The Real Deal About Living in Olón Ecuador (Pros & Cons)

Olón, Ecuador is a charming little rural beach town located on the Pacific Coast with a unique vibe that attracts an intriguing mix of people from all over the world.

But, like any place that’s popular with expats and tourists, it comes with its own set of pros and cons, which we share in this article.

Olón Ecuador The Pros of Living in Olón, Ecuador

When you’re thinking about a place like Olón, it’s always good to start with the positives. After all, they’re the reasons this charming town caught your attention in the first place, right?

So let’s kick things off by going over some of the standout perks of living in Olón, Ecuador.

Sea Level: Most of the popular expat areas in Ecuador are high elevation and it can be hard to breathe. Cuenca was one of those places for JP. He struggled with altitude sickness. One of the pros of Olón is that it’s at sea level so altitude sickness isn’t an issue.

Authenticity: Olón is authentic Ecuador. This is not your over-commercialized beach town but a slice of real life where you get to experience the true local vibe.

Small Community: If you’re tired of big city life and crave a close-knit community, Olón might be the place for you. The people are friendly and welcoming. Our neighbors were locals, as well as foreign residents from all over the world!

Rural: Olón is an excellent place for folks who appreciate a rural setting. The vibe is laid back and tranquilo.

The Beach: The beach is flat, wide, and long, providing you with plenty of space to stretch out, soak up the sun, or go for a walk. It never felt overcrowded and dogs are welcome. (We occasionally saw cows and horses enjoying the beach too!)

Strong Expat Community: There are a lot of expats in the area and they are very helpful and supportive. Since Ecuador has a word of mouth culture, this was important to us since we didn’t know where to find everything we needed. Our neighbors were especially helpful when I injured my knee and I needed a scooter and crutches.

Food Scene: We were surprised by the variety of restaurants. You’ll find local Ecuadorian cuisine, fine dining, and our favorite: Indian Food! There are bakeries, pizza, Asian, and more. There are options for people with special dietary needs and everything is affordable.

Mix of Beach and Jungle: One of the unique things about Olón is the incredible blend of beach and jungle. It truly offers the best of both worlds. We loved walking on the beach and walking or riding our bikes in the foothills.

Outdoor Activities: We loved our daily beach walks, but there is a lot more to do in Olón. We often swam in the ocean, I took surf lessons and did beach yoga, and we walked or rode our bikes regularly. There is a hiking/biking trail heading east out of Olón that makes for great nature outings. And the Dos Mangas waterfall hikes are just a short drive away.

Affordability: Rents have increased along the coast, but Olón is still affordable, especially compared to Manta or any beach town in the USA.

Climate: The weather is warm and humid but still comfortable. We did use our air conditioning at night, but rarely needed it during the day.

Bad Things About Living in Olón, Ecuador

After exploring the upsides, it’s only fair that we talk about the other side of the coin.

Every place has its own set of challenges and Olon is no different. Let’s dive into some of these aspects, to give you a fuller picture of what living in Olon might look like.

Lack of Services: For services, you’ll need to head to La Libertad, Salinas or Guayaquil. You can find some basics in the area, such as a small Tía grocery store, a satellite Netlife branch, and ATMs in Montañita, but if you need a full service branch, you’ll need to head to a major city.

Healthcare: Unfortunately, healthcare services in Olón are limited. There is a local clinic but it’s mainly for emergencies such as a cut or broken bone. For full service healthcare and specialists, you’ll need to go to La Libertad, Guayaquil or Manta.

Dark 6 Months: For half of the year, the days in Olón are dark, gloomy and drizzly. We struggled with the lack of sun and it is one of the main reasons why we left Olón.

Small and Rural: The very thing that some folks love about Olón (its small size and rural setting) can be a drawback for others. JP grew up in a small rural farm town in Kansas and he didn’t enjoy the rural experience as much as I did.

Tourists: On the weekends and holidays, Olón can get quite busy with tourists. We avoided the busy tourist areas but it does get crowded and noisy. The tourists also attract pickpockets.

Lack of Culture: If you’re looking for culture, this is not the place for you. You’ll need to go to Guayaquil for professional museums, art, and performances.

Boredom: While there are outdoor activities, some people might find the slower pace of life a little boring after a while. A lot of expats leave Olón and move to Cuenca just so they have more things to do.

Final Thoughts

Olón, like anywhere else, has its highs and lows. It might not be for everyone, especially you’re seeking an urban lifestyle, a rich cultural scene, or more extensive healthcare facilities.

However, if you love the beach, the jungle, a close-knit community, and an authentic Latin American lifestyle, it could be the perfect place for you.

Finding the right home is all about aligning a location’s offerings with your unique needs and preferences.

Watch Our Video About Why We Chose Olón Ecuador

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I grew up in the Chicagoland area and spent most of my career working as a sales rep in the commercial lighting industry. I still work online for a company in Denver doing sales CRM administration. YouTube is my part-time gig, but I'm so happy we can share our Unconventional Life and hopefully inspire you live yours!

4 replies
  1. Carol Kennedy
    Carol Kennedy says:

    Hi JP and Amelia!
    Myself and my fiance are almost mirroring your story! We are now ready to bite the bullet and make the move (before the end of the year). We have already employed Maite! Can you provide some insight into Curia? Also, what do you consider the safest area for expat Americans? Thank you! Thank you! Perhaps we will see you soon! Carol and Jason

    Reply
    • JP
      JP says:

      Hola Carol! That’s very exciting! Curía is a cute little pueblito without much to it. It’s a 20 minute walk on the beach to Olón or a short 2 minute cab ride. There isn’t much there in the way of services; just a little convenience type tienda. Some of the streets are still dirt, but there are lots of cute places and several expats live there. Cuenca is probably the safest place in Ecuador for American expats, but most of the country is very safe except for Guayaquil. You mainly have to worry about petty theft. Nos vemos pronto!

      Reply
    • JP
      JP says:

      We feel like renting is a safer option than buying due to the volatile nature of real estate and economies in Latin American countries. We also want to remain mobile so we can film other parts of Ecuador for our YouTube channel. However, we plan to be in Olón for quite a while.

      Reply

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