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Ecuador's Time Has Come

When I was back in New York in the early to mid 2000’s, I was interested in getting into a particular neighborhood in Brooklyn. It was clear to me that all the signs were there to see massive price appreciation in the coming years. It was the last ‘brownstone’ neighborhood in the 5 boroughs that could still be had at a reasonable price (picture 2-4 story stone buildings built in the 17, 18, and early 1900’s on beautiful tree lined blocks).

Brooklyn was rapidly gentrifying, all the neighborhoods West of it towards downtown had already gentrified or were in the process of doing so. A new stadium was planned for nearby and massive new restoration and construction projects were underway all over the borough. The artists were starting to move in and 99-cent stores, liquor stores, and bodegas were slowly giving away to boutique shops and restaurants.

But its dangerous people said, no one would want to live there, would you really consider living in BedStuy? YES!

It took me several more years to make it happen, and I missed several hundred percent in price appreciation, however I got in and watched the neighborhood transform into a sought after and pricey gem.

As late as the 90’s you could buy brownstones in Bedford Stuyvesant for under 100,000. Those same houses are selling now for as high as $2M.

Everything I know and all my instincts about market trends tell me a similar trend is taking place in Southern Ecuador right now.

There is a confluence of factors that puts Ecuador in the sweet spot.

The investment community has caught on to the value of arable land and water. Ecuador is home to some of cheapest farmland in the world and an insane abundance of water. Ecuador is mineral rich but investment poor.

Ecuador is an amazing place to retire ­– consistently showing up at the top of the list in leading publications that rank retirement destinations. It’s cheap, safe, easy to immigrate to, offers special visas for pensioners and has the modern infrastructure and quality medical system retirees’ look for.

Maybe most importantly, people all over the world are looking around, at their lives and their goals, and realizing the corporate or 9-5 lifestyle in the increasingly less free and more tenuous circumstances found in the ‘western world’ is suboptimal.

As they look for greener pastures, Southern Ecuador offers perhaps the best mix of solutions.

Great air quality, year round warmth, and tons of water. Soil so rich with minerals that growing here takes on a different meaning from what I was used to coming from the states. Low-population density, no volcanoes, no fault lines, everyone grows food, friendly culture, great infrastructure, and insanely cheap cost of living.

And great business opportunities.

Several factors such as a currency collapse in 2000 (Ecuador has since dollarized), some years of political instability, and massive investments in infrastructure improvement ($800B+ since 2007), has lead to Ecuador being a relatively undiscovered destination/market. Adding to that was a lack of access to good information. All that is now changing.

In Loja, where I live, I see the same trends I saw in BedStuy – boutique shops, trendy new restaurants, a dramatic increase in foreign faces around the city, and lots of construction.

Whether you view this kind of change as a positive or not, change is constant. And for those looking to come to southern Ecuador to enjoy life or invest, from my perspective, you couldn’t have picked a better time.

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