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Colombia’s Open Doors: Exploring Real Estate Opportunities For Expats

6 min read

Colombia’s Open Doors: Exploring Real Estate Opportunities For Expats

Colombia has a vibrant culture. Cities like Bogotá, Medellín and Cali each offer distinct narratives of history, innovation, and rebirth, inviting exploration and discovery. The country's festivals, music, and dance, particularly cumbia and vallenato, are vibrant expressions of its collective spirit, while its cuisine offers a taste of its geographical and cultural diversity.

In recent years, Colombia has emerged from the shadows of its turbulent past, fostering greater internal peace and opening its doors to the world with renewed vigour. This transformation has made it an increasingly attractive destination for expats seeking a blend of adventure, culture, and real estate opportunities for expats looking to build their lives abroad.

What we'll be looking at in this article now is an overview of what the real estate market in Colombia is like, the benefits, and some of the places most sought after by expats.

 

Center of Medellin, Colombia

Center of Medellin, Colombia

WHY DO EXPATS HAVE THEIR EYES SET ON COLOMBIA?

Expats have their eyes set on Colombia due to the country's stunning coastal landscapes and growing tourism industry. This growth has sparked a demand for all types of properties, from cozy homes to commercial spaces and even vacation rentals. And guess what? The numbers are singing sweet tunes, with the real estate market expected to hit a high note at USD 2.12 trillion by 2024. Impressive, right? Let’s take a look at Colombia’s hotspots for expats.

 

3. BOGOTÁ

Nestled in the heart of Latin America, Bogotá is a bustling metropolis that's home to more than eight million people. This city is a treasure trove of experiences, offering a blend of museums, vibrant cultural festivities, and exciting nightlife, especially in the Zona Rosa. Not to mention, it's equipped with top-notch facilities, including healthcare, educational institutions, and financial services, making life here as convenient as it is thrilling.

The city is also a hub for international businesses, providing ample career opportunities with generally higher salaries to match the city's lifestyle. However, it's worth noting that the cost of living here is on the higher side. But that doesn't deter the younger crowd of working expats and digital nomads, who find Bogotá's dynamic environment perfectly suited to their adventurous and career-driven lives. While retirees might prefer quieter locales, for those seeking an energetic urban experience, Bogotá is the place to be.

 

2. CALI

Cali, Colombia's third-largest city, remains an undiscovered gem among expat destinations. Despite its challenging past with crime rates that are now on a decline, Cali shines as one of the country's rapidly developing cities. It's celebrated as the salsa capital of the world, boasting a pulsating nightlife that's second to none. For those who live to stay active, Cali is a playground offering a plethora of sports, from basketball and football (soccer) to volleyball. Cyclists, in particular, will find themselves at home here, as Cali ranks as one of the most bike-friendly cities across Latin America. The climate is just as inviting, with comfortable temperatures ranging from 24°-28°C (75°-82°F), coupled with a lower cost of living when compared to its counterparts like Bogotá, Medellín, and Cartagena.

Framed by the stunning backdrop of the Cauca River valley, Cali provides a cultural feast for the senses. With its easy access via major highways and an airport, the city welcomes visitors and residents alike. Its rich cultural tapestry is woven through its diverse restaurants, bustling businesses, and vibrant activities, making it an enticing locale for expats eager to dive into the lively Colombian lifestyle.

 

1. MEDELLÍN

Medellín holds a special place in our hearts as the gem of Colombia. Celebrated as the "City of Eternal Spring," its climate is simply unbeatable, mirroring the comfortable weather of Cali. Home to nearly 3 million people, Medellín offers all the essentials and more, boasting top-notch healthcare facilities and a rich culinary scene. Its public transportation system is among the best in the country, providing an easy lifestyle even without owning a car.

The city is enveloped by breathtaking mountain views and is praised for its modern, accessible transport network. As a bustling economic center, Medellín is vibrant with business opportunities and is packed with a variety of dining, accommodation, and cultural activities, making it an expat's haven for engaging city life in Colombia.

Navigating Medellín is notably straightforward for expats, with a significant number of English-speaking professionals in key services like healthcare and legal advice. Although living costs are on the higher side in Colombian terms and slightly more than in Cartagena, they're a bargain compared to major cities in North America. Here, the dream of owning a million-dollar home becomes a reality at a fraction of the cost, with luxury properties available for around $200,000 USD.


Bogota at night, Colombia

Bogota at night, Colombia

CAN I BECOME A COLOMBIA RESIDENT BY PURCHASING REAL ESTATE?

The answer is yes, you can. Colombia provides an appealing shortcut to permanent residency for those willing to invest in the nation, be it through buying property or significant financial investments. This investment visa route paves a faster track for transitioning from a non-citizen to a permanent resident, making it an attractive option for those looking to put down roots in Colombia quickly.

So, one of the top perks of snapping up property in Colombia is that it can set you on the path to becoming a resident. One way to do this is by applying for either the Resident (R) or Migrant (M) Visa. Pretty neat. This is a friendly heads-up for all you expats out there considering a new adventure or home in Colombia!

The Migrant Visas, or “M” category, are the gateway to a longer entanglement without fully embracing permanent residency. Within this realm, subtypes carve niches for various purposes and connections. 

If you want to enter Colombia’s real estate market, this visa is the perfect icing on the cake. By building connections and investments brick by brick, you can tap into a whole new level of expat experience in this beautiful South American country. This option will require an investment of at least 350 times the monthly minimum wage.

When you're ready to transition from a visitor to a part of Colombia's vibrant culture, the Resident (R) visas are your golden ticket.

Diving into a significant business investment is a powerful move toward securing your permanent spot in Colombia. To grab this opportunity, you're looking at an investment that's no less than 650 times the minimum salary.  Just a heads-up, though: if you're thinking of jet-setting away from Colombia for more than two years, you might have to wave goodbye to that permanent resident status. So, for all you expats dreaming of a life intertwined with Colombia's enchanting culture and dynamic lifestyle, this is for you.

Note: the minimum wage in Colombia today, March 2024, is about COP1,300,000.00 per month (around $340 USD).

 

City of Cali, Colombia

City of Cali, Colombia

WHY SETTLE IN COLOMBIA?

The biggest draw of Colombian residency? It's your all-access pass to living there full-time. Whether you're eyeing to plant your roots deep, own a slice of paradise, rent a cozy spot, land a job (provided your visa's on board), kick off a business venture, or simply weave your life into the fabric of Colombia, you'll need to get your hands on either a migrant or permanent resident visa.

What's so special about calling Colombia home? For starters, its prime spot at the crossroads of the Caribbean and South America opens doors to breathtaking Caribbean shores, a mosaic of ecosystems, and easy hops to neighbouring lands for those spur-of-the-moment adventures. But also:

 

EASE OF DOING BUSINESS

In recent years, Colombia has made great strides in enhancing its business landscape, making it much more inviting for entrepreneurs. Highlighted in the World Bank's Doing Business 2020 study, Colombia now stands at 67th place among 190 nations. This study measures how easy it is to do business in a country by examining various factors, such as the process of starting a company, access to credit, tax payment systems, and how bankruptcy is handled.

For expats eyeing Colombia as a spot to kickstart their ventures, this boost in ranking translates to smoother paths to entry and less red tape. Starting a business here is now more straightforward, thanks to the government's push for investment through incentives like tax relief, financial support, and easier access to funding. Colombia's proactive approach not only simplifies setting up shop but also welcomes expats into the business fold with open arms.

 

ACCESS TO FREE TRADE AGREEMENTS

Colombia has entered into numerous free trade pacts with countries across the globe, such as the United States, Canada, and the European Union. These pacts lower the hurdles for Colombian businesses to send their goods to these regions while also paving the way for international companies to tap into the Colombian market.

For expats eager to start their business journey in Colombia, these trade agreements are a treasure trove of opportunities. They open doors to new markets and give expats a competitive edge. Moreover, these agreements can cut down the costs associated with running a business in Colombia by eliminating or lessening tariffs and other trade barriers. This creates a more favourable environment for expats to grow their ventures.

 

ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE

Colombia's national healthcare system provides coverage to all citizens and legal residents. While the quality of healthcare varies throughout the country, expats can benefit from affordable healthcare services. This means expats can access quality healthcare services at a fraction of what they would pay in other countries. Additionally, private healthcare options are available for those who want to access more specialized care or prefer a higher level of service.

 

 

CONCLUSION

Investing in Colombia's real estate isn't just about the financials; it's about embracing a lifestyle change and becoming part of a community that's warm, welcoming, and vibrant. Whether you're eyeing a modern apartment in the bustling city or a tranquil home by the beach, Colombia offers a canvas for your dreams.

So, why wait? Dive into the Colombian real estate market and discover a world of opportunities. Whether it's the dynamic vibe of Medellín, the steady promise of Cali, or the diverse offerings of Bogotá, Colombia is ready to welcome you with open arms. Let's make that dream a reality.


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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.

 

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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.

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