COVID-19 and expatriation in Colombia

Hello everybody,

The COVID-19 crisis inevitably impacts Colombia, between closed airports or periods of containment in some cities or even the entire country .
We would like to hear from you during this unusual period, to find out what the consequences of this pandemic are on your expatriation or expatriation project in Colombia.

Does the current crisis call into question your long-term expatriation project?
If you are already settled in Colombia, do you plan to return to your home country?

How are you living through such an uncertain period, especially if you are far from your loved ones?

Have any of you ended your expatriation in Colombia unexpectedly?

Paradoxically, has this crisis brought you closer to some people?

What are your plans for the future?

Thank you very much for your feedback.

Hope you are doing well.


Colombia is currently #49 on the list of 210 countries reporting Covid-19 cases and tied with lots of other countries in deaths per 1 Million population with 2.

So with those numbers where would I go that would be safer even if I could leave. I came to Colombia over 11 years ago to live out my remaining years. I don't plan to leave except for visiting family back in the U.S. or vacationing in another country.

I'm strictly observing the quarantine and haven't left my apartment for three weeks and can stay inside for another month if need be. Groceries and medications are delivered. Bill paying is done online.

While I'm sure many don't have the resources that I do I believe going out and using reasonable caution is OK. Besides I'm much less likely during this quarantine to be run over by a motorcycle on a sidewalk than I was before this started.

Hi Loïc,

Thanks for posting such a timely question!

I arrived in Colombia in October and fell in love with the people and the beauty of the country. Consequently, I decided to stay here rather than return to the US. It's a little difficult sometimes, but given that my family and friends are scattered around a large area from New Hampshire to Florida, I wouldn't have seen most of them anyway, and we stay in touch.

I had just landed in a small tourist town in the coffee region, decided to stay here,  and am renting a small apartment on the property of a local family who are kind and giving.

Seeing the local tourism economy grind to a halt, I decided it was a good opportunity to give back. Some local friends and I have have identified a number of families here who are facing food insecurity and, in cooperation with a local store, we are delivering food to 35 families every week.

I invite others to do the same in their communities.

Paddyroyal what beautiful generosity!  What town are in?

Thank you, Adriana. I'm in Salento. It feels like the least I could do given the kindness and hospitality I have experienced in Colombia.

In response to the original question, I have applied for a retirement visa, although I'm sure that process will be delayed.

Does the current crisis call into question your long-term expatriation project?
Not at all. We have been ex-pats here in Medellin for a year and a half. We do a blog post about our experience and travel adventures. We are settled in very nicely and are very impressed with how the Colombian government has handled everything regarding Covid-19.

If you are already settled in Colombia, do you plan to return to your home country?
We will go back to visit family but will never return permanently to move back to the US.

How are you living through such an uncertain period, especially if you are far from your loved ones?
Actually with the open communication of Colombia keeping its citizens informed and protected we are very comfortable being here. We communicate on a regular basis with our family.

Have any of you ended your expatriation in Colombia unexpectedly?
We would not even consider it!

Paradoxically, has this crisis brought you closer to some people?
Absolutely. It makes us all realize how vulnerable we are on this planet.

What are your plans for the future?
Continue to enjoy Colombia and get back out and do more international travel.

Thank you very much for your feedback.
De nada!

Hope you are doing well.

Best wished to you!

Pull down the Community tab above and click on blogs to see our site, Latitude Adjustment.

John and Susan

I'm getting close to 7 years in the Barranquilla area, currently living in Salgar, close to the beach. Would I return to live in the States? Absolutely not. I'll go back and visit my 2 sons, 3 brothers, and other relatives, but I consider Colombia home now.

As for living in the time of the coronavirus, I just stay home in my studio apartment. Being in a tiny pueblo I have no problem with going out and the (typically) 3 CAI police spend most of their time inside their little office near the plaza.

Hopefully we'll be back to working soon, I'm going to need to get back to teaching. I teach English to business people, in normal living conditions. Thankfully one of my office clients has continued to pay me even though we're not doing lessons. They just want me to keep them on my schedule. The others have cancelled classes and been removed from my schedule so they can only hope to have the same time with me when we do get back to work.

The only big negative is the lack of reliable and consistent internet access. Here access is terrible. The owner of my apartment blames it on the service provider. I don't know. I just know the service sucks.

Other than that, no problem for me at this time.

Can you tell us more about how you have organized the food distribution for the 35 families?  (While my husband and I are in a holding pattern waiting to start our Colombia expat adventure I will be volunteering at the local foodbank which desperately needs bilingual help.)

I contacted a friend who has been here his whole life, and he worked with the owners of a local store to identify families. The store delivers the food every week, even going to a produce store to add some fresh veggies they don't sell.

I've been here a little over a year. Hikingwithu was one of the first to contact me and has periodically checked in on me to see how I am doing. My experience here was like Paddyroyal's. But, I came here with the mindset to give back. At first, it was just a local no kill dog shelter and the lady who runs it. But, it has turned into her family and the family of Venezuelan refugees she allows to stay at the animal shelter as caregivers for the animals. I absolutely love it here. I'm overwhelmed by the locals who come to check on me, because I am Spanish challenged to say the least. But, there is no place else that I would rather be. This has made me feel more at home in Colombia...more like I belong here.

Hi Ed,
When I arrived all those years ago my Spanish was limited to the few words we English speakers have borrowed from the Spanish language. Now I'm mostly conversational but still have problems getting the verbs right.
I will say this - learning a language simply by picking up bits and pieces from people in the stores and streets is very difficult. Don't believe the language web sites that tell you "full immersion is the best way to learn a language".
At least for me, it's been difficult because I use English more than Spanish, being an English teacher here. And not using Spanish in my lessons.
The other thing that many websites say about learning a new language, particularly learning Spanish in Colombia - "The people are so friendly and will help you learn their language". Nope. Again, they won't help you anymore than you will help some foreigner in the States who speaks broken English. If you are using the new language poorly but the native-speaking person understands your point, they won't correct you. So no help there, either.
Oh well, we do what we have to do - we muddle through and get by.

Everyone's experience is different, perhaps even unique.  What works for one person may not work for another.  You have to find what works for you, and still practice, practice, practice.

For me, total immersion - sink or swim - was the key to learning Spanish quickly, and the key to sounding like a native speaker.

For me, the people were friendly and helped me immeasurably in learning the language and pronunciation.

And I do help foreigners in the States who speak broken English, a lot, if they want the help.

Nowadays there are many many more resources to use in learning, than when I began to learn Spanish 60 years ago.  I'm still learning, using the old methods, but the new ones too.  Don't ever think you can't learn, or, as attributed to Henry Ford:

"Think you can, think you can't - either way, you're right!"

I like your Henry Ford quote, I hadn't seen that before.

It appears you live in Cali, is that right? Maybe the people are different there. Well, yes, they are, for sure. The costenos are different from all others in Colombia. In regards to learning and native Spanish-speaking people helping, here in B'quilla that just doesn't happen. Not in the tiendas, the pharmacias, etc. They just don't say anything regarding a person's bad Spanish - to them that would be rude, inconsiderate, or simply not a nice thing to do.

Costenos are a people of two major contrasts - very friendly, helpful, and polite/very lazy, rude, and selfish. If you try to point out something that was rude or selfish to them they look at you with no idea what you're talking about because in their minds they are the friendliest people in the world. Whether it's true or not, they take a lot of pride in that belief. But, that's just the way they are. Generally speaking they are indeed very friendly and helpful, most of the time.

I do not live in Cali now, but in the US.  My wife's family mostly lives in Cali.  Caleños generally would not appreciate being lumped in with costeños - for one thing the coast is a few hours away, Buenaventura being the city easiest to get to on the coast from Santiago de Cali.

I have not found caleños to be much different than people in other parts of the country, not to any great degree, although if you ask them they may feel bogotanos are cold, like their climate, and that costeños are lazy, because who can work in that heat and humidity, anyway?

All I can say is to repeat what I originally wrote - everyone's experience can be and often is different.

Yay for lazy costeños!!  I’ve lived in just about every big city in colombia and was about to throw the towel in until I moved to the Caribbean coast.  It offsets the hyper-neurotic and obsessive-compulsive personality that nature/nurture blessed me with.  Remember... you live here because it isn’t Wall Street.  Keep Colombia backward and visibly corrupt!!!

How True!

Not worried about a virus.


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Covid has claimed over 5,000 lives in Colombia.

Officially, about 150,000 cases have been reported.

The country remains under lockdown, since March.

Source... Human Rights Watch, data as of July 13, 2020

Despite the lockdown and air travel ban, Colombia's chart shows a continual increase in new cases, from about 1,000 per day early last month, June 2020, to about 5,000 daily now, in mid July.


For an idea of the mortality rates in Colombia (3.7% mortality), Ecuador, Peru and other countries (UK the highest rate with 15.4%), see the Johns Hopkins U. charts at

At the site, click on Maps & Trends and then the topic How Does Mortality Differ Across Countries?

-- cccmedia

The mortality or death rate is the percentage of persons infected with the virus who do not survive it.

Good Morning,

It certainly has been an interesting time! I was lucky enough to land in a small town in the coffee region which still has no cases of covid-19, so our lives have returned to as normal as they can be, given there is no tourism, the mainstay here.

I have been blessed to live on the property of a very kind Colombian family, where I have a small casita and have adopted the resident cat, or vice versa. I decided early on not to take advantage of the discount offered for a month-long stay; instead I offered a counter discount, paying a little more than asked.

Watching cases skyrocket in the US has been terrifying, and I wonder how many years it will be before I return. I have applied for a Colombian retirement visa and am awaiting news.

In the meantime, I am taking an online Qi Gong teacher training and  am giving classes to one of the family members. I also have a small garden and spend a fair amount of time bird watching.

I find it challenging and often rewarding to cultivate my own sense of peace in the midst of the turmoil in the world and to be able to offer perspective to my friends who are struggling.

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