Retire in Medellin: Why Medellin is the New Retirement Hub for Americans

Retire in Medellin: Why Medellin is the New Retirement Hub for Americans

TLDR: You can retire in Medellin for less than $30,000 USD a year!

Ahh, retirement. The golden years when you can finally kick back and relax the way that you deserve!

Of course, one of the biggest pieces of figuring out your retirement years is deciding where you’re going to retire.

Retiring in Medellin has been an option that many Americans are exploring today. But, why exactly is that?

In this guide, we’ll go over why Americans are retiring in Medellin. Plus, we’ll look at how you can retire in Medellin yourself!

Why Americans Are Retiring in Medellin?

view of the city of Medellin

Medellin is one of the many Colombian cities with accelerated growth in tourism over the past decade or so. As a result, thousands of visitors flock to the city each year.

But going to Medellin isn’t just good for vacations.

The City of Eternal Spring has become that place that today is being listed as one of the most attractive cities to retire in for many reasons. 

The main reasons why people are choosing to retire in Medellin include: 

  • Cost of Living
  • Weather
  • Health Services

Let’s go over each of these in a bit more detail. 

The Cost of Living

By 2020, Medellin was among the best places to retire, according to the American International Living Magazine

The reason they listed it as such was thanks to the affordable cost of living, which is around a little less than $30,000 USD per year (subject to change).

Americans, as a result, are able to live very comfortably for less than $2,000 USD per month. This is quite a bit less than what they’d have to spend to retire in the US. 

On top of that, many people are able to consider early retirement in Medellin just by using their savings. 

Note: Although the peso’s value changes regularly, in recent months, it reached 5,000 pesos to $1 USD. This may make retiring in Medellin an even more viable option for the future.

The Weather

Medellin is known as the City of Eternal Spring. This is thanks to its average climate of 22°C year-round.

Not only is this just pleasant to live in, but it works well for individuals who need to be in warmer areas for health reasons. 

Health Services

Medellin has an internationally recognized health system thanks to more than 80 clinics and health centers in the area.  Plus, there are also some excellent hospitals around the city, all of which provide low-cost treatment.

Among the most recognized are:

  • Hospital Pablo Tobón Uribe
  • Hospital Universitario San Vicente de Paul 
  • Clínica Cardio VID

Also, Colombia is ranked #22 according to the World Health Organization in terms of medical care services, denoting their quality.

Taking out a health insurance plan in Colombia is therefore not only affordable, but it also gets you a good standard of care. 

Other Reasons

Of course, these aren’t the only reasons why Americans choose to retire in Medellin. A couple of other reasons that are making Medellin a retirement center for Americans include:

  • An excellent public transport system
  • Cheap rent and real estate
  • The close proximity to the United States
  • Extensive commercial options
  • Ease of obtaining the retirement visa

The Expat Community in Medellin for Retirees

retiree at the flower festival in Medellin

Thanks to Medellin’s increasing popularity as a retirement center, there’s a large ex-pat community in Medellin. 

This makes it easier for individuals who move to the area without speaking much Spanish. That’s because they can get together with groups of ex-pats who also speak different languages.

In terms of concentrated communities of expatriates, I can say that there are retired expatriates living all over the city.

But, there is a more concentrated community in neighborhoods such as Laureles and El Poblado

As such, there isn’t a community of retired people who usually meet up a few times a week. You can also use platforms to find a community of expats in Medellin. This can be a nice way to help you adjust to life in a new country.

Note: Laureles and Poblado are also hubs for young people with a digital nomad visa and not just retirees!

How to Retire in Medellin as an American

Medellin cityscape

If you want to retire in Medellin as an American, there are a few steps you’ll need to take. I’ve put together a quick rundown of what you’ll need to do if you’re considering this.

Step 1

The first thing you need to retire in Medellin is to figure out the visa.

To do this, you’ll want to apply for the pensioner visa (M-11). The visa costs about $282 USD (subject to change), which you can pay using a credit card. 

To apply for this visa, you’ll first need to meet a few requirements.

  • Have proof of an income of at least three Colombian minimum wages or an income from your social security, pension, and retirement savings account. 
  • Have a valid passport with a minimum expiration date of 180 days from the time of application and two blank visa pages.
  • A copy of your passport stamps from your most recent trip to Colombia.
  • Proof of pension from the US government or a private company.
  • A photo on a white background
  • If you have previously entered Colombia with a visa (student, work, digital nomad), you’ll need a copy of this visa

It takes about three weeks for you to get your visa once you meet the requirements and apply.

Note: Currently, the Colombian minimum wage is $1,00,000 COP. So, you’ll need a monthly minimum income equivalent to $3,000,000 COP (subject to change).

Step 2

Once you’ve got your visa, you’ll need to take out health insurance. 

Having said that, Colombia, and Medellin in particular, is a city with an excellent quality of medical and health services.

Among the best health insurance providers you can enroll with include: 

  • Sura 
  • Nueva EPS
  • Sanitas 
  • Salud Total 

Once you have a visa, you can enroll in government health insurance. Or, you can purchase private medical health insurance.

Pro tip: You don’t need a visa for private health insurance in Colombia. All you need is your passport.

Step 3

Next, it’s time to find a home in Medellin. One good move is investing in real estate in Medellin rather than renting. This way, you can actually make a bit of money off your investment. 

The process in this city is easy and is something similar to buying a house in the United States.

You will need your passport and, of course, enough funds to purchase your property. In general, it’s best to pay in cash if you can, as getting a mortgage can be a bit tricky. 

To get a mortgage in Colombia as a foreigner, you must have a credit history in the country for several years, as well as proof that you’ve permanently settled in Colombia. 

Your best bet is to get an agent to help you with the property purchasing process if you go this route.

Alternatively, you can choose to rent. Many ex-pats choose to rent furnished apartments so that they don’t have to worry about buying furniture for their new home. 

Step 4

The last step is to buy your tickets and head to Medellin! Once you arrive, you can check out some of the things to do in the city or just focus on settling in. 

There’s no right or wrong answer!

2022 Retirement Visa Changes to Know About

View of houses in medellin

Visa legislation in Colombia changed during 2022, and some of those changes affect individuals interested in retirement visas. 

The two biggest changes for retirees to know about include: 

  • Your income must be consistent, and you must have proof that it comes from either a public or private entity
  • The visa for pensioners allows you to accumulate time to obtain a residence visa.

Another big change is that you now have to present proof of judicial records for the last three years. This basically shows the country that you’re not a crook trying to conduct illegal activities in Colombia.

Likewise, a medical certificate must be presented that exposes the psychological and physiological health of a person. Expats now also need a certificate of health coverage in Colombia valid during the period of time that they plan to stay.

The retiree visa is valid for up to 3 years and doesn’t allow you to work in Colombian territory or join the social security system. So, you’ll have a visa, but it is a bit limited. 

Finally, this visa allows the holder to request a visa for beneficiaries, such as: 

  • Spouse/permanent partner
  • Children up to 25 years of age 
  • Children with physical or mental disabilities

How Much Money Do I Need to Retire in Medellin?

Medellin metro going through the city

One thing is clear: the cost of living in Medellin is much cheaper than in the United States.

But, you’ll still need some sort of cash in order to help you get by!

Remember, to get your visa you’ll need to make about $3,000,000 per month. This is roughly $600 USD (subject to change) as of 2022.

In general, you won’t need more than about $2,000 USD per month to retire in Medellin (subject to change). 

For one thing, you can pay a monthly rent of $1,250 USD in a fully furnished private apartment in a high-class area of ​​the city like El Poblado. Utilities will cost you around $70 per month for internet, phone, electricity, water, trash, and other necessary services.

Besides rent, you’ll probably need to spend around $100 USD per month for food, groceries, and other household items. 

Remember, you’ll also have to have a health insurance plan. This will set you back about $60 per month, which is pretty low considering the cost of health insurance in the US. 

Can I Still Collect Social Security in Medellin?

USD Dolar

Many retirees want to know if they’re able to collect social security payments in Colombia as well as in their home country. 

Previously, this was possible. However, the visa legislation corresponding to Resolution 5477 of July 22, 2022, issued by the Colombian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, limits this. 

The new legislation ensures that whoever has a retiree visa doesn’t have the right to receive income from work or social security coverage. So, you’ll need to bring all the cash you intend to use in Colombia with you.

Is Retiring in Medellin Easy?

photo of medellin city

The short answer is yes! 

Retiring in Medellin is generally pretty easy. 

The only things that sometimes cause problems are the language barrier and the necessary paperwork to access services such as health or rent, as well as for the visa itself.

However, all the benefits and pros of living retirement in Medellin tend to outweigh the cons. 

Choose to Retire in Medellín

Retiring in Medellin is a great way to make your savings go a bit farther. You can actually find that your retirement savings can as much as triple while living in Medellin!

Plus, the city is a place that offers a warm home for anyone looking to retire. Experience the culture, nature, nightlife, and affordable costs and enjoy everything that retiring in Medellin has to offer.

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