In 2013, I visited Ecuador as part of my personal search for an overseas home.
After attending the Live and Invest in Ecuador Conference in Guayaquil that year, my husband and I ventured inland, over the Andes Mountains, to Cuenca.
Cuenca was (and is still today) the hot spot for expat living. Approximately 6,000 expats reside in this town of 600,000 people. It proved to be everything we had heard and read. We loved it.
Now, five years later, I decided it was time to give Ecuador another look. However, instead of revisiting Cuenca, I headed to the Pacific coast to check out the beach communities of Salinas, Ballenitas, Olón, and the little towns in between. For anyone dreaming about a beachfront retirement or second home, this area should be on your radar.
Here the high season runs from December until April, so I visited in August to experience the off-season atmosphere. This time of year is also known as the “gray season” in some locations because the sky is usually hazy in the morning. However, the sun peeked out for a couple of hours each afternoon during my stay.
The oceanside towns were tranquil, the traffic light, the beaches nearly empty, and the vibe laid-back. Several of the apartment towers I visited were occupied by just a handful of tenants. This means fewer residents at the private pools, using the gym equipment, or in the sauna.
I found an appealing peaceful lifestyle overall compared with the high season when the noise levels amp up and vacationers fill the town.
A focus of my trip was to get a read on Salinas’ real estate market, and I was able to view a variety of properties. Whether you are looking for a place to live year-round, a place to escape during the winter months back home, or an income-producing rental, Salinas offers interesting options.
Here’s a quick sampling of options currently on offer:
Spacious Apartment With Private Elevator Access
This 279-square-meter (3,000-square-foot), 10th-story apartment is one block from the beach, with gorgeous ocean and yacht club views. Built as a “Smart Building,” you need a security fob to enter both the building and the elevator. This allows the elevator to open directly into the units, all of which are one per story.
This 4-bedroom, 4-bath home comes fully furnished and would make a great rental. With 2 balconies—one facing the bay on the north side and the other facing the south side of the Salinas peninsula—refreshing breezes sweep through and cool the apartment, meaning no need for air conditioning.
You could expect rental income of US$2,000 to US$2,500 per month during high season and of US$1,200 per month in low season. The list price for this 10-year-old apartment is US$279,900.
Compact Boardwalk Bargain
Located directly on the malecón, with easy access to the beach and viewing pier, this 18th-floor, 91-square-meter (980-square-foot), fully furnished apartment offers 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. As this unit is on the back corner of the building, the spacious balcony looks directly toward the south side of the peninsula. But when you relax at the cute, two-person café table, you can enjoy the bay view, as well.
Designed with a clever use of space and all appliances included, this turnkey home is perfectly suited for the rental market. Your tenants will enjoy full use of the pool, gym, and concierge services in this 24-hour secured, 3-year-old building. The price was recently marked down to only US$164,000.
Chipipe Jewel In The Rough
Farther out toward the point of the peninsula you’ll find the Chipipe neighborhood. With an expansive beach and fewer shops and clubs, this area is quiet and residential. The unit I visited was a 3-bedroom, 2.5-bathroom unit on the 14th floor of an older building, which means the rooms are larger with more architectural detail than the ultramodern construction of brand-new apartments.
But it also means the apartment needs some updating, especially in the kitchen and baths. Because the cost of labor is low in Ecuador, you can expect to pay approximately US$5,000 for a brand-new kitchen, and a new bath will cost you around US$2,500.
This apartment boasts more than 158 meters (1,700 square feet) and a spectacular view of the bay from the large balcony. The list price is US$240,000.
Brand-New Luxury Chipipe Offering
Tower One of this 2-tower project is complete and available for sale with 5 different floor plans to choose from. Listed at US$550,000, the top-of-the-market apartment I toured was 200 square meters (2,150 square feet) with 4 bedrooms (2 with en suite bath) and an additional 1.5 social bathrooms.
The 16th-floor, unfurnished unit features a huge balcony with one of the best beach views I saw anywhere in the Salinas area. Owners have access to two pools, a gym, a billiard and ping pong area, and an open social area.
But here’s the real opportunity in Salinas right now…
Tower Two is under construction as you read this. You could reserve an apartment in this tower for as little as US$195,000 with only US$10,000 down. As construction proceeds over the next 15 months, you’d pay 60% of the total cost of your unit, with a balloon payment at the end.
If developer projections hold, you could be looking at a 25% increase in the value of your investment upon project completion.