Moving to Colombia
Last updated: March 16, 2023
What is Colombia?
Colombia is a Spanish-speaking Latin-American republic
It’s a big country with a population of roughly 50 million and a diverse range of climate zones. You can find tropical rain forests, deserts, mountain climates, savannas and steppes.
Colombia is pretty well-known across the West for its problems with drug cartels and crime.
In the last century, armed conflict and political violence were indeed running rampant throughout the country and its shabby reputation was well-earned.
However, since the early 2000’s, this country has been getting its shit together, and it has seen significant improvements in its economy, safety, stability and development.
Columbia has been growing rather consistently the past 20 years (COVID-19 notwithstanding) and is expected to keep doing well in the next few decades.
Colombia still sports somewhat elevated crime numbers, but these numbers are mostly inflated because of some specifically dangerous zones.
Purely looking at the murder rate, it’s at about 25 murders per 100.000 inhabitants per year on average.
This is pretty high, compared to the overall United States number of 5 per 100.000 – which takes into account every small town.
Then again, cities like Chicago are more dangerous than Colombia, with roughly 28 per 100.000.
If you aren’t being an idiot and waving your cash around, or going out alone at 3 AM in dangerous neighborhoods, Colombia can be perfectly safe.
This country, like all of its neighbors, is a former colony of Spain, which means Spanish is the official language.
This is great news, because Spanish is easy to learn, and if you master it, you get access to almost all of the other Latin-American countries.
Requirements for moving to Colombia
Colombia is amazingly accessible and the requirements for living here are very, very easy to meet.
Let’s start by looking at the visa situation.
Most Westerners can enter this country without the need for a visa, and you can stay there for up to 90 days. This can be extended.
There are plenty of options for longer visas, such as Visitor, Migrant, Retirement, Business Investment or Resident Visa.
You do need to learn Spanish, but honestly, this would be required anyway if you plan to live here.
The only real requirement for moving to Colombia is making sure you have a strong source of international, location independent income.
You do not want to rely on a pension from a Western government, a remote job, or a job in Colombia.
These are all horrible options.
Be your own boss, be self-employed and earn money from all over the world, wherever and whenever you want, and you can easily live in Colombia.
What is the cost of living in Colombia?
The cost of living in Colombia is very low.
In South-America, it is one of the best countries to move to if you want to get the most bang for your buck.
A single person’s estimated monthly costs are below $400, without rent.
If you add rent, this comes to roughly $600 per month.
This is no money at all, and anyone with some form of location independent income can attain this.
If you want to live a cheap life, it doesn’t get much better than Colombia.
Benefits of living in Colombia
Downsides of living in Colombia
Moving to Colombia - by the numbers
Colombia’s climate depends heavily on the location – some regions have way better temperatures. The average hours of sunshine is a big surprise here, but apparently it’s often cloudy.
Level of English: 4/10
While this may sound like a big problem (and for some people it certainly is), the fact that Colombia has Spanish as its official language means the language barrier will be paper-thin if you learn this easy language.
Cost of Living: 9.5/10
Taxes on international income: 7/10
0 - 39%
Foreign non-residents are taxed on their Colombian-sourced income only. You are considered fiscally resident in Colombia if you remain in the country for 183 days within a period of 365 days.
This isn't a great situation if you want to live here permanently, but it's only a question of how the Colombian government will be able to track your international income - if you're not stupid and make sure this is going to several non-affiliated countries.
Economic growth: 7/10
Average GDP growth over the last 10 years: 4%
How is living in Colombia as an expat?
I’ll be the first to admit that living in Colombia as an expat isn’t for everyone.
The country certainly isn’t perfect, and still has to deal with a lot of problems before it can be one of the best options to escape the West, but it’s getting there.
The weather’s great in most locations (just not on average across the entire country), the cost of living is low, the women are attractive, the economy is booming, you can easily learn the local language, and if you aren’t deterred by the elevated crime rate in some zones (mostly avoidable by not being an idiot), Colombia is a great country in Latin America for expats.
Investing in this up-and-coming country seems like a smart move, but living here permanently is something I cannot 100% recommend – but it’s very close to it.
Is moving to Colombia for you? Get your location independent income up and running, book a trip, and find out.