Understanding “Estratos”

Estratos, or strata, may be unique to Colombia but you’ll soon hear a lot about them especially if you look for a place to call your own here. An estrato is a stratum given to a residential building, house or complex ranging from 1 to 6, where 1-2 is lower class, 3-4 middle and 5-6 is upper. Usually, they’ll rate a whole zone by one class, so it can be hard to tell the difference between a building of one estrato versus another just by looking at them. What it really means is you’ll pay more or less for your utilities, the higher classes subsidizing the lower. However and unfortunately, it’s also used to judge a neighborhood, and all too often, to rate people! You’ll hear somebody say ‘estrato mierda’ or ‘estrato m’, they’re referring to the higher classes, and estrato cero (zero), to the lowest class. You can also expect to pay a higher rent or purchase price for higher estratos. Estratos can also affect your property taxes (‘predial’)