Last visit before my move- advice?

I am visiting Colombia in 2 weeks mostly to spend time with my significant other as we have not seen each other since February. My plan is to “move” there in the 1st quarter of 2022, initially going on a tourist visa and hoping to turn it into a permanent resident visa. As this might be my last trip before my move next year, is there anything I should attend to or figure out while I am in the country to assist with my ultimate relocation and future visa attempts?  Want to take advantage of being there if I need to.  Thanks

While you are still in the USA, make sure you have credit cards/accounts that you can draw on via ATM when in Colombia.  This is the easiest way to get quick cash and is all many people need.  Call your companies to find out their policies with regard to Colombia.

For instance some allow reimbursement of ATM fees.  Others are easier to deal with to correct mistakes that occur like getting no money out of an ATM but still being charged.  In Colombia you may find it hard to contact and deal with US-based companies.  But it's likely to be even harder, in Colombia, to deal with Colombian companies!

Several companies that seem to have a good track record are Schwab and USAA.  I hope others will chime in with their experiences.

I also think it's a good idea to have your significant other set up a Colombian bank account (which he/she can do more easily than you presuming he/she has Colombian citizenship and cédula).  Use this account, apart from any others, to pay expenses and bills you may incur together, and/or to pay utilities.

Don't put all your eggs in just one basket.  Try to make sure in case one door closes, you still have one or more open.

cctravel40 wrote:

I am visiting Colombia in 2 weeks mostly to spend time with my significant other as we have not seen each other since February. My plan is to “move” there in the 1st quarter of 2022, initially going on a tourist visa and hoping to turn it into a permanent resident visa. As this might be my last trip before my move next year, is there anything I should attend to or figure out while I am in the country to assist with my ultimate relocation and future visa attempts?  Want to take advantage of being there if I need to.  Thanks

Our travel plans are a bit similar... I plan to move there in Q1 2022 as well, and if things go well (apartment, community, partner, job, etc) I'll apply to turn it into a permanent resident visa. Some of my considerations are:

- Access to consistent Internet Access
- Access to your money
- Access to healthcare/dental care
- Access to your medications (if any)
- Online shopping and delivery
- Weather considerations (not important to me, but important to many other people)
- Mail stoppage or mail forwarding from your USA address
- Backup communication method, in case you somehow lose your cellphone
- Solar gear in case of power outages (basically, an emergency-situation kit)
- Register with the US Embassy in Colombia, and have an "Escape Plan" ready Just In Case
- Alternate plan in case your resident visa is delayed or denied
etc.

Obviously not an exhaustive list, but just some tips based on my current long-term planning. Best of luck in your relocation!

Congrats on making a bold move.

Your message contains virtually no useful information about yourself and your significant friend, so it is very hard to give any advice.  The most important thing for now is how you plan to make a living, where you plan to live, and what your expectations are.  A nice country to visit as a tourist is not necessarily an ideal place to live.

I have been traveling in costa rica panama and now residing in medellin.
I am on 2nd 3 year cedula card in colombia. Here is some suggestions.
1. Sent up a portfolia of all documents birth certificate passport social security cards tax records credit cards and anything and store in secure location.
2. Make copies and have laminated copies for id for your. IF you get your wallet stolen which is highly likely you have your originals safe.
3. Setup a usa address for your mail to be forwarded to. I use usa2me.com and can mail forwarded to colombia or discard.
4. As soon as you arrive seek out trusty professionals such as visa agency lawyer doctor and accountant. Watch for gringo gouging / i have fired many until i put team together.
5. Never Never pay up front / pay in 3 installments / 30% to start and small payments until completed.Once you pay it is history and there is no incentive to do the work promised.
6. I could write a book on successful living in latin america. I have been burnt and know many expats been burnt.
7. Be sensitive to your environment and avoid toxic people places things.
Good luck

ChineduOpara wrote:

I plan to move there in Q1 2022 as well, and if things go well (apartment, community, partner, job, etc) I'll apply to turn it into a permanent resident visa. Some of my considerations are:

- Access to consistent Internet Access
- Access to your money

Kudos to Ernie, Chine and other Expat.com posters who have focused this thread on specifics after its vague beginnings.

Access to consistent Internet access.

Ask around.  If you know the building or neighborhood you plan to live in, ask the neighbors and, if applicable, the building administration what provider they recommend.  The biggest problem I have encountered has been my provider cutting off my service during my trips out of town and then me having to jump through hoops for ten days at a time to get service restored.  The only way I could have avoided this would have been to double or triple check that my continuing-service agreement was maintained as active.  Apparently, such paperwork (real paper or digital records) can get lost.

Access to money.

Ideally, you could set up a savings account with a bank card while still on a tourist stamp.  But don't count on any particular bank allowing this -- the norm is that a cédula is required, and typically that's not going to be issued without an actual visa.

So you need multiple systems in case a card gets lost or otherwise invalidated.

This can include extra cash, keeping funds in an account at your attorney's office, the Expat favorite -- bank cards from two banks in the home country, knowledge of how to use WorldRemit or another money-sending service, a friend in Colombia or back home whom you can call on in a pinch.  Also, you want to be able to transfer money between accounts online. 

cccmedia

Access to health care, dental care.

This is a big subject.  I'd go to the Colombia forum welcome page and use the search function to find threads that go into this in detail.

Get recommendations from neighbors and Expats as well, to the extent possible.

Visa-holders will be required to join the national healthcare program.  Make sure your providers honor the program and its terms.

With costs being much lower in Colombia than, say, the U.S., many Expats may choose to pay out of pocket -- cash patients are called 'particular' (pahr-tee-koo-LAHR) -- so they can choose their own doctors and get prompt appointments.

Access to your medications.

You may wish to bring your actual prescriptions or a detailed list of them with you on your next Colombia trip.

You can show this to one or more pharmacists in Colombia to verify the names used in Colombia, which may be different from drugs available in the U.S.

Some strong drugs, including mind-altering meds such as anti-depression pills, may require specialist prescriptions in Colombia .. or may be unavailable and need to be substituted.

When you make the potentially permanent move, see if you can bring three months' worth of your meds to tide you over in case you have problems obtaining the meds or substitute meds in Colombia.  The larger the city you are in after moving, the easier it may be to locate everything you need.

On-line shopping and delivery.

Remember the name Rappi and Rappi.com ...

This Colombia-based company has spread to cities throughout La República and to other countries in South America, although it may be most reliable in Colombia.

If you can buy it in a store, a restaurant, a supermarket or any business in Colombia, Rappi can probably deliver it via a moto messenger.

--

Yours truly does not receive a commission or free goodies for recommending Rappi or any other business mentioned on this thread.

Weather conditions.

Google weather [city name] Colombia ten-day forecast and it should bring up a list of some sites that are tracking the weather for your location.  Temperatures may be in Celsius unless you indicate otherwise.

Mail forwarding.

This could vary in different parts of Colombia.  As a rule, I would say:  don't count on national postal services to forward your mail successfully.

You could ask neighbors and building manager(s) if anybody is getting mail from home delivered to their Colombia residence.

Having mail delivered overseas at any time is dubious for Expats in South America, even moreso during The Situation.

Backup communication if a cellphone is lost or not available.

I use email more than anything.  The advantages include... a written record of what is being communicated ... cloud storage ... the ability to access via flip-phone, smart-phone, Internet café ... less trouble with a language barrier ... and elimination of phone tag.

Alternate plan in case a visa is delayed or denied.

Ninety-five percent of Expats who can afford it should be using a visa specialist or an immigration attorney/paralegal for a first-time visa.

Delays and detours are common in this process.  Part of the process involves somebody going to Bogotá with a passport;  unless you are staying near the relevant office, this is best done remotely via an inexpensive agent connected to your visa specialist or attorney.

Using a specialist will reduce the chance that you will run out of time in Colombia.  I have renewed my time in Colombia by crossing for an hour at Rumichaca crossing (Ecuador), mainly because I was staying nearby at Ipiales, Nariño, and it was the easiest method at the time.  I would stay away from any plan that puts you in Venezuela on a border run.

  -- cccmedia

Hello Ernie (ernietorricelli9),

Do you mind if I pick your brain a little, about your time and experience in Medellin? I figured doing it in this thread would make the most sense (information sharing), but we can switch to Private Messages if you prefer.

So far in my research, Medellin is the #1 choice of cities, because (my understanding) the cost of living is lower compared to Cartagena and Bogota, and the Medellin people are generally "warmer" than in Bogota.

My Spanish is very rudimentary (I started learning on July 1st), so for relative safety and clarity, I hope to find and work with English-speaking lawyers, real estate agents, and other professionals who simply know the ins and outs of Colombian laws and systems.

To be a tad more specific. Let's say I land in Medellin, I plan to:
- Stay in an AirBnB or cheap apartment for 2-3 weeks. That'll give me "breathing room" to properly scout and secure a modest-yet-safe stratum 3 or 4 apartment (before having my material property shipped from the USA).
- After moving into the apartment, I'll be seeking the means to extend my tourist visa so I can stay much longer in Colombia.

How did YOU handle these tasks? And how do you suggest a total newbie like me should go about handling them

Thanks very much for your time!

It really depends on what kind of "permanent visa" you'll be seeking. If it's a marriage visa, that will require certain original documents (like birth certificate and/or divorce decree) that are apostilled in the States and that are very recent.

Never carry your cell phone in your back pocket. Be sure you have a phone app that can respond to remote commands to take pictures of the surrounding area, lock your phone and locate it should it be stolen.

If someone tells you "ya voy" (literally, "I'm already going") or "ahorita," prepare for a long wait.

I appreciate all the comments, some snarky, some helpful. I’ll take the blame and assume I wasn’t clear enough. I was not asking for advice on living in Colombia (although I truly appreciate some of the tips and considerations offered here).  I’m moving to a small town to live with my significant other with no plans to marry. I have already visited there several times and lived with him in the small town for 3 months. I was asking if there were logistical steps I should consider that would make sense to do while I am there on my next visit.  Appreciate the comments about checking out medication and using an immigration consultant of some type but based on the feedback, seems like there really aren’t any useful steps that I could take during this visit to prepare for the move and visa process.   Thanks to everyone for chiming in 😁

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