Open-minded and adventurous expats moving to Colombia will find an unspoilt land with a friendly and curious local population. A geographically diverse country, Colombia has all kinds of scenic beauty on offer, from vast mountain ranges to green prairies and lush rainforests. 

Most foreigners living in Colombia are based in the capital, Bogotá, but expats should be able to find a community of expats in most Colombian cities.

Living in Colombia as an expat

Many young expats come to Colombia to work as English teachers and spend a few years exploring South America. Other thriving industries include construction, medicine and oil and gas. Having at least a basic knowledge of Spanish will be advantageous in the workplace and help in interacting with the local population.

Accommodation can be found to suit almost every budget in Colombia, although expats generally opt for a relatively small selection of middle- to upper-class neighbourhoods that offer security and proximity to public transport, grocery and department stores, and restaurants.

Cost of living in Colombia

The cost of living in Colombia is low compared to North America or Europe. Bogotá, Colombia's capital, is much more affordable than other major South American cities, including Buenos Aires, São Paulo and Montevideo. While the cost of school tuition can be high, especially at private and international schools, expats will find that private healthcare is reasonably priced. Low taxes also offset these expensive elements of expat life in Colombia.

Families and children in Colombia

Colombia is becoming increasingly popular with families. There is plenty to do here, from adventure-filled holidays to kid-friendly parks, museums and restaurants in the major cities. Schools are also of a good standard, and those parents who'd like their children to keep studying in the curriculum of their home country will be pleased to learn that there are several excellent international schools in Bogotá and Medellín.

Climate in Colombia

Expats thinking of a move to Colombia can look forward to an extraordinary general climate, which is primarily tropical but has many variations within its diverse natural regions. Colombia's tropical forests, deserts, savannahs, steppes and alpine zones each bring their own unique set of conditions. May to November is the wettest time of year throughout the country, while December to April is the dry season.

Relocating to Colombia will be an exciting step full of new opportunities, even for the most seasoned expat. Though certain challenges face expatss in the country, new arrivals should rest assured that the warm hospitality offered by the Colombian people will ensure that they settle in quickly.

Fast facts

Population: Around 49 million

Capital city: Bogotá

Other major cities: Cartagena, Medellín, Cali, Barranquilla

Neighbouring countries: Colombia borders Brazil, Ecuador, Panama, Peru and Venezuela.

Geography: Colombia forms part of a region known for earthquakes and volcanic activity. The Andes mountain range dominates the country, and most urban centres are set in the mountains. There are large coastal areas, deserts along the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, and vast areas of the Amazonian jungle shared with Brazil, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela. Colombia also has a few remote islands near Nicaragua.

Major religions: Roman Catholicism and other denominations of Christianity

Political system: Multi-party democracy

Main language: Spanish

Money: Colombian Peso (COP)

Tipping: Tipping is common for foreigners, but locals rarely tip. Tipping in a restaurant is usually 10 percent of the bill. Some restaurants automatically add a service charge. 

Time: GMT-5

Electricity: 110V, 60Hz. Two-pin flat blade attachment plugs and three-pin (two flat blades with a round grounding pin) plugs are used.

Internet domain: .co

International dialling code: +57

Emergency contacts:  123 (medical, fire and emergencies), 112 (local police)

Transport and driving: Cars drive on the right-hand side. Public transport includes minibus taxis, metered taxis and buses. Taxis are easy, safe and relatively cheap. Ride-hailing services are becoming increasingly popular in major cities.

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