The Expat Approach to Buying a Laptop

Laptop + apartment = my new office
Laptop + apartment = my new office

Between internet and transportation costs, universities and computer shops closing Sundays and for frequent holidays, and simply wanting some privacy and a quiet environment conducive to writing, I made the decision to invest in a laptop.

Just about everyone who hosted me on my trip used a laptop, which meant my dusty old desktop in storage at home was going to be a thing of the past one way or another.

I checked the price of a Compaq laptop I’d been blogging on regularly for several weeks at Carrefour and Exito.  It cost about $600.  I thought that seemed reasonable, which was a sign of how behind the times I am with regard to the cost of laptops.

When I checked the Best Buy website to get a sense of the cost differential between prices here and in the USA, I was surprised to find the same laptop listed at $380!

A 30% difference meant there was no way I was going to buy a laptop in Colombia if I could help it, especially since I am looking at it as an investment for the next several years, not just a way to get my hands on some cheap electronics.

Enter Henry, who mentioned an American friend, Allen, who was going to be moving to Medellin in a few weeks to teach English.

Allen had previously talked about buying some computers in the US and bringing them to Colombia to sell for a profit.  From the cafeteria in Exito, Henry called Allen and I introduced myself and broached the idea of him buying a laptop on my behalf.  He was open to the idea, and the ball was rolling.

Next, I had to decide on a model.  I was really drawn to the HP entertainment notebooks at the stores here, but with the top end model going for $1,200, it seemed WAY out of my range.

But then I turned back to Best Buy and found a similar, if not slightly better model, for only $700!  I sent Allen the model information, and a day or two before he left Florida, he bought me the computer.

Rewind one week, and there I am at the Estadio metro station, meeting up with Allen for some fresh fruit and coffee.

We take a taxi back to the apartment he just leased, and he presents me with (in a Gollum-esque voice) *my precious HP Pavilion dv5-1235dx entertainment notebook.*

We get to know each other better, I test out the laptop, sign a handwritten contract agreeing to pay him the total cost (plus $50 for the help), and grab a taxi back to Envigado.

Between being sick with a cold (no, not the swine flu!) last weekend, and having a new toy, I holed myself up in the apartment and got acquainted with what it felt like to have a solid, personal, home computer at my disposal again.

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  1. Maira had already been in the apartment a year when I arrived, so it was hooked up for internet, though I’ve been using wifi from the neighbors due to issues with our router/connection.  🙂

  2. Cell phones will certainly change the United States if they’re available to everyone financially. Visualize each and every man and female, possessing a individual cellular phone; By the Way, I like this web site. I recently uncovered it on Live search. I may come back again and write some more.

  3. Hi and nice informative post.
    I currently run a blog”Diary of a British Expatriate in Finland”,I travel a fair bit around Europe and seriously consider purchasing a laptop or the new Nokia N900 which allows a person to post to your blog.
    Will let you know how it goes,
    By the way what is the RAM on your laptop?and hard disc space?

    • I have no idea of the RAM on my laptop, but I think it has 350gb of memory. It’s lasted me the last year just fine. I may make my next laptop an Apple though. So many people I know seem to be making the switch.

  4. Thanks for the response.I made the fatal mistake of moving to a 64bit windows 7,however Adobe has still not come forward with a 64bit flashplayer