6 Reasons to Consider Medellin for Retirement

This Colombian city offers culture and scenery at affordable prices.

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Medellin, Colombia, is emerging as a top potential overseas retirement spot. The modest cost-of-living, pleasant climate, and friendly people are drawing individuals from all over the world. Here are six reasons to consider Medellin for retirement.

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The weather. Medellin sits at an elevation of about 5,000 feet. As a result, the climate is perpetually pleasant and seldom too hot or cold. You could live here without central heating or air conditioning and never worry about suffering through a season when you wouldn’t be able to enjoy the outdoors.

The scenery. This city sits in a valley surrounded by hillsides. Your view from almost any point is undulating and interesting. At the same time, the elevation isn’t so high that you have to worry about health side effects.

The cultural and recreational diversions. In Medellin, you will never want for something fun to do. There are museums, open-air cafes, and art galleries. Your shopping choices range from antique shops to shopping malls. Movie theaters play first-run movies in English for as little as $5. Outdoors you will find parks, bike paths, and hiking trails. And after dark there are dance clubs, nightclubs, and casinos. Plus, within a few hours’ drive, there are other cities worth seeing, including the charming and colonial El Retiro and the lake town of Guatape.

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The people. Medellin is home to a population of about 3.8 million. It’s not so big that it’s intimidating, but not so small as to seem too close after a while. What has struck me most about the people of Medellin is that they are mannered in a way that’s almost considered old-fashioned nowadays. But it's sincere. The gentle people of Medellin are hospitable, friendly, welcoming, warm, and ever-ready to lend a hand. While there are currently few foreign residents in this city, this is changing. And the local population seems to be embracing the change.

The city itself. Arriving in Medellin, your heart slows a bit and your mind settles. This is a peaceful, pretty city of red brick buildings with red clay tiled roofs. It is impressively green, with trees, plants, and small gardens everywhere. Medellin is also remarkably clean. In the central neighborhoods, you see no litter. The metro, a point of pride for the local population, is spotless and like new. It’s also the literary and artistic hub of Colombia, with many of the trappings of a lively cosmopolitan center. This helps to explain Medellin’s many favorable nicknames including the City of Everlasting Spring, the Mountain Capital, and the City of Flowers.

The cost-of-living. A couple could live modestly in Medellin on a budget of as little as $1,300 or $1,400 per month. A more comfortable budget might be $2,500 per month. There are cheaper places to think about retiring overseas, but the quality of life in those places doesn’t begin to compare with what you’d be buying in Medellin.

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You can rent a studio apartment in a non-central (but safe and pleasant) neighborhood for as little as $250 per month. In the El Poblado district, Medellin’s best address, you could rent a two-bedroom apartment in a full-amenity building for $700 per month. And at this central address you’d be within walking distance of restaurants, shopping, parks, and all the services you’d need for day-to-day living. Also, thanks to the perennially spring-like climate, you will have no heating or air conditioning expenses. This could save you as much as $200 or more a month.

Medellin is emerging as an appealing overseas retirement haven. The downsides are the lack of user-friendly foreign residency options and established communities of English-speaking retirees. But this is changing quickly. These will come in time as more people experience this scenic and friendly city.

Kathleen Peddicord is the founder of the Live and Invest Overseas publishing group. With more than 25 years experience covering this beat, Kathleen reports daily on current opportunities for living, retiring, and investing overseas in her free e-letter. Her book, How To Retire Overseas—Everything You Need To Know To Live Well Abroad For Less, was recently released by Penguin Books.