Thinking about living in Medellin?
Medellin is a beautiful city in the heart of Colombia. This urban jungle has been known as one of the most dangerous cities in the world which has changed in recent years. Medellin has transformed into a bustling city with so many technological advancements and innovation that it’s been dubbed the “Silicon Valley of Latin America”.
Nowadays, this city attracts foreigners of all kinds – digital nomads, expats, retirees and travelers in general. Lots of people are visiting Medellin because of all the beauty, culture and lifestyle it has to offer.
But there are some things you should consider about life in Medellin and after living in Medellin for nearly 4 months – we had a good feel of the city and the lifestyle.
If you’re wondering if you’d enjoy living in Medellin – you’ve come to the right place! In this blog post, we are going to compare the pros and cons of living in Medellin to help you have a clear idea of whether the City of Eternal Spring is right for you.
Quick Overview of Life In Medellin
Summary: Medellin is a popular city for digital nomads, remote workers and expats to live in for a reason. But just like any other city – it’s not perfect and there are some pros and cons to living in Medellin. The top of the pros list would be the spring-like weather year-round, affordable cost of living and growing expat/digital nomad communities. While the top of the cons list includes the safety concerns, traffic and intense nightlife scene.
Here are some things to know about living in Medellin, Colombia:
- Medellin is a popular city for tourists but it is not the capital of Colombia (which some people seem to think) – Bogota is the capital.
- It’s dubbed the City of Eternal Spring because the weather is a perfect 70 degrees sunshine all year-round (except for rainy season).
- The official language is Spanish – you’ll need to learn the basics to feel more comfortable living in Medellin.
- Medellin has a dark past concerning Pablo Escobar and Comuna13 but it has turned a new leaf and it’s making a new name for itself.
- There’s lots of culture all around – especially once you understand the strong and proud Paisa culture (people from Medellin specifically).
- They love football – I’ve never seen a crowd more passionate about a football game than Colombians.
And that’s just the tip of what life in Medellin could be like – there’s something for everyone in the beautiful city.
Why We Chose To Live in Medellin
Medellin has always been on our list of places to visit mainly because it’s a popular digital nomad hotspot. As we work online and travel full-time, we always look for cool cities that have decent wifi speeds, affordable cost of living and great weather. And guess what? Medellin has all of that!
That’s why it has grown to be a top digital nomad destination. We wanted to check it out for ourselves after reading and watching lots of content about how people loved it. Do you know how some people hype cities up and they are not what they portray them to be? Yeah, we wanted to see if Medellin was just a hype for ourselves.
Spoiler: The hype is real and for good reason. We loved living in Medellin as digital nomads – the lifestyle it offered was amazing. You can have a relatively low cost of living but still, have a very high quality of life.
We couldn’t wait to test out the Medellin digital nomad life and we committed to staying at least a couple of months which turned out to be nearly 4 months in the end.
The Pros vs Cons Of Living In Medellin As Digital Nomads
I have to say: Medellin is a great city, in general. We loved our time there and I’m creating this list to help you get a clear picture of whether or not it would be right for you.
Just like any other city, it will have its pros and cons because no city is perfect right? I feel like Medellin is one of those cities where you either love it or hate it. As we talked to others, we concluded that it was hard to be in the middle!
There’s a lot to love about it and there are some things that just aren’t great. We are writing this because Matthew and I have different thoughts about living in Medellin (aka you’ll get both sides). Matthew absolutely loved his time and considers it to be one of the best cities we’ve lived in as digital nomads. Whereas I also loved our time in Medellin but it definitely didn’t make it to my top favorite cities in the world as digital nomads.
Here’s the complete list of pros and cons of living in Medellin as a digital nomad/remote worker.
The Pros Of Living In Medellin
The pros list is pretty extensive because there are a lot of positive aspects to living in Medellin.
You can’t judge Medellin just by what you hear, see or read because we honestly believe you have to experience places for yourself. It’s such a unique city with a vibrant culture that’s often misunderstood.
Living in Medellin will open your mind, broaden your perspective and you’ll simply enjoy the lifestyle you can have in this *literal* urban jungle!
Affordable Cost of Living
First up has to be the cost of living in Medellin. While it isn’t the cheapest city we have lived in as digital nomads, it certainly isn’t the most expensive. Medellin has gotten a little more expensive over the years as it has attracted more tourists and digital nomads.
The rent prices have gone up in Medellin by a couple of hundred dollars. We heard during the pandemic, people have paid as little as $450 USD for a studio apartment in Laureles. The cheapest option we found for ourselves was $650 USD which we thought was still pretty good – the only problem is the value for money in Medellin for apartments isn’t there. Most apartments at this price are pretty basic and less modern.
Other than rent, we found the cost of living in Medellin to be very cheap. You can get menu del dias (menu of the day) which includes juice, soup and a main dish for as low as $3 USD. Yup – you read that right! A decent cup of coffee at our favorite cafe, Pergamino, will only cost $1.89 USD. For dinner, we spent around $35 on average for a nice date night. This would include a drink each and a main dish each. A movie ticket only costs $11 for both of us and we get preferential seats (higher seating).
In other words…you can have any kind of lifestyle you want in Medellin. If you want to save money, you can. If you want to splurge, you can. If you want to just be balanced on your budget, you can.
This is what makes the cost of living in Medellin a big pro on this list!
Spring Weather Year-Round
Don’t like the cold?
But maybe you don’t like the heat either?
Well, Medellin weather might just be right for you!
Due to its location on the Earth, it’s got spring-like weather all year long. Before we arrived, we heard about how good the weather in Medellin was and we were a little skeptical to be honest.
But after our first week of arriving in Medellin – we totally got it! I can’t believe how much I talked about the weather to Matthew because it was just too perfect. The best way I can describe it is…when you step outside your house it’s not humid at all but it’s also not cold enough to even wear a sweater/light jacket. You also never feel too hot but never too cold – in other words, you have to experience it for yourself! I was completely gobsmacked!
In saying that, near the end of our trip was the start of the rainy season and when I tell you it rained every single afternoon – it did! It was starting to get on my nerves because we couldn’t really enjoy our last few weeks because of the weather and while it is usually perfect – it’s not always the case (as with everything in life).
Great For Learning Spanish
Want to learn Spanish?
For me, it’s the best second language you could learn because it’s super useful across Spain and the whole of Latin America. Even if there are slight differences between the Spanish across some nations – it’s way better than nothing!
Medellin is one of the best cities in the world to learn Spanish at affordable prices. The teachers are very knowledgeable as it’s such a popular spot for people to spend a couple of months specifically to learn Spanish. I highly recommend BaseLang for Spanish classes if you’re interested!
The other reason it’s a great place to learn is that not many people speak English! You are going to have to use what you learn right away – a head-first kind of learning I guess. Don’t get me wrong – some people do understand English but we’d say it is about 85% Spanish-only. If you’re in El Poblado and maybeeee Laureles, English is more common. I can speak a little Spanish just conversationally which helped us a lot and Matt doesn’t really speak much! You can definitely get around without knowing but it’s always better to at least learn the basics.
Locals Are Very Friendly And Welcoming
Colombians are some of the friendliest of the Latin American countries we visited! Everyone is so kind and friendly – it’s so much better when you feel welcomed in a country. And you’ll definitely feel it while living in Medellin!
We felt at home because of this and we are sure you will too. It’s really the simple things like saying buenos dias when someone passes by.
Here’s the thing – not every Colombian is going to try to haggle you or take advantage of you. It’s not really fair to have that as the default and it’s important to be open-minded especially when you’re living in Medellin.
Our personal experience with Colombians is nothing short but awesome. They are helpful, friendly and caring!
Big Expat or Digital Nomad Community
Looking to find a group of like-minded people?
As a digital nomad that can get pretty hard…unless you’re in Medellin. As it’s a top digital nomad destination, the number of people that are flocking to Medellin will only continue to grow!
If you’re worried you won’t make any friends, trust me, you won’t have trouble making friends while living in Medellin. There are plenty of digital nomad communities in popular neighborhoods like Poblado and Laureles. If you live in more local areas, it’s easy enough to make friends with some locals in areas like Envigado or Sabaneta.
There are always events or meetups happening around the city. For example, there’s multiple language exchanges throughout the week, digital nomad meetups or workshops and salsa parties to attend. You’ve always got an event to go to during the week if you’re living in Medellin.
International Food/Cafe Scene Is Great
Colombian food is a little bland and simple for our taste buds. The bandeja paisa is very filling with all the types of meat, rice, beans and avocado but it’s just missing a little flavor, in my opinion.
Don’t get me wrong though: Colombian food is very good.
I just don’t think we can honestly imagine eating it every single day. Whereas, I could eat Thai food all week long (in fact, we have done that lol). If you also get a little tired of the local cuisine while living in Medellin, you don’t have to worry!
The international food scene is some of the best we have experienced. You can have various types of cuisines such as Japanese, Peruvian, Thai, Argentinian, Mexican, American (USA), French and even Amazonian! We found it hard to decide where to eat all the time because there were just so many great choices.
The best part about the food scene in Medellin is that it’s all very affordable for what you get. You can have a really fancy dinner for less than $45 USD for two people in this decked-out restaurant. There’s also something for everyone in Medellin – no matter what your budget is.
That’s why I wrote the best restaurants in Medellin guide so you can have some recommendations for every occasion while living in Medellin!
Wifi Is Fast And Reliable
Medellin has a very reliable wifi connection no matter where you are. We rarely had speeds of less than 10 Mbps which was a normal thing in Mexico. If you’re coming to Medellin as a digital nomad or remote worker, there will be no issues with wifi speeds.
For better reference, the speeds we got were normally between 15 Mbps and 300 Mbps. I think we got a little lucky with our first Airbnb apartment and we were pleasantly surprised to find the wifi speed was 300+ Mbps. You can imagine our disappointment after moving to our next Airbnb in Poblado when our internet speeds were barely 5 Mbps. Fortunately, the host was able to bump up the speeds after speaking with the company.
Wherever you go, whether that’s malls, parks, cafes or restaurants – there’s also free wifi available in Medellin. We loved working from cafes in Medellin and we never had any issues with the wifi (plugs on the other hand were a different story).
Looking for cafes to work from? Read our complete guide on the best cafes in Medellin for digital nomads.
For coworking spaces, the wifi is always 80+ Mpbs. We tried out some and we usually got a range between 80 and 250 Mbps as you can see. If you want some recommendations on coworking spaces, you can click on our full coworking Medellin guide here.
The Cons Of Living In Medellin
You’ve just read why living in Medellin is pretty sweet but nothing is perfect, right? There are some pretty big cons to living in Medellin and I won’t try to sugarcoat anything.
When we first heard about Medellin for digital nomads, we thought it was paradise and we had to experience it for ourselves. After living in Medellin for nearly 4 months, we have narrowed down what we consider to be “cons”.
Safety Is Always On The Back Of Your Mind
Everyone’s first question about our time in Colombia was…
In our experience, it was completely safe! Nothing remotely bad happened to us and we felt pretty comfortable the entire time living in Medellin. As much as people want to paint it with its dark past, Medellin has transformed over the last decades and it’s not your “grandma’s Colombia” as Nomadic Matt has said.
In saying that, the safety concerns always played in the back of my mind. Even though nothing ever happened, I just never felt like I could 100% relax and it’s definitely a good idea not to get complacent because crime is around. On a lot of the FB groups, I kept reading horror stories of people being robbed at gunpoint. We never saw it ourselves or experienced it but it’s hard to have peace of mind when you went to the exact same restaurant just the day before, you know?
But that’s just me! Matthew had no problems with the safety concerns in Medellin nor was he really worried about it. Maybe that’s just the difference in our personalities lol!
Pretty Far From Any Beaches
Matthew and I love warm weather and the beachy, tropical vibes of coastal towns. We prefer living in places close to the beach and I don’t enjoy being land-locked either.
Medellin is in the middle of a valley surrounded by beautiful mountains. Trust me, Medellin is a really beautiful city but there’s just no beach! I think that’s why it doesn’t make it to my personal top digital nomad destinations but it might make it to yours if you don’t care too much about being far from the beaches. The closest beaches tourists can access from Medellin are Santa Marta or Cartagena which are at least a 1-hour flight away.
The Noise Can Get Pretty Loud
The partying culture is strong in Medellin and if that’s your thing it’s a great place to do that. The only reason this is negative is because of the noise at night. If you live in Poblado, which we did for a month, it would get really noisy till at least 2am on random days.
It’s hard to sleep and for whatever reason, it would even occur on random Tuesday night. We thought we only had to bear it for the weekends which might be doable but it’s just random days throughout the week.
If you don’t mind some noise late at night, this will barely be a con for you.
Rent Is Rising In Certain Areas
The cost of living in Medellin isn’t as cheap as it once was. We’ve heard of people getting $400 USD studio apartments but that’s no longer the case. You’re likely to pay around $600 USD to $1,200 USD which is a pretty big range. It just depends if you can find a decent deal!
Our first Airbnb cost around $650 USD and it was pretty basic but close to the center of Laureles. Our second Airbnb was in the perfect Poblado neighborhood, Manila and it cost around $850 USD and it wasn’t great tbh. For our third place we decided to try coliving in Medellin and it was amazing for around $800 USD. You can take our prices as you want but some people have been able to do it for less but we think people normally paid more than us – around the $1,000 USD mark.
Want to know more about Medellin costs? Read our full cost of living in Medellin guide.
Is Living In Medellin Good For Digital Nomads, Expats or Travelers?
The quick answer is YES!
Medellin is a beautiful city full of life, a vibrant culture and friendly people. We loved living in Medellin as digital nomads and we could see why it’s such a top destination. The fast wifi, the coworking, the cafes, the international food scene, the nature and the lifestyle in general all make living in Medellin such a wonderful experience.
There are pros and cons to every city in the world and in the case of Medellin – the pros definitely outweighed the cons. We hope you found these insights helpful!
Let us know your thoughts about the pros and cons of living in Medellin and comment below.