One of the biggest challenges when moving to a new country is finding a place to live. Luckily there are plenty of resources available to help you find a great place when moving to Colombia!
What type of place are you looking for?
If you’re coming to Colombia, there are a few different options to choose from. One of the best and cheapest options is to rent a room in an apartment or house. Prices will vary depending on the city and area. In Bogotá, you can expect to pay between $300,000-$700,000 cop per month ($100-$240 USD). In Cali, you can find rooms between $200,000- $500,000 cop ($70-$170 USD). I haven’t rented rooms in other parts of Colombia, but most places seem to have similar prices to Cali. The exception would be Cartagena, which is one of the more expensive cities.
Another option is an apartaestudio, or a studio apartment. They’re very common here and a great option if you’re planning to stay in Colombia for longer than a few months. Prices vary, so make sure you ask around and see what there is to get an idea. I’ve seen them range from $400,000 cop (unfurnished) to over $1,000,000 cop ($140-$340 USD).
If you’re looking for a place to live with some friends or want to rent out rooms, an entire apartment is also a good option. Similar to an apartaestudio but with more than one bedroom. Prices also vary, so be sure to ask around.
Lastly, if you’re looking to stay for less than a year, AirBnb can be a good option! During my first month in Bogotá, I used AirBnb and it was great experience. My host was super helpful and was always happy to answer any questions I had. (If you’re looking for a great apartaestudio to stay in I definitely recommend staying in Jenny’s apartment. It’s in a great and safe part of Bogotá, she offers a free ride to and from the airport, and she speaks English and Spanish.)
If you decide to use AirBnb and want to stay for many months, don’t be afraid to send a message and negotiate prices. You don’t know if you don’t ask.
Furnished vs. Unfurnished
So you’ve decided what type of place you want. But do you want a furnished or unfurnished apartment/bedroom? What’s better? Is it worth paying the extra money for a furnished place?
It depends. If you’re moving to Colombia for less than a year, a furnished place is the better option. Why? You don’t need to worry about spending money on furniture and everything you need will already be there. And when you leave you only need to pack up your stuff and go. Also, utilities are generally included when you rent a furnished room or apartment. So you simply pay one flat rate per month and you don’t have to worry about any extra charges.
Now, if you plan to stay more than a year, unfurnished might be the way to go. You will have to buy furniture, but it will be cheaper in the long run.
On AirBnb, you can try to negotiate if you plan on renting long-term. It never hurts to ask. You can also try to negotiate with people renting bedrooms or apartments. If the price is higher than you wanted to pay or higher than you think is fair, propose a different price. People are more flexible than you think. You might not be able to get the price as low as you want, but you can probably get it lower than the initial price. Some people won’t negotiate, but it doesn’t hurt to try.
Location and Safety
Make sure that you go and see an apartment before you rent it or pay any money. Make sure that you feel safe in the area. Ask people you know about the neighborhood or search online. Make sure that the apartment seems safe. If you’re staying in a shared apartment with people you don’t know, ask if your bedroom has its own lock. If you need to walk home alone after work, make sure the street isn’t deserted and that there’s some activity going on. If it’s a quiet street, take an Uber or make arrangements to walk home in a group.
La Candelaria in Bogotá might seem like a cool, cultural place to be (and it is!), but is it really such a great place to live? Probably not. Maybe you really like a place in Cali, but it’s on a quiet street away from main roads. Do you take Uber everywhere or have a car? Fine, no problem. But if you need to walk alone after dark (especially if you’re a female walking alone), it’s a good idea to consider other options.
This isn’t meant to scare you, but just so that you keep location and safety in mind when looking for a place to live. As a single female who has lived in Bogotá and is now living in Cali, I can say that feeling safe on your walk home makes a big difference.
So, where can you look for a place before moving to Colombia? Here are some resources you can use:
For Bogotá and Cali, these first three options are the best. The pages are active and there are a lot of options to choose from.
Bogotá Short-Term Rentals (Bogotá)
CompartoApto (All cities)
AirBnb (All cities)
FincaRaiz (All cities)
OLX (All cities)
Craigslist (All cities)
Me! If you find yourself in Cali or Bogotá, always feel free to send me a message. I might know of a place that’s available 🙂
Questions to ask
When renting a new place, there are some questions you should always ask. Here is a basic list, but feel free to add your own questions:
Are the utilities included? Los servicios son incluidos?
Is there wifi? Hay wifi?
Is there a washing machine? Hay lavadora?
Is there housekeeping? (This is very common in Colombia and often included in your rent). Hay aseo?
Do you require a security deposit? Se requiere un deposito?
Can I have people over? Se permite visitantes?
What are the rules of the apartment? Que son las reglas?
Is there hot water? (always ask! Not all apartments in Colombia have hot water). Hay agua caliente?
What other advice do you have about moving to Colombia?