Finding Your Perfect Rental in Salinas

For many expats, renting may be a better option than buying when looking for your dream home in Ecuador. For example, you may not be sure about where to settle, and want the flexibility that renting affords. Even if you have settled on a town or a region, you may want to take time to fine-tune your preferences. Or, maybe you want to be able to take your time and look for just the right deal on the right location before you buy.

If you are considering the warm Pacific beach town of Salinas, on the Santa Elena peninsula, the good news is that there are many rental options available. However, since this is a resort community, it is a good idea to plan carefully, to make sure you get the most bang for your buck.

Seasonal Prices

The main challenge to getting a great rental at a great price is that the rental market on the coast is seasonal. In general, a rental during low season (June through November) will cost you less than a rental during high season (December through May). Holidays can also complicate the rental market. For example, an oceanfront condo that rents for $500 per month during low season may be listed at $900 per month for high season, and might even go for $900 for just one week during Carnival or New Years. Finally, you also may pay a little more to be on the ocean or for an ocean view.

Fortunately, there are a LOT of rental properties available, many bargains to be had, and most owners are willing to work out special rates for long-term stays. But you can definitely save money by knowing the right time of the year—usually low season—to start negotiating your lease.

Oceanfront Vs Interior

Let’s look at some examples, starting with the higher end of the spectrum. Mia Simmons and her husband, Bob, wanted something oceanfront in a modern building. They already had the building—and unit—in mind. “We like the Alamar because it comes with the amenities (pool, hot tub, etc.),” Mia says. There was a particular condo they had their eye on, a beautiful, fully furnished three-bedroom, three-bathroom unit, with a great view from the 14th floor. When it became available, they jumped on it. “We have a two-year lease. The rent includes Direct TV, internet, and Wi-Fi. We pay water, gas, and electricity. Our rent is $1,200 a month.”

On the other hand, Lynne Allen, who has lived in Ecuador for over six years now, decided after living most of that time on the ocean that she was ready to be more careful with her resources. After all, the ocean is always right there if you want to see it.

Lynne started systematically. “I drove around with my favorite taxi driver in the areas I thought were convenient. I looked at very Ecuadorian rental houses—unpainted concrete brick, no screens, no hot water—and those designed more like North American houses. I was amazed at the fascinating places available. One apartment had a huge kitchen with a wood-burning oven as well as space for a regular stove.”

She continued looking, with specific goals in mind. “I had a short list of what I was looking for—private outdoor space, hot water in the bathrooms, no stairs to deal with, at least two bedrooms, and needing only a few touches to make it home.”

Knowing what you want is important, as well as knowing some of the unique aspects of Ecuadorian landlords. As Lynne explains, “Ecuadorians rent their places ‘as is’ in almost all cases. You want a screen door? Fine, put one in, but I’m not paying for it. And you will be responsible for almost all repairs while you are renting.”

Her search paid off when she found the perfect spot just two blocks back from the beach—behind the Alamar building where Mia rents. This highlights one of the big real estate differences between Ecuador and the U.S. In the States, you usually can’t save more than 10% to 15% by moving a block or two back from the water. But in Ecuador, the price can drop dramatically. Lynne was able to get this new property for $400 per month, plus utilities and repairs.

Although the rental market can be unusual in Salinas, there is still something for everyone, within a wide price range. In general, you can find two- and three-bedroom condos or homes that rent anywhere from $250 to $1,500 per month. To guide you through renting in Salinas, here are some basic tips to help you find the best spot.

  1. Be patient. There are a lot of properties on the market, so give yourself plenty of time to find your ideal home.
  2. Be conscious of your timing. If you can, shop during low season when the market is saturated with available rentals.
  3. If you don’t speak Spanish, try to arrange a translator, as many of the best bargains are owned by Ecuadorians.
  4. Ask around. Many great bargains are found by word of mouth. Don’t be shy about telling cab drivers, waiters, and other expats that you are looking for a good rental.
  5. Always negotiate. Many owners are willing to take a lower monthly rate in exchange for a longer lease term.
  6. Local realtor offices usually manage rentals. Check with a few to see what they have available.
  7. Use online resources like FlipKey and HomeAway. They can be very helpful both for finding properties, and for getting an idea of pricing in different neighborhoods.

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