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Is Armenia Quindio a Good Expat Destination 2022

Is Armenia Quindio a Good Expat Destination 2022

Expat Consulting, Lifestyle

Like a train headed for a giant wreck, Armenia Quindio as an Expat Destination in 2022 is the story of a small town which has grown too fast!

On the other side of the coin, there is a very sophisticated feel to the city – especially in the nice areas like milla de oro, laureles, and la castellana neighborhoods. Visitors will love the variety of restaurant and coffee shops. 

Note to my readers, this is not meant as a hit piece although I am raising some serious concerns shared by locals and expats alike which need to be addressed in a way that makes sense. The idea is to review the positives and negatives so you can make a good decision with your time and money.

Original writing and photography by :Erin-janie :Donaldson

Armenia, Quindio as an Expat Destination 2022

As an Expat Destination, Armenia, Quindio has potential. It is also the home of MANY expats currently who have lived many happy years here. Visitors will find great coffee, nice restaurants, and shopping malls with all the major brands which we are used to seeing here in Colombia. It also has the lowest rates of unemployment in all of Colombia coming in around 9%.

For the real estate investor, Armenia is characterized by upward growth in the form of high rises. Without a doubt, this city does not have much room to grow outward, and must go upward.

armenia quindio 2022
Photo Credit: Erin Donaldson

Is Armenia Quindio an Expat Destination?

Armenia Quindio was founded in October of 1889, a much younger city than most of the coffee axis, it is also one of the smallest. Coffee was the primary economic activity which founded the fortunes of the families who built the city. 

Armenia is an expat destination which has limited growth, and higher costs of living even compared to Manizales and Pereira. Newer and prettier in many places, there is a quiet sophistication and variety for those who have the ease and means to eat in one of the many upscale gourmet eateries scattered along the Milla de Oro, Laureles, and La Castellana. 

Is Armenia Quindio an Expat Destination?

  • Yes, if you have the budget, and enjoy a quiet “retirement-esque” lifestyle.
  • No if you are someone who likes a steady event calendar, an active nightlife, concerts and a plethora of options. 
  • No if you are a frequent traveler who likes to have ease of access to more places and a more commercial International airport like that of Pereira. 

Let’s review the positives and negatives. 

Armenia Quindio

Armenia is an ideal destination for someone who wants to live in an upscale apartment, own a car, lead a quiet life, and go out during the day while mostly staying in at night or going home early. 

Armenia is not an idea destination for someone who wants to commute by bicycle or bus, has a limited savings or budget, enjoys local culture events and keeps an active nightlife. 

But what about public transport?

To be fair, plans are in place to increase flow and double the lanes on the major roads, but as of now the traffic is getting congested much faster than the roads are getting built and this is creating a crisis which will manifest in the form of dangerous roads and increased accidents.

In the milla de oro (the gold mile), and a few other main arteries, there are plans to add an additional lane in each direction. Due to heavy car traffic, bicycle commuting can get really dangerous. You may need to have a car and load your bike in it then drive out to one of the pueblos or the outskirts of the city to avoid congestion. 

There are city buses, but they don’t have the connectivity and efficiency that Manizales is famous for. Some routes, like the Milla de Oro, have limited bus access or they only pass a couple times per day. 

What About Real Estate?

This is a positive AND a negative. Prices have shot up in this small city, and apartments in nice areas like Laureles, La Castellana and Milla de Oro are selling at a premium. 

Time to back up and provide some additional data so we can understand what is happening here.

What About Calarcá Quindio?

Expat Destination

The second biggest city in Quindio, only a few minutes from Armenia, is a sleepy town called Calarcá. Unfortunately, it is again, very much a quiet retirement destination, a jumping off point to cross La Linea to the department of Tolima and Bogota. 

The biggest challenge this city has, same as Armenia Quindio – is transportation. Outdated roads, tired old small busses, and congested streets characterize the travel situation. Too much growth, not enough infrastructure. Dangerous accidents. 

Is Armenia Safe?

Two issues seem to be at play in Armenia Quindio.

  1. Too many vehicles, and not enough road
  2. Low unemployment rates, but higher costs of living. 

Entrepreneurship always wins over employment in Colombia. People who work regular 9 to 5 jobs may struggle a bit more as inflation and the cost of living begins to hit the lower to middle classes of Armenia. The upper classes are catering to more sophisticated tastes, but paying more for it than they would in Pereira. 

There are parts of the city where you see some nasty poverty conditions and drug use. Especially around the northern side near the bus terminal, are streets and people which can feel uncomfortable if you are a regular traveler but prefer not to drive a car or fly out. Exercise extreme caution in this area. 

Is Armenia a good Travel Destination?

Expat Destination

You will pay more for taxis here, but if you plan to do day trips to nearby towns, it is close by and you can go in a different direction each day for less than an hour of travel. 

One of our top destinations for families in particular is nearby Quimbaya, a warm climate, great coffee and friendly people! Read More Here >>> Quimbaya Destination Guide

Other nearby touristic pueblos include Calarcá, Pijao, Montenegro, Salento, Filandia, Circasia, and Genova. 

Definitely plan to spend a day visiting Laureles neighborhood. We enjoyed a small restaurant called Bianco Osteria, which has nice salads, pastas, special meat dishes, and a great ambiance. 

There are several shopping malls, boutique shops, and rooftop lounges for nightlife. On the first Saturday of each month is the biggest organic/local natural food market. Tienda Madreselva can probably confirm the current event presence.

Closing Statements

The jury is still out on calling this a top destination. It has great potential, but huge problems if you don’t have a car, or you hate traffic. Real estate is beautiful, modern and upscale. There are nice little neighborhood coffee shops and pastry bakeries, but tons of social life might be limited to clubs, hobbies, dance classes, and occasional special events. 

Here’s what other expats are saying currently about Armenia, Quindio: 

“I love Armenia. I could live there in like 20 years. I think it would be a wonderful place to raise a family (like Pereira in that way), but unlike Pereira it kind of lacks in nightlife options. They exist, but it isn’t nearly as hopping. The upside is that it is a beautiful little city, great food options, and a close proximity to some of the most beautiful pueblos in Colombia. Armenia itself is full of some of the nicest, most genuine people I’ve met in Colombia. Great for older couples, or older single people. Not so great for young people unless you really like a slower lifestyle. I considered living there at one point and I still might. But not ready for that yet.” – Dale P. 39, USA

Don’t rule it out yet, go visit and see it for yourself over a few days. But don’t set your hopes on it being the end all solution to finding an active life in the Colombian Coffee Axis. 

This article is dedicated to our friend Claudia, who opened the door, invited us in, and showed us Armenia and Quindio. A warm thanks for her frank openness, kindness and generosity. 



About the author

Coffee Axis Adventures and Expat Lifestyles meet Wit and Wordpress! I have been writing my whole life in one form or another, and blogging since 2012. My career as a professional writer began in 2013 and this is what I have been doing ever since! My personal mission: Create love and appreciation for local brands, products and entrepreneurial projects of value and quality. Do my part to participate in and help create, a strong local economy that supports local people and their families!

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