Well, you made it. You are here! After months or even years of planning and downsizing, you got on that plane and left everything behind. Quite an accomplishment for sure… and now your new life begins.
Most expats, including myself, came here on their own–in other words, with no family or friends waiting to greet them.
Some have downsized to the point of having a few suitcases (my choice) and others have decided to purchase property and have many of their personal belongings shipped in containers.
Whatever the case may be, temporary accommodations are generally necessary. Ecuador has a wide variety of hotels, hostels, and short-term rentals available.
I’m in Cuenca and I used a local online expat newsletter/website. They have listings available for both short and long-term rentals and real estate to purchase.
Rent vs. buy
As far as making a decision to rent or buy, most expats highly recommend renting for at least a year before buying property.
There will be many factors to take into consideration such as the climate and altitude, as well as the differences between living in a large city versus a smaller town.
Most small towns have no English speakers so that can be an issue for those who are not fluent in Spanish.
When speaking of altitude, I am referring to living in Cuenca with an altitude of 8,500 feet and Quito, which is even higher. I’ve experienced some issues physically in adjusting as have many others. Some have moved as a result.
Other important factor to take into consideration if you’re thinking about buying is the difference in real estate practices and laws in Ecuador compared to the States. Keep in mind that Ecuador has a long history dating back many centuries and land ownership or title searches are difficult to maintain.
Hire a real estate attorney
My suggestion, having been a mortgage banker for many years, would be to retain a real estate attorney and request as much documentation (translated into English) as possible.
It is best to be present for any closings to make sure all monies, documents, etc. are completed in person.
Lastly, please don’t hesitate to ask for structural or engineering tests to be completed (probably at your expense).
Real estate prices vary widely here and there is no consistency in how property value is set; so shop and do not be afraid to make an offer.
For those who choose the freedom and flexibility of renting, there are many options for the type of “home, sweet home” you desire.
There are newly constructed, modern high-rise condominiums to delightful quintas (country homes) in the picturesque Andes mountains that run the length of this beautiful country.
Most expats will admit to moving an average of three times before finding their perfect abode.
Enjoy the ride and please let us know how it’s going. Hopefully, you’ve found the perfect place.