Moving to Ecuador... Beachside or Mountainside?
May 01, 2013
Warm days and cool evenings or crashing waves and the fresh Pacific air… you likely won’t get much sympathy from your friends if you ask their opinion of your conundrum! Especially if they’re staying in North America while you consider your decision to move to Ecuador.
Ecuador is situated along the Pacific coast right at the equator. The Andes Mountains carve through the country, and it’s bordered by both Columbia and Peru. Not only does this country have diverse landscapes and rich cultural history, it’s rapidly becoming one of the top retirement destinations for expats from North America and Europe.
Affordable property is only part of Ecuador’s appeal… the option of varied landscape is another draw for both adventure-seekers and beach bums. As a matter of fact, it’s not uncommon for people to move to Ecuador, and after a few years in one location, change to another. And if you really can’t decide whether you’d prefer the beach or mountains, it’s so affordable in Ecuador that you could have both! Not the worst idea, especially if you can collect rental income… unbelievably
There are several communities along Ecuador’s coast that can offer similar comforts that you would be accustomed to – fully stocked grocery stores, cinemas that play English movies, gourmet restaurants, fitness clubs offering yoga and dance classes, lively nightlife and medical centers. However, that being said, Manta and Salinas are really the only two areas that can offer these modern amenities. If all you care about are spectacular, private beaches, well then… with over 2,000 km’s of combined sandy and rugged cliff coastline, Ecuador is sure to meet your criteria.
If your choice to live on the ocean is to relax in the sand and swim or surf in the waves, then you’re certainly in the right area! However, something to keep in mind is that even though Ecuador is right on the equator, the temperatures can vary greatly. Winter in Ecuador is from June to December, and summer is from January to May. During the winter months on Ecuador’s coast, the water temperatures can dip down as low as 16˚C (yikes!), and it’s not uncommon for a heavy, damp mist to fall over the entire coast, blocking out the sun and making for cooler temperatures. But most people will take this ‘winter’ over shoveling snow any day! Plus, it’s a good time to visit friends and family back home, when the weather is warm and sunny in the northern hemisphere.
No doubt about it, if you’re a beach-loving person looking for an affordable retirement or vacation home, Ecuador’s coast is a very viable option with most of the comforts of home; if not in your backyard, within driving distance.
Ecuador’s Central Valley
The centre portion of Ecuador is an unexpected paradise. True, the word ‘paradise’ is usually associated with swaying palms and turquoise water, but this paradise includes spring-like temperatures, colonial cities, world-class urban centers and views that will leave you breathless.
Ecuador’s central valley spans from north of the capital city, Quito, into Cotacachi and Otavalo, down to Cuenca and Vilcabamba. All of these cities have rich history, world-class restaurants, shopping – both local and North American style – friendly residents and thriving expat communities. Otavalo, about 2 hours north of Quito, has the largest local vendor market in all of South America, and Vilcabamba, down in the far south - known as the Valley of Longevity - is tucked in between lush, organic crop-laden mountains.
The climate in Ecuador’s central valley is commonly referred to as ‘eternal spring’. The evenings can be cool, dipping down as low as 10˚C on some overnights, while daytime highs can easily reach 25˚C. And if the sun is shining, it can even get warmer. One thing to consider though… it rains almost every afternoon in Ecuador’s central valley, and always at the same time; usually from 2pm until 5pm, give or take. These warm rainfalls make for gorgeous gardens and lush landscapes throughout this portion of Ecuador.
Thanks in part to its small size; you can almost have the best of both worlds in Ecuador. In most cases, a drive from the coast to the central valley – or vice versa – will only take a few hours, making for a perfect weekend or overnight getaway. It’s not only an affordable country to purchase property or a home in, but also to travel in, with affordable restaurants and lodging options. Check out Ecuador for yourself to see if it fits your retirement or vacation home profile.