Teaching English in Colombia: The Cost of Living in a Colombian city
SOLUTIONS FOR YOUR ENGLISH LANGUAGE PROJECTS! GET IN TOUCH TODAY!
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A large number of teachers debate moving abroad or teaching English in Colombia or another country because of costs. It is perceived that travelling abroad or moving to another country is expensive and will cost you more money than you will make, but these can both be untrue. While teaching English in Colombia or another country, teachers can gain a valuable experience without breaking the bank.
Colombia is a relatively inexpensive country: the value of the peso compared to the pound or dollar is low which means that you can survive in the country for less than you would in the UK or United States. Wages received from teaching English in Colombia can vary from institution to institution (or school to school) and many maybe lower than the average wage in other countries. Despite this, the cost of living in Colombia is significantly lower than in other countries, so even with a reduction in wages you can still live comfortably while teaching English in Colombia.
Living costs in Colombia vary depending on the town or city; Bogota, Colombia’s capital, and Cartagena, a Caribbean coastal city, are among the most expensive places to live in the country, but they are still a lot less expensive than other places around the world.
While teaching English in Colombia, public transport will be your friend. The major cities have extensive bus routes and taxis, and the small towns are connected via flota buses. In Bogota, there is a public bus system which stretches all around the city (a single journey within this system costs 2,200 COP (£0.60 or $0.72)). Taxis around Bogota can cost between 4,000 COP and 20,000 COP (£1.04 – £5.20 or $1.30 – $6.60) depending on the trip length and the time of day. If you are teaching English in Colombia within the country’s second largest city, Medellin, you’ll have access to an extensive public transport system, which consists of a bus network, taxis, tram system, and metro and cable car routes. These services allow people to travel all over the city inexpensively: a single metro trip costs around 2,300 COP (£0.60 or $0.75) and this can be integrated with the other modes of transport around the city.
In addition to this, there are a number of private buses which run all over the country transporting people between cities. The prices of these vary depending on the length of the trip, but the buses are modern, comfortable and can be a cheaper alternative to flying. Avianca, Viva Colombia and LATAM are all airlines that offer flights between cities and towns and if booked in advance you can find some good deals.
Teachers who wish to begin teaching English in Colombia will be required to find accommodation close to their workplace in their chosen city or town. There are a number of options available for accommodation including renting a single room or apartment or staying in a homestay. Each option will vary in price depending on the city or town and the neighbourhood within that area. In Bogota, it is possible to rent a room in the city’s Chapinero neighbourhood for 500,000COP (£130 or $165) including utilities or an apartment for around 1,200,000COP (£312 or $395). In Medellin, or outside of the big cities, this price can be significantly lower.
While working teaching English in Colombia, you will inevitably visit the local supermarket to purchase food. In Colombia, there are a number of big chain supermarkets including Jumbo, Carulla, and Exito as well as value for money supermarkets such as D1 or Justo Bueno. All these shops sell a variety of branded products and own brand versions of everyday items. Colombia also has smaller locally run supermarkets and fruit stores where you can purchase fresh produce at a lower price. In Colombia food typically follows these prices, but they can vary depending on brand, location and volume. Here are the average prices of some everyday products with exchange rates from 20th June 2017.
- A loaf of bread – 2,000 COP to 3,000 COP (£0.50 – £0.78 or $0.66 – $1)
- A bottle of water – 800 COP to 3,000 COP (£0.20 – £0.78 or $0.26 – $1)
- A local beer- 2,500 COP to 4,000 COP (£0.65 – £1.04 or $0.82 – $1.32)
- Fruit products (chopped from the street) – 2,000 COP (£0.50 or $0.66)
- Coffee (a small coffee in a coffee shop) – 1,000 COP to 5,000 COP (£0.25 or $0.33)
- Coke – 2,100 COP (£0.50 or $0.70)
- Milk – 2,500 COP (£0.63 or $0.80)
- Rice 1kg – 3,000 COP (£0.76 or $1)
- 1 kg Chicken breasts – 10,000 COP (£2.50 or $3.30)
- Bottle of wine – From 11,300 COP (£2.90 or $3.70)
Colombia has a large variety of cuisines available from Italian to Peruvian to delicious seafood, all of which you’ll be able to sample while teaching English in Colombia. As well as a large number of bars and clubs (from cocktail bars to small local family run bars) you can find many other lively places to visit on Friday or Saturday nights all over the country. A typical restaurant meal in Colombia can range from 15,000 COP to 35,000 COP, and a beer in a bar can range from 6,000 COP to 15,000 COP depending on location. Cover for a bar is typically free but occasionally some places can charge up to 20,000 COP, and cocktails can range from 15,000 COP to 35,000 COP.
There are a large number of malls in Colombia’s big cities and there are smaller clothes shops in the towns and markets all over the country. Branded clothes tend to follow the same prices as in the United States or UK, and it’s not uncommon to find an item of clothing for the same price as you would elsewhere in the world. Handmade items are common all over Colombia and these tend to be significantly cheaper than branded goods due to the high import taxes. It is advisable to purchase clothing items before arriving, but if you want a change of wardrobe while in the country, the Falabella department store has good deals on branded products.
Written by: Anny Wooldridge