One of the first things on your mind when contemplating moving to a new country is obviously going to be “Where am I going to live?” Not just in terms of location, but your actual physical household, your own personal space to go home to at the end of the day.We all need a roof over our head and whilst Colombia has many wonderful things to boast about, the rental market for expats is unfortunately not one of them. So we’ve created this guide on renting in Colombia to tell you all you need to know.
Renting In Colombia For Expats
We’ve answered some of the most frequently asked questions about renting in Colombia below, plus given some handy tips to help you get by.
Important things you need to know:
1. In many Colombian cities, short term rentals under the period of one month are illegal. Therefore, if you plan on a very short stay, you will want to take particular care with websites such as AirBnB.
2. Many real estate agents in Colombia will have limited English, so it may be a wise idea bring a Spanish speaking friend with you if you don’t speak the language yourself. This ensures that there are no misunderstandings or miscommunications of what is expected from you.
3. There is a penalty for early termination which applies to both tenants and landlords. The normal notice period to end a rental lease in Colombia is three months. For breach of contract and agreed notice period, there is penalty which often equates to three months’ rent.
4. Leases in Colombia often renew automatically unless a written notice is given in the aforementioned time period.
Deposits In Colombia
Deposits for lease agreements are technically against the law in Colombia. However, you may hear migrants say they have had to pay a hefty deposit to secure a property to rent in Colombia.
"We had to use a huge portion of our available cash for what amounted to an enormous security deposit – nearly 10 months' worth of rent!" Expats In Colombia Member
So if deposits are prohibited by law, are you being scammed by being asked for one? The problem is that if you don’t have existing credit in Colombia you may struggle to rent. In addition to this existing credit, many letting agents will require a fiador, which is a co-signer or a guarantor. Without this, you may be asked to pay rent in advance – how many months’ worth can vary greatly and ultimately come down to the discretion of the landlord. This is one of the main reasons why people new to the country end up paying a large ‘deposit’.
If you are in this situation, it may be wise to pay via a seguro (insurance company) to give yourself some protection. Some insurance companies may even be able to help reduce or even waive the need for you to pay for several months’ rent in advance, but this will usually be dependent on calculations such as your economic activity inside the country. It can also be helpful if you know anyone in the country who can attest to your character and write a referral for you.
Take a look at insurance service websites such as Mapfre to help you decide where to live.
More agencies that cater specifically to expats are starting to appear, but they can be quite costly.
What you need to rent a property in Colombia
You won’t actually need a cedula (Colombian ID) or a visa to rent an apartment in Colombia. In fact, a passport should be all you need in terms of personal identification.
You may also be required to show a proof of income, possibly for a certain amount that may be stipulated by the letting agency.
As mentioned above, if you have no prior credit history in the country and no fiador, you may need to factor in enough cash for up to nine months’ rent in advance.
Monthly rent in Colombia cannot exceed one percent of the commercial value of the property. Inflation to rent is capped; it may not exceed 100 percent of consumer price index and may only be increased every 12 months.
Residential properties in Colombia are ranked on a socio-economic scale (which takes into account the relative wealth of the area and district the property is situated in) from one to six, with six being the highest and therefore most expensive. These are referred to as estratos. So if you are looking at properties, the highest prices will be estratos six. As a migrant, you may find some letting agents attempting to steer you more towards these kinds of properties.
Average rental prices in the main cities of Colombia (will vary depending on area):
**COL / COP = Colombian Pesos
Here are some websites that may help you in your search.
• Find an alternative to traditional renting for expats in Colombia at Apartment International.
• Try Facebook groups such as Bogota Rentals.
• Consider house share and room rental options on Compartoapto.
• Browse potential apartments on Metrocuadrado, Fincaraiz or Goplaceit.
Have you lived in Colombia? Share your thoughts in the comments below, or answer the questions here to be featured in an interview!