Cost of Living in Colombia

The relatively low cost of living is a major benefit for expats considering a move to Colombia. With low taxes and many first-world amenities, Colombia offers expats a high quality of life at a relatively low cost.

As is usually the case, the cost of living in smaller cities or rural areas is lower than in major cities like Bogotá and Medellín, which are favoured by expats. Services and locally produced goods tend to be very affordable, while imported goods are more expensive. According to Mercer's Cost of Living report for 2017, the cost of living in Colombia (Bogotá was ranked at 264) is still lower than many other major South American cities including Buenos Aires, São Paulo and Montevideo.

Although the cost of living is increasing as the country’s economy continues to grow, Colombia’s large wealth disparity means it is possible to enjoy a lavish Western lifestyle or to pinch pennies when necessary. Foreign currencies like the US Dollar, Euro and Pound afford expats great purchasing power when compared to the Colombian Peso (COP).  


Cost of accommodation in Colombia

Although rent is likely to be an expat’s greatest monthly expense, the cost of housing in Colombia remains affordable and the cost of utilities is low. Due to the country’s extreme wealth disparity, accommodation can easily be found to suit every budget.


Cost of public transport in Colombia

The cost of travel in Colombia is on par with other South American countries. Within the cities and smaller towns, taxis, motorcycle taxis and buses are ubiquitous and cheap. Regional buses and domestic flights are also reasonable.


Cost of education in Colombia

The cost of tuition in Colombia can be high, especially at private and international schools. Public schooling is free, but tuition will be in Spanish and may not be up to expat standards. Fees for the top international schools are similar to those worldwide.


Cost of healthcare in Colombia

Although the public healthcare system is generally of a high standard, most expats will opt for private healthcare in Colombia. Expats will find that private healthcare is reasonably priced and the standard of care is generally very good.


Cost of food in Colombia

Groceries are likely to be one of an expat’s largest expenses each month. A number of everyday products need to be imported and are thus relatively expensive. Shopping at one of the large grocery store chains such as Éxito or Jumbo allows for a better selection, but at a significantly higher cost. Buying local products and shopping at local markets, butchers and street stalls will greatly reduce the cost of food.

The cost of eating out will vary greatly depending on neighbourhood and type of cuisine, with most cities and towns offering a variety of restaurants to suit any budget. The cost of eating out and drinking out in Western-style bars and restaurants can be moderate to high in price. In Colombia, lunch is the primary meal of the day, and local neighbourhood restaurants typically serve a set menu (menú del día) for as little as COP 8,000, which includes a bowl of soup, a chicken or meat dish served with rice and salad or plantains, and a fresh juice.


Cost of living in Colombia chart 

Prices may vary depending on product and service provider. The list below shows average prices for Bogotá in April 2018.

Accommodation (monthly rent in good area)

Furnished one-bedroom apartment

COP 1,200,000

Unfurnished one-bedroom apartment

COP 1,500,000

Shopping

Eggs (dozen)

COP 4,400

Milk (1 litre)

COP  2,900

Rice (1kg)

COP 3,300

Loaf of white bread

COP 2,900

Chicken breasts (1kg)

COP 12,600

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

COP 5,000

Eating out

Big Mac Meal

COP 15,000

Coca-Cola (330ml)

COP 2,400

Cappuccino

COP 4,300

Bottle of local beer

COP 3,100

Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant

COP 65,000

Utilities

Mobile-to-mobile call rate (per minute)

COP 180

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)

COP 98,000

Basic utilities (per month for small apartment)

COP 259,000

Transportation

Taxi rate (per kilometre)

COP 5,000

Bus fare in the city centre

COP 2,200

Petrol/gasoline (per litre)

COP 2,300

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