Medellín vs Pereira: Two Cities of Eternal Spring in Colombia

View of Pereira
View of Pereira

Medellín gets all the press but Colombia actually has two cities of eternal spring and the much smaller Pereira is actually a very viable place to live with a similar climate. We compare these two cities in this Medellín vs Pereira comparison.

I have lived in Medellín for well over five years but I have traveled to Pereira several times, which is also known as a city that is best described as a mini-Medellín.

Many Colombians I have met in Pereira feel that the city doesn’t yet get the recognition it deserves.

Not many expats have discovered Pereira compared to Medellín due to Medellín getting much positive press and frequently being rated one of the best foreign cities to live or retire to. Pereira in comparison is definitely off the beaten path.

Medellín has a metro population of about 3.8 million, while Pereira’s metro population is less then 1 million making it about a quarter of the size.

But Pereira is a big enough city that it has many of the same shopping options found in Medellín, including Exito, Jumbo, Homecenter, PriceSmart and Makro plus the top shopping mall in Pereira, Parque Arboleda, rivals the best shopping malls in Medellín.

We’ll compare these two cities in 10 categories, in no particular order.

Note in this article we only include photos of Pereira as this website already has countless photos of Medellín.

Benticur’s nude Bolívar statue in Parque Bolíver in Pereira
Rodridgo Arenas Benticourt’s nude Bolívar statue in Parque Bolíver in Pereira

1. Climate

It’s a Tie. Medellín is at an elevation of about 4,905 feet (1,495 meters) and Pereira is at an elevation of about 4,629 feet (1,411 meters). Both cities are in valleys surrounded by mountains.

The average temperature during the year in Medellín is 72 ° F (22 °C) and in Pereira the average is also 72 ° F (22 °C).

In Medellín, the average daily high temperature ranges from 81.0 to 82.8 ° F (27.0 to 28.2 °C) and the average daily low ranges from 61.7 to 63.3 ° F (16.5 to 17.4 °C).

In Pereira, the average daily high temperature ranges from 78.3 to 80.8 ° F (25.7 to 27.1 °C) and the average daily low ranges from 61.7 to 62.6 ° F (16.5 to 17.0 °C).

In both cities the temperatures are fairly constant year-round, which is why both are known as cities of “Eternal Spring”.

Linos & Parrilla – good steaks in Pereira
Linos & Parrilla – good steaks in Pereira

2. Restaurants and Nightlife

Medellín wins here. Medellín is a much bigger city so it obviously has many more restaurant and nightlife options.

Medellín has many more restaurant options, many of which have been covered on this website. TripAdvisor lists less than 140 restaurants in Pereira and well over 900 restaurants in Medellín when you include the other municipalities in the metro area like Envigado and Sabaneta.

But Pereira still has a number of good restaurants, I found good steak, seafood, Colombian, Italian, Indian and Mexican restaurants in the city, several of which rival the best found in Medellín.

Medellín has more nightlife options that have been covered extensively on this site but Pereira also has some sizzling nightlife that draws visitors from around the coffee region.

Apartments in upscale Pineras area of Pereira
Apartments in upscale Pineras area of Pereira

3. Cost of Living

Pereira easily wins here. Similar properties I have seen in Pereira in Estrato 5 or 6 neighborhoods tend to rent for or sell for at least 20-25 percent less than in Medellín.

Other costs like groceries, taxis, restaurants and other things tend to be at least 5-10 percent cheaper in Pereira in comparison to Medellín.

For example, I compared the prices of groceries in Exito in the two cities and on average prices in Exito in Pereira were about 7 percent less than in Medellín.

Picturesque nearby Salento (Photo by: Sebasmrodriquez)
Picturesque nearby Salento (Photo by: Sebasmrodriquez)

4. Things To Do

It’s arguably a Tie. Both cities have many things to do in the city as well as many things to do nearby.

Pereira is one of the three cities that make up the Coffee Triangle, along with the nearby cities of Armenia and Manizales. As part of the coffee region, stunning scenery and picturesque small pueblos surround Pereira, particularly the popular nearby Salento pueblo.

Medellín also has several picturesque small pueblos nearby including the popular Guatapé and Santa Fe de Antioquia pueblos.

Inside Parque Arboleda mall, the best mall in Pereira
Inside Parque Arboleda mall, the best mall in Pereira

5. Safety

It’s a Tie. Both cities were at the top of a recent survey of 12,548 in Colombia in terms of citizens feeling safe in their barrio.

In this study (slide 41) citizens felt the safest in Medellín, followed by Pereira.

6. Healthcare

Medellín clearly wins here. Medellín has eight of the top rated hospitals in Latin America, while Pereira has none.

However, Pereira still has several quality medical facilities and many highly skilled doctors. In fact I have heard that in the coffee region, many smaller pueblos such as Salento get their medical needs taken care of in Pereira.

7. Pollution

Pereira wins here. As a much smaller city, Pereira doesn’t have all the cars or industry that is found in Medellín so the city has less pollution.

Medellín was ranked #9 in a list of the most polluted cities in Latin America released by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Medellín has recently been putting in place measures to fight increased pollution in the city. For example, the city implemented car/motorcycle free days and banned official vehicles. The city also banned outdoor activities on some days.

8. Traffic

Pereira also wins here. Waze ranked Medellín with the eighth worst traffic globally in a study last year that looked at 167 cities worldwide.

Pereira obviously has less traffic being a much smaller city with fewer vehicles.

The worst traffic I have experienced in Pereira was about 30 minutes; in Medellín the worst traffic I have experienced has been well over 90 minutes getting from El Pobaldo to Bello.

9. Ease of Access to the US and Europe

Medellín wins here. Medellín has several non-stop, direct flights to the States plus one non-stop flight to Europe, while in Pereira you need to connect in Bogotá or Panama City to get to the US or to Europe.

However, there is an Avianca flight from Pereira to New York City (JFK) but it stops first in Cartagena, so it’s not non-stop.  Or you can drive about an hour from Pereira to Armenia, which has a non-stop Spirit flight direct to Fort Lauderdale.

From Medellín you can fly non-stop to Atlanta, Fort Lauderdale, Miami and New York.  From Medellín you can also fly direct to Madrid in Europe.

10. Seismic Risk

Medellín wins here. Pereira and the coffee region have a history of seismic activity.   During the 20th century, Pereira and the nearby region experienced at least seven major seismic events.

Medellín is also at risk but hasn’t really experienced many earthquakes historically or near as much damage as experienced in Pereira.

During the most recent earthquakes in Pereira in 1995 and 1999 several older private homes as well as some public buildings, roads, hospitals, and other structures were damaged.

But seismic risk can be mitigated – recently built buildings in Pereira as well as many of the older buildings in the city are built to withstand seismic activity. The city has also become much stricter about its building codes.

View of Pereira at night from Mirador outlook
View of Pereira at night from Mirador outlook

The Bottom Line

In our Medellín vs Pereira comparison, Medellín beats out Pereira in four of our 10 categories; Pereira beats out Medellín in three categories and the two cities tie in three categories. So the end result in this somewhat subjective comparison of 10 categories is a slight edge to Medellín with the categories equally weighted.

But to each his own and to really determine which city is best for you to live depends on which categories are more important to you with a higher weighting for more important categories.

For example, if cost of living and avoiding traffic and avoiding pollution were most important, Pereira would win. If healthcare, ease of access to the U.S. and restaurants and nightlife are your most important categories, Medellín would win.

The bottom line is that Pereira is a viable place to live with a similar climate to Medellín but with a lower cost of living.

The only way to know which city is better is to spend time in both. I have now spent time in both cities and if I weren’t already living in Medellín before I discovered Pereira I would possibly choose Pereira, which is away from the typical gringo trail and is part of the Coffee Triangle.

Like the story? Take a second to support Medellin Living on Patreon!
Previous articleDonating a Roof in Comuna 13
Next articleShopping at Tiendas D1 to Save on Groceries
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.



  1. You missed out comparing wildlife and natural attractions near the cities. Pereira IMHO would win as it has thermal springs and various wildlife attractions. My wife is from Cali and comparing Pereira to Cali is no contest, it is a 100x times better than Cali.

    • Yes the hot springs near Pereira are nice and there are many wildlife and natural attractions near the city. I agree with you that Pereira is a much better place to live than Cali. Both Medellín and Pereira regularly are ranked by Colombians in surveys as two of the top cities in Colombia to live.

      Manizales also is ranked highly by Colombians but it’s too small of a city for me, it’s also too hilly, has a colder climate and it doesn’t have all the shopping and restaurant options found in bigger Pereira.

      I am surprised at how few expats have discovered Pereira as the city compares pretty favorably with Medellín.

        • I rented a furnished apartment using Airbnb during my last trip to Pereira. The apartment was conveniently located a few blocks from the Parque Arboleda mall and I was very happy with the apartment. Make sure to look for highly rated apartments as some apartments on Airbnb in Pereira have no ratings, which would make them more risky.

          I speak decent Spanish and haven’t yet found an English speaking real estate agent in Pereira.

  2. The caption on the first photo of the naked Bolívar says “Benticur” but his last name is Arenas and second last name is Betancourt. His full name is Rodrigo Arenas Betancourt and he was born in Fredonia, Antioquia and is know as the best Antioquias sculptor, probably even bigger than Botero.

    Another very nice thing about Pereira is that the first settlers came from Antioquia so it´s the same entrepreneurial spirit and hospitable people.

    • Thanks, I corrected the caption. I got the incorrect name from an English language Colombia guidebook, which are typically full of errors. The English language Colombia guidebooks are uniformly poor IMHO.

      I understand that especially in the 1920s, settlers from Antioquia moved to Pereira for its economically strategic location, fertile soil, and very good weather.

      I also heard from many in Pereira that residents from neighboring smaller cities like Armenia and Manizales come to Pereira to shop as there are many things found in Pereira that can’t be found in the smaller cities.

    • “Hidden gem” — I like that and I believe it’s an appropriate description of Pereira. I met a few expats living in Pereira that told me they hoped that word wouldn’t get out about Pereira…

  3. As as far as flights to the US go, Spirit now has non-stop flights from Fort Lauderdale to Armenia. I accidentally found that out, when I recently missed my flight to Medellin, and as an option they offered me a flight to Armenia instead. For the same price. Of course they lost my luggage, and it took me 5 days to finally get it and Medellin! But now that I know this option to fly to Armenia exist, I will definitely check it out in the very near future thanks to this article!

    • Thanks for the information. That is pretty surprising that Spirit chose to offer direct flights to Armenia over Pereira as Pereira is a much bigger city. But Armenia is pretty close to Pereira, it’s only about an hour drive so it’s a viable option – considering that Medellín’s José María Córdova International Airport is 45 minutes to an hour from the city.

      The airport in Pereira is small but the airport in Armenia is tiny with only 4 gates. The airport in Armenia typically serves about half the passengers annually as the airport in Pereira does.

  4. Interesting article Jeff. However, it would have been much better if it was less “US-centric”. For example, your could have listed the temperatures in Celsius as well as Fahrenheit. Also it would have been nice if you’d considered accessibility options to other parts of the world… Europe, Asia etc. Note not all your readers hail from the US! 

    • Hi Robz,

      Thanks for sharing the feedback. While the majority of our readers (37%) are accessing the site from the United States, we do want Medellín Living to be as inclusive as possible.

      Including temperatures in Celsius is easy enough to do, so we can discuss making that change to our editorial guidelines.

    • Thanks for the feedback. The article has been updated to include temperatures in Celsius, distances in meters and also accessibility from Europe.

  5. Actually there is a flight from Pereira to New York(JFK) via Avianca . 45 minutes technical stop at Cartagena. Nice article my friend!

    • Thanks. Yes I’m aware of that but it’s technically not a non-stop, direct flight to JFK since it stops in Cartagena. This is similar to Avianca’s flight from Cali to JFK that stops first in Medellín.

      So from Pereira to get to the US you have options to connect in Bogotá or Panama City to enable getting to several cities in the US or there is this Avianca flight from Pereira with a stop in Cartagena to get to JFK. Or you can drive from Pereira to Armenia and take Spirit non-stop to Fort Lauderdale – but Spirit is the most hated airline in the US plus I don’t think that is a daily flight.

      But still no non-stop, direct flights to the US or Europe from Pereira.

      For domestic Colombian flights from Pereira you can fly non-stop to Bogotá, Medellín, Cali, Cartagena and Santa Marta.

      • In airline lingo a “direct” flight indicates there will be a stop but no change of aircraft is required. If there is a change of aircraft it’s called a “connecting” flight. “Non-stop” is self explanatory.

  6. Hi Jeff:
    Great Article, Thanks much!! …I live in Pereira so I loved your positive comments on my native city.

    What I like the most of my hometown is that you only have to drive 15 minutes from La Plaza de Bolívar and you will find yourself out in the countryside!!

    I have a small but cozy cabin by the Otun River in la FLorida (Corregimiento de Pereira just 13 Kms from Downtown) and out there we are sorrounded by montains, the river there is still so clear and pristine, all kinds all birds are singing everywhere and you get to see and hear the howler monkeys.

    Peace , calmness and contemplation of natureand just minutes away from Los Nevados National Park and inside of el Santuario de Fauna y Flora Otun Quimbaya.

    Please do come to this great land, full of nature. I personally will show it to you and I will be more than glad to host you.



    • Next year I will come and visit you. Your Cabin interests me most. I would like to find a small cabin with a small garden next to it. Have any of these there?

      • Just found this site. I’m interested in how things r going for you. Have u found what u r looking 4? Btw, I’m interested in expatriating, but, approaching 70 & infirm because of severe back pain & speaking only a smattering of Spanish, am somewhat apprehensive about doing so. I’m hoping, however, that I have one more adventure in my life. I do want to emphasize that I’m not interested in a North American enclave. Most respectfully,

    • What are the rents like SPECIALY compared to Medellin?
      Yo hablo español desde niño.
      El Poblado compared to a similar place in Pereira.
      I have never been in Colombia yet but plan to go because we are allowed 6 months as USA citizens and my girlfriend from the Philippines is also allowed 6 months.I guess afterwards we could go to Ecuador for another 6 months.
      But the cost of living is very important to me.
      At the same time On the place that I live I usually prefer a nicer place. I don’t skimp on comfort and safety.
      That’s why ask you about a similar place to El Poblado. Close to restaurants etc.
      I currently live in Asia.

      • Apartment rents in Pereira are cheaper than Medellín for similar properties. For example, I surveyed 15 two-bedroom apartments in Pereira in Estrato 5/6 areas and the average rent was about 1.15 million pesos per month, which is much cheaper than similar properties in El Poblado in Medellín. These apartments in Pereira were in the Pineras and La Circunvalar (Zona C) areas, which are in some ways similar to El Poblado. La Circunvalar is close to shopping and many restaurants are within walking distance.

      • Hi Walter
        Rent and real estate is more ior less 15 to 20% lower compared to those ofrece Medellin.

        A two bedroom aparment located in Pinares can be rented for Us 350-390 per month with the administration fee included.

        Greetings from Pereira


        • The rental prices are more than 20% lower in Pereira compared to those offered Medellín. I am very familiar with the rental prices in Medellín based on a survey of 600 unfurnished apartments in November last year. See:

          In El Poblado in Medellín the average rent for the 45 two-bedroom apartments I surveyed was 1.8 million pesos. So the apartment rental prices in Pereira for similar properties are substantially cheaper.

          In Medellín you would have to go to estrato 4 barrios in areas like Sabaneta or Belen to find comparable prices to the estrato 6 or 5 apartments in Pereira in the Pinares or La Circunvalar areas. But these are wouldn’t be similar apartments since they are in different estratos. If you compare estrato 4 in Medellín with estrato 4 in Pereira, you will also see a big price difference.

      • Hi Walter,

        I was born, raised and still live in Pereira. As far as nice and safe neighbourhoods goes, I suggest you look for places in Pinares, Los Álamos, Los Alpes or Circunvalar. These are the more upscale neighbourhoods in the city, and given that Pereira is pretty small, they are all close to the main tourist spots. Perhaps Los Álamos is the most distant neighbourhood, but it’s still close enough. You shouldn’t have any trouble with public transportation as buses are frequent, but I still prefer using taxis as they are not that expensive.

        I hope you find this little piece of information useful.


        Ana María

  7. Nice article,
    I came down to Pereira back in 2009 from Glendora CA. And i dont want to go back haha,
    Pereira is a beautiful city, plus i got married to a beautiful Pereirana and now we have a 1 year old girl,,, been to Medellin but is not as safe as Pereira, here you can walk in downtown with ur Iphone or S7 samsum and nothing bad would happen, you can’t do the same in Medellin.
    Medellin is to big, to much traffic, and is more expensive.
    Any help in pereira contact me

  8. Nice article Jeff,living in Medellin,Sabaneta for about a year,and already been in Pereira for about 4 days your article is very accurate,is very similarity between the 2 cities of eternal spring,both citizens are proud to be called “paisas”,this are like sister cities,people like each others,but in one comparison I would guive my vote by a mile to Medellin too,things to do!! Medellin has more modern sportt facilities (Estadio Atanasio Girardot with many soccer,football,acuatic complex with many pools,basketball,volleyball,all in one place,,and many experience in Internacional Competitions including the South American Games),The new BMX Supercross Pista in Belen ready for the World BMX Championship first time in Colombia,on May 25,26,27,28 and 29,with hundreds of international participants including olimpic Gold Medallist from Medellin Mariana Pajon.also want to mention Plaza Mayor events during the year,too many too mention including Colombia Moda,,la “Feria de las Flores” celebrated every year,and too many parks includind Parque Explora,Jardin Botanico,Planetarium,Parque Arvi,Medellin Zoo,severtal museums,the “Pueblito Pisa”,many beautiful “pueblitos” near like La Ceja,El Retiro,Santa Fe,Jardin,that you will never get bored living in Medellin in your lifetime,that is why I will honestly guive my vote to Medellin over Pereira in Things to Do,not to miss my favorite place to walk La milla de Oro”n beautiful Poblado Avenue.Thanks for your posts.

    • Thanks. Pereira also has many things to do that IMHO rival what Medellín has as Pereira is part of the coffee triangle with so many things to do in the coffee region. I have spent over a month in and around Pereira and have only scratched the surface of things to do in and around the city…

      Parque del Café, the Metecana zoo, Parque Consota, Parque L Pradera, Parque Ucumari, several different coffee tours, museums, Kasaguadua Natural Reserve, the large Hernan Ramirez Villegas Stadium that can accommodate more than 35,000 spectators, the annual Fiestas de la Cosecha or Harvest Fest. There are nearby plantations with capacity for between 20 and 25 people, places for camping, lakes for fishing and excursions on horseback. The Santa Rosa hot springs are nearby. There’s taking a trip to the Parque Nacional Natural Los Nevados, where you can see the snow capped mountain Santa Isabel and the lagoons of Otún, Negra and Leona. Plus there are many small pueblos in the area including famous Salento and you are only an hour from the smaller cities of Armenia and Manizales. And much more…

      I’m pretty sure I could come up with similar sized lists of things to do in and around both Medellín and Pereira that’s why I put them as a tie for things to do with my subjective rating. But granted there definitely are more sports facilities in the bigger city of Medellín.

      • Real cost of living in Pereira?
        Quality of life in Pereira?
        Compare it to living in El Poblado.
        Rent restaurants movies electricity.
        Thanks for the article and your info.
        How do you get around and how confortable and safe is public transportation?
        How much are taxis? Are the taxis metered?
        Not interested in nightclubs or drinks at all. Restaurants, yes, good value, clean, family oriented and inexpensive.
        How much is a meal? Breakfast, lunch and dinner. (separately)
        How much is it to buy-rent a car or motorcycle?
        Thanks for your help?

        • Hi Walter,

          The cost of living was covered in the article above — Similar properties I have seen in Pereira in Estrato 5 or 6 neighborhoods tend to rent for or sell for at least 20-25 percent less than in Medellín. Other costs like groceries, taxis, restaurants and other things tend to be at least 5-10 percent cheaper in Pereira in comparison to Medellín. For example, I compared the prices of groceries in Exito in the two cities and on average prices in Exito in Pereira were about 7 percent less than in Medellín. Depending on your lifestyle it would be possible to live in Pereira for less than $1,000 per month.

          If you live in La Circunvalar many places in Pereira will be in walking distance. The taxis and buses are cheap and the city is small so you may not need a vehicle. Taxis in Pereira are metered and the costs were already covered in one of my comments below.

          Restaurant costs in Pereira range from 6,000-10,000 pesos for an inexpensive local breakfast or lunch to over 50,000 pesos for a good dinner in a nice restaurant.

          For car and motorcycle prices in Pereira you can look online to get an idea of prices. Look at for new or used cars in Colombia in any city. Or for motorcycle prices in many cities.

  9. AS one who lived in Colombia some 40 years ago I like Pereira. I lived in Cali, Bogota, Medellin and Pereira. I have also spent vacations in Colombia.
    Pereira stuck in my mind even back then. So next year I plan on taking my early retirement in that city.

  10. I’ll add my voice to the chorus of compliments and thanks for the article. As I ponder my relocation from (Cuenca) Ecuador to Colombia later this year, I had been focused on Medellin, but a month or two ago I started looking at Pereira as well to see what I can learn about it, but there isn’t much good information on Pereira out there yet.

    I plan to stay there at least a week to get a decent feel for it. It definitely seems to have pretty much all the same food shopping options as Medellin, so that part is good. And your mention that apartments tend to go for at least 20-25% less is also helpful, and of course welcome news.

    I just hope the internet is good there, too.

    Thanks again, Jeff

    • Hi Jason,

      Thanks. I agree with you that this isn’t much good information out there about Pereira. It’s definitely a “hidden gem” that hasn’t been discovered by many expats.

      When you visit Pereira, I recommend staying in the La Circunvalar area, which is also known as Zona C. The area is popular with expats, travelers and tourists with some hotels and rental apartments in the area. This is an active commercial area with a number of shops, restaurants, and bars. In fact the best shopping mall in the city, Parque Arboleda, is found on Avenida Circunvalar.

      When I visit Pereria I normally stay in this area, since it is so convenient to everything. I normally rent a furnished apartment. But Movich Hotel is another good option, which is located close to the Victoria mall and within walking distance to tourist spots in El Centro as well as the restaurants and shopping along La Circunvalar.

      I haven’t experienced any Internet problems when In Pereira. The apartments I have rented there had service from Claro.

  11. Jeff, thanks a lot for the Avenida Circunvalar recommendation–I didn’t know about it before, so it’s a big help. I just looked around the area on Google Maps and Street View, and yeah, it’s clear it would be ideal for our first visit, possibly even or a longer stay.

    Since I would be on a tourist visa initially, wherever I decide on for my first 3-6 month stay, I’d be looking to make an arrangement with a furnished apartment owner like those found on airbnb etc., but haven’t found any particularly good deals based on what can be seen online without negotiating directly; have you got any specific apartment recommendations you’re able to share?

    That’s great to hear the internet has been solid in your experience. Thanks again very much for all the info . . . and your contribution to the limited field of Pereira literature. 🙂

    • The last couple times I went to Pereira I stayed in furnished apartments I found on Airbnb. But unfortunately there aren’t as many apartment options available in Pereira on Airbnb as there are in Medellín. Be careful of any that don’t have ratings. The first time I went I stayed at the Movich Hotel.

      I suspect once you are there you could find a cheaper furnished apartment at one of the local real estate agencies.

  12. One other thing . . . do you find that taxis and buses are roughly equivalent to Medellin in the overall experience with regard to punctuality, quality, reliability and cost?

    • Hi Jason,

      Taxis and buses are a bit cheaper in Pereira and are reliable in my experience. The taxis are metered just like in Medellín but the minimum fare is lower – minimum fare during the day in Pereira is 4,200 pesos — in Medellín it’s 4,600 pesos. But there is a night surcharge in Pereira of 800 pesos and an airport surcharge of 2,200 peso. I rarely paid much more than the minimum fare as Pereira is much smaller than Medellín. But I found myself walking many places as Circunvalar is close to many places.

      My most expensive taxi in Pereira was to/from the airport, which was about 15,000 pesos. In Medellín it costs about 15,000 pesos just to go from my apartment in Sabaneta to El Poblado or up to 20,000 pesos to go to El Centro and 70,000 pesos to go to the international airport. So I take the metro or buses often in Medellín.

      The bus fare was 1,700 pesos last time I was in Pereira. In Medellín the bus fare is 1,800 or 2,000 pesos, depending on the route. The Megabus elongated bus fare is 1,800 pesos in Pereira last time I rode it.

      • Wow, all so cheap. The night surcharge is small but I’m glad the drivers get some extra for working nights. Even Medellin is cheap too, really. And re apartments, I’ll commit to no more than a week (yes, a place with ratings only) and then see what else I can find once I’m there (and good suggestion to check a local real estate agency; will do), same thing if I end up in Medellin for the multi-month stay. Thanks again for the excellent information–very helpful as you always are.

  13. This story and the comments are interesting. Has anyone here been to Bucaramanga and have an opinion on it? How would it compare to Medellin and Pereira?


    • Thanks. I have been to Bucaramanga. It’s another hidden gem of a city in Colombia that not many expats have been to. It’s a nice smaller city that is similar in size to Pereira with a population just above 1 million. Bucaramanga also has a similar climate but is at a lower elevation.

      Like Pereira, Bucaramanga does’t have non-stop, direct flight options to the US or Europe. Bucaramanga doesn’t have as many shopping options as Pereira or Medellín – there is no PriceSmart or Makro, for example. My impression was that costs of living in Bucaramanga are lower than in Medellín and probably similar to Pereira. Bucaramanga has traditionally had one of the lowest unemployment rates in Colombia. Bucaramanga is also known as Ciudad de los Parques—city of parks—with more than 160 parks. There are also some nice small pueblos near Bucaramanga.

      But Bucaramanga is too close to the Venezuelan border for my comfort considering the current complete mess in Venezuela.

      Bucaramanga was covered on this site in 2013:

      • Jeff;

        Thanks for the info and the story links. I’ve traveled a lot, but only spent 1 week in Chile for my total travels in South America. I liked Chile, and thought of retiring there, but it’s so far from the States and has the seismic problems that make me hesitate about Pereira, though it seems like a fantastic place to live. I’m surprised Bucaramanga doesn’t have warehouse clubs with it’s population. Perhaps it’s the distribution cost. We have that problem in deep south Texas. Were you aware that Pereira was the subject of an article in last month’s Overseas Retirement Letter from Kathleen Peddicord?

  14. ¡Loved this post Jeff!

    I am from and live in Pereira, you are completely right, many people use to call Pereira as a “mini-Medellín” in culture and climate we are so similar! I think I can tell you why we do not have flights from the city to US. but Armenia has one with Spirti, why? well, this can also be an answer for the people that do not find a lot of informationabout Pereira, as you mentioned earlier, we are part of the “Coffee Triangle”, people from other countries perfectly know that name, but not so many know that it is created by three departments/states and three main cities (Risaralda with Capital Pereira, Caldas with Capital Manizales and Quindio with Capital Armenia) since the region provides “green-tourism” in mountains, farms, forest, natural parks, etc, Quindio is the most popular destination for those activities, this is basically the reason for the flight between Fort Lauderdale and Armenia; but, what happen with the other department? Risaralda/Pereira is the biggest city in the region and is most known for the economic-business activities, Caldas/Manizales is known as a city for students, in this order, the “coffee Triangle” is created by tourism, study and business, of course, in Caldas and Risaralda you will find a lot of options to do as a tourist, you have mentioned many of them.

    By the way, you can fly directly from the US to Pereira using the Avianca’s flight from JFK, you are right, you stop in Cartagena but you stay inside the airplane and it will take just 50 minutes, and you do not have to worry about your bags or missing the connection, that is the direct flight, which is different to a non-stop flight, in this case we do not have that, if you prefer, you can also use Copa Airlines, connecting in Panama for two or three hours with many cities in the US and flights are daily. You can go on a non-stop flight from Pereira to Bogotá with Avianca, LAN (LATAM) and VivaColombia, Medellín with EasyFly and ADA, Cartagena with Avianca and VivaColombia, San Andres with Avianca and Copa Airlines, also to Quibdo with ADA.

    Now, talking about earthquakes, not only visitors, but locals, shouldn’t worry, you can feel two or three during the year, and they rarely produce any damage, locals use to be scared because it brings us bad memories specially from January 1999, when thousands died with the earthquake near Armenia, which destroyed that city and part of Pereira. Colombia’s most active earthquake zone is located in Los Santos, Santanderes, close to Bucaramanga.

    Now Pereira is becoming more visited by foreign people, many of them are now living here, currently I live in a medium class neighborhood, in a range of four or five blocks, you can see people from Spain, France, Americans, Sweden, the family next door is from Argentina, also from Peru (the owner of one of the most famous international restaurant in the city, Piura, located three block from Parque Arboleda) and this is only in my neighborhood.

    Anyway! sorry for the very long comment. I must welcome to all the people that would visit my city, you know! this is “la ciudad sin puertas” (city without doors) where any stranger is treated as a local and becomes a new pereiran. saludos!

  15. Wondering if anyone has crossed the border from Ecuador with their household goods in a truck. We are considering moving and wondering on the amount of red tape? We would have a 6 month visa and split our time between Europe and Pereira

  16. Hello Guys,

    Looking for a bit of advice please. My boyfriend and I are applying for a teaching program in Colombia. We have out hearts set on the Coffee Triangle but, from reading what feels like a thousand articles on the 3 main towns, are torn between Pereira and Armenia. This article is great for information on Pereira, I was hoping someone could give me a bit of an insight to Armenia (and perhaps Manizales too). Do they have a comparable feel or are they very different?

    Thank you!!!

    • All three cities have a different feel. I much prefer Pereira to either Manizales or Armenia. If you are coming from a big city IMHO you will be quickly bored in either Manizales or Armenia. Both Manizales and Armenia are much smaller cities so they don’t have as big of a shopping, restaurant and nightlife selection as found in Pereira.

      To me Manizales also gets too cold at night as it’s at a higher elevation than Pereira and it’s hilly so it’s not very walk-able. In Manizales the average temperature ranges between 11–22 °C (52–72 °F). in Armenia the average temperature reportedly ranges between 18–21 °C (64–70 °F) as it is also at a higher elevation then Pereira.

      Many buildings in Armenia were destroyed in the major 1999 earthquake but the city has been rebuilt. However the center of the city looks kind of makeshift. Armenia feels more like a big town than a departmental capital. To me Armenia is far more slow-paced than Pereira or Manizales. There also is not much in the way of attractions in Armenia for visitors.

      To each his own and some will disagree with me, some prefer Manizales but it’s just too small for me and too cold. Best way to find out which city is the best for you is to spend time in each, which is easy to do as both Manizales and Armenia are located only about an hour from Pereira.

    • In Pereira we have “Vías Activas” it is on sundays, major streets in the city are closed for traffic and people are able to practice different sports, of course you can ride your bike.
      it is also very common during weekends, early in the morning to use your bike and go around the city.

  17. Hello, My husband and I will be visiting Pereira September 5th and 6th and would love to meet with any expats for a beer or two (our treat) and pick their brains. We are planning to relocate next year and, of course, have a bunch of questions. We will be staying at the Abadia Plaza Hotel and heard of a nice pub in CC Arboleda and since my husband is British he would love to visit it. I am originally from Bogota but have lived in the States for 35 years but now that I am getting older my country is calling me back and my husband really likes Colombia as well.
    Thank you in advance and look forward to meeting you in September.

      • Thank you Nacho. I replied when I first got your message but since I am new at this it probably went into neverland. In any case, would you like to meet on September 5th at around 6pm at Camden Town Gastro Pub? Pls let me know if ok with you. My email is
        Thank you and a cordial saludo.

        Peter and Ines Morcombe

  18. Hi Jeff. Loved the article. I’ve been living and teaching in Bucaramanga for 7 months. I like it here, but sometimes it is a bit too hot for my liking. Also Bucaramanga is a little boring. If I decide to leave, I’ll miss the people and some of the food.

    You mentioned Manizales in an earlier comment. Can you expand on your comparison between Manizales and Pereira? Which one do you think would be better for me? I like smaller places. I’m a 27 year old single male, looking to continue teaching. Looking for a nice climate and a good time. I have visited Medellín, but it is simply too big for me. Looking forward to what you have to say.

    • Thanks. I like Pereira more than Manizales. Manizales is too hilly for me and it doesn’t have as big of a shopping, restaurant and and nightlife selection as Pereira. Pereira to me is like a mini-Medellín that hasn’t been discovered by many expats yet.

      But to each his own. Pereira and Manizales are close to each other so it would be easy to spend time in both to see which you like better.

  19. Hello Jeff,
    Great blog,very informative with good participation. I am seriously considering moving to Pereira from Cuenca,Ecuador. In fact we leave tomorrow with my girl friend driving to Pereira and plan to spend a month to really get the feel. We lived in Oaxaca,Mexico for 9 years and then moved on to Cuenca where we have been the past 11 years.
    Needless to say we love the Latin culture.
    We are both 75 years old and excited about yet another move. One concern is health care,quality and cost. Most insurance companies will not insure at this advanced age.
    We have fine doctors in Cuenca and the average cost per visit is$30. WE have the Ecuador Seguros Social which is quite good and cost $75 per month and covers everything including prescriptions.I have had simple procedures and up to now pay out of pocket and have the Seguros Social as a safety net.
    Any information about Pereira,Colombia would be appreciated. First is Colombia’s National health insurance available and if so what is the cost. What is the cost of a doctor visit say to a General practitioner as well as a specialist.
    Thank you for your help on this important point.

    • Hi David,

      I don’t have experience with doctors or medical insurance in Pereira since I live in Medellín. I only had experience with a dentist in Pereira, which was paying for full price that was cheaper than my out-of-pocket would have been in the US with insurance.

      I have heard there is a Facebook group for expats in Pereira – I would suggest trying your questions there.

    • David, you sound like me. I’m moving to Medellin next month with my girlfriend (been planning it 9 months), after living in Cuenca a year and a half, and actually looked at Oaxaca, but deferred for now. Good luck with the move and lining up medical care.

  20. Hi Jeff,
    Great article! Couple of questions. Do you know the government office in Pereira I would contact to get permission to volunteer? It won’t be the primary reason for my visit but I thought it would be a good way to stay productive and meet people. Also, I’m 45, am I going to be able to fly into Pereira one way from the U.S. without a problem or do I still need to have a return ticket? Thanks in advance for any help.

    • If you don’t have a visa, most airlines will be looking for a return ticket when you check in. Colombian immigration has never asked me for for a return ticket in 10+ years. I understand some buy refundable return tickets and get a refund when they arrive in Colombia.

      I’m not sure about volunteer activities in Pereira but I’m sure there is likely something.

    • I’d echo what Jeff has said. Having worked a decade in the airline business, and experienced Colombian immigration now too, I can tell you it’s the airlines you need to worry about, not immigration. Airlines run the risk of $10-20k in fines if they board a passenger who is turned away at immigration so they go by the book. I just moved to Medellin and took Avianca; they asked for my onward ticket. Immigration did not. Best solution is as Jeff says, buy a fully refundable ticket and once you’ve taken the flight, refund it.

  21. porque ese regionalismo montañero y chimbo de que lo paisa es mejor que Colombia todas las ciudades tienen cosas buenas y malas y por lo general la belleza es relativa habrá personas turistas que les va encantar medellin o pereira y a otras no, que son parecidas y a otros no les va a gustar a otros les encantara el valle del cauca o la inmensa ciudad de cali plana parecida a los ángeles y a otros no, todas las ciudades tienen lugares feos, en cali esta el algunos barrios del oriente en pereira y medellin existen lugares feos y pecuecudos. paisas no sigan dando mala imagen del país mientras engrandecen su región paisa en Colombia existen lugares maravillosos lo mismo en el valle del cauca, los invito a que conozcan Colombia paisaretes

  22. Hi Jeff- your website and comparison of LatAM cities is really helpful. I just arrived – relocating from SE Asia – needing to find a new base for myself.

    Care to reply with suggestions based on my wishlist? It would be really appreciated.

    . In the old days, I would have traveled around to find my own haven; now health limits me and I have to rely on the good graces of others. I have lived in a number of countries on various regions of the world. My travels across the seven continents has included Central and South America, but as a tourist, not as an expat looking for a new place to live.

    I need to find a place with 1) great climate (14-28C, or, 58-82F), 2) good health facilities in or nearby, 3) inexpensive cost of living, 4) a smaller town (rather than big city), 5) generally low crime neighborhood, 6) lively culture and music, 7) friendly locals and a good expat community, 8) the GREENER, the better – since I can’t still stay in the jungle heat, I still hope to be in a green, lush area). I have found the ‘perfect place’ for me in the past, and want to get as close as possible again. Ideally, there will be an active expat community, though not a place ‘overrun’ by foreigners.

    A few places to consider – based on online research – include Pereira, Bucamanga, surrounds of Medellin, CR: San Isidro , and a few locals in MEX.

  23. Nice article! I am from Pereira but I have to say that I truly love both cities. It all depends on what you are looking for. If you are looking to raise a family I would definitely choose my city over Medellin. If you are single looking to party then I would definitely choose Medellin. Both cities are great. I feel blessed to be from Pereira, but I also love other cities. I live in the States, but what I still enjoy about my city, is that I still see the children playing outside like I did when I was a little girl. I don’t know if Medellin still have children playing on the streets. Something very simple but priceless!

  24. Pereira isn’t actually in a valley. It is on the side of a mountain, and one part of the city is warmer than another part depending on the elevation (Galicia vs. Pinares). Otherwise I agree with what you say.