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Newbie in Medellin

I am a triathlete coaching and train runners and Ironman triathletes at our week long training camps in Nicaragua Costa Rica Panama. Wll be adding new camps in Colombia and Ecuador next year.
I am from Charleston South Carolina but spending most of my life in central and south america past two years.
Really like Colombia people nice weather great and economical.
Plan to make my base in Medellin - rent a house soon close to metro and Estadio and take out new residency soon.
Cheers

Hi Ernie,
My family is also from the lowcountry. I am living in the friendly satellite town of Sabaneta. Welcome to Colombia. Estadio is a lively area. Enjoy. Landstryker

thanks

Good day everyone,
As a Newbie I will be traveling from the states to Medellin the end of next week.
This will be my first trip for me. I plan on staying the full 90 days and hopefully
all the cold weather will be past by the time I get back home.

I am doing a homestay that is connected with a Spanish immersion school in
Envigado. My goal is to learn Spanish and get aquainted with the city. I'm 65 and
if I like what I see, I plan on coming back and working the summer and return next fall.
  I plan on taking along 4 sets of clothes and other assorted personal things. Including my mini desktop and monitor. Whatever else I need I plan on purchasing locally. Will also get a cell phone on arrival.
I'm curious of what else I wished I should bring along besides the above mentioned.
  I have called my credit card company and my card is set to work in Colombia. I
Know that I won't be able to use it everywhere. This leads to the question of cash. Do I need to convert US dollars to Peso's ??

I welcome all opinions from those that have been there Done that !
Thanks in advance !

fajim2004 :

I will be traveling from the states to Medellin the end of next week.
This will be my first trip....

Do I need to convert US dollars to Pesos ??

Yes, where Visa cards are not honored, most merchants in Medellín deal exclusively in cash, meaning Colombian pesos.

At the international airport in Rionegro, and in Poblado sector, Medellín, there are casas de cambio, so you don't have to convert your money prior to travel.

cccmedia near the Rumichaca border crossing, in Ipiales, Colombia

fajim2004 :

... my card is set to work in Colombia. I Know that I won't be able to use it everywhere. This leads to the question of cash. Do I need to convert US dollars to Peso's ??

It's easier to get cash (Colombian pesos) on an as-needed basis from the numerous ATM machines (also called ATH, A Toda Hora or cajero automático.  You'll generally get as good a rate or better than from a casa de cambio, and it's easier and faster, no paperwork, no special trip needed.

It's a good idea to carry around a small amount of cash in bills, in a front pocket where it's easy to access for you but not for others, and not to carry around large amounts of cash if you can help it - if you ever are robbed you can give the mugger this small amount and not any larger bills you may have stashed elsewhere.  When you do use an ATM or even a casa de cambio make sure you're in a fairly secure area and that there are no suspicious types just hanging around.  Many ATMs are located in/near banks and in malls so they are fairly secure - but it's a good idea to always be alert.

The crime of robbing someone who has just withdrawn money from a bank or ATM is common enough that it has its own name - a fleteo, committed by one or more criminals lying in wait on foot or on a moto or in a car.

Excellent guidance on ATM's in Colombia, Brother Archer. :top:

Also...

1.  Avoid outdoor ATM's, especially at night.

2.  Prefer ATM's associated with a specific bank branch, so you can readily report a problem if necessary, such as not getting your full withdrawal-amount.

3.  If a suspicious character is hanging around, consider withdrawing money later or elsewhere.

4.  If an ATM fails to serve you after two attempts, go elsewhere so your card won't be pulled from circulation on a third attempt.

5.  Prefer ATM's where there is a security guard or good security presence.

6.  When leaving an ATM with your withdrawal, do not give eye contact or engage with stranger(s) who approach you in the immediate area.

  -- cccmedia in Depto. de Nariño

Thanx for the reply !
one question,,, Does it matter if it's a MasterCard
Visa  and does it make any difference if it's a credit card
or bank card that access my  checking account ?

fajim2004 :

Does it matter if it's a MasterCard (or) Visa and does it make any difference if it's a credit card or bank card that accesses my checking account ?

Your major-USA-bank cards should work the same in Medellín as in the USA.

However, in my recent months in Medellín, I found that the vendor cashiers usually had an easier time processing Visa cards as credit cards even if they were originally issued as debit cards.

A phrase I often used to advantage was Procésela como tarjeta de crédito con una cuota.  Process it as a credit card with one payment.

When using cards, Colombians and visitors to Medellín usually have the choice to authorize a lump sum payment or to authorize monthly partial payments known as cuotas.

cccmedia

One precaution you may want to take:  Create a separate account for use only in Colombia and get a card for it.  Transfer only as much money into this account from your other accounts as needed for a month or so, or whatever period you desire.  This can be done easily on-line.

This way if for any reason something goes wrong - card stolen, lost, etc. - you can lose no more than is in the account.  This is just so no one having your card, can possibly have access to a whole lot of money.  Plus this can help keep track of what your expenses are, by tracking the amounts you transfer into this Colombia-only account.

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