Leaving the country - advice / best guess / hunches

I am making plans to leave the USA. I’ve researched and dreamed for several years, but had responsibilities holding me back. I’ve had an Airbnb in two of my homes and loved hosting…I thought I would do this again once I relocated, but then came covid.

Looking at Medellin Colombia for about 90 days, maybe longer, when it opens. My experience traveling abroad is limited, so your advice is valued. Would you book a room for a week or two (isolation period, if required) and then look for a longer-term rental? I’d want my own place, but should I rent in a private home first to get to know people in the area?

I’m inclined to immerse myself in the city and the language, so not really looking at ex-pat communities, but should I be? Ultimately I want to be able to step out my door to shops and nightlife within walking distance, so outer areas wouldn’t be my first choice.

Thank you in advance. Can’t wait to see your replies…oh mavens of hosting!

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I sure wish to be out of here in November, when the s&*&^ hits the fan. You may wish to go somewhere safer, if you have not traveled much or if you are not naturally adventurous or a risk lover. Colombia might be pretty interesting, it has only just fairly recently emerged from a long civil war, and gotten on to travel radars. Why are you choosing Medellin, is it because of cost of living? Can you move there legally? I would consider living with a family, and that way you will make local friends and share daily life with them. I wouldn’t go there unless you speak spanish well.

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I don’t have a lot of insight into moving overseas but there are certainly members here who should be helpful. I think @Barry_Brachfeld is in Columbia. Maybe he will get notified of this post and chime in.

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I keep circling back to Medellin. Yes, def about the $, but I still have income via the internet and SS$. And can add a client if I have to, I manage HOAs and condos in Florida and have been doing it remotely for three years already. I left the rat race a few years ago and have no desire to get back in just to have better “things”.

90 days with no problem. Other ways to extend by leaving and returning. I figure that’s when I will check out Ecuador!

Yes, living with a family might be a good idea. My granddaughter learned Spanish living with a family from Cuba in Miami when in college and is now in Hanoi, living with a Vietnamese family.

She’s so lucky to have chosen Vietnam, no covid there!!


Staying in a private home first sounds like a good idea. That way, you’ll get tips about things only locals would know about, the best way to look for long-term housing if you decide to stay, etc. In many places in the world, the best places don’t get advertised, they end up getting passed on to friends. I look after a little casita right next door to me for the out-of-country owner- it gets rented privately long term. Same guy’s been there for almost 2 years, but I have a list of people I know who’ve said when it ever comes up for rent, they’d really like it.
One thing to be aware of if you require good internet to work is that it’s not always reliable in other countries. I imagine that Medellin has a decent communications system, but it may not be as high speed as you are accustomed to, could cut out sometimes, and in the rainy season, at least where I am in Mexico, we sometimes lose the power completely in a storm and it can be half a day before it comes back on. So that’s something to research.
And while an immersion experience in the language is a great way to learn, I’d suggest you take a course in basic Spanish before you go- it can make the difference between you feeling disoriented for awhile after you get there, not understanding anything that is being said around you, and being able to maneuver around more easily. I believe that Medellin has a sizable ex-pat population, so I’d imagine that you’ll find English also spoken in a lot of places.


I’m just curious, why did you decide to go live in Medellin?

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My son has been to several countries in SA and a few cities in Colombia and thinks it would be a great first place for me. I got rid of my car three years ago to scale down and adjust my standard of living, so use Uber a lot. Uber drivers have been a great source of info.

Internet reliability and airfare are two more plusses. Airfare to Medellin is typically less than flying intrastate here in Florida. And then the age thing… 65 isn’t old at all in SE Florida., but even in north Florida, I often felt like the oldest fart in the room just going out to hear music and grab a drink. I’ve been told that Medellin might be better for that than smaller places or other nearby countries.


Have you researched medical care? That’s why a lot of expats end up moving back from foreign countries in their older years. Public hospitals can be dicey, and the cost of private medical insurance can be exhorbitant depending on one’s age, and pre-existing conditions are usually not covered until a few years have passed. It’s an important thing to check out, which you may have already. If you’ll still be covered in the US, you might want to also get an emergency evacuation policy.

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Thank you, good point. I’ll look for a travel policy closer to leaving, especially emergency evacuation. But the cost of health care is another plus. People go there for dental and derm services…maybe I’ll get a “lift” moving to Medellin…lol!

Friends of mine have just visited New Zealand with the intent of possibly moving there and it was the health system that put a no as a result.

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I believe Panama has socialize medicine, if you’re concerned about cost of healthcare. They also use the US dollar so you don’t have to worry about exchanging money.

Most foreigners do pay for regular medical expenses here in Mexico out-of-pocket. It’s so inexpensive compared to the US- I can go see a specialist , who actually will spend up to an hour with me, rather than rushing me out in 5 minutes, for the equivalent of about $30. I had a full MRI of my back for about $100 several years ago. And dental care is about a third the price.
It’s the possible catastrophic situations that people buy private insurance to cover themselves for. A serious accident, a heart attack, that sort of thing. I can’t afford to pay $80,000 if I should need to be hospitalized for a week and require an operation or other specialized care.

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Okay, I’ll chime in.

I have American friends who immigrated to New Zealand in 2008-ish. The half of the couple I’ve known for 35+ years has lived and traveled all over the world. She is also the smartest person I know (admittedly small universe of people). After they immigrated the GFC of 2008-2010 happened. After she was made redundant from her job in the early teens she and her husband moved to China where they lived and worked in Suzhou China for about 5 years. At one point, they considered giving up US citizenship but haven’t yet.

While in China they both began to have health issues. Some of that they attribute to massive exposure to environmental toxins. Some is seemingly genetic. After being treated in Berlin and Auckland they came last year to the US to get top notch medical treatment. They had to pay for it themselves. Since then other issues have mostly resulted in an ambivalent attitude towards NZ medical care. They no longer seem interested in relinquishing US citizenship. They are also both currently unemployed and not quite old enough to retire being in their late 50s.

I think a huge factor is how you feel about health care, what is your current health and what sorts of resources do you want to devote to it? Personally I could go to a less developed nation, wade into the ocean and say “see ya!” Or so I think.


What you said, KKC.

I helped my mom live out her end of life plan, which was much different than what I choose. I’m good with wading into the ocean. Fine with it. That said, I’m really hoping I can stay afloat for about 25 years or so, BC there is too much to see and do!


I’ve heard that assisted living is more affordable and more humane in Mexico and other countries.

You’re the first person that’s known that! Most don’t even believe me when I tell them. She said that when someone tests positive, the building is quarantined and the government delivers food to all the residents.

In Vietnam they shame those that don’t wear masks. In the USA we make fun of mask wearers and shame covid patients.


Victim shaming at it’s worst. Unconscionable. One reason out of hundreds why people are in the streets now.


I don’t know about that as far as Mexico is concerned. There aren’t any such facilities around where I live as far as I know, but there are in other areas. Mexicans themselves don’t pack grandma and grandpa off to assisted living and nursing homes and such when they are old and feeble- they live with the family and are cared for by them.
Some of my friends here and I have kicked around the idea of all of us selling our separate homes and going in on a big place with lots of bedrooms and chipping in for an onsite caregiver when we get to that stage, but as we’re all still active and relatively healthy, it’s more of a fantasy at this point than any kind of plan.
I would imagine that there is better care in assisted living or nursing home situations in Mexico than NOB. Mexicans have a lot of respect and love for their elders, and I’d think that would extend to elder foreigners they were looking after, as well. Not just people choosing that as a job but abusing the residents as unfortuately happens far too often up north.


For the ten years before I retired I seriously looked at retiring offshore some place where my paltry few Social Insecurity dollars would spend further, and they still like Americans

I have to say @sandyb that right now – 31 May 2020 – IMHO, you’re about five years behind the eight-ball in your researching and looking at places to retire to… You should have been traveling and checking out conditions in a few chosen countries for the past 5 years.

The next two years – before a Covid vaccine in developed and approved and administered mostly world-wide – is possibly the worst time in the last 100 years to be looking to move offshore.

First – most countries will not allow you to ex-pat there unless you have a guaranteed minimum monthly income of $1500 or $2000 USD. They don’t want you being part of their dole (if they have one). When i was looking 20 years go that was $1000, sometimes only $500.

  1. Running an internet business from non-first-world countries is going to be tough because A) their Internet capabilities and services are not very good at best,; and B) many countries do not allow you, as a non-citizen, to work there (you are seen as taking jobs away from locals), and many of the countries consider Internet business “work”.

  2. You must look at USDollar to local currency exchange rates. They may not be very good. You will probably not be able to “live like a local” and get local prices on things – because you’re a rich American, regardless of how much/little money you may actually have.

  3. You must look at local medical, dental and other services. The older you get, the less being days away from decent Second World or First World medical/dental service is appealing. I once lived where proper repair of a broken finger was a minimum 3 day - 12 hour round trip flight away. If you had a heart attack or such you had to be strong enough to survive a minimum of 3 days and a 6+ hour air trip strapped to a stretcher on top of airliner seatbacks.

  4. Research the ‘rules’ by which ex-pats can retire/live in the country. Some countries simply do not let you live there for more than 90 or 180 days unless you leave for a certain amount of time and then return.

As far as getting to know other countries, with your limited travel experience and linguistic skills, I would suggest that you spend at least a month in your top 3 researched and selected countries. NOT living at the Hyatt or a gated community, but renting a house or apartment in a middle-class neighborhood. Doing all the things a non-tourist would do – buying groceries, doing laundry, traveling across town and back, going to the pharmacy/drugstore, shopping for clothes, etc. – to get a feel of how the locals treat you, look at you, act around you.

If you don’t speak the local language you’re going to be at a distinct dis-advantage; but anyone who does not will always be a “foreigner” and looked at as such.

Countries which use the USDollar are often poor choices for Americans to go because they are appalled at the local prices of things compared to ‘back home’. When you live places where they currency is different you must be able to quickly ‘translate’ from local to USD and back. In Brighton, England, for example, a Burger King Whopper meal is about £6.49. You think "that’s not bad, that’s what I’d pay Stateside. Except it’s not – £6.49 is actually more than double that in USD, close to $14.00!!! The reverse is also true.