Wednesday, May 05, 2010
I’ve just returned from a scouting trip along Ecuador’s Pacific coast.
This wasn’t my first time here. Two years back, I traveled a good portion of this same coastline. I found an amazingly beautiful shoreline, great value properties right on the beach, and a gentle, unhurried pace of life.
Two things were missing at that time: foreign buyers, and accessibility.
But today things are different: The government is upgrading the infrastructure at a rapid pace, and foreign buyers are coming in ever-increasing numbers…which should push property prices upwards.
Ecuador is increasingly popular with expats and second-home buyers these days. They’re wising up to the fact that this country boasts some of the best property values in the region. It’s like Costa Rica or Nicaragua in the early 1990s, before a swarm of foreign buyers snapped up prime beachfront and ocean view property, pushing prices up dramatically. Property shoppers are realizing that they can afford a Southern California-style beach home in Ecuador, for a fraction of California’s cost.
More Baby Boomers than ever before are looking for a location where they can live comfortably for less, and Ecuador fits that bill. The cost of living is one of the lowest I’ve come across. Just $2 buys you lunch—homemade soup, juice, fish or meat served with vegetables and rice, and a fruit and ice-cream dessert. It’s not gourmet cuisine, but it is fresh, tasty and filling. It’s possible to live well on a limited budget in Ecuador.
Better yet, buying a property in Ecuador helps qualify you for a residency visa—and the minimum property value is only $25,000. If you think you’ll have to spend much more to own your own beachfront home, think again: I found brand-new 800-square foot condos on the sand, with beautiful ocean views, for an amazing $39,900.
Arriving in the country was easy, thanks to Guayaquil’s modern international airport (I flew into Guayaquil from Panama) and the brand-new highway connecting Guayaquil to the coast. Guayaquil also offers air connections to some coastal cities, including Manta (on the central coast) and Esmeraldas in the north. I began the trip on Ecuador’s central coast just west of Guayaquil, and the Ruta del Sol coastal highway made for comfortable driving as I made my way north.
I soon arrived at my favorite and most-promising stretch on the north Pacific coast, between Pedernales and Canoa. And while it may be promising today, it’s traditionally been the least accessible. Right now, there isn’t any significant development here; no high rises, no chain hotels…no sprawling resorts or subdivisions.
But that’s changing. A new highway and a new bridge are under construction, linking this best slice of seaboard to Quito and Manta. And that opens it up for development. Canadian and American developers are carving up land parcels here as we speak, with an eye to the future. They see the potential in this spectacular setting—a potential that’s maturing day by day.
And also today, those foreign buyers are trickling in. Once word gets out, the trickle could become a flood—and prices should rise.
Over the coming weeks, I’ll bring you the low-down on my scouting trip.We’ll explore the best property bargains in Ecuador’s coastal cities and resorts, and of course that beautiful location that caught my attention two years back…which is rapidly becoming today’s coastal hotspot.