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Expat Exchange - Retire in Medellin Guide 2024
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Cisneros Square in Medellin, Colombia

Retire in Medellin Guide

By Joshua Wood, LPC

Colombian Visa Services
Colombian Visa Services

Summary: Retire in Medellin with confidence, armed with the knowledge from our extensive guide. It covers critical considerations for retirees, from the cost of living and climate to housing, healthcare, and residency choices in Medellin. We also delve into the social and cultural scene, volunteering options, public transportation facilities, and the city's walkability, helping you make an informed decision.

Retiring in Medellin is an increasingly popular choice for international retirees. The city offers a high quality of life, a low cost of living, and a warm, welcoming community. However, like any major life change, retiring in Medellin also comes with its own set of challenges. From learning a new language to navigating a foreign healthcare system, there's a lot to consider before making the move.

Cost of Living

One of the biggest draws for retirees in Medellin is the low cost of living. On average, living expenses in Medellin are significantly lower than in North America or Europe. This means that your retirement savings can go a lot further. For example, a comfortable one-bedroom apartment in a nice neighborhood can be rented for as little as $500 a month. Groceries, dining out, and other everyday expenses are also very affordable.


Medellin is known as the "City of Eternal Spring" for its pleasant, spring-like climate year-round. The city is located in the Andes Mountains, which means it enjoys mild temperatures, typically ranging from 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. This makes it an ideal destination for retirees who enjoy outdoor activities and want to avoid harsh winters.


Medellin boasts a high-quality healthcare system, with several top-rated hospitals and clinics. Many doctors in Medellin are bilingual and have been trained abroad, ensuring a high standard of care. However, it's important to note that while healthcare costs are generally lower than in the U.S., most services are not free for foreigners.

Public Healthcare System

Colombia has a public healthcare system, known as EPS, which is available to residents, including international retirees. However, enrollment can be a complex process and may require a certain level of Spanish proficiency. Many retirees opt for private health insurance instead, which can be more expensive but offers more flexibility and ease of use.

Residency Options for Retirees

Colombia offers a retirement visa, known as the TP-7, for those who can prove a monthly income of at least three times the Colombian minimum wage. This visa is valid for one year and can be renewed indefinitely. It also allows for the possibility of obtaining permanent residency after five years.

Parks and Recreational Activities

Medellin offers a wealth of recreational activities for retirees. The city is home to numerous parks, including the Botanical Garden and Parque Explora, which offer beautiful spaces for walking, picnicking, and enjoying the outdoors. The city also has a vibrant cultural scene, with numerous museums, theaters, and music festivals throughout the year.


Medellin's food scene is diverse and affordable. Popular local spots include Mondongo's, known for its traditional Colombian dishes, and Carmen, which offers a modern take on Colombian cuisine. For a more casual dining experience, Mercado del Rio is a food hall with a wide variety of options.

Learning the Language

While many people in Medellin speak English, learning Spanish can greatly enhance your experience. There are several language schools in the city, such as Toucan Spanish School and Colombia Immersion, that offer Spanish classes for all levels.

Local Culture

The people of Medellin, known as Paisas, are known for their warmth and hospitality. They are generally welcoming to foreigners and eager to share their culture. However, like anywhere, it's important to respect local customs and traditions.

Meeting People and Volunteering

There are many ways for retirees to meet people and get involved in the community in Medellin. Volunteering is a popular option, with organizations like Fundacion Pies Descalzos and TECHO Colombia always in need of help. There are also numerous social clubs and groups for expats and retirees.


Most retirees in Medellin choose to live in apartments, which are plentiful and affordable. Popular neighborhoods for retirees include El Poblado and Laureles, which are known for their safety, walkability, and access to amenities. While owning a car is not necessary due to the city's extensive public transportation system, some retirees choose to have one for convenience.

Retirees Talk about Retiring in Medellin

"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," commented an expat living in Medellin.

"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," commented an expat living in Medellin.

About the Author

Joshua Wood Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.

Some of Joshua's articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.

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Cisneros Square in Medellin, Colombia

SJB Global
SJB Global

SJB Global is a top-rated financial advisory firm specializing in expat financial advice worldwide, offering retirement planning & tax-efficient solutions with a regressive fee model.
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SJB GlobalSJB Global

SJB Global is a top-rated financial advisory firm specializing in expat financial advice worldwide, offering retirement planning & tax-efficient solutions with a regressive fee model.
Learn More

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