10 Surprisingly Cheap Things in Medellín

Taxis lined up at Premium Plaza mall

Editors note: this post was updated in February 2016 with an updated list.

I get asked about the cost of living in Medellín frequently as I have been living in the city now for nearly four years.

The recent change in the exchange rate with the Colombian Peso hitting a five-year low against the U.S. dollar has made the cost of living for me in Medellín now about 25 percent cheaper than over the past couple of years.

I have previously written about my costs of living (as a couple) in Medellín on this website as well as my experience in renting apartments in a four-part series – part 1 is found here, part 2 here, part 3 here and part 4 here.

I also have covered the cost of renting unfurnished apartments and renting furnished apartments in Medellín.

For a change of pace from apartment-focused reports, this post looks at 10 surprisingly cheap things in Medellín, which contribute to the low-cost of living in the city. Note the list is in no particular order.

1. Taxis

Taxis in Medellín are plentiful and surprisingly cheap by Western standards. All taxis in Medellín use meters. A taxi meter will start at 2,700 pesos and the minimum fare is 4,600 pesos ($1.90). There is also no need to tip the driver.

In my experience, you can go most places in Medellín for less than 12,000 pesos. I use taxis frequently and my fares typically range from 5,000 pesos to 10,000 pesos, with an average of about 7,000 pesos ($2.90).

Hailing a yellow taxi on the street in Medellín is as simple as holding up your arm. During the daytime, you should be fairly safe picking up taxis from the street, however exercise caution in the evenings.

Throughout the city, and often near points of interest, shopping malls and local landmarks, you’ll see taxi stands where taxis queue up for customers. If you see one of these, it makes the process even easier.

You can also call a taxi and in my experience they typically show up quickly – in less than five minutes in many parts of the city. A few numbers for taxis in Medellín include 444-4444, 444-1000, 444-1111.

Mobile apps for connecting with taxis include EasyTaxi, Colombia-made Tappsi and the latest entrant, Uber.

Pharmacy near Los Molinos mall

Pharmacy near Los Molinos mall

2. Medication in Pharmacies

In Medellín (and the rest of Colombia), medication is often purchased at pharmacies (farmacias), which are easy to find, as they seem to be every few blocks.

They are also found in many malls as well as many supermarkets like Exito and Jumbo.

In my experience, the staff in Colombian pharmacies seems quite knowledgeable. If you ask the question, “What should I take if I am experiencing this problem?” they will normally have something to suggest.

Of course, exercise caution when taking advice from anyone other than your doctor.

Many drugs that would require a prescription in the U.S. you can get without a prescription in the pharmacies in Medellín.

You can get things like antibiotics, birth control pills, anti-depressants, erectile dysfunction pills and many other types of drugs without a prescription.

The generics in Colombia are typically very inexpensive. For example a 10-pack of 500 mg generic tablets of Ciprofloxacino (Cipro), which I found is good to treat traveler’s diarrhea, can cost only 4,000 pesos ($1.66).

Another example is Amoxicilina (Amoxicillin), a commonly used antibiotic for ailments such as ear infections, which can cost 9,000 pesos ($3.73) for a 30-pack of 500 mg generic capsules.

Medellín's metro

Medellín’s metro

3. The Metro

No list of things that are cheap in Medellín would be complete without including the Medellín metro. The metro in Medellin is the only rail-based mass transportation service in Colombia.

The metro in Medellín is well maintained, squeaky clean and uses electrical energy. It opened in 1995 and has two train lines (Lines A and B).

The A metro line runs north and south and has 21 stations. The B line runs from the center of the city to the west and has seven stations.

The metro also has three integrated cable car lines (Lines J and K and L) plus two integrated bus lines (Metroplus lines L1 and L2). Note that the Line L cable car to Parque Arví has an extra fare.

The metro tariff for 2015 is 2,000 pesos (83 cents). The fare is cheaper with a metro card (Civica), so it is highly recommended to get one. The fare is 1,810 pesos (75 cents) with a Civica card.

The Civica card is about 10 percent cheaper and permits you to go through turn-styles to avoid the ticket window lines. It is easy to sign up for and can be recharged with funds at any station’s ticket window.

The bottom line is that between the metro and cheap taxis (as well as cheap buses) in Medellín I have found a car is not really needed for living in Medellín, which avoids a major expense typically required for living in the states.

Neighborhood tienda near Los Molinos mall, with delivery service

Neighborhood tienda near Los Molinos mall, with delivery service

4. Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are plentiful and inexpensive in Medellín. Out of all the typical grocery items, fruits and vegetables are typically some of the cheapest ones found in Medellín.

The farmers’ markets in Medellín like Plaza Minorista or small neighborhood tiendas typically have much better prices for produce than the large grocery stores such as Exito or Jumbo.

As an example of the price difference, a red onion at a tienda or farmers market that costs 200 pesos (about 8 cents) may cost about 800 pesos (33 cents) at a major grocery store.

Colombia is considered the second most bio-diverse country in the world (after Brazil) and Colombia likely has a number fruits you’ve never heard of, or look like nothing you’ve ever seen.

One of the things I like about Colombia is the fruit: delicious, cheap and plentiful. I made it a mission when I first starting living in Medellín to try as many Colombian fruits as I could.

This site previously covered 11 exotic tropical fruits of Colombia but the country has many more fruits available including anona, borojo, feijoa, mangostino plus all the fruits you can find in the United States.

I like the pitahaya (dragon fruit) but unfortunately they are a bit expensive and harder to find. It’s difficult to find them for less than 2,000 pesos. It’s tasty and sweet and can be eaten scooped out with a spoon.

I also like several of the fruits in juices including lulo, maracuyá and tomato de árbol.

Even small restaurants have signs for Domicilios

Even small restaurants have signs for domicilios

5. Domicilios (Delivery Services)

Getting things delivered (domicilio) is typically inexpensive (usually between 1,000 to 3,000 pesos, or not more than $1.50) and in some cases free. Most restaurants and pharmacies in Medellín offer delivery service.

Name the type of food and you can likely find a restaurant with that type of food with a delivery service in Medellín.

Several of the American fast food places that don’t offer delivery in the states offer delivery services in Medellín such as Burger King, KFC and Subway. Domicilios Medellín, a site which allowing you to place orders online, features about 250 restaurants.

We frequently order meals delivered from nearby restaurants or fast food places when we are too tired to go out or cook.

There are several pharmacies in Medellín with delivery service that are open 24 hours. When you are sick you typically don’t want to go out for drugs so this is very convenient.

Many other types of places in Medellín offer domicilio services including medical services, vets and dry cleaners.

6. Electricity

Utility services are provided by EPM, the local utility in Medellín. EPM derives much of the power delivered in the city from hydroelectric sources.

Medellín is located at about 5,000 feet above sea level. It is known as the ‘City of Eternal Spring’ with an average annual temperature of 72 degrees, and that ranges from 59 to 86 degrees.

There is really no need for heating or cooling with the climate in Medellín, which results in inexpensive utility bills. A few apartments in ritzy El Poblado have air conditioning but I use a fan, which is sufficient for me during the day.

The electricity rate from EPM currently runs about 362 pesos (15 cents) per kilowatt-hour (kWh) in the Estrato 4 neighborhood in Belén where I currently live.

The rate per kWh is relatively high but you don’t need to use much electricity due to the climate.

Electric rates also vary by estrato in Medellín with the highest rates in estratos 5 and 6. The lower rates in lower estrato neighborhoods are subsidized by the higher rates in the wealthier neighborhoods.

My electric bill in a three-bedroom apartment over the past year has averaged only 58,115 pesos ($24) per month since we don’t use that much electricity without the need for heating or cooling in the city.

We have averaged using only 165 kWh per month over the past six months.

The average home in the states uses 903 kWh per month (in 2012), which is over five times what I currently use in Medellín – demonstrating a big benefit of the climate in Medellín.

VivaColombia

VivaColombia

7. Domestic Airfare

Domestic airfare can be inexpensive in Colombia, which makes it relatively cheap to travel between the major cities in Colombia. To get the cheapest domestic flights make sure to book at least two weeks in advance.

While buses can be even cheaper in Colombia, it’s a tradeoff. Buses take a long time, for example, up to 10 hours to go from Medellín to Bogotá, or about 12 hours to go from Medellín to Cartagena.

By plane, the flight from Medellín to Bogotá is about 40 minutes and from Medellín to Cartagena is about an hour.

Domestic airfare in Colombia used to be more expensive. But when discount airline VivaColombia started service in 2012 in Colombia, domestic airfare prices in Colombia have dropped dramatically.

On VivaColombia it is possible to fly from Medellín to Bogotá for less than $65 round-trip and from Medellín to Cartagena for less than $100 round-trip.

A quick tip on VivaColombia – if you’re taking anything more than hand luggage, you can pay just as much for the flight for your luggage so travel light if you want it to be inexpensive. Traveling light can mean a ticket cheaper than bus fare.

If you use Avianca for domestic flights in Colombia, you can book as if you are in Colombia in pesos and you will get a much better price versus booking in the United States in dollars.

It is easy to choose the country on Avianca’s website at the top of their website. You can normally save up to 50 percent with the country chosen as Colombia and paying in pesos for domestic flights on Avianca.

Using this method on Avianca I have flown from Medellín to Bogotá for less than $100 round-trip and from Medellín to Cartagena for less than $120 round-trip.

Clínica las Américas, one the best rated in Medellín and Latin America

Clínica las Américas, one the best rated in Medellín and Latin America

8. Medical Services

Medellín has eight hospitals and clinics ranked as eight of the best 42 hospitals and clinics in Latin America, according to a recent study by América Economia.

Colombia is also starting to experience an increase in medical tourism with low costs for medical services.

As an example, a heart bypass surgery in the states that may cost $80,000 or more costs only about $26,000 in Colombia.

Another example is a knee replacement surgery in the United States that costs about $40,000 and costs only about $15,000 in Colombia.

The salaries of Medellín doctors are typically a fraction of those in the states, even though they are in many cases required to have to same level of internationally recognized education and job skills.

Medellín is probably best known for Lasik (corrective eye surgery), cosmetic surgery and dentistry. Colombia is home to many of the best cosmetic surgeons in the world.

I dropped my dental insurance in the states as I found the dentists in Medellín could be about as cheap as my out-of-pocket costs with my dental insurance in the United States.

The bottom line is that if you live in Medellín you can have access to world-class health care in several hospitals and clinics in the city at a much lower cost than is found in the states.

Some of the hairdresser shops near Unicentro mall

Some of the hairdresser shops near Unicentro mall

9. Haircuts

I was surprised at the low cost the first time I had my haircut in Colombia. This was in Cartagena when I was on vacation there in 2006. The cost was 10,000 pesos.

Costs are generally lower in Medellín for most things than in touristy Cartagena. Near my current apartment in Belén I can find several places that typically charge 8,000 pesos ($3.31) for a men’s haircut.

Near Unicentro mall, which is near where I used to live in the Fatima barrio in Belén for three months, is a strip of hairdresser shops on Calle 34 that can have even lower costs due to competition.

A men’s haircut in these hairdresser shops on Calle 34 typically costs between 6,000 and 8,000 pesos (around $3).

Getting a haircut in a shop in a mall in Medellín will be more expensive than the small barber shops or hairdresser shops (peluquerías) found on streets throughout the city.

When I lived in Dallas, the cheapest men’s haircut I could find anywhere was for $10.

Silverstone store in Puerta del Norte

Silverstone store in Puerta del Norte

10. Clothing

There are many places in Medellín where you can find inexpensive clothing if you venture outside of El Poblado. The shops located in El Poblado typically have the most expensive prices in the city.

Medellín has a reputation as the fashion capital of Colombia. Two of the most famous annual fashion shows take place in the city: Colombiatex and Colombiamoda. Also many companies in the city manufacture clothing.

Places I have found some of the best deals for clothing include El Centro and the Mayorca and Puerta del Norte malls.

An example is that I recently found men’s Levi’s jeans on sale in a Silverstone store in the Puerto del Norte and I was able to buy two pairs of Levi’s jeans for only 50,000 pesos ($21) each.

The Bottom Line

Based on my experience living in Medellín for nearly four years, you can find many things here that are definitely cheaper than in the United States.

However, there are also some things that are more expensive, such as cell phones and higher end computers as well as cars.

Imported cars can be quite expensive due to the import duty (which is typically 35 percent) but it is also very feasible to live without a car in Medellín with the inexpensive taxis, metro and buses in the city.

I don’t have a car and have met only a few foreigners living in Medellín with cars.

We are also curious, what are some additional surprisingly cheap things in Medellín readers have found?

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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. I want to say Jeff your detailed writing is very inspiring and I will be in medellin the 21-26 and would like to take you and your family out for dinner and visit you can email me at email above or call my buddy Jorge’s colombian cell phone at (301) 294-3784..Steve

  2. Rent: If you rent long-term, short-term tourist rental rates can be expensive. I’m renting an unfurnished apartment in Belen Malibu (near Unicentro and Unidad Deportiva Andres Escobar). 2BR/2Ba; about 900 sq. ft; 9th floor; 2 balconies, great views, very safe, for a bit less than $500/month. I paid for the whole year in advance to get a discount.

    Eating out: Of course it depends on where you eat. I don’t eat out much but I can get the Bandeja Paisa which is very filling plus a drink for 15,000 COP ($6.25 or so). I’d pay at least twice that that in the US. Plus I gave my server a tip and he told me it was too much and gave half of it back to me! This is at a small restaurant near Unicentro. They are all over the place.

    Alcohol: There are several liquor stores near Parque de Luces where alcohol is cheap. I hear for some reason they don’t add all the alcohol taxes so their prices are LOW! A 1 liter bottle of Absolut is 61,000 COP at PriceSmart. The same bottle costs only 36,000 COP at California – one of the liquor stores on this street. Alhambra I think is the name of the street. Go early in the morning. The place is a madhouse on Friday and Saturday afternoons!

    Electronics/Appliances?: This is questionable but I had to furnish my apartment last month and I bought a 42″ LG Smart TV for 900,000 COP (slightly less than $400). Of course, it’s normally 1,300,000 COP but Jumbo just happened to be having a sale that day plus with the favorable exchange rate I got lucky with the timing. I happen to be in the US for a week and I went to a Best Buy and found the same TV selling for either $450 or $500 (not sure which model I have).

    I had the same luck with appliances. Again at Jumbo, I bought a refrigerator and a washing machine. I don’t remember the price exactly. What I do remember is that when I paid, they told me they were having a sale on refrigerators and washing machines that day so I got a 20% discount. Lucky timing again. I had no idea but the sale was that day only. Plus Jumbo delivered them both the very next day.

    I had good luck with furniture too. There are a bunch of stores near the Floresta metro station. One of them had a deal where I got a leather sofa with 3 pillows with a coffee table, a kitchen table and 4 chairs, plus bedroom furniture (full size bed and mattress, dresser, 2 night stands, and 2 lamps) all for 1,450,000 COP (about $625).

    I’ve had some delivery issues though. They don’t show up when they say they’re going to and they forgot the night stands and lamps too so now I have to deal with this delivery hassle a second time. The same crap happens in America too though.

    • Rent for unfurnished apartments is inexpensive and I have previously covered that in my several apartment blog posts on this site. I am paying $454 per month at the current exchange rate for my 3BR/2Ba apartment near the Los Molinos mall in Belén with great views and two balconies.

      I agree that it is possible to get good deals on electronics and appliances if you shop the frequent sales at Jumbo and Exito. Also furniture can be cheap as long as you shop outside of El Poblado.

  3. Aaahhhh…. so many good things !!!! Thanks for your detailed info. Thanks, also, to you all bloggers ! I bless you all !!

  4. ker latch says:

    If i am going from San Francisco,Ca. to Medellin what air line would be best to take?
    how much is a nice hotel room there?
    is it easy to find a girl friend and one that speaks english

    • From San Francisco, your cheapest airfare to Medellín would likely be on American Airlines connecting in Miami. If you book far enough in advance it should cost less than $500 round-trip. A decent hotel room you should be able to find for around $100 per night or less. You should also look at furnished apartments. It is pretty easy to find a girlfriend but one that speaks English will be more of a challenge. A number of foreigners have had success using the ColombianCupid website.

  5. John Bade says:

    This is a great list, and here are a few additional items:

    Beef and pork are pretty cheap compared to the US, particularly for the more expensive cuts. I pay COP$ 21,000 (USD$8,87) per kilo for whole beef tenderloin (the cut for filet mignon). In the US, the cost is USD$30 or more per kilo. Churasco (NY Strip) is similar.

    The generally lower food and labor costs mean that dining out at almost all types of restaurants, up to the most elegant is significantly lower cost than the US. The two exceptions to that rule, I find, are US-style fast food restaurants (whether Colombian or US chains) and sushi. The fast food joints are ridiculously high-priced, even in comparison to the US. I find that sushi prices are comparable to the US.

    The last item is home services like electricians, plumbers and painters. I was a big DIY-er in the US, but I just can’t justify doing my own work here. We had our entire 3-bedroom apartment painted for COP$300,000 (plus paint). I just had an electrician in for about two hours, and the charge was COP$40,000. I do almost always buy my own parts and paint, since the contractors always assume that you want to use the cheapest products available.

    • I agree that US-style fast food restaurants are relatively expensive in Colombia. For example, popular Frisby with their overpriced chicken – 18,800 pesos ($8) for a combo with 2 pieces of chicken, rice, coleslaw and a soda. Or KFC with a combo of 3 pieces of chicken, medium fries and soda for 17,900 pesos ($7.60). This is surprising considering the low cost of food and labor.

  6. When your living here and making pesos, even with a “good salary”, its not so cheap after all, this only apply’s for people that come here with dollars, go figure.

    • $100.00 per night for a nice hotel seem high to me. I thought that everything was cheaper there. I am only going to stay for 2week could i rent an apartment for 2 weeks. i seen a video showing alot of girls on the street are they clean and how much do they want to go with you/
      thank you for you reply
      Ker

      • An apartment will typically be cheaper than a hotel. There are many furnished apartments available in Medellín for short-term rentals, check out my post on this site about furnished apartment rentals to see costs – http://medellinliving.com/furnished-apartment-rental-costs/.

        • I will check the apartment here. I have been going to Thailand for the last 8 years and everything there is cheap you can get a nice hotel for about $30.00 per night [redacted] but Thailand is getting bad because of the coup they had there 6 months ago.

          • steve orlando says:

            ker, Medellin is not as cheap as Thailand. [redacted] Also, a lot more crime in Medellin than Thailand.

          • I went to Thailand several years ago. While Medellín may be more expensive it has many benefits.

            I’ll take Medellín’s eternal spring climate any day over the heat and humidity found in most of Thailand. The storms can also be pretty bad in Thailand, look at pictures of flooding last year.

            In Thailand you also have a real risk of civil unrest and the security situation remains volatile. Early last year the city of Bangkok was essentially shutdown by protesters and there was a military coup last year in Thailand.

            I also prefer the 3-hour flights from the US to Medellín versus flights of over 20 hours to get from the US to Thailand. I would also say Spanish is easier to learn than Thai.

            In music there is no comparison – my opinion is the music in Thailand is perhaps one of the worst in the world.

            Also foreigners generally cannot own property in Thailand (except condos). Foreigners can only buy condos in Thailand as long as 51% of the properties in a building are in the hands of local Thai people. Thai laws prohibit foreigners from owning land. While in Colombia foreigners can own all types of property (houses, fincas, condos, apartments, office buildings, land, etc).

          • Jeff – I agree with most of what you said, having spent 2.5 months in Thailand in 2008 (most of it in the islands, with a week in Bangkok and a week in Chiang Mai).

            I prefer Medellín in terms of climate, flight times to the United States, language, music and dancing. I didn’t realize how important those last two, music and dancing, would be to me until I arrived in Colombia. It’s part of why I continue to base myself in Latin America over Asia.

            In terms of the civil unrest in Thailand, I’ve had several blogger friends who’ve been in Bangkok during the violent riots of the past few years, and they said it was very localized, and did not suggest that it was a reason to stay away. Colombia experienced localized agricultural protests and rioting in 2014.

            One thing I miss about Asian countries is the greater feeling of personal safety in the large cities. If we look at homicide rates, the Americas lead the world while Asia has the lowest rate.

            Based on 2012 data, Colombia ranks #12 with 30.8 deaths per 100,000 vs Thailand at #106 with 5 deaths per 100,000. (USA is #111 with 4.7 deaths per 100,000)

            Thailand’s unrest makes the global news because it’s abnormal for them, meanwhile Colombia’s homicide rate is six times higher but the country receives positive attention given the progress in security over the last 25 years.

          • Colombia’s countrywide homicide rate dropped to 27.8 deaths per 100,000 in 2014, the lowest it has been in 34 years. But that really depends where you are in Colombia. For example, El Poblado’s homicide rate is much, much lower than that, it’s around the homicide rate found in Thailand or the USA.

  7. Jeff thank you again and all the other writers as well.
    I have seen your articles about couples but nothing on couples with kids. Any info on American families there? Have you met any or is just mainly single guys?
    Thx

    • Hi Marc,

      I have met many foreigners who are taking Spanish classes at EAFIT since I am enrolled in the program. Most of the students I have met have been single guys and single women from numerous countries including the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, England, South Korea and other countries. You would be surprised to find that over 40% of the foreign students I have met at EAFIT have been women. Some of the students I met have been in relationships but none so far with families here.

      Outside of EAFIT I have met other foreigners in Medellín including several couples but only a few with families. The ones with families I have met have been foreigners with a Colombian spouse.

  8. Larry Lyle, DO says:

    After talking to two of my Colombian friends that are physicians, pharmacists in Colombia, like in the United States, Mexico, and Canada, cannot legally prescribe antibiotics. The pharmacists are not trained or licensed to prescribe antibiotics however they do so under the table with a licensed Colombian physician’s name probably without consulting with them. This is bad and dangerous medicine. This creates multi-resistant micro-organisms that are killing people and people that go to pharmacists for antibiotics are contributing to the problem. This along with physicians cave in to patients demanding antibiotics for viral infections and farmers in the US using 60% of the antibiotics in the US for farm animals.

    • After living in Medellín for nearly four years, I have never been asked for a prescription when asking for antibiotics like Ciprofloxacino or Amoxicilina at pharmacies in Medellín. My Colombian girlfriend says she also has never been asked for a prescription for several antibiotics. So if there is a requirement for prescriptions it is not enforced.

      • Larry Lyle, DO says:

        This is a reference from US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health:
        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22358407
        Rev Panam Salud Publica. 2011 Dec;30(6):586-91.
        [Restriction of antibiotic sales in pharmacies in Bogotá, Colombia: a descriptive study].
        [Article in Spanish]
        Vacca CP1, Niño CY, Reveiz L.
        Author information
        Abstract
        OBJECTIVE:
        Describe the implementation status of a regulation prohibiting antibiotic sales without a medical prescription in pharmacies of Bogotá, Colombia.
        METHODS:
        A cross-sectional descriptive study was conducted using the simulated purchase technique in Bogotá pharmacies (drugstores). The sample of 263 pharmacies was calculated by stratification (chain pharmacies and independent pharmacies) with 5% accuracy and a 2% correction factor. Simple randomization was assigned in each stratum.
        RESULTS:
        Out of the total pharmacies studied, 80.3% did not comply with the regulation established for prescription sales of antibiotics. In 20.1% of the cases, the dispenser asked about the patient’s age, symptoms, or both age and symptoms in order to offer other drugs or change the antibiotic. There were no inquiries about a medical history of allergy to antibiotics. In cases in which there was the intention to sell antibiotics, the generic format was most commonly offered (81.2%). Some drug dispensers made inappropriate recommendations. The locations with the highest levels of noncompliance with the regulation were also those with high rates of unmet basic needs.
        CONCLUSIONS:
        Five years after passage of a regulation to halt the unrestricted sales of antibiotics, there is minimal compliance, and dispensing does not conform to the established parameters. Pharmacy personnel do not provide the required information according to their responsibilities.

        • Thanks for the information. Since pharmacies still aren’t asking for prescriptions here in Medellín, it looks like the situation hasn’t changed since that survey was done in Bogotá in 2011.

  9. Christian says:

    I enjoyed this list because it identifies things that are truly surprisingly cheap, not just cheap because we are using dollars to buy things valued in pesos. For example, I don’t find food or rent to be especially cheap, it’s just cheap in comparison to what we pay in the US. Taxis, on the other hand, really are cheap. In the States at college age my friends and I would complain to no end about having to take taxis and do our best to have a designated driver at night. My Colombian friends have no problem taking a taxi home from the bar, because even if you’re earning pesos a taxi fare split with 2 other people is insanely cheap. Same goes for air conditioning-no one in Medellin at any income level is complaining about how much they spend to heat or cool their house. Things like food, drinks, rent, on the other hand, seem priced pretty normally to me.

    • And the city buses are even cheaper, or you can get an integrated metro/bus ticket at a discount. As long as you know the bus routes, you can get just about anywhere for $1 to $2.

  10. Alan Patterson says:

    Dear Dave or Jeff,

    How about a column on banking/money exchange. What’s best service (exchange rate), what is easiest; how to transfer money from the US or elsewhere; getting a bank account; transferring pesos, etc.

    Thanks

    • Hi Alan,

      Jeff touched on money exchange and counterfeits in this post, though it doesn’t get into money transfers (I’ve used and recommend Western Union for cash transfers, there are locations throughout the city).

      I considered writing a post about opening a bank account with Bancolombia last year after doing so myself. I’ll make a note of it, I’m sure we can get to that this year.

  11. I paid 5000 for a hair cut once in conquistadores are it was terrible. After that I just went to Luna in unicentro for like a year, they charged me 20.000 every time. Have they just been ripping me off? I thought I had managed to avoid gringo prices pretty well the whole time I was living in Med. because I speak Spanish and do the research… I didn’t even think about it when it came to hair cuts for some reason..

    • Prices for haircuts in the malls in Medellín are always more expensive, it is not a “gringo” tax. A couple blocks from Unicentro mall is a strip of hairdresser shops on Calle 34 that will have low costs due to competition. A men’s haircut in these hairdresser shops on Calle 34 typically costs between 6,000 and 8,000 pesos (around $3 or less). I have had my hair cut several times there and never had a problem.

  12. Diego Blandón says:

    Hi, I just wanted to let you know how nice it is to see someone from the US enjoy and take the time to talk about a place as special like Medellín. I lived 9 years in Georgia, and have been back here for 6 years, many of my friends from the US want to come here and I´m always looking or something to show them to motivate them to come. The best blog I´ve seen has been this one.

    This is basically to say thanks.

  13. Hi Jeff,

    I just got back from Medellin and cant wait to go back. I was there for 17 days and this is my 3rd time. Colombia keeps getting better every time I go there. You are correct the best weather in the world. I live in Massachusetts. My wife and I are planning to move to Medellin Colombia. Is there anything you can tell me about the bilingual schools and Is it difficult for someone in the US to buy an existing business?
    What information do I need to get a Visa to live there? My wife was born there I am not?

    • Hi Chris,

      If your wife is a Colombian citizen, getting a visa will be easy – you are eligible for a TP10 visa as a spouse of a Colombian national. Look at the Colombian Cancilería website for a list of requirements – you will need an authenticated copy of marriage certificate, copy of Colombian ID of spouse, letter from spouse requesting visa plus your passport. If you were married in the U.S. you will need an authentic copy of your marriage certificate with apostille plus an official translation and this must be dated less then 3 months before the visa application. Doc The TP10 visa costs $205 plus a $50 “study” charge for processing.

      It is not very difficult to buy a business but make sure you find someone familiar with the process in Colombia. For a bilingual school for children I have heard good things about the Columbus School and the Marymount School.

  14. A very useful site. Plenty of great tips for eveyone. I’m from Medellin myself but have not been here for quiet some time and found this blog by accident. Will recommend to all my fellow colleagues and friends who want to visit and live in Medellin.

  15. Great post! Do you have any specific recommendations for lasik? My sister and I will be there in June and would like to get our eyes done. Thanks!

    • Hi Mel, I don’t have any specific recommendations for Lasik as I am not aware of someone who has done the procedure here in the city. However, I recommend you contact First American Realty Medellín, which is the largest foreign owned real estate firm in Medellín. I am aware that their Client Services include offering advice on quality medical care in Medellín.

  16. Thanks Jeff for all the nice things you have to say about my beautiful city, I’m glad you are enjoying your stay there. Thanks for showing the world a different side of Medellin.

  17. david carrera says:

    Hi Jeff
    I am planning 1 month visit around May 2016.
    I am single and retired.Since I don’t plan to work, I have lots of time in my hand and I like to hang around in safe areas like malls during the day and bars, restos and clubs at night.
    Money is almost not an object so what area do you recommend which is the safest but near clubs and malls etc.
    (My rent budget is $2K)

  18. Hi David,

    With that budget I would recommend renting a nice furnished apartment in El Pobaldo near the malls like Santafé and Oviedo or near Parque Lleres. The following post has information about furnished apartments in Medellín – http://www.medellinliving.com/furnished-apartment-rental-costs/.

  19. Hi Jeff,

    Very useful information that you shared. Especially it helps a lot for expatriates. I am from India and I would need to move to Medellin for 1 year assignment. Is it Indian groceries will be available there ?

  20. Manojvinayak says:

    Hi David & Jeff this blog is very useful for expats,I’m indian have some questions for you guys please help me. Actually i want to take a Spanish course in medallín for 24 weeks (6 months ) is there any institutions it has better hostel facilities ” not expensive 1 but normal single bed ” & I’m graduate can i get any part Time job while taking course’s & I want to live normal life for 6 months not expensive one.. thank you

  21. continues…totally how much cop$ do i need for 6 month’s budget like as follows. Spanish course hostel,food 3 meals a day,bus or metro allowances as per your knowledge..Thank you.

    • Hi Manoj Vinayak,

      I am only aware of the Spanish class costs at EAFIT in Medellín, which cost 1,010,000 pesos per level. The semi-intensive classes at EAFIT are 2 hours per day over four weeks. If you search on this site you can find information about hostels and cost of living that should help you figure out a budget.

      Note you are technically required to have a Colombian student visa to enroll in a Spanish language program at a university but EAFIT may not check for this. You cannot work in Colombia with a tourist or student visa. You would need a work visa.

  22. I’ve always told myself I would love to live somewhere I could get a haircut and a straight blade shave regularly. I have my answer about the haircut, do the barbers do a traditional straight blade shave? Thanks Bill

    • The barbers in the barbershops in Medellín typically use a straight blade with replaceable razor to trim/groom sideburns, etc. so I’m sure they will also do a straight blade shave.

  23. Jaime McBrady says:

    Hola friends. We recently purchased an apartment in the Carlos E neighborhood and are now in need of a plumber to install a new water heater and an electrician to repair a few outlets and a carpenter to build two small projects. Does anybody on this site have recommendations for any of these?

  24. Vanessa Rogers says:

    Hi, this is so informative! I am planning to move to Medellin in the Fall of 2017. I’m a little nervous because this will be my first time out of the US. I am a 54 year old, single African American entrepreneur looking to start enjoying my life. Are there a lot of older singles there? Are there meet-up groups? Is interracial dating frowned upon there? One more thing: I live in Ohio and wanted to know how long is the flight from here to there? I’m not really a plane person…lol. Oh, and I am traveling with my 7 yr old Yorkie…would that be difficult to do? Thanks.

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