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12 Things To Do Before Moving To Medellin

Prepare for your exciting adventure in Medellin with these essential tips to ensure a smooth transition. 

From managing your finances and renewing crucial documents to navigating local customs and building a community, this comprehensive guide will help kickstart your new life in this vibrant Colombian city. 

Explore the key steps for a seamless transition when moving to Medellin.

1. Banking

  • Get an ATM Card That Covers Fees: Before you leave, ensure you have an ATM card that doesn’t charge you extra for using it abroad. Some cards, like Charles Schwab, even refund your money if you’re charged a fee.
  • Use a Credit Card with No Extra Charges: When you buy things with a credit card in another country, they often add an extra fee. Look for a credit card that doesn’t do this to save money.
  • Try Money Transfer Apps: Sometimes, locals in your new country won’t accept credit cards. Use apps like Wise or Revolut to send money quickly and cheaply.
  • Think About a Local Bank Account: If you plan to stay in the new country for a while, consider opening a bank account there. It’ll make things simpler. Remember, you need a particular ID, like a social security number, which you can get with a long-term visa.
  • Watch Out for Visa-Related Rules: Be aware that your bank account in the new country might be connected to your visa. If your visa expires, they might close your account. Make sure you have a long-term visa before opening a local bank account.

2. Renew Documents

Before moving to a foreign country, you must ensure your important documents are up-to-date. Here are some essential steps to avoid potential hassles:
  • Renew Your Documents in Advance: Don’t wait until you’re in a foreign country to renew your essential documents. This includes your passport, driver’s license, and credit cards. Restoring them abroad can be a real headache, especially in countries like Colombia or Mexico, where bureaucracy and postal services can be slow.
  • Prioritize Passport, Driver’s License, and Credit Cards: While other documents might be vital to you, these three are universally critical. Contact the relevant agencies or institutions to renew them before your move. This way, you’ll have one less thing to worry about when settling into your new home.

3. Notify your banks

When moving to a new country, you must inform your banks about your travel plans. Many banks have security measures to prevent fraud, so they need to know where you’ll use your cards. Here’s what you should do:
  • Call Your Bank Before You Leave: Give your bank a heads-up before heading to your new country. Let them know you will be in a different place, like Colombia. This simple step prevents your bank from blocking your card due to suspicious activity.
  • Notify About All Your Travel Destinations: Even if you’re planning a multi-country trip and don’t end up visiting all of them, inform your bank about all the countries on your itinerary. It’s better to be safe than sorry. This way, you won’t have to deal with frustrating phone calls to sort things out during your trip.

4. Copy Docs

Copies and Preparations Before Entering Colombia Before traveling to Colombia, it’s wise to make essential preparations to avoid potential issues. Here’s what you need to do:
  • Copy Your Important Papers: Make photocopies or take pictures of your vital documents, like your passport, credit cards, and driver’s license. It’s safer than carrying around paper copies.
  • Fill Out the Check Mig Form: Before arriving in Colombia, complete a Check Mig form. You’ll find a link to it and a helpful video guide in the provided link.
  • Plan an Exit Flight: Although only sometimes required, it’s wise to have proof of an exit flight from Colombia, just in case. The video also tells you how to get a free exit flight that you can cancel later.
  • Know About Tourist Stamps: If you’re from countries like the US, UK, Australia, or Canada, you’ll get a 90-day tourist stamp when you enter Colombia. But check if your country is on the list in the link. If you still need a tourist visa or another type, you might need a tourist visa or another type. You can also consult a visa lawyer if required.
  • Extend Your Stay: If you want to stay longer than 90 days, you can apply for another 90 days online. Start this process 30 days into your first 90-day visit to avoid problems. The link provided is for the application, and there’s a detailed guide in the article linked in the text.
  • Long-Term Visa Options: If you plan to stay in Colombia for a while, consider long-term visas. The link gives you info on different types. Apply for them about two months before your second 90-day visit ends.

5. Rent A Place

Before going to Medellin, make sure you have a place to stay. It’s only fun to arrive with knowing where you’ll sleep. Here’s a straightforward plan:

  • Try Airbnb for the Start: For the first month, use Airbnb. It can be expensive, but it’s safe and easy. Find a place you like, book it, and you’ll have a comfy spot when you land.
  • Check Different Areas: While in your Airbnb, check out different neighborhoods in Medellin. Some are more popular, like Poblado, while others, like Laureles, might suit you better. There’s a video that compares these areas in the provided link.
  • Look Locally for a Long-Term Place: Once you’ve explored, find a more permanent place through local channels to save money. It may take some work, but it’s worth it. Our “Rent Like a Local” guide (linked in the spreadsheet) has contacts for local real estate agents who offer good deals.
  • Be Careful of Scams: Be cautious because there are scams related to housing in Colombia. To protect yourself, watch the video in the link. It’ll show you how to avoid scams and overpriced options.

6. Health Insurance

When applying for a Visa, having health insurance is a crucial requirement. With it, your Visa application can be allowed. Here are a couple of insurance options to consider:
  • Sura: Sura offers comprehensive health insurance plans, typically priced at around a hundred US dollars per month or 1300 dollars per year. These plans provide extensive coverage for various medical services.
  • Sanitas: Sanitas is another reputable health insurance provider. They offer reliable health insurance coverage suitable for Visa requirements.

7. Get Local SIM

When you arrive in Colombia, you’ll need a local SIM card. Here’s how to do it:

  • Use WhatsApp: Everybody in Colombia uses WhatsApp for messaging, even businesses. So, you’ll want a Colombian phone number for this.
  • Check Your Phone: If you have an iPhone, ensure it’s unlocked. This ensures it can work with a Colombian SIM card.
  • Choose a Provider: You can pick a mobile provider like Claro Prepaid. They offer affordable 30-day plans with plenty of data.
  • Get a SIM Card: Go to a Claro shop or a shop from your chosen provider. They’ll give you a SIM card, usually for a small fee, and help you set it up.
  • Register Your Phone: This is crucial. In Colombia, they might turn off if you don’t register your phone with the new SIM card within 15 days. Visit the provider’s shop, and they’ll help you with this. It’s quick, usually around 15 minutes.

8. Mailbox

If you have a business in the US and you’re still getting physical mail, consider setting up an electronic mailbox. Here’s how it works:

  • Forward Your Mail: Instead of receiving mail at your physical address, you send it to an electronic mailbox service.
  • Mail Scanning: They receive your mail, open it, and scan its contents.
  • Email Delivery: After scanning, they email the scanned documents so you can access your mail electronically.

You can compare different electronic mailbox services on the website in the link to find the one that best suits your needs. This way, you can manage your US mail while you’re abroad more efficiently.

9. Ship Belongings

Consider shipping your belongings for those planning a long-term move to Colombia and needing large items. Sometimes, it’s challenging to fit everything in your suitcase. Here’s what some people do:

  • Freight Forwarding: They use freight forwarding services to ship items from anywhere in the world to Colombia.

We won’t recommend specific options because we want to avoid responsibility if something goes wrong. To find a reliable service, do a Google search and be sure to read reviews before making a choice. Now, let’s move on to what you should bring with you.

10. Packing List

When packing for your trip to Colombia, consider these items:

  • Converters: If you’re from the US, you won’t need them because Colombia uses the same plugs. But if you’re from countries like the UK or Australia, bring some converters. You can also find them at local hardware shops.
  • Clothing: It’s warm throughout the year in most parts of Colombia. You will only need a few warm clothes, except if you plan to visit places like Bogota or mountain towns where it can get cold. While shorts are okay, wearing long pants daily is more culturally acceptable.
  • Shoes: Colombians generally avoid wearing flip-flops on the streets unless they’re at the beach. So, it’s a good idea to have some shoes with you.
  • Electronics: Electronics can be expensive and limited in selection in Colombia. If you have specific electronic gear or gadgets you prefer, consider bringing them from your home country. Also, remember that Colombia has high import taxes on items exceeding $200.
  • Books: English books can be hard to find in Colombia, so if you’re an avid reader, consider bringing your books. Some online sellers might still need to ship books to Colombia.

Remembering these things, you can pack more effectively in Colombia.

11. Learn Spanish

Speaking Spanish is crucial to blending in with locals, making friends, or even dating Colombians. Here’s how to learn:

  • Forget Duolingo: Delete it; it could be more helpful. Instead, try Babbel. It’s a paid app but worth it because it focuses on practical conversational skills.
  • Italki: This app lets you practice speaking and listening with native speakers from your current location. It’s a great way to get used to different accents.
  • Google Translate: Use it as a backup when you need quick translations.
  • Instantaneous Translator Device: Consider using a translator device for on-the-go translations. [Review available on the channel.]
  • Speak Like a Local Guide: Look out for our guide, “Speak Like a Local.” It includes the best Spanish schools, tutors, and language exchanges in Medellin to help improve your Spanish.

Lastly, you want to free up your time and improve your quality of life in Colombia. In that case, you can hire help such as maids, personal assistants, personal trainers, private chefs, private Spanish tutors, accountants, lawyers, and private drivers. It’s affordable, and you can find recommendations on Facebook groups like “Meditating for Non-Jerks” and “Gringo Paisa.”

12. Build a Community

Building a community in Medellin is essential for a great experience. Here’s how:

  1. WhatsApp Groups: Find local WhatsApp groups for your interests on mdecommunity.com. Whether you love sports or hobbies, this website connects you with people who share your passions.
  2. Facebook Groups: Be cautious on some Facebook groups; they can have toxic members. Instead, consider joining positive groups like “Gringo Paisa” and “Meditating for Non-Jerks.”
  3. Master Class Exclusive Community: If you’re an entrepreneur or business owner focused on self-development and community engagement, join our Master Class Exclusive Community. To enter, purchase the Complete Medellin Master Class (details in the link).
  4. Customize Your List: You can make a copy of this list and personalize it with your information and preferences. Just click “File” and “Make a Copy.”

Building a community can significantly enhance your experience in Medellin, and staying connected with like-minded people is a great way to enjoy your time in the city.

By following these essential tips, you can navigate the challenges and embrace this vibrant city’s opportunities. From financial planning and document renewal to embracing local customs and building connections, these steps will set you up for a successful and fulfilling adventure in Medellin. So, pack your bags, learn Spanish, and prepare for an unforgettable experience in this beautiful Colombian metropolis. Welcome to Medellin!

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