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Interview with Jade – a French expat living in Colombia

Updated 4 Jul 2018

Jade is a French expat who moved to Colombia to be with her partner. She has since established herself as a successful small business owner in Bogotá and has learnt to love the local culture. Read more about her adventures on her blog or browse through her selection of authentic Colombian Wayuu bags.

JadeLongelin.JPGAbout Jade

Q: Where are you originally from?
A: I am originally from France.

Q: Where are you living now?
A: I’ve been living in Bogotá, Colombia since 2014.

Q: Why did you move to Colombia; what do you do?
A: I came here because my partner is Colombian. Within a year of moving, I started exporting Wayuu bags worldwide.

Living in Colombia

Q: What do you enjoy most about Bogotá? How would you rate the quality of life compared to France?
A: What I enjoy the most about living in Bogotá is the cultural offering. There’s a lot to do outside and inside the city. It’s hard to get bored here. Plus, the quality of life compared to other places is excellent if you have an expat salary. If you’re earning a local salary, it’s not so great.

Q: Any negatives? What do you miss most about home?
A: The only thing I miss about home is the ease of things. Things here are so complicated sometimes when it really doesn’t need to be.

Q: What are the biggest adjustments you had to make when settling into expat life in Bogotá? Did you experience any particular elements of culture shock?
A: Yes, I did experience a bit of culture shock. Colombians can’t seem to give straightforward answers. They’ll just say ‘yes’ to everything and then never follow through. It took me some time to get used to it and not take it personally.

Q: What’s the cost of living compared to France? What is cheap or expensive in particular?
A: Well, I wrote a whole article on the cost of living in Bogotá, Colombia. Whether living here is cheap or expensive is very relative. I definitely don’t think it’s cheap for locals.

Q: How would you rate public transport? What are the different options? Do you need to own a car?
A: I’m not a big fan of public transport here. You have to walk long distances as public transport doesn’t reach all parts of the city. Or it takes a really long time to get from point A to point B because it always stops. On top of that, you have to put up with traffic. I live and move within the confines of my neighbourhood, so I will usually walk. And in the evening, I will take Uber.

Q: How would you rate the healthcare in Bogotá? Have you had any particularly good/bad experiences with regard to doctors and hospitals?
A: Having lived in the US for a really long time, I consider healthcare here to be amazing. I have gone for all types of consultations, and I’ve been really pleased with the service and results. I personally have insurance here with Compensar and couldn’t be more pleased.

Q: What are the biggest safety issues facing expats living in Colombia? Are there any areas expats should avoid?
A: The biggest safety issue expats living in Bogotá face is theft. To avoid this, you kind of have to turn off all your warm emotions, as this is usually what thieves play on to catch your attention and rob you. Also, try not to walk alone in the evenings and never get taxis in the street. With these three tips, you should be safe.

Q: Any areas/suburbs you’d recommend for expats to live in?
A: There are many areas that are recommended for expats to live in Bogotá. But if you want the full breakdown, I suggest you read my article on the best places to live in Bogotá and how much they cost.

Meeting people and making friends

Q: Was it easy meeting people and making friends? How did you go about meeting new people?
A: Meeting locals is easy. Making friends is another story. I meet locals mostly through the school and the university of my Colombian partner.

Q: Have you made friends with locals, or do you mix mainly with other expats? What advice would you give to new expats looking to make friends? Any social/expat groups you can recommend?
A: I myself have befriended mostly expats. It’s hard to meet other foreigners here though. There aren’t really any events to meet each other. And the few events that do exist have become cheap meetups for local girls to hook up with foreign guys. Definitely NOT my jam!

About working in Bogotá

Q: Did you have a problem getting a visa or work permit? Did you tackle the visa process yourself, or did you enlist the services of an immigration consultant?
A: Getting a work visa in Colombia is not easy. However, I had it quite easy as I got a visa through my Colombian partner. So easy that I did it by myself.

Q: What’s the economic climate like in Bogotá? Do you have any tips for expats looking to find a job? Which resources did you find most useful?
A: This year, 2018, the economy is not looking great in Colombia. If you’re a foreigner looking to work here (besides teaching English) then I suggest you create your own opportunities. It’s not easy finding a job here unless you come here on an expat contract or already speak Spanish.

And finally…

Q: Is there any other advice you would like to offer new expat arrivals?
A: Come with an open heart; there is so much beauty in Colombia!

~ Interviewed May 2018

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