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Colour in xterm on another host

After searching for documentation on various subjects related to my
issue, I have not yet found the ideal solution.

I am now able to display colour syntax highlighting in mutt and vim
when I log in to my OpenBSD system using an (x)term. 

The console on my OpenBSD box does not display any colours. Because
I didn't really care about that, I made the lazy assumption that
getting colour to work, would require a lot of effort.

However when I log in from the console on a Linux system colours
work. So does setting $TERM to xterm-color for colour display in an
xterm on that same Linux system. All in all pretty easy.

I don't know what is setting $TERM when I don't do it myself. I
don't think exporting $TERM in a login script is very smart. Where
can I make appropriate configuration changes?

Do I need to change the applications, or can it be done on a
system-wide basis? Or should I perhaps attempt to write a login
script that sets $TERM to xterm-color when the initial value is