Legally Retire in Colombia- What Everyone Needs To Know

02/11/2021

Nomadic FIRE Colombia Retirement Visa

Colombia Retirement Visa Key Summary: 

With No Minimum Age, Minimal Documentation, and Low Income Requirements, Colombia’s Retirement Visa is Perfect for Early Retirement.

Living in Colombia: Quick Facts <click to expand>

Retire to Colombia and sleep on the beach at Tayrona National Park

Sleeping between the jungle and the sea. Our little slice of heaven at Tayrona National Park.

While still off the beaten path for most world travelers, the torrent of accolades for Colombia won’t let it stay a “hidden gem” for long. Forbes included Colombia in its list of “Coolest Places to Visit.“ CNN awarded Medellin as “One of the Five Best Cities to Retire.” While the New York Times named Colombia the number two country to visit in 2018.

Need more reasons? Daily living costs are some of the lowest I have experienced in my travels. You can find a luxury penthouse with steam room, sauna, swimming pool, fitness center, maid service and a doorman for $600 a month per month, utilities and furnishing included. Even the high end of my expenses in a fantastic city like Medellin was only ~$1800 per month. Most expats can live very comfortably between $900 to $2000 per month for ALL living expenses.

Retiring to a foreign country doesn't necessarily mean that you have to move far away from family and friends. If you need to fly home for a friend’s wedding or to spend Christmas with family, it is roughly a $100 3-hour non-stop flight from Colombia´s major cities of Medellín, Bogotá, or Cartagena to Florida. Need to sing Happy Birthday to your nieces and nephews on the phone, Colombia is on the same time zone as the East Coast of the US. No need for midnight phone calls and sleepy-eyed hellos over Skype. 

Nomadic FIRE Colombia Medellin

For a metropolitan city, Medellin's views are hard to beat


Nomadic FIRE Colombia Medellin 1

A Graffiti Art Tour of Comuna 13 is a must see in Medellin

Nomadic FIRE Colombia Bogota

Wander La Candelaria and visit heart of Bogota's museums and art scene

The rainbow hued streets of Cartagena Colombia

Enjoy the rainbow hued streets of Cartagena

Medellin, Bogota, Cartagena are just a few of the diverse and amazing locations to visit in Colombia. Colombia is the second most bio-diverse country in the world. You can choose to live in the warm, tropical Caribbean coastal cities, in the cool mountain cities of the Andes, near the lush coffee plantations of the interior, or visit the lesser-known wild nature available on the Pacific coast. Colombia makes it easy to visit the country and provides several alternatives for FIRE Nomads to Retire Early and legally stay long term for a monthly cost 70% less than the US.

Colombia Retirement Visa Details

For most strong passport holders (Americans, Canadians, and Europeans), no visa is required to visit Colombia for 90 days or less. These 90 days can be easily extended for an additional 90 days (for 180 days total) without leaving the country for a visa run. However, 180 days in a calendar year is the maximum any foreigner can stay in Colombia without a visa. 

The good news is there are several options for a long-term Colombia Retirement Visa. Migrant Visas (M) are renewable long stay visas with a duration of three years. M Visas are obtainable for several reasons (marriage, student, work, refugee, etc.), but three specific types of M Visas cater perfectly for people looking at Early Retirement in Colombia. There is also an Resident (R) Visa for Real Estate Investors looking to build a path to Colombian Dual Citizenship.

Retire in Cartagena Colombia to watch beautiful sunsets by the Fort

Enjoy Beach side Cocktails and Orange Sunsets on the Old Walls of Cartagena

1) Requirements for Colombia Retirement Visa- MIGRANT (M)

  • Be at least 18 years old.
  • Meet the minimum income requirements of $774 (Government Pension) or $2,579 (Other Private Income Sources) per month.
  • OR Invest in Colombian Real Estate worth at least $90,262
  • Note: all prices converted from COP to USD at July 2019 rates of ~3,200 COP to 1 USD

2) M Visas Options and Specific Requirements

M VISA- RETIREMENT (PENSIONER)

Retirement Visa for people with Government Pensions/Social Security, Colombia only requires you have a monthly income equal to three times the minimum salary of a Colombian citizen.

2019 Colombian minimum salary is 828,116 Colombian Pesos (COP) per month


  • 3 X minimum salary =  2,484,348 COP = $774 USD per month using current exchange rates.

M VISA- Foreign Investment Income (ANNUITY VISA)

For Early Retirement Expats and FIRE Nomads, generally people with enough money to support themselves, but do not qualify for a Social Security or Government Pension, this M Visa requirements are slightly higher:


  • 10 X minimum salary =  8,281,160 COP = $2,579 USD per month 

Acceptable sources of a investment income - 

  • Monthly payments from an annuity or retirement fund
  • Rent from a rental property
  • Interests paid from loaning money
  • Dividends or interest payments from investments in corporation
  • Disability payments from an insurance settlement
  • Payments from the sale of a business

Unacceptable for visa application:

  • Payment from salaries
  • Payments from commissions

M VISA - REAL ESTATE INVESTMENT

If you cannot show or do not have acceptable monthly income sources, Colombia offers an M Visa for Real Estate Investment. This investment can be a residence or a rental property, making this an accessible option for many FIRE Nomads. This is one of the most common types of Colombian visas for expats looking to Retire Early. Your investment is required to be 350 X more than the minimum salary in Colombia. As of 2019, your investment would be $90,262 USD.

  • 350 X minimum salary =  289,840,600 COP = $90,262 USD total using current exchange rates.

3)Requirements for Colombia Retirement Visa- RESIDENT (R)

R VISA - REAL ESTATE INVESTMENT

A 5-Year Permanent Resident Visa. The main differences between the M vs R Real Estate Visas are the amounts required to invest ($90,000 vs $168,000), the duration of the visas (3 vs 5 years), and the physical presence requirements. If you physically leave Colombia for more than 6 months without reentry, the M Visa loses its validity. With a R Visa, you would need to leave Colombia for two consecutive years without returning to Colombia, to invalidate your R Visa.

An R Visa provides a path to dual citizenship after a period of five years.

  • 650 X minimum salary =  538,275,400 COP = $168,211 USD investment required using current exchange rates.

4) Documents Needed When Applying

  • The visa process is easy and done online.  The application will require PDF scans of all the required documents below and photos in .JPG format. 
  • Original and photocopy of first page of passport with personal info
  • Original and photocopy of passport showing Colombian immigration stamp passport
  • One Passport sized photograph
  • Proof of pension or foreign income: certificate issued by government, public or private company, foreign entity or diplomatic or consular mission from the country that the foreign national receives the retirement funds. Funds shown must meet the monthly income requirements. This certificate must be apostilled and translated. 
  • Copy of previous Colombian visa, if applicable

Features and Benefits

Retire Early in Colombia with Migrant (M) Visa

Pros

  • Low Income Requirement if on Government pension or Social Security.
  • Flexible Upfront Investment Alternative
  • Low Minimum Retirement Age of 18 to qualify
  • Path to Permanent Residency after 5 years
  • Dual Citizenship is available
  • Language Exam Not Required

Cons

  • Higher income requirement if income comes from a Private source, Rental income, or Dividends.
  • Personal Interviews can be requested by the Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • Path to Citizenship available after 10 years

Conclusion

If you are a FIRE Nomad and have not started receiving a Government pension or Social Security, the $2,579 monthly income condition is on the high side of people looking at LeanFIRE. Especially, when considering the Colombian Cost of Living would be 20% less than that amount on the high-end. 


However, the Real Estate Investment option is MUCH more appealing. The upfront requirement is much lower, and you can purchase a proper real estate investment. You can live in the real estate as a residence or rent it out as an investment. Unlike many other Countries’ Investment Visas, you are not required to tie up $90,000 in a no-yield deposit in a government approved bank. With no minimum age limit, a $90,000 real estate purchase is all you need to Retire Early in Colombia with a legal M Visa.

Nomadic FIRE Colombia Cartagena 4

Cartagena is a throw back to the Colonial period of Colombia

Colombia Retirement Visa Key Takeaway: 

With Cost of Living prices on par or lower than South East Asia or Eastern Europe, Colombia provides high-quality health care, diverse natural geography, hip metropolitan cities, and straight forward and uncomplicated retirement visas.

For people in the United States or Canada with strong ties to home, Colombia offers affordable luxury and perfect weather for those who need to be a short flight home or be in the same time zone. In just three short hours from the US, FIRE Nomads have access to one of my favorite cities in the world: Medellin. With endless Spring-like weather, low-cost luxury, and cosmopolitan big city amenities, living in Medellin long term is a comfortable, but inexpensive way to stay near friends and family in the US. From Medellin, short and cheap intra-company flights provide ready access to Colombia’s national parks, world-class diving, and idyllic white sand beaches of the Caribbean.

Colombia’s proximity to the US, warm, friendly people, and accessible world-class health care are just a few reasons FIRE Nomads should consider Colombia for Early Retirement. Small monthly incomes that don’t stretch far in the United States are more than enough to live on in Colombia, and with a fantastic quality of life not available in the US. You can enjoy luxuries like maid service, delivered meals, poolside cocktails, all while keeping daily expenses are minimal. With Colombia, you have all the benefits of living close to home, but living a better life at 70% lower cost.

Nomadic FIRE Colombia Tayrona 3

Enjoying the View of Tayrona National Park Photo Credit: Hugo Pardo Kuklinski

FAQs: Colombia Retirement Visas

Do I need to speak Spanish to qualify for a Colombian Retirement Visa?

There is NO Spanish language requirement.

Is there a minimum age to apply for a Colombian Retirement Visa?

Unlike many other countries' retirement visas, Colombia allows anyone over the age of 18 years old to apply. This makes the Colombian Retirement Visa ideal for Early Retirees.

Can a Colombian Retirement Visa lead to citizenship?

Citizenship is an option. After 5 years, you can qualify for Permanent Residency. After 10 years, you can apply for Colombian Citizenship. 

What are the income requirements for a Colombian Retirement Visa?

There are four types of Colombian Retirement Visas each with specific requirements:

  1. M VISA- RETIREMENT (PENSIONER)
  2. M VISA- FOREIGN INVESTMENT INCOME (ANNUITY VISA)
  3. M VISA - REAL ESTATE INVESTMENT
  4. R VISA - REAL ESTATE INVESTMENT

What are the differences between the two types of Colombian Real Estate Retirement Visas?

The key differences between the Migrant (M) and Resident (R) are the higher income requirements, the duration of the visa, and the physical presence tests. Specifics on the R Visa are here.

Next Steps: Find Out Best Places to Live and Retire in the Colombia. Our Retirement Guides Have All The Insider Tips.

  • Retirement Living Guides for Bogota and Cartagena coming soon. Sign up in the box below for updates.

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Useful External Websites For Legal Immigration


About the author

Hi, That's me. I'm Marco Sison. I am a survivor of the corporate rat race. I started Nomad FIRE to show you an alternative to the stress and grind of 70-hour weeks to pay off a mortgage, student loans, and countless bills. After getting laid off in 2015, I said screw it all and retired early at 41 years old. I have traveled the last five years to over 40 countries to show you the best ways to save, invest, and live in amazing countries for 70% less cost than the US. I have been featured in: US News & World Reports, Huffington Post, MSN Money, USA Today, ABC Network, Yahoo Finance, Best Life, Hacknoon, CW Network, The Times of Israel, Dr. Wealth, and others. [view press...]

  • With amazing weather and beautiful, I guess Colombia would make a great country to retire to.

    • Marco Sison says:

      Hi Soham,

      Yeah, it’s an amazing country. Much more than it gets credit for. Definitely check it out when you have a chance.

      • Keno Bled says:

        Hello. I am Retired US Army Veteran. Whom recently visited Columbia. It would be nice to know you as I complete my Relo and immigration process to Columbia. I am Looking forward to Retiring in Columbia.

        • Marco Sison says:

          Hi Keno,

          Thanks for reaching out. Also, thank you for your service. I’m not currently in Medellin, as I prefer to stay less than 183 days in Colombia per year. If you are unaware, Colombia has a tax on worldwide income and does NOT have a tax treaty with the US. If you stay longer than 183 days, you will be consider a tax resident in Colombia and potentially (depending on your situation) be taxed both in Colombia and the US. Contact an expat tax expert to make sure you understand in the implications. I love Colombia. I hate taxes.

          If you need a recommendation for taxes or anything else in Medellin, let me know.

          Cheers,

          Marco

  • I’m a little young to be thinking about retirement XD but I have planned a trip to Colombia and if I love it there, then I’ll certainly come back to this post once the retirement time comes

    • Marco Sison says:

      hahaha…well, as a Retirement Coach, I would definitely say it is never “too young to think about retirement.” 🙂

      It took me 15 years from graduation to retirement. If I knew about geoarbitrage, investing, and financial independence when I was 21, I could have quit working at 36, instead of 41.

  • This us some great information! I think living in Colombia would be awesome.

    • Marco Sison says:

      Thanks Kez, I’m glad you found it useful.

  • So basically, if I have just social security all I need is about $600 a month per month but if I have any other minor source of income then about $2500 a month? Doesn’t sound too bad as I am currently needing more than that to survive in New Orleans and this isn’t one of the more expensive cities in the U.S. either. I do love that fact that you can start this process as early as 18! We loved Cartagena but I may have to check out Medellin next to see if I prefer the mountains or the beach!

    • Marco Sison says:

      Hi Eric,

      Just to clarify, are you asking about the cost of living in Colombia or the income requirements for the retirement visa? For the visa, you are correct. The consulate gives more “weight” to certified official government sources of income (social security, pensions, etc.), so the actual dollar amount is lower.

      For cost of living in Colombia, $600 per month isn’t advisable. Could you survive on that amount, yes, but it wouldn’t be an aspirational lifestyle. Cartagena was a pretty city, but oppressively hot compared to Medellin. If beach life isn’t you jam, you’ll love the “Eternal Spring” weather of Medellin. with the low cost of living in Medellin, your $2500 per month is living extremely well.

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