A Mountaintop Haven for $16,000 in La Paz, Ecuador

Imagine waking up in your mountaintop paradise to the fog rolling in from the ocean, watching the sun rise and set with all the vibrant colors of the rainbow, and eagles circling the cobalt blue sky above you, while you enjoy the serenity of your new home—only interrupted by the sound of hummingbirds chirping and doves cooing nearby.

“It’s so peaceful and quiet here, there are times you can hear your ears ring,” says Tresa, who along with husband Ed, have found their dream haven in the mountains outside the town of La Paz that they now call paradise.

La Paz (which literally means peace) is about a 15-minute drive from the city of Loja with a population of 181,000. It’s about 6,758 feet above sea level with average temperatures in the low 60s F and high 80s F year round. Its lower altitude and warmer climate have been drawing expats from Cuenca for years. Loja has long been considered the musical and cultural capital of Ecuador, which boasts two universities and a variety of international restaurants.

Ed and Tresa own an apartment in Cuenca, but spend 90% of their time at their mountaintop haven of La Paz. Four years ago they bought a two-room, 250-square-foot fixer-upper cabin made of cinderblock for $16,000.

The homesteaders transformed their cinderblock cabin into a three room, 1,100-square-foot home. The three-room house has one large room with huge glass doors overlooking the valley. The living area contains a kitchen, dining room, and office, along with a separate bedroom and bathroom. A porch runs across the back of the house where they have a wood-burning earthen oven and a large deck that hangs out over the mountain.

So what does a slice of heaven and a $10 million view cost? Ed and Tresa have spent $25,000 transforming their cabin in the woods into an eco-friendly home using earthbag construction. The little community of La Paz consists of about 120 people who grow their own fruits and vegetables and raise chickens and cows. They’ve been eating organic food long before we ever knew the word existed. Ed and Tresa also have raised gardening beds to grow their own organic produce.

“There isn’t a lot that we would have done differently,” Tresa says. “The only thing that would have made it more pleasant for me was to have electricity sooner. We worked and lived here for two years using generators before getting electricity. Buying and installing a transformer cost us about $5,000 and made life so much easier and comfortable (included in the total cost of $25,000).”

Ed and Tresa fell in love with their mountaintop haven and the view, where you can watch the sun set down in the valley over the ocean. “On a clear day, we can see the ocean meet the sky toward Machala,” explains Tresa. “We decided that sitting in our living room watching the sun set was the view that we wanted.”

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