Located at the tip of South America, Colombia is where the Pacific and the Caribbean collide with the Andes and the Amazon. It’s a country that is more beautiful, dramatic, and diverse than nearly any other. It offers sparkling colonial cities in the highlands and world-famous (and safe) resorts along the Caribbean. Cartagena, a walled colonial city on those turquoise shores, is one of Spanish America’s most beautiful enclaves.

What’s more, Colombia boasts beautiful areas where the cost of living is the lowest you’ll find anywhere in South America—lower, even, than in Ecuador.

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Fast Facts About Colombia

  • Population: 45,745,783
  • Capital City: Bogota
  • Climate: Tropical along coast and eastern plains; cooler in highlands
  • Time Zone: EST (GMT-5)
  • Language: Spanish (official)
  • Country Code: +57



The Benefits of Living in Colombia

You might think you know a thing or two about Colombia, but I bet you don’t know everything. For example, did you know that Medellin now has a new title—the Urban Land Institute’s Innovative City of the Year for 2013? Or that UNESCO’s World Heritage List includes seven Colombian sites, and 19 more are currently under review for inclusion.

Only With Boots on the Ground Can You Uncover Secret Finds

Atlantic beach towns that take you back in time…a foodie’s paradise in Southeast Asia where dim sum stalls beckon…an arts-rich bohemian haven in South America full of cafés and concerts… All over the planet you’ll find hidden gems like these—spots that rarely, if ever, earn even a passing mention in the popular press. It’s not surprising. Almost no publications bother to keep outposts abroad anymore. The quality and scope of international news coverage—and our understanding of and empathy for the world—has suffered for it.

Buga, Southern Colombia’s Hip, Low-Cost Town

It’s 10 a.m. in Buga, Colombia, and downtown is buzzing.I’m sitting in an open-air café with British expat Richie Holding, taking in the sights and sounds that make this a one-of-a-kind town.

Myths about Emerging Markets

Myths about Emerging Markets

Many emerging markets are actually in much better physical shape than the United States. So for instance, while people think of countries like Indonesia as being highly risky from a fiscal standpoint, Indonesia is actually on much sounder financial footing than the U.S.


Find Your Sea Legs with an Affordable Boating Retirement

You’ve just weighed anchor on another night of bliss, lulled to sleep by the gentle rocking of your sailboat in the calm sea. Before you is a small cove lined by craggy cliffs. Clear blue waters end at a white-sand beach. You’ve had it all to yourself for the last week. It was supposed to be just an overnight stop. But it was so beautiful, you decided to stick around. After a quick dip, you’re enjoying a cup of coffee and a light breakfast on deck as you contemplate which island paradise you’ll go to next.


I’d Never Live on This Caribbean Island…

I’m writing this postcard from a veranda overlooking the Caribbean Sea on a nearly forgotten tropical island. The ocean is showing off several shades of blue and a slight breeze teases the palms. The piña colada at my side completes the picture. But as my family’s annual vacation draws to a close I’m actually a bit anxious to return home to Cotacachi, Ecuador.

Monica Williams traded a New York career for overseas living by using her skills to create a new income.

How One Desk Jockey Took Her Skill on the Road

When I quit my job to travel the world for a year‚ the last thing I wanted to do was work. Well, at least not in the capacity that I used to as an editor in Manhattan. In fact‚ part of the reason I left the country was to take a break from the New York corporate rat race.

Latin American Mountain Homes from $138,000

For many, Latin America conjures up images of steamy, wildlife-filled jungles and beautiful people lounging on tropical beaches, sipping umbrella-bedecked drinks. But there’s a whole other side to Latin America…regions where temperate—even cool—climates and jaw-dropping vistas of snow-covered volcanos are the order of the day.


“But You Can’t Speak Spanish…”

“Wait, what? Don’t move to Argentina, you can’t speak any Spanish!” Everyone reacted the same way when I announced I was moving. My Spanish education consisted of one class I took for a few months when I was 11 years old.


5 Reasons to Retire to Colombia

If you ask expats living in Colombia why they fell in love with the country, most will say because of its warm and welcoming people. But once you settle in, you’ll discover that hospitality is just the icing on the cake, because there are endless reasons to retire to Colombia. In Colombia, you can find unbelievable deals on homes and the cost of living is downright cheap. You can choose a town or city in which to live based upon the type of climate and lifestyle you most enjoy. Best of all, you’ll be able relish your retirement…

Discovering Comfortable Corners in Unexpected Places

All over the planet you’ll find little pockets of prosperity…corners where you can live comfortably on a modest budget…destinations rich with opportunity for adventure and profit. Rarely—if ever—are these places you hear about on the nightly news. But that’s not surprising. Our correspondents aren’t looking under bushes for a brouhaha.

The most visited town in Colombia's Coffee Country, Salento is just one of its colonial gems.

Breakfast in Paris, Lunch in Barcelona…and much more

Colombians have been visiting the colonial town of Salento in the heart of the country’s Coffee Triangle for decades. Its colorful bahareque architecture and the proximity of the vast and magnificent Cocora National Park are just two attractions. Trout is a specialty dish. And costs of living are low. For example, expats who have settled in the region report renting for just $200 a month.

Bustling Pereira is the most modern and convenient of the region's cities and in parts you'll feel like you've landed in Fort Lauderdale or Miami. © holgs/iStock

The Coffee Triangle: A Lifestyle for Everyone in the Heart of Colombia

In many ways the Coffee Triangle is the heart and soul of Colombia. Even in the region’s modern cities, where you’ll find international cuisine, state-of-the-art museums, and innovative public transport, the country’s agrarian traditions linger. Farmers sporting traditional straw hats sit amongst college students in cafés, and hardware stores in trendy shopping malls display agricultural tools in front windows.

You can buy a one-bedroom condo with views of the ocean, beach and jungle-covered hills in Puerta Vallarta, Mexico for just $119,000. © Elenathewise/iStock

Five Spots Where You Can Find Premium Views for Less than $150,000

A great view usually translates into a premium price tag. But you can afford a home with stunning vistas if know the right place to look. For example, I know of one Pacific coast town where a beachfront condo with Californian-style ocean views and a similar lifestyle will only set you back $119,000. You’d need at least three times that to get close to the beach in California.

Travel the unknown, and fund your travels with a basic skill...your ability to teach English.

They’ll Line Up to Pay You When You Go Overseas With This Skill

I used to be like you. Sitting in front of a computer screen dreaming of faraway places…the sun on my face…lazy afternoons exploring forgotten seaside villages…or drifting through market towns in search of exotic indigenous rugs and hammocks to adorn my beautiful, colonial apartment. And then I decided to actually do it! In 2003, I chucked in my day job, bought a ticket to South America, and never looked back.

In Pictures: The World’s Best Retirement Havens in 2014

For more than 30 years, International Living has been researching the best retirement havens in the world…and every January the Annual Global Retirement Index is released—highlighting the best places for you to retire. This Index ranks the top 24 countries in the world for retirement in 8 categories. The top 10 countries that feature on the list this year each bring spectacular benefits for retirees living overseas—from great health care and ideal climates to a low cost of living and financial perks for retirees. Starting with number 10, here are our top retirement havens for 2014.


Microbrew Success in an Old Colonial Town in Colombia

Buga is one of Colombia’s oldest colonial towns, and a place tourists pass through on their way from Cali to the coffee region. It has a hot, humid climate where a good beer wouldn’t go astray. At least that’s what Stefan Schnur thought when he first visited. Stefan, 43, is originally from Germany but had lived in the United States for 20 years—most recently in Port Townsend, Washington.

Sharpen Your Focus to Make Things Happen

At the end of the calendar year, we hear a lot about goals and resolutions. Television reporters with slow news days on their hands take to the streets to inquire about changes folks are planning to make in the coming year. A few weeks later, the same reporters will share statistics of all the health club dropouts and other abandoned resolutions.

Inside Track on Researching Your Franchise Options

One of the ways to reduce the uncertainty of moving overseas and setting up your own enterprise is to buy into a franchise—an already proven business model. The advantage of a franchise is that it has name recognition, provides you with the necessary “know how,” and much of the groundwork has already been done, which will increase your chances of success.

Record Numbers of Americans Wave Goodbye to Uncle Sam

Record Numbers of Americans Wave Goodbye to Uncle Sam

The number of U.S. taxpayers renouncing their American citizenship or permanent-resident status is accelerating. For many, the benefits of U.S. citizenship no longer outweigh the costs. Whether you are a high-net-worth individual or a young entrepreneur with a lifetime of earnings ahead of you, renouncing your U.S. citizenship is the only way to end your U.S. tax obligations.

Buy And Renovate A Colonial Home In Colombia

Buy and Renovate a Colonial Home in Colombia

I have a confession to make. I’m a romantic. Whenever I travel, I look for a hotel or hostel in an old colonial home. When I wake up in the morning, I throw open the shutters or step out onto the balcony imagining I’ve been transported back in time. But there are folks who get to do that every day. And you can, too.

Colombia’s Banks: The Rise of Prosperity Along a New Frontier

Colombia’s Banks: The Rise of Prosperity Along a New Frontier

The morning rush hour spreads through the central business district of Popayán, Colombia. But the rush of activity isn’t the relatively few cars and motorbikes slipping through the narrow lanes of this well-preserved colonial city. It’s the armada of street vendors for whom these lanes serve as a showroom floor.

Colombia: Which Visa is Right for You?

Canadian and U.S. citizens don’t need a visa to enter Colombia as a tourist. If it’s your first time in the calendar year to enter Colombia, you can stay for up to 90 days. If you decide to stay longer, you can apply for a 90-day extension at one of 27 Migración Colombia offices throughout the country.

All about Apostilles in Colombia

An apostille is an internationally-recognized certification applied to certain types of public documents, which can include diplomas, marriage licenses, patents, birth certificates, judgments, pension and Social Security documents, or adoption papers. Countries that have signed the Apostille Convention, a treaty drafted by the Hague Conference on Private International Law, require foreigners to submit apostilled documents when conducting certain types of business.

Colombia: Check Your Worries at the Border

I remember clearly the knot that formed in my stomach as I approached the Colombian border for the first time. I had been living in Cusco, Peru, and in order to escape the rainy season there I was taking a trip. Colombia was a country that scared me. So why was I going? All I can say is curiosity had gotten the better of me. I had spoken with lots of backpackers passing through Peru and each and every one had told me Colombia was their favorite South American country.


English-Speakers Wanted…from Spain to Mexico

My profession has taken me all across the world, experiencing unique journeys…attending world famous events…and meeting fascinating people. And I got paid to do it. I have rung in the New Year at Hogmanay in Edinburgh, danced up a storm at Seville’s April Fair, and was awed by the beauty of Buddha’s birthday celebrations in South Korea. I have ridden camels through the Sahara desert, liberated baby sea turtles in Mexico and swam with sharks in Belize.

Sarah invested in Coronado, Panama because of its close proximity to Panama City and its great recreational opportunities.

Escape to Warmer Climes and Live off Your Property Investments

I purchased my first rental property in the ski resort village of Whistler, BC, Canada, when I was 23-years-old with a very small down payment. At the time, I was working as reservations manager for a property management company so I had first-hand knowledge of the strong returns that could be achieved through rentals. Over the following eight years, I proceeded to buy, renovate, rent short-term, and ultimately sell nine Whistler properties.

Manizales is one of a number of towns on the edge of Colombia's Coffee Triangle, where visitor numbers are growing and there is an opportunity in the tourism business. ©Holger Mette/iStock

Hostel Owners Reap Rewards in Colombia’s Coffee Triangle

The tourism market in Colombia’s Coffee Triangle is heating up fast—and expat hostel owners are setting up shop and cashing in. For decades, the Coffee Triangle—referred to locally as El Eje Cafetero—has been a favorite vacation spot for Colombians. But an increasing number of foreign tourists are descending on the region, too.

Property is affordable in Ecuador compared to the U.S. and Europe.

The Top Three Best Places to Retire Overseas to Buy Real Estate

Buying real estate overseas is different in each country as they all have their own laws and rules to abide by. But once you have an in-country attorney the process should be straightforward. In International Living’s annual Global Retirement Index 2013 we took real estate into consideration when coming up with the best places to retire overseas.

Expat Judy Miranda has been sourcing folk art in Latin America for years and selling it on for profit from her own stall.

Make Artisan Profits Overseas

There are communities in many parts of the world where arts and crafts are still made by hand…and markets in other parts of the world ready to pay good money for them. Bringing them together is the perfect way to create an income for yourself while enjoying a life of travel or living overseas at a lower cost than back home.


Falling in Love with This Charming Colonial Town in Colombia

As the bus rounds the bend, a town appears in the distance—perched majestically atop a mountain, surrounded by deep green forests, cattle ranches, and coffee farms. White-washed walls reflect the golden afternoon sun and a church bell tower rises into the heavens. This is where expats go to live a stylish country life.


Chase Summertime to These Snow-Bird Escapes

Winter is nigh in North America. Bitter cold, ice storms, flurries, and blizzards are on their way. These are the months spent indoors, staring out at grey skies, pining for spring. But there are places where the sun is shining right now, temperatures are going up, and it’s already beach season.

Judy Miranda (left) brings folk art
from artisans around the world to
the American market—and profits
in the process.

Brokering Artisan Profits Overseas

There are communities in many parts of the world where arts and crafts are still made by hand…and markets in other parts of the world ready to pay good money for them. Bringing them together is the perfect way to create an income for yourself while enjoying a life of travel or living overseas at a lower cost than back home.

You can open a BioPlaza franchise for around $50,000.

Tapping Colombia’s New Consumer Trend

Changing nutritional preferences and the restructuring of society are leading to new consumer trends in Colombia—and creating opportunities for expat entrepreneurs in the health-food market. BioPlaza is a chain of four outlets in Bogotá—three of them franchised—that is seeking to exploit this demand and is now looking for franchisees. The man behind it is Alex von Loebell, 49, who came to Colombia from Germany, where he had studied marketing and advertising, and worked in the media.

horses common sighting

An Unhurried Country Life in Colombia’s Coffee Region

As the bus rounds the bend, a town appears in the distance— perched majestically atop a mountain, surrounded by deep green forests, cattle ranches, and coffee farms. White-washed walls reflect the golden afternoon sun and a church bell tower rises into the heavens. Salento, my destination, where expats go to live a stylish country life.


Three Towns Offering 8% Rental Yields Right Now

I know of only a handful of places around the world right now where you can buy a property for $150,000…and have it throw off $1,000 a month in yield right from the start. These are the rental-yield super-stars.


The Truth About Chinese Growth

There has been a lot of hand-wringing lately over the slowdown in official Chinese GDP growth,” writes IL Finance Editor, Chris Hunter

Earn a Living from All-American Food

Earn a Living from All-American Food

You could say Geoff Bailey owes his business success to peanut butter. The 55-year-old from Oregon moved to Colombia with the intention of slowing down and enjoying retirement.

Earn Abroad with All-American Food

Sometimes the most successful ideas for setting up a business overseas are right under your nose. Sometimes they are so simple, you overlook them.The very easiest thing you could produce may well have a hungry market just waiting to snap up your output. And you could be well on your way to profits with the most basic product of all—American-style food.

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