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Community Questions & Answers

This page answers questions about Cotacachi by aggregating information from users on various websites. It is designed to give a general consensus of opinions regarding many topics related to Cotacachi, Ecuador. New content will be added regularly.

Estimates range from 350 - 400 full time expats all the way up to 800 or more. It is difficult to get an accurate count as many expats move there and then leave within a year or two. Others visit for only a few months per year.

There are numerous volunteer opportunities in Cotacachi. Some of these are organized activities such as working in the soup kitchen or helping with the effort to spay and neuter stray dogs. Some expats work in less visible ways such as teaching English in the small indigenous communities. Others who have retired in Ecuador feel that they contribute to the the community through their purchases that help the local economy, and they wish to spend their retirement years without the obligation of volunteer work.

If you notify your bank or credit card company prior to your trip, most expats say that they have not had a problem withdrawing cash from an ATM machine in Ecuador. There are several ATM's in Cotacachi. Carrying a minimal amount of cash in small denominations is very useful for tipping and small purchases as many businesses can not give change for large bills.

Terri Scarberry, a long-time Cotacachi resident lives on 10 de agosto about a block past the bus station.  She boards dogs and charges $6/night.  That includes food.  She also provides doggy day care should you like to go on a day tour, etc.  

Contact at:

There is a difference of opinion among expats about whether tipping is appropriate. An expat who has lived in Ecuador for many years believes that the agreed upon taxi fare is enough and that tipping is not appropriate. Others, however, believe that you should always tip for good or extra service. Some, who tipped more than was considered appropriate by other expats, faced open hostility among those expats who believed that it was causing prices to go up. Some also thought that tipping by Gringos was changing the culture in a negative way. There is a wide range of opinions on this issue.

Rio Intag Coffee Shop near Parque San Francisco, Solid Rock Cafe on Leather Street, Serendipity Restaurant, Cafe Lafayette, and The Bar all have free wifi internet access in Cotacachi.  In Ibarra, La Cosecha also has wifi.  

It is possible to rent a mailbox at the Cotacachi post office.  While some packages will arrive in 4 - 6 weeks, others will take months or maybe not arrive at all.  There is a DHL office in Ibarra. However, any packages received via DHL or FedEx will be very expensive (as much as $100 for a single page document.) Servientrega is a shipping company based in Florida that has an office on Sucre Street in Cotacachi that many expats have used successfully. 

Many expats recommend coca tea or coca leaves.  There is also coca candy that seems to help.  Coca leaves can be purchased at the Supermercado on Leather Street in Cotacachi or a health food store in Ibarra.  Some recommend Ginko Biloba while others believe the best remedy is to simply rest and drink lots of liquids.

Cuenca is a moderately large city and Cotacachi is still a small town. The climate in Cuenca is cooler and they receive more rain.  Cuenca has more cultural events, shopping malls, and access to quality medical care, but also more pollution, traffic, and car alarms.  There is a more closely knit expat community in Cotacachi.  

Nursing homes are few and far between as most Ecuadorians take care of their relatives in their own homes.  A better option is to hire a private nurse or helper.  However, it can be difficult to find Ecuadorians with experience and qualifications in home health care. This is definitely an issue with no clear solution for expats living in Cotacachi.  

There is no golf course in Cotacachi.  Quito, located about two hours from Cotacachi, has several courses, however.  More information can be found by clicking here.  

The Caribou Bar & Grill is located in Ibarra about 40 minutes from Cotacachi. Owned by a Canadian couple and filled with Canadian memorabilia, the restaurant has delicious food and low prices.  There are two locations.  One is near Basilica La Dolorosa and opens at 1PM.  The other is near Parque de la Familia on Sanchez and Mena Streets and opens at 5 PM. 

There are 3 primary requirements for an expat to get a residency visa.

The first is to show that you have at least $800 ($1,200 for a couple) of reliable pension/income from a source such as Social Security.

If you do not have a pension or Social Security, you can fulfill the requirements for a residency visa by purchasing a property at a price of at least $25,000.  

An alternative is to deposit and leave $25,000 in an Ecuadorian bank account.

Once you fulfill one of these requirements, you can begin the process of applying for a residency visa in Ecuador.  

Expats in Cotacachi overwhelmingly recommend Silvia who runs a pharmacy on Sucre Street in Cotacachi.  Not only does she speak English, she is described as being extremely knowledgeable and helpful, If she doesn’t have a medication in stock, she will get it for you. She can even recommend a doctor to visit if you are in need of a prescription.  

1. Good linens are hard to find in Ecuador.  Electronics are very expensive.

2. A good blender or juicer.

3. A good dish drainer

4. An overn thermometer and cast iron pans.  Also an electric blanket is useful.

5. Good spices

6. Bedroom slippers

The consensus is that getting your cedula replaced can be a real pain in the neck.  Most residents recommended carrying a laminated color copy of your cedula with you whenever possible and keeping the original safely in storage.  However, some caution that when entering or leaving the country, an original cedula is required.  

If your cedula is lost, most suggest that you contact an attorney to help guide you through the process of getting a new one as it can be a rather long and tedious ordeal.  A stolen document report must be filed with the police and various applications must be filled out at different offices in Quito.  Needless to say, you will want to take every precaution to avoid losing or having your cedula stolen.  

Three people recommended Yolanda Santana, who works for Remax in Cotacachi. She was described as professional, efficient, and billingual as well as current, insightful, and on top of things.  Her website can be found at

Others recommended using Craigslist-Ecuador or simply googling Cotacachi rentals. was another website that was mentioned that sometimes has rentals in Cotacachi.  

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