Colombia at a Glance
Moving to Colombia
Top Expat Destinations in Colombia
If you are not relocating to Colombia for reasons of research, chances are that as an expat, you will move to one of the three economic and cultural hubs of the country: Bogotá, Medellin, or Cali. While there are a number of other cities of national importance, most expatriates and other international staff find themselves in one of the three abovementioned metropolises. Below, we take a short glimpse at what awaits you there.
Bogotá is the Colombian capital and the nation’s largest city by an immense margin. At the time of the latest census in 2011, some 8.7 million people called the city home. Once infamous for its exceedingly high murder rate and cartel activity, Bogotá has made the same impressive progress most of the rest of the country was able to achieve in the past 20 years. Today, Bogotá is not only the political, cultural, and economic heart of the nation – earning it a beta world city ranking – but also its biggest expat magnet. The large number of multinational corporations and banks with firmly established subsidiaries in the city surely is one of the major reasons for this popularity with the international community.
Expats interested in relocating to Bogotá should keep a number of factors firmly in mind: the city’s location in the Andean highlands at some 2650m above sea level might make for a couple of tough first weeks for those with respiratory issues, and the high levels of air pollution will surely not help. Additionally, as with many South American metropolises, participating in traffic in Bogotá is less than enjoyable, to say the least. When looking for apartments, you should try to keep your commute as short as possible. On the upside, the city has one of the most extensive bike lane networks in the world, so sporty expats might have a viable alternative to public transportation and driving.
Colombia’s “second city” might be dwarfed by Bogotá in terms of sheer size, but can certainly hold its own in terms of contribution to the GDP, advances in education and infrastructure (as home to the country’s only metro system), and attractiveness as a business hub. Medellín is South America’s top textile manufacturer and among the most lauded fashion hotspots on the continent. Other industrial strong suits (excuse the pun) are steel, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and refined oil. Of course, the city also boasts a strong tertiary sector. In recent times, tourism has become an increasingly important sector for Medellín as well.
Safety in Medellín has come a long way since the days the city was known as “the most violent in the world”, but it remains a cause for concern throughout many neighborhoods, particularly in the outskirts. It is recommended to make informed decisions on where in Medellín to move.
Santiago de Cali, most commonly referred to by its short name, is the third largest urban area in the country, and the most important city in western Colombia. Internationally, Cali is known as one of the oldest settlements in South America and the Colombian center of sports. While its primary significance lies with its industrial and agricultural output as well as commodities, Cali also has established itself as one of the main trade centers of Colombia. While it might not have the attractiveness for expats the two abovementioned cities boast, there might still be employment opportunities for the international crowd to be found here.
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