We recently surveyed 1,000 unfurnished apartments in the five most popular neighborhoods in Medellín for expats to find out the current 2019 unfurnished apartment rental costs in the city.

I have been living in Medellín for over eight years and I have lived in six different barrios in the city. And I have frequently been asked by foreigners about the unfurnished apartment rental costs in Medellín.

I wrote about my experiences renting apartments in several neighborhoods in the city while moving to Medellín. In addition, I have helped several foreigners find apartments in Medellín over the past several years.

With my Colombian wife’s help, over the past week we surveyed 1,000 available unfurnished apartments in Medellín to find out what are the current 2019 unfurnished apartment rental costs in Medellín. And the results can be compared to our similar apartment survey in late 2018.

We only looked in the five most popular neighborhoods for expats in Medellín: El Poblado, Envigado, Laureles-Estadio, Belén and Sabaneta. By neighborhoods in the article we are referring to separate municipalities (Envigado and Sabaneta) and comunas in Medellín (El Poblado, Laureles-Estadio and Belén).

Reportedly over 80 percent of English-speaking expats living in Medellín live in these five neighborhoods. In addition, we only looked at 1-bedroom, 2-bedroom and 3-bedroom apartments. We did not include casas (houses) or larger apartments in our survey. And we did not include penthouse apartments.

In addition, we previously looked at apartment rental prices in five inexpensive neighborhoods in Medellín and the Aburrá Valley.

Also, we used a 3,282 Colombian peso (COP) to the U.S. Dollar (USD) exchange rate in this article. The exchange rate fluctuates daily and has ranged from 3,070.3 to 3,521.8 over the past year.

Understanding Estratos in Colombia

 It is very important to understand estratos when looking at real estate in Colombia. Residential properties in Colombia are ranked in a socioeconomic scale, which are known as “estratos”. Estratos in Colombia run from 1 to 6, as follows:

  1. Low-low class (bajo-bajo)
  2. Low class (bajo)
  3. Low-middle class (medio-bajo)
  4. Middle class (medio)
  5. Middle-high class (medio-alto)
  6. High class (alto) – the wealthiest

It is important to understand that middle class in Colombia is not the same as middle class in a wealthy country like the U.S. Also, the wealthy estrato 6 in Colombia represents only about 3 to 4 percent of housing in Colombia.

The majority of Colombians live in estrato 1, 2 or 3 neighborhoods, which represents about 80 percent of the housing in Colombia.

Also, it is important to know that homes in the higher estrato neighborhoods in Colombia pay higher utility rates to help subsidize lower utility rates in the lowest estratos.

In our apartment survey, we only looked in the better neighborhoods in the city where foreigners are most likely to live. So, we did not include any estrato 1 or 2 neighborhoods. And we only included a few apartments (less than 3 percent) in estrato 3. So, most of the apartments in our survey were in estrato 4, 5 or 6.

Apartment buildings near Santafé mall in El Poblado, Medellín

Apartment buildings near Santafé mall in El Poblado, Medellín

1. El Poblado – 2019 Unfurnished Apartment Rental Costs 

El Poblado is the most popular neighborhood for foreigners living in or visiting Medellín. Also, El Poblado is the most upscale neighborhood in the city.  In addition, El Poblado is where the most hotels and furnished apartments catering to foreigners are located.

El Poblado is primarily an Estrato 6 neighborhood with about 74 percent of the households rated at estrato 6. Also, it’s where the most expensive real estate and most expensive apartment rentals in the city tend to be located.

I lived for over a month over eight years ago in a furnished apartment in El Poblado during an early trial of living in Medellín. It didn’t take me long to determine that El Poblado wasn’t for me. I prefer to live in a neighborhood that has a lower cost of living and isn’t as westernized.

Here are the results of our 2019 survey of 200 unfurnished apartment rentals in El Poblado:

  • 29 apartments were 1-bedroom or studios ranging in size from 35 to 96 square meters with rents ranging from 1.3 million to 2.8 million pesos per month.
  • 45 apartments were 2-bedroom apartments ranging in size from 55 to 159 square meters with rents ranging from 1.7 million to 4.0 million pesos per month.
  • 126 apartments were 3-bedroom apartments ranging in size from 55 to 230 square meters with rents ranging from 1.5 million to 8.5 million pesos per month.
  • The average rental cost per square meter of the 200 apartments in El Poblado was 23,232 pesos per month per square meter.
  • Surprisingly 12.5 percent of the 200 apartments surveyed in the wealthiest neighborhood of El Poblado did not have hot water. And four of those with hot water were electric hot water in the showers.
  • 14 percent of the 200 apartments surveyed in El Poblado didn’t have a 24/7 porteria (doorman).
2019 unfurnished apartment rental costs in El Poblado

2019 unfurnished apartment rental costs in El Poblado

2. Envigado Apartments – 2019 Unfurnished Apartment Rental Costs 

Envigado is another popular neighborhood for foreigners living in Medellín. Most notably, Envigado is less commercial than El Poblado and it is located directly south of El Poblado.

Envigado has many areas with tree-lined streets and it has fewer high-rise apartments than are found in El Poblado. In addition, Envigado is considered to be more of a working-class community. In Envigado, 96 percent of housing is in estrato 2 to 5 and only 4 percent is in estrato 1 or 6.

Here are the results of our 2019 survey of 200 unfurnished apartment rentals in Envigado:

  • 15 of the apartments surveyed were 1-bedroom or studios ranging in size from 30 to 70 square meters with rents ranging from 850,000 to 2.5 million pesos per month.
  • 35 apartments were 2-bedroom apartments ranging in size from 52 to 130 square meters with rents ranging from 1 million to 3.1 million pesos per month.
  • 150 apartments were 3-bedroom apartment ranging in size from 60 to 200 square meters with rents ranging from 1.2 million to 5.0 million pesos per month.
  • The average rental cost per square meter of the 200 apartments surveyed in Envigado was 21,291 pesos per month per square meter, which means Envigado apartment rentals are 8.4 percent cheaper on average than in El Poblado for similar size apartments.
  • Only 4.5 percent of the apartments in Envigado did not have hot water and two with hot water only had electric hot water in the shower(s).
  • 15 percent of the 200 apartments surveyed in Envigado didn’t have a 24/7 porteria.
2019 unfurnished apartment rental costs in Envigado

2019 unfurnished apartment rental costs in Envigado

Apartment buildings in Laureles, Medellín

Apartment buildings in Laureles, Medellín

3. Laureles-Estadio – 2019 Unfurnished Apartment Rental Costs

Laureles-Estadio is another popular neighborhood for foreigners living in Medellín. It has many areas with tree-lined streets and much fewer high-rise apartments than are found in El Poblado. Also, Laureles is primarily a residential neighborhood.

The first unfurnished apartment I rented in Medellín was located in Estadio near the stadium. Laureles-Estadio is primarily an estrato 4 and 5 neighborhood with 99 percent of the households rated at estrato 4 or 5.

Here are the results of our 2019 survey of 200 unfurnished apartment rentals in Laureles-Estadio:

  • 30 apartments were 1-bedroom or studios ranging in size from 28 to 86 square meters with rents ranging from 800,000 to 1.9 million pesos per month.
  • 38 apartments were 2-bedroom apartments ranging in size from 45 to 110 square meters with rents ranging from 1.0 million to 2.2 million pesos per month.
  • 132 apartments were 3-bedroom apartment ranging in size from 60 to 192 square meters with rents ranging from 1.0 million to 5.0 million pesos per month.
  • The average rental cost per square meter of the 200 apartments in Laureles-Estadio was 21,099 pesos per month per square meter, which means Laureles-Estadio apartment rentals are 9.2 percent cheaper on average than in El Poblado for similar-sized apartments.
  • Only 5 percent of the 200 apartments surveyed in Laureles-Estadio did not have hot water and three with hot water only had electric hot water in the shower(s).
  • 66 percent of the 200 apartments surveyed in Laureles-Estadio didn’t have a 24/7 porteria. Laureles-Estadio does not have many high-rise apartment buildings. So, they normally don’t have 24/7 porterias. Some buildings have daytime porterias and some do not.
2019 unfurnished apartment rental costs in Laureles-Estadio

2019 unfurnished apartment rental costs in Laureles-Estadio

View from my third Apartment in Belén

View from my third Apartment in Belén

4. Belén – 2019 Unfurnished Apartment Rental Costs

Belén is a neighborhood that is slowing becoming more popular for foreigners living in Medellín. And Belén is the comuna where I lived for over four years in three different barrios (Fatima, Loma de Los Bernal and Los Alpes)

Belén is more of a working-class community with 98 percent of the housing in estrato 2 to 5 and only 2 percent in estrato 1.

Here are the results of our 2019 survey of 200 unfurnished apartment rentals in Belén:

  • 23 the apartments surveyed were 1-bedroom or studios ranging in size from 30 to 60 square meters with rents ranging from 750,000 to 1.55 million pesos per month.
  • 35 apartments were 2-bedroom apartments ranging in size from 45 to 87 square meters with rents ranging from 920,000 to 2.3 million pesos per month.
  • 142 apartments were 3-bedroom apartment ranging in size from 55 to 122 square meters with rents ranging from 1 million to 3.6 million pesos per month.
  • The average rental cost per square meter of the 200 apartments in Belén was 19,725 pesos per month per square meter, which means Belén apartment rentals are 15.1 percent cheaper on average than in El Poblado for similar size apartments.
  • Only 2 percent of the 200 apartments in Belén did not have hot water and four of these only had electric hot water in the shower(s).
  • 10 percent of the 200 apartments surveyed in Belén didn’t have a 24/7 porteria.
2019 unfurnished apartment rental costs in Belén

2019 unfurnished apartment rental costs in Belén

Apartment buildings in Sabaneta near Aves Maria mall

Apartment buildings in Sabaneta near Aves Maria mall

5. Sabaneta – 2019 Unfurnished Apartment Rental Costs

Sabaneta is located directly south of Envigado. Sabaneta is a separate municipality from Medellín, like Envigado. Sabaneta has been booming with developers building many apartment buildings over the past several years. With all the new apartment buildings in the area there are many unfurnished rentals available.

In addition, Sabaneta has become increasingly popular with foreigners looking for an alternative. Rentals in Sabaneta can be much cheaper than El Poblado and Envigado.

In addition, Sabaneta is more of a working-class community like Belén. 98 percent of the housing in Sabaneta is estrato 2 to 4. And only 2 percent is estrato 1, 5 or 6.

I currently live in Sabaneta. Since I have lived in Sabaneta for over three years I hear English more and more around town as more foreigners discover the area.

Here are the results of our 2019 survey of 200 unfurnished apartment rentals in Sabaneta:

  • 13 apartments were 1-bedroom or studios ranging in size from 42 to 70 square meters with rents ranging from 1.0 million to 1.5 million pesos per month.
  • 50 apartments were 2-bedroom apartments ranging in size from 42 to 111 square meters with rents ranging from 900,000 to 1.8 million pesos per month.
  • 137 apartments were 3-bedroom apartment range in size from 50 to 190 square meters with rents ranging from 900,000 to 3.2 million pesos per month.
  • The average rental cost per square meter of the 200 apartments in Sabaneta was 18,430 pesos per month per square meter, which means Sabaneta apartment rentals are 20.7 percent cheaper on average than in El Poblado for similar size apartments.
  • Only 2.5 percent of the 200 apartments in Sabaneta did not have hot water and none these with hot water had electric hot water in the shower(s) instead of gas hot water.
  • 10 percent of the 200 apartments surveyed in Sabaneta did not have a 24/7 porteria.
2019 unfurnished apartment rental costs in Sabaneta

2019 unfurnished apartment rental costs in Sabaneta

Average Apartment Rental Costs Have Changed Over Time

With the help of my wife, we have surveyed unfurnished apartment rental prices in Medellín for five years in a row using the same methodology.  So, we can see how the average rental prices have changed over these five years.

Average unfurnished apartment rental costs per square meter by neighborhood in Medellín for five years

Average unfurnished apartment rental costs per square meter by neighborhood in Medellín for five years

If you want to save on unfurnished apartment rental costs in Medellín, our 2019 survey of unfurnished apartment rental costs demonstrates that you can save an average of 9.2 to 20.7 percent by living in Laureles-Estadio, Belén or Sabaneta instead of living in a similar sized apartment in El Poblado.

And if you select Envigado, you will save an average of 8.5 percent compared to the apartment rental costs in El Poblado.

Our survey results found that the average rental price per square meter has increased in all five neighborhoods in 2019.  The biggest price increases were seen in Sabaneta and Laureles-Estadio.

Popularity of these two neighborhoods has resulted in faster rental price increases. Owners appear to have been raising prices faster than inflation in response to demand.

Note that owners are restricted by law in Colombia when renters renew. Rental price increases at lease renewal can be no more than the inflation rate. But when a tenant vacates the owner can increase the rental price to the next tenant to the current market rental rates.

It is also possible to negotiate rent prices when renewing an apartment lease. Fortunately, my rent only increased three times out of seven renewals.

The slowest increase in apartment rental costs in our survey was in El Poblado. This isn’t surprising as El Poblado tends to have the most expensive apartment rental costs in Medellín.

An article in El Colombiano in 2016 also reported that in El Poblado it was taking on average 11 months for an owner to rent an unfurnished apartment. This compared to only 3 months in Laureles.

Avoid Paying Gringo Apartment Rental Costs

It is very important to understand the apartment rental costs and typical market rates when looking for an apartment in Medellín. This will help ensure that you aren’t taken advantage of by real estate agents and owners. If you are educated about market rental costs you can avoid being taken advantage of with gringo pricing for apartment rents.

In addition, there is no MLS in Colombia to help determine market rates, as we pointed out in our article – “11 Things Real Estate Agents in Colombia May Not Tell You”.

Last year I met an expat in Sabaneta that told me he was paying about 40 percent more for his rent than I was paying for a much larger apartment nearly twice the size. And I suspect this was likely the result of a real estate agent taking advantage of this expat not knowing the market prices.

For apartment rentals in Colombia, real estate agents will have a contract with the owner. In addition, they will have a separate contract with the renter. And they pocket the difference between the contracts as the “commission”.

So, the higher the agent can make the rental price, the more “commission” the real estate agent receives. And if an agent sees a foreigner who is not knowledgeable about the market it’s easy for the agent to increase the rental price to the foreigner tenant and pocket the difference.

We also have a comprehensive apartment rental guide to renting unfurnished apartments in Medellín: finding an apartment, contracts, the fiador requirement and more. In addition, we provided a guide to furnishing apartments in Medellín with tips for saving money and where to shop.

Medellin Guru’s Guide to Renting Apartments and Choosing a Neighborhood

On the Medellin Guru website, we have a comprehensive and up-to-date guide to renting apartments and choosing a neighborhood in Medellín found in several articles, including:

Renting Unfurnished Apartments:

Renting Furnished Apartments:

Buying Apartments

Choosing a Neighborhood in Medellín:

Also, we have several articles that can be used to help foreigners choose a neighborhood in Medellín:

Apartment buildings in Medellín

Apartment buildings in Medellín

The Bottom Line: 2019 Unfurnished Apartment Rental Costs

This article should help expats by providing up-to-date average unfurnished apartment rental costs in the most popular neighborhoods for foreigners in Medellín. The bottom line is that the most expensive unfurnished apartments in the Medellín metro area are located in El Poblado.

Furthermore, I highly recommend the Espacio Urbano website. This site is used by many real estate agencies to list thousands of properties for sale or rent in Medellín. So, this website can be used by expats to understand the market for unfurnished apartment rental costs in the different neighborhoods in Medellín.

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