Colombia Retirement Visa Key Summary:
With No Minimum Age, Minimal Documentation, and Low Income Requirements, Colombia’s Retirement Visa is Perfect for Early Retirement.
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5 Quick Tips To Prepare For A Move To Colombia
TIP 1. Understand Colombia's visa policy- A decade of experience living abroad taught me that a country's resident visa and permit situation can make or break a plan to move overseas. Chat with a Colombian visa attorney.
TIP 2. Learn about Colombia's health care system- You can relax knowing that the country has one of the Top Healthcare Programs in the world. Expats moving to Colombia long-term should purchase international health insurance to access the best hospitals and care.
TIP 3. Save On Moving Costs- International moves can get expensive. Save hundreds of dollars by getting accredited moving companies to compete for your business. Fill out a quick form, sit back and let our moving partners get you five free quotes from trusted and reliable international moving companies. Save time and money.
TIP 4. Set up a Traveling Mailbox- Change all your critical mailing addresses to a traveling mailbox. Don't lose an important tax return, bank statement, credit card, or government document in the mail. Sign up for a virtual mailbox, and you can keep a permanent US mailing address and check your mail via your phone or PC.
TIP 5. Pick up some Spanish Skills- The most common difficulty experienced by expats in Colombia is English being less common than expected. Only 4% of the country speaks English. You can get a free 7-day Spanish language crash course to make your move to Colombia easier.
Other Guides On Expat Life In Colombia
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Living in Colombia: Quick Facts <click to expand>
Living in Colombia: Quick Facts
Currency: Peso (COP)
Cost of Living
Average Cost of Living, including rent, is 70% LESS than the US. Bogota, ranked 170th out of 210 cities in the world, is the most expensive city to retire to in Colombia.
Colombia’s health care system ranks as the best in all of the Americas. The World Health Organization lists Colombia higher than the U.S. or Canada and at far more affordable prices.
English is not commonly spoken. Only 4% of the country speaks English, which includes 63,600 US and British expats living in Colombia. Even in cities, it is advised to learn a few words of Spanish beyond “Hola.”
Quality of Life
Light years removed from the violence of the Pablo Escobar days, Colombia is now a safe tourist destination. However, diligence is required. Pre-plan activities to avoid rush hour traffic in the major cities and avoid suspect areas alone after dark.
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.
Moving to Colombia doesn't necessarily mean being 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.
Additionally, Colombia has one of the top healthcare systems in the world, ranked higher or on par with the US and Canada.
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.
1) Requirements for Colombia Retirement Visa- MIGRANT (M)
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
Features and Benefits
Retire Early in Colombia with Migrant (M) Visa
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.
Colombia Retirement Visa Key Takeaway:
With Cost of Living prices on par or lower than South East Asia or Eastern Europe, Colombia provides affordable health insurance, 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 one of Medellin's expat neighborhoods 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.
FAQs: Colombia Retirement Visas
There is NO Spanish language requirement.
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.
Citizenship is an option. After 5 years, you can qualify for Permanent Residency. After 10 years, you can apply for Colombian Citizenship.
There are four types of Colombian Retirement Visas each with specific requirements:
- M VISA- RETIREMENT (PENSIONER)= $774 USD
- M VISA- FOREIGN INVESTMENT INCOME (ANNUITY VISA)= $2,579 USD
- M VISA - REAL ESTATE INVESTMENT= income not required. Investment of $90,262 USD required instead of income
- R VISA - REAL ESTATE INVESTMENT= income not required. Investment of $168,211 USD required instead of income
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 Retire in the Colombia.
Our Retirement Guides Have All The Insider Tips.
you can live in Medellin on $600/month, specifically in La Estrella, Itagui or Sabaneta, to the south of the city. With the exchange rate oscillating between 3,500 and 4,000 pesos per dollar, I live very comfortably, including excellent private health insurance, no co-pays, no out of pocket. Been here 4 years.
Thank you for reaching out. You absolutely can live in Medellin for $600 per month. You can also live there for $6000 per month. Okay, that last one was hyperbolic. I don’t think you could reasonably spend $6000 per month without burning dollar bills to heat your house 🙂
Your point on living comfortably on $600 per month in Medellin is very doable. Did you see my post on the Cost of Living in Medellin? My comfortable low-end budget living in Laureles was $850 per month, back when the exchange rate was near 3100 COP. When the COP hits 4000, my $850 is closer to $650.
It’s been a while since I’ve been back in Medellin. I’d like to ask you a few questions if you don’t mind. I will send you an email.
With amazing weather and beautiful, I guess Colombia would make a great country to retire to.
Yeah, it’s an amazing country. Much more than it gets credit for. Definitely check it out when you have a chance.
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.
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.
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
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.
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!
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.
Can you help in submitting my Retirement Visa for Colombia? If not who can?
Thanks for reaching out. I can help with the visa. I’ll send you an email. The visa team needs some basic details (age, citizenship, etc.) to get you the correct information.