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11 Downsides to Living in Medellín: An Expat Perspective - Medellin Guru
Medellín has a reputation as a good place to live with a good climate and low cost of living. But there are still downsides to living in Medellín.

11 Downsides to Living in Medellín: An Expat Perspective – 2021 Update

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83 thoughts on “11 Downsides to Living in Medellín: An Expat Perspective – 2021 Update”

    1. Philip Clinton Thompson Jr March 7, 2021

      Your article was not about Medellin, it was about Colombia. You should completely change the title.

      • NO! The article is about Medellín with info about traffic in Medellín, pollution in Medellín, crime in Medellín, questions from family and friends regarding the reputation of Medellín.

        As clearly stated in the article, some downsides apply to other cities in Colombia and we state: “(Note this is a Colombia downside that is also a downside in other cities in Colombia)”

        The above article is meant to show the downsides including some that are only for the city and some that apply to other cities – otherwise we would leave out some important downsides for someone only reading this article.

        We have a separate article that looks at the downsides to living in Colombia – https://medellinguru.com/colombia-downsides-living-in-colombia/

    2. i prefer Thailand over Medellin. Better night life, better and cheaper massages(But because i have bad back) and better food. Also woman in Thailand are more submissive and will do more for you. Also safer. But Medellin is my 2nd favorite city and so I’m here now since Thailand is closed.

      Have you have visited Thailand Medellin Guru?

    3. Samuel April 9, 2020

      Not sure if anyone still check this thread but I was hoping to get some information as far as moving to Colombia and how the whole customs process is going to be?
      My wife is Colombian and we are moving to Colombia to live there. We already bought a house in Madeline. We like to bring all our household goods to Colombia and have reached to few companies and few have offered us the service however it seems bringing personal items to Colombia is quite challenging

      https://usgshipping.com/shipping-to-central-and-south-america/shipping-to-south-america/shipping-to-colombia-from-usa

      Is this true that we need the permission from Colombian Embassy to bring our items to Colombia?
      Please share your experience if you have shipped a container.

    4. Hey Jeff, I’m in Medellín and I don’t agree with a couple of things… security, depends where you are in the city. I’ve walked alone at late hours and alone without any fears, sure there are places you just wouldn’t go even if it’s in the middle on the day but for the 3 years I’ve lived here I’ve never had the need to expose myself in those places. Traffic, yes but for most big cities is pretty much the same thing… at least here you can find places in Poblado where you don’t need a car and there’s practically no traffic in your street, very calm… and for pico y placa, if you get an electric car there’s no restriction if you decide to buy one… and yes, they are more expensive.

    5. Tyler A Caron July 6, 2019

      Hello, I am an American Researcher at James Madison University working on a study of expats. If you have 15-20 minutes and would like to participate, here is the link to the survey. All responses are anonymous. Thanks in advance!

      Here is the link to the survey:

      http://jmu.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_42S7BYXE1HL64Bv

    6. Mark G McDaniel June 27, 2019

      Planning a trip to Medellin in mid July to scout out the area for possible retirement destination in 3 years. Really appreciated all the information you have provided Jeff and for the comments as well. Thanks! Mark

    7. Leaving Colombian drivers off the list is unforgivable!
      Ruthless, inconsiderate, aggressive, and just plain dangerous. The amount of really bad accidents I see on a daily basis on my commute to Alto de las Palmas is staggering.
      Colombian drivers have become my biggest gripe after 4 years living in El Medallo.

    8. very good I liked high quality content

    9. Karlton Kemerait March 8, 2019

      Hi Jeff,

      Thanks for the great info. My wife is Colombian and we’ve been married for 13 years now. She would like us to move to Medellin in maybe 5 or 6 more years. While has great advice on culture in general, she is from the Cali area and so has limited personal info on Medellin, so your articles are a great help. Thanks again!

    10. Mark Luoma January 11, 2019

      Hi Jeff,

      One negative about colombia is how difficult it is to pay bills remotely. I’m still struggling to pay utilities through EPM remotely fromm USA. I can ask friends in Medellin to help me out, but I don’t what to constantly ask. XOOM (PayPal company) is starting to get set up in Colombia but they are not connected to EPM as of yet. World remit does not seem to work for me either – Any Expats have luck with remote bill paying to EPM?

      • BTW: I don’t have a Colombian Bank .

      • One way is to have a bank account in Colombia with online access. For example, I have a Colpatria account that I can use to pay EPM.

        • Ernesto E Hylton March 18, 2019

          Hi Jeff –

          First, thank you very much for the great job that you do in publishing such great and helpful information for folks who are thinking about a move to Medellin, Colombia. I applied for and received a M-11 (Pensionado Visa) which is good for three years. I live in NYC. The entire process took 48 hours after paying ($52 and $230) via a money order (no cash accepted at the consulate). I retired on March 1st 2019 but prior to that I visited the SS office to claim early benefits at 62 years. The process was relatively easy. Within a month I received my award letter in which my monthly SS check amount was noted. I visited 2 government offices downtown in NY to have the SS letter apostilled. I took that letter to the meeting with at the consulate in NYC. I am traveling to Medellin within the next two weeks. I was instructed to visit Migracion as soon as I get to Medellin (15 days window) to register my visa. Once that process is completed I will at the same location apply for my cedula para pensionado. Questions: (1) Can I open a checking account as soon as I apply for the cedula? will I receive the cedula on the same day or will the give me a receipt which I can use to open the checking account? I am vising for 10 days before my wife and I officially move to Medellin at the end of May – already purchased tickets including one for our dog. Thanks again for all the great information that you provide. I use Medellin Guru for reference on everything that we do.

    11. Fabian Gomez November 1, 2018

      Dear Jeff, I am 68, single, and native born Californian from Los Angeles and have been retired in Lake Chapala, Jalisco, Mexico for the last 6 years on a tourist visa returning to California a couple times a year to visit family. I would like to relocate to Medellin as a retiree. I have a decent pension as a retired Spanish teacher and English as a second language educator for the state of California. I visited the Colombian Consulate in nearby Guadalajara with all the proper documents for the retirement visa. The only problem was that the document with proof of my retirement benefits was not accepted because it did not have my name on it. At that point, I had relaized that I had downloaded the wrong document. Instead of suggesting to me to return with the proper document, I was told that I would have apply at the Los Angeles Consulate with the correct documentation and to be interviewed. I informed him, according to your website, that one can apply at any worlwide Colombian consulate foer the reitement visa and he still advised me to apply in L.A. Jeff, what´s your take on this? By the way, he did not give off a positive vibe….as if he wanted to make it diificult for me…Instead of flying back to L.A., would you suggest that I apply in Bogota? I plan to visit Medellin again for two weeks in january. Id much rather apply in person than online. Thankd Jeff!

      • Hi Fabian, you are supposed to be able to apply for visas at any Colombian consulates but the consulate in Mexico probably isn’t experienced with working with foreigners from the U.S. When you visit Medellín in January you could also potentially use a visa agency. There are several listed in this article – https://medellinguru.com/retirement-visa/ and InterCol is responsive and reliable in my experience.

    12. Too many americans here thanks partially to the excellent work done by Jeff and his team!

    13. Such a great article about vehicle, this is very informative and helpful.

    14. Jeff,

      Great article. Very informative. The income tax portion is a bit confusing. So if I lived in Colombia would I be required to pay income tax on my American pension which I do not pay in the the U.S. ?

      • Thanks. Supposedly no longer needed to pay income taxes on a foreign pension according to a presentation by a tax accountant I saw recently. I plan to write an updated income taxes article when I get more information.

    15. Aaron Smith July 19, 2018

      Wow great post. Thanks for sharing.

    16. Can you get health insurance there? What does it cost?

    17. I wondered where in the list the traffic would be placed. To no surprise, first. It’s definitely off putting of one is not accustomed to such heavy and disorganized traffic.

    18. Henry Collins April 19, 2018

      Colombia is a beautiful country. As always, one should be always cautious when traveling/staying in a foreign country.

    19. christophe April 12, 2018

      I am surprised by how many comments there are about pollution….I guess Jeff has done his research and one cannot argue with facts, yet I can say that prior to reading this article pollution never came to mind, Ok I only spent 5 weeks recently in Medellin part of a 10 week trip in Colombia and never felt it. I was in Mexico city last year and after 4 days I would wake up in the morning short of breath and could smell it…..you can really also feel the pollution in Bogota…..but Medellin?…..so I guess it is all relative. Yes I agree be really careful as a pedestrian and I found that 90% of the places i wanted to check out where within 1km of a metro station or a rapid bus stop, so for me I do not see the necessity of a car there even for long term stays. Great website Jeff.

      • Hi Christophe, thanks! Yes, pollution is felt differently by different people. I don’t feel it at all here but other expats I have talked to complain all the time. But I felt it in Mexico City. And I agree you don’t need a car. Reportedly over 80 percent of expats living here don’t have a car.

      • The pollution is seasonal, it mainly comes in March & April, just before the heavy rainy season but also at a time with very little to no wind in the valley.
        Inder will frequently cancel outside athletic events during this time.

    20. Hi Corey:

      I have discussed the pollution situation with Jeff in the past. I have tried to compile as much info as possible. Here is what I have found (some pertain to Medellin, others are general discussions):

      https://www3.epa.gov/region1/airquality/pm-aq-standards.html

      https://siata.gov.co/descarga_siata/index.php/index2/graficador/

      https://siata.gov.co/siata_nuevo/index.php/mapa

      http://www.cleanairinstitute.org/calidaddelaireamericalatina/cai-report-english.pdf

      http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.735.4704&rep=rep1&type=pdf

      http://www.metropol.gov.co/aire/Presentacion_Aire.pdf

      https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/medellin-pollution-pilot-steven-adler/

      I also have found some other studies and plans by the city of Medellin concerning their efforts to tackle the problem that I will try to post. The worst months are Feb to April and perhaps Oct/Nov. The higher level of pollution during these times seems to be due to the fact that the dry season is changing to the rainy season which affects the ability of the pollutants to be dispersed.

      Greg

      • Hi Greg,

        Whoa thank you so much for all the info! Super helpful. I will be sure to have a good look through all of the links. If you hear of anything else on pollution in the area, please feel free to share!

        Corey

    21. Brock Canner March 22, 2018

      Thanks So much Jeff, You tops on my list!! Leaving soon for a few hrs. Trying to get my shopping done, and other errands. So I can help a sick friend of mine on Saturday.

    22. Great article! I am thinking of moving to the Antioquia region area soon, however the pollution in Medellin does worry me. I am thinking that Guatape or Rionegro might be better options with less pollution. Is there any information or statistics on air pollution levels in these areas? I did a search but could not find anything. Would love to know this before I make my move. Thank you!

      • Hi Corey, since pollution really isn’t really a problem in Guatape or Rionegro it will be difficult to find statistics. You can find lots of statistics for Medellín in this presentation (in Spanish): http://www.metropol.gov.co/aire/Presentacion_Aire.pdf

      • Henry Lewis June 21, 2018

        I live in Guatapé, and the air is clean as long as you live away from the main highway into and out of town. Unfortunately, I live just above the parqueadero–where all the buses and cars park that bring tourists on weekends. The buses (and sometimes there are 2 dozen in the parking area at one time, tend to leave their engines running and the predominant easterly winds blow the diesel fumes right up the hill and fill my apartment. Also Guatapé has just begun a massive construction project to build a malecon along the lakefront. The construction is causing (and will continue to cause) major environmental damage in my opinion.

        Rio Negro is much larger than Guatapé and has a number of industries. I go there often to buy food items and other things not available in Guatapé. RN is very convenient for traveling into Medellin, but it isn’t a pretty town by any stretch of the word and the air can also be polluted (though not to the degree of Medellin) due to motorbikes, buses and the local manufacturing industries. The diesel fuel used in Colombia (same as in Ecuador and some other Latin American countries) is cheap and poorly refined which causes much of the pollution in the cities.

        All the best with your decisions about relocating.

    23. Amanda March 5, 2018

      I’m an American with Colombian heritage. Both of my parents are Colombian dual citizens and I was born and raised in the States. I speak Spanish but not with the fluency and ease that I desire. My husband, two children, and I are considering a move to Colombia for a year or so for the purpose of total Spanish immersion and so that I and my girls can learn more about our heritage. My girls understand some Spanish but don’t speak and it’s very important that they become fluent.
      We have already lived outside of the US for 5 years on a Pacific island so we are used to different cultures.
      I have lots of questions on how to make this happen! We could live on savings for a few months but eventually one of us would need to find work of some kind to make ends meet. Of course it’s important to me that we still have time to take adult Spanish classes to improve fluency. I’m a Physician Assistant ( a mid level health care provider) a profession that I believe does not exist there. My husband is a teacher. My kids are early elementary school aged and I’d love to find a great school for them to attend, especially if it’s montessori type.
      I am going to look into applying for Colombian dual citizenship since my parents are citizens.
      If you could point out forums, contacts, etc, that would be very helpful. Thank you!

      • Hi Amanda, you have many questions. Since your parents are Colombian you qualify for Colombian citizenship. And if you are a Colombian citizen my understanding it that your children also would qualify. But I assume you husband is American so he would need a visa to be in Colombia for a year – see our visa article about visa options – https://medellinguru.com/colombian-visa/. Regarding Spanish classes I recommend university EAFIT – https://medellinguru.com/eafit/. There are some bilingual schools in Medellín but we haven’t been covered them yet on this site. Some of these schools include Columbus, Montessori and The New School. I have heard good comments about Columbus. Keep in mind jobs in Medellín won’t pay that much. A better option may be to find a location independent job in the U.S. An active forum I recommend is the Facebook group Medellin Expats – https://www.facebook.com/groups/159461177529433/. Hope this helps.

    24. En cuando se encuentra el paraíso, tiene que decirlo adiós. “Call a place paradise, kiss it goodbye”. I’ve seen it happen in Costa Rica and I fear it’ll happen here.
      However the real issue for me is the traffic. Do the math, where once there were single family homes, there are now torres with hundreds of families, it’s not sustainable. I’ve actually had motorcycles come up on the sidewalk behind me, and moving relatively fast, to get around traffic.
      Tranquilidad, doesn’t exist here.

      • Exactly ,, the Motos here in MEDELLIN are totally out of control ,, they are a plague.

    25. How long did it take you to complete the 10 English courses at the University? And how many days a week and hours a day were the classes? That would be the first order of day for my “mister” esposo.

      • I took the Spanish classes at EAFIT for over a year as I couldn’t take Spanish classes each month due to work travel commitments. I took the semi-intensive classes at EAFIT that were 2 hours per day Monday to Friday. See this article for more details about taking Spanish classes at EAFIT – https://medellinguru.com/eafit/.

    26. Great article Jeff

      It’s important to consider these downsides when deciding to move here. But like you said, the positives greatly outweigh the negatives.
      Whenever I start to get annoyed at minor inconveniences like traffic and pollution (as with any other major city in the world), I am quickly reminded of the friendly culture, great weather, and of course the beautiful feminine women 🙂

      For any adventurous expats out there (especially those who work remotely), you can definitely live a high quality life spending less than $1000 USD each month here in Medellin. Step outside the “safety” of El Poblado and you’ll find an upgraded standard of living for less $. My #1 recommendation is to learn Spanish as this will facilitate everything.

    27. San Miguel de Allende was named the best city in the world by Travel & Leisure. So I hopped on a plane to check it out. It is definitely a kool place, but nobody writes about the downside to living here. The altitude is 6,000 feet and the weather is better than most places, but it does get chilly at night and cold in Dec, Jan & Feb. The cost of houses is double or triple what you would pay in the USA and long-term apartment rentals have been replaced with short term AirBNBs that make more in a weekend than a month. 10% of the 140,000 people are expats but the only places to find ex pats was Starbucks and 2 or 3 restaurant/bars that cater to gringos. The biggest downside of all is the housing situation. I paid $35 to rent a room that shared a wall with the couple that rented the apartment and shared a shower. I fear not being able to find a place I could call home or knowing how much rents will keep rising. i never heard about the pollution in Medellin or the high murder rate and crime…. Is the good weather a benefit if you can see what you are breathing?

      • Pollution is a problem in Medellín but it varies in different parts of the city and you don’t normally see the pollution. Also there are over 600 cities in towns in the world with worse pollution than Medellín. In the 1990s Medellín was known as the “murder capital of the world” but it now has a lower homicide rate than cities in the U.S. such as St. Louis, Baltimore, Detroit and New Orleans, so the murder rate isn’t nowhere near as high as it used to be. The crime and homicide rates also vary in different parts of Medellín. Areas where expats live like El Poblado, Laureles, Envigado and Sabaneta tend to have lower crime rates than the overall city of Medellín. Medellín is like any big city — there are neighborhoods that are less safe.

      • Having lived in San Miguel de Allende Mexico for two years I can vouch for Ray on his impressions. The housing rental business model has changed to one set up to discourage long term rentals and encourage short term high profit Airbnb type rentals. The town is driving distance from the US Southwest and fresh, new visitors are never in short supply. Medellin is still basically set up for long term rentals and there are thousands of buildings to choose from.

        • Richard Miller October 19, 2019

          I can hardly think that there is significant traffic from the USA Southwest. The safety issues traveling in Mexico are plentiful. I live in Texas 10 miles from the border on the Gulf coast. I hear people talk about fun trips and vacations in Mexico, 15-20 years ago. We have people from Monterrey, Mexico during a fall season their children are out of school. Thru that time we see armored vehicles around town.

    28. I have been to Medellin twice, 2 weeks and 3 weeks, during Jan to late March, 2016. Both times I stayed in Poblado. I did not notice any air pollution or very little when I visited. I am retired and thinking of buying an apartment in the hills of Poblado above Zona Rosa. I would only use it for 4-5 months/yr. I can choose which months as my schedule is flexible. I am worried about air pollution. I was looking at an apartment that was 500 ft above the river elevation that runs through Medellin. Do you guys think I will have a problem with air pollution? Can I choose months that are better than others? I would come for 2-4 weeks at a time as I have another apartment outside Colombia.

      • Hi Greg, the higher up locations in Medellín tend to experience less pollution. The worst pollution according to pollution monitoring stations in the Medellín metro area tends to be El Centro, La Estrella and Itagüí and the lower parts of the valley like Laureles/Estadio.

        The pollution levels also vary from day to day depending on rain, wind and other factors. I haven’t yet seen a study that looked at pollution by time of year to know if the pollution typically varies by time of year.

        Medellín has a strategic plan in place with a goal to reduce the annual average PM 2.5 pollution level that was 25 micrograms in 2015 to 20 micrograms by 2020 though a number of projects.

        • Hello Jeff: Thanks for the reply. I think your website is fantastic. What is your source for your statement that the annual average PM 2.5 is 25 micrograms in Medellin? Are there some studies that are available to the public?

          • Hi Greg, yes, there are studies available to the public. Medellín has studied the pollution problem with the help of universities.

            Probably the best source of information about the pollution problem in Medellín and what this city is doing is this detailed 125-page presentation (in Spanish): http://www.metropol.gov.co/aire/Presentacion_Aire.pdf.

            This presentation contains much data including the growth of population, growth in the number of vehicles, a recent history of pollution levels in Medellín and the actions taken when there are pollution “red” alerts.

            The 10 municipalities in Valle de Aburré, including Medellín, have an operational plan for addressing critical episodes of air pollution. Medellín also has a strategic plan in place to reduce the average annual level of PM 2.5 pollution in the city though a number of projects, which is briefly mentioned at the end of this presentation.

            • Thanks Jeff. The study you cited is an excellent source. I have reviewed it and there are definitely good and bad months to be in Medellin concerning pollution levels. Generally, mid Feb to mid April is the worst (also depends a bit on where you are) and the summer months (June – August) are the best.

    29. I’ve been living in Medellin for the past 9 months and have found the positives that people write about to be mostly true.
      However there are 2 negatives that are turning me against Medellin….
      The nearly constant traffic jams and all around congestion.
      And the ever worsening air contamination.
      I live in a high-rise on the 21st floor and the cleaning lady comes once a week. 3 days later I swipe my hand on the coffee table and get black smut on my finger tips.
      We are breathing that contamination my friends. You cannot replace your lungs.

      I am currently visiting Manizales ,,,, such a beautiful place with FRESH AIR and friendly locals, same PAISA culture as Medellin.

      Manizales has all the modern benefits of Medellin, but is way more livable in my opinion.

      I’m seriously considering relocating here.

      • Can you get reliable internet service in Manizales? I am looking for a place to settle for a bit (couple years or more), but I need reliable internet because I work online. I lived in Cotacachi, Ecuador for 6 months (and I may go back). The air is some of the cleanest I’ve experienced, and you can drink the water straight from the tap. I would love to find another such place with a bit more sunshine and warmth.

        • Manizales has the same internet service as in Medellin…. up to 100 Mbps.

          The water is the Best, fresh, cool and clean. You can drink direct from the tap.

        • However, please be advised that Manizales is essentially a cool weather high mountain city with frequent rain showers.
          When I last visited a few weeks ago there were some days when the mornings were overcast with rain showers, but come early afternoon it was like the most glorious spring weather you can imagine… full of white fluffy clouds interspersed with plenty of warm sunshine.

      • Raymond F Conlon November 14, 2017

        I just spent a week in Medellin and agree with you 100%. I would also add that I try to follow a healthy, Mediterranean type diet and other than the fruit sold on the street I had a tough time finding places where I could maintain a healthy diet without frequenting the more expensive restaurants that cater to the more affluent. I also rented a scooter and took myself to Guatape. A nice ride if the weather is good. As I drove out of the city the change was drastic. It reminded me of Boquete, a town in the center of Panama 2 hours south of Costa Rica at the base of Vulcan Baru and at an altitude of 4,000 ft. Boquete has a similar climate without the traffic or the pollution. There is a large ex pat community in Boquete. I would like to know if there are many ex pats living outside of the Medellin to escape the traffic and the pollution?

        • As far as I can tell, there are a few Expats who live outside Medellin in Rio Negro and the surrounding areas, but they are scattered and do not live in any one particular area.

          I think expat.com has some kind of forum for expats in that area, you should check it out.

          As far as finding “affordable healthy” restaurants, good luck with that. Most Colombian food is a Brown Based Diet, meats and potatoes, so to speak.

          I for one know how to cook, and I eat very well here, I shop all the local markets plus Exito, Jumbo, Carrulla and also D-1.

          I can tell you that the raw materials here in Colombia are EXCELLENT… so it’s just a question of learning how to piece it all together.

        • Hi Raymond,
          I’ve been living in Guatapé for 2 months and there’s a small expat community here (mainly American and French). It’s a beautiful little town with clean air and close to nature. The only drawback is the necessity to take the bus to Rio Negro for major food shopping every couple of weeks. The town is quiet during the week but quite busy with mainly Colombian tourists on weekends and holidays.

        • Henry Lewis June 21, 2018

          There is a smallish expat community in Guatapé.

    30. Whenever I visit Medellin I always pretend I’m an extra in “Death Race 2000” (Paisa edition)…

      Vehicles see me as an obstacle at best or a target at worst, so it’s up to me to look both ways 3 times before I cross any street.

      • Chris M May 21, 2019

        That’s right. Crossing Bogotá’s streets on-foot is no picnic, but Medellín is even worse. The dangerous, noisy motorcycles are far more prevalent in Medellín than in Bogotá. Laureles, which could otherwise be a very pleasant place to live, has allowed many of its sidewalks to be overrun by parked cars. It’s a major detraction from the quality-of-life.

        • Sorry, there are more motorcycles in Bogotá than in Medellín. It’s a much bigger city with over double the metro population and has more registered motos than any other city in Colombia.

    31. My experience crossing the street has taught me that it’s downright dangerous. My advice is to be extra, extra cautious at all times. Scooters and small vehicles can be very quiet and often move way too fast around corners. Stepping into the street from behind a parked car can be dangerous, again, because you might not be able to see or hear those small scooters that drive too fast. Crossing at a corner traffic light is often complicated because there’s only one set of lights which faces the oncoming traffic and no lights facing you. Crossing is further complicated because before you successfully cross and get to the safety of the sidewalk you have to walk across an active bicycle path and the cyclists come flying around curves at high speed. Pedestrians are at the bottom of the pecking order. If you’re crossing a one way street don’t just look in the direction the traffic is supposed to be coming from. Look both ways. Always look at least twice in all directions. Other than that it’s a breeze.

    32. Thanks, this is a great article that should be required reading for any foreigner looking to move to Medellin. Those retirement publications continue to look at places like Medellin through rose-colored glasses and don’t really cover the downsides.

    33. David ursprung September 19, 2017

      Jeff I have to comment about income tax. To settle my mind I went to DIAN on Poblado Ave, prepared to pay whatever my fair share was. An agent was helping me fill out papers when an English speaking agent asked why I was there. When I explained the many differences of opinion among expats, especially about social security he asked if I own a car, house or any other Colombia asset. When I said no, but only a portio of my social security is taxed. He said that made no fifference, that if all I had was retirement income and was paying income tax in the US I didnt have to pay ir even file in Colombia.

      • Hi David, was this an official ruling from DIAN? DIAN issued a ruling in 2014 that foreign retirement incomes are taxed in Colombia – DIAN mediante oficio 58213 de 2014. And this hasn’t changed according to someone I talked to at DIAN earlier this year and also my Colombian tax accountant.

    34. Brock Canner September 19, 2017

      Thanks again Jeff. originally being from Boston. We run from sidewalk to sidewalk. Not sure if that has changed since I left there so many years ago. I’m not afraid of getting run over. Still have those instincts, and they are not going anywhere. I would worry about riding a bike though.
      Cheers, Brock

    35. Its nice to see someone write about some of the not so fine points Medellin has as well and its about time. Too many blogging sites only try to sell a place and this does not give a good reflection for some people wanting to visit. I believe blogs etc should be more on the fence in their articles and would have me reading them more instead of skipping to the comments sections first.
      All of who actually live here full time have experienced or know people who have experienced the very bad and good that Medellin has to offer.
      All said and done well done Jeff for tackling some of the always talked about but never written articles.

    36. Brock Canner September 19, 2017

      Thanks Jeff, great article. Every city has it’s downside, and Medellin is no different. All in all I still plan on moving there. My big draw back is learning the language. Have been to many Spanish speaking countries, and with limited Spanish I get by. I don’t want to just get by, I want to be successful. In order to do that, I’ll need to learn the language. Might be back later might not.
      Cheers, Brock

    37. Noise and danger crossing the street are my top two issues.

      • I nearly got run over a dozen times in the first few months I was here. Coming from California where pedestrians own the right of way, I had to re-program my instincts.

        • Thats the real problem…..in the States many of the idiots walking the streets DO think they have the right-of-way. THEY DON’T ! A pedestrian only has the right of way AFTER taking precaution and entering the street. That is way we have j-walking laws. But those idiots with the earbuds in their heads don’t seem to understand this and simply feel they can step off the curb and stop traffic. Do that in Washington DC and it’s up to a $1,000 out of your pocket. Do it in Boston and your a deadman.

          • If you’re in the crosswalk in Massachusetts you have the right of way. Always..

          • every where in the u.s.a the people in the CROSSWALK have the right away, wow its the LAW

        • Lol try crossing without looking in the Northeast!

    38. Hector A Garcia September 19, 2017

      Thanks a lot..very helpful

      • I retired with my wife and our 7 year old son to Cali, Colombia 3 years ago. The easiest way to avoid agencies, brokers and fiador (cosigner) requirements is to work with the owner directly. Be prepared to prove income and offer 3 months of bank statements to prove it. We have a lovely three bedroom unit in south Cali complete with a swimming pool and twenty four hour security.
        Remember, your passport probably gives you 90 days to stay. So if it is long term residence you seek, check out the Colombian Consulate website to see which VISA you may be eligible. Good luck!

    39. Recently, I’ve obtained a mortgage at Bancolombia. I live 3 years in Colombia and am married to a Colombian. But I receive my salary in Europe and not in Colombia, so the process was quite difficult. We were denied by Davivienda because I don’t have a credit history in Colombia (seriously? I need to loan money first, say 1 million pesos, and pay it back to have a credit history so I can get a mortgage, even if I don’t need that 1 million pesos?).

      Another downside you didn’t mention: the requirement to have fiadores to rent an apartment. While it’s true that some real estate agents will skip that requirement if you pay 6 months of rent in advance, not all are willing to cooperate. It’s really a pain in the butt when you don’t know anybody who can be a fiador.

      • Hi Michel, thanks for your comment. Yes the fiador (cosigner) requirement for renting is a challenge. I have been renting for 7+ years without a fiador, so this challenge can be overcome. I plan to cover this in a future article.

      • So my current situation I live in the us I go back and forth to Colombia I wanna buy an apartment in Medellin. Is their any banks that do business with USA banks cause I can get a mortgage loan in the USA and easily make the monthly payment for the apartment in Colombia and I wonder if that work as well with a car. That way when I am ready to move to Colombia I’ll have a apartment and car to get around.

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