The cost of living in Medellin, Colombia has remained quite low over the last few years. Whenever I travel throughout the world I always rent a furnished apartment, to create myself a home base. This has been a requirement for me, as I am still actively day trading a traveling around the world. Reliable internet for me is paramount, and in many emerging economies the places that offer the best accommodation for travelers are also known for good internet connections.
Having a home base allows me the ability to day trade and train others.
When I first lived in Medellin, Colombia in 2011, we rented a penthouse in the often mentioned neighborhood of Poblado. Upon returning to Medellin in October of 2013 we officially moved into our day trader’s penthouse, after roughly 7 months’ worth of renovations.
At present, we live in Laureles which is an upscale neighborhood. It has all the positive aspects of Poblado but doesn’t come with all the negative characteristics.
There is the same quality of life, but there are far less tourists, less congestion, and it is more centrally located than Poblado.
Standard of Living in Medellin, Colombia
Foreigners can still enjoy a very high standard of living in Medellin, Colombia.
There are parts of the city that are very westernized. These areas possess services and amenities that foreigners have come to expect and aren’t willing to give up easily. This is continuing to get better as Colombia’s economy remains stable and continues to modernize.
Many people still think that Colombia is a third world country but it has in fact, progressed substantially in the last decade.
Depending on the budget, one may easily find a backpacker type lifestyle or a more upmarket lifestyle, just about anywhere in the city.
How Strata’s Affect the Cost Of Living in Medellin
The strata system is the way that Colombia tries to help the economic situation of the country. It is based on a rating system founded on the economic wealth of a neighborhood.
The rating is between 1 and 6.
The concept is rather simple, the wealthier the area is designated the higher the cost for utilities and even rent. This includes even basic services that the city offers everywhere.
The majority of you reading this post will most likely stay in the neighborhood of Poblado.
It is by far the most popular area of the city for foreigners. If you are staying in the city for less than two weeks I would recommend Poblado.
Otherwise, if you are living in the city or staying more than 2 weeks, I would recommend an area like Laureles, Estadio, or Envigado (closest to Poblado). Poblado of course, is classified as the highest strata with a assignment of 6.
Watch the cost of living in Medellin, Colombia video on YouTube
Renting An Apartment or Room in Medellin
600,000 – 3 million pesos/$300 – $1,500 USD (United States Dollar)
- Lower: $300 – $350 USD a month
- Middle of the line: $600 – $800 USD a month
- Upper: $800 – $1500 USD (or higher)
Most of the services such as internet, cable, and electric are automatically included in the rent if a furnished apartment is rented.
Keep in mind often times low budget apartment rentals have unreliable western style amenities. The internet may not be consistent for example, or the hot water may not work all the time (heads up Colombians are not used to showering with hot water).
While there are exceptions to the rule, this is what most people experience that have lived in the city.
The middle of the line includes renting a private room, or sharing an apartment rental with friends. If one wants reliable services and a western lifestyle, then expect to pay between $500 to $800 USD. The higher the amount paid the more privacy one can readily expect.
The upper echelon would include renting an entire apartment (most likely a penthouse) either for yourself or a group of friends.
It would include all of the major services and often a maid and chef as well.
In 2011, my cost of living in rent for Medellin, Colombia was between $1300 to $1500 USD a month. I was living in a 4 bedroom penthouse with 3 bathrooms, in a central location. This was in the neighborhood of Poblado. It had incredible views of the city. I hired my own maid but the cost was reasonable.
Since I have purchased the penthouse in Laureles the monthly rent expense is roughly $190 USD a month. This is the monthly HOA (Home Owners Association) fee to pay for the building maintenance.
Yes, that’s it.
The cost to purchase and maintain property in Medellin is still very low.
Food $600,000 – $1,188,000 Pesos ($300 – $600 USD)
As you know, it is always more expensive to eat out than it is to eat at home. We currently have a chef that does grocery shopping and cooks meals anyway we want. A chef in Medellin will cost between $15 to $30 USD a day.
We pay roughly $200-$300 USD a month (each) for a chef to come daily to the penthouse and make fresh food every day.
To put this into perspective, we eat very well with salmon, meat, and exotic items such as ceviche and shrimp on the menu every single day. We also have the chef go to the market regularly to get local greens, fruits and vegetables.
If you are planning on eating out, expect to pay more. Prices will be higher especially if living in Poblado.
300,000 1,200,000 pesos ($150 to $600 USD or more)
I was shocked to find out how expensive gyms are in the city of Medellin. Paisas (people from Medellin and the Antioquia region) obviously take their looks very seriously.
Expect to pay between 60,000 to 200,000 pesos ($30 to $100 USD) monthly for a gym membership. The cost will depend on whether it is a big expensive chain like Bodytech, or a small local gym.
I pay 60,000 pesos for a local gym here in Laureles. There are also a handful of outdoor gyms in the city that are 100% free.
Cost of living in Medellin in terms of getting around is still quite cheap compared to most cities. Taking a taxi across Medellin normally costs between 12,000 to 20,000 ($6 to $10 USD). Visiting the city with friends, will help to defray costs.
The cheapest way to get around the city is via the metro. Although most people that I know, rarely ever take the metro.
- Taxi minimum fare is 4,400 pesos or $2.30 USD
- Metro is 1,800 pesos or $1 (one way)
- Colombian friends are FREE
Private dance classes are going to cost between 20,000 to 50,000 pesos ($10 to $25 USD) per hour. There are also free private dance classes that one can find in the city as well.
In addition, there are a variety of Spanish classes that one can find throughout the city. The options are either taking lessons at the local university, or taking private sessions. University programs are roughly 1,000,000 pesos for in person classes, every day for a month. Classes are about 2 hours each.
For your information, you can receive a visa to take Spanish classes at a university
Cost of Living Nightlife/Restaurants
Evening entertainment and restaurants are still quite cheap compared to most establishments in the United States, Europe, and even Australia. Often bottles of liqueur can be purchased for roughly $50 USD or less, and beers are between $2 and $3 USD.
Going to the upper echelon of clubs and restaurants will involve much higher prices, but overall it is comparatively cheaper.
Local restaurants are extremely cheap, and meals can be purchased for between $3 to $4 USD. Nicer restaurants are more expensive, but two people can still have a wonderful meal for under $40 USD.
Fast food (American style) restaurants are the only thing that is more expensive in Medellin. Expect to pay 30%-40% less than you would back home.
My Monthly Expenses
- Rent = 378,000 pesos ($190 USD)
- Food = 550,000 pesos ($280 USD)
- Electricity = 318,000 ($160 USD) – Please consider that it is a 7 bedroom penthouse
- Internet/TV/Phone = 155,000 ($78 USD)
- Gym = 60,000 ($30 USD) – You can also pay by the day 5,000 pesos ($2.50 USD)
Total = 1,461,000 ($738 USD)
Remember, my cost of living is negotiated on the fact that I purchased a property here in Medellin. The minimum cost for renting a room is roughly $300 USD. The average expenditure for renting an apartment would be between $800 – $1200 USD.
Overall, living in a penthouse would be less expensive than renting most rooms in Medellin.