A recent post on the Cotacachi Expat’s Facebook page regarding living in the town of Ibarra received quite a few responses. Ibarra is a small city located about 30 minutes by bus from Cotacachi. The elevation of Ibarra is a bit lower, so temperatures are usually higher there. If you are wearing a jacket in Cotacachi, you likely won’t need it in Ibarra. With a larger population, approximately 132,000, there are many more shopping opportunities from groceries to furniture to clothing, and also some good restaurants serving Ecuadorian cuisine as well as Chinese, Italian and North American. There are also some nice housing developments on the outskirts of town and better medical facilities.
Would Ibarra be a good place to live? Everyone has their own preferences, of course. Cotacachi is quite clean and orderly whereas Ibarra is noisier and has a much grittier feel.
There aren’t many expats living in Ibarra, and for this reason, the cost of housing is lower. Few people speak English there, so speaking at least some Spanish is important. The crime rate in Ibarra is quite high, and expats can be a tempting target. My wife personally witnessed a purse snatching in broad daylight. The perpetrator was captured by a crowd of people and summarily beaten. On a visit to our favorite furniture store, the owner told us she was forced to relocate her shop due to the rising crime rate in her area. One of her employees was mugged while taking a deposit two blocks to the bank.
While Ibarra is a great resource for shopping and restaurants, most expats prefer the security and tranquility found in Cotacachi.