Thinking of Moving but to where in Colombia? :)

Hola, I am David, I am wanting to come to visit Colombia and check out several cities to possibly live in but I have questions about everything. Passport, check Visa info, check, major cites, check.  I see a lot of AirBnB but have also watched videos where people were scammed, dual bookings, etc. I do not know the language so though I can learn I will need a good guide, taxi driver, Uber driver, or someone to hold my hand a bit at times. I have read the Security bulletins but how accurate are they? How bad are those areas for the Colombians themselves? I enjoy hot weather but will Medellin be more comfortable?   LOL
As you can see I have lots of unanswered questions so if anyone has any advice, info, contacts, etc. please let me know. FYI, I do not plan on working again, just to retire and have fun and enjoy the rest of my life with as few hassles as possible.

Hello David.
I totally understand your situation. I’ve been here since June and I leave in three weeks.
Your journey can definitely be done but having as much information as possible will help.
Respond to me and I will try to at least extend what I have learned but have no fear. You’ll thank me later.


You can try Show Around to hire local guides to the cities you intend to visit in Colombia.  Many are bilingual and some are free.  Here is for Medellín, other cities also have guides: … tryCode=CO

Hola Travis, Thanks for replying.  I am going through a divorce and will hopefully be able to visit there in February.  I am partial to the north coast, I fish, dive, etc. but have heard it is very humid there all year.
I was not thinking of Bogota because of the elevations and low temps. I want to check out Medellin as it appears to be between the two areas but would like I think to be on the outskirts. On my first trip, I will only be able to come a week or so, I still have to worry about a 16 y.o. daughter back home going through high school with covid issues. :(  So, I see that flights are not too bad, to Miami then to either location. Airbnb seems to be all over with lots of choices and I do not need a visa for 90 days which is more than enough. Beyond that is a mystery.  LOL

Thanks, looked it over, nice.

Lots to unpack! First of all, condolences (or congratulations?) on your divorce... it could be a time of uncertainty. I bet you are looking forward to it being over.

Kudos to you for broadening your horizons and going to live in a different country! Me, I'll be what some people call a "social refugee" from the dUSA :) This country is no longer working for me and many other people. I was in Cartagena in July, in an AirBnB across from Cabrero Beach, for 2 weeks.

It was such a difference and positive change from the dUSA, that and when I returned I made the decision to start learning Spanish so I can go live in Colombia for at least 6 months. I hope to live there longer if the stars align for me. Like you, I prefer the north coast, but I am also budget-sensitive... so I'll probably stay in Barranquilla, and just visit Cartagena and Medellin as-needed. Yes, it's hot and humid but if you stay near the beach there'll be plenty of breeze, especially in the evenings. I got used to it, but that's me... YMMV.

My relocation is (tentatively but almost certainly) in late-January or early-February depending on how quickly I can sell off my excess material possessions and find a Property Management company to take care of my house (tenant, rent, etc).

There's a lot of information and pre-travel checklists out there. This website is a good start. You can also try a few other sites, or even Facebook groups, if you have the mental fortitude to sift through the crap  :) I joined a few, and they have shown me a little "layman's view" of the expat situation, mostly in Medellin but also a bit of the north coast.

Also, this is very important: START LEARNING SPANISH, amigo. There's really no 2-ways around it. DuoLingo (mi favorito), WLingua, Tobo Spanish... there are tons of apps out there. Also start listening to Espanol programs or whatever, and get really familiar with the way the language sounds. Yes, definitely get comfortable with Google Translate app, but also use your language learning app of choice, daily! Don't skip any days! The more Espanol you know, the better your trip/stay will be. Even knowing the basics - greetings, numbers, dates - will go a long way, especially in your first few weeks there.

Of course I am making a big assumption that you're not already learning Spanish... if you are, keep going... es realmente muy importante! And if you do have DuoLingo, we'll Follow each other in the app  :top:

I tend to be long-winded, so I'll leave things here for now. Feel free to message me (or anyone else, for that matter) privately for more in-depth discussion and actual concrete tips.

Good luck!

dgb1 wrote:

I see a lot of AirBnB but have also watched videos where people were scammed, dual bookings, etc.

Dear David,

Welcome to the Colombia forums of ...

I am currently staying at an AirBnB in Nariño department, southern Colombia.

It's possible to be scammed in an AirBnB scenario, but it has never happened to me .. and the management of AirBnB would not be so foolish as to have a business model that allows it. 

cccmedia in Nariño

dgb1 wrote:

I have read the Security bulletins but how accurate are they?

That depends on what they say.

If the U.S. State Department says stay out of the country altogether due to covid, I'd say that's overstating things.

If an advisory says to avoid back roads, traveling at night or departmento X, Y or Z, I'd take it seriously.

On trip number-one, fly into a city, travel to any other cities by air .. and observe the security protocols that veteran Expats follow:

Don't make phone calls in a public place from a fancy cell phone, don't wear jewelry other than a simple watch, carry copies -- not originals -- of valuable documents whenever possible, don't accept food or papers from strangers on the street, stay alert on buses and other public transport, don't carry too much extra cash.


ChineduOpara wrote:

I'll be what some people call a "social refugee" from the dUSA :) This country is no longer working for me and many other people....

(Colombia) was such a difference and positive change from the dUSA, that when I returned I made the decision to start learning Spanish...

What a newbie Gringo thinks Chine means by dUSA...

1.  Typo with an extraneous 'd'.

2.  Deputy Undersecretary of State for America.

3.  Deakins University Student Association.

What cccmedia thinks Chine means by dUSA...

dis-United States of America. :cool:

Yes! Clearly cccmedia has been paying attention  :top:

David / a good source for information that will answer many of your quetions is will explain about visas places to live and places not to live. Is it safe, if you dont speak spanish you wilñ be taken advantage of for sure. If sex tourism is on your bucket list you will be robbed of wallet cell phone and anytihng else.
I have a cedula card if colombia,for 3 years and visited most places and beaches and know many expats all over. I live in medellin and like it. Small city comfortable weather / great medical with eps sura / visa agency / sports complex for running etc / great metro system. This is my home base and travel avianca all over latin america. Just be careful and sensitive to the environment and dont be naive
The have nots want what the haves have.

ernietorricelli9 wrote:

I live in medellin and like it.... This is my home base and I travel avianca all over latin america.

Ernie, why do you fly Avianca and forsake the other airlines?

Do you get discounted fares because it is a Colombian airline?

cccmedia in Nariño

I just used avianca as an example. Bur i have found the wingo's and other lower cost options are lower service options and you end up paying for luggage or peanuts or coffee etc. I have good experiences and treated well with avianca and and this will be my go to airline until further notice. I Dont need to knickle and dime.

David / another thing do everthing before you leave 1. - set up bank account - direct deposit - mail address.
2. If you live in colombia for 183 days or more and have retirement or income coming into colombia you need to File DIAN (Colombia irs) taxes each year. So you need to aware of your financial situation USA Banking vs International banking and ATM fees

Thanks, I knew there were some issues as to deposits, addresses, etc. but was not aware of the 183-day rule. :)


I would be flying out of Miami. Any known issues?

Just my quick summary, originally from Huntington Beach California, my first visit and 4 month extended stay in Colombia was in Bogota in 1990 so 31 years traveling Colombia.

Numerous / countless visits to Colombia over the subsequent 3 decades, my first visit to Medellin was in 2010 and now living full time in Medellin for 5 years.

I travel extensively and often through the whole of Colombia, right now I am on the beach in Santa Marta/Taganga.

I have explored the complete coastline and this road trip is just another journey to explore some new areas.

Lot s for you to consider. I suggest that you visit and travel to the different cities and towns and beaches and see what fits your style.

I am happy person here as I have crafted a life, on a reasonable budget, that is the envy of many.

Today I am heading to another beach just east of Tayrona park.

Life is good!

Godspeed to you.

Great / you sound as if you have found the life formula,for success,that fits your lifestyle. I attended UCLA, and lived in santa monica,and charleston south carolina. I have also found my passion living.

Where is the best starting point?  Weather-wise for me is the North coast, Barranquilla, or Medellin. but which is best for a newbie? Which has the most English speakers? The most expats? I expect to have a guide of some sort the whole time, I will be working on my Spanish, and having traveled Europe I am well aware of the scams, etc. The ex-wife did not take my advice, had her purse stolen in Paris, and she was the one with more travel experience. :)

dgb1 wrote:

Where is the best starting point?  Weather-wise for me is the North coast, Barranquilla, or Medellin. but which is best for a newbie? Which has the most English speakers? The most Expats?

There is no one starting point for all new arrivals.

Depends on you.  If the weather suits you at Barranquilla, you could start there.

It may be more important to know where not to go..  A short list of where to avoid going includes urban favelas up the hillside in MDE .. Southwestern Colombia except the city of Ipiales .. downtown Bogotá late at night .. and empty and deserted areas after dark.


To my knowledge, there is no one place that has a strong percentage of English speakers and Expats.

If you circulate in diplomatic circles or five-star hotels in Bogotá, you probably will encounter more English speakers than if you visit Nalgas de la Cerda, Putumayo.   But in practically any city, you and your entourage will rarely encounter anyone who can speak English unless there's a scheduled meetup or event.


The largest cities -- say Medellín -- have monthly meetups that are Expat-friendly. 

  -- cccmedia in the Mistares sector of Ipiales

FYI Medellin is not in the coast, it's deeper inside the country. You might wanna fire up Google Earth and explore locations and crowd-sourced photos of places in Colombia you might wanna visit.

You SAY you want to move there, but it really sounds like you want to start slower and "ease in"  ;)  So I'd strongly suggest landing in Medellin, which has a community of TONS of English-speaking ex-pats (possibly even moreso than Bogota).... and then you can visit the north coast and other towns.

Few more tips:
- I've found AirBnB to be the safest way to lodge. Not the cheapest, but the safest and most hassle-free.
- When exploring in-person, dress modestly, keep all your valuables/gadgets/bling hidden away, consider wearing your backpack in FRONT, pull out your pricey smartphone only when absolutely necessary, and when you're in a safe spot. "No dar papaya" - Basically, Don't make yourself an easy target for opportunistic crimes like pickpocketing.
- If visiting Bogota, take at least 1 jacket along (expats on the site, please confirm this)
- If you like spicy and flavorful food, bring your own spices along when you eat out (Colombian food is bland)
- When in tourist-y zones, you'll probably encounter lots of street vendors and even a few beggars. Learn to say, "No, gracias" or "Lo siento, no tengo dinero" in a tactful-yet-firm way (as best you can, at least)  :happy:
- Be humble and respectful, since you'll be a guest in a foreign country

Good luck!

Yes, I do want to ease in. :) 
I have checked out Airbnb et al and yes, they seem the best.
I agree on a jacket in Bogata is advised. Seems very cool there at night.
I do not plan on going out too much by myself, especially at night, until I know an area well.
I have travelled before, mostly in Europe so I am familiar with keeping things safe.
Colombia food is bland? I did not know this, I thought it was on the spicy side which I enjoy. :(
Hmmm.... may have to reconsider if the food is all bland...:)  LOL

Travel to medellin / call me 312 ***  / i have many trustworthy friends that will advise / your choices / smart choices - smart results
Never met expats in costa rics panama nicarugia ecuador colombia that married latin women worked out well / different objectives you lonely and sex - she wants your money and residence in united states for welfare and use and abuse the usa system  your choice

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Thats true / i am part of close expat group.of true trustworthy friends  advisors in medellin / we meet at coffee shops joke and talk alot 
  love to chat abou two afro - americans here on sex mission for young latino babes on bucket list.
they dreamed and fantised and planned next moves when locked up and shared cell in usa penitentuary in ohio  Many more. santa marta parks and venezuela prostitues next on there agenda

As far as the area on the Caribbean with most foreigners and English speakers that would be Cartagena by far, followed by Santa Marta and then maybe Palomino. Mostly Euros here, and Canadians, the gringos seem to prefer the material advantages of Medellin. Medellin does without doubt have its advantages, but its a den of thieves now, worse than ever maybe thanks to the Plandemia and the 40% unemployment rate and the millions of displaced Venezuelans. 4 million crammed into that narrow valley means hordes of humans on top of you whereever you go.....Personally Im a country boy, and prefer wide open green spaces. But if youre tropical like me and and are looking for more like minded English speaking social life, I would suggest Cartagena. Boca Grande........The elect and water are regular and consistent. In Santa Marta you never know.........and Palomino even less reliable. Palomino has world class nature and international flow of people, and some of the locals are really pretty good and relatable. But high level organization and funcionality are not its high points.........and its even more expensive in many ways than other options...........

I think you right in some ways about the high influx of immigrabts - when that happens in any country it brings crime drugs prostites and mental illness and homeless. I recentlt returned from coaching assignment in santa marta taganga parque tyrina and surroubding towns for 6 weeks.. Santa marta has more venezuela prostittutes in parks and soliciting and thieves than there is in venezuela. There is also gangs called the venezuela mafia of teenagers that room the histiric district looking for gringos and euros to rob. Cartegena is not much better. Palimino is a low class roundevou and distgusting and probably ok for red neck country

Yes / check that out and how you will live financially here. When you get cedula card - colombia social security number they know more about you  than you do. I can speak from experience.

I think medellin should be your first stop - many vibrant expats here to advise - has good suppirt professionals for vusas attirneys etc. Get your bearibgs and fly cheap for weekend and checkout santa marta cartegena san andres etc.

Absolutely incredible what management allows and what it bans/deletes. Im gobsmacked. Its on the level of San Francisco management...........

I will also add to the Medellin train..I have been coming to Colombia since 2017 and I just got my cedula this month.  I am now a legal resident.  I live in Manizales, a lovely city much like Medellin, only much smaller at less than 500,000 pop.
I would say that pretty much any place in Eje Cafetero should be safe for travel and tourist activities provided that you exercise due caution.
Lots has been said about being low profile and discreet in this thread, and I cannot agree more.
Note:  Eje Cafetero is the coffee triangle.  Typically it’s considered to be the departments of Caldas, Riseralda, and Quindio. 
If you are a fan of soccer (called futbol here) or bicycling you can make a lot of new friends quickly by indulging in your passion for either of these sports.

Thank you for your comments / i am on my second 3 year cedula and medellin is my homd base. I have my support team of eps sura medical , visa agency, tax accountant and attorney in medellin and is working well. I travel alot all over colombia and latin america to fun adventurious beaches and places.
Yes you do need to be sensitive to where you are at all times and use caution. Do dumb things expect bad consequenes. If you go out and get drunk and roam around there is a high probability that you will be robbed wallet cash debit card passport cellphone gone. No different from Miami New York or los angeles. Integrity is what is called.

The only advice i can give you is start to learn the language,really,nowhere have i encountered less English spoken than in Colombia,that included hotels receptionists,airport information desks....places where normally some English is spoken ,in Colombia don't expect it.I had to learn from scratch,an app on my phone ,a few hours every day will be a good beginning....good luck.

Yes you need to learn the language to be able to really mingle and also they seem to respect you more too. I would like to move to Medellín and take my dogs but flying two dogs to Medellín seems to be fairly complicated. Anyone have any experience?

Excellent / being fluent in spanish definitely helps / i dont think 10% of the colombian population speaks english and i dont think they want to eather. Is a colombian latino proud thing. If you dont speak spanish colombians view you as being powerless and weak and a good percentagr will use that to there advantage and think you dont know the money system either and will exploit you. I have found that venezuelans speak english better than colombians. I am fluent in spanish now and make the comment  / you like my americano money /
/ No Inglesi -- No Dinero / that gets there attention

If you go to any latino section in the united states ie miami orlando jackson heights spanush harlem etc. English speaking
stops when you enter and the loud bongo music starts. Thats the culture and you will not change that

Saying goodbye to Medellin on Dec 1 when I will be moving to Barbosa, about 1.75 hours from Medellin

Is barbosa nice / why the shift

I have visited Barbosa numerous is hotter than San Cristobal.....I will be sharing a house right outside within 10 min with an American friend who has lived there 3 years......I have been in San Cristobal right above Robledo in Medellin for 3 years and its time for a change.   It is hotter, but that´s OK.    Getting my Nissan Patrol that has basically sat since April going again. I lived in Bogota 1.5 years, Medellin about 9 and Popayan about 1.25.........At the same time I could be returning to USA any  moment when a currency exchange I am involved in, liquidates.

@ AgroSurAmerica, howdy neighbor as I know Barbosa very well, been stopping in that town numerous times in the past 5 or 6 years, more than I can count.

Just in the past month and a half probably stopped 3 or 4 times, I always do when I head out to the Hosteria Molino Viejo (nice pool that you can use for 10 mil/day).

Why? I bought my apartment new 5 years ago in Girardota, the pueblo between Copacabana and Barbosa, and could have not made a better choice.

I too have a car and drive often and travel frequently in all parts of Colombia. Right now am in Santa Marta, just returned back here today after Minca in the Sierra Nevada's.

And it is not 1.75 hours from Medellin to Barbosa unless there is another landslide like the one we had 2 weeks ago on the autopista in Copacabana which closed both north and south bound lanes for a week. It is more like one hour and 10 minutes on an average day as I can be in centro usually in 40 minutes and your 25 minutes further out.

The problem is the toll is like 12 mil so it adds up.

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