Cost of Living in Colombia in 2021

Hello everybody,

We would like to take stock of the changing cost of living in Colombia, particularly in your city or region. The aim is to measure the impact that the health crisis may have had on your expenses.
This will help other expatriates on the spot and all those who would like to relocate there in the near or more distant future.

> What is the price of a property rental in Colombia? What about buying a property?

> How much does petrol cost or how much does it cost to use the various public transport services?

> How much do you spend on average on your weekly groceries in Colombia? Have you noticed a change in the price of staple foodstuff?

> What is the price of your health insurance? How much does seeing a general practitioner or specialist cost?

> How much are your children's school fees? What about the cost of childcare?

> How much do you spend on your regular bills (water, electricity, mobile phone package, internet subscription etc.) on a monthly basis?

> What budget do you set aside for your leisure activities in Colombia? What is the price of a cinema or concert ticket? How much does a subscription to a gym cost?

Do not hesitate to indicate any other price changes you may have in mind.

Many thanks,

Cheryl,
Expat.com team

My expenses probably aren't typical but here they are. Some basic costs in Colombian pesos for a strata 4 apartment in south Cali. All expenses are for one month. I am not a penny pincher nor do I live extravagantly. For about $1,000-1,100 USD I have a comfortable life in Cali.

Rent $1,800,000, Electricity and water $400,000, Food $600,000, Internet and land line $100,000,
Mobile phone $70,000.

Recently food prices had been rising rapidly but for the moment seem to have stabilized. The exchange rate of the USD to COP plays a big part in pricing, especially for imported foods such as those you often find in PriceSmart.

I do not have a car nor do I need one. Typically I use Uber or taxi. I don't know the cost per kilometer. For about $1 USD I can go anywhere in Cali on a bus. I allocate $100,000 pesos per month for transportation.

My health insurance is about $270,000/month. This covers my medicines, doctor visits, most visits to specialists and surgeries I've had in my more than 12 years living in Cali. Each major surgery has cost me a copay equal to one month insurance premium. Out of plan visits to a doctor cost usually about $30,000 - $50,000 pesos.

I don't have kids and have no experience with going to concerts except for two. These were sponsored by the city and the entry fees were so low I don't even remember what they were. I don't go to bars and rarely eat out.

Gym costs range widely based on open hours, equipment, availibility of trainers, etc. Most decent plans are about $80,000-$100,000 per month.

CaliRay wrote:

I do not have a car nor do I need one. Typically I use Uber or taxi. I don't know the cost per kilometer. For about $1 USD I can go anywhere in Cali on a bus. I allocate $100,000 pesos per month for transportation.

Dear Ray,

Thanks for detailed information on budgeting a life in Colombia, specifically Cali.

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Tell us more about buses, please, for those concerned about safety.  Do you consider buses safe in the covid era?  Are bus riders wearing masks and properly distancing these days?

cccmedia

MIO, the bus sytem in Cali costs about 2200 COP for each trip - just over 60 cents USD.  But it does not have good service, not since they started years ago - before MIO there were hundreds of routes and over 5000 buses from many different companies that serviced all parts of the city. 

MIO cut the number of buses down to about 1000 and they are not all working at any given time, and they halved the number of routes.  So people started buying motos, contributing to the traffic problem which was already quite bad, and using motopiratas, entrepeneurs who would ride you on the back of their moto for a fraction of the cost of a taxi, much to the disgust of the taxistas.  But also this practice has been banned off and on for years in an effort to cut down on moto crime, where a moto pulls up to you and the rear passenger conducts the robbery, whether you're on foot or in a car...

To read more do a search for
colombia cali mio problemas

The mayor of Cali, Jorge Iván Ospina, recently gave a strange opinion that riding the MIO is safer from a covid-19 standpoint than being in a bar:

https://www.infobae.com/america/colombi … en-el-mio/

As for using the metro bus system, MIO, I've never had a problem other than once when the bus broke down and we had to change to another one. I've almost completely stopped using MIO during the Covid problem because some people are not following protocols as they should but that also depends on where I'm going and how likely it is that the bus is crowded. I did notice a drastic decrease in ridership which actually makes the buses safer from Covid exposure since at times a bus that normally would have 50 or more and standing room only has less than 10. Wear a mask and wash your hands and I think MIO is fine for getting around. When I have bags of things to carry from the grocery store it's Uber or a taxi for me.

Expats with U.S. dollars are getting near-record amounts of value in Colombia.

The exchange rate, dollars vs. COP (Colombian pesos), closed near an all-time level today -- at 3918 pesos to the dollar.

Except for a brief period in late March and April 2020, the dollar has never had so much purchasing power in La República in comparison to the national currency.

According to a report by Reuters news service, the exchange-rate favoring the dollar this week is largely attributable to oil-price drops and related fears that the covid delta variant's spread will affect markets negatively.

Sources... Reuters;  xe.com five-year chart for USD-COP

  -- cccmedia

The link I'm posting is not a recommendation and I have no connection to this website other than as a reader. This is merely for perspective on what some think will be the future exchange rate between the Colombian pesos (COP) and the US dollar (USD).
https://walletinvestor.com/forex-forecast/usd-cop-prediction

This is good information, thank you.

CaliRay wrote:

The link I'm posting is not a recommendation and I have no connection to this website other than as a reader. This is merely for perspective on what some think will be the future exchange rate between the Colombian pesos (COP) and the US dollar (USD).
https://walletinvestor.com/forex-forecast/usd-cop-prediction

FYI then clicked, the link isn't working. I had to copy-paste it directly.

Thanks for the info though!

cccmedia wrote:

The exchange rate, dollars vs. COP (Colombian pesos), closed near an all-time level today [August 5, 2021] -- at 3918 pesos to the dollar.
  -- cccmedia

The dollar flirted with the 4000-pesos level this evening after rising from the 3960's this morning.

The official close for the day was 3998 pesos to the dollar.

The only time the dollar has broken the 4000-level was a brief period in the spring of 2020.

Source... xe.com's USD-COP one-day chart for August 9, 2021.

cccmedia wrote:
cccmedia wrote:

The exchange rate, dollars vs. COP (Colombian pesos), closed near an all-time level today -- at 3918 pesos to the dollar.



  -- cccmedia

The dollar flirted with 4000 USD to the peso this evening after rising from the 3960's this morning.

The official close for the day was 3998 to the COP.

The only time the dollar has broken the 4000-level was a brief period in the spring of 2020.

Source... USD-COP one-day chart for August 9, 2021.

This is good information, thanks. Any thoughts on how this will affect inflation in Colombia? Both in tourist cities like Cartagena, and other cities like Medellin? What are some Cost Of Living forecasts?

When the U.S. dollar equals 4000 pesos, dollarized Expats will have 33.3 percent more spending power in Colombia than when 3000 pesos was equivalent to a dollar.

cccmedia

cccmedia wrote:

When the U.S. dollar equals 4000 pesos, dollarized Expats will have 33.3 percent more spending power in Colombia than when 3000 pesos was equivalent to a dollar.

cccmedia

I figured the math. I see you got jokes ;)  What I meant was... do we think that inflation in Colombia will rise to match the exchange rate? I experienced that in Nigeria. Even when the rate increased from $1=N280 to $1=N380, local prices in Nigeria kept rising. Eventually my purchasing power became almost same as in USA... the inflation (and honestly, sheer greed of local merchants) effectively negated the purchasing power of expats within 24 months.

Do we think the same or similar thing will happen in Colombia within the next decade?

ChineduOpara wrote:

Do we think the same or similar thing will happen in Colombia within the next decade?

Inflation will most likely continue in Colombia and also everywhere, unfortunately.  The long term trend has been that inflation drives prices up and seldom do they go down.  Think back (depending on how old you are) 10 years, 20 years, 30 years or more to your childhood and remember prices if you can - when I came of age in the USA, I could get a gallon of gasoline for 20 cents, a pack of cigarettes also for 20 cents, and a six-pack of Rheingold beer for $1.05...

In Colombia the DANE agency keeps track of statistics including those concerning inflation.  They are a fairly reliable source.  You can do an internet search for
colombia dane inflación
...to get many hits about inflation several of which I repeat here:

https://www.colombia.com/actualidad/eco … bia-237273

https://forbes.co/2021/01/05/economia-y … 1955-dane/

https://www.bluradio.com/economia/la-in … ombia-dane

The Forbes article quoting DANE claims that inflation for 2020 was the lowest since 1955.  But the BLU Radio article claims that for 2021 it is likely to reach 4%.

"You pays your money and you takes your choice"...by the way this saying goes back at least to an 1846 John Leech cartoon in Punch magazine:

https://punch.photoshelter.com/gallery- … OfAMRu61ns

And the bottom line, about what will or will not happen with inflation, is just as Yogi Berra said:  "It's tough to make predictions, especially about the future."

The dollar met resistance just shy of the 4000 pesos level (3999.49) and has backed off the past two days.

USD was in the 3970s most of the day today, before a further back-down led to a close of 3942 pesos to the dollar.

Source... one-day charts USD-COP at xe.com, Aug. 10 and 11

cccmedia

The dollar continued its downward slide versus the Colombian peso today (Aug. 12).

After plateauing all morning around 3940, the USD nosedived in the final hours before closing .. and closed at 3858 to the COP.

Source... Aug. 12 one-day chart USD-COP at xe.com

cccmedia wrote:

The dollar continued its downward slide versus the Colombian peso today (Aug. 12).

After plateauing all morning around 3940, the USD nosedived in the final hours before closing .. and closed at 3858 to the COP.

Source... Aug. 12 one-day chart USD-COP at xe.com

Well I certainly hope it stays above 3,500. I've been making all my relocation plans with that rate in mind (giving myself some breathing room). I'll continue monitoring the rates and keeping up with the chat in this website. Thanks @ccmedia 👍🏾

ChineduOpara wrote:

Well I certainly hope it stays above 3,500. I've been making all my relocation plans with that rate in mind (giving myself some breathing room).

While it may stay above 3500 for a while, no one really knows for how long.  Make sure your breathing room allows for it to go down to less than half that...which is where it was not so long ago.

But even at 1700 COP to 1 USD, living is good in Colombia.

Just do a Google search for "usd to cop" and hit Max to show the longest period.  You will see that roughly from mid-2007 to October 2014, it was around 2000 or below.  But for about 6 years now it's been in the neighborhood of 3000, and above.

Exchange rate.

The rate closes the week at 3872 Colombian Pesos to the U.S. Dollar.

That's up from the low of the week -- 3839 on Tuesday -- and still quite a bit off the 4000 mark that was almost reached earlier this month.

Source... xe.com weekly chart for USD-COP

The Colombian peso is surprisingly stable. The lowest it has ever dropped was in March right after covid locked everything down. 4150

Juan Droverse wrote:

The Colombian peso is surprisingly stable. The lowest it has ever dropped was in March right after covid locked everything down.

The Dollar was in the 1700's vs. the Peso ten years ago.  Eight years ago it was in the 1800's.  So the Dollar's value in the last ten years has more than doubled in Colombia.

In the March-early June 2020 period when the Dollar's value dropped in the early days of The Situation, the lowest it went was 3573.

Source... xe.com USD-COP charts

Pretty hard to beat the low cost of living in Armenia. Here, check it out for yourself. https://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/comparison.jsp  Compare any other Colombian city to Armenia.
The added bonuses include lower pollution and crime.

I assume you're referring to Armenia vs. USA? Cuz Armenia vs Colombia tells a less favorable story (even with sorta- old data on Numbeo):

https://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/c … y2=Armenia

ChineduOpara

Armenia is a city in Colombia. The link allows you to compare the cost of living and other things between the Colombian city of Armenia to other Colombian cities.

Oh my bad! Thanks for clarifying! And for the great tip.

Yes, the dollar is strong against the COP, even as it has weakened against other strong currencies. Face it, they are all confetti currencies, every single one of em........and no matter what the favorable  exchange rate might be for the moment, it doesnt last long. It doesnt take long for the merchants in Colombia, especially the big boyz to simply subir los precios en COP to the same level as they used to be in dollars.....The big loser is the Colombian worker/consumer who is barely scraping by as it is.......We keep even more or less, sometimes make out like bandits (for a brief stint) but the typical Colombian employee/worker gets the short end of the stick............Colombia is a system which favors the rich more than most any other country. But it also favors the employer, the owner of a business more so than the employee where as here in Panama or in Costa Rica the employee has all the rights ....and the State will rush to his defense no matter how rediculous his/her claims.....So Colombia despite everything does have its advantages if you want to invest money and start a business. Plus the average Colombian is educated and works good.....So as long as they arent stealing you blind, you will do better in Colombia than most latin countries.........

In Colombia it is difficult for both employers and employees...

Barely 50% of Colombian workers, have "formal" employment, where they work for a company that follows all the rules set by the government.  The other half have only "informal" employment, which means they have no protections whatsoever, are self-employed and are on their own as to where there next meal is coming from.

Any employer in Colombia who follows the laws, ends up paying about 50% more for each employee than the salary they pay a minimum-wage employee.  Here is a breakdown of the costs:

https://actualicese.com/cuanto-le-cuest … io-minimo/

Formal employees must also be paid by the employer, an annual aguinaldo or prima which must be at least 15 days' salary.

https://snogari.com/index.php/articulos … vacacional

According to DANE, Colombia's statistics agency, the majority of Colombians with formal employment earn only the minimum monthly salary - almost 64% of employees earn only the minimum wage or less.  The minimum wage at today's exchange rate is around $260 USD a month.

https://www.pulzo.com/economia/mayoria- … -PP1012785

Never having started a business nor having met a payroll in Colombia, I cannot attest to the veracity of the many reports I have heard anecdotally from employers, about how hard it is - really really hard to impossible - to find employees who won't try to steal you blind every chance they get...I know there are honest Colombians, I know many - but even they acknowledge that the average Colombian is more likely than not, to try to find ways to cheat their employer, no matter what...

I am not as skeptical about honest Colombians as is OsageArcher.  Most of the Colombians I have known are as honest and hard working as Americans.  I have had Colombians work for me and have never lost a penny, even though there could have been plenty of opportunities to do so.  If you are so skeptical about the people living around you, perhaps you should find another place to live.

Laker4115 wrote:

I am not as skeptical about honest Colombians as is OsageArcher.

Ja ja I didn't make up the saying, no dar papaya.  Honest, I didn't!

As I said, I know many honest and hard-working Colombians.  But even they will acknowledge why there is a need not to "dar papaya"!

The U.S. Dollar closed the week at 3831 versus the Peso, down about 1 percent for the week.

It has now been almost three weeks since the seasonal high just shy of 4000.

Source... xe.com charts for USD-COP

Ok, so all that aside, how does the general cost of living in Colombia now compare with Ecuador, and I realize of course it depends on where you live and how you live. But I find Colombia in general to be at least 30 or 40% less than here in Panama, and Panama 30 or 40% less than Costa Rica. So those of you like CCC who move regularly between the two, how do you find the difference now? I know that its much cheaper to buy a car in Colombia than in Ecuador. I dont believe that has changed or will change in the foreseeable future. But howz about the general cost of living. Whats a gallon of gasoline now in Ecuador? When I was last there it was $1.....and Colombia is the same as Panama now at about $3.35 a gallon........As far as rent, and food, and public transport and cell phones/internet, etc........Howz it stack up?

Numbeo.com is the go-to place for such comparisons.

Not so much country by country, but city by city.

I have been in Colombia (specifically Medellín) for only one month since early last year (2020), a few weeks before The Situation began.  I will be spending considerable time in Nariño and Medellín in the next 12 months, starting in October.

cccmedia

prospector911 wrote:

Whats a gallon of gasoline now in Ecuador? When I was last there it was $1.....and Colombia is the same as Panama now at about $3.35 a gallon.

Gasoline at the pump took a jump in Ecuador when the government withdrew its subsidy a while ago.  It's a hot political issue and the new administration is under some pressure to restore the subsidy.

Check Numbeo.com for gasoline pricing in Ecuador and Colombia;  note that the price will be different for different grades of gas.

cccmedia

Exchange rate this week.

The U.S. Dollar again drifted slightly lower versus the Colombian Peso during the week, closing at 3799  Pesos to the Dollar.

That's down 32 ticks from last week's close of 3831.

The downward drift in August and early September means that Expat Dollars don't go quite as far as before the drift en la República.

Source... xe.com USD/COP charting

Exchange rate.

The U.S. Dollar strengthened slightly this week, closing the week at 3835 Pesos to the Dollar.

That's up 36 ticks from the Friday close one week ago.

Source... xe.com USD-COP charts

This week's exchange rate.

The U.S. Dollar closed the week at 3827 Colombian pesos.

That's down a mere 8 ticks compared to last week's close of 3835.

Source... xe.com charting of USD-COP

What do you know about Barranquilla, rent, security ect? Would appreciate any insight.

loaferln wrote:

What do you know about Barranquilla, rent, security etc?

For the answers to all such questions, Google:  barranquilla cost of living numbeo

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Spoiler alert... According to the Numbeo website, the typical rent for a one-bedroom apartment in downtown Barranquilla is 750,000 COP, or about $196 US.  I wouldn't necessarily expect a furnished unit or air conditioning at that price point.

--

Weather spoiler... The average daily high temperature in Barranquilla is 89 degrees F. throughout this month, September.
Source... weatherspark.com

  -- cccmedia

DM me if you're still researching rentals in Barranquilla. I am doing same... I'd be glad to share my findings.

I am looking in Santa Marta and Cartagena and want some thin on the Beach,

Thanks for your offer

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