Obtain Your Visa and Retire Comfortably in Medellin
So you’re considering retiring in Medellin?
Hats off to you. It’s a smart idea, for many reasons.
When we consider the superlative quality of life available in the fairest of Colombian cities, it’s no wonder Medellin is a trending retirement destination. From the outstanding healthcare to the immaculate climate, the European atmosphere to the first-rate amenities, this is the choice for many a savvy expatriate.
Colombia itself landed at the No. 8 spot on International Living’s 2015 Index of Best Places to Retire.
And we must not forget: the exchange rate means your money goes farther. Farther than you can imagine.
But is it easy to get a visa?
This post will be your complete guide to retiring in Medellin, Colombia.
We’ll start by covering the steps necessary to obtain a retirement visa. After that, we’ll talk accommodations and overall cost of living. By the end, you’ll be 100% ready to get on the plane and go.
All together, we can only ask: why not retire in Medellin?
How to Get a Retirement Visa in Medellin
The Colombian retirement visa, known as the Pension Visa (or TP-7 visa), is both inexpensive and easy to acquire.
To qualify for this visa, you must demonstrate an income of at least three times the Colombian minimum monthly salary. The current monthly salary is 689,455 pesos (COP). So you’ll need a monthly income of 2,068,365 pesos.
That means you’ll need only $687 of monthly income to qualify for the visa. This is calculated using the current exchange rate of 2,900 COP to 1 US dollar.
You can apply for your visa in four places:
- Online: This is the Consulate’s website. It will require you have scans of all required documents. The site is in Spanish so using a website translator such as Google Translate will be very helpful. If you’re using the internet browser Google Chrome, this is easily installed and works automatically on web pages.
- Colombian Consulates: Visit the Consulate in your country of residence to apply.
- Medellin: If you’re already here, you can use a visa service (a lawyer) to complete the process for you. A quick search returns many options and asking a local is certainly recommended.
- Bogota: Visit the capital city and apply in-person at the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores. The office is open from 7:30 a.m. until noon. The office is located at Avenida 19 # 98-03, Torre 100 Building, 3rd Floor.
What you’ll need to apply for your retirement visa:
- Copy of the first page of your (current) passport where all personal data is displayed
- Copy of the last page of your (current) passport where last stamp of entry or departure from Colombia is displayed
- Current passport with an expiration date more than 180 days and two blank pages
- 2 photographs (2” x 3”) similar to your passport photo – If you apply for the visa in person, your photo will be taken for you
- Proof of pension: this certificate is issued by the government, a public or private copay, diplomatic or foreign entirely from the country you receive your retirement funds from; it must show that you receive a monthly stipend no less than three times the current legal Colombian monthly minimum salary; the Colombian government is known to prefer government pension certificates, such as the United States Social Security Administration; private pension plans and savings accounts will be more difficult to get approved
- If you are applying using an agency, you will need a notarized letter in Spanish authorizing the agency to act on your behalf
The total cost of applying for your retirement visa is $255. That’s $50 for processing and $205 for the visa. If you apply in person, this is paid at the visa office (in pesos if you’re in Colombia).
The TP-7 visa is valid for one year and needs to be renewed each year. After five years holding the visa, it can be converted to a resident visa, which is valid for five years.
Once you’ve received your Colombian Retirement Visa (and you’re in Colombia) you’ll have a maximum of 15 days to register your visa with Migracion Colombia. If you delay, you’re liable to receive a fine of up to seven times the minimum monthly salary in Colombia (over $2,000).
You’ll also need a Cedula de Extranjeria or a Colombian ID for foreigners. This must be done in person.
In Medellin, there’s Migracion Colombia office at Calle 19 #80A-40, Barrio Belén or in Bogota at Calle 100 #11B-27. Here you’ll find a complete list of offices in every Colombian city.
Before visiting the migration office, deposit 162,000 pesos at Banco Occidente.
In Medellin, the nearest branch is about ten blocks away at Cra. 70 #Circ 4 – 25 Loc. 101, San Joaquín. If you decide to do it in Bogota, there’s a Banco Occidente branch at Calle 100 #9A-39, only a few blocks from the Migracion Colombia office.
The wall of the bank will have a sample showing what’s required to make the deposit:
- Account name: Migracion Colombia
- Account number: 263-05464-5, code 101
- Amount: 162,000 pesos
Documents needed to attain the Cedula de Extranjeria:
- Original deposit slip from Banco Occidente
- Your passport (no copies)
- Signed “Formato Unico de Tramites” application form, found in the office or here
- Photocopy of front page of passport
- Photocopy of your TP-7 retirement visa
- Photocopy of blood test showing your blood type (or, if you have a previous visa, a photocopy of your cedula)
- 1 photo (2” x 3”) – unnecessary if you have a previous visa
Cedulas are ready within 3 business days, typically. It’s recommended you don’t take this as bond, however. You can check the status of your registration on the Migracion Colombia website.
You can also register the visa in Bogota and request that the cedula be sent to another Migracion Colombia office in another city. It will take between 7-10 days to arrive. This will require a letter to request this (and be sure to have an extra copy on hand).
A cedula is required to open a bank account as well as to sign up for consumer rewards programs in the city as well. It can also make signing up for utilities like internet and TV much, much easier.
You can travel domestically in Colombia with your cedula and leave your passport at home.
How to Begin Living in Medellin
First, life is going to be much cheaper here.
According to expatistan.com, which monitors the cost of living across the world, living in Medellin costs 68% less than living in New York.
Remember International Living? Their top 10 ranking is credited because Colombia is “the country that offers many of the first-world amenities and an infrastructure that you’d expect in a much more expensive location.”
They also related that you can “live a dignified lifestyle (in Colombia) on social security and a luxury lifestyle on just a bit more.”
The latest U.S. government figures show that the average social security for retired workers is $1,334.
International Living figures show that you can expect to pay approximately $1,300 per month for 2 people if you own your own property while plan on $1,700 per month if you’re renting an unfurnished apartment.
The figures are calculated based upon rent, utilities, telephone, internet, cable, food, entertainment and public transport. But if you’re trying to spend less, major deals can also be found.
Even before you add savings, retirement is easily done here. Any extra funds can be spent to bump up the luxury factor or take trips.
Numbeo.com tracks the cost of living on every good and service in major cities. They show that a cappuccino costs a little more than $1 USD, a mid-range bottle of wine is $8 and a three-course meal for 2 at a nice restaurant is $16.
What about renting and buying a house or apartment?
The purchasing process for homeowners is straightforward in Colombia. Once you’ve taken a few necessary steps, it’s easy to find a charming home in any neighborhood in the city.
Numbeo shows us these figures:
- Renting an apartment (1 bedroom) in city center: $171/month
- Renting an apartment (1 bedroom) outside city center: $207/month
- Renting an apartment (3 bedrooms) in city center: $301/month
- Renting an apartment (3 bedrooms) outside city center: $346/month
- Price (per sq. meter) to buy apartment in city center: $767
- Price (per sq. meter) to buy apartment outside city center: $940
The Last Word
Retiring in Medellin is rewarding on so many levels. Not only is it easy to receive the mandatory retirement visa and foreigner ID, it’s very inexpensive for foreign retirees.
Whether it’s living on social security alone or with savings, any expat can find themselves living very comfortably in The City of Eternal Spring for their golden years. Whether you decide to receive your visa online or on your trip down here, you now have all the information needed to retire and live in amazing Medellin.