Retire to Coastal Ecuador Lifestyle – Paradise or Sacrifice?

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

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.  Members: Learn about beach real estate available in Manta from high-rise penthouses to beachfront lots. Not A Member? Join Here.

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.  Members: View a slide show featuring our amazing hike through Parque Machalilla! Not A Member? Join Here.

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.  For preliminary training on how to start an international business, try our online training course Business In A Briefcase.

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.

Do More Research On Manta and Ecuador:

Receive A Special Report On Manta Real Estate

Manta Real Estate Investment Opportunity – Convert $2.5 Million into $10 Million via Ecuador Beachfront Investment Opportunity

Ecuador 101 – E-Book Guide To Living and Investing In Ecuador – new version now available for download.  This comprehensive e-book guide reveals several more of Ecuador’s coastal towns and villages including Salinas, Bahia de Caraquez, Canoa, Montanita, Muise, Esmeraldas and more.

Also included in Ecuador 101 is a serious warning about living and investing in and around Ecuador’s coastal villages and what you can do to avoid the risks.  Ecuador 101 is a free instant download available to Members of Retire Worldwide.

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  4. FutureExpat April 24, 2010 at 10:42 pm

    Been considering Manta as a place to live for a while, but have one concern: what about internet? In order to support myself I need to live in a place with reliable high-speed internet. Is that available in Manta?

  5. Edeet April 25, 2010 at 6:42 pm

    I lived in Manta. Disagree with your glamorous description of it. Manta is ugly, dirty, smelly, the beach not a real one, and the people impolite, unfriendly, unwelcoming. Your description pleases real estate agents but does not reflect reality. Because of such erroneous portrayals I went there and was terribly disappointed. So please do not induce others in dreaming of Manta, because many expats actually leave after a few months.

  6. Dean LaCoursiere April 27, 2010 at 5:00 pm

    The author doesn’t mention that Manta has one of the higher crime rates in Ecuador. This is a very drab port-industrial city with very little beauty or attractive parks. No wonder it is hard to find photos of this place on the net. There is one area that is liveable on the southern edge. The malecon does have a number of pleasing resturants and there is one small casino nearby. I feel a person would become bored fast here especially without being fluent in Spanish. Life in Ecuador is for the natural ambiance not this concrete jungle. Being near does have it’s benefits with the infastructure that is available. Puerto Cayo on the other hand is what Ecuador is all about, not condos and gated comunities but nature at it’s best! Forget about living here!

    • Happy Mind May 6, 2010 at 10:46 am

      Actually, the author says quite the opposite (that the crime rate is low). But, he is trying to sell you something so be aware. Ecuador housing prices are about the same as those in Tampa Florida, where I live and I don’t have to deal with the language problem. Other costs are less (food for example), but getting high-speed internet can be difficult and may not be cheap. Most things are readily available in large cities, but those are so polluted by diesel exhaust that breathing is not pleasant. No country is a paradise and Ecuador is no exception.

      If you like nature (outside the cities) and an, essentially, non-violent society, Ecuador is a nice place. But you will need to learn spanish if you are not already fluent. Please visit there before you base your dreams on what others say. You might love it and you may not. Just see for yourself.

  7. Dixie July 27, 2010 at 12:54 pm

    I lived in one of those small villages between Montanita and Puerto Lopez for 4 months. I mean right in amongst the villages on the beach. It was absolutely fabulous. We did have hot water as we installed a gas heater and we did not have problems with flies and only eventually had electricity outages. Our neighbors made sure we were welcomed and I in return taught the children English.

    We had everything you could possibly want and the most wonderful beach in front of our home. Unfortunately we had to return to the mountains where we also live in Cuenca but I would definately return in a blink of an eye.

    I do not like Manta or Salinas. Both have big Supermarkets and many many large empty apartment buildings. Sorry it does not do it for this expat. You can still find very affordable homes along the coast if you look in the right places.

    The house we rented is owned by a friend and we can return at any time we like. How wonderful is that.

    Anyway I tend to disagree with the author on some of the statements he has made.

    Chao chao

  8. Sarah Barrett July 7, 2011 at 10:57 am

    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 We would love to answer any questions you may have.

  9. Terri Rericha January 26, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    We spent a month in Salinas, on Ecuador’s coast (only TWO hours from Guayaquil’s international airport), and there absolutely was “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” there.

    I would advise anyone thinking about retiring to Ecuador, to go there, spend some time there and find out what areas offer what YOU are looking for. Internet research is just the beginning….the real research begins when you arrive in Ecuador!

  10. Charlene Fordyce April 5, 2012 at 10:42 am

    Need email address of a realtor in the coastal region of Ecuador

    • Donald Murray June 13, 2012 at 1:31 pm

      Hello Charlene,

      I am sorry that I just now noticed your post regarding needing a realtor on the coast. We have an office with 4 REMAX agents right on the coast, in Bahia de Caraquez.. Please advise if you still need assistance.

      Best regards,
      Don Murray

  11. Shirley VDM July 30, 2012 at 6:52 pm

    I’m interested in emailing people who live in Manta and can answer some specific questions about the area. Right now, I live in Cuenca but I’m thinking of moving elsewhere. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.

    • Hector G. Quintana September 18, 2012 at 8:24 pm


      Do not live in Manta, but do business there regularly and have been involved there, for business purposes, over a 23 year period. I do live in Ecuador, just not Manta. If I can be of help, contact me at


  12. Hector G. Quintana September 18, 2012 at 8:22 pm

    Wow! I seldom read anything, anywhere that leaves me almost speechless. Just about everything written in this article is simply inaccurate. Note, I am fond of the Manta market, especially pending some critical decisions as to how it will evolve in the near future. However, as an example, in the costal city of Salinas, one can enjoy a fine steak; can readily go salsa dancing; can buy natural granola; can visit both a modern doctor and dentist office; has several property management firms operational; can enjoy a yoga class; can take Spanish lessons; can learn to sail; and can enjoy excellent surf breaks year round. That leaves only the plane to Quito and that is possible, on regularly scheduled chartered flights, until the new international airport terminal goes final in 2013. Fwiw, most in Salinas never think of Quito, because we are 90 minutes away, on a beautfiully maintained 4-lane highway to Guayaquil, the commercial capitol of Ecuador and its largest city. Wow! When absolutely nothing written is accurate…just…wow!

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