5 Ways for Expats to Stay Safe in Colombia

by David Tompkins

Learn About Five Ways Expatriates Can Stay Safe in Colombia

Did you ever think about venturing into the Andean paradise – Colombia? Colombia is a lot safer now than it was 10 or 20 years ago, but you should still be careful if you are an expat living there.  If you take some simple precautions, you can have a great life as an expat.

How to stay safe in Colombia?

Here are 5 tips that will assist you in settling into Colombia as an expat or long term traveler there:

1. Use Uber

In Colombia, Uber has been plagued by safety issues for quite some time. However, many Colombians and expats still prefer it because it is much safer and cheaper as compared to the local yellow taxis. Using Uber will also keep you safe from the criminals hiding and waiting in the yellow cabs to pounce on innocent victims. Holdups and cases of kidnappings have gone down drastically, but they do happen at times. There are also reports of Uber cab drivers being harassed or yelled at by other angry taxi drivers. Don’t be surprised if they pelt stones at your cab next time around.

2. Don’t Be Easy Target

No dar papaya‘ is a popular Colombian phrase implying ‘don’t give a papaya‘ or don’t be an easy target. It means visitors or expats shouldn’t roam around at night carelessly flaunting their expensive phones or belongings. You just need to be careful and not give the impression that you are affluent and have a lot of cash during your stay in Colombia.

3. Avoid Police Run-Ins

Always avoid run-ins with the Colombian police and stay away from anything that is illegal. The police service in Colombia has improved quite a bit over the years, but there can sometimes be corrupt law enforcement may make your life hell even for a minor mistake. Don’t talk to unknown people on the street as they can be drug peddlers in disguise. You will be thoroughly searched for drugs if a cop gets to know that you are talking to a drug dealer. You can carry a “dummy” wallet with a few local currency bills so that you don’t have to shell out a hefty amount while paying “multa’ or fine to dirty cops.

4. Keep Eye on Your Drinks

When you are in a local bar partying with friends, always keep an eye on your drink. There is a possibility that someone may intentionally spike your drink with the drug ‘burundanga.’ Drink spiking is not very common in Colombia, but it does happen occasionally, especially in metropolitan or bigger cities. Leaving your drink unattended or accepting a drink from a stranger in a nightclub can be very risky.

5. Don’t Resist if You’re Getting Robbed

If you are getting robbed by a gang of thieves, it is better to stay calm and not resist. Easier said than done, most people tend to get into street fights when their valuables are robbed. Most of these robbers are nervous people with guns and they are not worth resisting. If you get held up in such a situation, the best thing to do is accept the loss and thank your lucky stars that you have insurance.

Colombia is a Great Expat Destination

Since 2017, Colombia has witnessed rapid growth in the tourism sector. The country is now a relatively safe place to visit and stay. It has evolved as a popular eco-tourism destination with beautiful beaches, rainforests, and mountains, attracting visitors from all parts of the planet. However, petty crimes like mugging and pickpocketing still occur in this country. You just have to be cautious and avoid places that are still considered volatile or dangerous. Don’t be afraid to live in Colombia – it is still quite safe in most areas you will travel or live in – just take some simple precautions and enjoy your time there – Colombia is a great destination for expats!

Secure Your Health & Safety in Colombia with International Health Insurance

Living as an expat in Colombia is a great experience and can be quite safe, especially if you take simple common sense steps to keep yourself safe. The right international health insurance is a must if you have decided to stay and work in Colombia. Expat Financial offers a range of global health insurance plans to ensure that you are fit and fine during your stay abroad. Don’t risk your health if you really want to enjoy a successful stint in your chosen expat destination.


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