Search Results for: ecuador

Why Loja Is Ecuador’s Hidden Gem For Living Like A Local

A church in Vilcabamba, Ecuador

Loja: Ecuador As It Was Before The Gringo Invasion

Loja, Ecuador , is the object of my most remarkable failed prediction. In fact, two failed predictions.

Loja is one of my favorite cities in Ecuador. In fact, if I were returning to Ecuador today, this small Andean city in the south of the country is probably where I’d settle.

The city of Cuenca, is far more popular than Loja. In fact, it’s one of the most popular expat destinations in the Americas, with beautiful colonial architecture and loads of amenities.

By contrast, Loja is a city for Ecuadorians. Aside from a handful of exchange students, you’ll see very few foreigners here.

A little over 10 years ago—when the expat population of Cuenca exploded—I predicted that Loja would be next. It was loaded with opportunity for the entrepreneur, had …

In Perfect Harmony: Enjoy The Best Of 2 Worlds In Checa, Ecuador

cascading pools

City living is not for everyone. The noise, traffic, pollution, and crowds you find in a typical big city is just overwhelming for some people.

Before I moved to Medellín, Colombia (population 3.5 million), I lived for 23 years in a town with only 4,000 residents. The nearest large city, with big box stores, multiple movie theaters, symphony, museums, and other amenities, was 40 minutes away.

For me, a small community within one hour of a large city was the perfect combination of peaceful nature, privacy, and easy access to everything I needed for a fulfilling lifestyle.

If you are looking for the best of both worlds, in an affordable, modern setting with spectacular natural beauty, let me introduce you to the little piece of paradise I found in northern Ecuador.

hydrangea pool
Imagine living in this lush setting

Landing at the brand-new Quito airport, which happens to be located next to a rose and orchid farm, you’ll marvel at the rapidly growing, modern micro-city popping up nearby. It’s an easy 20-minute drive on a new four-lane highway, which eventually narrows to a smooth two-lane road, into Checa. This little pueblo offers all your basic necessities, snuggled up as it is to the amazing gated community I found.

The original property was owned by a Swiss gentleman and his Bolivian wife for 35 years until they found the Ecuadorian architect who would make their dream a reality. The wife’s passion for landscaping and flower gardening is apparent in the beautiful green spaces which have been featured in public garden tours in past years.

Now boasting 38 lush hectares, you won’t find another place like this anywhere.

Come With Me On A Virtual Tour…

After you pass through the gate, you ramble along a tree-lined brick path to a central parking area. While you park your vehicle in your designated spot, a security guard pulls up in a golf cart to whisk you to your home.

a view from the street boulevard
The boulevard leading from the gated entrance in the distance with
a creek flowing down the center

All around you are generous green spaces made up of “living fences” and floral hedges, set to the gentle sounds of babbling brooks and cascading pools of water. Residents have access to two swimming pools—one outside and one inside, walking paths, and several other community spaces where neighbors gather to share daily life.

floral walls in mall, fornt view of the mall with umbrellas in the front with people
A beautiful wall of flowers greets these homeowners every day
cascading pools
You could pass these cascading pools on a leisurely daily walk

Each home is cleverly constructed to ensure a private, flowery view from inside, but you need only cross a creek or path to visit your neighbor’s veranda. Single family homes start at 220 square meters and include a yard with customized plantings and landscaping to suit your tastes.

An on-site greenhouse offers a wide selection of plants to choose from, and the architect or landscapers can help you create the garden of your dreams. You are welcome to maintain your own property, but with 25 gardeners on-site daily to maintain this idyllic property, you can simply sit back and enjoy the view.

stepping stone path
One of 25 gardeners greets a resident on a stepping stone path between homes

You’ll also find a huerto orgánico, a community garden where you can dig in the dirt for your veggies… or simply buy them at cost to enjoy the freshest selection of lettuces, peppers, onions, herbs, and more.

The homes are built with traditional Ecuadorian touches such as clay tile roofs, outdoor chimineas, large verandas, and solid-wood ceiling beams. However, the interiors are thoroughly modern with high-end kitchens and baths featuring granite countertops, with optional appliance packages including dishwasher, gas stove, and full-sized refrigerators. Each home features enormous windows to showcase the natural beauty of the surrounding landscape from every room.

living room
Large windows and quality woodwork accentuate the living space
The spacious kitchens offer granite counters and stainless-steel appliances
The spacious kitchens offer granite counters and stainless-steel appliances

The property also offers an on-site restaurant, in case you don’t feel like cooking tonight, or would like to host a larger group for a special event. The dining room itself offers some of the best views in the community.

Overlooking the outdoor pool, the restaurant’s dining room is stunning
Overlooking the outdoor pool, the restaurant’s dining room is stunning

A 1,200 square meter Spa and Fitness Center is under construction and expected to be completed in July. Here you’ll find a hot tub, hammam (baño turco), sauna, massage therapy rooms, indoor pool, full gym facility, and more. A community center shows movies on weekends and hosts card groups and table game competitions during the week.

A flag is planted in the main entrance area for each country represented by an owner. Currently you’ll find 18 different flags in this welcoming space. About 40% of the owners reside on their property full time, while the rest use their homes for weekends and vacations.

Here Are The Details…

All told, 80 villas are sold and 17 more lots have been snapped up, which accounts for approximately 45% of the community. Stage 1 is 98% sold already, so the developer has recently opened Stage 2.Your current options in Stage 1 include:

  • 5 townhomes—3 one-bedroom units and 2 two-bedroom options are move-in ready
  • 3 single-family villas are 70% complete. just waiting for their new owner to choose the final finishes to complete construction

In Stage 2 you’ll find:

  • 27 lots still available for purchase (out of a total of 44)
  • 27 two-bedroom villas (out of a total of 29)

One-bedroom homes begin at US$140,000; two-bedroom villas at US$220,000.

The Home Owners’ Association (HOA) is already in place with a Board of Directors that run the day-to-day business. HOA fees depend on the size of your home and land, and they cover full-time security as well as all landscaping and maintenance costs. With a villa, you should expect to pay between US$125 to US$200 per month in fees.

A flag is planted for each of the 18 countries currently represented in the community
A flag is planted for each of the 18 countries currently represented in the community

Ecuadorian property taxes are low, running approximately US$100 per year for a villa. Capital gains tax doesn’t apply to these properties because they are considered rustic, not urban. If you buy a villa for rental purposes, you will not be taxed on the first US$11,310 of profit.

Mortgage financing is available, but it’s not easy to obtain and the terms aren’t great by North American standards. A purchase here should qualify you for an Ecuadorian Investor Visa, but restrictions apply.

You Must See This Place To Appreciate It

My description and photographs simply do not do justice to this property. If you have ever dreamed of living in a spacious home surrounded by a lush garden environment with all of the modern conveniences, you owe it to yourself to check out this opportunity in person.

You can contact the dreamers and designers behind this amazing community here. And while I’m sure the developer would be happy to host you anytime, I recommend you come to Ecuador this March for the Live and Invest in Ecuador event.

When you join us in Quito this spring, you’ll hear more about this opportunity, and have all of your Ecuador-related questions answered by the experts and expats who are living their Ecuadorian dreams right now. Don’t wait any longer to sign up, the Early Bird Discount ends this Friday. Make your plans and book your flight today!

Wendy Howarter

Three Interesting Property Markets Near Salinas, Ecuador

The beach at Salinas, Ecuador

A few weeks ago I shared the details about four apartments on the market in Salinas, Ecuador. If you missed that story, you can still read it here.

While I was scouting in Ecuador, I also had the opportunity to travel up the Pacific coast to the more traditional and tranquil communities of Ballenita, Punta Blanca, and Río Chico. Each of these towns offers a different experience within one hour’s drive from the more touristy area around Salinas.

Upon arriving at the coast I was greeted by a friendly, Italian expat who offered his real estate facilitator services to show me around the area. We soon met up with a real estate agent and began our tour. …

4 Amazing Properties In The Seaside Town Of Salinas, Ecuador

salinas ecuador

In 2013, I visited Ecuador during my personal search for an overseas home. After attending the Live and Invest Overseas Ecuador Conference in Guayaquil, my husband and I ventured inland, over the Andes Mountains, to Cuenca.

Cuenca was (and is still today) the hot spot for expat living—approximately 6,000 expats residing in a town of 600,000 people. It proved to be everything we had heard and read about. But if you’ve been following my story in these weekly missives, you know we didn’t choose to live in Cuenca.

Instead we chose Medellín, Colombia, mostly because we felt a greater connection to the cosmopolitan lifestyle Medellín offers. It was simply a hard-to-explain gut instinct. This is but one reason I recommend visiting any place you’re considering living before making a decision.

Back To The Beach

Now, five years later, I think Ecuador deserves another look. However, instead of revisiting Cuenca, I headed to the Pacific coast to check out the beach communities of Salinas, Ballenitas, Olón, and the little towns in between. For anyone dreaming about a beachfront retirement or second home, this area should be on your radar.

Here the high season runs from December until April, so I visited in August to experience the off-season atmosphere and property opportunities. This time of year is also known as the “gray season” in some locations because the sky is usually hazy in the morning. However, the sun peeked out for a couple of hours each afternoon during my stay.

The ocean-side towns were tranquil, the traffic was light, the beaches were nearly empty, and the vibe was laid-back. Several of the apartment towers I visited were occupied by just a handful of tenants. This means fewer residents at the private pools, or using the gym equipment, or in the sauna. I found an overall peaceful lifestyle compared to the high season when the noise level amps up and vacationers fill the town.

A local real estate agent was kind enough to spend a couple of days with me to view a variety of properties. Whether you are looking for a place to live year-round or during your winter months, or if you’re considering an income-producing rental, you can find something to fit your needs in Salinas.

I can’t share every property I saw, but here’s a quick sampling of four different options currently on offer.

  • Spacious Apartment With Private Elevator Access: This 279-square-meter (3,000-square-foot), 10th-story apartment is one block from the beach, with gorgeous ocean and yacht club views. Built as a “Smart Building,” you need a security fob to enter both the building and the elevator. This allows the elevator to open directly into the units, all of which are one per story.
Phoenix view

Enjoy this view from your spacious “Smart Apartment” in Salinas

This 4-bedroom, 4-bath home comes fully furnished and would make a great rental. With two balconies—one facing the bay on the north side and the other facing the south side of the Salinas peninsula—refreshing breezes sweep through and cool the apartment without need for air conditioning.

You could expect rental income of US$2,000 to US$2,500 per month during high season and US$1,200 per month in low season. The list price for this 10-year-old apartment is US$279,900.

  • Compact Boardwalk Bargain: Located directly on the malecón, with easy access to the beach and viewing pier, this 18th-floor, 91-square-meter (980-square-foot), fully furnished apartment offers 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. As this unit is on the back corner of the building, the spacious balcony looks directly toward the south side of the peninsula. But when you relax at the cute, two-person café table, you can enjoy the bay view as well.
Aquamira balcony
Sip your morning coffee or a glass of wine while enjoying this view
from your expansive balcony in this affordable condo

Designed with a clever use of space and all appliances included, this turnkey home is perfectly suited for the rental market. Your tenants will enjoy full use of the pool, gym, and concierge services in this 24-hour secured, 3-year old building. The price was recently marked down to only US$164,000.

  • Chipipe Jewel In The Rough: Further out toward the point of the peninsula you’ll find the Chipipe neighborhood. With an expansive beach and fewer shops and clubs, this area is quieter and more residential. The unit I visited was a 3-bedroom, 2.5-bathroom unit on the 14th floor of an older building, which means the rooms are larger with more architectural detail than the ultra-modern construction you’ll find in brand-new apartments.
El Valero Azul street view
Just across the street from this apartment you can enjoy
the expansive Chipipe Beach

But it also means the apartment needs some updating, especially in the kitchen and baths. Because the cost of labor is low in Ecuador, you can expect to pay approximately US$5,000 for a brand-new kitchen, and a new bath will cost you around US$2,500. It boasts over 158 meters (1,700 square feet) and a spectacular view of the bay from the large balcony. The list price of US$240,000 means you’ll have money left over to upgrade this apartment to suit your style.

  • Brand-New Luxury Chipipe Offering: Tower One of this two-tower project is complete and available for sale with five different floor plans to choose from. Listed at US$550,000, the apartment I toured was 200-square-meters (2,152-square-feet) with 4 bedrooms (2 with en suite bath) and an additional 1.5 social bathrooms.
Punta Pacifico view
One of the best beach views offered in the Chipipe area

The 16th-floor, unfurnished apartment features a huge balcony with one of the best beach views I found anywhere in the Salinas area. Owners have access to two pools, a gym, a billiard and ping pong area, and an open social area.

With Tower Two under construction as I write, you can lock in an apartment ranging from US$195,000 to US$365,000 with only US$10,000 down. As construction proceeds over the next 15 months, you pay 60% of the total cost of your unit, with a balloon payment at the end. The developer is expecting a 25% increase in the value of your investment upon project completion.

I only mentioned four real estate opportunities in this letter, but I saw many more options with this energetic, professional, and licensed real estate agent. She’s a transplanted New Yorker who has lived in the Salinas area for more than 10 years, so she knows everyone and everyone knows her.

Watch for future Ecuador reports as we keep our finger on the pulse of this exciting market.

Wendy Howarter
Editor, Overseas Property Alert

The Evolution Of Cuenca, Ecuador Into A True Expat Haven

the rooftops of the colonial style city of cuenca

I retired to Cuenca in 2001, at the age of 49. I knew no other North Americans there, and no one who spoke English.

Retiring to Ecuador was not a popular idea in 2001. Nine months into the year, I obtained my pensioner’s visa from the New York consulate.

At that time, one restaurant in Cuenca qualified as fine dining.

By 2004, I counted around a dozen expats… and marveled at how popular Cuenca had become.

But in 2015, there were over 8,000 Americans living in Cuenca, according to the local paper El Tiempo, a number that grows to 12,000 when including Canadians and Europeans. These numbers could be high… but everyone will agree that …

Why Ecuador’s Best Beachfront Property Is Found In Salinas

Why Ecuador's Best Beachfront Property Is Found In Salinas

A Great Lifestyle With Inexpensive Beachfront

Ecuador’s coast has lots of beautiful, unspoiled, and fairly undeveloped seaside towns. In fact, Ecuador’s undeveloped coast is what draws a lot of people to the country.

But if my agenda were to enjoy resort-style amenities—restaurants, cafés, nightlife, groomed beaches, and an active real estate market— then Salinas is where I’d buy.

I first visited Salinas back in 2002, and have kept an eye on it over the years. Recently, two things changed that have affected the property market:

  • Ecuador’s major coastal earthquake in 2016 actually caused an increase in tourist and rental traffic to Salinas.
  • Salinas—always accessible from the international airport at Guayaquil—now has its own airport with flights to Quito… making it accessible to Ecuador’s other major international airport.

When you come to Salinas, Ecuador, during the North American winter, you’ll find an energetic, bustling Pacific resort city soaking up some of the world’s best weather. As I write this (on Saturday, April 29), Salinas is enjoying a mixture of clouds and sunshine, with high of 83°F (28°C)… a forecast that remains pretty much the same for the next 10 days.

In the real estate market, condo prices a few blocks back from the beach start at around US$65,000… …

Salinas, Ecuador: Affordable Beach Condos Under $53K

Salinas, Ecuador: Affordable Beach Condos Under $53K

With more than 1,250 miles (2,000 km) of coastline, Ecuador is the westernmost country in South America. And Salinas, on the Santa Elena peninsula, is the westernmost piece of land on Ecuador’s mainland.

It’s one of the world’s few coastal resorts where you can still buy a new condo for less than US$53,000.

This ex-fishing village has become the most renowned attraction of the Ecuadorian coast, welcoming people from the domestic cities, as well as from other South American countries, such as Peru and Colombia. People come here looking for a relaxing, laid-back weekend, a longer vacation, or to set up a second home.

Salinas has around 40,000 residents and hosts one of the biggest expat communities in the country. During holidays, this crowd can increase up to three times. …

Cheaper Than Ecuador? Colombian Properties Are A Better Value Than Ever

Medellin, Colombia
Plus: “Should I Believe You… Or Panama Letter?”

Jan. 20, 2015
Montevideo, Uruguay

US$1=2,384 Colombian pesos

Dear Overseas Property Alert reader,

Colombia continues to command a lot of interest among potential overseas property buyers, investors, and expats. The inexpensive properties and high quality of life are a big draw.

But what really surprised me this week is that on a cost-per-square-meter basis, Medellin is now cheaper than Cuenca, Ecuador, which for years has set the standard for low-cost real estate.

This latest price drop in Medellin is due to the current power of the U.S. dollar, so it may not last forever. But for now, North Americans are buying premium properties in Colombia in record numbers.

Where are the best values (low-cost, high-value lifestyle) to be found these days?

Let’s take a closer look at three of Colombia’s top markets. One is a well-known, world-class brand… one has recently been discovered and is now starting to receive mainstream attention… and one is still adrift in the backwaters, getting attention from only the extreme leading-edge buyers and expats.

The Branded City: Through Good Times And Lean, Cartagena Never Loses Ground

Cartagena is known the world over as one of the finest Spanish colonial cities in the Americas. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it’s one of the world’s few remaining walled cities. …

Property Renovation In Cuenca, Ecuador

Plus: Buying And Investing In New Zealand

Like other expatriates who take on a major house renovation project in their adopted country, Dorie Deal and Bob Hoerster readily admit that they didn’t know what they were getting into four years ago when they purchased a large house in Cuenca’s historic district.

“I loved the house the first time I saw it,” said Dorie, who had looked at several other historic properties on her first trip to Cuenca in 2010.”I knew that it would be a big job to restore it. I just didn’t know how big.”

The choice of the house was Dorie’s alone, because Bob was still back in Texas running his cattle ranch. “I left it up to her but I have to tell you that I asked her several times during the rehab if she had lost her mind.”

The 150-year-old house on Calle Juan Jaramillo is ideally situated in Cuenca’s historic district, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Only three blocks from the city’s iconic cathedral and Parque Calderon, the city’s central plaza, it is in an area of theaters, museums, and restaurants. It is only two blocks from the tumbling river (Rio Tomebamba) and five blocks from Cuenca’s new light rail system due to be completed in early 2016.

“You couldn’t pick a better spot,” said Dorie, a former assistant art gallery director in Santa Fe, New Mexico, before her move to Cuenca. “You are literally minutes away from the best the city has to offer.” …