The warmth of the sun on your face, gentle sea breezes blowing in your hair, the lovely aroma of warm salt air mixed with just a touch of fresh seafood, waves breaking on the sandy beaches and amazing sunsets…Santa Marta is a delight for all of your senses.
On Colombia’s Caribbean coast, Santa Marta is quickly becoming a sought-after expat destination. With average daytime highs of 90 F and an evening lows of 75 F, the warm climate is a magnet for those wanting an outdoor, ocean-focused lifestyle. A 15-minute taxi ride from the airport, the greater Santa Marta area offers history, beautiful white-sand beaches, water activities, ecotourism, trendy restaurants, and a growing nightlife.
Santa Marta is a haven for sun and sea worshipers. The in-town beaches of Santa Marta proper and the Rodadero area are family-friendly with street vendors offering freshly-made juices, water, and snacks.
Parque Tayrona, the area’s national park, is about 20 miles outside of the city. Besides enjoying the white sand and clear, warm water, you can see a wide range of flora and fauna and the park is home to hundreds of species of birds, and four types of sea turtles.
The clear, tranquil waters offer scuba divers hours of exploring the coral reefs and photographing the large variety of vibrant-colored tropical fish who have made their homes in the wrecks. Not a diver yet? Don’t worry. If that’s on your bucket list to do while living in a tropical paradise, Santa Marta has many schools to help realize your dream with certification taking only a few days.
Although Santa Marta is significantly smaller than the major cities of Medellín and Bogota, it has everything you need for daily life. There are several shopping malls, large grocery stores, and real estate offices, as well as branches of all major Colombian banks.
Like many cities in Colombia, Santa Marta boasts excellent healthcare services. Two medical centers provide full service diagnostics, inpatient care, general and specialty physicians. And smaller clinics are all easily accessible in the heart of the city.
Located between the beach and the historic district is Parque de los Novios (Lover’s Park), the heart of Santa Marta’s entertainment area. Residents and tourists alike gather to listen to music, catch up on the day’s activities, or just sit on the park benches and people watch. Restaurants, bars, coffee shops, and bakeries surround the plaza. The sounds of salsa, vallenato, and classic rock all blend together and make it difficult to keep your feet still. On Thursday to Saturday nights, the park is a mecca for those wanting to sample the eclectic cuisine, watch street performers, or purchase crafts from street vendors.
Then there’s the food. Exceptional seafood is caught right off the beach and brought straight to your table. Juancho’s cevicheria has been a local fixture since 1973 serving a traditional combination of shrimp, oysters, conch, skate, and octopus in a red sauce with just the right amount of lime juice and cilantro. A medium-size cup served with saltine crackers, enough to satisfy your midday hunger, is only $4. Fresh fruits and vegetables are plentiful and inexpensive and there are several farmer’s markets around the city or you can shop in the local supermarkets. A week’s worth of produce costs about $10.
Whether you want to live in a high-rise apartment building overlooking the ocean, or a house tucked away in the foothills, Santa Marta has plenty of housing options. Prices vary depending on proximity to the water, but you can find two- or three-bedroom, two-bathroom apartments of around 1,200 square feet for under $150,000. If you prefer renting, there are options available for $500 per month.
You can spend your leisure time soaking up the local culture at one of the many libraries located throughout the city which offer concerts, expositions, and lectures.
If you’re looking for a warm weather, laidback lifestyle with all the amenities for comfortable living, and affordable real estate, Santa Marta could be the place for you.
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