Moving to Colombia
If expats contemplating a move to Colombia can look beyond the country's documented troubles, they'll find an unspoilt land with a friendly and curious local population. Colombia is a geographically diverse country and foreigners are constantly in awe of its scenic beauty, from vast mountain ranges to green prairies and lush rainforests.
While Colombia's popularity as an expat destination may lag behind other South American destinations like Brazil and Argentina, its expat population is nonetheless steadily growing. Most foreigners living in Colombia are based in the capital, Bogota, or Medellín.
Many young expats come to Colombia to work as English teachers and spend a few years exploring South America. Other thriving industries include construction, medicine, and oil and gas. There are a number of job agencies that can assist expats in securing a job within their desired field. Having at least a basic knowledge of Spanish will not only be advantageous in the workplace but also helps in interacting with the local population.
The cost of living in Colombia will be considered low by expats moving from North America or Europe. However, it is not quite as low as in neighbouring South American countries. This is mainly due to the fact that a large number of everyday products need to be imported into the country, subsequently increasing the prices.
While the cost of tuition can be high, especially at Colombian private and international schools, expats will find that private healthcare is reasonably priced. Furthermore, these expensive elements of expat life in Colombia are offset by low taxes.
One of the major considerations of living in Colombia is concerns over safety. While the government has done a lot to tackle drug trafficking, the issues associated with it are still rife. Muggings, burglary and credit card fraud are common crimes that are committed against unsuspecting foreigners. Expats should never accept drinks from strangers or take an unauthorised taxi, as these are the easiest ways to get into trouble. New arrivals should also refrain from using public transport at night and should rather opt to share a licensed taxi with a group of friends.
Colombia also has one the world's highest kidnapping rates. While the majority of victims are Colombian, foreigners, especially those working for oil and mining companies, are seen as prime targets by Colombian terrorist organisations like the guerrilla group, FARC. For this reason, both the British Foreign Office and the US Department of State advise their citizens against travelling to certain rural parts of Colombia.
Relocating to Colombia will be an exciting step full of new opportunities, even for the most seasoned expat. While some extra safety precautions will be necessary, new arrivals should rest assured that the great hospitality offered by the Colombian people will ensure that they settle in easily.