Jeff has moved four times in Medellín over the past eight years and provides an expat guide to moving in Medellín with moving tips for foreigners.
One of the benefits of renting is that you have the flexibility of moving if things change in your life or you find something better. I previously wrote about my reasons for moving in an article about searching for unfurnished apartments and casas in Medellín.
With my Colombian wife we rented an unfurnished house in Sabaneta less than a month ago and we moved from an apartment into this house over the past two days.
This article looks at our experience in finding an unfurnished house and moving to the house from an apartment.
Finding an Unfurnished Rental House
I have rented in Medellín for over eight years and have lived in several neighborhoods in the city. And we recently published an up-to-date guide to finding unfurnished apartments and cases (houses) in Medellín.
With my Colombian wife, we started looking for apartments in Sabaneta about six weeks ago. We were living up the hills in Sabaneta. And we decided instead of renewing our lease we wanted to move down the hills in Sabaneta. This would enable us to be closer to Parque Sabaneta and within easier walking distance to a metro station.
We started looking by walking around and calling numbers we saw on rental signs in windows. Also, we looked on the Espacio Urbano website.
We looked at about 20 different properties in Sabaneta – all were 3-bedroom with rents ranging from 1,000,000 to 1,500,000 pesos per month.
We decided location was most important for us and we wanted to be within a 10-minute walk from Parque Sabaneta and within a 10-minute walk from a metro station. While looking, one real estate agent showed us a casa (house) that was in great location, near Parque Sabaneta.
This house is well-located: a five-minute walk to Parque Sabaneta, a 10-minute walk to the Sabaneta metro station and an 18-minute walk to the large Mayorca mall. Also, there are over 50 restaurants within about a 10-minute walk from this house.
We decided to rent this house that had just been placed on the market. And we had to move quickly because the real estate agent said there were up to five others who were interested in this house due to a low rental price of 1,050,000 pesos ($326 USD) per month for a three bedroom house plus in a good location.
No fiador was required to rent with the real estate agency. But to avoid the fiador requirement, I needed to get a 5-month CDT. The process to get the CDT and rent the apartment took less than a week and we received the keys a few weeks ago. Also, we moved into this house over the past two days.
Here are the specification of the house we moved into:
- Two story house with a small balcony and vaulted ceilings
- Three bedrooms, 1.5 bathrooms, 85 square meters (915 square feet)
- Kitchen with gas cook-top, plus a gas water heater (tankless)
- Estrato 3 neighborhood
- Rent: 1,050,000 pesos per month (only $326 USD per month)
Preparation for Moving
Unfurnished apartments and houses in Medellín and Colombia normally come bare bones. So, some preparation work is typically required.
First was installing light bulbs. Unfurnished places in Colombia will have light fixtures but no bulbs.
Next was installing curtain rods. We didn’t have to buy curtain rods since we were moving from another place. But had to buy curtain rod hangers and install them. You can find light bulbs and curtains in Homecenter.
Also, with the concrete walls that are very common in Colombia, installation requires a hammer drill to drill holes. I happen to have a hammer drill, which I bought several years ago to enable hanging things on concrete walls.
In addition, unfurnished places in Colombia typically won’t have appliances like a refrigerator, microwave or wash machine. But since we were moving from an apartment, we already had these. So, no need to buy anything.
Furthermore, one of the bathrooms in the house we rented didn’t have any cabinets. So, we bought a bathroom cabinet at Homecenter and installed it in the house.
Installing Utilities and Internet/TV/Phone Services
Electricity, gas and water services should have already been established by the unfurnished property owner. So, there is no need to do anything for electricity, gas and water services. EPM is the electricity, gas and water services provider for most of the Aburrá Valley.
Also, there is no need to change the EPM billing to your name. The bill will come to the apartment or home. And for unfurnished rentals, the tenant is normally required to pay this bill, which will typically be included in a rental contract.
We have used Claro for our Internet/TV/phone provider for the past several years with good service. So, we decided to use Claro in the new home. In the past, our Claro service has been in my Colombian wife’s name. But this time, I established Claro service in my name.
We previously provided a guide to Internet and Cable TV providers in Medellín. To establish service, I went to the Claro office in the Mayorca mall in Sabaneta. In the past we used the Claro office in the Los Molinos mall.
I used my Colombian cedula extranjeria and had no problem signing up for service. I went on a Saturday and was able to schedule the installation for the following Wednesday.
Claro arrived within their scheduled installation window on Wednesday and the installation took about two hours. Claro ran new cable in the walls and set up service in three rooms in the house.
The Claro triple play service we installed includes 155 TV channels (including 50 HD plus many channels in English and Spanish) for two televisions, 30 Mbps Internet and a fixed (fijo) phone line for the price of 136,900 pesos ($43 USD) per month in an estrato 3 neighborhood.
Packing and Scheduling Movers
There are several moving companies in Medellín, which you can find in the yellow pages or on the Internet. When we have moved in the past we used a mover recommended by a real estate agent. But our latest move we used a mover recommended by a Colombian friend.
We used the Taxi Carga moving company for our move. This is a moving company in Medellín with two sizes of small trucks.
When we called Taxi Carga, they said since we lived in an apartment larger than 70 square meters, it would require two trips with one of their larger trucks.
Also, we had boxes from previous moves but not enough boxes to pack up everything. So, we decided to schedule our move for two days instead of moving in two trips the same day. This enabled us to reuse boxes and not have to buy more boxes. Homecenter sells moving boxes and moving supplies like packing tap and packing paper.
Taxi Carga offers moving services with prices by the hour depending on the size of truck and number of helpers:
- Vehículo sencillo – simple vehicle (small truck) with just a driver – 35,000 pesos per hour
- Vehículo sencillo – simple vehicle (small truck) with a driver and helper – 55,000 pesos per hour
- Vehículo grande – larger vehicle (larger truck) with just a driver – 45,000 pesos per hour
- Vehículo grande – larger vehicle (larger truck) with a driver and helper – 65,000 pesos per hour
- Vehículo grande – larger vehicle (larger truck) with a driver and two helpers – 85,000 pesos per hour
We scheduled Taxi Carga’s vehículo grande service with a driver and two helpers for 85,000 pesos per hour.
Our Experience Moving Over Two Days
We moved over two days and scheduled in the mornings, as it’s currently the rainy season in Medellín with rain more common in the afternoon. Taxi Carga arrived as scheduled on both days and it didn’t rain either day.
After the first day of moving, we unpacked boxes and reused the boxes for the second day of our move. We moved from a 10th floor apartment to a two-story house.
To load up the moving truck and unload took the movers about four hours each day. So, our total charge for the move over two days was 680,000 pesos ($212 USD) for a total of eight hours.
We did encounter some challenges for the move into the rental house. The house has a small front door. So, the door had to be removed from its hinges to enable moving our refrigerator into the house.
Also, the stairs to the second floor in the house are small winding stairs without much room for large items. A bed wouldn’t fit up the stairs. So, the movers had to pull the bed up to the second-floor balcony using ropes. And with the winding stairs at the house the unloading took much longer than the loading.
My previous moves were easier as movers could use dollies on both sides to load and unload. At the house the movers had to hand carry into the house and up winding stairs.
Taxi Carga was punctual and very professional. So, I recommend this moving service if you are moving in Medellín.
Expat Tips for Moving in Medellín
Here are four tips for successfully moving in Medellín based on my experience moving four times in Medellín over the past eight years:
- Finding things for a move – the big home improvement chain Homecenter will have everything you need for a move – you can find boxes, packing material, light bulbs, curtains and many other things at Homecenter.
- Buying appliances and furnishings – if this is your first apartment or you are adding appliances and furnishings, we have a separate guide to furnishing an apartment.
- Establish Internet/TV/phone services before you move – if you don’t have a visa and cedula establishing Internet/TV/phone services is a challenge and you likely will have to get service set up a Colombian friend’s name. We have a separate guide to Internet and Cable TV providers in Medellín.
- Use professional movers for moving – the cost for movers is relatively inexpensive in Medellín or other cities in Colombia. We paid movers $212 to move us from a three-bedroom apartment to a three-bedroom house over two days. So, in my opinion, it’s not really worth the trouble of renting a truck to move yourself.
The Bottom Line: Moving and Movers – An Expat Guide to Moving in Medellín
Moving in a foreign country can be challenging. But I have experience moving four times in Medellín. And if you plan for a move and follow the above tips, moving can be relatively painless.
We successfully moved over the past two days and will be settling in the house we rented in Sabaneta over the next couple of weeks.
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