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Easy Living in the Andes of Ecuador: Real Estate in Cuenca and Quito

The South American nation of Ecuador, about the size of the U.S. state of Nevada, lies alongside the Pacific Ocean with the ridge of the Andes Mountains running down its center. Thinking about a city in the Andes may call to mind images of Peru's ancient royal city of Macchu Picchu, but to Peru's north, Ecuador boasts two Andean cities of its own. Enlarged by the Spanish empire in colonial days, and largely keeping pace with the modern world, Cuenca and Quito are both contemporary cities, with rich histories, surrounded by Andean majesty.

Cuenca and Quito are two very popular destinations for the nation's small but growing community of expatriates. While not nearly as popular as Mexico or some other Central American nations, investing or moving to Ecuador has some remarkable advantages.

Cost of Living

For those accustomed to North American or European prices, the cost of living in Ecuador is staggeringly inexpensive. Homebuyers can buy a modern, well-maintained condo or house in a desirable location for less than the price of a fixer-upper in a U.S. city or suburb – often with furniture included. Domestic help, such as a housekeeper or cook, can generally be hired for $10-20 per day.

Medical care is both affordable and high-quality in Ecuador's cities, doctor visits average around $20, and the same goes for a filling at the dentist. Insurance plans are available to adults through city hospitals, generally for under $100 per month. Food is inexpensive (and often locally produced on small farms), and a couple can enjoy a nice dinner out on the town, including drinks and gratuity, for around $20. While in many regions of the U.S., an income or retirement pension of around $2,000 will leave a couple feeling like they are barely scraping by, in Ecuador, it offers a relatively luxurious lifestyle.

Natural Diversity

Whether you love getting out into nature or simply enjoy sitting on a patio and taking in an amazing view, you will find a reason to be astonished by Ecuador's natural beauty. The country is divided into three basic geographic regions: the Pacific Coast, the Andean highlands, and the Amazon rainforest areas in the eastern part of the country. Both Quito and Cuenca are located in the Andean highlands. Since Ecuador's rugged terrain makes driving time-consuming, short plane flights between cities are popular, simple, and inexpensive, meaning that you can get from the Andean highlands to the beach for around $70.


Quito is Ecuador's capital city, and in 1978, was declared one of the very first UNESCO world heritage sites. And with good reason: its pre-Columbian history goes back to the first millennium A.D., and its historic center, dating back to Spanish colonial days, remains relatively unchanged. In fact, after years of decline, the historic center has been largely restored, although Quito, Ecuador real estate is still very affordable. For a city that is very close to the equator, Quito's climate is cool, and snow can often be seen on the once-volcanic mountains that flank the city, seeming almost close enough to touch – as do the city's deep historical roots.


Cuenca, Ecuador's third-largest city with a population of about half a million, is also a UNESCO world heritage site. Expatriates are drawn by the city's affordability and the vibrant culture that is especially apparent in the Centro, or historic city center. The Centro dates back to the sixteenth century, and today, houses restaurants, cultural institutions, museums, and art galleries. Many homebuyers choose to live near this historic district, where condo units run for under $100,000.