Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Note:  Before I tell you more about Loja below, here's a link to the book documenting my first three years in Ecuador -- the first was in Cuenca and the rest in Loja.  The book was originally to share what we endured to get our residency visas, but since that took more than three years, it ends up explaining much about how things are in Ecuador for a North American building a new life here.  If you want to check it out, you can see the book on Amazon by clicking here

All About the City of Loja

(all pictures below taken in the city of Loja)

Loja, Ecuador, in the southernmost mountain province of this amazing, diverse and extraordinary country, is a city of magnificent beauty.  In recent years it has been promoted tirelessly by organizations that cater to expats as a great retirement location for people from the U.S. and Canada. This has caused much confusion and difficulty for some who have believed the things they were told.  Almost everything I find written in English about Loja in books and on the internet is incorrect or at best misleading.  Much of what is written appears to be from people who have never even been here. 

As a North American living in Loja, a city which so far has no North American expat community*, I was getting so many questions about Loja that it was taking more than 40 hours/week to respond to everyone.  I am not retired and still need to work to support my family, so this added time commitment was quite a strain.  So, I started a Facebook page with the hope that instead of answering the same questions repeatedly, I could answer each one time and then it would be archived for the hundreds of others who came next needing the same answers.  On that page there are many hundreds of hours of postings of information, so for those of you interested in learning more about Loja it may help you tremendously to join and scroll through months (or years) of postings (or you can search by topic with varying success depending largely on how well the Facebook search engine is working on any given day).  There are also many pictures there of the city.  Clicking here should get you to the page.

* Please click here for a discussion of the presence, or lack thereof, of North Americans in the city of Loja.

You can also check out the Frequently Asked Questions page and a Misconceptions About Loja page.

For those interested in Vilcabamba and/or Malacatos, that is a completely different story.  (These towns are in the PROVINCE of Loja but not in the city.)  There is much good information on the internet about Vilcabamba as well as a plethora of Facebook groups, due to the large expat population living there.  There is much less on Malacatos, but it has a climate (weather-wise) similar to that of Vilcabamba and a small (but growing) expat community.

Those who truly want to see the prettiest parts of Ecuador (whether you are currently living in another part of the country or on a different continent…) should strongly consider a visit to the city of Loja.  But to really experience it you’ll need to get away from the very urban part of the city, which is much easier to do in a private car.  A taxi driver could take you if you spoke Spanish and knew where to ask to go.  For those wanting help with translation or just wanting a tour of the city, there are facilitators you can hire for this.

Ecuador, while small in size, is tremendous in diversity.  If great restaurants, a vibrant nightlife scene and/or beautiful historic buildings are your thing, you will find a lot more of that in Cuenca and Quito.  Guayaquil, the country’s largest city, also has an energetic nightlife and many beautiful and interesting areas along with a tropical climate. If you are looking for a warm beach, Ecuador has a long beautiful coast line with a variety of options from towns with lots of activity to small, out of the way ocean front villas that offer great tranquility.  And if trekking through green jungles or paddling remote rivers is your thing, you may want to consider Ecuador’s Amazon region.  Loja is a great city for those who crave natural beauty, incredible parks, hiking opportunities everywhere, sunsets, rainbows, and peaceful rivers in a cool and often rainy climate.

Wherever you end up, may you find your perfect haven and live your days and nights in peace and joy.

Looking for more photos of the city of Loja?  This page has 14 photos and this one has some nice ones as well.  Just scroll through the posts to see the pictures. Added in June 2016 is another post with 14 more photos of Loja including more pictures with people in them (as most of the photos on these pages are scenery pictures...).

Need help moving into or out of Ecuador?  Journeyman Jack has a business that can get you to or from Quito (or anywhere in Ecuador) and help you with whichever details you need.  See his website here.


  1. What a great and informative entry! Thank you! My wife and I may retire to Ecuador. This is one of my favorite accounts of Loja.

  2. Great idea Diana.. you should be hired by the city for all you do to be sure folks are well informed and not surprised by the inconsistent information regarding Loja

  3. Thank you LifelongLearner! Check back soon as there are more pages coming!

  4. Congratulations Diana. Great job. You are the ambassador of the city.

  5. Thank you La Gringa for all of the lovely fotos.

    I will be visiting / touring Loja next week with a first time EC visitor and hopefully future expat.
    I hope to meet some of the Loja Expat community while there if possible,

    All the Best,
    Journeyman Jack

  6. It was great meeting you and your visitor, Jack! I hope you got to see some of the amazing natural beauty here in our city before heading back north. Best of luck in your journeys and we'll see you next time you're in town.

  7. Muchisimas gracias, la gringa de loja, for your informative-and informal-posting about your city. Yours was one of the few that gave me a genuine picture of Life in Loja, and of yourself, of course. I have traveled all over Central and South America in search of a retirement home, one which did not involve a walled community of gringos in Costa Rica (a grossly overvalued destination) and Peru and find myself returning to Ecuador once more, but not an overwhelming city such as Cuenca, nor an overheated swamp such as Guayaquil (I already possess that here in Florida). I want to be in the mountains where the days are balmy and the nights cool, in a community small enough so that I can become part of their society (I speak fairly good espanol), yet one where my limited but steady income can afford me a comfortable life. Loja sounds enticing, and I am grateful for your informed commentary. If you can recommend other sites with more information, please tell me, but I am sure you are already overwhelmed with requests.
    Thank you once more, La Gringa, y
    Saludos de Florida
    Scott Mock

    1. Thanks for your message Scott and I am happy you are finding the information here helpful. If you are coming from Florida you may find the city of Loja to be pretty chilly. We are from Colorado and we are much colder here than we were there, partly because there's no heat in the homes and buildings and partly because it is so humid so you really feel the cold. Loja is insanely beautiful, so some of us put up with the cool wet weather to see that beauty everyday. But if you want a small city with balmy daytime weather and cool nights and no obvious gringo community, you may want to check out Paute and/or Gualaceo about 45 minutes east of Cuenca. Other options would be Malacatos, about 30 minutes south of Loja -- much warmer and drier than Loja and not many gringos -- or Yunguilla Valley, about an hour south of Cuenca, or the towns in the valleys east of Quito which are a fair amount lower elevation than Quito and thus with very pleasant climates. Also Ambato which is even bigger than Loja (so, big with over 200,000 people...) which is about 2 hours south of Quito in the mountains. The best is just to come and try it all out to see what works best for you!! Good luck!!

  8. Thank you so much for the well-written, informative, and faithfully-honest account of life in Loja. Accurate information on the city has always been hard to come by.

    Loja was one of my first stops in Ecuador, and on that very first day, we met a group of friends who welcomed us in for drinks, and even took us to a Pueblo Nuevo concert the following night. Over the following five years, we met some fantastic people, and continued to love the town.

    But we were a small minority, expat-wise.

    I did tours for a while, for potential expats who were interested in moving to Ecuador. During that time, almost no one was interested in Loja. At that part of the trip, travelers wanted to either move on to Vilcabamba, or return to Cuenca.

    For a small minority (who speak Spanish and truly can integrate), Loja may indeed be the perfect place in Ecuador. But for the other 98%, it probably won’t be what you’re looking for.

    Well done!

    Lee Harrison

    1. Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment Lee. I'm so glad you've had great experiences here in Loja. I've seen many North American expat retirees try to settle in Loja only to leave a year or two later and many struggled greatly while here. Most expats are much happier in a place with other expats to talk to and do things with. There's no shame in that. People from all over the world seek out those who came from the same place when they get to the new place. The city of Loja is insanely beautiful, though, so I hope people will continue to visit and get to know the city a bit, especially the parts away from the more urban areas where you can really see the natural beauty.

      Take care, Lee, and may you find happiness wherever you go.

  9. Hello, I appreciate all the information here! I do have a question related to Internet speed (s) in Loja. We do IT work online and need at least 25mbps up/download. Is that available in Loja? Thanks in advance for any help/info.

    All the Best,
    Heather & Jeff

    1. Hi Heather and Jeff, It's possible that in the future Loja will have those kinds of internet speeds. Supposedly they are currently installing fiber optic cable in the more urban parts of the city, but these projects can take years, and, well, I'll believe it when I see it. For now the places in Ecuador with (relatively) fast internet are in and around Quito, possibly in Guayaquil and parts of the coast. Oh, and it seems internet options in Cuenca have also improved considerably in recent years. Best of luck to you!