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An Expat Talks about Retiring in Medellin, Colombia

Mar 29, 2019
Submitted by GraceChurchMedellin


Medellin, Colombia

A retiree in Medellin talks about loving life in Medellin - it's been a great change of pace for him and his wife. He says that while some expats live on $1,500 per month, others live in $3,000.

What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?

Medellin

Why did you choose to retire abroad?

Adventure, low cost of living, weather, simpler life, Christian service in some capacity, but mostly the much lower cost of living, healthcare, travel and transportation.

Are you retired abroad all year or part of the year?

All year

Why did you choose the country you retired to?

We checked out several countries including Panama, Costa Rica, Honduras, and Ecuador. We lived in each for somewhere between 3 months and 17 months. When we found Medellin, we found everything we were looking for.

Did you ever live abroad before you retired abroad?

No. We researched for about 18 months.

How long have you lived abroad since you retired abroad?

3 years & 3 months

How many countries (other than your home country) have you lived in as a retiree?

5

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What have been the most challenging aspects of being retired abroad?

Hard to convince friends and family to come all this way to visit.

What have been the most rewarding aspects of being retired abroad?

We have so many more friends than we had in the US. We are much more relaxed. Our marital relationship is better than it has ever been. We don't need or want a car. We feel very safe. We are working to establish a new English speaking church specifically for Expats.

What would you do differently if you were just starting the retire abroad process?

Nothing.

What is life like for a retiree in your city and its surroundings? (Is there an active expat community? Cultural Attractions? Recreation? Nightlife?)

Medellin is a beautiful city, and it is very easy to live here. We can walk to at least 200 places to eat from our apartment. We have access to the metro train or a huge amount of buses that can take us all over the city and all over Colombia.

One of my favorite activities is walking Poblado Avenue Sunday mornings. Half of the Avenue is shut down to all motorized traffic. Thousands of people walk, skate, ride bicycles, etc. You wouldn't believe the number of people who walk their dogs - every kind of dog. I pass three different Zumba sessions on that walk.

What residency documents or visas did you need to obtain to retire in your host country? How difficult was this process? (Please describe)

The only documents Colombia required were Apostilled Letters from Social Security and our passports. We received our 3-year Pensionado visas within 3 weeks, and our Cedulas a few weeks after that. The process was about a third the cost we paid in Panama, and that process took about 6 months and required two trips across country to Panama City.

Did you buy a home or apartment, or rent one? Is this a difficult process? (Please describe)

We knew we had come to stay for several years or more. So we rented an unfurnished apartment. Some friends referred us to locals and the process was very easy. We bought a few things new like mattresses, TV and recliners, but all the rest of the furniture was used and we got some bargains.

We had to buy lots of accessories, and those cost more than we counted on, but we have them now and they aren't going anywhere.

In 3+ years, we have had 5 different homes. We could not have had all our adventures if we had purchased a home.

Financially, has living abroad in your host country met your expectations? Exceeded them?

We easily live on our combined Social Security, and that was our goal. Since we signed up for the National health insurance, we were able to cancel our Medicare costs and supplements. That saved us over $500 per month.

What are the most important financial considerations for retiring to your host country?

We don't need a car. Our health insurance costs about $33 per month total for both of us. Many of our prescriptions are free. Rent is cheap, and we don't have or need an air conditioner or heater; so our utilities are very inexpensive.

How much can a retiree live on comfortably in your host country?

Some say as little as $1,500 per month. We live in the most expensive area of Medellin, so our cost is more than double that amount. It also depends what activities we do.

Do you have access to quality medical care? (Please describe - is it close? Expensive?)

We are very pleased with the healthcare system. We feel it is high quality, and much less expensive than in the US.

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Is there a lot of crime where you live? (Please describe)

People talk about it, especially on the Facebook groups. But we never see it, and we feel very safe.

Describe available transportation where you live. Do you need a car? Is there access to safe public transportation?

We do not nor do we want to own a car. The motorcycles drive on both sides and in the middle between lanes. I would have difficulty getting used to that. Buses cost about 75 cents and so does the Metro. We can go anywhere we want on public transportation, and there is an app called Moovit that helps us locate the right bus route.

Is there high-speed internet access where you live?

We pay extra for 50 mbps in our home, and that works pretty well for us. There is public Wifi in every mall, store, and restaurant.

Do you have any other thoughts you would like to share about retiring abroad?

If you are thinking about it, do it as soon as you can. You do not need nearly as much money as you would need to live in a retirement community in the US.

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