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How to Retire in Colombia

How to Retire in Colombia

If you are looking to invest as an expat or high-net-worth individual, which is what I specialize in, you can email me (advice@adamfayed.com) or WhatsApp (+44-7393-450-837).

Introduction

You might have considered to retire in Colombia just as the country became free from the clasp of drug lord Pablo Escobar and his drug cartels. 

A new face of the country emerged, a country with locals that are friendly and inviting, and terrain that is breathtaking. A country that has the fourth-largest economy in South America, according to Statistics Times.

Colombia is also one of the countries in America that is rich in terms of biological diversity, according to Spanish infrastructure and renewable energy developer Acciona. In Colombia, you can find communities that are warm and tropical by the seaside, cities and towns that feel like springtime, as well as spots that are cooler in the mountains.

Expats could have what they require for a pleasant retirement, including a solid government and banking institution, top notch medical care, relatively cheaper living costs, and a large number of cities that are considered to be first-rate cities.

Do you need a visa to retire in Colombia?

Staying in Colombia for over a hundred and 80 days during a given calendar year would require you to obtain a visa. To be able to retire in Colombia, you would have to submit an application for a Migrant (M) visa, which is a kind of visa that grants its holder the ability to stay and reside in Colombia over a three-year period.

The Colombia Retirement M visa, which was formerly known as the TP-7 visa, is granted to senior expats who prefer to retire in Colombia and who have the required financial position to sustain their lifestyle. This visa is available for continuous renewals as well.

The Bogotá office of Colombia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs is in charge of providing retirement visas.

Visa Eligibility to Retire in Colombia

Show that you fulfill the requirements outlined below so as to lodge your application for a Colombian retirement visa:

  • You should be a retiree who gets a pension or have a decent regular income in order to be eligible for this visa.
  • Your minimum income per month must be at least 800 US dollars. 
  • Your age must at least be 57 or 65 if you’re a woman and a man, respectively.

What kinds of documentation are needed in order to qualify for a visa to retire in Colombia?

You are expected to submit the following documents as part of your application for a retirement visa to be considered by the Colombian government:

  • A completely filled-up application form with your signature. 
  • Your authentic and current passport 
  • Two latest passport-size colored photographs that have a white backdrop. If you’re submitting it online, the images must not be larger than 300 kilobytes.
  • A copy of the page of your passport or other travel certificate that displays your personal data, such as your full name, birth date, birthplace, as well as your passport number.
  • Copy of any previously issued visas for entry into Colombia, if you have any.
  • Payment of the required visa cost 
  • Payment of the required visa cost 
  • A document that is issued by a governmental agency or a private corporation (acknowledged by the government) that states the amount of income that has been deposited into or pulled out of your account on that entity’s behalf. This is to demonstrate that you have the means to support yourself.

There are three different ways to submit an application for a Colombia Retirement visa: online, at a consulate of Colombia located outside of the country, or from inside Colombia itself.

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The flag of Colombia. Image by Flavia Carpio on Unsplash

Now That Your Application for a Visa to Retire in Colombia Has Been Approved, What Comes Next?

You are need to submit an application for the ID card, dubbed Cedula de Extranjeria, once you have your retirement visa approved.  The Special Administrative Unit for Colombia Migration is responsible for issuing identification cards to foreign nationals residing on Colombian soil. These cards are used for the purpose of verifying the foreign national’s legal status in the country.

You will have a period of 15 days during which you can obtain your Cedula de Extranjeria.

After you have been issued an ID Card, you will be able to enroll in the  Obligatory Health Plan that is part of the Colombian healthcare system.

Is it possible to bring my family with me to Colombia?

Your spouse, children, and/or other dependents are welcome to come along with you. When submitting an application for a visa to retire in Colombia, you are required to include all members of your family who intend to relocate to the country with you under just one visa application. 

Members of your immediate family who are welcome to accompany you include: 

  • Your lawful partner
  • Your child who is younger than 25 years old
  • A child of yours who suffers from a disability that prohibits them from being employed and being able to fend for themselves. There’s no age limit for this requirement.

Your immediate family members will each be eligible to receive a beneficiary visa. Your household will be granted the privilege of receiving an education, but they will be prohibited from finding employment in Colombia as part of holding beneficiary visas. 

I now hold a retirement visa; will I be able to use this to apply for a resident visa?

Expats who wish to go to Colombia with the intention of establishing themselves as permanent residents are provided with a resident visa.

People from other countries can apply for resident visas through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs if they have held one of the TP (M) visas for a period of five years in a row without breaking their status.

Holding an M-11 retirement visa will qualify you to submit an application for a Colombian resident visa. This opportunity is only open to those who have held the M-11 visa over a five-year period.

Retire in Colombia: Healthcare

Does Colombia have good healthcare?

Everyone’s top priority should be to take care of their health and avoid worrying about getting sick. However, it is important to acknowledge that as we hit retirement, the question of whether or not we have access to high-quality medical care that is also within our financial means moves to the forefront.

According to research carried out by online market and consumer data provider Statista, Colombia achieved a ranking of twenty-fifth worldwide for the quality of its health and healthcare systems in 2021. Colombia had a higher ranking than both Canada and the US, which came in at number 26 and number 49, respectively.

Inpatient and outpatient treatments, both general and specialized, are provided across the country by a wide variety of medical facilities, including private hospitals, governmental hospitals, teaching hospitals, and even smaller clinics.

Colombia has a program called EPS, which stands for Entidades Promotoras de Salud under its national public health scheme.  If you are employed in Colombia, you will be eligible for public medical care as you contribute funds to the system. Nevertheless, it is accessible for anyone as long as s/he has a Cédula de Extranjeria.

The system also does not preclude anyone based on age or pre-existing illnesses and conditions.  Because participation in the program is required of you, you will not have the option to decline.

You can get additional coverage by acquiring one of numerous private health insurance policies to augment this basic plan for a small price of the aggregate amount that you would pay in the US. The age at which coverage begins and the types of pre-existing conditions that are covered are subject to different caps depending on the insurance provider.

When someone in Colombia has a relatively minor medical issue, such as a persistent cough or an infection in the urinary system, they will most likely visit a local pharmacist first. They have been instructed to pay attention to your symptoms and provide therapy suggestions after listening to you describe them.

Many medications are available without a prescription and can be purchased over-the-counter at extremely reasonable prices. 

Retire in Colombia: Climate

What kind of weather can you expect in Colombia?

Colombia has the Caribbean Sea bordering its eastern portion and the Pacific Ocean on the west. There’s also all the three mountain ranges that make up the Andes traversing within its interior.

Santa Marta and Barranquilla are warm, tropical Caribbean coastal cities that could be good options for you to reside in if you have a craving for sand and surf. You can make the most of the muggy midday temperatures by going to one of the beaches with water that is completely clear and sand that is pure white. However, the onshore breezes bring in deliciously milder temps at night.

If you would like to experience a climate that is slightly less extreme, you should travel to higher elevations.

The city of Medellin in the center of the Andes, which is Colombia’s top two largest city, has temperature that ranges from the low-80s to the mid-70s during the day, and it falls into the mid-60s during the night. This climate has earned the city its nickname, the City of Eternal Spring. 

A significant portion of the landscape of the city of Medellin is hilly, yet there are a few communities that are rather level and conducive to pedestrians.

Bucaramanga, located in the east close to Colombia’s border with Venezuela, has a climate that is a bit warmer than the surrounding area. Additionally, the terrain is entirely flat, which makes it simple to navigate on foot.

The cities of Armenia, Manizales, and Pereira are surrounded on all sides by verdant coffee plantations. This region, which is part of what is commonly referred to as the Coffee Triangle, has a temperature that is just marginally lower than that of Medellin, particularly at night.

Retire in Colombia: Housing

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Colorful houses in Colombian capital Bogota. Image from The City Paper

What kind of prices can you expect to find in Colombia for a house?

When migrating to a new place, finding suitable housing is among the most important considerations you will need to make. 

The procedure for purchasing a home in Colombia is, thankfully, rather analogous to that which is followed in the US, and it is also quite straightforward. Just make sure you have a valid passport and sufficient finances.

The difficult part of the home acquisitions process must be getting a mortgage loan in Colombia. In such case, you can just make arrangements to pay in cash for a residence.  To be eligible for a mortgage, you need to have a documented residency in Colombia as well as valid credit history in the country.

According to a global cost of living data aggregator known as Numbeo, the going rate for a square meter of living space in an apartment in the city center of Colombia is approximately 5.2 million pesos (1,081.37 US dollars). In the meantime, the cost is approximately 4.4 million pesos per square meter when purchased outside of that location.

When compared to the price of an apartment in New York City, which is $14,784.44 dollars per square meter, the cost of purchasing an apartment in the city center of Bogota, the capital of Colombia, is over 90% cheaper at 1,436.45 dollars.

The cost of purchasing an apartment located outside of the city center in Bogota is 1,147.34 dollars per square meter, while the cost of purchasing an apartment in New York is 9,531.27 dollars per square meter.

Home Acquisitions Process in Colombia

When it comes to purchasing a residence in Colombia, the process is exactly the same for both natives and foreign nationals. As a result of the fact that purchasing a home could result in the acquisition of a residency permit, an increasing number of people are opting to buy a house during their retirement years rather than continue renting.

When you first start looking for a new place to reside, whether it be a city, neighborhood, or location, one of the other important steps you should take is to locate a reputable real estate agent and attorney. They should assist you in navigating the acquisitions process and will be able to steer you away from buying a property that is subject to legal disputes or other woes.

When you have located a piece of real estate that you are interested in purchasing, your attorney will be able to guide you through the process of obtaining a Certificate of Tradition and Liberty, which provides all of the data on the property, including any liabilities that are associated with it, ownership documents, and other essential details.

How Much Tax Do You Need to Pay When You Retire in Colombia?

According to audit, tax, and consultancy services provider Deloitte, expats who reside in Colombia for less than a hundred and eighty days will only be required to pay taxes on any earnings they receive directly from Colombia and equity owned in the country.

On the contrary, those who live in the country full time or for over a hundred and eighty-three days per annum will be subject to a tax on their global income, with a rate of between 0% and 39%. The equity owned both in Colombia and in other countries will also be subject to a levy of up to 10 percent, Deloitte said.

Do bear in mind that even if you reside outside the US, you would still need to file a US tax return to the Internal Revenue Service as an expat, even if in the end you get to apply certain exemptions.

If you need to pay taxes in the US, you can take advantage of the foreign earned income exclusion to trim the amount of your income that is subject to levies. The foreign tax credit is also another example of a tax break you might be able to apply in your case.

For more accurate projections of how much you’re supposed to pay in taxes, you should consider consulting with a tax professional. It would be better if such individual is an expert in not only the tax legislations in Colombia but also in the US.

Can You Retire in Colombia from the US?

It is not always necessary to relocate a significant distance away from one’s family and friends in order to enjoy the benefits of retiring in a different nation. In the very topmost part of South America is where you’ll find the country of Colombia.

If you are departing from one of the big cities in Colombia, such as Medellin or Bogotá, the flight to Florida will take little longer than three hours.  When you put that in perspective, it’s about the same length of time it requires to fly from the west coast to the east coast of the US.

Additionally, the travel does not necessarily need to be done only for the purpose of booking a flight return to the US. You won’t have any trouble convincing your loved ones to travel all the way here to spend time with you and witness firsthand all the things that drew you to select Colombia as your new home. There are multiple airlines that offer consistent service to Colombia, including American Airlines and JetBlue.

Retire in Colombia: Cost of Living

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Colombian pesos, the country’s currency. Image from Corporate Finance Institute

How much money is required to live well in retirement in Colombia?

According to Numbeo, the whole monthly cost of living in Colombia for one person can reach approximately 1.7 million pesos on average, excluding rent. This figure is accurate as of the time this article was written. On the other hand, the monthly cost might be as high as 5.8 million pesos for a family of four, and this does not include rent.

In order to maintain the same standard of life that you could achieve with 9,100 dollars in New York, you would need approximately 1,563 dollars in Bogota.

The average cost of a lunch in Colombia for two people at a restaurant with a low price point is projected to be 14,715 pesos, while a meal for two people at a restaurant with a middle price point could cost up to 83,290 pesos (three courses), Numbeo said.

The cost to rent an apartment with one bedroom in the central business district of Colombia is approximately 1.1 million pesos per month, whereas the cost to rent the same apartment outside of that area is 990,200 pesos.

Retire in Colombia: Final Thoughts

Colombia is a beautiful place to consider for retirement. As usual, look at your own checklist and see if this country fits your needs and preferences, and if it could allow you to stretch your funds while living comfortably.

Finding the best place to retire to needs a lot of thinking and weighing of the pros and cons. Be sure to take your time in mulling your options. There is no need to rush. After all, you’re also looking for a place that could offer you peace of mind and make you feel home.

Pained by financial indecision? Want to invest with Adam?

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Adam is an internationally recognised author on financial matters, with over 739.2 million answer views on Quora.com, a widely sold book on Amazon, and a contributor on Forbes.

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