Emigrating to a new country can be a pretty nerve-wracking experience whichever way you look at it – we’re talking about relocating your entire life, meeting new people, finding new places to live and hang out, setting up new phone contracts, bank accounts etc…it’s a tough thing to get your head around. As a blog largely written by expats in Colombia, we know all too well what the challenges are as regards emigrating to a new country, specifically Colombia (you could probably guess that part though, right?!). Being an immigrant to a new country can be scary, exciting, life-changing…one thing it always is, is tricky!
HiFX recently produced a really useful checklist infographic running you through the basics (and more complex parts) of relocating to a new country: it lays out the process step-by-step, and even offers a helpful timeframe for your move. I’d highly recommend checking it out. And here’s my contribution to the whole thing: some top tips that got me through my move to Colombia:
- Figure out where you want to live well in advance:
This is essential, especially if you’re moving to a big city like Bogota with varying characteristics throughout the city. The last thing you want is to be stuck in a hotel or hostel for weeks, blowing your moving budget on a room you don’t even want! Do some research: for instance, I chose Chapinero for its proximity to bars, cafes and culture, as well as its central location between the north of the city, and La Candelaria. Sub-tib: find some websites or Facebook groups with room listings early, so you have an idea of what’s available and prices.
- Try and make some pre-friends…
Pre-friends?! Basically, using the vast web of social media that we have at our fingertips, get in touch with some people (other expats can be useful, as they can share their experiences) before your move. In a huge, strange city this can be the difference between a few miserable weeks and a great introduction to your new home. For Colombia there are great expat Facebook groups and Internations as well. If you have a specific interest or hobby, see if there’s a group for it (CouchSurfing can be good for that) and get in touch. You can even email us here at See Colombia: we’re always happy to meet new honorary Colombians!
- Learn a bit!
This one is purely subjective, but I feel it’s made a huge difference to my 3+ years as an expat in 2 countries – do some research, buy (and read) some books…learn something about the history, culture and people of your future home. It’s great to speak the language obviously, but I have found that people really respond to even the most basic knowledge of their country. Ignorance is never the best position to be in, so fix that! A bit of local knowledge could even save you from more serious problems…We have a good list right here of some excellent books to read before coming to Colombia.
- Be open to new things
This might seem obvious, but you’re in a new country now, and what might seem forward is just people being friendly and welcoming…accept all (reasonable) invites. Colombians are often more open that English people so I had to learn early on that what seemed overtly friendly was just Colombians being Colombians. This goes hand-in-hand with the previous point; learn and understand the culture you’re relocating to, and adjust your conceptions accordingly.
Hopefully this post helps a little if you’re planning on moving here (or anywhere for that matter); these are obviously just my little tips, and, with prior expat experience in Venezuela, my move to Colombia was pretty smooth to be honest. But if you are planning a move here don’t hesitate to contact me with your questions.