Having moved four times in the last two-and-a-half years, my husband, Kim, and I have become quite experienced at finding places to live here in the Ecuadorian mountain town of Cotacachi—the search for our fourth apartment took only one day.
Cotacachi offers a wide range of available rentals and homes for sale to accommodate personal tastes and budgets from luxurious to frugal. Renting until you become acquainted with the various communities and familiarize yourself with what is available is a good idea.
To start your search, you’ll need a cell phone that works in Ecuador, since many properties are not advertised other than a phone number in the window. Cellular phones use minutes that can be purchased at numerous locations around town. Usage runs around 10 cents per minute.
We have found mid-range apartments from $300 to $500 per month, but there are also options on either end of this spectrum. Apartments can be found in multi-unit apartment buildings, above stores, in townhouses, and condos.
There are a range of real estate agents in the city, providing the same level of service you would expect from similar businesses in the U.S., and Facebook is a good source of rentals and sales from expats. The public groups For Sale/Rent/Wanted in Cotacachi or Cotacachi-Buy, Sell, Swap, Rent are particularly useful.
Bulletin boards in restaurants are another local trick to finding rentals. I recently used these to spot a second-floor, fully furnished, two-bedroom condo for $500 per month, including utilities; a small, unfurnished studio apartment on a third floor with a terrace for $100 per month, utilities extra; a renovated, second-floor, three-bedroom apartment for $200 per month unfurnished, or $350 per month furnished; and finally, a centrally located, three-bedroom cottage apartment for $250 per month.
For our latest move, our one-day search yielded a newly constructed apartment for $400 per month, which includes water, garbage collection, gas, electricity, and internet. Our requirements were: unfurnished, three-bedroom, first floor, pet friendly with a yard, and within walking distance of the city center. The apartment has two bathrooms and large, fenced front and back yards for our dog. It features granite counter-tops, tiled floors, built-in closets, large windows front and back, a laundry room, and spectacular views of both the Imbabura and Cotacachi mountains. We were not required to sign a lease, but are hoping to be long-term tenants.
In Ecuador, gas is usually used to heat water and to cook. Most places have two separate gas tanks since one is connected to the hot water and the other to the stove. The cost of a large tank of gas is $2.50 delivered, and it lasts for months. Our electricity bill runs to around $20 per month and the water costs about $7 per month. Homes generally do not have heat or air conditioning, but some have a fireplace.
There are a few internet companies here with availability depending upon where your home is located. Our internet provider charges $32 per month for 5mb service, which also includes a landline phone connection. We receive a discount since we are over 65. Cable television runs around $50 per month and includes HD channels and a few more channels than basic service.
Generally, rentals and homes for sale are readily available. Cotacachi offers a wide range in housing costs and styles to choose from. This diversity makes the eclectic appearance of the city as interesting as its friendly, welcoming people.
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