Michael: It almost sounds strange even to me. We decided to exit from the city we write about. It is where we have our connections to friends, museums, theaters, events, restaurants and coffee shops. It is in this city that we enjoy the advantage of doing such things as jumping on a bus and soon enjoying the latest special exhibit at the Museo Nacional then having lunch nearby.
Graciela: We based our decision on many factors. As we are retired there is no job in the city we need to show up for every day. But retired also brings a fixed income and Bogotá is an expensive city seemingly getting more expensive by the day. We have no more children at the house. A smaller place easier to clean is what I wanted.
Michael: Then there is the pico y placa thing. Depending on the last digit of your car license plate there are either two or three days each week that your vehicle cannot be on the road. Plus, though some may disagree with me, I feel there is a slow degradation of the public transportation.
Graciela: Traffic also seemed to be getting worse at all times of the day. Even short runs that might take 10 minutes with normal flowing traffic frequently required an hour or more.
Michael: Once we made the decision to leave it took six months of debating and looking. For me the choice was easy, Providencia Island. I can easily see myself on a Caribbean island wearing shorts and T-shirt each day, fishing in the morning, taking afternoon siestas and writing in the cool of the evening while watching the sunset over the ocean .
Graciela: My husband obviously lost touch with reality. The idea of being stuck on an island without easy access to the many benefits of a large city, especially medical services, is not what I enjoy. However we did discuss other places in Colombia. Cartagena had many of the things we like, but it is more expensive than Bogotá. Santa Marta, Ibaque, San Andres, Armenia, Medellin and others were discussed between us. But I want to stay close to my family in Bogotá as well as the good medical.
Michael: My wife got me when she said we owed it to our readers to show them more than me sleeping in a hammock strung between swaying palm trees. So, with readers in mind we started looking at places close enough to the capital city to continue covering it but to live in a less populated area that can still add more good stuff for our readers. We began our search in the city of Chia.
About 20 minutes (with good traffic) from Bogotá’s Northern border Chia has a population of around 100,000. That number is growing almost daily though. If you judge by tourist accounts the city is probably best known as the original location of Andres Carne de Res, a theme restaurant wrapped in whimsical decor oozing a party atmosphere. The city also boasts several strip malls and one indoor mall. Though as of this writing there is a very large mall under construction. Some say it will be the largest in the country. Many banks, stores and coffee shops surround and radiate from the city’s central square that is semi-closed to traffic.
Graciela: With two large dogs we needed a house with some green space. Michael also mandated a certain degree of quietness. New apartments and homes with very small yards are going up rapidly in the area. I believe that many retired Bogotanos are moving there. I contacted three different agencies to aid in our search. We looked at several places, but none quite met all our criteria.
Michael: Finally we were shown a home that came closest to what we were looking for. The owner lived next door and wanted quiet neighbors. It was then that I found out the mailing address is Cajicá. Basically it is the next town down the road from Chia. The first written history of Cajicá dates back to 1593 when the Spanish counted 776 native Indians living there. Today’s population is around 25,000.
Graciela: We are less than ten minutes from a mall with a theater. The medical facilities have been every bit as good and in some cases better than what we had in Bogotá. We can drive our car every day. And a benefit that we didn’t expect is slightly warmer weather than Bogotá.
Michael: But as a reader you may be wondering what is in it for you. Well, we are close enough to the capital city to still cover the museums, restaurants and events. Many towns around are now easier to get to so there will be more coverage of day trips. We will now bring you more in-depth coverage of the two growing towns, Chia and Cajicá, as well as other places nearby. This may be a place for others to consider retiring to. We already know of two people from the United States, one Australian and a .German in the area.