by Courtney
Viva Tropical

Today Vilcabamba Ecuador still claims to possess healing qualities and conditions that make it conducive to well-being and long-life.  In fact, its modern-day nicknames include aliases such as the “Valley of Longevity.”  Whether or not these claims are true, there’s no question that this hidden gem is an ideal destination for expats who are seeking a retreat that will nurture their bodies, minds, and souls.

The Locals Welcome You to Vilcabamba Ecuador

The people of Vilcabamba Ecuador are extremely friendly and very welcoming to the many visitors and expats who come to the area.  Most of the locals are hard-working farmers who lead very active lifestyles well into their old age.

The area is also home to a number of foreigners, many of whom came to see for themselves the wonders of this South American “Shangri-La”…and just never left.  Those who stayed now offer guided tours of the lush mountains, run Internet cafes in town, or host other visitors to the valley in rustic hotels.

While it’s necessary to learn Spanish in order to successfully integrate yourself into the local culture, the residents are exceedingly patient when communicating with foreigners.  They’re always eager to slow their speech or use small words to help gringos better understand.  Due to the increasing number of expats in the area, locals are also slowly beginning to learn English.

Whether or not there are any health benefits to Vilcabamba’s near-perfect climate, there’s no denying that it’s simply spectacular.  Spring-like year-round, the temperature never falls below 65 degrees or rises above a high of 82 degrees Fahrenheit.  As a result, there are virtually no buildings in the area with either air conditioning or heating units.

The region has a long rainy season, which lasts from October to May.  However, even during the dry season (June to September), the two rivers that flow down from the mountains keep parts of the valley green.  As a result, residents enjoy year-round supplies of organic locally-grown fruits and vegetables: oranges, blackberries, papayas, bananas, figs, avocados, macadamia nuts, almonds, and more.

The abundance of fresh produce has greatly contributed to the healthy diets of the residents of Vilcabamba.  Likewise, its remote location and barriers to easy access have made it difficult for prepackaged foods and preservatives to find their way into the city.

The area is also almost completely free of pollution of any kind.  Its water flows into the valley from the protected Podocarpus National Forest and is bottled and sold throughout Ecuador, as well as outside the country.  Scientists proclaim it to be among the purest in the world.  The area’s air quality, helped out partially by its 5,000 foot altitude, has also been studied by scientists who wondered if it contained some special property that promotes long life.

Another very attractive feature of Vilcabamba Ecuador is its affordable cost of living.  As throughout much of Ecuador, residents can enjoy the benefits of living in paradise for a fraction of what it would cost to reside in a smoggy U.S. suburb.

While costs can vary, depending on your lifestyle, you could easily get by on as little as ¼ of what you would spend in the U.S.  And that’s without sacrificing any of the perks.  In fact, many of the same conveniences can be had for pennies on the dollar.  Take for instance a gardener, who will often work for as little as $10-$15 per day.

Like everything else, property in Vilcabamba is very affordable.  And the rawer it is, the better the bargain you can hope to score.  Land with no roads, utilities, or other infrastructure is dirt cheap.  However, if you’re looking for a place that’s already prepped for living or farming, you’ll pay more for the systems that are already in place.