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How To Live In Colombia For $1,000 Per Month Easily?

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DallasSteve
1/5/2019 13:45 EST

How To Live In Colombia For $1,000 Per Month Easily?

Earlier this week one of our veteran members posted that you can live for $1,000 per month in Colombia easily. I've lived in Colombia for 6 months and you wouldn't believe how much money I burned living a modest lifestyle there. So I'm looking for tips. My budget below are ballpark numbers for 2 persons. To stay at $1,000 I had to drop rent down to $100. I don't think that's going to happen. I was paying about $200 per month on a flat owned by family (hers). Still, some people might be able to get groceries for 2 down to $200 or do without health insurance. Fortunately right now I don't have any other medical expenses, but that could change.

400 - Food
200 - Health Insurance
100 - Taxis
100 - Electricity, Water
100 - Telephone, TV, Internet
100 - Rent

I can easily swing $2,000 per month, but if I go I'm probably going alone and that means I will need another $1,000 per month for "Entertainment" (wink, wink). I can speak Spanish fluently and I have shopped in many stores in Colombia. So where I really need advice is renting an apartment. In Dallas we have 100 apartment complexes or more. You walk in, look at an empty apartment, they check your credit, and you sign a hundred documents. Easy. But when I was in Colombia renting an apartment was a nightmare. Even if I offered to pay a few months rent up front they couldn't help me.

So....

How do I rent a decent 1 or 2 bedroom apartment in Colombia in a barrio that isn't too dangerous without paying US prices? Easily? What are the mechanics? How do you find them? Are there some good Internet websites?

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Andresen
1/5/2019 14:27 EST

I'm not the one who said you could live in Colombia for $1000 a month EASILY but I know a few guys who have done it. First,,no car. Second, rent a room not an apartment. If necessary, move to a small town. Hopefully, others will chime in with other ideas.

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allianz international health insurance

For expats in Colombia, choosing an expat health insurance provider is an important decision. Get a quote from our partner, Allianz Care. Their plans ensure that you have access to quality healthcare whenever you need it. Allianz Care's flexible solutions allow you to tailor your cover to meet your needs and budget.

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pocopelo
1/5/2019 14:54 EST

Landline, TV? If high speed internet is available those aren't necessary.

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Elexpatriado
1/5/2019 14:56 EST

Some guys have EPS for healthcare and.swear by it. Very cheap.


Dont know if I am at that stage yet.
Medicina prepagada is very expensive and they dont cover a lot.

Though if you will be going single and have the $1000 for entertainment, good health care is very important, in cae you "catch" something.

Another problem is inflación in Colombia is pretty close to 6 % per year, consistent.

.

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GRINGO1459
1/5/2019 15:02 EST

I have a 3 bedroom 2 bath 1026 sq ft cost 750.000 cop just paid electric 125.000 cop internet with phone and wifi 131.383 cop gas 10.000 cop that totals 327.87 usd at the current exchange and my apartment is in Los Andes barrio 3 we normally spend around 400.00 cop on food that is 129.00 usd total 456.87 usd a month

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GRINGO1459
1/5/2019 15:06 EST

and that should leave you with 500.00 usd a month for u know wink wink

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allianz international health insurance

For expats in Colombia, choosing an expat health insurance provider is an important decision. Get a quote from our partner, Allianz Care. Their plans ensure that you have access to quality healthcare whenever you need it. Allianz Care's flexible solutions allow you to tailor your cover to meet your needs and budget.

Get a Quote

Scott1
1/5/2019 15:34 EST

The following if for Medellin.

https://medellinguru.com/2018-unfurnished-apartment-rental-costs/

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ponymalta
1/5/2019 15:42 EST

DallasSteve

In my case I give my wife $1,000 per month for the basic monthly budget.

this pays for rent,food, internet/phone, private school, car insurance/gas, all utilities etc.

our rent $300 a month, we have three bedroom brand new apartment with views of the mountains, 24 hour security with gym. for food we eat no packaged or frozen foods, get fresh eggs and some fruits from farmers usually delivered, and eat very well- 1 million pesos a month ( and this is for my parents in law and three of us). electricity/water/phones/cable about $100 less than what you quote. my daughter goes to private school, and my wife and daughter go to beauty parlor weekly, and my wife and daughter have medical coverage. our lifestyle is comfortable and certainly on a comparable basis better than the US.

Yes we can have extra expenses, clothes the women want ( but dont need) , occasional trips etc. They have basic and private insurance, I think I am under EPS but I dont bother with it-I pay cash, and I am fortunate enough I can get medical care in US or UK as I wouldn't go to Colombian doctor for anything serious, My wife manages the budget so I dont have to deal with it, I just give to my wife and forget about it.

We dont live in Gringo heaven Poblado, nor even Envigado ( years ago we rented house there- why living in noise and pollution of central Medellin is beyond me).

Maybe the private insurance is an extra expense I havent considered, and I dont have a big monthly bar bill. For the extra $1000 entertainment you mention I would bet if you speak Spanish fluently that you could easily cut that in half - $500 a monthly is more than many middle class jobs pay net, and money can buy anything in Colombia Lots of Paisas would move heaven and earth to have an extra $500 a month.

I have no idea how 1 person could "modestly" require $400 a month for food- if I wished I could have lunch and dinner delivered daily for less but maybe Poblado more expense than outlying locations.

Anyway that is my budget, and while we dont live in an 'upscale' barrio neither do we live in a communa.

For taxis I dont pay much ( as I avoid driving), I just figured out local rates- then found a driver and guaranteed him X business per month, and just call him. Why should I pay market rates for taxis when I can have the same driver day or night ? Why would I buy eggs at Exito when I get them straight from a farmer cheaper, tasting better, and often delivered ? Just depends I guess on how people organize their lives and health.

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DeniseLR
1/5/2019 16:19 EST

Me gusta! Tengo que visitar. Y supongo que es mucho mas tranquilo que los Estados Unidos.

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cafetero
1/5/2019 16:28 EST

Monthly budget - La Floresta, Medellin, Estrato 4, gated apartment building

Rent 900,000 pesos for 3Bedroom, 2Bath, includes administration

Food for 2 people 1,000,000 includes occasional dining out

Hearty beverages 300,000

Internet 110,000

Utilities 130,000

Taxis and buses 100,000

140,000 medical and burial insurance

300,000 savings account

Total for December 2018 was 2,980,000 which at today's exchange rate equals about $950 USD

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Andresen
1/5/2019 17:01 EST

DeniseLR. Keeping in mind that i never lived in a large city in the US, this is a noisy country!

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cafetero
1/5/2019 17:05 EST

The above budget for a couple in La Floresta, Medellin is for my friends who tell me they are quite comfortable and very happy with their lifestyle.

Here is my budget for myself and girlfriend in Pereira.

2 bedroom 1 bath unfurnished apartment in gated condo, estrato 5, 24-7 security, including administration, cable and landline, internet and utilities, 800,000

Semi-vegetarian food for 2 people with occasional restaurant outing 800,000

Brandy, beer and wine 400,000

Health insurance 120,000 covers both of us. Sanitas EPS, top rated company in Colombia.

Taxi and bus for trips downtown about 100,000 month

Total 2,250,000 pesos month, about $725 USD

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LaPiranha
1/5/2019 18:09 EST

ElExpat . You state ...... """Another problem is inflación in Colombia is pretty close to 6 % per year, consistent."""

According to DANE, figures published for December showed the annual inflation in Colombia for 2018 was 3.18%, decreasing from 2017, where it was 4.09%.

Seems like you are 10 or 20 years behind the times.

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DallasSteve
1/5/2019 18:50 EST

Thanks for all the responses. It gives me a lot to think about. When I read Gringo1459 spending about $500 per month total I thought "Fantastic"! Then Scott posted a link to some rent numbers for Medellin that are much higher. Where is the "disconnect"? Are Gringo's numbers for some smaller city? How would the medium-sized cities in the coffee region like Pereira compare to Medellin on rents?

PonyMalta - The $400 for food was figuring 2 people being optimistic that maybe I can find a companion to help run up my food bill (without kids, hopefully). Your comment about Paisas making $500 per month makes me even more optimistic.

Thanks, Steve

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Andresen
1/5/2019 19:37 EST

i have to comment on that last sentence about paisas making $500 a month. Keep in mind that many generations of a paisa family often live together for a life more affordable.

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cafetero
1/5/2019 19:51 EST

I think you individual lifestyle has more of a bearing on your living costs than the city in which you live does.
Granted, nice apartments and houses in the coffee region are less expensive than in Medellin, and much less expensive than Bogota, but still not a budget buster.
We lived in Chia, just outside Bogota last year and rented a free standing house 3 bedrooms 2 baths, private front and back yard, and paid 1,500,000 including internet and utilities. We still came in under the $1000 USD per month budget.
Like one guy said in one of these threads a while back, ¨My bar bill is higher than that every month!¨ So, yeah, your preferred lifestyle is the deciding factor in how much it costs you each month.

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BlueSeas
1/5/2019 20:16 EST

For Medellin, in good, not great areas, you are probably looking at 350-500 for rent. Thanks Medellin Guru!

But you asked how to find? The best advice I've seen is legwork. Go talk to the Portero's in the buildings you might be interested in. Chat with the people in tiendas in neighborhoods you like. Your objective is to get to the actual owner and negotiate directly.

Espacio Urbana is another place to look, but most ads go to real estate offices and those may be more difficult as a foreigner.

You are a big leg up if you can carry on searching and negotiating in Spanish. Take advantage of that!

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saiid20
1/5/2019 20:31 EST

Guess my 1000 comes with an * as we own our appt. bought and paid for before we moved down. But we do own a car, have EPS insurance thru wifes work. Spend about 1"200.000 at the grocery...about 300.000 of that is wine. Utilities, including a good Claro package run about 500.000. Incidentals run
300 to 350.000 per month. Terpel (gas) bill averges 125.000
Where it runs up closer to 1000: paying off eye operation I had not thru EPS....secondly...we do travel alot two or three big trips a year...it all adds up.
PS also forgot we eat out once twice a week...good places.....
Another way to look at it...I uess i average getting pesos (600.000 per) 5 times a month....

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iiiroveriii
1/5/2019 22:26 EST

Estrado 5 Barranquilla (USD)

Rent 439
Claro Phones (x2) 52
Claro Internet 24
Electricity 91
Water/Trash 43
Gas 5
Gym (x2) 90

Sum 742

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LaPiranha
1/5/2019 23:47 EST

Reading this thread reminded me that sometime in the last couple of months, I actually counted up all my monthly expenses, out of curiosity. I just found the papers where I counted it all up.

Ok, I don't pay rent as I own all my properties, neither have any mortgage or loans to pay off, and I don't believe in credit cards.

I live in a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom apartment, which was new when I bought it, in a conjunto cerrado, on the northern edge of Bogota, estrato 4, with a heated swimming pool and gym.

I will list my car and motoring expenses separately, as many of you don't have a car.

So this is it, converted to monthly............

Tax on my apartment ........ 36,166
Tax on my garage ................. 7,083
Administration ....................... 171,700
EPS health insurance ........ 97,700
Gas .................................................. 40,000
Electricity .................................. 40,000
Water/sewage/basura ... 86,000
HD TV/phone/internet .. 113,000
mobile phone ............................ 6,000

TOTAL per month ............. 597,649

Or in USD @3200 ............. $ 186,76

OK, now we must add on food, and I eat modestly. Breakfast is normally fresh squeezed orange juice, maybe some fresh fruit, and a couple of pastries, or maybe eggs, or maybe arepas and cheese, or I make my own muesli. I never bother with lunch, as I have a late breakfast and really am not hungry. I usually eat out every night, sometimes at the local chicken house (Like 5,000 pesos for a quarter chicken with potatoes and arepas), sometimes at Cedritos 151 (that's in Bogota), where you can get a full meal for 10,000 pesos, or if I'm not hungry, a bowl of ajiaco (4,500 pesos, but bl**dy beautiful). Occasionally I have a Crepes y Waffles, or fresh salmon but it really only averages out at 20,000 a day over the whole month, which would be 600,000 per month, or in USD $ 187.50.

So, including all living costs with food too, I can live very happy and contented on USD $374,26, or 1,197,649 pesos a month.

As my income is just touching 9 million pesos a month, I treat myself to a car, where my total motoring expenses with tax, full risks insurance, SOAT and petrol comes to 330,954 pesos a month, or USD $103.42 per month, and the rest I stick in the bank, take holidays whenever and wherever I want,

So to those who ask if its possible to live on a thousand dollars a month, (3,200,000 pesos a month), well, if you can't, you're simply not living within your means.

Take a long hard look at your lifestyle.

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ponymalta
1/6/2019 05:29 EST

LaPiranha

Great post. A lot comes down to lifestyle and ability to manage expenses. As I wrote we have no problems on $1000 a month in Colombia- sure we spend more on occasion on travel etc but even then I look carefully at different options, using mileage programs etc. We eat very well and healthy- even in the states we spent less than most people on food yet ate better. We could probably live on less but we live comfortably, and can deal with extra expenses my wife and daughter always seem to incur.

I don't know about cost of private medical insurance so that could be an extra expense for some, My wife drives I dont, a bus to the Metro if I want to into Medellin for a dose of pollution or the rare occasion there may be something of interest to do ( city has very limited cultural activities, and restaurants.cuisine nothing to drool over).

I guess for single guy add $500 for entertainment is in order.

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ponymalta
1/6/2019 05:55 EST

Andresen

i agree a noisy place in the cities , especially since apparently almost no control on late night music-blaring parties. we once rented a finca for 6 months in girdota, the place was something out of the movies absolutely gorgeous - then the weekend party crowd form Medellin would appear in nearby fincas for 48 hour parties. police of course would do nothing.
.
my take on budgeting is i give a fixed amount to my wife but then forget about it- being ingenious about money like most if not all Paisas, she finds the best prices and has money left over for extra clothes or whatever. and that way i dont get hit with gringo prices.

the only time i ever pay a bill is to save my wife time paying bll where she has to wait around, i just bring a book or just watch the colombians- it is always interesting watching the often bizarre bureaucracy and procedures they employ. lfie is to short for me to pay bills or be concerned about the cost of mangos.

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SkyMan
1/6/2019 10:36 EST

Dallas...without throwing some numbers against the wall.....I believe the two(2) categories that determine where your monthly cost of living lands are the following:
#1-Where you live-Medellin or El Retiro ? Popayan or Bogotá ? The cost of rent in a smaller pueblo are considerably lower than let's say Poblado here in Medellin...or in any large city(in an area you'd actually consider living).
#2-Lifestyle...Wow ! This one covers a lot of territory. Do you prepare most of your own meals ? Do you dine out 5 nights per week ? Clubbing, partying ? This one will consume a lot of pesos. Alcohol consumption...What type and how much do you drink ? Shopping...how many pesos do you spend monthly on clothing & other things? Yes, there are many more categories, but these two(especially rent) will chew up those pesos rapidly. Buena Suerte ! Tranquilo.

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GRINGO1459
1/6/2019 11:10 EST

I might should add to my comment that Los Andes is in Cali estrado 3 what is really strange the house and apartments across the street are 4 and there is a security guard that walks the street all night

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WhoaNellie
1/6/2019 11:53 EST

It's not really that strange for one side of the street to be estrat0 3 and the other side estrato 4. The estrato is determined by various factors and there is a methodology as set forth by DANE, as this article partially explains:

http://www.elnuevodia.com.co/nuevodia/especiales/negocios/258263-como-se-determina-el-estrato

But that doesn't tell the whole story about how the determination of estrato is arrived at. As in another context, "It's not who votes that counts - it's who counts the votes".

So who actually makes the determination? As this article explains, "Cada ciudad y municipio del país se encarga de aplicar esta metodología."

http://www.bogota.gov.co/temas-de-ciudad/planeacion/estratificacion-todo-lo-que-debe-saber

So the process is ripe for corruption. Some neighborhoods may be favored with a lower estrato rating and others not - there is no real downside to being designated as estrato 3 rather than estrato 4. A lower estrato can mean the people living there get subsidies and pay lower costs for all utilities.

Usually the vigilante that walks the streets at night is paid out of pocket monthly by the residents of a barrio - so you are more likely to see a vigilante patrolling in richer neighborhoods than in poorer ones. It is not usually a formal employment but rather an informal employment.

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eternoretorno
1/6/2019 12:54 EST

Skyman: I totally agree with you. It depends of lifestyle. In Antioquia for example, and in Cundinamarca, Boyaca, Santanderes, there are small towns, not very far from the capital that are beautiful, peaceful and cheaper. Without so much noise and pollution and an strong close- knight community. Thats only if you feel that you are able to live in a country side, bucolic "campesino" style. In addition you can eat better, relax and not to be an stressed life like "chicago daily living mess"
eterno. retorno

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DeniseLR
1/6/2019 13:02 EST

Sounds pretty great! I think my next trip will be down there. Sadly, we have all seen how countries change, including the USA. Mexico and Central America used to be much different. This is a very useful thread with helpful, practical discussions. Greatly appreciated.

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Elexpatriado
1/6/2019 13:49 EST

I spend more on food and vitamina than hoy guys do on rent.

But lots of salmón, yogurt, blueberries,skinless chileno, lean hamburger,frutos, all types of vegetales



One thing you guys miss about rent..hoy have to dad at east $15,000 US Up front to adequately furnish your place

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DeniseLR
1/6/2019 13:53 EST

Now the BS is starting. $15000 US. Maybe you misplaced a decimal point.

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Elexpatriado
1/6/2019 13:54 EST

La Piraña..

I take govermment agencies numbers with a big grain of salt...anywhere

General tu me is salario mínimo for a Up 6% so everything else goes Up 6%

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Elexpatriado
1/6/2019 13:54 EST

La Piraña..

I take govermment agencies numbers with a big grain of salt...anywhere

General tu me is salario mínimo for a Up 6% so everything else goes Up 6%

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Elexpatriado
1/6/2019 13:54 EST

La Piraña..

I take govermment agencies numbers with a big grain of salt...anywhere

General rule is salario mínimo for a Up 6% so everything else goes Up 6%

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DallasSteve
1/6/2019 13:55 EST

$15,000 US for furniture? Sure, if you want to have great furniture. When I moved to Cali for 6 months we went to the local furniture district and furnished a 2 bedroom apartment for under $1,000, plus about $500 for 2 TVs. It was nothing great, but it was new and comfortable.

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peterv123
1/6/2019 15:44 EST

I guess that is where the different levels of lifestyles come in to play.
If you are living here for the long haul, want to replicate the style of life and comforts that you had in the U.S. you can easily approach $15,000.
Don't forget things like window treatments, outfitting the kitchen, even simple things like a garden hose.
If you are okay living here temporarily with very basic stuff that is also a lifestyle choice.

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DeniseLR
1/6/2019 16:51 EST

Well, the US military might contract for $500 garden hoses. Heck, I'm sure you can buy fancy ostrich skin cowboy boots for $15,000. But this a thread talking about living under $1000 a month. 15 grand is great if you've got it to spend. For the rest of us - I can't imagine needing to spend more than a few grand. Maybe doubled if more than 2 people. I have to think- I could be wrong- there must be some very interesting choices in locally made, non imported furniture.

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Andresen
1/6/2019 19:52 EST

I live in a finca for 18 months. Never experienced a party crowd but roosters and dogs were prevalent.

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DallasSteve
1/6/2019 21:51 EST

La Pirahna

I finally took the time to read your detailed expenses. It looks like your monthly cost is about $500 since you own your own apartment and car. That's great. I would like to find an apartment and a car like yours that don't require repairs and maintenance and that don't depreciate. Of course, the apartment will probably appreciate in value, but then there's the opportunity cost of the money in them both plus the inflation factor, but that's more work than I'm going to do for fee.

The point is, after you do a complete analysis of all of the costs you may be at or above, $1,000 per month, but it still sounds very affordable.

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ponymalta
1/7/2019 01:59 EST

peterv123

i understand different lifestyles but $15,000 is a huge amount for a 2 or 3 bedroom apartment in Colombia. We furnished our for much less and some of furniture hand-made that will last 100 years.

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jonrod888
1/7/2019 06:35 EST

i spent close to $10,000 us to furnish a 3 bedroom apartment with medium priced goods. i could have doubled that price with some things that i liked but didn't buy ... down graded. this includes sofa, chairs, tvs, cabinets, tables, dining table with chairs, refrigerator, pots, pans, microwave, blender, coffee maker, plates, cups, glasses, siverware, washer/dryer, 3 beds, bed linens/blankets, towels, window treatments/drapes, wall decorations/paintings, more. every month we're out buying/replacing things for the apartment. it's not inexpensive and most is colombia made which doesn't have quality, nor durability. sure you can live like 80% of the locals but that's a tough life and makes you older faster.

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BlueSeas
1/7/2019 07:02 EST

Ponymalta, I disagree. I just checked and we spent $14600 furnishing a 3BR 2BA in 2015 with exchange rate about 3000.

This included housewares (service for 8, cookware) and linens (2 sets for 3 beds and 2 sets of towels for 6). It did not include window treatments, $998 extra to seller which was 1/2 the replacement cost. It also did not include any artwork for the walls.

It did include a refrigerator, combo washer/dryer, microwave, 3 TV's, 1 King, 2 Queen beds, 6 place DR set, sectional sofa (LR), sofa (library), LR table set, 2 desks, 2 desk chairs (Master and Library), patio table and 2 chairs, several light fixtures (seller took ceiling fixtures!).

None of this stuff was extravagant. Call it "Rooms to Go" quality, The size of the apartment matters. Take away the patio, 2 of 3 bedrooms, the library room and furnish for 2 not 6 people would easily have easily saved $5000.

I think it's also easy to lose sight of things like the cost of cookware, dishes, trash cans, linens etc., that aren't furniture, but add up if starting with nothing.

There are places selling furniture costing well above what we purchased. And places selling for less. The less expensive furniture is sized for the typical 900 square foot 4 BR apartments built outside Poblado, I call it Colombian sized. It's "small", Does not meet the expectations you have coming from the US.

I would propose to anyone buying a place, budget at least $10 per square foot to furnish.

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ponymalta
1/7/2019 07:26 EST

BlueSeas

Good point the size of the place to be furnished matters, and also how one defines furnishings. I just maintain one can spend much less to get started- you mention things like window treatment , three televisions, so obviously seems you are spending more than I would think average person would.

On the other had you mention things I didn't count in furnishings, such as towels and linens etc.

In any case I don't doubt you sent $14,600 , just that it seems more than what is needed for average person moving to Colombia.

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SunsetSteve
1/7/2019 07:58 EST

Just as a data point, I spent just under $3,000 CAD to furnish a 1 bed 1 bath apt. including linens, curtains and kitchen stuff. Basics, no artwork or carpets. All new stuff.

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Elexpatriado
1/7/2019 10:22 EST

Sunset

That not furnishing.Thats providing utensils and blankets

So did you sleep and eat on tve floor?

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Elexpatriado
1/7/2019 10:28 EST

BS?

Its a $1000 for a big screen tv alone. EVeryody talks about internet and direct TV.What are you con la watch it on?


How the heck are you Hola furish a 2 bedroom.apartment for kesss than $15000.

Buy junk?

Seems the pósters on here like to.live like poor University students

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Elexpatriado
1/7/2019 10:31 EST

BS?

Its a $1000 for a big screen tv alone. EVeryody talks about internet and direct TV.What are you con la watch it on?


How the heck are you Hola furish a 2 bedroom.apartment for kesss than $15000.

Buy junk?

Seems the pósters on here like to.live like poor University students

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Elexpatriado
1/7/2019 10:31 EST

BS?

Its a $1000 for a big screen tv alone. EVeryody talks about internet and direct TV.What are you con la watch it on?


How the heck are you Hola furish a 2 bedroom.apartment for kesss than $15000.

Buy junk?

Seems the pósters on here like to.live like poor University students

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Elexpatriado
1/7/2019 10:31 EST

BS?

Its a $1000 for a big screen tv alone. EVeryody talks about internet and direct TV.What are you con la watch it on?


How the heck are you Hola furish a 2 bedroom.apartment for kesss than $15000.

Buy junk?

Seems the pósters on here like to.live like poor University students

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Elexpatriado
1/7/2019 10:33 EST

Okay maybe $10000..without artwork.

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WhoaNellie
1/7/2019 11:00 EST

LX, please just post it once, we got it the first time. It doesn't get any better with repetition...

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cafetero
1/7/2019 11:38 EST

Please just post it once, we got it.

My television is a 23¨ LG that I also use as a monitor for my Macbook. I enjoy the 23¨ just fine, and no need for a 52¨ behemoth that costs $1000. Mine cost $100 and suits me just fine for multiple uses. I actually watch more movies and tv shows on my 9.7¨ iPad than I watch on my TV.

Also, please read posts carefully before making rude and snide comments. The poster you attacked said he FURNISHED a 1 br 1 bath for $3,000 and that included all the extras, and he bought nice furniture.

I furnished my 1 BR 1 Bath for about $1000 to get started, then I upgrade as the mood strikes me. Now, in a two bedroom one bath I'm probably in for about $2000 and my stuff is just as comfortable as the really pricey stuff. And, when I get through with mine I won't feel a bit bad about donating to a family in need.

The very idea of spending $15,000 for furniture for a 1 bedroom 1 bath to live in a third world country just strikes me as being extravagant, but to each his own.

Just depends on your preferred lifestyle. Some of us drive Chevrolet Smart and others drive Mercedes SL.

We spend about the same for food (800,000) as we spend for rent and utilities (800,000) and we live in estrato 5 gated condo and we eat very very well.

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peterv123
1/7/2019 14:32 EST

I don’t know what furnishing an apartment in a third world county for 15,00 has to do with being extravagant. When one decides to live in a 3rd world country one doesn’t have to lower ones living standard to the level of the natives. If I was living in the U.S. I would be depressed to have to lower my standards to live in a trailer park. It’s nice to come home here to my little island of creature comforts and beauty in this country of disorder. As far as a 50” t.v. costing $1,000, that is now pretty much a standard t.v., nothing much special. You can see them flying out of Exito, Jumbo, and Falabella every day being bought by the average Colombians. There’s a lot of levels in between the Chevy Spark and the Mercedes, Comuna 13 and Poblado.
I think it is a disservice to lead people on to think they are going to live normal American lives on $1,000 a month. Kind of like those articles that say you can live like a king in many Latin American countries on your social security with a maid, cook, and gardener. I don’t think the average American will adjust well to not flushing the toilet paper down the toilet, some places without hot water, or coming out of your place in the morning and having to shush the sleeping bums so you can open your gate. (and people say this is a nice and quiet neighborhood). Quiet is a very relative term. Quiet to a Colombian is about 50 decibels higher than we are used to. At any rate, I digress. Back to the furniture. I don’t want to be living with furniture that is ready to be donated. We had that in our last apartment and was glad when we did donate and throw it out, jaja. I like beauty, quality, and style and am willing to pay for it.
Anyway, different strokes for different folks.

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Andresen
1/7/2019 14:36 EST

"I think it is a disservice to lead people on to think they are going to live normal American lives on $1,000 a month." That would be correct but I've only maintained that it is POSSIBLE to live here on $1,000 a month - but that's not going to get you an apartment (in most cases) but a room somewhere.

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saiid20
1/7/2019 15:29 EST

andress....maybe you should reread the previous posts

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DeniseLR
1/7/2019 15:36 EST

Don't get why people get on these sites to beat their chests. But having said that, I'm sure you worked hard for your money and deserve whatever comforts you can manage for yourself. Start a thread - 'livin' large in Columbia' .I personally had to sadly take a big cut in income when I retired and am very interested in living fairly economically. Thus my interest in this thread. I am currently in a community slowly undergoing gentrification with higher income newcomer retirees slowly pricing out those of us who moved here to take advantage of the lower prices and slower pace of life. Many of them are very progressive generally but don't see, somehow, the effect of their economic behavior on senior long time residents.

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ponymalta
1/7/2019 17:04 EST

peterv123


You wrote :

"I think it is a disservice to lead people on to think they are going to live normal American lives on $1,000 a month......If I was living in the U.S. I would be depressed to have to lower my standards to live in a trailer park"

I posted, as did another poster how one can live a comfortable life with equal or higher standard of living in Colombia for less money than in the US, using actual expenses. That isnt a disservice just stating the facts - but as well agree depends on lifestyle, and also philosophy about money. Sure our budget could be $500 higher or $1000 higher if we didn't pay attention Though I find it hard to imagine as a family spending another $1,000 a month more on our basic budget ( on what I cant imagine. Cuisine is nothing to write home about in Colombia (or most of US for that matter), and not being single don't have a big bar bill.( But we dont need three televisions).


Sure we can occasionally spend more- like a trip to states or Europe, or clothes neither my wife or daughter need but like. Our daughter's school costs a fraction of a similar school in states and generally more advanced academically and better discipline. If look at cost of part time maid, or other services, all at much less than the US.

I agree with you about the noise, Colombians dont sem to like peace and quiet or cosideration for others.


The same apartment and amenities we have here would cost $1,200 to $1,800 in the Midwest where we lived- and who knows on West or East Coast.We ay $300 for three bedrooms.

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SunsetSteve
1/7/2019 17:18 EST

Elex - - - > what cafetero said. Furnished - plus linens and kitchen. Nice stuff too. Bed, pullout couch, side tables, bar stools, small appliances, but admittedly no TV. Closets and shelving/drawers were built-in, so saved some there. Laptop serves for a TV for the nonce.

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DallasSteve
1/7/2019 17:31 EST

I posted what I thought was a good analysis of El Expat's $15,000, but the moderators killed it. So I'll try once more, but softer.

I furnished a two bedroom home in the US for a total cost of under $5,000. It was new, but cheap. To me it was comfortable and practical. That's all I need from furniture. But if I felt like I needed to impress women with high end fancy furniture maybe I would spend $15,000.

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Andresen
1/7/2019 17:56 EST

I think everyone agrees that life here in Colombia, while not on the same standard as the US, is less expensive. Can you live on $1,000 a month in the US? I think not but I'm saying it is possible here. No, you won't be able to afford $15,000 of furniture, but...you can still have a good life.

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jonrod888
1/7/2019 18:14 EST

the forum topic is not about comparing us costs and standards of living to colombia. it is about living on $1,000 us in colombia. we all know it is cheaper to live in colombia and arguably we should accept the fact that the standard of living in any developing/3rd world country is less than us/canada or europe. living in estrato 6 in colombia is probably at a higher cost than most parts of us except for living in the major cities of us. back to the $1,000 us per month. i spend clearly over $2,000 us per month for 3 people. going out to eat runs anywhere from $45 us at crepes y waffles to $100 us at top steak restaurant for 3. i paid for 4 people for dinner and a concert ... cost $250. yes, you can eat from a street vendor for $3 us and either standup or sit on a plactic stool to eat with a plastic fork in the street but ... that's survival not retirement. $1,000 per month will cover room/apt., board and eating cheaply out of the house. yes, you can survive like an ebenezer scrooge alone and save some pesos but to do average costing activities it will cost you more.

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DeniseLR
1/7/2019 18:23 EST

Thanks for that. Actually, I am starting to wonder... Is it possible to find quiet neighborhoods or is it generally noisy everywhere? That is one comment I have seen over and over. For me, too much noise is a deal breaker. I would prefer living in a quiet, peaceful studio to a noisy 2500 sq. ft. luxury apt.

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ponymalta
1/7/2019 18:32 EST

jonrod888

this is an interesting conversation the idea that living on $1,000 a month in Colombia is akin to living in a trailer park, or eating food on the street or living alone eating like scrooge , or similar , are just so strange.

for me I referred to that figure as a basic monthly budget- we don't live in a trailer park, and we eat very well and healthy- but we don't need or want packaged or frozen foods, we find excellent local organic foods, and feed 5 people for 1/2 our budget in the US for 3.

If eating out ( hardly does the cuisine in Colombia seem of such high quality,variety or even meeting basic health standards even in 'top' restaurants) and spending $250 on a dinner qualify as a basic monthly budget item, the yes simply different lifestyle explain such expenditures. Do we spend more than $1,000 , certainly, but the budget I posted is what we cover with $1,000 a month.

The idea one pays $1,000 for a 1 bedroom apartment in Colombia just surprises me.

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cafetero
1/7/2019 19:17 EST

It appears that some have read my comments to mean that I live a sub-standard life in trailer park conditions and can only afford plastic utensils. Rubbish.

Perhaps you should look at what is really an Estrato 5 condo apartment.....hardly a trailer park.

I eat better here than I did in the US. My blood pressure and respiration rate are that of a much younger man. Stress is non-existent. Depression is non-existent. My quality of life is better than I would have thought possible.

I cannot imagine living any better than I do now even if I spent twice or three times more, which I could easily do. But I find no need to impress myself or others with multi-hundred dollar meals that taste no better than mine nor are they any more nutritious than the meals I cook at home.

Cooking is one of my passions and I'm darn good at it and my meals are more satisfying to me because I shopped for the ingredients with my girlfriend, visiting farmers markets and tiendas around the barrio, and cooked at home while sharing a nice wine. Life is good.

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GRINGO1459
1/7/2019 19:31 EST

I find it funny when you lay out your bills and just because you can live on less than $1000. you must live in the slums and don't eat well

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Andresen
1/7/2019 19:34 EST

Jonrod88. For some people it's about survival!

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peterv123
1/7/2019 19:36 EST

This has nothing to do with Living Large as you put it. It is living normal. If I was living large I would be living in Poblado and I would have a car. I had to take a big cut when I got divorced. Then another big cut when I retired. What one calls living easily on $1,000 months is not easy living by most standards of people living in the U.S. Yes, if you get out of your gentrifying, expensive neighborhood in the States you can stabilize your life economically here. Many people talk and dream of doing it, few actually do it. In many ways you lower your standard of living here. In other, not so obvious ways you raise your standards of living. In my opinion the food here is lowering your standards, with the exception of the fruit. The higher standard of living is family relationships, more exercise, better weather. Garbage on the streets, people constantly begging for money, these are lower standards. But I suppose you get that now in San Fransisco, Los Angeles, Seattle so maybe it is the same.

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DallasSteve
1/7/2019 20:26 EST

Denise

When I lived in Cali, most nights weren't too bad, but it was common on Friday and Saturday to have some music blaring until midnight or maybe 1 or 2 AM. Maybe that was more around holidays, it's been 9 years so I don't remember exactly.

My biggest peeve was that it was common every night about 2 - 4 AM that the self-appointed neighborhood watchman would ride his bike through the streets and blow his whistle. I wished that the robbers would put him in a ditch. Sorry, I love my sleep.

He came by once or twice asking for donations for "protecting" us. I told my wife that I almost offered him 20,000 pesos if he would give me his %$#& whistle. She didn't think that was very nice.

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SunsetSteve
1/7/2019 20:32 EST

I don't have access to Cafetero's bank account (unfortunately) but I have spent some time living within 50 yards of his home, and have lived in an apartment identical to his. I can state that he lives what anyone would describe as a comfortable middle-class lifestyle, whether by North or South American.standards. The missing factor: the mindless spending that comes along with a high-level salary and exposure to American/Canadian advertising and intensive retail opportunities.

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jonrod888
1/7/2019 20:49 EST

let's look at this another way.

rent - $400us (300-500)
utilities - 35
tv/internet - 40
health ins. - 35
personel care - 40
clothing - 40
colombia visa - 15
travel future - 50

total - $655us

budget - $1,000us

remaining - $345us
$12/day

these estimates are for a large size colombia city ( pueblos are cheaper). rent can be from 300 to 500 so i used 400 assuming someone new to colombia can even be qualified for one if not, you'll pay a higher without fiador price. utilities include elec., gas, water, sewage and living on the coast will definitely be higher. so in the end you are living on $12 a day for food, entertainment, and transportation. taxi to the bar to watch tonight's ncaa football game costs $7 round trip so i can buy one beer since colombian beer gives me upset stomach. can't afford even low end price restaurant crepes y waffles unless i don't eat for a few days. forget entertaining a female guest and taking out the wife and kids. schooling for kids ... no ... stay at home. christmas gifts none.

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jonrod888
1/7/2019 22:15 EST

so, yes $1,000 us will let you survive comfortably, staying and eating at home for a single person. but with families and children expenses, you will be struggling to make ends meet. if single, you can find a stay at home type girlfriend and be ok but if your lifestyle/social activities are away from home you'll need more $$$$ to cover it. if i wanted to live the rest of my life reading books, fishing, hunting and watching the clouds go by, i would have stayed in the us and live on family owned mountain property.

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DallasSteve
1/7/2019 22:23 EST

There's been a lot of good info here. I wish there was a little more about how to find the good rentals. About all the advice I saw was to stop by the front door and ask what is available. I was hoping to be able to do more research on the Internet when the time comes.

As far as the cost, $2,000 per month is no problem for me and I can probably even handle $3,000 per month, but if I can do it for $1,000 per month that would be very nice. And I will probably have extra expenses (wink, wink). When/if the day comes I will try to follow these suggestions.

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DallasSteve
1/7/2019 23:08 EST

jonrod

Did you go out to watch the Alabama Crimson Ripple? I jest because they broke my heart 10 years ago when they beat the Longhorns. There is some satisfaction in seeing them losing so badly with so much time left on the clock. I bet they wish it would just be over.

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ponymalta
1/8/2019 05:52 EST

jonrod888

you are a good point i think we all do, depends on lifestyle- if one goes out a lot drinking and eating out at expensive restaurants yea $1,000 isnt enough.

as far as a family i quite disagree- we live very comfortably on $1,000 a month as a basic budget, eat much better and healthier than going to Medellin restaurants, my daughter goes to private school with transport and lunch provided has any extra curricular activities, and as a basic budget i am unsure what more one could need. sure my wife and daughter will waste money on too many clothes,, and above that budget also we travel.

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cafetero
1/8/2019 06:27 EST

I don't think Jonrod wants to concede that many of us, at least 4 on this discussion, do live on less than $1000 per month and we are very happy with our lifestyle.

There have also been at least 4 on this discussion who have said, repeatedly and in numerous ways, that not all of us are going to be happy living a more relaxed and simple lifestyle.

Nobody really cares how much anyone else is spending. That's their business and their preferred lifestyle.

I have said it a dozen times on here, some of us are city people and some of us are town and country people.

We don't have to argue about what we make or what we spend, we just have to be happy with our own choices.

Good luck to all.

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cafetero
1/8/2019 06:32 EST

I am not just surviving in Colombia, I am thriving.

My business is doing well and growing steadily. My relationship with my girlfriend is very fulfilling. I am making new friends and visiting new places.

My health is improved dramatically since moving to Colombia. I am free to do what I want, when I want and with whom I want.

This is the closest to freedom I've ever been, and certainly the happiest days of my life.

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Andresen
1/8/2019 07:48 EST

DeniseLR. Re: Noise. I have a friend who bought an apt in a quiet Envigado neighborhood and 6 months later someone opened a bar across the street. Of course to attract business, his music has to be louder than anyone else's music. Imagine that every weekend until like 2am. Luckily, the bar went out of business in a few months. Your best bet might be higher up in a high rise but even then all it takes is for your neighbor to have a barking dog. Lots of things are out of your control.

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Andresen
1/8/2019 07:54 EST

Dallas Steve. I had the same whistle problem in Laureles. If I was a thief i would be very thankful that the local security had a whistle so i would always know where he is. Doesn't make sense to me. And i have sleep problems anyway.

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Andresen
1/8/2019 07:59 EST

DallasSteve. Besides walking the neighborhood looking for available apts, I found a RE agency that accepted my SS deposits.

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cafetero
1/8/2019 08:33 EST

When I lived in Bucaramanga there was a ¨vigilante¨ riding a bicycle night and day, with that freaking whistle once or twice per block on each circuit. It was annoying so much that after 2 months I moved.

You´re right, Andresen, with the whistle signal the thief would know when to duck out of sight.

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SkyMan
1/8/2019 12:16 EST

O.K. All who have posted have given credibility to the "how" to live here in Colombia on a modest number of USD's. Where & Lifestyle.

When the discussion turned to the USD's required to furnish an apto. I began thinking about it. The following is what I did. I did a short term lease (6mos.) on a three(3) bedroom apto.(fully furnished). I did this to allow an initial adjustment period of time...after moving & also to give me enough time to find a 3 bedroom apto.(unfurnished) to purchase...in an area I preferred. *Note: My furniture, Christmas décor. lots of clothing, etc. were stored in a temp-controlled facility in the U.S. at that time.

After I closed on my new apto.(220 sq. meters) located on a very high floor in the building...then I shipped my stuff down here. so I paid for shipping & import duties(which in my mind were not extravagant). That's it ! I already owned all of this quality furniture, artworks, oriental rugs, etc. and now they are here with me.

Most posters advise against what I did(shipping furn. here) but the shipping co. did a great job...and I supervised the unloading of the items here...to make sure the guys did a good job. It can be done. I could not justify selling everything that I had accumulated, for a fraction of their value. Maybe I was lucky, or just used a professional co. to move my belongings to Medellin. But I ended up with my quality furniture, etc. instead of poorly made items. Some will say it is foolish to purchase an apto. or finca...but I am quite happy with my new apto. Buena Suerte ! Tranqjuilo.

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DallasSteve
1/8/2019 12:39 EST

SkyMan

That's very interesting. I don't have a lot of valuables, so it probably would not be worth shipping them in my case.

In fact, I have a third option I'm considering and your furnished apartment choice may be the ticket. I know it would cost a little more, but I'm not sure if I'm moving permanently, part-time, or one-time. If I can't find a furnished apartment, do they have something like Rent-A-Center in Colombia? Probably not.

One of my dreams has been to buy an RV and live in it full time exploring the US. But first I may give 6 months in Colombia a try again (a little less to avoid the Taxman - I love that song). Then I could decide if I want to go back and buy an RV and if I want to split my time or pick one over the other.

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bigcaver
1/8/2019 13:23 EST

I want everyone to know that I really appreciate all the posts on this topic, especially that it is possible to live reasonably comfortably on $1000 or less a month in Colombia. If I retire early in a year or two, I'l get around $1500-1600 a month in social security. There's no way I'd be able to live here in the US on that, but I could in Colombia, and put some additional cash into savings for unexpected expenses. If I stayed here, I'd probably have to work until I'm at least 70 to be able to retire.

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cafetero
1/8/2019 13:58 EST

Big Caver, there are lots of research data on the life expectancy for those working until they are 65 and 70 and 72. For what its worth, I'm convinced the ideal age to retire is 55. I retired at 60, and moved to Colombia at age 62. My only regret is that I did not go out at 55 and immediately move to Colombia.

Dallas Steve, I spent two years, from 60 to 62 trucking around the US in a 35 foot Keystone Mountaineer and it was a very happy time in my life.

I'm glad I did it and there are wonderful memories from that time. I visited all the lower 48 as well as British Colombia, Ontario and Quebec. Plus an island cruise in Hawaii. I ran out of time before making it northern British Colombia and Alaska.

I did while I was young, and I'm thinking seriously about the 6months here and 6 months there thing and if I do that I´ll live in a RV because there are still so many more places I´d like to see in the US and southern Canada. Plus I would really like to see Nova Scotia.

Good luck with your process. Life is good. :)

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WhoaNellie
1/8/2019 14:36 EST

DallasSteve, you can rent just about anything in Colombia.

For furniture:
http://www.rentamueblescolombia.com/

In Medellín:
https://www.google.com/search?rlz=1C1CHBD_enUS750US750&ei=wfk0XLalDZH-tAWP_Z2QDQ&q=medellin+alquiler+muebles&oq=medellin+alquiler+muebles&gs_l=psy-ab.3..0i22i30.267403.274748..274863...0.0..0.297.2973.9j15j1......0....1..gws-wiz.......0j35i39j0i131j0i67j0i131i67j0i20i263j0i10j0i203j0i8i13i30.SlneW2yHSyI

In Cali:
https://www.google.com/search?rlz=1C1CHBD_enUS750US750&ei=1fo0XPWpAs20tQXGqIDQCg&q=cali+alquiler+muebles&oq=cali+alquiler+muebles&gs_l=psy-ab.3..0i8i30l6.25812.26598..27058...0.0..0.119.406.2j2......0....1..gws-wiz.......0i7i30j0i8i7i30.18dvcBbuzkc

Just do a search for what you want to rent.

Want to rent a tent for a celebration in Cali?
https://www.google.com/search?rlz=1C1CHBD_enUS750US750&ei=8fo0XOzCCY-StQXv8YioCA&q=cali+alquiler+carpa+fiesta&oq=cali+alquiler+carpa+fiesta&gs_l=psy-ab.3..33i22i29i30.66713.68980..69110...0.0..0.103.1041.8j3......0....1..gws-wiz.......0i22i30.rjwHoJroXxg

Want to rent a driver in Cali for a day trip?
https://www.google.com/search?rlz=1C1CHBD_enUS750US750&ei=N_s0XJSQE42etAXkp5moBA&q=cali+alquiler+chofer&oq=cali+alquiler+chofer&gs_l=psy-ab.3...37563.38463..38615...0.0..0.116.634.1j5......0....1..gws-wiz.......35i39j0i22i30j33i160.E8fv2nVScvI

And your best source - just ask your Colombian neighbors or friends.

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DeniseLR
1/8/2019 15:23 EST

Ditto, bigcaver.

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DallasSteve
1/8/2019 17:07 EST

Big Caver:

You don't say whether you have any savings. I would not consider going to live in a foreign country if I didn't have some savings for emergencies, in addition to a monthly SS check. How much is the question. Maybe that would be a good topic for another thread, but since I'm OK in that area I won't start that thread. I would think you should have at least a few months savings before going expat.

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bigcaver
1/8/2019 20:11 EST

DallasSteve,

I'm planning on having around 80K in my 401K by then. I also should get some equity, maybe 30K when I sell my house. Hope to have maybe an additional 20K saved, and I have 30 acres in KY I could sell if I had to, but would rather keep in the family, so I think I'll be OK. I'm still exploring my options and haven't taken any exploratory trips yet. My 4 options I'm exploring at this time, not necessarily in order are Mexico, Colombia, Peru, and Ecuador.

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ponymalta
1/9/2019 03:36 EST

DallasSteve

I think having an emergency fund anywhere is advisable, but in particular being an Expat, or in the USA for that matter. Plus money can buy anything in Colombia.

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zootenval
12/4/2019 15:08 EST

Colombia has average about 5% for the last 20 years, and less than 4% for the last 10 years...3.43% for Jan - Oct 2019...

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