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Why Haven’t You Checked Out Cotacachi, Ecuador?

Retire in Cotacachi Ecuador

Cotacachi Ecuador. Photo by Thomas Aleto

If you could retire anywhere in the world, where would it be? Florida? Hawaii? For more and more people, especially North Americans, the answer is Cotacachi, Ecuador, a utopian town sought out for its scenic beauty, rich culture, ideal climate, and low cost of living.

Tucked between the breathtaking mountains of Volcan Imababura and Volcan Cotacachi in the Ecuadorian Andes, Cotacachi is but a ninety minute drive north from the Ecuador capitol of Quito. An artisan town, famous for their hand-crafted leather goods, Cotacachi just might be the ideal place for those that crave the small town life.

Why Cotacachi?

With so many options out there, what is it about Cotacachi, Ecuador that makes it such a popular choice for expats?


Expats are choosing to settle down in Cotacachi for many reasons, but one of the biggest appeals is the climate. Not too hot and not too cold, Cotacachi is just right with an average daytime temperature of 70-75 degrees F and an average night time temperature of 50-55 degrees F.

And because Ecuador is positioned just north of the equator at an elevation of 8,000 feet, Cotacachi will experience this ideal, spring-like climate throughout the year.

The chance to slow down

For many, Cotacachi is the perfect place to slow down and savor the simple things in life. You can hike, ride horseback, and fish, or simply head down to the local market to stock up on delicious organic food. These markets are open daily in Cotacachi, but the biggest market will always be on Sunday when the locals come out to sell everything from fruits and vegetables to hand-woven goods, spices, and freshly picked flowers.

Of course, due to its small size (the length of the village can be walked in thirty minutes) there are certain things that you won’t find in town, like major shopping centers or an exciting nightlife. But not to worry, for it is only a twenty minute drive to the nearest city, Ibarra.

Convenient location

Although Cotacachi embraces the laid-back lifestyle, away from the bustle of city life, it is in no way isolated. The capital of Ecuador, Quito, is only an hour and a half away from Cotacachi and international flights arrive in Quito daily.

So for the occasions when a small trip to the local market just won’t do, the city of Quito is there to offer all of the urban amenities you could possibly need.

Rich culture

The local people in Cotacachi, the Quichua, are a very spiritual people and they really cherish their traditions. Most of the Quichua continue to dress in colorful, traditional garb and shamanic and healing rituals are still performed on a daily basis.

In Cotacachi you can have a Shaman cleanse your aura or mix you up a custom batch of medicine to help heal your ailments.

But don’t be intimidated, for the Cotacachi locals are known to be very friendly and welcoming to expats, and you can expect to make a few new friends as they introduce you to life in their village.

Beautiful and budget friendly

Another great thing about retiring to or visiting Cotacachi, Ecuador, is the cost. The cost of living in Cotacachi is quite low and you will be able to enjoy this scenic paradise on a budget, making living in a place like Ecuador not just a dream, but for many expats, a reality.

Renting an apartment in Cotacachi can start as low as $150 per month and because the town is so small, cars aren’t necessary. Of course, if you so desire, taxis are available to whisk you around the village for little more than a dollar and a round trip bus ride to Ibarra will only cost you ninety cents.

Is Cotacachi the place for you?

So if you have been thinking of making a move down to South America, Cotacachi, Ecuador just might be the place for you. Do your research, consult a local realtor, and make a trip down to Cotachaci to see what life in this mountain village is really all about. Who knows, you may just find your new home, or at the very least, a great new  place to visit.

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15 thoughts on “Why Haven’t You Checked Out Cotacachi, Ecuador?

  1. 1

    There are so many sites like this one springing up like weeds, and the results will be paradise ruined by too many expats. The locals get priced out of their own area and later crime emerges as money always attracts crime. Think!!!!!!

    • 2

      I think you’ve hit it squarely on the head. With ABC and Travel Channel running stories about the costs, it is becoming a dream to live there. Then there’s IL running stories about “Expat” that bought a house for $34K and now can sell it for $100K +, etc. Greed is alive and well and that won’t change… Take it slow..

      • 3

        I personally am trying to get away from greed the king. Too bad there’s no law in Ecuador to keep that very thing from happening. Like flipping. I truly wish that all the people who think money means happiness, would take another look.

        • 4

          Greed the King rules. Opportunists with money go to these places, buy up their land for next to nothing and then inflate the prices just like in Vilcabamba Ecuador then it becomes affordable for only the super rich.

  2. 5

    Good article, but the picture is not Cotacachi. There is no lake in view of the town. I would guess that is Lago San Pablo, which is near Otavalo.

  3. 7

    The pretty picture is San Pablo and that is Mount Imbabura(to the east of Cotacachi), as it is flat and Mount Cotacachi(to the west of Cotacachi) is pointed. I live in Cotacachi and the comments above are all correct. The town is growing way too fast. And we are ruining normal life for the people who have lived there a lifetime. I plan to spend the rest of my life in Ecuador, as these are some of the nicest people in the world. There is no stress and no one is nasty. They respect each other, which is something the U.S. lost ages ago. Cotacachi has become a popular tourist spot. The word “Quiet” no longer fits into the description. It is not unusual to awake at 2:00am to a band playing under my balcony doors, or just a group that has formed to socialize. It makes me smile. And our Mayor looks after the people in his town. There are many other towns that are even less expensive. People considering Cotacachi, should look around, as, unfortunately, we are changing fast.

    • 8

      Sorry,,, but I am recently wheel chair bound and I am moving to Cotacachi so how difficult will it be to get me a little 3-wheeler welded up toget around town. Maybe 500c . If it not possible smaller We will go electric. I hope to be there in 6 mo. (e-mail) [email protected] Let me know if that’s easy. Stan Nation

    • 9

      What is it like for a single female traveling alone to live there? I want to move to Ecuador in the net 6 months and trying to figure out where I want to live. Cotacachi sounds great. Thanks 🙂

  4. 10

    Does Cotacachi have ny posionous snakes?

  5. 11

    Where is another location less expensive and with temps like Cotacachi. I am planning a 3 month trip to Ecuador with the intent to move there. But if Cotacachi is where I end up for the 3 are there rentals for that length of stay?

  6. 13

    Cotacachi sounds like a very nice place, and I would hope that those who have chosen to move their themselves, in other words are part of the change, would be welcoming of those who follow in their footsteps. And I hope if I ever live there I will deeply respect and appreciate the people’s native to the area.

  7. 14

    I would hope that folks who have chosen themselves to move to Cotacachi and are therefore part of a change, would be welcoming of other folks who choose to do the same. It sounds like a great place to live, and that the local people who have lived there perhaps for many generations deserve the greatest respect and appreciation from newbies.

  8. Dale Steele Nicolov

    My husband and I are wishing to rent a place in Cotacachi for at a month this winter in hopes of seeing if it a good fit to retire here.Does anyone out there know of a rental agency where I could look into this?We would appreciate any info that would help. Thank you. Looking forward to hearing .Kind Regards.

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