As the owner and administrator of a local Facebook group, Manta and Manabi Expats and Amigos, I see and hear a variety of opinions and ideas coming from the members in the group. The group is a diverse collection of people from all walks of life, with a sizable percentage of it composed of people living here in Manta, or people who have lived in Manta in the past. They have both an interest and an opinion of where our city is going, and from where it has been.
This article will deal with something that nearly every one of our members has an opinion about, and most of them are not shy about expressing their opinion on, either. It is about the growth that Manta is experiencing right now, and the additions that will soon follow. It’s about the dichotomy between the old and the new, the “good” and the “bad.”
As I said last month in my article about Manta, it has historically been a business center on the Coast. The fishing industry and its related manufacturing has long been a revenue source for many of the City’s wealthier families. The sales and shipping of locally grown produce and fruit has contributed heavily to the local economy, as well. Today, things like shrimp farming, coffee and cacao farms, and tourism feed the flow of commerce here, too.
Even with the COVID-19 pandemic, the exporting industries have continued to grow. These commercial interests located here have all been doing more business. And they should all continue to increase their export dollars as we emerge from behind the curtain of COVID-19 and its variants.
There are those who have lived here for a long time who don’t want to see their city grow much more than it has, but it’s an unrealistic approach to developing and maintaining the new vitality that permeates Manta and its surrounding area.
But there are others who want Manta to become a world-class city, and a terrific place to live, work and play. Many of the members of my group are Ecuadorians who left Manta to relocate in the United States, Canada and parts of Europe, and there are quite a few who want to return to Manta to live once again. I think most of them would like to come home to live in a brighter and shinier Manta.
I am writing to address the Expat community here, also. There are many of us who have chosen to come to the Manta area because it has so much to offer. The new 200-million-dollar Mall del Pacifico (rated in the Top 3 in Ecuador), the new restaurants that have opened, the healthcare opportunities, and so many other things that we have here are tops on the list for most everyone.
And yet, so many people living here or planning to live here, seem to be against some of the growth that is going on. It seems that some people would like to “freeze” Manta, keeping it just like it is, but that is not going to happen anytime soon. Manta is on fire, and it will be the focal point of every development firm looking for solid places to invest in. It will become the “Crown Jewel” of the Ecuadorian Coast, and it will probably happen before most of us even think it will!
When I listed the reasons to come to Manta above, I intentionally left something out; something that may be the single most important factor in the development of our city. The City of Manta sits on the Pacific Ocean!
The Pacific stretches a long way down the western coast of the America’s, offering thousands of miles of beautiful views, sandy beaches, rocky shores, and some of the most iconic tourist sites on the planet. It’s the same ocean from Alaska to Chile. Living on, or near, this amazing ocean is high on the list of anyone who has a desire to be close to everything it offers!
In North America, people pay over a million dollars for a condo on most of the beaches; some homes go into the multi-million-dollar categories there. But here, in Manta, if you want to live on the ocean, with amazing views, you can buy a condominium on the waterfront from $150 thousand to $500 thousand. You can also rent apartments in some of these condo developments for $1000-$1500 per month.
“Wow, that’s out of my price range!” said one of my members recently. It’s out of mine, too, but it is not out of the range for many potential buyers who want a place on the ocean. The prices here are (approximately) in the 20-25% range of similar units in California, or even further north up into Vancouver. Relatively speaking, buying property in Manta, on the Pacific, may be one of the best opportunities you will ever have to buy an ocean view property that nobody can build in front of!
There are those who question the policy of allowing development firms to construct new condo towers along the Manta waterfront. Their complaint is that other people who have built homes near the water (but not on the water) will lose their beautiful view. I think it’s very unrealistic to think that unless you live on the water that there will never be another building in front of you. You are viewing on borrowed time if you aren’t on the beach already!
There are others who have expressed their displeasure in seeing Manta look like Miami Beach, with one condo tower after another all the way along the beach. I understand their worries, but I don’t agree. Manta will continue to improve their infrastructure and the people of Manta will have hundreds of jobs in the construction and service industries. Those people who own businesses here will sell more, and service more, hopefully growing their businesses, too. Growth in Manta will spread from the beachfront developments to every corner of the city at some point, bringing prosperity with it. Manta needs this!
If you drive around Manta and see the new buildings that are emerging, you will be quite impressed as I was last month when going to a restaurant in La Quadra. There is so much happening at that end of town it blew me away! And there is a lot more on the way!
The Millenium Development Company has recently announced a new property called Grand Bay Manta, in the Barbasquillo area. It will eventually consist of two 14-story towers, and two 16-story towers. The project is slated to take 32 months (about 2 and a half years) to complete, with construction on the first tower starting this June.
There are other projects, some of which have not been officially announced, that will also enhance the waterfront in Manta. These new projects will help to draw new people and investments to our city which will help to strengthen the local economy, and that is a huge positive for the City of Manta!
Stay tuned for what’s happening in Manta and Manabi right here in Hi Expat Magazine!
The Author: Mark Bradbury