The 6 Best Places To Live In Colombia

If you're considering moving to the charming South American nation of Colombia, you'll need to know the best places to live. Let's explore!

Colombia is a captivating country known for its rich culture, stunning landscapes, and friendly population.

If you’re considering setting up a new home base in this charming South American nation, it’s essential to know the best spots to settle down in.

Bocagrande district in Cartagena Colombia at night - a brightly lit up cityscape by th sea
Bocagrande District in Cartagena

Here’s your personal guide to the top places to live in Colombia, each offering unique experiences and lifestyle options. 

Whether you’re seeking a bustling city, a tranquil beachfront, or a cozy mountain town, we’ve got you covered.

We’re going to explore: 

  • Medellín: The city of eternal spring
  • Bogotá: Colombia’s captivating capital
  • Cartagena: A coastal paradise
  • Barranquilla: A city that never sleeps
  • Santa Marta: A gateway to nature’s wonders
  • Calí: A salsa-dancing heaven

Colombia is a magical country full of wonders that need to be discovered.
– Juan Manuel Santos

Medellín: the city of eternal spring

Recognized as Colombia’s second-largest city, Medellín has evolved into a thriving hotspot of innovation, culture, and beauty. It’s no wonder that it’s a top choice for expats considering a move to Colombia. 

View of Barefoot Park (Parque de los Pies Descalzos) Medellin, Colombia. people splashing in a fountain on a summer day
Barefoot Park (Parque de los Pies Descalzos) in Medellin

What sets Medellín apart is its perfect climate. The average annual temperature is a comfortable 72 degrees Fahrenheit (22C), earning it the nickname “The City of Eternal Spring.” 

But there’s more to this city than just an agreeable climate. Here are some highlights: 

Why Medellín stands out as a great place to live

  • Vibrant culture: Medellín is a city that pulsates with life and energy, from colorful festivals like the famous ‘Feria de las Flores’ to the pulsating nightlife in the El Poblado district. 
  • Modern conveniences: Despite its rich historical background, Medellín is a city that is thoroughly modern. It boasts excellent healthcare facilities, high-speed internet, and an efficient public transportation system, including its iconic Metrocable.
  • Natural beauty: Nestled in the Aburrá Valley and surrounded by lush green mountains, Medellín offers breathtaking views and a multitude of outdoor activities. Whether it’s hiking in the nearby Andes or exploring the city’s numerous parks and gardens, you’ll love Medellín’s natural beauty.
  • Cost of living: Despite all it has to offer, the cost of living in Medellín is relatively affordable compared to many other cities. From housing to food to entertainment, your dollar will go a lot further in Medellín.

Want to know more about Medellín? 

Visit our Living in Medellin Guide.

Bogotá: the Capital City with a vibrant culture

Welcome to Bogotá, Colombia’s heart and soul. This high-altitude capital is far more than a gateway to South America; it’s a treasure trove of cultural delights, architectural marvels, and culinary masterpieces. 

A historic street in Bogota, Colombia, with brightly colored two-storey residential houses

The city’s lifeblood courses through its bustling streets, teeming with an infectious energy that sweeps you along in its wake.

From the historic center of La Candelaria, with cobblestone streets and colorful buildings, to the modern urban sophistication of Zona Rosa and Parque 93, Bogotá is a city of contrasts waiting to be explored. 

Why Bogotá stands out as a great place to live 

  • Food haven: Bogotá is a gastronomic paradise for food lovers. Offering a delightful mix of traditional Colombian cuisine and international influences that caters to all palates. From local markets selling chorizo to high-end restaurants serving gourmet meals, the city’s food scene is a feast for the senses.
  • Dynamic culture: The city is steeped in history and culture that is reflected in its beautiful architecture, museums, and vibrant arts scene. Bogotá is home to numerous festivals and events that offer an insight into the rich cultural heritage of Colombia.
  • Diverse opportunities: As the capital city, Bogotá is the economic and political hub of Colombia. It’s a city of opportunities, with a thriving business scene and a robust job market, making it an ideal choice for both entrepreneurs and professionals.
  • Lively nightlife: Bogotá’s nightlife is as diverse as its food scene. From trendy bars and nightclubs to traditional music venues and theaters, there’s something for everyone in Bogotá after sunset.
  • Natural beauty: Surrounded by mountains and green spaces, Bogotá offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. Whether you prefer hiking, cycling, or simply enjoying a picnic in a park, the city’s natural beauty is always within reach.

Want to know more about Bogotá?

Visit our Living in Bogotá Guide

Cartagena: a coastal paradise

Envision this: You’re strolling through colorful cobblestone streets as the sun dips below the horizon, casting a golden glow across the colonial architecture.

Historic row of terraced housing in Cartagena

A gentle sea breeze carries the tantalizing aroma of coastal cuisine while the distant beats of salsa music set the rhythm of the night. This is Cartagena. 

An enchanting city nestled on Colombia’s Caribbean coast, Cartagena is the epitome of a tropical paradise.

It’s a place where history and culture intertwine effortlessly with the azure seas, creating a vibrant, immersive experience that’s truly beguiling. 

From its charming old town, designated a UNESCO World Heritage site, to its lively music festivals and sun-drenched beaches, Cartagena offers a diverse array of allures. 

Cartagena is not just a city. It’s a tapestry of culture, history, and natural beauty that enchants the senses and captivates the soul.

Why Cartagena stands out as a great place to live 

  • Historic Old Town: Lose yourself in the city’s past as you wander through the narrow, winding streets of the old town, lined with well-preserved colonial buildings and imposing fortresses.
  • Beach life: Bask in the sun on Cartagena’s beautiful sandy beaches or take a boat trip to the nearby Rosario Islands, a national park known for its colorful coral reefs.
  • Music & festivals: Immerse yourself in Colombian culture at one of Cartagena’s many music festivals. From the International Film Festival to the Hay Literary Festival, there’s always something happening in this energetic city.
  • Remarkable memories: Living in Cartagena offers the opportunity to create your own unforgettable memories through unique experiences and interactions with its colorful society.
  • Exquisite cuisine: The culinary scene in Cartagena is unparalleled. Offering a unique blend of traditional Colombian dishes with innovative twists, it’s a food lover’s dream.

Want to know more about Cartagena?

Visit our Living in Cartagena Guide

Barranquilla: the city of festivals and carnivals

Welcome to Barranquilla, a city that is as famous for its vibrant festivals and carnivals as it is for its warm-hearted inhabitants.

A cityscape of Barranquilla at the sunset

This is a city that truly never sleeps, a place where the music and laughter resonate through the balmy night air. 

Set on the mighty Magdalena River, Barranquilla is the fourth-largest city in Colombia and a key economic center.

But it’s not just its economic prowess that makes this city so special. It’s the joyous spirit of the Barranquilleros, their passion for life, their love for their city, and their welcoming nature.

You’ll feel it in the rhythm of the music, see it in the colorful street art and taste it in the delectable local cuisine. 

Why Barranquilla stands out as a great place to live 

  • Cultural diversity: With its unique blend of influences from Europe, the Middle East, and other parts of Colombia, Barranquilla is a veritable tapestry of cultures. This rich diversity is reflected not just in its people but also in its cuisine, architecture, and arts.
  • Historical significance: The city’s historic El Prado district, with its grand mansions and tree-lined streets, offers a glimpse into Barranquilla’s illustrious past. Walking through El Prado is akin to stepping back in time.
  • Vibrant arts scene: Home to the Museum of the Caribbean and several other cultural institutions, Barranquilla boasts a vibrant arts scene. Whether you’re an art enthusiast or a theatre lover, there’s always something interesting happening in the city.
  • Award-winning status: Barranquilla’s recognition as the ‘American Capital of Culture‘ in 2013 is a testament to its cultural significance. This title not only honors the city’s cultural heritage but also its ongoing commitment to promoting arts and culture.
  • Thriving expat community: With its warm, welcoming locals and numerous opportunities for socializing, Barranquilla has a thriving expat community. 

Want to know more about Barranquilla?

Visit our Living in Barranquilla Guide

Santa Marta: the gateway to the Caribbean

A tropical paradise nestled on Colombia’s northern coast, Santa Marta is a place that’s not just a delight to the eyes but also to the soul. 

Roofs of Santa Marta - a city in Colombia
Santa Marta

As the oldest city in Colombia, Santa Marta is steeped in rich history and cultural heritage.

Its colonial core, beautifully preserved, whispers tales of an era gone by while its vibrant streets hum with the rhythm of contemporary life. 

With its unique blend of the old and the new, Santa Marta never fails to intrigue and inspire. 

Yet, it’s not just the city itself that woos expats and visitors alike. Santa Marta serves as the perfect base to explore the remarkable diversity of Colombia’s Caribbean coast. 

Why Santa Marta stands out as a great place to live

  • Strategic location: Nestled on the Caribbean coast, Santa Marta is the perfect base for exploring the remarkable diversity of the region. The proximity to beaches, national parks, and mountains makes it a haven for nature lovers and adventure seekers.
  • Natural beauty: Unmatched in terms of natural splendor, Santa Marta is surrounded by stunning beaches like those of Tayrona National Park and the towering peaks of Sierra Nevada, providing a picturesque living environment.
  • Cultural richness: Santa Marta’s rich cultural heritage, combined with its vibrant, welcoming community, presents a unique and immersive living experience.
  • Excellent climate: With tropical weather year-round, Santa Marta offers a pleasant climate, perfect if you love warmth and sunshine.

Want to know more about Santa Marta?

Visit our Living in Santa Marta Guide

Calí: the Salsa Capital of the World

Welcome to Calí, a city that gracefully blends urban sophistication with the lively energy of its salsa-fueled nightlife.

Cali, or Santiago de Cali as it’s officially known, is resplendent in all its facets, from its rich cultural heritage to its well-developed urban landscape. 

A cable car above Cali, a city in Colombia
MÍO Cable in Cali

The city’s charm is palpable, with tree-lined streets, sprawling parks, and a myriad of restaurants serving delectable Colombian cuisine.

But perhaps the most enticing aspect of Cali is its vibrant arts scene. The city is teeming with salsa clubs, art galleries, and theaters, which are a testament to its pulsating creative energy.

Its love for salsa is legendary, earning it the title of the Salsa Capital of the World

But Cali is not just about salsa. It’s also a haven for outdoor enthusiasts.

Nestled amidst verdant mountains and bisected by the Cali River, it provides ample opportunities for hiking, birdwatching, and exploring its lush landscapes.

If you’re seeking a place that hums with life and reverberates with a unique blend of culture and nature, Cali is your perfect choice.

Why Calí stands out as a great place to live 

  • Urban allure: Cali offers a vibrant city life that’s always ready to enchant you with its energetic ambiance, rich culture, and infectious salsa rhythms. An urban paradise for the lively spirit, Cali is brimming with a dynamic blend of tradition and modernity, making it an irresistible place for the city-loving expat.
  • Outdoor haven: Not just a city of concrete and steel, Cali is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. Its stunning mountains and the charming Cali River make it an exciting hub for adventurous activities such as hiking and birdwatching. The lush landscapes of Cali hold the promise of countless adventures, ready to be explored by nature-loving expats.
  • A blend of culture and nature: Cali stands out as a city that beautifully marries culture with nature. Whether it’s the rhythmic beats of salsa echoing in the streets, or the tranquil hush of the verdant mountains, Cali offers a lifestyle that’s an enticing mix of both worlds. 

Want to know more about Calí?

Visit our Living in Calí Guide

Colombia offers a world of choice 

In essence, Colombia, with its rich culture, stunning landscapes, and warm-hearted people, offers an array of delightful places to call home.

It’s not just a country with a vibrant heritage but a place that holds promise for a life filled with color, comfort, and adventures aplenty. 

Whether you’re drawn to the bustling city life of Medellín, the historical richness of Cartagena, or the tropical allure of Santa Marta, each city has its unique charm and appeal.

The choice is yours. Where will you plant your roots in this beautiful country? 

Other popular South American countries to consider:

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