The US is the second most popular destination for Colombian migrants after Venezuela.
Colombians emigrate to the US for many different reasons, some wish to experience life in a different country, while others make the move to further their career or seek new opportunities.
We’ve put together some tips and advice to help Colombians living in the USA to feel more at home.
How many Colombians live in the US?
The first Colombian community began to form in New York after the First World War. At this time, the number of Colombians in the US was still low. In the 1980s and 1990s, there was a surge in the number of Colombians relocating to the US.
Today, you will find many Colombian people living throughout America. There are thought to be over 1.2 million Colombians and people with Colombian ancestry living in the US according to the 2017 US Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.
The largest Colombian communities can now be found in New York and Miami.
Cities with the largest Colombian communities
The United States is a vast and sprawling land and many Colombians who move there choose to live in neighbourhoods where there are already existing Colombian communities.
Benefits of living in a community with a high percentage of Colombian people include:
- Meet other Colombians in the US
- Source imported Colombian groceries and ingredients
- Sense of community and home away from home
- Access to Colombian restaurants, events and organisations
So, where do Colombians live in the US?
According to data from the 2010 US Census, the five metropolitan areas with the largest Colombian communities are:
- Long Island, New Jersey, New York (229,803)
- West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Miami (195,419)
- Sanford, Kissimmee, Orlando (38,490)
- Santa Ana, Long Beach, Los Angeles (32,233)
- Baytown, Sugar Land, Houston (28,200)
Florida’s Colombian Community
Within Florida, a large Colombian community exists in Miami, with high percentages of
Colombians found in neighbourhoods like Doral (14.7%), Country Club (13.7%) and The Hammocks (13.5%).
Where to shop:
- Manatial Market Place – Bakery and grocery store – Miami
- Fabian Records La Tiendita Colombiana – Miami
- Carniceria Los Paisas & Deli Market – Miami
- La Esquinita Colombiana – Miami
- Orgullo Colombiano - Miami
Where to eat:
- Bolivar Restaurant Bar Lounge - Miami
- La Ventana Colombian Restaurant – Miami
- Columbia Restaurant – St Augustine
- La Pequena Colombia – Weston
- Mi Colombia Caféteria Y Restaurante – Miami
New Jersey’s Colombian community
New Jersey is also known for having large communities of Colombians. A particularly high percentage of Colombians can be found in neighbourhoods like Victoria Gardens (21.7%) and Dover (15.27%).
Where to shop:
- Carniceria Latina – West New York
- Latino American Supermarket – Dover
- La Conga Supermarket – Jersey City
- Morristown Latino American Supermarket – Morristown
- Fiesta Supermarket – West New York
Where to eat:
- Noches De Colombia Englewood – Englewood
- Brisas Colombianas Bakery and Restaurant – Elizabeth
- Rancho Mateo Colombian Steakhouse – Elizabeth
- MiRiconcita Colombiano – West New York
- Villa de Colombia - Hackensack
Famous Colombians in the US
By moving to the US, you could be following in the footsteps of some of your favourite international Colombian stars.
Some of the most famous Colombian Americans and Colombians in the US include:
- Sofia Vergara (actress)
- Sofia Carson (actress)
- J Balvin (singer)
- Isabella Gomez (actress)
- Diane Guerrero (actress)
- Ximena Duque (actress)
- Ariadna Gutierréz (model/actress)
- John Leguizamo (actor/comedian/producer/screenwriter)
- Moises Arias (actor)
- Julie Banderas (Fox News anchor)
- Roberto Guerrero (F1 driver)
Ways to connect with the Colombian community
Moving to a new country means starting your life again from scratch.
When you are thousands of kilometres away from your friends and family in an unfamiliar country, putting yourself out, there can feel daunting.
Luckily, if you know where to look, there are plenty of organisations and events aimed at the Colombian diaspora that can help you to meet new friends and make the connections you need to build a new and fulfilling life in the US.
Organisations and groups
Colombian American Cultural Society – Rhode Island
Colombian American Association – New York
Facebook groups – A quick search on Facebook can help you to find local groups connecting the Colombian diaspora in America.
University societies – If you’re studying in the US, ask your university’s student union whether there is a Colombian society you can join.
Festivals and events
No matter where you are in the US, you won’t have to travel too far to join in celebrations for Colombian Independence Day in July.
Here are some of the biggest celebrations and social activities for Colombians in the US that take place each year to mark Colombia’s independence:
- El Festival Colombiano – Los Angeles
- El Gran Festival Colombiano – Chicago
- The International Colombian Festival – Washington DC
- Colombian Fest 2019 – Downtown Houston
- Festival Colombiano – Florida
- Carnaval San Francisco -San Francisco
- Palm Beach Colombian Festival – Florida
- Festival Colombiano Boston – Boston
- Mega Rumba – Miami
Other annual events celebrating Colombian and Latin American culture include:
March – Latin Food Festival – Los Angeles
March – San Diego Latino Film Festival – San Diego
April – Chicago Latino Film Festival – Chicago
June - Greater Hartford Latino Fest – Connecticut
August – Festival Latino – Ohio
October/November – Chicago Latino Music Festival – Chicago
November - Colombian Film Festival – New York
November – Latin American Culture Week – New York
November – iHeart Radio Fiesta Latina – Miami
Finding a job as an immigrant in the USA
To legally work in the US, all immigrants require a relevant US work visa and permit.
There are many different types of visa available, and the type you require will depend on your unique circumstances.
Find out more about the different types of US work visa available and how to get one on the US government website.
Once you’ve got your work visa, it’s time to look for employment. Here are the top places to look for jobs for Colombians in the US:
- USA Gov website
- NYC Jobs board
- Job search engines like Indeed and Monster
- Register with local employment agencies
Tips for Colombians in the USA
The United States has nine different time zones, so the time difference will depend on where in the States you are located.
Colombia is 3 hours ahead of Los Angeles, 1 hour ahead of Chicago, and 5 hours ahead of Hawaii. There is no time difference between Colombia and Florida or New York.
It’s quick and easy to discover the time difference between Colombia and any location in the US using an online time zone converter tool.
Sending a letter or package from the USA to Colombia
It is possible to send letters and cards to Colombia using the United States Postal Service (USPS) by simply visiting your local post office to purchase a stamp.
Shipping can be expensive, but it offers you peace of mind that your item should arrive at its destination safely, especially if it is something important or valuable that you are sending.
Most courier services provide a range of different shipping options and prices, further details on how to send items are available on the couriers’ websites.
Calling from the US to Colombia
Today, the internet has made it cheap and easy to speak to loved ones living abroad.
All you need is a smartphone, tablet or laptop, and an internet connection to make free voice or video calls to anywhere around the world. Popular internet calling apps include Skype, Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger Chat and Viber.
If you ever need to call Colombia from a US landline or mobile phone, then the country dialling code for Colombia is +57. Friends and family in Colombia, calling you in the US should use the country code +1.
Buying clothes in the US
When buying clothes in the US, you will probably find that the sizing differs from what you’re used to in Colombia. Generally, clothing sizes tend to be a little more generous in the US, so you may need to buy one size smaller than you are used to.
The best way to make sure you’re buying clothes that will fit well is to take your measurements and use an online size guide to find out what your US size is likely to be.
It is still a good idea to try on clothes in-store before buying, as sizing and fit can vary quite significantly from one brand to the next.
Sending money from the US to Colombia
Many Colombians who emigrate to North America regularly send remittances to their families back home.
The US is Colombia’s largest source of remittances with a whopping $1.3 billion in transfers made during 2012!
If you plan to send money to family living overseas regularly, you will need to find a cost-effective and simple way of doing so.
That’s where World Remit can help.
We provide a fast, safe and convenient way to send money from the US to Colombia using your smartphone, tablet or laptop and an internet connection. Using our online money transfer service allows you to avoid the poor exchange rates and high transfer fees offered by banks and high street money transfer services.
At WorldRemit, we offer fair exchange rates and charge just one low-cost fee, which we always show upfront. We promise – no hidden charges!
When making your transfer, you can select the pay-out option that is most convenient for the recipient, choose from a bank transfer, airtime top-up or cash pick-up.
Do you have any tips for fellow Colombians in the US? Let them know in the comment section below.