Skip to the main content.
Best Cities In Colombia For Expats

7 min read

Best Cities In Colombia For Expats

When most people think of Colombia, Pablo Escobar and the drug trade often come to mind. While the latter is still an issue, the country has made impressive strides over the last two decades. Colombia has begun to leave its troubled past behind thanks to the peace accords with rebel groups and more effective governance. Today, it is one of the fastest-growing economies in recent years.

Colombia's transformation from a country plagued by violence and illegal drug activity to a thriving and vibrant nation is truly remarkable. With the government's commitment to peace and the dismantling of criminal networks, Colombia has been able to focus on building a brighter future for its people.

The peace process has not only brought about a decrease in violence and crime but has also allowed Colombia to attract foreign investment and foster economic growth. The country has become a hub for business and innovation, with industries such as technology, tourism, and agriculture thriving. This economic growth has led to the creation of jobs and increased opportunities for the Colombian people.

 

In the main cities of Colombia you will find amenities that you would only find in Toronto/Los Angeles at a fraction of the cost - While steady economic growth is important to Colombia's success, numbers only tell part of the story.

In the main cities of Colombia you will find amenities that you would only find in Toronto/Los Angeles at a fraction of the cost

WHY COLOMBIA?

While steady economic growth is important to Colombia's success, numbers only tell part of the story. It is rich in culture and is the world's second most biodiverse nation, with mountains reaching nearly 19,000 feet (5,800 meters), Amazon rainforests, and beautiful beaches. In addition, Colombia is affordable, with Bucaramanga, Cali, and Medellin being regarded as some of the cheapest places to live in Latin America. Also, many major cities in Colombia offer the same amenities you would find in Toronto or Los Angeles for a fraction of the cost. In most parts of Colombia, you can find a decent apartment for less than $500 USD a month, with couples reporting they can comfortably live on $2,000 USD a month.

Now that you are interested, what are some of the best expat-friendly cities in Colombia?

 

Related content: Easiest Ways To Get Your Residency In Colombia

 

Bucaramanga has a special charm, resulting from the combination of colonial architecture and a relaxed lifestyle - Expats and tourists alike can enjoy a wide array of hotels, restaurants, and businesses, making it an attractive destination for those seeking a unique Colombian experience.

Bucaramanga has a special charm, resulting from the combination of colonial architecture and a relaxed lifestyle

7. BUCARAMANGA

Located in the northeast part of the country, Bucaramanga is probably the best Colombian city you have ever heard of. With a population of 600,000, double that including the metropolitan area, it's one of the smaller cities on our list. However, this up-and-coming urban center has a lot going for it, like a low cost of living even by Colombian standards and fantastic year-round temperatures averaging 26°C (78°F). Bucaramanga has a unique charm, blending colonial architecture and a laid-back lifestyle with modern amenities. It is also a more pedestrian-friendly and walkable city, with plenty of parks and excellent public transportation.

Accessible through well-maintained road networks, the city offers a mix of modern and historic architecture, showcasing its rich cultural heritage. Expats and tourists alike can enjoy a wide array of hotels, restaurants, and businesses, making it an attractive destination for those seeking a unique Colombian experience.

 

Related content: The Basics Of How To Get A Second Passport Or A Second Residency

 

In Barranquila, you can find comfortable apartments in the range of 300 to 400 dollars - The city's growing economy and accessibility make it an enticing destination for businesses and expats.

In Barranquila, you can find comfortable apartments in the range of 300 to 400 dollars

6. BARRANQUILLA

Located on Colombia's Caribbean coast, the port city of Barranquilla is known for its nightlife, hosting one of the wildest carnivals outside of Brazil. As such, it tends to be more popular with younger expats than retirees. However, as Colombia's fourth-largest city, it has a lot to offer, such as affordable healthcare and many of the modern conveniences you would find in Bogota and Medellin. Since Barranquilla is more of a commercial hub than a tourist destination, it is surprisingly cheap, and decent 1-bedroom apartments can be found in the $300-$400 USD range. The main drawback is the weather, typically hot and humid year-round, averaging in the low 30°s C (low 90°s F).

Barranquilla is a vibrant city celebrated for its famous Carnival festivities. Its strategic location provides stunning waterfront views and easy access to beautiful beaches. Barranquilla boasts an abundance of historic churches and charming streets that reflect its rich cultural diversity. The city's growing economy and accessibility make it an enticing destination for businesses and expats.

 

Related content: What's The Lifestyle In Colombia Like For Its Residents?

 

Despite a higher cost of living Cartagena is a very popular tourist destination for retirees and digital nomads - Cartagena offers picturesque coastal views and boasts an international airport and well-connected roadways for easy access.

Despite a higher cost of living Cartagena is a very popular tourist destination for retirees and digital nomads

5. CARTAGENA

Cartagena is Colombia's most popular tourist destination. Known for its Spanish colonial architecture, the city retains much of its old-world charm. It has been declared a UNESCO world heritage site. With a population of nearly 1 million, there is something for everyone, from top-notch cuisine to cultural activities. Unsurprisingly, many expats, retirees, and digital nomads have made Cartagena home. However, there are a couple of downsides to this old-world city. Like much of Colombia's Caribbean coast, it is hot and humid year-round. Lastly, due to its popularity as a tourist destination, the cost of living is higher than in other Colombian cities.

Cartagena offers picturesque coastal views and boasts an international airport and well-connected roadways for easy access. Cartagena's colonial architecture and enchanting streets transport visitors to another era, and a plethora of hotels, restaurants, and tourist attractions cater to the needs of expats and tourists alike.

 

Related content: Colombia Elects A Socialist And What It Means For Expats

 

Santa Marta offers a more relaxed life at a low cost and has the best beaches in Colombia - The city boasts an array of accommodations, restaurants, and activities, making it an appealing destination for expats seeking coastal tranquility and adventure.

Santa Marta offers a more relaxed life at a low cost and has the best beaches in Colombia

4. SANTA MARTA

Also located on the northern coast, Santa Marta is smaller than Barranquilla and Cartagena but has a few things working in its favour. It offers a more laid-back life than the former and is considerably cheaper than the tourist-oriented latter. Not to mention, it arguably has the best beaches out of the three. Santa Marta has been gaining popularity by offering numerous outdoor activities and attracting adventurous expats and retirees who enjoy scuba diving, snorkelling, and hiking. Even though Santa Marta is a decently sized city of half a million, it lacks some conveniences you would find in Barranquilla or Cartagena.

Santa Marta offers access to stunning beaches and the majestic Sierra Nevada mountains. It's strategically situated near the mouth of the Magdalena River, providing a unique blend of natural beauty and historical significance. The city boasts an array of accommodations, restaurants, and activities, making it an appealing destination for expats seeking coastal tranquility and adventure.

 

Related content: Options To Consider If You Want To Retire In Colombia

 

In the metropolis of Bogota you can find everything, from museums to a trendy nightlife in the Zona Rosa - On the downside, Bogotá has a few things working against it. Due to its sheer size, some say it lacks the culture and uniqueness of smaller cities like Cartagena and Bucaramanga.

In the metropolis of Bogota you can find everything, from museums to a trendy nightlife in the Zona Rosa

3. BOGOTÁ

While it’s certainly not our top choice, it's difficult to leave Colombia's capital and most populous city, Bogotá, off the list. Home to over eight million people, this sprawling metropolis is one of the largest in Latin America. You can find everything here, from museums and cultural events to plenty of nightlife in the Zona Rosa and world-class amenities like health care, schools, and financial services. Likewise, many international companies have offices in the capital, and jobs tend to pay higher wages, albeit it is offset to some degree by the higher cost of living. Unsurprisingly, Bogotá appeals more to younger working-age expats and digital nomads than retirees.

On the downside, Bogotá has a few things working against it. Due to its sheer size, some say it lacks the culture and uniqueness of smaller cities like Cartagena and Bucaramanga. In addition, due to the high altitude, the weather is not for everyone, with frequent overcast and an average daily temperature of just 18°-20°C (64°-68°F).

This bustling metropolis is well-connected with an extensive transportation network, including an international airport. It combines modern skyscrapers with historic architecture and numerous churches, offering a rich cultural experience. Expats benefit from a diverse business economy and a wide range of hotels and restaurants catering to various tastes.

 

Related content: Living In Colombia With Your Digital Nomad Visa

 

Cali has an excellent climate and is one of the fastest growing cities in the country, known as the salsa capital - The city is rich in culture, featuring a variety of restaurants, businesses, and activities that make it an appealing destination for expats looking to immerse themselves in the lively Colombian culture.

Cali has an excellent climate and is one of the fastest growing cities in the country, known as the salsa capital

2. CALI

Despite being Colombia's third-largest city, Cali is often overlooked as an expat hotspot. While it has gotten a bad rap because of the high, albeit declining, crime rate, it is one of the fastest-growing cities in the country. Better known as the salsa capital, Cali gets high marks for its energetic and vibrant nightlife. It is perfect for sports lovers, with many activities ranging from team sports like basketball, football (soccer), and volleyball. Cyclists will appreciate Cali, as it ranks near the top of the most bicycle-friendly cities in Latin America. Likewise, the weather is excellent, not too hot and not too cold, with average daily highs ranging between 24°-28°C (75°-82°F) and a lower cost of living compared to Bogota, Medellin, and Cartagena.

With picturesque views of the Cauca River valley, Cali offers a unique cultural experience. It is easily accessible via major roadways and an airport. The city is rich in culture, featuring a variety of restaurants, businesses, and activities that make it an appealing destination for expats looking to immerse themselves in the lively Colombian culture.

 

Medellín is popular with expats, with English being widely spoken, the city of eternal spring is a favorite of ours - Medellín serves as a thriving business hub with a growing economy and hosts a diverse array of restaurants, hotels, and cultural experiences, making it a favorite among expats seeking an enjoyable urban lifestyle in Colombia.

Medellín is popular with expats, with English being widely spoken, the city of eternal spring is a favorite of ours

1. MEDELLÍN

Without a doubt, Medellín is our favourite city in Colombia. Often referred to as the city of eternal spring, the climate is near perfect and similar to Cali. With just under 3 million population, Medellín has everything you need, like some of the best hospitals in the region and diverse gastronomy. It also has one of the country's most well-developed public transportation systems, making it easy to live without a car.

Medellín is often referred to as the "City of Eternal Spring" for its pleasant climate year-round. The city offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and is known for its modern transportation system, making it highly accessible. Medellín serves as a thriving business hub with a growing economy and hosts a diverse array of restaurants, hotels, and cultural experiences, making it a favorite among expats seeking an enjoyable urban lifestyle in Colombia.

As a popular spot for expats, getting around in Medellín is easier than in most cities since English is widely spoken, especially among professionals like doctors, lawyers, and accountants. While the overall cost of living is higher by Colombian standards, albeit less than Cartagena, it is considerably cheaper than any major North American city, and properties costing $1,000,000 USD up north can often be found for as little as $200,000 USD.

 

Colombia has everything from stunning landscapes to vibrant music, delicious cuisine and a rich history

Colombia has everything from stunning landscapes to vibrant music, delicious cuisine and a rich history

CONCLUSION

Although many may associate it with drugs and crimes, Colombia has changed much in the last two decades. As you can see from the list above, there is a city in Colombia for all types of people, whether you like hot days and a nice trip to the beach or cooler places with many regions to visit and explore. The country is breathtakingly beautiful, with diverse cultures, friendly people, and amazing adventures. Colombia has everything from stunning landscapes to vibrant music, delicious cuisine, and rich history. Living in Colombia is a chance to experience warm hospitality, explore ecotourism wonders, and indulge in unforgettable moments.

 

 

New Exit Pop Up


WORK WITH ME

I help my clients to move offshore for freedom, privacy and autonomy by focusing on the immigration, legal, and tax issues that you will face when becoming an expat. If you would like to work one-on-one with me on getting out of your home country (or setting up a Plan-B location), then read this important letter and fill in an application form to become a Private Client. My fees are not cheap; however, I can assure you that when you work with a professional firm like ours, the results will be worth it.

 

BEST OF THE EXPAT WORLD

If you want the best intel from the expat world, including profitable offshore opportunities, little-known tax-saving strategies, and hard-won insights on immigration, passports, and Plan-B residencies, all delivered to your inbox every single week, then join our daily correspondence, EMS Pulse. Currently enjoyed by over 84,000 expats and expat-hopefuls worldwide. Fill in the form below to join our newsletter free:

 

Mikkel Thorup

Written by Mikkel Thorup

Mikkel Thorup is the world’s most sought-after expat consultant. He focuses on helping high-net-worth private clients to legally mitigate tax liabilities, obtain a second residency and citizenship, and assemble a portfolio of foreign investments including international real estate, timber plantations, agricultural land and other hard-money tangible assets. Mikkel is the Founder and CEO at Expat Money®, a private consulting firm started in 2017. He hosts the popular weekly podcast, the Expat Money Show, and wrote the definitive #1-Best Selling book Expat Secrets - How To Pay Zero Taxes, Live Overseas And Make Giant Piles Of Money, and his second book: Expats Guide On Moving To Mexico.

Recent Posts

How To Apostille Documents From Australia

How To Apostille Documents From Australia

Ensuring one's official documents are recognized internationally is a common difficulty for expats when moving or working overseas. This is the point...

Continue Reading
Which Countries Are Part Of The Schengen Area?

Which Countries Are Part Of The Schengen Area?

Schengen, Europe, and the European Union (EU) are terms often used interchangeably, but are they really the same? Understanding these differences is...

Continue Reading
Socialism Persists In Mexico: How Concerning Is Claudia Sheinbaum's Victory For Expats?

Socialism Persists In Mexico: How Concerning Is Claudia Sheinbaum's Victory For Expats?

Mexico has been a cherished expat hub for so long, but will it be the same after the victory of newly elected socialist president Claudia Sheinbaum?

Continue Reading