Colombia, a gem of South America, has caught the attention of many people looking for a fresh start. With rising costs of living in Western countries, it's easy to see why people want to move to Colombia with it's affordable costs of living. With its captivating landscapes, vibrant cities, and warm-hearted locals, it’s no wonder that more and more people are moving to Colombia. In this comprehensive guide on how to move to Colombia, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know to make a smooth transition to this culturally rich country.
- Colombia has various visa options for you and your family to choose from.
- Colombia has a diverse range of climates and cities to choose from, from the beach and sun to the cooler weather in the coffee region.
- Enjoy employment opportunities, education systems, healthcare services, and vibrant social life while experiencing Colombian culture!
Visa and Residency Options
Colombia offers a variety of visas tailored to your unique situation. Choosing the right one will allow you to explore the magical landscapes, work in thriving industries, or even retire in Colombia. To start your journey, you'll want to decide which visa is the best option for you.
The Colombian visa system consists of three main categories: Visitor (V), Migrant (M), and Resident (R). Each type has its own requirements and benefits, so it’s essential to understand which suits your situation best.
If you’re planning a short-term stay in Colombia, the tourist visa, or the Visitor Visa, is a great option. It allows tourists, business travelers, and those looking for temporary stays to enter the country for up to 90 days. The application process is straightforward - gather the required documents, complete the online application form, and submit it to the Colombian authorities.
Ensure you have a valid passport with enough blank visa pages and at least six months of validity after your planned exit date. The Visitor Visa is valid for 90 days but can be extended if needed.
It is important to note that individuals from the United States, Canadian, the United Kingdom, Australia, and other countries on this list are exempt and automatically get 180 days per year in the country without needing a visitor visa.
For those seeking long-term stays, work, or study in Colombia, the Migrant Visa category offers various subcategories and eligibility criteria. The Migrant visa lasts for 1-3 years at a time. This type of visa covers options such as:
Some of the eligibility criteria for a migrant visa include:
- Being a spouse or partner of a Colombian national or permanent resident
- Having a job offer in Colombin
- Having a Pension or Social Security
- Investing in a Colombian Business or Real Estate
Migrant visas, including business visas and investment visas, have opened doors to a myriad of opportunities in this attractive country for many expats over the past decade.
The Resident Visa is designed for those who have lived in Colombia for a certain period or meet specific requirements. This type of visa grants permanent residency and a path to Colombian citizenship. Some eligibility criteria for a Colombian Resident Visa include:
- Holding a temporary visa for at least three to five years
- Reclaiming Colombian nationality
A Resident Visa is valid for five years and can be renewed. The key advantage of a Colombian Resident Visa is the opportunity to eventually obtain Dual Citizenship in Colombia.
Family members of Colombian visa holders can also join their loved ones in this enchanting country through the Beneficiary Visa. This visa allows spouses, partners, and dependents of visa holders to live and work in Colombia. To apply, you’ll need to submit the necessary documents, and show proof that you're able to financially support them.
If you’re planning to bring your family to Colombia, this visa can provide a fantastic opportunity for all of you to immerse yourself in the country’s vibrant culture and enjoy its many benefits.
Choosing the Right City
When moving to Colombia, selecting the right city can make all the difference in your experience. Factors such as climate, job opportunities, cost of living, and expat communities should be considered to find a place that caters to your preferences and needs. Major cities like Bogotá, Medellin, and Cali are popular among expats, offering a blend of urban life and cultural experiences.
Bogotá, Colombia’s largest city, boasts a thriving arts scene, world-class cuisine, and a vibrant nightlife. At an altitude of 8,660 feet above sea level, the city enjoys a mild climate with average temperatures of 57°F. Medellin, known as the City of Eternal Spring, offers a pleasant climate with an average annual temperature of 72,5°F. It’s an excellent destination for retirees, digital nomads, and entrepreneurs looking for a low cost of living and a high quality of life.
For those seeking a coastal retreat in South America, Santa Marta, and Barranquilla are two cities on Colombia’s stunning Caribbean coast. Santa Marta is a historic city with a rich indigenous heritage, surrounded by beautiful beaches and the breathtaking Tayrona National Park. Barranquilla, famous for its Carnival, is a lively city with a population of over 1.2 million.
Choosing a city that aligns with your lifestyle, priorities, and ambitions will make your Colombian adventure even more fulfilling.
Housing and Accommodation
Finding a place to call home is an essential step when moving to Colombia. To find rental properties or purchase real estate, consider using resources such as Airbnb, Facebook groups, and classified ads. With a valid passport and adequate funds, you can buy property in Colombia as a foreigner. To rent, you’ll need a passport and proof of income, as well as references and background checks.
Typically it is easier to obtain a long term rental once you have a Visa and Cédula De Extranjería.
Working with a local real estate agent can be helpful in navigating the housing market and securing a property that suits your needs and budget. Remember that the cost of housing varies depending on the city and neighborhood. Generally, it can range from $300 to over $1,000 USD per month.
Whether you’re looking for a bustling city center or a tranquil neighborhood, Colombia offers a wide range of housing options to suit every taste and budget. With some research and persistence, you’ll find the perfect home to start your new life in this captivating country.
Purchasing a Home:
In terms of purchasing a home, typically, loans and mortgages will not be available to foreigners. However, you may be able to take out a loan against a current property you have in your home country.
Additionally, there are also property projects being created all over Colombia, allowing you to purchase apartments and condos in new developments, and pay in installments while they are being built.
Colombia’s job market presents numerous opportunities across various industries. In-demand sectors include finance, IT, healthcare, and sales. To find job openings, you can use online job search platforms, attend networking events, or connect with local expat communities.
Many Western countries are starting to outsource IT, Customer Success, and Call Center work to Colombia and other central American countries.
Colombia’s growing economy and diverse job market offer a wealth of opportunities for those seeking employment. By networking, staying informed about the local job market, and obtaining the necessary permits, you’ll be well on your way to finding a fulfilling job in this vibrant country.
Education and Schooling
If you’re moving to Colombia with your family, it’s essential to understand the education system and explore available schooling options. The country offers a complete cycle of primary education from first to ninth grade. Secondary education is an optional two-year course. State-sponsored nurseries and daycare centers also provide support to families with young children.
For expats, there are plenty of private and international schools to choose from, especially in major cities like Bogotá, Medelln, and Cali. These schools often provide a higher standard of education and additional benefits, such as smaller class sizes and extracurricular activities. If you prefer a higher education institution, Colombia is home to reputable colleges and universities.
Exploring the various education options available in Colombia will ensure a smooth transition for your children and set them up for success in their academic journey. By researching schools, understanding the education system, and considering your family’s needs, you’ll find the perfect educational environment for your children.
Healthcare and Insurance
Healthcare is a crucial consideration for anyone moving to a new country. Colombia offers healthcare services to everyone, regardless of their citizenship or residence status. Every citizen and legal resident is entitled to access this universal healthcare system. The country’s healthcare system is ranked 22nd on a global scale out of 191 countries. This places it amongst the best health systems in Latin America. Public healthcare costs vary based on your income, making it an affordable option for many individuals.
Expats are generally advised to purchase private medical insurance, even if they are eligible for public healthcare. This is because private insurance plans may offer additional benefits that public healthcare does not cover. Private insurance can offer better coverage, shorter wait times, and access to a wider range of healthcare providers. When choosing a private insurance plan, consider factors such as annual and lifetime policy limits, exclusions, healthcare provider limitations, and emergency evacuation coverage.
If you already have health insurance in your home country, it’s essential to check whether it will cover you in Colombia. If not, obtaining private insurance is a wise decision to ensure you have access to quality healthcare during your stay.
Staying healthy and protected is vital when living abroad. By understanding Colombia’s healthcare system, exploring insurance options, and staying informed about healthcare requirements, you’ll be well-prepared to maintain your well-being in this beautiful country.
Language and Culture
One of the most rewarding aspects of moving to Colombia is the opportunity to learn and embrace the local language and culture. Spanish is the official language of Colombia, and learning to speak Spanish will enrich your experience and help you connect with locals. Many language schools and private tutors are available to help you learn Spanish at your own pace.
Colombian culture is a beautiful blend of Indigenous, African, and European influences, giving rise to unique customs, traditions, and celebrations. Embracing these cultural aspects will allow you to build meaningful connections and fully immerse yourself in Colombian society.
Adapting to the local culture and learning Spanish will not only enhance your experience in Colombia, but also pave the way for a successful integration into the local community. By embracing these aspects of life in Colombia, you’ll create lasting memories and friendships that will enrich your life in this fascinating country.
Managing your finances is an essential part of living abroad. In Colombia, opening a bank account is relatively straightforward, requiring a valid passport, proof of income, and sometimes a minimum balance. Having a local bank account will make it easier to manage your finances and make transactions in the country.
Transferring money to Colombia can be done through international bank transfers, which provide a secure and convenient way to send funds. Keep in mind that fees and exchange rates may apply, so it’s essential to compare different money transfer services to find the best option for your needs.
It’s also important to understand your tax obligations while living in Colombia. Expats who have lived in the country for more than 183 days within a year qualify as residents and are subject to a progressive tax rate ranging from 0% to 39% based on annual income. By staying informed about taxes and financial requirements, you’ll be better prepared to manage your finances and enjoy your life in Colombia.
Safety and Security
While Colombia has made significant improvements in safety and security, it’s still essential to take precautions and stay vigilant. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Be mindful of your surroundings
- Limit the amount of cash you carry
- Look after your possessions to prevent incidents such as muggings, pickpocketing, and burglaries.
Be aware of common scams in Colombia, such as fake taxis, fake police officers, and pickpocketing, and take steps to protect yourself. When exploring the country, stick to well-traveled areas and avoid poor neighborhoods to minimize potential risks.
Staying informed about safety and security in Colombia will help you navigate the country with confidence and peace of mind. By taking precautions and staying alert, you can enjoy your Colombian adventure without unnecessary worry.
However, these are typically the same street smarts that you will need in any major city around the world.
Transportation and Infrastructure
Getting around Colombia is easy and convenient, with various transportation options available to suit your needs. Public transit, taxis, and driving are all viable means of transportation, offering flexibility and accessibility to explore the country. Colombia’s infrastructure has seen significant improvements in recent years, with an extensive roadway network, modern airports, and improved connectivity. The country has 12 cities with airports that fly outside of the country.
Whether you prefer public transit, taxis, or driving, Colombia’s transportation options cater to different preferences and budgets. By familiarizing yourself with the country’s transportation system and infrastructure, you’ll be ready to explore this captivating country with ease and comfort.
Social Life and Networking
Building a social network and engaging in activities is a vital aspect of settling into a new country. In Colombia, there are numerous opportunities to meet locals and other expats through local clubs, events, or social media.
Participating in activities that interest you, such as sports, arts, or volunteering, can also help you make friends and build a support network. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and try new experiences - Colombians are known for their warm and welcoming nature, making it easy to form connections.
By actively engaging in social activities and networking with locals and expats alike, you’ll create a fulfilling social life that will enrich your experience in Colombia. Embrace the opportunity to make new friends and create lasting memories as you settle into your new home.
Colombia is a captivating country with a wealth of opportunities for those looking to start a new chapter in their lives. From obtaining the right visa to finding the perfect city, housing, and job, this comprehensive guide provides the information and resources you need to make a smooth transition to life in Colombia.
As you embark on your Colombian adventure, remember to embrace the local culture, learn the language, and build a strong social network. By doing so, you’ll not only experience all that this incredible country has to offer, but also create a fulfilling and memorable life in this enchanting corner of the world.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Colombia easy to move to?
Colombia makes it easy for UK, Canadian, and US citizens to move there, as they get a 90 day visa on arrival with an option to extend another 90 days. Thus, obtaining a longer stay or full-time residence is relatively straightforward.
With a Migrant Visa (M), it is possible to gain a longer stay or full-time residence in Colombia.
How much money do I need to move to Colombia?
You will need a minimum of around $546 - $1000 USD per month to live comfortably in Colombia, with rates increasing in bigger cities like Bogotá and Medellin.
Living costs in Colombia are relatively low compared to other countries in the region, making it an attractive destination for expats and digital nomads. However, it is important to budget for your monthly expenses to ensure you can live comfortably.
How can a US citizen live in Colombia?
You can live in Colombia as a US citizen by applying for a visa through the Cancillera or at any Colombian consulate. Applying for a visa online or in your home country is easy and straightforward, allowing you to stay in Colombia for more than 180 days in a 365-day period.
Once you have your visa, you can stay in Colombia for as long as you like. You will need to renew your visa every year, but the process is simple and straightforward. You will also need to register with the company.
What are the main categories of Colombian visas?
Each visa type has its own set of requirements and restrictions. For example, a visitor visa is typically issued for a short-term stay, while a Migrant visa is issued for a short-term stay.
How do I choose the right city to live in Colombia?
Choose a city in Colombia that is tailored to your individual needs and preferences, taking into account factors such as climate, job prospects, living costs, and the presence of an expat community.
Consider the climate of the city you choose. Is it hot and humid, or mild and temperate? Are there seasons? What is the average temperature?
Think about job prospects in the city. Are there many opportunities for employment? Are there industries that are particularly special?
Daniela Cordoba is a lawyer specializing in immigration and commercial law. Daniela Cordoba has helped individuals and businesses live and operate in Colombia for over a decade. She also has training in compliance with the respective accreditations to serve as Compliance Officer.
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