Colombia is not the place it once was just a few decades ago, and in this case, that’s a plus. Despite its dark past, expats from all walks of life are making the move to this beautiful South American country. The rest of the world is also beginning to see the Colombian government’s talent for optimizing human services, and its surprising turn around since the days of Pablo Escobar.
After visiting this gorgeous country for over a month, we found it to be one of our favorite places. We also found that it is an extremely hard place to say goodbye to. The truth about Colombia is that it has made some massive strides to clean up its act in recent years, and though the road is long and arduous, they’ve done a damn good job of it so far.
Colombia has become a light at the end of the tunnel for many potential expats. Though the choice to move abroad is never to be taken lightly and requires lots of careful consideration, there’s several great reasons to make Colombia your expat paradise.
HEALTHCARE ALONE IS WORTH THE MOVE TO COLOMBIA
Quite literally, anyone can enroll in Colombia’s public healthcare system, Nueva EPS. The basic plan includes all you need – medical, dental, and vision. Colombia doesn’t just value healthcare as a basic human right, the care is top of the line in this country, and it is protected by the courts. If a procedure isn’t covered by the insurance plan, you can file a dispute, and the judge (required to make a ruling within a 3-day window) usually rules in favor of the patient.
Monthly premiums for high-quality healthcare can be as low as 75 USD per couple in Colombia. Co-pays are dependent on income, and even in the highest bracket the charges are less than $15. If enrolling in the system isn’t your thing, you get the same access to quality care for a very reasonable cost out of pocket too. Typically, a 1-hour session with a specialist costs only 50-60 USD or less.
THE COST OF LIVING IS AFFORDABLE
Unfortunately, wages for Colombians are not that great at the moment. However, Colombia values the needs of its people these days, and there’s lots of potential for the minimum wage to rise in coming years. It’s a solid goal, and already in the works. In terms of expatriatism, a move to Colombia can fraction your living costs compared to the states.
For a decent apartment in a nice neighborhood in Medellín, you can pay as little as 800 USD per month. Wifi is as low as 30 USD per month if not already included. Utility costs are extremely affordable, putting similar costs in the states to utter shame.
Groceries are affordable as well, especially produce. A healthy bunch of bananas costs just .50 or .60 cents USD. Though some things are closer to U.S. prices like milk and meats (yet still cheaper), the amount you could save through healthcare and housing alone will easily supplement any higher costs. Especially if you’re cooking at home more often than eating out, and shopping in local markets rather than supermarkets, grocery bills are much more reasonable here.
EXPATS CAN OBTAIN DUAL CITIZENSHIP
One of the most interesting things about making a move to Colombia is that it’s possible to obtain a resident visa, and later gain citizenship. Though it can get a bit complicated (like in all bureaucracies), obtaining dual citizenship in Colombia as an expat is not as difficult as some might believe.
The main requirement is that you obtain a resident visa, and reside in Colombia for five years without leaving for more than 2 years at a time. Since the typical tourist visa only lasts 90 days, and it can take time to obtain a resident visa, there are a variety of temporary visas you can acquire in the meantime. For example, student visas, workers’ visas, retirement visas, spousal visas, and investment visas can all be obtained by expats.
What’s the advantage of dual citizenship? For expats, dual citizenship is a huge bonus if they’ve moved to Colombia permanently. You can vote, work there without a special visa, and avoid costs in renewing other types of visas. From a traveler’s standpoint, having a second passport to fill full of stamps, that also has less “entry-fee” restrictions on it than a U.S. passport, is excellent.
THE COLOMBIAN PEOPLE ARE SOME OF THE BEST
Lively and vibrant, cool and laid back, we absolutely loved the Colombian culture. These friendly people are sure to make you feel right at home as an expat. They are genuinely kind and hospitable, and lots of fun to be around! Respectful nods and gratitude are always in order, even by police. People genuinely cared about one another, and we got the feeling throughout Colombia that they were happy.
We met some very friendly souls here, and always felt safe. In fact, we feel it was one of the safest places we’ve encountered on our entire journey through Latin America, and that’s no exaggeration. Even walking to our hostel in Medellin at 3am after a lively night (though not our best judgment) we felt no different than we would have in the same situation back home, and we made it back to our room safe and sound.
The Colombian people are just as beautiful as their gorgeous country. Not only that, they’re fantastic cooks, and we still find ourselves missing the shared plate bandeja paisa from time to time! The food is great, and the natural beauty is fantastic, but most importantly – the people are truly amazing.
COLOMBIA IS HOME TO THE NEVER ENDING SPRING
Located in an isothermal and tropical zone, Colombia is a place with gorgeous natural beauty and an excellent climate to go with it. Even in the rainy season, temperatures rarely surpass about 58°F (15°C). Sunny days feel like a warm spring back in Colorado, and even the rainy days don’t get that chilly. Though some mountains can be topped with snow, you won’t find any ice in the major cities, no matter the time of year it is.
The Caribbean region in the north houses some amazing beach paradises, like Tayrona Park and the half colonial/half modern city of Cartagena. These places can get heated past the milder climates for sure, but by dusk you’ll find cool ocean breezes and the mild climate once again.
It’s almost hard to believe that Colombia is so close to the equator, though Ecuador doesn’t feel hot at all. In Colombia, the upkeep of the natural beauty is a deep-rooted value much like human services. Here, you can find multiple terrain types to enjoy – desert, rainforest, or beach.
We nearly made Colombia home.
A decision to live in a foreign country permanently is not an easy choice, and one that should never be taken lightly. Even after running through the scenarios of living in such an intriguing place as Colombia, we still could not find a reason as to why we wouldn’t settle into a comfortable expat life here.
This place is just that awesome. Had we not been ready for more travel life adventure, we could have easily stayed in Colombia and been totally content with the choice. This place was one that we knew deep down we would return to. Colombia is not just a place that was hard to leave, but it was one that we know will draw us back. Not only to travel, but to live.
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