American living in Santa Marta

How many American expats are living in the Santa Marta area?  Happy?  Comments?

Hi there,
My husband and I moved to Colombia from Washington State over a year ago. In Feb. we bought a house in Rodadero, Santa Marta and love it!. Our Spanish is poor but getting better everyday. We have great health insurance, a fantastic vet  and I can't say enough about the wonderful people.

Hi to you,  too. .
I totally agree, Santa Marta is magic!!
My wife and I moved to Bogotá several years ago from Florida. As lovely as Bogtá was, we missed the sea and warm weather. We often shop in Rodadero and enjoy a restaurant there, "Di Vino" have you tried it?

Buenos dias!
No we havent tried Di Vinos yet, but Im looking forward to it. Love Ouzos in Santa Marta. They are so  many great resturants  here its going to take a while to check them all out! We love the "small town" feeling here. The people are so warm and friendly. Unfortunatly, I broke my foot and the cast makes it difficult to get around. When Im up and about we should all get together. We'd love to hear you experiences and suggestions on putting down roots.

Wow, sorry to hear about your foot, that can be painful!  On that subject, have you found a doctor or medical group you can recommend?  My last experience was at the Perfect Body Clinic,  for an ear infection . I was pleased but always open to new recommendations.
Yes, OUZO is fantastic and you are right, Santa Marta  has many beautiful restaurants to enjoy.
  Here's hoping you feel better soon and we have an opportunity to meet up!

I dont have an actual Dr. here still trying to figure that out. I dont know what private insurance you have but we have ColSanitas and couldnt be happier. We went to the Clinica Mar Caribe for my foot. Because of our insurance we were seen right away and in a different part of the hospital. The urgencias Dr. was great. After the x rays and pain shot ( the nurse stayed me the entire time) they brought in a specialist to cast me. I go back Wednesday for a check up. Back to the "other" urgencias room and they'll take me to the specialist for examination.
I noticed there was a large room for consultations that I think we go to for regular stuff. Except for the broken foot I had a great experience. Fabulous Drs. and staff. Very caring and professional.
Do you have private insurance? Does the medical  here work like in the states that you have a regular  Dr. you go to? Im under the impression that whatever we need we just show up. I really dont know.
I do know this. I want to show the medical staff ( and every person we meet) the respect they deserve. I know that with our vet. I've made appointments but sometimes he's late showing up ( no big deal) and sometimes I've just shown up.
Any suggestions?


Thanks for the reply. Yes, I am with Allianz and have been very pleased, as well.

I have found the medical community to be professional and friendly also. I have been
to the Perfect Body (as I mentioned)  and another clinic, but can't remember the name. It is in front of
the Prado Shopping Center in Santa Marta. No, don't have a regular doctor but would
like to find one, for regular visits. . . .preventative medicine, that sort of thing.

Glad to hear you are doing well with your foot. And, again, Thanks for your reply!

Do you know of any English speaking hairdressers in Santa Marta? My Spanish is improving everyday but i still make mistakes

Can you tell me anything about the fishing in Santa Marta please? I really like living here in a nice barrio of Rionegro but haven't seen any fishing...not even a fish except in stores. Actually, I've seen very little wildlife. Couple squirrels. I was told it's because of the elevation?

I have not been fishing in Santa Marta, however there are many local fishermen, and fresh fish.
Friends have told me offshore fishing charters can be arranged. Hope this helps.

Anything you can tell me.
How hard is it to move a dog?
Want a upscale water front condo with convenient everything.
Would you MOVE to Santa Marta again??

Please tell me how you like it? How did you get you animals there? you mentioned VET. We want an upscale condo with water view convenient to everything!  we will vacate during tourist season. What are the Pro's and Con's?
Thank you for your help....

Jerry & maria
Atlanta Ga...***

Moderated by Priscilla 10 months ago
Reason : Do not post your personal contact details on a public forum for your own security

I'm sorry, but we don't have pets,  you shouldn't have any problems, others in our building do have pets. We live in an area between Rodadero and the airport, Pozo Colorados and we love it. There are quite a few Oceanside condos to choose from along this beach,  many with parking garages, pools, gyms. . .etc. The service and amenities are 1st. Class!! We live here year round but many rent their apartments while they are away. Here is a link to one of the new developments. . .

Hope this helps.

Thanks for the response. I am trying to decide where to retire. What you sent LOOKS great! Can you tell me about Pro's and Con's? Health care close? groceries? does it get over run with tourists?
Any issues with current turmoil in Venezuela?
Anything you can tell me will be great....

Thanks again

Jerry & Maria

Plimsol :

There are quite a few Oceanside condos to choose from along this beach,  many with parking garages, pools, gyms. . .etc. The service and amenities are 1st. Class!! We live here year round but many rent their apartments while they are away. Here is a link to one of the new developments. . .

Hope this helps.

Good link, Plimsol.  It was like a four-minute tropical vacation to watch this video of Cabo Tortuga (turtle cape).

Before too many Gringos get carried away, keep it in mind that 90-degree F. days are common in Santa Marta. If you're one of the some who like it hot, could be a good spot for you.

cccmedia in the Coffee Zone (milder temps)

To answer your questions, there are pros and cons everywhere depending on your tastes and requirements. For us, we don't have any complaints worth mentioning. The population of  Santa Marta is only about 450,000 so, as with smaller towns, you may not find everything you are looking for but delivery from larger cities is relatively easy. The weather is the best part of Santa Marta. Low humidity and local breezes keep it quite comfortable. The people are friendly and the cost of living low. The best advice I can offer is to come to Santa Marta and experience what is has to offer.

We came to Rodadero with 4 cats and a dog. All were small enough to fly in travel bags in the main cabin. If you have larger breeds you'll need to contact an animal shipping expert. I know of one who probably can help.
All of our animals had health certificates and made it thru customs with no problems. The only issue was that our Norwich Terrier was not a reconized breed down here. No big deal and kind of cool we have the only Norwich in Colombia. All are healthy and doing great. We went from a very large home on 5 acres to a 1800 sq ft condo. Bit of an adjustment but doing well

Again thank you. We are going to be in Colombia in Nov but probably not have time to do Santa Marta.
How long have you been there?. What do you miss the most? Do you ever return to the US? How do you get your mail? How did you get your money into Colombia to purchase your property? I have read a lot but it looks tricky? I will appreciate anything you can tell us.Thank you VERY VERY MUCH.

Jerry & maria

Lets see. We lived in Caragena for about a year right on the beach in a high rise. Liked it but wasnt for us. Cartagena is beautiful but its all beach. Santa Marta is mountains, rivers and beaches. Pretty much has it all.

We use a family members address in AZ for our mail. If its important they DHL it to us. Money hasnt been a problem. We have a CU and Charles Schwab account. When we bought our  home they just wire transfered the funds. When we got our Cedulas we were able to open a bank account here. Money and banking have not been a problem. We were lucky enough to work with a great realtor at Coldwell Banker. I understand that others work with the seller directly but we were'nt comfortable with that.
We're very happy here and glad we made the move.
Let me know if we can help.

Have a good one
Paul and Jill

Thanks for your help. Spent a week in Cartagena too humid for me, only did a tour through Santa Marta was crowded.
We are looking at FL or AZ or Colombia, quite a mix!! I have been several place in SA. Colombia is my choice after research. Plan on doing something in Jan or no later than 1st qtr.
I think all the details can be worked out my heart is torn because I have 2 small dogs that are part of the family we cannot leave them behind so we MUST work that out..
Thanks for your in-site
Warmest regards

Dont worry about your dogs. If they're small they can fly in the cabin with you. All of our animals flew with us. We had to buy an extra seat to make sure they was enough room for 5 small soft carry on crates but that was it. All 5 made the trip like champs including our 17 yr old 20 pound cat! There was no way we'd move without our kids!
Keep me posted

Hahaha......cant leave your kids behind can you?  So, I have traveled thru Cartagena and Santa Marta and beyond several times.....Burritaca, Palomino and all the way to the Venez border in La Guajira.....I always liked the santa Marta area....Cartagena is beautiful in terms of the old city, but its too much city and population........How do you find the overall cost of living there now with the relatively strong dollar?  And how will it be when the dollar inevitably crashes back to below 2000 COP?

Because we live in Rodadero a "tourist town" (strata 6) we pay more for everything. Still our US dollars go a long long way. A bit more expensive than Santa Marta proper but still very good. Even if the US dollar drops we're more than good. Cartagena was much more expensive

Thank you for your responses. We  are very seriously thinking of moving to Colombia. I am concerned with how to move money I dont think I want to get my SS directly deposited to Bancocolombia I can transfer 7000k/mo up to 27k/yr with my bank, no need for more.
I really need to resolve my issues I am not getting younger. How long have you lived there what do you miss or dislike the most? Do you own a car? Can you drive from Santa Marta to Medellin? How are the roads. Is medical help ez to get and find? Anything you can tell me would be great...

Thank you
enjoy your day

Jerry & Maria

Good morning
About the money thing, do not keep a lot of money in a bank here it will be taxed. My husband has his SS on a mastercard which is great. We have a couple of bank accounts in the US ( where most of the money is )  and 1 in Colombia.
We havent had a car for over 3 years and dont miss it. Rodadero is small and everything we need is a easy walk. We take the bus or a taxi to go to other cities.
I really miss dill pickles!! They dont seem to like them here. Every now and then I'll find a jar. Thats about it.

Very happy down here
Paul and Jill

Hi again
Forgot to talk about the medical. Its great! We have the national insurance which runs about $40 US a month. We also had private in surance but cancled after several months. Very expensive and is no different than the national. I broke my foot went to the hospital got in right away. For x rays, pain shot, cast and specialst we paid $6. All the Drs have been very nice and very well educated. Same with the dentists. Infact I believe the denistry here is probably the best in the world.
Lived here for over 3 years and love it. The visa process is a pain but doable. We're here on the TP7 visa for pensioners.
Let me know if you have any other questions
Paul and Jill

Jajaja. . .me too! However I found them in BARRANQUILLA at PriceSmart! (Vlasic).

PriceSmart is a good source for US imported brands (Philly Cream Cheese,etc.) they also deliver to Santa Marta. I find a trip or two a year satisfies my desires.

Hope this helps.

I hope youre not thinking of moving to Colombia without even having visited and stayed for awhile.? Sounds like youd be a total novice......Not a good idea.......Leave your money in your American bank and just pull it on your ATM card when you need it..Keep it as simple as possible in Colombia.....Dont buy a house or a property for at least a full year....Save yourself a lot of grief.........

Looking for WHERE :

Can you drive from Santa Marta to Medellin? How are the roads.

Avoid intercity driving at night in Colombia outside of the Coffee Zone.  Nighttime driving is a bad idea for a variety of reasons.

In the Andes, many roads have only one lane in either direction .. and are winding roads up and down hills.  Passing the many slow-moving trucks is not legal (but is done because they are so interminably slow) on many of these inclines .. and is not advised for novice drivers in Colombia.

Visit the travel and transportation section of the U.S. State Department's Colombia web pages for more details on unsafe driving areas in Colombia and safety practices.

Absolutely avoid back roads in southern Colombia.  Things are in the process of shaking out as non-FARC delincuentes are trying to assert their will in the current "peace" era, according to ....

The Pan Americana highway may appear as a straight line going north-south on your map .. and you may find estimated travel times listed on some sites.  However, these times are subject to weather, slow trucks and other factors and may seriously underestimate actual driving times.  The straight lines on the map may give a totally misleading idea of the true, winding nature of the roads.

On rainy days in the Andes, you may be able to average only 20 km per hour on some long stretches.  That's about 12 miles an hour.

cccmedia in Quindío

Perfect! I've got to go there!! Do they have a membership of can anyone get in?

They require membership, similar to Costco, BJ's or Sam's Club in the US. It's not expensive and they have the Kirkland brands like Costco.

Good morning, Thank you for  your info you are great. I am close to making our decision. Still not sure.
Did you keep your Medicare?  I am concerned about emergencies,  I have a heart condition but I am 75 so I know I wont live forever wherever I go. We suffer anxiety about getting our kids (dogs) there I will not move without  them. We are looking right now in AZ and since the hurricanes I think I am done looking in FL.
I think I can leave most of my assets in US and just use my US bank to wire me necessary money. Was thinking I would do the TP7 as well.
We are taking a trip to AZ later this month I hope we can relocate 1st qtr of next year.
Again thank you I really appreciate your input and help..

Enjoy you day be happy

Jerry & Maria

Good morning
My husband has medicare part A only. Just in case something happens  while in the US.

Like I said we brought all 3 cats and our dog with us. One of the cats and our dog weigh 17 pounds and they flew just fine. All 4 were in soft crates and flew in the cabin with us. No problems at all!
Keep me posted on your move!
Paul and Jill

I don't know if this belongs here but I don't know how to use this site yet as I am new here. Lol

Hello "looking for WHERE" ( Jerry and Maria)
We are going to Colombia also shortly and this is what we had found out to do so our "kids" can make the trip with us. Go to this website … l-colombia
for the pet health certificate. Click on pet dogs and cats then click to download the certificate.
Go to this website
for the requirements for your pet to get into Colombia. Take the health certificate and the requirement list to your vet along with a stool sample for each pet, do all this about 3- 4 months prior to travel in case there are any problems found such as fleas ticks worms ect.. Do NOT have the vet fill the HC out at this time, this is only a pre check just in case your pets need any type of treatment to be free of pests and parasites..
Ten days prior to leaving on your flight to Colombia you need to repeat all the above with the HC filled out. At this time you will take your filled out HC to the APHIS office in Georgia located at 1506 Klondike rd., suite 300 Conyers, Ga 30094 to be certified (apostille as you will). Make 3 copies of HC 1 for each pet carrier, one for customs, one just because and originals stay with you. Now to make sure your pets fly with you on the plane you must call the airlines customer service for in cabin weight restrictions prior to booking your flight. If your pets meet the requirements, then when you book your flight you will need to call airline customer service to let them know you have pets traveling with you in cabin due to they only allow so many pets in cabin per flight ( first come first serve). As far as medical, I am a heart patient also and some good research info such as "the foundation of cardiovascular of Colombia in Bucaramanga and Santa Marta.

None of my business, but some of what you say seems familiar. I'm 74 and can't decide where I want to spend the rest of my time.  But I have lived in Tucson for 8 years and Scottsdale before that, and I just wanted to give some perspective.  One pro: climate -- that's it!  I have had good health care here, but one could get that in Phoenix, or almost any major city, for that matter.  Otherwise, this is a "me first- you last" state. Tucson is number one in pedestrian fatalities. High crime. The entire east side with lower priced housing is replete with riff raff.  Of course, if you can afford it, the Catalina foothills wouldn't be so bad.  Then, there's the border situation. Also, if you don't mind gun-toting civilians, okay.  I'm not even going to get into politicians. Best bet is go to county elections and find out the vote tallies for 2016.  That will say a lot. So, just saying, like a foreign country, try it on for size and ask a lot of questions.

Hello all. I am a nursing student in Cincinnati and only have a year left. With my degree I'm hoping to pack me and my daughter up and travel somewhere different to start a new life. A few questions, as I'm sure it is a good vacation/retirement location, what about raising kids there? I've been looking into Santa Marta and was wondering if anyone could tell me how the nursing jobs around the area are. I will be an RN. Also any recommendations of colleges known for good medical programs would be great as I do plan on going back to be a nurse practitioner or anasteoligst. I am only 26 years old but would love to get my life a little more mapped out in my head within my last year of schooling. Any information will be appreciated! Thank you in advance

NurseMegan, I have good news and bad news.

First the good news.  Colombia in general and Santa Marta in particular, is an interesting, lively and overall good place to live, not nearly as expensive as the US.  The Colombians are very family-oriented and that is reflected in their society and culture, although there are many differences from the US culture, too, that may take some getting used to.

The bad news:  There may be nursing jobs available - nurses are always needed just about everywhere - but the pay is low.  For instance an operating room nurse (enfermera de quirófano) with 15 years of experience may expect to earn less than 2 million COP/month which is less than 700 USD/month.  The pay is likely to be even less in rural areas.  You can enter the first few letters of the occupation you wish to see a salary for here, nurse in Spanish is enfermera or enfermero. … -salario#/

Further, available jobs in Colombia will go first to Colombians, and then to those who are not only qualified but also have a good command of Spanish, unless you have some high-demand skill that cannot be filled easily.

Here is an approximate cost comparison between Cincinnati, OH and Santa Marta, Colombia that indicates the cost of living is roughly half in Santa Marta.  There are many other cities in Colombia that are cheaper than Santa Marta, including Medellín and Cali, the second and third largest cities in Colombia. … Comparison

Here is some information about medical schools in Colombia.  A possibility for you may be to visit Colombia several times and talk to several of them in person, as well as to several hospitals, to see what may be available and how your training and education could be validated in Colombia.  Note in this first article that even doctors, who are in one of the 20 best-paid professions in Colombia, leaving school in 2013 and entering the "real world" in 2014 earned on average only a bit over 3 million COP/month, or about $1000 USD/month: … ombia.html … 017/245866

FYI, I made 76 this week, left Tampa Florida June 2005, 9 years in Las Tablas, Panama where the heat is extreme with high humidity. Searched all of Central and South America for a good place to park. In 2014 moved to El Retiro which is at 7500 ft one hour from Medellin and 30 min from airport. 70´s day and 50´s night but a lot of rain and that has caused me to start a new search. In Sept went to Ft Mohave, AZ for 6 weeks and that was not to my liking because of the culture and cost 4 times of here. One can live here on $1500.00 per month unless you need a palace, my rent is $225.00 for a 2/2 with view over the town, Rum/Coke $0.70, beer $1.00, lunch $3.50/ soup, meat salad fresh fruit drink.  Will be going to Santa Marta in Feb for a fact finding mission as I miss the ocean after spending 35 years working on the waterfront. S M looks about the same cost as Retiro so time will tell. If what I have read is false I will report my findings to maybe save an un suspecting looker the trouble of wondering. W

wrbpanama :

9 years in Las Tablas, Panama where the heat is extreme with high humidity.... Will be going to Santa Marta in Feb for a fact finding mission as I miss the ocean... S M looks about the same cost as Retiro so time will tell.

No, no, no.

The weather at Santa Marta is going to give you unpleasant flashbacks to the heat in Panamá. :o

It's 90-93 degrees Fahrenheit (monthly average highs, per Wikipedia) every month of the year, peaking in February through April.  When it's 95 degrees in February, the Caribbean breezes won't save ya.

Time will tell?  I doubt it.  The thermometer will tell.

cccmedia in the no-schvitz zone, Ipiales, Nariño

And those brutal dry season winds there are unforgiving.......Worse than the trades in Hawaii..........I like nice suave lite cooling breezes but not hurricane force winds......But if you cruise around to other side of Tayrona to Burritaca and Palomino, its beautiful, its cooler, it stays green, and its out of the wind....That S.M. wind is a deal breaker for me.....and Taganga is overdone and vice ridden......altho can be fun for a few daze........S.M. was depressing the last few times I went thru there....Used to be better back in the war daze........The Paracos kept law and order in the entire Caribbean zone.........The police were just for show.....but the Paracos took care of business.......and the educated and sophisticated artsy/craftsy  elite from Bogota have decided that that area is their playground now.......Not to mention all the Colombian soap opera stars hanging out in skimpy bikinis (or less) on that awesome stretch of beach from Mendihuaca to Palomino.........

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