What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?
Name three things that you wish you had brought and three you wish you had left at home.
3 Things to Bring:
*Any imported products and electronics (computer is a must) - prices higher
*Unlocked cellular phone - buy chip here for $3 and no contract required, free incoming calls
*VOIP phone modem such as Vonage - do not count on cheap Magic Jack or Skype (poor quality) to talk free to friends and family in USA
3 Things to Leave:
*health insurance - $34/mon here
*sell house - prices start $100k
*anything for keeping warm or cooler - will not use as perfect climate 365 days / year
What advice would you give someone preparing to move to your area about the actual move, choosing a neighborhood and finding a home?
I would not consider any areas other than Medellin for relocating now. Can find lower costs in the countryside, but can be dangerous. Also would look in the suburbs of Envigado or Sabaneta (south end for a more serene life) as the central city could be dangerous and noisy. Prices in Poblado are much higher - starting above $250-500k and is an urban jungle.
What type of housing do you live in? Is this typical for most expats in your area?
look for US designed/constructed condo - real estate values here are appreciating rapidily (similar to Panama 10-15 years ago) and dollar is falling so NOW is a good time to invest here (do not waste money on rent)
US style housing is NOT common here - typical housing is more european (my 1st apartment) with smaller box rooms and closed in feeling, miss the US kitchen and bath design including appliances in typical housing here (my new condo is US design and is good), much construction here is NOT equal to US standards (no inspection process) and could require much money for repairs
How did you choose your neighborhood and find your home or apartment?
Found Medellin from a friend - climate is perfect 75 days, 65 nights for sleeping(other cities climate can be much colder), good infrastucture equal to USA (drinkable water - no bottled water, low cost hydroelectric, same voltage - no convertor, natural gas in ground) and products / services (from USA, we are very accustomed to finding everything we want) and the people are very friendly / helpful
Find a good English speaking real estate agent (Andrew - Apartments Medellin) because they will generally understand also more of your needs. The local agents tend to help their friends and do not show what you will want (no MLS services here). Look for US designed and constructed housing or you will miss all your conveniences (from experience)
Are your housing costs higher or lower than they were in your home country? What is the average cost of housing there?
costs are MUCH lower as average wages are US$300 / month. With $500 / month, you can live like a king - Utilities $100 (no heating or cooling required), health $50 max with insurance and co-pay, food $250 (buy local grown/made products), other $100 for restaurants ($5 dinner), taxi $5 or bus / metro $0.65 / trip
housing starts at $100k for good quality US style design - do not waste money on rent as real estate is a good investment here