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>
Living in Colombia: Quick Facts
Currency: Peso (COP)
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 the Medellin as “One of the Five Best Cities to Retire.” While the New York Times named Colombia as 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.
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 also be extended for an additional 90 days (180 total) while still in the country, without 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 Colombia has several options to get a Migrant Visa (M). M Visas 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 Migrant Visa (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) RESIDENT (R) Visas Options and Specific Requirements
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.
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.
Next Steps: Find Out Best Places to Live and Retire in the Colombia. Our Retirement Guides Have All The Insider Tips.
Useful External Websites For Legal Immigration
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