At International Living, we always recommend that you rent before you buy. Before you plunk down money on a house or condo in a new place, stay awhile and see if it suits your needs. This is especially true in Ecuador, where there are a wide variety of climates, landscapes, and lifestyles from which to choose.
You’ll find plenty of websites out there that promote short-term vacation rentals, but prices can be misleadingly high. Still, it is a good place to get a feel for the prices in the areas you are considering—and they can be useful to make reservations for your preliminary “scouting” trips.
How to Find Long-Term Rentals in Ecuador
More and more real estate firms in Ecuador are also managing rental properties. Investors are buying properties now, meaning to retire in a few years. Until then, they prefer to rent them out as a source of income. This is very common on the coast of Ecuador, where many native Ecuadorians also have vacation homes they rent out for most of the year.
The classified section of the websites of local newspapers is also a good source (especially to get a feel for prices). But unless you speak the language fluently, we wouldn’t recommend a lot of email back and forth until just before your visit. Never send money to reserve an unseen rental site—too many things can go wrong.
It’s better to do your research and due diligence in advance, so that you are ready to make the most of your time when you arrive. Book a hotel or guesthouse for a few days, then explore. Look around to get an idea of what neighborhood you want to live in and what type of accommodation you need (house or apartment, number of bedrooms, swimming pool, or other specifications). Pay attention to proximity to grocery stores, pharmacies, banks, and other resources you may need.
Be sure to network with expats and locals and ask them if they know of places for rent. Most sizeable cities have well-known expat meeting places where you’ll often find community bulletin boards posted with real estate ads, ride-share notes, and more. Social media is also a good place to break into the market—most communities in Ecuador have expat Facebook groups, for example.
Another strategy for finding a good rental is simply to stroll the area you find most attractive and look for Se Renta, Se Arrienda, or Se Alquila (“for rent”) signs and call the telephone numbers on them. If you do not have a good grasp of Spanish, you can usually find local translators who will assist for $8 to $10 per hour.
Once you’ve found the place you want, it’s important to do a thorough inspection. Make sure there aren’t any problems with the floors, doors, windows, electrical fixtures, or appliances. Keep in mind that most rentals come unfurnished, which not only means no furniture, but no kitchen appliances, so plan this extra expense item into your budget. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Then talk price, and never be afraid to negotiate. You’ll probably be asked for a deposit and first and/or last month’s rent payment. This can be negotiated too—especially payment terms, if you can’t come up with all of it at once. Getting a written contract for the length of your stay is recommended. Have the document translated if you don’t speak fluent Spanish. It’s a good idea to have an attorney (independent from the landlord’s attorney) look it over on your behalf. Keep in mind that in Ecuador, a contract is not legally binding unless it is in Spanish and notarized. Understand your rights and obligations and voice any concerns. (Make sure you know who is responsible for paying utility, phone, internet, and cable TV bills—usually that burden falls to the renter.)
Once you’ve signed on the dotted line, move in, unpack, and start enjoying your new home.
Where to Rent in Ecuador
Here are some examples of rentals currently available around Ecuador.
On a recent visit to Cotacachi, this apartment was advertised on the door of a sandwich shop: a four-bedroom, two-bathroom, living room, dining room, and kitchen available in the heart of Cotacachi for $250 per month .
Listed on the mls-ecuador website is a house in Cotacachi, with three bedrooms and two bathrooms. This property has city and mountain views. The living space is 1,399 square feet, and it is available furnished. This property includes a blender, a dryer, a freezer, a microwave, an oven, a refrigerator, a stove, and a washing machine. It is listed at $620 per month .
If big-city life is more to your taste, the capital city of Quito offers a wide range of rental options. For example, the frugal-minded might settle on a two-bedroom, one-bathroom unfurnished apartment in the Carcelan neighborhood for just $300 per month , while an expat looking for lots of room in the upscale Gonzalo Suarez section might choose to spend $1,200 per month on a 2,000-square-foot, four-bedroom, three-bathroom luxury apartment with a stunning view of both the mountains and the city .
The popular expat location of Cuenca is a renter’s paradise. There are many homes and condos available on the market to choose from.
Right now your new home may be waiting for you in El Centro. Situated in front of Plaza San Francisco, this studio apartment is ideal for exploring Cuenca. Just blocks away from Parque Calderon, Plaza de Flores, a variety of restaurants, cafes, and museums, the location is second to none. With all of the windows facing the interior courtyard of Santuario Mariano, this is the quietest apartment you will find in the entire historic district. Offered fully furnished with all utilities and internet included this studio is an absolute steal. Available on a short or long-term basis for $500 per month .
If you prefer a house, Cuenca also has plenty to offer, like a charming two-story house just a few blocks from Parque Calderon. It has an outside terrace off the back bedroom, a pleasant enclosed garden and an outside BBQ patio. The house features rustic tile and hardwood floors, nice hardwood cabinetry, and has fireplaces on both floors. There are three upstairs bedrooms plus a maid’s suite on the ground floor and a separate office with desk. All bedrooms have their own bathroom. The house has an alarm system, and comes fully furnished including bed and bath linens, washer-dryer, and two parking spaces. Rental includes utilities, CATV, and internet—all for only $890 per month .
The most popular beach resort in Ecuador, Salinas on the southern coast, also has many different options for the renter. Here prices vary with the time of the year you shop, and with the distance from the beach.
There’s a beautiful remodeled condominium that is located four blocks from the beach in Chipipe (the beach next to Salinas Beach). It has three bedrooms with split-unit air conditioners, good closet space, three-bathrooms (one guest), laundry room with washer and dryer, and a large kitchen. The building has a swimming pool and private security. The condo fees are included in the price, and if you go for a full year lease it is yours for $550 .
Even beachfront living is possible on a budget. There’s a furnished two-bedroom, two-bathroom property in one of Salinas’s newest oceanfront condos that is available for $700 per month. That price includes HOA fees, water, and electricity—and full use of the many amenities .
Manta is the perfect location for someone who wants access to beaches, but still wants to be in a city. This one-bedroom apartment gives you the best of both worlds —central to the city, yet steps away from the popular Murcielago Beach. The new building has a Jacuzzi and pool, and your apartment has a balcony overlooking the beach and ocean. It’s listed at $700 per month .
Small village beach life can be found in the quiet fishing town of Olón, just north of Montañita.
Imagine yourself relaxing in a four-bedroom, two-bathroom home with a huge backyard and an outdoor kitchen area, just a short walk from the seven-mile beach of Olón. It is not just a dream, that home can be yours for $550 per month .