Buenos Aires: Underrated and Undiscovered

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One of the green streets of the Caicedo neighborhood.
One of the green streets of the Caicedo neighborhood.
One of the green streets heading into Comuna Buenos Aires.

The hills ebb and flow throughout the neighborhood and there are so many of them you wonder if they could even slow Lance Armstrong, ‘roids or no ‘roids.

As my buddy Xaq and I were walking around, we decided at one point to take a taxi to get to one destination, and we were glad we did because it would have been a brutal climb.

At other times, we made them. We wanted to feel Comuna Buenos Aires.

There is no metro station here, although there is a blue bus that passes through the district, a bus that says La Milagrosa.

We never took it, but we took a lot of photos and a lot of knowledge from the trip.

History of Buenos Aires

Like so many other parts of the city, Buenos Aires is not only a comuna, it’s a neighborhood too.

The neighborhood is in the center of an area bordered by the Ayacucho (or Calle 49) to the north, Carrera 39 and La Asomadera park to the west, a smattering of neighborhoods to the south near Via Las Palmas (the road to Jose Maria Cordova International Airport), and Santa Elena to the east.

Those hills, in Santa Elena, are where some people came from to settle this part of the city. Others came from other parts of the valley, when Don Modesto Molina was selling lots in 1974, according to Comuna 9 Medellin, a blog about the district.

Older maps show that at one time the valley was pockmarked with pocket communities, none of them connected, each a horse ride away from the other.

Buenos Aires started off the same way.

Today it’s a working class region of 135,000 people with lots of potential, as they city is undertaking an ambitious project to revitalize the area to create a better quality of life.

La Asomadera, the big park along the western edge of the comuna, is one of the area's attractions.
La Asomadera, the big park along the western edge of the comuna, is one of the area’s attractions.

Points of Interest

I mentioned La Asomadera briefly and it might be the best place to spend some time in this area.

It’s a big park with recreational facilities such as a playground, outdoor gym and swimming pool. There are also running trails and gazebos where you can eat and relax.

It’s all atop a hill that overlooks parts of the city.

If you want a smaller park, go to Parque La Milagrosa, which is way up the hill to the east. Here, too, can you get a nice view of parts of the city.

I loved my hearty lunch. I just wish Colombians wouldn't use so much salt.
I loved my hearty lunch. I just wish Colombians wouldn’t use so much salt.

Food

If you’re looking for the variety of Laureles or Poblado, get over it.

This is a traditional Colombian comuna, a place where the best food you find will be the kind native to this country.

I had a nice bandeja paisa at Restaurante Sanoca, a restaurant that overlooks the west side of Parque La Milagrosa. It was only 8,000 pesos (about $4).

I did notice a pizza and lasagna place, even a Chinese restaurant, but I get the feeling you can find better options elsewhere.

Nightlife

You won’t think of it as the Zona Rosa but there are a handful of fun bars where you can have a good time.

Check out Flora Terraza BarCosmopolitan, Varsity and Cuba Salsa Bar.

Shopping Malls

This isn’t where you go to find a shopping mall, but Centro Comercial San Diego in northern Poblado isn’t too far.

Safety

When I wrote my post about Belen, one of our readers lamented my opinion that it’s a fairly safe area. He cited crime statistics and the fact that Dave got robbed.

Here’s why I don’t like crime statistics or someone talking about a bad experience: people look at them in a vacuum.

Most of those numbers are tied to people involved in nefarious activities, not the everyday folks just trying to make a living. I have two good friends from Comuna Buenos Aires, Luis and Milena, and neither has ever complained about anything.

As for Dave, he has admitted he should have been more careful with his Blackberry when he was in the taxi.

Now here’s my experience in Comuna 9: people will stare because they’re curious. They just want to talk.

Now if you walk around drunk at 3 in the morning…

Cost of Living

Because 87 percent of the comuna is considered Estrado 2 or 3 on a scale with 6 being the highest, you can find great deals here.

The gringos have not invaded. Yet.

That means prices a little less than Belen but a little more than Centro, around 400,000 to 1 million pesos per month ($200 to $500), with higher costs the result of apartments already furnished with all services included.

If I were looking to save money, I would live there. But I don’t have to. I found a great deal recently in Envigado.

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16 COMMENTS

  1. Interesting article Ryan. I have not been to Comuna Buenos Aires. But, I good friend Alonzo stayed there. He had great things to say about the area.I am looking forward to staying there on my next visit to Medellin. As for the Belen incident, I too have been very critical. You can’t have it both ways…simple. First the gentleman says he was robbed in Belen and implied it was a bad place. Then, he recommends the place months later. My advise to the adventurer is to do your own research. Peace, Larry.

    • Hi Larry, when you’re life is threatened without warning by a man with gun, it’s hard for readers not to infer you’re in a dangerous area.

      Feel free to read my post again, because I don’t see where I “implied it was a bad place.” If anything, I took the opposite approach and tried to stick with the facts, tell the story in a compelling way, and not sensationalize the event. I have no desire to give Belen a bad name.

      I know plenty of people who’ve been robbed all over the city: Belen, Laureles, Poblado, Centro. When people ask me about safety here, I tell them all the same thing. Your biggest concern should be common street criminals, and they can strike at any time, anywhere.

      Also, Ryan was the one who wrote the profile of Belen that you’re referring to when you say “he recommends the place months later” but of course I reviewed it before hitting “publish” and didn’t disagree with what he stated about the area. We don’t always share the same opinions (especially in regard to restaurants), but when it comes to Belen we’re on the same page.

      My goal with Medellin Living has always been to give everyone a better feel and understanding for the various parts of the city, and let them decide where they want to spend their time. And in that regard, it seems we too are on the same page.

    • hey larry, i don’t think dave ever said it was a bad place. he simply described his experience on what was a bad day. i think no matter where you live, there are good days and bad days.

  2. hola yo vivo en Buenos Aires y creo que te falto algo por decir, hay muchos supermercados económicos como merkopolis, D1, surtimax y consumo y el barrio queda muy cerca al centro yo me bajo caminando en 10 minutos!

  3. There is a reason why Comuna Buenos Aires is “Underrated and Undiscovered” by foreigners. Buenos Aires is predominately an Estrato 2 or 3 neighborhood where 86% of the population is living in Estrato 2 or 3. This compares to Belén where 81% of the population lives in Estrato 3, 4 or 5 or Laureles-Estadio where 99% of the population lives in Estrato 4 or 5 or El Poblado where 74% of the population lives in Estrato 6.

    The average Estratos of these comunas in Medellín are:

    2.8 Buenos Aires
    3.5 Belén
    4.6 Laureles-Estadio
    5.6 El Poblado

    I personally believe that most foreigners would want to live in an Estrato 4, 5 or 6 neighborhood (unless they speak fluent Spanish), which would eliminate all but about 11% of Buenos Aires. My experience is that there is a correlation between Estrato and apartment costs, that is why apartments are lower cost to buy and rent in Buenos Aires compared to Belén, Laureles-Estadio and El Poblado. There is also some correlation between Estrato and safety with lower Estrato neighborhoods generally tending to have higher crime rates.

    I have a friend who lives in Buenos Aires and it is not a neighborhood I would want to live. There is no metro access so your options are buses and taxis. There are no western shopping malls. There aren’t that many restaurant options other than traditional Colombian food and I am not aware of one of the large Exito or Jumbo supermarkets in this neighborhood.

      • Yes, water, gas, electric rates are lower for the lower Estrato areas as well as lower rates for Interent/telephone/TV charges. At the current exchange rate I pay about $52 per month for my combined electric/gas/water EPM bill for a three bedroom apartment in an Estrato 4 neighborhood in Belén. I also pay $52 per month for triple-play service from Claro with 10MB Internet, a couple hundred TV channels including a bunch of HD channels for 2 TVs, and telephone service. These rates would be higher in Estrato 5 or 6 areas or even lower in Estrato 2 or 3.

    • well, jeff, i guess you’re fortunate that you have found all the comforts of home so you don’t have to feel like you ever left your original home, and you never have to truly experience medellin at all. suerte!

      • Actually I experience Medellín every day by not living in the more Americanized El Poblado and taking the metro every day to school and having been to pretty much every neighborhood in Medellín over the past 3+ years. I almost never hear English and have to use Spanish everywhere. I experience the near perfect climate of La Ciudad de la Eterna Primavera every day – which results in no need for heating or cooling except for an occasional fan. I also experience the lower living costs possible in Medellín for almost everything compared to the US. I actually agree with Anthony Bourdain who may have put it best when he said “It’s almost ludicrous that this place exists and that everybody doesn’t want to live here.“

  4. Me and a buddy are looking for an apartment, preferably furnished, but unfurnished would be acceptable. I hope it’s OK to leave my name so people can reach me via FB (Arthur T Williams IV). I can also say that I agree wholeheartedly that it’s crazy some many foreigners go to great foreign cities (eg. in Colombia, Vietnam, Thailand, Portugal) but stick to areas which seem to be doing everything they can to mimic the US. Colombians are generally great people so I don’t know why anyone wouldn’t want to absorb as much of the culture as possible.

    Art