Renting in Colombia may be one of the challenges a foreigner may face, at least a long term rental of a home or apartment. If you are coming to work with an established company, that business may be able to assist you but otherwise be prepared for a flurry of paperwork.
As a newcomer, with no rental or credit history, very likely you will be asked for two co-signors on your lease. You may also be required to go through a credit check, which you will pay for and possibly still be unsuccessful. If you do have luck, it might be feasible that you will be required to deposit 3 to 6 months rent with an insurer, as a guarantee for the rent. Personally I have offered landlords a full year’s rent in advance along with 6 months of utility payments and still been declined.
Fortunately a number of companies have stepped into the marketplace and offer furnished rentals without the tedious and frustrating process that you may face otherwise. Certainly you pay a bit more of a premium but at least you will be able to find a place to live until you establish yourself in Colombia. Not only that you will save yourself the trouble of trying to get public utilities connected. One thing to note, technically a deposit is illegal in Colombia, however it is something most foreigners are use to and it is a very slight inconvenience, if at all.
Short term rentals
Renting short term in Colombia is possible but in 2010 a law was passed preventing the rental of an apartment for under one month. The only exception to this is if 70% of the owners within a building are willing to allow short term rentals. Some buildings will turn a blind eye to this if the unit is not rented out to ”party” clients. Other people circumvent this situation by renting rooms as you can ”share” an apartment.
If you are interested in having property to rent short term in Colombia, one solution is to buy an older house and convert it into apartments. As a result, you as the owner, can rent to whatever client you wish.
When renting anywhere up to six months, usually the rent will include the utilities. Often over a six month period you can negotiate a bit better rate but then you will have to pay the utilities. Normally the condo fee’s and the taxes are included in the rent.
The cost of renting an apartment may be up to 35 % cheaper than renting a hotel. Some agencies will offer you a weekly maid service and now some are even getting more creative with a private shopper, translator, driver, masseuse, cellphone, etc.
Generally when you rent an apartment someone will meet you at the unit when you arrive. They will walk you through and go through a detailed inventory with you. On check out, you will repeat the process to ensure that there has been no damage during your stay. The serious agencies will insist that there is no partying in the apartment.
Alternatives to Renting
Hostels have become a very popular way to see a country. While many of us may have backpacked through a country and only needed a bed to ”crash in” overnight, and those needs still exist today, some hostels are going upscale. Some establishments now offer very reasonable rates for nice private, comfortable rooms with baths.
An alternative to renting in Colombia is house swapping. Although the inventory of homes to swap here is not large, at the moment, there are certainly some lovely properties available in Guatape, Cartagena, Bogota and Medellin. These can be found by perusing the various agencies online that promote this type of exchange.
There is probably no better way to get to know a country than by staying with locals. If you search the internet for Bed and Breakfasts in Colombia, often you will find hotels listed in these categories. While there are not a lot of B&B’s here, it is certainly worthwhile checking out what is available.
Remember the ”only risk about Colombia is wanting to stay”.