breeze. The master bedroom looks out over the ocean, and the sound of waves rolling onto the shore is the music we hear throughout the house. It is well decorated and fully furnished. Plenty of room for Heidi and I, and our two adventure-bound sons, who also came with us to Ecuador.

The rent for our “slice of paradise” is $1,200 per month, which is high for Ecuador, but it’s worth it. Olón and its surrounding area has some of the most beautiful beaches in all of Ecuador…and our location means we get to enjoy one as, essentially, our own private beach.

We’re often the only ones on the beach and swimming in the ocean, and our view is always unobstructed. If I was to rent a similar home in the States with the same proximity, view, and near-exclusive use of the beach, I cannot imagine how it would be less than $6,000 per month. I would never be able to afford this lifestyle in the U.S., but here I can.

It’s easy to get into Olón to buy fresh produce and fish. Four large red tomatoes only costs about a dollar. A head of cauliflower, sometimes larger than my own head, is 75 cents. Bananas are 15 for $1. Big fresh shrimp are $3 a pound, and delicious white fish is $3.50 a pound filleted. It is easy to eat well here for very little.

A bus going into Olón passes our house about every 20 minutes, but that isn’t the only way we get there. Walking along the beach into town, especially on days with cool cloud cover, is an enjoyable alternative. When we want to make the trip by beach quicker, we ride our bikes. What a blast it is riding on the hard, flat surface of wet sand with the faint spray of the sea helping to keep us cool.

At our home, our big terrace is used in the mornings for our family exercise routine and in the evenings, we enjoy a glass of wine on this same terrace and marvel at the display of colors in the sky as the sun slowly sets into the sea.

Life is good here. I feel blessed and know we made the right move.


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