Colombia is growing as a popular retirement haven. Reports indicate they are happier and healthier, and their cost of living is a lot lower than it was back home.
• Save on arrival and moving costs. Consider the items you will need on arrival and compare the cost of moving versus buying new on arrival. Rental apartments that are furnished are also a consideration as they allow you to store items before shipping and actually know the local options at your destination. Whether items are actually available or really needed impact your decisions. Moving to any country includes dealing with the paperwork and bureaucratic considerations. Processing them effectively is the best way to minimize storage handling charges and avoid delivery delays. Unlike local moves, international moves are impacted by transferring your goods between different carriers and managing government regulations across borders... it is best to use the experience of real international movers and relocation experts.
• Local salaries are low, so housing even with maid service is reasonable. Yes some items, like imported foods to cars, are harder to obtain. Yes, the culture accepts slower service than you might be used to. Yes foreigners pay a premium, as in Latin American countries in general. Yes tips and bribes are a natural part of greasing the wheels. Yes there is a 19% sales tax. None the less, it is an attractive lifestyle at a fraction of what they’re used to ... especially when based on funds other than the Colombian peso. Chances are good, your home will also end up smelling like a florist shop as you enjoy your morning Colombian coffee.
• Health care access to affordable and world-class. According to a worldwide insurance industry studies Colombia´s health system ranked 22nd compared to Canada at 30 and the USA at 37. Arriving retirees should consider this to offset the health hazards of disease different from those they were used to or insect born threats like Malaria, Yellow Fever, etc. typical of the global location. Foreigners may later opt into public health insurance plan (i.e. Entidades Promotoras de Salud - EPS) after becoming residents with a cédula (i.e. Columbian ID card).
• Weather options vary by the destination. Medellin, 'the city of eternal spring', has become a popular destination. On the other hand it's not for those who like the four distinct seasons. Yes it snows in the Andes but that is a long way up from the beaches or cosmopolitan cities. Along coastal Colombia tropical storms, including hurricanes are reality, as are flooding and heat wave issues. Once you've picked the climate location you want the weather will stay pretty much the same as the days stay about 12 hours long through out the year.
• Language is a major factor. Not learning Spanish means day to day difficulty in getting around, communicating and purchasing. Your cost of living will be very different if Spanish is not in your skill set. Spanish, as spoken in Colombia, is natural and unaccented. One of the best versions to learn in South America. There is not a large English expat community and life will be much easier. The friendly Colombian culture makes learning Spanish easier.
• Taxes include, even during the first 183 days in Colombia, a flat 35% tax level on any income earned. Spending more than the 183 days in Colombia the rate varies between 0 to 39%. Those being taxed in other countries that help offset double taxation.
• Exchange rate monitoring of the Colombian peso impacts life more dramatically than before. A Colombian bank account mitigates or even removes excessive conversion costs from the Canadian dollar. Using the banks debit card also limits the risks carrying cash brings. Watch the exchange rate - a rate of 5000 pesos to 1 US dollar will be very different from 2500 to 1.
• Getting around in Colombia reflects the high cost of vehicles. Cars are expensive to buy in Colombia, as is the gas, maintenance, insurance and storage. Locals tend to use motorcycles that are less expensive and more easily stored or to use public transit and services like Uber.
• As with any extended stay in another country, arrange a local cell phone number, email address and mail forwarding and banking.
• A Colombian retirement visa is based primarily on fairly low income levels. Local legal help you with the paper work, in Spanish is likely the best way to arrange that usual three year term visa.
• Safety depends on your local destination. Policing and governmental shifts since 2017 crime and safety changes include the need to carry personal identification, at all times, subject to fines about the same as the minimum monthly wage. Police now have the right to enter a home without warrant. Disrespecting, challenging or confronting a police officer has serious consequences. Many crime rates of cities and towns in Colombia match rates in US cities. Poverty drives theft, crime and abduction in Colombia. Colombia has had civil conflict, kidnappings, extortion, hijackings, and assassinations for decades as the interests of competing areas of Colombia and its neighbours, especially Venezuela and Panama cause. Best to present an image of or show off wealth. NOTE: Check out the Government of Canada Travel Advisory for Colombia when moving.
Living in Colombia
• Get a VISA for moving to Colombia
• Colombian Health Care Private health care covered by private insurance.
Cost of living IN Colombia
• Cost Of Living in Bogota
• Cost Of Living in Medellin
• Cost Of Living in Santa Marta
Education in Colombia
• Colombian Education & School Options
• University of the Andes Colombia, Bogota
• University of Antioquia, Medellin
• Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Bogota
Columbia Area Codes
Armenia is 6
Barranquilla is 5
Bogota is 1
Bucaramanga is 7
Buenaventura is 222
Cali is 2
Cartagena is 5
Cucuta is 7
Ibague is 8
Manizales is 6
Medellín is 4
Neiva is 8
Palmira is 2
Pasto is 2
Pereira is 6
Santa Marta is 5
Soledad is 831
Villavicencio is 8
- area code 3 is part of the 10 digit phone number of mobile phone in Colombia
- area code 9 is of pay phones in Colombia
Colombia Emergency Numbers
123 for Emergencies
112 for Police
132 for Ambulance
119 for Fire
127 for Traffic accidents
165 for Anti-kidnapping
Colombia is a South American country of 52 million, that has the Equator cross its south.
It is a unique dramatically diverse country, with Pacific and Caribbean beaches, grasslands and rain forests, hot stifling plains and mild climate plateaus as well as snow-capped Andes peaks. Each area remains in harmony with neighbouring regions throughout the years seasons. These regional climates are impacted by different altitudes, oceans and a year round 12 hour day. Generally up to about 1,000 meters it's hot all year, then up to 2000 meters it's consistently comfortable and warm, and over 2,000 meters is chilly to cold.
The countries wide ranging biodiversity delivers a wide range of fruits, flowers and some of the worlds best coffee beans.
Spanish is the usual language used and English is NOT. Colombians balance work, recreation and family life much like North America in the 1960's and typically identify as Catholic. The average annual income is modest by North American standards.
It has been over two decades since the days of Pablo Escobar ended. Mental images remain plus the reality that low income and inflation rates of 13.255 bring potential travellers to Colombia with resulting perspectives. Bogota, a city of over 7 million people is truly a cosmopolitan city with the same characteristics other world cities of the same size have. Medellin, 'the city of eternal spring' and Cali, both over 2 million, also match cities of the same size. Colombia today is proud to have 22 of the top 50 hospitals in South America. Further, over the last decade, policing and governmental priorities have aimed at law and order enhancements plus civil unrest with groups like FARC have been addressed.