Why Expats Love Cotacachi Ecuador (mostly)

Cotacachi, Ecuador, is one of the most popular cities in Ecuador among expats. It’s a small, slowly growing and developing town in the Andes Mountains gaining popularity for its rich culture, climate, low cost of living, and scenic beauty.

Tucked between Volcan Cotacachi and Volcan Imbabura mountains, Cotacachi, Ecuador, is the ideal expat destination for several reasons. Individuals and families looking to enjoy the pleasures of small-town life will love this location.

If you are wondering whether you should retire or move to Cotacachi, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of this town to help you make an informed decision regarding your new life abroad.

Pros of Visiting/ Moving to Cotacachi, Ecuador

Also called the “City of Peace,” Cotacachi, Ecuador offers tranquility and serenity at its best. Here are some advantages of moving to a small, hidden town with a casual, low-key reputation.

1. Affordable

1. Affordable

Ecuador is a generally affordable country with a low cost of living. Affordability is particularly at a peak in smaller towns, including Cotacachi. It is the perfect location for expats and retirees on a budget.

For example, the pleasant year-round weather in Cotacachi, Ecuador, eliminates the expense of a heating system in the house. That way, you can save money on your electricity bills. Similarly, you can buy locally-grown produce at mercados to avoid expensive grocery shopping.

Although monthly expenses largely depend on personal needs, managing finances in Cotacachi is not usually a struggle for expats. You can enjoy the scenic paradise on a low budget for the rest of your life, living a dream.

While everything is budget-friendly in this Ecuador town, real estate is the most significant variable. The housing may be expensive, though you can easily find affordable apartments and homes for your family. For instance, local builders offer appealing condos and houses for foreign retirees and expats.

2. Lots of Restaurants

2. Lots of Restaurants

While many expats overlook this consideration, understanding the importance of cuisine is essential. You cannot enjoy your time in a country that does not offer a variety of food. Ecuador is diverse when it comes to cuisine.

Throughout Cotacachi, you can find a vast variety of local and international cuisine. The town’s expat community cannot stop raving about their love for Cotacachi’s ethnic restaurants serving cheap and delectable food.

Many restaurants, like Vandanam Indian, have a “menu del dia” or “almuerzo”  consisting of a  salad, soup, main course, dessert, and beverage. Eateries in Cotacachi, Ecuador, are almost cheaper than cooking at home.

There are also cozy cafes and coffee places like Rio Intag Café, Red Rabbit Coffee Lounge, and Café Roma offer welcoming spots to relax and hang out with friends or family.

3. Fun and Exciting Activities

3. Fun and Exciting Activities

Cotacachi, Ecuador, maybe a small town, but it offers a lot to visitors, expats, and retirees.

Even with its slow pace and relaxed vibes, the town does not disappoint social and outgoing people. Cotacachi may be the ideal location for such people. Making friends and having a fun and exciting time are easy tasks here. While the locals make great friends, you can join expat meet-ups to interact with people with similar stories.

Festivals and parades occur throughout the year, and expats can participate alone or with their family/ friends. If you like exploring new places, Cotacachi offers plenty of fun day trips you can choose from. Similarly, you can indulge in physical activity by hiking around the rim.

Bird watching is another popular activity in Cotacachi, Ecuador, while you can also try photography at horse processions and other events.

4. Safety

4. Safe

Cotacachi, Ecuador, is home to several hundred expats. Each expat can vouch for the town’s safety, among other benefits. The crime rate is generally low, even at night. Cotacachi is not a late-night community, reducing the risk of petty crimes like snatching and theft.

The little mountain village has a population of 9,000, and approximately 45 indigenous communities live in the surrounding countryside areas. Unlike other expat locations in Ecuador, over half of the Cotacachi population is indigenous. That is another reason why people are friendly and caring.

5. Shopping Opportunities

5. Shopping Opportunities

You will love Cotacachi if you are an outgoing person who enjoys shopping. Cotacachi offers many shopping opportunities for visitors, locals, and expats/ retirees.

This Ecuadorian expat location has everything from affordable groceries to high-end goods. For example, Sunday is a market day in the mountain village when you can find various items, including fresh vegetables and fruits, flowers, and ground spices. There is a weekly organic market that is excellent for fresh produce.

In addition, the local stores are full of great-value products, including shoes, garments, woven baskets, etc. The mercado and Otavalo Market are ideal places to find affordable and quality products. You can also find high-end textiles from local artisans to decorate your new home as an expat. There are also small mom-and-pop stores scattered throughout the town.

6. Large Expat Community

The entire country of Ecuador has become an expat magnet in recent years. While several Ecuadorian towns are home to many foreign retirees and expats, Cotacachi has one of largest expat populations.

The town in the Northern Sierra’s central location has a very active expat community. Foreigners continue to pick Cotacachi for relocation, given its fantastic benefits. The low living costs, scenic landscape, and pleasant climate are a few of the top reasons expats choose to locate here.

Cotacachi is excellent if you want to minimize cultural shock and make your move as smooth as possible. The welcoming expat community will ensure a comfortable transition, helping you adjust and settle quickly.

Not to mention, a large expat community means you can find many people who speak English.

7. Beautiful and Clean

7. Beautiful and Clean

Cotacachi is true to its reputation of being a beautiful and clean Ecuadorian town. You will never find the peaceful village’s plazas dirty; they are always kept tidy. That may be why you will not find any pesky insects in the town.

While the clean buildings and streets are compelling, the fresh air keeps expats flocking to Cotacachi. Families enjoy the cool and crisp air, sitting amidst an abundance of palm and eucalyptus trees. Given the stunning scenery and perfect weather, it may be the cleanest and most scenic town in Ecuador.

What is the best part? Two majestic mountain ranges flank Cotacachi, and you can see several volcanoes, including Volcan Pichincha and Volcan Cotacachi. The clean environment calls for different bird species to make homes in the town. The birds add to Cotacachi’s natural beauty.

8. Easy to Get Around

8. Easy to Get Around

Cotacachi’s nice weather makes it an excellent place in terms of health, but the greenery and fresh air are not the only things that can help improve your health. Cotacachi is a walkable town, thanks to its small size, clean streets and roads, and safety.

Whether it is grocery shopping, meetups with friends, or errands, you can walk to the location. Many Cotacachi expats and visitors lose excess weight only after a few months in the town.

That said, Cotacachi also offers reliable transport, including plenty of buses and taxis. Traveling around and outside the mountain village is easy- it only takes ten minutes to go to the Otavalo commercial area and one-and-a-half hours to reach the Quito airport!

Cons of Visiting/ Moving to Cotacachi, Ecuador

Cotacachi, Ecuador, is the perfect expat destination if you enjoy the natural beauty and a casual, laid-back lifestyle. The Ecuadorian town is also safe, easy to get around, and offers many activities.

However, you might not like a few things about Cotacachi. Here are a few advantages of relocating to Cotacachi, Ecuador.

1. High Elevation

1. High Elevation

You probably love mountain living if you enjoy peace and quiet. However, not everyone prefers making a home in a town at a high altitude. Although the untouched nature of a mountainous area may want you to live there forever, it has drawbacks.

Cotacachi, Ecuador, is situated at 2400 meters/ 7900 feet above sea level. You must be prepared to experience an entirely different life if you plan to move here from a sea-level city. For example, mountain living presents accessibility difficulties. You may not be able to find many amenities usually available in cities.

2. Chilly Weather

A higher altitude means thin hair, which leads to a cooler atmosphere. While many people love the cooler air in a mountainous area, they may not prefer it for a lifetime.

Besides the cold, the mountain village is often cloudy and rainy throughout the year. Cotacachi’s elevation can cause altitude sickness and unfortunately you probably won’t know if it will affect you until you are there.

3. Limited Medical Services

Excellent healthcare is among the most critical things people look for in an expat destination. Like most small mountain towns, medical services are basic in Cotacachi, Ecuador. At most, you will find an IESS hospital and a small private clinic in the town.

4. Small Town

4. Small Town

Cotacachi is a small Ecuadorian town, which some people may find unappealing. Although it is still bigger than Olón, Cotacachi is smaller than other cities.

Small-town life can make many individuals and families feel isolated. They may feel cut out or too far from the rest of the world. Additionally, small areas can create more opportunities for conflicts, rumors, etc.

Bottom Line

Cotacachi has seen an influx of foreigners, including visitors and expats/ retirees over the past decade. More people are picking the village town to relocate, for several reasons. Although small, Cotacachi has a lot to offer for expats. It is affordable, allowing expats to enjoy a comfortable life at a low price.

Additionally, the Ecuadorian town is beautiful and clean- precisely what a nature-loving expat individual or family might want! What else? You will find reliable transport, excellent shopping opportunities, and a large expat community in Cotacachi.

Lastly, the town is also incredibly safe, with a low crime rate. Cotacachi, Ecuador, also offers a lot to do in the town!

Watch Our Video About Cotacachi Ecuador



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JP Stonestreet
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Hola todos! Welcome to my author bio page! Let's see. Where to begin... I grew up in the country on a lake outside a small Kansas farm town. As soon as I could, I got the hell outta there! Since then, I've lived and/or worked in Kansas City, Washington D.C., Denver, San Francisco, and Ecuador. I started and sold a dotcom, wrote a book about it, started a YouTube channel, and now I write a lot. Amelia and I have embraced the Unconventional Life and we want to help you do it, too!

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