The foreign retirement publications have named Medellín one of the top foreign retirement locations in the past but we look at why these publications tend to get Medellín and Colombia wrong.

Each year Medellín continues to attract more foreign retirees with its low cost of living, “eternal spring” climate and good healthcare. We previously looked at 11 reasons why Medellín is a top foreign retirement location.

Many Medellin Guru readers have asked questions recently about the foreign retirement publications coverage of Medellín and Colombia that they believe is inaccurate. Several readers asked questions about Live and Invest Overseas’ top foreign places to retire list for 2019 wondering why Medellín didn’t make it on this list.

So, we now look at why the coverage by the retirement publications frequently get Medellín and Colombia wrong.

Photo of Medellín during a pretty day in the city of eternal spring

Photo of Medellín during a pretty day in the city of eternal spring

Foreign Retirement Publications Coverage of Medellín and Colombia

Both the Live and Invest Overseas and International Living publications have ranked Medellín and Colombia as top foreign retirement locations.

Live and Invest Overseas has ranked Medellín in the past as one of its top foreign retirement locations. And International Living currently ranks Colombia as #6 in its list of top foreign retirement locations. And this coverage has resulted in more retirees moving to Medellín and Colombia.

However, in my opinion, the retirement publications tend to rank Medellín and Colombia lower in their top foreign retirement location rankings than they should. This is likely due to some bias and also questionable methodologies used to select the top foreign retirement locations.

Also, the foreign retirement publications like Live and Invest Overseas and International Living tend to portray Medellín and Colombia and other locations they recommend through rose-colored glasses. And these publications typically only cover the positives and rarely discuss the downsides of the places they recommend.

Live and Invest Overseas – Top 10 Places to Retire in the World for 2019

Live and Invest Overseas ranks cities and regions in its list of the best places to retire in the world. Here is their list of the top 10 places to retire in the world for 2019:

  1. The Algarve, Portugal
  2. Annecy, France
  3. Bled, Slovenia
  4. Canggu, Bali, Indonesia
  5. Cascais, Portugal
  6. Città Sant’Angelo, Italy
  7. Cuenca, Ecuador
  8. Da Lat, Vietnam
  9. Da Nang, Vietnam
  10. Fortaleza, Brazil

This 2019 list is surprising as the list is Europe heavy and it no longer includes any locations in Panama and Colombia as it has in the past. For Live and Invest Overseas’ list in 2019 they only ranked 21 places in 14 categories. And 10 of the places they ranked were new.

However, I question their methodology as Medellín in my opinion beats most if not all in their list of the top 10 places for 2019. Also, I question the inclusion of Fortaleza, Brazil, which is ranked as one of the most dangerous cities in the world and doesn’t compare well to Medellín (see our Medellín vs Fortaleza comparison).

Medellín vs Fortaleza: Medellín easily wins

Medellín vs Fortaleza: Medellín easily wins

Last year, Live and Invest Overseas’ 2018 list of the top 10 foreign places to retire was very different and included seven cities that aren’t on their 2019 list. In 2018, Live and Invest Overseas’ top five were Lisbon, Portugal; Cali, Colombia; Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic; San Pedro – Ambergris Caye, Belize and Saint-Chinian, France.

In addition, none of these top five in 2018 are on their 2019 top list. Also, in my opinion, Medellín beats Cali and Medellín wasn’t on the Live and Invest list last year (see our Medellín vs Cali comparison).

So, if appears that the methodology used by Live and Invest Overseas tends to promote new top foreign retirement locations each year.

International Living – 10 Best Places to Retire Overseas in 2019

International Living’s list of the best places to retire overseas ranks countries instead of cities. Here is their list of the top 10 countries to retire overseas for 2019:

  1. Panama
  2. Costa Rica
  3. Mexico
  4. Ecuador
  5. Malaysia
  6. Colombia
  7. Portugal
  8. Peru
  9. Thailand
  10. Spain

This list is similar to International Living’s 2018 list, which had the top six as Costa Rica, Mexico, Panama, Ecuador, Malaysia and Colombia.

However, in my opinion, the methodology used by International Living appears to be flawed. They only rank countries in 13 categories and the rankings in many cases look to be inaccurate or biased.

For example, International Living ranks the healthcare better in Mexico, Costa Rica and Ecuador. But Colombia has many more of the best hospitals in Latin America than any country in Latin America.

Colombia has 23 of the Best Hospitals in Latin America

Colombia has 23 of the Best Hospitals in Latin America

Colombia has 24 of the 58 best hospitals in Latin America, which means 41 percent of the best hospitals in all of Latin America are in Colombia. And nine of these best hospitals are in Medellín and nine in Bogotá. In comparison, Mexico only has five  of the best hospitals in Latin America in the entire country of Mexico, Panama only has one and Costa Rica only has one.

In addition, the World Health Organization (WHO) ranks Colombia’s healthcare system as #22 out of 191 countries it ranked. Also, no other countries in Latin America were ranked higher than Colombia. According to WHO, Colombia has the best healthcare system in Latin America.

So, how can International Living objectively rank the healthcare in Mexico, Costa Rica and Ecuador as better than in Colombia if WHO ranks Colombia’s healthcare as better and Colombia has many more of the best hospitals in Latin America.

The Medellín Guru City Comparisons

We have comprehensively compared living in Medellín with living in 12 different foreign locations.

In our comparisons we compare Medellín with other foreign locations in 20 or 21 categories, which is more categories than the retirement publications use.

We compared Medellín with The Algarve, Cuenca and Fortaleza, which are on Live and Invest Overseas’ list of the top 10 places to retire in the world for 2019. And we found that Medellín beats The Algarve, Cuenca and Fortaleza. But Medellín isn’t on the Live and Invest Overseas’ 2019 list. So, this brings into question the objectivity of Live and Invest Overseas.

Also, we compared living in Medellín with Costa Rica; Panama City; Cuenca, Ecuador and two cities in Mexico. And we found that Medellín compares well but International Living rates Panama, Costa Rica, Mexico and Ecuador ahead of Colombia in 2019.

Medellin Guru’s Comparisons of Cities in Colombia

In addition, we have compared living in Medellín with several cities in Colombia, including:

In our city comparisons, Medellín ties with some larger cities like Mexico City, Lima and Bogotá. These larger cities have more things to do, more restaurants, more shopping, more education options and more employment options. But Medellín still compares well with is lower cost of living, very good climate and good healthcare.

Medellín, a top foreign retirement location, photo by Jenny Bojinova

Medellín, a top foreign retirement location, photo by Jenny Bojinova

5 Reasons Why the Retirement Publications Get Medellín and Colombia Wrong

Here is a list of five likely reasons why the retirement publications tend to get Medellín and Colombia wrong (in no particular order).

  1. Methodologies appear to be flawed. The methodologies used by the retirement publications to select the top foreign retirement locations are missing several categories and don’t seem to consider all the downsides. Also, it appears that they are not objective in their rankings.
  2. Retirement publications tend to have conflicts of interest. The foreign retirement publications host conferences with real estate companies pushing properties. Also, the retirement publications collect commissions and payments from real estate companies in locations they cover.
  3. The retirement publications sugar-coat places they cover. These publications don’t really discuss most of the downsides. And you will never see something like our list of 11 downsides to living in Medellín or 8 downsides to living in Colombia in the retirement publications. The retirement publications tend to primarily cover the positives. On the Medellin Guru website, we do not sugar-coat things.
  4. The retirement publications tout low costs of living in places they cover but do not include all the costs. The cost of living may be low in places these publications recommend but not as low as they claim. For example, you typically won’t see healthcare costs, medical insurance or taxes in the cost of living budgets they publish from what I have seen.
  5. Changing the top retirement locations each year may be a marketing ploy. If the top retirement locations change each year, the retirement publications have new content to sell and feature at their conferences.
Medellín is considered a top foreign retirement location but the retirement publications frequently get Medellín wrong

Medellín is considered a top foreign retirement location but the retirement publications frequently get Medellín wrong

The Bottom Line: Why the Retirement Publications Get Medellín and Colombia Wrong

My background is that I am a research analyst very familiar with the proper ways to conduct in-depth research. And I question the methodologies of the retirement publications, which are used to select their top foreign retirement locations.

The list of the top foreign retirement locations by Live and Invest Overseas tends to change each year. Medellín was previously included in the past so may not show up in new lists even though Medellín arguably beats many of the places included each year.

The list of the top foreign retirement countries by International Living includes Colombia each year. But, in my opinion, Colombia should be ranked higher.

In addition, the retirement publications tend to only discuss the positives and advantages about living in Medellín and Colombia. And the downsides are glossed over or may not be mentioned for the places these publications cover.

But there are downsides to living in Medellín such as traffic and pollution that should be considered. And there are downsides to living in Colombia such as corruption and the need for many foreigners to file income taxes twice. No place is perfect – every place has some downsides.

The bottom line is when you use information from the foreign retirement publications, keep in mind they have some biases and tend to primarily cover the positives. So, make sure to do additional research.

In conclusion, the best place to live is the best place to live for you. Everyone has different priorities. The only way to know which place is the best for you is to spend time there.

Readers, what do you think about the foreign retirement publications coverage of Medellín and Colombia?

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Editors note: updated on October 29, 2019 with new 2019 hospital rankings in Latin America.