Friends in Ecuador couldn’t decide between the mountains and the beach. So they chose both. Because Ecuador may be the most affordable expat haven ever, you can do that here. For $114,000 total, our friends bought two condos—one beachfront and one with a mountain view. And their monthly expenses are less than $900.
But if you're sure you want a mountain view all the time, here's what you need to know.
Most expats in Ecuador choose Cuenca...and most of those tend to settle within walking distance of Cuenca’s colonial center. The heart of this is the tree-shaded Parque Calderon, where musicians play in the bandstand, street vendors sell tasty treats, and you’re surrounded by some of the city’s historic monuments, like the Catedral de la Inmaculada Concepción, also called the "New Cathedral." Its blue-tiled domes are Cuenca’s most-photographed landmark.
Vilcabamba, in southern Ecuador, is even more rural and with even more staggering views, if such a thing is possible.
These cities and towns are only the tip of the mountain, of course. (No icebergs or snow here.) And these are only the most popular mountain towns…along with Quito, one of my all-time favorites. If you’re a beach lover, you’ll want to explore Salinas, Manta, Bahia de Caraquez...and little fishing and surfer villages beyond and between.