The Best Medellín Neighborhoods (2016 Update)

Medellin Colombia

An article about the best Medellín neighborhoods written back in 2013 is one of the most popular articles on this website. Unfortunately the information in that post is out-of-date and it has several inaccuracies. So I have written this 2016 update to the popular Medellín neighborhoods article.

I have lived in Medellín for over six years. During this time I have lived in six different barrios in the Medellín metro area. I have also previously written extensively about renting in many different Medellín neighborhoods .

In this post I will tell you my five favorite districts in the Medellín metropolitan area. By districts, I mean comunas and suburbs (suburbs are separate municipalities in the metro).  There are 22 districts in the Medellín metro.  If your looking for the best things to do in each neighborhood in Medellin from another expat at this link: http://wanderingtrader.com/colombia/medellin/best-things-to-do-see-in-medellin-tourist-attractions/

Understanding Estratos

When looking at Medellín neighborhoods it is important to understand the estrato system. Residential properties in Colombia are ranked on a 1-6 socioeconomic scale (with 6 being the highest).  These are known as estratos or strata.

Understanding estratos is very important, as this is a factor for housing costs and also for utilities costs. Households in lower estrato neighborhoods pay a lower rate for gas, electric, water and triple play TV/Internet/phone services.

Estrato 6 is considered a wealthy area for Colombians and estrato 5 is an upper middle class area. While estratos 3 and 4 are considered Colombian middle class areas.  And estratos 1 and 2 are generally poor areas.

Residents in estatos 5 and 6 pay more for utilities to help subsidize lower utility rates in estratos 1 and 2.

Note that Colombian middle class is not the same as middle class in the U.S.  Middle class in Colombia may be a Colombian household earning only $1,000 USD per month or even less.  Many households in Colombia also have multiple people earning a living to make ends meet due to typically low pay.

In the Medellín metro area only 3.4% of homes are ranked as estrato 6 and 7.2% of homes are ranked as estrato 5. A total of 43.8% of homes in Medellín are classified as estratos 3 or 4.  And 45.5% are classified as estratos 1 or 2. The vast majority of the homes in Medellín (76.4% of homes) are in estratos 2-4.

Apartment buildings in El Poblado near Santafé mall

Apartment buildings in El Poblado near Santafé mall

1. El Poblado

El Poblado is the most popular of the Medellín neighborhoods for foreigners.  It is a comfortable place to live with all the shopping malls, nightlife and restaurants nearby.

The majority of the hotels and rental apartments in Medellín are also located in El Poblado.  So this is where most expat visitors to the city stay.

A majority of the housing found in El Poblado is found in high-rise apartments. Some of these high-rises can have spectacular views of the city. The comuna also has some streets lined with one-story, two-story and three-story attached homes located in certain neighborhoods like Provenza and Manila.

El Poblado is a wealthy neighborhood that offers a Western lifestyle, which is why it is expected to remain popular with foreigners.

El Poblado is known as Comuna 14 and it has 22 barrios (neighborhoods). 93 percent of the homes in El Poblado are classified as estrato 5 or 6.

But El Poblado is primarily an estrato 6 area with 74 percent of the home in El Poblado ranked as estrato 6.  Consequently El Pobaldo has some of the most expensive real estate in the city.

Also 95 percent of all the estrato 6 homes located in Medellín are located in El Poblado. The average estrato of all homes in El Pobaldo is 5.6.

The first furnished apartment I rented in Medellín as a trial of living in the city was located in El Poblado.

Best shopping: Santafé, Oviedo and El Tesoro

Best barrios: El Poblado, Astorga and Alejandria.  Also Provenza, which is a neighborhood that isn’t an official barrio but is popular for it’s walk-ability, restaurants and cafes

Best restaurants: Carmen, Restaurante Barcal, La Provincia, Oci.Mde, Toscano

To rent: a comfortable two-bedroom unfurnished apartment, you would pay: 1.3 million to 3.0 million pesos ($439 – $1,112) per month with an average rental of this size costing 2.15 million pesos ($726).

Unfurnished rentals in El Poblado typically take about 11 months for owners to rent due to high prices and a big inventory.

To buy: El Poblado has over 40 new apartment projects listed in the free Informe Inmobiliario property magazine.  You can find this magazine distributed in many places like Exito stores. New apartments in El Poblado generally cost from 4.3 million to over 5.3 million pesos ($1,451 to $1,788) per square meter.

Existing apartments in El Poblado tend to sell for between 2.5 million to 4.5 million pesos per square meter.  They average around 3.2 million pesos ($1,080) per square meter based on a survey of 50 properties sized from 70-100 square meters.

In general El Poblado is the most expensive area in Medellín for both buying property and renting unfurnished apartments.

Apartment buildings in Envigado near City Plaza mall

Apartment buildings in Envigado near City Plaza mall

2. Envigado

Directly south of El Poblado is Envigado, which is a separately administered municipality within the Medellín metro area. With its proximity to El Poblado, Envigado is probably the second most popular area of the Medellín metropolitan area for foreigners to live after El Poblado.

Envigado is primarily a residential community – you won’t find many hotels in Envigado like are found throughout El Poblado. Envigado is larger than El Poblado with a population of over 200,000 – compared to a population of less than 130,000 in El Poblado.

Throughout most of Envigado you will quiet streets lined with one-story, two-story and three-story attached homes that are more difficult to find in El Poblado. Envigado also has put in place some height restrictions, which makes it difficult for many of these low-rise buildings from being replaced with high-rises.

In Envigado, you will also find some neighborhoods similar to El Poblado with high-rise apartment buildings.

Envigado has over 40 barrios (neighborhoods). 76.8 percent of the homes in Envigado are classified as estrato 3, 4 or 5. Less than 3 percent of homes in Envigado are classified as estrato 6.  And 20.8 percent of homes are classified as estrato 1 or 2.   The average estrato of all homes in Envigado is 3.4.

Best shopping: City Plaza (which is the only Western-style mall in Envigado).  But a new larger mall is being built next to the Envigado Exito

Best barrios: Bosques de Zuñiga, Jardines, Zuñiga

Best restaurants: Carbone E Pasta, Chiclayo, Contenedores Food Place, Lucio Carbon y Vino

To rent: a comfortable two-bedroom unfurnished apartment, you would pay: 800,000 to 3.3 million pesos ($270 – $1,114) per month with an average rental of this size costing 1.57 million pesos ($530). Envigado unfurnished apartment rentals are 14.7 percent cheaper on average than in El Poblado for similar size apartments.

To buy: Envigado has less than 20 new apartment projects listed in the Informe Inmobiliario property magazine. New apartments in Envigado generally cost from 3 million to over 4.6 million pesos ($1,012 to $1,552) per square meter.

Existing apartments in Envigado tend to sell for between 2.0 million to 4.2 million pesos per square meter.  They average around 2.8 million pesos ($945) per square meter based on a survey of 50 properties sized from 70-100 square meters. In general properties in Envigado tend to be about 10% cheaper than in El Poblado.

Apartment buildings in Laureles

Apartment buildings in Laureles

3. Laureles-Estadio

Laureles-Estadio is primarily a residential community – you won’t find that many hotels in the area like are found throughout El Poblado. Laureles-Estadio is a bit smaller than El Poblado with a population of about 121,000. The comuna of Laureles-Estadio is located north of Belén and west of the Medellín River

Throughout most of Laureles-Estadio you will quiet tree-lined streets lined with one-story, two-story and three-story attached homes that are more difficult to find in El Poblado. The comuna also has a few areas with high-rise apartment buildings.

Laureles-Estadio has long been considered an upper-middle class neighborhood of Medellín.

Laureles-Estadio is home of Estadio Atanasio Giradot, which is where Atlético Nacional and Independiente Medellin play fútbol matches. Near the stadium is a large sports complex that has an Olympic size pool; velodrome; basketball, volleyball and tennis courts and many other arenas.

Laureles-Estadio also has two popular nightlife areas – the La 70 (Setenta) entertainment district that is lined with bars and restaurants and Calle 33, which has a bit more laid-back bars.

Laureles-Estadio is known as Comuna 11 and it has 15 barrios (neighborhoods). 99% of the homes in this comuna are classified as estrato 4 or 5 and only 1% of homes are classified as estrato 2 or 3. It has no homes classified as estrato 1 or estrato 6. The average estrato of all homes in Laureles-Estadio is 4.6.

The first unfurnished apartment I rented in Medellín six years ago was located in Estadio and I enjoyed living there.

A recent article in El Colombiano newspaper indicated that Laureles-Estadio was the most popular apartment rental area in Medellín. It represented about 32 percent of all space leased in the first half of the year.

Best shopping: Unicentro

Best neighborhoods: Laureles, Suramericana, UPB

Best restaurants: Il Massimo, Kusi, La Pampa, Opera Pizza, Sushi House

To rent: a comfortable two-bedroom unfurnished apartment, you would pay: 700,000 to 2.0 million pesos ($236 – $675) per month with an average rental of this size costing 1.2 million pesos ($405). Laureles-Estadio unfurnished apartment rentals are 24.1 percent cheaper on average than in El Poblado for similar-sized apartments.

To buy: Laureles-Estadio only has eight new apartment projects listed in the Informe Inmobiliario property magazine due to the cumuna being essentially fully built-out and not having space to build. New apartments in Laureles-Estadio (when they can be found) generally cost from 3.0 million to over 4.4 million pesos ($1012 to $1,485) per square meter.

Existing apartments in Laureles-Estadio tend to sell for between 1.7 million to 3.3 million pesos per square meter.  They average around 2.4 million pesos ($810) per square meter based on a survey of 50 properties sized from 70-100 square meters.

View from my previous apartment in Belén

View from my previous apartment in Belén

4. Belén

Belén is similar to Laureles/Estadio, it’s a middle-class area except that it has more of a blue-collar feel. At one time, it was a little dangerous, and there are a few parts that still are, but for the most part it’s just a place with families trying to carve out a life in the city.

Belén is located directly south of Laureles, its northern neighbor across Calle 33, so you’ll have an easy time crossing over. Belén is much larger than El Poblado with a population of over 200,000.

Similar to Laureles/Estadio, in Belén you will find many quiet tree-lined streets lined with one-story, two-story and three-story attached homes that are more difficult to find in El Poblado. Belén also has a few areas with high-rise apartment buildings, especially in Loma de los Bernal.

You won’t be bored here either, not with a big park in the comuna as well as one of Medellín’s most underrated attractions — Pueblito Paisa, the mini replica of an old Antioquian town that sits atop the Cerro Nutibara.

Belén is known as Comuna 16 and it has 22 barrios (neighborhoods). 81 percent of the homes in this comuna are classified as estrato 3, 4 or 5. Belén has no homes classified as estrato 6. The average estrato of all homes in Belén is 3.5.

I lived for four years in Belén and enjoyed it. A recent article in El Colombiano newspaper indicated that Belén was the second most popular apartment rental area in Medellín.  It represented about 20 perecent of the total space leased in the first half of the year.

Best shopping: Los Molinos

Best neighborhoods: Fátima, Loma de los Bernal, Los Alpes

Best restaurants: El Rancherito, Crepes and Waffles, Il Forno, Parmessano

To rent: a comfortable two-bedroom unfurnished apartment, you would pay: 840,000 to 1.55 million pesos ($283 – $523) per month with an average rental of this size costing 1.14 million pesos ($385). Belén apartment rentals are 27.1 percent cheaper on average than in El Poblado for similar size apartments.

To buy: Belén has only 11 new apartment projects listed in the Informe Inmobiliario property magazine due to the area being nearly fully built-out and not having much space to build.

Most of the new projects in Belén are in Loma de los Bernal, which is a barrio that has been booming with many new apartments built over the past few years.

New apartments in Belén generally cost from 2.9 million to over 4.4 million pesos ($979 to $1,485) per square meter.

Existing apartments in Belén tend to sell for between 1.6 million to 3.2 million pesos per square meter.  They average roughly around 2.2 million pesos ($742) per square meter based on a survey of 50 properties.

Parque Sabaneta

Parque Sabaneta

5. Sabaneta

Sabaneta is a separately administered municipality within the Medellín metro area.  It is located directly south of Envigado. Sabaneta is much smaller than El Poblado with a population of about  55,000

However, Sabaneta in recent years has been growing much faster than El Poblado. Sabaneta has a total area of about 5.8 square miles, which makes it the smallest municipality in Colombia.  Due to its small size Sabaneta is a very walk-able municipality.

Sabaneta is primarily a residential community. In Sabaneta, you will find several neighborhoods similar to El Poblado with high-rise apartment buildings but they tend to be a bit more spread out. Also in Sabaneta you can find some quiet streets lined with one-story, two-story and three-story attached homes.

Much of the daily life in Sabaneta is centered around Parque Sabaneta, which is a nice one square block-sized plaza with a church on one side that is filled with trees and surrounded by shops, stalls, restaurants and bars.

Sabaneta has 31 barrios (neighborhoods). 67.2 percent of the homes in Sabaneta are classified as estrato 3 or 4. Less than one percent of homes in Sabaneta are classified as estrato 5 or 6.  But with a boom of apartment construction currently going on in Sabaneta neighborhood ratings can change fairly quickly. The average estrato of all homes in Sabaneta is 2.8.

I currently live in Sabaneta, where I have lived for a year and a half. Out of the neighborhoods I have lived in Medellín I have liked living in Sabaneta the best.  I now plan to live in Sabaneta for the foreseeable future.

In 2015, Sabaneta was reportedly even ranked the best neighborhood to live in the Medellín metro area.

Best shopping: Mayorca

Best barrios: Lagos de la Doctora, Vegas de la Doctura, Vegas de San Jose as well as the areas within walking distance to Aves Maria mall and Parque Sabaneta

Best restaurants: El Sombrero, El Viejo John, La Doctora, Pizza en Leña, Restaurante Mama Santa

To rent: a comfortable two-bedroom unfurnished apartment, you would pay: 700,000 to 1.7 million pesos ($236 – $574) per month with an average rental of this size costing 1.1 million pesos ($371). Sabaneta unfurnished apartment rentals are 28.3 percent cheaper on average than in El Poblado for similar size apartments.

To buy: Sabaneta is booming with over 50 new apartment projects listed in the Informe Inmobiliario property magazine. New apartments in Sabaneta generally cost from 2.8 million to over 4.4 million pesos ($945 to $1,485) per square meter.

Existing apartments in Sabaneta tend to sell for between 1.7 million to 3.4 million pesos per square meter.  They average roughly around 2.4 million pesos ($810) per square meter based on a survey of 50 properties.

Apartment buildings in Sabaneta

Apartment buildings in Sabaneta

The Bottom Line – The Best Medellín Neighborhoods

El Poblado remains the most popular neighborhood for foreigners out of all of the Medellín neighborhoods. El Poblado is expected to remain the most popular neighborhood for foreigners for the foreseeable future.

However keep in mind that the wealthy El Poblado comuna represents only about 4.3 percent of the housing in the Medellín metro area.  El Poblado also remains the most expensive area to live in the city.

Many expats have discovered other Medellín neighborhoods besides El Poblado. I have lived in several neighborhoods other than El Poblado in over six years living in the city.

Is Medellin safe you might ask? I have never encountered a security problem anywhere I have lived in the city (knock on wood).  But I am also safety conscious and take care not to flash cellphones/cameras/money plus I take taxis at night.  I also don’t go to certain parts of the city after dark.  I even installed security doors in two apartments. 

Other neighborhoods in the city like Envigado, Laureles-Estadio, Belén and Sabaneta can offer quality lifestyles for a substantially lower cost than in El Poblado.

I have also met a few expats that live in other even less expensive neighborhoods in Medellín.  This includes Bello, La Candelaria and La Estrella where apartment rentals can be 30 percent to over 40 percent less expensive than in El Poblado.

The bottom line is to each his own and Medellín offers many different neighborhoods with a wide range of amenities and costs-of-living.

What are your favorite neighborhoods in Medellín?

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About Jeff

Jeff first discovered Colombia back in 2006 and has traveled to all the major cities in Colombia. He is fortunate to have a job in the U.S. with location flexibility, which has allowed him to spend over six years living in Medellín. He is also studying Spanish to become fluent.

Comments

  1. Very nice article, like always.

    We live in Laureles / Simon Bolivar (Santa Teresita on GMaps) since 5 months, around the Calle 35 and the Carrera 80. 5 minutes in car to go to Los Molinos or Viva Laureles, 5 minutes to the center of Laureles and the nice new area of restaurants and 20 meters to the UNAC and we have a lot of public parks nearby. It’s really a nice place to live. Calm, clean, peaceful and safe, it’s an estrato 5 but middle class and cheaper, more more cheaper than the Poblado (we paid 1.5M for 140m2 duplex on the 4th and top floor of the building). The thing I don’t like in the Poblado or Envigado, you can’t live without a car. Whatever you want to do, you need a car to do it. Here, I can go in Exito on foot (I don’t because I’m lazy, that’s all :D), buy the stuff I forgot in the supermarket in the bodegas down there, walk peacefully with the dogs because there is almost no traffic in the streets and the sidewalks are really large and flat, I don’t even use the leash here, they’re educated with the cars so, no danger at all for them. I don’t have kids, but there is a lot of kids in the streets, playing and bicycling. The people even park theirs cars directly in the streets, go outside with the barbecue and the TV for watching football together. It’s not perfect but it’s really nice, I recommend this area for everyone, seriously.

    • I walked past Santa Teresita one Sunday while Mass was going on. It was a nice feeling to see entire families together and peaceful. Sunday services are held inside shopping centers around town too. The States is much more secular and many Yanks would view such a thing as politically incorrect. The US is exponentially more pluralistic. After high school I had many new friends and I never knew what religion they had grown up in. We never spoke about it and not because we were being careful. Colombia is pretty much solidly Catholic and one can see that it provides an element of cohesion to the society. Nobody bats an eyelash at using common area public spaces for Mass. Very interesting.

    • I am having a difficult time locating an apt or condo for lease in Laureles or Belen. I prefer furnished. How do i go about location what is available? I live in Florida. There is no mls in Medellin

      • Furnished apartments have been covered on this site – see: http://medellinliving.com/2015-furnished-apartment-rental-costs/. Airbnb has the biggest selection but beware of renting from someone with no ratings.

        • AirBnB has gringo rates. No Spanish speaking native would use AirBnB. Plus most pistings are short term and use a daily or weekly rate.

          Anything else besides AirBnB?

          There are some good private groups on Facebook for Medellin.

          • Actually a number of the lower cost listings on AirBnb are listed by Colombian real estate firms and Colombian owners. And if you look at the feedback on AirBnb some of the feedback is in Spanish so yes native Spanish speakers use AirBnb. Many of the listing descriptions are also in Spanish.

            You can find a few furnished apartments listed on https://www.espaciourbano.com/ and also some on http://casas.mitula.com.co/

            Also you can find some furnished rooms a a few furnished apartments on http://www.compartoapto.com/

          • I have to agree with Airbnb having gringo rates. I started my Colombia adventure living in Conquistadores in an airbnb apartment. Lster, when I had started dating a native, I was regularly laughed at by his friends for what I was paying (around 750 for a furnished, very modern nice apartment).

            With some of his friends, I soon found much better rates in a much better neighborhood. I ended up paying 320 or so a month for a furnished two bedroom apartment in Laureles. Great views, terrible elevator, lol.

            You are a gringo, probably. In the eyes of the average Colombian, you are a symbol of western prosperity. They will charge you accordingly.

            Don’t live in poblado. Live in an airbnb property if you have to for a few weeks and ***make Colombian friends***. They will save you hundreds a month if you can trust them. Get out and into a more reasonable rate immediately.

            Speaking spanish well enough to conduct a business transaction (even slowly) will put you in 10x better spot.

            Knowing a trustworthy Colombian will put you in a 1000x better spot.

            Feel free to write me if you have any more questions.

  2. Nice article with some good information about neighborhoods.

  3. When I lived in Barcelona, there were a number of websites with rental listings. Some only in Spanish, but many bilingual.Prices, photos, etc. 1,000 of listings, quite accurate and up to date.

    Are there any such websites for renting apartments in Medellin?

    • Hi Norm,

      Yes, there is the Espacio Urbano website (https://www.espaciourbano.com/) that many real estate agents in Medellín use to list unfurnished apartments available for rent (as well as apartments and homes available for sale). It’s the most widely used site in the city with thousands of properties listed – unfortunately it’s only in Spanish.

  4. No mention of La Floresta/La America? I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. At the moment I’m renting, but do you have any info about sale prices?

    • La Floresta and La American are both barrios in Comuna La America. There isn’t a Western style mall in La America Comuna, no popular nightlife areas or restaurants popular with expats and nothing to attract tourists in the area. In over six years living in Medellín I have yet to meet an expat living in the La America comuna. So it wasn’t included in this post.

      To find out the costs of real estate (to rent or buy) check out the Espacio Urbano website – you’ll have to look under Zona 3 – Laureles though as they include La America and La Floresta in Laureles – even though it is really a separate comuna.

  5. Jeff:
    My wife and I are expats currently living in Boquete, western Panama. We’re coming to Medellin for five days in late January to check it out as a possible residence. We’re city people who enjoy good restaurants, coffee shops, theater, symphony, libraries, public transit etc. etc., which is why we’re looking beyond Boquete. Are there guides available in Medellin, people we could pay to show us around the various estratos, barrios etc. to see which places might match our needs? We have only five days, and we’d rather not just wander around, but be with someone who knows the city very well. Suggestions?

  6. Cath Gillespie says:

    Hi, Jeff – we’ll be in Medellin for three weeks in August-September 2017. Of the areas you listed, which would you recommend for good public transport? Thanks in advance – Cath

    • Hi Cath,

      Each of the comunas listed above have some barrios with good public transport and other barrios with somewhat less. If looking for neighborhoods within walking distance to a metro station you can find several barrios in all five comunas listed above. Belén doesn’t have any of the metro rail line stations but it does have Metroplús elongated bus stations, which is integrated with the rest of the metro system with a connection at Industriales station. All the neighborhoods also have several bus routes plus metro feeder buses that take you to a metro station.

      Your question is hard to answer as there are many areas in each comuna with good public transport. I think best to read the descriptions above to find which comuna appeals to you more – then look for a barrio in that comuna that has the public transport you are interested in (such as walking distance to a metro station or on the route of a metro feeder bus, and/or on another bus route).

  7. Robert Rhau says:

    Hello,

    Where’s the best place to find furnished listings for El Poblado? Thanks!

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