The Digital Nomad Guide to Cartagena, Colombia

Cartagena—what a marvelous city! I traveled here for three months, and in this Cartagena digital nomad guide, you’ll find out if it’s the right base for you.

CARTAGENA WEATHER

📬 Hola Trisha! I’ve been following you ever since you started backpacking South America in 2013. I really love your stories and it made me decide that I want to be a Cartagena digital nomad. I was actually looking at Mexico as I know you are there at the moment but I can’t help to think about the Caribbean. I find Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum super expensive! Can you please give me tips, advice, and an overall outlook on how life as a Cartagena digital nomad is? I really appreciate all your articles and I wish you all the best in this life! Hopefully, I can join the digital nomad lifestyle soon!

– Michael Driscoll, Spokane, WA
cartagena digital nomad

Hi Michael!

Congratulations on making the move to become a digital nomad! And Cartagena is a good choice! You are right, the Caribbean side of Mexico is really expensive so Cartagena is a good choice!

I stayed in Cartagena for three months (twice) and in this post, I will share with you some insights on what’s it like to be a Cartagena digital nomad.

If there’s anything that wasn’t answered in this post, please feel free to e-mail me or send me a message on Instagram. I will definitely update this post for you.

Good luck and I wish you all the best!!!

Xx,
Trisha

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🇨🇴 Quick Info: Cartagena Digital Nomad Guide

  • Country: Colombia
  • Internet speed: 12 Mbps
  • Power Plug: Type A & B
  • Best neighborhood: Historic Center
  • Best co-working space: Fundacion Surtigas
  • Travel insurance for nomads: Ekta Traveling
  • 1-br studio in the center: $508 per month
  • Hotel living: $1,147 per month
  • Cost for 1 meal: $4
  • Taxi cost: $6 per trip
  • Mobile data: $5 per month
  • Co-working space: $256 per month

💃 Cartagena digital nomad personal experience

I didn’t plan to stay longer in Cartagena, but when I realized how comfortable I was as a digital nomad, I decided to. The first reason I stayed long was that I was taking salsa classes.

Initially, I was just doing the tip-based salsa classes in Cartagena but I decided to up my salsa game by hiring a professional. It was only $25 USD per class! Plus, Colombia is the best place in Latin America to learn salsa. They know how to do this!

Of course, I considered the Internet when it came to being a Cartagena digital nomad. At first, I was staying at Selina Cartagena, which has the reputation of having the best Wi-Fi connection (and best co-working space) in Latin America, but I needed to pay extra for the faster Internet connection.

Their Internet (without the co-working subscription) is already decent but I still wanted a great space to work in. After a while, I couldn’t stay in a hostel anymore, and renting an apartment in Cartagena will save me more money, especially when I am staying long-term.

I didn’t know about the Internet speed in Cartagena until I met a local who had an Airbnb and a cafe. The apartment was part of the cafe. The speed in the house is just okay but then they had fiber optic 100 MBPS in the cafe!

They also let me work in the cafe even if it’s already closed. It was a win-win deal! The only problem with this is that the house was really small even for one person.

Overall, I never had any difficulties as a digital nomad in Cartagena Colombia. It’s one of my favorite areas in Colombia as it’s so easy to go to the Colombian coast like Santa Marta.

⛔ Is Cartagena safe for digital nomads?

As I lived in Colombia, I never really had to be vigilant about living in Cartagena. First, nothing bad happened to me here plus my looks can also pass for being Colombian.

I also speak Spanish fluently, which is always one of the key factors that I feel confident in traveling alone as a digital nomad, especially in countries like Colombia with bad press for safety.

Since Cartagena is party central and has a vibrant nightlife, have fun, get drunk, and go out, but be mindful of your words and actions as a foreigner. Remember, this is not your country so be very attentive about your behavior without compromising your real personality.

Do not go with people you don’t know both men and women. I say this a lot, but I always go out with strangers in Cartagena.

But this, my friends, is a skill. You need to trust your gut instead of being paranoid and thinking that something bad will happen to you. Bad things happen everywhere, not just in Colombia.

As usual, I always base safety on my personal experiences, but if you look at it from a foreigner’s perspective, Cartagena is a super popular vacation destination for Americans, so the city will never do anything to interrupt tourism or even taint its reputation when it comes to safety.

I traveled to Cartagena solo a lot as a female and didn’t see any issues. I’d walk back to my accommodation by myself at 3:00 AM. Cartagena is a loud city and is active till the wee hours of the morning (especially on weekends) so there is always street activity.

I avoid walking in dark streets by myself, but that’s it. It’s a pretty basic safety precaution that you also need to practice everywhere. Personally, nothing bad happened to me while in Cartagena, and I felt really safe! But I am only talking about tourist areas like Old Town.

There are many dodgy areas in Cartagena, so always be mindful, especially if you are going to rent an apartment outside of the center.

💰 Cost of living in Cartagena, Colombia

The cost of living in Cartagena is affordable even though it is a touristy spot. It’s not that popular with expats and digital nomads yet, so prices are still very Colombian.

You can find furnished accommodations (85 m2/900 sqft) for $600 USD that is located in the center. In the normal areas, you can get half the price for the same size and layout.

I honestly find the utilities expensive (i.e. gas, electricity, etc). I don’t know why one time I had to pay $75 USD but this was when I was continuously using the air conditioning. Cartagena can get really hot but you need to be mindful of electricity use.

When it comes to eating out, Cartagena is really cheap, especially if you are going to local restaurants. These local restaurants serve quality food so don’t worry about getting sick.

Cartagena is blessed to be next to the sea so expect a great variety of seafood. The food of the Colombian coast is way different from the rest of the country. I meet a lot of people who say they don’t like Colombian food but I always tell them it’s because they’ve only been inland (Bogota, Medellin, etc) so the food is so different!

Street food in Cartagena is also a must! Arepas is on the street at less than $5 USD, and they’re mostly locally owned, so expect it to be one of the best on the coast! The best Cartagena street food can be found at the main plaza where the church is.

Overall, you can easily live in Cartagena as a digital nomad for less than $1,000 USD per month.

Is it expensive to live in Cartagena, Colombia?

Colombia is a cheap country but Cartagena is not the cheapest digital nomad base in Colombia. Cartagena is a famous tourist destination that has a beach so expect prices to be higher.

But still, if you are earning in USD, you can live pretty well in Colombia! As “expensive” is subjective and personal, I will share my expenses while living in Cartagena as a digital nomad.

A little something about me: as a digital nomad, I prioritize the following expenses (in US dollars):

  • FOOD! I love food and I can’t be bothered to eat just whatever. I need to eat great food!
  • Coffee is part of my daily expenses. I travel with a Nespresso machine (seriously!) but since Colombia is a coffee country, I did not bring the machine here.
  • Wine is also my daily jam. I always have a glass for dinner or brunch.
ItemPrice
Monthly rent, furnished, center (with wifi)$900
Basic lunchtime menu (centro)$13
1 cocktail drink in downtown club$9
Cappuccino in expat area of the city$3
1 beer in neighbourhood pub (500ml or 1pt.)$2
1 month of gym membership$35
Yoga (per class)$8
1 bottle of good quality supermarket wine$16
12 eggs, large$2.65
Twice a week coffee shop work$55
Colombia sim card (monthly)$16

🏡 Best neighborhoods in Cartagena for digital nomads

Choosing the best neighborhood in Cartagena, Colombia, as a digital nomad depends on balancing your work needs, lifestyle preferences, and budget.

First, consider internet connectivity and proximity to coworking spaces or cafes conducive to productivity. Areas like Getsemaní and the Historic Center are vibrant with cultural experiences and networking opportunities, but can be noisy.

For a quieter, more residential setting, Manga or San Diego are preferable, offering tranquility while still granting access to the city’s amenities.

Budget is another critical factor; living costs can vary significantly between neighborhoods. Getsemaní offers a more affordable lifestyle compared to the upscale Historic Center or Bocagrande.

Think about what’s non-negotiable for you: Do you crave the energy of busy streets and nightlife, or do you prefer a calm retreat? Lastly, immerse yourself in the local community to enrich your experience—Cartagena’s charm lies not just in its places, but in its people.

Balancing these considerations will guide you to the neighborhood that best fits your nomadic lifestyle. Here are the top 5 neighborhoods in Cartagena, Colombia that are safe for digital nomads and foreigners:

1. Getsemani

  • Getsemani, Cartagena, Colombia
  • Advantage of experiencing Cartagena’s vibrant culture up close, with a plethora of dining and entertainment options
  • Its popularity can lead to crowded streets and noise, particularly during peak tourist seasons

Getsemaní, once a humble fishermen’s neighborhood, has transformed into a vibrant hub of culture and creativity, making it a key area in any Cartagena digital nomad guide.

Known for its stunning street art, lively plazas, and colonial architecture, this neighborhood is a testament to Cartagena’s rich history and contemporary resurgence.

For Cartagena digital nomads, Getsemaní offers an unparalleled mix of culture, history, and nightlife. The area’s colorful streets are lined with cafes and coworking spaces, fostering a dynamic environment for creativity and productivity.

Its affordable living costs compared to other areas make it a practical choice for nomads looking to immerse themselves in Cartagena’s local life.

Getsemaní boasts easy access to Cartagena’s historic center, making it a convenient base for exploring the city’s landmarks. The neighborhood is within walking distance to the iconic Clock Tower Gate, Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas, and the Caribbean coastline, blending urban living with historical exploration.

2. El Centro (Historic Center)

  • El Centro, Cartagena, Colombia
  • This neighborhood offers an immersive cultural experience and high safety levels
  • Historic Center comes with a higher cost of living, making it less affordable for some digital nomads

El Centro, or the Historic Center of Cartagena, is the heart and soul of the city, encapsulating its colonial past through well-preserved architecture and cobblestone streets.

This area is central to the Cartagena digital nomad guide, offering a glimpse into the city’s rich history and cultural heritage.

The Historic Center is ideal for nomads who appreciate history and culture as their backdrop. With its myriad of coworking spaces nestled among historic buildings, digital nomads find inspiration at every corner. The neighborhood’s safety and upscale amenities cater to those who prioritize convenience and quality of life.

El Centro offers unmatched access to Cartagena’s main tourist attractions, including the Cathedral of Santa Catalina de Alejandría, the Palace of the Inquisition, and countless museums. Its central location means everything is within walking distance, from gourmet restaurants to artisan markets.

3. Bocagrande

  • Bocagrande, Cartagena, Colombia
  • Bocagrande’s allure includes its modern comforts, stunning sea views, and vibrant nightlife
  • The cost of living is higher, and the area can lack the traditional Colombian culture found in other parts of Cartagena

Bocagrande is Cartagena’s modern face, featuring high-rise apartments and hotels that line its beautiful beaches. This neighborhood is highlighted in the Cartagena digital nomad guide for its blend of urban living and beachside relaxation, offering a contemporary lifestyle within the historical city.

Digital nomads drawn to a more cosmopolitan lifestyle will find Bocagrande appealing. The neighborhood provides modern amenities, fast internet, and luxury accommodations, alongside beachfront cafes and coworking spaces that cater to a productive yet relaxed working environment.

Situated along the peninsula, Bocagrande is a short drive from Cartagena’s historic center, ensuring easy access to the city’s cultural sites while enjoying the tranquility and views of the Caribbean Sea.

Shopping malls, cinemas, and international cuisine are readily available, offering a comfortable expat experience.

4. San Diego

  • San Diego, Cartagena, Colombia
  • Peaceful ambiance combined with easy access to the cultural and historical sites of Cartagena
  • Options for nightlife and dining out might be more limited compared to more bustling areas like Getsemaní

San Diego is a quieter segment of Cartagena’s Old City, known for its charming colonial houses and tranquil squares. It’s a pivotal area in the Cartagena digital nomad guide, offering a serene yet culturally rich environment, making it an attractive spot for those seeking a blend of productivity and relaxation.

San Diego stands out for nomads looking for a peaceful retreat within the city’s historical center. Its relaxed atmosphere, combined with proximity to coworking spaces and cafes, offers a perfect balance for those who need both focus and inspiration. The neighborhood’s community vibe also facilitates networking and social interactions among nomads and locals.

Despite its tranquility, San Diego is just steps away from major historical attractions, including the Plaza San Diego and the Santa Clara Hotel, known for its luxurious architecture.

This neighborhood ensures easy access to the rest of the Historic Center, with all its museums, galleries, and cultural events, offering the best of both worlds: quiet residential life and proximity to Cartagena’s vibrant heart.

5. Manga

  • Manga, Cartagena, Colombia
  • quiet, residential atmosphere, offering a genuine experience of daily life in Cartagena
  • This tranquility comes with the trade-off of being further away from the city’s main attractions and coworking spaces

Manga is a residential neighborhood known for its lush tree-lined streets, grand old homes, and tranquil marina. It’s an essential inclusion in the Cartagena digital nomad guide for those seeking a more laid-back lifestyle away from the tourist crowds.

Manga combines the charm of historical architecture with the serenity of suburban life.

Manga is perfect for digital nomads seeking a quiet, authentic living environment. The area’s residential nature ensures a peaceful working atmosphere, while its local cafes and proximity to the city center offer convenience without the hustle and bustle.

Affordable housing compared to Cartagena’s more tourist-centric neighborhoods makes Manga an attractive option for longer-term stays.

While Manga is more removed from the city’s major tourist attractions, it remains conveniently connected to the Historic Center and Getsemaní. A short drive or bike ride can bring residents into the heart of Cartagena, allowing for easy exploration of its cultural landmarks, dining, and entertainment options while providing a quiet retreat at the end of the day.

🤝 Connecting with digital nomads in Cartagena

cartagena digital nomad

As someone who travels solo all the time, the social scene of a certain place I choose to base myself in is important. And believe me, there are many places in the world where you don’t get a chance to network!

Luckily, Cartagena has a very vibrant nightlife although the people you always come across are just passing by. I, however, didn’t have a hard time having long-term friends here because of my language skills.

Colombians are super-friendly and you will find many people who are also into the digital nomad lifestyle especially in co-working spaces.

There aren’t a lot of digital nomad communities in Cartagena as it’s more of a vacation destination but if you live there, it is very easy to connect with expats through Facebook groups.

There are many other groups in Cartagena but the majority are in Spanish so I am only recommending groups that publish in English and have English-speaking members.

There are actually only two which prove that Cartagena isn’t a famous destination for digital nomads and expats yet. The two groups to join are Expats in Cartagena and Expats in Colombia.

You can also meet people through Couchsurfing. They used to do meet-ups every week. You can download Couchsurfing hangouts but it only works on mobile.

This app allows you to see which travelers and digital nomads are in your area. Events like working dates or traveling together are always updated on the app in real-time!

📶 Internet speed in Cartagena, Colombia

Internet speed in Cartagena Colombia is super decent. Remember that this is not a small town on the coast of Colombia but also a big city with great infrastructure.

Cartagena is the gateway of South America from Central America. They have a port here and you can actually travel to Cartagena from Panama by sea/boat.

Fiber optic is very common in Colombia and I was really surprised that it was. 100 MBPS is a great speed but most landlords of apartments especially on Airbnb don’t really see the importance of the digital nomad lifestyle yet.

Before booking your accommodation, you need to ask the owner to send you a screenshot of the speed. They can also speak English but if you need help with translations, contact me and I can give you some tips!

You would like to get a Colombian sim card if you plan to be a Cartagena digital nomad. I always use Claro because all South American countries have them so I’ve tried their services in many different countries.

They also have affordable International call packages especially if you need to call the US. However, Internet-wise, Tigo 4G sim card worked well better for me in Cartagena.

I never used this sim card before but when I compared it to Claro (hotspot), it worked faster. Claro has better coverage in the whole country though. I had both sim cards just in case (apart from my portable wifi device).

☕ Cartagena cafes with strong wifi

Cafes and coffee shops in Cartagena are known for their charm and vibrancy, reflecting the city’s rich culture and history. Many offer a unique blend of local and international flavors, with picturesque settings that range from quaint colonial buildings to breezy, beachfront spots.

The atmosphere in these cafés is typically warm and welcoming, making them perfect places to relax and enjoy the local scene.

The city’s café scene caters well to those looking for cozy spots with strong Wi-Fi and good coffee. While some cafés are more traditional, a growing number cater specifically to digital nomads, offering comfortable seating, power outlets, and a quiet ambiance for productivity.

Here are the best coffee shops in Cartagena with great food, power outlets, and a conducive working environment for remote workers and nomads:

Época Café Bar

cartagena digital nomad

Libertario Coffee Roasters Cartagena

cartagena digital nomad

Café de la Mañana

cartagena digital nomad

Cafe Central Traveler’s Coffee

cartagena digital nomad

Bozha CafeBar

coffee shops in Cartagena Colombia

Érase Art Cafe

coffee shops in Cartagena Colombia

Café San Alberto Cartagena

coffee shops in Cartagena Colombia

Colibri Café

👩‍💻 Co-working spaces in Cartagena

There aren’t many co-working spaces in Cartagena, so if you are one of those digital nomads who loves to go to co-working spaces, this may be a downside.

I stayed in Selina and availed their daily co-working space which you have to pay separately and is not included in the nightly stay. This gives you access to the higher speed Internet of Selina but if you’re not paying for the co-working, the Internet speed is pretty slow.

Selina is always crowded by backpackers more than digital nomads. Here are the top (and probably the only) co-working in Cartagena, Colombia:

cartagena digital nomad

Cowork Cartagena

cartagena digital nomad

Tu Work

🤹 Pros and cons of living in Cartagena as a digital nomad

While I loved making Cartagena my digital nomad base, there are also some pros and cons of living in Cartagena which can help you decide if this is a good base for you:

Pros

  • Cultural Richness: Cartagena’s vibrant culture, historical architecture, and festivals provide an enriching environment. The city’s lively music, dance, and art scenes offer endless inspiration and entertainment.
  • Tropical Climate: Enjoy year-round warm weather, perfect for those who love sunshine and outdoor activities. The beaches and the Caribbean Sea offer a picturesque setting for both work and leisure.
  • Affordable Cost of Living: Compared to North American and European cities, Cartagena offers a more affordable lifestyle, including housing, food, and entertainment, making it easier to maintain a good standard of living.
  • Friendly Locals: Colombians are known for their warmth and hospitality. The chance to integrate into local communities can enhance your experience and help with learning Spanish.
  • Diverse Neighborhoods: From the historical charm of the Old City to the modern amenities of Bocagrande, Cartagena offers a variety of neighborhoods to suit different preferences and needs.

Cons

  • Humidity and Heat: The tropical climate can also have downsides, with high humidity and temperatures that some may find uncomfortable, especially during the summer months.
  • Language Barrier: While Spanish is essential for daily interactions, not knowing the language can be a significant barrier in fully experiencing the city and dealing with administrative tasks.
  • Internet Reliability: Although improving, internet connectivity can be inconsistent in some areas, posing challenges for digital nomads who rely heavily on stable and fast internet.
  • Safety Concerns: While Cartagena is generally safe, especially in tourist areas, like any major city, it has neighborhoods with higher crime rates. It’s important to stay informed and cautious.
  • Tourist Crowds: Popular tourist destinations within the city can get crowded, especially in high season, which might detract from the appeal for those seeking a more authentic or tranquil experience.

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2 Comments

  1. Hi Trisha,

    It was a very interesting read! I really love reading about your travel experience, and even though I cannot follow my travel dreams, reading about yours bring me a sense of joy. I am collecting great ideas for travel, and how to become a digital nomad in case I want to leave everything and become one, or someone in my network needs these resources. Your blog is the perfect place to find them. Thanks a lot for being so helpful and sharing your insights with the readers.

  2. Hey! I love your post!! I’m going to Cartagena for two month as a digital nomad. Where in the city would you recommend me to stay? I would like to rent an apartment, but I dont really know where? Hehe

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