12 Most Popular Businesses for Expats in Colombia in 2023
B&B / Boutique Hotel
A bread & breakfast or a boutique hotel is probably the easiest business to setup in Colombia as an expat. The barrier to entry in this type of business is quite.
Bed & Breakfast or renting rooms is very easy but expanding into a full commercial operation will require commercial zoning, and tourism certificate for hotels. This may take 3-6 months.
You may rent rooms as an apartment building for 30 days or more until you get your hotel permission. If you have a restaurant in your hotel then you may serve liquor to your guests by filing papers at the local police station.
Besides B & B or boutique hotel, Airbnb is probably the easiest business to setup in Colombia. You can buy a property and rent it out on Airbnb or another similar website. Alternatively, rent out a room in your apartment or house to cover costs. You can also advertise rooms or apartment for rent on OLX, Locanto, Fincaraiz, and other websites.
You can also hire a local real estate agent to help you find tenants for your property. If you are renting rooms in an apartment building on Airbnb, then you will have to check with the building administration before leasing any apartments or rooms to tourists.
Check with the building administration before leasing space for commercial purposes. Finally, you must know how to draft a rental agreement if you are renting room or apartment for an extended period of time off Airbnb.
You must not assume that your taste in food or gourmet cuisine will be something Colombians desire. With that being said, exotic foods are something that usually go over well in high income area such as Poblado area in Medellin.
From fast food to gourmet exotic foods are very popular. Just as in any other country restaurants can be challenging to run and have many costs associated with them. Stick with Colombian foods in low to middle income areas or you are taking a big risk.
Many food delivery companies such as Domicilios, Rappi, and iFood operate in Colombia allowing you to bring food to the doorstep of your customers.
Telecommute from home country
In the days of COVID-19 pandemic, pretty much any office job can be done from your home. Internet connection is quite good and reliable in and around major cities in Colombia.
If you are buying internet service, then you have can choose between several providers such as Tigo, Claro, or Movistar. Be sure to buy business package so that you can get fast and reliable internet service.
With COVID-19 companies are more flexible than ever. You can live in Colombia by using several visa options but there is not specific visa for telecommuting persons. You will have speak with a visa professional to find a solution that works for you.
If you have a job or an online business that you can carry out from anywhere in the world, then Colombia is one of the best options for you.
Administration of Rentals
A lot of tourist come to Colombia year round from all over the world and need apartments, rooms, or houses for their stay. You can administer rentals for a real estate agency or for individual landlords.
You can work with landlords who do not speak English and want to rent out their property to foreigners. You can find these landlords on Airbnb and other apartment rental sites.
Administrating apartments generally require solving issues a tenant may have such as finding an apartment, leasing an apartment, getting utility and internet connections, resolving disputes with landlord, and abiding by laws of the building administration.
Colombia is quite famous for its well-known coffee and coffee beans. Mostly popular for the Juan Valdez coffee brand which is widely available throughout the country.
The country also provides Starbucks with much of its coffee. The Colombian mountains are perfect for growing rich, flavorful, and delicious coffee.
Coffee changes flavor depending on the altitude it grows at as well as the type of coffee. Arabica beans are the mostly commonly grown coffee beans in Colombia which are lighter and sweeter.
Be sure to check out coffee farms in the rural parts of Colombia and the most famous coffee producing region in Colombia which is known as Coffee Axis or Eje Cafetero.
Outsourcing IT professionales
If you are used to hiring programmers or IT professionals from US, then you know that it is costly having developers from United States. Hiring programmers from USA can cost you 5 to 10 times the money you would pay for a programmer in Colombia.
Also popular alternative to India and European countries because of the similar time zones in Colombia. Average pay is around $1,500 to $2,000 a month for a very good Spanish and English speaking programmer or a mobile app developer.
You can also hire graphic designers and social media
Real Estate Broker
Being a real estate broker is one of the top three business that expats get into when landing in a Colombia. You do not need a realtor’s license in Colombia but you should get chamber of commerce business certificate as a sole proprietor starting off, or a SAS corporation if you will have a partner.
Additionally you will need a tax ID. Real estate brokers traditionally make 3% on sales in major cities, but in some cases clients pay more. Commission on furnished properties will usually make up to 20%, and for administering unfurnished properties will earn 8-10% normally.
If you have well-heeled clients from other countries who are looking for luxurious retirement homes, then fincas in Colombia are probably the best place for them.
The fincas in are known to be holiday homes for the wealthy. They are typically situated in the countryside and offer a perfect escape from city life. In Colombia there is a huge abundance of fincas that dot the farmlands surrounding many of the country’s cities and towns.
Live off Rental Income in another country
This one is a no-brainer. You can live of rent from a property in the United States, Colombia, or elsewhere and use the Rentista visa option to get a migrant visa.
All you have to do is show consistent rental income to immigration authorities when applying for this type of visa. The rental income can be derived either from a residential or a commercial property.
A number of expats live in Colombia off rental income. Please be aware that you have to pay taxes to DIAN on your rental income.
Outsourcing Call Center
Call centers are essential parts of a business. Almost any business irrespective of its size requires a certain number of sales representatives or customer service agents. This can get to be a large part of overhead. Huge savings are available to your business if you setup your call center in Colombia.
Customer service and sales reps from Medellin and Bogota speak English well and have very clear accents. Please be certain of labor laws before hiring customer service reps for your business. They must be paid basic salary plus bonuses or commissions.
Colombia has only had an agreement with the United States for 3 years for exporting Colombian Hass Avocado. There is a huge demand for guacamole, frozen avocado, health and beauty products or the entire avocado fruit.
A kilo of Hass avocados gets about 5,700 pesos at a packing plant, which is about 4-5 avocados for $1.60. In the USA, you are going to usually pay at least 1 dollar per avocado. So the profit margin is there.
Avocado trees take 4-5 years to produce fruit, however investments in avocado farms is a very lucrative business. Avocado trees grow very fast, and if you do it right you can find some land with some trees that are already producing, that will cover expenses on the farm while you plant and grow more trees
A new sector gaining in popularity. Small health food markets & restaurants are gaining in popularity as Colombians become more health conscious.
Growing vegetables in a small farm outside a major city can be a way to have fun and earn some extra income.
Additionally there are other crops that can grow in the same climate and produce profits throughout the year, such as galupa, tree tomatoes, or potatoes.
These other crops grow very fast and can bring in profits while you wait for the avocado trees to bloom. The galupa is recommended as a profitable crop.
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