As an expat destination, Colombia isn’t as popular as other South American countries such as Argentina and Brazil. However, there’s plenty to recommend in this beautiful, diverse, and very welcoming country. Here are five reasons you might want to move there.
The natural beauty
There are few countries as naturally gorgeous as Colombia. The variety of species in the country is mind-boggling. Colombia is one of 17 “megadiverse” countries, and is said to top the list when considered in terms of biodiversity per square kilometer.There are bird species, plant species, insect species, and a variety of animals that you are unlikely to see anywhere else in the world. In terms of the landscape too, Columbia has a remarkable range – the country touches both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, and boasts rainforests, snowy mountains, plains and grasslands, islands, and even deserts. It would take a few lifetimes to savor the entirety of Colombia’s natural beauty.
The rich culture and history
As the world becomes more and more globalised, it is increasingly unusual to find places that retain their unique local character. Colombia manages to do this very well, and not just in the relatively untouched rural areas. Even in the larger cities, there are plenty of aspects of life that are uniquely Colombian and that cling warmly to tradition – local produce and markets, local feasts and communal celebrations, the bars and cafes, the omnipresence of coffee, the unique confluence of cultures that makes itself felt almost everywhere. The diversity of Colombia’s flora and fauna combined with its cultural diversity makes for incredibly rich and varied cuisine too.
The cost of living
For people coming here from North America and Europe, the cost of living in Colombia is low, without really compromising on the quality of life. As with anywhere else in the world, the large cities can be a bit more expensive, but even here, basic necessities such as housing, food, utilities, and healthcare are very reasonably priced. The abundance and variety of local produce means that eating is particularly cheap, even if you frequently eat out. Many expats like to occasionally indulge in foods and/or consumer goods that they were used to back home, and these are of course expensive imports. In general however, you can live and eat well in Colombia for a lot less than you probably used to back home.
Colombia is a great place to practise your Spanish. Some might question the idea of moving to a country to become fluent in a new language, but if you already speak a bit of Spanish and want to get better at it, or if you just love learning new languages, Colombia is a good place to live. The Colombian Spanish accent is said to be relatively clear and neutral, and people tend to speak slowly, which is great if Spanish isn’t your first language. The ubiquity of Spanish music, film, theatre, and television also means that you’ll have more opportunity to improve your fluency. Of course dialects always differ, and the Spanish you know may be somewhat different from Colombian Spanish. Within the country too, there are many dialects, and each may sound different from the Bogota dialect, which is usually what is described as Colombian Spanish.
The culture of leisure
It’s not that Colombians don’t work hard – they do. However, they also know the value of rest. The country is said to have the highest number of national holidays in the world after Argentina, and in general, employees get a generous number of paid vacation days. Colombians also tend to use their leisure and vacation time well. People travel, spend time with their families, and they celebrate – there’s usually a celebration of some sort just around the corner in Colombia, whether it’s a music festival, a salsa festival, the huge Bogota Carnival and Barranquilla’s Carnival (with the biggest parade in the world outside of Brazil), or the relatively modest village carnivals, and plenty more.
One reason not to move
Although the turmoil in Colombia has subsided substantially, it hasn’t entirely disappeared or even reduced to levels that Colombians themselves find acceptable. There is still some amount of violence, whether related to drug smuggling, insurgency, or other criminal activity. Today it is definitely possible to live in Colombia and never encounter any crime, but this requires a certain amount of wariness and caution.
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