How to open a Recovery House in Cali, Colombia

I am thinking about opening a recovery house in Cali, Colombia for women to recover from surgical procedures. Medical Tourism is big and its not slowing down. I would be providing laundry services, meals, nurses 24/7 and security.  I would appreciate some advise on business laws and taxes out there. I live in the US and I will be traveling back and forth with local staff hired running the place. Would I have to register the company in Cali, Colombia. Do I have to register the business at all? do I have to declare that money in USA as income since it wasn't earned in USA? 

I'd appreciate any business contacts? Any direction I should go to start?  Yes, I have vacationed in Cali, Colombia, more than 5 times.

Any advise is appreciated.  Thank you

Yes, you must declare worldwide income to the IRS.

Source: … is-taxable

Romaniac Experts Team

Interesting idea the recovery house. I think a big challenge you might face is finding competent Colombians who have a decent command of foreign languages. I've found that many Colombians, even those who speak some English and have lived in the U.S., are reluctant to speak English with me. I've even had one doctor, a GP, become angry by my merely asking if she spoke English. She took it as a personal insult. Maybe she just doesn't like gringos. On the other hand, medical doctors who are specialists have often been trained in the U.S. and gladly speak English. Not so much for nurses and other medical support personnel.

The IRS requires all income earned by U.S. citizens, except for a few exemptions, be reported regardless of where you live.


I live in Cali. I think it is a business that would be good, with a great bilingual team working for you. If you leave someone in charge while you are gone, make sure you trust them because unfortunately there are too many dishonest workers that would take advantage of your absence. In a good location, you will do great.

Best of Luck!

In the USA, it's hard enough getting a business off the ground with the principal in town and on site.  Launching a complicated business in Cali, part-time by remote control from the States, is not a recipe for success.

Too many decisions will come up on a daily -- even hourly -- basis, up to 24 hours a day .. for your shift-managers to handle in your absence.  Overseas communication may seem doable in concept, but daunting in reality.  Medically urgent situations can't wait for an overseas callback.  Key staff absences must be covered de inmediato.

A.  You need to investigate whether such businesses already exist in the target market.

B.  You need to find out whether Colombians would rather convalesce at home based on cultural norms.  Succeeding by attracting Expat patients only may not be viable. 

C.  You'll need an experienced attorney to answer your questions and advise you before you make a decision to launch.  Well-intentioned layman Expats are not enough.

D.  Accountability systems in place are essential to avoid the rip-offs Gurrego was suggesting are possible, if not likely. 

E.  Finding bi-lingual staff for a start-up operation is no small objective.

Yes, it's a valuable business.  But it also has life-and-death ramifications.  You may need to keep reliable doctors on staff or on immediate 'call'.  You'll need to develop strong relationships with one or more clinics and hospitals .. and expertise in dealing with Colombian insurance agencies and service providers.

I'd say do it if you find it's feasible and it's your heart's desire, but not until you can commit to it on-site full-time.  And by full-time, I don't mean just 40 hours a week the first year.

cccmedia in La Zona Cafetera


I, just like you had the desire to open a RH in Colombia and I did.... in Medellin, Colombia, however, if I can go back and change it ALL, I definitely would. I would have taken the money and opened a business in the USA. Now, I can only guide you and give you advice and what I experienced as a "gringa" in Colombia. It was a disaster to begin with. I went through 5 managers and staff about every month. They just DID NOT understand the way I wanted to run the RH. They would rather work less and get paid more or just NOT work at all. I wanted it run like the way the USA runs their recovery homes here with policies in place. The nurses/chefs/cleaners would not follow the rules or the policies that were implemented. It was sooo hard to find bilingual staff so the girls would complain about EVERYTHING from the culture to the weather. Also, when you have soo much competition your competitors will call and make false complaints on you for the most stupidest things such as " OMG I saw them discard bloody towels" lol and meanwhile we were licensed by the Department of Health. It was a waste because the nurses did not even understand or see my vision..  There were times that I could not fly out to get to Colombia because of school or my career here in the USA. I was juggling full time school, career, family and unless I was going to actually MOVE there it was never going to work. The workers did what they wanted, never followed rules, lied, stole, robbed, etc. especially when "the cat is away the mice will play" This saying is so old and so very true. Also, if you are not from Colombia you will be double charged for EVERYTHINGG>>>>>>> It failed before it even started. You also have to remember with a recovery home you have to make sure you pass inspections with the department of health, biohazard companies have to pick up needles and waste. It costs so much money, fire extinguishers and any alterations that need to be done to the home. Electronics are too expensive there too.. Everything is a fee there. If you have over 150k then thats great go for it but if your limited with funds, I would say its really not worth it. Everyday I was waking up with whatsapp messages with problems. I was so stressed and had a headache every single day. I was robbed twice and it was an inside job, my nurse was murdered by her estranged husband, the internet, the hot water would go in and out...  Plus, your wanting to open up a RH in Cali ?? do you know how many there are already. Too many RH's.... The market is saturated there,  just like Dominican Republic. I can go on with story after story. I love COLOMBIA but its not for business. Also, there are no rights for the employers meaning the laws there have never been changed since the 1950's and if your sued most likely the judge will coincide with the Colombians and you will lose. I have been through it all and I became fed up and shut the whole operation down.. Wait until you get the USA girls that pay you then go back to the USA after surgery and dispute the RH charges. I do not suggest it and thats my experience with opening a recovery home. Oh and thats not even half of it with bank accounts, taxes, accountants etc. My lawyer charged me $4500USD to open the business and it only costs maybe the most $200 and I am adding so much more than what it really is. I opened the business back in 2015 before the law went into effect that you have to have a cedula now to open a business there. When I opened the business I just used my passport but apparently that is not the case any longer. Please Please Please do your research!!

Hi I live in cali and read what happened to you, hope everything worked out aftewards.

Great information!! Did you open a RH here in the states??

Wow! Thanks for sharing all that very valuable information based on first hand experience.....I will NEVER open any business in Colombia after reading all this....Just CRAZy!.....Just a place to go and play for awhile.....Thats all.........And here I would have thought that Colombians were so much smarter and motivated and trustworthy than Panamanians, but apparently not..........

I made the mistake of hiring Costenas for my business here.  They lied, stole, were rude to the customers, spent all day long on their phones and generally made life a chore.  I hired a Colombian manager from Bucaramanga to supervise them but he was a fall down drunk alcoholic.  He was drunk on his first shift and stole from me every chance he got. His third shift I found him passed out in one of the rooms - drunk off his a**. I fired the manager after a week and I have now just fired the Costenas.  I have replaced them with Venezuelans and I'm hoping this will improve matters.  The work ethic here amounts to "take what you can while you can and make hay while the sun shines".

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