How does a cowgirl from Nevada find herself blogging about Coffee and Horses in Colombia? I’m going to tell you the short version. And, I wouldn’t have it any other way. It has its ups and downs, and even a few side-ways. The main thing is that despite the challenges, I’m still here. And I still want to be here, which is what counts the most. Come inside and get a practical glimpse into my Life in Pereira Colombia.
Coming to Colombia
Since the beginning of time, humans have searched for their “purpose,” in life. And, I totally believe that we all have a purpose special-built for each of us. We are too unique and individual for it to be otherwise. I found mine abroad.
My life B.C. (Before Colombia) I wasn’t really doing anything constructive. I grew up riding and training horses. My idea of a holiday was being invited to a ranch-branding 50 miles from anywhere, Nevada, USA. I even abandoned all the “logical” career options to become a carded Arabian Horse Show Judge. It was my dream. But, things changed and my plans were de-railed. At 23 yrs of age, I sold off my horses, trailer and truck. It was time to grow up…or so I thought.
The first lesson I learned about life abroad – is that nothing ever turns out the way we expect it to.
A few years later, I found myself working a “normal” job for a big corporation, had too many debts, and wasn’t really going anywhere in life either socially, or economically. Despite all the “things” I had, my life felt like a stressful pile of constant drudgery. I worked crappy jobs for micromanaging bosses. One night in 2011, my thoughts cleared a bit, and a new path suddenly became apparent. Obvious even!
It was time to chase the wildest dreams of my childhood, and go abroad. Within months I had sold everything I owned, I even sold my silver-encrusted show saddle which I had been saving. The piano I had played for over 20 years. And, the brand-new car I had just bought. In November of 2012, I started this blog to document my journeys, only a couple months before I left. And, I purchased a one-way ticket to Brazil.
Despite all the “things” I had in life, I wasn’t really living it to my full potential. Until Colombia…
Brazil was very cool. Carnaval. Beaches. Waterfalls. But, once my 6-month tourism allotment ended, I returned to the US because the fit wasn’t right for me. Within 6 months I was setting back out again. This time for Peru. Halfway there things changed and I went to Colombia instead.
My Life in Pereira Colombia
Ok, you know how I got here. And now I live here.
It’s not easy starting from scratch and creating a life abroad. It can be done. But, you have to work for it. Especially for any would-be’s who don’t have deep pockets, savings or a trust fund.
It’s not always easy for the cross-cultural relationships either. You have to really learn the culture you are diving into. A topic I am going to share with you very soon!
I met the love of my life, settled down, had a baby boy, and became a driven work-from-home-mom.
My life costs about $500/month. I hover over and under and around that figure based on where I am with my writing.
I found my purpose in life as a blogger/writer. While it doesn’t quite give me the ability to travel yet, it does pay for me to live a decent middle class lifestyle in one of the most affordable regions of Colombia.
Internet: 80,000 COP/ month for 5 Gb @ Strata 5 – Medio. Utilities: 200,000 COP/ month water and electricity Rent: 700,000/month 3 bedroom 1 1/2 bath apartment in el Centro (the property is a bit outdated) Food: 200,000 COP/month groceries and 100-200,000 eating out (optional). Transportation: 50 – 100,000 COP/month busses, taxis etc (optional because I live in the city center). Coffee Shops: 50,000 COP/month teaching english, meeting with clients & writing. Travel/Amusements: 100,000 COP/month 1 day trip per month (optional). The average exchange rate is $1 USD = ~ 3,000 COP.
Total Cost of Life: ~ 1,500,000 COP or ~$500 USD
Note: Some of these costs are split 2-3 ways with my family and that greatly reduces the overall.
Clarification by Editor: Behind concerns about the accuracy of my costs I want to clarify a couple things. The above figures reflect a minimalist lifestyle in Pereira. The average English teacher, or newbie who comes here with no nest-egg, can live for the costs I named above. The cost of rent listed is our total cost. It is a bit of a low price for el Centro, but at the same time, our apartment is outdated. The kitchen pipes are old and get blocked up easy, lots of smells in the building, old building, no elevator, 5th floor apartment etc. We are currently expecting to spend at least 800-900,000 pesos on our next apartment or house (if we can find one). Rent costs are steadily rising in this area and the Fiador thing is a really big pain.
For more information on the cost of rent in Pereira, Colombia click here: pereiracityguide.com/cost-rent-pereira-colombia/
That being said, as a freelance writer, my earnings are all over the place. Because, as many famous writers from Ernest Hemingway to Hunter S. Thompson have lamented, this charmed life isn’t always filled with riches and, often it’s feast or famine. No one becomes a writer in order to be rich and famous.
Most importantly, I wouldn’t be here at all without my readers who I greatly appreciate
I wouldn’t trade my lifestyle for all the gold in the world. I love my career as a freelancer. Sometimes I am able to do trades with people, or get paid a bit for quality content to market their concept. I always try to spend some of the money back into the business as a tip, especially if they go the extra mile to bring me into their world. Eventually, I will earn enough to sort out my tax status a bit. For now its life coming at me, and I go along with the flow. I have no debt, but also virtually no spending power either…but, thats ok for now.
My best advice for anyone who is considering Colombia, is to do your research. Its obvious, yet at the same time each experience is so different. I also encourage you to check out my other blog: PereiraCityGuide.com too! You will find more information about the costs of life.
Note: For a deeper glimpse into my lifestyle in Pereira, here’s an older post where I show you my neighborhood and the funky cultural quirks. Click here: openmindedtraveler.com/life-in-the-coffee-axis-pereira/
Probably the easiest way to access Colombia on a budget, is teach English. If you already have an independent and mobile income, then come, try it out on a TP-7 Retiree/Freelancer visa. This is a beautiful country and a nice fair-weather lifestyle.
Side Note About Colombian Tax Issues: Taxes have gone up quite a bit. The World Bank basically foisted the 19% IVA on Colombia, which is hitting all luxury services including internet, with a 19% sales tax. This even includes real estate above 800,000,000 COP. Everyone is feeling the pinch on some level, especially the Colombians. All the costs which I am mentioning here – are starting to increase. Do we have more austerity measures ahead? Or, is this only a typical Latin-American speed-bump? Only time will tell.
Digital Nomad Heaven: For the average digital nomad…it’s still super-affordable here. But right now, its a bit complicated too. Foreigners in Colombia are struggling to understand and document the changes. And the expat community is working to understand them. Try to qualify for your TP-7 visa if possible.