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The 20 Worst Places to Live in Colombia


Colombia is a country that has a diverse landscape, and this means there are many beautiful places to live. It also has some vibrant cities with modern amenities and attractions that can offer an excellent lifestyle. Therefore, there are some amazing places to live in Colombia if you do your research properly. On the other hand, there are also some terrible places to live.

One of the biggest issues in Colombia is safety, and there are many areas that you are at significant risk of becoming the victim of a crime. In the past, Medellin was considered one of the most dangerous cities in the world. Medellin was once the home of drug lord Pablo Escobar, and since his death, the city has been transformed. It is now considered one of the best places to live in the country. However, there are plenty of other locations that are less than desirable, and here are the 20 worst places to live in Colombia.

Puerto Carreno

20. Puerto Carreno

Puerto Carreno is the largest city in the Vichada district, most of which is considered an unsafe place to live. It is close to the Venezuelan border, so kidnapping, guerrilla activity, and drug trafficking are rife in the region. It is also a poor area that relies predominantly on agricultural trade, and there are not many employment opportunities for ex-pats who want to work in other industries.


19. Palmira

In terms of violent crime, FAM International says that Palmira is one of the most dangerous cities in the world. It is a base for narco paramilitary groups and guerrilla militias. Therefore, it is considered one of the epicenters for organized crime in Colombia. If you want to live in a peaceful area, then this is a destination to avoid.


18. Mocoa

The city and municipality of Mocoa borders Cauca and Narino, both of which are considered dangerous places to live. While hitchhikers who have visited this city have not encountered too many of the crimes that tourists often report experiencing, living in the city is a different matter. Both property and violent crime rates are high, and it is not safe to explore the streets alone at nighttime. While the cost of living in this city is low, saving money can potentially come at a greater cost.

Villages on the Border with Venezuela

17. Villages on the Border with Venezuela

Rural locations are often just as risky as choosing to live in an urban area in Colombia. While you may expect a peaceful life in a rural setting, you should take great care if you want to live in a rural area along the border with Venezuela. The villages are used by organized crime gangs as bases for drugs and firearms trafficking. There is also a lot of guerrilla activity in these areas. Even if you are only visiting the rural areas, it is best to do so on an official tour with an experienced tour guide who can help you to avoid areas of danger.

Villages on the Border with Ecuador

16. Villages on the Border with Ecuador

The villages on the border with Ecuador are also high-risk places to live. They play an important role in the drug trafficking industry between the two countries, and there is also a lot of guerrilla activity in these villages. If you want to enjoy a rural lifestyle in Colombia, there are better options inland away from the borders and the coast. It is worth noting that the government has launched a plan called Border for Prosperity, which aims to improve poverty and decrease combat violence. There is some evidence that the measures put in place are having an impact on marginalized communities around the borders.


15. Cucuta

Norte de Santander is considered a high-risk province, and its largest city is Cucuta. It is a city where drugs, violence, and property crime are all high. It is high crime rates that make this one of the worst places to live in Colombia. However, there are some steps you can take to increase your chances of safety if you live in this city. Sensible precautions include staying at home at night, not flashing the cash, sticking to the safer neighborhoods, not taking drugs, and never accepting drinks or cigarettes from strangers.

Rural Pacific Coast

14. Rural Pacific Coast

Many people associate high crime rates and danger with urban settings. However, that is not always the case. In Colombia, many of the organized crime groups use the remote villages as their main bases or as hideouts to keep their operation under wraps. The remote villages along the Pacific Coast are some of the most dangerous places to live in Colombia. So, think twice before choosing yourself a rural idyll in which to live only to find out you have a greater risk of becoming a victim of crime than if you had chosen an urban setting.


13. Ipiales

Located in the province of Narino, Ipiales is the second-largest city in the province. The whole province is generally considered dangerous, although its largest city, San Juan de Pasto, is considered less of a risk. If you want to live in this area, then choose San Juan de Pasto rather than Ipiales. In Ipiales, crime rates are high for almost all types of crime.


12. Villavicencio

Another place that is considered dangerous in which to live is Villavicencio in the province of Meta, and there are more than 531,000 citizens living in this city. According to Numbeo, it is one of Colombia’s cities that has seen an increase in crime over the last three years. While the risk of having your house robbed is moderate and vehicle theft is high, there are great risks in this city. One of the main concerns in this city is muggings, while violent crimes are also a huge concern. Like many of the major cities in Colombia, drugs and gang warfare are both rife.

San Jose del Guaviare

11. San Jose del Guaviare

San Jose del Guaviare is the largest city in the Department of Guaviare. Compared to other capitals of departments in Colombia, it is relatively small, as it is home to just under 54,000 residents. It was once higher on the list of the worst places to live in Colombia due to its high crime rates. However, it is a city that has shown improvements in recent years.


10. Inirida

Inirida is the largest city in Guainia, and it is considered an unsafe place to live. However, there have been steps put in place to increase safety in this area, including having more police and military on the streets. These measures mean that crime rates are decreasing, and the area is gradually improving.

Medio Atrato

9. Medio Atrato

The province of Choco is a dangerous place to live, and Quibdo is the largest city in the province. However, Quibdo is generally safer than many other areas in the province. Medio Atrato, a municipality and city in the same province, is considered much more dangerous, and the government has faced accusations of doing little to keep the citizens safe, says Amnesty International.


8. Popayan

Hostel World lists the province of Cauca as being an unsafe area, and the main city in this province is Popayan. The city is known for its links to rebel groups. It is also worth noting that the smaller towns and villages in the vicinity are also considered dangerous places to live.


7. Florencia

Florencia is the capital city of the Department of Caqueta, and it is home to more than 168,000 people. It sits between the mountains and the Amazon Rainforest, and it sits alongside the Orteguaza River. While its setting may make it seem like the ideal place to live for accessing outdoor activities and enjoying beautiful surroundings, it is its location that makes this one of the worst places to live. The geographical surroundings make the city the perfect route for trafficking drugs. As with most places linked to drug crimes, there is a direct impact on the level of property and violent crimes.


6. Arauca

Arauca is the name of both a municipality and its capital city. It lies close to the Venezuelan border, which is an array known for drugs and guerrilla activity. The area is an epicenter for the ongoing conflict between the Colombian government and various rebel groups. It means there is a lot of crime in the area, and ex-pats are wise to choose a different location in which to live where crime is less of an issue.


5. Barranquilla

Barranquilla has one of the highest rates of murders by firearms in Colombia, says Wikipedia. Theft and kidnap are also big issues in this city, so it is somewhere that you will likely want to avoid. Barranquilla is in the Atlantico Department. It is the largest city and the third port in the northern Caribbean Coast region. The worst parts of the city to live in are the southwest and southeast areas, and there is less crime in the northern section of the city. Therefore, if Barranquilla is where you plan to live, try to find a place in the city’s northern areas.

Santiago de Cali

4. Santiago de Cali

Santiago de Cali, which people often shorten to Cali, is considered one of the most dangerous cities in Colombia. It is the second-largest city in the country and the largest city in the Valle del Cauca department. Homicide rates in this city are high, although there has been a decrease in murder rates in recent years. The most common form of homicide is murder by firearm. The city is divided into territories, each of which has its own gangs. However, Cali is also a modern city with a growing economy, and it is one of the best places to access employment opportunities across a variety of sectors.


3. Bogota

Truly Traveled lists Bogota, Colombia’s capital, as one of the worst places to live in Colombia. As it is the country’s capital, ex-pats are often drawn to this location for its employment opportunities, modern amenities, and vibrant nightlife. It also has an international airport, international cuisine, great shopping, and interesting cultural spots. While these are all points in Bogota’s favor, it is crucial to understand that the city is also a dangerous place to live. Kidnapping, theft, and drug-related crimes are big issues in the city. Although violent crimes have decreased in recent years, there is still a significant risk of becoming a victim of crime.


2. Buenaventura

Although there are many places to avoid along the Pacific Coast of Colombia, the main city in that part of the country is Buenaventura. While the port city has employment opportunities, amenities, transport links, and things to do in your free time, it also has some big issues. As it is a port city, it is one of the major drug trafficking routes into and out of the country, so many criminals involved in the trade live in the city. Violence and theft are also big problems in the city, and it is not safe to be out on your own at night. Even more alarmingly, Buenaventura is amongst the worst places to live in Colombia according to the astronomically high homicide rates.


1. Soacha

According to The Stand Global, the worst place to live in Colombia is Soacha, which borders Colombia’s capital, Bogota. The most dangerous area in Soacha is District 4, which is known as Altos Cazuca. Drug addiction and drug-related crimes are rife in the area, and a high proportion of the residents live in poverty. The nights are particularly dangerous, as the streets are guarded by various drug gangs guarding the territory. The district is also very neglected, and many stray dogs are living on the streets.

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Liz Flynn

Written by Liz Flynn

Liz Flynn has worked as a full-time writer since 2010 after leaving a career in education. She finds almost all topics she writes about interesting, but her favorite subjects are travel and food. Liz loves the process of researching information, learning new things, and putting into words what others who share her interests might like to read. Although she spends most of her time writing, she also enjoys spending time with her husband and four children, watching films, cooking, dining out, reading, motorsports, gaming, and walking along the beach next to her house with her dog.

Read more posts by Liz Flynn

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