Costa Rica vs Colombia for Retirement?

Medellin, Colombia

Last year one of my neighbors, an 84 year old lady, decided to change her retirement from living in the Central Valley of Costa Rica to the huge city of Medellin, Colombia (above photo). It was her son’s idea and he was promising to move there also and work from there (though he hasn’t done that yet). Thus I was interested in Christopher Howard’s comparison article on his “Live in Costa Rica” website blog today (just click title to read):

Costa Rica (Central Valley) vs Medellín: a difficult comparison
Disclaimer: His article is more a city comparison than a country comparison in my opinion.

San Jose, Costa Rica

Like so many other things, it boils down to a matter of personal taste and interests and maybe even more so what you have experienced in each place before deciding to move there. You absolutely must make several visits to a place before you decide to live the rest of your life there! Tours like Chris’s are very helpful but you also need to visit on your own. I visited Costa Rica 4 times before moving and even more visits would have been better, though it was kind of “love at first sight” for me.

My old neighbor lives in a high-rise apartment in the middle of a huge city, Medellin. (So a real comparison would be to an apartment in downtown San Jose.) I live in a semi-rural setting on the edge of a small farming town. A huge difference! Yet I’m an hour from everything the big city offers and I have quicker access to every corner of my smaller country, Costa Rica, than she has to her larger country of Colombia. That is important to me as I seek to photograph birds and other nature in national parks, reserves, etc. She has close-by more dining, shopping variety, arts, theaters, concerts and other urban entertainment close at hand than I do. So what is important to you? We are all different with different priorities. And we have a very stable government in Costa Rica while Columbia is, well, hoping to be! Better now than in several generations!

Someone could similarly compare (and Chris probably has in the past) retirement in Costa Rica to Panama which is more Americanized and has more English spoken and maybe more cosmopolitan if in Panama City or its suburbs. Two visits there told me that overall I wouldn’t like living there as well as in Costa Rica for my love of nature. While for nature and birding, Nicaragua (our other neighbor) would be competitive with Costa Rica or close maybe, but the questionable government and less-developed infrastructure keeps it from being quite as appealing, though cost of living would be a lot lower than Costa Rica and a big plus! I visited there twice also and I could live there after my Spanish is better, but Spanish is absolutely needed there! Ecuador has been pushed by the International Living magazine, because I think they have real estate investments there. I tried that magazine for a year and basically don’t trust them, though you can glean a lot of information from it. Just beware of them speaking authoritatively. For now, I am quite pleased with my choice of Costa Rica and still working on getting to know this country better. Eventually I will have visited all of the National Parks and many reserves. But to absorb all of the nature and photograph it will take the rest of my life and that sounds like a good plan!  🙂

International Living magazine again ranks Costa Rica the #1 Place to Retire!   FLASH addition

¡Pura Vida!

Red-eyed Tree Frog
Tortuguero, Costa Rica
by Charlie Doggett

For more of my take on retirement in Cost Rica, browse through my photo galleries at: 


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