Suzan Haskins - Ecuador Correspondent
Hi Chuck, if it were me, and I were focused on the northwest coast, I'd look at communities close to the larger towns of Manta and Bahia de Caraquez. My favorite small town along that coast is Canoa. The best medical facilities and commercial centers/shopping will be found in Manta (on the coast) and Portoviejo (inland further north). There is no reason to go to Portoviejo beyond that, though--not a very attractive place. Manta has a domestic airport.
You might contact Pete Stromberg in Canoa -- he is a young guy who has been there a while and is well connected in that area: email@example.com. Same with Tom Saunders in Crucita. His website: https://www.ecuadorbeachfrontproperty.com/listings/
There are a good number of expats in Manta, Crucita, San Clemente, Bahia de Caraquez, San Clemente, and Canoa. Not a lot but enough that they can lend support to each other. To me, that's an important quality of an overseas destination. I'd also recommend you talk to lots of people and that you rent first for awhile before you buy. Coastal living can be challenging anywhere but especially in Ecuador where there are few services.