Independent House or Community?

0 junio 13, 2013 en Accomodation, Real Estate por

Home in a fancy Guayaquil gated communityOne of the most common dilemmas facing gringos that want to buy a holiday home or to live in Ecuador full time, is which type of housing to buy. Whether you buy an apartment or condo, a stand-alone house, or a home in a gated community, each comes with its pros and cons.

Here are some things to take into consideration:

Apartments and Condos

Apartment buildings can get very noisy and crowded, especially during the high-season, because Ecuadoreans bring their extended families with them. So there will be hoards of people on the stairs, in the elevator and using the toilets and showers. So look into the water system and sewerage.

What part of the water supply is shared, vs independent? Is there an emergency water tank, for when (Note: not if) the water is cut off for no apparent reason. Is there a proper sewer system, or is it a septic tank. Being downwind of an over flowing septic tank is a stomach-turning nightmare, that can go on for weeks if not months, the stench gets in your clothes, and everywhere else. Make sure you know where the tank is and which way the wind blows, before you buy!

Getting Internet access is usually pretty easy in apartments and condos, as they are generally located nearer higher density areas, not rural areas.

Independent homes

Stand alone houses are an easy target for robbers, if left unattended. So if you’re not resident full time, you may need to hire a guardian ($340-400/month) to live on the property and guard it for you. The guardian will assume maintenance chores and so on, so you’re also getting a pair of helping hands. But of course you need to provide some basic lodging on site, for him. Having a guard dog is also a good deterrent, and with a guardian full time, to look after it, you can be away for as long as you like. If you have a trained guard dog, you could share a guardian with a neighbor.

Gringos should also be wary of city officials, trying to scam you (for a bribe), by claiming things like: your property line is a few inches off of where it should be. Telling them you’re broke and wont pay, is usually enough to dismiss these opportunists.

How difficult it is to get Internet access, depends a lot on housing density in the area, and in rural areas on line of sight to hill-tops with wireless towers. If you care about Internet access, make sure you know where you stand, or you may be in for a long wait, and a frustrating and expensive period getting dial-up performance with a 3G modem. Unreliable cellular coverage is a red-flag that Internet access will be even worse.

Gated Communities

You would expect gated communities to be less vulnerable to robbers, because they are patrolled by security guards, and sometimes the police. However they are not immune to it, because sometimes a rotten apple among the security team, is an inside man that tips off the robbers which homes are empty or unguarded. However, if this happens, the community management team will usually nip it in the bud, pretty quickly and hang the culprit. Anyway, don’t assume anything, ask other residents about the robbery track record.

Gated communities also offer extra facilities such as community pool, club house, and gym, and maintenance of the common grounds for everyone to enjoy. While this is a blessing which frees up a lot of your time, it comes with a cost, as it is the home owners that pay for the guards, lighting, pool chemicals and so on. This can range from $75-200/month, depending on the community.

If Internet access is not already coming to the gate of the community, sooner or later you’ll find an Internet service provider who can bring in wireless internet, using either WiMax, or long range Wi-Fi. For communities in remote areas, is often less difficult to obtain than if you have an independent home, because the provider has a captive audience, and knows that word of mouth will drive subscriber growth, quite quickly. Nevertheless line of sight issues can be a barrier, so check out your options thoroughly before you buy.

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Mark Cowtan
After nearly 30 years working in technology marketing in the UK and California, I emigrated to Ecuador, for a more balanced lifestyle and the luxury of living and working by the beach. Now, I help startups and small businesses with their Internet marketing.
Mark Cowtan

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