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Medellin, Colombia

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Enjoyable Living, Exciting Culture in Medellin, Colombia

Medellin makes a good impression immediately and on many levels. Architecturally, this city is lovely. Built almost entirely of red brick, with almost every structure topped by a red clay tile roof, the place is pleasing in its consistency, especially when viewed from some height.

The city of Medellin is an enjoyable place to be and draws visitors from around the world. From the hole-in-the-wall shop selling homemade empanadas to elegant restaurants with fine French cuisine, your dining experience will be varied and limitless. You can also spend an evening at the orchestra or one of 28 theaters, explore the city’s 40 museums, visit its many galleries, or relax in one of 21 parks. And what’s more, the nightlife sizzles in Medellin.

Medellin is physically beautiful. The area has lush hills, with tree-lined streets, green parks, and meandering roads. Throughout the area, small streams tumble down from the mountains, their borders lined with dense areas of lush, tropical vegetation. The city is impressively green, with trees, plants, and small gardens everywhere, and remarkably clean. In the central neighborhoods, you see no litter. The metro, a point of pride for the local population, is spotless and like new. At every station and in every train we boarded, I looked for but was unable to find even a cigarette butt or piece of gum on the ground.

The Cost Of Living In Medellín, Colombia

Medellin is about the best value you’ll find anywhere in the Americas. For the weather, First World ambiance, culture, and amenities we enjoy here, the cost of living is moderately low. You can live here for just over 3.5 million Colombian pesos per month. Day-to-day costs in Medellin are on slightly less than those in Panama City, which is to say they’re not ultra-bargain basement. A bottle of water in a corner shop, restaurant meals, taxis, and movie tickets all cost just slightly less what they’d cost in the Panamanian capital. The difference, of course, is that the cost of everything fluctuates in U.S. dollar terms every day. The dollar has really strong against the peso lately, so purchasing power is going up for those using US dollars.

One notable cost savings living in Medellin would have to do with utility expenses. Thanks to the climate, you could live here with neither heating nor air conditioning, meaning your utility costs could be almost negligible. This could reduce your overall monthly budget by as much as US$200 or more.

In Medellin, you’ll enjoy a reasonable cost of living, high-value, fairly priced properties, and the chance to earn a non-dollar income with a rental property. The real cost advantage of Medellin has to do with real estate.

El Poblado, in the heart of the city, is the top end of the market, for both renting and buying. Here you’re looking at US$1,000 to US$1,500 per square meter to purchase resale (sometimes furnished); US$1,500 to US$2,000 per square meter to buy new; and US$1,000 (for a one-bedroom) to maybe US$3,000 (for a luxury-level penthouse) per month to rent, furnished.

Again, that’s the top of the market. In less recognized, more local neighborhoods, those prices can fall in half and more. Right now you can rent, for example, a one-bedroom apartment in the Laureles neighborhood (a neighborhood Lief and I explored and found to be safe, pleasant, and up-and-coming…a very good budget choice compared with more central and more discovered El Poblado) for as little as 850,000 pesos a month, maybe less. At the current exchange rate, that’s about US$227.33.

Apartment Or House Ownership Budget (For A Couple)

Edit
Expense Monthly Costs Notes
Mortgage
HOA Fees COP$350,000 Variable depending on the building.
Property Taxes COP$235,000 Annual charge.
Transportation COP$425,000 Single ride on the subway: COP$2,550 per person. Average taxi fare: COP$30,000.
Utilities (Gas, Water, Electricity) COP$225,000 Bundled together. There’s no need for air conditioning in Spring City. Price depends on estrato.
Cell Phone COP$100,000 30-day package with data from Claro.
Internet COP$150,000 200 Megas with Claro.
Cable TV COP$74,000 TV Digital Plus plan from Claro.
Household Help COP$200,000 COP$50,000 per week for cleaning.
Entertainment COP$2,000,000 Monthly cost for eating out twice a week: COP$440,000 (COP$15,000 per COP$40,000 per meal).
Monthly cost for drinks twice a week: COP$272,000 (COP$5,000 to COP$8,000 for a beer; COP$25,000 to COP$30,000 for a cocktail).
Movie theater trip twice a month: COP$40,000 (COP$10,000 per ticket).
Groceries COP$1,750,000 Shopping mostly at Éxito.
Gym Membership COP$225,000 One-month membership for two in a local gym. Deals available for longer-term contracts.
Medical Appointment COP$72,500 A basic doctor or dentist visit paying out of pocket.
TOTAL COP$5,806,500

Apartment Or House Rental Budget (For A Couple)

 
Expense Monthly Costs Notes
Rent COP$3,000,000 For a furnished one-bedroom apartment in Poblado or Laureles.
Transportation COP$425,000 Single ride on the subway: COP$2,550 per person. Average taxi fare: COP$30,000.
Utilities (Gas, Water, Electricity) COP$225,000 Bundled together. There’s no need for air conditioning in Spring City. Price depends on estrato.
Cell Phone COP$100,000 30-day package with data from Claro.
Internet COP$150,000 200 Megas with Claro.
Cable TV COP$74,000 TV Digital Plus plan from Claro.
Household Help COP$200,000 COP$50,000 per week for cleaning.
Entertainment COP$2,000,000 Monthly cost for eating out twice a week: COP$440,000 (COP$15,000 per COP$40,000 per meal).
Monthly cost for drinks twice a week: COP$272,000 (COP$5,000 to COP$8,000 for a beer; COP$25,000 to COP$30,000 for a cocktail).
Movie theater trip twice a month: COP$40,000 (COP$10,000 per ticket).
Groceries COP$1,750,000 Shopping mostly at Éxito.
Gym Membership COP$225,000 One-month membership for two in a local gym. Deals available for longer-term contracts.
Medical Appointment COP$72,500 A basic doctor or dentist visit paying out of pocket.
TOTAL COP$8,221,500

Penny-Pincher’s Budget (Bare Minimum Costs, For A Couple)

 
Expense Monthly Costs Notes
Rent COP$1,250,000 Basic one-bedroom in a local area outside Poblado and central Laureles.
Transportation COP$125,000 Frequent use of free bikes and bus and subway rides, few taxis.
Utilities (Gas, Water, Electricity) COP$125,000 Lower bills if located in estratos 3 to 4.
Cell Phone COP$30,000 3Cheapest monthly plan from Claro.
Internet COP$75,000 Cheapest monthly plan from Claro.
Cable TV
Entertainment COP$265,000 Monthly cost for eating out twice a week (street food and “menus of the day”): COP$160,000 (COP$8,000 to COP$12,000 per meal.).
Monthly cost for drinks twice a week: COP$105,000 (COP$5,000 to COP$8,000 for local beers).
Groceries COP$500,000 Shopping at local markets and avoiding imported goods.
TOTAL COP$2,370,000

Average Costs For Everyday Items in COP:

  • Beer: 4,000 – 15,000
  • Glass of wine: 8,000 – 15,000
  • Cocktail: 10,000 – 30,000
  • Black coffee: 3,000 – 9,000
  • Sandwich: 5,000 – 25,000
  • Lunch: 8,000 – 30,000
  • Dinner: 10,000 – ???
  • Car insurance: 244,133/month
  • Gasoline: 110,000/month
  • Maintenance: varies
  • Parking: minimal on the street (1,000 – 6,000/event)
  • Medical appt.: 195,000 without insurance

Click here for currency conversion at today’s exchange rate.

Infrastructure In Medellin

It’s a First World environment. Medellin boasts well-maintained roads and drinkable water along with dependable phone service, electricity, and high-speed Internet. You’ll find shopping galore, from mom-and-pop stores to upscale boutiques to a number of large, modern shopping malls. The banks and financial services are solid and dependable.

Climate In Medellin

The weather is perfect. Perched at an elevation of 5,000 feet (1,500 meters), it enjoys beautiful weather all year, with warm, balmy days and cool, pleasant nights. The average daytime high is 79 degrees Fahrenheit and the low is 63, with only one degree of seasonal variation. I like to say that Medellin is “room temperature” every day, all year.

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