Expat Exchange
Free MembershipSign In

Retire in Cartago Guide

If Cartago is on your retirement radar, our detailed Retire in Cartago Guide is your go-to resource. Delve into the crucial aspects of life here, including living costs, climate, housing options, healthcare services, and residency procedures. We also explore the city's social dynamics, volunteering scenes, transportation, and how walkable its neighborhoods are.

Cartago, a city nestled in the heart of the Valle del Cauca, is becoming an increasingly popular destination for international retirees. The city’s low cost of living, pleasant climate, and friendly locals make it an attractive option for those looking to enjoy their golden years in a vibrant, culturally rich setting. However, like any foreign destination, retiring in Cartago comes with its own set of challenges, from navigating the healthcare system to learning the local language.

Affordable Lifestyle

One of the main draws of Cartago for retirees is its low cost of living. The city offers affordable housing options, from modern apartments in the city center to charming country homes on the outskirts. Groceries, utilities, and other everyday expenses are also significantly cheaper than in many Western countries, allowing retirees to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle without breaking the bank.

Year-Round Pleasant Climate

Cartago boasts a tropical savanna climate, with warm temperatures and plenty of sunshine throughout the year. The city’s location in the Andean region also means it enjoys a refreshing breeze, making the heat more bearable. This pleasant weather allows retirees to enjoy outdoor activities year-round, from strolling in the city’s beautiful parks to exploring the surrounding countryside.

Healthcare Facilities

Cartago is home to several well-equipped hospitals and clinics, ensuring that retirees have access to quality healthcare. The city’s proximity to larger cities like Pereira and Manizales also means that specialized medical care is just a short drive away. However, it’s worth noting that while healthcare in Colombia is generally affordable, it can be a challenge for foreigners to navigate the system without a good understanding of Spanish.

Public Healthcare System

Colombia’s public healthcare system is open to foreigners, including retirees. However, enrollment can be a complex process, and many retirees opt for private health insurance instead. It’s also worth noting that while public hospitals in Cartago offer a good standard of care, they may not offer the same level of comfort and service as private facilities.

Residency Options

Colombia offers several residency options for retirees, including a pensioner visa that requires proof of a monthly income from a pension or social security. This visa is renewable annually and allows retirees to live and travel freely within the country.

Recreational Activities and Dining

Cartago offers a wealth of recreational activities for retirees, from exploring the city’s historic center to enjoying a round of golf at the local club. The city is also home to a variety of restaurants serving local and international cuisine. Some popular options include La Casa de la Abuela, known for its traditional Colombian dishes, and El Patio, a charming restaurant with a beautiful garden setting.

Language Learning Opportunities

While Spanish is the official language of Colombia, many locals in Cartago speak English, making it easier for retirees to settle in. However, learning Spanish can greatly enhance the retirement experience, and there are several language schools in the city that offer courses for beginners.

Local Culture and Markets

Cartago is known for its friendly locals and vibrant culture. The city hosts a weekly market where retirees can buy fresh produce, local crafts, and other goods. This is a great opportunity to mingle with locals and immerse oneself in the city’s culture.

Housing Options

Most retirees in Cartago opt for apartments or condos in the city center, where they can enjoy easy access to amenities and public transportation. However, those who prefer a quieter lifestyle may choose to live in the outskirts of the city, where they can enjoy larger homes and beautiful views of the surrounding countryside.


Cartago’s compact size and efficient public transportation system make it easy to get around without a car. The city’s streets are also pedestrian-friendly, and many retirees enjoy walking or cycling to their destinations.

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

Additional Information:

International Citizens Insurance

Cigna Global Health
Award winning International Health Insurance for Individuals and families living abroad.

Copyright 1997-2024 Burlingame Interactive, Inc.

Privacy Policy Legal

LoginJoinPlease Login to Continue. New? Join today (it's free).
Since 1997, we've supported millions of people as they explore the world and share the adventures and challenges of living abroad.