- You need to live in the north of the city to be safe,
- even the center (near the historical center) is rather unsafe,
- You will be fine if you live in the northern 1/3 of the city (see map and discussion below) and use common sense.
You can see in the map above that it is really only the top, most northern part of the city that is safe. Generally, the further south you go the more disorderly and dangerous things get.
You will notice that as you go towards the south of the map you will see an area/city called “Soledad.” This is indeed a bustling city in and of itself: but it is basically considered part and parcel of Barranquilla itself. It is rather dangerous. I had a girlfriend who lived down there and I visited her a few times (perhpas I should not have, but it was in the afternoons from 11-5pm).
Poor People Gossip Quite a Bit = bad for you as an expat!
And this is not good for you if you choose to save money by living in a mid-level, non-wealthy area. The local thieves and juvenile delinquents will soon learn that a “rich gringo” lives on the second floor of x or y building on the corner etc.. People get envious, they see your routines, and you will get held up and mugged just because of that. This is not the case in the north of Barranquilla. You will notice that there are nearly no people casually “hanging out” and loitering on the streets and in front of their houses etc.. In the north it is more like in the united states where people are generally indoors, and live private lives. The north is more anonymous. If you disagree with me that lower income people in third world (or developing countries) gossip more than normal, well: you just have not lived for years and years overseas the way I have. I’ve noticed the phenomenon in more than just Latin America (I’ve got nearly 12 years experience in the type of country of which I’m speaking of in this post).
Per Capita Police Presence is Higher in the North of Barranquilla
Let’s start with the fact that there are just far fewer people on the roads and streets etc. in northern neighborhoods. I often see cops parked on their motorcycles here in the “El Tabor” area where I live in the north. When you pair that up against the streets are usually mainly empty, it makes for easier apprehension of suspects. There are fewer faces to keep track of. Further, with less traffic it is far easier for the motorcycle cops to chase a criminal down onces he’s made an attempt at a robbery or burglary.
The Residents of the North Part of the City Hate Common Criminals (ie NOT white collar criminals)
This is important: common criminals are the types that hold you up at knife or gun point, or physically break into your home and burgle it. Protecting against crime as a social phenomenon is higher on their agenda in general: they’ll gladly call the cops if they see a delinquent or shady character try to hop over or climb the outer protective wall surrounding the building in which you live.