Cost Of Living In Colombia – We Spend $1260/m, But What About You?
This article is all about the Cost Of Living in Colombia. We are going to talk about the cost of living in the bigger cities of Colombia, like Medellin, Bogota, Santa Marta, Cali, Pereira, and Cartagena.
The cost of living is surely one of the biggest reasons why people consider moving to and retire in Colombia. With the same amount of money, you can do and afford so much more than in most developed countries. The best part is, the cost of living is very low but you still can get the same comfort as one might be used to from back home. The amenities and infrastructure here in Colombia are very good.
Update May 02, 2021: Adding the new cost of living for the year 2021
Update June 02, 2020: Adding the new cost of living for the year 2020
Update June 18, 2019: Adding the new cost of living for the year 2019
In This Article, We Will Talk About
- Difference between the cost of living of a newbie and a seasoned Expat
- Our cost of living in Medellin Colombia
- What YOUR cost of living will be in Colombia
- What Gringo-Prices are, and how you can avoid them (with video)
- The cost of living in different Colombian cities
- A detailed explanation of a budget in Colombia
- The summary of a typical budget in Colombia
Our Cost Of Living vs. Your Cost Of Living? Newbie vs. Seasoned
First I’m going to share what our cost of living in Colombia is and after that what YOU personally will spend in Colombia. We spent enough time in Colombia, that we have adapted to the culture so much that we really get the low cost of living.
With our clients, we find often that they can spend 2-5! times more than we do. Just because they either don’t know the local prices or don’t know how to shop like a local.
We will show you in this article, how you can avoid that. More down below.
Our Cost Of Living In Medellin Colombia 2021
First and foremost I want to give you our perspective on the cost of living, for the whole article about our complete budget and our complete cost of living in Medellin, check out our article here. We live a low-key lifestyle, so no apple products, no iPads, no expensive clothes, heck we don’t even own a TV or a printer. That allows us to live a lifestyle at a very low cost.
Here is our monthly budget in Medellin Colombia. This is as a couple not per Person.
- USD 320 – Accommodation
- USD 70 – Utilities
- USD 220 – Food
- USD 260 – Groceries
- USD 50 – Medical
- USD 95 – Transport
- USD 60 – Entertainment
- USD 25 – Cell Phone
- USD 100 – Insurance
- USD 60 – Misc.
USD 1260 – Cost Of Living In Medellin 2021
More details about our personal cost of living in Medellin, in this article.
What Will YOUR Cost Of Living In Colombia Be?
Now you know our cost of living, but what will you spend. This is exactly what we are going to look at in this article. It’s important to understand that your cost of living will not be as low as ours. At least, in the beginning.
There is a big learning curve and a need for you to adapt to the culture. In order for us to cut our cost of living we had to know where to shop, what to buy and one of the biggest factors, how to rent the local way. More in the video “My Gringo Price Story” and written down below.
Gringo Prices Will Kill Your Budget In Colombia
So, you are trying to find out where to save, you changed from eating cereals in the morning which cost USD 4, to Arepa(USD 0.60). You don’t go to Carulla(like Whole Foods) anymore and switched to D1 (budget grocery store). That’s good but all for nothing if you get Gringo Priced for bigger budget items like your apartment.
Gringo Prices (getting gouged because you are a foreigner) can mostly be found on the rental market, so if you cut down on cost by buying groceries by 50%, which would be amazing. This will save maybe USD 200/m. But we find with a lot of Expats, that in the meantime pay waaaaay to much for their apartment, which costs them USD 500/m more than they need to.
So it’s very important to be careful when renting a place that you are not getting convenient and rent the next best place, but try to find a good deal.
Don’t Get Paranoid About Gringo Prices
The clients we help settle down in Colombia all have the same perception of a Latin American country; “The locals will rip me off!”. The reality though is that next to the rental market, where a lot of bad real estate agents can be found that will happily gouge you, the issue is not too big.
It is not like you will go to a supermarket and people will gouge you because you are a foreigner. The same thing applies to go shopping in a mall etc. So just be clever when it comes to finding a rental apartment or buying a home. Other than that, gringo prices are quite a “non-factor” in our lives here.
Cost Of Living In The Cities Of Colombia
So let’s go into what you will spend in Colombia after you settled a bit and got used to the culture. Most Expats will stay in the cities of Colombia. Throughout this video, we will take Medellin as the baseline. But it’s quite simple if you are interested in other cities in Colombia. It’s like that:
- Cali – 20% less than Medellin
- Pereira -20% less than Medellin
- Santa Marta -20% less than Medellin
- Cartagena +20% higher than Medellin
- Bogota +20% higher than Medellin
Cost Of Living In The Countryside Of Colombia
If you live outside in the countryside it really comes down to your lifestyle. If you live like a local you can live with the cost of living as low as USD 800-1000/m. If you buy a place it can be even cheaper, this would be around USD 500-8000/m.
Cost Of Living For A Couple In Colombia
The prices we will show through this article will be for a couple. As a couple, you have the advantage to share the rent and share your resources. Many of our clients come as a couple, so that’s why we focus on that.
Cost Of Living For One Person In Colombia
If you are a solo Expat, you can make use out of this article very easily too. You just take our figures in the summary and subtract them by 30%. This will be the cost that you will have as a solo Expat here in Colombia.
The cost that will not significantly drop is the rental cost, the big advantage of being a couple is that the apartment is way more inexpensive if you can divide it by two.
Let’s Start With The Budget
We will start with the approximate cost you will have in Colombia in a detailed fashion. Just as a reminder it’s for a couple (not per person) and the prices are based on the prices in Medellin if not otherwise stated.
Cost Of Accommodation In Colombia
For accommodation in Medellin, you have to expect around USD 560 to USD 700 for a two-bedroom unfurnished apartment. That also depends on the neighborhood you are living in. The mentioned price is for a nice and safe neighborhood with a security guard, located in the city center.
Prices For A Unfurnished Apartment In Colombia
There are many luxury apartments available a lot of Soon-To-Be Expats stumble on while doing research. These prices are not including those apartments.
Prices in Medellin For An Unfurnished Apartment
- 1 Bedroom COP 1.3 – 2.0Mio – USD 400 – 630
- 2 Bedroom COP 1.8 – 2.3Mio – USD 560 – 700
- 3 Bedroom COP 2.3 – 3.2Mio – USD 700 – 990
Remember In Bogota and Cartagena, you will pay 20% more and in the other cities like Cali, Pereira, and Santa Marta, 20% less.
Prices For A Furnished Apartment In Colombia
If you rather want to rent a furnished apartment you can count from around USD 800 to USD 1300 a month. Those prices mostly include all the amenities.
Prices in Medellin For A Furnished Apartment
- 1 Bedroom COP 2.2 – 3.1Mio – USD 680 – 960
- 2 Bedroom COP 2.6 – 4.1Mio – USD 800 – 1270
- 3 Bedroom COP 4.0 – 5.3Mio – USD 780 – 1640
More detailed information about how to get an apartment in Medellin hassle-free without gringo prices in this article.
Gringo Prices In The Rental Market In Colombia
Experience shows that many Expats that come here don’t get these prices from the beginning. Many Expats will pay maybe double or triple of the mentioned prices.
The biggest problem is that most Expats are not accustomed to the prices here and don’t know how much is too much. Locals and even foreigners take advantage of that, that’s called getting “Gringo priced.” Getting overcharged because of the lack of, Spanish skills, knowing the market, etc. This is especially true in the rental market.
But be aware just because somebody charges more, it is not automatically a Gringo Price. Sometimes it’s just because they require less paperwork, or they offer a better service. So it’s up to you to find out if you are about to get Gringo-Priced or not.
Cost Of Utilities In Colombia
The cost of the utilities in Colombia is around USD 100. This will include gas, electricity, water, TV, phone, and Internet. Basically everything you need in your house or your apartment. If you rent a furnished place this is mostly already covered with your monthly bill.
If you’re living at the coast you will most probably use an air conditioner which will add to the costs. In Medellin, Bogota, and Pereira you don’t really need it. In Cali, you possibly might need it.
Again, when you’re considering living at the coast it will add up to around USD 20 to 30 to the amenities.
Cost Of Food In Colombia
Another great advantage of living in Colombia is when it comes to food.
Eating out, for instance, is really inexpensive it’s incredible what you get for your money, we are still surprised about the prices sometimes.
For breakfast, you can pay around USD 1.50 to USD 5.00. It usually includes coffee or hot chocolate, arepa with cheese, eggs sometimes you even get sausage and beans. It also depends on the city, the coast it’s different compared to the Andes regions.
When it comes to lunch you can expect to pay around USD 3 to USD 5. For that amount of money, you’ll get soup, fruit juice, and the main plate. Colombians eat a lot of carbs, which means it is normal to get potatoes and rice, also they usually have a small salad and the protein of your choice.
Which is mostly, pork, beef, or chicken. Sometimes they might offer fish or seafood but that’s pretty unusual because seafood is more expensive than meat. That concerns mostly the Andes region, the coast is a whole other story, seafood and fish are super cheap there.
The places to get such an inexpensive lunch usually don’t look attractive to foreigners. Those are really local places and depending on where you are you can’t expect them to take your order in English.
Lunch is always cheaper than dinner. Especially when you want the same amount of food you’ll probably going to spend double or triple the price you get at noon. (Which is still inexpensive)
Having dinner in a nice neighborhood in a nice restaurant is also really affordable. You really can expect to pay around 10 maybe 15 US dollars for a very good steak and french fries for example.
I have to add, that you’ll find those prices outside of the touristy areas. Those are local places and not the overcharging touristy restaurants.
Cost Of Groceries In Colombia
On groceries, you will probably spend around USD 300 to 350 US per month. If you go to the local markets, it can be cheaper. But on average that’s what you’ll spend. On a monthly basis, you can always save money when you avoid international isles in the grocery stores and just buy the local products.
Cost Of Healthcare In Colombia
With medical we mean going to the doctor. A general doctor here will cost around USD 25 a visit.
A specialist around USD 50 a visit. In case of a more severe injury like a broken bone, it will cost only around USD 3,000 to USD 4,000. This is unbelievably inexpensive, more about Colombian healthcare in this article.
Cost Of Transportation In Colombia
Transportation here in Colombia is very inexpensive as well as taxi rides through town. It doesn’t really matter which town you’re in, it will probably cost around USD 5 to USD 7 per ride. The minimum cost per ride is around USD 1.50 in Medellin.
Public transportation in the bigger cities especially in Medellin is very developed. On the coast not so much. Again we have a very good metro system and one ride will cost around 70 cents and you can literally go from one end of the city to the other end of the city.
That might take around 40 to 50 minutes and still cost you only 70 cents. As long as you don’t leave the checkout point you can go back and forth all day long. Buses are similarly inexpensive with an average cost of around 70 cents as well.
Bogota doesn’t have a metro station but well-organized bus lines. Bogota’s bus system can get crowded especially during rush hour, just as in every other city too, and as in Medellin, it is inexpensive, which means 50 cents to USD 1 per ride.
Places like Cali, Pereira, Santa Marta, and Cartagena rely on Buses for public transports. Usually, though, Expats take a taxi or get a car.
Cost Of A Cell Phone Plan In Colombia
Most Expats including us, prefer to just have a prepaid plan instead of a contract. The cost for a prepaid plan with for example Claro, with 1.5 GB and unlimited calls is around USD 15, also they include WhatsApp, Twitter, and Facebook to be used without using touching the data you purchased.
The best thing about using a prepaid you can check every provider if you want and see which one works best and of course if you don’t know yet for how long you are going to stay it makes it way easier to leave the country when not having contracts to cancel.
Cost Of Insurance In Colombia
Colombia has a very good insurance system the EPS, which is the public medical insurance and it’s very inexpensive. It’s probably around USD 80 to USD 150 per month. The price surely depends on age and other specifics. The quality is ok, if you want outstanding quality you can apply for private insurance which will cost around USD 150 to 250 per month. More in this article about healthcare in Colombia.
Other expenses you might have, are on entertainment. All kinds of entertainment like movies, bowling, Tejo, clubbing and so more. Those kinds of activities will set you back around USD 5 to USD 10.
On top of that, depending on the season there are a lot of events for free too.
In case you need you are thinking of getting a maid. Many Expats let a maid come full-time for like one or two days out of the week. For like 2 days the maid comes cleans everything, does the laundry, and all the things you ask her to do. You can expect to pay a maid around USD 30-50/ month if she comes twice a week for a whole day.
The Summary For A Cost Of Living Example
I guess after stating so many low prices you get why people are coming here for the low cost of living. There’s surely more about Colombia that keeps attracting young and old Expats to settle here, but that’s a topic we wrote about in the article about the Pros Of Living in Colombia.
Let’s get an overview of everything. Let’s make a summary of all the mentioned costs of living.
Here is an example of a monthly budget in Medellin Colombia. This is as a couple not per person and surely for a seasoned Expat with an unfurnished apartment.
- USD 500 – Accommodation
- USD 100 – Utilities
- USD 200 – Food
- USD 350 – Groceries
- USD 50 – Medical
- USD 100 – Transport
- USD 30 – Cell Phone
- USD 120 – Insurance
- USD 100 – Other
USD 1600 – Cost Of Living In Colombia
At the end of the month, you can expect to have spent around USD 1600. Don’t forget to calculate the 20% more or less depending on the city you are thinking of living in.
Conclusion – Cost Of Living In Colombia
In Colombia you can get a developed world lifestyle, you’re in a metropolitan city, you get all the upscale stores, fancy malls, and everything. So everything you can wish for just at a way lower price than in the US, Canada, Australia, or Europe.
There are many different reasons people come to Colombia, the low cost of living is surely one of the biggest reasons we find with our clients.
Make sure you know how to get the local prices as on a regular basis we see our clients spending way too much in the beginning till we show them how it’s done the Colombian way.
If you do it correctly you can have an amazing life, with an amazing Bang-For-Your-Buck in Colombia.