We surveyed 1,000 unfurnished apartments in the five most popular neighborhoods in Medellín for expats to find out the current unfurnished apartment rental costs in the city.
I have been living in Medellín for over seven 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, we recently surveyed 1,000 available unfurnished apartments in Medellín to find out what are the current 2017 unfurnished apartment rental costs in Medellín.
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 85 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 look at casas (houses) or larger apartments.
We also looked at apartment rental prices in five inexpensive neighborhoods in Medellín and the Aburrá Valley.
Update! We also surveyed unfurnished apartment rental costs in Medellín in late 2018 to get updated apartment rental costs in Medellín.
Note the above photo is of apartment buildings in El Poblado. (Also, we used a 2,950 Colombian peso (COP) to the U.S. Dollar (USD) exchange rate in this article. The exchange rate fluctuates daily and has ranged from 2,840.8 to 3,182 over the past year.)
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:
- Low-low class (bajo-bajo)
- Low class (bajo)
- Low-middle class (medio-bajo)
- Middle class (medio)
- Middle-high class (medio-alto)
- 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 the country.
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 lower 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 5 percent) in estrato 3. So, most of the apartments in our survey were in estrato 4, 5 or 6.
1. El Poblado Apartments
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 seven 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.
Results of our 2017 survey of 200 unfurnished apartment rentals in El Poblado:
- 20 apartments were 1-bedroom or studios ranging in size from 35 to 80 square meters with rents ranging from 1.3 million to 2.6 million pesos per month.
- 50 apartments were 2-bedroom apartments ranging in size from 47 to 175 square meters with rents ranging from 1.3 million to 5.5 million pesos per month.
- 130 apartments were 3-bedroom apartments ranging in size from 68 to 261 square meters with rents ranging from 1.25 million to 8.0 million pesos per month.
- The average rental cost per square meter of the 200 apartments in El Poblado was 22,024 pesos per month per square meter.
- Surprisingly 18 percent of the 200 apartments surveyed in the wealthiest neighborhood of El Poblado did not have hot water. And two 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.
2. Envigado Apartments
Envigado is the second most 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.
Results of our 2017 survey of 200 unfurnished apartment rentals in Envigado:
- Only six of the apartments surveyed were 1-bedroom or studios ranging in size from 50 to 87 square meters with rents ranging from 800,000 to 1.8 million pesos per month.
- 64 apartments were 2-bedroom apartments ranging in size from 56 to 119 square meters with rents ranging from 800,000 to 2.9 million pesos per month.
- 130 apartments were 3-bedroom apartment ranging in size from 68 to 240 square meters with rents ranging from 1.1 million to 3.7 million pesos per month.
- The average rental cost per square meter of the 200 apartments surveyed in Envigado was 19,820 pesos per month per square meter, which means Envigado apartment rentals are 10.0 percent cheaper on average than in El Poblado for similar size apartments.
- 25 percent of the apartments in Envigado did not have hot water and none of these 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.
3. Laureles-Estadio Apartments
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.
Results of our 2017 survey of 200 unfurnished apartment rentals in Laureles-Estadio:
- 26 apartments were 1-bedroom or studios ranging in size from 35 to 120 square meters with rents ranging from 660,000 to 2.2 million pesos per month.
- 54 apartments were 2-bedroom apartments ranging in size from 55 to 125 square meters with rents ranging from 700,000 to 2.2 million pesos per month.
- 120 apartments were 3-bedroom apartment ranging in size from 70 to 215 square meters with rents ranging from 1.08 million to 4.5 million pesos per month.
- The average rental cost per square meter of the 200 apartments in Laureles-Estadio was 18,203 pesos per month per square meter, which means Laureles-Estadio apartment rentals are 17.3 percent cheaper on average than in El Poblado for similar-sized apartments.
- Only 8.5 percent of the 200 apartments surveyed in Laureles-Estadio did not have hot water and eight with hot water only had electric hot water in the shower(s).
- 74 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 don’t normally have 24/7 porterias. Some building have daytime porterias and some have none.
4. Belén Apartments
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.
Results of our 2017 survey of 200 unfurnished apartment rentals in Belén:
- 15 the apartments surveyed were 1-bedroom or studios ranging in size from 30 to 74 square meters with rents ranging from 750,000 to 1.2 million pesos per month.
- 58 apartments were 2-bedroom apartments ranging in size from 45 to 105 square meters with rents ranging from 900,000 to 1.65 million pesos per month.
- 127 apartments were 3-bedroom apartment ranging in size from 58 to 130 square meters with rents ranging from 950,000 to 2.7 million pesos per month.
- The average rental cost per square meter of the 200 apartments in Belén was 17,885 pesos per month per square meter, which means Belén apartment rentals are 18.8 percent cheaper on average than in El Poblado for similar size apartments.
- Only 6.5 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).
- Only 7.5 percent of the 200 apartments surveyed in Belén didn’t have a 24/7 porteria.
5. Sabaneta Apartments
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 two years I hear English more and more around town as more foreigners discover the area.
Results of our 2017 survey of 200 unfurnished apartment rentals in Sabaneta:
- 14 apartments were 1-bedroom or studios ranging in size from 45 to 85 square meters with rents ranging from 700,000 to 1.45 million pesos per month.
- 57 apartments were 2-bedroom apartments ranging in size from 45 to 100 square meters with rents ranging from 700,000 to 1.8 million pesos per month.
- 129 apartments were 3-bedroom apartment range in size from 55 to 160 square meters with rents ranging from 950,000 to 2.4 million pesos per month.
- The average rental cost per square meter of the 200 apartments in Sabaneta was 16,298 pesos per month per square meter, which means Sabaneta apartment rentals are 26 percent cheaper on average than in El Poblado for similar size apartments.
- Only 3.5 percent of the 200 apartments in Sabaneta did not have hot water and none of these only had electric hot water in the shower(s).
- Only 7.0 percent of the 200 apartments surveyed in Sabaneta did not have a 24/7 porteria.
Average Apartment Rental Costs Have Changed Over Time
With the help of my wife, we have surveyed unfurnished apartment rental prices in Medellín for three years in a row using the same methodology. So, we can see how the average rental prices have changed over these three years.
If you want to save on unfurnished apartment rental costs in Medellín, our 2017 survey of unfurnished apartment rental costs survey demonstrates that you can save an average of 17.3 to 26 percent by living in Laureles-Estadio, Belén or Sabaneta instead of living in a similar sized apartment in El Poblado. If you select Envigado, you will save an average of 10 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 2017. The biggest increases were seen in Belén and Laureles-Estadio.
An article last year in the El Colombiano newspaper indicated that Laureles was the most popular apartment rental neighborhood in Medellín followed by Belén. Popularity of these neighborhoods has resulted in faster rental price increases. Owners 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 current market rates. It is also possible to negotiate rent prices when renewing an apartment lease. Fortunately my rent only increased once out of four 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. The article in El Colombiano last year 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 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.
In addition, there is no MLS in Colombia to help determine market rates, as we pointed out in our recent article – “11 Things Real Estate Agents in Colombia May Not Tell You”.
Earlier this year I met an expat in Sabaneta that told me he was paying about 50 percent more for his rent than I pay for a larger apartment. And I suspect this was likely the result of a real estate agent taking advantage of an expat not knowing the market prices.
I experienced this also when I lived in Belén a couple years ago. I met an expat paying about 70 percent higher rent than what I was paying. And this was for a smaller place that didn’t have the view I had. But he thought he was paying a cheap price as the rent was still much lower than rent prices in San Francisco, where he was from.
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.
Medellin Guru’s Guide to Renting Apartments
On the Medellin Guru website, we have a comprehensive and up-to-date guide to renting apartments in Medellín found in several articles, including:
- Apartment Rental Guide: Renting Unfurnished Apartments in Medellín
- Guide to Finding Unfurnished Apartments in Medellín and Casas
- Guide to Overcoming the Fiador (Cosigner) Requirement in Colombia
- 2018 Unfurnished Apartment Rental Costs in Medellín
- 5 Inexpensive Neighborhoods for Unfurnished Rentals in Medellín
- Furnishing Apartments: A Guide to Furnishing Apartments in Medellín
- Furnished Apartment Rental Costs in Medellín – 2019 Survey Results
- Guide to Finding a Furnished Room for Rent in Medellín
- 11 Things Real Estate Agents in Colombia May Not Tell You
- Apartment vs Casa (House) Rentals in Medellín: Pros and Cons
- Estratos: A Guide to Understanding Estratos in Colombia
The Bottom Line: Unfurnished Apartment Rental Costs
Update! We surveyed unfurnished apartment rental costs in Medellín in late 2018 to get updated apartment rental costs in Medellín.
This article should help by providing up-to-date average unfurnished apartment rental costs in the most popular neighborhoods for foreigners in Medellín.
Furthermore, I highly recommend the Espacio Urbano website. This site is used by many real estate agencies to list properties for sale or rent in Medellín. So, this website can be used by expats to understand market prices in the different neighborhoods in Medellín.
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Wow, this is an impressive amount of data. Thanks for taking the time to do this! It is very helpful as i am currently helping a friend from the US look for an apartment here in Medellin. It´s great to know the average rental prices in different neighborhoods in the city.
Great article and information. Thanks so much for what must have been time consuming work preparing this!
Excellent content, thanks for compiling! Do you have any comparison for furnished apartments in the same neighborhoods?
Hi Brandon, not yet, but working on a similar article about furnished apartments with up-to-date info that I expect will be published in early 2018. As you may expect it takes a while to research.
Also can you suggest easy ways to furnish an apartment quickly shy of buying a household of new furniture? Are there furniture rental places, consignment stores, estate sales, expat for sale listings?
Any info on deposits or getting around the fiador for newcomers?
Moving to Medellin with pets? How easy is it to find pet friendly apartments?
Hi Adriana, those are topics for future articles on Medellin Guru. I am not aware of furniture rental places or consignment stores but plan to cover furnishing an apartment in Medellín with some recommendations. There are some Facebook groups where expats sometimes post items for sale. Getting around the fiador requirement will be covered in an Apartment Rental Guide I expect to be published this week. Moving to Medellín with pets will also be covered in a future article.
Nice article, thanks! With apartment rental prices so much higher in Poblado, seems to me that most foreigners would chose to live elsewhere in the city. Most expats I happen to know living in the city seem to live in Envigado, Laureles or Sabaneta.
Hi Mary, thanks. El Poblado remains the most popular neighborhood in Medellín for expats to live in. Reportedly about 25% of expats living the city live there. But a majority of expats living in the city live in other neighborhoods in the city.
I have even met some expats living in El Centro, Bello and Robledo, so they live all over the city. But the most popular areas for foreigners to live remain El Poblado, Envigado, Laureles-Estadio, Sabaneta and Belén.
Thanks Jeff, fantastic article. Helps all of us in so many ways. You’ve covered so much will have to read it a few more times. One of your best. Would love also to see furnished apartments one day when you can get to it. Thanks again Jeff.
As Jeff mentions Real Estate rental agencies can leverage their commissions at both ends and they seem to have done exactly that with me. I really like the building I’m in so, having read Jeff’s previous articles on rentals, I asked the doorman to keep an eye out for me and was able to find another apartment in the same building with a really nice view. I eliminated the middle man and now deal direct with the owner who had seen me coming and going for a year and a half. He didn’t require any deposit, advance payment or co-signer. Such a deal can often be had. It’s called “trato directo”. Once you get your foot in the door figuratively and literally you can do a bit of leveraging of your own.
Thanks Geoffrey, Very helpful. Trato directo, fantastic!
Much like the southern United States, especially Raleigh-Durham, NC, housing prices have been artificially inflated because folks from the north will pay up because it’s still so much less then what they were paying in NY, etc. Much like the guy you referenced in Belen from San Francisco.
Hopefully you achieve wide-distribution of this excellent article so that ex-pats don’t come and continually artificially drive the prices up in Medellin, which ultimately would not be sustainable by the local population.
Thank you Jeff, we really appreciate all the info you post on your website! We have been looking for an apartment and have seen quite a few with two real estate rental companies, but with just the two of us, a 3 bedroom is too big–but from your statistics, I see there are way more than 1 or 2 bedroom units. We don’t want a car, so we’d like to be near the metro & walking distance to shopping & restaurants, so we like the Laureles area–like Florida Nueva, we also like Belen. We found 2 apartments we liked, but they want 6 months rent as a security deposit, and a 1 year lease. How/where do we look to find a rental from an owner & avoid the huge deposit (which we are not convinced they will return after a year)?
Hi Marlene, I would try to avoid paying a deposit, if possible. I didn’t have to pay a deposit in over 7 years of renting. I also heard from some expats that had problems getting their deposits back. Deposits are not really legally allowed as part of apartment lease agreements in Colombia. However, such deposit guarantees may be established either indirectly or through an intermediary such as an insurance company. Without a deposit or fiador (cosigner) you may need to pay rent in advance as I had to do.
To find contact info of owners of available unfurnished rental apartments I recommend sweet talking the porterias (doormen) in high rise apartment buildings or maybe giving them a bit of cash. But Spanish will normally be required as not many owners speak English. So, I recommend finding someone to help if you don’t speak much Spanish.
Hey Jeff, are you recommending paying 6 months in advance and then not paying monthly for those 6 months? Just want to clarify that the 6 months (or whatever number of months you agree upon) is going directly to rent and not being held as security/deposit.
Hi Alan, yes paying rent in advance goes directly as rent and is not held as a deposit. I was also able for to negotiate three renewals with a lower monthly rent by paying in advance. I did this with my latest lease renewal and cut the monthly rent payment initially proposed by the owner by a couple percent by paying in advance. I also never paid any deposit for any of my 7+ years of apartment leases.
But make sure you have a notarized lease contract and also get a receipt for the advance rent payment as proof you paid.
In the next month, I am planning to write a detailed guide to renting apartments that is based on my experience renting over the past 7+ years as well as including information other expats have shared with me plus I plan to include information about the rental laws in Colombia.
Thanks for the reply! Those little tips will definitely come in handy. I’m looking forward to the followup article.
Wow, this is a fantastic article with a great deal of useful information. As someone looking to rent for a year or two, before possibly buying property in Medellin, this will certainly come in handy.
Great report. Are most rentals on a one year lease? What kind of deposit is usually paid?
Thanks. Leases are typically either 6-month or 12-month leases. I’ve had both options when renting and have gone with 12-month leases.
As I commented above, I didn’t have to pay a deposit in over 7 years of renting. I also heard from some expats that had problems getting their deposits back. Deposits are not really legally allowed as part of apartment lease agreements in Colombia. However, such deposit guarantees may be established either indirectly or through an intermediary such as an insurance company. One expat told me he paid a 1-month deposit and another told me a 3-month deposit. But personally I’d recommend against deposits.
Thanks Jeff for this helpful article and your fast responses to comments. You included great information about pricing and some good tips that will help many.
Beautiful Condos in Envigado, Colombia with all the amenities, Pool, sauna, gym etc.
Great place for retired expats. Live in eternal spring. Medellin is a modern city with lots of shopping malls, restaurants and the like…you won’t be wanting.
Cost of living as an example is approximately 30 to 50% less than living in the U.S. Please look up http://www.medellinguru.com this will give you a lot of good information about the city
Very useful info and easy to understand. Thanks so much!