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Top Expat Hacks to Survive Colombia

I'm gonna try to keep these Expat Hacks short and sweet. You might be an expat, perhaps even a wannabe expat, I don't know. What I am gonna tell ya here is that there's an easy way to get by in this new land with different people, and a hard way.

I could blow smoke up your arse and explain about the '5 best ways to eat avocado in Colombia'. Or 'how to dance Salsa like a Caleño in 5 days'. 'How not to be a gringo in 5 steps', or any of the many '5 different ways to do 5 hundred different things'. But let's keep these Expat Hacks here short and sweet.

These are my top Expat Hacks on surviving Colombia with your wellbeing and peace of mind fully intact. Don't scoff at them. If you're full of yourself and think you know better, let me know in the comments section and I might just include them in the list here too.

Home from home

VPN/DNS is my recommended service to access everything just like back in the UK.
Click this link to get a totally free trial VPN connection and watch those shows again.

Let's be honest. Colombian TV is rubbish and you know it. Almost anything is better. So I know you want to get some of that BBC or Channel 4 goodness in the way of those Documentaries, Sport, Dramas and whatnot. This even goes for my fellow Anglos from Germany to France to the USA to pretty much any country around the world.

Do yourself a favour and just get a VPN service. It's unrestricted, cheap, reliable. Using it will warp you right back to what you know and love. What's even better is that I am recommending a provider right here. There's even an easy as pie free trial. Trust me I've tried loads. Even wrote a more in-depth post about it here.

If you don't feel up for getting a VPN but still want your Doctor Who's and Documentaries you can use. Without going into too much detail you can copy the magnet link from any torrent website into SonicSeedBox and get your program risk free and quickly. Once SonicSeedBox has your file ready you can stream it directly from your online SonicSeedBox folder or download the file to your phone or PC. Just get an account easily and give it a go. This might be the best hack that you take away from this article. An alternative such service is Seedr but it's slower to actually download the file afterwards but does keep your media for longer on their servers from where you can stream is SD.

Otherwise, have a bit of home from home below, with GB News's UK stream or use TVCatchup.

Another neat hack is mobile coverage. If you're a WhatsApp kind of person only using data then this is totally workable. Colombia is one of Three's Feel at Home destinations. You'll get great network coverage here, more generous data than local deals, a UK number to stay in touch and everything is charged and billed just as you were in the UK, including those free allowances. Even iPlayer works as is. It's really just like using your phone in the UK.

Get a SIM before you leave the UK. But if you're here already just use eBay with this search (here's one listing and another). I'll talk more about how to use eBay further into these hacks below.

Keep in touch

Send a free card to your mum with this code 'WKYMMP'.
Use this code WKYMMP here to send a free card to your loved ones anywhere in the world!

Don't be one of those cold people that just post a photo on facebook now and then with a pretentious comment expecting everyone to be waiting hand and foot on your timeline updates. Be caring and send your folks a card. It's easy and you can design the card yourself. Yes, I know the postal service here in Colombia and much of Latin America is piss-poor but here is a way that easily bypassed those postal services.

Again, I'm here and doing it, so can recommend one service for you to at least try. Here it is and be sure to use this code 'WKYMMP' to get yourself a free card to send anywhere in the world. No excuses, head on over here now and send your mum that card this moment.

As we're on the keep in touch section its appropriate to mention our new British in Colombia facebook group. If you are British and living in Colombia please join.
NEW British Expats in Colombia
Closed group · 205 members
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This is an exclusive group for British nationals living or visiting for an extended stay in Colombia. It is only intended for serious discussion and a...

Bring home to you

The humble British corner shop. The source of so much happiness and convenience.
Click this link to get those favourite bites from back home delivered anywhere in the world.

This can for some be the hardest part of survival here in Colombia. Tastes are different and the staple food here can grate on your taste buds soon enough. Not forgetting the acute absence of any decent confectionary or even tea for that matter. Yes, Carulla sells your Cadbury's, but that's about it. Electronic consumer goods are a pain to get your hands on too. And when you do find them on Mercado Libre they can cost top dollar.

For snacks, the most obvious solution here is this specialist online store 'the British Corner Shop' catering just for British expats like us. They have a massive selection of items and even stock thousands of Waitrose products too! You'll find what you want here but their postage can be a tad pricey if you go for heavy stuff like Heinz Baked Beans and that.

Get on the Grabr scene. It's a site that pairs travellers with buyers in a destination country of travel. You put up a request for an item and a person will buy it and deliver it to you. It's a great way to get tech and other items from home to you here in Colombia. See this for an example search of items wanted from the United States to Colombia.

My very top recommendation, however, is your standard old eBay, forget Amazon as they'll do you for duties. You just need to do some work in searching for the goods and whether they ship to Colombia or not. The trick is to add your address to your account settings then visit any listing's 'postage and payment' tab and select Colombia from the drop down destination window. From then on its a matter of searching for the item with decent postage costs (a lot of sellers miscalculate them). Search via these links to and Selecting 'worldwide' from the 'item location' in the search's left-hand column helps to narrow sellers. Here's an example listing.

My super top tip is a little naughty (well, fraudulent actually) but it is risk-free. Seek out sellers who state that they send via a standard non-tracked delivery service. That way if the item doesn't arrive (wink wink) eBay will be on your side and will always refund you as long as tracking doesn't show it's been delivered. Don't worry about import tax. Everything I have ever received has made it in without even being opened.

Go home for a bit

The very best method to secure the cheapest flights.
Click here to get a free $10 dollars and hundreds more for free.

Sometimes you just need to go back to where you came from (for a bit at least). Whether it's for business or pleasure, what you do not want to do is sell the silverware to make the trip. Everyone bangs on about Skyscanner. Now let me tell you, Skyscanner is crap. What you want is to reference Google Flights. That's not to say that you won't need to do some work, it's just that Google Flights makes the work easy.

Start a simple search for a destination. Now, for the departure dates go through whole Month's one at a time (use the graph view if you prefer). Google searches for all options and you will quickly see the best prices. When viewing results keep your eyes peeled for the suggestions that Google makes at the top of the results page. Sometimes making slight tweaks to dates or cities brings the cost down by up to half. The last trick here is to add it to 'tracked prices'. Make sure the dates, destination and stops are your ideal and track it (do this for a variety of scenarios). You'll get regular emails with price alerts.

Be sure that when you see a price you like you should book ASAP. Otherwise, I find the optimum time to buy is 6 months before you'd like to travel. But google flights gives you the info to decide.

One other little tip is to add the promotions page (e.g. Avianca Colombia) to a site monitoring service like VisualPing. In effect, you'll get an email triggered by any changes in the official airliner's prices from there. Be careful to select the airliner's site that is respective to your departure country.

My free tip here is to signup for Grabr and see what people want purchasing for them from your departure country. I do this everytime I fly. It's easy and secure. Once I got the flight for free and only used up a third of my luggage allowance. Other times I've averaged £100 each way.

Keep the faith

Keep the faith as an expat.
There's plenty of ways to keeping the faith while in another land.

It's one thing tending to material aspects of life. But what about the spirit? We know attending local mass is an energised event in itself and one that any visitor here should make an effort to experience, whether you have faith or not, in order to better understand the people of the land that you're in. Not to mention playing a part in your host society, helps you integrate. It can, however, be tiring when you are not able to practice your faith as you once would.

Thanks to the internet you can be present in a much more of a familiar setting. For example, the website Church Services TV has regular live streams and previously recorded masses from London, United Kingdom and Ireland. My one a Month regular one being the St. Thomas More Church, Swiss Cottage. There's an official Catholic Youtube Channel called Daily TV Mass and another called Catholic TV that has regular mass and live programming as well. Apart from mass, there is a good podcast with news and other happenings here. For other denominations and spirituality, Songs of Praise by the BBC is good (you'll need to use my 'home from home' hack above to stream it).

Integrate Yourself

Don’t fight it. Learn to become like them.
Learning a language can be hard at times but theirs tricks to making it easier.

I don't wanna feel like I'm fobbing you off here on this last point. But I am pretty sure you came to Colombia for a reason and I hope that you have indeed found that reason and are living the dream as I am. But you really ain't gonna get anywhere nor nearly as far as you could unless you get the basic grasp of the language.

The best way is, to get yourself on a Spanish language course. Over at this site, there are some neat recommendations for providers in Bogotá. However, we are in the internet age and second to just meeting people and interacting in Spanish there is a wealth of online resources. My top tip is the BBC Learn Spanish website and then to branch out to Spanish courses on FutureLearn and edX where there are actual tutor-student interactions to be had. Best thing is that these are free. In addition to these courses, I highly recommend that you make this Spanish Learning Blog from FluentU a regular visit. If you want to take learning spanish seriously with a paid course then get on board with these guys, the Whee Institute for online or in person learning.

Hope that these Expat Hacks somehow prove useful to you and your life in Colombia. I am particularly interested in expanding this to US, Aus, NZ expats and for my fellow Germans too. Please help others and share this post onwards. Please leave any advice in the comments section just below or contact me.

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