Awarded 3rd spot out of 68 countries for ‘Top Expat Destinations’ in Internations’ Expat Insider 2018, it’s clear that Ecuador is an attractive destination for expats looking to settle down for a decent quality of life. Whether you’re drawn to a remote coastal haven or a bustling beach city, this article explores Ecuador’s five best beach locations and what each has to offer to expats.
As one of the largest cities in Ecuador, Manta offers all the amenities and comforts you’d expect to find in Quito and Cuenca, with the benefits of a beach haven, making it a truly attractive location for expats. Manta is also the largest commercial fishing port in Ecuador, most popularly known for its tuna-fishing industry, so you won’t be surprised to learn that this city offers a good variety of restaurants and markets where you’ll find deliciously fresh seafood for great prices. The costs of groceries and seafood are also much cheaper than in other beach cities across the globe. For example, groceries are around 50% cheaper in Manta than in Miami, Florida.
“The cost of living in general is much less than most places in the US” says Brenda Chadbourne, a US expat who has lived in Ecuador for 2 years. “Most people choose to rent here, which can range from $200 to $1000 per month. At the lower end, you’re getting an unfurnished Ecuadorian style home, and at the high end, you’re looking at a house or apartment in a gated community with security, groundskeeper, housecleaner etc”. As for eating out, “you can get a typical Ecuadorian breakfast for $2 or an almuerezo (lunch of the day) for $3, which usually consists of meat or fish, salad, vegetables, rice and potatoes”.
Not only does this scenic city offer a low cost of living and beautiful beaches, there’s also plenty to do and see in and around Manta. The Malecón Escénico for example, which is located right next to the Playa Murciélago, offers string of local shops, restaurants, and bars, a perfect place to wander and explore.
Similar to Manta, Salinas is a coastal city which offers all the services and facilities you could hope for, while being a popular beach resort for tourists, Ecuadorians and expats alike. During peak season, the streets are crowded with tourists looking to enjoy the luscious pristine beaches and rocky coastal walks. But once the tourist season ends the city becomes a quiet haven, leaving you to enjoy the stunning white sands in peace.
For a relatively small beach city, there are several expat communities made up of more than 1,000 expats who live on the Santa Elena peninsula. Integrating with the local population is an important part of expat living, but it can also be beneficial to have access to a network of expats like yourself to help you settle in and adapt to life as an expat. Another benefit to living here as an expat is that Guayaquil’s international airport is only two hours away from Salinas, which makes travelling that much easier.
Situated near popular destinations like Salinas and Punto Carnero, Ballenita is often overlooked. But with recent renovations and improvements being made to this quaint yet stunning little town, expats are giving it a second look. Many expats are attracted to this spot due to the low cost of living and real estate opportunities. Ballenita also boasts beautiful ocean views, easy-to-navigate transportation services and routes, and nearby shopping opportunities in Santa Elena and La Libertad.
The only downside to living in a small coastal town like Ballenita, is the lack of English-speaking doctors. “If you go to major cities like Quito, the number of English speaking doctors increases substantially” says Brenda, but in more rural areas and smaller towns and coastal villages, access to English-speaking doctors is not as common. To ensure you have access to English-speaking doctors, it can be beneficial to look into specialist insurance policies for expats, so you can have the peace of mind that if something were to happen, you would have easy access to medical care as and when you need it.
Considered the most vibrant and lively coastal town in Ecuador, Montañita boasts plenty of shopping opportunities, restaurants and quirky cafes, and a buzzing nightlife. While it may not be an ideal place for those looking to gain some peace and quiet, it is definitely a fantastic location for expats seeking some excitement. Known for being a great surfing destination, Montañita attracts surfers and beach-goers from all over Ecuador.
Like Salinas, this lively little town is packed with visitors during the peak season, but this all adds to the welcoming, buzzing atmosphere that is so well-loved. The streets are filled with the sound of music, packed with eateries, and “happy hour” seems to be every hour in Montañita. So if you’re looking to immerse yourself in a vibrant and outgoing culture, Montañita is the perfect paradise for you.
Crucita is home to one of the most beautiful beaches of the southern coast of Ecuador, and as such, it is highly regarded by locals, expats and visitors alike. Similar to Ballenita, Crucita is undergoing renovations and improvements, making it a more desirable destination for those looking to settle and invest. Crucita’s ever-growing nature also inspires plenty of real estate opportunities due to the large amount of underdeveloped land in and around this quaint coastal refuge.
As a developing coastal town, you may not find all the services and amenities that you’ll find in a major city, but if you’re not against the idea of travelling a little way to access what you need, Manta is only a 45-minute car journey away. It is also useful to learn the local language if you’re thinking of living here, because in many villages and small towns, English is not widely spoken. As Brenda points out, “to really immerse yourself and be part of this society, Spanish is needed” and while you may not need to be fluent, “a decent understanding is great”.
With an overall low cost of living, a friendly and welcoming culture, and a laidback yet fulfilling lifestyle, Ecuador offers something for everyone. So whether you’re scoping out real estate opportunities or looking for a relaxing refuge, Ecuador has plenty of beautiful beach towns and cities for you to choose from.