How to deal with stress when moving to Colombia

Moving abroad is no easy feat. Everyone has their own ways of dealing with stress, so we invite you to share some insights regarding this topic.

What are the main factors that contribute to stress when moving to Colombia (cultural adaptation, moving with family, administrative and bureaucratic issues, language differences, etc.)?

What activities would you recommend to help deal with this type of stress?

What are some techniques that have helped you deal with stress?

Is there a way to avoid being stressed out or anxious when moving to Colombia?

Thank you for sharing your experience.


I was extremely lucky when I moved to Colombia six years ago, my Colombian Wife took most the stress out of the move, and has continued to do so ever since.

Having a loyal Colombian Partner/Spouse certainly helps, but saying that,  I still find the part of living in Colombia that is stressful is to do with bureaucracy, everything has to be on paper, and every bit of paper has a cost, you can't just walk into the Town Hall and get a simple answer, they want it written, and they then have two weeks to reply, so don't expect instantaneous answers to anything. 

If you want to be guaranteed a reply to your query, mark the top of your letter 'Peticion de Derecho' if they then do not reply,  or they fail to answer your query, you can then submit an 'Acción de tutela', to the local Judge, who will decide if the response is appropriate, if not they will take action against the Public Official, unfortunately I have now submitted many of these.

I have found that being open and honest with the various Government Departments, has made life a lot easier, keeping Migracion, and DIAN abreast of any changes, has kept them happy, and me worry free.

Other than that, my life integration into Colombia has been a breeze.

I have been living in Colombia -- Medellín, Coffee Zone and now Ipiales near the Ecuador border -- for almost a year and a half.  Until last month I was on a one-year visa, now I'm back on a tourist stamp.

I have decided ...

1.  I like Colombia.

2.  I don't plan to live here more than about 180 days a year.  Stress is an important part of the equation....

  -- Being here part-time and not owning property here nor working here, an Expat avoids the potentially onerous tax on worldwide income and (in some cases) assets.  You avoid complyling with the DIAN tax bureaucracy, tax filings, the contradictory opinions of tax professionals about what you might owe annually to the government of Colombia, the ever-changing tax rules and laws.

  -- Besides taxes, an Expat living in Colombia part-time avoids all sorts of other bureaucratic requirements.  And it's not just the 'peticiones de derecho' and the 'acciones de tutela' that Phil was writing about.

More on that coming up.

cccmedia in Ipiales, Nariño, Colombia

Here's more stress-inducing stuff you don't deal with as an Expat living 180 days per year or fewer in Colombia...

1.  You don't have to apply for one of the new 3-year-visas. 

2.  You don't have to obtain a cédula ID based on the visa.

3.  By not having the cédula, you don't have to comply with the insurance law.

4.  By not having the cédula, you can stay for months at hotels or other
hospedajes without paying a 19 percent tax on lodgings.

5.  If you have a car (mine is registered in neighboring Ecuador), you don't have to register it fully in Colombia, other than simple paperwork at the border.

6.  If you don't have a cédula, you as a motorist are not required to apply for a drivers license.  That means no Spanish-language drivers classes, no motor-skills testing, no DL fee, no computer or written driving-knowledge test.  I just have to park the car at a dealership in Tulcán, Ecuador ($23 a month), or at my Quito condo during the months when I am not in Colombia.

There are certain advantages to being here in a Colombian border town.  If I need to visit my bank .. or look for special medicine not available in Colombia .. or extend my time in Colombia beyond three months, I can cross the border (two miles away) and take care of business at the border buildings or in the border town of Tulcán, Ecuador.

Buying SOAT car insurance in Colombia is easy and cheap, and can be done for a period as short as one month.  Usually it takes about five minutes to buy or extend the insurance.

Living stress-free in Colombia,

cccmedia in Ipiales, Nariño

If you have stress, you shouldnt be doing something. Stress kills.

But a lot ..just aint worth it.
Different if you are moving somewhere for work.

For me there is no stress in moving some place . I am basically a nomad. Have lived in 8 different countries, countless cities, apartments, houses.

Other way to avoid stress- stay off the Expat Forums to avoid peoples paranoid rantings about taxes, women, bureaucracy, safety , etc, etc

Ja Ja Ja

and live "minimilist"..dont buy

and that especially includes women

Always keep a little cash for "Vacuna"and you will be OK

Ccc’s comments speak to me somewhat, as I have my e-cedilla for Panama but prefer Colombia for cost of living, character of the population, beauty of the women (viewer only), and beautiful geography. Too a bad there is no road through the Darien!

The reasoning is attractive if I could find low cost rental accommodation in both countries.  I may explore this further.

What on earth has any of this to do with stress when moving to Colombia?

If Tubes is stressing out over this Stress thread going ever so slightly off-topic, he needs to keep paying attention to this thread.


The diversion, if such it is, addresses MY stress. 🤓

I know a guy that can take you on a treck through the Darien Steve. From the road head to the Panam border.

But buyer be ware. He isnt dishonest or gonna kidnap you, just another crazy Colombian that over promises and under-performs.

He got kicked out of the high peaks of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta for lighting a "Fogon" (campfire..which is totally illegal, and as a supposed Colombian "Tourist Guide" (So many here who say the are..ja ja) he should have known better

So . . .not a stress-free experience then!

I apply the same. I live in a bubble in Chapinero Alto in Bogota. I don't have a car, I walk everywhere or take a cab or Uber. I do my errands in the neighborhood, never go to "paseos" out of town  and don't go out at night.

I have no properties and my incomes is generated in the USA, therefore I don't deal with DIAN. (I do file taxes in the US though).

I pay COP 90.000 for my health insurance (EPS). As I work independent and don't pay taxes in Colombia I am free.

The less I go out, the less stress. I live with a cat and work from home. My children are grown up and safe in the US. When they lived in Bogotá with me, I lost my sleep to worries about kidnapping the children. They are safe now.

You could think my life is boring. Its not. I am 58, widow for 14 years. I love reading in my Kindle and watching movies or series in Netflix. I have a remote VPN, therefore I have no trouble accessing also Amazon video. I buy in Amazon, have a PO Box in Florida that reships packages to Bogotá.

The best about Colombia? the food and almost everything is cheap.

stress what!
been working in Colombia 17 mo. and it has been stress free
I would not want to be in my bosses shoes, he runs the flying circus from Canada
I have never met my boss i only correspond with emails or whattapp
I have been living in hotels all my time in Colombia and want to have a home base in Bucaramanga but i find it hard to achieve with the rental agents/ Imobillares , they want a guarantor ! seriously  even when i said i would pay 6 months rent up front  and they said no, but you don't need a guarantor if you pay us a years rent put in our account
and pay rent on top of the deposit
They said they would refund my money after a year with interest
I dont qualify for a rental agency because my income is deposited in a Canadian bank  with no record of pay stubs to show them what i make I am a contractor and I invoice the company for my services  I don't have stress whats so ever because the company pays for my living here but it is a shitty life in hotels and i don't plan on returning to Canada other than collecting my pension in the future
On the positive side of my life other than work i purchased a BMW motorcycle and have been riding all over this Beautiful county and it has been breathtaking not to mention the wonderful woman i am dating from Bucaramanga that i met in Argentina in November

fkertzman :

I have no properties and my incomes (are) generated in the USA, therefore I don't deal with DIAN. (I do file taxes in the US though.)

I pay COP 90.000 for my health insurance (EPS). As I work independent and don't pay taxes in Colombia I am free.

Dear F. Kertzman,

Welcome to the Colombia forums of

What is your workaround for not paying taxes on your worldwide income?   Apparently you have a visa and a cédula.

Regardless of any tax obligation, do you file an annual tax return with DIAN?  Did a tax professional tell you that you were exempt from filing a return?

cccmedia in Depto. de Nariño

Post deleted by poster due to system error:  duplication. :cool:

Hola media man as i said before i am employed with a Canadian company that provides services to a Colombian company and they submit my income to the Colombian company in witch supplies services to the Colombian department of geophysics and natural resources this is 3rd party and they require legitimacy our company with it a Colombian company submits statements of income to the tax department
that are 900,000.00 per mo and pay the tax and also i pay into pension  and get healthcare benefits at a reduced rate I don't worry about shit because we have lawers and accountants to do the legitimacy My company has been here 5 years and you can't imagine how much Pappeleria and costs it takes to do business here we have a team that deals with this

Best policy when it comes to dealing with DIAN...

Thank you very much

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