Thinking about Retiring to Columbia


I am a 69 yr old widow from NJ< USA>  Thinking about moving to Columbia.  Ready to start  exploring.  Oh, I have 2 small dogs, too.

Would you tell me everything about the country before I  travel there.

Thank you.

One thing that you might want to look at is the posts: "In retrospect, would you move again to Colombia?" That really shows you the pros and cons of Colombia. I am not going to repeat what I and others said on those posts because you can look at those. I would sum it up by saying a lot of the choice would be decided by money. If I was looking at living on a retirement of $1500 to $2000 per month and not a lot of savings I might have decided to stay in Colombia because if you can live with the negative things about Colombia, you could live way way better  on that price range and I think I could learn to like it. I just would be sure to live in or around Medellin. Also, rent for 2 years before you buy any property there or in any new place. After 2 years the thrill will wear off and you can decide if this is a place you could really live. There is a lot to like about Colombia. Especially in or around Medellin.
I happened to own a nice house in a very desirable part of northern California with no mortgage and a pension and I will get retirement in 10 years and I have plenty of savings so I have decided to stay in USA.

If you are looking 10 years ahead Nancy, maybe it's worth considering the possibility there won't me much in the way of a state pension by then. Not that Colombia would pay you a pension either of course :)

Wonderful. Have you considered the coffee region? Google MINGA HOUSE in Manizales. I'd love to help you explore, provide you temp housing, invite you to our activites, introduce you to everyone. Best place to live, weather, cost, safety...awesome beautiful!

Thank you.  Been thinking about St. Lucia. What do you think about that area.

NANCY3030: I would love to read the post "In retrospect, would you move again to Colombia?" I cannot figure out how to search for posts on Would you mind send ing me a link?  Thanks, in advance

omg, I have so many comments, as I presently have a love/hate relationship with Colombia.

First I suggest, rent a room in a apartment for a month. Then, move to a room in another area to help you determine where you want your life in Colombia. Expats tend to go to El Poblano, Laurels, Envigado/Sabanetta. Poblano, most expensive, most English. Laurels a little less expensive. Envigado/Sabanetta is more of a Colombian experience. I am in Envigado. I would have chosen Sabanetta, but thought it was a little too far away.  However, in another year if I find that I don't go into Poblano much (I am going less and less frequently already), I may move on to Sabanetta,

If you don't want to have a car, Do Not move into an apartment on a hill. You won't be able to walk anywhere, and will have to get in a taxi every time you walk out your front door. Before renting your own place, check to see if there are bus routes close by.

In Poblano you will buy your produce from grocery stores, and pay twice as much for fresh flowers. Envigado has many produce stands and markets that sell vegetables and fruits which are fresher.

If you like yams, sneak some seeds in your suitcase. ;-) You might be lucky and find some ground space where you live.

I don't know what to say about the apt rental situation here. It is archaic, ridiculous, and all the rules favor the Agency; Not the owner, certainly Not the renter. The rules are the rules, but are applied differently depending on which agency is applying them. It appears to me that the rules, as applied to foreigners, borders on extortion of expats. (see examples below)

Furnished apts cost more and are a little easier to rent. Unfurnished apartments are another story. Read up on Fiadors, tomadors and different forms of deposits. Be prepared to say I don't have a fiador and offer to pay 3-6 months rent in advance, plus a 1 month deposit. Some agencies will call the owner to see if they will okay. Other agencies will require that you "apply" to their insurance company which will determine what your requirements are. i.e., 6th months worth of rent in the form of a "deposit" which will be returned to you when you move out!  I met a retired couple who had to put $7,000.00 into a deposit/annuity before they could rent their apartment!  There is NO WAY any agency is going to require that of a Colombian.  No way.

Agencies in Poblano seem more interested in getting their properties rented than in enforcing the Fiador or mega$ deposit system. Most Agencies in Envigado seem more interested in enforcing Fiadors & huge deposits than in renting. They don't care if the process takes months. My comments are based on my experience. You may have a completely different experience.       

Overall, the Colombian people are gracious, helpful, lovely people. They just do things a differently from the way we would.  There WILL be cultural adjustments. I have been here in Envigado for 6 months and overall love it. I simply wasn't prepared for the obstacles. I have finally just rented my apartment -by paying 6 months rent in advance with 1 month deposit.  Now I expect my life to become more relaxed and enjoyable, in my own place. ;-)

June, I would explore elsewhere.... everyone goes to Medellin, Cali, Bogota, or the north coast.... like Cartajena and Barranquilla.

Consider a university town with great healthcare and little tourism in the coffee region. Manizales is much safer in terms of street petty crime and has great weather and hospitals. And it is less expensive and it is not full of tourism.  What's the point of moving to Colombia if you're going to be around Americans and Europeans all the time.   

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First...the "expensive" comfortable area in Medellin for ex=pats is called -   POBLADO  (not Poblano).

Also..... I have rented a lovely, spacious 2 bedroom apartment with den/office, 2-1/2 baths, large balcony, 24/7 gated guarded security, in the heart of Poblado for over a year now. I rented thru Apartment Medelllin rental agency. The rent is not cheap but to me, the location of the apartment, and all of the utilities included,, make it a good value for me. It was easy to rent on a long term basis, and I only paid one month's rent as a deposit - which was refunded back to me when I started my second rental year here! So fortunately, I never encountered any of the rental problems that you did.

And I love living here in every way except for the traffic problems and smog.

Consider Manizales... it's Medellin minus the smog, traffic, and the tourist...

Big college town, safe, 300,000 inhabitants, medical schools and hospitals abound, .... beautiful landscape, more beautiful than Medellin... only 4 hours south.... I've been operating there since 2013.....  lower cost too...

Dear PS401Bill. "Poblano" is a function of AUTO-correct which I missed.  I specified that, while the same fiador rules exist in Medellin,  Agencies in Poblado seem more interested in RENTING their properties than requiring expats to have fiadors and/or very large deposits or annuities. However, the couple had to create a $;7,000 USD annuity before being allowed to rent are located in Poblado. Probably because so many expats land there first, they have realized they have to at least partially accommodate people with different expectations. Also, if you rent furnished, it is FAR easier and less complicated than rented unfurnished. Unfortunately, I prefer to live with my own furnishings.

I also stated that Envigado agencies "seem" more interested in enlisting expats into the Fiador/Large Deposit than in renting their apartments. My nightmare of 4 months was entirely in Envigado, dealing with Envigado Agencies. I am sorry if I did not make that clear.

I chose Envigado because I wanted to live a Colombian experience, not a life with all the expats in Poblado. I am close enough that I go into Poblado whenever I want to.

I was a real estate broker in the US and never dreamed such a system could exist and be applied so randomly.  I wish I would have been prepared.

You guys should just try Manizales.  No tourist prices.  Little traffic, beautiful coffee landscape, lots of hospitals and medical school, great weather, no tourist hardly....   but so much cheaper and safer from street petty crime.

Hi Glenn ! I'm coming for two weeks visit in Cartagena is that near you please ? I will love to visit your region . Thanks

JUST Saw your message...

Can you find me on Facebook, I'm the guy on a horse on my profile Glen G. Galindo

Try Manizales!

less crime and everything you love and need

I arrived in Medellin two days ago(my 5th time since Jan. 2016!). I am wondering if you would be willing to meet for coffee sometime? I am looking for an apt. In Sabaneta tomorrow. Though I have spent more than 6 months here in total, I've yet to meet any expats.
Thanks, Martha

Glen is pushing Manizales hard in here and although I currently live in Manizales -and I do think its a gorgeous city... its not for everyone.

A 69 yo widow with 2 small dogs could do better in a city like Medellín.
Manizales tends to run cold and you can't go 10 steps without needing to go up or down a massive hill.
Additionally unlike the US, here when it rains (and it rains daily) those crappy sidewalks get slippery and not a place I would send my own mother to walk.

You gotta think long term and in 5 years she will be 74
Medellín also has a tremendous base of medical centers/hospitals with English speaking doctors, an airport that can get you to Miami in 2.5 hours with many daily flights with many airlines so you can easily hop over to the states and use your medicare.

I would also consider Rionegro.  A small town feeling with excellent doctors and a newly built hospital.  Plus, when the tunnel between Medellin and Rionegro is completed in 2018.  The drive will be around 35 min. between the two cities.  Besides, Medellin is crowded, traffic problems and smog issues.


Rio Negro is stunningly gorgeous and a stones throw of all you ever need

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