Salinas is Ecuador’s premier beach destination, hands down. And I’ve liked it from my very first visit, many years ago. So, buying real estate in Salinas appeals to me. Its long, curving, sandy beaches and blue waters helped to make it the most popular and best developed resort that Ecuador has to offer.
And I like Salinas even better today than I did back then. Why? Because today Salinas is an outlier in the property world thanks to its low prices for quality properties.
Prices were pretty good 10 years ago… surprisingly good for the amenities and quality of life in this coastal city. But while the rest of the world’s beach properties have spiked in value, properties in Salinas have lagged behind.
Today, the values here should get your attention.
For just over US$100,000 you could land a modern oceanfront or ocean-view apartment in a resort setting, with great beaches and plenty of restaurants and amenities.
Once you get here, you’ll enjoy Ecuador’s super-low cost of living for all of your everyday expenses.
There’s no beach lifestyle where your dollar will go further. For a seaside lifestyle on a social security check, Salinas is a great option.
Salinas, Ecuador:A Perfect Setting On The Westernmost Point
Salinas is located on the westernmost tip of Ecuador’s mainland, in the province of Santa Elena on the southern coast. It’s a two-hour drive from the airport in Guayaquil, with its good international connections.
The international airport at Manta is over four hours to the north along the coastal road.
The population of Salinas is around 35,000, although it grows to over 100,000 during peak holiday and vacation periods. Above all, it’s a good place to own a vacation home, but it also has the amenities and infrastructure for full-time living.
Salinas is often referred to as “Little Miami,” or compared to Miami Beach; an unfair comparison that’s not accurate.
Salinas is not a high-end playground for the world’s rich and famous… and you won’t see expensive coffee shops or exclusive designer shopping.
But it is fair to say that, while it’s not Miami, it’s the most Miami-like resort you’ll find in Ecuador, southern Colombia, or northern Peru.
And it does offer a few beautiful, wide beaches… a large inventory of modern, attractive properties at low prices… plenty of restaurants, clubs, cafés, and small shops… truly world-class sportfishing… and plenty of boating with one of Ecuador’s few marinas. For most of us, it’s a better option than Miami.
Salinas has two main beaches in the developed part of the peninsula: Playa San Lorenzo and Playa Chipipe. (On the relatively undeveloped part of the peninsula, there is another beach called Playa Mar Bravo.)
These two beaches are separated by the Salinas Yacht Club, with its picturesque yacht basin populated by glistening watercraft from around the world.
My favorite beach is Chipipe, especially near the end where it adjoins the naval property.
Chipipe is the “end of the line,” on the Salinas waterfront… so it tends to see less cruising, and little-to-no through traffic.
During vacation periods and holidays, the beaches fill up with sunbathers and swimmers. As a result, just offshore, you can watch the jet skiers racing around the bay, while the larger boats come and go from the marina.
Despite being on the equator at sea level, Salinas has a pleasant, mild climate.
The hottest month of the year is March, with an average high temperature of just over 81°F (27.4°C). The “coldest” month is August, with an average high of about 75°F (23.8°C).
Humidity is over 80% all year, so it always feels a bit warmer than the temperature would imply.
A Few Tips To Manage The Property Market in Salinas
There’s plenty of construction underway in Salinas, Ecuador, and the market is solid.
When it comes to real state in Salinas, Ecuador, prices are holding steady, with the average sales price not far from the asking price.
Multiple list service:
Ecuador has no MLS, although many realtors will share listings. It pays to check various agents’ inventories to make sure you’re not missing anything.
A property’s time on the market is an important factor to consider when making an offer… but it seems less important than in the United States or Canada. A friend of mine panicked when his home was listed for two weeks with no offer in California… while many sellers in Salinas seem happy to wait until a buyer comes along.
Start Your New Life Today, Overseas
Salinas is a seasonal market. High season goes from Christmas through Easter… and if the weather stays sunny, high season can extend to May or beyond. There’s a “whale watching” mid-season that goes from June to September, and the slowest time of the year is October and November.
Foreigners have the same rights as Ecuadorian citizens with respect to property ownership. Have your attorney do a proper title search to be sure you have a good title.
Both condos and houses are available in Salinas, so think carefully about which one best suits your lifestyle.
Cash is king:
As with many vacation destinations, Salinas is a cash market… so do not count on bank financing. On the other hand, progress payments to a developer are common on new construction, and developer financing may be possible in some cases.
The purchase process is simple and straightforward. Some properties here have closed in as few as five business days after the offer was made… although it’s normal to take a bit longer. When figuring your investment strategy, remember that overhead costs for your property in Salinas are modest.
These will cost you about US$1 per square meter, so count on US$100 to US$150 for a two- to three-bedroom apartment.
These generally run US$300 to US$500 per year on the seafront… more like US$50 per year inland.
These will be around 3.5% for the buyer, exclusive of your personal attorney fees. For the seller, expect to pay a capital gain tax of 10%, levied on the increase in declared municipal (assessed) value.
Renting… Or Managing A Rental In Salinas, Ecuador
Properties in Salinas can be rented either short-term or long-term, without the short-term restrictions that are becoming common today. Long-term renters will generally pay utilities.
The rental terms in Salinas can vary from one contract to the next, as there is no standard contract. Use caution if you’re renting… the terms may be different from what you expect.
You can expect an oceanfront property to fetch about US$1,500 per month in the high season. A few blocks inland, that rate will drop to around US$600 per month. Rentals are almost always furnished.
Airbnb rates on the beachfront will run for between US$95 and US$130 per night for a modern, two-bedroom unit.
Start Your New Life Today, Overseas
Real Estate In Salinas, Ecuador
If you’re planning to manage a rental, don’t forget that this is a seasonal market. To get a higher overall occupancy, put in some extra work. For example, you may want to market to the rental traffic from Cuenca during the school vacation period of July and August.
Also, think about catering to the sportfishing crowd during the off season. The best period for Blue Marlin is from June through November… the slowest part of the year for sun-worshipers in Salinas.
There’s a large inventory of quality properties in Salinas.
Here are a few that caught my eye. Each one comes with parking.
The least-expensive ocean view property I saw was listed for US$108,000. It was a short walk to the beach and boardwalk, and came with one bedroom, one full bath, and one half-bath.
Living space was a respectable 90 square meters, or just under 1,000 square feet. The complex had a pool, small gym, sauna, steam room, hot tub, and even 24/7 front desk service… a big plus for a rental.
The best oceanfront deal I saw in a modern building was a three-bedroom, two-bathroom unit on the San Lorenzo beach, with 130 square meters of living space. It even has a maid’s quarters with its own bathroom.
The building has a nice pool and a rooftop sundeck with a hot tub. The unit comes fully furnished, for US$114,900.
Once you get three blocks away from the beach, prices drop quickly.
I saw a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment with 95 square meters of living space (1,022 square feet) and a nice pool, selling for US$73,500 furnished.
Taxes are US$200 per year, and the HOA fee is US$60 per month. This was a nice place for the money.
One of the best values I saw was a large condo of 150 square meters (over 1,600 square feet), located right on the beach. The effect of the broad ocean view hits you right away when you enter the large, open living area.
The apartment has three bedrooms and two bathrooms, along with a laundry room and storage area… and of course an awesome terrace. Selling for US$125,000.
Most importantly, Salinas is a resort, which brings both advantages and disadvantages. On the plus side, resorts have an abundance of amenities and activities.
Disadvantages include high-season crowds and a slow season when people go home.
I’ve lived in a few resort cities, and found that the high number of restaurants and other amenities outweighs the annoyances of crowds during busy periods… but that’s a decision you’ll need to make for yourself.
If you’d enjoy the wide, sandy beaches, sparkling waters, low prices, and life by the sea in a mild climate… then buying real estate in Salinas, Ecuador, could well be for you.
Latin America Correspondent