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Accommodation in Colombia

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As long as you know what to expect, finding and securing accommodation in Colombia isn’t too difficult. Demand for housing is high, but there is accommodation available at a range of price points.

Types of accommodation

While Colombia is geographically large, the population is not evenly distributed — over 75% of the population live in the six largest cities. Because of urbanisation, the most common type of housing is apartments. These can be either furnished or unfurnished and available for long or short term leases. In some cities attached row-housing, similar to townhouses, is available. If you prefer to live in a detached, single-family home, however, you’ll need to venture outside the city.

Residential areas in Colombia are divided into socioeconomic estratos or strata. Each city is divided into three to six strata, where six is the highest, and one is the lowest. The strata were designed to subsidise utilities. People living in levels four, five, and six will pay more for water and electricity than those in levels one through three. There is a correlation between the strata of a neighbourhood and the cost of rent, as well as the size and age of apartments. Most expat neighbourhoods are found in the upper strata.

 Good to know:

Unfurnished apartments do not include appliances such as a washing machine or refrigerator.

How to find accommodation in Colombia

If seeking accommodation without assistance, use apartment hunting websites and call apartment owners directly. Once you know the specific neighbourhoods you like, it can be helpful to spend time walking while looking for arrienda (lease) signs in windows. Colombia’s infrastructure is still developing, and traffic can drastically alter commute times, so be sure to take this into account when searching for an apartment.

It’s common for many expats searching for apartments to use a realtor. These people work with apartment owners to set up showings and assist with negotiating the lease. Realtors are employed by apartment owners and are motivated to show you those homes first or homes in the pricier “expat” neighbourhoods. While expats do tend to live in certain areas, it’s ok to continue looking on your own and bring apartments you’ve found to your realtor.

Most apartment owners speak only Spanish, and all rental contracts will be in Spanish. If you do not have an intermediate level of Spanish, it will be necessary to find a bilingual realtor or someone else to assist you.

Leases

The property owner determines the length of a lease. However, terms of six to 12 months are most common. The only identification document needed to rent accommodation is a valid passport (i.e. no residency card or bank account are required).

In order to sign a long-term lease for an apartment in Colombia, owners generally require one of the following forms of guarantee:

  • A fiador: This person acts as a co-signer, guaranteeing the property owner that if you don’t pay the rent, they will. In order to be a fiador, a person must own property in Colombia, which is used as collateral against potential unpaid rent. If you are moving for a job with a Colombian company, often they will help you by co-signing on your lease.
  • Advance rent payments: Depending on the property owner and cost of rent, between three and six months advance rent may be requested.
  • Deposit: This is a fixed-term deposit held by a bank as a guarantee that you will pay your rent. The deposit amount will depend on the owner and is normally between three and six months’ rent.

 Good to know:

Rent prices are negotiable. It is not uncommon for renters to ask for the administration fees to be included in the rental cost. Administration fees are similar to a homeowners association and are used to pay for building maintenance and doormen.

Utilities such as water, gas, and electricity are not included in the cost of rent. Telephone, television, and internet are also paid separately by the tenant. Tenants don’t need to do anything to set up utilities as they remain in the apartment owner’s name. Tenants will receive the bills each month and can pay them directly.

 Useful links:

AirBnB (short-term furnished rentals)
HomeAway (short-term furnished rentals)
Colombia Apartment rentals (long-term rentals)

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.
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