front image

Frequently Asked Questiond (FAQs)

Where is Vilcabamba?

Vilcabamba is located in the southernmost province of Ecuador in Loja, 42 kms (27 miles) south of the City of Loja. Loja is an easy 50-minute plane ride from Quito, Ecuador’s capitol. The picturesque valley of Vilcabamba is situated approximately 1500 meters (5000 feet) above sea level in the majestic Andes Mountains. Being in the center of the world, it maintains a spring-like temperature of 18° to 28° Celsius (65° to 82° F) year-round.

Why should I consider a home or vacation home in Vilcabamba?

One of the most beautiful places in the world, Vilcabamba’s greatest assets are its beauty, peace and tranquility, warm and friendly people, pure air, wholesome foods, and extraordinary climate. It is a magnificent place to live, retire, have a vacation home, or investment property. Vilcabamba attracts people from all over the world.

Known as the Sacred Valley, Vilcabamba has been variously called "The Land of Eternal Youth," "The Valley of Peace and Tranquility," and "The Lost Paradise." The climate and beauty are among the best in the world. You can grow fruits and vegetables year round. They are also abundant and inexpensive in the stores. The views are spectacular. The air is pure. The elevation, about 5,000 feet (1,500 meters), is heart-healthy. There is abundant mineral-rich water. The negative ion count, that gives a sense of tranquility, is off the charts. The Ecuadorians are a warm and welcoming people. You live in an earlier era. The cost of living is far less as are land and construction costs. You can have a high quality home at a fraction of First World costs.

Why Hacienda San Joaquin?

Hacienda San Joaquin is like another world. You have one foot in Ecuador and one foot in the First World. The quality at HSJ is very high. People who have travelled all of Ecuador say there is nothing like it. It’s about two miles from Vilcabamba, secluded from downtown activities, traffic and noise.

How many properties will be built at Hacienda San Joaquin?

Hacienda San Joaquin has 94 residential properties on approximately 663 acres of land. Fifty-three percent (53%) of the land will remain as an undeveloped natural preserve. In addition to the residential sites, the Hacienda contains an Equestrian and Hiking Center (stables and corrals, a horse grooming facility, an information center structure, a café and store), hiking trails, a carpenter shop, warehouse, gated entrance complex, and administration building as well as the supporting infrastructure. A conference center is under construction. Adjacent to it, will be a world class spa and hotel.

In an area to the west of the conference center, we may (or may not) in the future have a facility named The Center For The Transfer of Knowledge and possibly up to four additional home sites. Other than these possibilities, there will be no more home sites developed at Hacienda San Joaquin. No existing home sites will be divided.

How do I get there?

Fly into Quito (capitol of Ecuador) or Guayaquil (Ecuador's largest city). One of our bilingual staff members can help you with hotel, airline and taxi reservations within Ecuador. You will fly from Quito or Guayaquil to Loja, about 50 minutes. A driver will meet you and drive you to your Vilcabamba hotel, about 75 minutes. From there, it’s about 10 minutes to Hacienda San Joaquin.

Are there any restrictions on foreign ownership?

There are no restrictions.

What construction is permitted on a property?

A maximum of one detached single family dwelling and private garage, one guest house, and one caretaker house may be erected on each residential property. Animal enclosures, swimming pools, tennis or volleyball courts and other supporting or service structures are permitted.

Are there architectural guidelines?

The HOA board of directors considers the overall plan for development of each property. It considers harmony of design with the environment and with other structures at HSJ, placement of buildings on the property, topography, relationship to surrounding structures, visibility of construction from other properties and from the roads, and the overall appearance of the site.

Is there a minimum building square footage requirement for home size?

There is no minimum size. Your house plans, however, must be approved by the board of directors of the Home Owner’s Association who are very cooperative and constructive. Incidentally, the board of directors holds an open monthly meeting in the meeting room of our Administration Building. The HOA also hosts its own web site. The HOA does have bylaws that govern Hacienda San Joaquin. This is all very well established and run professionally by competent directors.

How do your prices compare with other projects in the area?

Our property prices are very competitive. Where our prices peak, around $35 per square meter, a development in Vilcabamba begins and goes up from there. Many of our properties are priced very low per square meter per Ecuadorian standards for properties with a development with all infrastructure and various amenities.

Building costs, at about $60 per square foot (labor, material and general contracting fees) for high quality construction, is where one makes a big savings. As for the land, if one were to buy land in the U.S. in a development and setting like this, and with the amenities we offer, (and there are similar developments in the U.S), one would pay an enormous amount more for the land and, of course, construction.

Why a gated community and how and where is there integration with the local community?

We have a very attractive entrance and gate house with a person there twenty-four hours a day. We also have additional night time security.

Vilcabamba is a beautiful area. The ranch, Hacienda San Joaquin, is even more beautiful. However, here nor anywhere is there utopia. We still live on planet Earth with its realities that include the need for security.

Some people choose to live in town. Some want to live in a gated community such as Hacienda San Joaquin...or in some other rural area. It's a matter of taste and budget. Everywhere people recognize the need for security. Ecuadorians commonly have fences and gates to delineate their properties. It's just reality, acceptable and expected.

There is integration into local communities in many ways. First, we employ a significant number of Ecuadorians who work here in various capacities, from administration to construction to domestic help. Our financial impact is very significant, unprecedented, and greatly appreciated. We are integrated into multiple local communities that way.

We provide jobs and put food on the table for many people. All our workers are treated as equals. The workers are very grateful and loyal. We have excellent relationships with surrounding communities and are respected for how we conduct ourselves.

Most of our home owners contribute $10 per month voluntarily into our Community Assistance Fund that is administered by our Hacienda San Joaquin Foundation. We also have an annual fund raiser to raise significant funds for community assistance projects for the Ecuadorians. Our Foundation provides assistance in many areas: education, health care, senior citizens, sporting events, festivals, and the like.

What about politics in Ecuador?

Ecuador’s president, Raphael Correa, is an intelligent man. He holds a PhD in economics from the University of Illinois. He also studied in Europe and speaks English and French fluently in addition to Spanish. He is trying to bring about much needed reforms to Ecuador. He's trying to get rid of past exploitation. He's very popular with the people.

Are there banks in Ecuador that finance construction loans and possibly even the land?

Yes, but the interest rates are excessive. It’s a variable rate. If the rate rises, the monthly payment amount remains constant and the number of payments increases.

What about property and car insurance?

You can get title insurance through First American Title. The cost for the Policy is $5 per $1000, with a minimum premium of $850. We have a master policy on the entire ranch. Because of this, most choose not to get title insurance. You can purchase property, health and car insurance in Loja, all at reasonable prices.

If I buy land, is there any limitation on how long I can hold the property before I have to build on it?

There is no time limit for when you must begin construction. You are required to keep your property clean and neat. We can provide that service.

Is there a limit or restriction on the amount of time that an owner can rent their home? For example, could we be there four months annually and rent some of the remaining time?

There is no limit and there are people looking for rentals. Rentals must be for at least three months.

Can we run a business from the residence as long as there is no physical storage of the product negatively impacting the ranch?

Yes, as long as there is no access by customers or delivery of materials to or from a residential property. For example, a business conducted solely over the internet and one that does not involve access is permitted.

Can we construct a caretaker house prior to that of the main house and have a party living there to look after our property?

Yes. You may also first build your guest house and live in that while your main house is built (should you be building a main house and guest house). A number of property owners are doing or have done this.

Services include design and construction, interior design and turn-key furnishing, home and grounds maintenance, rentals and sales of properties, provision of domestic help, arrangements for airport transportation, horse boarding and care, and the like.

How is financing arranged? Will you “carry a contract” with interest, or simply require outright purchase in full with all cash at closing?

Most buyers have purchased with cash. Financing by us is a possibility and can be discussed.

Can you give me a rough indication of architectural fees and ancillary costs of installing power, phone line and septic within the property boundary line itself?

We will design you a home at no cost if we build it for you. You are free to use whomever you like to design and build your home. All properties come with access to electricity and water. You would use a cell phone so there is no cost for phone lines. Septic systems are around $2,000 depending on the size of the project.

Is a survey description available and a legal registration?

Yes, each property has a survey and legal description that is available.

How is water brought to each property?

Does one drill a well or is the water made available from a common source such as a covenanted community well.

Every property is provided with access to water. We have excellent water from our own three independent water systems. Each water system has a well and pump-house that pumps to a reservoir. The water is gravity fed to each property. Each pump-house has excellent carbon filtration equipment (no chlorine). Water is treated with ozone as it leaves the reservoirs. Our water is pure and tastes great.

My current concern as I research properties for semi-retirement is water. Can you tell me the source of your water rights and how indefinite is the source?

Water is a significant issue globally and will be more so in years to come. There will be serious water crises in the world. There already are.

We have our own water from our own wells and our own pump houses as noted above. We applied for and were granted the right to have wells on our property by Loja Province. The wells draw water from an aquifer not far from the Vilcabamba River which is our southern boundary. The river is fed from lakes and tributaries high in the mountains (that get an abundant amount of rain) in the nearby Podocarpus National Park. The Vilcabamba River flows year around.

Please outline the process of purchase such as earnest money requirements, deed and title search, & time to close and closing costs. I'd assume a good attorney would be appropriate.

Earnest money, which reserves your property, is 10% of the purchase price. Closing must occur within 30 days. Your closing can be handled by a recommended bilingual Ecuadorian attorney who does all required title searches. Closing costs total about $1,000, to include legal (lawyer and notary), taxes, & municipality registration. You can, of course, use any attorney you like. Regardless of the attorney selected, the title searches showing the chain of title, surveys already done, and legal framework for property ownership in Ecuador provides you with protection of your investment.

What is required for permanent residency?

There are a number of ways to acquire Ecuadorian permanent residency. An Ecuadorian attorney will assist you. You need to show proof of (modest) income or an investment in Ecuador. Property ownership in Ecuador can serve as your investment. You need to have a clean police record and no communicable diseases. Your attorney will walk you through this.

hat are the maintenance fees for the properties and what do they pay for?

Monthly maintenance fees are $115 for Lots and $150 for Quintas (which are larger properties). There is a voluntary $10 monthly Community Assistance Fund fee that goes to our Foundation.

The maintenance fee pays for utility costs of common areas (lights, water systems), the overall upkeep of the property (roads; water, electric, and internet systems; entrance; river park; and horse and pedestrian trails, etc.), provides 24-hour security gate personnel and night security, and covers other necessary communal expenses. The Community Assisatance Fund is used to help people in the adjacent Chaupi and Vilcabamba area neighborhoods.

What utilities and amenities are included in the price of the property?

Prices include access to water, electricity and internet, Equestrian and Hiking Center and River Park usage, and hiking and horseback riding trails. The ranch is a deed restricted and gated community.

How far is it to the nearest airport?

The Loja airport is about a 75-minute drive from Vilcabamba.

How far to the nearest large city?

Loja is about a 35-minute drive from Vilcabamba.

What is the population of Vilcabamba?

It has about 7,000 people.

Who does the construction work?

Ecuadorians do the construction and they are superb workers with a great work ethic. We have been building since 2005. We have a staff of excellent building supervisors, sub-contractors and workers who build to our high standards at very reasonable costs to you.

We have our own carpenter shop. Our carpenters make beautiful custom doors, windows, stairways, railings, and the like in addition to beautiful furniture.

What does one do for healthcare?

Medical insurance is available. There is very good medical care both in Vilcabamba (small hospital) and Loja (hospitals and all kinds of medical specialists). Prices are very reasonable.

Are property and home owner’s insurance available?

Yes, it’s available from insurance companies in Loja. We have the contact information.

Do you have Internet at the Hacienda?

We have excellent high speed internet service on the ranch. We subcontract it from Vilcanet who bills you directly. Cost is about $45 a month.

 Are there other communities nearby?

Vilcabamba is about a 10-minute drive from the ranch.

What are the minuses of living in Ecuador and Hacienda in particular? What I should expect to miss the most - just from your experience?

The "minuses" may be "pluses" as well. You would live in another country with a different culture and language...and in an earlier era in some respects. The bureaucracy can be exasperating even for Ecuadorians.

I do not speak Spanish. How much language would I need to get settled, i.e., to purchase, build, move there, etc.?

There is plenty of assistance available. We have bilingual people to assist you with everything. Numerous Ecuadorians speak English.

What is the cost of living after one’s property and home is paid for and one is set up?

I saw estimates of $1000 per month.

I'd say that $1,000 (and less) is very doable. It depends on your lifestyle.

Are your stables adequate for horses owned by property owners?

The stables are beautiful and functional. Stable 1 has 24 stalls and Stable 2 has 16 stalls. Horses can be boarded for a reasonable fee.

Have you thought about a community house with a common kitchen, etc.?

Our Administration Building has a spacious and very attractive multi-purpose room with a large kitchen, stage, sound system, and bathrooms. It is used for Home Owner Association meetings. Owners can use this room for functions of their own design. Also, the outdoor cafe attached to our convenience store at the Equestrian and Hiking Center is a wonderful area with great views of the Andes Mountains.

Regardless of temperature, are people putting in fireplaces and heat/air pumps as a back up?

Some people have built fireplaces more for aesthetics than for heat. Air conditioning and heat are not needed here. Hard to believe, but true. The climate is astonishing. It's like the temperature is always set at near-perfect, day and night year around.

Do you have any plans for a community swimming pool or spa? What are the restrictions on private ones?

There are no restrictions on private pools. Some owners have built and are building them. There will be a pool and spa at the conference center. Property owners will have access to this pool (and spa).

I looked for tree canopy and saw relatively little; do people plant for shade?

They can. Actually, we have quite a few trees. The amount of trees varies per property. Porches, for shade, are very popular and attractive.

How are car and gas costs?

Cars (and trucks) cost more here. Gas costs less. Diesel is about $1 per gallon. I think top grade gas is $2.12 per gallon. It has not changed a penny in price in the last seven years. Propane, used for hot water heating, stoves and laundry dryers, is inexpensive as well.

What are the possibilities for solar and wind power?

You can do either or both but it’s difficult to find wind and solar technology here. Keep in mind that no one has or needs heating or air conditioning here. The use of power is minimal. Propane, used for hot water heating, stoves and laundry dryers is inexpensive as noted above.