Homes From Just $80,000 in Ecuador’s Highlands

Last night I found myself in a quaint little restaurant surrounded by low wooden ceilings, heavy timber doors, hand-painted alcoves, and Beethoven’s 9th playing softly in the background. The wait staff were perfectly attentive and my pizza perfectly topped with just the right amount of cheese and sauce.

Had I not known better, I could have thought myself in Rome, but truth be told I was in the Andean mountain town of Cotacachi, Ecuador.

It’s a town I’ve grown to love over the last four years. Plenty of other international residents love it too. The weather attracts many, with average temperatures running between 50 F and 72 F every day of the year. The highland beauty is tough to get over too, with looming, long-dormant volcanoes on either side of Cotacachi’s valley. And of course, the town itself is a center of interest with leather crafts, restored colonial buildings, and plenty of friendly faces.

And good food is easy to come by as well. Whether you’re dining in little European-inspired eateries like the one above, or sampling some of Ecuador’s delicious street fare, it’s a delight for the senses.

With its great appeal and growing number of expats, this is a great time to buy a home. There’s also a real opportunity in rentals with a large majority of expat residents looking to rent. But most are not looking for just any old rental. They want something with the North American amenities to which they’re accustomed—hot water connected to all faucets, indoor laundry facilities, and a larger kitchen with plenty of storage.

Luckily there are plenty of buying opportunities that can convert into rentals that provide a healthy yield.

Just a block from 10 de Agosto, Cotacachi’s main drag, sits a condo development where you can find an 1,100-square-foot, two-bedroom turnkey condo listed at $105,000. You’ll have everything you need in place to turn around and rent it while your tenants enjoy building security, landscaped gardens, and volcano views. If you rent it out for $600 per month, as many of these unit owners do, you’ll have a 6.9% annual return.

A five-minute taxi ride outside of town and up the lower flanks of Mount Cotacachi, you’ll find another condo development with upscale units with uninterrupted views of the opposing Mount Imbabura. Asking price for a furnished two-bedroom unit is just $97,500. Again, if you ask just $600 per month in rent, you’ll bring in a nice 7.3% yield.

You’ll want to experience life in Cotacachi with a home for yourself, where you can enjoy walking the town’s tiled sidewalks, partaking in the public fiestas, and shopping for quality crafts.

For example, $80,000 will get you a three-bedroom, two-story house on a quiet street at the edge of town. You’ll be within a 10-minute walk to the produce market, the local supermarket, the hospital, and Cotacachi’s best private school. And you won’t have to worry about those high property taxes as most homeowners in the area pay less than $50 per year in taxes.

You can still find good deals even if you have no plans to rent it out yourself. If you’re willing to take a little time, do your research, and look around you can find nice quality housing that is a fraction of what it would cost you back home.

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