I recoil in horror as I do the simple mental math. My standard cleanser which I adore in the UK, is in Colombia almost three times the price. That means it’s gone from Boots standard product, to Harrods luxury. I cough. I sputter. I moan to the shop assistants. I pick an alternative.
Yes, living in Bogota is not cheap. Especially imported goods (like my French cleanser). It’s actually astounding how anyone can and is willing to pay the extortionate prices for the same product as the states or UK but at inflated costs.
You may think that moving to Bogota from London means that I get to live like a Queen off my pound sterling savings as everything here is dirt cheap. It’s definitely cheaper outside the capital, but the capital has seen a massive economic boom in recent years. It’s not as cheap as you think. In fact if you go out to eat or drink nearby in Zona Rosa or Parque 93, you can expect to pay close to European prices.
The national paper El Tiempo reported on this recent boom. A recent report by Mercer (an HR consulting firm) has revealed that for a foreigner, Bogota is now ranked 53 (out of 214 cities) in the most expensive places to live list.
It has jumped 10 places in just one year.
That means that there are 161 cheaper cities in the world to live than Bogota (for foreigners).
For foreigners, it’s cheaper to live in Los Angeles, Miami, Madrid or Barcelona than Bogota.
For them to rent an apartment, it is now cheaper to rent one in Madrid, Berlin, Buenos Aires or Mexico City.
To buy a pair of jeans, it costs $109.77 in Colombia but 84.95 in Berlin.
And, unfortunately there is no H&M or Primark here. There is a Zara. But I almost choke to death when converting the price here in COP to pounds. For example, the EXACT same leather jacket in Summer 2012 sale, costs £99.99 in the UK, whereas it costs $499,000 COP (£180.71) in Colombia. That’s an extra £80. Insane! Especially as national wages for locals are much lower here than in the UK. What was previously a quite reasonable clothing addiction is now a high class luxury here in Bogota.
But in some weird way, I am actually quite proud of this. Why? Because it is a sign of a stronger country that is growing and getting more and more notoriety on the global scale. The pesos is strong. It is safe to walk the streets. Colombia is slowly shredding its only association to drugs, violence and the cartel. When you think of Colombia, you may have previously thought cocaine, coffee, and that it’s spelled with a ‘u’.
Now, on the street, there’s so much construction in my neighbourhood of Chico that where stood a house one day, is bulldozed for new offices or swanky apartments the next. I have never seen so much construction in my life. All the buildings are new. It’s like a new dawn. A new era.
A yes, my cleanser is suddenly overpriced and unreasonable to buy, but I’d rather that than live in fear and have my country ripped apart by violence.
I guess my cleanser is another thing to add to the growing ‘things I want my parents to bring over with them’ list.
The article is really interesting. Click here to read it in full.