It’s not unusual for expats to describe living in the Andes of Ecuador as “Little Switzerland,” with its verdant mountains, deep river valleys, and charming towns with church spires dotting the countryside. Chican, Ecuador isn’t exactly Switzerland, but the small village near the Paute Valley is the ultimate in peace and tranquility.
“I never tire of looking at the mountains, seeing hawks soar, and watching the ever-changing pattern of the clouds,” says Lynne, who moved to Chican about four years ago.
Paute and the surrounding area are becoming increasingly more popular with expats because of its lower altitude and slower pace of life. It’s about an hour’s drive from the bustling city of Cuenca, but with a population of approximately 28,250, milder temperatures (high 70s F and low 50s F), and less rainfall on average than Cuenca, it’s a great alternative to big city living.
“I fell in love with the side of a mountain and bought it,” explains Lynne. “It’s the most impulsive thing I’ve ever done in my life.”
Lynne’s spacious home with an expansive modern kitchen—complete with granite countertops and a huge front porch that boasts a majestic view of the Paute Valley is the perfect country retreat. “It’s the home I’ve always dreamed of having,” says Lynne.
Originally, the land was owned by an architect who worked with Lynne to build the house of her dreams. It took approximately a year to build, but the final product ended up being more than she could have hoped for in terms of location, price, and a million-dollar view. Since the home is on an acre of land, Lynne continues to hone her landscaping skills by planting more fruit trees, plants, and flowers.
Unlike many expats, Lynne still works full time as a writer and book publisher, so the peace and quiet lends itself to her creative spirit. In fact, she says, “My writing has gotten better since moving to Ecuador because I’m so inspired by my surroundings.”
When Lynne first moved to her mountainside retreat she was the only “gringa” in the area, but now she has a U.S. neighbor and the people in the small village of Chican have become like family to her. “The people here have been very accepting and kind to me, even though my Spanish is not too impressive.”
So, what does a slice of heaven on the side of a mountain cost? Homes similar to Lynne’s in size and acreage average between $170,000 and $250,000.
However, you can always find a fixer-upper. For example, you can pick one up, just 10 minutes from Paute, for around $68,000 (four bedrooms, two bathrooms) and still have a magnificent view with stunning sunsets.
But if you’d prefer to move right into a brand new, thoroughly modern, two-story brick home with three bedrooms and two bathrooms with all the bells and whistles, one can be found for just $78,000.
Once a week, Lynne travels to Cuenca to meet up with friends for lunch or dinner, which gives her a break from her life as a publisher and writer, and creates the perfect balance between work and pleasure.
But, at the end of the day, there’s nothing like coming home to her country retreat. “I love the serenity, the kindness of the people, and the beauty outside my window,” says Lynne.
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