Are Medellín’s 5,000 Gringos Trapped in an Expat Bubble?

With every expat event and gathering, you take the pulse of the gringo community.  

It gives you a chance to hold up a mirror to the host society of Medellin.  

All we expats have in common is that we were not born here.

Some of us are compatriots, others not, but we do all speak English and that’s about it!

Show collection of expats gringos in Medellin
Gringos – Expats Drawn to Medellin in Increasing Number.

Medellin – a stifling gringo bubble?

Often in countries where resources for making a living are scarce, the hermetic ex-pat scene can turn into a stifling gringo bubble.


It can act as a hot-house for disloyalty and backstabbing, not out of place in a telenovela! 

However thankfully the expat community I found in Medellin is friendly and welcoming. 

Medellin Gringos – positive outlook on Colombia.

For the most part, we Medellin gringos have a positive outlook on living in Colombia.


When you dip your toe into any expat pond, to test the temperature, you get different readings.

It depends on who you talk to, some gringos have passed their 4-year honeymoon, a few have even past the 7-year itch.  

Bound to their adopted Colombia home by business, inertia and family ties.  

But (always the but), the expat gringo can be disillusioned, jaded, cynical, as they see the place “for what it is” warning you of the darkness that lies behind the 

These archetypal misanthropic expats are spotted as they tend to be the ones saying:

“this wouldn’t happen back home ….it’s not like that in {country} etc…”

Of course, as a newly arrived, bushy tailed and bright eyed expat newbie it is easy to allow the cognitive bias of rose tinted specs, to discount negative views and experiences.


But I suggest as expats, we all need a pinch of self-delusion as it gives us hope and enthusiasm.  

So I didn’t let meeting one battle scared, war-weary gringo didn’t dampen my spirits.  

In fact, such encounters are a blessing to the wise, as the art is to weave their salutory threads into your tapestry to form face value opinion.

Get a range of opinions and cross-refer them.  Recalibrate your views where prudent and then make up your own mind.  In amongst the distortion, you will find some truth, more importantly, your truth…

Nothing is perfect, there are costs and benefits, but indecision is also a choice.  Much better to step out of your comfort zone and embrace all that entails.

I came here aware of likely ups and downs, limitations and frustrations but determined (this time!) to see the upside.  To look for opportunity in uncertainty and to appreciate all the small pleasures, that brought me here & keep me here.  

The gorgeous climate, an infectious smile from a girl in a bakery, overflowing with the joy of life, the views of the Andes on the horizon, clouds and mists interspersed with passenger jets punctuated by high-rise gated condos, cheek by jowl with sprawling shanty’s.  

This mix, this vibrancy, this aliveness is both allure and reward itself.

The breathtaking beauty of Colombia’s nature, (did I mention that!), the tropical fruit & vegetables, the gastronomy, the music, the “buena onda” and all that makes one “vibrar” (buzz!).  

You feel younger in this city, pulsating with life, one foot in order the other in chaos, just as it should be. Never dull or stagnated this is where one finds personal growth, meaning and learning by experiencing a rich diverse culture, all its warts, and seductive charm.

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