Deciding to move to a new place, whether it’s for work or personal reasons, can be exciting and overwhelming at once. From accommodations, banks, phone services, new workplace, and making new friends–there are so many things to think of! To help you you better prepare for your move, we asked expats what they wish they had known before moving to Medellin. You’re welcome 😉
1. Familiarize yourself with different banks’ currency exchange rates. They say cash is king in Colombia and to some extent, it really is! You need to pay cash for paying your rent and deposit when once you find your accommodation. It’s good to know which ATMs can give you the best exchange rates or have low transaction fees so you can save money where you can.
2. Brush up on your Spanish (or start learning!). Even just the basic Spanish can go a long way when it comes to doing day to day activities and making friends. There are many language exchange events you can join as soon as you move to Medellin to keep practicing your spoken Spanish.
3. Take cash with you all the time. A lot of shops still do not accept cards.
4. Watch out for “gringo” prices. Just like in any other country, expect to be given a much higher price if you are a foreigner. Make local friends if you can.
5. Do not rent anything long term until you have seen the place. We recommend booking a hotel or Airbnb for your first few days in Medellin. You can then start looking upon arrival. Make sure you’ve set appointments before even landing in Colombia though!
7. Do not flush toilet paper (or anything else) down the toilet. In many first world countries, it’s okay (even encouraged) to flush the toilet paper. Not in Colombia though! Avoid this if you don’t want to deal with clogged toilets.
8. Know which neighborhoods or streets to avoid. If you are unsure, it’s better to just take the taxi to your destination. You can easily book one through Easy Taxi.
9. Buy a prepaid ticket card for the bus and the metro. If you plan on using public transportation in Medellin, buy this! You’ll have to face long lines for buying one-off cards and waste a lot of time and energy.
10. Pollution. The fumes can be intense when there’s heavy traffic. Laureles and La Floresta get a lot of mountain breeze, so consider these neighborhoods if you want air with better quality. If you’re traveling to Medellin short-term, you might want to take note of the two “smog seasons” –March to April and September to October. Check out Medellin’s air quality here.
What excites and scares you the most about moving to Medellin or Colombia? Share your thoughts in the comments!