Pereira, Colombia

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Pereira, Colombia: Everything You Need To Know

Reviewed by Kathleen Peddicord

Kathleen is the Live and Invest Overseas Founding Publisher. She has more than 30 years of hands-on experience traveling, living, and buying property around the world.


Plaza Boliva in Pereira, Colombia
flickr/getruve

Pereira lies in the foothills of the Andes of western Colombia, and its metropolitan area is located in a valley of the river Otún and part of the Cauca river valley.

When planning a move to Colombia and are looking for a small, walkable city with perfect weather, look no further than Pereira.

At an elevation of 4,829 feet (1,411 meters), Pereira enjoys beautiful weather all year, with warm, pleasant days and cool, fresh nights.

Pereira is one of the cities that make up Colombia’s Coffee Triangle, along with the nearby cities of Armenia and Manizales. As part of the coffee region, stunning scenery and picturesque small pueblos surround Pereira.

The area boasts bountiful natural resources and many opportunities for hiking, photography, horseback riding, and much more.

Nearby hot springs, picturesque little pueblos within a couple hours, and countless fincas (small farms and country homes) in the surrounding areas make for great getaways from the city.

Pereira is also a jumping off point to two of the top nature preserves in Colombia: Parque Ucumarí and Santuario Otún Quimbaya.

The city’s water is drinkable, and it boasts well-maintained roads, dependable phone service, electricity, and high-speed Internet. You’ll find many shopping options, from little tiendas to upscale boutiques, along with several large, modern shopping malls, including Parque Arboleda mall, which rivals the best malls found in Bogotá and Medellín.

It’s an enjoyable place to be, and what’s more, the nightlife in Pereira draws visitors from around the coffee region. The real estate market is active and under-valued.

The image of Colombia as a dangerous land of cartels is years out of date.

Pablo Escobar died three decades ago, and Venezuela’s instability has led to the best U.S.-Colombia relations in modern history. Colombia now even has the backing of the AARP.

Retirement in Colombia is picturesque, sophisticated, welcoming, and affordable… A place on track to become one of the world’s most sought-after destinations, for both living and investing.

When Spring Is Forever

Pereira is known as Colombia’s second “City of Eternal Spring,” and it’s a wonder why this little city remains so undiscovered.

In some ways Pereira is like Medellín 10 or more years ago… before all the positive press brought so many foreigners to the one-time drug capital of the country. Both cities are in the mountains at about 5,000 feet, and both boast pleasant year-round climates.

One of the most notable differences, however, between the two is the cost of living and of real estate. Property values in Pereira are at least 20% to 25% cheaper than in Medellín.

Several expats who live in Pereira initially settled in Medellín. They moved when they discovered smaller Pereira, which they felt to be a more livable city. In Pereira, there is less traffic and the air is cleaner.

Pereira—and specifically its Pinares neighborhood—is built on lush hills with tree-lined streets, green parks, and meandering roads… with mountain views in every direction.

From the hole-in-the-wall shop selling homemade empanadas to elegant restaurants serving fine cuisine, your dining-out options are many and varied.

The official metro area consists of three municipalities (Pereira, Dosquebradas, and La Virginia), which is home to a population of around 705,000.

Expat Community In Pereira, Colombia

Pereira is a good option for mountain living for those looking for a smaller city. This Colombian city is slowly starting to attract more expats, who appreciate the affordable real estate and a slower pace of life.

For now, Pereira is not a popular or even a known tourist destination in Colombia. As a result, not many foreigners visit and even fewer stick around indefinitely.

The absence of an established expat community could be a plus or a minus for you, depending on what kind of overseas living experience you’re looking for.

An Affordable Opportunity

Cost Of Living In Pereira, Colombia

A budget of about $1,000 will put you in a high-end residence in one of Pereira’s best neighborhoods. If you want to live for less, though, it can easily be achieved. Just choose a middle-class neighborhood and/or stay away from high-end restaurants.

The city’s real estate industry is well organized, and the inventory of quality properties for sale is broad. Construction standards are high—even in older buildings—yet prices are lower than you’ll find in most markets in South America.

Pereira is one of the region’s best property values. In its best-address Pinares neighborhood, you could buy a two-bedroom, two-bath apartment for as little as US$75,000.

And you could rent one for as little as US$300 per month.

Pereira offers a fashionable and modern lifestyle that can be challenging to find in Latin America and at a bargain cost.

The local currency in Colombia is the Peso.

Let’s take a closer look at the cost of living in Pereira.

Apartment Or House Rental Budget (For A Couple) In Pereira

ExpenseMonthly CostsNotes
TOTALUS$1,055.55 
RentUS$300Unfurnished condo in an upscale suburb.
TransportationUS$40Price for a couple with some walking.
UtilitiesUS$76.55Electricity, including heating and cooling, and water. Internet and Cable TV.
Cell PhoneUS$24Monthly plan with calls.
EntertainmentUS$250Eating out twice a week at a local restaurant. Beers twice a week at a local pub. Movie theatre trip twice a month.
GroceriesUS$190Monthly grocery haul.
Household HelpUS$175Full-time maid, not live in.

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Coffee Tours Are A Must

Thermal sources Santa Rosa de Cabal in the coffee zone of Pereira, Colombia
AdobeStock/sunsinger

Things To Do In Pereira, Colombia

The most popular annual event in Pereira is the Fiesta de Cosecha (harvest festival), which typically takes place starting in mid-August and lasts for about two weeks.

La Cabalgata, the horse parade, is one of the highlights of the fiesta. The Christmas holidays are also a very popular time to visit.

While you’re in Centro be sure to see the main square, Plaza Bolívar, and Redrigo Arenas Benticur’s famous nude Bolívar statue, as well as the impressive Cathedral of Our Lady of Poverty church.

When in La Circunvalar, don’t leave without visiting the large Parque Arboleda mall. Walk down the street in front of the mall to find several of the best restaurants, cafés, and clubs in the city.

No trip to Pereira would be complete without a coffee tour. Pereira is part of the coffee region and plenty of actively producing coffee fincas are located nearby.

We recommend Don Manolo Café, which is a small family-owned finca. The family offers an informative tour of their coffee farm, during which you witness the step-by-step production process.

Hector (Don Manolo’s son) speaks English, so make sure he is around if you need translation. The coffee you see being produced is also excellent.

It is especially interesting to visit during harvest time, which is typically May to July and November to January.

Santa Rosa, a small town located about 45 minutes from Pereira, is famous for its hot springs. This quaint little town offers a nice day getaway from Pereira. Buses leave from Victoria Mall or the bus terminal and cost about US$2 one-way.

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Safety In Pereira, Colombia

Crime in Pereira is a mixed bag depending on where you are… as it would be in any city in any country in the world. Pineras is considered one of the safest areas, with virtually no homicides and little crime. Lone women in this area walking alone feel safe wandering the streets at night.

Clean, safe residential areas include Pineres, La Circunvalar, the nearby Cerritos rural area, among others.

Health Care In Pereira, Colombia

Colombia is home to the best health care in Latin America, with well-equipped hospitals and excellent service available at very affordable prices.

Exceptional health care is another reason retiring in Colombia is so alluring. For example, costs for procedures can be 50% to 90% less than for comparable procedures performed Stateside.

Quality of care is not an issue. Pereira has several quality medical facilities and many highly skilled doctors. Within the coffee region, many smaller pueblos, such as Salento, get their medical needs taken care of in Pereira.

For more complex medical procedures, like transplants, a short trip to Bogotá or Medellín may be needed; both are less than an hour’s flight away.

The basic government-subsidized health plan is called EPS. With no Colombian income, this will cost you 12% of the minimum wage. You are obliged to use the facilities specified by the plan, which would be basic.

From there you can buy add-on plans, many of which require that you have EPS as a prerequisite. These entitle you to faster service and better, more upscale facilities. Not everyone offers add-on coverage to people over 60, so you may need to shop around if you’re older.

Pereira is one place where health care is so affordable that it can make sense to pay for it out of pocket rather than insuring against it. Many expats have decided to opt out of insurance.

A private office visit runs about 65,000 pesos (US$16.50), while a specialist charges about 135,000 pesos (US$34). A visit to a subsidized clinic starts at about 26,000 pesos (US$6.60).

Expat Jeff Paschke recently paid a visit to a dentist in Pereira.

“I went to an upscale dentist for a new metal-ceramic crown. The cost was US$290, including an exam and cleaning. The cost of the crown alone in Texas with my regular dentist would have been US$1,300.

“That’s 77.7% less in Pereira… or 448.3% more in the United States.

“And the standard of care is sophisticated and excellent,” he says.

Visa And Residency For Colombia

Colombia has three main residency types.

The first is thepensionadovisa, or M-11 visa. This is a cash-friendly option; you can apply with as little as US$800 per month from a pension source, plus an administration fee of about US$300.

The visa is valid for three years, after which you must renew.

Applying for a visa is straightforward—you can even apply online. To do this, scan and send a PDF of the required documents, which are: a copy of your passport, two passport-sized photos, and proof of a pension.

However, the pension must be from a government; private pension letters aren’t valid for thepensionadovisa. Proof of a government pension will need to be apostilled. The process takes about 10 weeks.

With a private pension, apply for a rentista visa. It requires a minimum income (or private pension) of 15 times the Colombian minimum wage.

You can obtain an investment visa by making an investment via a Colombian bank account of about US$165,000. The visa is valid for five years and allows you to study and work in Colombia. The documents you need are similar to the TP-7, and the administrative charges come out to about US$450.

Once you’ve received your visa, you are required to register withMigración Colombiato get your Colombian ID. This must be done in person in Bogotá within 15 days of getting your visa. Failure to do so will land you with a fine of over US$7,500.

Weather In Pereira, Colombia

Average temperatures in Pereira Colombia
Weather-and-climate.com

At an elevation of about 4,800 feet, Pereira enjoys beautiful weather all year, with warm, balmy days and cool, pleasant nights.

For example, the average daytime high is 79.6°F and the low is 62.1°F, with only 1 degree of seasonal variation.

Pereira, Colombia - FAQ’s

Why Is The Coffee So Good In Colombia?

As the third largest exporter of coffee in the world, Colombia has an ideal climate for growing coffee. The key elements to growing good coffee include high altitude, more than 80 inches of rain per year, and no frost. Colombia fits this profile perfectly. It also has a lot of volcanic soil, another element that is found in top coffee producing countries.

Coffee lovers come to Colombia from across the globe to tour its coffee farms. Before the 1990s, the best coffee in Colombia was for export. The blends remaining in Colombia were often basic and there wasn’t a demand for quality coffee. Things have since changed. You’ll now find coffee shops selling premium coffee in all major cities.

Colombian coffee farmers are increasingly using sustainable growing and harvesting methods. There is a plan in place to make all Colombian coffee productions sustainable by 2027. This means coffee farmers will eliminate the use of pesticides and practice farming methods that combat soil erosion.

Can I Move My Household Goods To Colombia?

When moving to Colombia it is important to take into consideration shipping for all your household goods and items you just can’t leave behind. We recommend finding a reliable and trusted shipping agent that has experience in Colombia.

It will likely be easier to find a Colombian company that works directly with an American (or Canadian) company, as Colombia’s import and customs can be a tough cookie to crack for those unfamiliar with the process.

Will I Need To Learn Spanish If I Move To Pereira, Colombia?

The regional dialect spoken in Pereira, Colombia, is a bit faster than in the rest of the country. For a beginner, comprehension is easy when compared to places like Cuba or Uruguay…but not as easy as Ecuador, Costa Rica, or Mexico.

English is not widely spoken in Pereira outside the service industries. You are less likely to find English speakers in Pereira compared to the larger cities in Colombia like Bogotá or Medellín.

If you don’t know any Spanish before you get here, we suggest you resolve to take a class after you arrive. It won’t be easy to sustain your day-to-day life over the long term with no Spanish at all. If you speak little to no Spanish, it’s always harder to get things done.

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I have traveled to Pereira, known as Colombia’s second “City of Eternal Spring,” many times over the past several years… and I don’t understand why this little city remains so undiscovered. Pereira is one of the corners of Colombia’s Coffee Triangle, along with the nearby cities of Armenia and Manizales. The scenery in this coffee region of Colombia is stunning. This is one of the best regions in this country for hiking, photography, horseback riding, and all sorts of outdoor...

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Report Today!


Learn more about COLOMBIA and other countries in our free, daily Overseas Opportunity Letter. Simply enter your email address below and we’ll send you our FREE REPORT - The 10 Best Places To Retire In