How Much to Live in Vilcabamba, Ecuador?

Vilcabamba, Ecuador is a place that’s pristine and natural. It just makes you want to slow down and enjoy life as long as you can.

Some scientists believe the clean, mineral-rich water that flows from mountain streams and springs is akin to the fountain of youth. Or maybe the pure air itself keeps hearts beating and lungs breathing longer. Certainly, the climate has something to do with it. Just shy of the equator in southern Ecuador and at an elevation of 5,000 feet, temperatures average between 65 and 81 degrees, day in and day out. No weather-related stress here.

Truth is, it’s probably because of all these ingredients and more…and because it wasn’t that long ago (in the 1960s) that “civilization” came here in the form of a reliably drivable road that connected Vilcabamba with the outside world. It was even only more recently that the telephone, television, and the Internet forced their versions of stress into this valley.

It was also in the 1960s that one of the first foreign residents—Johnny Lovewisdom— found his way to the Vilcabama Valley. An eccentric spiritual seeker, he was looking for his own version of Nirvana, a place with a near-perfect climate where food could be grown unsullied by chemicals or the threat of nuclear fallout that was then top-of-mind in the post-World-War-II world. He brought an eclectic mix of alternative lifestyle pursuits, including some out-of-the-ordinary (at least for back then) dietary and religious beliefs.

This tendency to attract the more interesting and offbeat among us continues to this day.

But while it’s no doubt that some foreigners who come to Vilcabamba are somewhat eccentric…or that they’re searching for spiritual enlightenment or to live an intrusion-free alternative lifestyle of one kind or another…most are merely yearning for a simpler way of life…a place where they can own enough land to grow their own food, have horses, some chickens, maybe a few goats…

In Vilcabamba, this is an affordable possibility. Just outside town, a two-story traditional Ecuadorian house of 1,600 square feet is for sale. On a fourth-of-an-acre of land, it’s bordered by a creek and has lots of mature trees and plants, including avocado, fig, bananas, coffee, and more. The house needs work, but it’s offered for just $39,000.

Go farther afield to nearby valleys to find even more bargains. In Malacatos, for instance, you can buy 74 acres of land—with beautiful views, a natural spring, a small stream…even a waterfall—for $198,000.

At the top of a crest with a jaw-dropping 360-degree view of the valleys and village of Malacatos below, a two-acre parcel—with all utilities—is selling for $49,000.