Expat Travel Blog, Cartagena and Barranquilla, Colombia
Expat Travel Blog, Cartagena and Barranquilla, Colombia

Cartagena vs. Barranquilla for Expat Living


Date posted: Feb, 28, 2023

Key Takeaways:

There is more order in Barranquilla.

I'm not sure which is safer. ??? up in the air on that one

There are more, and hotter chicks in Cartagena. More open to foreigners/expats as well.

Generally, Cartagena culture is more open and accepting of foreigners/expats than Barranquilla.

Cartagena (with the exception of Carnaval) is about 15-20% more expensive than Barranquilla for living.

There is more "Order" in Barranquilla than in Cartagena

You'll often see sidewalks with a properly trimmed grassy strip right next to them in Barranquilla: similar to what we're used to in the United States. Now, I admit that this is only in the north of Barranquilla, and the southern two thirds of the city does not really have that. However, I did not see this anywhere in Cartagena. Or, at least it was much more rare, and including in the nice areas of Cartagena. This applies across the board to both cities: you'll find the buildings are in better shape in Barranquilla, and infrastructure in general there is more well-maintained.

Many more intersections in Cartagena are an absolute nightmare than in Barranquilla. People follow traffic rules and regulations less in Cartagena. There are far more potholes and defects in the roadways in Cartagena. 

The Chicks are Hotter and More Fit in Cartagena than Barranquilla

Although I'm not sure of the reason, you will see slightly more beautiful women with trimmed and athletic bodies in Cartagena. So, Cartagena wins on this point. It is likely because of the beach culture: in Barranquilla you are not really on the ocean as such. If you want to go to the beach in Barranquilla you need to travel a good twenty minutes to get to one of the cities on the ocean. 

Dating Colombian Women in Cartagena, Expat dating

Cartagena Culture is More Open to Outsiders such as Expats/Digital Nomads

This was just a general feeling I got after only a few weeks in the city, and I lived there a total of 4.5 months in 2023. People don't treat you like a "foreigner" quite so much as they do in Barranquilla. If you want to read more about this aspect of Barranquilla see my blog post on how Barranquilla people are slightly suspicious of foreigners.  This point also applies to the willingness of women to readily date foreigners. Cartagena women are more willing to date expatriates than the girls in Barranquilla. Of course they do it in both places, however, more so in Cartagena. I can see this in the greater quantity of Tinder matches I got just as soon as I set my location to Cartagena. And also on www.ColombianCupid.com, I had more women quickly give me their whatsapp number than in Barranquilla.

Barranquilla People Exhibit more "Formal" Politeness and Courtesy (yet still slightly Xenophobic)

Just because people show surface level politeness, does not mean they don't hate or envy you. Or fear you in general. However, I generally appreciate the greater level of formal politeness practiced in Barranquilla when compared to Cartagena. People in Cartagena are more direct and in your face; but they don't quite see you as an outsider. This is key.

Both Cities Have Sufficient Internet Speeds for Digital Nomads

I have not experienced serious problems along these lines in either city. You can also do as do and have backup mobile plans on two phones ready to go in the event of your wired home internet going down. I don't require big upload speeds for videos, so my phone hot spots can get me out of lurch pretty quickly. And during normal times the upload speeds from your home internet connections are just fine for hefty video files.

Rob in Colombia Expat Blog Bocagrande/Cielo Mar Cartagena, Colombia 130002