Popular Neighborhoods for Expats Living in Medellín

Medellin Colombia
Medellin Colombia

We recently looked at the best neighborhoods in Medellín in an update to a popular article on this site.  We now look at survey results to see which are the most popular neighborhoods for expats living in the city.

A preliminary result of our Medellín Living reader survey that is currently running confirms that the same five neighborhoods from our recent best neighborhoods article are the most popular neighborhoods for expats living in the city.

Out of 144 survey responses received so far from Medellín Living expat readers that indicate they live in Medellín, 86 percent indicate they live in El Poblado, Envigado, Laureles-Estadio, Sabaneta or Belén.

El Poblado is clearly the most popular neighborhood in the city for visitors. It has more hotels than other neighborhoods in the city. It is also where about 80 percent of the furnished apartments in the city are located.

El Poblado is also the most popular neighborhood in the city for expats when they decide to live in the city. Preliminary results of our survey indicate that 28 percent of expats living in Medellín live in El Poblado.

Source: Medellín Living reader survey 2016, preliminary results, N=144
Source: Medellín Living reader survey 2016, preliminary results, N=144

But 72 percent of expats living in the city have decided to live somewhere else besides El Poblado. This is not surprising to me. When I was taking Spanish classes at Universidad EAFIT over two-thirds of the expats I met living in the city did not live in El Poblado.

After El Poblado, the most popular neighborhoods for expats to live are Envigado (20 percent), Laureles-Estadio (16 percent), Sabaneta (13 percent) and Bélen (9 percent). 14 percent of expats live in other neighborhoods according to our preliminary survey results.

The other neighborhoods in our survey where expats live included 5 living in El Oriente (such as Rio Negro, La Ceja and Santa Elena), 4 in Bello, 3 in La América, 2 in La Candelaria (El Centro), 2 in Robledo, 1 in La Estrella, 1 in Giradota, 1 in Santa Cruz and 1 in the Southeast.

Expats living in Medellín live in many neighborhoods in the city. Our survey so far has found expats living in half of the 22 comunas and municipalities in the Medellín metro area.

Source: Medellín Living reader survey 2016, preliminary results, N=144
Source: Medellín Living reader survey 2016, preliminary results, N=144

Do Expats Rent or Buy in Medellín?

Preliminary results of our survey indicate that 33 percent of expats living in Medellín own their apartment or home. Two-thirds of expats living in the city have decided to rent instead of buy.

Our survey is finding that 46 percent of expats living in the city rent an unfurnished apartment/home, while 12 percent rent a furnished apartment/home and 9 percent rent a room in a shared place..

This overall rent vs. buy finding is a similar finding of a survey done in Cuenca, Ecuador last year by CuencaHighLife, which found that an even higher 82 percent of expats living in Cuenca rent instead of buy.

Source: Medellín Living reader survey 2016, preliminary results, N=106
Source: Medellín Living reader survey 2016, preliminary results, N=106

What do Expats Pay for Rent in Medellín?

Our reader survey also asked expats living in the city what they pay for rent, for those that are renting.The majority of expat respondents (58 percent) indicate that pay less than $500 per month for rent. 20 percent pay less than $300 and 38 percent pay only $300-$499 per month.

Over half of those that responded they pay less than $300 per month are paying for a room rental and not a full apartment.

There is a big range of rental prices being paid by expats in the city. 8 percent pay as high as $1,500 or higher per month (mainly for furnished apartments) and 6 percent pay $1,000 to $1,499 per month.

We previously looked at unfurnished rental prices in Medellín and furnished rental prices in Medellín. There is a wide range of rental prices in the city.  And there are many types and qualities of apartments available.  But in general the most expensive prices tend to be in El Poblado.

Our Medellín Living Reader Survey

Over 500 readers have taken our reader survey so far. However, there are still thousands of you who haven’t taken the 5 minutes to complete the survey. Your opinions will help us provide the content you want and shape Medellín Living for the future.  The final day to take the survey will be December 9.

The above preliminary results graphics are examples of the interesting information our reader survey is also intended to provide.

To provide a little extra motivation to complete the Medellin Living Reader Survey, each qualified response with an email address is entered to win a COP 300,000 gift certificate to Carmen Restaurant. This is one of Medellín´s best restaurants.

Our reader survey isn’t scientific and it wasn’t intended to be. It is intended to survey the Medellín Living reader base.  This is so we can improve the site to better meet the needs of readers.

But the Medellín Living website has a big readership so we are surveying many of the expats living in Medellín.

The Bottom Line

El Poblado remains the most popular neighborhood for expats living in Medellín. But our survey so far is finding that 72 percent of expats living in the city indicate they live in other neighborhoods. This is likely to avoid the higher costs typically found in El Poblado.

We expect that El Poblado, Envigado, Laureles-Estadio, Sabaneta and Belén will remain the five most popular neighborhoods in Medellín for expats to live for the foreseeable future.

We are also finding that two-thirds of the expats living in Medellín rent instead of buy. And for those that rent, nearly 60 percent pay less than $500 per month to rent.  This demonstrates the low cost of living that is possible in the city.

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  1. I would consider Envigado, Laureles and Belen. I hear the traffic in Envigado is an issue, but they have nicer stores and apartments and you are a little higher up, so its a little cooler.

    • Yes traffic is an issue in Envigado and also El Poblado. In Sabaneta you can be a little higher up also, so a little cooler also.

      Interesting that most of the expats living in Medellín live in other neighborhoods and not in El Poblado. So when they visit as a tourist they tend to stay in El Poblado where most of the hotels, many hostels and most furnished apartments are located. But when they live here they tend to live elsewhere where the costs can be substantially lower.

  2. I’m living in San Joaquin, next to Cra 70, 5 minutes walk to either Metro station Estadio or University UPB (where I work on my laptop everyday). I think Laureles has a great value, you can walk everywhere, loads of shops, bars, parks, activities, … Perfect for me

  3. There a lot of great neighborhoods. i always wanted to live in Laureles, but my job keeps me in El Poblado. My office is near parque lleras but the traffic is murder crossing 10th street, especially during December. Until i retire i will be in El Poblado, living outside doesn’t make sense because of the traffic. Safety is much much better than 10 years ago.

    Just make sure your neighborhood is not on the border of a high crime area and your good. Half of Belen is great, and many of my friends live in Laureles because its flat and easy to walk around. Sabaneta is growing in popularity, and just so long as you have no need to come up to Poblado its nice. with the traffic now days its farther out than it appears.

    The campo is great too, lots of people living out in the mountains too.

    I would love to see the survey numbers grow so we get more data! Great job like always from our expats at Medellin Living!

    James Lindzey
    Colombia Legal & Accounting SAS

  4. Hello Everyone,

    I am trying to decide to invest in Medellin or Rio. This investment is to purchase a spacious condo for I can live and rent out rooms. My budget is 400k US dollars. I am hoping that this investment will enable me to live accordingly with the rental income and not depend in a office job. I am 40 years old so I would like to be around a nightlife seen. How long do the country grant me a visa? Can I travel to Brazil and work in Brazil with this visa? Brazil has more of a job market in my industry just in case I need to get my ass to work, lol. Any help is greatly appreciated.

    • Your planned real estate investment is big enough to receive a resident visa in Colombia that is good for 5 years and can be renewed – http://medellinliving.com/resident-visa/. I don’t believe Brazil has a similar visa for real estate investment – they only have visas for for business investments. Brazil doesn’t have as many visa options as Colombia.

      Rio is also a very expensive market to buy property and the cost of living is very high, which will make your plan quite difficult there. If you do some research you will find the cost of property and cost of living is much lower in Medellín than in Rio.

      I suggest you talk to a real estate firm in Medellín like http://en.casacol.co/ regarding your plan to buy a large condo and rent rooms and live off the rental income. I’m not sure that is a very viable approach. It may be better to buy a couple of investment properties in a good location, which may produce enough rental income to live off of.

      • Thank you, very helpful!!!!. Waiting for a reply with Casacol. You are absolutely correct about Brazil, very expensive. As for visa, Brazil changed some laws. Brazil allow foreign investors of $150,000 dollars to obtain a visa for life. This investment may be used in savings account, stock market, real estate, etc. I’m an artist and not a finicial expert, not sure gaining interest or dividends is sufficient enough for living expenses. My thoughts about Medellín, obtain better quality apt with cashflow and in hopes of utilizing visa to obtain work in Brazil if needed . I have a native Colombian friend who can only find work in Brazil due to market conditions. He mentioned, he is allowed to work in Brazil because certain Latin countries have some type of agreement. I also work in this industry, high end visual effects creating commercials utilizing a certain software. I hope this makes sense in what I am trying to achieve. At the end of the day, I love Latin America, I am Latin but have always lived in America. I am tired of NYC rate race and I quit my job on my 40th birthday to experience living in Brazil until my visa expired. Now I am ready to make this major leap for overall happiness. Thanks for the help.

  5. Very interesting article! I lived in Envigado for almost a year and a half, then returned to the US for two years. I am now hoping to return to the Medellin area later this year.

    Being retired on a fixed income, if you do your homework, living in Envigado is very affordable. Despite some of the ‘facts of life’ living in Colombia, Envigado is, in my mind, probably the safest part of the Medellin area. Rionegro or Laureles would come in second.

    I’m too late for the survey, but I rented a three bedroom apartment near the Exito (large) store for about $450 a month. That was when the exchange rate was around 1800 cop per dollar.

    The traffic in Envigado went from bad to terrible over the short time I lived there. That seemed to be the trend throughout the metro area. Having visited Colombia numerous times over the past 10 years, the increased general affluence in the cities was noticeable. That increased traffic, but I think the real culprit was that people stopped buying tiny Renaults and started getting larger imports. There is only so much room on the outdated highway and street systems.

    If I were going to invest in property in the Medellin area, it would be be in Rionegro or Guatapé. But, then, I am a country boy at heart. The city is fun, but for me it is more fun to visit than to live in.

    • You might consider going with a group that can help you spot a good place to buy and then manage the rentals for you. There are a few of them out there like http://www.firstamericanrealtymedellin.com/ The advantage is that they know the market and can handle it all for you.

      If you are a sharp businessman and you know real estate you might be able to do it on your own.

      $400,000 is a pretty good sum and you could do well in Medellin with that.

      • I live in Envigado, actually selling my home due to the fact I have Asthma .I have lived in Cuenca Ecuador renting a home for 3 years and I have never suffered any type of problem due to my health condition, but it is not possible in Medellin, a great city but with a bad pollution, too much chemicals in the air , and I am obliged to go to Ecuador again , to find a better less polluted international city where live.

  6. Jeff, thank you for your articles, they have been most helpful to me. I have just arrived in Medellin and am planning to stay for just a week or two in airbnb furnished apartments in the different areas you’ve highlighted before I decide where to rent long-term. As you have lived in many parts of Medellin over the years, could you share how you found the apartments you’ve lived in? Thanks again!


  7. Whichever side of the river you decide you want to live, be aware that demand for housing is getting stronger every year. Both the newly-arriving expats and the expanding Colombian middle class are moving to these areas and prices are increasing

  8. Where can I stay without a car and be near everything? Can I walk to supermarket the park etc a condenced area thanks VIVA VIVA VIVA!!!

  9. I onced explored the medellin. It’s a great city to be experienced. But don’t know much about these neighborhood places. But you took a great survey and people gave their opinion on it. It’s will be more better if you put the picture of these places in these post. So that we a have an insight that how these places looks like and we should go there or not. Still thanks for your survey.

  10. Thanks for the information Jeff. I too am thinking of visiting Medellin as a place to live at least part of the year. I am a US citizen. I hope to meet people similar to me in Medellin.