Visas in Colombia for Digital Nomads
One determining factor when considering Colombia for digital nomads is the visa situation. Unfortunately, Colombia has no formal plans to introduce a ‘digital nomad visa’ or ‘e-residency’ as many other countries have.
And while country-hopping was once a relatively easy and accepted way to bypass visa restrictions around the globe, in the post-pandemic world we live in today, that may prove to be more difficult than before.
While Colombia has yet to implement a formal ‘digital nomad visa,’ the country offers attractive options for passport holders of various nations. If you’re a national of the EU, USA, Canada, Great Britain, or a variety of others, you can stay in Colombia for up to 90 days without a visa.
The 90-day visa-free stay is renewable online for an additional 90 days. Nationals of these countries and regions are permitted to stay a total of 180 days per calendar year in Colombia, visa-free. It’s a pretty good deal! If you want to stay long-term and set up tax residency, the rules are slightly different (see below).
Countries that are exempt from visa requirements in Colombia:
- Antigua and Barbuda
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Brunei Darussalam
- Costa Rica
- Czech Republic
- Dominican Republic
- El Salvador
- Federated States of Micronesia
- Hong Kong
- Marshall Islands
- New Zealand
- Papua New Guinea
- Republic of Cyprus
- Russian Federation
- Saint Kitts and Nevis
- Saint Lucia
- Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
- San Marino
- Solomon Islands
- South Korea
- Trinidad and Tobago
- United Arab Emirates
- United Kingdom
- United States
- Vatican City
There is one special, noteworthy exception to the visa-exempt countries to come to Colombia. If you are from Cambodia, China, India, Macao, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Thailand, or Vietnam and hold a valid visa from the USA or the Schengen area of Europe, you can enter Colombia without a visa.
It’s worth noting that if you are a national of one of these countries and do NOT have a US or Schengen visa, you are required to obtain an e-visa prior to arrival in Colombia.
The US or Schengen visa must be type-C or type-D and have 180 days remaining on the stay permit.
For many countries that do not allow a visa-free stay in Colombia, there is the option of obtaining an e-visa (electronic visa). According to the Colombian consulate, nationals of around 100 countries are eligible for e-visas. This includes most African, Middle Eastern, and South Asian countries, among others.
The Colombia e-visa fee is paid in two installments. The first payment is $52 USD while the second payment is $82 USD.
The first payment is to process your visa application and is made with the initial application.
The second payment is made after your visa is approved. If your visa, for whatever reason, is denied, you will lose the first payment of $52 USD and not be required to pay the second payment of $82 USD.
Countries that are eligible for e-visas to Colombia:
- Burkina Faso
- Cape Verde
- Central African Republic
- Democratic Republic of the Congo
- Equatorial Guinea
- Ivory Coast
- North Korea
- Palestinian Territory
- Sao Tome and Principe
- Saudi Arabia
- Sierra Leone
- South Africa
- South Sudan
- Sri Lanka
- Syrian Arab Republic
Are you from a country that allows e-visas, yet you’d still like that sticker in your passport as a souvenir of sorts? Fret not, for you can also go to the local embassy or consulate for a visa sticker as well as the electronic visa.
Nationals of the remaining countries must go to their local embassy or consulate to apply for a visa. These are primarily smaller, island nations and territories.
Nations and territories that require a consular visa for Colombia:
- Aland Islands
- American Samoa
- British Indian Ocean Territory
- British Virgin Islands
- Cayman Islands
- Christmas Island
- Cocos Islands
- Cook Islands
- Falkland Islands
- Faroe Islands
- French Guiana
- French Polynesia
- Isle of Man
- New Caledonia
- Norfolk Island
- Northern Mariana Islands
- Pitcairn Islands
- Puerto Rico
- Saint Barthelemy
- Saint Helena
- Saint Martin
- Saint Pierre and Miquelon
- Sint Maarten
- South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
- Svalbard and Jan Mayen
- Turks and Caicos Islands
- United States Virgin Islands
- Wallis and Futuna
It should be noted that the aforementioned visas are applicable for purposes of leisure and tourism only. Establishing residency for tax purposes in Colombia is a completely different ball game.
Cost of Living in Colombia for Digital Nomads
Prices quoted in USD unless otherwise noted
One of the biggest draws for digital nomads to set up base in Colombia is the low cost of living. In comparison to many other countries around the world, the cost of living to quality of life ratio is very high.
The Colombian peso is the national currency. For reference, $1 USD is equivalent to approximately $3752 COP.
So, clearly, if you’re a digital nomad getting paid in USD or EUR, the COP goes a loooong way! With greater purchasing power comes greater freedom, stability, and comfort in this megadiverse, Latin American oasis.
With the current currency exchange, you can expect to pay around $5 for a meal at an inexpensive restaurant, $1 for a local beer, or $0.60 for a bottle of water. A solid date night at a moderate restaurant would cost around $20 for two, drinks included.
If you’re paying your own utilities or committing to a long-term rental, the average rent prices in Colombia go for $200-$500 per month.
This largely depends on which Colombian city you choose to live in, how many bedrooms, and proximity to the city center.
If you’re looking to spend less, consider renting an apartment further from the city center. Make sure you’re near a bus stop or taxi station if you choose this option.
Basic utilities, such as electricity, heat, air conditioning, water, and garbage will cost roughly $70 per month.
Many rentals in Colombia have rental terms of six months to one year. If you’re legally able to stay in the country for that long, it’s the cheaper option. If, however, you are restricted to the 90 days of a standard tourist visa with no intention of renewing, a long-term Airbnb would be your next best bet. That is unless you want to live in a co-living space with fellow digital nomads.
For long-term Airbnbs, you can expect to pay the least amount in Bogota for an entire apartment or loft (as low as $250 USD per month). Medellin is significantly more expensive, with rentals around $400-$600. If you want to stay by the beach, expect to pay a pretty penny in Cartagena – rentals in Cartagena are around $600 for the bare minimum and go upwards from there.
There are some incredible co-living spaces in Colombia to maximize savings even further. Granted, if you prefer your privacy, these may not be suited to that as well as your own apartment or Airbnb would be. The co-living spaces generally consist of living with anywhere from 5 to 25 other people and usually include fitness facilities, a pool or relaxation area, a communal kitchen and living room, and more. Many of these are pet-friendly as well, so if you’re thinking about bringing your four-legged furry friend, a co-living space could be a great option! Co-living prices range from $200-$2000 depending on the level of luxury you’d like!
If you’re a sports enthusiast or like to maintain a moderate level of fitness while nomading, the monthly gym clubs of Colombia are great. Expect to pay around $20 for a monthly gym membership, more if you want a personal trainer. Alternatively, you could always maximize the country’s mountains, coasts, and natural abundances to be the backdrop for your fitness routine.
Have kids? Childcare in Colombia is very affordable as well. The average price for daycare or kindergarten for one month (private, full-day) is a mere $160. For older children, the average price per year for international primary school is around $4500-$5000.
Public transportation is also a very affordable aspect of Colombia for digital nomads. A single ride on a city bus is about $0.60, while a monthly pass (unlimited) is $32. A liter of gas in Colombia is currently around $0.65.
The average monthly salary in Colombia for locals is a mere $327 USD, so you can imagine the purchasing power digital nomads have in the country if they’re getting paid in a favorable currency such as USD or EUR.
The cost of living in Colombia for digital nomads is definitely one of the country’s biggest draws. A couple can easily live off $1000 USD per month, and live a life of luxury for a little more than that. A single person can easily live off of a little less, though the sharing of rent by a couple is favorable.
Best spots in Colombia to work remotely
Medellin offers an experience like no other city. It would be a mistake if you visit Colombia but do not wander around Medellin.
It offers the experience of a modern city that has improved a lot in terms of infrastructure, safety, and places to visit.
Medellin is one of the safest cities in the whole of Colombia. It is located in the mountainous areas of the Andes chain. It has a perfect city lifestyle offering a lively and genuine experience. It also has a fairly dense population and a well-planned infrastructure that supports the livelihood of its inhabitants.
What is so special about Medellin for digital nomads? Well, Medellin provides various good spots for digital nomads to work from. The digital nomad communities in the city are active all around the year. They arrange different events now and then, so the nomads get the exposure and even get to learn by socializing with other nomads.
Medellin is a fairly busy city that is home to many digital nomads’ networks. The average internet speed that you can have access to around the city is 10mbps, which is average and also what you get in most parts of the country.
The real difference is the 4G services that are better in Medellin as compared to most other cities.
The biggest attraction when visiting any city in Colombia is the beaches. Although being in Medellin requires you to take quite a journey to get to the beaches located outside of the city. But if there is anything that can be said about them is that they are worth it!
The experience of these beautiful beaches such as playa Banca, Rosario Islands, Carpurgana and more is incomparable and leaves you in awe.
Where to stay in Medellin?
The Suites at Leblon Hotel are situated in a popular area of Medellin (la Milla de Oro de El Poblado – a quiet area with shopping, casinos, and restaurants). The suites give you the privacy of having your own apartment coupled with the convenience of hotel-style amenities. There’s even a Turkish sauna available for guest use! An on-site restaurant provides daily breakfast, but you can also do some light cooking from your suite if you so choose. Entire apartments start at $1,000 per month (more if you opt for breakfast!).
Another popular choice in El Poblado, Medellin is Go Living and Suites, which provides similarly priced and equipped apartments.
Read more about how great is Medellin for digital nomads.
Cartagena has improved drastically over the past few decades in terms of welcoming tourists. It used to be named as an unsafe city but now just as any other city in Colombia, it is the safest.
The growing tourism and growing digital nomad communities in the city can offer the exposure that the nomads require.
The city has an exceptional cultural heritage that is mainly architectural. While on a trip to Cartagena you would never miss out on the fun and that is for sure.
As tourism has enhanced in the past few years, so have the opportunities for the nomads arriving from different parts of the world. The digital nomad community in Cartagena welcomes new nomads and gives them a chance to learn more about being a nomad and to find work from other places as well.
Cartagena is one of the most affordable cities for a nomad on this list. While the whole of Colombia is fairly priced, you would find it better in Cartagena as compared to some other places. The food costs and even the living costs are all something that has a fair price.
Cartagena is the life of the party, the party being the country of Colombia. If you visit Cartagena, there is no way that you will be leaving the city without having some great memorable times. The fun guaranteed in the city is 100%.
Where to have fun? The people of Cartagena are lively and friendly. Making up some friends via a digital nomad network can lead you to hang out at various beautiful beach parties, visit around the old town or the plazas around the city.
Where to stay in Cartagena?
If you’re setting up base in Cartagena, you’re undoubtedly a beach bum of sorts. For this reason, Hotel Ayenda Casa Cano is at the top of our list. Starting at $1,300 per month, you can have a private apartment situated just a 5-minute walk from the beach. There is a shared kitchen where you can prepare food, or opt for room service for a more catered vibe. The apartments are equipped with air conditioning, free WiFi, TVs, and comfortable beds. Each unit has its own private bathroom and free daily breakfast.
For a slightly larger apartment with beachfront access, check out Edificio Bavaria on El Laguito beach. Prices here start at $1560 per month.
Read more about how great is Cartagena for digital nomads.
3. Santa Marta
Santa Marta is on the coast of the Caribbean Sea, located in the north of Colombia. The city offers calm and serenity like no other.
It is not as well known for digital nomads as other cities because this place offers more of a time to lay low than to interact with new people. Nonetheless, the calm environment can be just what a nomad needs to work.
Besides, the internet connection in the city is stable, and there are also co-working places for the nomads.
When we talk about visiting Colombia, how can we not talk about visiting the beaches? The biggest advantage of being in Santa Marta? The beaches are practically your second home in your time there.
Since the city is located on the coast of the sea, you have close access to the beautiful beaches that do not require you to travel long hours.
Furthermore, a 30-minute ride can take you up to the Sierra Nevada mountains, which have a beauty like no other. You can hike the mountains as there are great treks there.
The whole vibe of the city is cozy and tropical. In such places, you can expect the internet to be a bit slow, but the co-working places in Santa Marta will not disappoint you.
Co-working spaces such as flamingo and other cafes, provide a stable internet speed which is up to 10Mbps like any other part of the country.
The 4G network is good around the city but the availability of signals can be tricky across the coastal side of the city.
Santa Marta is the oldest city in Colombia. If you prefer the vintage coastal experience over the modern experience, then you would choose Santa Marta over Medellin.
The city is also safe and has a good infrastructure, making it easy for you to get around and face no troubles during your time there.
It has even been said that it is hard to get any work done around here in this city because of all that it has to offer! Roaming around the old parts of the city, going out on beaches, socializing, and partying with the people, all of this is something you will not get enough of. So you might take out some proper time before visiting this city!
Where to stay in Santa Marta?
Only 150m from the beach is Apart Hotel Chayrama. Here you can have your own junior suite with a terrace just a stone’s throw away from the Caribbean Sea. With rates starting at $1400 per month, you have all the standard amenities necessary for nomading in Colombia – air conditioning, free WiFi, kitchen facilities, TV, and a workspace. In case your laptop breaks down, the hotel also provides communal computers for guest use with unlimited, free WiFi.
Next on the list comes the capital of Colombia itself. Bogota offers all that a tourist or a digital nomad requires. It has sights of attraction, remote work opportunities, and great co-working places.
The accommodation costs are reasonably affordable, and the city is one of the safest in the entire country. Furthermore, the whole environment of the place is clean, healthy and the people are kind and lively. In short, visiting Bogota can never be a dull experience!
It also offers the perfect city experience, while you might wonder that what is so different about a city experience, going around Bogota answers all your such questions by providing a great time while you are in the city.
The broadband internet speed has improved a lot in recent years, offering speed from 10Mbps to 16Mbps, depending upon the location and pricing of the internet server. Additionally, the 4G servers around the whole city are exceptional.
For expats, remote workers, and digital nomads there are a lot of co-working spots all around the city. These co-working spots have the right working environment and are even cost-effective. These spots include places like the Work zone SAS, Salina Chapinero, and other labs that you can easily locate near you.
People from around the city head to certain beautiful spots to relax or take a break for the weekend, these places can be surprising for the digital nomads.
Something that you will prefer more about these locations is the lakeside places and the waterfalls. The view and the experience you get around these places is worth remembering. These natural places along with the historical churches and plazas can prove to provide a good time while in Bogota.
Another biggest tourist spot around the city is its exceptional museums that honor beautiful art perfectly.
Where to stay in Bogota?
Our top pick for Bogotá is La Candelaria, a private apartment in the historic downtown area of the city. The kitchen is equipped to cook at home, providing basic pantry ingredients and cooking utensils, in addition to a stove, oven, and refrigerator. Prices start at a mere $500 per month for this entire apartment, thanks to it being privately owned and not part of a hotel complex.
It has a desk, free WiFi, TV, and laundry services (at an additional charge).
This apartment does not offer any parking, but given its central location, you won’t need a vehicle.
From $1,400 per month for an entire apartment
Apartamentos Plaza Suites in Bogotá features a restaurant, fitness center, bar, a lounge, and accommodation with epic views. The hotel offers free WiFi and private parking. This is a great option if you prefer a hotel-like stay and don’t plan on cooking at the apartment.
Each unit has a kitchen with a microwave and a fridge as well as a safety deposit box, a flat-screen TV, a desk, and a seating area from where you can do your nomading work if you need a break from coworking spaces. All units feature a private bathroom.
Breakfast is available at Apartmentos Plaza Suites, which you can enjoy in the on-site restaurant, or on your private terrace with sweeping city views.
Suites by Vilar América offers similar amenities for prices starting at $950 per month.
Cali offers great flexibility to the digital nomads. Whether you are starting up as a nomad or continuing your well-built business, Cali is good for you.
It is one of the cheapest cities to go to in Colombia. Since it is cheap, you might question, does that comprise the quality of life over there? And the answer is no, absolutely not.
While everything around the city is cheap, meaning you can have a good time there for $1000-$1200, there is no compromise on the quality of life. Your safety is still ensured as the city has seen a great improvement in its safety over the years.
But still, why Cali for digital nomads?
Admittedly, the internet speed that you find around here in Cali is not any better than Bogota or Medellin, but it is fairly good. The hotel’s internet tends to be sluggish, but you can ask to check for the internet speed before renting the Airbnb.
The mobile services also provide good enough speed and availability all over the city.
If you are worried about having fun while your time out as a nomad, worry not, this city has got your back!
One thing that Cali is famous for is salsa dancing. No matter which day of the week you head out for a little fun, there is always some salsa dancing. You can even learn it for fun or just go out to hang with people who love to dance.
As for sights to visit, there are a lot of places to visit in Cali including zoos, parks, plazas, and churches. But one thing that will mesmerize you are the mountains and the view from those mountains!
There are a lot of hiking trails in the city, some can be difficult but the view after all that effort is worth it.
You might think a city this cheap would not welcome many digital nomad opportunities, but it does. Cali is cheap, safe, friendly, and warm. That is all a digital nomad would need.
Moreover, there are co-working places and digital nomad communities around the city that you can set yourself into. Socializing around these friendly people will not be hard and it will also give you exposure to other nomads in the city.
Pereira is located south of Medellin and there isn’t much striking difference that you will find between the two cities.
Pereira offers all the basic and extravagant requirements of a nomad. Affordable, good internet, good social life, and digital nomad communities.
Pereira is also an underrated city in Colombia, it is highly unlikely that it will experience a high crowd of tourists during a certain season. Thus, if you prefer a bit of calm and peace in the environment then this place will fit your mood well.
It is one of those cities that comes to life at night-time. The people in the city like to party late and keep the energy electric. If you are one for parties then there is no way you will ever feel bored during your stay here in Pereira.
If you prefer not to party (how can you not!?) even then, the beautiful views from around different places in the city will keep you waiting for the night to come.
The internet around Pereira is normal like any other city in Colombia. Throughout the places, you will find a broadband service of up to 10-15 Mbps. However, the co-working spots can offer better and fast internet. The 4G network availability is good around the city as well.
Accommodation all across Pereira is cheap. You will find some places to be even cheaper than Cali. However, if you are looking for a place to stay, you can always choose the city located in the center of Pereira, El Circunvalar.
El Circunvalar has all to offer. It is cheap, safe and the fun that you will get around this place will be hard to come by in another location. It also has comparatively more co-working spaces for digital nomads.