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A Comprehensive Guide for Moving to Cotacachi

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The following is a guest post and contains a great deal of useful information for those interested in relocating to Cotacachi, Ecuador...


Ticket to Ecuador

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In an era of low interest rates, it is hard to find a place to park your money and get anything in return.  However, for those looking for an alternative to buying an airline ticket to Ecuador, there may be a solution. 


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My wife and I recently came across an old videotape of our first visit to Cotacachi in 2008 that caused us to reflect on all the changes that have occurred over the past few years.  In those days, Cotacachi was a sleepy, small town with only a handful of expats living there full time.  Buses would drop off tourists for a day of shopping on “Leather Street,” but the town still had the feeling of being an undiscovered destination.  The expat housing developments of Primavera II, San Miguel, and Jahua Pacha were still getting off the ground.

New digital currency

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Ecuador recently announced that they plan to create their own digital currency that can be used for transactions within Ecuador. The new currency will be backed by the Ecuadorian Central Bank, and it is thought that it will stimulate the economy and be helpful to consumers who do not have bank accounts or credit cards. Ecuador switched from the Sucre to the U.S. Dollar in the year 2000 after their own currency collapsed. There have long been rumblings that President Correa would like to return to having their own national currency again.

Our Arrival Back in Cotacachi

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My wife and I had been back in the States for a good part of 2013, so our return to Cotacachi a couple of weeks ago gave us a chance to see the changes from a different perspective.  After departing the barren tundra, also known as the Midwest, we arrived in Quito late at night and our trusted driver was waiting to take us to our casa.  The next morning, we awoke feeling like we had died and gone to heaven.  The sun was shining brightly over the mountains while we lounged on our terrace, our winter-dried skin soaking up the warmth and sunshine.

The Ecuadorian Deception by Bear Mills

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I received a copy of "The Ecuadorian Deception" by Bear Mills last week.  To be honest, I have not read a book of fiction for many years, preferring to read nonfiction.  However, I was intrigued to see how the descriptions and experiences of the characters would compare to my own experiences in Ecuador.

The Basket Man

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As soon as the basket man has the basket in your lady's hands, it's over. That woman and every woman will be buying at least one that day. I should know. I own ten large baskets and two small baskets, each with different designs. Men, it is your job to keep the baskets out of your lady's hands or you'll be paying whatever the basket man dictates that day. Heaven forbid your lady is out alone, and from the other side of the park out of the corner of her eye, she spots the basket man. She will be coming home with more baskets than she knows what to do with.

Medical labs in Cotacachi

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Before learning Cotacachi had two laboratories to test blood, I was going all the way to my doctor's office in Ibarra to do this. How refreshing to know that I can walk one block off of Diez de Agosto (Leather Street) across the street from the elementary school to a small laboratory where there's never a line and have my blood drawn by an experienced phlebotomist.

Our Heads in the Clouds

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After being away from Cotacachi for a while, we returned with fresh eyes and were filled with wonderment at the natural beauty of the country. There are green valleys in the countryside around our home at Jahua Pacha. Mount Imbabura towers outside our front window while Mount Cotacachi keeps guard outside our back window. We feel fortunate to be enveloped by such beauty. Truly breathtaking. Walking into town on the cobble stone streets accompanied by herds of sheep grazing in the field and the sun on our faces, we pinch ourselves knowing there's no other place we'd rather be.

Street Dog

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We finally broke down and adopted a street dog.  She had been hanging around our development scavenging for food, and we started feeding her.  She was such a pathetic sight, hair falling out and covered with dirt.  We took her to the vet where she was shaved, bathed, and given medicine.  Now, she is named Phoebe, lives like a queen, eats steak, and sits in my place in the living room chair. It has been a lot of fun watching the transformation.  Happy dog.  Very happy owners.

Back in Cotacachi

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After a long and rather exhausting trip, we made it back to Cotacachi about a week ago after spending 3 months visiting friends and family in the States.  Getting away for a while is almost always a good thing because it allows you to come back with fresh eyes.  The pastures are always greener, the  sunrise always brighter after some time away.  Our impressions….Cotacachi is bustling.  More expats, more businesses, more people looking for rentals, another bank.  Changes are coming quickly to this town.


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My wife and I have been reflecting on the decision that we made nearly 3 years ago to leave our teaching jobs and relocate to Cotacachi, Ecuador. During that time, we have seen many changes. In October of 2008, when we purchased our condo at Primavera II, there were very few expat housing developments and only a handful of full time foreigners living in Cotacachi. Now, there are housing developments going up all around town and the expat community is growing by leaps and bounds.

5 Reasons

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5 Reasons to Move to Cotacachi

1) You love year round springlike weather and not having to pay for heating and cooling.

2) Your idea of a perfect morning is sipping a cup of South American coffee on the porch swing while taking in the stunning mountain scenery.

3) Your idea of a perfect evening is drinking a glass of red wine with good friends next to a cracklling fire.

4) You want to be able to take a $5.00 bill to the market and return home with all the produce you can carry.

5) You like living in a community where everybody knows your name.

5 R

Life in the U.S. Versus Life in Ecuador

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Sometimes, getting a little distance helps to see things more clearly. Such was the case with our recent visit back to the United States. After living in a developing country, it’s impossible not to appreciate the efficiency of the “First World.” Browsing the huge variety of products (Which end of the cereal aisle do I start on?), paying for the purchase with nothing more than a swipe of the credit card, and having our own car awaiting us was a refreshing change.

English Books

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When we first arrived in Cotacachi, one of the things that Angela and I missed the most was books. Both of us are avid readers and used to spend hours in the local library back in the States. Both of us were always in the middle of at least one book at any given time. All that changed when we moved to Ecuador. We soon discovered a couple of English bookstores in Quito, but the selection was quite limited and dated. It seemed that we were going to have to adjust to a life without much reading material.

Then came the Kindle.

Service Project

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In order to fulfill a requirement for graduation from high school, my nephew Cameron decided to come to Cotacachi for two weeks to work with the local Ecuadorian people.  Our townhouse at Jahua Pacha is surrounded by indigenous villages, so I asked our friend Jairo, who lives in the community of El Batan, if my nephew could teach English there.  He agreed that it was a great idea and arranged for kids of all ages to come for 2 hours per day of instruction in English.  It turned out to be a most rewarding experience for both the local kids as well as my nephew.  As Camero

President Correa

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I'm sometimes asked about my opinion of Ecuadorian President Correa who has been portrayed in the U.S. press as a socialist and close ally of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez. Without getting into a discussion on politics, I can say from an expat's point of view that, at this time, Correa's policies do not seem to have much impact on our lives. On occasion, as was the case recently in a dispute with the government over water rights, the indigenous people will block the roadways throughout the country in protest.


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I am amazed at how great the climate is in Cotacachi. For those who like 70 degree spring-like temperatures, I doubt that there is another place on earth that is better. The mornings, especially, are spectacular. We love taking a walk in the early part of the day when the sun is out and the air is crisp and clean. No matter what is troubling you, everything seems better after a morning stroll in Cotacachi. It is a little too cool to wear shorts and a jacket is often needed in the evenings or on rainy days.

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