ECUADOR AND COTACACHI SHOULD BE THE TOP SPOT ON YOUR RETIREMENT DESTINATION LIST
Cotacachi is a small mountain town located high in the Andes Mountains, about two hours north of Quito – the capital of Ecuador. Although, only a few miles from the Equator, the elevation of 7,800 feet gives the location a spring-like climate all year around. The dress is short sleeves during the day and maybe a light jacket or sweater in the evenings. Making Cotacachi a great place for your retirement!
There are two seasons in Cotacachi: the rainy season and the dry season or what I call “the windy season”. The rainy season starts about the first of November through the month of May. You get up in the morning to a bright sunny day and usually after lunch, clouds begin to form in the west. By the mid-afternoon there is a 15 or 30 minute light rain, almost every day and you can count on it. These small rains keep everything lush and beautiful. The dry season, “windy season,” starts in June and ends late October. This is the season of warm sunny days with only a light rain once every week or two weeks. However, this is enough to keep the mountains and vegetation green and beautiful. Many people wear hats and sun glasses during this time of year and walk on the shady side of the street.
COST OF LIVING
The cost of living is one of the real drawing cards to this area. You can buy a kilo (2.2 lbs.) of grass-fed beef hamburger for $3.00. Not a pound mind you – but a kilo – which is 2.2 pounds. That comes out to $1.36 a pound. It is so fat free that you have to add oil to your pan when cooking so it won’t burn. You can go the market on Sunday (market day) and buy enough fruits, vegetables and meat (for $10.00 to $15.00 or so) to last you all week. You can buy ten to fifteen bananas for a quarter, a huge head of broccoli or cauliflower for fifty to seventy cents or a large head of Chinese cabbage (great for salads) for fifty cents. All-in-all making Ecuador a very affordable retirement location.
The Mercado adjacent to the Bus Terminal has a wide selection of fresh, organic vegetables and beautiful, local flowers (25 roses for $5). On Sundays the farmers from the outlying farms display and sell their farm fresh fruits and vegetables adjacent to the Mercado. Arrive early! On Saturday, in Otavalo, visit the largest outdoor market in South America. Everything imaginable is sold in vast displays, encompassing numerous blocks of central Otavalo. It is a virtual tsunami of arts, crafts, jewelry and more.
ATTRACTIONS AND FEATURES
Book a tour with Luis and visit his native villages to see their handicrafts. Take a tour of the surrounding sites with Patricio or his brothers; the falls, hot springs, the Mindo rain forest and the volcanic lake. Be sure not to miss the Train trip from Otavalo to Salinas, with the interesting stops in-between. There is so much to do and see. If you become bored it’s your own fault! No one ever said that retirement had to be boring after all.
As for restaurants, how about filet mignon, steak served with salad, potatoes/rice including a non alcoholic beverage for less than $10.00. Wine runs $3.00 to $5.00 per glass or $10/15 per bottle. At the grocery store or Prana (a great specialty store) a good red or white wine from Argentina or Chile can be recommended for any taste and budget. You can eat breakfast (in Spanish: “desayuno”) for $1.50 to $3.50, lunch (almuerzo) for 2.50 to $4.50 and dinner (cena) for $6.00 to $10.00. With lunch you get a glass of fresh squeezed juice, the house plate special (almuerzo del dia) which is a meat or fish entree, two salads and potatoes/rice, plus dessert – everything included.
All the current restaurants are featured in THE WELCOME NOTE BOOK that Cotacachi Rentals & Sales includes in all their rental units. Addresses are given – telephone numbers, hours open, types of menus and prices (consult the yellow page section).
RENTING VS BUYING
Should you rent or buy? The majority of opinions say it is better to visit and rent first; get the “lay of the land” and see if you would like to live in a small, friendly, mountain town of 10,000 people. Cotacachi Rentals & Sales has numerous apartments, condos and homes for rent for short-term or long-term up to one year or more. The homes and condos have been decorated and equipped to North American standards with every convenience you would expect in the States or Canada. Cotacachi Rentals & Sales agents are government licensed real estate agents. We have listings of the finest properties available in the Cotacachi area, from condominium apartments to exquisite single family homes.
Furthermore, please remember: We are here to serve you and we are not just here to sell to you, but to your friends and relatives. Referrals are our life blood and without them we cannot grow. As my partner and I say and live by: “At the end of the day all we have left is our reputation”.
There are numerous, turnkey equipped, rental apartments in gated communities within walking distance to town. They’re less than $25 per day; no extra per person per day charge and there are discounts for three months or more. There are also a number of hostels that offer clean rooms with private bath, TV, hot water and sometimes include breakfast for $20.00 – $30.00 per person per day with discounted rates for weekly and monthly stays. Additionally, if you decide to stay and want to buy a house – fully furnished, to North American standard, condos go for $75,000 and up.
WHAT IS ECUADOR LIKE?
Ecuador is a great country for your retirement. It’s about the size of Nevada and has a population of 14 million people. Spanish is the official language spoken by 94 percent of the population. Cotacachi lies in the northern part of Ecuador about two hours north of Quito in a valley between two beautiful extinct volcanoes – Mt. Cotacachi and Mt. Imbabura. The cost of living is very affordable, the scenery unbeatable, the climate fabulous, and the inhabitants extremely friendly. Many of whom came to Ecuador for retirement as well.
Ecuador has a politically stable government. The currency is the American dollar, so there are no problems with currency conversion. You can walk anywhere in Cotacachi, day or night, without fear. This is a laid back kind of life and many of the local inhabitants are self-employed. Many of the cities in Ecuador specialize in a particular craft or skill. In Cotacachi, it is leather – in fact, Cotacachi is known as the “Leather Capital” of Ecuador. The main street is lined with retail stores, selling everything leather from boots and shoes to belts, hats, jackets, purses, brief cases and so on. Everything you have ever seen in leather is available in Cotacachi.
The crime rate is notably very low. There is an extremely low occurrence rate and violent crime such as robbery, murder, rape are almost nonexistent. Any crime that happens is usually “opportunity crime”. For instance if you forget your camera in a restaurant or taxi, it will probably be gone when you return.
WORK AND HEALTHCARE
YOU CAN OWN YOUR OWN BUSINESS IN COTACACHI – a number of expats have started their own businesses. For example, Nancy and Wendy each have opened restaurants. Jack and Eileen have opened a laundry (really filled a need in Cotacachi) while Terri has opened a second hand store. Dan has opened a book store and Diane has an interior decorating consulting business. The possibilities are limitless for anyone not yet ready for retirement.
HEALTH INSURANCE IS INEXPENSIVE AND AVAILABLE THROUGH SEVERAL INSURERS IN ECUADOR. Also Ecuadorian Social Security is available to expats – regardless of age. For a small premium (Currently $68/month/each), you get free check-ups, blood tests and hospital and doctor care throughout Ecuador. Additionally, medicines are free. Although some of the specialty medicines may be unavailable – most blood pressure, cholesterol and anti-anxiety medicines are available in Cotacachi. In many cases a prescription is not necessary.
Ecuador is the greatest example of a tranquil, safe haven and has the absolutely best of everything of retirement living you deserve. By the way, very few expats own cars, another huge savings. We walk everywhere; to the markets, hardware stores, restaurants etc. Just about everyone who moves to Cotacachi is healthier after a few months than they were in the U.S. There are also a number of gyms featuring aerobatics, exercise machines and weights. Yoga classes are also available.
Here is another example of the difference in cost of living standards: we had to call a plumber to repair inadequate water pressure in one of the condos. He checked all the connections, the water heater, cleaned the faucets and checked the entire system – spending three hours on this job and his fee – a paltry $43.00 – this for an experience plumber with his own truck and all his tools and the cost in the States; probably $200 – $500. You couldn’t even get someone out to look at the problem for less than a hundred dollars.
The climate here is exceptional. Cotacachi is just a few miles from the Equator – yet at high elevation, the temperature rarely goes above 80 degrees. In fact, sometimes it gets so warm that you have to walk on the shady side of the street. Most days you can go out in short sleeves – and at night wear a light jacket or sweater. Additionally, there is Satellite Cable Television available as well as high speed internet. You can easily stay in touch with family and friends. With Skype or Magic Jack, you can even see your family and friends as you talk to them.