7 Questions People Ask Me About Colombia

It’s amazing that for the, oh, 10 people that read this blog, I’ve been getting a good amount of email.

Below are some of the most frequent questions I get asked about Colombia:

1. I am thinking about going to Colombia or to country X, what do you think?

Well, you shouldn’t come to Colombia just because I like it and write about it. You should go to a country because you are following your heart, or because it’s inline with some goals you have (learning Spanish, flat-lining your living costs, meeting girls, quick residency, business incorporation etc.).

Having said that, I’d say yes, for sure, come to Colombia. The people are great, the cost of living is low, the country is beautiful. I made the decision in 2011 and haven’t regretted it for a second.

2. I am interested in staying abroad for a long time in Colombia… how easy is it to get a job there?

I personally have never held a job in Colombia, but do know a number of people who have. It’s relatively easy to find a job as an English teacher, but they pay tends to be very low. The advantages in English teaching as I see it would be less in terms of money and more in terms of connections.

If you want another job, you’ll have to put boots on the ground and do some searching. Bogotá tends to be the place where Colombians themselves go to find jobs, but Medellin is thriving as well. There are higher-wage jobs and tech jobs, but you’ll have to get your boots on the ground here. And of course, you’ll have to know Spanish.

As a side note, generally employers have to pay the costs of a work visa for their employees. It varies as to how willing each company is to do this. So keep that in mind. In any case, you will have to leave the country to obtain the visa. Trips to Panama City or to Quito are the most common.

If you are a pensioner / retiree, getting a visa to stay longer is very easy. You just have to demonstrate income of over $1000 and you can stay as long as you like.

There’s also an investor’s visa — $100k in a Colombian business or $200k in real estate purchase and you’re good.

If you’re looking to start a business in Colombia itself, you have to demonstrate $30k of capital invested to get a business visa.

3. I am traveling to Colombia for 2 months, what places do you recommend?

I generally focus more on liveability than travel per se, and truth be told, I have only visited about 5 major cities in Colombia. However, if you’re going the travel / backpacker route, I there is a basic path you can follow, which is like a big loop through the country. It hits the major cities, avoids the war zones, and is connected by take buses:

Bogotá (big city) to San Gil (adventure sports). San Gil to Bucaramanga (big city). Bucaramanga to Santa Marta (Tayrona park). Santa Marta to Cartagena (historical city). Cartagena to Medellin (big city, and side trip to Guatapé). Medellin to the coffee region (Amenia / Perreira / Manizales, Salento). Coffee region to Cali (big city, salsa capital).

In the hostels you stay in, they will have info on all the stuff you can do in the respective cities. And, after Cali, you can decide if you want to go further south into Ecuador.

Don’t travel too fast, though. Take some time to smell the coffee! :)

4. I am going to learn Spanish, any recommendations?

Good lord, have you read my blog at all? I have a whole freakin’ Spanish page.

Above all, speak in real-life situations as soon as possible. Get pronunciation right early on. Avoid picture-clicking software. Stop speaking English. Get a Colombian girlfriend…

And don’t stop until you’ve got it!

5. I am going to Medellin and want to have a good time out at night, where should I go?

There are a lot of options. One good starting point would be Dave’s Medellin nightlife guide.

Parque Lleras is the main hub of nightlife activity, particularly for tourists. I think nowadays it has become even a little too over-run with tourists, but still presents a lot of options. It’s very walkable, so you’re best bet is to just go there and walk around, maybe ask some people if they know of a good bar or club.

I would tell you some other places, but I don’t want them to be over-run by tourists either. But if you do something nice for me, I might tell you… ;)

6. Someone told me there are professional girls that take advantage of tourists in Colombia. Is this true?

The reality is that there are a lot of ‘professionals’ who work in Colombia. If something is happening a little too easily, you should suspect something. Don’t be a dumb gringo, and you should be fine.

… Unfortunately, the fact that the girls are professionals does not make them any less hot. And of course, there are plenty of girls in Colombia who are not ‘professionals’, including some of the sweetest, hottest girls you will ever meet.

So I’d just view it as part of the culture. Learning to deal with it is just a part of cultural assimilation.

7. Hey I’m coming to Colombia in month X. Are you going to be there? Let’s meet up!

Sure! I’d love to meet up. I am currently on a Brazil expedition, but am tentatively planning on returning later this year.

But also… do I know you from somewhere? Or do you have a blog where I can see who you are? Or have you done something nice for me? Much more likely to happen if you can answer yes to these! :)




Published July 17, 2012

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  • http://howlearnspanish.com/ Andrew

    Nicely done.  The biggest tip I’d give people for traveling to Colombia or any other Latin American country is: learn Spanish before you go.  At least get to where you’re somewhat conversational.  Also, making some friends on the internet in the country you’re going to prior to arriving so that they can meet you and show you around will do wonders for you.

    Cheers,
    Andrew

    • http://ryangoesabroad.com Ryan

      Word! I wish more people appreciated the world that opens to you when you’ve learned Spanish…

  • frozen_mercury

    I have never been to Columbia, but I have traveled a bit in Central America, and I agree with the language laws: you show how happy and open you are to being in someone’s country when you make an attempt to speak the language.  It displays less arrogance and touristy ignorance when you can at least say “Hi” and ask basic questions.  I’ve been able to get locals in Costa Rica climb trees for me to grab me a mango, and I wasn’t even saying ‘mango’ right – they just thought it was delightful that I was trying and massacring the word!  Usually, they take pity on you after awhile and try their English on you.  But the effort is always duly noted! bit.ly/MyPGrl

    • http://ryangoesabroad.com Ryan

      You’re right. Many locals tend to try to help out the tourist, but travel’s a much richer experience if you know some of the language.

  • namips

    Thanks for all this info. My boyfriend is Colombian, and I’m English. We are thinking of moving back to his country as things in the UK are going so badly (the recession has completely ruined us)! He is from Bogota but his family are originally Paisa. I’ve been hearing amazing things about Medellin (Bogota seems too urban, concrete and materialistic for my tastes, I prefer things more carefree and outdoorsy). Thank you once again.

    • http://ryangoesabroad.com Ryan

      Sure thing. Thanks for reading! :D

  • jorge

    ryan.. thank you so much for talk so good about my country.. many people think diferent…. l think the best is every body is wellcome.. and the more dangerous is you dont want to come back home.. jaja good bless you dude….

    • http://ryangoesabroad.com/ Ryan

      Thanks for reading Jorge! :)