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Expat Exchange - How to Rent a Home in Colombia
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Bucaramanga, Colombia


How to Rent a Home in Colombia

By Betsy Burlingame

Colombian Visa Services
Colombian Visa Services

Summary: Renting a home in Colombia for the first time can be daunting. You probably have so many questions: Do I need a lawyer? Do rentals come with appliances? How do I find good rentals? How do I choose the right neighborhood? The list goes on and on. Here are answers to some of the top questions plus insight from our members living in Colombia.

Navigating the process of renting a home in Colombia for the first time can feel overwhelming. Numerous questions might arise: Should I consult a lawyer? Are appliances typically included in rentals? How can I discover quality rental properties? Which neighborhoods will best suit my needs? These are just the tip of the iceberg. Dive in for answers to these pressing questions and gain insights from our members who've made Colombia their home.

"Colombia, with its vibrant culture, beautiful landscapes, and affordable cost of living, is an attractive destination for expats. However, navigating the rental market can be a challenge, especially for those unfamiliar with the local customs and regulations. This guide aims to provide a comprehensive overview of renting an apartment in Colombia, covering everything from finding a property to understanding the legal requirements and costs involved.

How Do You Find a Rental Property in Colombia?

There are several ways to find rental properties in Colombia. Online platforms such as Metro Cuadrado, Fincaraiz, and OLX are popular and provide a wide range of options. Local newspapers also have property listings, and word-of-mouth can be a useful tool. It's also common to see "Se Arrienda" (For Rent) signs on properties. However, it's recommended to use a real estate agent, especially if you're not fluent in Spanish, as they can help navigate the process and negotiate terms.

Does Colombia Have an MLS Type System?

Colombia does not have a Multiple Listing Service (MLS) like in the United States. Instead, each real estate agency maintains its own listings. This means you may need to check with multiple agencies to find the widest range of available properties.

Do Brokers Have Licenses and How Do I Know if They Are Licensed?

Real estate brokers in Colombia are required to be licensed. The Colombian Association of Real Estate Agents (Lonja de Propiedad Raíz) oversees the licensing process. To verify a broker's license, you can check with this association or ask the broker directly for their license number.

Should I Buy or Rent in Colombia?

Whether to buy or rent depends on your personal circumstances and long-term plans. Renting can be a good option for those new to the country or planning a shorter stay. Buying might make sense if you plan to stay long-term and want to invest in property. However, buying property as a foreigner can be complex and requires a thorough understanding of the local real estate market.

Is It Difficult to Find Rentals in Colombia?

Finding a rental in Colombia can be challenging, especially in popular cities like Bogotá and Medellín where demand is high. However, with patience and the help of a good real estate agent, you can find a suitable property. It's recommended to start your search well in advance of your move.

What Documents Are Required When Renting an Apartment in Colombia?

When renting an apartment in Colombia, you'll typically need to provide a copy of your passport, proof of income, and a Colombian co-signer (fiador) who owns property in the city. If you don't have a co-signer, some landlords may accept a larger deposit instead. You may also need to provide a letter of employment or a contract if you're working in Colombia.

Do I Need a Lawyer When Renting an Apartment in Colombia?

While not mandatory, it's advisable to hire a lawyer when renting an apartment in Colombia, especially if you're not fluent in Spanish. A lawyer can review the lease agreement, ensure it's legally sound, and help negotiate terms. The cost can vary, but expect to pay around $200-$500 USD.

How Long Is the Typical Lease for?

The typical lease term in Colombia is one year, but it's possible to negotiate shorter or longer terms depending on the landlord's flexibility and the tenant's needs.

Do I Have to Pay a Deposit?

Yes, a deposit is typically required when renting an apartment in Colombia. The amount can vary, but it's usually equivalent to one month's rent. This deposit is returned at the end of the lease, provided there are no damages to the property.

What Other Upfront Costs Are There When Renting?

In addition to the deposit, you may also need to pay the first month's rent upfront. Some landlords may also require a fee for drawing up the lease agreement. If you're using a real estate agent, they will typically charge a commission, usually around 10% of the annual rent.

Are Utilities Included?

Utilities are usually not included in the rent and are the responsibility of the tenant. This includes water, electricity, gas, and internet. The cost can vary depending on usage and location, but they are generally affordable compared to North American or European standards.

Are Furnished or Unfurnished Rentals More Popular?

Both furnished and unfurnished rentals are available in Colombia. Furnished apartments typically include basic furniture, a refrigerator, and other kitchen appliances. Unfurnished apartments may not include appliances. Furnished apartments are more popular among short-term renters and expats, while unfurnished apartments are often preferred by long-term residents," said one expat living in Colombia.

Colombian Visa Services

We have over 10 years of experience helping foreigners obtain visas, invest, and do business in Colombia. Take the stress out of immigrating to Colombia by working with an experienced, bilingual immigration attorney.

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Colombian Visa Services

We have over 10 years of experience helping foreigners obtain visas, invest, and do business in Colombia. Take the stress out of immigrating to Colombia by working with an experienced, bilingual immigration attorney.

Learn MoreConnect

Click connect to have our partner contact you via e-mail and/or phone.

Expats Talk about How they Found their Home

"Found Medellin from a friend - climate is perfect 75 days, 65 nights for sleeping(other cities climate can be much colder), good infrastucture equal to USA (drinkable water - no bottled water, low cost hydroelectric, same voltage - no convertor, natural gas in ground) and products / services (from USA, we are very accustomed to finding everything we want) and the people are very friendly / helpful Find a good English speaking real estate agent (Andrew - Apartments Medellin) because they will generally understand also more of your needs. The local agents tend to help their friends and do not show what you will want (no MLS services here). Look for US designed and constructed housing or you will miss all your conveniences (from experience)," commented an expat living in Medellin.

"Traveling through Colombia i stumbled upon a town called Guatape 1 hour from Medellin," said an expat in Guatape.

"I visit the area many times and was in love with the Cerritos, Cartage and Quindio area. This area is safer than the USA," remarked one expat who made the move to Cartago.

"Found on fincaraiz.com. Friend checked it out, said it was good, negotiated with owner, came down two weeks before move, checked it out, signed papers," explained one expat living in Medellin.

About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.


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Colombian Visa Services

Colombian Visa Services
Colombian Visa Services

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