Retiring in Colombia

When Escape From America writer Russel Stanley was ready for retirement, he considered his choices very carefully. In America he felt that he would be forced to do “old people things,” as well as pay a higher cost of living. Instead, he moved to Bogota, Colombia and found a world where things are cheaper and elders are still treated with respect. He shares his opinions in his article Quality of Life and Cost of Living in Bogota.

“While we may be looking for a place we can live more cheaply, most of us are not looking to reduce our creature comforts, nor the availability of the kind of things we enjoy doing. Supermarkets with products and brands we prefer. Quality health care. Theatres, movies, restaurants. For some, arts such as opera, ballet and symphony. Cable tv, broad band internet, hot water, and good water pressure. Bogota & Medellin have it all and generally at very affordable prices.

Big difference? The cultural attitude toward older people. Certainly, while there are good and bad people everywhere, those here tend to be noticeably more friendly and helpful. I believe I have made more friends here in a couple of years than I made my whole life in the US. We of the older generation are considered to be productive members of society. Parties and other social occasions include young and old and everything in between. People in Bogota tend to be well educated. In some ways, from a university stand point, it reminds me of Boston. There must be a hundred universities, some large and famous, with students from Europe and other South American countries. Although I believe the US university system to be the best in the world, I think the elementary education system in Colombia is better.

There is of course a lot of poverty here, as in many other South American countries, and indeed the rest of the world, but it seems to be more visible here. But there is also a very large middle class; the average income for professionals (engineers, accountants, lawyers, etc) is about $10,000 a year. It would appear that they live comfortably on that income, and while I am sure they have the same wants and needs as anybody, I get the impression that they live less stressful lives than their American counterparts earning five times the money.”