When I made the choice to leave New York City with my family and relocate to South America, there was a set of parameters that informed my search for a suitable destination. I was looking for warm weather, safety, fertile land, and clean, abundant water, in an area located a safe distance from volcanoes, fault lines, the coast, large population centers, and nuclear energy facilities.
After an exhaustive search I settled on Southern Ecuador, ultimately Loja. Ecuador, and Loja in particular really offer the best of both worlds. Infrastructure such as airports, roads, power, basic services, and Internet are excellent yet the old time customs remain.
Because Loja, and much of southern Ecuador are off the beaten expat trail, it is absent of some of the problems associated with a large expat community.
One of the highlights of living in this area is the variety of climates. With 4 distinct climates within 45 minutes of Loja, any climate, lifestyle, or weekend getaway is accessible.
The city itself boasts a temperate climate, all the normal shopping and entertainment one would expect, yet the feel of a small town. It’s amazing how familial it is. With the cost of lunch under $3 and high-end apartments on the market from $90,000, the quality of life/cost ratio is exceptional.
People are formal and polite. You never see verbal disputes. It’s a quiet, safe city that lends itself to a pace and lifestyle that is really nice.
One of the things I enjoy most are the natural juices made to order, so common here, for around $1. The Sunday market also stands out to me. I do all my food shopping there. A staggering quantity of every imaginable fruit and vegetable displayed by vendors, many of whom grow the food themselves, locally, including a large variety of organic. And the prices! I shop for a family of three each week for $30-$60, nearly all organic. And the bulk of that is cocoanuts for cocoanut water I buy for $1 each!
Loja is not for everyone however. World-class dining options are few and far between. If you are looking for a glamorous and exciting nightlife, you will be disappointed with your options. That said, the combination of natural beauty, climate, cost of living, and quality of life benefits are hard to find anywhere in the world.