Newly Arriving Expats: Should They Buy a Home in Colombia?

Hi Everyone.- My husband and I are working on long-term planning to buy a home in Colombia and move there permanently over the next several years. He is from Colombia. I speak an intermediate level of Spanish. We would like to buy a home and have the freedom to travel back and forth to the U.S. I am hoping to launch my own business so I can work remotely while in Colombia. Right now we are figuring out some of the financial matters, such as what we may need for savings and where to purchase a home. Would love to hear other people's experiences. We are interested in Medellin.

Top reasons why NOT to buy a home upon moving to Colombia...

1.  Many Expats discover that the first neighborhood they choose -- sometimes the first country they choose -- is not ideal for them longterm. Buying at the outset can make it difficult or expensive to move, especially when it is not a seller's market.

2.  Nobody knows how long the covid era will last.  For snowbirds and part-time Expats, this blind spot can create a problem getting back and forth between their home country and Colombia when the authorities restrict travel.  The current ban on passenger flights to and from Colombia has been in place since March.  It is expected to end on September 1st, but who knows....

3.  Practically any type of housing you would buy in Colombia can be rented with a lower level of commitment.

4.  If you have a landlord, he or she is likely responsible for repairs and damage, for instance after a flooding incident.  Expat homeowners often face a language barrier to success in navigating the world of Spanish-speaking handyman types, flooring installers, heating/cooling companies, etc.  This may or may not apply in Ryan's case due to the Colombian husband.


My thanks go out to the Home Office in the Mascarene Islands for moving this discussion from the members-intro thread to this new thread.


@cccmedia "Practically any type of housing you would buy in Colombia can be rented with a lower level of commitment."
More great advice. Move slow and check things out thoroughly before committing. Less risks and disasters that way.

There is one more fact of Colombian law to consider before buying a home in Colombia. As a spouse owning a home, you do not have the right of a Will regarding how that property is dispersed. Colombian law dictates that upon the death of your spouse it is her family, NOT YOU, that inherits his or her share. Period. End of story. You end up with only 25% of the real estates value that you can play with unhindered..
That goes for all your assets in Colombia. Surprise surprise.
Spend some time studying the Colombia "forced heir" system before making a commitment.

It is always a good idea to rent for a time. That gives you an opportunity to explore neighborhoods and gain an understanding of the values of real estate. Investment in Colombia is usually good depending upon the area where you purchase. Don't listen to real estate agents that will tell you that the peso is only worth 2,000/dollar so as soon as you buy, you have built-in equity. They say that to encourage you to buy immediately. They've been saying that for years and someday they may be right or not.

I would recommend buying but only after due diligence. Of course, there will be those here that will call me an idiot so in the end, you have to make your own educated decision.

Speaking of commitment, you need to be prepared to paycash, as loans for real estate are prohibitively expensive. 

If you need fianancing and you own a hom in the US, consider getting a home equity line and using those procedes to buy in Colombia.

Anybody buying a house in a developing country should be spending a small enough amount of money compared to your net worth that you are prepared to walk away from it in the worst case.

So if you are loaded-go for it..but use due diligence.

And rent first, and be really sure of a city you would like to based out of.

Also note that Colombia is always changing the taxation rules and health care payment requirements.

Things could get really interesting for expats in the future.

This applies to a lot of  other Latin countries as well . With the economic after effects of COVID and countries around the world embracing this looney Marxist MMT economic theory, there could be a lot of economic and political caos in the coming years.

I would stay mobile, just rent, and be prepared to spend less than 6 months in any country.


This is a little bit more information I thought I would provide hopefully  to avoid possible confusion.

The way around forced heirship rules is to own the property jointly with your spouse with the right of survivorship. 

On the death of your spouse, the their share of the ownership will automatically cede to you.

According to forced heirship rules, if the person is married, half of the total estate first goes to the surviving spouse. Out of the remaining portion, half (25% of the total) goes to mandatory heirs by equal parts, and 12.5%, called cuarta de mejora goes to selected mandatory heirs to whom the deceased chose to give more. The remaining 12.5% is freely disposable by will.

If the person is divorced or not married, 50% of the estate goes to mandatory heirs and 25% to selected mandatory heirs. The remaining 25% can be distributed as a person wishes.

Even if you don't like your children and don't want to leave them any properties, you cannot avoid doing so under Colombian law. There are certain exceptions to the general rule, such as when an heir commits a murder or a serious attack to the life of the deceased, or tries to conceal a will.
Is There a Way to Avoid a Probate?

Joint ownership, which is often used in the United States to avoid probate, cannot be used for the same purpose in Colombia. In the US, when a property is owned by joint tenants with right of survivorship, the interest of a deceased owner gets transferred automatically to the surviving owners. In Colombia, the interest of jointly owned property has to go through a probate to pass on to heirs of the deceased, because the surviving owners do not have the same right. It is also true for joint bank accounts held by multiple owners.

Additional information is available here : … -planning/

Of course Colombian women just LOVE a foriegner who will buy a house and put half of it in her name....

So if I buy a house in Colombia and have a Colombian wife and a will that leaves everything to her.
Then drop dead.
Would she get everything or would somone else get it if I'm from Australia???

Depends I expect if you had a will and if it was recorded in Colombia.


The inheritance laws in Colombia are different than what you are used to. A will only kicks in when the civil law payouts to family are finished. You should study Colombia's "succession of the Colombian estate" and family involvement before purchasing.
That way you won't end up with "surprises".

adamgillen2000 wrote:

So if I buy a house in Colombia and have a Colombian wife and a will that leaves everything to her...
Would she get everything or would somone else get it if I'm from Australia???

To shut out the Australian 'parientes', have the Colombian attorney who prepares the will specifically exclude anyone you are worried about.

Unless some Aussie has the wherewithal and the motivation to pursue your estate in person and in Spanish legalese, they probably will not be able to attach your property.

I am not an attorney.  Seek competent legal advice if you have significant assets.

cccmedia in Bucaramanga