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Retire in Colombia for Less Than $1,000 per Month

Updated on March 12, 2013
Traditional Colombian home
Traditional Colombian home | Source

Where can you retire on less than $1,000 a month and live a comfortable life? Where can you retire and be surrounded with beautiful natural resources and wonderful people? Where can you retire and have first class medical for a fraction of the cost in the United States? Colombia is the answer to all of those questions. Once one realizes that Colombia's sorted past, is the past, and is long gone, then one can seriously investigate Colombia as their expat paradise. Colombia is just being discovered as the ultimate paradise to retire. I discovered Colombia because I married a Colombian woman, but all along I had been investigating Ecuador as a possibility to live out my life in an inexpensive Latin lifestyle. Since moving to Colombia I have spent some time in Ecuador. Ecuador is an inexpensive place to live and expat friendly, but it can't touch Colombia for all of its benefits and virtues.

Above all, the best asset that Colombia possesses is its people. They are happy and very friendly. As reported by The Huffington Post in an article about Colombia:

“According to a recently released poll by WIN/ Gallup International Association, the South America country took first place on the "Global Barometer of Hope and Happiness", which surveyed individuals in 54 countries.” I can vouch for the fact that the Colombian people are wonderful.

As far as I am concerned, the people that you have around you is the most important thing in one's life. All of the other benefits of living in Colombia are just icing on the cake. But the icing is quite extensive here in Colombia.

There are many cities that are less expensive to live in than the city where I live in Cali, Colombia, but for demonstration purposes I will relate costs here to the Cali market. I rent a three bedroom three bath house that has all marble floors, ceramic and plaster walls. The construction in most of Colombia is almost all cement, brick and ceramic. The homes are sturdy, quiet, and easy to keep clean. My rent for this home is $325 a month. We have high speed internet, cable television, and a land line phone with unlimited local calls all for about $30 a month. I buy groceries for 4 people at a cost of about $400 a month. Because the mass transportation here is excellent and comfortable, I do not own a car nor do I want to. My transportation costs for my wife and myself is about $50 a month. We are just signing up with a company called Sura for medical Insurance. The cost for two of us will be just under $40 a month. I receive a social security check each month for $725. I do have to supplement that a little, but I live very comfortably for less than $1,000 a month. Try to equal that in a country as advanced as Colombia.

My home in Cali
My home in Cali | Source
The MIO mass transit that services all of Cali
The MIO mass transit that services all of Cali | Source

Our food costs are lower because we purchase almost all fresh food from local markets in our neighborhood. This includes a great deal of very healthy tropical fruits and vegetables. Most of the food sold in these markets are grown on small farms organically. I am now, eating the healthiest food of my life. What is nice about the tropical fruits here, is that they almost all possess some medicinal benefits. We make fresh juice for lunch every day. If we choose not to cook , there are several very inexpensive restaurants within a few blocks that prepare home cooked Colombian food.

Typical neighborhood market
Typical neighborhood market | Source

Furniture is another area where on can save at least 50% compared to other developed countries. Appliances are also a bargain in Colombia. It is very in expensive to set up a home in Colombia and furnish it. If you want to purchase a home, you will be able to do so at a fraction of the costs in the United States. Most Colombians don't even take out a mortgage to purchase a home. Another thing nice about home ownership here in Colombia, is that you can't lose your home for back property taxes.

One might think that the medical costs in Colombia are inexpensive because the medical care is much inferior. That is hardly the case. The Colombians just don't waste so much money in their health care system. Many of the clinics and hospitals are new. Another savings is for medicine. Anyone can go to a local pharmacy and purchase whatever they like without a prescription. And the prices are a small fraction for what one would pay in the United States.

Valle del Lili Hospital in Cali
Valle del Lili Hospital in Cali | Source

Almost everything in Colombia is less expensive except for electronics like televisions. The prices for electronics in Colombia is equal to the prices in the United States. You can purchase just about anything in Colombia that you can in the United States. In addition one can find products in Colombia that cannot be found in the United States. Fruit is an excellent example. In Colombia, one can buy the same fruits that are available in the USA plus some super fruits that only grow in the tropics.

Another thing that sets Colombia apart from most of the developed countries, is the Latin lifestyle. The culture and the values of the Colombian people are similar to what the values were in the USA in the 1950s. Colombians are conservative in that respect but they are far more liberal than Americans when it comes to some social issues.

I walk 4 blocks to a local bakery every other day to buy fresh bread, which costs me $2 for two loaves of some of the finest bread I have ever eaten. On my way there I stop no less than four times to talk to my neighbors or whoever wants to talk. As I pass my neighbors they always greet me. In the USA one might speak to their neighbors every couple months. The experience of living and doing things in Colombia is a very pleasant experience.

If one would like to travel and see some of the spectacular sights in Colombia, one can do so on a poor man's budget. Many destinations are easily reached by bus. These are some pretty fancy buses decked out better than most airlines. One can travel from Cali to the Coffee Triangle, a popular tourist destination for about $12. If one is frugal and searches for a hostel, one can find a room for less than $10 a night. There are obviously more expensive rooms, but at least in Colombia one has an excellent choice. When I first came to Cali, I rented a room in a hostel for two, at $20 a night. I have stayed in very nice hostels for as little as $10 a night. If the destination is more distant and requires a flight, there is an airlines in Colombia that has flights between major cities at very low fares. For a flight from Cali to Cartagena is about $50 if you only have a carry on bag.

Triangulo de Cafe
Triangulo de Cafe | Source
Parque de Cafe at the Triangulo de Cafe
Parque de Cafe at the Triangulo de Cafe | Source
Cartagena | Source

There is a saying here in Colombia that is: “The only risk of traveling to Colombia is that you will want to stay.” So here I still am.

Check out Colombia with hese books.


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    • David Trujillo profile image

      David Trujillo Uribe 4 years ago from Medellin, Colombia

      Palmira is even closer to the airport. But it all depends on what Michael likes. In Palmira he would need a car

    • csgibson profile image

      Craig Gibson 4 years ago from Traverse City Michigan

      Yes Palmira is cheaper to live and it is a more laid back city but I like being near an international airport and more activities. Cali is a growing and improving city with a lot of things to do.

    • csgibson profile image

      Craig Gibson 4 years ago from Traverse City Michigan

      I am sorry that I am just getting to your comment. Since you are married to a Colombian I believe that you can immediately apply for a marriage visa. If you have a social security check plus your real estate sale proceeds, you should be in great shape. I speak Spanish pretty well so I am quite comfortable communicating. I do have a friend who has been here for 6 years and he speaks very little Spanish and he gets along pretty well. If you move here and you are in an environment where you have to speak some Spanish and your wife helps you, then you should do just fine. By the way a tourist visa is good for 6 months every year, you just have to renew it periodically at DAS. Good luck.

    • David Trujillo profile image

      David Trujillo Uribe 4 years ago from Medellin, Colombia

      Michael, living in Cali is cheap compared to the US. But I strongly suggest considering living in Palmira, a smaller city just 20 minutes away from the big city. Many people, especially young professionals, have opted to live here and work in Cali since rent and home prices are way lower with a higher quality of life that you get in small cities. Las Mercedes is a high-standard neighborhood with lots of options ranging from condominiums, small buildings and big houses. There are several surrounding projects on construction that you should check out. Living expenses are way lower here, not only compared to Cali but other cities like Bogota and Medellin.

    • profile image

      Michael McClure 4 years ago

      I've really enjoyed reading the information you posted - it's very thorough.

      My Wife is from Cali, and we have been together in the U.S. for 3 years. I am 8 years from retirement age but we are thinking of moving to Cali now.

      My income would come from the sale of our home on 50 acres. I don't speak spanish well enough to acquire employment in Colombia - so I'm a little scared.

      What about a visa. Will I need to leave Colombia after every 2 months of stay or is there a Visa that will allow me to stay longer? Since my wife is a Colombian citizen - does this give me any "status" so far as a permanent visa?

      I've been to Cali 9 times and really love it - but the sense of responsibility to provide for Wife and Son is a big thinking stress.

      When we move - I want to purchase a home there and not have that monthly expense.

      Any comments you have will be greatly appreciated.

      Thank You,


    • David Trujillo profile image

      David Trujillo Uribe 4 years ago from Medellin, Colombia

      With $1,000 a month you can rent in the exclusive areas. A nice neighborhood could cost you no more than $500 dollars and a 3 day a week maid would be $150 dollars more or less.

    • csgibson profile image

      Craig Gibson 4 years ago from Traverse City Michigan

      Sorry about replying so late but I have been away. Yes $1,000 a month will be enough. A good place to look is in the San Fernando neighborhood. My first days in Colombia were in that area. There are a variety of hostels available there.

    • profile image

      Phil 4 years ago

      I loved reading this. I plan to stay in Cali for 3 months, any idea if i will be able to rent an appartment and if $1,000 per month will be enough?

    • David Trujillo profile image

      David Trujillo Uribe 4 years ago from Medellin, Colombia

      Well said Craig. Although for others that are thinking in following your footsteps, I would suggest moving to the countryside of Colombia, 30 minutes away from any city you choose is fine. The best of Colombia is on the countryside with incredible landscapes. The weather? You choose how you like it. Fresh cold nights on the green mountains, tropical climate on the Caribbean coast, a hot weather near Cali, or the perfect balanced between fresh and warm near Medellin... take your pick. The lifestyle is even cheaper than in the cities.

      Thinking about writing a hub just by commenting all this. Meanwhile if you are wondering about your safety in a future trip read one of my hubs about it

    • Sheri Faye profile image

      Sheri Dusseault 4 years ago from Chemainus. BC, Canada

      ohh....I want! Great hub!

    • csgibson profile image

      Craig Gibson 4 years ago from Traverse City Michigan

      If you plan to travel to Ecuador you should definitely see Colombia. Colombia is the best kept secret.

    • Iammattdoran profile image

      Matt Doran 4 years ago from Manchester, UK

      I've often heard from people that they're thinking of moving out to Ecuador to retire. I was lead to believe that it was the up and coming place to retire. Hadn't heard of many going to live in Colombia though. I want to travel to both countries soon. Interesting hub Mr Gibson. Voted up