How much money to live in Colombia and not have to work

Hi everyone. Maybe this question has already been asked. I know there are many variables in deciding on how much money to have.

But my question is how much money do I need to take with me to Colombia and not have to work for the rest of my life? Here are my stats.
Age: 43
Martial Status: Single
Current savings: $100,000 dollars(one hundred thousand dollars)
Health: Excellent
Property/Realestate Owned: None
Education: Masters in Computer Science

I want to live moderate in Colombia. I dont need a very nice home/apartment but I dont want to live in a poor area either.

Any ideas? Sorry if this is stupid question. But I am desperate now. I cant stand living in the U.S.

I'm your age and would split rent with you if I could come just stay down there. But I have to come back to the US and save money, so I can spend my vacations in S. America.

I don't know the answer to your question, but it seems that 100k would be enough to buy a hostel. Hostel owners seem to do great business from what I've experienced. But it's a LOT of work. However, I think it'd be super fun and rewarding. And you'd have income.

I don't think 100 grand is enough for a guy our age to retire, even in Colombia. You'd have to spend 12k a year to live, and you have a lot of life left.

There are other business opportunities, too. I hear growing trees for palm oil is booming. But I know jack dookie about farming.

There's the restaurant biz, which scares the hell out of me. It's not an easy business, but there's opportunity in Colombia. The guy that owns Brunch in Salento is from Oregon I think, and he seems to do GREAT backpacker business. That place is booming.

There's a great high-end burger bar in San Gil called Gringo Mike's that's excellent. I hung out with the Chicago guy and the English girl that own it, and that place rocks.

I hear you, though. I'm ready to pull the plug on the US, too. I'm so happy when I'm in South America. But in the USA, I'm just blah.

Thanks a lot for your reply Brandon. Always good to hear other people's opinion. Guess your right I still have alot of time left. And 12k a year seems like a good number to approx the income I would need every year. I need to start thinking about starting my own business. Thanks for all the ideas. Lets keep in touch. I added you to my contacts.

A lot of people with knowledge of computers do quite well in Colombia. I meet lots of people travelling that spend a couple of hours a day online and then just eff off the rest of the day doing fun stuff.

I wish I'd studied programming or something useful with computers. I took two years of BASIC in high school and one semester college and decided I hated it. :)  But now that I wanna go live permanently in S. America, I regret gaffing it off. I should have taught myself C++ or something else useful.

Have you been to Colombia yet? If not, you're missing out. Send me a PM if you want. I'm sitting at work bored to death, and I love talking about Colombia.


BrandonBP :

A lot of people with knowledge of computers do quite well in Colombia....

I wish I'd studied programming or something useful with computers.... I wanna go live permanently in S. America... I should have taught myself C++ or something else useful....

I'm sitting at work bored to death, and I love talking about Colombia.

You seem really motivated, Brandon.  Maybe it's not too late to learn computer skills .. and live the dream.


Do like i did and find an educated Colombian woman who makes a good salary.  She supports me and is happy to do so.

Texas Bred :

Do like i did and find an educated Colombian woman who makes a good salary.  She supports me and is happy to do so.

That's easier said than done. A rich Colombian chick that wants to support a gringo? May as well play the lotto.

I have lived in a small town, about 45 kilometers from Medellin, for the past 10 years.  I am married and we have two daughters, one 15 and the other 24, and my mother-in-law lives with us.  My youngest attends a private highschool and the 24 year old is in university.  We have a small, but comfortable, house, which is paid for, so I have no rent payments and our car is also paid for.  So, all we have are living expenses. We live a very comfortable life, taking mostly short vacations two or three times a year and our daughters participate in lots of outside activities.

With that said, I go through about $3600/month (USD) but, I will say, our life style fluctuates with the value of the dollar.  Until about two years ago, it was tight, with the dollar at about 1700 COP's to the dollar but, with the dollar at around 2900 COP's, life has a lot less stress.

I should point out, when I arrived here 10 years ago, I had about $150K USD in my bank account, which got depleted pretty fast, as I learned how to live more like a local.  And, of course, I purchased and paid cash for our house and car.  So, be prepared to spend a bundle getting settled.  Remember, you cannot import a used car to Colombia, period.  So, you'll have to buy a car locally.  We have a 2005 Nissan Terrano deisel, with about 150K kilometers on it and its reasonable value is about 30,000,000 COP's, which is a little more than $10K USD, at this time.  Cars are expensive to buy but, fairly cheap to operate and maintain.  Labor down here is cheap.

You'll need to get health insurance, which is very inexpensive.  But, make sure you get a good provider.  Even though it's a single payer system down here (EPS), you need to be very careful picking a provider.  When I first arrived, I signed up with Comfenalco, which was very good but, within a few years, their financial position deteriorated and service became mediocre at best.  Comfenalco was sold to Salud Coop, which went bust within a year and half and was sold to Cafe Salud.  Now, Cafe Salud is in big trouble.  The problem is, once you sign up with a provider it is nearly impossible to switch to another provider... They own you.  I would recommend either Nueva EPS or Sura.  They are the largest and most stable in the country.  Also, we know several doctors in those two systems and they say things are very stable with them.

So, that's my situation.  I also would be interested to hear how others are doing here in Colombia.  BTW, I just recently became a Colombian citizen.


Moderated by Priscilla 2 years ago
Reason : no insults please

Chris, If you're from Vegas you've got 20 years until you can live on Social Security.  If you have a military pension you may be set.  But if you're trying to stretch $100,000 for 20 years with today's interest rates or S&P rate of return it's probably not doable.  If it was I would've been living in Colombia 10 years ago.  (I'm 60)  Now at my age I could stretch my savings until 62, but I have my Colombiana here in the US so those plans are on hold for me.

Hello Merril,

I am living in Bello little bit North from Medellin with my Civil Union Colombian wife yet to register this on Notaria. In fact we plan to go to conventional marriage in November and might omit this stage. We have lived together two years. My wife is 19 younger than me and her health is good like also mine.

My wife has a 20 year son who is student. Unfortunately his health is a problem due to birth deficiencies now come worse and need cirurgical òperations.

So clear this is an economical burden.

Otherwise we have had no big worries. My wife buys all food and knows where to buy been living before me in Bello almost 15 years.

My pension after deductions of taxes and payments of loans taken during my marriage with a Finnish lady who passed away 2014 is only 1025 euros monthly transferred to Colombia straight from my Finnish account via World Remit.

I was living before this in Ecuador for 2.5 years and also some time in Colombia, so the life here was already familiar.

We do not own a car and do not eat in restaurants. But family and friends of my wife and her son are welcome, so this adds some costs.


You should be able to get EPS health coverage for your family, which would include your stepson for about $100K COPs per month.  Probably a lot less expensive than paying everything out of pocket.  But, whatever you do DO NOT get Medimas.  They are worse than terrible.  Try to get Colsanitas, Sura or,  NuevaEPS.  The best way is to obtain coverage for yourself and then a month or so later add your wife and stepson.  Also, I'm assuming you are aware that, once married, all your assets and liabilities become community property, including your pension.  The reverse is also true, all your wife's assets and liabilities become community property.  Basically, that means, you are assuming all your wife's liabilities.

I am trying to figure this out too.  I am planning to spend most of my time in Colombia starting in the fall.  That is shocking that $1000 USD a month would cover a comfortable life. 

Where are you guys looking to live?

Yeah bro.......thats classic....what are the odds? Just almost impossible.......but back to the essence of the post......Im living here in Barbosa about half an hour to the north of Medellin right at the limit of the metro system (train + bus) and its great...And its cheap......Ive got a huge 3 bdrm, 3.5 bth fully furnished house which Im hoping to share with something reliable who eats healthy and does not smoke ciggies.....the air is clean, much better than Medellin and the city is small but active.....nice bars, good cheap food.....most services......surprising amount of commerce here.......and Medellin is right there at your fingertips......a 3,800 COP ride away.........The girls arent as friendly or as open here as they are in Medellin but its so close it doesnt matter, and eventually they start to warm up when they realize your not a creepy ole lech.....jaja.......In Panama ive got 2 cars, and always having to deal with the wretched Pana the public transport is soooo good and cheap that Ive decided to live without a car.......and its a big savings both in expense and grief.......You can live here easily an happily for about $800 a month......and have money left over......and that factors in just about everything........including my considerable bar tab.........I dont wanna lose this casa/apt (so big its hard to know what it is) but I have to go back to Panama and fix things there and then back to the States to fix things there......So am looking for another country kine person to share it with.........

I differ with the idea that $1000 USD is enough for a "comfortable" life in Colombia unless you live in a strata 3 or less neighborhood or get lucky and find a deal for an apartment. Perhaps in a small town you could do this. I am speaking about Cali where I live. For me, around $1200/month is a "comfortable" amount with a little extra for occasionally dining out.

I've been here since 2008 and have had Comfenalco insurance the entire time. My current plan is $80 USD/month. My co-pay is equal to one month's premium which I've had to use twice so far. One heart stent and one cataract surgery. I have been totally satisfied with my coverage and care even with the waiting times for appointments, etc.

My regular meds are free and I take a trygliceride/cholesterol drug that I get for $2 USD monthly. This drug alone costs more over the counter than my monthly insurance premium. Seeing a specialist is equally cheap, usually $2.50 USD per visit.

But I do live in a very nice two floor, 3 bedroom, 3 bath apartment for which I am paying $360 USD at current exchange rates. Utilities, internet/phone average around $65 USD/month. Consumables, food, clothing, etc. are around $300 USD.

I pay a cleaning lady at $30 per month and she comes every two weeks.

I pay around $200 USD/month to help support locals in need.

I don't have a car or moto. MIO, Uber, taxi and other ride sharing services are fine with me.

I could, no doubt, find a cheaper apartment and reduce expenses but after more than 35 years of working I treat myself to some comforts.

BTW, I do not have cable service and do not own a TV. I can easily keep busy and entertained without it.

I hope someone gets some benefit from this information.

CaliRay, I'm assuming you mean Medimas, when you say Comfenalco, as Comfenalco went bust years ago.  I live in La Ceja, which is very near Rionegro and started with Comfenalco 12 years ago and they were great!  However, with all the corruption, they went bust, were taken over by Saludcoop, if I remember correctly and they went bust.  Saludcoop was taken over by Cafesalud, which also went bust and they were taken over by Medimas.  I never changed so I automatically was transferred to Saludcoop, Cafesalud and, now Medimas.  I have to say, with each transfer, the actual service became worse and worse.

Now, three years ago, I became a naturalized Colombian citizen because, I got got tired of renewing my resident visa and cedula.  It was a real hassle getting Medimas to change my cedula number from a cedula extranjero to a cedula colombiana but, finally they did so.  Understand there are two computer systems involved in providing EPS (government) health coverage, which nearly all health care providers are a part.  One system belongs to the actual provider and the other to EPS.  It is the provider's responsibility to maintain both systems.  So, last November we decided we'd had enough of Medimas and requested a transfer to Sura.  You have to get permission from your current provider, in my case Medimas, to make the transfer, which they approved.  Well, it turns out, Medimas never updated the EPS national system to reflect my new cedula number.  So, after exiting Medimas, Sura would not accept me because, the cedula numbers didn't match.  After several court orders, that Medimas ignored, I was forced to return to Medimas.  Now, every time I need any medical service, outside of a runny nose, I must travel to Medellin to visit a "specialist" there because Medimas does not have any contracts with end providers in the Rionegro area.

I now have a serious issue with my stomach and need to see a gastroenterologist.  Well, guess what, I've been trying to get an appoint with one of their contracted specialists in Medellin for TWO MONTHS, with no success.  They have no appointments available.

So, CaliRay, if you have Medimas, good luck!

On the bright side, unless you want to live like a hermit, it does cost a lot more than $1000 (USD) to live in Colombia.  I have a family of five, including me and, it costs me around $3500(USD)/month.  Granted, we go out to eat a lot and want for very little.  But, consider, my house and car are paid for so, there's no rent and the cost of transportation is limited to fuel and maintenance.  The moral is, if you want to live pretty much the life style you had up north or in Europe, it will definitely cost you more than $1000/month to live here.

Really? Why does the main building complex in downtown Cali where I go to pick up prescriptions and see doctors say in great big letters on the building "Comfenalco"?

Names not wish standing whichever company  is providing my healthcare that either is or used to be Comfenalco, they do a good job IMO.

Okay, I did some research on the Comfenalco subject.  The Comfenalco CaliRay is subscribed to in Cali is not the original Comfenalco EPS, which went bust.  The Comfenalco CaliRay is using is private health coverage, not sponsored by EPS.  If it were his monthly premiums would only be about $35/month, at current exchange rates.  Also, doctor visits are only about $1 and medications about the same.  It doesn't matter what kind of meds they are, the cost is the same.  Also, that monthly premium covers your entire family and there is no copay on hospital visits for the primary.

It looks like Comfenalco medical care is only available in the Valle department.  However, Comfenalco is also and mostly a pension fund manager and sort of a family services business in the rest of the country.

Good detective work. Your analysis sounds like exactly what I have for medical insurance.

While I am paying more than double the monthly premium for my health coverage than I would be for EPS it is worth it to me.

I do pay approximately $1 USD at current exchange rates for most meds and doctor visits. One med I take, if purchased over the counter at a drug store, costs nearly as much as my monthly insurance premium. Visits to specialists are also $1 USD but some tests cost more. An echocardiogram I had several years ago cost about $30 USD. There are some meds and surgeries not fully covered. I recently had cataract surgery. The cost for the surgery was $235,000 COP and the eye drops I need to use post surgery cost roughly $100,000 COP.

Compared to prices in the U.S., these are all health care bargains.

I'd love to know the methods/steps you used to uncover this information. Knowing as much as possible about the entire health care system in Colombia is important to expats like myself. Feel free to PM me if you are willing to share your investigative methods for this subject.

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