Both born and raised in Switzerland, we should be the happiest people on earth, right? Not so much! Our wish to live a more meaningful and fulfilling life led us on a journey to explore alternative options.
Join us on our quest to find a place where we can truly thrive and discover the true meaning of happiness. This is the story of our pursuit of the American Dream and the unexpected twist that took us to a different continent altogether.
The American Dream
From an early age, Sam had a dream of moving to the United States. As a passionate tackle football player in Switzerland, he immersed himself in the English language and culture.
The allure of the American dream fascinated him, and he entered the green card lottery every year, eagerly awaiting his chance to make the move.
When I met Sam at the age of 20, his dream became a part of our shared vision for the future. We embarked on several trips to the United States, exploring cities like New York, Miami, San Diego, San Francisco, Maui Hawaii and even indulging in the excitement of Las Vegas.
However, despite our initial excitement, we realized that the United States did not align with the values we held dear.
Switzerland’s unfavorable weather, the pervasive “living to work” mentality, and our desire for a more meaningful and fulfilling life drove us to seek an alternative.
We yearned for a place that embraced a different set of values, where nature thrived, and people focused on the quality of life rather than material abundance. The United States, with its emphasis on wealth accumulation and fast-paced living, felt like a step backward.
Determined to find our ideal home abroad, we began exploring countries beyond the United States. Our journey led us to Panama, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic. Each destination had its unique charm, but it was Latin America that truly captured our hearts.
The climate, the vibrant cultures, and the warmth of the people drew us to South America. Among the countries we considered, Panama, Ecuador, and Colombia emerged as the top contenders.
After visiting Panama and immersing ourselves in its cities, we realized it wasn’t the right fit for us. The weather was too hot and humid, and the bustling city life didn’t resonate with our desire for a more peaceful and authentic experience.
With Ecuador and Colombia remaining on our list, we faced a dilemma. We could have visited both countries to make an informed decision, but we decided to trust our instincts instead.
You’ll Get Kidnapped!
In early 2017, we made the bold decision to move away from Switzerland that same year.
Breaking the news to our friends and family was challenging. Their concerns were understandable but rooted in a limited understanding of South America, especially Colombia.
My mom was convinced that we would get kidnapped or worse. The country’s dark past overshadowed its tremendous progress in recent years, and we were determined to challenge those preconceptions.
The Start of Our Journey
In November 2017, we boarded a plane to… Johannesburg, South Africa.
Now, you might be wondering, “Why South Africa?”. Well, there was one condition I had before starting our new lives abroad: I wanted to go on a safari in South Africa. It had been a lifelong dream of mine to see the wildlife in their natural habitat. So, we made it happen.
We embarked on a three-week bus tour with fellow adventurers from around the world. The journey took us from Johannesburg to Cape Town, and it was an incredible experience. Seeing the animals I was accustomed to seeing on television or in zoos up close and personal was breathtaking.
Sleeping in a tent was a new experience for me, and the landscapes we encountered were awe-inspiring. The trip was filled with cultural lessons, amazing people, and unforgettable moments.
After three weeks of adventure in South Africa, it was time to refocus on our plan to move and live abroad. We flew directly from Cape Town to Quito, Ecuador, and after a grueling 30-hour journey, we were relieved to finally set foot on South American soil.
The country welcomed us with open arms, showcasing its vibrant culture and friendly locals. We immersed ourselves in work-for-accommodation opportunities, which allowed us to explore Ecuador, learn the language, and forge meaningful connections.
Colombia Here We Come
Yet, as enchanting as Ecuador was, we couldn’t shake the feeling that something was missing. We longed for a deeper connection and a stronger sense of belonging. And that’s when Colombia beckoned.
Our journey led us to Medellín, a city that defied stereotypes and revealed its true essence. The perfect weather, stunning landscapes, and the warmth of its people captivated us instantly.
It was truly love at first sight!
Medellín shattered the negative image we had inherited and ignited our desire to explore more of Colombia.
We ventured to different regions and cities, from the picturesque coffee region of Pereira to the vibrant streets of Santa Marta. Each place offered a unique experience, showcasing Colombia’s rich cultural heritage and natural beauty.
Eventually, we decided to head back to Medellín, Colombia. The second-largest city in Colombia, it is nestled in a picturesque valley surrounded by lush green mountains. Known as the “City of Eternal Spring”.
One of the most striking features of Medellín is its remarkable transformation from a city plagued by violence and drug cartels to a vibrant, innovative, and culturally rich metropolis.
Making a Living in Colombia
Initially, we relied on freelance work to sustain ourselves while exploring Colombia. But as time went on, we realized there was an opportunity to assist fellow expats on their relocation journeys. We noticed that many people shared the doubts and concerns we once had.
Motivated by our own experiences, we founded a relocation company, offering support and guidance to those seeking to make Colombia their new home.
Living in Colombia transformed our lives in ways we never imagined. It taught us resilience, adaptability, and the joy of embracing new cultures. Every morning, we woke up grateful for the opportunity to live in such an extraordinary land, surrounded by beautiful landscapes, vibrant cities, and the warmth of its people.
Happily Ever After?
Unfortunately, we had to leave Colombia after 4 years due to visa issues. Maintaining a long-term visa has been getting harder by the year. If you’re not an ex-military vet, a retiree, or married to a Colombian, obtaining a visa can be quite challenging.
In those 4 years, we were able to explore new regions, deepen our understanding of Colombian traditions, and support others on their own expat journeys.
Colombia still feels like home to us, a place where we found a sense of belonging and fulfillment. It will always remain dear to our hearts.
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Tacha is an adventurous person who embarked on a journey to find a more meaningful and fulfilling life. Originally from Switzerland, Tacha and her partner Sam explored various countries in pursuit of their ideal home abroad. Their quest took them to the United States, South Africa, Ecuador, and many other countries to ultimately settle in Colombia.