Cali is a large city in southwestern Colombia. Known for salsa dancing, beautiful women, and crime! Cali is popular among digital nomads looking to learn salsa. The city is also very inexpensive and you can live here for cheap. For beginner digital nomads this is one of our top picks for a good city to base up for a one month or longer. Cali is a big city and a major industrial and commercial hub of the country. The city was founded in 1536 and holds an important role in the history and culture of Colombia. It is one of the fastest growing economies in Colombia, and both Colombians and expats are moving in to try and get a piece of the action.
Most digital nomads come here for the nightlife and/or to take salsa lessons. Airbnbs are very cheap here, often less than $500 a month. The low cost of living and good nightlife make Cali a great spot for location independent entrepreneurs looking to keep their costs low as they build their online income. We highly recommend Cali ti digital nomads looking for a mix of low cost of living and a blood-pumpingly high level of fun. Most digital nomads in Latin America dream about spending a month in Cali and dedicating themselves to learning salsa. You’ll see some expats and retirees but Cali seems to be a city more frequented by digital nomads hopping around Colombia.
RENT AN APARTMENT IN CALI
$400.00. Property prices have risen in recent years, but $400.00 will get you an apartment in Cali. Rent is going to be a lot cheaper here than in Bogota.
WHERE TO STAY IN CALI, COLOMBIA
You want to stay just near Parque Bataclan and the bars on Avenida 6. Try to stay far enough from the bars that you don’t hear too much noise, but close enough to be walking distance. This is the top area of Cali for travelers and digital nomads looking to get involved in the nightlife and live in the ‘vortex zone’ for bars, gyms, and coffee shops with wifi. If you are looking to spend less and live more like a local, you can find great apartments for rent in neighborhoods like El Peñón, near the Zoo, Normandía, San Fernando, Versalles, La flora, El Ingenio and San Antonio.
BEST BARS & NIGHTLIFE IN CALI, COLOMBIA
Let’s be real – you’re probably reading about this article for the nightlife section. Cali is the salsa capital of the world (alongside Havana). Nightlife is good here. There are too many bars and clubs in Cali, and I mean that in the best possible way. The experience of going out here is totally different than Medellin. Only a small fraction of the tourists that visit Colombia ever visit Cali. It’s a local scene here.
Many bars in Cali are salsa-based, so know a few steps before you arrive. Trust me. In Cali, this may be more important than knowing Spanish. Cali is one of the world capitals of Salsa, in the same way Medellin is a world capital of reggaeton.
There are other styles of bars as well, ranging from rock to reggaeton, but I guarantee that every night you go out at some point you will be required to dance salsa. Stick to Avenida 6. There is a sickening number of bars and clubs on this one street alone (again, I mean that in the best possible way). Avenida 6, Avenida 8, and Avenida 9 are full of bars and slick restaurants. Stick to this area.
Bars that My Latin Life recommends: First, Bourbon Streetthen take the 5 minute walk to to San Alejo Bar.If you want to go to a salsa club in Cali, ask the cab driver where the best one is. Rooftop DonJuan De la Torre is popular as well.
IS CALI, COLOMBIA SAFE?
So-so. Cali has a reputation for being a bit dangerous and, like Medellin, certain neighborhoods can feel more than a bit dodgy. Don’t dress like a high-roller and take cabs at night. 10 years ago or so it was really bad, but going into 2020, things have improved a lot. Cali is more dangerous than Bogota and Medellin simply because the region surrounding Cali is less wealthy.
THINGS TO DO IN CALI, COLOMBIA
Take salsa lessons. Cali is world famous as a cultural center of salsa. There are many salsa teachers here and you could take lessons every day if you wanted. Salsa is a good skill to have.
Visit during the Feria de Cali, Dec. 25 – 30. This is the biggest party of the year and arguably the most important cultural event in Cali, Colombia. It is a celebration of the region’s cultural identity, famous for the Salsa marathon, horse riding parades and big dance parties. If you want an excuse to party and meet beautiful women, this is it.
Go to a soccer game at Pascual Guerrero Stadium.
Visit the Parque Natural Bataclán. This is a great place to exercise, get into nature, and see excellent views of the city.
Go to the Zoologico de Cali. This zoo is huge and has many species including lions, bears, zebras & otters.
Head to Colombia’s coffee triangle (eje cafetero). The near city of Armenia is only a 3 hour drive away.
Head south to Popayan, a remarkable city only a 3.5 hour drive away.
COST OF LIVING IN CALI
The following data is from Expatistan, a crowdsourced database of prices and cost of living around the world. In our experience, the data tends to underestimate cost of living, so take the following as the minimum you might need to live here.
*Figures are listed in USD
You’ll need a minimum of $715 USD/month to live in Cali, Colombia
You should be able to get an English teaching job here without much difficulty.
Cali is the place to be in Colombia right now. The girls are on fire and the city is modern and expanding economically. It is still dangerous, and gang warfare has even seen a rise in recent years, but if you’re smart you won’t get into trouble. And the silver lining is that crime scares tourists away, especially Americans. The cost of living is very low. This is a great “starter city” for digital nomads looking to live cheap and build their income while still having fun. Enjoy the fruits of this city while you can; I have a feeling that it won’t stay this good for long.
OVERALL RATING: 8.5/10
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