Ecuador’s 5 Up-and-Coming Areas for Cheap Land
Much like Costa Rica and Panama before it, Ecuador has gained the attention of expats from the U.S., Canada and Europe. Ecuador’s top five locations for expats offer the unique combination of being largely undeveloped with reasonable real estate prices.
Whether your tastes run to a beach lifestyle, an Amazonian jungle hideaway, or a mountain retreat, Ecuador Real Estate has something for everyone. Supported by expat friendly policies and a commitment to develop and improve the infrastructure, Ecuador is truly on the cusp of a renaissance for those looking to find a new way of life in Latin America.
What Makes Ecuador Special
There are a number of reasons that expats should consider Ecuador as a possible spot to retire or invest. First and perhaps most important is the fact that the U.S. dollar is the official currency in Ecuador. Being able to calculate the costs of things, without having to consider exchange rates, makes budget allocation much easier.
A second important consideration is that non-residents have the same property rights as Ecuadorian citizens. It is not even necessary to apply for residency in order to own land.
Ecuador has some of the most favorable tax rates anywhere in Central or South America. For expat retirees, the already low assessment is reduced even further to 50% of the amount assessed.
Last, but by no means least, is the fact that so much of Ecuador still retains its authentic and rustic qualities. For expats seeking a less hectic, more traditional lifestyle, the small villages and towns in Ecuador are a great fit.
With so many options, looking at available properties and lots in Ecuador is certainly worthwhile. Finding your tropical paradise begins with just a click of a mouse.
Ecuador’s Top Five: Life at the Beach – San Clemente
Located on the Central Pacific Coast, San Clemente has become one of the prime locations for high adrenaline sports like hang gliding, paragliding and kite surfing. Enthusiasts from all over the globe have flocked to this sleepy fishing village to enjoy these adventure activities.
One of the prime draws of San Clemente is its beaches. There are no fewer than seven named beach locations close to town that expats can visit and enjoy.
Being largely undeveloped, San Clemente has lower property costs than larger communities such as Manta or Portoviejo. Similarly, the overall cost of living is much lower for basics such as rent, utilities and other basic services.
In terms of larger investment projects, at present there is only one major effort, the Vistazul Townhouses, in and around the village. Certainly there is ample opportunity for other developers to start projects that will meet the anticipated needs of new expats expected in the region.
Life at the Beach Part II – Bahia
It’s not surprising that Bahia is one of Ecuador’s Top Five. Long a favorite beach community, Bahia, or more properly Bahia de Caraquez, has reinvented itself as an “ecocity” that draws eco-tourists and expats from all over the world.
Located on a peninsula at the mouth of the Rio Chone, Bahia was home to the indigenous native city of Caran before being settled by the Spanish in 1628.
The influx of expats over the last two decades has transformed Bahia into a tourist friendly destination with a well-developed infrastructure. A great example of this growth is the bridge spanning the Rio Chone to San Vicente. This bridge has become the major source of traffic between these two communities.
There are many high-rise properties, hotels, and resorts in the city. Even though the number of cluster-type and high-density units is large, Bahia still retains a cleanliness and calm atmosphere not often found in resort-type areas. Ironically, many of the properties sit vacant expect during the “high” (January through April) season as a significant number are vacation homes only.
With many amenities and a significant expat community, Bahia is particularly attractive for those who want the conveniences of “home” (U.S., Canada, or Europe). As the coastal roads continue to improve, visiting and exploring other parts of western Ecuador becomes more convenient and an additional feature of relocating there.
As might be expected, the cost of living in Bahia is somewhat higher than less-developed locations. While rentals in town can run between $1,000-$1,500 range, utilities are still relatively low and, depending on use, may average less than $120 per month for basic services. Importantly, sales prices just outside the city center are more reasonable even for the higher end units.
Two Costal Lowlands Getaways – Canoa and Ancon
Separated by roughly 125 miles, the two beach communities of Canoa and Ancon both have real potential for expats looking to get away from it all at the beach. With very little development at either location, immersing in a true, rustic Ecuadorian lifestyle can be a dream come true.
Ancon, located just outside of Salinas, was the first oil-producing location in the area, starting in 1911. Originally the village was home base for British petroleum engineers. Nearly forgotten through the years, the town is now regaining popularity as a vacation spot for Ecuadorians living in the U.S. and for expats discovering the great values that can be found there.
Finding ocean view properties and restored villas for under $150,000 is not an unreasonable expectation. While there is not much in the way of infrastructure at this point in time, as more investors and expats move into the area, improvements and higher prices will not be far behind.
Canoa, to the north, has 17 km of pristine sands, making it the longest beach in Ecuador. The roads in the village are all dirt and the rustic, hippie-like vibe of the place is one of the major reasons that expats have been drawn there.
There are some higher-end properties in and around Canoa but, for the most part, the private homes clustered around the center are modest. As a consequence, property costs remain low and the potential for development is high.
One important aspect to keep in mind is that the lifestyle of both places IS rustic. If a more cosmopolitan environment is a requirement, these small fishing communities may not be for you.
Also, remember that English speakers may not be as numerous as in larger cities. For some expats, having to deal with day-to-day matters in Spanish may be a bit confounding.
Valley Living – Yunguilla: A Hidden Gem
Combining an eco-friendly lifestyle, stunning views, and a true Ecuadorian vibe, Yunguilla is being touted as a more accessible alternative to Vilcabamba. Located a short 45 minutes from the community identified as the “cultural heart and soul” of Ecuador-Cuenca, this area could well become a major expat location as more people discover the potential waiting there.
One big difference is that Yunguilla is not a town but a valley running 104 miles from just outside of Cuenca to the port city of Machala. There are a number of small villages scattered throughout the valley but a large portion has retained its natural, untouched state.
The climate in Yunguilla is very comfortable due in large part to its geography. The valley has an East-West orientation providing ample sunshine and a short rainy season.
Ranging from a altitude of 4500 ft. on the Santa Isabel end to roughly 7000 ft. near Giron, closest to Cuenca, temperatures in the valley range from the low 80s during the day to a very comfortable high 50s-low 60s at night. These moderate numbers also translate into reduced costs for air conditioning; certainly an added benefit not found in most tropical locations.
Although much of the Yunguilla area is underdeveloped, the region is home to a number of prominent and wealthy Ecuadorian families. The result is that most of the development being undertaken is being done by Ecuadorians.
Additionally, the infrastructure is far superior to most of rural Ecuador. Quality water, telephone, and electrical power plus a well maintained and modern highway has made Yunguilla very attractive as a potential expat magnet.
For those seeking an existing residence, the quality of construction in the valley far exceeds many areas of Ecuador. In spite of all the modernization, property values from one end of Yunguilla to the other may range as much as 30% less than comparable properties in Vilcabamba. When the natural beauty and rustic charm of this hidden gem are factored in, Yunguilla can tick many of the boxes expats have for their tropical destination.
Cotacachi – Retreat to the Mountains
Nestled between two volcanoes, Cotacachi is becoming one of the more popular expat destinations in Ecuador. Located two hours north of Quito, this mountain town is next to the Cayapas Ecological Reserve with its 750,000 acres of protected forest land.
After online features about this rustic village appeared in 2007, expats began to move into Cotacachi. Having an established expat community certainly can make the transition to life in Ecuador much easier for those who are experiencing life abroad for the first time.
The beautiful Andean vistas, low cost of living and the reasonable property prices have all contributed to Cotacachi’s popularity. The top leather artisans in Ecuador offer their quality products, including coats, shoes, and accessories for sale at prices far lower than in many other locations.
The mountain climate with temperatures in the low 70s during the day to mid 50s at night makes air conditioning almost unnecessary. Rainfall is very moderate; even during rainy season, it is rare to have more than days out of the month with any precipitation.
Property prices, while on the rise, are still quite reasonable for an area with a good infrastructure and amenities. Utilities can run under $60 per month (electricity, water, heat, telephone, cable, and internet) and rents can be under $600 a month for multi-bedroom units.
For those looking to buy, there are a number of choices from small Ecuadorian homes to well-appointed villas. Lots of all sizes are also available for those expats wanting to build their own vision of paradise.
How to Find the Best Place for Expats in Ecuador
The top five areas described above are some of the hottest locations for expats throughout Ecuador. There are many other options that are worth exploring. Understanding the fine points of property ownership and how it can benefit you is an important first step in becoming an expat in Ecuador. Take that step today!!