- Find Coastal Properties For $35,0000 or Less
- Visit Mountain Houses for as Little as $3,000!
- Gain Friends and Wealth
One amazing feature about Ecuador is that every trip brings something surprising, wonderful and new. During a recent journey we shared with almost 100 IL readers, the spotlight was on the people of this Andean nation. Though the locals have suffered several years of extreme political and economic adversity, their sweet nature and desire to please hardly seems diminished. This national amiability made the trip, which was aimed at finding real estate opportunity, something more than just a money making tour.
The tours sold out so fast we will conduct another November 11-19! Because Ecuador’s economic turmoil has kept prices very low, the current recovery means these bargains may not last.
In addition the country’s financial troubles have not reduced a brightness of spirit in the Ecuadorian people. I am not sure what creates this geniality, perhaps part history and partly the fact that Chamomile Tea is the national drink rather than strong coffee espresso. Whatever, this affable nature of the Ecuadorians creates an atmosphere conducive to prosperity that is remarkably enjoyable as well.
For example we spent our first night in Guayaquil at the first class Oro Verde hotel. This five star hotel has opulent, European accommodations with rich hardwoods and marble polished until they gleam. Service has always been great here at this hotel (a member of the Leading Hotels of the World) but we noticed a special caring at every level of staff from the general manager to the lowest staff member on this trip. For example, the young shoeshine boy who works in the lobby, offered to fix my shoes. He not only raised them to a really high shine, but repaired some problems and brought them to my room in a hurry, all with sweetness and the biggest of smiles. He seemed to really enjoy what he was doing and when I gave him a dollar, was overjoyed.
These people have suffered every financial humiliation imaginable including a currency plunge from 3,000 to 25,0000 sucres per dollar. Now in an ultimate economic insult their currency is being totally removed. U.S. dollars, nickels, dimes and quarters have become the currency on the street. After September the greenback will be the only official currency. Sucres will cease to exit. Yet the hotel’s blend of Swiss training and a large .75 cent per hour labor pool loads hotels with an ever-ready, wanting to please staff. There is not even a hint of anti-American resentment.
Despite warm, friendly, really competent service and world class accommodations prices were decidedly third world. Breakfast for Merri and me at the hotel‘s Patio restaurant was from a sumptuous buffet that overflowed with a dozen varieties of fresh croissants, rolls, pastries, breads, platter upon platter of fresh fruit, cereals of many types including an intoxicatingly rich home made Swiss muesli, thick tropical juices, numerous hot plates of eggs, bananas, potatoes, sausage, ham, tamales, omelet bar, many cheeses, fish, quiche, ceviche of fish, shrimp, octopus and squid and more. Thick Ecuadorian coffee and steaming milk, a variety of teas and herbal teas and sweet Ecuadorian cocoa finished the choices. Yet our bill was barely over five US dollars, for the two of us and the entire time we were hovered over by pleasant, helpful staff. These means we can provide the upcoming November tour at a low price we may never be able to offer again.
The caring of the people did not change next morning when we rode two hours to Salinas for our first real estate inspection. There we visited the brand new (opened in August) apart-hotel Colon Miramar. Salinas is Ecuador’s leading coastal accommodation (not Merri’s or my favorite) as it reminds of Miami Beach. High rise condos line a smooth crescent beach overlooking a blue Pacific bay. The exclusive Salinas Yacht Club gleams a short distance across the water, with super cruisers and sailboats snuggled gently in first class docks. Here the people who served probably earned less than a hundred dollars a month, yet we found nothing but complete and earnest service. When I asked for directions to the apartments we were viewing one helper insisted on taking me all the way rather than just telling me where to go.
The property we viewed in Salinas is the third Colon hotel in Ecuador (the other two are the Guayaquil and Quito Hiltons). This is a world class building, with every accommodation composed of hotel rooms and a number of condominimized apartments. The two condos we viewed included a 1,300 square foot, two bedroom unit facing away from the sea. The asking price was $85,000. The unit facing the sea was US$120,000. These are the most expensive apartments we would see on the entire trip and the broker who led this tour explained that actual selling prices would almost certainly be lower. One delegate summed up prices perfectly when he explained that the architecture in this building is exactly like all the new buildings in San Francisco. “The difference,” he said, “is you cannot even buy a closet there for this price!”
What that reader did not think of as well (we are so far removed from the ideas of service in the U.S.) is that for about $300 a month (total) he could also have a friendly, helpful maid, driver and cook. These apartments can be included in a rental plan with the hotel.
After refreshments and a two hour drive north up the coast, we arrived for lunch at the award winning ecological resort Alandaluz which adjoins Machalilla National Park. We dined in a huge bamboo restaurant overlooking lush gardens embraced by organically grown fruit, vegetables, herbs, bamboo and exotic palms. Delegates viewed charming bamboo and thatch apartments “The Tree”, “The Poet” and “The Painter”. This tiny village is run by people who care for more than just making a buck. This dedication shows. They have a respect for beauty, harmony and nature and are trying to take responsibility for the present and the future with a passionate embrace for life, light and land to preserve for future generations. They say the humans, animals, plants, skies, land, sea and horizon itself are all unanimous in this preservation.
Yet our impeccably served meal of fresh organic fruits, grains, vegetables, shrimp, fish and tasty blackberry juice (a local favorite) cost less than five dollars a head.
The rest of the coastal trip worked this way as well. People served us caringly and perfectly everywhere we visited, from the Oro Verde hotel in Manta (where the groups viewed nearby houses on the beach for as little as US$24,000and 1,800 square foot apartments with terrace, sea viewand ocean front swimming pool at very negotiable prices (in the US$ 100.000 range).
We then lunched in a intimate open air restaurant overlooking an empty, indigo shoreline and the fishing village of Crucita. This area is famous for hang gliding and the restaurant owner provided a professional to take delegates on free rides off the cliffs and out over the indigo sea.
In Quito people were even friendlier. Such warmth is unusual in a huge city (in the U.S. road rage and ill tempers are more likely to be found than smiles). Service was cordial and earnest and though many people there are suffering extreme financial hardship, tips were not asked for, or even expected. When money was given for extra-ordinary service the recipients seemed surprised and genuinely pleased. Everywhere the help really cared about making us happy.
Several delegates also expressed surprise that Quito was a real city, with modern buildings, broad avenues and every infrastructure one could expect. They thought, with such low prices, to find a ramshackle shanty town instead of a modern city with casinos, fashionable shops, modern hospital, rich culture, art, discos and gleaming high rises everywhere. Quito was called ‘Paris of the South” in Victorian times and is truly a place where you can get anything.
We also enjoyed our meals in one of the highest restaurants in the world, Techo del Mundo. Quito's elevation is nearly 10,000 feet and the Quito Hotel where we stayed sits on one of the city's higher knolls, overlooking downtown and the surrounding valleys. The hotel's seventh floor has commanding view east, north and west.
Daybreak here is one of life's memorable events. Merri and I sat with a group at the sumptuous breakfast buffet and watched mists rising off the valleys, like fragile milk lace, floating dreamlike on the daybreak's breeze. Fields of green in the valleys below were adorned with apricot rays washed over the black outlines of razored ridgelines to announce the dawn.
We watched the city wake up, a few headlights glimmering in the dawn, local indigenous salesmen carrying bundles of goods to their stalls and the scenic mountain peaks coming into view through the gray haze of fading night.
Then later delegates viewed modern, spacious apartments constructed and decorated with materials and décor we have not seen in North America for years at prices not seen in decades.
The property they saw included new, central apartments for US$25,000 and a really beautiful 1900 square foot three houses in the Tumbaco valley outside of Quito at US$ 88,000 asking price.
Model adobe houses of incredible architectural design were viewed at the architects, Barro Viejo. These sophisticated, charming houses can be built for US$ 15-20 square foot, including fixings, bath, etc.
After hearing attorneys, accountants, U.S. expatriates and even an indigenous Yatchak (Shaman) speak on differing aspects of Ecuador the group headed north along the Pan American highway towards the shopping village of Otovalo. Here amidst the twin volcanic peaks, Chimbaroso and Pichincha, and clear Adean skies the group encountered perhaps the sweetest Ecuadorian people of all, the indigenous Ecuadorians. These are Incan descendants who live and work in fertile valleys, crisscrossed with plantings of corn, potatoes and Quinoa. Though they are poorest of all (with incomes ranging as low as $30 a month) they have a charm and sweetness that cannot fail to touch one’s heart.
There are some economic reasons for Ecuadorians to be feeling brighter as well. The roads and bridges are now in much better shape than those encountered on our previous tours. A year’s worth of road work after El Nino and La Nina have improved transportation throughout the country. Better paving is not the only improvement we found in this Andean nation either.
Ecuador’s economy appears to be improving. The consensus from the many experts who spoke to the group is that Ecuador’s economy has turned the corner and is now ready to improve. A recovery may be on the way based on five cornerstones of higher oil prices, dollarization, government reorganization, privatization and a simple rebound.
Ecuador is the second largest oil exporter in South America and oil is the Ecuadorian government’s main source of income. As oil prices have skyrocketed so have government revenues. In addition the government is now finally starting to privatize oil, telephone, electricity etc. If this trend continues the economy will be helped enormously.
There are some problems associated with all this change. Dollarization will hurt the poor from a psychological and buying power point of view, (someone who was earning 100,000 sucres a week will be earning $4). This will make their income seem less. Buying power will drop as low cost products and services (shoe shines for example) that used to cost less than the lowest U.S. coin in regular circulation will rise. Also inflation will not be offset by currency devaluation and is expected to run about 30% in the next year.
However the good news is that the dollarization law prohibits the National Bank of Ecuador from printing money or from being a last resort lender to banks. This will force the government to increase its spending discipline. This should force it to reduce costs and keep privatization on track. This should reduce long term inflation and increase the economic efficiency in years ahead.
Will the economy really improve and will the people of Ecuador become even sweeter in the future? These are answers I don’t know, but what I do know is the country does offer sweetness and opportunity now. During this limited time, before the economy really recovers, this rich country offers and special blend of wonderful service, low prices and a sweetness we may never see in this world again.
The final property inspections on the tour were at a visit back to the coast at the Casa Blanca Resort. Delegates found everything, tennis, golf, marina and water sports. Yet 600 to 1400 square foot apartments and houses were only from US$30,000 to US$77,000 with financing and including golf membership.
The tour ended with a visit to Otavalo, the largest market in South America. Wool coats, handmade “fishermen” sweaters, and vicuna blankets cost under $10. A good leather coat goes for under $100. Panama hats are made in Ecuador, and the least expensive come in their own handmade balsa boxes for about $3. Rugs, jewelry-especially silver and emeralds, crafts, wood carvings, and pots are on offer at bargain-basement prices. The savings here were more than the cost of the tour!
The group lunched on that last day at Hacienda Cusin, a 17th century monastery that has been converted into a lovingly restored 40 room hotel. There delegates saw new houses, built to look 300 years old and available on seven year leases (the price is $25,000-which seemed expensive to us but did include all hotel facilities.)
On the way back to Quito we inspected brand new pre-fabricated vacation homes that can be purchased for as little as $3,000. These houses were previously $800, so inflation without devaluation is having some impact. But these sweet, little places (about 460 sq. feet) are still bargains for those who want a little vacation home in the mountains or on the sea. Honestly! But these price increases are also why the upcoming tour may offer the best prices we’ll ever see in our lifetime.
Both trips were thoroughly enjoyed by all and some acted on the spot (though we discourage this). One delegate rented a three bedroom apartment just off the main Amazonas Avenue, which is in the center of galleries, cafes, bookstores, museums and shops. This three bedroom apartment with servant quarters was US$150 a month.
Another delegate said he is making an offer on an six bedroom, three story, Italian villa. This 5,000 square foot mansion which is ripe for restoration is adorned with marble and rich hardwoods. The 14,000 square foot grounds have terraces and are centrally located near Amazonas as well. The asking price is only in the US$100,000 range.
Yet what these delegates will gain is more than incredible value in real estate. They will move in and find neighbors that are friendlier and more helpful than any they may have ever found before. This history of amiability and goodwill towards all cultures, creeds and religions may be Ecuador’s biggest asset of all.
As mentioned these two IL real estate tours sold out so quickly that Gary & Merri Scott and the staff of International Living will conduct other tours – see our courses section. We hope you join us.
Here are a few of the contacts you will meet on the tour besides Gary and Merri.
Real Estate Broker, Gus Hernandez who lived in the U.S. for 14 years, speaks perfect English and seems to know what Americans want. He currently has three brand new 1,400 sq. foot three bedroom houses with garage in the fabulous El Bosque area off Occidental Avenue. The houses have incredible views from terraces. Asking prices are US$32,000.
Rolf Stern, President of BDO Stern, part of one of the largest accounting organizations in the world. Rolf is a wealth of information on Ecuadorian tax, law and business. His firm offers all aspects of business assistance, corporate formation, real estate purchase, introductions, accounting, tax planning, legal.
Tom & Joan Beak moved from the U.S. last year to a 400 acre farm and are loving every minute of their cattle ranching business there. The remarkable fact is they are in their eighties. Their experiences in getting visas, furniture shipped, driver’s licenses, insurance, telephones, etc. are invaluable.
Dr. Andres Cordova is an attorney in Quito. His firm represents the National Bank of Ecuador and other government economic agencies as well as private individuals. He is also advisor to Gary Scott’s International eclub. More details are available at https://www.garyascott.com/eclub/
Taita Yatchak. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Taita Yatchak is a Taita Yatchak (shaman given the highest honor- the Force of Great Light by the Shamanic Council of South America). He has spoken to groups all over the world about a 500 year old prophesy that the Eagle of the North and Condor of the South fly in the skies together so the equilibrium of mankind can be restored. He is also a healer of the highest order and speaks before the UN for the indigenous people and keeps his Wasi (house) for his apprentices at Gary & Merri Scott’s 800 acre plantation Rosaspamba. He offers healing and rejuvenative retreats there.
Won’t you join Gary and Merri Scott and the staff of International Living on this remarkable trip that offers enormous profit potential and international friendships as well?