Our $175,000 Condo Has Future-Proofed Our Retirement in Colombia

The fabulous spring-like climate was what first attracted David and Carole Wallis to the idea of retiring in Medellín, Colombia. Who can argue with daytime highs in the mid-70s F to low 80s F? But it’s the city’s low cost of living and great quality of life that made them fall for its charms completely.

The Virginia couple did a lot of research during their initial scouting trip to Medellín in 2014. “By 2016, the exchange rate improved so much, that we took the plunge,” says Carole. The decision of which condo to buy was based mostly on price and layout.

“We looked at townhomes,” David explains, “but we wanted one-level living—no climbing stairs in the future as we get older.” They found a three-bedroom, three-bathroom, 1,850-square-foot condo on the sixth floor in a 15-year-old building. “We paid $175,000 for our condo, which would easily cost us twice as much back home in Richmond.”

They decided to ship their existing appliances, furniture and personal items from the U.S. to Colombia in a 20-foot shipping container, which cost them $13,000. They also carried out renovations to the existing kitchen where Carole enjoys spending time baking. “I love to experiment and play with recipes,” she says, “I have the time to cook from scratch and “copycat” some things that I can´t find here, like hot-fudge sauce.”

They’re delighted with their future-proof home. “It’s warm here, but not humid,” David says, “so no need for heating or air conditioning. We open our windows and get great breezes.” David spends most mornings on his balcony working out on his home gym. The combination of mountain views and gentle breezes make it more fun than work.

In general, Carole and David say they are living at about 50% less than back home. “We don´t scrimp,” says David, “the fresh fruit juices cost only about $1 here verses $4 in the U.S.” Carole jokes, “We took pictures for friends to prove we aren’t living in a hut.” Stopping for a cappuccino at De Lolita, their favorite coffee shop, doesn’t have to be a once-in-a-while treat. A cup made from Colombia’s finest beans is $1.25, compared to at least $6 back home.

Retired couples are often asked, “what do you do all day?” For David and Carole, the answer is “plenty.” Besides baking, Carole plays cards every Wednesday with a group of expats affectionately nicknamed “Medellín Cardies.” Walking is great exercise, so they stroll from their condo building to one of the malls for shopping, banking, errands, and to give their dog “Bear” his people fix.

“We’ve had Bear since he was 10 weeks old,” Carole says. “He is a big part of our family—like a child. We never would have considered not bringing him to Colombia. We bought him a seat on the plane and he stayed by David’s feet the whole flight.”

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