“I like quiet, I like privacy, and I have that here,” says Tracy Copeman of her home in Ecuador. Tracy and her partner Peter McGoldrick own a home on the grounds of an old hacienda a couple hours north of the capital Quito, near Lago San Pablo.
They’re a long way from their home of Montreal, Canada, but the couple are loving their new life in the Andes. “The temperature is perfect here in the mountains,” Tracy says. “And I have great mountain views. From here I can see Mount Cusin, Imbabura, and if I’m sitting in my chair I can see Cotacachi.”
Not only does the couple enjoy peaceful solitude, but living right on the hacienda grounds provides some great benefits. They have access to the produce in a large vegetable garden tended by a hacienda employee, they can eat at the on-site restaurant, and they get a discount on horseback rides from the hacienda stable. There are also great mountain hiking trails just behind their house.
This new life comes at a very affordable cost as well. “The cost of homes here is much cheaper and so are property taxes,” says Tracy. “The tax for this house is $90 and at home we paid almost $2,000. That alone right there is a big saving.”
“We spend just $450 per month on groceries. That includes food, cleaning supplies, beauty products, and alcohol,” says Peter.
With the money they saved, Tracy and Peter bought a small farm in the Intag Zone, a couple of hours away by car. Farmland in the Intag zone costs just about $400 for an acre of bare land, with lots on the river or already planted being priced at a higher rate.
“We raise granadillas (a passion fruit relative), naranjillas (a fruit prized for its sweet juice), tree tomatoes (used for making the local hot sauce, salsa de aji), beans, and we have about ten head of cattle,” says Tracy. The couple will turn their first profit at the end of this month when they sell the mature cattle, while much of the fruit will be ready for harvest sometime next year.
Peter and Tracy try to spend a couple of days each week out at their farm, but they’ve partnered with their neighbor, Lenny, to look after things while they’re away (Lenny gets a share of the profits in return for his help).
It hasn’t been hard for them to make friends. As well as becoming close with locals they count many of the expats in nearby Cotacachi as good friends.
One of their friends, Edison, only owns a motorcycle so Peter and Tracy will often haul produce from his farm in their truck for him. In return “if we need to use his chainsaw he’ll come over or if we need advice for a sick plant he’ll come and help,” says Peter. “There’s a give and take relationship in the community.”
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