Thinking about moving to Colombia? Check out our guide to learn what you can expect during the process.
So you – like many captivated expats, digital nomads, retirees, and world travelers before you – want to move to Colombia?
With its diverse geography, modern infrastructure, low cost of living, and welcoming locals, Colombia is drawing newcomers from all over the world.
If you have been enchanted by Colombia and are considering relocating to any one of the country’s exceptional cities, ¡felicidades! To help you transition to your new home, we’ve created a complete, step-by-step guide to moving to Colombia. Check it out:
Step 1: Travel to Colombia
But as eager as you may be to begin your new life in Colombia, we urge you to visit your prospective home for at least a month before making the big move.
First, choose a city. Colombian cities are incredibly diverse, and your experience visiting and living in the country may vary based on your personal preferences, lifestyle, and plans.
Medellin, aka La Ciudad de Eterna Primavera, charms with its eternally spring-like weather and fascinating history, while Bogota wins hearts with its bumping nightlife and blossoming foods scenes.
Cali beckons explorers with vibrant salsa beats. Cartagena, the jewel of Colombia’s caribbean coast, calls to beach lovers with sun and sand.
Once you’ve chosen a city, you can rent a local apartment in the city you are planning to move to and get a feel for the local vibe.
Brush up on your Spanish, try out local restaurants, cafes, and nightlife, and explore different neighborhoods.
During your time in Colombia, you can familiarize yourself with transportation options and determine your best way to get around.
Get to know local grocery stores, pharmacies, and banks. Take day trips to nearby pueblos to hunt down your favorite spots for unwinding.
If you’re not familiar with the other Colombian cities, take some time to scout them out and see how each compares. By the end of your trip, you’ll feel at home in your new country and ready to make some important steps.
Step 2: Choose a Neighborhood
After exploring the ins and outs of your new city, you’ll be ready to decide where you want to live. Many of the cities in Colombia – including its four major destinations – are divided into neighborhoods, or barrios, each of which has a distinctive flare.
We’ll discuss some of our favorite barrios in each city below.
- Medellin: A darling among expats, Medellin is home to a number of popular neighborhoods for foreigners. El Poblado – with its nightlife, upscale restaurants, and shopping – is a top choice. However, many digital nomads and younger expats prefer Laureles.
- Bogota: A modern city, Bogota has everything from sleek, stylish residential zones to bustling bohemian neighborhoods. We recommend Chapinero, which is packed with dining options, cafes, nightlife, and more.
- Cali: An up-and-coming destination, Cali is a favorite among travelers seeking an off-the-beaten-track adventure. Our favorite neighborhoods in the salsa capital of the world are El Peñon and San Antonio – lush, tree-shaded barrios with a flourishing restaurant scene.
- Cartagena: Heading to sunny, beachside Cartagena? We suggest Manga, a burgeoning residential neighborhood within walking distance of the historic Old Town and Getsemani.
Step 3: Obtain a Colombian Visa
Now comes the fun part: getting a Colombian visa. To make Colombia your long-term home, you’ll need to apply for a visa that fits your unique situation.
The good news is that there are many categories of Colombian visas available that can be relatively easy to obtain.
Note that citizens of the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Australia, France, and Germany do not require a visa to enter the country – though Canadian citizens between the ages of 14 and 79 must pay a 191,000 peso entry fee.
You are allowed to stay in the country for up to 90 days without a visa, though you may extend your stay by an additional 90 days at a Migración Colombia office within the country.
Without a formal visa, your stay in Colombia is restricted to a total of 180 days per calendar year.
To move to Colombia for a longer period of time, you need to obtain one of three types of visas: Visitor (V), Migrant (M), or Resident (R).
As a foreigner seeking to move to Colombia for the first time, you will most likely need a Migrant (M) visa. The most common categories of M visas for expats include:
- Student (M – category 9): Previously known as a TP-3 visa before Colombia passed Resolution 6045 in 2017, the M – category 9 visa is for foreigners who come to Colombia to study in an academic program.
- Retirement (M – category 11): Previously known as the TP-7 visa, the M – category 11 visa is for foreigners who receive retirement or rentista income. Retirement income must be at least three times the minimum Colombian wage; rentista income must be ten times the minimum wage.
- Work (M – category 5): Previously known as the TP-4 visa, the M – category 5 visa is for foreigners who have a job in Colombia.
- Expertise (M – category 7): Previously known as the TP-13 visa, the M – category 7 visa is for foreigners who are qualified to practice a profession independently.
- Investment in real estate (M – category 10): Previously known as the TP-7 visa, the M – category 10 visa is for foreigners who invest in real estate in Colombia with an investment that is at least 350 times the minimum Colombian wage.
- Investment in business (M – category 6): Previously known as the TP-7 visa, the M – category 6 visa is for foreigners who invest in a Colombian business with an investment that is at least 100 times the minimum Colombian wage.
- Marriage (M – category 1): Previously known as the TP-10 visa, the M – category 1 visa is for foreigners with a Colombian spouse or permanent partner.
For most expats, investing in real estate represents the quickest, easiest way to obtain a Colombian visa.
Learn more about applying for a Colombian investment visa or read up on other types of Colombian visas. And if you are considering investing in property in Colombia, we invite you to get in touch with Lifeafar.
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