Moving to Bogota
Replies: 5 - Last Post: Oct 8, 2012 11:01 AM Last Post By: SteelQuill
Aug 22, 2012 10:12 AM
Moving to BogotaHi everyone,
I am newly signed up on this forum and looking forward to having a good look around to discover what great knowledge and wisdom people here have to share. And try and share some of my own...
I am moving to Bogota next month and would love some help with a few mundane basics.
I am well traveled, especially in South America, but this is the first time of 'living' in a county other than UK.
I would love some help with:
-The best bank account to setup in Bogota? Are there international banks such as HSBC or Santander?
-The cheapest/ safest way to transfer savings from UK to Pesos?
-Is it better to use British bank card that has no withdrawal fees, or is it better to transfer all savings into Colombian bank?
-The best mobile phone contract (is there 3G??)
-The best place to look for English speaking work whilst my Spanish improves?
-Generally speaking, what is cheap and what is expensive, for everyday purchases?
-Anything else you think will be useful...???
Many thanks in advance for you help!
Aug 23, 2012 5:39 AM
1Hey, you might be aware that in order to open a bank account (amongst other things) you require a Cédula. Since DAS was shut down last year there have been problems in getting official Cédulas issued, perhaps someone can chime in with some up to date info on that..
Given that it may take a while to get that sorted, using your cashcard is probably the best bet. What UK card has no withdrawal fees (outside of Europe) by the way?
For the mobile phone, people tend to recommend Tigo because it's the cheapest, but personally I found them unreliable, often I would be charged for messages that the recipient never received and vice versa, and the signal dropped out in places but people on Comcel remained connected. There is a new provider called Uff but I haven't heard any consumer feedback thus far.
Local produce is cheap, anything imported is generally expensive, although I'm not sure if the free trade agreement with the USA has affected prices.
Aug 23, 2012 9:45 AM
2As Rhythmbug points out you won't get a bank account without a cédula, you won't get a cédula without a visa, you won't get a visa without a proper job.
All Colombian banks are b**tards. BBVA will invariably tell you that you can have a bank account with just a passport, but they are just telling you that for shits n giggles to waste a couple of weeks of your time. There is no legal reason why a bank cannot open an account with just a passport, most of them have passport as a valid ID record on their forms, they just won't do it for you. Once you have a cédula then Santander is a very easy bank to open an account with. They are horrible people though
Bearing that in mind, the best thing to do is to open a UK Citibank account before you leave. UK Citi accounts have zero forex and withdrawal fees from any of their ATMs worldwide, and there are plenty of Citi ATMs in Colombia. Do that, put your cash there and use it as a regular bank account.
Travelling around I find that Comcel (Now Claro) has the best coverage, even in really remote places like the Tatacoa Desert. If you are in Bogotá then go for Tigo, nobody uses it so the 3G internet is lightning quick, as fast on my iPhone as my home broadband. The really great thing about Tigo in Bogotá is that none of your new friends will have it so nobody will call you because they cannot afford the cross network minutes. Hmmmm peace and quiet.
Overall, Colombia is way ahead of the UK for mobile internet. Last time I was in the UK on O2's 3G network it was a sack of pants and didnt have any coverage outside of London and the M1. Colombia is on 4G LTE already by the way.
Apart from getting a job as an English teacher I don't know where you would work. Without functional Spanish you are not going to land yourself a top job like ambulant mango seller or minister for overseas development.
Cheese is expensive, marmite is only available on the black market from brothel doormen, houses are cheap though
Aug 27, 2012 2:45 PM
Sep 12, 2012 5:34 AM
Oct 8, 2012 11:01 AM
5Thank you guys for your comments. I find them useful. Some articles on the Net seem to rate Banco de Bogota and Bancolombia highly. Banco de Bogota seems to have a growing reputation for their involvement in MicroCredit.
I am moving to Bogota as well in about 7 weeks' time. I know there is a HSBC branch there (my wife has an account there which we manage from the Persian Gulf as non residents) As a Bank HSBC has a reputation for being very conservative. I must confess we have had several issues with the bank in trying to manage the Account over the Internet and from abroad.
I have visited Citibank during my previous visits to Colombia and found them courteous and helpful. There however is a very snobbish air about Citibank staff. They seem to think they are superior human beings (my impressions!).
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