Ecuador A Booming Real Estate Market

Ecuador is a country where you can live surrounded by unparalleled beauty, whether it be in the ancient colonial cities of the Sierra, the tranquil Valley of Longevity, the exotic Amazon rainforest, Ecuador's beautiful and natural coastline, or the mystical and unique Galapagos Islands.But it's also a country where you can live on the smallest of incomes. In Ecuador you can still find pristine beachfront lots for under $12,000, antique colonial homes for under $25,000 and peaceful mountain retreats for under $50,000. You'll pay almost no taxes and enjoy one of the most non-intrusive and non-regulatory governments in the civilized world.

Nestled in the jagged Andes Mountains, it is home to a large portion of the world's wildlife and bird species, as well as a staggering array of different landscapes and climates. There's truly something here for everyone.Ecuador's real treasure, however, is its people.

It's one of the few places where a foreign resident or visitor can blend easily into the community, being welcomed into a new circle of friends and a new way of life with relative ease. As a foreigner here you'll be treated with respect and the people will be proud to get to know you.During the last 5 years, Ecuador has gone through a number of tumultuous changes, including the recent ousting of a president in 2005.

But today's Ecuador has emerged as a country which remains a haven for those wanting to retire or invest and gives every sign of retaining a stable government. The landscape of the market has changed, but there are plenty of areas where significant property bargains can be found and a comfortable lifestyle can be enjoyed on just a fraction of what you'd spend in much of the world.Today, you can buy a two-bedroom condominium in Quito's historic center, close to good shopping, gourmet restaurants and hotels, for under $55,000 and a one-bedroom for just over $25,000. Quito's antique Spanish colonial homes in need of restorations start at around $30,000.

While there are good buys all over the country, the best buy right now in the property market is unquestionably the purchase of old Spanish colonials in Quito's historic center. The city is in the process of restoring the old colonial center, something which caused property values to rise rapidly in Cuenca and Guayaquil upon completion. Yet the tremendous value found in these irreplaceable antique homes-some in the $25,000 to $50,000 range-has not yet been recognized by the Ecuadorian investors.

A two-bedroom apartment in Cuenca's colonial historic center a block from the main square just sold for $34,000 and a beautiful one-bedroom apartment can be rented in Cuenca's most luxurious neighborhood-directly on the Tomebamba River-for just $250 per month.Maid service costs around $120 monthly and construction workers still earn around $200 per month. At the market, you'll find handmade fisherman sweaters for less than $10 and leather jackets for under $50.

Even if these prices doubled they would still be cheap.Low prices alone do not make an ideal retirement or investment destination. There are plenty of places the world over where you can buy cheap land and find a 50-cent cup of coffee-but you wouldn't want to live there. Not so in Ecuador.Here you'll enjoy a quality of life that's hard to beat and an experience in living that you won't get anywhere else.

If you enjoy the outdoors, have dreamed of owning a Spanish Colonial home in a World Heritage site, or want to spend hours strolling on an undeveloped beach, then Ecuador may be for you.As you may know, Ecuador survived the Latin American financial meltdown of 2002, in part because of a stability factor that came from adopting the US dollar as the official currency. The formerly high inflation rate came in at 3.

9% in 2004, same in 2005 and it's on track to be about the same in 2006. There are no foreign-exchange controls and no restrictions on foreign-owned businesses. You can repatriate 100 percent of your profits.The other hot area at this writing is the village of Vilcabamba in Ecuador's southern Sierra. Enjoying near-perfect year 'round weather and dramatic mountain scenery, it is called Ecuador's Valley of Longevity.

Here a two-story traditional Ecuadorian house with five bedrooms on 2.5 acres with lots of fruit trees and a fresh water source that provides fresh water year-round, sold this year (2006) for $60,000.

.Michael Russell.Your Independent guide to Real Estate. .

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By: Michael Russell


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