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Cartagena, Colombia

Digital Nomad Life in Colombia

By Betsy Burlingame

Summary: Digital nomads and expats talk about what it is like to live in Colombia. Get tips from others living in Colombia about where to live, how to find a place to live, pros and cons of living in Colombia and more.

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William Russell Health Insurance
William Russell Health Insurance
William Russell Health Insurance

What is life like in Colombia?

When we asked people living in Colombia what life is like and how people spend their time, they said:

"In general, in my opinion, this is a very fine, large Latin city of over four million. Being Latin, families are very strong, work is strong, socializing is very strong and the people of Medellin are some of the nicest you will find worldwide. They welcome expats. This is a very diverse city, thirteen universities, excellent medical facilities, clean, excellent food, water, air (seasonal concerns). Worldwide metropolitan city that is very difficult to beat. You will look long and hard to find a better worldwide city," explained one expat living in Medellin, Colombia.

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William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.

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William Russell Health Insurance

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.

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Where should I live in Colombia?

We asked digital nomads and expats how they chose their neighborhood and found a place to live. They answered:

"Found on fincaraiz.com. Friend checked it out, said it was good, negotiated with owner, came down two weeks before move, checked it out, signed papers," remarked another member in Medellin.

"I visit the area many times and was in love with the Cerritos, Cartage and Quindio area. This area is safer than the USA," explained one expat living in Cartago, Colombia.

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What do I need to know before moving to Colombia?

When we asked people what advice they would give someone preparing to move to Colombia, they said:

"A person can develop a beautiful life here, however, it will take time and not happen magically .The assets of this city are well worth the investment. Be kind to yourself and patient. Don't believe all you hear. Everyone (expat, other) has their best visa person, you can loose a lot of money on that one. Just because someone has lived here two years, or in four Latin countries, does not mean they are experts, at all. Find the ones who have lived here fifteen years. Listen to what people say, put what they say through your own filter system, use your head, you can do this. You can do this! You will make mistakes, everyone does! It is part of moving abroad. You will have to put some effort into this and give yourself three years in the long term. One has to learn how to live here, the resources are excellent and again, Medellinguru.com is very helpful. It is worth the investment of your time and energy to learn how to do this," explained one person living in Medellin, Colombia.

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William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.
William Russell Health InsuranceExpat Health Insurance in Colombia

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.
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What do people appreciate most about the culture in Colombia?

"The local and pretty much Countrywide CULTURE that I enjoy most is the 'MANANA' culture. I returned to the USA 2 years ago for a planned 4 month stay after 15 years here. After all my time in Colombia, I had forgotten how much of a rat race the US really is. I stayed for 2 months and returned to Colombia. In the States, you make a list of everything you need to do the next day and then you rush around doing everything on the list. In Colombia I make the list at night but in the morning I look at the list and say MANANA. Here, there is very little rush to do anything," said another digital nomad in Colombia.

"I appreciate the climate I live in. I have the perfect temperatures year round. I have 360 degree views of the mountains. I feel like I have air conditioning but it is just the temperature. I live with my doors open. I have over 30 species of hummingbirds. I have other birds as Colombia has the most birds and butterfly species in the world, the fruit and flowers are so amazing. I can't express how wonderful it is to live like I am. I truly found Paradise," commented a person living in La Buitrera de Palmira , Colombia.

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William Russell Health Insurance

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.

Learn MoreGET A QUOTE

William Russell Health Insurance

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.

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What do people find most challenging about the culture in Colombia?

"Shops don't specially order anything in that they don't stock. People are overawed by officials," wrote one digital nomad living in Buga, Colombia.

"The language of Spanish, it is full of rules and I still have trouble with the language, although I can speak well with my friends. Also the driving. It is very difficult to drive in the cities. I lost that independence of just jumping in my car to run to the store or go to an appointment. I have to always think about when to leave and how long it will take me etc. I still feel it is worth it to live as I do," said another foreigner in La Buitrera de Palmira .

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What residency documents or visas did I need if I will be in Colombia for a while?

"The only documents Colombia required were Apostilled Letters from Social Security and our passports. We received our 3-year Pensionado visas within 3 weeks, and our Cedulas a few weeks after that. The process was about a third the cost we paid in Panama, and that process took about 6 months and required two trips across country to Panama City," commented a person living in Medellin, Colombia.

"Obtaining a three year visa was simple, but consumed a lot of visits to various offices. Being married to a Colombian national makes it vastly simpler and having family living there ensures the process will be nearly flawless. Having an attorney to facilitate the process is recommended; mine only charged me $300.00 USD and accompanied me to each immigrations office visit," explained one digital nomad living in Medellin, Colombia.

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What cultural blunders should I try to avoid making in Colombia?

We asked people in Colombia if they could share any humorous cultural blunders they commited. They wrote:

"Yes said to a man's wife "su esposa..esta caliente?" which is " Is your wife hot? (is she a "hot piece"?) They say "Su esposa tiene calor"? which is "Does your wife feel the heat?"," said another foreigner in Buga.

"When I was first learning Colombian Spanish I used the word cochina because as an American we use the word nasty like a slang word. For instance öh how nasty is that?"Here cochina is used only for the real reason and if used other ways it is considered an insult," remarked another member in La Buitrera de Palmira .

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William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.
William Russell Health InsuranceExpat Health Insurance in Colombia

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.
GET A QUOTE

What are healthcare services like in Colombia?

When we asked expats and global nomads about the quality of medical care in Colombia, they replied:

" Minor problems can be taken care of here, but really serious problems require a trip to a bigger City like Bogota which is 11 hours away by car.," explained one digital nomad living in Florencia, Colombia.

"There is a vast difference between the lowest level of health insurance and the highest level. The difference is night and day. I have both a low level and high level. I pay $30/mth, SaludTotal low level, $250/mth AXAColpatria, high level. The lower level insurance is required by my high level insurance. With my AXAColpatria, the doctor will come to my house as a non-emergency first response," said another member in Bucaramanga.

Answer Question & View More Answers

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.
William Russell Health InsuranceExpat Health Insurance in Colombia

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.
GET A QUOTE

What are the pros and cons of living in Colombia?

"I love Villavicencio, the llanero and the rivers and the culture is amazing. It has all the modern conveniences with many large malls and great restaurants. Guanajuato at Prima Vera is as close to TexMex as it gets. Bastimento has amazing American and traditional dishes. Overall has many wonderful day trips in the area," said another digital nomad in Villavicencio.

"I truly feel fortunate to have discovered Ibague, Colombia. I came here at the request of my girlfriend because she has Family here. It is truly a hidden gem that I would never have discovered otherwise. There have never been many foreign tourists here, so there is no "Gringo pricing" or any of the other aberrations that occur in many places in Latin America. I periodically "shop around" and consider living in other places, but all it has done is convince me I found a near-perfect spot on the planet. Medellin is a wonderful place for a large city. The weather in Ibague is similar to Medellin. The daily high temp is about 2 degrees higher in Ibague, but the humidity is lower. Anybody who says they can tell the difference might be lying, and you should probably check it out for yourself. Ibague is also much closer to the capitol city of Bogota and most expats will occasionally have government business to do there. This city has excellent products and services available. We live within walking distance of an Exito and a HomeCenter. You need want for nothing," commented a person living in Ibague, Colombia.

Answer Question & View More Answers

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.
William Russell Health InsuranceExpat Health Insurance in Colombia

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.
GET A QUOTE

About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is one of the founders of Digital Nomad Exchange and the Founder and President of Expat Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange and Digital Nomad Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

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Colombia GuideColombia Guide
Learn what digital nomads and expats have to say about living in Colombia.

Colombia Forum Colombia Forum
Talk with other digital nomads and expats in Colombia on our Colombia forum - meet people, get advice and help others.

Contribute to Colombia Network Contribute
Help others in Colombia by answering questions about the challenges and adventures of living in Colombia.

Expat Healthcare Advice in ColombiaHealthcare & Health Insurance in Colombia

Digital Nomads in Colombia offer advice about healthcare, hospital visits, emergency rooms visits, finding a doctor and buying health insurance in Colombia.

Guide to Real Estate in ColombiaGuide to Rentals & Real Estate in Colombia

Advice for people renting and buying real estate in Colombia.

Cartagena, Colombia

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Get a quote for international health insurance from our partner, William Russell.
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Contribute to Colombia Network Contribute
Help others in Colombia by answering questions about the challenges and adventures of living in Colombia.

William Russell Health Insurance
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Guides to Cities in Colombia
Bogota Cali Medellin Villavicencio
Country Resources
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