Living in Bogota, Colombia isn’t most gringos first choice when coming to the country, but it was for me after my second trip to the city. I decided to set up shop the third time around and spend six months here.
See, most gringos go to Medellin when they come to Colombia. And I get that. There’s incredible infrastructure, amazing weather, and the girls aren’t ugly. However, Medellin never was that interesting to me. I like a little more adventure than spots every other traveler spends time in.
After my first trip to Bogota, I was hooked. The party is absolute madness, the people are friendly and intelligent, and first-world amenities abound. Now, on my third trip here, I noticed a few more things.
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Living in Bogota, Colombia
So without further ado, here are 11 observations after living in Bogota, Colombia:
The Weather is Shit
The gringos in Medellin have a point here. Weather in Bogota is absolutely ass. It rains way too often. Plus, it can get damn cold. You often need to wear a jacket, especially at night. Overall, Bogota leaves a lot to be desired from a weather perspective. Luckily, it makes up for the climate in other ways.
Traffic is Awful
Don’t even try to move around Bogota between 3-7 in the evening. An Uber ride that should take 15 minutes will take an hour or more. The traffic is terrible here, especially during the work week. The Transmileno can help a bit, but I’m not much of a fan.
Educated, Hard Working People
One thing I love about living in Bogota, Colombia is the people. Nearly everyone here I’ve met works or studies. The city just isn’t cheap enough to allow slackers to live here. So there’s a lot less of a “gringo give me money” culture here than other places I’ve traveled. This is one of my favorite aspects of the city.
Nightlife is Insane
Oh, and then there’s the rumba. The people in Bogota work hard and put up with shit weather all week. On the weekend, they’re ready to let loose. As such, you’ll find the best nightlife in Latin America here in Bogota. Zona T features dozens of clubs and bars that are always a great time over the weekend. And that’s just one area of the city. You can find solid parties spread out all over Bogota.
Bogota certainly isn’t the cheapest big city in Colombia. If you want low-cost, then Cali, Colombia is the spot for you. However, life here is still a lot cheaper than many other parts of the world, especially the United States. You can find furnished apartments in great areas for $400-700 a month. Meals can be found for $3-5 USD. A pint of craft beer is only $3 at Bogota Beer Company.
Colombians bash Bogota from a safety perspective. After spending a weekend in the coffee region (Pereira, Armenia, Salento, etc.) – I was continually told how dangerous Bogota was and how unsafe the city is.
Now, I live in (near) Zona T, arguably one of the nicest areas in all of Colombia. I don’t feel unsafe, but I do walk by crackheads every single night and witness numerous fights in the streets on the weekends.
Is Bogota safe? Well, yeah – but no. I wouldn’t wander around at night alone in any other area of the city except here and Chapinero. However, with a few precautions, you shouldn’t have much issue in the capital of Colombia. It’s safe enough for me as a young man.
Cute, Agreeable Chicks
I’ve met some chicks from all over throughout my years of traveling. Girls everywhere are the same, but they’re all different, too. The girls in Bogota are definitely still latinas at heart, but they’re a bit different than chicks from other parts of Colombia.
Girls in Bogota are intelligent and hard working. Many study and work. Most aren’t too concerned with your finances. They are more Westernized in this regard. You’ll be expected to pay for everything, but most won’t require fancy dinners all the time once you’re dating.
These girls are friendly and smart. I’ve had better conversations in Bogota with women than in any other area of Latin America. If you need intellectual stimulation while dating someone, but still like Latin girls – Bogota could be a great place for you to set up shop.
Decent English Levels
Going hand-in-hand with the education levels in the city, you’ll find a lot of people who speak English in Bogota. Often, people will just start talking to me in English at the gym or the club. Many actively work to practice their English. It’s fairly impressive.
Now, you’ll still want to learn Spanish if you plan on living in Bogota. Younger people and wealthy individuals will speak some English usually. But the majority of people living in Bogota won’t. So Spanish is definitely important for the traveling gringo – no matter what city you’re in throughout Colombia.
There’s just too many damn people in Bogota. As such, there’s a lot of cars. Actually, they have a system to control who can drive on what days and who has to take public transport. The roads are that packed.
With all the people and traffic, there’s a lot of pollution. It’s considered “Very High” by most standards. And it does affect you. Most people catch a cold after being here their first week. I did. And both my buddies have, too. the pollution is just that bad.
While you eventually get acclimated, it definitely a drawback to living in Bogota.
Tons of Stuff to Do
There’s more to do than nightlife in Bogota, Colombia. A lot more. While the city is tailor-made for digital nomads looking to crush work and enjoy life, there’s enough to keep you entertained here.
For example, every Sunday until 2 PM certain roads are closed and thousands of people take to bicycling in the streets. Learn more about Ciclovia here. There’s yoga studios everywhere, language exchanges, and more.
Bogota graffiti tours are pretty awesome. You can check out Monseratte. There’s also tons of museums and the salt cathedral, too. Plus, you can also head an hour or two outside the city on the weekend to a finca for some sun, swimming, and relaxation.
An Underrated City in Colombia
Overall, living in Bogota is VASTLY underrated. While almost every gringo goes to Cartagena for a week before staying in Medellin, the capital has a lot to offer. For digital nomads, it’s a good idea to visit Bogota and see if the vibe of this city matches what you’re looking for.
I’m a big fan of living in Bogota. You might be, too. Oh, and if you’re ever in town, don’t forget to reach out.
Travel junkie turned blogger. Location independent. From the Midwest, but often based in Latin America. Big on beaches, rumba, and rum. Addicted to the gym. Committed to showing a different style of travel - one that involves actually interacting with locals and exploring different cultures.