Mountains vs Coast of Ecuador: Deciding Where to Live
If you’ve chosen Ecuador as your new home abroad, your next decision you need to make is whether to live in the mountains or on the coast.
In this article, we will discuss the pros and cons of each option to help you make an informed decision.
The Mountains of Ecuador: Pros & Cons
Let’s start with the mountains of Ecuador, usually called “La Sierra” by Ecuadorians.
Pros of Ecuador Mountain Living
Living in the mountains can provide you with a more developed and culturally rich environment.
The mountain cities like Cuenca, Quito, Loja and Cotacachi have the old, Spanish colonial architecture, but they also have suburbs with all the modern amenities like high rise condos, malls and newer hospitals.
You’ll have access to more activities and things to do in La Sierra, especially outdoor activities like hiking and birdwatching.
The healthcare system is also better and more affordable than the coast, and you won’t need air conditioning since the weather is cooler and spring like year round.
Finally, since the temperatures are cooler and the elevation is higher, you won’t have many bugs to contend with.
Cons of Ecuador Mountain Living
However, there are some downsides to living in the mountains.
The high elevation can cause altitude sickness, and there are risks of sunburn and dangerous UV rays. We’ve had issues with both while living in the mountains.
In fact, I struggled with the elevation for more than two years! Losing weight, doing more cardio exercise, and curtailing the wine and beer consumption helped me finally overcome it.
The weather can also be volatile in the mountains, with sunny mornings followed by rainy and chilly afternoons. The best time to visit is during December to May, as the summer months can be cloudy and cool.
Finally, the smaller mountain towns like Vilcabamba and Cotacachi can be isolated, with road closures due to landslides and paros (national strikes) making transportation difficult.
The Coast of Ecuador: Pros & Cons
Now let’s talk about living on the coast of Ecuador.
Pros of Ecuador Coastal Living
Living on the coast gives you access to beautiful beaches and ocean activities, if that’s your thing.
When we lived in Olón, we loved taking long walks on the beach, sometimes twice each day. Amelia even learned how to surf!
If you enjoy surfing and a small town vibe, Olón, Montañita, Ayampe, Canoa and a few other small coastal towns will be perfect for you. Santa Marianita, about 20 minutes south of Manta, is ideal for kitesurfing.
If you prefer a more developed city with modern amenities like shopping and hospitals, Salinas and Manta are better options.
We lived on the 15th floor of Ibiza, a high rise resort-style condo on Murciélago Beach. The views were amazing, the condo was modern and beautiful, and I enjoyed swimming laps in the pool most days.
Finally, the weather is warmer on the coast compared to the mountains so if you prefer temperatures in the 80s F / 27-ish C then you will probably like the coast better.
Cons of Ecuador Coastal Living
However, there are also downsides to consider if you want to live on the coast of Ecuador.
The crime rate is higher in the coastal region, with drug trafficking and robberies being more common.
The weather can be hot and humid, and there are bugs galore! Lots of bugs! Especially in the Olón/Montañita area where it’s more jungle-like. Bugs aren’t as bad in Manta since it’s much dryer.
The off-season can also be dreary and drizzly, with long stretches of cloudy weather from June through November.
One of the main reasons we left Olón was due to the 7 months of clouds with virtually no sun. We did not have the same experience in Manta during the year we lived there.
Tourists on the weekends and holidays can make things crowded and noisy, especially in the touristy towns like Salinas, Montañita and Olón.
Then after they leave and go back home, the place is dead! Lots of shops and restaurants close on weekdays, especially during the off season.
Additionally, there are smaller expat communities, fewer cultural activities to enjoy, and the cost of living can be higher, especially if you want to live in a high rise condo on the beach.
The mountains and coast of Ecuador each have their pros and cons for expat living. It ultimately comes down to personal preference and priorities.
If you enjoy outdoor activities, cultural events, and a cooler climate, the mountains may be the better choice for you.
However, if you love the beach, warm weather, and a more laid-back lifestyle, the coast may be the way to go.
It’s important to do your research and visit the areas before making a final decision to ensure it’s the right fit for you.
Watch Our Video About the Mountains vs Coast of Ecuador
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