Apartment Rental Guide: Searching for an Apartment

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Apartment buildings in Sabaneta
Apartment buildings in Sabaneta

Last year I covered my experience in renting three different unfurnished apartments in Medellín in a popular four-part series. Read the first part here, the second part here, the third part here and the fourth part here.

After living in the same apartment in Belén for past two years I thought I would be able to renew my lease for another year. But, unfortunately, the owner of the apartment wanted his apartment back as he wanted to live in it.

So I found myself searching for an apartment in Medellín last month with my soon to be Colombian wife. We fortunately found the perfect apartment for us in Sabaneta.

Finding the perfect apartment in Medellín (for us)

Medellín has a variety of options for apartments available in a broad range of prices (from less than $200 to well over $2,000 per month) to meet the needs of renters.

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 have already lived in Medellín for four years, and I know the city very well, so I know what type of apartment would be perfect for us.

I also have researched the unfurnished apartment market in Medellín, which was covered in two articles on this website (Apartment Rental Costs in Medellín and 4 Inexpensive Neighborhoods for Apartment Rentals in Medellín), so I know the neighborhoods in the city well.

We wanted an apartment in a high-rise with 24×7 security on a higher up floor with a balcony with an excellent view. In addition, we wished to find an apartment within walking distance to a grocery store and close to the metro.

We also wanted to find an apartment in a building that is not close to a major street to avoid noise from traffic. We also wanted to be in an Estrato 4 or 5 neighborhood.

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Also, we wanted the apartment to have Claro Internet/TV/phone service available and for it to have a kitchen with an oven.

We also wanted to find an apartment that was larger than the 78 square meter apartment we were moving out of. We were looking for an apartment with at least 90 square meters of space.

Kitchen in our new apartment in Sabaneta
Kitchen in our new apartment in Sabaneta

My fourth apartment search

We used a combination of methods to find an apartment in Medellín. We found some apartments ourselves by walking around and finding rental signs in windows and using the Espacio Ubano website.

We also used my real estate agent in Medellín, who I have rented from over the past three-plus years.

Since I already know the market in Medellín very well, we limited our search to just a few neighborhoods. We did not want to look in popular neighborhoods for foreigners like El Poblado or Envigado as we want to live in a less expensive area.

There were two apartments available in our existing building in Belén, which we looked at but decided they didn’t meet our needs, as we wanted to move to a larger apartment. We looked at a few other apartments nearby in Belén, but we didn’t find one large enough that we liked.

We also looked at a few apartments in Bello in the Niquia barrio near the Puerta del Norte mall. We like this area, which is convenient to the metro and a large shopping mall as well as Exito and Euro grocery stores.

Niquia has several inexpensive apartments, but we didn’t find any larger apartments that we liked.

We also like the Sabaneta area. Sabaneta has many new apartment buildings that have been built over the past few years, so it has many apartments available to rent. We looked at seven apartments in Sabaneta with my real estate agent and found one we liked.

We signed a lease for this apartment, but, unfortunately, the owner changed his mind and was unsure about renting it, and we didn’t have time to wait on this owner to make up his mind, so we looked at more places in Sabaneta.

My real estate agent said he wanted to show us an apartment in Sabaneta that he thought we would really like based on our comments about other apartments, and he was right. We signed a year-long lease the next day.

The apartment we found is located in a building that is less than a 10-minute walk to Parque Sabaneta and less than a 10-minute walk to the Aves Maria mall with a large Exito grocery store.

The Sabaneta metro station is located about a 20-minute walk away, and an inexpensive bus route (1,700 pesos) to the metro station runs right in front of our apartment building.

We also have found that three grocery stores in Sabaneta offer domicilio (delivery) services: Euro, Supermercado Sabaneta and Merkepaisa.

Parque Sabanta, located less than 10-minute walk from our apartment
Parque Sabanta, located less than 10-minute walk from our apartment

Moving to the new apartment

We have some big pieces of furniture, plus a fridge and wash machine to move, so we wanted to use professional movers.

My real estate agent recommended a moving company, which we called. This mover showed up as scheduled with a crew of three, and they took about three and a half hours to pack up, drive to the new apartment and unload.

The move was painless, nothing was damaged, and the cost was only 300,000 pesos ($112).

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My fourth apartment specifications:

  • Brand new, never been lived in before
  • Three bedrooms, two bathrooms, about 110 square meters (1,184 square feet)
  • Kitchen with granite countertops, oven, and gas cooktop
  • Gas water heater (tankless)
  • 10th floor in a high-rise building, with two balconies
  • Pool, sauna and small gym in building
  • 24×7 security
  • Estrato 4 neighborhood
  • Cost: 1,350,000 pesos per month, which is $503 per month at an average exchange rate of 2,685 pesos per USD

My real estate agent has offered to rent the apartment for another year, so we plan to sign another lease to lock in the price for the apartment another year.

View from one of the balconies in the apartment
View from one of the balconies in the apartment

The Bottom Line

With the recently improved exchange rate our new apartment in Sabeneta costs less in terms of USD than the rent we paid over the past two years for a 41 percent smaller apartment in Belén.

I fortunately have exchanged sufficient funds at an average exchange rate of 2,685 pesos to the USD to enable paying another year of rent to lock in $503 per month in rent for two years.

A similar sized (110 square meters) and similar quality unfurnished three-bedroom apartment in El Poblado would likely rent for at least 1,800,000 pesos ($668) per month based on my earlier research and confirmed by my real estate agent.

In El Poblado, a similar apartment would be at least 33 percent more expensive. The bottom line is if you want to save money on apartments in Medellín, you can save substantially by looking outside of El Poblado.

My other living costs will also be less expensive than if I lived in El Poblado. Groceries are less expensive in Sabaneta and utilities are less expensive compared to the mostly Estrato 6 neighborhoods in El Poblado.

Plus pretty much everything else in Sabaneta we have discovered is less expensive than in El Poblado, including restaurants, items in the drugstores, and clothing and other items found in nearby stores.

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LEAVE A REPLY

45 COMMENTS

  1. Jeff,

    Thank you for your insightful and well written descriptive articles about living in Medellin. I plan to move to Medellin on July 27th. I had previously spend about two months there in March and April of this year. I told myself that if I could be away for a few months and miss being there, then it might be for me. And I do miss it.

    During the Flower Festival I have a low cost boutique hotel reserved in Laurelis, but after that I would like to find a two bedroom one bath apartment in an area like Sabeneta.. I have stayed in Poblado and Laurelis and have visited Envigado. But I’d rather not pay the rental prices in Poblado and Envigado.

    Do you know if there are any two bedroom apartments available in your new building or nearby and what the monthly rental range might be. Any direction you can provide would be helpful.

    My intention is to apply for a pensioner’s visa once I’m in Medellin, so being there long term is my goal.

    Thanks for any advice you can provide.

    • Hi Richard,

      Thanks. We only looked at 3-bedroom apartments but I know there are many unfurnished 2-bedroom apartments available in Sabaneta, which you can find on the Espacio Urbano website – https://www.espaciourbano.com/. I suggest looking for apartments in Sabaneta that are in the Aves Maria area or the Parque Sabaneta area.

      When I last surveyed unfurnished apartments in Sabaneta, 2-bedroom apartments that averaged 73 meters in size rented for an average price of 1,044,815 pesos per month. I am pretty sure you could find a nice unfurnished 2-bedroom apartment the rents for between 1 to 1.3 million pesos per month, I know there are several available in that price range.

      I will also send you my real estate agent contact information and he could help you find an apartment.

      • Hi there –

        Firstly, this information is invaluable as i’m literally sitting in medellin trying to find a unfurnished apartment that is almost identical to your criteria. My spanish is still not great and I would tend to want to stay in a zone 5-6 – Having said that, your realtor seems to be quite helpful and speaking english is a huge bonus.

        Would you be kind enough to email me the contact details.

        Very much appreciated and thanks for the information

        • Hi Brian,

          I just sent you contact information for my real estate agent via email. But unfortunately he doesn’t speak much English. Good luck.

          • Hi Jeff,
            Like so many others before me I’d like to have your realtor’s contact info. I’ve patiently read up on relocating to Medellin from my present home in Mexico and must say that the very high quality of your blog is a cut above others I’ve read including those about other cities and subjects.
            Best,
            geoffrey

          • Hi Geoffrey,

            I just sent you my real estate agent contact info via email. I am aware that my agent recently helped another foreigner find an apartment in Medellín. Good luck!

    • Hi Jeff,
      I have been reading your newsletters as well as visiting Medellin for almost 4 years. I have just moved here now and would like to rent and unfurnished apt similar to yours, obtain a retired persons visa. I have been renting vacation apts each time from First American Realy but they do not represent unfurnished except for sales. I am not quite ready to invest permanently at this time. Can you give me the name of an attorney ( I do not speak fluent spanish) and also some good real estate contacts. I do have some bilingual friends who can help me if need. I am from North Carolina.
      Thanks,
      Gene

      • Hi Gene,

        I just sent you contact information for my real estate agent via email. I don’t have an attorney contact in Medellín as I haven’t found the need for one in renting apartments. My real estate agent has fairly standard lease contracts (in Spanish) that I can read.

        Good luck.

  2. Jeff,

    Nice blog post. Also considering moving to Medellin. My requirements are not dissimilar to yours. Interested in your real estate contact info. as well.

    Best,
    Rob

  3. Jeff: I just moved to Sabaneta 2 weeks ago after experiencing a very similar situation like you. Don’t know anyone here yet. We should hang out sometime.

  4. Jeff,
    I have read all of your past posting, and the most current is very timely as I am thinking about relocating from Costa Rica to Medellin. In your bio it states that you are currently studying Spanish. When you have a minute please email me some more information on where you are studying, and what the costs is. Also, the contact information for your real estate agent. (*I am assuming that your real estate agent is fluent in English.)

    • Hi John,

      Thanks. I have been studying Spanish at Univeridad EAFIT, which I wrote about previously – http://www.medellinliving.com/spanish-classes-universidad-eafit/. Spanish classes there now cost 950,000 pesos ($352) each. There is a discount if you pay for classes in advance – 3% discount for paying in advance for more than two or 7% for more than six.

      I will send you my real estate agent contact info via email but unfortunately he doesn’t speak much English.

  5. Fantastic and informative article about sabaneta. I am currently living in Poblado. Sabaneta seems to be the place for me. I like everything about it.
    What are the chances of finding a small one bedroom or a studio that is furnished for around 400$ plus utilities without a fiador. I am retired on a pension so I have plenty of time to explore on foot looking for signs, talking to people etc…talked to a lady who owned a restaraunt in the food court at the mall. She had an apt in a hi rise for 400$ but it was unfurnished.

    I have medium spanish skills but always seem to be able to communicate without much of a problem.

    Thanks for posting such great info.

    Ron

    • Hi Ron,

      Thanks! I’m not really aware of the furnished apartments in Sabaneta as that wasn’t what I was looking for since I have furniture that I moved from my old apartment. Most of the furnished apartments in Medellín I am aware of are located in El Poblado, Envigado, Laureles and Belén and a few in El Centro. There are a few listed in Sabaneta on Airbnb but they are more expensive than your budget. Cheapest I saw on Airbnb in Sabaneta is $600 per month for a 1 bedroom place that is 5 blocks from the Metro and 2 blocks from Parque Sabaneta (https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/4735340).

      But that’s not to say that you can’t find one around your budget by exploring on foot looking for signs, talking to people etc. There are rental signs on many apartment buildings in Sabaneta. Sabaneta is also very walkable with many nice apartment buildings within walking distance from Parque Sabaneta. You could also consider renting an unfurnished place and furnishing it fairly cheaply.

      By the way, it’s now two weeks since I moved and I am loving living in Sabaneta with my new Colombian wife. The weather is perfect (somewhat cooler than Belén where I moved from), people are respectful and it’s easy to go anywhere. Plus everything in nearby stores is cheaper than in Belén or El Poblado.

  6. I appreciate the information you have posted here. I am looking for an unfurnished apartment and the area you describe seems that it would fit my needs. I am moving from Pereira asap (hopefully by the end of the month). Please send your realtors info as I could use someone that is recommended. Thanks in advance!

  7. Hello, Jeff. Thank you you for sharing all this information with us. I’m moving to Medellin very soon and will need to rent an apartment for sure as I plan to stay for a long time. My Spanish isn’t there yet, but I have some friends in the city who can help me. I would appreciate if you could send me your real estate agent contacts.

    Cheers,
    Ilya

  8. hi jeff
    could you send me your real estate agent’s contact info? we are looking at renting a 3 bedroom
    apartment in sept in laureles, belen or poblado. we would like an estrato 5 or 6. my girlfriend and
    her two kids live in Villa Hermosa and i want to upgrade as i have done a year there and it’s time to
    move on. my budget is pretty high so i am looking for someplace nice. hopefully next year i will buy
    us a place in El Poblado. thanks, kirby

    • Hi Kirby,

      I just sent you my Medellín real estate agent contact info via email.

      Laureles, Belén or El Poblado will be a nice upgrade from Villa Hermosa. Good luck!

  9. Hi Jeff,

    I am considering moving to Medellin and would like to know your Realtors name and phone. Does he speak English?

    Thanks

    • Thanks. That fast talking Spanish in the video is difficult to understand for some.

      Here’s a link with details about the rental system in Colombia in English – http://www.globalpropertyguide.com/Latin-America/colombia/Landlord-and-Tenant. Note that monthly rent is limited to 1% of the property value. There can be an increase in rent every 12 months of leasing but I have never experienced a rent increase when renewing. The increase is limited to the increase in the Consumer Price Index for the immediately preceding calendar year. Also deposits are reportedly prohibited in Colombia but I know some foreigners that have been asked for deposits.

  10. Hey Jeff,

    Thanks for sharing your rental insights in your excellent guides!
    I am also looking to rent in Medellin, (Envigado, Laureles, Belén) could you please send me contact details for your estate agent? Keep doing what you’re doing!

    Thanks in advance,

    Robz

    • Hi Robz,

      I just sent you contact info for my real estate agent. I am aware that he recently helped another foreigner find an apartment in Medellín (note I provided contact info of my agent to this foreigner). Good luck!

  11. Good Day to all of you who may be looking for a fantastic place to live… My roommates and I are looking for the right people to rent a beautiful, hard-wood floor room & ensuite in a gorgeous home in the ideal neighborhood. We work in adventure tourism (see website below) so if you want to be part of an active, engaged community in Medellin, this is your home.

    Close to buses, parks, Euro at the Frontera (Poblado) and it feels like you live in the country-side! Includes: Wifi, hot water, private bathroom, walk-in closet, and use of common living spaces, fully- equipped kitchen, laundry machine,weekly cleaning, garage, garden. $900,000 Informes 310-537-9626 or whatsapp 314-714-8083.

    Habitaciones amobladas en Envigado. Cerca buses, parque, euro de la frontera (poblado) y se siente como en el campo!Incluye: Wifi, agua caliente, uso de zonas comunes y de la cocina completamente equipada, lavado de la ropa, aseo semanal, garage, jardin. $900,000 Informes 310-537-9626 or whatsapp 314-714-8083.

  12. Hello Jeff,

    thank you so much for your helpful information! We are a family of four having recently moved to Medellin. So far we have lived in furnished apartments and AirBnB. Now we want to move in a a cheaper unfurnished apartment. Would you be so kind and share also with us your real estate agent’s contact information?
    Do you also have a suggestion where to find a nice but not so pricey furniture store somehow comparing to Ikea?
    Thank you so much!

    • Hi Dana,

      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.

      Regarding furniture, I bought a number of furniture pieces at Fabricas Unidas in Itagui, which is one of the largest furniture stores in the Medellín metro area where you can buy entire rooms of furniture, which can enable fast furnishing of an apartment. They frequently have sales so watch for sales. Every furniture piece I bought there was on sale. I also bought some furniture in small furniture stores on Ochenta in Belén – near the Los Molinos mall. Also I bought mattresses in small mattress stores near the Homecenter store near the Suramericana metro stop that sell mattresses about 40 to 50 percent cheaper than in the mattress stores in malls. I also bought a few pieces of furniture in Jamar in Mayorca mall, which is a furniture store with decent prices and frequent sales.

      • Thanks for the reply! Will definitely check out these furniture stores.
        Regarding renting directly from owner: How to find apartments advertised directly? In the real estate website mentioned above I have the impression you only see advertisements of agencies.

        • Most unfurnished apartments available for rental are advertised by real estate agencies with signs in windows and posts on websites like Espacio Urbano.

          You can find owner contact information by sweet talking to the doormen in high-rise apartment buildings or maybe even offering a bit of money – this will require Spanish. The doormen will typically know about vacant apartments available for rent and will also have owner contact info. The doorman may want to give the agency contact information but insist on the owner contact information. Most owners won’t speak much English so Spanish will normally be required. I have met several expats that have used this approach to rent unfurnished apartments directly from owners.

          In my case I started renting from my apartment owner at lease renewal time this year as I started having problems with my real estate agent. The owner was also having problems so he didn’t want to do business with the real estate agency anymore and the owner contacted me directly to renew with him. Plus my owner fortunately speaks fluent English so renewing directly with him was painless.

  13. Jeff,Thanks for the great info. I will be in Sabaneta 15 Jan 2017 and need a 3 bedroom/2 bath rental for
    long term. unfurnished is the best for me. I know Sabaneta and its beautiful. if you know of one please
    inform me , I want to be your friend and have some dinner,s together on me ,please help if possible.

    Thank you very much

    Lloyd & Sunny

  14. Jeff, This is my first post but I have been reading Medellin Living for the past two years. I just got back from my third trip to Medellin (two weeks this time looking at apartments in Sabaneta). I found a nice 3-2 on CR43A (Bonavento) but passed because I won’t be moving there until June. I will be buying a new furnishings when I do move and would like to know when are some sales dates for the businesses you and others have mentioned.

    Thanks,

    David

    • For furniture, http://www.fabricasunidas.com/ frequently has sales advertised on their website. They are currently running a promotion in February with some items on sale for up to 70% off. Exito and Jumbo frequently have sales for appliances and TVs. They normally have at least some appliances and TVs on sale most of the time.

  15. Hi Jeff,

    I have heard that an immigration office may be opening in Medellin. Is that true and if so, will this replace the need to go to Bogota to get a TP-7 retiree residency?

    David

    • HI David,

      There is already a Migración Colombia office in Medellín located at Calle 19 #80A-40 that is used to get a cedula. Migración Colombia does not issue visas..

      Visas are only issued in Colombia at the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores office located in Bogotá at Avenida 19 # 98-03, Torre 100 Building, 3rd Floor. I haven’t heard about Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores planning to open an office in Medellín to issue visas and I doubt this will happen. They have an office in Medellín already that only issues Colombian Passports.

      Visas are applied for online but you will need to go to Bogotá to get the visa in your passport or use a visa service. Some expats use visa services to avoid a trip to Bogotá and to help with the application process.