Medellin

//Medellin

Best places to retire cheap in 2018

Where’s the best place to retire cheap in 2018? Here’s my definite list for the year!

Here you go, in order:

#8 Cebu, Philipines: Beautiful forts, old architecture, mountains and beaches…..what’s not to love about Cebu? Also Cebu speaks English. They have great food, a mix of traditional and western can be found here no problems. The biggest problem with Cebu and why it only ranked #8 on this years list? Heat. It’s hottttttt, hot, hot here. Also spotty wifi, and roosters. Why are roosters a big con? They still have cock fighting here. So you are going to hear roosters all the time. One of the best things about Cebu though? The beaches, this will rank high for you if you love beaches!

Cebu Summary

#7 Bali, Indonesia: Tranquil beaches, and a very diverse culture is why it’s #7 on this years list. You’ll find everything from Australian backpackers, to yoga pant wearing hippies residing here. I’ve been all around the world and this is one of the most diverse places I have found in the way of culture. The people of Bali, are all great though. Regardless if you like yoga or all you can drink night clubs, there’s a place in the city for you. You’ll be able to get fresh fruit shakes for $1 CDN and big beers are $3. The biggest problem with Bali, is that it’s full of bugs. I don’t think I saw one traveller that was not covered in bug bites. I’d vacation here, but I don’t think I’d like to retire here. But I love the banana pancakes on the beach…..so good and definitely worth going for!

LINK: One Month Bali Review

#6 Quito, Ecuador: Quito is one of the cities you’ll definitely visit in Ecuador. The reason you’ll visit is that it’s an airport hub and it’s close to the Amazon. Would I retire there? Yes, but it’s not as good as it’s sister city Cuenca. While Quito has several things going for it like Uber and more buses going to different parts of the country, it’s not quite perfect. Giant hills make walking around difficult, and while I’d recommend coming here, (It’s still in the top 10 in the world.) It’s neighbor Cuenca is just better for retirees. Another problem with Quito is like most of South America, people don’t really speak English. Great healthcare in Ecuador though keeps Quito in the mix! Also as a bonus if you’re staying in Quito, go check out the Blue Door Housing…fantastic place to stay.

LINK: One month in Quito

#5 Chiang Mai, Thailand: Founded in 1296, this northern town in Thailand is a quiet place compared to Bangkok. The old town here is amazing, picturesque with temples and a feeling of peace. It doesn’t feel like a big tourist trap like Bangkok does. Saying that there are some reasons it’s ranked #5. No transit. The city has no good bus/transit/taxi. You’ll be taking Jeepneys everywhere. Recently it got GRAB, but cars are still relatively rare.

LINK: Great things about retiring in Chiang Mai

#4 Saigon, Vietnam: Saigon is a great place to retire cheap, because of the combination of great food and culture. LINK In detail review of Saigon

FOOD! Banh Mi is my go to food in Vietnam. Even if I never retire in Saigon, I’ll need to fly back at least once a year to eat some Banh Mi.

The costs here are great:

  • Coffee 17,600 Dong ($1 CDN
  • I’ve tried to give up smoking, but it’s been hard so I’ll usually have a smoke with my morning coffee. Cigarettes are 25,500 Dong ($1.50 CDN) a pack.
  • Gym 260,000 Dong ($15 CDN) a month.
  • Vietnamese Sub, AKA Banh Mi, AKA delicious 15,000 Dong ($1 CDN). The funny thing about Banh Mi’s is that there are several stands all around my apartment. All of the Banh Mi’s are slightly different but they are all uniformly 15,000 Dong!
  • My apartment was 4.4 million Dong ($250 CDN ) a month. This included high speed internet (43 Mbps), a maid once a week, power, water etc. (Shared with 2 other people).
  • A bowl of Pho 40,000 Dong ($2 CDN)

Why did it not rate higher on my best countries to retire cheap list? Heat mainly, and the fact that GRAB is really bad there. Also the visa situation kind of sucks. You have to do paperwork ahead of time to get your Visa, and Visa runs are necessary every 3 months.

#3 Medellin, Colombia: Ranked #3 this is my #1 to place to visit. Especially if I were just to judge it by it’s vibrancy and culture. I loved Medellin as soon as I stepped off the plane. The sounds, the sights (the women are beautiful) and the fact that everyone seems pretty darn nice. Medellin is somewhere you definitely want to visit at least once in your life. Saying that it only ranked #3 for a reason. It’s lively culture also includes, drugs, thieves and assaults. Every person I knew had either been mugged, robbed or pickpocketed (or personally knew somebody who had been). I personally had somebody try to pickpocket me, and my roommate was robbed at knife point. The safety factor drops this amazing city in Colombia to #3.

LINK: Medellin is dangerous!

#2 Siem Reap, Cambodia: The city of temples! It’s got all the charm of Vietnam, and it has 50 cent beers! Food will cost more than Vietnam, but it balances itself out with cheaper beer/cigarettes. In Siem Reap you’ll find a great combination of international food, and $3 lunches. This is the only place where I found imported liquor cheaper than it is back home in Canada! That’s right if you’ve travelled around you know the price of international booze is always more expensive. In Siem Reap, Jack Daniels is actually 40% cheaper than it is at home in Canada. The only caveat to this is wine. Wine is double the price for no known reason.

Siem Reap is small enough to walk around, but if you get sick of walking there’s an abundance of Tuk Tuks. Safe, and with great English, this is a great place to retire cheap. Visa on arrival is no problem, and it’s super easy to get 6 month extensions. The only reason it didn’t make the top spot on my list? Hot! It’s hot, hot hot! If you like hot weather this place should actually move itself up to number one.

LINK TO SIEM REAP MONTHLY REVIEW

#1 Cuenca, Ecuador: Oh Cuenca, I love you. Cuenca contains all the beautiful architecture you would find in Quito, but not filled with giant hills. I’ve found this is a sleepy town, but it is big enough to have malls, movie theaters and gyms.

I love the fact that you can pretty much walk everywhere here. A lot of expats lose weight just because of the constant walking.

You’ll wake up go for a walk to the market, get some fresh eggs and vegetables all for a $1 CDN. Big beers are $1.75 CDN, and meals out are roughy $2.50.

There is a wide assortment of culture to be found here, but it’s not really a party place. Cuenca isn’t a place you want to go for a vacation. There’s really not much to do here. It’s a place you’ll want to go to retire. A strong expat community also makes it an easy place to make friends.

Why is it rated so highly then? Just the fact that while it’s a sleepy town it is also peaceful and easy to get to know.

The only thing about Cuenca that I’d love to see change? It needs a better cab system. In Quito there was Cabify and Uber. Nothing like that exists in Cuenca. But when you can get a cab they are friendly and cheap.

Cuenca wins 2018 with its perfect spring like weather though out the year, great people and good sized population. Cuenca was #1 in 2017, and I am keeping it here for 2018.

LINK: One month in Cuenca

I hope this list has been useful to you. It was a lot of fun to make! It’s been a big year for me in 2018 and I love travel blogging. Thank you so much for your support! If you have any questions about which countries to retire cheap in, just message me!

Best places to retire cheap in 20182019-01-24T22:53:55+00:00

Meet new friends quick with language exchanges!

One thing I learned in South America that there are things called language exchanges. They’re great for meeting a whole bunch of new people quickly. Travelling the world looking for the best countries to retire cheap can be lonely at times. You see all these great sites, but it’s usually by yourself. It’s nice to meet new friends.  You might be researching if you’re ready to go to a new country

LINK Checklist for retiring cheap in a new country,

and language exchanges are a great way to meet new people who have similar views and questions as you.

When I was in Medellin, Colombia I discovered the magic of language exchanges. Basically, you show up, and there are a whole bunch of people working on their language skills. I’m desperately looking to learn Spanish, so it was perfect. I’ve seen language exchanges all over South America some are good, and some not so good.

Usually there’s no cover or charge, and I’ve seen them held in bars and restaurants. The best part is that you have all these people who want to practice their English skills as well.

I love these events, and got a chance to talk to one of the people who take the time to organize these events.

James Varriale is an affable man, with a great smile who spent some time, answering my questions.


WHY DO YOU ORGANIZE THESE EVENTS?

“I host Language Exchange and “Cultural Fusion” events in Medellin mainly because it’s a lot of fun and it keeps me busy — which is an important consideration when you’re retired. In addition, I’ve met bright and curious people from around the world so its a good way to stay connected to new ideas and to other ways of thinking. I’ve been hosting events for the past two and half years and I guess the hardest part is coming up with new venues when, for one reason or another, I decide to make some changes in order to keep things fresh. “Medellin ENGLISH – SPANISH Events” (the name of my group) now has over 14,000 members across a variety of social media platforms with Facebook being the most populated group. I’m always looking for new event ideas which both interest me and what I suspect will interest others as well.”

If you’re in Medellin, here’s a link to the event.  Language exchange in Medellin

I hope this article helps you get out there and meet new people. Searching the world for the best countries to retire cheap, means diving into the culture unless you want to be come a hermit in your new home. It reminds me of this guy, who just spent all his time at home in his new country, and being lonely. Hot pussy & Cold Beer

I hope this article helped you with your quest of finding the best country to retire cheap. Scroll to the bottom of the page for more tips and articles on finding the cheapest places to retire. And if you liked the article, please share on social media (I’d love it if you did!)

Meet new friends quick with language exchanges!2018-06-20T19:13:19+00:00

Bangkok vs Medellin: Head to Head SHOOTOUT

Bangkok vs Medellin: Head to Head SHOOTOUT

Bangkok the land of smiles vs Medellin the city of eternal spring. Both of these are very similar. Both are “unsafe”, “dangerous” & “legendary”.

When I tell my friends back home in Canada, about Bangkok, all they think about is Ladyboys, and ping pong shows. If I say Medellin? Coke.

Rating 1: Partying & Drugs

Bangkok is much more of a place to grab a beer, and watch crazy stuff, then Medellin. Medellin is Salsa dancing plus 80’s partying. Cocaine vs beer. Obviously Bangkok has tons of drugs, but it’s not near as prevalent as Medellin. In Medellin, you can buy coke for $10 a gram, and it’s as easy to get as Chiclets. Also the cops don’t care. Bangkok is a no drug city. Just don’t do it. You will be busted, and thrown in a Thai prison. There you’ll meet ladyboys.

How do I score this?

Winner: Medellin. You can go to an after hours bar, a salsa club, an 80’s metal club all in one night. Bangkok, is much more of a stripclub/disco feel. Bangkok I always felt like a spectactor and part of the audience, in Medellin you’re doing shots of aguardiente and dancing to a-Ha’s “take me on”.


Rating 2: Danger

Bangkok you might get pickpocketed, but it is nothing compared to Medellin. Even in the safest parts of Medellin, you have a chance of being violently mugged. Every person I’ve talked to has been either robbed, pick pocketed or known somebody who has. Sad but true.

Winner: Hands down Bangkok wins for safety. If you keep to the good parts of town, you’ll be fine. If you go deep into the underbelly? Still safer than Medellin

Rating 3: English

Bangkok beats Medellin here. South East Asia, has given into the idea that, while there are a million Asian languages, English is the international tourist language. In Medellin, the South American idea that Spanish is universally spoken is the dominant thought.

Winner: Bangkok. You might only be able to order food or squabble with a taxi in Bangkok, but in Medellin, they do not speak English, even in the super touristy areas.

 

Rating 4: Weather

Bangkok is hot, humid and when it rains torrential. Medellin is about 20 degrees. They call it the city of eternal spring for a reason. It actually reminds me of Vancouver, Canada in terms of weather. (But with less hipsters).

Winner: Medellin. You can wear long pants and shirts  here, without feeling like you’re going to die of heatstroke.

 

Rating 5: Food

Ok. I love food. Love it. If you love pad Thai, and love getting it fresh from a cart for a $1 you’re going to love Bangkok. However did you know there are tons of styles of Empanadas? And Medelllin has them all. Colombian food vs Thai food can be a matter of palate, but all in all Bangkok has less variety of International cuisine than Medellin. In Thailand you’ll find more forms of Asian food though.

Winner: Medellin. Even though Thailand has more Asian cuisine, sometimes I want a burger. And in Medellin you’ll be able to get a taco, pizza or empanada’s all in a 3 block radius.

 

Rating 6: Cost

Bangkok has Sukumvhit, while Medellin has Poblado. Both are the expat heavy areas. If you live in the tourist/expat areas, you’ll find Bangkok cheaper. If you get out into the regular parts of town you’ll find Medellin is cheaper. Also there isn’t much haggling in Medellin. Maybe 20% vs the 600% you might have to haggle down in Bangkok

Winner: Tie

 

Rating 7: Shopping

For a place with so many people, Medellin has inferior shopping. Seriously, they don’t really understand the shopping/haggling mindset. Bangkok will suck every dollar out of your pocket with fake Beats by Dre and Chang tank tops.

Winner: Bangkok.  Millions of Indian tailors. Chatuchak. Terminal 21. So much to buy, from Ferrarris to fake converse.

 

Rating 8:  Health

Bangkok, you can buy medicine directly from the pharmacy. Medellin, you can have a motorbike courier bring it to you! Medical tourism is huge in Bangkok , and Medellin is the king of plastic surgery. I got my teeth cleaned and whitened for $150 CDN in Medellin.

Winner: Tie

 

Rating 9: Gyms

Bangkok has gyms, but Medellin seems to have a gym every other block. From crossfit, to iron gyms, to free outdoor gyms, Medellin has it all.

Winner: Medellin. Latin culture values physical fitness and looks much more than Asian cultures.

 

Rating 10: Internet

This is super important. Both have strong internet. Neither is horrible. Either way you’ll be in a place where you have internet. Till you don’t. Natural disasters, weather and such make it hard to rely on it sometimes.

Winner: Tie.

The Total out of 10? Medellin 5 , Bangkok 3 , with 2 ties. Is Medellin the best place in world to retire cheap? I still love Bangkok, but I’ll definitely be back to explore Medellin more. I hope this article helped you with your quest of finding the best country to retire cheap. Scroll to the bottom of the page for more tips and articles on finding the cheapest places to retire. And if you liked the article, please share on social media (I’d love it if you did!)

Bangkok vs Medellin: Head to Head SHOOTOUT2017-07-25T07:59:28+00:00

How to get to Cali from Medellin by bus

Traveling from Medellin, to Cali I decided to take the bus not the plane. 80% of people who I told that declared “You are muy loco, crazy!” Flying from Medellin via one of the low cost carriers is really inexpensive, and taking the bus isn’t a huge cost savings. So why did I do it? As you know I’m travelling the world, looking for the best country to retire cheap. In the years that I’ve been doing, I’ve learned one thing. If you get a chance to take the bus/train, do it. 

Taking the bus took roughly 11 hours versus the hour or two it takes by plane. But as you know taking the plane isn’t just “taking the plane” anymore. Factor in the 3 hours it takes to get to the airport, get through customs and taxis all of a sudden it’s not a huge time savings.

Taking the bus cost 45 000 COP ($22 CDN) and it’s totally worth it. You get to see the beautiful countryside and the seats on the Bolivariano bus I took were full recline. It also had wifi, movies (all in Spanish…no subtitles) and were really polite. Compare that to a cramped no leg room plane, your choice. (I also was travelling with two 30kg suitcases, and carryon. The cost of taking the plane was roughly 200 000 ($100 CDN) after all the fees, taxis, etc.)

STEP BY STEP GUIDE

  1. Take an Uber to Terminal Sur. This should be roughly 8000 COP ($4 CDN) from anywhere in Medellin.
  2. Go to the ticketing booths. There are about 50 of them, all for different companies. Go Bolivariano, it’s awesome. 
  3. After buying your ticket, go the departures area. They won’t let you through until it’s close to your bus departure time. Buses leave 5 times a day. (I chose a bus that got me into town at 11pm.) 
  4. When the bus arrives, most people will rush on. Don’t worry about it. Seats are assigned when you buy the ticket.
  5. You’ll get luggage tags when you throw your checked in luggage under the bus. Under no condition should you put anything valuable in there. (I’ve heard of several horror stories from people who had their stuff stolen. Two girls from England wound up losing their 80 litre backpacks.) For security, they videotape everybody on the bus! 
  6. The bus is air conditioned. Think really cold movie theater air conditioned. 90% of people on the bus had a giant blanket with them. These are the fuzzy blanket things that you see being sold at super flea markets with pictures of cats or Elvis on them. Seriously bring a blanket. I was so cold that my Colombian seat mate, took pity on me and shared her blanket. 
  7. Halfway through the journey, they stopped at a little road side cafe. You can buy a chorizo, arepa and potato for 7000 COP ($3.50 CDN). If you get hungry about one or two times during the trip a vendor will get onto the bus and sell chips and snacks. It’s not frequent, so I would recommend bringing some powerbars.
  8. Enjoy the ride! I slept for bits, watched the countryside for other bits, and watched Netflix for other bits. (The free wifi isn’t great, download your shows.) There is an overhead rack for your carryon. For safeties sake, do not put your valuables up there and fall asleep. There’s plenty of space by your feet. 
  9. When you get to Cali, the bus stop has a queue of cabs waiting to take you to where you’re going. I was going to a popular hostel, so need to fumble around with a screenshot and map. That’s all! Enjoy the bus! It’s worth it.
How to get to Cali from Medellin by bus2017-05-28T21:20:49+00:00

There are NO Asians in Medellin, Colombia

One question I get asked every once in a while is, are there any Asian people in Medellin?  The answer? There are no Asians in Medellin, Colombia. Colombians are super friendly, and I’ve learned to answer their question “De dondes eres?” (Where are you from?) with “Soy de Canada pero mi en familia es Chino” (I’m from Canada, my family are Chinese).

If you don’t answer the question that way, they think you don’t understand and will ask again. If you’re Asian, you’ve been asked that question by people in North America every once in a while, you know what I’m talking about. “Where are you reallllyyyyy frommmm?” they’ll ask. I always think “Dude, I was born and raised in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. I love country music, F-150s and steaks!” But then reluctantly answer “My ethnicity is Chinese.”

Colombians though, I think just really haven’t known many Asian people at all. I asked them in my completely garbage Spanish, what they think of people from Asia

  1. Stern
  2. Good at math
  3. Knows Karate
  4. They didn’t mention they probably think I have a small penis too.

(Only one of those things are true on that list, but really, that’s a Samson thing not a Chinese thing!)

They do have Chinese restaurants, so it’s not like Chinese people don’t exist here. They just are very very very rare. (And yes it’s usually 99% Colombians working at the Chinese Restaurant.)

One thing here that’s funny. Is that on the menus at the Chinese restaurants they’ll have all these different stir fried rice dishes. Yet one of them will be called “Arroz de Chino”, or Chinese Rice. When I see that, I always think….wait…aren’t they always Chinese stir fried rice? Sure the other one’s have odd ingredients like pork rinds, but hey it’s stir fried rice…
So, if you get to Medellin, and you’re Asian? Be prepared to be the ambassador for all Asian people, and also be prepared to be called Jackie Chan a lot.

I hope this article helped you with your quest of finding the best country to retire cheap. Scroll to the bottom of the page for more tips and articles on finding the cheapest places to retire. And if you liked the article, please share on social media (I’d love it if you did!)

There are NO Asians in Medellin, Colombia2017-12-20T00:56:18+00:00

Is Medellin, Colombia the best place to retire cheap? 1 month summary

I’ve been living in Medellin for over a month now so I can officially tell you it’s one of the best countries to retire cheap. After a year in South East Asia, I was a little hesitant to start this years tour of Central and South America. My biggest fears? I don’t speak Spanish, and I really hate salsa music.

Landing at the airport, I had a really pleasant surprise. They have airport buses that run you right into town for cheap 9000 COP ($4.50 CDN). Or you can take a taxi for $70 000 COP ($35 CDN). I took the cheap bus, called a collectivo…. and then took the taxi from the bus stop. Much much cheaper.

The first thing I can tell you is that cabs do not speak English. And they don’t seem to understand maps either. They do not however, try the “no meter” trick. They all seemed super honest. (I’ve had worse cab rides in Richmond, BC. Worst cab company in Canada). An average cab ride is about the same price as an Uber here. They also have a local app called Easy Taxi.

If the cabs are honest and the relative same price as an Uber, why Uber? With Uber, you can put the exact map pin in where you’re going. Remember the cab drivers here don’t speak English, and don’t know how to read a Google Map. If you’re going somewhere that really requires English speaking, you can pay 50% more and order an English speaking Uber.

My first night here, I went to the tourist area. Lleras park. It’s the place to be if you like partying. Bars, nightclubs, restaurants & hookers. It’s fun, and doesn’t shut down till about 4am. (I always like a little danger and chaos in my party zones). You can buy drugs, beers or tacos here. All super safe, as there is a very heavy police presence. I also liked the fact that there were locals that partied here too. It is more expensive than any other part of town though.

After a few nights in Poblada and Lleras Park, I wanted to find the “real” Medellin. Now, I’m completely different than most people here. I don’t want fancy restaurants and safety. I want street food, and a little hint of chaos. I love street food, and you’ll have a hard time finding it Lleras park. The local food is mostly rice, with beans , a protein, and an inedible hockey puck called an arepa. Delicious (except the arepa)!

68% of the people I’ve met here in Medellin, are Digital Nomads. Not a lot of fat tourists, or backpackers here. And out of those 68%, about 90% of them live in two areas. Poblado or Laureles. These are the two parts of town you’ll want to stay, if you want to hang out with your Digital Nomad peeps. It’s a great community here. Literally the best I’ve seen in the world.

Me? I found a haunted afterhours/bar party hotel to live in. It’s deep in the heart of Centro. And just like the downtown in Edmonton, Alberta, it’s full of crime, not the safest and crappy if you want to drive.  My room is 15000 COP ($7 CDN) a night. Living in Poblado a 1 bed room furnished apartment is roughly 1,200,000 COP ($600 CDN) a month. Poblano is expensive, but nice.

If you want food that costs half the price of Poblado, or to live in the heart of Medellin, Centro is the place to go.

Centro is dangerous. My roommate was mugged. But saying that, he was out in a park at 4am in the morning and kind of drunk. Here in Medellin you’ve got to stay hard and sharp.

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Even though there’s crime, the people are all super nice, putting up with halting attempts at Spanish, and welcoming me to Medellin. I really am the only Chino (Chinese person) here. I get big smiles everywhere I go. And they seem like they do care that you’re having a good day.

My typical day is pretty great. I wake up, work on the blog a bit, and then head to the gym. There are gyms everywhere here. Free gyms made of concrete blocks in the park, old school 80’s iron gyms (where I work out) and high tech fancy gyms.


The most expensive gyms I’ve found were $140 000 COP ($70 CDN), my gym is $60 000 ($30 CDN).

After the gym, I’ll go grab a meal for about 6000 COP ($3 CDN) or a tasty meat pie for 1800 COP (90 cents CDN).

There are bars everywhere here in Centro, and barber shops. I don’t know why there are so many barber shops. But literally I counted 5 in a 3 block radius. Get a haircut here . It costs 10 000 COP ($5 CDN) but it’s one of the best haircuts I’ve ever gotten. They start with clippers, go to scissors, and then a razor! Worth it!

https://www.bestcountriestoretirecheap.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/img_6315.mov
If you want to go grab a beer in a bar it’s about 8000 COP ($4 CDN), or you can buy them at the grocery shops for about 2000 COP ($1 CDN). Remember nobody really speaks English here, so if you are going out for a beer, you might feel a little shut out.

Me? I’ve spent a month in Medellin, Colombia, and I love it. I’m going on the rest of my tour, but I’ll be back!


I hope this article helped you with your quest of finding the best country to retire cheap. Scroll to the bottom of the page for more tips and articles on finding the cheapest places to retire. And if you liked the article, please share on social media (I’d love it if you did!)

Is Medellin, Colombia the best place to retire cheap? 1 month summary2018-06-20T19:00:42+00:00

How much are groceries in Medellin, Colombia 

Even though eating out isn’t expensive here in Medellin, I like to buy groceries for cooking and eating at home. Is it cheap here? I know if you’re looking for the best country to live cheap you are both smart and frugal. Here’s what I paid for my latest groceries

  • Spaghetti sauce 4450 COP ($2.25 CDN)
  • Sour Cream small 2350 COP ($1 CDN)
  • Cheese slices (they are not near as good as Kraft Singles) 4450 COP ($2.25 CDN)
  • Loaf of white bread 1750 COP (80 cents CDN)
  • Spaghetti (1/3 of regular Canadian size) 700 COP (30 cents CDN)
  • Squeeze Cheeze like the stuff you get on Stadium Nachos or at 7/11 3150 COP ($1.50 CDN)
  • Vegetable Oil small bottle 8450 COP (4.25 CDN)
  • Chorizo sausage package 7400 COP (3.75 CDN)
  • 30 Eggs 8300 COP ($4 CDN)

I hope this article helped you with your quest of finding the best country to retire cheap. Scroll to the bottom of the page for more tips and articles on finding the cheapest places to retire. And if you liked the article, please share on social media (I’d love it if you did!)

How much are groceries in Medellin, Colombia 2017-05-01T22:01:17+00:00

Guide to haggling in Colombia! 

Tip for haggling in Colombia ??! If you’re in malls you can still haggle for 10-15% off. On the streets haggle for more. And read my other haggling tips! Browse my travel blog  for all my tips on not paying gringo prices! I’ve got a two part article on haggling that’ll literally save you tons of cash and anguish. Remember haggling is an art, and a sport not a death match. Also don’t forget never haggle for street food! 

I hope this mini- article helped you with your quest of finding the best country to retire cheap. Scroll to the bottom of the page for more tips and articles on finding the cheapest places to retire. And if you liked the article, please share on social media (I’d love it if you did!) 

Guide to haggling in Colombia! 2017-04-29T23:09:49+00:00

I survived living 30 days in a haunted after hours bar in Medellin

Searching for the best countries to live, I wandered into Casa de la Luna in Medellin, Colombia. It was like nowhere I’ve ever lived.  I’ve only felt so much paranormal activity in one other place in the world(A shady hotel in Bangkok).

This 100 year old plus house has been converted into a bar/afterhours/hotel and reeks of hauntings. 

Unlike the place in Bangkok the spirits here felt benign so I paid the $7 a night to stay here for 30 days and 30 nights. 

There are also 3 cats who live on premises I took this as a positive sign. Cats are my spirit totem. And at $7 a night…who’s afraid of some ghosts…..(cue theme song)

Living in a place advertised as a bar between Tuesday and Saturday, meant that anywhere between Tuesday and Saturday anything could happen. Some of those things were actually pretty cool. 

For example, an afterhours party went on till 9am in the morning. I loved it, everybody was super friendly and the music wasn’t too bad. It’s super cool to have parties, when you’re in the party mood. 

Some other super amazing things about living here? On Fridays the space was turned into a jam space for amateur musicians. And yes, it was truly as good as that statement entails. I’ve never truly appreciated tone, melody or the intricacies of music until I heard these musicians play. What they did to “Stairway to Heaven” was truly inspired.  I loved it when they would often play one song over and over. Each time slightly different. Are there anything better than amateur musicians? I got to bathe in their unique rendition of the Cranberries from a foreign language speaker. The only other time I really appreciated the difference of what a native speaker versus non-native hears was when I heard “Circle of Rife” at Hong Kong Disney. I also developed a new found respect  for sound engineers, because I got to really appreciate the grandness of over amplified microphone squeals. 

How were the living conditions? The water at Casa de Luna was always a nice brisk chilly cold. So, you never have to worry about whether you are taking too long in the showers and therefore wasting water. Earth first! 

What also is fun, is roughly every 10 days they’d bring in a washing machine! You can do your laundry, which is a huge bonus. And the kitchen is great too! You get to become an expert of cooking on a camping stove! Keep in mind the use of the kitchen and the laundry, and shower are all included in the $7!

Do you like surprises? I’d be wandering around at night in my pajamas, making a protein shake and bam! Party happening! Isn’t that a fun surprise? Who doesn’t love surprises? I now truly relate to the classic song “Splish splash I was taking a bath……”(Although there are no baths here….see my note about the showers).

Living inside a bar, there’s little chance of sleeping if the music is blasting. I got a great joy in testing out how good my Jaybird wireless headphones were. Cranked full volume, I truly could not here the pounding music outside! Outstanding!

Also living in Casa de la luna, is also like living closely to nature. Open to the air, it’s wonderful for people who don’t mind living with bugs, and flys. I’m used to this from my stay in Asia, but you might not love it. A couple of bug bites never killed anybody!

If you’ve ever wanted to live in an afterhours bar, and party until you fall down, this is the space for you!

Don’t worry if you are worried that partying all night will make you sleep all day. The doorbell starts ringing at 9am in the morning, and it gets loud as people start working. You’ll be so productive! Asleep at 5am, up at 9am! I got a lot done……and again it was $7 a night…….

I lived in a haunted afterhours bars for 30 days while looking for the best country to retire cheap and survived!

Post script: Besides the eerie felings of being watched at times, and my occasional missing cheese from the fridge I never got to document any ghosts. I also suspect the cheese was being eaten by DJ Flaco, a kiwi who was also living here. 

Post post script : I would never stay here long term again, but Casa de la Luna is a great spot if you like to live in a chaotic environment. It will keep you young. Also the owners Alexandro and Ned were pretty great! 

I hope this article helped you with your quest of finding the best country to retire cheap. Scroll to the bottom of the page for more tips and articles on finding the cheapest places to retire. And if you liked the article, please share on social media (I’d love it if you did!) 

I survived living 30 days in a haunted after hours bar in Medellin2017-05-12T15:40:19+00:00

How Dangerous is Medellin, Colombia? My roommate gets mugged!


How dangerous is Medellin, Colombia? My roommate gets mugged!

At one point Medellin was rated, “the most dangerous city in the world”. Drug wars, drive by shootings, bombings and kidnappings ran rampant though this city. Looking for the best countries in the world to retire cheap means living in some pretty out of the way places. The best places to live in the world might have the worst reputations.
First, I’ve noticed Medellin is surprisingly safe. People are friendly, there are a lot of smiles and don’t get me started on how pretty the women are. But, is it all fake? Is it a smile in one hand, and a knife in the other? Here’s 3 stories that sum up Medellin life for me so far.

1. My roommate was robbed at knife point last night. The public parks here all have free WiFi. Why’s that important? Well, it’s 2am in the morning, and my roommate (I’ll call him DJ Flaco) decides to leave the party to message a friend using this free WiFi. Lighting a smoke, he takes a drag. Taking out his phone, he starts Facebook messenging people. Out of nowhere, a tiny Colombian girl runs by him and tries to snatch his phone. While he’s only 122 lbs soaking wet, and kind of buzzed, he still manages to keep his phone. He drops his cigarette out of his hand, and half tackles this would be phone snatcher into the public fountain. After a quick tussle he gets his phone back. What he doesn’t notice is that her partner has come around. A tiny Colombian guy, he whips out his knife. DJ Flaco, decides it’s not worth it. Soaking wet, the beer and drug fuelled buzz now worn down by the soaking in the fountain and the adrenaline. He hands over his phone and wallet. After they take his stuff, the two muggers just grin, and saunter off slowly. DJ Flaco, tries in his limited Spanish to get help, and while there are people are around, nobody is really stepping up to help him.

2.It’s a Saturday at 5 am in the morning, the four of us have now hit 3 nightclubs and an afterhours. Time to get home. We decide to grab the cab in front of the afterhours club. Everybody gets in, and I’m the last one in. All of a sudden I feel a hand in my front pocket. I’m kind of half squatted, because I’m on my way to sitting down. I grab the arm, and the pickpocket is super surprised. His face is full of fear, as I’m probably at least 40lbs bigger than he is. I squeeze his forearm and he drops my coin purse into the street. I let go of his arm and he bolts like an Olympic trainee. Picking the coin purse out of the street, I close the cab door and we vamos.

3.On my first day into Medellin, I’m tired and full of stupid. I get a cab to take me Lleras Park where my hostel is. We find it and I pay him. After 30 minutes the cab driver pulls back up. I have no idea what he is doing back at the hostel. Did I not pay him enough? Nope, turns out I had left my carry on bag in the back of the cab. That’s right. 2 iPads, my kindle, and all my work notes could have all been gone. I am amazed at how honest this guy is. 2 hours later. The same cab driver is back.  A small pouch which contained all of my cables, had fallen out of the carry on. I am so lucky, this guy was honest.

From what I’ve seen of Medellin, the people are all super friendly for real. Those smiles are real. They are honest and care about you as a person not just a walking ATM. Saying that, they have a saying here. “Don’t give Papaya” Roughly it translates into, don’t show off your bling and tempt fate. By showing your papaya, you risk getting your hand lopped off. I’ve travelled all around the world, and I can say Medellin is no more dangerous than downtown Edmonton, Alberta, Canada at night. 

They did a famous study once, where they had a group of convicted criminals look at video surveillance of a busy sidewalk. They asked them separately which people they would target. 84% of the same people were picked by this group as good potential victims. Don’t give papaya anywhere. Keep aware of your surroundings, and be smart while traveling to find the best places to live cheap 

I hope this article helped you with your quest of finding the best country to retire cheap. Scroll to the bottom of the page for more tips and articles on finding the cheapest places to retire. And if you liked the article, please share on social media (I’d love it if you did!) 

How Dangerous is Medellin, Colombia? My roommate gets mugged!2017-04-25T23:21:56+00:00

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