Kristin Simmon-Lowman has found she can live her life just as she desires in Ecuador. “I’m a routine person,” she says. “I spend eight hours a week taking Spanish lessons and that’s something I enjoy a lot. Also, I teach English twice a week to 11- and 12-year-olds through a local education program, Uno a Uno,” she says.
Kristin also enjoys keeping active and regularly runs, bikes, hikes, and swims. “It’s easy to work out here because I have the time and I can easily schedule it into my day. I’ve also found a group of friends who are like-minded so we’re active together.”
After a busy day, Kristin has the perfect place to relax in her spacious home at the edge of town. The two-story, adobe-style house with wood accents, that she and her husband Dave own, comes with spectacular views.
“Our rear view is of Mount Cotacachi, so from my terrace it’s beautiful when we have a clear day,” Kristin says. “Our front aspect gives us an unobstructed view of Mount Imbabura. At night, it’s especially pretty when all the lights come on and the pueblos on the mountainside light up.”
Kristin retired from her job as a social worker and teacher in 2015 and she made her permanent move to Ecuador in June that year. “We knew we wanted to go somewhere international. I’d been learning Spanish for four or five years, so we were sure that Central or South America was it. We were looking for temperate weather, but nothing too far away. Quito is only a five-hour flight from my family in Atlanta, so Ecuador fit a lot of our criteria.”
Before moving to Cotacachi, Kristin and Dave spent time looking at real estate. They knew that buying their own property instead of renting was a good choice for them because they wanted an area where they could garden and have space for their dog to run. It also meant Kristin could add personal touches into her house like specialty lighting she brought from the U.S., her own fixtures, tiles, and other finishing details.
When they found the gated community of El Encanto, which sits on the far edge of Cotacachi, they knew it was the place for them. “We were attracted to the location—it sits outside of town and is incredibly quiet and peaceful,” says Kristin. “On top of that, the grounds are beautiful and well designed with fabulous gardens. Not to mention the houses are built by one of the most famous architects in Ecuador and all to North American standards.”
A well-designed and well-built house in a gorgeous gated community would be prohibitively expensive for many people living in the U.S. But here in Ecuador, the cost is much lower. For example, a single-story, two-bedroom furnished house in Kristin’s development is on the market for just $150,000.
And the costs associated with home ownership in El Encanto are also significantly less than in the U.S. HOA fees run between $175 and $240 a month, depending on the size of the house. But this fee covers on-site concierge service, three nightguards, an alarm system, two gardeners, trash pick-up, and more. And Kristin says that her property taxes are just $50 per year.
“I like northern Ecuador and I like not being too far away from an airport,” says Kristin. “Cotacachi gives me access to conveniences and it’s a clean and friendly town. There are good coffee shops which is very important to me and I like having access to the expat community.”