Bogota, Colombia Report of what it's like to live there - 11/10/08
Personal Experiences from Bogota, Colombia
1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?
No, I have lived in Honduras, Nigeria, Slovenia, New Zealand, and the Dominican Republic.
2. How long have you lived here?
3. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?
4. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:
3 hours from Miami.
Housing, Groceries & Food:
1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?
Good, mainly apartments.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
Very available, especially fruits and veggies; cost for local goods reasonable, for imported expensive.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
Workout equipment; sporting equipment.
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
MANY of all nationalities.
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
Available and reasonable.
3. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?
Definitely can be used, but just be careful.
4. What English-language religious services are available locally?
5. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?
Yes; cable TV and Internet provide a great deal of programming; cost around US$30/month for each.
6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
A lot; educated people speak English, but many street folks do not.
7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
Altitude - at 8500 feet the air is thin and polluted.
1. Do you drive on the right hand side of the road or the left?
2. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
Relatively safe, but caution is required.
3. 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?
Nothing too new or expensive, preferably small SUV.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
Look at all the various plans.
3. What is the best way to make phone calls back home?
Phone card or VOIP phone.
1. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?
Good - Colombians love dogs.
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?
Some, if applicant has good Spanish.
2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
At work business formal; in public, jeans are ok.
Health & Safety:
1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?
Unhealthy - especially from bus/truck exhaust.
2. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
Both street crime and terrorism, though more of the former.
3. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
Good medical facilities and doctors, but a host of tropical disesases once you go out of the main cities.
4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
Rains briefly many (most) days, but always spring-like in temperature.
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
Good - none.
2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?
3. 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?
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
Pretty large, but not too active.
2. Morale among expats:
Pretty good, except when there's too much rain or violence.
3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?
Pretty good - lots of clubs for young people, concerts, theater, etc for older people.
4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
Good for all of the groups.
5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?
Somewhat with Afro-colombian and Afro-Americans.
7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
Travel is somewhat limited, but Cartagena, Santa Marta are both good coastal cities; Salt Cathedral, Gold Museum in Bogota; lots of golf courses; major roadways closed for walking/jogging/biking on Sundays/holidays.
8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
9. Can you save money?
Words of Wisdom:
1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
3. But don't forget your:
Sense of humor and patience.
4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:
Maria Full of Grace (for the drug scene).