Retiring in Colombia: a complete guide

1 min readLast updated May 31, 2024by Unbiased team

Find out what makes Colombia a popular retirement destination and what its advantages and disadvantages are.

Summary 

  • Colombia is one of the most popular Latin American retirement destinations. 

  • Colombia has the best healthcare system in Latin America and the 22nd most efficient healthcare system in the world.  

  • The average cost of retirement in Colombia is $1,500 to $2,000 per month.  

  • Find a financial advisor who can help you plan for your retirement and ensure your financial stability.  

What are the pros and cons of retiring in Colombia? 

Colombia’s lush landscapes, comprehensive healthcare programs, and low cost of living  

make it the most retirement-friendly country in Latin America. However, like anywhere in the world, retiring in Colombia has pros and cons, and these include: 

Pros 

  • Friendly and diverse culture: Retiring in Colombia means being welcomed into a diverse and vibrant culture filled with great food, warm people, and interesting arts and entertainment.  

  • Healthcare excellence: According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Colombia has the best healthcare system in Latin America and is ranked the 22nd best in the world.  

  • Affordable cost of living: Monthly costs in Colombia, such as rent, groceries, and transport, are significantly cheaper than they are in the US.  

Cons 

  • Language barrier: Only 10.7% of Colombians speak fluent English, which can make communication difficult, but mainly only outside of city areas.  

  • Opportunistic crime: Although safety has improved in recent years, pickpocketing and mugging are regular occurrences in certain areas of Colombia.  

  • Tedious bureaucracy: Bureaucracy and paperwork are not known in Colombia for being efficient, which can be a tedious and challenging experience for those trying to retire in Colombia.  

What are the best places to retire in Colombia? 

The best places to retire in Colombia are generally around the Coffee Triangle or within the inner city limits.  

This gives you access to the best public services and a broader demographic of English-speaking locals and expats.  

Some examples include: 

  • Manizales: Manizales is in the center of the Coffee Triangle, which produces some of the best coffee in the world. It offers lush greenery, beautiful architecture, and the best hospital in South America, the University Hospital of Caldas.  

  • Pereira: Known as the “City of Eternal Spring," it features sublime nature reserves, comfortable weather, and very affordable real estate.  

  • Villavicencio: This festive community is known for its lively cultural scene, incredible local cuisine, and untouched natural landscapes. It also features the incredible Caño Cristales, the "River of Five Colors.”  

At what age can you retire in Colombia? 

The retirement age for men in Colombia is 62, and for women, it is 57.  

There are two main retirement benefits plans: contributory or non-contributory, and the amount of pension that retirees in Colombia receive depends on their profession and the age at which they choose to leave the labor force.  

What is the average cost of retirement in Colombia? 

The average cost of retirement in Colombia is $1,500 to $2,000 per month.  

To have a truly comfortable retirement in Colombia, it is advised to have access to at least six months of living expenses.  

If you are retiring in Colombia as an expat, you need to receive at least $1,000 per month in pension. Having a safety net of finances will further enhance your chances of being granted permanent residency.  

Do you pay taxes after retirement in Colombia? 

Temporary residents who are retired in Colombia are required to pay a flat tax of 35%, regardless of their income level or source.  

However, permanent residents who have emigrated to Colombia are also required to pay taxes, but at a rate of 0-39%, depending on their income level. The higher the income, the higher the tax rate.  

What programs are there for emigrating to Colombia? 

It is becoming increasingly popular for retirees and digital nomads to emigrate to Colombia.  

As such, the Colombian government has responded with a variety of emigration programs, including the Golden Visa Program and M and R visas. 

What visas do I need to retire in Colombia? 

If you want to retire in Colombia, you need a Colombian Retirement Visa, also known as a Pensionado Visa.  

This type of visa is valid for three years, after which you can decide to apply for a permanent residency visa.  

The Pensionado Visa requires a number of typical documents and approvals, including meeting the age requirement, having a valid passport, and proof of retirement income.  

What are my healthcare options in Colombia? 

Colombia has the best healthcare system in Latin America and is ranked by WHO as the 22nd best healthcare system globally.  

Healthcare in Colombia is free for residents and citizens, but private health insurance is advised for retirees who may require specialized treatment or more comprehensive care.  

Is it safe to retire in Colombia? 

Parts of Colombia are affected by opportunistic crime, such as theft, mugging, and hijacking.  

However, avoiding these forms of crime is possible by staying within safe city zones and utilizing security systems.  

Many people live happy, safe lives in Colombia.  

Is Colombia a good place to retire? 

There are many good reasons to retire in Colombia.  

Fair weather, a rich cultural heritage, friendly people, and a great healthcare system are just a few reasons why Colombia is considered one of the top places to retire in Latin America.  

Get expert financial advice 

Colombia’s beautiful natural scenery, tax-advantaged system, and vibrant lifestyle make it a great retirement destination. Its excellent healthcare also makes it an appealing option for anyone in their golden years, when medical care is often more necessary. 

Find out more about planning for a comfortable retirement by getting matched with a financial advisor. Unbiased will help you find an SEC-regulated financial advisor who can offer you expert guidance and advice. 

Writers

Unbiased team

Our team of writers, who have decades of experience writing about personal finance, including investing and retirement, are here to help you find out what you must know about life’s biggest financial decisions.