Bogota, Colombia Report of what it's like to live there - 04/20/08

Personal Experiences from Bogota, Colombia

Bogota, Colombia 04/20/08

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No. I lived in Brasilia, Brazil before.

View All Answers


2. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No. I lived in Brasilia, Brazil before.

View All Answers


3. How long have you lived here?

18 months.

View All Answers


4. How long have you lived here?

18 months.

View All Answers


5. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

Miami to Bogota 3.5 hours.

View All Answers


6. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

I work at the U.S. Embassy.

View All Answers


7. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

Miami to Bogota 3.5 hours.

View All Answers


8. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

I work at the U.S. Embassy.

View All Answers


Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

All apartments for embassy employees. The apartments range from large and really nice to small and just okay. It's luck of the draw. The plummeting dollar is making the process of finding and keeping nice housing even more difficult.

View All Answers


2. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

All apartments for embassy employees. The apartments range from large and really nice to small and just okay. It's luck of the draw. The plummeting dollar is making the process of finding and keeping nice housing even more difficult.

View All Answers


3. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Groceries are available at many supermarkets. Almost everything is available except for some baking supplies and ingredients for ethnic dishes. You might want to bring that with you. You will pay an arm and a leg for anything imported from the U.S., so buy local brands, they are pretty good. It is becoming more expensive to buy groceries. This also depends on the strength of the dollar.

View All Answers


4. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Groceries are available at many supermarkets. Almost everything is available except for some baking supplies and ingredients for ethnic dishes. You might want to bring that with you. You will pay an arm and a leg for anything imported from the U.S., so buy local brands, they are pretty good. It is becoming more expensive to buy groceries. This also depends on the strength of the dollar.

View All Answers


5. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Baking goods - brown sugar, powdered sugar, etc.

View All Answers


6. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Baking goods - brown sugar, powdered sugar, etc.

View All Answers


7. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Subway, Quizno's, KFC, McDonalds, TGI Fridays, Hard Rock, Dunkin Donuts are all here. But the Colombian restaurants are much better, so enjoy the local fare. We had some of the best steaks here. Most of the restaraunts in the Zona G and Zona Rosa are great. The affordability of this great foods depends largely on the dollar. It has been pretty comparable to prices in DC lately.

View All Answers


8. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Subway, Quizno's, KFC, McDonalds, TGI Fridays, Hard Rock, Dunkin Donuts are all here. But the Colombian restaurants are much better, so enjoy the local fare. We had some of the best steaks here. Most of the restaraunts in the Zona G and Zona Rosa are great. The affordability of this great foods depends largely on the dollar. It has been pretty comparable to prices in DC lately.

View All Answers


Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

There is APO for American Embassy employees. International Mail can be sent via FedEx.

View All Answers


2. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

There is APO for American Embassy employees. International Mail can be sent via FedEx.

View All Answers


3. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Maids and Nannies cost about US$250-300 a month for a live-out, 5 day a week, 8 hour a day schedule. You pay more for weekends, holidays and overtime. Make sure they have good references.

View All Answers


4. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Maids and Nannies cost about US$250-300 a month for a live-out, 5 day a week, 8 hour a day schedule. You pay more for weekends, holidays and overtime. Make sure they have good references.

View All Answers


5. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

ATM's are readily available. I don't recommend using them at night. Most people prefer to use the ones at the Embassy. Credit Cards should only be used at reputable locations.

View All Answers


6. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

ATM's are readily available. I don't recommend using them at night. Most people prefer to use the ones at the Embassy. Credit Cards should only be used at reputable locations.

View All Answers


7. What English-language religious services are available locally?

All denominations available but in Spanish only. I think there are English Services at a few churches, but I have not attended them.

View All Answers


8. What English-language religious services are available locally?

All denominations available but in Spanish only. I think there are English Services at a few churches, but I have not attended them.

View All Answers


9. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Direct TV for sports lovers, but it is pricey. TVCable has a great TV/Internet package with many different English channels.

View All Answers


10. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Direct TV for sports lovers, but it is pricey. TVCable has a great TV/Internet package with many different English channels.

View All Answers


11. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

You need a lot of Spanish.

View All Answers


12. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

You need a lot of Spanish.

View All Answers


13. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Using the baby stroller here is challenging, so it must be the same for those in wheelchairs.

View All Answers


14. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Using the baby stroller here is challenging, so it must be the same for those in wheelchairs.

View All Answers


Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Taxi's are safe if you call them to pick you up. Hailing them is not safe.

View All Answers


2. Do you drive on the right hand side of the road or the left?

Just like in the U.S.

View All Answers


3. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Taxi's are safe if you call them to pick you up. Hailing them is not safe.

View All Answers


4. Do you drive on the right hand side of the road or the left?

Just like in the U.S.

View All Answers


5. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

There are a lot of potholes and it rains almost all the time. Your vehicle should have some clearance, so a small SUV is probably your best bet. Parking spots tend to be small.

View All Answers


6. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

There are a lot of potholes and it rains almost all the time. Your vehicle should have some clearance, so a small SUV is probably your best bet. Parking spots tend to be small.

View All Answers


Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

TVCable Internet and Digital TV package (with many movie channels in English) costs about US$100 a month. The service was excellent.

View All Answers


2. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

TVCable Internet and Digital TV package (with many movie channels in English) costs about US$100 a month. The service was excellent.

View All Answers


3. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Buy a local prepaid phone. Comcel has reliable service.

View All Answers


4. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Buy a local prepaid phone. Comcel has reliable service.

View All Answers


5. What is the best way to make phone calls back home?

Vonage or Skype.

View All Answers


6. What is the best way to make phone calls back home?

Vonage or Skype.

View All Answers


Pets:

1. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Quality is good. Although fleas are a serious problem here.

View All Answers


2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Quality is good. Although fleas are a serious problem here.

View All Answers


Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Yes, if you speak Spanish well. Same within the Embassy. Lots of jobs that require language ability.

View All Answers


2. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Yes, if you speak Spanish well. Same within the Embassy. Lots of jobs that require language ability.

View All Answers


3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Business Dress within the Embassy. There is an informal dress down Friday, but is often discouraged by many American supervisors.

View All Answers


4. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Business Dress within the Embassy. There is an informal dress down Friday, but is often discouraged by many American supervisors.

View All Answers


Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Moderate. Bogota is at high altitude, so the air is much thinner.

View All Answers


2. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Moderate. Bogota is at high altitude, so the air is much thinner.

View All Answers


3. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Embassy employees are not permitted to hail taxis or ride buses. Some employees have been robbed of electronics or jewelry while jogging, so use caution when going outside. Otherwise it is pretty safe within Bogota.

View All Answers


4. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Embassy employees are not permitted to hail taxis or ride buses. Some employees have been robbed of electronics or jewelry while jogging, so use caution when going outside. Otherwise it is pretty safe within Bogota.

View All Answers


5. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Medical care is excellent, but the language barrier can often be a problem. Clinica del Country and Fundacion Santa Fe are both great.

View All Answers


6. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Medical care is excellent, but the language barrier can often be a problem. Clinica del Country and Fundacion Santa Fe are both great.

View All Answers


7. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

It rains a lot, but the weather is great because it rarely goes below 50 or over 75 degrees F.

View All Answers


8. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

It rains a lot, but the weather is great because it rarely goes below 50 or over 75 degrees F.

View All Answers


Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

Colegio Nueva Granada is a great school. They are administratively difficult because they are very disorganized in the registrars office, but the curriculum is good and the kids like it very much. Colegio Gran Bretana is also very good, but it is smaller than CNG.

View All Answers


2. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

Colegio Nueva Granada is a great school. They are administratively difficult because they are very disorganized in the registrars office, but the curriculum is good and the kids like it very much. Colegio Gran Bretana is also very good, but it is smaller than CNG.

View All Answers


3. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

From what I hear they can handle minor to moderate special needs. More severe cases of special needs cannot be accomodated at this post.

View All Answers


4. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

From what I hear they can handle minor to moderate special needs. More severe cases of special needs cannot be accomodated at this post.

View All Answers


5. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

There are wonderful preschools on every corner to accomodate your needs. Although, most people have nannies that care for young children before and after school.

View All Answers


6. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

There are wonderful preschools on every corner to accomodate your needs. Although, most people have nannies that care for young children before and after school.

View All Answers


Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Very Large. Lots of NGO's and US Companies.

View All Answers


2. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Very Large. Lots of NGO's and US Companies.

View All Answers


3. Morale among expats:

Good.

View All Answers


4. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

What you make of it. Lot's to do, but some people choose to just entertain at home.

View All Answers


5. Morale among expats:

Good.

View All Answers


6. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

What you make of it. Lot's to do, but some people choose to just entertain at home.

View All Answers


7. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

This city is great for all. Great restaraunts, bars and cultural activities and sites. The only thing is that U.S. Embassy employees are very restricted when it comes to traveling the country. This makes traveling to the beach towns more expensive because you can't just stay anywhere. No adventure travel allowed here.

View All Answers


8. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

This city is great for all. Great restaraunts, bars and cultural activities and sites. The only thing is that U.S. Embassy employees are very restricted when it comes to traveling the country. This makes traveling to the beach towns more expensive because you can't just stay anywhere. No adventure travel allowed here.

View All Answers


9. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

I think so. Many gays/lesbians seem to be happy here.

View All Answers


10. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

I think so. Many gays/lesbians seem to be happy here.

View All Answers


11. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Not really. If you are darker skinned, you may get mistaken for a nanny. Happens to me all the time, but nothing to worry about.

View All Answers


12. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Not really. If you are darker skinned, you may get mistaken for a nanny. Happens to me all the time, but nothing to worry about.

View All Answers


13. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Lots of museums, comedy shows, concerts, family fun events. Every Sunday and Holidays is Ciclovia, where they close down major streets for bike riding, jogging and walking.

View All Answers


14. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Lots of museums, comedy shows, concerts, family fun events. Every Sunday and Holidays is Ciclovia, where they close down major streets for bike riding, jogging and walking.

View All Answers


15. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Wooden furniture, Coffee and leather boots. Colombia is famous for its beautiful emeralds but they are very expensive.

View All Answers


16. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Wooden furniture, Coffee and leather boots. Colombia is famous for its beautiful emeralds but they are very expensive.

View All Answers


17. Can you save money?

Yes, if you don't travel to Cartagena or other beach towns all the time.

View All Answers


18. Can you save money?

Yes, if you don't travel to Cartagena or other beach towns all the time.

View All Answers


Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes.

View All Answers


2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes.

View All Answers


3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Sandals and shorts.

View All Answers


4. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Sandals and shorts.

View All Answers


5. But don't forget your:

Umbrella and Raincoats.

View All Answers


6. But don't forget your:

Umbrella and Raincoats.

View All Answers


7. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

View All Answers


8. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

View All Answers


9. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

View All Answers


10. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

View All Answers


11. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

View All Answers


12. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

View All Answers


13. Do you have any other comments?

The threat of terrorism on behalf of the FARC, the Narcos and other armed groups is very real. You must follow the security officer's instructions to keep out of harm's way. The security situation has been better during the current administration but there is talk of it deteriorating soon. Just keep a heightened awareness and you will be fine.

View All Answers


14. Do you have any other comments?

The threat of terrorism on behalf of the FARC, the Narcos and other armed groups is very real. You must follow the security officer's instructions to keep out of harm's way. The security situation has been better during the current administration but there is talk of it deteriorating soon. Just keep a heightened awareness and you will be fine.

View All Answers


Subscribe to our newsletter


New book from Talesmag! Honest and courageous stories of life abroad with special needs.

Read More