International Mail Forwarding with US Global Mail

Expat Advice: Retiring in Cali, Colombia

Comments Print


An American woman talks about moving to Cali, Colombia to retire with her Colombian husband. She describes how the low cost of living in Colombia has given her a new lease on life. They are traveling throughout Colombia, living in a beautiful new penthouse apartment and enjoying retirement in Colombia.

What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?

Cali

Why did you choose to retire abroad?

Mainly because my husband IS Colombian, but after seeing just the lifestyle that I can achieve THERE... it's a NO BRAINER. I retire in less than a year & he is currently THERE, getting us all set up. Our business is now PAID for & we are on schedule to obtain our Government Loan for our mortgage. We also have Health/Dental insurance in place for both of us. I have ALL of my dental done there to INCLUDE my braces - WHICH - here, would NEVER been an option.

Are you retired abroad all year or part of the year?

Currently, part of the year. I'm there every 3 months

Why did you choose the country you retired to?

My husband is Colombian

Did you ever live abroad before you retired abroad?

Yes, Singapore & Japan

How many countries (other than your home country) have you lived in as a retiree?

1

What have been the most challenging aspects of being retired abroad?

Being able to have access to bank accounts & mail here in the states.

What have been the most rewarding aspects of being retired abroad?

Money, money, money. My money goes for DAYS...

What would you do differently if you were just starting the retire abroad process?

I don't think I'd do anything different.

What is life like for a retiree in your city and its surroundings? (Is there an active expat community? Cultural Attractions? Recreation? Nightlife?)

I've yet to see any sort of "expat community", but as my husband IS Colombian, as of now, this hasn't been a problem. As far as Cultural, Attractions, Recreation, Nightlife? Well, we have had the opportunity to travel ALL throughout Colombia, as the money conversion is amazing right now. We're even taking a 7 night cruise out of Cartagena in October... just awesome

What residency documents or visas did you need to obtain to retire in your host country? How difficult was this process? (Please describe)

I secured a Spousal Visa 2 years ago... it was a little bit challenging. There were offices that Walter wasn't allowed to go into with me. But once they discovered that we needed his translation skills (LOL), he was promptly admitted. Fortunately, I had ALREADY had our Marriage License "legalized" with the Colombian Consulate in Miami, so that wasn't a problem. But we DID have to have our US Marriage License translated. We had this done at a local college very inexpensively. We also were required to travel to Bogota to get the Visa. But we were told that as all of my documentation is now on file, we can obtain my Residence Visa there in Cali.

Did you buy a home or apartment, or rent one? Is this a difficult process? (Please describe)

We are currently renting, but when I get there permanently next year, we will be buying. We actually were able to sign up for a government plan through a local bank. We make monthly deposits & in a year, they'll offer us our mortgage.

Financially, has living abroad in your host country met your expectations? Exceeded them?

TOTALLY EXCEEDED my expectations. We have been able to do SO MUCH in Colombia, that we would NEVER be able to do here in the states. We actually have a 5th floor Penthouse, 3 Bedroom/2Bath, overlooking the mountains, for a mere $225 US Dollars. Totally renovated... we are the first to reside there. Unheard of here in the States.

What are the most important financial considerations for retiring to your host country?

Being able to retire, travel, relax & NOT have to worry about anything.

How much can a retiree live on comfortably in your host country?

I'd have to say... one could live comfortably on $1,000?

Do you have access to quality medical care? (Please describe - is it close? Expensive?)

We have a FULL Medical/Dental policy that costs us about $31 US dollars. My husband recently had an emergency when a bone from some soup got lodged in his throat. He went to the ER at our Clinic, was sent for X-Rays, they were unable to unlodge it. He was then sent to a specialist at the Hospital. They were finally able to get it out. TOTAL Co-Pay.. ZERO!!!

Retiring in Colombia? Choosing an expat health insurance provider is an important decision. Take a minute to get a quote from our trusted expat health insurance partner, CIGNA. Sponsored by CIGNA.

Is there a lot of crime where you live? (Please describe)

Crime... people are concerned for me in Colombia & ask me this all the time. MY ANSWER? If you keep your nose clean & KNOW where you should or should NOT be? You wouldn't have any more problem then you might have here in the states. I'm sure there are places where YOU live that you KNOW to stay away from, or NOT go there after dark. AND of course, you get into "shady" things... you'd have a problem here too.

Describe available transportation where you live. Do you need a car? Is there access to safe public transportation?

The Metro is awesome & can get you anywhere you need to go for a mere $1,500 COP (.50 US Dollar), to include any/all transfers. Taxis are very reasonable. We actually live about an hour from the airport (the airport is outside of North Cali & we live in South Cali)... the taxi would cost us about $20 US Dollar. But once again... if you learn your way around... we actually take a commuter bus from the airport to the Bus Terminal in Cali & THEN catch a taxi to the house. Total cost now about $5 US Dollar. I actually think it is equal motorcycles to cars. We actually have a motorcycle. I prefer this, as the traffic can be so bad that we'd be sitting in it for days. The bike? Well, Walter is very good & he'll weave us through the traffic & we'll be at the light when it changes... LOL

Is there high-speed internet access where you live?

Yes... we have unlimited internet BOTH at our home AND our Club

Do you have any other thoughts you would like to share about retiring abroad?

One idea... I DID discover from the Social Security office is, that IF you are able to keep a US Bank Account & have your SS deposited THERE... you will NOT have to worry about this "Are You Still Alive" document they send out every few years. This was a HUGE concern for me... from reading all the Blogs, I was terrified that I would MISS receiving this document, you only have a month or so to return it & if they don't receive it, YOU'RE DEAD & have fun getting THAT reversed. I guess the last thing I think. I'm thinking that a lot of MY retiring process to Cali, Colombia is easier than the average person in that I have my Colombian husband. I have been able to more easily accomplish things because of our marriage. Good luck & if you decide against Colombia? My advice is to NOT rule out someplace... the rewards are amazing!!!

More Expat Advice about Retiring in Colombia

Write a Comment about this Expat Report

Sign In to post a comment.

Comments about this Report

anjalisharma
Aug 17, 2016 13:30

nice job

tgibob
Aug 23, 2016 20:00

I enjoyed reading your report. I originally retired to Asia but a few years ago decided to look at S. America mainly because I want citizenship and a second passport. That was not possible in Thailand. Is it possible in Colombia? I never heard of the Are-You-Alive letter. Are you saying in order to avoid that I should keep my bank account in the States and continue to have SS deposited here? Thank you for your report. We just might visit Colombia.

patrickencali
Nov 15, 2016 14:56

Hi. I have lived in Cali for the past 11 years after leaving Los Angeles, CA. This is a good report but I would like to add some additional opinions. "We are currently renting, but when I get there permanently next year, we will be buying. We actually were able to sign up for a government plan through a local bank. We make monthly deposits & in a year, they'll offer us our mortgage." It is my understanding this program that you must have a least one of the spouses currently working. If that is not so, please let me know. "I'd have to say... one could live comfortably on $1,000?" I would say at least $1,200, but then that depends on your personal definition of comfortable. Once again, it sounds to me that the husband has a business or job here in Colombia. If you read this, please let me know where I can get a " a 5th floor Penthouse, 3 Bedroom/2Bath, overlooking the mountains, for a mere $225 US Dollars. Totally renovated... What barrio? If this is true, you got a steal on the price. "One idea... I DID discover from the Social Security office is, that IF you are able to keep a US Bank Account & have your SS deposited THERE... you will NOT have to worry about this "Are You Still Alive" document they send out every few years. This was a HUGE concern for me... from reading all the Blogs, I was terrified that I would MISS receiving this document, you only have a month or so to return it & if they don't receive it, YOU'RE DEAD & have fun getting THAT reversed." I am sorry to say that the above is, as far as I can tell, mostly incorrect. The Are You Still Alive form is known formally as the SSA7161/SSA7162 (look it up for more details). I do have a US Bank account with Social Security deposited there and I am required to file this form every two years. In fact, I just sent it back to the US today. The only way that I can tell that you can avoid this is by not reporting to Social Security where you actually live (outside of the US). I now know that it should reach you no later than October every other year. If it doesn´t, you should be proactive and download it from the SSA site. A couple of other observations. Receiving normal mail here is very "iffy" if you do not use a major service like UPS or DHL. If you do ask to receive something regular mail, MAKE CERTAIN TO HAVE THE CORRECT 6 (six!) DIGIT INTERNATIONAL POSTAL CODE. I would like to share part of an email from the US Embassy in Bogotá that i got a couple of days ago. I quote- As part of the Foreign Enforcement Program, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has recently informed us that there are still over 1000 Social Security recipients residing in Colombia who have not returned the required “Proof of Life” report to the U.S. Social Security Administration form.  If you have not yet returned your proof of life form, please do so immediately.   Please note that the Social Security Administration will suspend your benefits in February 2017 if they do not receive the completed form by December 31, 2016. Note that is says suspend, not cancel your benefits. But this can be a HUGE inconvenience if you expect your pension and then find out your bank account is near zero. I learned the hard way and hope that you will not have to do so also. If you are receiving benefits from the Social Security Administration and wish to know if you are required to complete the proof of life form this year, please visit https://bogota.usembassy.gov/service/federal-benefits.html#12 Lastly, if anyone else has questions about Cali or Colombia, please send me a message and I will try to help you.

jozsinko46
Feb 18, 2017 11:48

Because my wife who is Colombian too from Bogota she & I planning to move to Cali and I am curious about the Penthouse, 3 Bedroom/2Bath, Apartment overlooking the mountains, for a mere $225 US Dollars. Also I would like to know more about the $31.00 health and dental insurance plan you have. Would you please send me more information in to my E-Mail please: jozsinko46@yahoo.com, I would highly appreciate your kindness if you would send me more information, and I look forward to hear from you in the near future. My best regards to you and your husband: Sincerely: Joseph Szigeti Wee may meat in Cali in the Expat Exchange Club???

stevesawyer1895
May 1, 2017 07:13

Sound good. I would like to know more about the medical insurance she has, the name and where you get it.

Join Today (free)

Join Expat Exchange to meet expats in your area or get advice before your move. It's FREE and takes 1 minute!

Copyright 1997-2017 Burlingame Interactive, Inc.

Privacy Policy Legal