Colombia

  Colombia  

Located at the tip of South America, Colombia is where the Pacific and the Caribbean collide with the Andes and the Amazon. It’s a country that is more beautiful, dramatic, and diverse than nearly any other. It offers sparkling colonial cities in the highlands and world-famous (and safe) resorts along the Caribbean. Cartagena, a walled colonial city on those turquoise shores, is one of Spanish America’s most beautiful enclaves.

What’s more, Colombia boasts beautiful areas where the cost of living is the lowest you’ll find anywhere in South America—lower, even, than in Ecuador.

 

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Fast Facts About Colombia

Colombia
  • Population: 45,745,783
  • Capital City: Bogota
  • Climate: Tropical along coast and eastern plains; cooler in highlands
  • Time Zone: EST (GMT-5)
  • Language: Spanish (official)
  • Country Code: +57

Archives

Pereira-Colombia

Rent for $130 a Month in Colombia’s Low-Cost Coffee Region

“Pereira is a small city with just about everything you could want from a large city—an airport, theaters, more shopping than you could ever need,” says Mollee Thermos. “But it’s still not as developed as Colombia’s bigger and more well-known cities of Medellin or Bogota and I like it because of that.”

Colombia

Own a Piece of Paradise in Colombia’s Coffee Triangle

Colombia’s movers and shakers—politicians, business executives, and celebrities—have long used land ownership and country homes as a way to show their money and influence. The more beautiful the setting of their residences, the more bragging rights they have.

Medellín, Colombia

Good-Value Real Estate From $90,000 in Vibrant Colombia

When it comes to city living, most people have a few priorities in mind: Easy access to all parts of the city through roads, public transportation, or even walking trails is usually high on the list, plenty of activities and entertainment, and a feeling of safety along with aesthetic beauty tends to complete the package.

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Three Most Affordable Overseas Retirement Havens in 2016

Cost of living can be a major concern for people on fixed pension, annuity, and other retirement income sources. In International Living’s 2016 Global Retirement Index, three countries stand out from the top 23 retirement locations in the world as having the best cost of living:

Best Retiree Healthcare

Best Retiree Healthcare on the Planet in 2016

As healthcare costs and complexity in the U.S. continue to spiral upward, more and more retirees are asking, “Can I get high-quality healthcare for less if I move overseas?” The simple answer is yes. The Healthcare category of the 2016 International Living Global Retirement Index ranks the healthcare systems of the 23 most popular retirement locations abroad.

Cost-of-Living

3 Top Retirement Havens With The Lowest Cost Of Living

In the right places beyond our borders today, you’ll find you have more good choices than ever for a comfortable—even a pampered—retirement. In International Living’s 2016 Global Retirement Index, three countries stand out from the top 23 retirement locations featured in the Index, as having the lowest cost of living in the world:

Medellin-Colombia

Low Prices and High Yields in Colombia’s “City of Flowers”

South America has many fine cities. Montevideo is known for its European flair and charming architecture. Beef and wine connoisseurs can’t do better than Buenos Aires. And Quito has its breathtaking colonial center. But there’s a new South American city on the rise: Medellín, Colombia. Largely ignored for decades, Medellín is now enticing expat retirees with its tree-filled streets and arts-rich character. A strong dollar makes today an ideal time to explore (and invest).

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The Five Best Bang-for-Your-Buck Retirement Havens: Part 2

“I really love my life in Guatemala. The low cost of living makes me feel that the opportunities here are endless, and I feel like I can really carve out my little spot here in paradise,” says expat Tara Tiedemann of her life in colonial Antigua, a gem at the heart of Guatemala. “It’s amazing how far your money goes in Guatemala. For $500 a month, I can rent a beautiful apartment in a colonial-style building right in Antigua. I’m within walking distance of the Central Park and my favorite bakery for fresh banana bread.

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An Expert’s Guide to Eating Out in Bogotá

If you’re after a new food adventure, my adopted home of Bogotá is the place to discover ancient traditions, exotic ingredients, passionate chefs, and exciting taste experiences—all at knock-down prices. Fresh ingredients from one of the most biodiverse countries in the world are the foundation for a terrific food culture. Here’s my pick of the places and foods you should try on a weekend in the Colombian capital.

best healthcare overseas

4 Countries With the Best Healthcare in the World

As healthcare costs in the U.S. continue to spiral upward, one of the main questions any aspiring expat asks is, “Can I get great healthcare when I move overseas?” The simple answer is yes…and without breaking the bank, either.

best places to retire

The World’s Best Places to Retire in 2016

Retiring abroad is easier and more affordable than ever before. These days it really is possible to spend your days relaxing beneath palm fronds on a Caribbean beach, enjoying farm-fresh produce in a mountain haven with year-round spring weather, or wandering the storied streets of a historic and cultured European city…or all of the above. But with so many choices available, finding the right one can seem daunting.

Colombia

Low-Cost, Luxury Living in Medellín, Colombia

My daily life has improved immensely since moving to the charming “City of Flowers” in Colombia. I feel calm and peaceful, unlike many of my friends living in U.S. cities. Every morning I wake up to the cheerful sound of birds. From my balcony I can hear the gentle trickle of the stream running past my apartment. I love to take these quiet mornings to practice yoga at a nearby studio and then head to my favorite coffee shop, Pergamino. It’s pleasantly quiet in the mornings when I go to read a book or write in my journal while I sip the best coffee in town for less than $1.

Colombia

One of the Best Places in the World to See Christmas Lights

Boasting an epic display of over 30 million lights, it is no surprise that Medellin, Colombia has been rated by National Geographic as one of the top 10 places to view Christmas lights in the world. The festive season in Medellin officially starts on November 30 at midnight, with an elaborate firework celebration. It’s called La Alborada and marks the night when EPM (the city’s public utilities company) who designs and sponsors the lights, turns on the extravagant displays and the locals chime in to celebrate with an incredible spectacle of homemade fireworks seen (and heard) throughout the whole valley of Medellin until dawn.

Up-Helly-Aa

Torch-Wielding Vikings and a City of Ice

All around the world, people like to welcome the New Year in style. Take the city of Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas. Every January sees the return of the Junkanoo Parade—one of the oldest street festivals in the Caribbean. With drums and horns blasting through the air, the party atmosphere is palpable.

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The World’s Top Retirement Havens for 2016

Retiring abroad is easier and more affordable than ever before. These days it really is possible to spend your days relaxing beneath palm fronds on a Caribbean beach, enjoying farm-fresh produce in a mountain haven with year-round spring weather, or wandering the storied streets of a historic and cultured European city…or all of the above. But with so many choices available, finding the right one can seem daunting.

Malaysia-Cameron-Highlands

Live Where It’s Spring-Like Year Round

As the savage North American winter begins to bite and the snow and ice pile up, many of us find ourselves yearning for warmer climates elsewhere. Imagine a place that’s never too hot or too cold—just perfect. Outside, the birds are chirping, while gardens and wildflowers bloom in multicolored glory. You can walk around in a light tee-shirt at any time of year. Throw out your coat and boots. Forget about heating and air-conditioning bills and suffering through sweltering heat and humidity.

Colombia

Earn the Big Bucks for a Life of Ease Overseas

Waking up every morning to the beautiful views of Medellin’s Aburra Valley is like a dream compared to the corporate life I left behind in America. Back then I dreaded the buzzing alarm clock jolting me out of a restful sleep followed by a 60-minute, rush-hour commute to my office only 15 miles away. Then wasting eight hours in a cubicle doing work I hated only to repeat the one-hour commute to get home.

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Tour Phang Nga Bay like Bond and Picnic with Sun Bears

When 007’s speedboat cut through the waters of Phang Nga Bay in 1974’s The Man with the Golden Gun, he was zipping past some of the most breathtaking natural wonders in the world. Today you can tour this southern Thailand gem yourself. But with dramatic rock formations, turquoise lagoons, floating villages, and a vast array of exotic wildlife to view, you’ll need the whole day to fully appreciate it and a speedboat to see it all.

medellin

A Low-Cost, Luxury Lifestyle in Colombia’s “City of Flowers”

My daily life has improved immensely since moving to Medellín, Colombia’s charming “City of Flowers.” I feel calm and peaceful, unlike many of my friends living in U.S. cities. Every morning I wake up to the cheerful sound of birds. From my balcony I can hear the gentle trickle of the stream running past my apartment. I love to take these quiet mornings to practice yoga at a nearby studio and then head to my favorite coffee shop, Pergamino. It’s pleasantly quiet in the mornings when I go to read a book or write in my journal while I sip the best coffee in town for less than $1.

Colombia

My Time is My Own in This “City of Eternal Spring”

Before moving overseas, I spent 23 years working as an attorney specializing in litigation. My life was full of angry people and I was required to keep track of every minute of my day so my firm could bill the clients. I was basically living at the courthouse, and had very little time to relax or live my life. Then there was years of bitter cold and extreme snowfalls each winter in Northern Illinois.

Social-Security-Infographic-test

Infographic—Your Social Security Payments Overseas

According to the latest figures from the U.S. Social Security Administration, U.S. retirees overseas received more than $3 billion in social security payments in 2013. That number shows an increase of $160 million since 2012—and has nearly doubled since 2013. In total, 373,224 U.S. retirees received their social security payments as residents of a foreign country in 2013. Europe is home to the most U.S. retirees drawing their social security payments abroad (154,238), followed by Canada and Mexico (95,767), and Asia (70,586).

Colombia

Yoga, Fresh Coffee, and Champagne in Medellin, Colombia

The light streams through my window as the birds wake me with their joyful morning chorus. Last night I was lulled to sleep by chirping crickets and the sound of the nearby stream. I peek my head out the window to see fluffy clouds dispersing, revealing another beautiful day in paradise. After getting ready, I grab a notebook and pen and head out the door. The neighborhood fruit vendor senses my morning hunger as I approach his stand. He cracks open an enormous papaya and perfectly ripe mango, and serves me the most delicious fruit salad for just $1.75. “Enjoy,” he says smiling.

Bogota

Good Health and Culture in Bogota, Colombia

Bogota, Colombia has a pace, rhythm, culture, and dialect all its own. It’s home to three of the region’s leading universities, two prominent symphonies, dozens of museums, art galleries, and performance centers. Living here you’ll have a calendar full of social, cultural, sports, and historical commemoration events.

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The Five Best University Towns in the World for Retirees

The narrow lane spills onto a magnificent square. A group of young musicians fills the twilight with melodies. All around you are stunning buildings dating back centuries. And yet the people relaxing here and walking through these ancient streets are very much 21st century: students with books and laptops in hand. Folks from all over are enjoying evening drinks or dining on café terraces. Talk is of the art expo the town is putting on…an upcoming concert…or the latest news or trends…

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The Easiest Way to Get a Colombian Visa

Applying for a Colombian visa used to be an ordeal. It was difficult to find correct visa information online—particularly on government websites—and even harder to find the needed forms. Today it’s easy, thanks to Colombia’s revamping of its visa and immigration system, complete with modern facilities and up-to-date online information—even in English.

Buga

We Found a Different Miraculous Cure in This Colombian Town

Buga is a Colombian town that gets lots of visitors for several reasons. First, it’s directly between Cali, Colombia’s third-largest city, and the stunningly beautiful mountains of Colombia’s Coffee Triangle area, a place that lots of people like to visit. Second, it’s the home of an incredibly popular site for religious pilgrimages, the Basilica del Señor de los Milagros. The Basilica is home to an image of Christ called the Lord of Miracles, or El Señor de los Milagros. Three million people a year visit the Basilica.

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Empty Nesters Gain a New Lease on Life Teaching English in Bogotá

When our children found their various paths in the world, my wife, Jane Ann, and I watched them launch into their own trajectories in the world with pride…but also with some jealousy for their new adventures. I spent my career in healthcare and financial services, while my wife managed dental practices: staff, patients, and finances. We were well planted in our traditional professions, our community, and our home in Seattle. And we had now become empty nesters.

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Colombia’s Falling Stocks, The Next Currency to Fail, & More…

A new era of relative peace has allowed Colombia to prosper. In the past decade, annual GDP growth has typically been in the 4% to 6% range. In U.S. dollar terms, Colombian stocks have tanked. The local currency, the Colombian peso, has fallen hard against the U.S. dollar. The reason? Collapsing price of oil. Brent crude oil is down 50% since June 2014.

belize

The Surprising Answer to “Where Should I Live Overseas?”

I get a couple of emails a month like this from International Living readers: “I’ve been doing my research as you suggest. I know I want to make my move abroad, but no matter how many likely destinations I cross off my list, I still have too many to choose from. Where should I go?”

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The Five Best Retirement Havens for Quality Healthcare Overseas

Spiraling healthcare and insurance costs are a thing of the past for thousands of North Americans who have found their dream retirement haven abroad. If you’re still mulling your overseas options, then the availability of quality and affordable healthcare is likely a primary concern. Over the next few pages, we explore five countries hand-picked by our expat experts for the exceptionally high quality of their healthcare. All five destinations have become expat hubs, and the North Americans who now call them home—including our correspondents—can attest to the high level of care they’ve received there.

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The Stylish Pearl of Colombia’s Coffee Region

Sophistication may not be the first word that springs to mind when you think of Colombia. But Pereira, at the heart of the country’s coffee triangle, is one of Latin America’s most stylish cities. Pereira is prosperous and you’ll find gleaming glass apartment towers, high-rise office buildings, chic, modern architecture, and venerable colonial buildings. The abundance of students attending the many universities gives the city a youthful vibe. Because of this, Pereira has some of the best nightlife in the region, and thanks to the multitude of clubs and theaters featuring operas and concerts of all kinds, there’s always plenty to do. With the Andes at your doorstep, there are also plentiful opportunities to immerse yourself in the great outdoors.

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Pirates and the World’s Best Snorkeling on the Caribbean’s Forgotten Island

I’m standing on a floating footbridge over a piratedug canal once used as a secret ship hideaway. To my right lies the tiny island of Santa Catalina, birthed when the creation of Canal Aury separated it from the main island, where centuries-old cannons still stand watch atop a high bluff. To my left is the sleepy town of Santa Isabel, administrative center of Isla Providencia. Other Caribbean islands may be soaked in pirate lore, but Providencia is drenched in it. More than one buccaneer made this his base, perhaps the most notorious of whom was Captain Henry Morgan. Today he is most famous for the rum that bears his name, but in his time Captain Morgan made a name for himself by attacking Spanish strongholds.

Mexico

Where to Find the World’s Best Climate

For their 2015 Annual Global Retirement Index, InternationalLiving.com’s editors and correspondents spent months researching, surveying, and collating the data on the best places to live in the world…a task that included identifying the best climates worldwide. The Climate category in the Index assessed the hard data of temperatures, rainfall and humidity, and also the comfort level of each destination’s climate. “It’s difficult to quantify and qualify a ‘perfect’ climate,” says Suzan Haskins, senior editor at InternationalLiving.com.

Salinas

The World’s Best Climate: The Top 3 Countries

Gray skies…dark mornings and evenings…and inches of snow covering your driveway… Those don’t need to be a fact of life. For the 2015 Annual Global Retirement Index, our editors and correspondents spent months researching, surveying, and collating the data on the best places to live in the world…a task that included identifying where you can find the best climate in the world. The “Climate” category assesses the hard data of temperatures, rainfall and humidity, and also the comfort level of each destination’s climate.

Cotacachi

The World’s Best Places to Retire in 2015

From the quaint town of Cotacachi to the vibrant capital, Quito, from Salinas by the sea to the peaks of the Andes, Ecuador’s diversity is a key part of the massive appeal that sees it regain the coveted top spot on this year’s retirement index. Although prices have risen slightly in recent years, Ecuador’s real estate is still the best value you’ll find anywhere. This is bolstered by the generous array of benefits the government has afforded to retirees. Over-65s get discounts on flights originating in Ecuador, as well as up to 50% off entry to movies and sporting events. Discounts are also available on public transport (50%) and utilities, with the option of a free landline if you purchase a property.

belize

2014 Fund Your Life Overseas Package

If you dream about a different life… one lived on a sun-dappled beach… or in a colonial, history-rich town… or some exotic big city abroad… but you need an income to make it happen, sooner rather than later… Then you should know: There are proven, flexible ways you can fund your life overseas… and get paid to do something you genuinely enjoy… So you gain the freedom to pick up and go… travel when you feel like it… live in a place you love… and all the while earn $12,000… $25,000… $40,000… even $85,000 a year or more…

mexico

2014 International Real Estate Investment Package

In a handful of noteworthy places on the planet right now, you could own a world-class property for $150,000 and have it throw off $1,000 a month, right from the start. These are what I call “exceptional markets.” Places where you’re looking at as much as an 8% yield… more than double the norm. But you don’t need mounds of cash on hand to get in – often less than $20,000. And these are gains you can pocket with little-to-no effort.

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The World’s Best Retirement Destinations for 2015

With spiraling costs compelling more and more North Americans to retire overseas, retiring abroad has never been more attractive. But finding the right location among the myriad options available can be daunting. That’s what our Annual Global Retirement Index does. Using input from our team of correspondents on the ground all over the world, we combine real-world insights about climate, health care, cost of living, and much more to draw up a comprehensive list of the best bang-for-your buck retirement destinations on the planet. Keep in mind that, even though only 25 countries feature on our list, all of them are worth your attention. We selected them from among all the countries in the world for their qualities as retirement hot-spots, so even the lowest-ranked nation on our index is still very much an option worth considering.

The Sophisticated Charms of Colombia’s “White City”

“Wow…wow, wow, wow!” I said, as I walked into Popayán’s main square, Parque Caldas, for the first time. Glistening white colonial buildings surrounded me on three sides and a majestic cathedral stood in front of me. “Okay,” I thought, “now I see why Popayán is known as the ‘White City.’” Though beautifully preserved, this city is not just another pretty face. Popayán exudes a sophisticated, intellectual atmosphere, kept lively by the nearly 13,000 university students among its 300,000 inhabitants. And did I mention the climate? Mild, with highs around 75 F and lows in the mid-50s F, thanks to the city’s altitude (nearly 6,000 feet).

Bet on Population Growth and Live High on the Hog

The best estimate points to a world population several billion larger than today’s just a few decades from now—Earth may host 9.6 billion people in 2050, according to the United Nations. This population growth is all going to be a strain on Earth’s already stretched-thin resources. So how do you invest in a world like the future we seem to be hurtling toward? A world of rising population and increasingly scarce resources?

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