A Colombian Retirement Story

Retired couple
Al and Barbara
Al and Barbara

People know.

Every month I meet more foreigners who have already moved to Medellín or are here on vacation and want to return for good (or at least for a longer time). I thought it might make for a good short feature once every few months, what journalists call a bright, a quick glimpse of an interesting event or person.

I decided to call this series “The X-Pat Files,” a play on the name of the former popular TV show, not because I watched it — whether Mulder and Scully uncovered anything profound, whether it be other life forms or their own love lives, I couldn’t care less — but because at the moment I’m too damn dumb to come up with anything else. (Suggestions?)

That brings me to Al and Barbara, a couple who made their way here from the United States with a stop in Panamá first. It’s a pretty neat story.

Barbara, born in China and raised in Tokyo, moved to the United States to attend college. She ended up working at Dulles International Airport, in suburban Washington, D.C., when she met Al through his sister-in-law. There was an illness in the family and Al often flew in from Houston to be there.

He and Barbara became friends, and over time, a romance evolved. She later moved to Houston, a place they decided they could no longer live because of the unforgiving heat. That led them to Seattle. Al and his business partner moved their software company there, to the cooler climate.

Al’s parter later died and that was the end of the company. With retirement looking more daunting in the states because of the cost, he and Barbara moved to Panamá in 2007, just as the housing market was about to crumble.

Like Houston, Panamá was too hot. Following the advice of one of their daughters, who had just traveled to Medellín, Al and Barbara took a trip to see if this could be the retirement spot for them.

“We kind of knew we were going to stay when we got to the airport,” Barbara said.

They immediately noticed the perfect climate their daughter had told them about — not too hot, not too cold, rarely humid. Then they discovered the other big attraction to the city — the warm, friendly paisas, some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet.

For the last year, they have woken up to a view of the west mountains in a spacious condominium at the south end of Poblado. The large deck is a great place to start the morning with some delicious Colombian coffee.

They are happy here.

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  1. Well you did not said much about their life in Medellin, the climate and that they live in El Poblado, one of the places I do not like much in Medellin.