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Estimado Juan Carlos,

I have just retired on my Social Security guaranteed monthly pension..hooray! I'm on my own here in Miami and don't have quite enough money from my pension to pay all my bills so want to relocate to a Spanish speaking country. El Espaņol lo hablo bien despues de 32 aņos aqui en Miami donde lo he practicado a diario. Formando parte del tejido hay muchos Colombianos que siempre me han causado muy buena impresion. I'll switch back to English because the forum is intended for Engish speakers no? Anyway, I will have $1300.00 per month. I am more a city person than a country person. Maybe in a city I could live without having a car. My health is generally pretty good. I'm told that Armenia has the kind of weather I would enjoy most. I want to rent an apartment not buy one so as to keep my savings in tact. I also require access to chicharon. You are the world champions at that. Everybody here knows that, ja ja. No, seriously I just dream of a sharp little apartment in a strong middle class area and an internet connection. I'm well travelled in numerous Ibero-American countries and culture shock shouldn't loom large. please offer me your insights about Armenia or other city.

Regards,
Geoffrey

Answer
Dear Geoffrey,

lots of North Americans and Europeans are retiring to Latin America (http://internationalliving.com/2012/12/the-worlds-top-retirement-havens-in-2013/) so your idea is not something out of the blue. It makes perfect sense. Speaking the language, having good health and thinking about a simple life (no cars, little apartment) would make the transition easier.

Armenia is small city with lots of advantages (good hospitals and utilities, airport, decent nightlife). Its surroundings are simply beautiful, the weather is warm and you could visit bigger neighbouring cities easily. So it could be a good choice.

Have you been there? Itīs good to visit the place to make sure that you like it. Other options in the area are Pereira (similar weather, a little bigger), Ibague (closer to Bogota) and Manizales (colder). Just bear in mind that the area has some risk of earthquakes.

What I consider worriying is your budget. Colombia, as most of Latin America has been growing for the past decade, defying the so-called global financial crisis (which has been in fact North American and European). The boom in commodities has helped the country's economy (coal, gold, oil). Improved security has brought foreign investment and speculators. Retirees like you have been arriving for at least a decade. Multinational companies have set up local branches or have transferred them from Ecuador and Venezuela looking for a friendlier government. All this has resulted in higher prices and currency valuation.

A small apartment in a nice middle-class area in a city like Armenia could cost 350 USD (http://propiedades.vivavisos.com/apartamentos-en-arriendo+quindio). Add utilities, internet, cable TV, cleaning services, laundry and you could need another 150 USD.  Groceries, transport, entertainment could consume the rest of your budget leaving very little for any trips, medical insurance or any emergency.

My guess is that you would need around 2.000 USD a month to live a truly confortable life in Armenia. Perhaps you can live on less but then, are you sure that you want to move to another country at your age to live on a limited budget?

I hope that this helps.

Regards,

JC

Colombia

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Juan Carlos Valencia

Expertise

First of all: I do NOT answer questions about Passports, Legal issues, Government procedures nor person searches. I know very little about these topics. Please don't insist ! I'm a middle-age Colombian with a thirst for travel. I've managed to travel through good portions of this complex but fascinating country and could provide advice on destinations, special care, hazards, prices and highlights. I've also traveled throughout a part of Central and South America, Australia, Asia, Europe and North America, so I think I could provide some balanced advice, avoiding nationalistic hype but also pointing out some particular, unique charms of this unusual land.

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Constant traveler, scuba-diver, Media Communication academic, amateur photographer.

Education/Credentials
PhD in Media Communication. I speak Spanish, English, French, Portuguese and a bit of German.

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