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Colombia Expat Forum

What's it like being an Expat in Medellin?

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johnm2
2/6/2017 10:58 EST

Hi everyone, my name is John and I am a 34-year-old currently living in Toronto, Canada. I'm looking to move to Colombia in June, and am strongly considering Medellin.

I will be there on Feb 15-19 for holiday (I booked a trip there before deciding I wanted to move to Colombia for a year or so). If anyone would be interested in getting together, I'd be happy to buy you a beer or coffee to hear about your experience - both the good and bad.

Thanks.

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novato1953
2/6/2017 11:15 EST

Are you also coming for the waters?

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joemindwarp
2/6/2017 11:34 EST

Hello John,
I have been in Medellin Laureles area 180 days a year for the past 4 years.
Absolutely the best place I've been in S America. Being a gringo hasn't been an issue. Prices for meat, fruits and vegetables are extremely good,
Has many foreigners and expat meetings, my Spanish needs improvement but I get by with locals being very patient.
I recommend airbnb.com for accommodations.

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SkyMan
2/6/2017 17:13 EST

John, I am moving to Medellin in early May. It is a vibrant, wonderful city that I enjoy very much. I have been living in Cuenca, Ecuador for the past two(2) years & am moving because......well, Cuenca is cold & rainy and with the earthquakes on the Ec. coast=no really enjoyable city here....at least the way I feel. On my many trips to Medellin, lasting from 10 days to a month...I have enjoyed the world-class shopping, dining, and the overall ambience of Medellin. This city has always had a good vibe,.. to me. Here' hoping that your trip is enjoyable. Buena Suerte !

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SunsetSteve
2/6/2017 18:11 EST

John - as a former TO resident, welcome. I will be making my first visit to Medellin Feb 7-11, then returning for a few days before I leave on the 21st. Meantime I will explore the Zona Cafetero (is that a mixed gender error?).

Our paths may not cross but of they do it would be cool to sit down over a beer (or a rum and diet pepsi) and compare POVs. Watch this space!

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Andresen
2/6/2017 18:30 EST

John. I might run into you in the airport for your Feb 19th departure. My brother is here for a visit and departs on flight CM612 (COPA) at 3:16pm. Is this anytime near when you will be departing?

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cccmedia
2/6/2017 20:04 EST

Steve S.,

Answering your question...

It’s Zona Cafetera, not Cafetero.

However, it’s a/k/a Eje Cafetero -- ‘eje’ being the masculine word for axis.

cccmedia from La Zona Cafetera

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SunsetSteve
2/6/2017 20:06 EST

About time I got that straight - the closer I get the more confused I get!

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JasonWriter
2/6/2017 20:52 EST

What's it like being an expat in Medellin? Well, you wake up. Look out your window and see verdant mountaintops in the distance and the pastel flash of a tropical bird flitting in the trees. Then you stroll out to the street and get a cup of delifious tinto from a friendly vendor on the corner. Your day has begun.

Then you walk back in your house and fire up your computer. You log into Expat Forum and prepare to do battle. That other expat insulted you overnight, and today you are really going to let him have it. It is going to be a long day of composing insults and parrying his return shots, but victory will be yours. You order pizza delivery so you don't even have to leave your computer for the next 12 hours...

Oh god. What have we become

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cccmedia
2/6/2017 21:05 EST

In that case, I’d stick with calling it Zona Cafetera .. due to the Expat-unfriendly pronunciation of Eje: ay-hay, more or less.

cccmedia in La Zona

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johnm2
2/6/2017 21:08 EST

Great, thank you for the feedback. Much appreciated.

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SunsetSteve
2/6/2017 21:09 EST

Going with eje - more up my alley. :)

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johnm2
2/6/2017 21:12 EST

Yes, if you find yourself back in Medellin before the 19th get in touch and we can meet up.

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johnm2
2/6/2017 21:14 EST

We are flying to Cartagena at 1:02pm. If you will be at the airport before then, let me know. Would be cool to chat.

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Andresen
2/6/2017 22:46 EST

John. Well I live in Medellin. My brother will be visiting from the 9th to the 19th. The last 3 nights he will be staying at a hotel in El Poblado so maybe we can meet then.

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JasonWriter
2/7/2017 00:08 EST

But in all seriousness: I've been in Medellin coming up on 7 months this time. I did a couple month and 2-month stays in years past. The truth: at this point, I still adore the he11 out if this city, and country. Gorgeous weather, friendly people, enough modern touches in the city to keep me perfectly happy, the USD is powerful here, it's cheap and easy to travel to all sorts of hyper-beautiful regions in other parts of the country, like the coffee region and Parque Tayrona on the coast. Yes, the women are singularly stunning. So far the worst experience I had involved a complicated misunderstanding with a neighbor that resulted in her lying and demanding I pay her and her family 350 bucks. I paid her 250 to make it go away. That made my blood boil-- gringo got screwed that day. But other than that, I plan to apply for a student visa when my year is up and stretch this to a 2 year stay

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ParadiseLost
2/7/2017 08:40 EST

Firsty congratulations @Jason on being here for 7 months. It seems only a short time ago that you 'were just passing through' when we talked about the requirements of paying taxes in Colombia. Now you've passed the magic 183 days you now get to share your book advances with the Colombian Government.

Now, am I insulting @Jason? Actually not, I'm making a point about people asking about becoming an expat. What type of expat you intend to be asks different questions and gives you different problems. A month ago tax wasn't an issue for Jason. Now it potentially is.

Firstly let's be clear than I don't think anyone has come to Colombia and left because a) the Peso was too strong b) the countryside wasn't lovely or c) that the girls weren't pretty enough. Ex Pats give up because of other issues.

Lets look at some of the groups of people who call themselves expats

a) retired people who move here full time and live off income from overseas. Clearly 'ex-pats'

b) people who are moved here to work for their company generally for a set period say 3-5 years. Ex-pats again I think but not many of them

c) people who come here to find work or set up their own business. Not many of them I'd argue. If nothing else working in Colombia isn't a great way to make a lot of money

d) the 183 day people who live here just long enough not to pay taxes and return each year. I guess they are ex-pats, 'migratory' ex-pats perhaps. However they generally reside using 'tourist' entry stamps.

e) people who spend other portions of time down here, maybe a couple of weeks several times a year. Personally I think they are tourists, but they may disagree.

f) people like Jason, passing through on some sort of on an delayed gap year. There may be no fixed plan, but they'll be here on a tourist stamp or do a little studying to justify being a student visa. Ex-pat? Maybe.

What is different is that people in d., e. and f. don't have any real ties, and certainly not financial ties to Colombia. If @Jason gets bored with Colombia he can move on the next day. If the political situation in Colombia worsens or the visa situation changes the 183 day people don't have to come back. As people have pointed out - there are other countries who will take my money.

The people in a, b and c have issues that the other groups don't have. Taxation is pretty obvious. They may need Bank accounts, driving licenses, health care. Perhaps they've invested in property here. For those people the women are no less lovely, the countryside no less pretty and the exchange rate no less of a benefit but it's other things that determine whether or not they enjoy being in Colombia. But they're are to some extent committed here. Reversing the decision is much more difficult and potentially financially painful.

So, what type of expat is the OP? From the age the OP seems to be too young to retire - but perhaps not? Has a gf down here and thinking about working? If that's the case forget advice on the pretty countryside and start wondering about pay and work visas because that's the priority. Can you support yourself down here?

For me anyone thinking of becoming an expat down here - that's someone who is relocating here and making this their home - unless they are retiring or they've a really good reason to come here (say a gf or spouse) I think there are an awful lot of negatives. It's a lovely country - but it's tough to make a decent living here.

One other thought on expat advice. Often the advice is on what's here - the good stuff - rather than what often gets to ex-pats; missing home. Take even something simple like coming home in the evening and switching on the TV and flicking through until you find something you want to watch. Colombian TV (and here will come our KODI rep) is pretty awful. Get Directv and you'll get ESPN. In Spanish and not probably what you are used to. People miss stuff which is why just about any review you'll read by an expat on eating out here usually makes some comparison to how it is back home. We all get a little homesick - even stupid stuff. My example. I like a UK Sauce called HP. It's a brown sauce and while you can often find it overseas I've never found it here. So I have to go for a substitute which is the American A-1 sauce. Not the same, but sort of. Except A-1 is difficult to find here (if anyone is looking for it generally Jumbo has it ). It's a small thing, but all of those things add up. I can't remember ever seeing a foreign newspaper in Medellin for example.

So if we were to apply a rating to how much Colombia was like to the US my score wouldn't be very high. Maybe 4/10 in the big cities. Some people like the difference, some people seek the difference; but equally some are surprised by the difference.

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Bobfrozen1
2/7/2017 09:21 EST

Good Morning PL,

Someone was certainly going to comment on your post so I am honored to be the first.

Here is the Wikipedia definition of ex-pat.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
An expatriate (often shortened to expat) is a person temporarily or permanently residing, as an immigrant, in a country other than that of their citizenship. The word comes from the Latin terms ex ("out of") and patria ("country, fatherland").

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Anyway liked the last paragraph of your post.

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livinginmedellin
2/7/2017 09:34 EST

I would add several categories to @ParadiseLost's list of groups of people who call themselves expats.

Here's ParadiseLost's list:

a) retired people who move here full time and live off income from overseas. Clearly 'ex-pats'

b) people who are moved here to work for their company generally for a set period say 3-5 years. Ex-pats again I think but not many of them

c) people who come here to find work or set up their own business. Not many of them I'd argue. If nothing else working in Colombia isn't a great way to make a lot of money

d) the 183 day people who live here just long enough not to pay taxes and return each year. I guess they are ex-pats, 'migratory' ex-pats perhaps. However they generally reside using 'tourist' entry stamps.

e) people who spend other portions of time down here, maybe a couple of weeks several times a year. Personally I think they are tourists, but they may disagree.

f) people like Jason, passing through on some sort of on an delayed gap year. There may be no fixed plan, but they'll be here on a tourist stamp or do a little studying to justify being a student visa. Ex-pat? Maybe.

I would add:

g) Married to a Colombian with a spouse visa and living here full-time. May have a job here, a business here or work as a digital nomad.

h) investor who has bought property with an investor visa and may live here full-time or part-time

i) student who moves to Medellín temporarily with a primary goal to study Spanish - perhaps even for a year or more. I met several of these while taking classes at EAFIT.

j) digital nomad with a location flexible job in the US or elsewhere with a rentista visa based on their income - some live here full-time while others are part-time. I have met several expats like this.

To find out what it's like being an expat in Medellín, I think it's a good idea to talk to some expats living here face-to-face at one of the Internations or Medellín Living meetups. Medellín Living is having one on February 23 - http://medellinliving.com/medellin-living-february-meetup/. I don't see one scheduled in February by Internations yet.

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ParadiseLost
2/7/2017 09:36 EST

@bf

So when does a tourist become an expat? Or when does 'staying' become 'residing'? That word residing in your post is probably key.

The Oxford English dictionary has it as

'Have one's permanent home in a particular place'

Is it that critical to my post anyway? It's not my intention to disenfranchise anyone of the term ex-pat (although I will admit I do think some use it rather loosely) people can call themselves what they want.

I still think that the underlying message that people who reside here full time have issues that part time people don't isn't invalid. Plenty of 183 day people on here who will say that the reason they don't live here permanently is to actively avoid what the full time people have to deal with.

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ParadiseLost
2/7/2017 09:51 EST

@lim

The problem in drilling down into the list (and I'm not claiming mine was perfect) is that your list isn't unique.

For example I'm an a, g (without the spouse visa) and a h. All I need is to start taking classes at EAFIT and I've got a full house.

The intent of the list was only to provide the concept of suggesting that the challenges and benefits of being an expat was different depending on the basic rationale for being here.

Glad by the way that digital nomads are getting rentista visas (TP-7?). The ones I'd met had always been upfront about being here - at least initially - with the tourist stamp.

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Jaybee315
2/7/2017 10:11 EST

"Going with eje - more up my alley. :)"

It only took me 12 hours to start laughing.

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Jaybee315
2/7/2017 10:46 EST

A good view of how it is, PL.

I will be in category C, except I'll already have the job, and the job came looking for me, with the bonus that the pay is well above Colombian norms. As an added bonus, the boss has connections to a real estate agency to avoid the long term rental hassles.

Television shouldn't be a problem for me. I watch an occasional movie and some sports. I just need to replace football with futbol. The worst part is giving up my books. It will cost more to ship them than to replace. Maybe it's time to go digital.

I think the key to success as an expat is to embrace the culture. I'll let you know in a year if I still think that. If you don't make that connection, the little differences will ruin your day.

For example: My first restaurant experience in Colombia annoyed me. Other than taking my order and bringing the food, no waiter had checked on me. I even had to flag him down to get my check.

After a few more identical experiences, and lunch with a Colombian friend, I realized what was happening. In the US, the waitstaff is working for a tip and are trying to get you out as soon as possible. In Colombia they assume that if you need something, you will ask for it. Otherwise they leave you to enjoy your meal without constant interruptions.

I'm looking forward to the changes, although I'm sure there will be a lot of little frustrations.

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Bobfrozen1
2/7/2017 11:08 EST

Good conversation on who is an expat.

I would throw in this thought.

An expat is different than a resident (see the definition of expat I posted earlier) Each and every country has its own requirement for "residency" and Colombia has its requirements.

I have not lived in my country in almost 10 years. I am an expat by definition. I hold residencies in three countries and am a citizen of the U.S. I currently reside in Colombia. So it really doesn't matter how long I am here or who I marry or live with or any categories you discuss I am by definition a Colombia expat.



So I cannot understand what all these
"classifications" are to who you "may" considered an "expat". It is pretty clear by the definition provided what an expat is.

Too much Colombian Coffee this morning.

Best regards

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ParadiseLost
2/7/2017 11:40 EST

@bf While I'm not sure that this dialogue is of much use (in particular for the OP) I'm not sure that I agree with the Wikipedia definition.

The Oxford Dictionary description is I think much cleaner - and one that we could agree more on.

-'A person who lives outside their native country'

I'd raised the issue of when a tourist became an expat

Oxford describes a tourist as

'A person who is travelling or visiting a place for pleasure'


And that is pretty much exactly what I was trying to get at living in a place and visiting a place have different criteria about what are important.

Rather purposefully you seem to be suggesting that I and perhaps @LIM are trying to define who qualifies as an expat. Instead I think it's descriptions of what the different types of expats are.

In your case you haven't lived in your country for 10 years. Clearly you are 'A person who lives outside their native country'

But a 183 day person. Are they an expat when they are in Colombia, but not when they are back in the US, or are they an expat all of the time?

Again it doesn't really matter but the statement 'it is pretty clear by the definition provided what an expat is' really isn't that true.

But so what.

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JasonWriter
2/7/2017 13:59 EST

I don't consider myself an expat, to be honest. There have been a few instances in here where I answered a poster's question by saying "this is a question for the REAL expats to answer." At any rate, my policy in here is to disclose, as often as possible, exactly how long I've been here, and how long I'm likely going to stay. Readers can then interpret that info however they like. When it comes to this thread, I was just giving my opinion on living in Medellin 7 months in, and after having visited a couple times since 2009, in the same way that other posters before me in this thread offered opinions on Medellin even though they are not yet here. And on that note, in furtherance to the OP's search the answer to his question. I leave it to the real expats to answer!

@ Sunset, haha: oh man, I was confused about the "cafetero" and "cafetera" thing for a while too.

Well, you're likely in the air right now, flying to Colombia. Congrats on heading down Steve!

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Andresen
2/7/2017 14:18 EST

I read in average 3 books a month using my Nook. There are other devices that will also allow you to read books.

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hjrinec
2/7/2017 14:38 EST

I don't get it - isn't anybody, especially retirees, completely turned off by the new tax laws?
Who wants to pay up to one third - as in my case - of their SS check or any other income in taxes? I had expected to pay about that for a nice apartment!
I am also living in Cuenca and am mostly bored and frustrated about the ridiculously high import fees (forget about Costco and Amazon) but now I am going to stay put and plan on traveling for shopping sprees or just to get out.

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ParadiseLost
2/7/2017 15:08 EST

What are the 'new' tax laws you are talking about? I get kind of confused when people suggest that these are new laws. Yes. IVA (a goods and services tax) went up from 16% to 19% but everything else is just detail.

Overall the tax situation is pretty unchanged. Colombia has never been a 'good' country for people to be a tax resident in - not dreadful - but certainly not good.

There have been plenty of threads about people only spending 183 days a year here to avoid the world wide taxation.

Where are you reading that this is new?

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JasonWriter
2/7/2017 15:22 EST

I had a feeling that the words "Congratulations, Jason!" coming from Paradise would *have*to be immediately followed by talk of taxes and a disagreement. Well, at least the disagreement wasn't ours. Heh

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livinginmedellin
2/7/2017 15:23 EST

In reply to @hjrinec. I know several retirees living in Colombia that pay very little in income taxes in Colombia and even a few that pay nothing as they pay some income taxes in the US on some income there that offset taxes due in Colombia.

Nobody pays one-third of their income as income taxes in Colombia. Colombia has graduated tax rates like the US and about the first 30 million peso bracket is taxed at a zero rate and there are 19% and 28% brackets before you get to the 33% bracket. Only income above about $40,000 USD is taxed at 33%.

Get a good accountant and find out the tax brackets and what is exempt and deductible. Here's an article that explains some of this from last year - http://medellinliving.com/filing-colombia-income-taxes/ but that is missing info about the "wealth" tax that kicks in for the wealthy.

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ParadiseLost
2/7/2017 16:00 EST

@lim - all you're doing is perpetuating the idea that there's a 'wealth' tax on the 'wealthy' here. The people (focusing on the old war tax) will say - but the wealth tax is gone.

How difficult is it to explain to someone that in Colombia you either get taxed on your income or on an 'income equivalent' (patrimony) of your world wide assets.

The other bad idea that you are giving is that you have to be 'wealthy'. There are plenty of overseas expats who retire here that can have enough assets to be considered wealthy in Colombian tax terms. This isn't something that only impacts multi millionaires. I pay tax based on the asset basis, my wife does and so do her retired parents.

It's even incorrect to say that nobody pays 33% taxes on their income. It's perfectly possible if you have low income (say just taking a pension distribution) and high assets that you could end up paying more than 33% of your income in taxes.

I presume @LIM that you're Medellin Living if for no other reason than you're always referencing information there. For me this tax information of 'it's no big deal' is as much misinformation about moving to Medellin as the Gringo Agencies telling people that there are wonderful returns from 'investment' properties here.

It is true that a pensioner who comes here with just social security or a small private pension and a few assets probably isn't going to pay a lot in tax But increasingly we're seeing more wealthy retirees come here. Ones with property back in the native lands, with significant investment and retirement savings or potentially likely to be the benefactors of inheritance funds. For those people Colombian tax can become a huge issue. Remember you could have dollar asset (perhaps a house in the US) and you can end up having a Peso liability to pay taxes.

And it isn't just the notional values of those accounts that can be an issue. Just because the annual earnings (dividends, interest and taken gains) in US deferred account are not taxed, doesn't mean that Colombian tax looks at those earnings in the same way. So people may not even know that they have 'income' they way the Colombian tax system looks at it.

While the tax forms that are submitted here are short and to the point the back up materials needed to prepare the filing aren't. The binder my accountant prepared - has four pages of tax forms and then two inches thick of supporting materials - and my tax situation isn't that complicated. It's every page or every bank and investment account for every month.

Broad statements that Colombian tax isn't a problem for anyone but the 'wealthy' is going to mislead people.

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JasonWriter
2/7/2017 16:41 EST

While I'm not a REAL EXPAT, allow me to put forth a few categories of real expats

a. Pleasant real expats. These real expats are a pleasure to interact with. Hence the designation "pleasant."

b. Unpleasant real expats. These real expats are in no way a pleasure to interact with. On the "unpleasant" label goes for
these little guys!

c. Insufferable real expats. These fellas give the entire forum frowny faces most of the time. They have great information, but they have to be rude Rudies in delivering it, for some reason.

Seriously, can Anderson and Nova and the other cool expats swoop in and save this thread now? Jesus Christ

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JasonWriter
2/7/2017 17:02 EST

That guy FecherK is a pretty friendly expat who also knows a lot about taxes in Colombia. Why couldn't we have gotten him in this thread? Boo!!!

At any rate, back to the OP: majority of longterm expats I meet in Medellin are really friendly, pleasant, and enjoying their time in Colombia. I agree with LIM: best to meet expats face to face, because yes, in here you're going to get a disproportionate number of people who tend to enjoy arguing online about being expats, instead of enjoying being expats and earnestly trying to share that joy. And with that, I'm off to go stroll around the city for the evening. Take care

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livinginmedellin
2/7/2017 17:31 EST

In reply to @ParadiseLost, the wealth tax is a tax on wealth, not a tax on income. So you can't really call it an "income" tax. That's why I said nobody pays effectively a 33% income tax in Colombia due to the graduated tax rates. But they may pay a wealth tax that could even potentially be over 100% of their income if they have a very low income and high net worth.

And the wealth tax is only at progressive tax rates ranging between 0.125% and 1.5% plus there are some exemptions (up to a limit).

Bottom line is that it is best to talk with a tax expert about your personal situation, as I recommended.

Also IMHO it is best to meet expats face-to-face -- not on this site with the many unpleasant or insufferable expats as @JasonWriter wrote.

We are all in this together with different opinions - please respect that others may not have had the same experiences as you and may have different experiences and opinions.

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Andresen
2/7/2017 17:35 EST

Well, JW, I tried. Obviously my post did not make it past the censors, even though the website I referenced is their own.

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ParadiseLost
2/7/2017 17:47 EST

OK Jason you win. I'll stop posting.

Your forum.

And our secret about why you are writing here and not in the US.

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ParadiseLost
2/7/2017 17:58 EST

@lim yes you can call it an income tax because the amount calculated is used to satisfy your income tax obligation. There's a formula in there that turns your net assets into a 'income' surrogate. In your example you other pay income tax or wealth tax and that's not correct.

But then making people aware that there are income taxes on global assets isn't exactly in the interest of the real estate 'investor' industry in Medellin is it - and it's an industry that provides support to Medellin Living.

After all that '8% return' gets rather dented by the Colombian tax authorities taxing you around 1% on your global assets each year doesn't it.

But let's just have the 'friendly' people post just in case new comers get discouraged by others without a financial interest in encouraging more expats to Medellin.

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Bobfrozen1
2/7/2017 19:22 EST

@PL

I thought you were going to give us all a break and not post.

My head hurts.

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livinginmedellin
2/7/2017 19:44 EST

In reply to @ParadiseLost, yes it's an income tax obligation but it's still essentially a wealth tax. Deloitte calls it a wealth tax - "A wealth tax has been introduced for taxable years 2015-2018, payable by individuals with net worth exceeding COP 1 billion as of 1 January 2015. The tax is levied at progressive tax rates ranging between 0.125% and 1.5% - see: https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/global/Documents/Tax/dttl-tax-colombiaguide-2016.pdf

I completely agree with you regarding the "claims" of "8% return" or even higher for real estate investments. I'm not a big fan of such "claims".

For example, I have a presentation from the early 2015 Live & Invest Overseas conference in Medellín where Rich Holman from First American Realty claimed even higher returns as follows:

"Annual Medellín Residential Real Estate Returns 2009-2014"
"Annual appreciation = 5-10%"
"Net ROI rental returns = 5-10%"
"7% average for each"
"Expected 14% combined"

How many rental properties consistently return 7-8%?

Plus lots of luck trying to sell a property to get that "appreciation" with the exchange rate risk. For example, what appreciation in USD would you get for properties bought back in 2012 or early 2013 when the exchange rate was below 1,800 pesos to the USD.

Also how much time will it take to sell properties to get that "appreciation". I have met some expats that have been trying to sell their expensive properties for years.

However the exchange rate risk works both ways, if you bought in early 2016 when the exchange rate was over 3,400 you are now sitting pretty.

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fecherklyn
2/7/2017 20:21 EST

@JasonWriter,

Hi Jason, I am still here, watching from a distance and frankly too frustrated by what I read to get involved very often.

I know "taxation" is not everyones' favourite subject but PL is right, for a certain type of resident expat in Colombia, it is of paramount importance.

Accordingly, I will add this although I will try to reduce it to a simplicity that should not make anyone retch.

I am on the verge of leaving Colombia after 15 years here. There are many reasons but two come mostly to mind.

One, I am fed up with being "everybody's " safety valve when they have financial difficulties. Remember, nearly everybody in Colombia has financial problems when they meet a friendly expat, or that is the way I feel and I regret to say that includes most of our families and friends.

Secondly, the taxes. I am fortunate and I suppose I fit in one of PL's expat categories that "has money", not a lot by western standards, but enough to get the attention of the Colombian authorities once you have been "logged into" their systems. The latest tax (which neither PL or anyone else is mentioning) is particularly menacing. THE NOTION TO REQUIRE PAYMENT OF YOUR COMPULSORY HEALTHCARE SERVICE (EPS) AT A RATE WHICH IS IN CONFORMITY WITH YOUR INCOME POTENTIAL. Just to explain simply, if your earn a minimum salary (Approx 717,000 COP/Month), then your EPS cotisation will be COP 92,250 per month in 2017. Now do the calculation if the authorities decide your quota will be based on HOW MANY MINIMUM SALARIES to really earn. In my case, the MinHacienda are asking me to increase my cotisation from COP 92,250 to around COP 900,000 per month....of course, I am in the process of appeal.

So taxes do become a VERY big factor in an expats comfort level in Colombia. Mine has reached its limit and I KNOW (not think) most expats are largely unaware of how punitive the legislation in Colombia is becoming.

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cccmedia
2/7/2017 23:10 EST

True, true, true -- there has been minimal discussion lately of the compulsory healthcare tax-increase.

What percentage(s) do they use vis-a-vis one’s wealth or income to compute ‘tal impuesto’?

cccmedia in La Zona Cafetera

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fecherklyn
2/8/2017 11:17 EST

@cccmedia

You asked for it cccmedia, I hope you will not regret it.

PL earlier stated he was not aware of any recent tax changes. I think he must have missed this one...."Su obligacion inmediata de afiliarse como Cotizante en el Regimen Contributivo.....de acuerdo a su realidad economica.

To find out what this means you will have to wade through the following "new" (2015) laws:

- Articulo 135 de la ley 1753,
- Articulo 5 de la ley 797 de 2003, and

Articulo 107 del Estatuto Tributario.

I conclude this means your cotisation will be based on 40% of your declared ("worldwide" ?) incomes (I.e "Realidad economica"). These declared incomes can, apparently, be reduced by certain deductible expenses that are defined under Articulo 107 of the Estatuto Tributario....that were of no help to me.

Hope this helps.

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cccmedia
2/9/2017 02:09 EST

So, Fecher, if I understand you, this could mean that one’s ‘cotización’ or contribution toward healthcare may be based on 40 percent of his worldwide income?

Other than the possible deductions you alluded to, how do the tax collectors massage the 40-percent-of-worldwide-income number so that it ends up boosting one’s obligation from $40 US/month to $300-plus per month?

For instance, is another specific percentage (what percentage?) applied for higher-income tax residents?

cccmedia in Distrito Cafeteria

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JasonWriter
2/9/2017 02:48 EST

Phew. Thank god Fecher showed up.

Paradise: You do realize I can write in Colombia and email transcripts to New York? We're not dealing with courier mail anymore, or carrier pigeons, or horse and buggy. Yes?

Our secret about why you're writing books here and not for the broader public. Deal?

Paradise, you do not need my permission to post here, or anywhere. Earlier in this thread you asked someone "how hard it was" for them to understand something. How hard is it for you to understand this: you stay in your lane, I'll stay in mine. We went through this months ago, and I suggested the precise same thing. We stayed in our respective lanes for quite some time, until you decided to offer me a disingenous congratulations. I encourage anyone reading this to scroll up and look at the heartfelt congratulations I received. Please, Paradise, keep your congratulations.

Please, stay in your lane. I will stay in mine.

Don't private message me again, like last time. Honestly, you are beginning to creep me out with all this. It feels as though you're obsessed with me. You will notice that from now on, I will never address you. I was hoping that after the last time, maybe we could manage to cool down and be civil, eventually. Clearly not.

Bottom line: your posts often have the effect of draining the joy from the world. Pretentious, humorless, informative, yes, but I can read other posters in here for tax information, posters whose prose doesn't flow to the tune of a funeral dirge, posters who aren't merely trolls with a vocabulary. If I could block you, I most certainly would. And if I find another private message in my inbox tomorrow morning, I will most certainly wish I could take out a digital restraining order out on you. I'm sorry to do this so publicly, my love, but we just weren't meant to be.

Love,

Jason

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augieman
2/9/2017 08:49 EST

On a different tact,in yhe US.medicare (healthcare)premiums are set each year based on prior year reported income to the IRS,and deducted from social security.
It is done automatically efficiently and painlessly.

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fecherklyn
2/9/2017 09:06 EST

@cccmedia.

If you have looked at the laws that cover this issue, you will see the instructions on how to compute your new cotisations are very vague. My wife spoke to officers from La Unidad who are responsible for lauching this reform, who advised her that according to the incomes declared in my 2013, 2014 Colombian tax declarations I had to "reaffiliate" to the EPS using latest earning figures and I was already liable to a COP 52 million fine for not having done so already (Paper threats, or reality?)

The best we can make out at the moment is the computations could work out as follows:

- Say declared earnings are equivalent of US$ 5,000 per month = COP 15,000,000 monthly.

- Say basis for cotisation is 40% of declared earnings = COP 6,000,000 monthly.

- Given Salario Minimo 2017 in Colombia is COP 737,717, then 40% of your earnings represents 8.1332 minimum salaries.

- As the EPS 2017 "Minimum Salary" cotisation is COP 92,250 per month, a cotisation for someone earning 8.1332 minimum salries would cost COP 750,288 per month.

The above are estimated figures based on the little information available at the moment. Just like everything else in Colombia, the authorities are very good at issuing new legislation, but are very inefficient in its application.

My latest notification (12/12/2016) from La Unidad states "A partir del proximo mes de recibida la comunicacion adjunta, debe realizar los aportes al SGSS a salud y pension, sobre la totalidad de los ingresos percibidos".

Otherwise, La Unidad offers further information from their web www.ugpp.gov.co seccion parafiscales.

For the benefit of Jason and Bob and other like minded forum members, I would like to clarify I am not providing these informations because I am "addicted" to scare mongering as they seem to think. It is information expats in Colombia NEED TO KNOW. Think about it, if you are a tax resident in Colombia and you are affiliated to the EPS on the basis of a minimum salary (say US$ 240 per month), then YOU SHOULD BE CONCERNED!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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cccmedia
2/9/2017 12:42 EST

Thanks, Fecher.

I agree it’s important information .. especially since I requested same.

Have you specfically been notified that your healthcare will be nullified soon (when?) if you don’t re-enroll at the inflated rate?

I believe you mentioned you were planning to challenge the 'cotización’ increase. Do you have a lawyer who is preparing such a challenge?

cccmedia in Quindío

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joemindwarp
2/9/2017 17:08 EST

other cool expats, I pray I am not in that bunch of self anointed back of the bus, pony tailed tattooed and pierced bunch of FOOLS

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fecherklyn
2/9/2017 17:56 EST

@joemindwarp

You replied... "other cool expats, I pray I am not in that bunch of self anointed back of the bus, pony tailed tattooed and pierced bunch of FOOLS" Please explain, was this directed at anybody in particular? Sorry, I am very slow and do not possess a warp speed brain.

@cccmedia.

No, the problem is a huge number of people have been put on notice by La Unidad, but the motor seems to have stalled and everybody is waiting to see what happens.

I have engaged a lawyer who specialises in this area of "family/social security" matters and she advises I reaffiliate to a higher lever of minimum salaries as quickly as possible. Her view is the law will be followed up and it is better to get out of the immediate "danger zone" (Minimum salary affiliation) which risks the ealiest attention.

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1Firebird
2/9/2017 19:21 EST

joewarpmind - FYI , I am moving to Cali this year where I have a beautiful and sweet lady awaiting me. I also have a ponytail and two earrings, have three college degrees, and sit anywhere on the " bus " I choose. So f**k off you prejudiced SOB.

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joemindwarp
2/10/2017 07:19 EST

Correct, prejudiced of fools, the whole race of them,
they are a race of fools, you are the poster child

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geoffbob
2/10/2017 08:44 EST

So this is what it's like being an expat in Medellin. Jaysus Mary and Joseph.

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SunsetSteve
2/10/2017 12:06 EST

Quick question - sitting here in parque lleras at noon. Looks like Patrick's doesn't open for lunch. Where to eat? Not texmex! Thai? Beer store? Steak house nor open.

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fecherklyn
2/10/2017 12:38 EST

@SunsetSteve,

OMG........surely no self-respecting expat would be seen eating, or doing anything, in Parque Lleras. I am going to plead with PL to see if we need to open up yet another category of Expat.

Don't you feel ashamed of yourself?

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BrandonBP
2/10/2017 12:56 EST

There's a little sushi shop I liked. Don't remember the name.

Wait!! Here's a place in Lleras you have to visit...

There's a taco shop with REAL Mexican tacos for like 2500 pesos in a little alley by Eco Bar. Ask people for the bar with the tree stumps and just up the hill from it across from the tennis courts is the taco shop. Perhaps someone can remember the name. VERY good Mexican taco shop.

I can't remember if there's a Crepes and Waffles in Lleras (surely there is). If you haven't visited the Crepes and Waffles, it's good stuff. A bit pricey for Colombian standards, but very good eats.

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cccmedia
2/10/2017 12:59 EST

New arrivals must be given the chance to visit the infamous Lleras without condemnation.

Almost everyone gets their bearings straight after a few days in town.

Exploration provides the spice of life.

cccmedia

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BrandonBP
2/10/2017 13:02 EST

New arrivals must be given the chance to visit the infamous Lleras without condemnation.
=====================

I like the place myself. Lots to see and do. If nothing else, just get a beer and sit on the parkbench. (Although now I hear that they just made public beer illegal in Medellin? WTF?)

Lleras surely beats Bogota's gringo area, Candelaria. Bunch of graffiti and gringo hippies begging for money. Blah.

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BrandonBP
2/10/2017 13:09 EST

Steve, I just thought of another restaurant for you.

Peru Mix over on the main drag, Calle 10, is pretty nice. Ceviche and stir fry rice.

You'll discover that the best food in Colombia isn't Colombian. It's Peruvian, Mexican, American, Japanese, etc. But you have to find the REAL restaurants owned by expats. If you walk into a "Chinese" restaurant and there's a bunch of Colombian cooks, just walk out. Colombians can't cook to save their life.

Go try some Peruvian or eat at that little taco shop I posted.

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SunsetSteve
2/10/2017 15:11 EST

I ended up getting a decent pollo limone at a moderately busy corner spot. Going back there for n early dinner, or see of the Irish pub is open then. Something non-Colombian. I imagine I'll see enough Colombian food once I head out to the boonies.

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SunsetSteve
2/10/2017 15:16 EST

Fecher - I quite enjoyed seeing Lleras, which had a more interesting variety of food vendors than the chicken and fried bread ball selections along Carrera 70 where my hotel is. That is why I am returning for dinner. It is certainly more chi chi than I like, but as they say - nice place to visit! :)

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SunsetSteve
2/10/2017 15:19 EST

I also spent some time today in the central square in Sabaneta, and visited Plaza Botero - took a bunch of pics of fat people sculptures, including one of a 5-year old boy grabbing on to a fat guy's dick for stability on the pedestal.

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BrandonBP
2/10/2017 15:19 EST

Steve, when you get to Patrick's, try to get us some info about the new city ordinances about drinking in public and such. Is that a real thing now?

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SunsetSteve
2/10/2017 15:20 EST

Any more complaints and I'll go the the Santa Fe Mall! Then we'll hear the moaning! LOL

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fecherklyn
2/10/2017 17:02 EST

@SunsetSteve,

Ok, we will let you off this once, but don't do it too often or you will get us expats a bad name.

Don't tell anyone but I live a couple of hundred yards away, so I pass on these remarks to try to keep people away.

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regnatarajan
2/11/2017 04:54 EST

I'm not going to get involved in the squabbling here, but I want to note that I find knowledgeable discussion of Colombian tax law to be EXTREMELY pertinent and interesting. It drastically affects me, and my guess it will affect almost everyone here if they don't pay close attention to it. Some of the messages are long but often necessarily so, and I hope those with knowledge on the subject keep posting. It's the main reason I come here.

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regnatarajan
2/11/2017 05:00 EST

@johnm2, I'm from Toronto and have been splitting time between Canada and Colombia for over a year now. I do the Vancouver-Toronto-Bogota run every few months. I'll actually be back in Toronto in a couple of weeks and am not looking forward to it at all.

I can't tell you much about Medellin because I ended up near Bogota, but I can certainly tell you that I have no regrets at all about making the move to Colombia. I'm hoping to spend most of 2017 in Colombia if I can wrap my mind around the tax laws and conclude they won't destroy my savings.

Anyway, I'll let the Medellin experts answer your questions. Just wanted to encourage you by letting you know another guy from Toronto made the move you're planning and loves it.

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woody932
2/11/2017 09:04 EST

You cannot drink within Parque LLeras. Step out onto the sidewalk a foot away and your ok. Go figure.

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SunsetSteve
2/11/2017 16:45 EST

Signs up throughout the park.

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