Hi, we’re Sam and Tacha and both from Switzerland. We have been a couple over four years now and we married here in Medellín. We are loving Medellín and work as part time freelancers and with our own company “How To Expat”.
We decided about three years ago that our future will not be in Switzerland. That’s when we started our research, about where to live. And 1.5 years ago we quit our jobs and went on a journey to find a new home in Latin America.
We had no idea where money should come from, which country it will be and what really to expect. Medellín was not really on our list… but wait!
We will first tell you where we are coming from and why we left Switzerland. A country who rates as one of the best countries to live in. And we’ll tell you how we ended up in Medellín and why we are still loving Medellín.
Sam was born and raised in Switzerland. He never really felt home in Switzerland. A country with strict enforced rules and a culture, where work comes first, never appealed to him.
So at the age of around 12, Sam became a huge fan of the United States. He even played American Football in Switzerland (yes, that’s really a thing there).
When he was about 15 years old he was fortunate to take a trip to the United States with his mother. They went to see, New York, Philadelphia, Washington.
He immediately felt at home, especially in Philadelphia, that’s why he is a huge Eagles (American Football team of Philadelphia) fan since.
Tacha was born and raised in Switzerland, as a child of a Swiss father and of a African (Ghana) mother.
Because her father has a couple of businesses in Ghana and talked a lot about moving there, Tacha had come in contact of the idea of moving abroad, early on in her life.
With her skin color it was not really easy to blend in, in a country like Switzerland, which is predominantly white. This is another reason why Tacha never felt a strong bond to her home country.
After We Met
We started dating early 2014. Sam told Tacha early in their relationship that he’s planning on living in the United States in a few years. He was already saving up for that since his first job.
Tacha couldn’t imagine herself living in a foreign country yet, but she was open and curious enough to just try and see.
At that time, Tacha had no idea how the United States would be like, because she never has been there before.
So we decided to travel a lot, in order to find out which place would fit them best. We went together to New York, Miami, the West Coast, Hawaii, Las Vegas and more.
Tacha was impressed to see the United States for the first time but was not convinced to live her life there.
North America or Latin America?
Soon after that we visited the United States, we sat together and had a little brainstorming.
Now a little older in comparison to the 15 year old Sam, we began to realize that the United States was not for us. We broadened our horizon and the logical resolution was Latin America.
So once again we traveled to many places like Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic and Panama. Always on to look out for a place to settle.
We fell in love, with the freedom people have in Latin America, the family-first culture and much more. That’s when we decided that a country in Latin America would likely be a perfect fit.
So we ended up researching over about three years, which Latin country we would like to live in.
It was important for us that the visa procedure was affordable and not to complicated, to have a steady warm weather, low cost of living, friendly and open people and a nice environment. That’s why we focused on Panama, Ecuador and Colombia.
We researched a lot, watched documentaries, so just about everything we got our hands on. After we came back from our trip to Panama and Jamaica, we decided to pull the trigger and go all in. We decided to leave Switzerland at the end of 2017.
Our Main Reasons for Leaving Switzerland
One of the main reasons was the weather. We can’t stand the cold at all, eight monthes out of 12 it’s either raining, cloudy, cold or freezing.
Also, the lack of culture is another reason, since Switzerland is a really “multicultural“ country, the country lost most of its traditions. Switzerland does not have a culture of music and Swiss people don’t dance at all.
And last but not least, the work culture. Swiss people are used to start working at an age of 15. Every day looks kind of similar.
The people in Switzerland are friendly but not really outgoing and welcoming. Phrases like, “I can’t, I have a lot of work”, are common.
Quit Everything and Just Go!
So that made it easier for us to make the decision to leave Switzerland. We quit our jobs and sold everything we had. We said goodbye to our friends and family and left Switzerland in the middle of November 2017.
At that time we had no income, no idea where to go or what was ahead of us.
Tacha had one demand before starting the whole Expat journey, she wanted to see South Africa, game drives, seeing wildlife and the culture. In order to make her dream come true of seeing wild animals and also to make sure that Africa would not be an option to settle as Expats.
After the wonderful three weeks in South Africa driving from Johannesburg to Cape Town, we started our actual adventure, finding a country to settle.
The Start of Our Real Expat Journey
We went to Ecuador first. We started in Quito and went straight to the coast afterwards to see small towns like Puerto Lopez, Montanita, and ended up in Salinas.
And just to be sure they saw everything they could imagine living in, we went to Guayaquil.
Our Conclusion About Ecuador
Ecuador is a beautiful diverse country with so many things to see.
But we didn’t felt at home, we really enjoyed the time in Ecuador, but we did not find what we were looking for.
Loving Medellín, “This is it, right?”
That’s why we decided to finally see Colombia. The first city we visited was Medellín. We drove down from the airport in Rionegro down to the city and saw the lush green, combined with the very developed infrastructure.
Not even having been in the city for 30 minutes, we said to each other, “this is it, right?” We immediately fell in love with it the city of Medellín. That first day was our start of loving Medellín.
We were blown away from the natural environment which is built into the city, the state of development and just the overall gut feel we had. It was like we found our El Dorado.
Traveling in Colombia
In comparison to Ecuador, these cities still stood out, but they never got close to Medellín. So it was crystal clear that Medellín will be our place to settle as expats.
Our Conclusion About Colombia
Colombia is a diverse and beautiful country. With a lot of culture.
The Colombians are very family oriented people and very welcoming when meeting new people.
Especially in Medellín, you can find everything you might want and it is a great place to start a business. Colombia was all we were looking for.
Hassle of Settling Down in Medellín
After finally finding our city, we had another adventure on our hands: Settling down in a Latin American country.
We were really stunned how difficult it was to really settle in Colombia. We really made our homework of researching the topic about three years before actually leaving Switzerland.
We traveled to many Latin American countries and have been learning Spanish. But it was still very difficult to really settle here. From finding an apartment with a reasonable price, to getting visas was challenging.
How To Expat?
After experiencing the challenges, we said there has to be a solution. So we started a company here in Medellín, which is called How To Expat.
This company helps foreigners to settle (more or less) hassle free and especially helps them not getting gauged with higher prices.
The objective is that people can learn from our experience. We post our experiences and the knowledge from the research we gained over the years, through our YouTube channel.
The even better part of How to Expat is that we work with locals, lawyers and other specialist, who know the city perfectly. They will take care of new Expats, so they don’t experience “Gringo Prices” and can be sure that they will be taken care of the right way.
The Bottom Line: Our Loving Medellín Expat Story: Sam and Tacha
We are unbelievably happy to live here in Medellín and we are still loving Medellín. Our daily routine looks a little like this.
- Getting Up
- Working on Freelance work
- Getting Lunch (inexpensive menu del dia)
- Working for How To Expat
- Doing sports or meeting people
- Dining at home
We still love the culture here in Medellín, the food, the people, cost of living and much more.
Every day we wake up and are grateful and happy to have found that place after years of research and months of traveling.
We especially like the Medellín weather and climate, which is amazing. The best day in Switzerland is like a normal day here in Medellín for us.
All in all we can say that our years of preparation and the many travels were worth it, to find our dream destination here in Medellín. And we are still loving Medellín!
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