When researching living in Colombia, you’ll certainly read about the super low cost of living, high-quality low-cost healthcare, easy availability of fresh fruits and vegetables, year-round spring-like climate, friendly people, and ubiquitous stunning vistas.
Deciding to see for myself, I went on an exploratory visit over a year ago. I am happy to report that these big claims are all quite true. Five months later I took the big leap, getting my retiree visa and settling near Pereira, one of the three main cities of Colombia’s renowned Zona Cafetera (coffee growing region).
Pereira is a city of “Eternal Spring” often described as a mini-Medellin. It’s only about a quarter of the size, but still has all the modern shopping choices that you’d ever want. On the downside, there’s fewer nightlife and cultural options here than in the larger Medellin, but on the plus side there’s less traffic and air pollution. Even better, you can rent a small one-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment for as low as $250 per month, or a three-bedroom, three-bathroom for only $500.
While all those “big” things like the affordable cost of living and the great climate drew me to Colombia, now I realize that it was actually the little things about life in Colombia that really tipped the scale for me. Here’s my top five rarely mentioned little things, each with big-time appeal.
1. Meal Time Convenience
Unlike Spain and various Latin American countries that dine at 9 p.m. or even later, you’ll find meal times in Colombia very similar to those of North America. That means you’ll find plenty of restaurants open at the times when you’re ready to eat.
2. Home Delivery Heaven
Colombians have taken home delivery to the next level. Almost every shop and restaurant boasts a sign declaring “domocilios” along with a phone number. This word literally means “homes,” but in this context refers to home delivery service. From fast food to fine restaurants, groceries to liquor, pharmacies to office supplies…just pick up the phone and have it delivered, often 24/7.
3. Electric Ease
Colombia uses the same electrical voltage and outlet style as North America. No hassling with converters or adapters. If you’re considering moving here, all your favorite electrical appliances and equipment—kitchen, household, bathroom, entertainment, tools—will still work.
4. Clean Consciousness
I greatly appreciated the abundance of trash receptacles throughout the towns and noticed nearly everyone depositing their trash appropriately. It’s also quite common to see city workers and shopkeepers sweeping the sidewalks and keeping the public areas neat and tidy. In most fast food restaurants and on the street, you’ll often see a row of specially labeled recycling bins to aid the environment and reduce land fill.
5. Shopping Malls are Fun for All
There’s more than just multi-screen Cineplex entertainment at Colombian malls. The top floor quite often boasts a full-on indoor playground for kids complete with rope bridges and climbing ladders, tube slides, kiddie rides, and games. For the over-21 crowd, malls usually have a bar area where you can relax and enjoy adult beverages. More surprisingly, it’s not uncommon to find a well-appointed casino right in the shopping mall.
Yes, the big things about a country are absolutely essential to know. But it’s quite often the little things that add up in a big way, making your day-to-day life extra enjoyable.
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