Bogota Overview

Information about Bogota and its expat community, security in the city and popular neighbourhoods in which to live...

Bogota is formally known as Bogotá, Distrito Capital. It is located in the centre of Colombia in the department of Cundinamarca on top of a high plain at 2,600m above sea level. Contrary to many assumptions, the weather in Bogota is not warm and tropical, but mildly cold and rainy throughout the year. The average daily temperature is 14ºC.

Although predominantly Roman Catholic, Sunday is not considered a day of rest, but rather a day for going out with family. All stores and shopping malls are open, as are restaurants and supermarkets. Flea markets often take place on Sundays and public holidays, and many of the streets are closed to traffic to allow space for cyclists, joggers and people out for a walk.

The city is a business hub, with many international companies headquartering their Latin American operations from Bogota. The city also has a growing start-up scene. The city has a good and lively nightlife, with plenty of bars, clubs, concerts and outdoor music festivals.

Cultural events such as theatre, ballet, classical music and art exhibits can be enjoyed throughout the year in different pats of the city. In Bogota there are:

  • over 55 museums
  • over 60 art galleries
  • over 40 theatres
  • over 40 movie theatres
  • over 160 national monuments
  • over 70 amusement and sport parks

In general the people in Bogota tend to be friendly and open, especially towards foreigners, and people are often willing to give a helping hand to newcomers.

Expatriate Community

The expatriate community in Colombia is mostly male, aged between 25-45 years. Many expats come from other countries in South America, but the number of North Americans and Europeans is growing.

Because of this there are many private international schools that cater to the children of expats of specific countries, including several British and American schools, as well as schools for children from other European countries such as Germany, Italy, France and Switzerland.

Security

Because of the country's history, one of the main concerns of expats when considering or having already moved to Colombia is security. Both the country and the city of Bogotá have seen a drastic improvement in security from the situation in the 80s and 90s. However, there are still some important things to take into consideration, particularly regarding travelling by road, certain neighbourhoods, and common urban crimes such as pickpocketing, mugging and petty theft.

The homicide rate in Bogota has been reduced drastically over the last 10 years, making it one of the safest urban areas of Latin America.

Neighbourhoods

The city of Bogota has a population of over 8 million inhabitants and is divided into hundreds of neighbourhoods. Some of the popular neighbourhoods for expats include:

Zona Norte (North Zone): This runs approximately from calle 67 to calle 150 and includes several neighbourhoods or districts including Chico, Zona Rosa, Zona T, Zona G, Parque de la 93, Country, Usaquen, Rosales, Santa Ana, and Cedritos. This is an upscale area of the city, with many green areas, business centres, shopping malls, restaurants, cafés and bars.

Chapinero: This is situated from calle 34 to 72, between the carreras 7 and 15. It used to be an upscale neighbourhood, but is less so today. It is a very 'alternative' area of the city, considered quirky, commercial and eccentric and is also the LGBT centre of the city. It is an interesting, lively and affordable place to live.

Zona Occidente (West Zone): This area is close to the American Embassy, making it attractive to people who work there. It includes the area of Salitre. It is suburban and mostly a middle-class area. It is very close to Parque Simón Bolivar, one of the largest green areas of the city and home to several outdoor music festivals and concerts throughout the year. However, it is located far from the more lively parts of the city.

Zona Centro (City Centre): This is the historical centre of the city and is home to many exampels of traditional colonial architecture. It is a popular part of the town, with many museums and historical churches, as well as flea markets, universities and party areas. The neighbourhoods of La Candelaria and La Macarena are situated within this zone.