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My Life in Ecuador: Linn Vermilion Smith Living in Pakakuna Gardens, Quito

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

This is a post by Linn Vermilion Smith. Linn spent 25 years of her adult life traveling the world as a professional singer. Before moving to Ecuador in October of 2010, Linn and her husband Cardell lived in Hawaii.

This is part of our Ecuador Expats Series.

My Life in Ecuador: Linn Vermilion Smith 

Linn Vermilion Smith EcuadorI was living on Kauai when I first heard about Ecuador.

Our retreat business was rapidly declining with the economy in the dumps and we were looking at other ideas about where to go and what to do.

My sister and her husband had done a lot of research on other countries where one could retire.

They had a list of criteria including:

  • weather
  • cost of living
  • infrastructure
  • health care
  • safety
  • monetary system, the list goes on.

Cuenca, Ecuador was at the top of their list.

Our New Life in Cuenca

cuenca-ecuador-livingThey moved to Cuenca in September of 2010, and we moved in October. We decided to sell everything and came with 10 suitcases and a lot of hope for a relaxing retirement.

Cuenca proved to be as beautiful as we had been told.

We found a cute little Ecuadorian home surrounded by Ecuadorian neighbors and began to acclimate ourselves to life in a new culture and environment. We spoke no Spanish, so immersed ourselves in learning the language of our adopted country.

More reading: 11 Books and Courses We Used to Learn Spanish

cuenca ecuador marketWe did not buy a car. The public transportation in Cuenca is fabulous, so we used the bus system for most of our excursions in town and out of town.

We traveled all over the southern part of Ecuador on day trips and weekend getaways and got to know our way around very well.

One day we watched a construction site across the street from our home with intense interest. They were building a new top floor to a small apartment building. They use concrete to build in Ecuador, trees are scarce here.

The workers needed to get the material up to the top floor with no elevator or lift of any type. They devised a pulley and rope system, to which they attached a bucket.

Then after filling the bucket, two men would hold the rope and run up the street to raise the bucket to the waiting men on top, who would then add water to create the concrete. We were fascinated at their ingenuity.

Here is a video of the process.

Adapting to Our New Country

We have done our best to adopt the customs, which I find utterly charming.

Every person I pass on the streets says hello, good morning, how are you. In the United States this would be considered very unusual except in small towns.

I find the children in Ecuador to be so calm, sweet and centered. Seldom do I ever hear a screaming child on a bus. I am offered a seat almost every time I step onto a crowded bus and I always meet a friendly soul who wants to talk to me.

I find the people in Ecuador to be very happy, almost stress-free, relaxed and absolutely lovely.

I will never forget the time we were waiting for a bus and watching a couple of small children playing. No game boys or iPhones to occupy them, they had a roll of packing tape. They would place a piece over the other one’s mouth and then giggle with delight when the other couldn’t talk.

It reminded me of the 50’s in the States when life was so much less complicated, when children made up games to play and lived a simple and happier life.

The children here are soooo cute and are so safe. I see small children (6 or 7 years old) on the bus by themselves all the time. No one would even think of harming a little child, they are considered treasures of society.

ecuador childrenFrom Cuenca to Ecuador’s Coast

We spent 3 ½ years in Cuenca. After only one year, we knew we needed to find a warmer place.

Read more: Cuenca’s cool spring-like climate

We started exploring the coast and after 2 ½ years of looking, we settled on Manta, where we moved in October of 2014. Manta had lovely beaches, a mall, decent grocery stores and very nice open-air markets.

manta ecuador beach malecon in manta ecuadorAt first it seemed great, but we began to tire of the brown. What I mean is this, it seldom rains in Manta and so everything is dry.

Manta is all about the beach, and it is wonderful for about a third of the year when the wind isn’t blowing. When the wind is blowing the sand beats you to death.

The climate was also hotter than we expected and we longed for the lush greenery we were accustomed to on Kauai.

In Manta, the mosquitoes made it hard for me to spend much time outside in the cooler evenings (I am sweet meat to them) so we were delegated to running the air conditioning constantly, which got very expensive.

When we moved to Manta, my sister and her husband moved too. They also found Cuenca to be too rainy and cold, and missed the sunshine.

They discovered Pakakuna Gardens, east of Quito, very close to the new international airport and bought a villa there.

pakakuna gardens

I visited them in the summer of 2015 and after only one day I had fallen in love with the place. It is a huge botanical garden with villas and homes interspersed throughout the gardens. The magical energy of Pakakuna had me under her spell.

I spent a week, went home to Manta and informed my husband I wanted to live there for the rest of my life.

living in quito

Finding Our Ecuador Home: Pakakuna Gardens

We moved to Pakakuna in December and I have never looked back.

The sun shines here most of the time, it ranges in temperature between 70-80 degrees almost every day, nights are cool with little to no mosquitoes (what a relief) and the vibration/energy of the place is mystical – magical. I can’t explain it. It is so unique.

our ecuador patio

The villas are separated by plants, so even though neighbors are close by, it feels like we are only surrounded by tropical plants.

Pakakuna Gardens is the brainchild of Claus and Maria Elena Egger, a couple from Switzerland and Bolivia. They came here 30 years ago and built their dream of a botanical utopia.

life in ecuador pakakuna

I can say that to live in a place like this in the USA would cost millions of dollars and I live here on social security. It is incredible.

I feel like Goldilocks, from the fairy tale. For me, Cuenca was too cold, Manta was too hot, but Pakakuna is just right. I have found paradise in Ecuador and plan to live here forever. My heaven on earth.

expats of pakakuna

Your Turn

Have a question for Linn? Ask it in the comment section below.

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Meet the Author

Bryan Haines is co-editor of GringosAbroad - Ecuador's largest blog for expats and travelers. He is a travel blogger and content marketer. He is also co-founder of ClickLikeThis (GoPro tutorial blog) and Storyteller Travel.

64 comments… add one
  • Gina Adams Sep 11, 2020, 5:09 am

    Does the elevation bother you in Pakakuna? I’ve read it is hard on an older person’s lungs

  • Lee Aug 22, 2020, 4:46 pm

    This is for Linn and Carnell, how are you living in such a beautiful like pakakuna
    On social security?.

  • Debbie Aug 3, 2020, 9:49 pm

    Hi Linn, I really enjoyed reading your article about Ecuador ! My husband and I live now on the island of Kauai ! Small world . We have recently sold our home and are currently in the process of closing on the sale of our business. We are retiring and looking to get out of the US for a while. Are you still living at Pakakuna Gardens ? It looks like such a lovely area ! I have been to Cuenca before and really liked it but I was on vacation and only there for 2 weeks. We are thinking of coming down in October and would be flying into Quito . I know we will need to quarantine somewhere for 2 weeks but then we could visit where you are. Are you guys still loving Ecuador and where you live.
    Thanks, Debbie

  • Bart Jacobs Mar 9, 2019, 8:01 pm

    Can you give me more information on rentals (3-6 months) at the community?
    Retired Canadian couple,
    Living in Costa Rica, looking to try Ecuador.
    Sincerely Bart&Patti Jacobs

  • Michael Erdman Jan 6, 2019, 4:33 pm

    I read your story with great interest and have a question. How is the community in terms of restaurants, shops, healthcare etc. Is the villa you are in have places for rent?

  • Doustoi May 19, 2018, 2:05 pm

    Having read about the high cost of some popular food brands and other household items, I wonder if it is possible to shop on Amazon and get product delivered?

    • Carolina Aviles Jan 31, 2019, 3:39 pm

      Hi Doustoi. You can order things from Amazon however, you will notice that the shipping and taxes when bringing something into the country are usually more expensive than the products themselves. Everything that has to be imported, will cost more. I recommend making friends who go back and forth the US so they can be your “couriers/delivery service” and vice versa. It’s the fastest/easiest way around that. Hope it helps! Carolina

  • Carl Kandutsch (@CarlKandutsch) Aug 14, 2017, 9:29 am

    Thank you for the article. My wife and I have purchased a building lot near Manta and are planning to construct a house and retire there in a few years, so your comments on life there were interesting to us. You wrote that Manta was too hot for you, but during our two visits there the climate seemed moderate and very comfortable. I monitor the weather reports for Manta and the temperature seems to not exceed 85 degrees F during most days and hovers around 73 at night. Am I missing something?

    Best wishes!

  • Teresa Vermilion Jul 15, 2017, 8:42 pm

    Jim and I have been trying to get in touch with you for some time now but can’t seem to reach you. We still have your gmas sewing machine and we wanted to know if you still wanted it. We are moving and don’t plan on keeping it. Please get in touch with us and let us know if you still want it before we get rid of it. Let us know if you at least got this message so I can stop trying to reach you

  • JANET TULLIUS Jun 11, 2017, 2:14 pm

    Linn, your article was very informative. My husband and I are wanting to live in Ecuador, we want to retire there but we have just social security to live on. My husband is a professional pianist and could teach piano and has lots of experience in the Catholic Church directing choirs both English and Hispanic. We do not want to buy we want to rent, is that a possibility in Pakakuna?

  • Carlos Rodriguez Jun 5, 2017, 6:50 pm

    It was interesting reading your story and Pakakuna sounds wonderful. I’m also one of those people that need nature around me, hard to find now a days when they raze the land to build. Me and my partner will be retiring in next three years and were thinking of Costa Rica but reading articles like yours had me thinking of visiting Ecuador. At first I thought Cuenca and while I don’t mind cool climates from pictures it seemed to lack the greenery I long for.
    How big is Pakakuna Gardens in size and population? And how much has been built already? How good is the health care?
    Thanks for answering and this blog. Hope to meet you when we get to visiting.

  • Cathie Armstrong-Moore May 3, 2017, 7:02 pm

    We will be making our third trip to Ecuador late this month and are really interested in touring this development. It has been on my radar but we were under the impression it might be too cold for us. Reading through your comments it looks like you might be in a particular warm Ecuadorian climate/catment zone. I am anxious to see this place it meets a lot of our criteria on our wish list.

    • Cathie Armstrong-Moore May 5, 2017, 6:13 pm

      Can you help me with a better understanding of the climate in Pakakuna please.

  • Adi Scheidle Feb 14, 2017, 11:06 am

    My wife and I are presently in Quito, Feb.14, and expect to stay another week. Is there a contact address for us to see Pakakuna Gardens. Besides regular Taxis, is there another convenient transportation possibility. We thank you very much for your answer to my

  • Robert Lanois Jan 12, 2017, 9:36 am

    Hi I loved your story. I do hope you will reply. I have a few questions though. You mention throughout the entire piece that Cuenca was too cold. I can understand Manta being too hot but the difference in temperature and climate between Cuenca and Quito even just out side Quito cannot be much different. They are both high elevation and in fact you are up higher then in Cuenca. Also the weather itself cannot be too much different either. I am no weather man but there just isn’t enough space between to make that much of a change.

    I do love the gardens and maybe that is what makes it for you. It would warm my heart as well being able to piddle around in the garden and pull weeds and prune or otherwise occupy myself. I would think my wife would as well.

    So I guess you might wonder if I am considering a move there. At the moment we are considering a future in Cuenca. We are not sure when. It is most likely a number of years away. But I am one that does my due diligence so I read and research stuff before I buy. So her I am on gringos abroad and Ecuador Expats forums. Reading anything that can give me ideas and insight as to life as expats there.

    One thing that I really haven’t got a complete handle on is banking. I do realize that they use US dollars as currency. I just wonder how my income will work in Ecuador. Not if my income will be enough just how I will get it as 1/3 is going to be SS and the rest is pension income. Then there is the tax situation. With my income coming from US sources I will still be liable for Federal income tax US but will I have Ecuadoran taxes on that income as well? I have read that a lot of folks use online banking to pay bills and that most have bank accounts in both Ecuador and home countries. Do they transfer amounts bank to bank and send only what they need for the month? Hmmm. so many questions.

    • John Feb 26, 2018, 1:45 am

      About the weather. Quito is in a ‘rain shadow’. I do not know about Cuenca being cold and wet but it was overcast and a bit wet when I was there 5 years ago. Quito is in the middle of the cordillera which is a corridor between two ranges that run north and south. The rain hits the mountains whether it comes from the jungle or the coast. As it rises it dumps a lot of the moisture on the rising slope. By the time the weather gets over the ridges it has lost a lot of steam. The valley that Quito is in has less moisture than the slopes on the outside of the valley to the east and the west. As you drive up and over these ridges you immediately see the difference in the trees with the hanging moss and orchids. The jungle starts even at high elevations once you leave the central valley. Now, Quito is pretty high (>9000 ft) but the valley at the bottom of the ‘corridor’ can be a bit tropical. They have lots of flower production and avocados can grow there. Figure you see an increase of 3 degrees per 1000 ft. you drop. Tumbaco which is about the same elevation as the Pakakuna Gardens, Chaca is typically 70 to 50 degrees every single day. It may cool a bit with rain and overcast but it is not much less than 50 F at night. Likely a bit warmer till late at night.

      • John Feb 26, 2018, 1:49 am

        Oops, temps are more like 80F in the day.

  • elizabeth Phillips Jul 1, 2016, 12:22 am

    Hi there. Can you advise on avg pricing for a 2 bedroom house or townhouse and if have pools? What critters can I expect in my yard? Poisonous.? Are there employment opportunities and does the government allow you to work?? Thank you!!

    • Linn Vermilion Smith Oct 6, 2016, 10:46 am

      OMG, Elizabeth, sorry it took me this long to find your post. The prices for the villas and townhouses are on the website. Right now, the owners are keen to sell the already existing shells so you can get a lot better deal than what you see listed. As far as critters, I have seen very few. Nothing poisonous, probably because of the altitude. A late night croaking frog is about the worst of it. LOL! There is an outdoor pool and Jacuzzi and they are currently working on the spa which will have a large heated indoor pool, workout room, massages, sauna and Jacuzzi. You can work in Ecuador, and you can get a long term work visa. Hope this helps. Regards, Linn

  • Paul Heidke Jun 29, 2016, 12:36 pm

    Have you explored the earthquake situation/history/likelihood ?

    • Linn Vermilion Smith Oct 6, 2016, 10:48 am

      Hi Paul,

      Most of the earthquake activity is along the coast, but Ecuador is on the ring of fire so a large earthquake is a possibility anywhere here, just as it is in California. Mother nature doesn’t discriminate. Thanks goodness the construction is so good at Pakakuna. We feel very safe. Regards, Linn

  • Cheryl Weatherhead Jun 27, 2016, 1:20 pm

    Hello Linn,
    We will be visiting Pakakuna with our tour group (Ecuador “Crash Course”) on July 7th this year. Looking forward to seeing the area. Would love to meet up with you if that works 🙂
    Cheryl Weatherhead

    • Linn Vermilion Smith Oct 6, 2016, 10:50 am

      Dear Cheryl,
      Sorry I did not find your post until it was too late. I would love to have met you. Did you visit Pakakuna, and if so, how did you like it? If you want to come again, drop me an email, I check my email every day. Regards, Linn

  • Harald and Cindy Jun 22, 2016, 6:28 pm

    We cant believe it! We just met you in the line at Megamaxi today and now I check my google plus and up pops your story! We enjoyed talking with you. Lots of Americans just keep their heads down when we pass them. Thats the way it is in the states unfortunately. Looks like Pakakuna is a sweet place to live. Hope we bump into you again sometime. Did you know Brian Haines when you were living on Cuenca? Regards, Harald and Cindy

    • Linn Vermilion Smith Jun 23, 2016, 2:59 pm

      Well Hello Harald and Cindy, it was nice meeting you too. We never keep our heads down, we love meeting people, Gringos and Ecuadorians alike. We did not know Bryan before when we were in Cuenca, I wish we had. Hey, you two should come for a visit and tour of Pakakuna. They serve a great lunch in the restaurant, maybe you’d like to come one day for a tour and then have lunch? Just let us know. My email is Drop a line….

  • Bill Salvati Jun 18, 2016, 6:24 pm

    I am retired and live on a 3,000usd per month. Would this be adequate for a single person to live. This would be including rent, utilities, food, transportation, etc. How difficult would it be to bring my dog.

    • Linn Vermilion Smith Jun 23, 2016, 3:03 pm

      Hi Bill,
      Lots of people have dogs here. I myself am a cat person and have 3 here at Pakakuna. One of my friends who lives here has 3 dogs. His name is Bud Feltman, and he can also answer all of your questions about Pakakuna if you will send me your email address, I will put him in touch with you. Regards, Linn

  • Edward Jun 18, 2016, 2:36 pm

    Hi There
    I am seeling a unit in Pakakuna Gardens , 130m2 , 2 bedrooms very good price
    interested persons please contact me

    • Linn Vermilion Smith Jun 23, 2016, 3:04 pm

      Hi Edward, please send your email address so we can chat and talk about the unit you are interested in. Warmest Regards, Linn

  • June Martyn Jun 5, 2016, 8:56 pm

    Are homes just for sale of are there rentals? What is the altitude? Thank you for your article.

    • Linn Smith Jun 7, 2016, 12:40 pm

      Hi June, Occasionally a rental comes up, but mostly just sales. If you fill out a comment form on the website, we can let you know if any rentals come up. Regards, Linn

  • Gary & Patricia Jun 5, 2016, 3:52 pm

    Hi Lynn, We are planning to retire to Ecuador once we have sold our home here in Canada, hopefully by November this year. We have seen Pakakuna Gardens on UTube and would be very interested in moving there. Are there any furnished rentals available in Pakakuna Gardens, or are they all privately owned. If there are rentals, would you know the price range?
    Thank you

    • Linn Smith Jun 7, 2016, 12:43 pm

      Hi Gary and Patricia, There are no rentals at this time, but there will be a hotel next year. For qualified buyers, we have a furnished villa for people to come for a few days and experience Pakakuna. If you fill out a contact form on the contact page of our website, one of our reps can send you more information. Warmest Regards, Linn

      • DEBRA Jun 17, 2016, 6:12 pm


      • DEBRA BISHOP Jun 17, 2016, 6:14 pm


        • Linn Vermilion Smith Jun 20, 2016, 1:27 pm

          Hi Debra, Glad to send more information. Please provide me with an email address. Regards, Linn

  • Ann Dowdy Jun 5, 2016, 3:01 pm

    I was very interested in your story of life in Ecuador. My husband and I have been in Cuenca for three years now, and we are beginning to think we need to be in some other part of Ecuador. We are in the later years of life and have decided not to buy property again. I am wondering if there are places for rent in the Gardens?

    Thank you,

    • Linn Smith Jun 7, 2016, 12:47 pm

      Hi Ann, Rentals occasionally come up, but it is mostly sales. My husband and I are renting, we got lucky and the timing was right for us. If you go to the website and fill out the contact form, one of our reps can get back to you and put you on a list to call if any rentals come up. Warmest Regards, Linn

  • Peripatetic Soul Jun 5, 2016, 2:21 pm

    I see Pakakuna Gardens is a gated community so may be out of price range for one on a $2100USD monthly pension. Are there any other affordable developments in this area? Thank you.

    • Linn Smith Jun 7, 2016, 12:48 pm

      Hi there, I am sorry, I don’t know of any other developments. If you make it to Quito, be sure to get in touch with us and we will give you a tour. Warmest Regards, Linn

  • Peripatetic Soul Jun 5, 2016, 2:17 pm

    How affordable is Pakakuna Gardens? (for one on $2100USD/mo. pension). Is there a range of types of housing there? Thank you.

  • M Mills Jun 5, 2016, 4:41 am

    Hello Linn V., I love your story of getting every thing just right. My questions may be too personal for sharing but you may make that choice. My husband and I are limited to our travels out of the US so please be patient with these. You state that you live on social security there but that seems to unreal to me. If you would not mind breaking down the cost would be most exciting for me. Also you stated electricity is very high. To me high would be anything over 150.00 usd but with you moving from Kauai to Ecuador, yours and ours thoughts of high maybe a lot different. Also, I understand the need to immerse yourself into the language and culture but being with no one to translate how did you learn? With this said not knowing the language could and probably did not make you feel at home at all. This is the hardest part of moving anywhere is to not feel at home. So if you have any pointers for me or safety concerns I would truly like to hear this all broke down. Thank you Linn for the happiness that shines through your words. M. Mills

    • Linn Smith Jun 7, 2016, 12:58 pm

      Hello there, what kind words you shared, thank you. We do live on social security, combined we have about $2500 a month. We were lucky enough to find a rental here, but it is mostly sales. In Manta, our biggest electric bill with the air conditioners was about $220. (On Kauai our biggest was $750, so there you go.) In Cuenca we paid typically only about $40 so Manta is the exception.
      We found an English speaking taxi driver who helped us with a lot of things when we first came, and found one in Manta too. I speak enough now to get by in most circumstances. My husband, not so much. LOL! We have many North American friends who live in Cuenca and also here at Pakakuna, so we fell completely at home. Also, many people here at Pakakuna speak English even if they are Ecuadorian or European. At Pakakuna, we seldom even lock our doors, it is very safe. I have never felt unsafe anywhere in Ecuador, but there are areas of any town I have been in where I wouldn’t go at night, just like in the USA. Just takes some common sense. I always carry my bag across my shoulder, and don’t walk around at night in the city. These are things we do in the states too, yes? I hope you make it down here, it sounds like you would love it. Warmest Regards, Linn

  • Dena Kanner Jun 5, 2016, 1:55 am

    Is it only gringos who live there?

    • Linn Smith Jun 7, 2016, 12:59 pm

      No Dena, It is about half Ecuadorian, half other (USA, Canada, Europe.) Most speak English tho.’ Regards, Linn

      • Dena Kanner Jun 7, 2016, 2:42 pm

        Thank you!!! That makes all the difference for me.

  • Shannon Moles Jun 4, 2016, 11:19 pm

    Hi Lynn,

    I am wondering what you can grow in Pakakuna? Do bananas like it there? How about on the other end of the spectrum, do any of the N. American fruits grow, berries, apples, etc.? I’m looking for a place where everything grows.

    Also, how close are the volcanic mountains? Are any of them known to be active? Is there a history of earthquakes in the area?

    What are the prices generally like, outside of the garden? Is it affordable?

    How far are you from Quito? Is there any crime?

    Do you need to own a vehicle, or is public transportation still efficient there?

    What is the elevation?

    Is there any “season” that you like less than the rest of the year?

    Are there any no-see-ums, or chiggers, or cockroaches? How are the mosquitoes?

    Is there enough rain to water everything, or is irrigation necessary?

    Are there springs &/or wells &/or streams/rivers commonly?

    Do people cattle ranch in the area? Or any other kind of ranching?

    Are there properties of more than lot size, commonly?

    Are the locals content?

    OK, I know I questioned you to death there, but I am fascinated by your tale. I also think already (from speaking to people that live in Ecuador, that Cuenca would probably be too cold, and that Manta would probably be too hot. Your description of Pakakuna appeals to me. How do you think it would compare to life in the Loja/Vilcabamba area?

    Thank you SO much for your answers, ahead of time.

    • Linn Smith Jun 7, 2016, 1:20 pm

      Hi Shannon, Wow, bunch of questions, LOL!
      1. Yes, bananas grow here. And apples and berries. We have an organic vegetable garden with tons of wonderful produce.
      2. There is a volcano, Cotopaxi, that you can see in the distance, but not close enough to do any damage here and the wind blows in another directions. No major earthquakes here either, that I know of.
      3. We shop mostly in Cumbaya, at a supermarket called MegaMaxi. It is an American style grocery store in a large mall. They have them in most of the major cities. Prices are cheaper than in the states, but not as cheap as the open air markets. We also have a natural source for meats and stop there twice a month for chicken and meat that has no hormones or chemicals.
      4. We are about an hour from Quito, a large city that has crime I am sure but I feel completely safe there when I go. In Pakakuna, we don’t even lock our doors, it is totally safe and the guards patrol day and night.
      5. We don’t own a car. My sister does, and we go to town once a week. But, I call a taxi from Checa who takes us to the bus stop for $2 and the bus gets us to Cumbaya in half an hour any time we want to go.
      6. Elevation is 6500 ft, but our micro-climate keeps us warm every day.
      7. I have only been here 6 months, so don’t know about seasons, it feels the same to me all of the time, wonderful.
      8. Very few mosquitoes, because of the elevation and the cool nights. But…, we have these little biting flies that drive me nuts. LOL! I use essentials oils mixed with coconut oil. I haven’t seen any cockroaches.
      9. They use irrigation water for the gardens, and we use it for our vegetable garden. There is plenty and it runs through the development in cute little streams and brooks, and many ponds.
      10. I do not know about cattle, but there are lots of horses and a polo club in Checa.
      11. You can check out the website for property sizes, and/or fill out a form on the contact page so one of the reps can send you additional info.
      12. Everywhere I have been in Ecuador, people are content. They are just more relaxed than we are in the USA.
      13. I don’t care for Loja, Vilcabamba is a cute little town but I would not live there. It is too small and has no markets to speak of.
      I hope I have been of help. If you have any more questions, email me directly at Warmest Regards, Linn

  • Robin Gunn Jun 4, 2016, 9:30 pm

    Is Pakakuna a town , or a residential area ??
    Nothing was said about the facilities , stores , availability , etc.
    I’m looking at Cotacachi also ~ comparisons ?
    Single 69 yrs. old ~ Male ~ very limited SS income ,
    app. 1100.00 per mth. ~ Doable ?????

    • Linn Smith Jun 7, 2016, 1:26 pm

      Hi Robin, Pakakuna is a residential community near a small town called Checa. If you look at the website you can find answers to most of your questions. We are within a half hour of many big malls and open-air markets for shopping, and one can drive or take the bus. I don’t know anything about Cotacachi, I have never been there. $1100 a month could be a stretch for you here. Cuenca, Quito or Vilcabamba (or Cotacaci) would be less expensive. There are very few rentals at Pakakuna and they are higher rents when they do come up, because let’s face it, one is paying for the beauty of this incredible place. Regards, Linn

  • Douglas campbell Jun 4, 2016, 6:50 pm

    We want to come down this summer together a feel for Ecuador n may go To Spanish school. Any ideas there. Maybe a month or 6 weeks. Thanks

    • Linn Smith Jun 7, 2016, 1:28 pm

      Hi Douglas, I would try Quito for a short term rental, or Cuenca. If you go to Quito, be sure to let us know so we can plan a tour for you here at Pakakuna. Quito is a wonderful city, as far as cities go. Very cosmopolitan. Regards, Linn

  • Gia Jun 4, 2016, 3:17 pm

    What are the HOA fees for Pakakuna Gardens?


    • Linn Smith Jun 7, 2016, 1:29 pm

      Hi Gia, they vary, based upon square footage and whether you have a carport and storage room. We pay $129 a month. We feel that is very reasonable for what we are getting, a life in paradise. Warmest Regards, Linn

  • marjelaine Jun 4, 2016, 1:51 pm

    Hi Lynn, I enjoyed reading your story. My question is how were you affected by the 2016 earthquake

    • Linn Smith Jun 7, 2016, 1:31 pm

      Hi Marjelaine,

      We felt the earthquake, but no damage here. We are very far away from the coast, and the homes here are new and well-built, not like over on the coast. Regards, Linn

  • Grace Jun 4, 2016, 12:44 pm

    Dear Linn,
    I am so pleased you offered this article about living at Pakakuna Gardens.
    I have sent two inquiries to their website but have never received any response.

    I too have been researching Ecuador for the past year and would like to spend 2-3 summer months in your lovely botanical enclave. I would so appreciate communicating with you, in order to put a plan together for the summer of 2017. Like you, I have had my challenges with mosquitoes (Florida) and worry about Zika. How does Pakakuna Gardens abate mosquitoes and how challenging is it to get screens made for windows and doors, there?

    Please contact me at

    Best Regards,

    • Linn Smith Jun 7, 2016, 1:33 pm

      Hi Grace, Almost no mosquitoes here at all. The altitude is too high and the evenings too cool. I will email you directly, dear. Regards, Linn

  • Lorie Jun 4, 2016, 11:48 am


    Such a lovely area you reside in. Well written article that has me begging to ask if there are any homes available (to rent) that are no more $400.00 a month?
    I’m a single senior living on Social Security in Cotacachi, Ecudaor. I’ve been
    here 3 1/2 years and recently thinking of possibly moving along to yet another gorgeous area of this country.

    I look forward to your reply. Takes care and all the best.

    L.D. Dyer

    • Linn Smith Jun 7, 2016, 1:42 pm

      Hi Lorie, There are very few rentals here and they are more expensive. We paid $280 for our first home in Cuenca, $700 in Manta and pay $800 here. We feel blessed to have even found a rental here because there aren’t many. To get the cheap rents, one needs to be in a city. At Pakakuna, we are paying for the beautiful surrounding gardens and privacy. Warmest Regards, Linn

  • John Jun 4, 2016, 10:26 am

    Was wondering about healthcare in Pakakuna?

    • Linn Smith Jun 7, 2016, 1:44 pm

      Hi John, We have insurance and go to El Quinche or another nearby town when we need healthcare. There will be a clinic here, probably next year, for medical emergencies, but for big things they will call an ambulance for you to take you to the hospital 10 minutes away in a larger town. Regards, Linn

  • Peripatetic Soul Jun 4, 2016, 10:24 am

    I have been researching places to retire in Ecuador. I was fascinated by your experiences. What is the average cost of accommodations for a single person in Pakakuna Gardens? Does it consist solely of houses? How does one get there from Cuenca? What about access to medical care? I too do not like climate that is too cold and dreary or too hot and humid and would not be relying on a car. Such a colorful, verdant area and loved your photos! Thank you.

    • Linn Smith Jun 7, 2016, 1:55 pm

      Dear Soul, (LOL!) There will be townhouses, some are finished and some are being built. There are very few rentals, it is mostly sales here. The townhouses are really just apartments, and they are very nice. You can check prices on the website. If you fill out the contact form, one of the reps can answer all of your questions. From Cuenca, you can drive, or fly to Quito and taxi here to Pakakuna. Medical care is close by in larger neighboring towns, and we will have a medical care facility soon, for minor things. They can call an ambulance to take you to a hospital 10 minutes away. Warmest Regards, Linn

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