Archive | Ecuador for Investors

How to get your Ecuador drivers license (without taking courses)

After securing my residency visa and cedula this past month the natural progression is to focus on getting my Ecuador drivers license.

Now, Ive lived in Ecuador for two and a half years now without owning a car, or driving even once.

But more impressively, in that time Ive never even felt like I needed a car!

Thats one big reason I chose Ecuador, the public transport is plentiful and cheap.

I remember spending a day recently in Los Angeles (USA), and I didnt even last 2 hours before I felt the need for car.

The thought that scares a lot of people, myself included, is the possibility that Id need to go back to drivers school, even though Ive already spent most of my life driving.

Well, actually, as I found out this week in the Agencia Nacional de Transito in Quito (where you need to go to get your license) folks with foreign licenses dont need to take the required-by-law $200+ driving course for all first-timers getting their Ecuador drivers license as long as they VALIDATE their foreign license in Ecuador.

To validate your foreign license in order to get your Ecuador drivers license in 2014 bring to the “Agencia Nacional de Transito”…

1-Your original and color copy of your license from your home country.

2-Your original passport, color copy of both your ID page and current residency visa.

3-A “Certificado de la licencia” (certificate of License) as retrived from your countries embassy in Ecuador.  If in another language other than espanol youll need to have the document translated by anyone but you and notarized.

4-Original and copy of your CARNET DE TIPO DE SANGRE or blood-type test as gotten from any hospital or Red Cross in Ecuador.

5-2 Passport photos.

6-Fill in the form FORMULARIO PARA CANJE DE LICENCIA DE CONDUCIR which can be retrieved and filled-in on-site at the help desk in the Ecuador DMV (Agencia Nacional de Transito).

When turning in your documents you will also have to take an eye test and basic on-site, written drivers exam.

You’ll then pay $38, and a week later you’ll get your new license, good for 5 years!

Now, you can drive in Ecuador on your foreign license, but only up to 6 months.

And yes, local transit cops will pester you about it (as they are usually looking for a reason to snag a bribe from a foreigner, so don’t give them one!)

There you have it, you can now drive in Ecuador.

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Expat Lifestyle

The unknown under-belly of Montanita: Manglaralto, the top rental opp on the coast?

manglaralto beach
Manglaralto Beach, Ecuador

Everyone loves Montanita.

But nobody actually wants to live there.  Unless you’re a 20 year old hippy.

It’s a neat mix of a traditional bohemian-Ecuadorian surf village turned mega-tourist attraction.

And its a great place to meet people, eat, drink or party.

But to live, for most, it’s just too noisy, too scandalous, too touristy.

There’s restaurants, heaps of hotels for every budget, travel agencies, surf shops, discos, bars… in a word, it’s fun.

And since 2009, when the local Ecuadorians started to discover the town, it’s absolutely exploded.

All year every weekend the place is packed, and during the high seasons (Jan-Apr and Jul-Aug) its got loads of travelers midweek too.

But what a lot of people don’t realize is there is a sleepy little town right next to Montanita that actually shares the same beach head.

And yes, it means you can walk between the two in a little under a half hour.

Yet most people just skip it.

They don’t even realize its there.

Its 4 km away from the center of Montanita, in fact, it is a 5 minute drive or 30 minute walk along the nice, wide, sandy beach.

Welcome to the town of Manglaralto, the town next to and just south of Montanita.

Manglaralto is still as local as it gets, like Montanita was maybe 10 years ago.

Theres one guy that sells chicken (for cooking), another street shop tucked away that sells the beef, another little nook sells the vegetables, and there’s one guy that come out in the mornings and sells the fresh fish.

You learn as you go.

It’s real quiet, the streets actually look quite empty or dead most days and there’s only 3 or 4 streets that run parellel to the ocean, a little park with a church and a landromat, a hardware store and 2 or 3 small hotels, thats it.

But it does sport the only hospital along this stretch of the coast, and its free to all (public).

Also, a little less than a year ago in early 2013 the streets of this tiny town were paved, which is HUGE.

But the reason I mention this town is the opportunity.

I discovered this town by accident 2 years ago when I bought a little dinker house there.

Not many foreigners live here full time yet, but there are certainly more than when I first bought 2 years ago.

And I can tell you first hand that the demand for rentals in the area is HUGE, being a quiet place to sleep near the action but not right in it as most prefer, and its the ONLY town that shares a beach with Montanita (one of the biggest tourist destinations on the coast of Ecuador).

So like most, eat or party in Montanita, then catch the $1.50 5-minute cab ride to sleep in peaceful Manglaralto.

Specifically over the last year or two, developers have started to move in to the southern end of town starting a few small subdivisions, but deals can still be found like the $15,000 4 bedroom house I found and bought 2 years ago.

Small 250 m2 lots in and near town can be found in the $10,000 range.

Oceanview lots go for anywhere from $30-60 per m2.  A lot a block or two back from the beach with no view can go for half that.

But you have to look, cause prices are all across the board.

It’s still one of those neat opportunity areas where prices have already risen a bit but you can still find a deal.

But mostly know that Manglaralto is not only a cool, peaceful place to live, but also one of the best places (at least top 5) to put a rental property on the coast of Ecuador.

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Investor News/Analysis

Got mine, now how to get your Ecuador Cedula

After you get your permanent residency visa to live in Ecuador, doesn’t matter which type, could be the investors visa, the pensioners visa, or even the professionals visa…

…you’ll then have 30 days to get your mandatory Ecuadorian “Cedula”, or official ID card.

The visa, or what is stamped in your passport, is the more complex part, the cedula which looks like a drivers license, is just a formality but you NEED it or they won’t let you travel out of the country.

It’s happened to me.

You’ll pass through the airline check in counter, then at immigration they’ll tell you sorry, you can’t board the plane without a cedula (if you are in Ecuador on a permanent residency visa).

Besides, having a cedula qualifies you for a lot of benefits, especially senior benefits in Ecuador if you are over 65.

Even if you are not a senior, you can still get special pricing on certain things, like for one, trips to the Galapagos.

For instance, foreigners pay $465 round trip on Tame to the Galapagos from Quito right now.  Ecuadorians or foreigners which have perm resident status with Ecuadorian cedulas pay only $250.  And foreigners pay a $100 per head park entrance fee, people with Ecuador cedulas pay only a $10 per person entry fee upon arrival.

Getting your cedula is a recently streamlined, easy process and one I just did myself this week in January of 2014.

Once you pick up your visa that same day I recommend you get the document CERTIFICADO DE EMPADRONAMIENTO which costs $5 and only takes a few minutes to retrieve from the same immigration office that gives you your visa, in Quito its the one near the 6 de Diciembre and Colon intersection.

With that document you will need to wait 48 hours and then go to the REGISTRIO CIVIL (Civil Registry) on Naciones Unidas y Amazonas (if applying in Quito).

You will need to bring the Certificado de empadronamiento, your actual passport and a color copy of your passport ID page and a copy of your current residency visa.

Upon entering the Civil Registry, you will have to take a turn and pay $5 to the bank counter that is within their offices there.

You will then go down the stairs and to the windows 24 and 25 and wait for your turn to appear on the screen.

Once you are called they will photo you, take your fingerprints and then in one hour you will receive your brand new Ecuadorian cedula!

No more need to walk around with your passport, in Ecuador your cedula is everything, you can even travel to nearby Andean countries like Colombia and Peru with just your cedula.

And of course, no reason to pay a lawyer to get a cedula for you!

Important changes since early 2013 (one year ago):  

Prefice: About a year ago in Guayaquil I helped a few friends get their cedulas.  And since then things have changed a bit, for the better!

A year ago, after applying for the cedula and getting your photo taken you had to come back in 3-5 days, not anymore, in one hour I got my cedula.

A year ago, they asked for an apostilled birth certificate, they never asked for mine although I still recommend bringing it down.

A year ago, they asked for proof of civil status, a marriage certificate or if you were single you had to do a really annoying hassle of going to a notary and doing a sworn statement saying you were single (declaracion juramentada).  Not anymore.  They didnt ask for me to prove my single status.

PS.  I highly recommend getting yiour cedula in Quito although you can get it in a few other cities in Ecuador.  Just easier.

Keep in mind.  

Unlike countries like the US, your civil status appears on your ID card, and if you are married then ANY legal transaction you want to do in Ecuador like sell a real property or a car you will have to have your wife sign off on it!

But what if your legal wife or husband is not in the picture?

In Ecuador, you are pretty much screwed if thats what appears on your ID cedula card.  Your transaction will be greatly difficulted or stopped.  So if they arent in the picture go for single if you can.

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Q&A, Expat Lifestyle

The Myth about Ecuador Border Runs: How to stay longer than 90 days in Ecuador as a tourist

 
Last week, we covered arguably the easiest way to get a residency visa in Ecuador, and how I got one.

The 9-V Professionals Visa, based off your university degree.

No investment, no pension required.

Believe me, compared to most countries in the world, thats easy!

For instance my brother actually married a Thai girl and he still can´t get his Thai perm residency and has to do costly monthly border runs (like a b*tch).

But Ecuador residency does have its pitfalls, like you have to be in-country at least 9 months a year for the first two years or you could lose your visa.

So if a professonal, investor or pensioner permanent resident visa doesn’t work for you the following may be the way to go.

But the wierd thing is even immigration officials in Ecuador will tell you you can’t do it.

But a friend of mine confirmed, in January of 2014, you can.

The prevailing myth regarding Ecuador tourism is you can only be in Ecuador for 3 months a year on the free automatic visa stamp you get when you enter Ecuador.

They tell you you can’t renew your tourist visa.

And that you only have 90 days a year as a tourist in Ecuador, period.

People plan their whole trips (and lives) around this fact.

Bull sh*t!

You actually can stay in Ecuador for up to 9 months a year, or even more, heck, you can stay perpetually as a mere passer-byer or ‘tourist’ with the following strategy…

It’s proven, first hand to me by a close Canadian friend of mine, as of January 2014.

Enter the country initially with just your passport (valid for more than 6 months) and get the free 3 month visa stamp.  With at least 2 weeks left on your visa stamp apply for the 6 month 12-9 ‘Acto de Comercio’ temporary visa.  You won’t have to leave the country.

Then at the end of the 9 months you’ll have to make a border run to either Peru or Colombia, you won’t even have to stay the night just walk across the border, eat lunch, and come back over.

And you’ll get an immediate 3 month free stamp once again.

Then at the end of these 3 months you’re best to get a 6 month student visa (the 12-5) or the (12-10) 6 month tourist visa without having to leave the country.

For instance there are langauage schools in Quito that will give you your registration papers (what you need for the student visa) for as little as $300.

Then rinse and repeat.

Yes, even though immigration officials are quick to tell you tourist visas in Ecuador are not renewable and border runs will not work either.

I got sucked into the lie once.

I still remember my face at an immigration outpost in Loja with 2 days left on my visa when I was told that my visa was not renewable and a border run would not work.  I don’t know why they say it like that with just a shrug.

No solutions.

You just can’t get the free 90 day tourist stamp consecutively.  You have to follow the strategy above.

But no one told me.

So I overstayed.

I had no choice.

And it was a huge hassle to get ‘legal’ again.

Don’t do that.  Stay legal so you can come and go from Ecuador freely and not worry about being able to get back in the country when you please!

Now you know what I didn’t.

So if permanent residency isn’t your thing at least now you know you can stay in Ecuador for much longer than 3 months as a mere tourist!

And for the complete breakdown of how I got my Professional Residency Visa subscribe to my weekly Ecuador Insiders Newsletter below, you can unsubscribe at any time:

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Q&A, Ecuador Travel Guides, Expat Lifestyle

Ecuador residency visa: No investment, no pension… no problem

I can’t think of how else to put this.

But sometimes I really think Ecuador is kind of like your friends slutty sister.

She may look good from a distance, but the more you get to know her, the less you trust her and although you may have a casual fling with her, chances of a serious comitment are slim.

It may be funny to hear this from a so-called ‘Ecuador expert’, but the truth is Ecuador is a great place for that exciting high risk-high reward 10% part of your portfolio but its certainly not smart to sell everything and invest it all in Ecuador.

Don’t do that! Seriously.

I’m sorry but while (currently) Ecuador is a great place to casually live, and a great place to generate wealth, its not a good place to store wealth and in fact, like many countries in the world, I’m afraid Ecuadors heading in the wrong direction. A lot of factors there. Just my opinion.

Opps, maybe I spilled the beans on that one.

Ecuador, really not much different from any ‘third-world’ country, is certainly not a smart place to park $25k in a CD for a right to a residency visa. This past year alone one ‘real’ bank failed (Banco Territorial), and one ‘coopera’ or credit union-type-thing failed too.

People lost money. Not everyone got paid back.

And contrary to popular opinion, its also not smart to base your visa off a real estate investment valued over $25k, cause if you sell the investment, you lose your visa, and boy would it stink to get stuck in a bad investment and miss an opportunity just cause your money was tied up for your visa.

While many of us, either too young or for whatever reason, don’t count on a steady pension in order to apply for the pensioners visa.

Well, fear not, there’s another little-known option many of us qualify for.

And you don’t have to invest a cent. Nor do you need a pension.

Besides, the only investments you should make are good ones, not ones based on getting a residency visa.

This type of visa is the one I got.

I got it, all by myself, with no help from a lawyer (it wasn’t necessary).

Recently too, I got approved last month.

Introducing the 9-V Professionals permanent resident visa.

All you need to qualify is a degree from an accredited university and to have the degree validated by the Ecuadorian institute of higher education (SENESCYT).

Its actually even easier than it sounds.

You see, Ecuador immigration law is actually quite dated. Written several years ago before there was a sizable demand of incoming migrants. And understandly, countries without much incoming demand have more open doors, cause it doesn’t matter, on the flip side, a country like the US has the doors so closed to immigrants they often have to do illegal stuff just to get in and stay in.

Some countries offer a Professional type visa for college grads, like Australia, but only for certain majors, the specialists they need. Which makes more sense than the current Ecuadorian system if you think about it.

You see, if they’ll approve someone from my major, they’ll take, well, anyone.

Why?

Well, my major was .. duh duh …duh duh… Spanish.

Yea. Damn. Think they got enough Spanish speakers in Ecuador?

If anyone were screwed it’d be me right?

Well, I guess not, I guess they needed one more spanish speaker in Ecuador, and one that speaks with a gringo accent.

Cause I got approved.

But anyway, now you see, any major will do as per the current Ecuadorian law.

So why don’t more people go for this permanent resident visa type?

They just don’t know.

But what if you don’t have a university degree from an Ecuadorian recognized institution, nor a pension, nor the money or desire to invest thousands in Ecuador?

You’ve got another option or two we’ll be covering in the next week. So stay tuned.

Now of course, I did run into a few irritating challenges during the visa application process, mainly due to lack of experience, and they almost costed me the visa!

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Q&A, Expat Lifestyle

Sample itineraries for the coast of Ecuador

 

Here you go, my picks for where to go as you plan your next big trip to the Ecuador coast in 2014.

THE SWIMMERS CIRCUIT: Beaches with flat ocean great for swimming, snorkeling, floating.

Fly into Guayaquil, then take the bus to Salinas.  Spend 2 days , 2 nights in Salinas and enjoy the long beach with water perfect for swimming, the expat bars and local seafood cuisine. Then head up the coast 40 minutes to the lazy cove of Ayangue for 2 nights, also known as lobster bay, also great for snorkeling, scuba, swimming and eating from one of the many fresh seafood stands on the beach.  Then head up the coast to Puerto Lopez, another cove with an ocean good for swimming and a more touristy town to boot.  Then take the 2 hour bus to Manta where you can fly out to Quito to catch your flight home.

SURF PARADISE:  The best surf in Ecuador.

Budget permitting, start your surf trek by taking a flight to San Cristobal in the Galapagos and enjoy empty rides on sapphire blue ocean all day long.  Then once back on the mainland from Guayaquil go to Playas and then the town just west of Playas, Engabao.  Then head up the coast 2 hours to Montanita.   Afer experiencing the hustle and bustle of Montanita head up the coast 40 minutes to completely secluded breaks off Ayampe and the more radical Tunas beaches.  From there, head north to Puerto Cayo, and time permitting further north to Canoa and then Mompiche.

PARTY / SINGLE SCENE:  This is where I’d go if I’m single and ready to jingle.

Start by flying into Quito, then after a short stay in Quito Airport Suites (come on, you know I had to plug it somewhere), fly to Esmeraldas.  Once in Esmeraldas go 20 minutes south to the party town of Atacames.  Try to hit the weekends.  Then head south to Canoa for a hippy, low-key, small town party scene, then head to the city of Manta to wine and dine with folks dressed to impress.  Then head south to the energetic Montanita, then on to the more refined Salinas where you can drink with expats and locals from Guayaquil.  Lastly, don’t forget a stop at Ecuadors largest city, and best for singles, musty Guayaquil.

FOLLOW THE SUN: Many beaches in Ecuador are overcast most the year, only a few aren’t.

Fly into Guayaquil and head immediately to one of the sunniest beaches in Ecuador year round, Playas.  Then head to nearby Salinas which also has a lot of sun.  After, head north to Ayangue, a desert cove which I’ve never seen overcast.  From there, you’ll want to buy more sunscreen and head north to San Clemente, another spot legendary for being consistently sunny, then skip oft overcast Canoa and fly home from Manta.

EXTREME SPORTS/ ACTION PACKED:

For thrill seekers, start the trip by trying your luck marlin fishing in Salinas.  You could also rent 4-wheelers and cruise around the point and the famous “whirlpool”.  Then head to nearby Ayangue where there is one of the few places on the coast to charter an organized scuba dive. Then head north to Puerto Rico where you can try your luck spear-fishing.  From there head north to surreal Santa Marianita a kite-surfing paradise.  From there head a an hour north to Crucita where you can soar with the birds off the cliffs of Crucita while hang-gliding.

AWAY FROM IT ALL / OFF THE BEATEN PATH:  For those of us that prefer ocean, not people.

Fly from Quito to Esmeraldas and head north to Las Penas, you’ll proably be the only foreigner around.  From there head south and skip the hustle of Atacames and insteaod opt for the secluded yet more refined Same, or the raw, gorgeous secluded beaches of Muisne, then hop a motorboat to Cojimes.   From there head south to the secluded, unnamed coves north of Jama and finish off your trip in Santa Marianita just south of Manta.   Then fly back to Quito from Manta.

EXPAT ROW:  The hottest expat destinations on the coast to date.

Fly into Guayaquil and b-line for Salinas.  Then head north to Olon, the beach just north of Montanita.  From lush, green Olon, continue to Manta where if you time it right you can hit an expat night-out.  From there head to the fastly-growing expat populations of Crucita and San Clemente.  From there head to Bahia and the Canoa area.  From Canoa catch one of the new highways back to Quito for your flight back to reality.

LUXURY/SHOPPING:  When ‘roughing it’ is not an option.

Start your trip flying in to Esmeraldas and heading straight for the all-inclusive resort near Mompiche.  Afterward head south to the city of Manta, where you can rent a luxury, oceanview, vacation rental or stay in one of the more luxury hotels on the coast like the Howard Johnson or Oro Verde.  From there head to the Barcelo of Salinas to dine away the rest of your trip.

WILDLIFE

Of course any wildlife lover should start their trip to Ecuador with a week in Galapagos.  Once on the mainland beaches go dolphin watching in Playas, or season permitting whale watching in Salinas.  From there head north to the town of Dos Mangas where you can take a nature hike to waterfalls and get chased down by several different types of Monkeys.  From there head to Puerto Lopez where you can take a tour to Isla de la Plata and bird watch.  There you can observe many of the species found on the Galapagos like the blue-footed boobies.

VACANT LAND HUNTERS: A lot of places on the Ecuador coast are already built up or are pricey, others are not.

To start fly into Manta and head south to the areas of Santa Marianita, San Lorenzo and then Puerto Cayo.  This stretch of coast still has some larger vacant lots available at reasonable prices as well as smaller lots as well whereas on the southern coast from Puerto Lopez on south where you’ll find little to no reasonably priced inventory.  Then head north to the area between San Vicente and Canoa to find deals on both larger and smaller beachfront lots.  From there, if you prefer an even bigger, remote lot try north of Canoa on that stretch of coastline all the way to Cojimes and Muisne.

OCEANVIEW CONDO HUNTERS

There’s only a few places to find oceanview condos on the rural coast of Ecuador.  Start in Salinas, then try Manta, Bahia and lastly Tonsupa in the north. That’s it.

21 DAY BEST OF THE BEST: Simply the best beaches, but more of them.  This is where I’d go.
Start by flying into Quito and then on to Esmeraldas where you can work from the top down.  Once in the Esmeraldas area be sure to bunk up in nearby Atacames where you’ll find the best and cheapest hotel options in the area.  While sleeping in Atacames be sure to explore nearby Tonsupa, Sua and Same on Tuk Tuk.  After 3 nights in the area, head south to secluded, way off the beaten path Muisne for the largest beach in Ecuador.  From there check out nearby Mompiche, a true hidden palm-laden paradise.  Then eat a seafood lunch on the malecon of Pedernales as you head south to Canoa.   Base yourself in Canoa for 3 nights as you explore and settle into the area.  From Canoa continue south to Bahia to have lunch and look around before continuing to San Clemente.  Rent a condo or house in San Clemente to experience true small town beach life in Ecuador, from there head to Manta where you can buy any modern conveniences you’ve been without the last 2 weeks before heading out to Santa Marianita a true diamond in the rough.  From Santa Marianita continue south through Puerto Cayo for some of the best oceanviews of the coast.  From Cayo, skip Puerto Lopez and istead opt to sleep in more relaxed and picturesque Ayampe or Puerto Rico to the south.  The waves here will impress you.  From Ayampe go south to Olon and eat shrimp on the beach in between horseback rides on the enormous golden beach popular with expats.  From Olon catch a $1.50 cab south to Montanita, a true surf and party mecca on the Ecuadorian coast.  If anything go just to dine and people watch for a day or two.  If youd like to be near Montanita but not sleep in it, try a rental in the small town next door of Manglaralto.   From Manglaralto, head south to Ayangue if scuba is your thing, if not skip it and continue right on to Salinas, a great low-effort place to finish your journey of the coast.

 

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Travel Guides

My 2014 Ecuador bucket list: 48 Must dos off the beaten path

Hard to find such variety in a country the size of Nevada.

Yet most travelers to Ecuador get it wrong by going to lame, overpriced places like the Otavalo market.

Below is my personal Ecuador bucket list for 2014.

Things I just got to do just in case this is my last year in Ecuador (not planning on it but you never know).

1. Relax to the core all day in the hot springs in the high Andes town of Papallacta.  Afterward have a trout lunch.

2. Take a bike tour down the slopes of the Chimborazo, one of the worlds highest active volcanos at 6000 meters.

3. Take a bird watching tour in the world-renowned cloud forests of Mindo with over 400 bird species and get engulfed in thousands of Butterflies at one of the butterfly farms in the area.

4. Have a drink with women about half my age on the infamous cocktail alley of Montanita.

5. Explore the Puyango petrified forest, one of the largest in the Americas along the Peruvian border.

6. See the most remote area of Ecuador, the Yasuni, in the Amazon region before they start their planned drilling, besdies its my best chance to see big Amazonian game like jaguars, anacondas and pumas.  Another less intense option would be to fly to the city of Coca and go in canoe alng the Rio Napo to an  Eco-lodge.

7. Take the train through the high Andes from Ibarra to Salinas (a different Salinas than the one on the coast).

8. Hike arguably the most beautiful area of Ecuador from the Lagunas de Atillo to the largest waterfall in Ecuador, the San Rafael Falls and the Volcano Reventador area.

9. Visit the Saquisili (near Latacunga) thursday market for an interesting more authentic (less touristy) look into indigeous highland life.

10. Go silver bargaining along the main plaza in Chordeleg (near Cuenca) where silversmiths flex their creative muscles.

11. Try hand-gliding for the first time of the cliffs of Crucita or Canoa on the coast.

12. Bike down the entire Ecuador coast from Esmeraldas to Salinas.  Hope I get to do this one.

13. Watch the Tungurahua Volcano erupt at night from the look out over Banos.  Tours can be arranged in one of the many agencies in Baños. Cost $20 per person.

14. Observe the amazing Pink river dolphins as they frollic in the unique flooded rainforest of Cuyabeño in northern Ecuador.  Tours can be arranged once on the ground out of Quito or Lago Agrio.  Anacondas, monkeys and sloths are also possible to be seen.  Canoe Tours start from $40 per person.  

15.  Scuba dive in the crystalline waters of Galapagos off Wolfe Island where its common to see schools of hundreds of Hammerheads and dozens of whale sharks.  2 Dives start from around $130.  Best arranged once on the ground in Santa Cruz Island near the port in Puerto Ayora with local dive shops.

16.  Snorkel with the worlds smallest penguin, gigantic manta rays, big marine iguanas and (friendly) reef sharks off las Tintoreras on the picturesque snow-white sands and turqoise waters off Floreana Island in the Galapagos.  Day tours to Isabela arranged in Santa Cruz start around $65/person.

17.  Eat two buckets of the locally-famous garlic crab at one of the best crabhouses (Manny’s Crangrejal) in Guayaquil, a city known for its numerous crabhouses.  Near San Marino Mall any taxi will know where it is.  $12.

18. Hunt for fossils along the banks of the Nangaritza River, the only river that connects the Amazon to the Pacific Ocean, high in the Condor Mountain Ridge (Cordillera del Condor).  For more try lindoecuadortours.com  $25-50 /person.

19. Deep-sea fish for Marlin and Whale-watch in August off the calm shores of Salinas.  Trips can be arranged in one of the several agencies along the boardwalk.  Cost: Whalewatching from $20 per person, deep sea fishing price varies depending on amount of people.

20. Visit a coffee farm near Ibarra and learn the whole process from harvest to belly.

21.  Hummingbird watch and observe thousands of butterflies in the cloud rainforests of Mindo.  Tours can be arranged once in Mindo. Start from $20/person.

22. Trout fish in one of the surreal apline lakes in the barren Cajas National Park near Cuenca.  Tours can be arranged with Terra Diversa in Cuenca.

23. Go way off the beaten path and discover the Lost City (Ciudad Perdida) of Ecuador’s Amazon.  Extreme adventure available through local guides only out of Nangaritza.  Cost: Highly negotiable.

24. Pamper myself with a the natural mud bath in the mud pools in the dry rainforest of Machalilla National Park and spend the night playing volleyball with the local indigenous and later sleeping in one of their tiki huts.  From Puerto Lopez hire a motorcycle taxi and pay a few bucks from them to take you to the indigenous community of Aguas Blancas in the park.  Cost: $10 for the day tour to the mud baths and $10/person for the night.

25. View thousands of Orchid species and hummingbirds along the well-kept trails of the Podocarpus National Park easily reached in a $4 taxi ride from the town of Zamora.  Free entrance to park.

26Get a taste of ancient Incan life by hiking the 10km trek from El Tambo to Ingapirca, ancient Incan ruins and effectively Ecuador’s own “Machu Picchu”.  You can also take a train, taxi or bus which can be arranged out of Canar.  Ruins Entrance fee $6.

27. Get certified as a glider plane pilot in Ibarra through a one month course with a local flight instructor.  They say if you can fly a plane without an engine you can fly a plane with one.  Course starts around $1300. 2013 prices yet to be released.

28.Learn to kite surf with an instructor against the strangly barren cliff landscapes of Santa Marianita near Manta.  Classes can be arranged on site.  Prices vary.

29. Zip-line through a Banana plantation in Machala and learn all the ins and outs of the interesting business with CristyViajes.  Tours start around $20 per person.

30. Fish for Pirana in Laguna Pañacocha, a beautiful black wáter lake backed by cloud forests.  To get there, hire a local canoe where the Rio Panacayu meets the Rio Napo, to get there you’ll need to take a Nuevo Rocafuerte Canoe hired in the town of Coca.  Price varies depending on season.

31. Soak in the odd street water-wars during Carnaval in February in Cuenca where everyone goes around throwing water balloons and soaking random strangers with water guns.  Free.

32. Hike the Quillotoa Volcano and witness the majestic, stunning turquoise-colored lake in the volcano’s crater.  Can be done solo by taking a bus from Latacunga and getting off near the base.  Cost: $4 bus fare from Latacunga.

33. Mingle with sexy locals dressed to the tilt during the 2 hour river-boat cruise on the all-you-can-drink boat ‘Morgans’ which leaves every night from the boardwalk (Malecon) of Guayaquil. $15 per person includes all you can drink.

34. White-water raft and try kayaking for the first time in the lazy to fierce rivers around the city of Tena where the activities have made the town famous.

35. Explore the rarely-visited beaches north of Esmeraldas while at night dancing salsa to afro-latino beats after eating the local delicacy of Shrimp cooked in spiced coconut milk (encocado de camaron).  I’m sure I’ll feel like I’m in the Caribbean.  Cost: $5-6.

36. Visit the perplexing, friendly afro-ecuadorian community of Chota in the middle of the Andes near Otavalo and have a local Shaman (witch doctor) cleanse away my worries.  Cost: $5 bus fare from Quito.

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Sold! How I sold my beach lot in Ecuador. Part 10 Property search series

 
I know what you’re thinking.

Where’s part 1-9 of this series?

Well, they were released about this time last year and tell the story from step one of how I found an undervalued beachfront lot near Salinas, Ecuador, legalized and resold it.

Well, about a year later, it’s now sold.

First, the specifics… 

In October of 2012 I bought a 500m2 lot right on the beach in a small fishing village 30 minutes south of Salinas near the town of Chanduy for $4000.   The lot was cheap for a number of reasons, the lot was located in a rather impoverished, completely undiscovered area of the coast, the papers of the lot were out of date and needed to be legalized (or attained for the first time), and the previous owner didn’t know much about marketing and sales.  The lot took about one month to legalize and cost around $500.  (No lawyer fees except for the notary.)

Then, in November of 2013, after negotiating I came to an agreement to sell the lot and sold it for $8000, a price where I still made money and the buyer still got a great deal (even for Ecuador) on a front-line beachfront lot.

How I sold it?

Due to time constraints and other priorities, I didn’t spend much time or money marketing it, all I did was post it on my own blog ecuadorealestate.org as well as on viviun.com .  Nothing else!  I didn’t list it in Spanish, or in the local paper (like I planned), or with any real estate agents.  Then I left it be.  And after a lot longer than I thought I had a buyer, a year later.

What I learned from the experience?

– That contrary to popular belief in Ecuador it is possible to take publicly owned “communal” land and privatize it and legally deed and register it in the notary, municipal and property registrar just like any other privately-owned property if you get some knowledge on your side.  But it can be a process and is a bit risky cause you never know.

– That if you buy property in an undiscovered, out-of-the-way location it is NOT a short-term play and will take you a lot longer to turn than you thought, even if the property is nice and right on the ocean (ideal).

– That the quality of the beach and proximity to a legit city with shopping and other services is important.

– That it will be a harder sell if NO other foreigners are in the area.

– That simply being beachfront is not quite enough to ask what other beachfront lots in more discovered, developed places on the coast are asking ($80-$100 per m2) .  If I would have got that I would have sold for around $40-50,000!  I started by asking $20k then I lowered to $16k but I didn’t start seeing any real interest until I lowered the asking price after several months to $12k.  Albeit I didn’t do a whole lot of marketing.

– That stating publicly on my blog how much I paid for the lot doesn’t help to sell it for a profit (duh).

– That using an agent probably would have been a good idea, it’s just that I had a bad experience with an agent previously.

– That there are a lot of areas on the Ecuador coast that are actually pretty stagnant while other areas are moving quickly.  Best find the areas moving quickly (which Ill cover on future newsletters).  For instance, this lot had a ‘for sale’ sign when I bought it that had been there 6 years!

– Not to waste time with all the (dozens) of tire-kickers online, the person who is actually going to buy your lot is probably someone already in Ecuador beit foreiger or local.
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The forgotten beach party town in Ecuador

Even if you don’t like to party, party towns are good places to base yourself as you explore the nearby areas of the Ecuador coast.

There’s more places to eat.

A larger variety of places to stay at a much lower average cost.

It’s easier to meet more people.

And you have access to services that you wouldn’t have in more remote locations, like laundry, internet, organized activities, etc.

Everyday I ask other foreigners where they plan to travel on the coast of Ecuador.

And they always tell me the same damn thing, “Salinas, Montanita, Manta, Canoa”.

Yet theres one popular party town on the coast that is completely overlooked by foreigners.

Atacames.

For me, Atacames arguably has the nicest beach of all the locations mentioned above.

It certainly has one of the widest beaches of the country, and one of the few white sand beaches lined with coconut palms in Ecuador.

Beaches with good surf are nearby.

And beaches that are coves with flat water great for swimming are just a short Tuk Tuk ride away (in neighboring Sua).

Plus, when the other beaches mentioned above are likely overcast, you can usually count on Atacames to have sun.

Nightlife. Check, Ecuadorians know how to party, trust me on that one.

Accommodations. Cheap and plentiful with budget places starting around $10 per person and the nicer places around $20 per person.

Food. You bet. Each region of the Ecuadorian coast has their own unique blend of seafood gastronomy. But the north coast has the best cuisine out there! Try the seafood in coconut curry (encocados) or the seafood in nut based curry (cazuela) and you won’t be dissappointed!

Foreigners. Almost none to date yet the area has been popular with Ecuadorian tourists for weekend getaways (particularly from Quito) for decades.

Airport/Hospitals. Yes and yes. Atacames is one of the few beaches within just 20 minutes or so from an airport reachable by commercial flights (Esmeraldas). Plus, being just 15 minutes or so from Esmeraldas there are plentiful private health clinics and free public hospitals available.

Safety. This has been the knock on Atacames as most folks think its too close to Colombia for comfort, but actually its still several hours from the border (like a place called Quito), and with the added police force I believe safety has improved greatly over recent years.

The locals. Different from the rest of the Ecuador coast, the locals are mulatos by ancestry. And by far the friendliest and best looking people on the Ecuador coast.

Real Estate. Cheap! The best deal I see this week in the area is a finished and FURNISHED 20 room, 20 bathroom hotel one block from the beach right in the center of town built just 8 years ago complete with reception, oceanview terrace, and cistern asking $170,000 negotiable.

But the owner sounded like he’d go down even lower, I’d try for around $150,000. Its possible, and it would be a steal.

Im a hotelier myself, and I can tell you, to furnish a 20 room place (well) you’re looking at easily $45,000. And depending on the state of the building (which looks good in the photos) at this price it could pay for itself in 2 years if you market it right.

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Property holding costs in Ecuador: Not what you’d expect

I get it all the time…

“Well nowadays I can also buy a $40,000 property in Waco, Texas, what’the big deal about Ecuador?”

OK, well, one thing is the holding costs.

Lets take a look at my 4 bedroom, 3 bath house on the coast near Montanita. I currently rent it out.

I pay…

$0 for insurance (with so much concrete construction home insurance is not common).
$0 for condo or association fees (not in gated community)
$102 a year in property taxes
$7 electric bill last month (with one single person living on the property full time.)
$4 water bill last month
$2.50 gas (bought one tank of gas, this is also subsidized by the government)

Now lets compare this to a 2 bedroom condo in my home state of Montana, USA currently valued around $180,000…

$1200 annual property taxes
$583 every 3 months association fees.
electricity $80 a month (varies)
water $125 every 3 months
$180 annual insurance
gas $250 (varies)

How about a 2 bedroom house in Montana valued around $350-400k…

$3400 annual property taxes
$1200 annual homeowners insurance
$0 association fees (not in gated community)
electricity/gas $300 a month in winter
$25/month garbage collection

Now, lets throw in the extra cost of my Ecuador ‘property management’ because I do not live nearby (I live in Quito) and I rent it out short term as a vacation rental.

$20 a month to caretaker who visits property twice a week and lets me know if there are any problems, waters grass once a week and takes out the garbage.
$5 each time the caretaker has to go and turn in key or recover key from an entering or exiting guest.
$10 for each cleaning between guests.

The caretaker also is in charge for paying the energy bills, and does NOT live on the property. All guests prepay online, I do all the marketing myself.

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Cocoa farms in Ecuador: An inside look into the Biz

Forget about exporting handicrafts a minute.

Ecuador has some VERY rich people, but they export different things, for instance, the product I’m going to mention today is one of Ecuador’s chief exports… cacao (or cocoa, the seed chocolate is made from).

As the breeze off the plantation whisked past my forehead I sat in a hammock across from a friend of mine who is the plantation owner of a 100 hectare cacao producing farm near the border town of Huaquillas in the South of Ecuador.

I was picking his brain. The business really interests me… here’s what I learned:

Cacao needs a tropical climate and a lot of moisture in order to grow effectively.

Rarely will you find folks with farms in full production willing to sell, because it’s a cash machine. But sometimes we can get lucky.

Cacao requires two full years after planting the seeds to begin to deliver fruit, but once it begins to deliver fruit, it will continue to for a long time as long as you take care of the trees.

When looking at listings for already-producing cacao farms for sale you’ll notice a big difference in prices… right now in the south of Ecuador cacao farms in full production are costing around $20,000 per hectare if they have CCN51 type cacao, and around $9,000 per hectare if they have the local, national type cacao.

Why the difference? The purple colored CCN51 produces a little over twice the fruit as the green colored national type cacao, and both fetch the same prices at market. So if you think you found a bargain, be sure to ask which type cacao is being produced!

For every 3 hectares of cacao farm in full production you’ll need one employee, to whom you’ll have to pay about $300 a month or $3,600 a year. Those same 3 hectares in full production will produce around $15,000 a year in sales, which is a low-ball figure, according to the plantation owner, who was my friend and wasn’t trying to sell me anything.

He said after water, fertilizer and irrigation costs as well as subtracting the above cost for the employee, each 3 hectares will leave around $9,000 in annual profit.

Once in production, you will harvest different sections every 15 days, giving you a constant stream of income, for the rest of your foreseeable life! People love Chocolate. I believe my mom’s actually addicted.

One big benefit to working with Cacao instead of Banana is that if you don’t sell the Cacao for whatever reason, you can store it, dry it, and it becomes even more desirable to the exporters, whereas banana, if you don’t sell it immediately, you lose the whole crop.

It’s actually a much more hands off business than most assume. Most plantation owners have a “Jefe” or farm manager who runs the farm for them, the owner I spoke to rarely visits his farm (maybe once every week or 2).

And as for selling your production, it’s easy, most just sell it directly to an intermediary in their town, who then turns around and sells it to an exporter in one of the ports in Ecuador (like Guayaquil), who then sell it to an importer in the destination country, who then sell it to a distributor who then sells it to the final production plants.

Why don’t the producers try to skip the supply chain and export themselves for higher profits?

Volume.

The importers require a certain, large amount of the product delivered to them regularly, and most farmers can’t guarantee such a large amount with frequency… so that’s why they use an exporter who gathers the product from various farmers and intermediaries to ensure they always have product on a steady basis for the importers.

You can find cacao farms along the coast and lowland areas of Ecuador, as well as in the eastern Amazon third of the country. To make good money, consider farms only of at least 20 producing hectares or more.

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The Galapagos: off-limits to retirees, or is there a loophole?

There’s only one place in Ecuador with Caribbean-like, snow-white sand beaches and emerald green water…it’s a little bit of the South Pacific, and a little bit of Ecuador….

… and it’s the only place in Ecuador that attracts the high-rollers…

…you know, the ones that spend $10,000 for a week-long cruise.

And you’ve never heard it mentioned as a possible retirement destination, until now…

The Galapagos Islands.

Problem is that the whole area is considered a National Park, making immigration and foreign investment laws tight.

Foreigners (not even Ecuadorians who aren´t from the Galapagos) can not buy property in their own name, or spend more than 3 months a year in the Galapagos.

But I think I found a loop hole.

And I’ll share it with you.

Recently, I discovered this loop-hole right from the source, talking to the current manager of the Property Registry Office while I was in the Galapagos.

With at least one local from the Galapagos as a minority partner, foreigners can start a business in the Galapagos.

The local partner can own a small, almost symbolic percentage of the shares, they don’t have to be the majority owner (I asked).

And then you can buy a property in the Galapagos under the name of the Galapagos-founded company.

Foreign companies can NOT buy property in the Galapagos in this manner.

And then the easiest way to become a legal resident is to get a work permit, as investor and retiree visas are not given.

One way to do so would be for your Galapagos company to hire you. Yes, in essence, you’d be hiring yourself.

But that’s the only way I’ve found for foreigners to live and invest in the Galapagos.

Buying in the Galapagos can be a complicated, risky venture. But it just may be worth the risk.

Of course, this theory still has to be proven, I’ll let you know how it goes.

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Pay off your next flight to Ecuador with micro-importing

I know you’ve probably heard how Ecuador is cheap, cheap, cheap.

Actually, for many things, it’s not.

In fact, many things in Ecuador are way more expensive than in North America.

It’s due to the ever tighter restrictions on importing many consumer goods.

And with the current administration, its only getting worse.

But of course this leaves the door open to business opportunity. Opportunity that even the casual traveler can cash in on.

For instance, an iPad Mini 16GB was for sale on special in Best Buy (USA) over the Black Friday weekend for $200. It normally sells around $250-300.

In Ecuador, the same 16GB iPad Mini was for sale in the mall I visited for $807.

On Mercadolibre, the eBay of Ecuador, new, sealed iPad Minis are going for around $400-450.

Thats just one example.

Other products that are historically more expensive in Ecuador are usually electronics, name brand clothes, shoes and perfumes.

Other random things like certain brands of spices and pepper sauces, perfumes, body creams, liquors, sugar cubes (I know its ramdom but they’re really hard to find here), large size clothing and shoes are simply not found in Ecuador.

So if you have a business that deals with people constantly coming and going from Ecuador (like in the travel industry), or if you yourself are constantly going back and forth, its quite easy to tap into this and become the go-to guy in your area of Ecuador bringing down things for people and charging to do it.

Why don’t resident expats in Ecuador just order online and have stuff mailed to them?

They do, but there’s a risk in that like what happened to me recently when I had a package mailed to me and it got stuck in customs and generated a steep tax that I had to pay and it was way more than the goods were even worth. It was just random stuff like a few books and clothes. I decided not to pay the tax and I never got the package.

Other items like cell phones have strict import restrictions and may not be released from customs, period. Never know.

Other times, it just doesnt make sense to pay $40-50 to get something like a pepper sauce you like mailed down when you could pay someone else $10-20 to bring it down for you.

Welcome to the concept of micro-importing. And its a real opportunity for some in Ecuador.

Micro-importing is under-the-radar-style importing where travelers take advantage of un-used space in their bags to bring down items that are for personal use only that folks living in Ecuador don’t have easy access to.

At the very least, its something that could help pay off your next airfare to Ecuador.

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USA to Ecuador flights for $322, how much did you pay?

Winter is coming up north.

And expats are on the move.

In fact, most expats in Ecuador like the freedom of flying on one-way tickets. You know, not being locked into a return date. I know I do.

Even though on the government sites it says you need a round trip ticket to enter Ecuador, I’ve flown here various times on one way tickets and have been stamped right in, no problem. Sometimes it depends on the airline and departure point so best to inquire first. But on the Ecuador side, Ecuador immigration doesn’t seem to care much.

For this coming December (2013)-January (2014) most round trip air tickets from the USA to Ecuador are running around $600-800.

But the dilemma is most one-way tickets are generally about the same price as the round trips if searched through the major travel sites and airlines.

After extensive research I did for an upcoming trip back home to the USA, the cheapest one-way ticket I’m finding this upcoming holiday season is to fly from Fort Lauderdale, Florida (FLL) to Panama City (PTY) for $78 (all taxes and fees included) with Spirit Airlines purchased directly through their site spirit.com (in early January).

Then from Panama City (PTY) to Quito (UIO) there is a Tame flight for $244 found doing a search on Kayak.com (Also that second week of January) .

Even directly in the Tame offices here in Ecuador they are quoting prices higher than what’s offered by Tame through Kayak.

Total Miami to Quito with all taxes and fees included = $244 + $78 = $322.

And buying the one way fare going back comes out to about the same. If you try and it comes out higher play with the dates, know the days and weeks around Christmas and New Year prices on travel always jump.

So how much did you pay for your air ticket to Ecuador?

Did you beat my find, where’d you buy your tickets? Offline, online (which website and for what dates)?

Share by hitting reply to this email. Thanks. We´d all love to know!

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Hookers unveil truth about cause of coastal Ecuador title issues

“Man, I haven’t done that since I was a 20 year old in college in Waikiki with nothing to do.” I responded as my friend and I walked the dark streets outside a bar we just visited in Quito.

You see, in the US, for a 20 year old, there isn’t much to do at night except get into mischeif on the street, because almost no night establishment will let you in the door.

So one of our favorite past times was to go to this one street in Waikiki where hookers hung out and chat them up. They are some of the wierdest people you’ll ever meet which always made for interesting conversations.

Now here I was, years later in a dark street in Quito with a friend getting egged on to do the same thing as we approached a corner that always had streetwalkers.

“OK, lets do it.” I was never a match for peer pressure.

We picked one particularly hot looking one to chat up. And as we approached we quickly realized this gal was actually a dude (as is usually the case).

Then when she spoke it was obvious. She was a dude. “Hola mi amor.” she began in her deep raspy voice.

“Hey.” I started in Spanish. “So where you from?” I asked.

“I’m from Esmeraldas.” She said.

“Cool, beautiful area, I was thinking about buying a house there.” I continued, trying to break the ice.

“I have a house there.” She followed.

“Oh really, how much you pay for it?” I asked matter of factly.

“I didn’t, it was a land invasion.” She boasted.

Then two of her friends walked over and joined the conversation.

One of them said… “I also have a land on the coast.”

“Got it through a judgement.” She said. (Which is basically a more legal way to claim unclaimed lands in Ecuador.)

The third one piped in… “me too, I have a land in Esmeraldas also.”

She continued, “My father was a comune member, and was gifted the lot, then he died and left it to me.”

Wow, I thought, so there you have it, on the coast of Ecuador it seems like only foreigners actually pay money for the land.

So when you’re about to buy a property, it’s even more important to research the title history, and look smart by asking for the following documents right away so you don’t waste time on a property with possible title issues with various people making claims of ownership (which is COMMON)…

-Copy of the notarized title (Escritura)
– Copy of the property taxes receipt (Predios)
– Certificate from the Property Registry (Certificado del Registrador de la Propiedad)
– Certificate from the Municipality (Alcabalas)
– Receipt of the Fire Department tax (Certificado de Bomberos)
– Municipal appraisal (Avaluo Municipal)

So there you have it, how streetwalkers in Quito enlightened me about Ecuador real estate.

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High-season’s coming: Leaving money on the table on the coast of Ecuador

As we enter November here in Ecuador.

And all the leaves on the trees are exactly the same color as they were the rest of the year…

As the owner of vacation rentals on the coast of Ecuador I’m being constantly reminded of one fact as the email requests start to flood in.

That the demand for home rentals on the coast of Ecuador really spikes upward from late December to early April when all the folks from the northern hemisphere try to escape the winter.

The difference in demand is huge and shouldn’t be overlooked if you own a rental on the coast of Ecuador.

You really can charge double, maybe even triple the rent that you could during the rest of the year.

And you’ll get it! Just be patient.

Especially if you market to both Ecuadorians (who also want to be on the coast more in those months due to the nicer weather) and English-speakers (escaping the winter up north).

A lot of renters will want to enter starting in November and drag into the high season paying the same low-season prices, or pay you months in advance for the whole high season at a discounted rate.

Don’t let them, or you will be leaving serious mu-la on the table.

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Hostal El Viajero died, what happened?

You got to be careful in Ecuador when investing in property, man.

You see, you´ve probably lived your whole life taking for granted a right in the US, Canada or Europe that simply is not held as dear in countries like Ecuador.

The right to sleep in peace.

Seriously.

I remember from my time living in the US if a neighbor was making noise at an unpleasent nightly hour the cops often would beat me to the punch and be over there quieting the people down. If not, a simple call and they’d be there within a few minutes.

Not in Latin America. And not in Ecuador.

Call the cops on a noise complaint. Chances are they don’t even show up.

And if they do show up, the locals probably won’t even take them seriously.

Different culture, different place, different values.

The last 4 months I was leasing Hostal El Viajero here in Quito and using it as an auxiliar second location to my primary business Quito Airport Suites, a small hotel near the airport in Quito.

At the beginning, I saw El Viajero struggling so I swooped in and made a deal with the owner who initially didn’t have plans to lease but instead run it himself.

After a few days I realized what I got myself into.

Right next door was a makeshift, illegal (without permits) dog kennel.

As the weeks passed the kennel grew and at any given moment, at any hour, the dogs could be ticked off and trust me, no amount of sound proofing can help against the thunderous roar of about 50-100 dogs yelping.

We filed the complaint with the Municipal.

We complained to local authorities including the police.

We talked to the owner of the kennel.

Nothing helped, months later the kennel remained, and the hospitality business next door just wasn’t feasible.

I really felt bad for the owner, who must have invested well over a hundred thousand in the construction of an otherwise nice building in a good location. As a renter I simply turned the keys back to him and left.

His problem.

Its absolutely essential before you invest in property in Ecuador to study the surroundings and see if the noise level is to your liking. Cause your surroundings are very hard to change later. You’ll also need a little bit of vision to also see what could be in your surroundings later that may be problematic.

Spend time in an area at different times of the day, and actually spend significant time there before investing. Talk to neighbors. Get the real scoop, you’ll be glad you did.

At the very least, noise level is something you may not even think about before investing in countries like the US because its a non-issue, but its something you should think about in Ecuador.

Especially in some areas the countryside of Ecuador… dog barks and roosters are real noise makers.

In the cities, impromptu parties from a rowdy neighbor or car alarms, vehicles braking and horn beeps can also be an issue.

For instance, is a speed bump right in front of your house? If so, then be prepared to listen to the squeel of brakes at any god-awful hour.

Pass on that property.

In third-world countries across the globe, as in Ecuador, you and your investments are just not as well protected as they are in places like the US.

But not one tells you this before buying.

So due diligence is even more important.

And for more insider dirt on living and investing in Ecuador from the ground subscribe to my weekly Ecuador Insiders Newsletter below, you can unsubscribe at any time:

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Expat Lifestyle

2013 Ecuador property transaction records: Cuenca, Vilcabamba, Loja and the Ecuador Highlands

The responses are in…

We asked how much you actually paid for property in the highlands area of Ecuador.

And you answered.

These aren’t asking prices, but actual recent values people opened their wallet and spent.

In a country like Ecuador with no MLS standardized system, nor publicly recorded comps (or comparable sales records) and with historically low and unrealistic municipal appraisals knowing how much people are actually paying can be very useful.

And thanks to all those who responded to this inquiry… below are the responses!
Loja area

1. 24 hectares (60 acres mas o menos) en La Paz, a small rural town about half way between Cuenca & Loja. We were able to get it for 60k. It has a pristine biew of the valley, two narrow waterways that supply the water for the towns in the valley, Wild Blueberry treeas all over it & maybe 350ft of roadfront property on the main highway.

Vilcabamba area

1.  Malacatos, near Vilcabamba that I bought in May,2011 for $6.83 m2 that is 11,000m2.

2. bought a house in Vilcabamba for 165K in March 2013, land 3,500 sq m. construction 140 sq m, 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms , 2 years old, American standards. Sloping land, landscaped, excellent view.

Cuenca area 

1. Cuenca, South side on Rio Tomebamba. 2 floor penthouse condo with 2000 sf. Bought in Jan 2010 for $70K. Found it in the local paper. Condo is 7 yrs old.
2. Cuenca, 10 min (by taxi) from Plaza de Armas.  $67,000.  apartment, 2 bed/2 bath with (solar) heated water, washer/dryer hookups. one of the bedrooms is en-suite. apartment complex was built in 2011.  apt. is 80 square meters, on the 2nd floor of a 4 story apt. complex.

3. on the Tomebamba River in Cuenca El Centro. $175000.  Penthouse condo – brand new.  150 sq meters – includes 30 meters sq of terrace.  October 1 2013

4. Lot 45 minutes from Cuenca, near Paute $40K gental hill side over looking Paute river.  4295 sq mtr, about 1 acre,  January of this year.  has power and water to it

5. 7 hectare (about 17 acres) finca near Guachapala (it’s halfway between Paute and Guachapala) earlier this spring (2013). It has a 3BR/1bath house (in pretty good shape), lovely rock outcroppings, small pine forest, 800 producing fruit trees of several varieties, large spring-fed pond stocked with tilapia, and the access is excellent. The asking price was $165k and they got it for $150k.

6. Cuenca – edificio fronting Rio Yanuncay $89,500.  Apartment, built in 2010 , 116m2 + parking space & small storage area Bought Jan, 2011.  3 br, 2.5 ba.

7. Chordeleg – rural  $160,000.  Orchard, garden, House, empleada      Constructed 20 years +/-  Land = 5945m2 Main house = 180m2 2nd “house” 65m2 Bought May  2009
8. Cuenca.  first floor three bedroom two and a half bath condo for 100,000.00 USD at the corner of Premier de Mayo and Avineda des Americas in Cuenca. The purchase was made last October and the unit is rented out at $875.00 per month

9. Cuenca. 3 blocks from Tomebamba river away from El Centro at Solano and Crespo $174000.  115 sq meter condo built in 2009 Bought October 2013.

 

Quito area and valleys

1. Centro area, one of the few condos facing Calle La Ronda near the Sur Arco.The purchase price was $38,000. The age of the complex is about 42 years old. The 3 bdrm unit itself is approximately 90sq. metros. The purchase date was in July of 2012.
.2 La Carolina/Quicentro area, across from the Mega Maxi on 6 de Decembre. This 12 floor penthouse suite (1 bdrm) is in a brand new complex. The purchase price was $85,000 and is about 50 sq. metros. The purchase date was May, 2013.
3. Quito, La Carolina $104 000 dollar US condominium under construction, delivery on April 2014.  flat of 60 square meter + parking Bought April 2013

4. Checa: For $ 180.000, in Nov. 2011, I bought a 2 bedrm house, in a triplex, with a third of a wall attached. Gardens to be enamorred by, but at that stage, no Internet nor the promised swimming pool etc… Today, with some of the amenities better established, the same house sells for $230.000. The development will soon include a medical center, the covered and the open swimming pool, a mini-market, and high speed Internet,  well as several other conveniences. By then, it will probably be worth closer to $250.000.
5. Cumbayá in Urbanización Meneses-Pallares near Colegio Menor. The property has 1,360 mts2 of land and the house has 760 mts2 of construction. It has some 17 years of being built. I sold it for $500K.
Ambato, Banos areas

1. AMBATO
-the actual purchase price – 125,000
-the type of property and age – RESIDENTIAL HOME /1994
-meters squared of land and construction – 300 / 344
-approx date of transaction 2006

2. BANOS   three bedroom house in  Banos ( near ambato) for $42,000.  it sits on a large lot but had no wall around it.  the house is brandnew but was not well made. white washed walls,no kitchen cupboards

Otavalo, Ibarra, Cotacachi, Atuntaqui areas (north of Quito)

1. Atuntaqui $31,000 . lot.  5,000m2.  6/2013 with irrigation water [4 blocks closer,  property starts at 25 per meter to 50]

2. North and west of Cotacachi.  $18,000.  Raw land some primary forest 1 hectarias flat, 9 hectarias steep from river to Peaks of mountain, accross river from dirt, drivable road. No buildings, electric, or phone.  We do have our own springs and reliable good quality water.  slightly less than 10 hectarias.  march of 2011

Amazon region
1. Between Tena and Archidona, Napo Province. $17,000 for 2.3 hectares of rural land, adjacent to a river (fertile). Cafe and cacao trees on 1 hectare, no construction.  Bought February 2013.

To see more current transaction records in Ecuador please subscribe to my weekly Ecuador Insiders Newsletter below, you can unsubscribe at any time:

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Investor News/Analysis

RE: How much did they pay for coastal Ecuador real estate?

 

You can ask whatever you want for a property in Ecuador.  Doesn’t mean you’ll get it.

In fact, some are quite ambitious when they price properties in Ecuador.

But in a country like Ecuador with no MLS standardized system, no publicly recorded comps (or comparable sales records) and with historically low and unrealistic municipal appraisals seeing how much people ACTUALLY HAVE PAID recently for property in Ecuador can be very useful.

Today you’ll get to see just that.

Or actual property transaction records for real estate in Ecuador.

This is how much someone actually opened their wallet and paid.  (Not the asking prices!)

And thanks to all those who responded to last weeks question…

-On Ecuador coast, No area specified
100,000 (500m2)  Purchased JUN 2013
ocean front  new gated community   lot on front row  ($200/m2 of land)

Puerto Lopez

1. Ocean view on a hill, road dirt access
$6000 USD (320m2) Purchased May 2013  ($19/m2 of land)

2. 26sq.m suite in the Piedra del Mar hotel in Puerto Lopez we bought last May. We have about $33,000 in it now including appliances and furnishings.  ($1269/m2 of construction)

Canoa

1. $19,000 (June 2012)
Lot in urbanization, roads, electricity water pipes installed
400m2   ($47.50/m2 of land)

2. 5 kilometers west of Canoa and  kilometers north on a dirt road …..location:  17 Hectares @ $1800. per Hectare
Purchased in June 2013

3. Briceno, between San Vicente and Canoa on the coast
$30,000 usd
vacant beach front lot on Pacific ocean
360m2  ($83 per m2)
Purchased 05/2013

4. House with oceanview, 2 bedr 1 bath on 1000m2, poor condition
$22k, FEB 2013.   ($22/m2 if taking into account only the land)
Salinas 

1. We purchased an apartment in Chipipe 4 years ago for 230k. 4 bedroom direct beachfront + Maid Quarters, fully furnished + 1 covered parking space.
2. Salinas. 1 block from beach in San Lorenzo. 2 bedroom, 2 bath condo with 900 sf. Bought in Feb 2011 for $49K. Condo is 10 yrs old. ($583/m2 of construction)

3. Salinas. New construction. 3 blocks from beach in Chipipe. 2BR, 2BA, 1000 sf with pool and rooftop spa and BBQ. Bought in Mar 2012 for $70K. Brand new. ($753/m2 of construction)

4. On the Malecon of Salinas, 4 buildings up from the Hotel Barcelo. A 15 unit condo, and we are on the top floor of an 8 story, 6 year old building. Our unit is just under 89 square meters, is 3 bedroom, 3 1/2 bath with an ocean view. With it came a 2200 square foot finished terraza, with a rest room, and wet bar that is ours, and not part of the common area. We paid $95K. It was purchased April of this year. ($1067/m2 of construction)

5. I bought a house & 2 lots in La Malina (Salinas),$49,000 house is 120 mtrs, 2 bedroom, 2 bath, 2nd lot has 18X36 ft pool.

6. Salinas 45K 8 blocks from beach. 4bd 3ba

7. April 15,2013 we bought a 2000 sq ft, 4 bed room, 4 full baths, 19th floor, 5 year old  condo on the Salinas Malecon for $220,000. We are right on the Pacific with  fabulous panoramic views of the Pacific from every room. The building has a swimming pool, kiddie pool, hot tub,2 designated parking spaces, sauna, gym and full 24hr security.  ($1182/m2 of construction)
8. Salinas Malecon Beach View Condo Salinas
$105,000 Purchased Dec. 2011  170 Sq M interior 50 Sq M exterior terrace
Penthouse Suite – Full Floor 8 floor building 2 units per floor except penthouse level
2 parking spaces in garage
3 bedroom 3 bath total with a separate lock-off suite with 1 bedroom 1 bath and living, dining, kitchenette
Condo required total gut and remodel.  1975 construction ($618/m2 of construction)

9. Chipipe Beach View Condo Salinas
$123,000 Purchased Sept 2013 163 Sq. M includes ‘interior’ terrace with sliding doors
3 bedroom 2 bath w. separate maids qtrs.  1974 Construction
7th floor of 11 story building.  2 units per floor.  Condo requires total gut and remodel  ($755/m2 of construction)

Jama
1. Jama Campay which is a residential resort complex (in process) located north of Jama, south of Pedernales. The preconstruction price of my home in May 2012, with 3 BR, 3 BA, one row back from oceanfront, including appliances, basic furniture and a jacuzzi off the MB was under $140,000.  Prices have increased a little since then.  It is now scheduled to be finished in the first quarter of 2014, which is behind the original completion date (oh surprise.) The condo is approx. 1600 sq. ft. ($940/m2 of construction)

2. -the approx. location  JAMA CAMPAY
-the actual purchase price  $89,500
-the type of property and age NEW CONDO
-meters squared of land and construction 2 BED 2 BATH OCEAN VIEW
-approx date of transaction   COMPLETION END OF THIS YEAR

3. Coco Beach Village – just outside of Jama, Manabi
$200,000 for beachfront lot with shell of house – put $100,000 into it this year (3 bedroom, 3 bath)
1,000 sm of lot and 2,350 sf of house (ground floor) w/roof terrace   ($200/m2 of land) ($459/m2 of construction)
Purchased May 2012 – Moved here August 2012

4. Jama / El Matal
$123,000.  Oceanfront lot
Land only – approx 1900 square meters
Nov. 2008  ($177/m2 of land)
all infrastructure in place, ready to build, gated community with club house, pool.

Santa Maranita 

1. $217,000
4 bedroom infinity pool yard done in paveing stone gated outdoor kitchen. Built about 5 years ago.
approximately 660 sq meters double lot . House is roughly 1800 sq feet on two levels.

Esmeraldas 

1. Colope Esmeralda ,  actual purchase price:$ 30,000.00   type of property : 4ac. / 1 1/2 ac. flat land . Approx date of purchase: Aug. 2013  Any other pertinent facts regarding purchase: Top of hill with ocean view .

2. playa provincia esmeraldas
usd 45,000.  casa 20 years old, 3 floors 4 rooms 2 bathrooms
129 sqm land  180 sqm building
summer 2012

Bahia de Caraquez

$175,000
New Ocean Front Condominium, custom built, 4th floor of 8 story bldg. with balcony, 3 bedrooms, 3 baths.  The living room, dining room and 2 of the bedrooms all have fantastic ocean views.  Inside parking garage and bodega.  197 sq. meters, around 2,000 sq. ft.  (2011).  Pre construction pricing.  ($888/m2 of construction)
Tonsupa

1. in Tonsupa, in September, 2011. I found everything that I had ever hoped for and more, at Playa Almendro Resort. It was new construction, 95% completed, and I was able to choose everything inside the doors, including custom wood cabinets and bathroom vanities.  There is 6 pools, with a 7th under construction, 2 spas,a commercial laundry, mercado, 2 tennis courts, 2 volley ball courts.  My condo is 94 square meters, and the cost was basically $1,000/square meter.  We have agreed to lease our condo on an annual basis for $900/month.

2. Lot near beach but not right on it.  $ 35.00 a square meter….total for 1200 square meters is $ 42.000

San Clemente

1. San Clemente  $75,000
“Townhouse” / condo (Vistazul) Built 2008
130 m2 on two floors, 60 m2 roof terrace, May 2011
(6) – 3 floor buildings (5 to 7 units per building), 1 hectare gated community, 100+ meters to ocean ($577/m2 of construction)

2. 820 sq mts beachfront with 10 ft concrete fence; 12 year old about 2600 sq ft 2 story house, 5 bedrooms 4 bathrooms, large patio and balcony.  $110,000. North San Clemente

3. San Jacinto, Carchi, 98 hectares, 4 hectares in platanos and coffee, cacoa, two bedroom, two bath house up, one bedroom one bath down. 2 kitchens, big patios, beautiful views, cloud forest, four streams, river frontage, tilapia pond, $132,000, purchased in Dec 2012.  ($1346/hectare of land)
4. San Clemente
-the actual purchase price:  $85,000, including parking space and storage locker
-the type of property and age: condo, pre-construction, estimated completion March 2015
-meters squared of land and construction: 1.5 acres of land, 1 unit in 54 unit complex, 1,250 sq. ft, 2 bedroom, 2 bath, plus 250 sq. ft balcony
-approx date of transaction: Oct. 2012  ($733/m2 of construction)

5. Beachfront 3 bedr 1 1/2 bath house $100k Sept 2013.
Ayangue

$75,000
Vacant land right on the beach
600sq meters
approx date of purchase: 9/11/13  ($125/m2 of land)
Puerto Cayo

1. Lot in Gated Community.  $82,000
beach front property (new subdivision)
1250m2 (May 2012)
lot is right on the water… community has pool, club house, tennis courts, street lights, sidewalk etc.  ($66/m2 of land)

2. Mirador San Jose NEAR PUERTO CAYO
I paid around 24000$ but I’ve received 15% off on the original price because me and my friends bought 3 lands.
nobuilding yet, I have 5 years to built something
lot is 2160 meters squared.  (May 2013)
gated community, 400m from beach, board walk, 40 min from Manta   ($11/m2 of land)

3. puerto cayo 4000 square meters … cleared…city water…..1/4 mile from ocean with 180 view of pacific and 180 view of foothills….14.50/square meter….buying now.

4. 1. Lot in Gated Community.  $140,000
beach front property (new subdivision)
1000m2 (Sept 2013)
pool, club house, tennis, paved roads, common areas, social event center.   ($140/m2 of land)

Manglaralto

1. beachfront lot
$45/m2,  4400m2 total $198,000.
Nov 2012

2. 2 bedr/2 bath condo on the beach right next to Montanita in a gated community with amenities for $112,000. It will be finished in August 2015.

3. 800 metros Via Dos Mangas, Manglaralto, Santa Elena. One km from beach
actual purchase price: $20,000
Bare land, 2000 M2 land, no construction
December, 2012   ($25/m2 of land)

 

Montanita

17 room Hotel with stunning oceanview near the point in Montanita
Listed at $390,000… sold $230,000, APR 2012.
Olon

$185k
2 story house one block off ocean 4 bedr, 3 bath with balcony
Manta
1. Cuidad Del Mar, 100 meter condo, Plaza Del Mar
Overlooking the ocean, best subdivision on the Coast, Fully Furnished
2 bedroom, 2.5 bath, storage, parking space
Built 2012.  $154,000
2.Central Manabi near Pichincha.
$165,000 us
Farm land no livable structure (has primitive costal farm house with open air type construction…. Stilt house is the best way I can describe it, but not livable to US standards)
90 HA
Purchased April 2013

 

3. Manta
92,500
condo, 3 years old
90 m2
Aug 2011
4. Condo with oceanview in highrise beachfront
new construction
$225,000 (1800 ft2 or 167m2)  ($1347/m2 of construction)
5. Manta
180,000
condo on the beach, new construction
150m2  ($1200/m2 of construction)
Aug. 2011
6. Manta
68,000
condo, ocean view, new construction
78m2  ($872/m2 of construction)
Feb 2012
7. Manta
205,000
Condo on the beach, new construction
153m2 ($1340/m2 of construction)
Dec 2012
8. Manta
200,000
Condo on the beach, new construction
150m2 ($1333/m2 of construction)
Dec 2012
9. Manta
225,000
Condo on the beach, new construction
150m2 ($1500/m2 of construction)
Dec 2012
10. Manta
80,000
condo, ocean view
78 ($1026/m2 of construction)
Mar 2013
11. Manta
30000
land in development
900m2
Apr 2013
12. Manta
110,000
Condo on the beach, new construction
70m2 ($1571/m2 of construction)
July 2013
13. Manta
250,000
Condo on the beach, new construction
150 m2 ($1666/m2 of construction)
Sep 2013
14. Manta
7,500
land in development
230m2
Aug 2013
15. Manta
95000
condo, construction just completed
100m2
Aug 201316. Manta.  $169,000
6th floor condo, 3 bedroom, 2.5 bathroom, 1 garage & storage, big deck of the spare bedroom, giant deck of living room
living space 118 MS, decks 105 MS
August 2012
2 blocks of the beach, fantastic view

 

Punta Blanca

900 m2
close to, but not ocean front
land only
$45 K   2013 APR  ($50/m2 of land)
 Santa Elena (near Salinas)

$80,000.  concrete house 3/3 con casita y piscina grande, appx. 30 anos
5000m2 lot.  Oct. 10, 2011 house is beautiful with fruit trees.
Crucita

1. $21,000
Beachfront lot gated community
374m2 ($56.15 per m2)

2. $65,000
4 bedr, 2 bath house
15 yrs old
beachfront, good condition
APR 2012

Playas

1. PLAYAS Duplex 2000sq ft 2 units 3 bed 2 bath. Beach front  concrete built 5 years ago. Purchased 2012. $105000

2. 4 bedr 3 bath house 2 blocks off beach, small oceanview.  20 years old.  $38k.  Purchased APR 2012.

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Investor News/Analysis

The top 7 can´t miss ´bargain´ hotels of Ecuador

Come on.

Just admit it.

One of the main reasons you are even interested in Ecuador is because you want to improve your lifestyle while at the same time lower your cost of living.

At least the possibility of such intrigues you.

Well, here are my hand-picked top 7 best-value hotels in Ecuador.  Bargain, nice places that should charge a lot more than they are.

Places where you can feel pampered and pay a small fraction of the cost you would back home.

But most of these aren´t easy to find nor easy to book beforehand (many of them don´t even have websites!)

Maybe these aren´t the cheapest choices out there, but they are the best bang for your buck in their given area.  Here goes…

7. Hotel Prado Internacional (Loja, Ecuador).  This hotel conveniently located right on the other side of the river from the old town in Loja is a four star quality hotel at two star prices.  There is an elevator, an elegant, open full time yet often empty rooftop restaurant with amazing food (try the bacon-rapped Filet Mignon in mushroom sauce for $6), a very friendly staff headed by the owner, Lucia, who speaks English.  The hot water is good, WIFI in room and the rooms are elaborately decorated.  Can´t beat the value for price, singles start for $26/night and doubles start around $39/night.

6.  Hotel Canoa Mar (Canoa, Ecuador).  This hotel is right on the beach in Canoa within walking distance of the town center yet just far enough away not to hear the discos blaring music.  The style of the hotel (laced with bamboo) is just what you´d expect from a hotel in the area.  There is hot water, WIFI in room and each room has its own carefully thought-out design… all for $10 per person.  I stay here when I´m in town.

5. Hotel Hugo´s Place (Montanita, Ecuador).  One block from the beach and a girl´s throw from the center of town, this 2013 newly inaugurated hotel in the center of Montanita is hard to beat for the price.  The rooms have a beautiful oceanview and are nicely finished with cement (to prevent noise and critters from entering), WIFI and hot water are available and rooms start at $10 per person ($12-15 on weekends).

4. Copalinga Nature Lodge (Zamora, Ecuador).  No trip is complete to Ecuador without venturing into the Amazon, yet most eco-lodges (like Kapawi) charge upwards of a hundred dollars a night.  Copalinga has beautiful cabins available right in the thick of the rainforest and within a short walk from the National Park Podocarpus.  Amazing for bird watchers, as dozens of Hummigbirds often buzz around you as you dine for breakfast in the morning.  Prices start around $23.50 per person for one of the older cabins available, newer more luxury ones are also available for about double the price.  Worth every penny.

3. Posada del Rio (Cuenca, Ecuador).  For me, the most stunning area of Cuenca is where the old town meets the Tomebamba river.  Thats where I want to be whenever I go to Cuenca, plus you are right in the middle of everywhere you want to go.  Built into a refurbished old colonial, just as you´d expect from Cuenca, the Posada del Rio is right along the river and several rooms have stunning views of the trickling brook.  This is another lodging option with rooms much nicer than what you would expect they rent for, hot water, WIFI and room service is available.  Rooms start around $15 per person.

2. Izhcayluma (Vilcabamba, Ecuador).  As a hotel owner myself in Quito I have the chance to chat with travelers almost everyday, and almost everyone I talk to who has stayed in Izhcayluma has nothing but great things to say about it.  Pamper yourself getting a treatment in the Spa, soak in the pool, horseback ride, bird watch, hike the trails through the green hills or even visit a sugar farm and watch the process of sugar making.  The service is top notch, the grounds well maintained… single rooms with private bath start around $28, doubles $38, shared dorm beds are also available for $12 each.  Hard to beat the value for your buck in Vilcabamba.

1. Hotel Gala (Baños, Ecuador).  This hotel, mainly frequented by local Ecuadorian tourists, has gorgeous mountain views and is right on the edge of the quiant town of Baños.  Its my pick whenever I´m in the area.  The rooms are borderline luxury, some may even hint at four star quality, and are very spacious.  The hot water is good and plentiful and the decoration is elaborate.  You are also within walking distance of the town center and the spas in Baños.  The only drawback is as of writing there is no WIFI, but sometimes its good to disconnect.  All for bargain prices starting around $12 per person.
 

Got a suggestion for this list?  Submit it here to the Q/A forum…

 

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