Colombia is a beautiful country located where the Andes meet the Pacific and the Caribbean. Colombia shares a border with Panama, Venezuela, Brazil, Ecuador and Peru. It’s known for its diverse landscapes, majestic mountains of the Andes, beautiful beaches, and culturally rich heritage. The Columbian Amazon is blessed with dense forests that’s a habitat for varieties of wildlife. Animals like jaguar, caimans, poison dart frog, Andean condors etc all call Colombia home.
The population of this South American country is about 51 million, and it is currently the third largest economy in the continent after Brazil and Argentina. After Brazil, Colombia has the second-highest biodiversity in the world. The diversity of the country has made it particularly interesting to expatriates, digital nomads and foreigners.
It is a beautiful place to retire if you seek somewhere close to nature. You can’t help but fall in love with the people and their culture once you visit. They are friendly people. Its laid-back lifestyle makes it an attraction and a destination spot for many expatriates.
Stay awhile so I can show you everything you need to know about this South American country.
Colombia has a tropical climate, although heat intensity varies across regions. The country is generally hot, but the higher you go, the cooler and more comfortable it becomes.
The temperature is mostly between 50°F and 80°F with a humidity of 70% per year. And regions with mountains and areas above sea level enjoy cool weather conditions.
Medellin, known as the “City of Eternal Springtime,” has warm temperatures all year and two rainy seasons.
Here, weather conditions vary by region, and it has a moderate, mild climate with little temperature variation throughout the year.
Safety and Security
Although the country has seen unimaginable levels of violence in the past, it is currently enjoying a rebirth from its violent past. Its two largest cities, Bogota and Medellin, are safer than some US cities, according to the Global Peace Index.
People have this outdated memory of the country as portrayed in the movies during the days of Pablo Escobar and the drug cartel. But that is no longer obtainable in recent times. Although the country has seen unimaginable levels of violence in the past, it is currently enjoying a rebirth from its violent past. Its two largest cities, Bogota and Medellin, are safer than some US cities, according to the 2018 Numbeo Crime Index.
It’s safe to live in many parts of the country, however there are parts of the country that need to be avoided at all costs. The areas where tourists and expats spend time are safe with a heavy police presence. Venturing off into rougher areas is a calculated risk. Later in our guide we will give you some suggestions on the places we feel are both very safe and pleasant to live in Colombia.
Cost of Living
Colombia offers a luxurious lifestyle that is affordable. The cost of living in this country is considerably lower than you will find in most places. You will live comfortably in Colombia for as low as $1000 or less a month. Colombia is where a premium lifestyle meets low cost. Monthly expenses should be 60% less than in the US.
The country offers the best luxury standard of living that can compete with anywhere in the world. That’s the reason expats are beginning to discover it as a great place to retire. It all depends on what you are looking for and what you can afford.
For more than the past two decades, the country has continued to draw many visitors, expats, and foreign investors and has become a sensation for many.
Many travelers, during their stay, discovered that the cost of food, lodging, and travel was lower than anywhere else in South America. This is why it has continued to attract many retirees.
You can enjoy a happy retirement in Colombia whether you are on a social security income and need to stretch your retirement money or want to live out your savings in luxury.
There are property tax, capital gain tax, inheritance tax, rental income tax, and sales tax.
Taxes are paid on any property, and the rate is between 0.5% to 1.4%.
Capital Gain Tax
These are income that is received from an exceptional economic act, like the gains you get from selling an asset. The tax is between 0% to 10%.
Property that you inherited from your parents or received gift is considered capital gains and is taxed accordingly.
Visa And Residency
Getting a residency and visa is quite easy. To enter Colombia, US citizens do not need a visa and are allowed to stay up to three months at a time.
Colombia has 20 visas; out of that number, seven are mostly used by expats. Here, getting a residency is very easy compared to so many countries. The typical duration of a temporary visa is between one to three years. And for permanent residency, it’s a little less than $150,000.
Types Of Colombian Visas
There are different types of visa one can apply for in the country. The pensioner, rentista, and property-owner visas are among the most widely used temporary visas for investors and ex-pats.
The pensioner or retirement visa is for retirees who receive pensions from the government or a public or private company. Retirees can obtain this visa at as low as $1000 per month.
The rentista visa is for those who receive non-pension income from a public or private company outside Colombia.
Property Owner/ Business Proprietor Visa
For an individual to get this visa, the person is expected to own or invest in a business, or they can still get it by investing in real estate in the country.
You don’t need to stay consistently in Colombia to gain a residency permit. Once you have decided to live in the country, the next thing that should be on your mind is to apply for residency. This will make banking, commerce, and paying utility bills much easier.
Another good thing about gaining residency in Colombia is that your desire to gain dual citizenship will be achieved faster.
Colombia has one of the best health care in Latin America and the world. The health care systems are well-equipped and provide quality medical services at an affordable price. Something that most retirees and foreigners desire. No wonder the World Health Organization ranked it the 22nd best in the world, ahead of the US (38), Canada (30), and Germany (25).
The city of Medellin has the best medical equipment and skilled doctors. Many clinics and hospitals in the country have been accredited by US organizations like the Joint Commission International. Known for its outstanding feat in cosmetic surgery, it is now the new sensation for complex procedures and transplants.
Not only is the health care top-notch, but it’s also affordable. The cost of procedures can be as low as 50% to 90% budget-friendly compared to other countries.
You can use the basic government-subsidized health care plan called the Entidadas Promotoras de Salud (EPS). It’s just 12% of the minimum wage, about $36 per month. Then you can get the medical services of high-end clinics for around $900-$1100.
Colombia has a developed, busy, and undervalued real estate market. It has a thriving real estate market with a wide selection of high-quality residences. Prices are lower than you’ll find in most marketplaces in the continent despite the high construction standards.
On average, a home in Colombia costs almost $110 per square foot in a city center and just under $95 per square foot outside of a city center. For a comparison, a home in the U.S. costs three times as much in the city center (just over $330 per square foot) and twice as much outside of a city center (almost $200 per square foot),
You can own property without having a permit. Real estate in Colombia is priced in pesos, which means you must deal with the daily fluctuations in the exchange rate.
Also, real estate in the country is subject to municipal taxation, which is levied at rates based on the property’s value, regardless of the number of owners or the taxpayer’s income.
However, foreigners are not permitted to own property within two kilometers of international borders or the coast. If you are interested in real estate, the following places are a good start: Bogota, Medellin, Santa Marta, Barranquilla
Best Places In The Country
There are places in the country you will love to either visit or live. Places like Columbia are Bogota, Santiago de Cali, Bucaramanga, Cartagena, Medellín, and Pereira.
On top of this list is Medellin. It is Colombia’s second-largest industrial town, an international economic magnet, and one of the country’s foremost cultural and intellectual centers.
Medellin was named the world’s most innovative city in 2013 by the Wall Street Journal and Citi Global, outperforming New York.
It is situated on lush hills with verdant parks. Small streams cascade down from the slopes, their banks lined with dense patches of lush, tropical vegetation.
This city has great weather all year with an altitude of 5,000 feet (1,500 meters). It is a warm and calm place to settle. Also, it has good road networks, water, electricity, and high-speed internet.
Proximity to the US
Colombia is 4,211 kilometers from the US, which takes about 5 hours to arrive by air. Medellin and Bogota are the hubs for your international flights. You can find a direct flight from Colombia to the US, including Orlando, Miami, Washington, New York, Chicago, etc. There are also plenty of options with stovers i.e through an airport in Panama.
You can equally get international flights to Canada, Toronto, and almost all countries in Latin America.
Activities And Recreation
There are many recreational activities you will love. If you are the type that like outdoor activities like visiting beaches, hiking and trekking you will love the country. The country is also one of the best destinations in the world for ecotourism and has a large number of ecolodges. This is because Colombia has some of the most beautiful coastlines in America.
Also, it’s a country with mountains and lush green. Monserrate Mountain provides a great view across the city. Many Pilgrims visit this mountain once they are in the country.
There are also colonial cities or the gold museum to tour. Their gold museum is one of a kind in the whole of Latin America.
Colombia has grown over the years to be a good place to retire. So if you intend to live in a place with less stress which can improve your health and overall well-being, then Colombia is the place. You have access to quality health care, a good climate, and friendly people, and overall, it’s a beautiful country with something for everyone.
Here is a list of the Pros and Cons of traveling, living, moving and retiring in Colombia
Access to a world-class healthcare facility
It’s easy to get a retirement visa
Colombia has beautiful coastlines and scenery
The cost of living is affordable
Enjoy life at a slower pace
Safety can be a big issue in many parts of the country
Language barrier - need to be able to communicate in basic spanish
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