El Conquistqdor Francisco de Orellana

El Conquistqdor Francisco de Orellana
The Conquistador who put the Amazaon baisn "on the map"....Francisco Orellana

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Good Advice for New Ecuador Expats

By Suzan Haskins
International Living

Rent before you buy. That’s good advice for anyone looking to try a new country on for size. Despite its incredibly low real estate costs, Ecuador is no exception.
(After all, not everybody wants to buy a two-bedroom beach condo or an apartment in an historic World Heritage city for less than $50,000.)
Fortunately, rental costs in Ecuador are very affordable, too.

In Cotacachi—the sweet Andean artisan village where I live—an expat who decided to move to the coast sent out this e-mail: "I have an apartment for rent that, for the money, is a great deal. It is a completely bare, one- bedroom place (no fridge, stove or anything else), but for $100 a month it is a great space."
Of course, an unfurnished apartment means you’ll need to buy furniture. But still, an apartment with a monthly price tag that’s the cost of a fancy meal back home? Not a bad deal.

Admittedly, furnished rentals are harder to come by here in Cotacachi, thanks to the growing number of expats coming to check out the lifestyle options of our quiet little village. Still, we know of furnished rentals available for about $200 a month. And it’s possible to sublet a home or apartment short-term from a fellow expat who’s going back to the States or Canada for a visit.

In larger cities, like cosmopolitan Quito or popular Cuenca, you may pay more. But not a lot: $500 - $600 a month gets you a furnished three-bedroom apartment in central Quito.

In Cuenca, a two- or three-bedroom apartment or house (maybe near the river) rents for around $400 a month.

In rural Vilcabamba in southern Ecuador…at a lower elevation and therefore warmer than Quito, Cuenca or Cotacachi…an expat couple has renovated a 6,000-square-foot house and is offering fully furnished and equipped apartments for rent. You can rent a room with a shared kitchen for $180 a month or a three-bedroom apartment for $550 a month.

So what are you waiting for? Daily living costs here are so affordable…even more so when you have a kitchen to cook in. At the local farmers’ markets you can buy enough fresh produce for $5 to last you a week or more. Bakeries sell fresh bread hot from the oven for 50 cents or less. Delicious 22-ounce bottles of Pilsener beer sell for 75 cents. You can get your haircut for $3, hire someone to clean your apartment for $5 or $10, take the bus anywhere in the country for about $1 an hour…

Whether it’s for a month or a year or forever…now is the time to check out Ecuador.

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