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Cost to live in Colombia

Our Bogotá living expenses

By Michael
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If you read some of the magazines and news about retiring in a country other than the U.S.A. they frequently mention how little it costs. I have seen writings stating you can live like a king for only $1,500 USD a month. My belief is that is more the exception than the truth.

This month I thought to tell you what our costs are. Then at the end of the writing explain what factors determine how a person can spend less or more. It is important to note that my wife and I live in the most expensive city in Colombia with the possible exception of Cartagena. The saying is that the only thing that will kill you in Cartagena are the prices.

To help readers I will put the  prices in U.S. Dollars. Of course the amount can change depending upon the strength of the dollar against the Colombian peso. Lately one can expect the U.S. buck to be equivalent to somewhere between 2,800 and 3,000 pesos. I will use 2,900 pesos to the dollar for my amounts.

Rent and utilities
We live in an estrato four neighborhood. That means a middle class area. Rent for a home in our neighborhood ranges between $690 and $860 a month. If you wish to purchase a home expect to shuck out a minimum of $250,000. 

Utilities are another thing. We do not have gas to our home. Everything is electrical including the hot water and stove. But we do use an energy efficient hot water heater and a convection stove. There is also a monthly fee for the neighborhood guard. So per month:
Electricity                $49
Water                      $26
Guard                      $48
Phone/TV/Internet    $49
Cell Phones              $43

Food is one of those things that change for everyone. My wife and I eat all breakfasts and dinners at the house. Probably 50% of our lunches are at restaurants. In addition we have coffee out every single day. Then, in the groceries is included all of our cleaning supplies for the house. 
Groceries                $225
Food & Coffee out    $250

Housecleaning  and lawn service - My wife and I use someone to clean the house once a week. Plus we have someone cut the grass of our very small yard monthly. There are those who have a full time maid. Including the benefits they pay about $344 a month. With just once a week my wife and I pay about $85 a month for the house and yard.

There are many choices for transportation. We are retired so we do not have a daily commute to work. However, despite my best efforts to stay at the house my wife always finds some place for us to go each day. Our car is paid for and you really do not need a car to get around Bogota. We use it mostly for trips out of the city. But you still need insurance and yearly taxes.
Car expenses             $67
Mass transportation    $35

Health insurance is something you just cannot live without. The World Health Organization rates Colombia at having the 22nd best health in the World (U.S. is ranked at #37). At our age, my wife and I are on seven different medicines between us. We have the basic insurance offered in the country. 
Health insurance        $83
Medicines & co-pays   $18

More or less - Within Bogota they go up to estrato 6. I know of people paying $1,000 to $2,000 a month just for rent in those areas. In addition their utilities can almost double what we pay. And some in apartments pay as much as $350 monthly for maintenance fee including the guard. Of course there are places for less in the lower estrato areas. But the minimum rent you will pay to live in a descent area is $500 monthly.  My wife and I have lived outside the city in smaller towns. Our rent for a 1,200 sq foot home with a large yard was $551 a month with utilities about 10% lower than what we pay now. 

CLICK HERE to read about our Bogota home hunting experience

Remember everyone has a different idea of what is suitable living. Our costs may or may not represent what you will deem necessary for your standard of living. 

Wishing you a great day. Thank you for reading.

Read previous newsletters HERE. 

Copyright © 2018 Michael and Graciela's Colombia, All rights reserved.

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