One of the challenges with living on Ecuador’s coast is finding any semblance of first world infrastructure.
In a minute we’ll tell you about one of the few exceptions, but first, a little background…
Most of Ecuador’s coastal villages are charming but rustic. In most small towns and villages, you won’t find things like hot running water, fly-less restaurants, air conditioning, or paved streets. Lifestyle seekers should come prepared for rudimentary supermarkets, occasional power outages, and limited nightlife. In many cases, Ecuador’s smaller coastal villages can feel like a sacrifice rather than a paradise.
Too often, we’ve seen expats move to tiny beach communities in search of “paradise” only to eventually end up moving to a larger town or city in favor of infrastructure, conveniences, and social events. It’s easy to live on a deserted beach for a couple of weeks, but try it for a couple of years.
One Of The Few Exceptions Is Manta
One of very few exceptions is the Ecuadorian coastal city of Manta. Manta is located on the central coast of Ecuador, about 3 hours from Guayaquil, Ecuador’s largest city. Manta lacks the urban poverty and sprawl of Guayaquil, yet it offers the comforts and conveniences many people cannot do without.
Imagine… A Real Supermarket!
Apart from Guayaquil, Manta is the only city or town on Ecuador’s coast to provide a fully stocked and modern US style supermarket, an up-to-date movie theater with films in English, and a wide variety of restaurants and nightlife.
Manta even offers yoga studios, karate lessons, dance clubs, a large Olympic-sized public swimming pool, a tennis club, and a host of other activities to keep life interesting. Simple things like these are taken for granted in North America but often hard to come by in Ecuador.
Convenient Beach Lifestyle
Manta itself is a city of around 300,000 people, and in terms of traffic congestion or noise, it feels more like a small town. While Manta’s city beach is not exactly pristine, it is fine for a stroll or for enjoying one of the many beach side seafood restaurants. Fresh fish with all the fixings will set you back around $5 or enjoy a large beer for $1.25.
Just 20 Minutes Away, Paradise Is Close Enough
Drive 20 minutes to the south of Manta and you’ll find absolutely gorgeous and empty sandy beaches for miles and miles. In fact the whole area south of Manta is sparsely populated and the beach side drive south is one of the most beautiful your author has ever seen. This area is only beginning to develop into master planned beach communities.
You can drive an hour south of Manta and count the number of people on the beach with two hands, – that is, until you arrive in Puerto Cayo – a charming and undiscovered gem of a fishing village that probably deserves more attention than it receives. Puerto Cayo makes a great for a day retreat from Manta. Some day Puerto Cayo will be a known travel destination but for now you will probably be the only foreigner in sight.
Just a few minutes beyond Puerto Cayo lies the Parque Machalilla – a national park featuring a vibrant dry forest and striking coastal hikes and look out points.
Business and Investment Opportunities
Manta also presents huge business and investment opportunities. Manta is a growing city with a bustling transshipment industry that combines nicely with tourism. Manta is a strategic location for Ecuador as one of the only ports deep enough to receive commercial cargo.
Manta’s new mayor is improving the gray water sewage treatment system, building a new bus station, and making plans to re-develop a Naval Base that was vacated by the US Military last year. Rumors about plans for the Naval Base abound; everything from an international airport to Chinese-backed Megaport to facilitate natural resource extraction are floating around.
Potential For Work And Business
Cruise ships already dock here 2-3 times per week during the high-season and compete with large container ships for space in Manta’s industrial port. Manta’s domestic airport receives daily flights from Guayaquil and Quito, making it very accessible to the rest of the country.
The idea that Manta offers enough to keep busy and the potential for work and business is very appealing. For the expat looking to start a business in Coastal Ecuador, we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Manta.
Reminiscent of Panama City
In many ways, Manta is reminiscent of Panama City circa 2001 – affordable real estate, underdeveloped commercial and industrial infrastructure, a recently vacated US military base, hardly any tourists, and a pleasant year-round moderate climate. Unlike Panama City, Manta’s roads are far easier to navigate and the city itself has a nice sandy beach.
In Manta, you can rent a spacious ocean view 2 bedroom condo with swimming pool and work out center for $500/month (or buy one for around $80,000). One bedrooms are 25% – 30% cheaper than two bedrooms.
Business Idea: Purchase a centrally located 4500 sq. ft. hotel with 15 rooms, 18 bathrooms, kitchen and common areas for $150,000 – that’s $10,000 per room!
Things you can do in Manta that are hard to find in Coastal Ecuador:
- enjoy a fine steak
- go salsa dancing
- buy all natural granola
- visit a modern doctor or dentist office
- start a property management business
- join a yoga class
- take Spanish lessons
- learn to sail
- take the morning flight to Quito for a breath of fresh Andean air
- drive 20 minutes and have surf breaks all to yourself
Manta is probably too small for city lovers and too big for remote paradise seekers. But if you are looking for something in between, you might just fall for Manta.