Medellin, Colombia – City Guide for Nomads and Expats

Updated in 2022.

The second-largest city in Colombia after Bogota.

Medellin is located in the Aburra Valley of the Andes Mountains and is famously referred to as the ‘city of the eternal spring’. Back in the 1980s and 90s the city was battlefield for gangs during Pablo Escobar’s reign. Now, things are totally different. The city has come back to life in a big way. Medellin was even voted the most innovative city in 2013 due to its strides in politics, education and social development. The city has invested in their infrastructure including new train lines and drinkable tap water. Medellin is very livable. Digital nomads and expats have been flooding into Medellin for the low cost of living and attractive lifestyle. Medellin rivals Playa del Carmen as the top digital nomad destination in Latin America.

Population: 2,500,000


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DIGITAL NOMAD IN MEDELLIN

Medellin is one of the world’s top digital nomad hotspots. They’re everywhere! Medellin is very ‘pug and play’. It’s easy to get set up here. You’ll be able to adapt quickly and find a grocery store and favorite coffee shop. The wifi is good everywhere. You’ll meet some cool entrepreneurs and cool people here. Some people compare Medellin to Guadalajara. Both are great for digital nomads. Most people that visit Medellin find a reason to go back.

 

RENT AN APARTMENT IN MEDELLIN

Allow for $600. Can you do cheaper? Yes, but I suggest spending a little extra cash to have a decent apartment in a good area of Medellin.

 

BEST BARS & NIGHTLIFE IN MEDELLIN

9/10

I’m probably not the first to tell you that Medellin’s nightlife is good. There are a baffling number of bars and clubs located in pockets throughout the city. Medellin is one of the reggaeton capitals of the world, alongside Santo Domingo, Panama City and Puerto Rico. 

There are many areas I can suggest, but if you are here for any less than 2 weeks, I will only recommend one: Parque Lleras. This area is dense with bars, discos, lounges and restaurants and is snuggly in the posh El Poblado district.

Some people complain that Medellin nightlife is too cliquey. There are not too many ‘stand-up’ bars that are good for mingling. Most local Colombians go out in mixed groups and spend the night talking to their group. Dancing can help break the barrier.

My Latin Life recommends:

Bendito Seas: Definitely a younger crowd here, but a really cool interior. I liked it, but if you want a nightclub, go to Babylon. But, there are lots of foreigners in Babylon. You’ve been warned.

 

WHERE TO STAY IN MEDELLIN

The best areas of Medellin to stay are Poblado, Laureles, Sabaneta and Envigado. Poblado is the area of the city most frequented by expats and digital nomads. Laureles is a little bit more local and residential, but also a major nightlife area with great coffeeshops. Envigado is a little further from the action, but close to the mall and much safer. All three of these areas have many hotels and Airbnbs to chose from. Poblado and Envigado will be more expensive than Laureles and Sabaneta.

 

IS MEDELLIN SAFE?

So-so. Despite its unprecedented decline in crime rates over the past 20 years, Medellin is still not entirely safe. It’s a big city and most people do not make very much money. Take taxis home after the bar, and never leave your drink unattended. Be cautious walking alone at night. Pereira is significantly safer.

 

BEST CAFES IN MEDELLIN FOR DIGITAL NOMADS

Chances are you will stay in Poblado or Laureles at some point during your time in Medellin. Every neighborhood in Medellin has great cafes. The baristas will be helpful and probably speak some English. The wifi is fast throughout the city. One of the best parts about Medellin is working remotely in the cafes, sipping amazing coffee and eating a super cheap tasty meal. You are bound to meet other expats and digital nomads if you spend enough time at the cafe.

Best Cafes in Poblado, Medellin for Digital Nomads

Cafe Repeat

Cafe Velvet

Cafe Pergamino

Cafe Noir

Cafe Al Alma

Cafe DDC

Matilde Coffee Market

Botanika Lounge

 

Best Cafes in Laureles, Medellin for Digital Nomads

Semilla Cafe

Cafe Revolucion

Cafe Cliché

Naturalia Cafe

Smash Cafe

 

WEATHER IN MEDELLIN

Medellin is known as the city of the eternal spring. That’s accurate, because it actually rains quite a lot in Medellin. Not as much as Bogota, but far from perfect Mediterranean weather. In Mexico, the city of Xalapa as similar weather and similar elevation. 

 

THINGS TO DO IN MEDELLIN

Visit Parque Arvi and enjoy views from the cable car.

Hike the Cerro de Las 3 Cruzes

Visit Plaza Botero and see the sculptures.

Hike the Cerro Nutibara Pueblito Paisa. It’s very easy and provides great views.

Hike Cerro El Volador, one of the biggest parks within the city limits of Medellin.

Check out the Angel Falls waterfall in Envigado.

Head south to the coffee triangle (eje cafetero). You can fly, or Manizales is only a 6.5 hour drive away.

Head over to the Santander department of Colombia via Puerto Berrio. Bucaramanga is a 7 hour drive away.

 

 COST OF LIVING IN MEDELLIN

The following data is from Expatistan, a crowdsourced database of prices and cost of living around the world. In our experience, the data tends to underestimate cost of living, so take the following as the minimum you might need to live here.

*Figures are listed in USD

You’ll need a minimum of $855 USD/month to live in Medellin, Colombia

cost-of-living-medellin

FINAL THOUGHTS

The boom years of Medellin have come to pass. The glory days were from 1999-2006; after the violence, but before the mass tourism. This isn’t to say that Medellin isn’t a great city, because it is. Medellin is much more live-able than Bogota.  

Aesthetically, culturally and entertainment-wise, it is a Latin American standard.

The digital nomad community of Medellin continues to grow. We actually have several friends that have purchased apartments in Medellin in recent years.

 

OVERALL RATING: 8.5/10

 

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