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    Vilcabamba, Ecuador

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    Reviewed by Lief Simon

    Lief Simon is the managing editor of Global Property Advisor, Simon Letter, and Offshore Living Letter. He has purchased more than 45 properties, investing in 23 different countries around the world.

    Vilcabamba, Ecuador: Everything You Need To Know

    Vilcabamba, Ecuador
    Adobe Stock/Elisa Locci

    Vilcabamba, Ecuador, is a small village located in southern Ecuador, in the province of Loja. This is a village known for its gorgeous natural surroundings, pleasant climate, and… the longevity of its residents (or so they say).

    Fun fact: Vilcabamba has gained international recognition as the “Valley of Longevity.” Recent studies have shown that these claims might be slightly exaggerated though.

    The village of Vilcabamba has a laidback and relaxed atmosphere. It has a small central square with cafés, restaurants, and shops. This village attracts expats from all over the world who are drawn to the lifestyle and beauty it offers.

    It’s no wonder these expats choose to relocate in a village in Ecuador. This is one of the most beautiful and diverse countries on the planet, boasting the Amazon Rain Forest, the Galapagos Islands, hundreds of miles of coastline, and the bucolic Andean central valleys.

    Thanks to this geographic diversity, Ecuador enjoys environmental “megadiversity,” meaning it’s home to an inordinate percentage of the planet’s plant and wildlife species.

    The official languages of Ecuador are Spanish and Quichua; the language of the Incas, still spoken by over 10 million Native Americans in the region.

    Expat Community In Vilcabamba, Ecuador

    Vilcabamba, Ecuador, has a notable expat community.

    Over the years, expats have come from all over the world drawn by the village’s natural beauty, pleasant climate, and the promise of a relaxed and tranquil lifestyle, a welcome change from the hustle and bustle of daily life back home.

    Expats in Vilcabamba include families with children, entrepreneurs, artists, retirees, and people simply seeking an alternative way of life.

    The presence of these expats contributes to the development of services and amenities providing to their needs meaning you’re more than likely to find restaurants, cafés, and shops that cater to international tastes.

    Try finding expat groups on social media such as Facebook to start creating a network. Facebook groups such as Loja Expat Exchange, Ecuador Expats, and Expats in Ecuador are a good place to start.

    It’s important to note that even though Vilcabamba has an established expat community, the presence of these expats hasn’t overshadowed the traditional Ecuadorian lifestyle and the warmth of locals.

    Cost Of Living In Vilcabamba, Ecuador

    The cost of living is one of Ecuador’s top selling points. Ecuador is about as inexpensive as it gets in Latin America.

    The savings come not just from cheaper goods and services but a lifestyle change.

    The cost of living in Vilcabamba, Ecuador, for a couple could come out to about US$1,400 per month.

    Considering import taxes and more, the price of some items is considerably higher than if you were to purchase local produce. Try switching your breakfast or snack fruits from blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and kiwi to locally grown bananas, oranges, mangos, and watermelons.

    Switch your imported brussel sprouts for local lettuce, cabbage, cauliflower, cucumbers, and asparagus.

    Lastly, instead of buying the highly priced imported beef, head over to your local butcher and buy local meat. And, if you make these changes, you and your spouse’s monthly grocery shopping will come out to about US$350.

    Let’s take a closer look…

    Apartment Or House Rental Budget (For A Couple)

    ExpenseMonthly CostsNotes
    TOTALUS$1,392 
    RentUS$475Three-bedroom apartment in the village center.
    TransportationUS$204 Roundtrips to Loja for 2 people per month.
    UtilitiesUS$175Electricity, including heating and cooling, and water. Phone, internet, and Cable TV.
    Cell PhoneUS$30Depends on the cell phone plan you choose. US$15 for 15GB valid for 30 days per SIM card.
    EntertainmentUS$300Eating out twice a week at a local restaurant. Beers twice a week at a local pub. Movie theatre trip twice a month.
    GroceriesUS$300Eating out twice a week at a local restaurant. Beers twice a week at a local pub. Movie theatre trip twice a month.
    Household HelpUS$92Twice per week. About US$11.50 per visit.

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    Things To Do In Vilcabamba, Ecuador

    Cerro Mandango mountain in Vilcabamba, Ecuador
    AdobeStock/Curioso.Photography

    Vilcabamba’s weather and location allow visitors and residents to enjoy various activities year-round.

    Let’s take a look…

    1. Vilcabamba River

    The Vilcabamba River runs through the village, so this is a place that’s easy to reach.

    The river holds significant natural and cultural importance in the region. It originates in the Andean highlands of Ecuador, specifically in the province of Loja, and flows through the picturesque valley of Vilcabamba where the village itself is located until it reaches and joins the larger Zamora River.

    Take a stroll along the riverbank and enjoy the scenery.

    2. Attend Local Festivals

    Vilcabamba has festivals throughout the year. During these festivals you’ll be able to enjoy traditional music, dance, and food.

    Among the festival you can attend are Inti Raymi, also known as the Festival of the Sun, celebrated during the month of June, El Carnaval celebrated in February or March (depending on the year), Corpus Christi, a religious festival celebrated in June, and Día de los Difuntos (Day of the Dead) observed on November 2.

    3. Visit Sacred Sites

    Vilcabamba, Ecuador is surrounded by sacred sites.

    The Mandango Mountain (Sleeping Inca), for example, is considered a sacred spot by many. There are also ancient ruins and sacred sites nearby. Consider a morning hike up the Mandango Mountain and maybe explore the surrounding during the rest of the day.

    Other sacred sites in Vilcabamba include Cojimato, Loma Grande, and Yamburara.

    4. Spa And Wellness Retreats

    Vilcabamba, Ecuador, is a place that’s become known as a spa and wellness retreat destination.

    You can indulge in rejuvenating spa treatments, yoga classes, meditation sessions, and other wellness activities that promote relaxation and wellbeing.

    In Vilcabamba you could visit a spa and wellness center or create and host a retreat of your own. The natural surroundings and healthy cuisine allow you to create a wonderful wellness plan for yourself and your family.

    Who knows, you may even find a new calling and host such events once or twice a year.

    5. Explore Vilcabamba’s Natural Beauty

    Vilcabamba is surrounded by natural beauty. This is a great place to nature and outdoor enthusiasts. This village has stunning natural landscapes, hiking and trekking trails, and wildlife spotting opportunities.

    Podocarpus National Park is very near to Vilcabamba, Ecuador. This is a biodiverse nature reserve covering a large area of cloud forest. On your visit to the park, you’ll see many species of plants and animals including orchids, bromeliads, birds, mammals, and more.

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    Safety In Vilcabamba, Ecuador

    Vilcabamba is a small and peaceful village. Serious crimes such as violent incidents and organized crime are rare occurrences.

    However, like anywhere else you visit, you should practice caution.

    For example, keep an eye on your personal belonging always, especially in crowded areas and when using public transportation. You should also always remember to lock your car and house when out and about.

    Avoid walking alone at night or strolling through a dark alley or deserted street. Avoid flashing expensive jewelry and large sums of cash.

    We recommend you keep up to date with the daily local news.

    Health Care In Vilcabamba, Ecuador

    By law, all Ecuadorians and visitors to the country are guaranteed health care, no matter their ability to pay.

    Ecuador’s government has a two-tier public health system: one for members of the Social Security system (IESS), which foreign residents can join as voluntary members, and the public health system, that’s open to everyone.

    Private health care costs are low, and the quality is high. Private hospitals offer world-class treatment with modern facilities, and most doctors speak excellent English.

    On the other hand, Vilcabamba is a small village which means there are limited health care facilities here. There are basic health care services available that tend to the needs of the local population and expat community.

    Vilcabamba, Ecuador, has a few local clinics and small health care centers where you can go if you need primary health care services. You can find general medical consultations, basic diagnostics tests, vaccines, and minor injury treatments here.

    For more specialized care, you’ll have to travel to nearby Loja City which is about 55 minutes away by car. Here you’ll find larger hospitals and medical centers equipped to handle more serious concerns including emergency services, surgeries, and specialized treatments.

    Quality dental care is available throughout Ecuador. Much like general medical attention, it is affordable to everyone. Many of the dentists in Ecuador speak a little English but you will probably need to know basic Spanish to converse. Speak with local expats to find English-speaking dentists.

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    Ecuador’s Moving And Visa Information

    Travel and tourism in Ecuador
    iStock/Kagenmi

    An Ecuador visa will be issued on arrival for citizens of the United States, Canada, and much of Europe. This tourist visa is typically valid for 90 days. Check the stamp to make sure you know how many days they gave you.

    You can extend your 90-day stay one time, for an added 90 days. But, if you want to stay longer than 180 days as a tourist, get a special tourist visa at the consulate. Get this, in advance of your trip, it’s valid for up to one year.

    As for residency, the Ecuadorian residency process follows two steps.

    Firstly, you need to hold a temporary resident visa. Once you have this you can apply for a permanent residency visa. The application for residency needs to be in Ecuador.

    You must head to your local immigration office. If you are not fluent in Spanish, bring someone who is. You can no longer apply for residency in your home country.

    Documents such as police check certificates need to be authenticated. Depending on the country of origin, you’ll use either the apostille process or consular legalization.

    Any document that is not in Spanish must be translated into Spanish. The translator must certify the translation as correct, and their signature must be verified by a notary.

    One big advantage of residency in Ecuador is that you can import your household effects, duty-free.

    A big part of any move is the physical transportation of your belongings. So, if you are moving from the United States or Canada there are international shipping options available to you. However, it can be helpful to find a local shipping agent in Ecuador to ease the move.

    There is a limit per-person of 440 pounds for clothing, shoes, and other personal items; an attempt to slow down Ecuador’s booming grey market for clothing. But otherwise, most reasonable household items won’t be a problem.

    Pets will require an International Veterinary Health Certificate, available from most any vet’s office. It must show that all vaccinations are up to date and be issued within 10 days prior to your pet’s arrival in Ecuador.

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    Weather In Vilcabamba, Ecuador

    Vilcabamba’s weather is among the things that attract expats and visitors here. The climate here is mild and pleasant year-round.

    The village experiences slight variations between seasons: dry and rainy.

    Most importantly, the dry season in Vilcabamba, Ecuador, runs from June to September. The weather during this time is sunny with cooler temperatures.

    Daytime temperatures typically range between 64°F and 72°F. Nighttime temperatures during this season typically drop to 50°F.

    The rainy season in Vilcabamba runs from October to May.

    The rainfall is more frequent than the rest of the year during these months and temperatures typically range from 68°F to 77°F. During evenings, temperatures tend to drop to about 54°F or 59°F.

    Overall, Warm, tropical weather is another reason that expats site for relocating to Ecuador.

    Vilcabamba, Ecuador – FAQS

    Why Is Vilcabamba, Ecuador, Famous?

    Vilcabamba, Ecuador, is famous for the longevity of its residents. It is internationally dubbed the “Valley of Longevity.”

    Keep in mind, though, that recent studies have shown that these claims might be slightly exaggerated.

    However, people in Vilcabamba, Ecuador, attribute their longevity to their healthy lifestyle. They grow a large portion of their own foods here, have a healthy diet, keep active, and enjoy smoke-free pure air.

    What Is The Climate Like In Vilcabamba, Ecuador?

    Vilcabamba, Ecuador, enjoys a cool and rarely changing climate year-round. Temperatures rarely go above 77°F or lower than 54°F.

    How High Is Vilcabamba, Ecuador?

    Vilcabamba, Ecuador, sits at 5,000 feet above sea level.

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