Downsides to Living in Bogotá: An Expat Perspective - 2021 Update - Medellin Guru
Bogotá is the largest city in Colombia and it has many expats living in the city due to job opportunities. But there are many downsides to living in Bogotá.

12 Downsides to Living in Bogotá: An Expat Perspective – 2021 Update

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19 thoughts on “12 Downsides to Living in Bogotá: An Expat Perspective – 2021 Update”

    1. All of this is SO true. Pollution is unbearable, traffic is impossible. The cost of living is really out of place! Safety is something to really worry about (and I am Latin American). But assume you have a good job/salary, you can pay a LOT of money for a house or apartment, etc,,, the day-by-day living is tough. It does not matter where you live there will always be noise (and I have moved around three times). Contracts are a joke and people will try to get an advantage frequently, there are not public spaces/amenities that you can breathe clean air or be safe. My experience in the private health system is not good either (compared to US, it is cheap, even in the “prestigious” Clinics, but can be VERY bad).

    2. James O Duchart October 13, 2020

      I spent a about a week in Bogota in 2018. I actually really enjoyed the city. I was born in Toronto, Canada. Cold weather really does not bother me. It kind of reminded me of Vancouver, Canada Climate wise or Seattle. But in q cultural aspect a little like Nyc or Chicago. When it comes to safety i found it no different than walking in L.A where i currently reside now. There are parts of L.A i would not even think about going at night. My favorite area of Bogota was Chapinero and Chico. I found La Candelaria. I thought all those areas were walkable. Some of the neighborhoods near the Airport were a little sketchy and on the way to downtown i went through a few. I did not feel unsafe. The museums and old architecture there was amazing. I suggest Museo del Oro. Also practice Spanish. Not many people speak English. Best shopping and Nightlife is in Chapinero.

    3. Also, NOISE. I have been living in Bogota for more than a year, moved three times, and no where to live where people dont listen to music as if they were the only people around. In general, it is very disrespectful environment. Very hard to get around if you have kids.

    4. For someone looking for a balanced opinion, this article is not very helpful. Just found it pretty negative and didn’t see anything about all the great benefits.

    5. Chris M May 20, 2019

      Alright, one last nit-pick. It’s absurd to have the picture of snow in Bogotá! That’s not remotely indicative of any weather anybody living or visiting here is likely to encounter. If you feel the need to dump on Bogotá, then go ahead and show a street inundated with rainfall. That’d be fair. But snow?! C’mon.

      • It says in the article “Bogotá experiences ice/snow on rare occasions”. That photo in Bogotá was in November 2007, as it says in the caption and is to demonstrate the colder temperatures in Bogotá. I was on Bogotá when it got to below 30° F and it was freezing in the apartment I was staying in without a heater. Bottom line is it does get cold in Bogotá with the daily average low temperature ranging from 45.7 to 49.5 °F and sometimes colder, which is a downside.

    6. Chris M May 19, 2019

      Hi, I’ve lived in Bogotá for 4+ years. The article does describe downsides, so, duh, it’s a bit negative!! A few thoughts…Options for managing one’s relationship with TRAFFIC include: 1) Minimize travel by living close to where one works or by working from home or in nearby shared work spaces or cafes. Living in a walkable community also helps, as one’s destinations can then be reached without a car, bus, or taxi; 2) Don’t drive! I never intend to own a car here. During non-peak hours, the buses here work OK. Walking here can be delightful, as the streets tend to be lively. OTOH, women here definitely pay a transportation tax, as harassment or simple discomfort on packed buses encourages them to use more expensive means of transport. WEATHER: The weather during the day tends to be quite nice for walking, as the sun is quite warm at our altitude. Yes, our nights are much chillier and less comfortable than in other CO locales. POLLUTION is a problem but is usually less severe in the northern and eastern parts of town where readers here would spend their time. It’s no worse than in many USA cities. CRIME I have yet to be robbed here– crosses fingers– or have any problems whatsoever, but I do know a few people who have been robbed while at ATMs or on the street. CUSTOMER SERVICE varies but isn’t so bad. SPANISH definitely makes life easier; I’d be somewhat alienated if I hadn’t learned to speak with the locals, but I did live here for the first two years or so with very limited Spanish.

      • IMHO the Bogota downsides listed are very accurate so it isn’t negative or sugar-coating, it’s the truth. I spent several months in Bogota but later discovered Medellin that has a better climate, less traffic and a lower cost of living.

        • Chris M May 20, 2019

          Thanks for reading. I enjoy Medellín and might consider living there when I’m ready to be old. It’s’ true that Bogotá has both positives and negatives that no other city in Colombia has. Bogotá is livelier and a much more international city than Medellín, with higher-quality restaurants, museums, and cultural offerings. Bogotá’s architecture, while not stunning, is much more interesting than that of dreary Medellín. Medellín offers no neighborhood remotely as interesting as Bogotá’s Candelária. Poblabo is flat-out cheesey in comparison to several of Bogotá’s barrios. Bogotá has a much more inclusive culture than the closed paisa culture, with people from all over Colombia welcome here. To each his own. Cheers.

      • Hi Chris – when you say “walkable community” which neighborhoods are you referring to? We are moving there next year and would like to be in a walkable part of town!

    7. (I come to Bogota for several weeks every 6 months to maintain residency. My health is actually better than in California) Of course everyone’s experience and needs is different. Yes, it is colder and turned on the heater a few times. Got investment condo in Bogota for half the price (preconstruction) of Medellin and its right next to Transmileno and will be near a planned Metro station. TransMi and Walking gets me everywhere I need to go to, including shopping, restaurants, church, hospitals, banking, Pandebono. Use Uber or private driver for only the airport. (I do take Transmi to airport if travelling domestic without suitcase) At current USD/COP, Colombia is a LOT cheaper than Panama or USA. 80 cents for a Latte Grande at Tostao (and its downstairs) !

    8. Hi Jeff, I came across your blog and it’s really amazing! I wonder if you can help me out here. I want to send a gift to my friend in Botoga and I tried to purchase online https://www.mercadolibre.com.co. I have to use my US credit card but the website ask for DC/EC/NIT which I don’t have. According to your experience, is there anyway online e-commerce in Columbia can take US credit card? Thanks in advance!



      • Hi Aster, I don’t buy things online in Colombia. But I see you can pay on Mercadolibre with cash (efectivo) in Efecty – see this page – https://www.mercadolibre.com.co/pagar-online-con-mercadopago/

        My Colombian wife says she prefers using https://www.olx.com.co/, which she says she pays in cash on receipt.

      • Hey Aster. I just ran into this exact same situation on the Mercado Libre site to purchase a gift for a Colombian friend and used NIT with my US passport number, it worked just fine. I also find that leaving the page in it’s native language helps with transactions on certain sites.

    9. Public transport in Bogota is a joke. Transmilenio is so crowded during rush hour it’s unusable. And the creeps on Transmilenio even molest women. I would never use Transmilenio due to the fear of being groped.

      • Kim I agree and never would go on the Transmilenio in Bogota after talking to some Colombian women in Bogota about their experiences. And the traffic in Bogota is absolutely horrid.

    10. Traffic, cold, traffic, cold plus Bogota is the most expensive city in Colombia. I much prefer living in Medellin.

      • Randy May 29, 2020

        The Bogotanos Rollos in general are extremely noisy , in many neighborhoods the music is so loud and most of the people don’t care.. Many Bogotanos seem friendly, but with very little courtesy

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