Michael: Each year more U.S. retires are choosing to live their remaining days in other counties. There is a magazine, International Living, dedicated to providing information about retired life abroad. They have their list of the best places and AARP also has a list. All are fine countries to check out.
Knowing exactly how many U.S. citizens are retiring in other countries is difficult. We could look at how many Social Security checks are sent to banks abroad. But most expats are like me and keep an account in the United States. In my opinion an indication is the direction of International Living magazine subscriptions. In three recent years their subscribers doubled.
Money is usually the main reason given for moving abroad. Some people have reported easily living and enjoying life on as little as $1,200 to $1,500 a month. But for me it is more than that. There are many addditional benefits and opportunities. Some of the changes I experienced were expected, others are benefits I had not imagined.
Eating Better – My wife and I purchase most of our food at a fruit and vegetable store. To begin with, Colombia has over 150 different fruits. Many have properties that help keep you healthy. The vegetables come from local farmers who do not use pesticides. While our red peppers, carrots and celery may not be as beautiful looking as those in the stores in the United States, they are not genetically modified. The beef is grass fed and the taste proves it. We purchase campasino eggs which come from free range chickens.
Great Weather all Year – I lived in Michigan the first 50 years of my life. Summers were great to come after a long winter. but often they got too hot and humid. As for winters, well, I shoveled snow, froze my body and white knuckle drove on slippery freeways enough.
The weather now is like a continual cool spring. Plants are always blooming and there is always greenery. We live in the mountains in a small city called Cajicá. Our drive to Bogotá is about 30 minutes. Though we are almost 9,000 feet above sea level we are only six degrees from the equator. This provides weather year-round between 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4 Celsius) and 70 degrees Fahrenheit (22 Celsius). I feel comfortable wearing long sleeve shirts but some days do require a light sweater.
Health – There are two parts to health, what you do to stay healthy and the medical care you receive. In Colombia people walk much. The neighborhood is designed for it. Stores carrying the basics are nearby. My wife and I walk to a grocery store, to coffee shops and to church. Usually these places are less than 20 minutes away. And since the weather is always nice people do not mind walking.
Health care in Colombia is rated #22 by the World Health Organization. For comparison the United States is at #35. My wife and I pay for both of our insurance about one-third what I paid for just myself in the States. Having recently had a heart procedure with an extended stay in the hospital, I can attest that the hospital and doctors are of the same quality you will find in any first world country. There is a reason why Colombia’s medical tourism is growing rapidly.
Travel – I know you can travel easily in the United States. By time most of us have reached retirement age we have already done so. And I admit that it was enjoyable discovering what my country had to offer. But Colombia offers an entirely different travel, adventure and learning experience. Not just the country itself but the way it connects to other places in the world.
Colombia is approximately one-fifth the size of the United States. However it packs a lot of diversity into that space. There mountains, There are flatlands. It has shores on the Atlantic, Pacific and Caribbean oceans. Plus it borders Ecuador, Panama, Venezuela, Peru and Brazil. Bogotá is over 475 years old. Many other towns go back as many years with an interesting history involving Spanish conquistador and missionaries.
Everything is amazing, rich in history and shows a different culture. I am trying to discover it all. In Bogotá there are many museums including one filled with gold items made long before the Spanish arrived. The other parts of the country has a historical fort, coffee growing region and panoramic mountain views. There are Caribbean islands where there is little else to do but relax.
My wife and I also like to visit other countries. Not only is Colombia a great jumping-off point for other parts of South America, but Bogotá airport is international. One can easily get direct flights to Spain, United Kingdom, Germany and France just to name a few.
Slower Pace – Things seem to move at a slower pace in Colombia. At coffee shops people linger and talk instead of just getting their caffeine high drink and leaving. Things get done when they get done. Often plumbers, electricians and repair men give us one time and show up much later. I learned not to make a big deal of the small stuff and often just enjoy taking my time at a coffee shop.