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Plaza Bolivar in Medellin

Living in Colombia

By Betsy Burlingame

Last updated on Apr 12, 2023

Summary: The approximate population of Colombia is 49.7 million people. The largest cities in Colombia are Bogotá (7.7 million people), Medellín (2.4 million people), Cali (2.2 million people), Barranquilla (1.2 million people), and Cartagena (1 million people). Expats love living in Colombia for its vibrant culture, friendly people, and beautiful landscapes. People describe life in Colombia as relaxed and laid-back, with plenty of opportunities to explore the country's diverse culture and natural beauty. Popular foods in Colombia include arepas (corn cakes), empanadas (stuffed pastries), tamales (corn-based dishes), and ajiaco (a soup made with chicken, potatoes, and corn). The cons of living in Colombia include the high crime rate, the lack of reliable public transportation, and the difficulty of finding quality healthcare. The average cost of living for an expat is around $1,500 to $2,000 per month, depending on the city and lifestyle. This includes rent, utilities, food, transportation, and entertainment.

William Russell
William Russell
William Russell
William Russell

What do I need to know about living in Colombia?

When we asked people what advice they would give someone preparing to move to Colombia, they said:

"Before retiring in Colombia, expats should research the various options for health care and find out which insurance policies cover them for short-term and long-term care. Another important factor to consider is the preferred location in Colombia, as this would determine the cost of living, expat amenities and the availability of services and activities. It is also important to familiarise oneself with the local culture and understand the local laws and regulations that may affect expats. Lastly, expats should choose the right visa or residency status to ensure they are pension and tax compliant," explained one expat living in Colombia.

"A person can develop a beautiful life here, however, it will take time and not happen magically .The assets of this city are well worth the investment. Be kind to yourself and patient. Don't believe all you hear. Everyone (expat, other) has their best visa person, you can loose a lot of money on that one. Just because someone has lived here two years, or in four Latin countries, does not mean they are experts, at all. Find the ones who have lived here fifteen years. Listen to what people say, put what they say through your own filter system, use your head, you can do this. You can do this! You will make mistakes, everyone does! It is part of moving abroad. You will have to put some effort into this and give yourself three years in the long term. One has to learn how to live here, the resources are excellent and again, Medellinguru.com is very helpful. It is worth the investment of your time and energy to learn how to do this," said one expat in Medellin.

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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.

Plaza Bolivar in Medellin

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