There are many, many reasons to live in Cartagena, Colombia.
Whether you're into beaches, year-round sunny skies, exciting nightlife or great local cuisine, this Caribbean city has got something for you to enjoy.
But, moving to Colombia isn't easy. There are a few things you'll have to sort out: a proper visa, work situation, getting a bank account. Even if you only plan to stay a few months, at the very least you're going to need to find somewhere to live.
And that's what I'm here to help you with today! Whenever I arrive to a new city, the most stressful thing is figuring out where to hang my hat. If I'm staying a few days or weeks, Airbnb is usually my go-to. But, if I want to stay a couple months, I prefer to search the local listings and get a better deal.
But enough about me.
Let's talk about how to rent an apartment in Cartagena, Colombia!
Your Easiest Options
I'm going to go ahead and assume that you know how Airbnb functions, so I won't go into details. If you plan to rent this way in Cartagena, it will be simple and painless, but also more expensive. If you're not too concerned over budget, there are certainly some stunning options (both short and long term) in safe areas of the city. This place is certainly well-served by Airbnb. I'd say the cost of an Airbnb rental is about 20%-30% higher than local listings (we'll talk about local listings in a bit).
Like Airbnb, reserving a room on booking.com is straightforward. And, like Airbnb, you will get a discount if you book somewhere by the month as opposed to by the day or week. I've been surprised to find that, occasionally, listings on Booking.com are more affordable than Airbnb. If you don't want to fuss over finding an apartment and just want something you can reserve from home, Booking.com is worth a look.
Again, VRBO is just like Airbnb. Prices are comparable. If you haven't had any luck on Booking.com or Airbnb, give this one a shot.
The most active Facebook group for foreigners living in Cartagena is called Expats in Cartagena. Members of the group frequently post apartments or rooms that are available to rent. I suggest joining the group and throwing up an inquiry on available places to live. The folks on the site are generally helpful, and someone is likely to know someone that has a living space available.
The good thing about Colombia is that there is no shortage of local websites for finding an apartment! Here are some of the better ones I've come across:
1. Go Place It
8. Bogota OLX
10. Mercado Libre
Find A Roommate!
There are two decent options for finding roommates in Cartagena. These are:
2. DADA Room
As of now, listings on DADA room are a bit thin...but it's worth a look nonetheless.
The Old-School Option
Finally, we've got the old-school option. Otherwise known as "finding an apartment like a local".
First step is to take a stroll around the neighbourhood you want to live in. Next, you're going to want to call the rental numbers you see on apartment buildings - I can assure you, you'll see a lot of these! If the building has a doorman, he can give you the owner's number, arrange an appointment or, sometimes, even show you through the apartment himself!
There are a few reasons why this option is a good one. First of all, apartments that are listed in this manner are almost always cheaper than finding a listing on the Internet. Second, it is more time efficient than scrolling through local websites (which are often poorly organized with poor response rates by the owners). Last of all, the process will be fast. If you decide to search for an apartment this way, you can touch base with the owner quicker, and as long as you both agree on the price and length of time of the rental, you can usually move into the apartment within the week!
If you choose to go this route, you'll need to speak some Spanish (or know someone who does!). You wouldn't want to get confused about prices or what is and isn't covered in the price of rent (Internet, TV, etc).
Rocket Spanish will give you the basic skills you need to communicate in the local language if you're not yet proficient.
And that's about it! If you've been wondering how to rent an apartment in Cartagena, I hope I've been of some assistance. It can be a daunting task, but if you plan on staying somewhere awhile it's worth the time to check out all of these alternatives - you don't want to get stuck with an overpriced and/or seedy rental!
When I arrive to a new city for a longterm stay, my process is this:
1. Check Airbnb or Booking.com (on the off-chance there are some sweet deals)
2. Check out any Facebook groups for the city to see if anyone's renting
3. Check the roommate option (only if I'm on a budget)
4. Spend a couple hours on the local websites and send off a copy/paste email to all the apartments that have potential
5. Walk around and call listings (preferably, with a local friend)
At the end of all this, I'll normally have a few solid leads to consider. Then, I simply pick the best one!
Thanks for listening, and best of luck with the house hunt!
If you have any additional thoughts on how to rent an apartment in Cartagena, Colombia, please leave them in the comments below!
Until next time,
Headed to the capital instead? Check out this article
And for tons more information about Latin American cities, don't miss my city guides!