Expat Advice: Retiring in
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?
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?
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