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Cost of Living in Colombia: Month 3 Update

Living in Medellin, Colombia has been nothing short of amazing. Time does fly doesn’t it? It seems like just yesterday that I was frolicking around Antarctica with Penguins. In the next couple of weeks I will finish seeing the rest of the Medellin area and start to plan my trip to Nairobi, Kenya.

I have been to every city so far in the country with the exclusion Barranquilla and Manizales which I will most likely come back to finish. There is so much that learned about living in Medellin, Colombia and the people that I would love to come back and live here part of the year.

apartment in medellin, apartment in colombia, sunset, pictures of sunset, medellin pictures, andes mountains

View from my apartment in Medellin, Colombia

The Best Place to Live

Having toured the entire country I can attest to the fact that Medellin is hands down the best place to live. The only cities that I would consider living in are Bogota, Cali, and Medellin. The next two largest cities that you could possibly consider are Barranquilla and Cartagena which lay on the coast. The temperature on the coast is extremely hot and I don’t know too many people that would enjoy sweating the second they step outside.

The city with the best temperature and a great combination of things to do in Medellin. Bogota may be a bit cold for most people and also one of the most dangerous cities in Colombia in terms of living. Cali is a nice place to be but you will find that the things to do in city are limited.

colombian military, colombia military, colombia safety, dangerous is colombia

A guard in front of the presidential Palace in Bogota

Safety in Colombia

The people overall throughout the country are exceptionally welcoming and nice to tourists and foreigners. They welcome all foreigners because they know the money that they bring in.

In Colombia, you may feel safe but you should always maintain a heightened level of alert especially in the cities of Bogota and Cartagena.

The Colombian coast was the only place where I experienced people trying to hustle me and Bogota being by far the largest city has the most crime on the tourist trail.

Every traveler and expat that I have met in country always tells me of the danger in Bogota. If you aren’t careful then you may want to consider budgeting for a kidnap fee, kidding! Ha! (Not really) Post is coming soon.

 Cost of Living

Cost of living in Colombia is increasing as the economy of the country continues to improve. If you are buying food from a grocery store you are going to paying a high price for it.  Its best that you buy fruits and veggies from men that stand on the street.

There are also markets in the city where you can buy locally grown food. In Medellin, there are men that drive around in trucks and stop in front of large condo complexes and sell the fruit from there.

  •  Figure $200 to 300 a month ($75 a week) if you are single or for bare minimum (no eating out)
  • On average per person I would say $100 a week ($400 a month)
  • On the high end assume $150 a week

Housing is still relatively cheap in Medellin but increasing more and more people are coming to live in the country. I rented a 4 bedroom Penthouse that costed me roughly 2,500,000 pesos. Depending on the exchange rate that’s roughly $1300 – $1500 a month. The range in prices is enormous due to the social differences and areas you can choose from. You can rent a room as cheap as $150 a month and get a penthouse at the price listed above to give you an example of both high and low ends. I will be posting “cost of living in Medellin” post soon with exact prices on apartments to rent.

living in medellin, living in colombia, view from penthouse, medellin

View from the penthouse in Medellin while I was living in Colombia

Nuances

Internet – While Colombia is one of the places where you get exceptional internet service there are going to be times when it cuts out on occasion. The cut in service generally will only last minimum 5 seconds to 20 minutes at most as long as there is no service with the internet service provider.

Hot Water – Colombians it seems are allergic to hot water. Their hot water heaters look like oversized college textbooks and the machine only heats water when you turn the water on. Its not like in the United States where there is a tank that keeps the water hot at all times. Be warned there is a very high likelihood you will either have no hot water or only 5 minutes of it.

Up to this point I have lived in 7 countries around the world spanning 3 different continents.  Living in Medellin, Colombia is the very first time where I have actually wanted to settle somewhere.  I do plan on looking for property in the near future to spend 3/4 months out of the year here.  Viva Colombia!

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{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

Carlos Andrés Daza Sánchez July 12, 2011 at 4:07 am

mmm I really think you need to live here for more time and then you will really understand what it is like. In fact, I think you need to live with Colombian people to see how things really work, and be aware that even so, living with one family doesn’t mean you know the culture of an entire country.

So you went to Bogotá and didn’t visit Boyacá? Ohh man you’re missing a lot, you need to go to Villa de Leyva, Paipa and its surroundings, seriously. I hope you come back and enjoy with us. Hugs from here. And, by the way, people in Colombia is considered as very very welcoming, and it’s not about money, it’s about culture. In the countryside you say hi to people without needing to know them, because culturaly if you don’t, you’re cold, unpolite, and too much of a stranger.

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WanderingTrader July 13, 2011 at 2:00 am

Hey Carlos I have been to many houses here in Colombia and everyone uses cold water basically. Most people dont even turn on the hot water its not a priority here. Completely agree with you about the people being welcoming! amo este pais! thanks for the comment.

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WanderingTrader January 28, 2012 at 10:40 am

No problem at all Dimiri.. especially if you look like a gringo

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WanderingTrader January 28, 2012 at 10:41 am

No problem at all Dimiri, there are more women in colombia than there are men… if you look like a gringo it wont be an issue at all

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WanderingTrader March 19, 2012 at 4:35 pm

your welcome

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Arianwen April 22, 2012 at 5:52 pm

Useful info, thanks. I wasn’t planning on going to Medellin, but so many people have bigged it up, I really think I’d be missing out if I didn’t go. I won’t be staying in a penthouse though :)

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Marcello May 28, 2012 at 10:38 pm

You will love it.. to be honest with you I think that its more enjoyable for men than it is for woman but everyone would love that city. It is certainly special!

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Duane Rosencrans (Dewey) July 21, 2012 at 9:13 pm

Good info on this site. Thanks for your work and wilingness to share. I am contemplating a 5 month stay in Medellin for this upcoming winter = Dec thru Apr – and, if possible, am requesting some info on contact personnel or a long term rental for one person. I am a 60 year old widower, but still very vital. Need for social interaction, but also enjoy my solitude when needed. If anyone here has anything to offer on where to stay – 1 br is all I need – that offers security coupled with proximity to gaining access to the things I should see during my stay in Medellin, I would welcome it gladly. Merely write to the emal address provided. Thanks so much for anything you might be able to do. I am in my initial research stage.

Dewey

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Marcello July 28, 2012 at 2:03 am

I found my place by doing the normal google search but I would recommend doing the hunt on foot.. go to grocery stores and look at adverts. I would want to be in a local neighborhood rather than where the tourists area.. trust me you will enjoy it better also. I would also look into other cities that you may like better like Manizales.. much less tourists there as well

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dan July 31, 2012 at 4:39 pm

I stayed at hotel tequendama crown plaza in bogota 160 american dollars a night. It was very nice but I know I got screwed on the price. anyways I had a blast met 10 women and had fun with them all. They were very very nice sweet and welcoming. I didnt speak a lick of english but we translated on my laptop which was very cool because everyone everywhere said wow those 2 are really liking one another. I bought the pinsleur spanish 10 cd set on learning the language. I will be coming back to colombia this year not sure if medellin or cali or cartagena. Heard they are all wonderful but medellin more things to do. Bogota was fun and I went alone and didnt have any trouble with anyone trying to rob me. I would have fought back and kicked ass unless I got shot then Hoped I survived. Take care and hope you can message me about any experiences in colombia you liked or I should try Thx Dan

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Marcello August 14, 2012 at 11:11 pm

Would definitely recommend Medellin Dan… you wont regret it

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kirk September 30, 2012 at 12:06 pm

Yes Medellin is nice but please do not make it sound all fine and dandy, it is still extremely dangerous and if you come here and ask anyone, everyone knows someone who has been murdered recently or one of their family, i know 2 gringos that have been murdered here for dating the wrong women. I myself have seen two people murdered in broad daylight at a coffee shop and one outside of a night club was stabbed to deatch. People are nice here but if you live here for longer 5 years or more you will notices that most of them are liars and will rob you in some way any chance they get, i have a couple good friends here and yes there are good people but expect 98% of the people to be low quality trash that would rob you or screw you over the first chance they get, and I mean lawyers, doctors, anyone so just be careful. Its fun here but you need to be careful.

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Marcello September 30, 2012 at 5:52 pm

For most tourists Kirk that stay in Poblado and just want to party there is nothing in harms way.. I would agree with you that it is much more dangerous than people lead it believe. If im not mistaken Medellin still has one of the highest murder rates in Latin America. There is a false sense of security in Medellin definitely but its no where near compared to how dangerous it was years ago under the drug cartels. I dont think that most people would want to rob you in Medellin, I have met very nice people in both the the barrios and the rich areas. Do agree that people need to be more aware of their surroundings and have a higher level of awareness. Thanks for the comment Kirk

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David Dollar October 3, 2012 at 8:38 am

Those prices listed are for sure Poblado prices. A 2 bedroom runs you about $200, and if you can eat out every meal on those prices listed. Once again, those are Poblado prices and not Medellin prices. All the places I have lived in in medellin had no problem with hot water.

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Marcello October 3, 2012 at 6:07 pm

David… I list a range of prices and I am sorry to tell you but unless you want to rent a bedroom in centro which isn’t very safe, you aren’t going to find a full 2 bedroom apt for $200. Even outside of the city (Laureles or other barrios off the metro line) you aren’t going to be able to find a full 2 bedroom for that price. I’ve had many friends very that the information is correct.. Unless you are going to be living in one of the barrios there is no way your going to find a 2 bedroom apt for $200

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Dan November 25, 2012 at 4:18 pm

Thanks I am moving to Medellin on the 1st of december. Looking to Have a nice time and learn the spanish language. I am hoping to teach a workout class for colombians. Self Defense classes. I have decided Bogota to chilly.

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Daniel November 26, 2012 at 7:29 pm

I have a totally “stupid gringo” question. I’m contemplating moving to Medellin, but I’m a free-lance translator, and in the States, I tend to work in cafes with wi-fi. Is that a possibility in Medellin, or are wi-fi hotspots hard to find? Also, does carrying around a Macbook Pro set me up for street theft? I just feel working at home or in a hostel 6 hours a day could get dull….

One other question. I’m a huge fan of veggies–especially leafy greens. When my wife and I visited Panama, we could scarcely find any veggies, and the best we could find was cabbage or iceberg lettuce (if that). Now that I’m used to mixing it up between kale, collards, arugula, spinach, and a variety of other stuff, I’m wondering if healthy greens are easy to come by in the markets there.

Everything else about Medellin and Colombia sounds really good. Thanks for responding.

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Marcello December 31, 2012 at 7:28 am

I wouldn’t say that there is an abundance for that in Medellin but you can find some. A better bet would be to get an internet stick and just pop the usb internet stick into your laptop and work from any cafe that you like :-). I would highly recommend Juan Valdez its some of the best coffee I have tried anywhere in the world.

There are plenty of fruit carts on the street and in the market in Envigado where you can buy veggies.. that I dont think will be an issue for you at all

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ToddK December 31, 2012 at 11:50 am

I’m a California guy currently teaching at a university in Asia…. am planning to visit Colombia April-June 2013 to line-up a new teaching position. I’m not so interested in the biggest cities, although Medellin merits a long look. Bucaramanga, Manizales, Pereira and Popayan have universities that interest me. Can anyone comment on what any of these 4 cities are like in terms of quality of life, things to do, good hiking nearby, etc. If I wanted to visit Merida, Venezuela would there be any complications crossing the border?

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Marcello January 8, 2013 at 1:36 am

Toddk.. most of the cities in Colombia are all near mountain ranges so you won’t have any issues finding hiking opportunities year round. Pereira is a bit dicey, wouldn’t necessarily say dangerous but it gets a bit more rough if you know what I mean. I have a friend that lives in Manizales and he loves it but its a bit low key. Medellin is perfect because its a big city that has a small town feel and it has plenty of things to do. Be careful in the Popoyan & Cali region has that I would say is the most dangerous of all areas in Colombia. I was recommended to fly from Cali to Popoyan at one point. Popoyan is one of the most beautiful cities in all of Colombia though

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Tony January 3, 2013 at 1:15 pm

I’m planning on staying in Medellin this coming summer.
I think renting an apartment for about 6-7 weeks and use it as home base as I tour other spots in Colombia, is what I would like to do.
Can you give me some good safe fun Barrios I can search for short term rental ?
I would of thought being in central metro would be the way to go, but seems like maybe being surrounded by tourists is not going to give me the Colombian experience I seek.
I hope to maybe live in Colombia some day. Like to spend a summer here first.
Thanks for any info on finding a short term rental or best location.
Cheers
T

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Marcello January 8, 2013 at 1:28 am

Really depends on what you like but most barrios in the city are okay, Poblado, Envigado, and Laureles are the most popular and generally middle class. If you want to get a but more outside of the center (and tourists) you can head towards Barrio Suramericana which is more local middle class and much less tourists. Poblado would have the most tourists and Envigado & Laureles definitely have a bit less

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Nikki January 24, 2013 at 3:37 am

Hey!

Stumbled across this researching areas in Columbia to live.
Would you say your city is safe for a family with 4 kids?
We would just be looking to live and enjoy life, retired not looking for work.
Is a family of Gringos safe there?

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Marcello January 24, 2013 at 8:06 am

Nikki very safe to live in Colombia for a family. Latin people in general are very family oriented.. have a look at the new post http://wanderingtrader.com/living-overseas/best-places-to-live-in-south-america/

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Tim April 24, 2013 at 10:30 pm

Much enjoyed all the knowledgable input while reading. I´m and old five-and dimer from the U.s. who´s now been in Nicaragua for abput five years. Feeling my travelling shoes itching and been thinking of Cali, Colombia. I live very modestly on my approx $1000 pension. Can I find an apt. with banyo privado and a small cocina for $200 mo. or less? I´m thinking of Cali because I´m loco for mujeres negra. Any advice and/or help?

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Tim April 24, 2013 at 10:31 pm

was my question addressed? tim

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Alberto May 15, 2013 at 4:01 pm

Hi all,
I stumbled on this site and read all comments. I have been in California now 34 years, born in Cali Colombia. My wife, and I have gone to Colombia numerous times and have had a blast everytime. I still have family there and would say that I can see my-self living there after the kids go to college. My wife whom is from Mexico has also fallen in love with the city and would too move there. Just like any place, wether it be here in the states, in colombia, in other countries you have to use common sense and not go into areas that you should not be in. I too have seen people shot infront of me, but guess what that was here in california. More chance to happen in my beloved Colombia of course but it is a great place to consider. I have friends from Medellin and it is far more advanced than my Cali. I will visit there someday and who knows if i like it maybe retire there. I thank all of you for speaking about my birth country and most of you are pretty positive. Money can and does go a long way in colombia if you can get a good sum here in the states and comfortably live extremely well. The women i won’t even talk about.. the first time i went i told my wife not to get upset at me,, but my eyes would be going crazy,,,, at the end of the first weekend in chipi chape.. she understood and said that if she was a man living in cali, she would never get married,, jaja…. anyways,,, hope you guys are safe and continue to enjoy…

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loobylu May 16, 2013 at 8:08 am

Hi all,

I am a 23 year old lady, I am looking to go to colombia to work. Im not sure what part yet but I will have a job waiting for me.

Will I be safe? Its probally going to be in a one of the bigger cities??

Thanks

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Marcello May 16, 2013 at 8:29 am

Medellin is the 2nd largest cities in Colombia, Bogota is the largest and only “mega city” at around or over 10 million people now. Colombia is by no means as dangerous as it once was and yes I would call it safe but always best to be aware of your surroundings. Read this post: http://wanderingtrader.com/travel-blog/is-colombia-dangerous-whats-it-like-post-drug-war/

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joaco July 30, 2013 at 11:43 am

homicide rate is at least 5 TIMES higher in Medellín than in Bogotá. so, I highly doubt Bogotá is any more dangerous than Medellín. some places of Bogotá might gave you a bad perception but all in all Bogotá is one of the safest big cities of Colombia.

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Marcello August 2, 2013 at 12:23 pm

From personal experience Joaco would definitely say that Bogota is still more dangerous.

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RIchard November 15, 2013 at 2:27 pm

did you ever buy a place in columbia yet?

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Marcello December 5, 2013 at 12:07 am

Richard we bought a 5 bedroom penthouse in the neighborhood of Laureles

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Jose G November 16, 2013 at 1:53 pm

People Im Cuban and lived all my live in Miami ,I have travel to Colombia like 10 times and never ever had any problems that I heard about its like any other place in U.S just find out were to go and like Colombian say “No dar Papaya mijo” Just retired and thinking in moving to Cali Email me if you ever go there and I will hook you up …

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gerald espinosa January 23, 2014 at 9:16 pm

I lived in Cartagena before,traveled to Barranquilla,Cali,Palmira,and Villavicencio.
But have heard good things about Medellin. Next time God willing ? Hey Alberto,
read your comments,and yes there are a lot of beautiful women there. Stayed near
Chipichapi in hotel off ave. sexta close to all the action. Next time try going to resort
in nearby hills about 30 min. south. Forgot the name,but locals know. Or if in Cartagena
I recommend the all day boat to nearby islands. One has an aquarium and u can have lunch there. Im not Colombian (Mexican/American)from So.California,but I love it there.

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