Life can be strange. One minute my husband Bryan and I are working the 9-to-5 routine, and the next we are looking at our future overseas.
We sold everything we had, and off we went. Now we live in the capital of the Colombian coffee region, Pereira. It’s a city surrounded by beautiful coffee plantations and forest-covered hills, and offers an occasional peek of a distant glacier-topped volcano. Pereira is still a hidden secret, but not for much longer.
Within minutes of the city, you can be out in nature enjoying a cold dip in the river, tropical forest hikes, or eating fresh trout. Inside the city, you can find shopping, cinemas, beautiful plazas, colonial architecture, and gourmet dining. The weather is the crowing jewel of Pereira—temperature hovers around a pleasant 75 F to 80 F year round.
One of our favorite adventures in Pereira is visiting the Frailes Waterfall. It’s an easy hike with more than 165 feet of cascading water and cool mist the reward at the end. A little-known attraction, this is part of a greater conservation corridor that offers camping, trekking, and even a high mountain lake with clean, ice-cold water. With very few heavily developed attractions, this area offers mostly small eco-tourism attractions with small, personalized tours and adventure packages.
There are many options to eat out in Pereira, too. For romantic nights out, we eat at Lena y Parrilla, an Argentinian steakhouse. High-quality steaks cost only $10 to $15 per person. If lunch out with friends is needed, we eat in local restaurants for only $3 to $4 per person with soup, main course, drink, and even an appetizer or dessert. Even the most high-end gourmet coffee, at the best coffee shops, will rarely cost more than $3.
When it comes to real estate, Colombia is a desirable choice. One of the biggest benefits is the favorable three-to-one dollar-to-peso exchange rate. You can rent a nice house or apartment for $300 to $500, up from the average rate of $250 in previous years. We currently pay $225 for a large, three-bedroom apartment downtown with a parking space and a doorman.
For example,you can rent a three-bedroom apartment on Avenida Circunvalar (the nice side of town) for less than $500 per month. The apartment comes with 24-hour security, ceramic floors, an American-style kitchen, parking, and even a patio. The same type of home in many similar sized American cities would cost at least double, and not on the “swank” side of town either.
A friend of mine from Canada, together with her husband, bought a small farm only 20 minutes away from the city center. They have more than 17 acres of land and they paid just $90,000, plus the cost of renovating the two-story, three-bedroom house.
Another example of the property on offer in Pereira is a big country estate, where for less than $300,000, you can get a mansion with a pool, a small soccer field, and 24-hour security.
Our life is funded by a combination of pesos and dollars, and we live amazingly well compared to what our incomes would buy back in the U.S.
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