The Why and How of Retiring in Colombia

Colombia’s growth has been on the rise in recent years, which has made it a popular retirement destination for adventurous expats from other countries. Colombia may have once been known for conflict and cartels, but now it has grown into a First World country, with popular cities such has Medellin being completely transformed (in a good way). The Colombian peso is trading at 3,237.61 COP to $1 USD, which is double what it traded for just a couple of years ago. That means you’re getting twice as much for your money in this country now than you would have as recently as 2012. There are a lot more reasons to love the idea of retiring abroad in Colombia! Here are a few of them.

Biodiversity
You will rarely hear any mention of Colombia without also hearing about its rich biodiversity. It’s known as the world’s second most biodiverse country after Brazil. Colombia is made up of tropical rainforests, mountains, glaciers, rivers, plains, deserts, and (of course) beaches! Where it borders both the Pacific and Caribbean oceans, it even sports coral reef islands and atolls.

This diverse geographical climate houses about 10 percent of the earth’s species. That includes more than 1,800 species of birds, over 450 species of mammals, and around 4,000 species of orchids. Additionally, this country sits close to the equator, so you can enjoy the beauty of the geographical climate in perfect weather any time of year. This is the perfect place for those who love to adventure outdoors.

Cost of Living
Always an important point, the cost of living in Colombia is low compared to that of the United States. You can live a comfortable life on $1,200 or less. Groceries run cheap, with the ability to buy local fresh fruit for under $1 in neighborhood produce markets. That includes avocados! Chicken breasts are between $2.50 and $4, and meals out are likely to run you about $6 for something casual. Imagine, brunch for only $5!

Aside from that, housing can be very affordable for expat retirees in Colombia as well. Giant mansion homes can go for $200,000 in cities like Pereira, and one couple even bought a house just under 2,000 square feet outside of Buga for $62,000. Rent runs $360 per month for a four-bedroom, five-bathroom house in some areas. Of course, some areas are more expensive as they grow in popularity (ahem, Medellin and Bogota), but you can always find something affordable right around the corner.

How far is it to major medical care in your new overseas property?

Healthcare
Again, a very important point to consider when choosing your new country for retirement abroad is healthcare. Colombia not only has good roads and public transportation (important for emergencies), but excellent healthcare services as well. According to the World Health Organization’s ranking of the world’s health systems, Colombia comes in at number 22, ahead of Canada (30) and the United States (27)! It has eight of Latin America’s 44 top rated hospitals. You can thank the modern hospitals and clinics, which are equipped with all the latest technology and equipment.

So, how do you retire abroad to Colombia? What’s the process?

Retirement Visa
You’ll have to apply for the Colombian retirement visa. It’s intended especially for retired expats who are living off of their retirement income. In order to qualify, you’ll have to prove that you have a reliable income of at least three times Colombia’s minimum monthly salary. With that salary at 727,717 Colombian pesos per month, your monthly income would have to be $749, when accounting for the exchange rate. While this minimum salary increases in Colombia each year, you can renew your visa and keep the numbers as they were when you first qualified.

You can complete the application process online, but you’ll have to scan each of the following documents:

  • First page of your passport (where your personal information is located)
  • The page of your passport that has your last stamp from your last Colombia visit
  • Proof of pension
  • Current photo of yourself in front of a white background, passport-size

You can use a certificate issued by the government or a public or private company in order to prove that you meet the pension requirements, but the certificate from the private company may be harder to use.

Once you’re approved, you’ll have to travel abroad to Bogota to get the visa in your passport. You could also use a visa agency, or one of the many Colombian consulates in the United States. They are in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, L.A., Miami, Orlando, Newark, New York, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.

Equipped with this information, retiring abroad in Colombia could become a truly realized dream!

“The 15 Questions You Should Ask When You Buy Properties Overseas”