Editor’s note: The following is a guest post by Rafael Bibr.
The first thing you need to begin living in Medellín is a place to stay.
You have three options:
- Rent a furnished apartment. (The most comfortable yet expensive option)
- Rent an unfurnished apartment. (Cheap, but only long-term and there are obstacles)
- Rent a room. (Cheap, usually furnished, and easily available for foreigners)
In this article on finding housing on a budget in Medellín, I’ll focus only on rooms for rent. For information about apartments, check out these other articles.
Rooms for Rent
Finding a nice room for rent can be a little tricky.
“Yeah, apartments are expensive, and furnished rooms aren’t so nice, in general.” says Erica, my friend.
If an apartment has more bedrooms, then usually one of them is a “master bedroom” — nicer, bigger, with a private bathroom. And as you might guess, it’s usually the smallest bedroom without a private bathroom that is for rent.
But not always! Sometimes the room for rent is the best one with a private bathroom. These are likely available because the apartment owner wants to make more money.
So, ultimately, you need to find the best room for you. You need to be patient and see many of the rooms for rent. This article is here to help — so stay tuned.
Short Stay: Max 3 Weeks. Airbnb or Hotel Booking Websites
If you want to stay three weeks or less, then a cheap, quality option is Airbnb.
The only problem is that you usually stay with a family in their apartment. Why might this be a problem? Well, if you’d like to bring home a date…or you don’t feel like limiting yourself at the bar one night, and you want return the next morning totally smashed…I don’t think I have to explain more.
If you don’t expect to bring dates home and don’t party too much, then a family apartment might be the best option.
You’ll experience the local family life, you can improve your Spanish (if you know any) and overall, the atmosphere of a family apartment is better than some hostels. Actually, some hostels have a quiet, nice atmosphere too, so it depends.
On Airbnb you can also find rooms for rent in houses owned by non-residents and used for business purposes. They have an entire house and use it like a personal hostel.
It’s still better than a regular hostel as it won’t be noisy and there is generally more space to breathe. Usually it’s a house with around five rooms. Normally they only have two rules: no drugs in the house, and no prostitutes. Fair enough.
(By the way, many people in Medellín don’t consider weed a hard drug. It’s similar to alcohol for them. They just do it outside. So be ready for that.)
Don’t expect outside windows. Medellín apartments and houses usually have windows facing the hallway. It can be uncomfortable, because anyone who walks through the corridor can hear every word, or kiss.
There are exceptions, but in general that’s the way it is. If you’re on a budget in Medellin, don’t expect a 5-star hotel with sound proof walls.
If you want to party every day and bring home dates any time you want, then you’ll have to find an “open-minded” ho(s)tel. The downside of these places is that other tenants might be rude — they might be very noisy and problematic in general.
So the second option for short-term stays is obvious: booking websites (such as booking.com).
I am only writing about budget options. If you’re on a higher budget, obviously you can go for a 5-star hotel and rent a luxury room. There are also beautiful luxury apartments on the Airbnb website. The views in Medellín are spectacular.
Medium Stay: 1 t0 12 Months
This is my case and usually (in other countries) I am able to get good offers for apartments with this length of stay. I was a bit upset finding out, that if I don’t want to spend more than $700 a month, the only option in Medellín is renting a room.
Don’t forget to ask about house rules of the apartment! Some people have crazy rules, like you can’t use the kitchen or that you can’t have guests (not only during the night, but some owners don’t allow visitors during the day either), etc.
You should have a good feeling about the owner of the apartment – he/she will be your housemate, so choose wisely.
You can also decide to pay six months in advance for an unfurnished apartment and buy (second-hand) furniture (you can find those in the Facebook groups too, see below).
The absolute best website to find rooms for rent is a local website: CompartoApto.com
My Experience with CompartoApto.com – How it Works
First you’ll have to register and fill in some basic personal information. Then the website creates your profile and an ad.
Other people can see your ad and they can contact you to offer you a room based on your specifications. Don’t expect many people to contact you. You will need to be proactive and contact room owners.
I recommend you to upload your picture. It’ll improve the response rate of your messages.
You can also view all available rooms for rent. There are many of them. And then you can write the owners of all the rooms you are interested in.
I prefer not to filter rooms by neighborhood and view all rooms in Medellín. You can compare prices in different neighborhoods and it’s possible to find a nice place you haven’t heard about yet.
The only downside is many of the owners don’t speak English. If you don’t speak Spanish, like me, you can write your ad and messages in English, and get a few responses. That will be your first filter of available rooms.
Another thing I should mention about CompartoApto.com is their fee. The registration and use of the website is free, automatically making you a Basic Member. But if you and/or the owner of an apartment are only Basic members, you can’t contact each other.
So if you want to be sure that you can contact everyone and others can contact you, you should upgrade to a Premium membership. This costs you 8,999 pesos (about $4) per week.
Don’t Forget about Facebook Groups
Another great option to find rooms for rent is through Facebook groups. I finally found my room there. I found it accidentally. Usually there are only expensive offers, but you never know, so check it out too.
The best Facebook group for rooms and apartments in Medellin: Medellin Rooms, Apartments and Expat Info
Couchsurfing Group with Rooms for Rent
There is also a CouchSurfing.com group, where you can find a few offers. You might get lucky and find something there. There are very few offers, so it’s not very likely. But who knows. CouchSurfing.com group CS Medellin Classifieds-Clasificados
Prices of Rooms
You can find nice rooms from 350,000 pesos (about $150) per month, including utilities up to 1.2 million pesos ($520).
The cheapest rooms are A) ugly, noisy, no windows, etc., or B) far from the city center and/or Metro.
The most expensive rooms are in El Poblado in luxury apartments and they usually have a private bathroom.
Long Stay: 1 Year to A Lifetime
If you want to stay longer than a year, then I would recommend renting an apartment. You can rent an unfurnished apartment and buy furniture. You can also rent a big apartment, and then rent out the empty room(s) to earn some money back.
The best local website with apartment offers: EspacioUrbano.com
You can find much more information about apartments in other articles on Medellín Living.
As you can see, the Medellín real estate market is a bit different, so be ready to accept this and don’t let this culture difference ruin your mood. Have fun!
About the Author: Rafael Bibr is a Czech Republic native who likes to travel slowly. He was living in Southeast Asia for three years and recently moved to South America. He has blog about Bali (in Czech language) and he collects Czech jokes.
I know a good deal of work goes into the site but you really should update the content from time to time if you are going to ask for money to support the site. The student visa article is 7 years old……
Thank you. Very helpful
I’ve been to Columbia several times. I’m used to the culture and people. Never been to Medellin. Been to Bogota, Cartagena, Santa Marta, Barranquilla, Cali, and a few more remote places. I’m looking for a mountain cabin, shack with access to pubic transportation. The rental range is $130 -$175/month. I’ll need a maid, honest young maid that can shop, cook, clean, and has knowledge of the area. I must have seafood, fresh veggies and fruit. Soursop fruit for drink and ice cream. Please respond to suggestions, I’m no novice.
Take me serious. Regards, David
I have enjoyed and learned a few things about Medellin from your Website . finally I have decided to pay a visit
to this lovely city that everyone talking about . I am looking for a 1 bedroom and bath near San Fernando Plaza . I will be a new expat if everything is the way I hear . If you have a place to recommend please drop me an email . Greatly appreciate . Gandalf