What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?
Describe how you "dreamed" expat life would be before you moved overseas. Please provide as much detail as possible.
I believe I have found my dreamed retirement spot :). So, paradise can turn to hell very quickly in Latin America, mostly because we have lived our life in a rights oriented society (in the US) where we can hold people accountable. I have been travelling back and forth to Colombia since 1996 and love it more each time I return. Some History: I met my wife in a small Colombian City called Armenia in El Quindio, a beautiful area known as the coffee axis of Colombia, with mountains, rivers, lush vegetation, very fertile lands and nearly perfect weather (between 60 & 90 year round). We opted to stay away from the big cities and live in a town called Circasia, where life slows down and where you can sit at the cities plaza for hours, reading or just watching people, horses and dogs, then you can walk the small town and make friends with just about everyone. The cost of living is very low compared to other areas in Colombia; for instance, my wife and I can eat out every day (3 meals) for under $20 USD. I have a small farm I purchased for about $70K (8 years ago) and an apartment in town for about $30K., I got a 1976 4X4 for about $3K and thanks to God, everything is paid for and we only need $2K to live very well.. So where is hell? In your mind and your inability to mentally adapt. Patience and understanding that you are no longer in Kansas makes for a near perfect dream retirement. Unlike the US, you can ask 3 officials a question and they will all give you different answers, so everything depends on who you are dealing with at the moment. You can easily lose deposits, have the wrong merchandise delivered (late), have prices changed from one moment to another and everyone thinks that they are experts on the law and regulations. Signed documents have little weight on disagreements. The faster you adapt the closer you will be to living in paradise.
How has your expat experience met the expectations you dreamed about before you moved abroad?
Having lived in el Salvador until age 16, I believe that my expectation have been met. I love the area where I am and since my wife is Colombian, she handles all transactions with banks, local government and I entertain myself at the farm where there is always something to do, but love the hammock time and a cold beer most of all. The combination of a farm and apartment in town is ideal for retirement as I am able to stay occupied or rest whenever I wish. I believe that many expats who are retired or about to do so, have unreal expectations and fail to explore options, as in the US, cost of living is tied to the geographical areas, Bogota, Medellin, Cali and like cities have a higher cost of living that can equal or surpass that of the US. With this said, you can really find your version of paradise in Colombia if you have the $$$ for a home with all the amenities and live in maids, security services, private driver, plane, etc. My dream was just a tranquil and simple life surrounded by beautiful friendly people, great climate and majestic scenery.
How has your expat experience NOT met the expectations you dreamed about before you moved abroad?
Like most expats, I am at times frustrated by bureaucracy at the lowest levels and lack of a set standard that applies to all. Long lines at banks and other institutions are a small price to pay for the benefits. Lastly, I was someone naive to think that things would change with time. A few years back I purchased a property just to find out that I could not build a home because the CRQ (an agency that protects nature) said that we purchased protected land, although there were homes next to our land and in front? Someone with political pull purchased it and I figure that a home will be built shortly. Sadly; who you know and $$$ prevails over law and just about everything.