In most cases, utilities are already installed in the residences, except in the case of newly developed buildings. You may also need to set up new accounts, if you want to buy property. You will be asked for a valid Colombian ID, the ownership documentation and a bank account.
However, for rental agreements you will not need to set up accounts, as these will be under the name of the landlord. It is not common for tenants to have utility bills in their own name.
The utilities will usually be included in your rental agreement, either as part of the rent or as a fixed sum in addition to it. In this case, the it is the landlord's responsibility to pay the bills within the due dates, and may not charge you any overdue amounts.
If utilities are not included, you will probably need to pay the bills yourself, even if they arrive in the name of your landlord. Make sure the rental agreement clearly outlines who has to pay the utilities.
Utilities can be paid at the provider headquarters, at designated banks or at payment spots located in supermarkets or commercial centers. Online payments are not very frequent, but most companies now offer this possibility as well.
In addition to the utilities of each household, if you live in a condominium you will also need to contribute towards the the utilities and services in the common areas. This is usually included in the rent, but if you own property it is an additional expenditure that may be even higher than the separate utility bills.
Residences in Colombia are divided into six strata (estratos), from estrato 1 (basic residences in lower class areas) to estrato 6 (luxurious properties in upper class parts of the city). The estratos correspond to the socio-economic level of the neighborhood as well as to characteristics inherent to the property.
The cost of the utilities varies according to the stratum, with the higher strata paying more per unit, in order to subsidize the provision of basic services for all.
Most people use gas for cooking, and the gas connection is included in the majority of apartments and houses. Each residence has an individual gas meter, which can be either inside the property or in the common areas if it is located in a condominium.
The gas provider in Bogota is Gas Natural Fenosa.
Gas is generally included in the rent. If it is not, gas invoices will arrive monthly and consist of a fixed sum and a variable amount corresponding to the usage. Rates vary depending on the estrato.
The voltage in Colombia is 110V, and the frequency 60Hz. Electrical sockets are type A or B, as in most country of North and Central America, China and Japan. Otherwise, if you come from a country with a different plug type, you will need an adapter.
Electricity consumption is measured with electricity meters, that are placed on the outside walls of the houses or in the common areas of condominiums. Meters are individual for each residence.
Codensa is currently the only electricity provider for households in Bogota.
The electricity bill arrives monthly, for the actual consumption of the past month, computed on the basis of data communicated by the electricity meters. Rates per unit vary according to the stratum, and are higher for usage higher than 100 KW.
Water services are provided together with sewage and are included in the same invoice. Water in Bogotá is drinkable in all parts of the city.
The provider of water services is Aqueducto de Bogotá.
The receipt arrives every two months and consists of a fixes amount for sewage, and the water usage measured by individual meters in every household. As with the other utilities, rates vary according to the stratum.
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