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Retire In Manta, Ecuador – Paradise or Sacrifice?


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.

Manta is a small city with plenty of facilities and services for the active expat

Manta is a small city with plenty of facilities and services for the active expat

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.

SuperMaxi is a large, modern supermarket with high quality meat, produce and dry goods - one of very few on Ecuadors entire mainland coastline

SuperMaxi is a large, modern supermarket with high quality meat, produce and dry goods – one of very few on Ecuador’s entire mainland coastline

Manta offers a casino, open air restaurants, and a modern shopping center

Manta offers a casino, open air restaurants, and a modern shopping center

Manta offers affordable beachfront condo living with plenty of work and business opportunities.

Manta offers affordable beachfront condo living with plenty of work and business opportunities.

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. 

The views along the highway south of Manta are spectacular

The views along the highway south of Manta are spectacular, featuring miles and miles of empty beaches.

Puerto Cayo is bound to attract tourism one day, but for now, youll probably be the only foreigner in sight.

Puerto Cayo, about an hour south of Manta, is bound to attract tourism one day… but for now, you’ll probably be the only foreigner in sight.

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. 

Cruise ships compete with commercial vessels for space in Mantas port

Cruise ships compete with commercial vessels for space in Manta’s port

Mantas city beach is popular with local families and the beachside seafood restaurants are a real treat!

Manta’s city beach is popular with local families and the beachside seafood restaurants are a real treat!

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!

Beachfront condos in Manta can be purchased for as little as $75/sq. ft. or rented for less than $500/month

Beachfront condos in Manta can be purchased for as little as $75/sq. ft. or rented for less than $500/month

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

Drawbacks?

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.



21 responses to “Retire In Manta, Ecuador – Paradise or Sacrifice?”

  1. kingfish

    I’m going to equador next month..a friend bought a house just north of Manta. i see a cruise ship in the pic above and wonder how many of those come in weekly in manta. I make awesome jewelry out of precious metals and wondered if there’s enough traffic coming off the ships to support me living there. If not whats a good way to make a living there?

  2. Sarah

    I just came back from a month in the Manta area. There’s a lot of development along the coast. Manta itself is exploding with construction. We had no safety concerns the entire time we were in Ecuador. There are a number of different police forces and guarded places. We bought property in a gated beach community about an hour south of Manta http://www.holaecuador.ca which promises to be a self contained community with grocery stores, restaurants, doctor, etc. This is likely ideal for a retiree. Puerto Cayo is still a sleepy fishing village but Puerto Lopez, just down the coast has a marina and caters to foreigners with WiFi restaurants, tours to Isla de la Plata, whale watching, fishing trips, etc. It’s worth exploring.

  3. Carmen

    I am considering moving to Ecuador and want to live on a peaceful beach. I am not a surfer so I prefer a calm beach. I am also single and am concerned about safety.

    So anyone wanting to share info would really be appreciated. Oh I am also a senior.

    1. Steve C

      Carmen,

      Did you get the feedback you were looking for? From my research 50 km south of Manta or so is amazing. Puerto Cayo caught my eye, just do not know if would be too quiet for late 50′s guy. Cheers Steve

  4. David

    Jorge covered the noise issue quite well. We just moved to a rural area in southern Ecuador and it’s often just as noisy as the city in Ecuador we moved from. I am learning to hate dogs.

    Just for reference, Juan spoke out of line. The crime he speaks of is in Guayaquil, maybe Quito and other larger centers. Cuenca is a great place to live and very safe as are many of the smaller towns.

  5. nahir schilis

    we want to retaired from new york .manta is very atracted to my husband and my selfplease i want more information thanks sincerely nahir schilis

  6. Richard Parker

    Ok, I have a real estate and construction company and I want to sell you property. BUT…That does not sway my views of the coast. I lived in Alaska for 25 years and loved it. But I did not want to live in the mountains in Ecuador bec. of the cold.Could have stayed in Ak. The coast, easy…If you want and need internet, tv, real grocery stores, Int. airport, fruit, veg. and fish markets all in one loc., then Manta is your choice. Smell, jajaja…Comming from where Dick lives, it is a compliment, No smell in 99% of Manta…Outside of Manta you get mainly fishing villages and much less infrastructure. Come look for yourself, dont rely on everything you read…www.ecuadoriancoastalproperties.com

  7. juan

    the only thing with manta, and the rest of ecuador is the crime,, i am from ecuador and i live in london and it really scare me the idea of coming back with my family, and dont think i will do it.. is to strong the crime.. u get kill or shoot just for nothing.. that is the only bad thing from my country then the rest i love it. the rest of my family still lives there.. i lived there all my life.. and i miss it..but what i see everyday it is more crime…

  8. jill kimmel

    Exactly how hot does it get on the coastal areas of Ecuador & how humid during all times of the year? We have researched more mt. areas of Ecuador & it is just too cold at those higher elevations.

  9. Mike Dickson

    Jessica why is Salinas better than Manta? Just curious any insites? Haven’t been yet but, looking forward to my visit.

  10. Emily

    This is my first time at this forum, and I was intrigued by the mention of Salinas as a good beach location. Can you give me more information about Salinas? Thanks.

  11. Bob Thon

    Regarding Dick Carriveau’s comments about Manta, I’m wondering if the same negatives would apply to Bahia.

  12. Sarah

    Hi my name is Sarah. My family and I moved to Cuenca, Ecuador about three years ago. We love it here! Since we’ve been here we’ve started several businesses and written a 14 page report on travel, investment, relocation, and medical tourism. If you would like more information please contact Petrapresident@gmail.com. We would love to answer any questions you may have.

  13. Jessica Barreto

    Hi, Ecuadorean here. Manta is NOT the only city apart from Guayaquil that offers infrastructure in the Ecuadorean coastal region. There are others, Salinas for example (MUCH nicer than Manta).

    Regards,

  14. Jorge

    As with most things, one man’s meat is another’s poison. Very few people are truly impartial and objective. Andean Latin America is poor–this has both good and bad sides. You decide how that affects you. Manta is in the tropics. If you don’t enjoy sweating for a few months a year or can’t tolerate a/c then the tropics probably will seem unpleasant–or you could just stay for the nicer part of the year, and leave during the humid months. Petty crime is endemic, and obviously North Americans are good targets. Use common sense, inform yourself by asking intelligent people who live there. The cost of living is, of course, much lower than in most of the US, and life is less stressful in most ways. Noise can be a very big issue. Latin culture is noisy. Zoning is almost non-existent, and people are not as conscious of being a nuisance with their radios or stereos. This can be a very serious issue, so pick the area where you live very carefully, including being sure about your neighbors. Buy ear plugs. Two best tips: never, ever buy before having lived in the place for one solid year. Learn as much Spanish as possible–take this task seriously.

  15. Charlie Miller

    Well Dick Carriveau I totally disagree with you I have lived there for 4 years not once have I been threatened or had problems. I love the place!!!!!!sorry you had a bad time there I have been through and stayed over the years in most of Ecuadors Citys and have found Manta to be the most promising Cuenca is to dry,high and cold. If I wanted that I would have stayed I Canada.

  16. Terri

    I would like to know if Trevor Smith went to Ecuador and if he had problems with the altitude. I too have some breathing problems and so badly want to visit South America, especially Ecuador.
    Well Trevor, did you go?

    Thanks,
    Terri

  17. Kris

    i am interested in retiring in ecudor but will like to know about golf in ecudor are there golf courses there and is there one in manta ?
    thank you kris r.

  18. Reney

    Greetings,
    Reading Dick Corriveau’s comments about living in Manta reinforces my gut feelings that attributes of this city vary from one extreme to the other. I have not visited there yet (the plan is for later this year); however reading all available material from people who’ve been and lived there keep bringing totally contracditory statements which really make it impossible to come up with a fairly accurate impression. Since Dick has lived in Ecuador for 3 years and seem to have been in most of the appealing (to Gringo tastes) coastal towns and villages as well as some of the mountain places, it would be nice to know which specifically are his “other much better choices” and a brief reason why!

  19. Trevor Smith

    Hi Dick,

    Thanks for the info.
    I am thinking of moving to Equador,but have minor breathing problems and would have to avoid the higer altitudes.
    I have muuch information about the country, but is from people who wnt to sell me land,flats etc.
    Your mail is great to read and I would like to keep contact with you.
    I hope to be in Equador by june this year.
    Yours Trevor Smith

  20. Dick Carriveau

    Manta at first blush looks appealing. After about 3-6 months the heat, smell, and the crime gets to you. It is a small Guayaquil ( where NO expats choose to live) and will only get worse with the expansion and “expat” marinas, condos, and “specials”. Go see it if you must but DO NOT BUY until there at least a year. Approximately 10 expat couples have tried it recently and moved away to Cuenca, in the Andes, because of the aformentioned items. We live in Ecuador, and have for 3 years. Manta is not the place but nice to visit for a few days at a time. ceviche is great so is the $1 “grandes” but not for an extended time.

    Ecuador has other much better choices.

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