Apartment Rental Guide: Costs and Lessons Learned

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Shopping for furniture at Fabricas Unidas
Shopping for furniture at Fabricas Unidas
Shopping for furniture at Fabricas Unidas
Shopping for furniture at Fabricas Unidas

Note: This is the fourth part in a four-part series. Read the first part here, the second part here and the third part here.

Part four in this series looks at my costs for renting unfurnished apartments over the past three years in Medellín, plus the costs of furnishings and utilities to enable making a comparison to the cost I would have paid if I continued renting furnished apartments.

In addition, I cover my lessons learned in renting unfurnished apartments in Medellín.

I made the decision in June 2011 to rent an unfurnished apartment in Medellín after four months of trial living in Medellín in furnished apartments located in El Poblado and Belén.

I decided to do this as I believed renting an unfurnished apartment and furnishing it would be cheaper in the long run compared to continuing to rent furnished apartments.

Costs to Furnish

The following table outlines my actual costs to furnish my three-bedroom apartments in Medellín:

My furnishing costs in Medellín
My furnishing costs in Medellín

Note that I brought some items from the United States such as two DVD players, pillows, sheets, towels and some kitchen items, so these aren’t included in my above furnishing costs.

I also upgraded some items from what I originally purchased in my first apartment in Colombia.  I was able to sell these items for about what I originally paid for them as I had bought them on sale for a good price.

The Colombian sofa I originally purchased wasn’t very comfortable so I upgraded to a leather sofa imported from Canada. When I moved to my second apartment in Medellín, I also upgraded the kitchen table and chairs I originally bought to a higher quality set.

Comparing Unfurnished to Furnished Apartment Costs

The following table outlines my monthly average costs over a 36-month period for my three-bedroom unfurnished apartments in Medellín, plus furnishing costs and utilities:

My monthly average apartment costs (over 36 months)
My monthly average apartment costs (over 36 months)

Not as many three-bedroom furnished apartments are available for rent in Medellín as are smaller one or two-bedroom apartments. The three-bedroom furnished apartments that I am aware are available in Medellín cost $1,200 to $2,800+ per month.

Exclusive Bonus: Download The Free Step-By-Step Guide to Investing In Medellin Real Estate.

In comparison to my unfurnished apartment costs, the least expensive three-bedroom furnished apartment I found in Medellín rents for $1,200 per month based on a search on Airbnb and other Medellín apartment rental sites, but there may be cheaper available.

8 Apartment Rental Lessons Learned

1. You can overcome the fiador requirement

Fiadors (cosigner guarantors) are not just a requirement in Colombia, they are also required for apartment rentals in several other countries in Latin America like Brazil, Mexico and Peru.

There are three ways to overcome the fiador requirement in Medellín if you don’t have one:

(a) A few real estate agents in Medellín are willing to lease apartments without a fiador but these agents can be challenging to find. Plus you will have to pay rent in advance as I have done for my apartment rentals in Medellín over the past three years.

(b) You can bypass real estate agents and deal directly with apartment owners in which case everything becomes negotiable and some owners will lease without a fiador.

(c) You can find a company that will act as a fiador for a fee. I refuse to pay a fee for someone to be a fiador, which I understand can cost as high as a month of rent.

2. Understand the estratos

In Colombia residential properties are classified by socioeconomic stratifications known as estratos ranging from 1-6 (with 6 being highest).

Properties in lower estrato neighborhoods pay lower rates for gas, electric, water, telephone, TV and Internet services. Those in higher estrato neighborhoods with higher incomes pay more for services to enable those living in lower estrato neighborhoods to pay less.

There is some correlation between the estrato of an apartment and rental pricing with apartments in lower estratos (1-3) costing less to rent than higher estratos (4-6).   Also coming into play is apartment size, age, features and location/view.

The majority of apartments in Medellín are located in estrato 1-3 neighborhoods. El Poblado is primarily an estrato 6 neighborhood, which is why the most expensive apartment rentals are located in this area.

Most foreigners tend to rent apartments in Medellín located in estrato 4, 5 or 6 neighborhoods.

3. Use a real estate agent to help

You can try to search yourself to find apartment owners and bypass the real estate agents in Medellín. Some foreigners have had success with this method. But this takes time and can be a frustrating process.

A good agent with many years of experience can save you time and can find many apartments that meet your needs that you may never find yourself. With an agent you can potentially save yourself a significant amount of unnecessary stress.

Exclusive Bonus: Download The Free Step-By-Step Guide to Investing In Medellin Real Estate.

Since there are few exclusive agent property listings in Medellín an agent can also show you most available apartments. However it is important to do some research to know market prices to ensure you are not getting overcharged with a “foreigner” price.

I have now worked with my current real estate agent for five apartment lease contracts in Medellín that total over three years – without the need for a fiador.

4. Prioritize your needs

From my current apartment in Belén, I can walk to the Los Molinos shopping mall two blocks away with an Exito, Cine Colombia movie theater and many shops plus a food court.

I am located one block from a Metroplús station that provides access to the metro to get around Medellín. There is a pharmacy in my building and many small restaurants nearby with inexpensive typical Colombian food.

In my apartment building there is also a pool and small gym and the building has 24×7 security. I am also located on the 14th floor in an apartment with two balconies providing a fantastic view of the city.

However, it takes me 30 to 40 minutes on the metro each way to Universidad EAFIT where I take Spanish classes For me this apartment is perfect. However, for others the commute to Spanish classes would be too far. Or maybe for others there is a desire to live in the ritzier El Poblado neighborhood.

Or perhaps there is a need for an even lower cost apartment. Decide what is most important for you and use this during your apartment search.

Shopping for furniture at Fabricas Unidas
Shopping for furniture at Fabricas Unidas

5. Shop outside of El Poblado to furnish an apartment

Prices are the highest in the stores in El Poblado so if you shop in other areas of Medellín you can save money.

A good place to find furniture in on Autopista Sur in Itagüí where you will find a few large furniture stores.

This includes Fabricas Unidas, which is one of the largest furniture stores in Medellín where you can buy entire rooms of furniture, which can enable fast furnishing of an apartment.

Fabricas Unidas has frequent sales and I purchased several items there on sale. Other smaller stores with Colombia produced furniture with good prices are found on Ochenta – near the Los Molinos mall and just north of the Fatima metro station.

Mattresses in stores in the large shopping malls Medellín are typically overpriced. You can find small mattress stores near the Homecenter store near the Suramericana metro stop that sell mattresses about 40 to 50 percent cheaper. Make sure to negotiate.

For appliances and televisions look in the Jumbo and Exito big box retailers, which regularly have sales.

6. Use multiple methods to search

Many available unfurnished apartments in Medellín are not advertised on the Internet or in newspapers, so the only way to find them is via real estate agents or by walking around looking for signs in windows.

During my last apartment search, I used a combination of walking around, my real estate agent and the Espacio Ubano website.

I looked at over 20 apartments before I found one that was a perfect fit for me. The apartment I ended up selecting was found via my real estate agent and it wasn’t advertised with a sign in the window or via a website.

7. Spanish is needed

In my experience, few real estate agents and few apartment owners in Medellín speak English so Spanish is required. Rental contracts will also be in Spanish.

If you don’t speak sufficient Spanish, you should find someone bilingual to help. I speak Spanish at an intermediate level, which was sufficient to rent several apartments in Medellín.

8. Try living first in a furnished apartment

If you are planning to move to Medellín from another country, I recommend not jumping right into an unfurnished apartment. First rent a furnished apartment for at least a couple of months as I did to make sure Medellín is right for you.

Exclusive Bonus: Download The Free Step-By-Step Guide to Investing In Medellin Real Estate.

This will also give you the time and opportunity to explore the city to find which neighborhood(s) you would like to live in.

View from my current apartment, looking east – Los Molinos mall is on the left
View from my current apartment, looking east – Los Molinos mall is on the left

Conclusion

There are challenges to overcome in renting an unfurnished apartment in Medellín, and furnishing it, but you can definitely save money over renting a similar sized furnished apartment.

Bottom line, I estimate that I saved over $10,000 over the past three years by renting unfurnished apartments in Medellín, which I furnished myself, instead of continuing to rent furnished apartments.

My cost will continue to drop each year, as the costs I spent furnishing will be spread out over a longer period.

This coming year, my costs for apartment rent, utilities and Internet/TV phone services for a three-bedroom apartment in a high-rise in Belén I estimate will average $665 per month. My furnishing costs that are now spread out over four years only adds $131 per month.

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Jeff first discovered Colombia back in 2006 and has traveled to all the major cities in Colombia. He is fortunate to have lived over seven years in Medellín. He is also studying Spanish to become fluent.

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78 COMMENTS

  1. Jeff, great article and series. I just wanted to clarify though that in Mexico the “fiador” requirement is extremely rare. It’s mostly a Mexico City phenomenon. I’ve never heard anyone mention dealing with it for any other place in Mexico, even Puebla or Guadalajara. Certainly not in the areas most foreigners will choose to live.

    • I personally know some Americans that have run into the fiador requirement in Mexico for apartments in Monterrey, Querétaro and Guadalajara in Mexico. If you do a google search for “Mexico fiador” you can find they can sometimes be required in other parts of Mexico beyond Mexico City.

      Fiadors are frequently requested in Mexico City. In other parts of the country, they are somewhat less common.

      It really depends on the apartment owner if a fiador is required. Some apartment owners in Mexico that are used to renting to foreigners won’t require a fiador. Some owners in Mexico will require a fianza (insurance policy that assume the third party responsibility of a fiador) if a renter doesn’t have a faidor.

      Mexico’s laws pretty aggressively protect the rights of renters; for that reason, many owners feel the need to aggressively protect their own interests via the fiador requirement.

      • I guess it’s a matter of who you talk to, but while in Mexico City it’s common, the friends I have elsewhere (including Queretaro and Guadalajara) would scratch their head if you mentioned that word. It may be on the books, but few will encounter it outside D.F. It’s completely unheard of in San Miguel de Allende, Puerto Vallarta, Playa del Carmen, Ajijic, and other spots where foreigners usually tend to live. I doubt anyone has ever run across it where I live in Guanajuato.

  2. I find renting in Colombia is relatively inexpensive. It is a great city to live in. Everywhere you look is beauty and culture. Wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.

    • Hi Mike, I agree with you that Medellín is a great city to live in and is relatively inexpensive. I honestly don’t look forward to occasionally having to leave to go back to the US as I need to a few times each year for my job.

      As Anthony Bourdain so aptly said – “It’s ludicrous this place exists and everybody doesn’t want to live here.”

  3. The fiador requirement is sooooooo annoying. I spent 3 weeks with $20,000 USD in my pocket trying to find someone to take it and no one would! I tried everything including paying the entire lease upfront, plus 3x normal security deposit, plus a freakin kickback and still no one would take my money! They say it’s the law but a realtor told me it’s actually a requirement placed on the rental agency by the insurance companies who insure the lease. I ended up finding a rental agency in El Poblado owned by an American who allowed me to just pay the lease upfront plus the deposit. I wish I could remember the name as they were extremely helpful and accommodating.

    • Yes the fiador requirement is annoying when the rent is relatively inexpensive for a foreigner and you have the money to pay in advance. That is why I am glad I found a real estate agent that would deal without a fiador with me paying the lease in advance. I have now used the same real estate agent for apartment leases for three years. And I haven’t had to pay a deposit.

      • Could you forward us the contact info for your realtor? My husband and I are considering a move to Medellin and will come for 2/3 months next year. So I’m just now starting the apt search. I’ve also started looking at Airbnb, hoping they will give us a deal for that time. Thoughts on that? Regards. Kelly

        • Hi Kelly,

          Unfortunately I can no longer recommend my real estate agent. After five years of doing business with him I started having problems with him and I now rent directly with an owner. Note that owners must pay a 7-10% commission to agents so if you rent directly with an owner you can typically negotiate a cheaper rent. But you will need Spanish to deal with most owners.

          I recommend renting a furnished apartment to start with – you can find some good deals on Airbnb but make sure to look for ones with reviews.

  4. I just went through this as well. I wanted to share with you my thoughts in a efford to help. Jeff thanks for writing the article it gave me some deja vu moments. We wanted to live near her family and my office here and belen looked great. We went to speak to door people and a few showed us open apartments. We contacted one and the price was a million pesos a month unfurnished 3 bedroom. two small terraces, a pool, two bathrooms, water heater, guards, gym, sauna, 2 pools and parking included. I filled out the fiador all night. I got help I will not lie. I over over over qualify for this. I met in park belen to sign. Last minute the notary said she can not qualify me. I had a bank account but at alianza they wanted me to have a account at another bank here. That did not count. We got bit mad. Fiary soon to be wife said fine we go look elsewhere. The owner a spry 70 something ran after us and said lets sign lets sign no problem. We did not put down security we gave him the first months rent and the next days were given the keys.

    Furniture shopping wow things are high here what he said is pretty accurate what your going to spend to fill a 3 bedroom. Jeff has good taste because Fabricas Unidas is both beautiful stuff and expensive. I been shopping Belen 30th around there in and out. Finding queen beds in this town is like finding D batteries. They exist but you have to look. I sent as much as I good through a US shipping company that ships anything I send her to a address in Colombia. I order stuff online call them that its coming and they ship here for a dollar a pound plus tax and insurance. takes about two weeks you can see online progress. But we spent 10 million pesos when all said and done. We still missing some art for walls and a dryer. I thought after signing boom we be in the apartment but it took us two weeks to get things all in there to become livable. Wifi and cable and everything else took time. They made the couch and dining room table so that took 4 days.

    If i to do it again I think I would pay extra for direct TV. I have a 4G une little box and it destroys how much better it is then une 5 gig wifi. They say its 5 gigs fast it is not. It hiccups 7-10 times a day and throws me off the net. Causing to have to sometimes re-boot all the IBM machines. Anyway I love it here. People are so nice in Belen, by me. Only issue is its a taxi in and out all the time it’s not a place i can walk a lot.

  5. Brilliant article Jeff!!! I’m moving to Colombia in the fall and you just answered so many of my most pressing questions :). I do however have one questions…would you be willing to provide me with the name of the real estate agent you worked with? I understand why you didn’t want to publish the individual’s name, but would you consider sending me an email with the person’s contact information?
    Either way I can’t thank you enough for writing such an informative article!

    • Hi Michelle, thanks. Sure I will send you the contact information for my real estate agent via email. Keep in mind that he doesn’t speak English. I suggest you provide him with a list of your requirements (i.e. preferred neighborhood, apartment size) and he should be able to find several apartments that meet your needs. I also recommend using the Espacio Ubano website.

        • Hi Jeff. Me and my girlfriend have now been in Medellin for 3 days and are on a voracious hunt for our new home. Your blog has been immeasurably helpful, so we thank so for this!!

          Fortunately we speak Spanish, so it has been easier for us than for some, but our one issue has been locating a real estate agent who has any desire to do business! Your associate sounds perfect – would you also be so kind as to pass his details onto the two of us by email?

          Thanking you kindly.
          Tom

        • Hi David,

          I just sent you my real estate agent’s contact information. He helped me find a new apartment in Sabaneta recently. Good luck!

          • Hello, could you send me the contact info for your real estate agent in Medellin? Looking to rent an unfurnished in Envigado 3-4 bedrooms. Thanks!

          • Hi Charles,

            After five years of renting apartments from my real estate agent I have recently encountered problems with him so unfortunately I can no longer recommend my agent. I now plan to rent directly from apartment owners going forward. You can also save money on rent by dealing with an owner as they don’t have to pay any commission to the real estate agent.

            Good luck.

      • Hi Jeff,

        I am in Medellin, enjoying it very much and thinking on moving to Belen, near the UNAC university. Looking for a 3 bedroom appartment.
        Could you send me the contact details of the real estate agent.

        Greetings,

  6. In regards to the furniture, I actually took a bus to Retiro last week and wow….there are some deals there. And I laughed as we could not really carry anything on a bus. Or so I thought. Unless you are buying chickens or dogs, as people carried them no problem. Surprising to me, there were more BMW’s and AUDI’s etc than I had seen in one place in Medellin. Apparently, many of the rich go there to buy their furniture as it is that much cheaper. That is what the gf told me that the smart people go to Retiro. Based on what I saw, if you are looking for wood beds or dressers, there are bargains everywhere. And they will build anything. Everyone there has a catalog so be prepared to look at that when you do not see what you are looking for. I was looking for a couch and I need to test drive that baby, so I may end up with one I saw at Fabricas Unidas. But I am not 100% on that as I would love to find something a bit less expensive. And why I am buying puro cuero is beyond me.

    • I was talking with a reader last night who had several of his beds made up there. Indeed, it’s the place to go versus buying in the malls or big box stores.

  7. Jeff I was wondering if you could send me your real estate agent information. I will be moving to Medellin in November. I do speak Spanish so no problems there. Thanks.

  8. Hi,
    I’m a professional restaurant manager and I’m looking for investors to open a restaurant in Medellín.

    Replay only if seriously interested.

    Sincerely.

    Luis

  9. Hello, Jeff Can you also send me your agents information. We are currently living in Neiva and my wife is Colombiana. I would enjoy hearing more about your views on the different styles of the neighborhood. I am not a big fan of the high rise apartments. We have a lot of 2 story American style condos here, in little gated community. Is there anything like that there? Level 4? Thanks Gary

    • Hi Gary,

      Sure I will send you my real estate agent’s contact information. There are several two-story gated communities I have seen in Medellín. I have seen some in neighborhoods in Belén and Laureles that are likely Estrato 4 or 5 neighborhoods. I haven’t looked at any of them as I was looking for apartments in high-rise buildings during my apartment searches. My agent should be able to help you find what you are looking for.

  10. jeff. Im looking to visit medellin end of march through april. can you recommend some temporary furnished apartments. (10-11days) …
    thanks

    Efren Pinilla

  11. Jeff. I bought the guide but I know I shall be disappointed with your information on apartments. It is apparently you are addressing salaried, upper middle classs folk coming to Medelling. I have lived in Ecuador two years now and if I paid the kind of rent you mention, I’d be a neighbor to President Correa. I presently rent a two bedroom furnished apartment in Loja for $150 a month. Now I do not expect rentals to be as cheap in Medellin, but you are gearing all your reseach to rent that most people would expect to pay in many US town. Your rent averages would convince most retired person to avoid Medellin as they would be wiped out by the rents alone. If that is your intent you probably have succeeded with a lot of folk. You also do not differntiate beween short term rentals from long terms rentals for one year or more. Your presentation is geared to tourists and not to people who want to stay in Medellin long term.I think you should have made that clear in your book,

    • Hi Antonio,

      I’m not sure which guide book you are referring to here. I wrote the Medellín Travel Guide which I sell through this site and Amazon, however it does not include detailed information on apartment rentals as it’s geared toward tourists, not expats or those looking to live here.

  12. Now that I think about it – you are not the guy who wrote the guide I bought. You have the right to say and write what you want – but make sure you are clear as to where you come from, what kind of income you have available, what kind of standard of living you are selling and who you are trying to address. Keep in mind that there are people who want to live in Colombia that do not have $750 and up to pay for an unfurnished one bedroom apartments, and have the kindness of pointing them in a direction where they can find the information. The rents you mention are at least twice the montly income of the average Colombian workers. So where does the majority of Colombians in Medellin live?

    • Hi Antonio,

      I don’t know where you are getting that $750 and up for rent of an unfurnished one-bedroom apartment in Medellín. There is a wide range of unfurnished apartment rental prices in Medellín. I surveyed 600 unfurnished apartments in five areas of Medellín popular with foreigners (http://medellinliving.com/apartment-rental-costs/) and in the most expensive area (El Poblado) the average rent was 1,376,923 pesos ($576 at current exchange rate) for a one-bedroom unfurnished apartment. The apartment I am currently renting is a 3-bedroom apartment in Belén located in a high-rise with two balconies, two blocks from a shopping mall and I am paying only $452/month at the current exchange rate.

      The majority (79%) of Colombians in Medellín live in Estrato 1, 2 or 3 neighborhoods where costs are much lower. The neighborhoods where most foreigners live in Medellín are Estrato 4, 5 or 6 neighborhoods.

      • Jeff: I have already apologized for writing without reading well and thinking, something I should have learned as a US lawyer. I am glad you clarified things for me as I am making plans to move to Medellin within the next couple of months for a stay of two years or more. Thank you for your information and keep up the good work

        Antonio

  13. Jeff, Quick question since I see you work for a U.S. company while living in Medellin. I too am planning to live in Colombia as my company allows me to work from anywhere, currently I am in NY. What are the tax implications in Colombia? Do you file taxes there and in the US? Thanks for all this great info!

    • The simple answer is that if you’re a foreigner and spend more than 183 days in a calendar year in Colombia, you *may* have to file taxes on *worldwide* income.

      That does not necessarily mean you have to pay taxes to Colombia, though it may mean you have to pay more money to the U.S.

      For more info as it relates to your income and potential situation in Colombia, I recommend speaking with Paula Cruz, a bilingual accountant in Medellin. She speaks with many foreign client and can talk with you via Skype. She has very affordable rates.

      PAULA CRUZ
      Colombian Public Accountant
      Taxes and Accounting Solutions
      ​E-mail: paulaandreacruz@gmail.com
      Skype: cliping21

  14. Hi thank you so much for your article about renting in Medellin. We are hoping to move there soon. The thankfully I speak Spanish, and we have friends there which hopefully would make it easier. I was wondering if you wouldn’t mind sharing your realtor information.

    Thanks again for taking the time to write this article,

  15. Hello Jeff: I just subscribed to the newsletter and want to thank you for the informative articles on renting in Medellin. I am very interested in visiting Colombia and would like to stay there for an extended period of time. Since it is my first time, I will take your advice and look for a furnished apartment. Jeff, can you also send me your realtor information. Thank you again for taking the time to help others with your great articles.
    George

      • Good morning Jeff: thank you for responding so quickly to my note. I will do my homework and look for a furnished apartment. However, I would still greatly appreciate it, if you can provide me with your realtor information. I do not plan on staying in a furnished apartment for to long. Once I am settled, I will explore the city and eventually search for an unfurnished apartment. As you indicated, it is more cost effective and I would like to have my own things. There is a wealth of information you provide for your readers. Much appreciated.
        George.

        • Hi George,

          I just sent you contact information for my real estate agent via email. His office is located in Laureles. Good luck.

          • Good evening Jeff: thank you for the contact information to your realtor. A reputable real estate agent is great way to start, especially if your are in another country. Much appreciated.
            George

  16. Jeff,

    Great articles regarding lessons learned in apt. rentals and the furnished vs unfurnished comparisons in a concise chart. These will help out tremendously for deciding which type apt rental will benefit me the most cost wise over the long term.

    My work also allows me to live remotely for months at a time. Furnished rentals would be my first option, so I could try out a few different barrios before committing long term in an unfurnished. Could you also send me your real estate agents contact info?

    Which website do you use to search for unfurnished apt listings? I saw you list it in a previous article, but can’t find or remember the name…. something “espacio” I believe. Have you ever used any of the real estate agencies in Medellin that are owned or run by non Colombians, such as First American Realty or Paradise?

    Thanks

    • Hi Jason,

      I sent you my real estate agent’s contact info via email. Good luck.

      For unfurnished apartments you can use https://www.espaciourbano.com/ to search but almost all agents that list apartments on that website will require a fiador (a local property owner cosigner who guarantees the tenant’s rent payments). There aren’t really exclusive listings in Colombia, so my real estate agent can rent apartments listed by other agents on the Espacio Urbano website if he can find the address/owner information.

      I understand that First American Realty and Paradise don’t really deal with unfurnished apartments – only sales of properties and furnished rentals.

      • Thanks for the quick reply and the agent contact info Jeff.

        Right, I understand that First American and Paradise deal in primarily in sales and furnished rentals. I was just curious if you had ever used either one or another non-Colombian ran agency during your first few visits to Medellin when you were renting furnished apartments? And if there was a significant price difference or up-charge (gringo price) on the agencies geared towards foreigners vs the local Colombian agencies with the same or similar apartment listings.

        • Hi Jason,

          I used The Apartment Medellín (http://www.theapartmentmedellin.com/) to rent furnished apartments for a couple shorter term stays when I first started coming to Medellín. I had a good experience and this was before they became part of First American Realty so they are now part of a larger company. For my longer-term 3-month furnished rental in Belén as a trial of living in Medellín I used a smaller American-owned agency that looks to no longer be in business as their website is gone.

          I rented furnished apartments in Medellín before Airbnb existed. Now I would also look at Airbnb and you can use the reviews to help choose an apartment and it has a big selection. I understand that both The Apartment Medellín and Paradise Realty list some of their furnished apartments on Airbnb.

          I would say the prices of furnished apartments from The Apartment Medellín and Paradise Realty are generally higher than some of the smaller Colombian agencies or individuals renting apartments you can find on Airbnb. But most of The Apartment Medellín’s and Paradise Realty’s furnished apartments are upscale apartments in El Poblado so there is a reason for the higher prices.

  17. Hello all,

    My name is Max and I am from the USA. I just visited Colombia last week on business and I truly enjoyed every second of it. I am very interested in learning more about Medellin in terms of where to live and also to I’m thinking about investing in business, purchasing a condo and possible retiring in Medellin when the time comes.

    I do appreciate all of your info… very helpful
    max

  18. Hi Jeff,

    Great article!

    Could you please send me your real estate agent information.

    We are two months into a six month rental while we explore different neighborhoods…preferably one near a great hospital and OB doctors 🙂

    Best,
    Tyler

    • I’ve approved your comment, however in the future, please use your real first name when leaving a comment in keeping with our stated comment policy. If you continue to use your website name, we will not publish the comments.

  19. Hi Jeff,
    Great work you guys do here, I have been to Medellin 6 times and find the info very helpful. I would also like the info for your real estate agent. Thank you in advance

    PS… looks like your agent will owe you a dinner for all the recommendations lol

    • Hi Robert,

      Unfortunately I can no longer recommend my real estate agent. After five years of doing business with him I started having problems with him and I now rent directly with an owner. Note that owners must pay a 7-10% commission to agents so if you rent directly with an owner you can typically negotiate a cheaper rent. But you will need Spanish to deal with most owners.

  20. Hello Jeff,
    I like your apartment guide, which is very informative. I am planning to come to Colombia and will be in Medellin Sep 06, thru Sep 10. If you are in Medellin during that time, I would like to meet for a beer and speak to you for a little bit. I am in similar situation where I have Job flexibility, however I cannot speak Spanish.

  21. You mention that there are some companies that will provide a fiador for a fee? What are these companies called in Spanish and how can they be found?

    • Search for “Fiador Medellín” or “Fiador Colombia” on Google. But be very careful – the information provided by phone is very limited. Some advertisers do not even want to give you their physical address to see if they are a real company. Also there is risk docs won’t be accepted as these advertisers provide the same fiador documentation to a large number of people.

      I recall that Fondo de Garantías Inmobiliarias (http://www.fgi.com.co/) a while ago launched a ‘Fianza Amigo’ product in Colombia that permits people to lease without a fiador. It works like insurance and you need to pay fees and also document your income and have a credit history in Colombia. I’m not sure if they still offer this.

    • H Alvaro,

      Sorry no as I no longer use real estate agents. I used to recommend a real estate agent I previously used. But after five years of doing business with him I started having problems with him early this year and I now rent directly with an owner.

      Note that owners must pay a 7-10% commission to agents so if you rent directly with an owner you can typically negotiate a cheaper rent. But you will need Spanish to deal with most owners.

  22. DEAR JEF.
    I am the director of an NGO, non profit org in USA, part of my work contemplates Central and South America and that is why I plan to live 6 or more months a year outside the USA, so I am contemplating living in MEDELLIN, because is strategically near the USA

    I would like to know if I open an office there of our NGO I may be exempt of taxes, car taxes or goods, moving tax expenses
    I have a car BMW x6 I would like to take it, taxes are expensive, insurance? or I can take a Hyundai ELANTRA good on gas.?
    THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR INFORMATION and HELP.
    AH.. Can you please tell me more of BELEN and the apartment building you live… sounds like a good location and price.
    HOW ABOUT LAURELES.. GOOD LOCATION?

    • Hi Carlos,

      I understand that only new vehicles from the current year with zero kilometers may be imported permanently into Colombia. The Andean Automotive Agreement (1993) prohibits the permanent import of used vehicles to the markets of the signatory countries, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. There is, however an exception for classic and old collectors’ cars, and for diplomats’ vehicles.

      A car is not really needed in Medellín due to the low cost metro, buses and taxis. Our reader survey found that over 80% of expats living in the city don’t have a car, see: http://medellinliving.com/2016-reader-survey-results/

      I no longer live in Belén, I now live in Sabaneta. I enjoyed living in Belén in two different barrios. For more information about the best neighborhoods in the city, see: http://medellinliving.com/best-medellin-neighborhoods/

      For your tax questions I recommend talking to a Colombian tax accountant.

  23. Hi Jeff,

    I’ll be arriving in Medellin to retire in June 2017. Most of what I read on this site is about 5 months to a year old so some of this may be a “repeat”. You mentioned that you no longer use an agent, but go to the owners. I’ve been looking at ads for Medellin for probably 4 months now and have never seen a “Listed by the owner” section. Is there a process one uses to contact the owner instead of going through the ads? I have found some very good looking and fairly well priced ads on metrocuadrado.com. But I can’t tell if these are owner listed or company listed. Any guidance would be appreciated.

    • Almost all of the apartment listings you will find online will be listed by real estate agencies. Unfortunately I am not aware of online apartment rental listings by owners.

      I have seen signs in windows of some apartments being offered directly for rent by owners. Several expats I have talked to have had success in talking to the porterias (doormen) of apartment buildings to get apartment owner contact information. This enables them to contact owners directly and bypass the agents. You may have to offer porterias a bit of money to cooperate. Spanish will be required in most cases because many owners don’t speak English.

      • Thank you very much. It’s kind of what I figured, but still nice to have a current guide to follow when I get there.

        Thanks again.

        Al