Apartments: What you Can Expect

There’s a lot of apartment and townhouse closed communities in major Colombian cities, and a large number of units within them are owned by investors who rent them out to cover their mortgages and other costs while the property appreciates, not surprisingly!

When properties are bought new, they’re basically devoid of anything, concrete bunkers you might say – the buyers will put the fixtures in, paint and decorate. People here have certain expectations whether they’re buying or renting and this guides their decisions on what amenities to put in. Sometimes the owners lived there themselves and therefore the property might have extra amenities.

If you’re looking to rent or buy used apartments (that is, not buy on plans), the apartment stock is mostly of recent construction, but even if it’s 2-3 decades old, you can expect it to have the following features…

• The vast majority of rental properties are unfurnished.

• There’s at least one bathroom per bedroom, and at least 2 full bathrooms for a 2+ bed unit

• Showers rather than tubs or combined shower/tub

• Showers are typically walk in glass/plexiglass cabins – no shower rods or curtains.

• There’s always clothes washer outlets – nobody goes to laundromats (yech!)

• Clothes are air dried on a rack near a window with vents. Electric clothes dryers aren’t commonly used here, though there could be a 110 volt outlet for one (220 volt is uncommon)

• Stoves are almost always gas based and built into the kitchen counter. You might have one electric element. The oven will also be gas burning.

• The water heater will likely be a small wall unit that burns gas. Some are amazingly good, but only one person at a time can usually shower!

• Dishwashers are uncommon. We wash our dishes in the kitchen sink!

• Refrigerators are usually provided by tenants.

• Bedrooms usually have at least one wall with an all-in-one shelf and closet unit.

• The dining and living rooms are usually contiguous (no walls)

• Windows don’t have mosquito screens. Mosquitoes aren’t usually a problem, but big flies are!

• Curtains, curtain rods and drapes are usually provided by tenants

• Light bulbs are usually provided by tenants

• All original walls are concrete, even between rooms. Wood frames with drywall are not common unless added later by the buyers.

• Smoke & carbon monoxide detectors (I’ve seen some that didn’t have them)

• A parking spot (which you can sublet if you don’t have a car)

• Families & pets are almost always welcome!

• A storage locker (some don’t), which you can sublet if you don’t need it.

For shared amenities, you can almost always expect the following…

• 24/7 security and controlled access

• Swimming pool, plus possibly sauna, jacuzzi and steam room

• At least one party room (salon social), usually reserved for a nominal sum.

• Kids playground

• A gym

• A mini football pitch

• A dog run

Again, everything I’ve listed above are typical features. There will likely be luxury features in the most expensive units, and in older homes that haven’t been renovated, you might get less features.

Renting in Colombia is a bit complicated by virtue of pretty standard contractual requirements like guarantors, but that’s a topic for another time.

Overall, I have to say that I’m very pleased with the quality of the rental stock in this country and for an expat it’s very good value, and I dare say superior to what I got for much much more money in the USA, Canada, Spain, Mauritius and Mexico, among others.

Happy home hunting!