Cotacachi Ecuador vs Ajijic Mexico (Pros & Cons)

Are you considering a move to Mexico or Ecuador and wondering which expat destination to choose? Both countries have plenty of options, but two towns that stand out are Ajijic in Mexico and Cotacachi in Ecuador.

These two picturesque mountain towns have a lot in common, but also some unique features that may sway your decision. In this article, we’ll compare the pros and cons of living in each town.

Ajijic Mexico Pros & Cons

Ajijic is a picturesque mountain town on the shore of Lake Chapala, Mexico’s largest lake. The town is located about an hour south of Guadalajara and is close to major cities and airports.

The area is popular with expats because of its incredible views, walkability, variety of restaurants, and outdoor activities.

The town is home to a large number of foreign residents, which means there are many perks available to them, but also a few downsides caused by its extreme popularity.

Ajijic Mexico Pros

  • Beautiful, designated a UNESCO World Heritage site
  • Lakeside location
  • Comfortable year-round climate with lower elevation at 5,000 feet
  • 30-minute drive to the international airport in Guadalajara
  • Lots of expat amenities and English-speaking locals
  • Great for retirees
  • Plenty of shopping options, including Walmart and grocery stores
  • Nightlife options available

Ajijic Mexico Cons

  • Housing is expensive
  • Very populated and touristy
  • Can feel like “America-lite”

Cotacachi Ecuador Pros & Cons

Cotacachi is a picturesque mountain town located about 90 minutes north of Quito, the capital of Ecuador. It has a population of around 9,000 people, and a lot of them are expats. Cotacachi is also close to major cities and airports and has incredible views and a variety of outdoor activities.

Situated between two inactive volcanoes, the town is small, clean, and quiet, making it feel more authentic than Ajijic. The town is also close to world-famous shopping at the Otavalo market and has a supportive group of expats. However, it doesn’t have major medical facilities, and the full grocery store is 30 minutes away in Ibarra.

Cotacachi Ecuador Pros

  • Small, clean, and quiet
  • Located in a picturesque mountain setting with incredible views
  • Close to world-famous shopping at Otavalo market
  • Hiking and outdoor activities available
  • Supportive group of expats
  • One of the most affordable cities in Ecuador
  • Weekly organic market
  • Quito is 1.5 hours away

Cotacachi Ecuador Cons

  • High elevation can be a challenge for some
  • Cool temperatures and rainy climate
  • Major medical facilities are not available in town
  • Airport is 1.5 hours away
  • Longer, more expensive flights back to the US
  • Not many nightlife options available


When deciding between Ajijic and Cotacachi, it comes down to your personal preferences and priorities. If you’re looking for a small community with cooler temperatures, Cotacachi may be the right fit for you. The town is more affordable than Ajijic, and it feels very authentic. On the other hand, if you have a larger budget and want to be closer to the US with a warmer climate and plenty of expat amenities, Ajijic may be the perfect fit.

Watch Our Comparison Video About Cotacachi and Ajijic


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