15 Pros and Cons of Living in Medellin Colombia: Things You Should Know
Are you looking for insights into living the digital nomad life in Medellin, Colombia? I’m here to share my firsthand experience and knowledge to help you make the most of this vibrant city as a digital nomad.
As a seasoned digital nomad who has called Medellin home, I’ve navigated its pros and cons and can guide you with practical advice. From the vibrant digital nomad community to the lively nightlife and learning Spanish, this post offers a comprehensive glimpse into the exciting possibilities of Medellin living.
In this post, you’ll learn about the best and worst aspects of living in Medellin, including its welcoming locals, vibrant nightlife, and rich culture. Whether you’re seeking a new home or just passing through, discover how Medellin can enrich your digital nomad journey.
PRO: Affordable Cost of Living in Medellin
For me, Medellin is where affordability meets comfort. Whether you’re considering Laureles or El Poblado for rent, it’s worth noting the difference. In Laureles, you can snag a basic one-bedroom apartment for around $500 to $ 800 USD monthly, while El Poblado tends to be a bit pricier, often exceeding $600 for a starting point. If you don’t mind shared co-living spaces, you can stay for closer to $250 USD.
When it comes to daily expenses, groceries are surprisingly budget-friendly, with a week’s supply from Exito or Carulla costing between $30 and $50. If you’re dining out, you can enjoy a delicious “menu del dia” lunch for a mere $3 to $6, which often includes fresh juice and a dessert. Even a fancy dinner at an upscale restaurant won’t set you back too much, typically ranging from $20 to $40 for a three-course meal.
And let’s not forget about public transport; it’s a breeze to get around on Medellin’s metro for less than $1 per ride. This affordability has given me the freedom to enjoy Medellin’s vibrant culture, delicious cuisine, and comfortable living while staying well within my budget. If you’re cost-conscious, Medellin should be high on your list.
PRO: Beautiful Climate Year-Round in Medellin
Is Medellin’s climate perfect? The answer may well be yes. Known as the “City of Eternal Spring,” Medellin offers an inviting climate with temperatures hovering around 72°F (22°C) throughout the year. It’s a place where you can enjoy a comfortable and moderate climate without the extremes of summer or winter.
For digital nomads, this consistent climate is a dream come true. It allows for outdoor workspaces, rooftop cafes, and coworking spaces, all against the backdrop of scenic beauty. The mild weather encourages a vibrant outdoor lifestyle, whether you want to explore parks, engage in cultural events, or simply take leisurely strolls.
There’s one small catch—the city often experiences short rain showers in the afternoon. But these brief interludes do little to dampen the charm of Medellin. The versatility of this climate means you can pack light as you won’t need a vast wardrobe for different seasons. Medellin’s consistent and delightful weather offers an excellent quality of life. Whether you’re a fan of the sun or prefer milder temperatures, this year-round spring-like climate makes Medellin a wonderful place to call home.
CON: Air Quality Issues
Medellin’s air quality can be a concern, especially during the dry seasons. The city’s location in a valley can lead to the trapping of pollutants, affecting both residents and visitors. Particulate matter from vehicular emissions and industrial activities can be problematic. If you have respiratory issues or are sensitive to air quality, it’s vital to stay informed.
You can monitor air quality through websites and apps that provide real-time updates. These sources offer data on air quality indices and specific pollutants. During poor air quality days, you might wonder about wearing an N95 mask, which can help reduce your exposure to harmful particles.
Being aware of the times when pollution levels tend to be higher, like rush hours, and taking precautions is key. Your knowledge and proactive approach to managing air quality can significantly contribute to a healthier and more comfortable experience in Medellin.
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PRO: Thriving Digital Nomad Community
For digital nomads, more than just a destination, Medellin is a thriving community. The city has transformed into a hub for remote workers and freelancers from around the world, making it a unique place to connect and collaborate.
Medellin offers a diverse range of coworking spaces, each with its distinct character and ambiance. These spaces host networking events, workshops, and meetups, providing opportunities to connect with like-minded individuals and expand your professional network.
But the digital nomad community here goes beyond work. You’ll find Spanish meet-up groups, making it a fantastic place to learn the language, and salsa dancing classes that let you embrace the local culture and music. It’s a dynamic city where you can learn, grow, and build lasting connections.
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What sets Medellin apart is the international flair of its digital nomad community. Here, you’ll connect with people from all corners of the globe, each bringing their unique skills and perspectives. It’s a place where ideas flow freely, and collaborations come naturally.
Medellin’s welcoming spirit, combined with its affordability and breathtaking surroundings, creates a haven for digital nomads who want more than just a workplace; they crave a thriving, supportive community to call home.
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PRO: Cultural Richness and Festivals
Medellin is not just a city; it’s a cultural playground waiting to be explored. Throughout the year, this vibrant metropolis hosts an array of festivals, art exhibitions, and cultural events that cater to every taste and interest.
The Festival of Flowers, a cherished Medellin tradition, celebrates the city’s floral heritage. It’s a colorful extravaganza featuring a magnificent parade of flower floats and vibrant displays that showcase local craftsmanship.
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The International Poetry Festival is a testament to Medellin’s appreciation for the arts. World-renowned poets gather here to recite verses that resonate through the city, evoking emotions and thoughts that transcend borders and languages.
For art enthusiasts, the Museum of Modern Art in Ciudad del Rio is a must-visit. It features a wide range of contemporary artworks that are both thought-provoking and visually stunning.
These are just a few examples of the cultural treasures waiting for you in Medellin. Whether you’re into music, dance, visual arts, or literature, this city ensures that you’re constantly immersed in a world of culture and creativity. It’s a place where you can embrace diversity, broaden your horizons, and engage with the arts on a profound level.
CON: Lack of Beaches
Medellin, nestled in the picturesque Andes Mountains, offers a stunning urban experience. However, it’s worth noting that it’s a landlocked city, which means you won’t find any beaches within the city limits. To reach the nearest coastline, you’ll need to go on a journey of several hours to destinations like Cartagena or Santa Marta, known for their beautiful beaches.
While Medellin is known for its pleasant climate, vibrant culture, and diverse attractions, it doesn’t offer the coastal living experience you might find in beachside destinations. If you’re a beach enthusiast, you might wonder about the additional time, planning, and expense required for beach getaways. This geographical limitation can affect your ability to enjoy the sea and sand regularly, which is an important consideration for those who value beachfront living.
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PRO: Welcoming and Friendly Locals
Medellin is a city that takes pride in its warmth and hospitality. The locals, known as “Paisas,” are renowned for their friendliness and welcoming nature. Whether you’re a digital nomad or an expat, you’ll find that the people of Medellin are eager to make you feel at home.
The Paisas are known for their genuine and sincere approach to making connections. They are quick to strike up conversations and are more than happy to share their culture and traditions. This openness extends to the digital nomad community, where you’ll find both locals and expats ready to connect, collaborate, and make lasting friendships.
Medellin’s warm-hearted residents make it a city where you can not only find professional opportunities but also create a sense of belonging and family. Their positivity and willingness to engage with newcomers make the city all the more inviting and enriching for those who choose to call it home.
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PRO: Scenic Natural Beauty
Medellin is a city that seamlessly combines urban living with breathtaking natural landscapes. Located within a valley surrounded by mountains and valleys, the city is a paradise for nature enthusiasts and hikers.
One of the most iconic natural attractions is the Arvi Park, a sprawling natural reserve just a short cable-car ride away from the city center. Here, you can explore dense forests, go on serene hikes, or even take part in thrilling zip-lining adventures, all while enjoying the incredible views of Medellin below.
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For a more serene experience, head to Botanical Garden of Medellin. This oasis of greenery is home to a vast array of local and exotic plants, making it an ideal spot for leisurely strolls and picnics.
And, of course, you can’t miss the Pueblito Paisa, a miniature replica of a traditional Colombian village, nestled on Cerro Nutibara. The panoramic views of the city from this charming spot are simply breathtaking.
These natural wonders, along with many more, make Medellin a destination where you can explore the great outdoors, escape into nature, and marvel at the scenic beauty that surrounds this dynamic city. It’s a place where you can savor the best of both worlds, experiencing vibrant urban life and pristine natural landscapes.
CON: Safety Concerns in Some Areas
Medellin has made significant strides in improving safety over the years, but it’s essential to be aware of potential concerns in specific neighborhoods. While many parts of the city, such as El Poblado and Laureles, are now considered safe for residents and tourists, some areas, particularly in the outskirts, may still experience higher crime rates.
If you’re considering Medellin as your digital nomad destination, you’ll want to research neighborhoods thoroughly and consult with locals or expats for insights. Avoiding poorly lit streets at night and being cautious about personal belongings are advisable safety measures. While the overall safety situation has improved, your safety can be enhanced by staying informed about these specific areas and taking prudent precautions during your stay.
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PRO: Efficient Public Transportation Network
Navigating a city efficiently is a digital nomad’s dream, and Medellin delivers in this regard. The city’s public transportation network is not only reliable but also remarkably affordable, making it easy to get around without the need for a car.
Medellin’s pride is its metro system, celebrated for its cleanliness and punctuality. For less than $1 USD, you can travel across the city, zipping from one neighborhood to another with ease. The metro system is further complemented by an integrated network of buses, trams, and cable cars, offering you access to various neighborhoods and attractions.
The cable cars, which traverse the city’s rugged terrain, serve a vital role in connecting not only the wealthier areas but also the historically underserved communities, such as the over-populated and low socio-economic Comuna 13. They offer more than just transportation; they’re a symbol of inclusion and social progress.
CON: Language Barrier
Not everyone in Medellin speaks English fluently, which can initially pose a challenge for newcomers not proficient in Spanish. While many people in Medellin do understand some English, especially in the more touristy areas, it’s not always guaranteed, and outside of these zones, you might find it difficult to communicate effectively.
However, this language barrier can also be viewed as a blessing in disguise. Embracing the opportunity to learn Spanish during your time in Medellin can be a rewarding and enriching experience. You might wonder about enrolling in language classes, engaging with language exchange partners, or using language learning apps to enhance your skills. Additionally, there’s an abundance of Spanish meetup groups and events where you can practice your language skills and connect with locals. Overcoming the language barrier not only enhances your day-to-day experience but also opens doors to a deeper connection with the vibrant culture of Medellin and its warm-hearted locals.
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PRO: Vibrant Nightlife
Medellin comes to life when the sun sets. The city boasts a vibrant and energetic nightlife scene that caters to a wide range of tastes and preferences. Whether you’re into dancing, live music, or cozy bars, you’ll find an abundance of options to keep you entertained well into the night.
Parque Lleras in El Poblado is the epicenter of the nightlife scene, known for its lively atmosphere, trendy bars, and dance clubs. This bustling area is perfect for those who love to dance and socialize. You can groove to a variety of music genres, from salsa to electronic beats, and savor an array of cocktails and local spirits.
In Laureles, La Setenta offers a unique nightlife experience with its local vibe and array of bars. It’s a fantastic alternative to the more touristy spots, where you can enjoy a night out in the company of Medellin’s locals.
During our time in Laureles, we became regulars at El Tibiri Salsa Bar, immersing ourselves in the rhythms of this passionate dance. It’s a neighborhood where you can not only enjoy the local nightlife but also become part of the community.
For those who appreciate live music, Medellin offers numerous venues featuring local and international bands and artists, often in an intimate and inviting setting. You can enjoy genres like salsa, jazz, rock, and more.
And if you’re looking for a more laid-back experience, there are cozy bars and lounges throughout the city where you can relax, socialize, and savor some of Colombia’s finest spirits.
Medellin’s nightlife is not just about entertainment; it’s an opportunity to immerse yourself in the city’s rich culture and make unforgettable memories with new friends. Whether you’re dancing the night away in Parque Lleras or discovering the local scene on La Setenta in Laureles, Medellin’s nightlife offers a lively and exhilarating experience that digital nomads and residents alike adore.
CON: Increasing Rent Prices
As the city’s popularity grows among expats and digital nomads, rent prices in Medellin have been steadily on the rise. Finding affordable housing, especially in sought-after areas like El Poblado or Laureles, can be a significant challenge.
You may wonder about the impact of these increasing rent prices on your budget. It’s essential to plan your housing budget carefully, considering both your preferred location and the length of your stay. While affordable options can still be found, competition for them is increasing. Exploring less touristy neighborhoods like Belen, Envigado, or Sabaneta might provide more budget-friendly alternatives. Adapting your housing search strategy and negotiating skills will be valuable in securing suitable and cost-effective accommodation in Medellin.
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PRO: Delicious and Affordable Cuisine
In Medellin, you’ll embark on a delightful culinary journey that’s both affordable and full of flavor. Colombian cuisine is diverse, offering a rich tapestry of dishes that cater to various tastes and preferences.
The “menu del dia” is a local favorite, and it’s a budget-conscious choice for lunch. For just a few dollars, you can savor a full meal that typically includes a soup, a main course, and a beverage. It’s a delicious way to immerse yourself in Colombian flavors without straining your wallet.
Street food is another highlight, with vendors offering delectable snacks like empanadas, arepas, and buñuelos. These tasty treats are not only a quick and affordable option but also a chance to experience the heart of Colombian street culture.
Additionally, Medellin proudly serves up traditional Colombian favorites like bandeja paisa—a hearty platter that includes rice, beans, ground beef, sausage, chicharron, plantains, and avocado. It’s a must-try for anyone looking to savor an authentic Colombian meal.
Medellin is also home to a growing international culinary scene. You can relish cuisines from around the world, from Asian fusion to Italian pasta, all without breaking the bank. It’s a city where you can explore a myriad of flavors and textures without putting a dent in your budget.
Whether you’re a foodie or simply someone who enjoys a good meal, Medellin’s diverse and affordable cuisine ensures that your taste buds are in for a treat, with every dish adding to the city’s charm and allure.
CON: Noisy Environment
In Medellin, the sounds of the city are ever-present. From street vendors announcing their wares to the hum of traffic and the occasional exuberant celebrations, some areas can be quite noisy.
You might wonder about how this noise could impact your daily life. If you value a quieter living environment, it’s essential to choose your neighborhood wisely. Areas like El Poblado may offer a more bustling atmosphere, while quieter residential neighborhoods like Laureles or Envigado provide a more serene experience. Being mindful of your noise tolerance and selecting the right location can significantly influence your comfort and enjoyment during your stay in Medellin.
Finishing Thoughts: Is Medellin a good place to live?
If you’re seeking an exciting and vibrant city to embrace the digital nomad lifestyle, Medellin is a compelling choice. Here’s why:
- Discover a welcoming community of locals and expats.
- Immerse yourself in a dynamic nightlife scene, from salsa bars to live music venues.
- Embrace the opportunity to learn Spanish and connect with the culture.
- Enjoy a city with a pleasant climate and affordable cost of living.
- Navigate the cons, such as air quality and safety concerns, with valuable insights.
While Medellin has its pros and cons, it offers a unique experience for digital nomads. And if you’re comparing it to other potential destinations, you’ll find that Medellin’s rich culture and warm-hearted locals make it a rewarding place to call home during your digital nomad journey.