Cotacachi, Ecuador

cotacachiThe ex-pat community is buzzing about the small country of Ecuador. When looking at all the criteria that make a new home-country desirable, Ecuador meets most of the prerequisites. Located on the equator of South America’s west coast, Ecuador offers warmth, but also the Andes Mountain range to the east placing the country in a stretch of glorious foothills. The climate varies with the altitude and proximity to the coast. Each brings different temperatures and environments. Choose from jungle, coastal or highland living.

The town that most intrigues me is Cotacachi, A two hour bus ride north of the capital city of Quito, it still retains a small town feel, but offers modern amenities. While you won’t see any tall office buildings or fancy services like party bus or limos, the town is always restoring and renovating in order to stay fresh and accommodating. It is a place known for its cleanliness and civic pride. A relatively large ex-pat community from all over the world have found it easy to call Cotacachi home.

This article is a little of what I discovered that makes this area so inviting.The population is just over 9,000 making it a small town, but not lacking in activities. If you enjoy springlike weather year round, and you love being in Nature you’ll never get bored. The Cotacachi Cayapas Ecological Reserve is a haven for those who love to walk or simply enjoy any aspect of outdoor life. If you’re in good shape you can hike to the summit of Cotacachi Volcano which stretches up16,200 ft. Along the way stop for a midday picnic at Lake Cuicocha the large volcanic crater lake in the Reserve. Enjoy hiking the shores rimming the lake or kick back and take a boat ride.

The locals celebrate their culture with festivals throughout the year. Getting in the middle of the celebrations is a great way to get a deeper understanding and appreciation of the culture. The ex-pats have added their own brand of fun to the area, bringing in more activities like dance classes, girls’ night out, horseback riding, food factory tours and enjoying dinner at a 350 year old hacienda. Apparently there is a lot going on that is instigated by the foreign influence. Cotacacians embrace the diversity while firmly maintaining their foundational roots.

Most find the country of Ecuador because they are hunting for affordable, safe and beautiful places to live. The cost of living in Cotacachi is roughly 1/3 what it would cost in the US. Maybe even better if you know the right people. One ex-pat told me she was living very comfortably (emphasis on the very) for less than $1,000 a month. Real estate is considered a bargain by anyone’s standard. A 1,300 sq. ft. rental property is not an unusual find at $300 to $600 a month. It’s a cheap way to test drive the area before making a more permanent commitment.

With another town, Otavala 20 minutes outside of Cotacachi offering it’s own unique blend of charm with cafes and restaurants, local theater, museums and galleries, and the large Capital City of Quito 2 hours south, you never have to feel the restraints of village life. One advantage of being in a more village environment is you get to know your neighbors both locals and ex-pats, so if you enjoy community you will appreciate Cotacachi’s personality.

There are so many riches, from culture to modern day advantages if you’re considering a move to any part of Ecuador, but Cotacachi presently has my eye. I look forward to a trip in January to learn first hand if it may be a fit for me.

Have you been to Ecuador? What travel destination have you found to consider for retirement or a place where you can just ease up on the stresses of life? Leave a comment below.