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10 Tips for Living in Colombia

By Betsy Burlingame

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Summary: Colombia is an up-and-coming expat destination. With it's low cost of living, and wonderful people, Colombia has a lot to offer.

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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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Get a quote for health insurance from our partner, Allianz Care.
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Colombia GuideColombia Guide
Learn what members have to say about living in Colombia.

Colombia Forum Colombia Forum
Talk with other digital nomads and expats in Colombia on our Colombia forum - meet people, get advice and help others.

Colombia Index Colombia Index
An index of all of our site's Colombia information.

Contribute to Colombia Network Contribute
Help others in Colombia by answering questions about the challenges and adventures of living in Colombia.

Expat Healthcare Advice in ColombiaHealthcare & Health Insurance in Colombia

Expats in Colombia offer advice about healthcare, hospital visits, emergency rooms visits, finding a doctor and buying health insurance in Colombia.

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Expats in Colombia offer advice about healthcare in Colombia.

Best Places to Live in Colombia Best Places to Live in Colombia

Here are the 9 best places to live in Colombia according to expats living in Colombia. Expats share why they love living in each city, the climate, cost of living, social activities and more. Don't overlook the comments about heat and humidity in some coastal cities - while these conditions are ideal for some expats, they're oppressive for others.

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Real estate listings in popular cities and towns in Colombia.

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Advice for people renting and buying real estate in Colombia.

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Take off your rose-colored glasses and learn what digital nomads & expats have to say about the biggest challenges and the greatest rewards of living in Colombia.

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Digital Nomads & Expats offer insight into the cost of living in Colombia.

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Colombia has made an incredible transformation. Expats in Colombia have a lot to say about the best places to live in Colombia. From cities on the Caribbean coast to inland cities, here are 6 of the best places to live in Colombia.

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Comments

zak023
Sep 7, 2011 09:25

Very Very Good advice here..Even though the post is 3 years old the info is GOOD.

renezack1
Mar 14, 2013 16:19

No. 4 - Cedulas The D.A.S. no longer exists. How do I get a Cedula?

BrendanCorrigan
Jan 13, 2014 08:43

"With it's (sic) low cost of living..." Err, depending on where you are, it's not that cheap. In general, Bogotá is expensive compared to many other developing countries. We have managed though to sniff out value to meet our needs (http://bit.ly/17yN8HH)! As for safety, it's a mixed bag. For one, you could check out this: http://bit.ly/1dxhK9v. In relation to a Cedula, you can get one in the country as a student, firstly entering as a tourist and then taking on a 'course'. As long as you meet the financial requirements and have some other basic documents, it's pretty easy to get. I have also been told by Colombian authorities that you can apply for a TP-7 visa in the country i.e. you can enter on a tourist visa and apply for this while you are there.

juanm123
Jan 13, 2014 08:49

I have to say, after living here almost three years, I find it unfortunate that every article on expats always focuses on security, extortion, etc. Sure, some of that exists here but there are so many more important issues to point out. I was just in the States and some guy was carjacked and killed right in front of his wife. So it happens in the US as well. The cost of living in Bogota is comparable to Boston, so more expensive than implied in this article. Sure, you can live cheaply if you want but you probably won't like where you are living. A decent three bedroom apartment in the North of Bogota will run a minimum of US$1,500 and most likely more. If you want to enjoy your experience here, learning the language is the most important thing you can do. The people here are great, no doubt about it, but if you can't communicate with them you will never know it. Imagine a foreigner in the States who can't speak English. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions as I'm always willing to helping out a fellow expat.

CaliRay
Jan 13, 2014 10:03

Regarding visas, I found someone in Cali who, for a fairly reasonable fee, handled all of the paperwork. I did not have to go to Bogota for anything. I've been in Colombia for 5+ years and now have a permanent visa and a residente cedula. All for a price of course, but entirely worth it.

CaliRay
Jan 13, 2014 10:21

@juanm123 I've lived only in Cali so can't comment on rental prices in other places in Colombia. My 7 year old 3 bedroom, 2 bath apartment in a level 4 neighborhood is slightly over $400 U.S. including gas and electricity. It's a very well maintained apartment, with 24 hour vigilante included and an excellent landlord who lives on the floor above me. I can't imagine paying $1,500 for any apartment anywhere so I guess I better stay where I am. :-)

guest
Jan 13, 2014 10:39

I'd like to provide two more requirements for living in Columbia. (1) Airport type ear protection, neighbors play loud music in Columbia. (2) A bullet proof vest is also not a bad idea.

BrendanCorrigan
Jan 14, 2014 08:37

Parritaman, remember "the only 'u' that should in ColOmbia is 'you'". And it's not that bad as regards security; but, yes it has its moments... http://bit.ly/1dxhK9v

paladino
Jun 20, 2014 21:34

This is not a new thread but not an old topic. I don't have any axe to grind about security in Colombia. I live in small, fairly safe pueblo... but when I visit Medellin with my Colombian partners, a husband and wife who lived in Medellin for twenty one years.... they are incredibly security conscious and constantly point out things to take notice of and why. Their house in Medellin was a pretty average middle class barrio so I just want to point out that it's not some Gringo imagination to be concerned about security. Unfortunately, some criminals might and have targeted extranjeros thinking they are an easier mark as there are many locals in any LA country that are packin' heat as the saying goes and local criminals KNOW that no Gringo is going to be carrying a gun in Colombia. So I hope that you made a useful point and it helps the understanding level about this subject. I know that those who live in Colombia and have adjusted probably get sensitive over the statements but that is a part of human nature and that is a different thread. Enjoy Colombia everyone, it's going to change a lot the coming decade.

Travel29
Sep 11, 2014 10:45

Cédula is very easy to get, just time consuming. The hardest parts of relocating to Colombia are 1. The visa. And that was made difficult only because the school did not want to give all the documents required. The documents they did not give are things that have recently been required by a NEW law and that law is quite obtrusive and restrictive....I understand, but it made matters hard. Otherwise, there is very little you have to bring if you are going to be a teacher. Just your passport and hope the school give all the documents required. 2. An apartment. Hard enough for a Colombian and near impossible for a foreigner. Generally, you have to know someone who owns their own property. One landlord, a lawyer of course, wanted 6 months worth of rent just for the secruity deposit. Plus the first month. I do not know many people with 6 or 7 million peros laying around. Plus the money required to live for that first month. 3. Opening a bank account is rather tough, especially as an American with all the restrictive laws the govt has passed, facta being one, and how many foreign banks want nothing to do with that. Any way, i had to make 3 seperate trips spanning 5 or more hours just to open a simple savings account that most children in the states get in 15 minutes. Plus to set the pin, that takes another hour. Highly ineffecient with tons of red tape. There is lots of red tape in Bogota, which shocked me, never expected that.

guest
Oct 26, 2015 11:35

Hi Betsy, I recently moved to Medellin from Australia and I am also struggling with the Colombian time keeping to be honest but I guess it's jut something we have to get used to here. In Medellin foreigners mainly live in Poblado but I'd also highly recommend Laureles. I'm here to learn Spanish. I take Spanish Classes in Medellin in Colombia Immersion. I'd highly recommend it to any expat or traveller passing through.

mark4747
Oct 26, 2015 12:10

Hi Betsy, I recently moved to Medellin from Australia and I am also struggling with the Colombian time keeping to be honest but I guess it's jut something we have to get used to here. In Medellin foreigners mainly live in Poblado but I'd also highly recommend Laureles. I'm here to learn Spanish. I take Spanish Classes in Medellin in Colombia Immersion. I'd highly recommend it to any expat or traveller passing through.

njwalgren
Jan 20, 2016 20:07

I obtained my 1 year visas and cedula in Medellin, without having to go to Bogata. For a nominal fee there is a business just across the street from the DAS office that handled the whole process in Bogata for me.

AirForce1
Jul 6, 2016 16:12

Are guns illegal in Colombia? I was reading in one of the postings that gringos would not be packing a gun.

Allianz Care International Health InsuranceInternational Health Insurance

Get a quote for health insurance from our partner, Allianz Care.
Get a Quote

Allianz Care International Health InsuranceInternational Health Insurance

Get a quote for health insurance from our partner, Allianz Care.
Get a Quote

Colombia GuideColombia Guide
Learn what members have to say about living in Colombia.

Colombia Forum Colombia Forum
Talk with other digital nomads and expats in Colombia on our Colombia forum - meet people, get advice and help others.

Colombia Index Colombia Index
An index of all of our site's Colombia information.

Contribute to Colombia Network Contribute
Help others in Colombia by answering questions about the challenges and adventures of living in Colombia.

Expat Healthcare Advice in ColombiaHealthcare & Health Insurance in Colombia

Expats in Colombia offer advice about healthcare, hospital visits, emergency rooms visits, finding a doctor and buying health insurance in Colombia.

Expat Talk about Healthcare Advice in ColombiaMembers Talk about Healthcare & Health Insurance in Colombia

Expats in Colombia offer advice about healthcare in Colombia.

Best Places to Live in Colombia Best Places to Live in Colombia

Here are the 9 best places to live in Colombia according to expats living in Colombia. Expats share why they love living in each city, the climate, cost of living, social activities and more. Don't overlook the comments about heat and humidity in some coastal cities - while these conditions are ideal for some expats, they're oppressive for others.

Real Estate in ColombiaReal Estate in Colombia

Real estate listings in popular cities and towns in Colombia.

Guide to Real Estate in ColombiaGuide to Real Estate in Colombia

Advice for people renting and buying real estate in Colombia.

Pros Cons of Living in ColombiaPros & Cons of Living in Colombia

Take off your rose-colored glasses and learn what digital nomads & expats have to say about the biggest challenges and the greatest rewards of living in Colombia.

Cost of Living in ColombiaCost of Living in Colombia

Digital Nomads & Expats offer insight into the cost of living in Colombia.

9-Tips-for-Buying-Property-in-Colombia9 Tips for Buying Property in Colombia

Expats in Colombia share insightful tips for buying property in Colombia. If you're thinking about buying real estate in Colombia, there is much to learn from their experiences.

6-Best-Places-to-Live-in-Colombia6 Best Places to Live in Colombia

Colombia has made an incredible transformation. Expats in Colombia have a lot to say about the best places to live in Colombia. From cities on the Caribbean coast to inland cities, here are 6 of the best places to live in Colombia.

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