It’s not a place for your typical expat lifestyle, that’s for sure. There are no theaters, no shopping malls, and no gourmet restaurants. You won’t head to a local sports bar to watch the Super Bowl or soak in your condo building’s on-site pool. But for a certain type of person, Ecuador‘s Intag Valley holds just the life they are looking for.
The Zona de Intag, as it’s known locally, is a cloud forest region northwest of Quito. Low mountain peaks rise in all direction while crystalline rivers tumble through the gullies and ravines. Broad-leafed trees and flowering vines intermix with towering palms and stout wild-fruit bushes. A big attractant for the residents of this area is the fertile volcanic soil and the warm everyday temperatures.
There’s a growing movement within the U.S. to live a self-sufficient lifestyle. Many people are finding ways to grow their own food, raise backyard chickens, and cut down on their overall environmental footprint. My husband, David, and I dabbled in this while living in Idaho where we raised chickens and ducks, tended a garden that overflowed in the summer, and took advantage of wild huckleberries in the fall. It was a great backup plan in an unstable economy.
But we also realized that there was no way we would ever be able to afford a lifestyle in which we could quit our jobs or even work part-time and provide for most of our own needs. We simply couldn’t afford to buy a large enough plot of usable land in a place that appealed to us.
In Ecuador’s Intag though, nearly every resident is living that sustainable lifestyle and they have been for centuries. David and I found that we can too, with land selling for half or even a third of U.S. prices. We now own 75 acres with a mixture of old-growth forest, pasture, and even river frontage. David has planted avocado and citrus trees, is tending to a growing number of animals including horses, ducks, and rabbits, and is soon to receive his first set of beehives. With no frigid winters or sweltering summers we can produce food and easily care for livestock year-round.
It’s definitely a labor of love for my husband who loves being surrounded by nature and having something to keep him active. I always look forward to heading out to the farm for a weekend and falling asleep with a million visible stars over my roof and the sound of flowing water providing the only sound.
If you’re the type of person who relishes a tranquil nature-filled life, you’ll find that it’s quite affordable in the Intag. I know of a 195-acre plot for sale with river frontage and two waterfalls. The property contains two basic houses—one for you and a smaller one for an on-site caretaker. Avocado, citrus, and guaba trees grow here and the property contains a mixture of forest and pasture. All of this is available for $185,000.
If you’re on a limited budget and don’t mind putting a little work into your property, there is a smaller lot available for just $30,000. The 27-acre parcel is in an ideal spot for growing coffee or cacao and is just five minutes down the road from a hot spring.
There’s a small but growing number of expats who are discovering a life of happiness in this area. Some are actively making a living off growing coffee or passion fruit. Others run eco-tourism businesses. And still others are just enjoying a simple life surrounded by good neighbors, plentiful wildlife, and endless beauty.
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