I live on a sizeable quinta (a villa or small estate) near Loja—deep in southern Ecuador. Here the weather is so mild, I live in the open air year-round. Being so near the equator means the temperature never gets too cold, while the Andean elevation keeps the air from ever getting unbearably hot. A year-round growing climate is one of my greatest pleasures living here.
Also in southern Ecuador, is Loja— the oldest city in Ecuador, being founded in 1548. The flavor of life here is much more robustly Latin than in the larger, more cosmopolitan cities of Quito, Guayaquil, and Cuenca. Lojanos tend to be less open to outsiders than, say, Cuencanos and most do not speak English. But like the vast majority of Ecuadorians, Lojanos are polite, gracious, and once you get to know them, are some of the warmest people you could ever wish to meet.
The high Andean valleys over which Loja sprawls is in a cloud forest. This means there is more rainfall here than in other parts of Ecuador. However, the verdure this produces is part of what makes Loja such a gorgeous city. Lampposts are hung with planters, filled with flowering plants whose trailing tendrils never need to be watered.
If all this appeals to you, and you like the idea of a home here, currently on the market here is a 3,832-square-foot home in a nice neighborhood, close to shops and parks with easy access to public transportation. The asking price is for $185,000, It has six bedrooms and seven bathrooms. It also has an outdoor patio, home office, and a large terrace with lovely views of the city.
For those who wish to rent while they look around, a 1,600-square-foot, three-bedroom, two-bathroom, unfurnished condo is currently being offered to rent for $450 a month.
A lot of expats want to enjoy everything Loja has to offer, but prefer a warmer, sunnier clime. There are a number of communities within easy driving distance of Loja where many expats prefer to live. Catamayo, where the airport is located, is much dryer and hotter. A 1,900-square-foot home in Catamayo, with large living room, dining room, kitchen, two bedrooms, and a bathroom is selling for $55,000. Its covered veranda provides some lovely views of the valley.
Two other towns near Loja popular with expats are Vilcabamba and Malacatos. Prices in Vilcabamba tend to be higher due to the demand. However, a three-bedroom, two-bathroom home in a quiet, secluded area of Vilcabamba within easy walking distance of the central plaza, rents unfurnished for $400 a month. It has cathedral ceilings and has enough land for gardening, if you wish.
A three-bedroom, two-bathroom home in Malacatos, rents furnished for $400 a month. It sits behind a high privacy wall behind which you’ll discover mature fruit trees, a basketball court, swimming pool, hot tub, and water slide, as well as an additional bathroom in the pool house.
Taxiche is a sector of Malacatos that’s roughly 10 minutes from Vilcabamba and Malacatos both. A four-bedroom, four-bathroom, 2,583-square-foot home is currently on the market, and is just 30 minutes drive from Loja. This meticulously crafted, elegant home was designed by an architect to be his parents’ dream home. A large kitchen connects to one of two living rooms. The home is ideal for people sensitive to chemicals, because the house and grounds were built—and are maintained—chemical-free.
The property also includes a pool, a brick fire pit and a built-in barbecue. The property is graced with organic peach, orange, lemon, and papaya trees, as well as a number of banana plants. And there’s also a two-car garage. The home is being sold partially furnished for $198,000. The owner says, “There is always a light breeze, and best of all, there are no bugs.” At an elevation of 5,900 feet, the weather is sunnier and warmer than in Loja.
A tip if you are doing your own internet search for real estate near Loja, you will have better success if you search in Spanish. Anything that appears on an English language website is likely to be priced higher. Enter “casas se vende + Loja Ecuador”. The results will be in Spanish, but that’s where Google Translate comes in handy.
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