I can’t believe we have been here for 6 weeks. Then again, this was suppose to be an exploratory trip and yet, we ordered drapes today. So the move is on.
Several months ago we bought tickets for Colombia as a possible place to spend a few months of the year. Then we rented our Boquete house and got a great AirBnB in Medellin. By the time we left Panama, we had decided to spend at least a year here. Colombia has some pretty strict residency laws so we needed to get our cedulas – residency visas that allow us to stay in the country for more than 180 days a year. It is also needed to do just about everything. I found out today that we cannot take free dance lessons without a cedula. Immigration control is good here.
Looking for an apartment. Yikes! Muy differente aqui. We first talked to a local realtor across the street from our apartment. He told us that it is very difficult to get an apartment, we needed a cedula and call him if w found a place we would like to see. Not helpful at all. So we decided that we needed at least an area or two to focus on. I really like Envigado but the high apartments are far from regular public transit. Then we went to areas south of Poblado and decided that was for us. I found a few places on line and sent some inquiries to real estate agents. One – yea, that would be 1, uno, solo hombre – called back. He had 3 places to show us. The first was in Envigado so we told him not to waste his time. The second one was awful. It is common here to have live-in help. This apartment had a totally closed kitchen, which included the clean area and a small room for the help. We left quickly. The 3rd was a winner.
We are in El Poblado on the 15th floor with a great view. The patio window is 19 feet wide and overlooks half the city. So we told Edgar, the realtor, that we would take it.
Normally, that would be it. You want it, you agree to the price, you sign a contract – not in Colombia.
Edgar had us meet him in his office to discuss the rent. It is bargained for like if you were buying a home. You bargain for the rental price, move in dates, terms of contract – crazy! But we did it. Then came the word expats hate. “Do you have a fiador?” A fiador is like a co-signer, someone who agrees to pay the rent if you don’t. The answer was “No”. Negotiations began anew.
Then we had another appointment to meet his boss. By the time we left, I was spitting bullets. He sent an email to us explaining that it was nothing personal, just the way things are done. But we met the boss’s approval. We are paying 6 months in advance. Your credit history has no meaning here. Bite the bullet and sign the stupid contract. Done.
Apartments in Colombia are also unfurnished. You are lucky if it has a water heater. It will not have appliances or window treatments or furniture.
We looked at local places for appliances and chose Exito who had some great sales. Refrigerator, washer/dryer and tv bought and will be delivered in January. I was not at all happy with the furniture choices in the city. Great advice we received – go to El Retiro where furniture is made. Their stuff is beautiful and we took photos, had lunch and returned to Medellin.
Then our renters told us that they sold their home in the States. Yea!! And asked if they could move in earlier. Possible=yes. Crazy=yes. We now had a mission to complete all tasks to allow them to move into our Panama house in mid-January instead of the first part of February.
Return to El Retiro, now super focused, and choose furniture and fabric. Since I had taken photos earlier, I saw that our number one store of choice was Muebles Oriente. We ordered, and ordered, and ordered some more. We picked fabric and colors. Living room, dining room, and 2 bedrooms done. Delivery scheduled for January 11.
Now the smaller things. We need drapes. Blinds are very popular here but I really wanted some sheer drapes to cover the large expanse of our living room. It took several stops but we got a name of a seamstress and a place for fabric. We will meet her and take her to our apartment so she can measure. If all goes well, drapes=done.
Black Friday (which means all month) sales were terrific but we only bought a new set of pots and pans. I really hope they have a January White Sale as we need lots of linens and towels.
So, six weeks in and we are actually moving to Medellin. We are happy with everything so far. We will make a short trip to Medellin in early January to get all of our stuff delivered and do some major household shopping. Love this rug.
Then return to Boquete for a few days to get our pets ready. Three dogs, three cats, 3 laps for the cats, (thank you Brandy) 6-50 lb bags, assorted carry-ons. Luis will guide us.
Target date – January 18.