Part three in this series looks at my experience in quickly hunting for my third apartment in Medellín. This was an unexpected surprise, with the apartment owner providing little notice of a move back to Medellín and essentially kicking me out of the apartment.
This is my third example of an unfurnished apartment rental in this four-part guide to renting apartments in Medellín.
Two months after I had signed and prepaid for my third six-month lease for my second apartment in Medellín located in Belén, my real estate agent called me out of the blue and said I needed to find a new apartment.
I asked, why? My agent said that the apartment owner had notified him that she was moving back to Medellín from Bogotá in the next couple weeks and wanted the apartment back.
I told my agent that I still had four more months left on my leasing contract. But he indicated that unless I wanted a legal fight, it was best to just find a new apartment.
So I unexpectedly found myself needing to scramble to find an apartment in Medellín in less than two weeks.
Finding the perfect apartment in Medellín (for me)
Medellín has a wide range of options for apartments available in a big range of prices (from less than $200 to well over $2,000 per month) that can meet the needs of a wide range of renters.
High-rise apartment buildings can be found in many areas with the biggest concentration found in El Poblado.
In many neighborhoods you will find low-rise apartment buildings, which are typically three to five floors and usually don’t have elevators or 24×7 security.
In many neighborhoods you can also find two-story attached row housing. You won’t however find in Medellín many single-family detached homes that are common in the U.S. You have to get outside of the city to find these.
I had already lived in Medellín for over two years and I knew the city well, so I knew what type of apartment would be perfect for me.
I wanted an apartment in a high-rise with 24×7 security on a higher up floor with a balcony with a good view of the city. In addition, I wanted to find an apartment within walking distance to a grocery store and close to the metro.
I also wanted to be located in an Estrato 4 or 5 neighborhood. In addition, I wanted the apartment to have Claro Internet/TV/phone service available and for it to have a kitchen with an oven, which my first two apartments didn’t have.
My third apartment search
I discovered the Espacio Ubano website, which several real estate agencies use to list unfurnished apartment rentals and apartments for sale in Medellín.
This website appears to be kept up-to-date and I used this to help in my search for apartments. It can also be used to help determine market rates in neighborhoods as you can see what prices other real estate agents are charging for similar apartments.
Talking to my real estate agent I discovered that there aren’t many exclusive property listings in Medellín. So I could find an apartment on the website listed by another agent and call my real estate agent to show me the apartment.
This way I would avoid the fiador (cosigner guarantor) requirement as I had already rented from my real estate agent for over a year without a fiador and he was motivated to help me find another apartment.
I discovered that the same model as the apartment I was vacating in Belén was available for rent in the same building but on a higher floor with a better city view. This would be an easy move, just up the elevator to a higher floor.
I decided this would be my backup plan but I wanted to see what other apartments were available to see if I could find something more convenient from a location standpoint.
I enjoyed living in Lomo de Los Bernal in Belén with the only drawback being the location, which is relatively far from several places I liked to go in Medellín so I needed to take taxis or buses as there is no metro nearby.
During my search, I looked at apartments in several barrios in Belén as well as Ciudad del Rio, Laureles, Envigado and Sabaneta. Some apartments I found on my own and I talked to apartment owners and for some I used my real estate agent.
After looking at several places my agent found an apartment in the Los Alpes barrio in Belén close to the Los Molinos mall that he wanted to show me as he thought I would like it after receiving my comments about other apartments.
The apartment met all my requirements. The location was perfect for me, two blocks from the Los Molinos mall providing access to an Exito and Homecenter, a Cine Colombia movie theater and many other shops.
It is also located one block from a Metroplús station providing easy metro access.
But the thing that really sold me is the apartment has two balconies. The two balconies offer a 230+ degree unobstructed view of the city, which is spectacular, especially at night.
I decided to rent the apartment but instead of using a six month leasing contract as my previous two apartments, I signed a 12-month contract, as I was able to negotiate a lower rental price if I signed for a longer time period.
Moving to the new apartment
I had some big pieces of furniture plus a fridge and wash machine to move, so I wanted to use professional movers.
I happened to see someone using a mover in a building nearby and they were taking care using furniture wraps so I asked this mover if they were available the next day.
Unfortunately they were fully booked but provided me the number of another company they recommended I call, which I did. This mover showed up with a crew of three the next day and took about three hours to pack up, drive to the new apartment and unload.
The move was painless, nothing was damaged and the cost was 270,000 pesos ($144).
My third apartment specifications:
- 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, about 78 square meters (840 square feet)
- Kitchen with oven and gas cooktop
- Gas water heater (tankless)
- 14th floor in a high-rise building, with two balconies
- Pool and small gym in building
- 24×7 security
- Estrato 4 neighborhood (but across the street is Estrato 5)
- Cost: 1,150,000 pesos per month – 70,000 pesos per month for a parking space I rent out = 1,080,000 pesos ($576) per month net.
I like living in the apartment so I recently signed a second 12-month contract with my real estate agent to lock in the same rental price for another year, which extends my lease until late 2015 with no rent increase.
The 1,080,000 pesos net per month for my second contract actually works out to about $526 per month for my next year.
I fortunately exchanged sufficient funds in late February when the exchange rate was 2,054 Colombian pesos to the USD to enable paying a year of rent. In February to early March this year the exchange rate was the best it has been in four years.
Final post in this Apartment Rental Guide series
Part four of this series will look at my costs for renting unfurnished apartments over the past three years in Medellín plus include the costs of furnishings and utilities to enable a comparison to the cost I would have paid if I continued renting furnished apartments.
In part four, I also plan to cover my lessons learned in renting unfurnished apartments in Medellín and my tips of the best places to shop in Medellín to furnish an apartment.