Best Place to Live in Ecuador? Mountains vs Coast

Posted in: Expats in Ecuador, Living in Ecuador, My Life in Ecuador

Are you trying to decide the best place to live in Ecuador? In this guest post by expat Deborah Hughes, you’ll learn about Ecuador’s mountains and coast. Deborah and Ash (her daughter) blog at to chronicle their family’s life in Ecuador. Full bio

Best place to live in Ecuador

Best Place to Live in Ecuador? Mountains vs Coast

Five years ago my family and I moved from a mountainous region of California to Ecuador.

When we decided to move to Ecuador we didn’t have a specific location in mind. We had traveled to Ecuador and visited certain locations to spy out the land. We visited both the mountains and the coast. We had liked both areas equally and decided that we would move, but we just didn’t know exactly where.

Two years later, after arranging our affairs, we moved to Manta, on the coast.

What helped us decide, and what can help you decide, if this is your dilemma?

Is Cuenca the Best Place to Live in Ecuador?

As we are from the mountains, we love the mountains of Ecuador and everything about them. We also loved Cuenca. The air is fresh and clear in the mountains. There are many places to hike in Cuenca and the surrounding areas, and we love hiking.

Where to live in Ecuador: Hiking

I really love a mountain storm as well. As the storm comes in,the big bank of dark storm clouds appear over the mountain ridges, lightning flashes and thunder roars as the storm makes its way through the area. Storms like these are truly awe inspiring. Plus, beautiful clouds mean amazing sunsets.

Cuenca is a great city with cobblestone streets and historical buildings that have a Spanish influence. One may even forget for a moment that they are in South America as they sit in these lovely streets. One is reminded, however, of the great distance from Spain, the cultural richness, and diversity of Cuenca at the sight of the local Quichua. This culture adds to the appeal of Cuenca and many other mountain cities.

Even though Cuenca has a small town atmosphere, there are all the big city conveniences such as malls, markets, and good restaurants. There are some really great restaurants in Cuenca, from local cuisine to cuisine from mexico, germany, austria, italy, argentina and more. It’s possible to find a similar variety of restaurants in other mountain cities. The array of options of where to eat adds to the enjoyment of living in the mountains.

Where to live in Ecuador mountains

Cuenca and other mountain cities in Ecuador have been described as having ‘eternal spring’ weather. This is true since they are at such a high elevation. Even though the sun can be intense, the temperature doesn’t get much past the low 70’s (fahrenheit) in the day, and it dips much lower at night. I do not think that this type of weather would bother me.

I also don’t think that the elevation would bother me (Cuenca 8,200 feet above sea level). Quito is even higher in elevation than Cuenca, and for some this may be too much, especially for those that have lived most of their lives at lower levels. This is where we had an advantage since we are from a mountainous region.

Or, Is the Coast the Best Place to Live in Ecuador?

The Coast on the other hand is quite different than the mountains, almost in every way. The coast gets none of the cultural flare that you see in the mountain areas. Spanish architecture is not found on the coast, for the most part. Cuisine from around the world is not as abundant as it is in the mountain cities. The weather seems to be unpredictable, and if it rains it is without fanfare. In the 5 years that we have lived here, we have only seen three lightning and thunder storms.

Best place to live in Ecuador coast

So, what really drew us to the coast? A number of things, the beaches and the coastline of Ecuador are beautiful and nearly untouched.

There is nothing like the feeling of tranquility as one enjoys the beach, a gentle breeze blowing the warm air, the rustle of the palm trees, the waves gently lapping at the sand, as the sun dip into the ocean, painting the sky with the amazing colors of an afternoon sunset.

Where to live in Ecuador coast

If that is not a good enough reason to come to the coast, remember, with the ocean comes fresh seafood. There are a large variety of restaurants at almost any beach with fresh seafood and local cuisine, which is delicious. In addition to that, the people of the coast are warm and kind just like the weather.

Places to live in Ecuador

In choosing the coastal life, there are the options of living in a small village on the ocean, with its small town advantages and comfortable feel, friendly neighbors and a beach a half a block away or less, or a beach city with all the luxuries city life has to offer. As mentioned earlier we chose Manta. You will enjoy reading more about Manta and some of the beaches in Ecuador here.

Deborah Hughes 4000 miles blogAbout Deborah Hughes

Deborah’s family of 4 moved to Manta, Ecuador from South Lake Tahoe, California. They have lived there for 5 years and have gone through many wonderful adventures.



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Meet the Author

Bryan Haines is editor of GringosAbroad - one of the largest English language sites about Ecuador. Work with GringosAbroad. He is a travel blogger, photographer and content marketer. He is also co-founder of ClickLikeThis (GoPro tutorial blog) and Storyteller Media (content marketing for travel brands).

5 comments… add one
  • Charles Apr 24, 2017, 4:39 pm

    Where can we find pets for sale or free in Cuenca?

  • Hugo Apr 24, 2017, 1:34 pm


  • Mark Wardner Apr 24, 2017, 11:46 am

    Thank you so much for the information about the coastal areas. I am looking forward to the next installment about coastal areas north of Manta, especially the Bahia area, and progress of recovery and current conditions of the Bahia/San Vicente area, since the earthquake of last year. There seems to be very little current information available. I have long considered this a possible retirement destination, and would appreciate any current information. Thanks, Mark

  • Dave Yuhas Apr 23, 2017, 10:34 am

    “There is nothing like the feeling of tranquility as one enjoys the beach, a gentle breeze blowing the warm air, the rustle of the palm trees, the waves gently lapping at the sand, as the sun dip into the ocean, painting the sky with the amazing colors of an afternoon sunset.”

    You forgot the sand fleas.

  • Alan B. Apr 22, 2017, 2:09 pm

    Hi Deborah, by any chance might you be up to date on the reconstruction progress in Bahia de Caraquez and Canoa and the surrounding hard hit areas? Have you traveled thru there recently? Is it coming back to life…….? Has the cost of living risen dramatically in the last 3 years since I was there? Thnx much…………Alan

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