Hello fellow expats. I am a retired Canadian who has visited 5 Latin America countries in the last year. I am presently living in Medellin, Colombia and plan to move to Cucuta in March. I am an expert with computers and have discovered that Cucuta is a undiscovered hidden gem for expats. Anybody who is seeking to live abroad can have significant savings by living in this city.
According to my findings at: … 1=Nanaimo, BC&city2=Cucuta&tracking=getDispatchComparison
I can multiply my retirement money nearly 3 times by moving from Canada to Cucuta. 3 times! Wow, when was the last time you got a monetary raise like that?

Are there any expats on this forum living in Cucuta? If so can you contact me? If not I would be happy to help any prospective expats with information about expat friendly Colombia and Cucuta. I will learn more to share after I move to Cucuta in March.

The above link give access to crime rates on the website. Interestingly enough Cucuta has a slightly less crime rate than my home town in Canada (considering some crimes are unreported).

I would like to thank Terry and Chuck for their invaluable expat advice during my stay in Envigado (Medellin). You guys are awsome!

Dear Canada Doug,

Welcome to the Colombia forum and thank you for your initial post here.


Cúcuta is the sixth largest city in Colombia and has a metro population of about 850,000 (Wikipedia).

Surprisingly, Canada Doug omitted from his OP post some important information that any Expat would want to know before considering a move to Cúcuta (COO-koo-tah)....

1. Cúcuta is on the border between Colombia and Venezuela, South America's most problematic country whose population is attempting to leave Venezuela in alarming numbers.

2.  The border crossing at Cúcuta is one of the most dynamic in South America.

I would never consider moving to a city in that situation -- large numbers of economically-challenged refugees coming into my city largely without legal means of financial support.

Questions for Doug...

1.  What attracted you to Cúcuta of all places in Colombia, besides its having a lower crime rate than your city in Canada?

2.  Do you have reasons for discounting the problems attributable to the economic-refugee situation and the infamous border-smuggling trade?

3.   Is it your understanding that Cúcuta has a more favorable cost of living than, say, a city on Colombia's border with Ecuador, such as the peaceful Colombian city of Ipiales, Nariño?

cccmedia in Ipiales, Nariño

Thank you to the moderator of this site for allowing me to become a member.

Hey cccmedia (5294 posts). You are probably right about Ipiales. The database on this website does not include Ipiales. Only larger cities. An intimate knowledge of small towns from afar is not really possible on the web.

What attracted me to Cucuta was the low cost of living via the numbeo web site.

What is now possible is a search by prospective expats into general costs of living and crime from their home base. The site shows this for my Nanaimo/Cucuta cost-of-living comparison as of mid 2017:

Indices Difference    Info
Consumer Prices in Nanaimo, BC are 149.50% higher than in Cucuta
Consumer Prices Including Rent in Nanaimo, BC are 177.90% higher than in Cucuta
Rent Prices in Nanaimo, BC are 329.30% higher than in Cucuta
Restaurant Prices in Nanaimo, BC are 222.24% higher than in Cucuta
Groceries Prices in Nanaimo, BC are 184.57% higher than in Cucuta
Local Purchasing Power in Nanaimo, BC is 151.43% higher than in Cucuta

A pretty compelling enticement to The web site can be used to compare cities all over the world.

As for the crime rate and problems in Venezuela, I have an understanding of possible unreported crimes skewing the rate. Personal safety is a top priority. I have met actual refugees from Venezuela. Nice people so far. But you never know. Being an old geyser and an career expert in risk assessment, I am not really that concerned yet. Same expat safety rules for Cucuta as in the rest of the country. In my opinion the real danger in Cucuta is an 1875 type earthquake and living in a rebarless brick building over one story high.

Hopefully we can share the informational website to help as a guide for people considering an expat move.

It's not only unemployed Venezuelans who have been coming to Cúcuta.

Hundreds of Colombians have been forced back from Ven to Colombia .. and their Venezuelan houses torched behind them.

This further adds to the unemployment in Cúcuta.  The international press reports there is resentment among Cúcuta residents over how refugees from Venezuela are stressing the local unemployment situation.

Excessive cross-border smuggling and delincuentes engaged in illegal money-changing (related to hyper-inflation of the Ven currency) also add to the dicey nature of Cúcuta's economy.  For Time magazine's report on the boom in smuggling -- including a lead photo taken at the Cúcuta border crossing -- google: border smuggling cucuta time magazine ....

To see lists showing that Cúcuta, Colombia, is among the 25 or 50 most dangerous cities in the world by homicide statistics, google:  list of world's most dangerous cities.

Expats, beware.

cccmedia in Depto. Nariño

Beyond safety issues, the extreme nature of the climate of Cúcuta is a red flag for prospective Expat arrivals.

Six months of the year, the average monthly high-temperature in the city is 90 degrees Fahrenheit or more.  That means many days the mercury is above 95.  During the "cooler" months the average high temperature for the month is 88 degrees.   The average high in September is 93 F. Then come the monsoon-season rains in October and November.
     Source: for Cúcuta, Colombia

Doug, have you spent time in Cúcuta?  I still don't get why you think it is a special "hidden gem" worthy of living in .. in preference over all other Colombia cities.

cccmedia in Depto. de Nariño

"2017 Update on Security in Medellín With Safety Tips for Expats"

“As a result, Medellín has dropped off of the list of the 50 most dangerous cities in the world based on homicide rates. However three cities in Colombia are still on this list: Palmira, Cali and Pereira.

Cucuta is larger than Pereira and Palmira. Did the authors of this web site for Colombian expats make an error?

In general, most expats moving to Colombia are increasing their personal danger. Colombia ranks 7th most dangerous with homicides per 100,000 country in the world out of 172. It has a homicide rate of 37.61 for every 100,000 people. By comparison in Canada the homicide rate is 1.88 per 100,000. … y-country/

ps I don't mind the heat whether online or outside

Who is doing the butchering in Pereira, I wonder?

Most of the homicides everywhere in Colombia are drug- and gang-related, mostly among 20-29 year old males, and mostly occurring on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  Domestic violence comes in way behind at number two for number of murders.

For a recent year (2011) this article points out that for all violent deaths in Colombia, about 60% were from murders, the majority committed with firearms.  21% were from traffic accidents, 12% from other accidents, and 7% from suicides. … mbia-61846

For most expats who are not involved with drugs or gangs there is little homicide risk anywhere in Colombia (although many of us have had near-death experiences on the roads).  On the other hand everywhere in Colombia one is subject to possible theft and robbery - but by taking common-sense precautions to minimize risk, many expats never experience these crimes.

If you like heat, you may also want to consider Buenaventura on the Pacific coast in Valle del Cauca - not only does it have high heat and a low cost of living, but it also boasts a high level of crime, probably as much or more than Cúcuta...if one believes that the poverty rate, and the rate of informal employment contribute to crime, and I think they do.  Cúcuta has a 33.4% poverty rate and 69% informal employment, and Buenaventura is at an 81% poverty rate and fully 90% are only informally employed. … -133900#OP

Those figures and what they mean may be why you rarely if ever hear of any expats in either Cúcuta or Buenaventura...

cccmedia :

Cúcuta, Colombia, is among the 25 or 50 most dangerous cities in the world by homicide statistics, google:  list of world's most dangerous cities.

Expats, beware.

If you visit the first three URL's this Google search pulls up -- Wikipedia, Business Insider and World Atlas -- you'll see that Cúcuta appears on all three sites' lists of the 50 most dangerous/most violent cities in the world.


Thanks for the post OsageArcher. This is a cost of living thread. Sticking to the topic I find it is pretty hard for me to find a cheaper cost of living than in Cucuta (doing research online). It shows up as 36 percent less expensive than Medellin.

As for the crime rates......a "proximity" to alcohol and drugs is going to put anybody into the "high risk" category for an eventual hassle. When you read about the actual homicides here involving foreigners the common thread is alcohol, drugs with the occasional chasing down a thief response. A little common sense and sticking to the rules can go a long way to prevent most problems no matter where you hang out.

cccmedia does make some valid points for consideration. For instance it looks like a flow of cocaine moves over the border at Cucuta into Venezuela. That means there is likely a greater than normal risk of running into somebody that isn't too friendly.

Cucuta really shines on any cost of living comparison I can find. Perhaps its all those smuggled goods from Venezuela...who knows?

There are quite a few communities that outshine Medellin by a significant amount. That was the main reason i was considering Popayan (aside from gas prices).

SunsetSteve :

There are quite a few communities that outshine Medellin by a significant amount. That was the main reason i was considering Popayan (aside from gas prices).

If this pertains to cost-of-living -- Medellín versus hundreds of other towns and cities in Colombia -- I agree:  low COL is widely availalbe.

No need to settle for an overheated, dangerous city where smuggling and illegal forms of arbitrage dominate the local economy.


Yes, I assumed the topic was Cost of Living.

Hopefully Cost of Living does not have the final say in your decision on where to live........It would be a very one dimensional way to look at the world........Cost of living is but one of many factors to be considered........And the best wisdom on the subject presented here in this thread is unanimous in ruling out Cucuta as anything more than a shopping trip to the border.........

hey dumluk and the rest
Looks like Popayan is even less cost of living than Cucuta. Did not see that initially. Temperatures good. A little wet. Bonus for sport fishermen at Patia River or the lakes at El Eden.
I can't seem to get much info online on the crime rate in Popayan?
Yep, the cost of living is just one consideration. It is my personal starting point criteria.
Thanks everyone for comments. You guys are awesome.
Have at Popayan please :-)

Personally, i havent been there so am not qualified to say, but a friend went there to check it out and told me it was utterly boring and he was hard pressed to find even one good lookin lady walkin around town.......was doesnt sound very Colombian at all........

I live in Cali. I like it. I have a friend / gal form Pasto. She lived there her whole life. It is beautiful as is all of Western Colombia. I (gringo) am told that it is not safe for me at night like most Colombian areas. I was offered employment in Pasto and Popayan and said no for the reason of safety. My gal freind in Valledupar, says she doesnt feel safe in day without taking "precautions" and never alone at night so it appears things are similar in all of Colombia. I have a wealthy freind who lives in Buenaventura, who says its very safe...I have a gal freind from BVA who says if i go (off highways) i likely wont return. I give them both equal credibility.
I am 6'4 #260 and white so this definately creates opportunity for those who are looking. I only hear good about Medellin, Cali is improving and I imagine most areas will. 
Anyone have thoughts about Periera, La Union, Manizales? I hear it is lovely, nice climate and fairly safe?

I would also like to add there is a level of caution for "Americans" needed when close to the Venezuela area. There is disdain for Americans by the venezulean citizens and government. I teach english and have many students and hear alot of BS from the parents and kids. They are e-commies and only receive one way information about most topics. My freinds in Valledupar tell me (where there is heavy muslim / venezuelan population center that there is truth to the disdain for Americans. So watch out and be vigilant. I am not getting into rational so dont even start but just know there is animosity from  the majority of the population from There including Cucuta. Valledupar and region. I have noticed morale improving in other areas for us though!!! YEah.

thanks for the laugh.

Im thinking about bringing a Venez lady across in Cucuta, but wondering how safe it would be for her (and for me) to do so. Is there anybody out there on the forum with personal experience with the border situation in Cucuta now? Can a Venez legally enter Colombia with an automatic visa at the border there.....How would she avoid molestation by the gangsters who predominate there?

I would talk to an ex-paramilitary of cop in the area. A retired or older one would obviously have  more info and probably desire to share. Might learn alot in a quick one or two day stay at the local pub, but beware for real.  I would be really interested in what you find out. It's a big border too. MY friend advised me to watch out and just go to the USA when i mentioned running across to Vene. She said the people are always looking for an opportunity and if they catch you in an indescretion you might be in trouble. I'm sure that is not the case, haha but it sets the scene pretty well.

Does Cucuta have an airport? Can I fly there from Cartagena or Medellin?

dumluk :

Does Cucuta have an airport? Can I fly there from Cartagena or Medellin?

You're in luck, Dumluk.

Cúcuta has an airport, CUC.

So if you're leaving from Medellín, clear your schedule for Christmas Eve (aka Nochebuena) for the 5:02 p.m. departure operated by Avianca (tickets still available), changing planes in Bogotá, arriving about 11:·30 p.m. at CUC. 

Bring a book.  There's about a four-hour layover in the capital.


cccmedia in Depto. de Nariño

Thanks CC....much obliged.........Dont think I will be moving quite that fast........poco a poco.........

You can fly to Cucuta on a smaller airline from the local Medellin airport in the city . cheap too. I have before, I spent New Years  there in 2014 , had a great time but you need to be alert at all times. I am sure things are worse due to the Border situation.

Olaya Herrera Airport- I flew ADA airlines, ticket office is in Medellin near Parque LLeres and at airport.


Please don't do this. You sound like a nice guy. You're Canadian, so it's a 90% probability that you're the nicest guy ever.

I've never been to Cucuta, but every time I ask a Colombian about it, they say it's like climbing up into Satan's butthole. It's hot AF, it's a hub for smugglers, it's a murder capital in the world.

Of all the beautiful places in Colombia, why choose the most dangerous? FFS man. It can be bad enough just walking around being white in Colombia. The robbers' dream is seeing a white middle age or older guy strolling around minding his own business. Don't go live in some desperate place where you're a target every day of your life. Even the Colombians say Cucuta is a deathtrap. I've been all over the world, and I've learned if the locals tell you something is horrible, then stay away.

I love Colombia, but it's not Disneyland. Don't go to the bad places. You are inviting trouble. And I mean trouble of the very worst kind. I've had my share of trouble of the very worst kind in Colombia, and I'm trying to help you.

Cheers to you. I hope you find a nice spot in paradise.

Thanks for the feedback folks. I have decided to live in Armenia :-) Main reason is the coffee hahahaha Life is good when you decide to live in the coffee capital of the Actually it's central, the weather is great and I have my 3 year pensionado visa now so I can explore this beautiful country more easily from here. Like Cucuta, my Canadian money stretches nearly 3X here. Have found a nice newly constructed 800 sq. foot 3 bedroom apartment (includes gas) for 500,000 pesos a month. I'm a 5 minute walk to centro Armenia. Managed to get this away from a busy street so that's a bonus.
I have had many positive experiences in the last 180 days (today is my 180th day in Colombia) and will share them on an Armenia Expat thread. Have found 1 American friend living here but the other messaging between expats in Armenia is a year old now. If anybody has links to more recent discussions here can you let me know?
I plan to start a fresh website for expats and tourists in Armenia. Pewters are my hobby since 1976 no it's no prob and very inexpensive for me to dabble. Very enjoyable and fun for me.
I have just successfully completed my Colombia Pensionado Visa application process successfully. It is really nice for me to have that "feeling" of no more border hopping and calm for 3 years. If anybody needs help let me know on the Armenia thread. I learned a lot of things about this new process the hard way and would be happy to help any peeps avoid mistakes if I can.
Again, thanks for your feedback on Cucuta. Hope to talk with you on my new Armenia thread.

Doug -  tell me more about ... Colombia Pensionado Visa.  Obviously you have researched and found this to be the best way to go for semi Perminent residency.    I recently had to pay a $100 US fine for overstaying my 180 day Tourist Visa.  I will return to Colombia mid April and would like to have something activated before then.  Is that possible? 

Thanks for your help in advance.

R. Fred Howard

Hey chosenrescue go here … 01#4136518 for my pensionado visa reply

Im curious Doug....Why Armenia?  I just passed thru there briefly a few weeks back and saw nothing outside of the avendia peatonal, (central) to the park to inspire me....Even went out to the river in Calarca on election day (domingo) and walked thru the hordes of tatooed young dudes with shaved heads xcept for the crests. Every maleante in Armenia must have chosen that same spot to spend the day......I was on guard the whole time, like being back in La libertad, El Salvador years ago........I was staying only a few blocks from downtown and it seemed grim and poor and downtrodden to me......Pereira looked to be much more together and upscale. Granted its twice the size, but seems to offer a whole lot more.....Saw way more beautiful girls in Pereira than Armenia......having said that, my ex from years ago is from Armenia and she was pretty exeptional........the eje cafetero is beautiful but for me Armenia was the low point........just sayin...

Hey Dumluk

My reply to Why Armenia is on the Armenia thread here … 37#4137482

Doug  at least check out Filandia if you haven't already. just up the road.

Hey SunsetSteve.

I replied to you on the Armenia Expat thread here … 37#4137526

We're talking Armenia so that would be a better thread.

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