Retiring to Colombia is all about being able to make choices that suit your lifestyle, budget, and interests. This country of 48 million people touches both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, has the three ranges of the Andes Mountains running through its center and has 10% of the Amazon rainforest within its borders. With expat-favorite countries of Panama as its neighbor to the west, and Ecuador to the south, it was just a matter of time before Colombia started to be recognized as the next great place to retire.
As the second most bio-diverse country in the world, you can choose whichever climate and environment suits your taste. Colombia has everything from warm, tropical ocean-side communities, to spring-like cities and towns in the upper hills, to cooler mountain locations.
According to the Colombian Department of Immigration, the influx of tourists from the U.S. to Colombia has grown over the years to 445,000 visitors in 2015. Colombia is moving up the list of must-go places to visit. And more and more of those visitors are discovering the benefits of retiring in Colombia. With Latin America’s third largest economy, a stable government and banking system, world-class healthcare, a lower cost of living, and many first-world cities, expat retirees can find everything they need for a comfortable life.
Living in Colombia for more than 180 days in a calendar year will require a visa. While there are 19 different visa categories, the most common one for expat retirees is a TP-7 or pensionado visa. You must prove a minimum monthly income of a $700 from Social Security, or a qualified pension or retirement account. In the case of a couple, one spouse applies for the visa and the other is covered as a dependent.
Access to affordable and quality health and dental care is excellent. Colombia has an extensive network of modern public and private healthcare institutions. América Economía, Latin America’s premier financial publication, ranked 22 Colombian hospitals in its top 50 in all of Latin America. Four of those hospitals have been awarded Joint Commission International accreditation, the gold standard in world healthcare.
What Does it Cost to Retire in Colombia?
The answer of course depends on where you choose to live and the lifestyle you desire. Many expats find that they live a higher quality of life than they did back in the U.S., some with amenities such as regular maid and handyman services, which they never could have afforded back home. A monthly budget between $1,700 and $2,200 is enough to live comfortably, especially if you have purchased your home.
Renting or purchasing real estate in the smaller cities and towns is less expensive than in the larger cities and on the coast. There are reasonable rents available between $300 and $700 per month for two bedroom apartments. And if you want the luxury, penthouse apartment, or that large home in the country, you can find those for a fraction of the price in the U.S.
One constant throughout Colombia is the abundance of fresh, inexpensive produce and local meats and poultry. Whether you shop in the supermarket chains, the local store, or at farmers’ markets, you will find prices between 50% to 60% of what you’d pay in the U.S.
You can lead a rich, fulfilling, and interesting life in Colombia, where you get to do more of what you want to do, and less of what you don’t. Be as active or laidback as you desire, and enjoy a high standard of living at a cost well below what you pay now.