Living in Colombia you will soon discover that this country is something special. A country, once plagued with a reputation for its narco-activity, is now attracting attention the world over. Colombia has quickly become one of the best lifestyle options in Latin America, if not the world. For several years now, Colombia has been ranked as one the the world’s top overseas retirement havens. Its not just retirees either, large numbers of entrepreneurs, investors, and young families are picking up and moving to Colombia. Home to nearly 2000 miles of coastline, spanning the Caribbean sea and Pacific ocean, sun seekers will have no problem finding exactly what they are looking for. You can also live in Colombia without any interest in beach at all. Many people enjoy the classic, colonial cities, and their rich history or the tranquil towns of the Southern Sierra mountains. The diverse landscapes and climates in Colombia offer something for every lifestyle.
Where to Live in Colombia
Colombia has 32 departments, the equivalent of states in the U.S., each with its own characteristics and appeal. Among the departments, there are a few that seem to attract the majority of expats. Cundinamarca, home to Bogota, and Antioquia, home to Medellin, both have established expat communities, improved infrastructure, and abundant real estate options.
Bogota, Colombia’s capital, is the largest and most populous city in the country. With an estimated population around 11 million in the metro area, Bogota is a major hub of South America. There are major infrastructural crossroads flowing into Bogota, including; the Pan-American Highway, which stretches from Canada down to Argentina (there is a gap between Panama and Colombia), the Eldorado airport, one of Latin America’s largest airports, and an ever expanding network of buses, called the Transmilenio. Living in Bogota, you will have access to everything from cheap clothing and home goods to fine dining and luxury amenities.
Cartagena offers a quintessential colonial life in Colombia. The walled city is marveled by both tourists and locals alike, for its beauty and cultural significance. Located on the Caribbean sea, Cartegena also provides residents with a nice breeze and plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy.
Medellin, the city of flowers, is one of the most captivating cities in the world. If you are seriously considering living in Colombia, we recommend you start by looking at Medellin. Beyond its striking beauty, lies a city full of culture, ambiance, and elegance.
Santa Marta is progressing rapidly, with developers and home-buyers gravitating toward the new coastal areas. It is quickly becoming one of the premier locations for real estate in Colombia.
When you live in Colombia you notice a country quickly on the move, stepping out of its old shadow and becoming one of the top destinations for living, investing, and retiring.
Enjoyable Living, Exciting Culture in Medellin, Colombia
Medellin makes a good impression immediately and on many levels. Architecturally, this city is lovely. Built almost entirely of red brick, with most every structure topped by a red clay tile roof, the place is pleasing in its consistency, especially when viewed from some height.
The city of Medellin is an enjoyable place to be and draws visitors from around the world. From the hole-in-the-wall shop selling homemade empanadas to elegant restaurants with fine French cuisine, your dining experience will be varied and limitless. You can also spend an evening at the orchestra or one of 28 theaters, explore the city’s 40 museums, visit its many galleries, or relax in one of 21 parks. And what’s more, the nightlife sizzles in Medellin.
Medellin is physically beautiful. The area has lush hills, with tree-lined streets, green parks, and meandering roads. Throughout the area, small streams tumble down from the mountains, their borders lined with dense areas of lush, tropical vegetation. The city is impressively green, with trees, plants, and small gardens everywhere, and remarkably clean. In the central neighborhoods, you see no litter. The metro, a point of pride for the local population, is spotless and like new. At every station and in every train we boarded, I looked for but was unable to find even a cigarette butt or piece of gum on the ground.
Cost Of Living In Medellin
Medellin is about the best value you’ll find anywhere in the Americas. For the weather, First World ambiance, culture, and amenities we enjoy here, the cost of living is moderately low. You can live here for just over 3.5 million Colombian pesos per month. Day-to-day costs in Medellin are on slightly less than those in Panama City, which is to say they’re not ultra-bargain basement. A bottle of water in a corner shop, restaurant meals, taxis, and movie tickets all cost just slightly less what they’d cost in the Panamanian capital. The difference, of course, is that the cost of everything fluctuates in U.S. dollar terms every day. The dollar has really strong against the peso lately, so purchasing power is going up for those using US dollars.
One notable cost savings living in Medellin would have to do with utility expenses. Thanks to the climate, you could live here with neither heating nor air conditioning, meaning your utility costs could be almost negligible. This could reduce your overall monthly budget by as much as US$200 or more.
In Medellin, you’ll enjoy a reasonable cost of living, high-value, fairly priced properties, and the chance to earn a non-dollar income with a rental property. The real cost advantage of Medellin has to do with real estate.
El Poblado, in the heart of the city, is the top end of the market, for both renting and buying. Here you’re looking at US$1,000 to US$1,500 per square meter to purchase resale (sometimes furnished); US$1,500 to US$2,000 per square meter to buy new; and US$1,000 (for a one-bedroom) to maybe US$3,000 (for a luxury-level penthouse) per month to rent, furnished.
Again, that’s the top of the market. In less recognized, more local neighborhoods, those prices can fall in half and more. Right now you can rent, for example, a one-bedroom apartment in the Laureles neighborhood (a neighborhood Lief and I explored and found to be safe, pleasant, and up-and-coming…a very good budget choice compared with more central and more discovered El Poblado) for as little as 850,000 pesos a month, maybe less. At the current exchange rate, that’s about US$450.
|Monthly Budget For A Couple Living In Medellin, Colombia|
|Rent||COP 3,000,000||Unfurnished, two-bedroom apartment.|
|Gas||COP 300,000||For cooking.|
|Transportation||COP 300,000||most residents walk as
much as they can here.
|Internet||N/A||Bundled with phone.|
|Cable TV||N/A||Bundled with phone.|
|Groceries||COP 1,200,000||Basic items for couple.|
|Entertainment||COP 820,000||Social outing, 75 – 200k pesos p/person|
|Total||COP 5,920,000||US$ 2,102|
Infrastructure In Medellin
It’s a First World environment. Medellin boasts well-maintained roads and drinkable water along with dependable phone service, electricity, and high-speed Internet. You’ll find shopping galore, from mom-and-pop stores to upscale boutiques to a number of large, modern shopping malls. The banks and financial services are solid and dependable.
Climate In Medellin
The weather is perfect. Perched at an elevation of 5,000 feet (1,500 meters), it enjoys beautiful weather all year, with warm, balmy days and cool, pleasant nights. The average daytime high is 79 degrees Fahrenheit and the low is 63, with only one degree of seasonal variation. I like to say that Medellin is “room temperature” every day, all year.