Live on $600 a Month in Ecuador’s leather capital.
This is Ecuador’s famous “leather” town, high in the Andes mountains, where artisan shops line the main street and you can buy any type of leather item, from a saddle for your horse to booties for your baby. Prices for these items are 50% to 75% less than you would pay in the U.S.
At night the artisan shops close up and only a few restaurants and small mom-and-pop shops are open. That’s all you need, really. After a day of sunshine in the 8,000-foot-altitude mountain climate, nighttime is for sleeping. The cool, crisp air smells faintly of wood smoke, roasting corn, and eucalyptus. Eucalyptus trees grow abundantly wild, as do palm trees.
Think Breckenridge without the pretension or the snow, and you’ll come close to imagining Cotacachi. It’s what those of us who came of age in the 1970s hoped life would be: easy, simple, natural.
And incredibly affordable, too. As elsewhere in Ecuador, your dollars stretch to astonishing lengths.
Lee and Peg Carper, for instance, spend less than $600 a month to live comfortably here—and that includes food, utilities, medical expenses, dog food, even rent on their 1,200-square-foot apartment.
We recently bought our own condo in Cotacachi. We purchased it from the builder for $51,000. It’s a top-floor penthouse of a little more than 1,000 square feet with a fireplace, sunroom, outside terrace, and mountain views. There are two- and three-bedroom units left in the development at around the same price.
In a small development of new two-story town homes near Cotacachi’s medical clinic, units are selling for $54,000.
Just spotted on a walk around the town center, two fixer-uppers (nothing much more than the façade and huge lots in back) list for $25,000 and $36,000.
If you need upscale creature comforts like a gourmet meal or (and I don’t say this lightly) one of the world’s best spa treatments, you’ll find both at the five-star La Mirage Hotel and Spa on the edge of town.
The famous market town of Otavalo is just 15 minutes away should the shopping urge overcome you. Fresh produce can be bought there or at Cotacachi’s open-air Sunday market. Or go to the nearby city of Ibarra to the modern supermarkets, or the mega malls of Quito, one of the largest and most sophisticated cities in South America, just two hours south.