The 6 Best Places To Live In Colombia

Wondering where the best places to live in Colombia are? Keep reading!

Thanks to its biodiverse landscapes, glistening Caribbean Coast, and vibrant dance culture, life in Colombia is never dull.

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The locals are welcoming, the cities and towns ooze charm, and the weather is warm. Therefore, it’s no surprise that Colombia is enticing to foreigners. 

Colombia is now home to around 60,000 US expats and thousands more from Europe, Australia, and beyond. Many parts of this South American country have also become digital nomad and entrepreneur hubs, thanks to the laid-back lifestyle and business opportunities. 

However, like most South American countries, some parts of Colombia are safer than others. So if you dream of living and working in this colorful country, read on to discover the six best places to live in Colombia for expats.  

columbian flag

Medellin

While once a dangerous city, Medellin is now one of the best cities to live in Colombia for expats and digital nomads.

Located in the mountainous Antioquia province, Medellin is nicknamed the “city of eternal spring” for its all-year-round pleasant weather. Average yearly temperatures are 75°F (24°C).

Aside from the warm weather and abundant sunshine, Colombia’s second-largest city has tons to offer. Being surrounded by the Andes, there are endless stunning views and plenty of nature spots close by to explore when you want to escape the city.

Medellin is also home to some excellent hospitals and universities. In recent years, Medellin has become a hub for foreign tech startups, resulting in plenty of business opportunities for expats.

Besides tech positions like computer programmers, there are many English-speaking marketing and account management vacancies. In addition, the vast foreign community means there are plenty of English Speakers in Medellin.

While Medellin is generally safe nowadays, there are certain areas where crime rates are still high such as El Centro. However, it is typically fine for solo travelers to walk alone.

One negative to Medellin is the traffic, congestion, and overcrowding, so if you prefer peace and quiet, Medellin may not be for you. 

The cost of living in Medellin is pretty low, and renting is affordable. You can find a one-bedroom apartment in a safe part of the city for around $300 a month.

Medellin

Santa Marta

For those looking for a blend of busy city living and relaxed beach life, the coastal city of Santa Marta in Northern Colombia is ideal.

Along with some beautiful beaches, there are many nature spots to explore, including the mountains, rainforests, and coastal lagoons in the vast Tayrona National Park. 

The nearby islands have rich marine life and coral reefs, perfect for snorkeling and scuba diving. Moreover, there are some excellent treks in the area, including the epic 4-day “Lost City Hike.”

As a result, Santa Marta is easily one of the best places to live in Colombia for adventurers and outdoor lovers.

Another plus is that Santa Marta is much less touristy than other coastal towns like Cartagena. As a result, it has a more local vibe and a highly welcoming atmosphere, making it an easy place to make friends. 

The cost of living and rental prices are lower here than in the bigger cities, which makes Santa Marta fab for digital nomads. However, it may not be the top choice for families as the healthcare and education systems are pretty bad here. 

Santa Marta Columbia

Cali

Cali is another of the best cities in Colombia for young expats and digital nomads. Famed for its eclectic nightlife, Cali is the place to go if you’re looking for a good time.

It is the center of Latin dance culture and has even been dubbed the world’s Salsa capital. Because of this, you’ll surely make some of your best memories in the clubs and festivals in Cali.

When you’re not dancing the night away, this southwest city has plenty to do during the day. From hiking trails to museums to gourmet markets, there is plenty to explore in your free time.

Cali is also an incredibly diverse city with almost 250 neighborhoods, all with unique character and charm.

San Fernando has the largest expat community, followed by the bohemian San Antonio. Regarding safety, the upscale neighborhood of Barrio Granada is a top choice.

Although smaller than Medellin and Bogota, foreigners still have sufficient job opportunities. In particular, the IT and manufacturing industries are thriving here, with international companies like Johnson & Johnson and FullStack Labs having offices in the city. 

Although rental prices vary between districts, house prices are typically low in Cali. In fact, monthly rental on a one-bedroom apartment costs between $150 and $250. 

Cali Columbia

Cartagena

Cartagena is another gorgeous Caribbean coastal city in the north, full of culture, art, history, and beautiful beaches. It has a laid-back vibe, yet plenty is always going on.

As a result, Cartagena is hugely popular with expats living and working in Colombia looking for a fun yet relaxed lifestyle. Although Cartagena gets busy in the summer, it is generally far less crowded than the bigger cities.

It is also one of the safest places for female solo travelers. Bocagrande is a well-known district where expats reside in high-rise condos and work from the many laidback cafes. 

Despite the modern side of Cartagena, the old town is full of impressive colonial architecture. It is even listed as a UNESCO world heritage site.

However, the downside of Cartagena is the heat. The summers can get extremely hot and humid, so if you prefer cooler climates, you may struggle during these months. 

Another negative about choosing Cartagena is the expensive house prices. Cartagena is more than double the price of nearby city Cali, with one-bedroom apartments ranging from $400 to $550 a month. 

Cartagena

Barranquilla

Barranquilla, located halfway between Cartagena and Santa Marta, is another of the best places to live in Colombia for its vibrant nightlife, tropical climate, and festival culture. There are plenty of amenities too and good medical care and transportation. 

Barranquilla has become increasingly popular with digital nomads in recent years as the city gets more breeze than Cartagena, making it a bit less humid.

It’s also an incredibly cheap place to live, especially if working remotely for companies overseas. One-bedroom apartments here cost as little as $200 a month.

There are also good international schools, colleges, and universities here, and teaching jobs are abundant for expats. However, besides education, there are not too many job opportunities for expats who speak only English, but plenty of vacancies for bilingual speakers. 

Barranquilla

Bogota

Bogota is Colombia’s capital city and a world away from the Caribbean coastal towns in the north. Here, the lifestyle is fast-paced and hectic but undoubtedly the best place for expats looking to find work. 

Industries like trade, tech, marketing, and commerce are thriving here. Many international companies have opened offices here, too, like Microsoft and Procter & Gamble.

As a result, you’ll have no problem finding work in Bogota, and the wages here are the highest throughout the country. 

Bogota also boasts a thriving nightlife, diverse cuisine, and a vast art scene. What’s more, you can admire the breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains from the top of one of the many skyscrapers.

Unlike the entire north of the country, Bogota can get chilly sometimes as it is a high-altitude city. Average temperatures range from 57°F (14ºC) to 68 (20ºC), so it is ideal for those who don’t like the heat.  

The average monthly rental on a one-bedroom apartment here is $300 to $400, so it is not the cheapest place to live in Colombia. However, as the jobs here are usually well-paid, expats enjoy a comfortable lifestyle.

Bogota

Final Thoughts On Best Places To Live In Colombia

Whether your vibe is cosmopolitan or tropical, these six best Colombian cities and towns will not disappoint. Still, if you’re moving for business, Bogota and Medellin are best.

However, if you want to enjoy some Salsa and Caribbean living, head to the towns on the northern coast.

Not sure if Colombia is the right place for you? Read one of the following guides:

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