For the last month or so, my girlfriend and I have "tried out" life in Medellin, Colombia. This thread covers why we tried it, what we found, what we liked, & why we likely won't live there.

Focus: cost of living, taxes, digital nomad visa, quality of life.

Rating: 8/10

In 2022 October, Colombia introduced a Digital Nomad visa. To qualify, you need ≈$840 a month income iirc. In our case, with a Russian national and a "software dev" salary, this isn't cheap but is OK. Other countries like Panama, CR/etc want $2k to $3k income.
This gets prohibitive quickly. If you're like me, and looking at potentially ≈shotgun wedding and moving your loved ones' fam out of harms' way, Colombia is $2520 a month for three people, compared to the same costs for one person in another country. And they can live VERY well.
achievable with loans, living lean, etc. $6k-$9k+ a month is challenging unless you're making $500k a year. I am not.

Other countries have a pensionado (retiree) plan that lowers the income requirements but often takes longer to process.

From a "Westerner" perspective, Colombia still has a media discount. Since it's "dangerous" and my mom (prob yours too) thinks you'll get murdered, you'll get a discount. This discount is extreme, in terms of livability, only Mexico compares.
Between Mexico and Colombia, I'd urge you to be specific about cities. Merida? OK. Medellin? Fantastic. Bogota vs Juarez... have you heard about Merida and Medellin?

As with most countries, media focuses on cities, especially "shocking" cities. IMO, Medellin is safe...
or at least as safe as Chicago, Atlanta, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Paris, etc. Don't go in the wrong area at the wrong time, and you'll be fine and have a great life. Unlike those cities, in Medellin you have enhanced Spidey-Sense, so you know when you've gone too astray.
Medellin has no suburbs, not in the American sense. It's a very quick transition from apartment buildings and businesses to coffee farms (1-2km). After that, there's basic infrastructure until you exit the valley, then some small towns and houses here and there.
It depends on what you like--I prefer a slower pace of life, outside a city, but nearish to one. Medellin offers this, but it's def not the same as in the States.

This brings us to the major detractor of Colombia: taxes.
Colombia assesses two main types of taxes: income and "stratos" based taxes. We'll start off with stratos and then move to income.

A stratos is basically defined as the amenities (schools, transportation, etc) in light of the average income of a neighborhood. This == critical.
There's a lot of "play" here if you want to strategize against the Colombian stratos-system. For example: you can make a large income and own a coffee farm (stratos 2) and then have free healthcare and public services because you own farmland. If you live in a poor Comuna...
you're still stratos 2 but don't have access to less-liquid equity in your property. The stratos system favors people who have large disposable incomes but low desire to live in the penthouse of an apartment building.

This is a boon for anti-city Bitcoiners.
Our apartment is in a stratos 5, in La America, roughly 6 blocks outside of Laureles' edge. If you're familiar with NYC, this is like being in Bed-Stuy while your friends are in Williamsburg. Not ideal, but livable.

There are 6 stratos. Level 5 is roughly equivalent to Queens.
This probably sounds all crazy. It tends to tax urban residents higher than rural residents. If you have money to invest in a farm, you can save a lot on services and pay nothing for basic services. If you want to live in Poblado (Manhattan), you're going to pay a lot no matter.
I also spoke with a few people about the taxes, and it seemed similar to Turkey. The government doesn't have full insight. It seems like a popular evasion strategy is to offshore your income and then transfer in only what you need to pay life expenses.
This again favors the farmer who has a $1m property, structures his debt, and then pays himself a subsistence wage offshore, then tying up the lion's share in investments while claiming Stratos 2 benefits. All the benefit, without the heavy income tax burden.

Colombia has one of the most effed up income tax schemas I've ever seen. Colombia bases its taxes on income brackets, but they're abstracted. They use something called the UVT, which is a fixed unit, and then comprise the UVT of a floating number of pesos per UVT in a year.
This essentially allows them to tax the same amount for the same bands in a progressive tax system, but then vary the base unit of account so that 1UVT = whatever the central bank decides it should be. Right now, their top tax bracket @33% is for income >≈$29,550.
If you thought US taxes were crap, try paying 33% of your income above $30k. If you're honest, this erodes any possibility of living here and saving money.

If you want to save money in Colombia, your options are:

1: Lie.
2: Pay tax, lose money and opps, be sad.
So, assuming you're honest, your tax levers are living in a low stratos and contracting with @modernTman to run a regenerative ranch (DO THIS, lol) or lying on your taxes. Otherwise, you're getting boned compared to other countries in the area. On the subject of beef...

Ribeyes, depending on where you get them, are around $7 a kilo. That's around $3 a pound. The beef there is largely quit lean, benefits from dry brine and good knife work, but is quality.

Vika says fruit price is insane. My fav, dragon fruit, is ≈$0.75 each.
Bacon is around $2 uncured compared to $6.50 locally for me. All fruits are roughly 20% of the cost. On AirBnB, our small one bed is $650 a month in stratos 5. In Queens, that'd be around $1700.

You'll save a lot in costs.

My fav: a 1 mile Uber trip to Los Molinos in Belen...
is $1.20. Uber tips are often suggested at $0.50 to $1.00. Hiring an Uber driver for 6 hours & driving you across Antioquia (the state of Medellin) is like $40 max for 6 hours. There's no need to have a car.

Lunch is generally $1.50 (street food) to $7 (restaurant).
Public transit is dope, costing very little money, being relatively navigable, but inside of hubs it's difficult to find your way. In general, we found the English-speaking portion of Colombia to be very low. Vika only speaks Russian, French, English and she struggled.
If you saw my food posts from a few weeks ago, our costs per meal were about $4 for both of us, 5+ courses, and leftovers. In the States, that'd have been $25+.

It is way more affordable, and if you love big city life, I'd pick Medellin over any US city, period.
Twitter is having some issue and I maxxed out my tweet thread. Back soon to add more.

Taxes. I don’t want to lie. The only way to avoid 33% taxes above $30k is lying. I couldn’t ever recommend this country if my advice was lie on your taxes. YMMV.

Medellin is a great place. The Colombians are fantastic people. I rec @josebitcoiner.
It is just not a place to stay permanently. The digital nomad visa only allows for 180 days of in-country time.

Use that. If you want Medellin, stay there for 6 months and then pick Paraguay or El Salvador. The risk and annoyance of being tax dishonest here isn’t worth it.
I wish they had better regulations, but they don’t.

Writing on my phone now, will share a lot of cool Colombia photos and videos once my desktop version is working again.
No further pics or videos are uploading tonight. Will continue trying tomorrow.
Pics still not uploading. But I remembered an important omission.

Colombia does a flat tax of non-residents. Sounds great, but the tax is 35%. Colombia has the most punishing taxes I’ve found so far.
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