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First Impressions of Living in Colombia

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A local club in Medellin


When you think of Latin America there is nothing more that comes to the mind other than corruption and disorder. Many have even gone as far to say that part of the charm is the disorder. That charm may be the case when you are visiting for two weeks, but when you are living in a country that’s the last thing you want to deal with. Colombia has blown me in terms of efficiency. So far every place I have been has been quick and orderly.


Why is South America a mess? Because no one follows the rules. Taking driving for example, a two lane street turns into a 4 lane street. In Puerto Rico, and even here in Medellin, they honk when they are driving near an intersection at night to notify everyone else they are not stopping.

It surprised me how much order there is Colombia. There isn’t a sense of ordered chaos like in Argentina, it is by far more orderly. The streets are extremely clean and when I even tried to litter a Colombian asked me what I was doing!

The people are extremely gracious and have proper manners every where you go. Instead of having that awkward moment in the elevator, you are greeted with an “hola” or “buenas”. Walking randomly on the street at 2am? Drunk? No problem, you will still have a friendly hello if you cross paths. Who knew there were cool drunks in the world?


I mentioned this in my preparing for dangers in Colombia post, I do not feel threatened in Colombia. I don’t look over my shoulder and pay attention to who is following me. When someone randomly bumps into me I don’t immediately put my hands on my wallet and camera to make sure no one is trying to rob me. It’s really nice to be in a country where you can place your cell phone on a table without worrying about someone trying to steal it.

medellin countryside, pictures of medellin, colombian country, colombian pictures, pictures of colombia,

Picture of San Diego neighborhood


The climate is gorgeous in Medellin, on some days it gets a bit warm but for the most part it is a cool 60 degrees F (15 C) at night and in the 70’s (21 C) during the day. Even when it gets very warm in Medellin, no one wears shorts or sandals. Its all about the latest style in Colombia, shorts and sandals are either for the tourists or the coastal cities.


Normally cash is king but in Colombia, Gringo is king. When I say Gringo, I mean any white foreigner that comes to the country. The country absolutely thrives on tourism and everyone caters to the foreigners as well. A recent club that I went to on a Wed night actually had more Gringo’s in it than Colombians. I do plan on staying away from Gringo areas and heading delving more into Colombian culture.





Now what can I say here. Most of the women in Medellin and around Colombia really know how to cater to their men. They very passionate and romantic from day one and love attention from… well… Gringos. They are very old fashioned as well as they expect you to take them out and have a good time. Did I mention they were gorgeous?  When I visited the center of Medellin for the first time I was breaking my neck looking around everywhere. By the end of the day, I knew there would be more where I was headed so I saved my neck the torture.


In 2nd and 3rd world nations smoking is rampant! After living in Buenos Aires, I really thought I was going to have lung cancer by the time I was finished with my tour around South America. In Colombia, laws restrict smoking in certain indoor locations and have only seen a handful of people smoking while I have been in the country for the last 5 days. Hoorah Colombia, Hoorah!


    1. woops! 2 no sense posts- couldn’t find the delete button :(

      just wanted say you’re right about the safety, organisation & people are awesome too- blame Hollywood & Fox for bad publicity :)

  1. Awesome! Colombia is my favorite country I’ve ever visited, and the one month we spent there was not nearly enough. Out of all the places we’ve been, Colombia is one that I think we’d have no trouble moving to. Everything you said is so true, and I’ve yet to meet friendlier, happier people anywhere else in the world. Their smiles are contagious!

    1. I was really amazed when I got here, especially coming from a place like Buenos Aires where a lot of people are cold and rude. Everyone here is always in a good mood, love it! Thanks Adam

  2. Medellin is a gringo’s paradise.  I went there and had gaggles of school girls following me around downtown screaming “monito bonito”, If you ever want to feel good about yourself and your whiteness, Medellin is the place to be!

    1. You are going to LOVE MEDELLIN.. most travelers that I have met arrive in Medellin thinking they are going to keep traveling through south america and they end up staying in Medellin a lot longer than they should! lol. Thanks for the comment!

  3. Medellin is awesome!! the best sout american city for me. you find the best people, any stranger threats you like if you were a king and they are very very kind. i lime medellin better than bogota.

  4. First, let me say that I happen to love Colombia, feel in many ways as if it is home, want to be there more. BUT, to say that it is orderly, that things work smoothly, that the legalities are smoothly functioning, or that traffic is orderly is absurdity. I have been spending more and more time in that beautiful country over the past 10 years, but I cannot possibly say that it is a piece of cake. Answers are too often misleading to absolutely wrong. Getting things accomplished on a scheduled basis is not necessarily a given – might work, might not. Legal matters take many stops – each person smiling, nice, kind, and doing their job, but the job requires many offices along the way. Efficient or honest approaches are too often woefully lacking. People are great, streets are not necessarily safe – nor are they in the US – but it is always best to be alert and monitor where you are walking – and what you are wearing. Pedestrians have no right of way by law. Simple. Don’t think that walking gives you right of way anywhere in most Latin American countries. It does not. Bigger makes stronger, from trucks on down. Getting something done at a bank can take weeks rather than phone calls. Interest rates and bank charges are obscene compared to the US. On the other hand, the economy is booming. It is a good place to invest – but know that selling is not a piece of cake by listing and waiting. There is no Multi-list. It is a nation of every man for himself, and aren’t women pretty and sexy. Women can have very good positions, but the cultural differences are huge. THAT does not make the US culture wonderful or even necessarily good, but do not expect European of North American methods, and do not believe that a word is a bond. it is not. Before anyone considers living in Colombia, they need to understand the Rule of Papaya. And, with that said, I love being in Colombia, living there – with times to go away to decompress. I always look forward to my return with greater anticipation than returning to anywhere else.

    1. Thanks for the note Arnold.. in comparison with other Latin American countries Colombia is extremely efficient. It is not up to par with Western standards I agree with you, the only efficient 1st world country in S. America isn’t even that orderly and efficient as western standards but Colombia is extremely orderly in compared to other Latin American countries. I agree with most of your other comments as well… love to hear from others that love Colombia as well

  5. Thank you for your words about my beautiful Medellin. I am living in Florida, but I miss my city and my friendly people.

  6. Hi,

    This very useful. I am an expat in Mexico and these days there is little advantage living here over the US. The thing that is cheaper is the rent. But economics aside I like that you focused on the friendliness of the people. Prospective expats put way too much attention on money and not enough on culture, sociability, language and so forth. In the end, those things matter a lot…you have to like a country to live and not just the bang for the buck! – I am no intereted in Columbia….Will

  7. Amazing right on the money. Moved to Cali recently and i am very impressed. Nice people and very friendly. I wish there were more tourists here so they can help with the local economy. These people are great and i have traveled all over this place to the mountain and everywhere and i feel i am home here. Oh on smoking, rest of the world should figure out what they do here to discourage people from smoking, it is working barely see any smokers here.

  8. I moved to Medellin 2 weeks ago. I really like it and I enjoyed reading your article. I am trying to find English speaking churches here. Do you know any? Thanks

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