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Cartago, Colombia

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By Betsy Burlingame

Last updated on Feb 02, 2023

Summary: The approximate population of Cartago, Colombia is around 200,000 people. People describe Cartago as a peaceful and friendly city with a laid-back atmosphere. Expats love the affordability of living in Cartago, as well as the city's proximity to the capital, Bogotá. The weather in Cartago is generally warm and humid, with temperatures ranging from the mid-60s to the mid-80s Fahrenheit (18-30°C). The average cost of living in Cartago for an expat is around $1,000-$1,500 USD per month. The cost of a one bedroom apartment is around $400-$500 USD per month, and a two bedroom apartment is around $500-$700 USD per month.

What do I need to know about living in Cartago?

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

"Retiring in Cartago can be a great experience. Before retiring in Cartago, it is important to know the cost of living and budget accordingly, understand the local culture and customs, know the language of the area, familiarize yourself with the local healthcare system, and make sure to have all of your paperwork in order before you move. It is also beneficial to research local job opportunities and recreational activities for seniors. Cartago is a great place to retire and is sure to provide an enjoyable and rewarding experience," remarked another expat living in Cartago, Colombia.

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What do I need to know before moving to Cartago?

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

"Cartago is a city in Costa Rica located southeast of the capital city San José. It's known for its rich colonial history as well as its year-round moderate climate. The city is an important regional commercial and transportation hub. It's home to the magnificent Basílica de Los Angeles, the sacred site where Costa Ricans come to pray for miracles, as well as Parque Nacional Volcán Irazú, the largest national park in Costa Rica. Cartago has a range of housing options, from condos to villas, and is a great retirement option for expats due to its low cost of living and beautiful scenery. Health care is also very affordable and of quality. Transportation within the city is available via buses, and there are many international airports nearby. Resources like Expat Exchange and InterNations are a great way to connect with the local expat community when moving to Cartago," wrote a member in Cartago.

"Rent first. Get to know the area you are moving to first. Bring only the money you need while here. The money is taxable in the US but not in Solombia if pension of Social Security. Colombia is a heaven," commented one expat who made the move to Cartago.

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How do I find a place to live in Cartago?

We asked expats how they chose their neighborhood and found a place to live. They answered:

"There are many options available for finding a place to live in Cartago. Consider searching online for rental apartments and houses, or contact a real estate agent for assistance. You can also look for "room for rent" ads or postings on websites and bulletin boards. When you find a place to live, be sure to check out the neighbourhood and ensure it suits your needs. Additionally, be sure to read any rental contracts carefully and negotiate on fees and terms if needed," added another expat in Cartago.

"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 another expat who made the move to Cartago.

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What is a typical expat home or apartment like in Cartago?

"Expat homes and apartments in Cartago range in design and size, but generally they are well-furnished, air-conditioned and located within a secure complex or neighborhood. Most expat homes and apartments will have basic necessities such as water, gas, electricity, Wi-Fi, television, and usually include a patio, balcony, and shared gardens or recreational areas. Many expat homes also feature a fully fitted kitchen, and some also have a separate dining area, guest bedroom, and maids quarter. Some complexes offer additional amenities such as security, swimming pools, fitness facilities or saunas," explained one expat living in Cartago, Colombia.

"I have a US $70,000 home I found and fell in love with. This home in the Gig harbor area in WA will cost $600,000. Some expats buy homes in more expensive areas out of town for US $120,000 with swimming pools and entertainment areas," said another expat in Cartago.

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What is the average cost of housing in Cartago?

If you are thinking about moving to Cartago, cost of living in probably a key consideration. Expats commented about the cost of housing:

"The cost of housing in Cartago varies, with prices ranging from lower-priced homes to luxury living. Generally, the median price for an apartment or house usually runs around $1,200-$1,500 per month," remarked another expat who made the move to Cartago.

"One dollar in the area will buy the equivalent of $9 dollars in the USA. I have a car if I want to drive, however at less than US$1 for a taxi ride in town, I prefer for them to pick me up. You can live in Colombia on US $2000 with a maid cleaning, cooking. I travel to the coast for six days for US $500. I live like a king," explained one expat living in Cartago, Colombia.

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How do I meet people in Cartago?

When we asked people living in Cartago about club and activities where newcomers can meet others, they responded:

"There are a variety of ways to meet people in Cartago. You can attend events hosted by local organizations such as churches, join clubs or social groups, hang out at popular public spaces such as parks and cafes, or try using online resources such as Meetup and Facebook. In addition, Cartago is home to a vibrant cultural and nightlife scene – take advantage of these events to meet other locals and visitors alike," added another expat in Cartago.

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What should I bring when moving to Cartago?

People living in Cartago were asked what three things they wish they had brought and three they wish they had left behind. They wrote:

"Essentials: Clothes, toiletries, basic kitchen items, bedding, towels, phone, laptop/tablet, and adapters for electrical items; Important documents: passport, birth certificate, driver’s license, and visa paperwork; Other practical items: pre-packed boxes, duct tape, scissors, and a toolkit; Home Items: furniture, pictures, decorations, books, cleaning supplies, and any other important items from your previous home; Luxury items: favorite items from home, gift items for local friends and family," wrote a member in Cartago.

"Miss my friends, some of my regular TV programming and my boat. I should have left my old furniture, sell your stuff before moving to Colombia. They have nice stuff to buy at good prices," commented one expat who made the move to Cartago.

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Where should I setup a bank account in Cartago?

We asked expats in Cartago what banks they use and there advice about banking. They advised:

"The Bank of Costa Rica has several branches in Cartago, located throughout the city. These locations offer a variety of services including setting up a bank account. Customers can open an account either online or by visiting one of these physical locations. Whether seeking to open a savings or checking account, the Bank of Costa Rica can provide the right solutions to the individual's financial needs. Additionally, the bank also has debit cards, credit cards and other financial products to assist customers with their financial services," explained one expat living in Cartago, Colombia.

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Will I be able to find a job in Cartago?

When we asked people about industries and career opportunities in Cartago, they reponded:

"Yes, it is possible to find a job in Cartago. Cartago is the second largest city in Costa Rica, and its economy is booming due to tourism, retail, and creative services. There is a wide variety of job opportunities available in Cartago, ranging from hospitality and tourism to manufacturing and finance. Many companies in the city are looking for qualified professionals with the right skill-sets. Additionally, the expat community in Cartago is growing, so many jobs are also available for foreign nationals," wrote a member in Cartago.

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What is life like in Cartago?

When we asked people living in Cartago what life is like and how people spend their time, they said:

"Living as an expat in the area generally has its advantages and disadvantages. Most expats find that the cost of living can be quite reasonable, but the lifestyle can be a bit slower in comparison to larger cities like London and New York. Pros of the area include an abundance of nightlife activities, good quality transportation links and a diverse cultural scene. There are lots of international cuisine options, with many great restaurants and bars. The climate is generally warm year-round and there are a variety of beaches, mountains and activities within close proximity. The locals are friendly, and there is a sense of community. The downside to living as an expat in the area is the language barrier and the dangers of the city. Crime does exist, and it pays to be aware at all times. Additionally, employment opportunities outside of the tourism industry are rare and salaries are often quite low. Nevertheless, expats enjoy living in the area for its laid-back atmosphere and explorative possibilities," remarked another expat who made the move to Cartago.

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What do expats in Cartago appreciate most about the local culture?

"Expats in Cartago appreciate the warmth and hospitality of the locals, their friendly attitude and their strong connection to their cultural heritage. They also appreciate the relaxed pace of life in Cartago and its beautiful mountains, lakes and beaches. Additionally, expats are often drawn to the local art and craft traditions, as well as the vibrant nightlife and gastronomy of Cartago," explained one expat living in Cartago, Colombia.

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What do expats find most challenging?

"Expats often find it difficult to adjust to a different culture, language, and lifestyle. They may struggle to find meaningful social relationships or have to face a different type of job market than what they are used to. Other potential challenges that expats face include navigating a new legal and bureaucratic system, finding suitable housing, and meeting new people. As they settle into a new place, expats need to figure out how to integrate into their new environment, as well as have to cope with being away from family, friends, and a familiar way of life," commented one expat who made the move to Cartago.

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Is there a lot of crime in Cartago?

We asked people if there is a lot of crime. They answered:

"No, Cartago is generally considered a safe city, with low levels of crime. There are occasional reports of robberies and pickpocketings, but these are few and far between. Most visitors to the city feel safe and secure," remarked another expat living in Cartago, Colombia.

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Is there a lot of diversity? Are people in Cartago accepting of differences?

"There is a moderate amount of diversity in Cartago. Most people in the city are accepting of differences, but the city is more conservative than other cities in Costa Rica. In general the locals are respectful of the different cultures that live in the city. Most of the population is composed of people of either Costa Rican or Spanish heritage, with a smaller number of people whose ancestry is from other Latin American countries. Cartago is a welcoming destination for tourists, so visitors are not likely to experience any prejudices during their stay," remarked another expat who made the move to Cartago.

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What are the schools in Cartago like?

"Cartago has a variety of educational options, including public and private institutions. Public schools in Cartago are managed by the Instituto Nacional de Educación Pública (INEP) and provide free education. Cartago also offers a number of private schools, which focus on religious, artistic, and alternative educational programs. Some of these private schools in Cartago include Colegio Divina Providencia, Liceo Erick Carranza, and Colegio Nuestra Señora de la Mercedes," added an expat with kids at in Cartago.

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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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