We look at the pros and cons of renting an unfurnished apartment vs casa (house) in Medellín. Most foreigners that rent in Medellín rent apartments but casas (houses) have some advantages.
Many of the apartments available in Medellín are located in high-rise buildings but some are in low-rise buildings. And most of the casas (houses) found in Medellín are attached houses located in two- or three-story buildings. Detached casas are much less common in Medellín and Colombia unless you are in a non-urban area.
When you rent a house in the U.S., a house is typically more expensive to rent than renting a similar size apartment. But this can be different in Medellín. It is possible in Medellín to find rental casas that are cheaper than similar sized apartments.
Several Medellin Guru readers have asked questions about renting apartments vs casas. I lived in apartments in Medellín for over eight years but recently moved to a casa with my Colombian wife. So, now I can better look at the pros and cons of renting an apartment vs casa (house).
The following list of the pros and cons of renting an apartment vs casa in Medellín is in no particular order.
Views – Pro for Apartments, Con for Casas
Some of the high-rise apartments in Medellín have spectacular views of Medellín. For example, when we lived in Belén we had two balconies with an incredible view of the city. The two balconies offered a 225-degree unobstructed view of Medellín.
Most casas in the Medellín area are found in two- or three-story buildings. So, finding a great view from a casa is more difficult. But some casas in Medellín do have terraces or balconies with nice views.
Extra Amenities – Pro for Apartments, Con for Casas
Many high-rise apartment buildings in Medellín have extra amenities such as swimming pools and gyms. And you won’t find these amenities available for most casas.
However, a few casas in Medellín are located in gated communities, which do have swimming pools and gyms.
Administration Charge – Pro for Casas, Con for Apartments
Most apartments will have an administration fee, which is used to pay for common areas and services in an apartment building. This fee is used to pay for things like swimming pool maintenance and porteria guards. The administration fee is normally paid by an apartment owner and is essentially included in the rent for an apartment.
Most casas do not have any common areas with other casas. So, there typically is not an administration charge with casas.
Size – Pro for Casas, Con for Apartments
It is possible to find casas that are much larger than apartments in Medellín. Most of the apartments in Medellín are 1-bedroom, 2-bedroom or 3-bedroom apartments. And it’s relatively rare to find apartments that are larger than 1,615 square feet (150 square meters).
Casas on the other hand can be much larger. I have seen many casas in Medellín that are larger than 2,250 square feet (200 square meters) and several that are larger than 3,230 square feet (300 square meters).
So, if you need a lot of space, it’s possible to find casas that are much larger than apartments in Medellín.
Rental Price – Pro for Casas, Con for Apartments
It is possible to find casas in Medellín that rent for lower prices than similar sized apartments. One reason is that there is no administration charge for most casas. And most apartments have an administration charge, which gets included in the rent.
Also, some casas tend to be older. So they tend to rent for lower prices than similar sized apartments in newer apartment buildings.
When we looked at unfurnished apartments and casas in Sabaneta earlier this year, we found that all the casas we looked at rented for lower prices per square meter than the apartments we looked at. And we ended up renting a 90-square meter, 3-bedroom casa for only 1,050,000 pesos per month, which was cheaper than any of the apartments we looked at.
Porteria – Pro for Apartments, Con for Apartments
Many apartment buildings in Medellín have 24×7 porterias. You will only find porterias for casas in a few gated communities. So, most casas won’t have porterias.
However, many apartment buildings in some neighborhoods like Laureles-Estadio don’t have porterias. When we looked at unfurnished apartments in Medellín we found that 58 percent of the apartments we 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 in Laureles-Estadio have daytime porterias and some have none.
Secure Front Doors – Pro for Casas, Con for Apartments
While apartment buildings may have porterias, you shouldn’t depend on porterias for security. Two of the apartment buildings we lived in had several apartment break-ins even though they had 24×7 porterias. The break-ins were due to the inexpensive front doors used for many apartments.
Keep in mind that most apartment front doors in high-rise buildings in Medellín are relatively easy to break into. We even installed security doors in two apartments we lived in for improved security.
Most casas have metal front doors with metal frames, which are more secure than the inexpensive wood front doors used in many apartments in Medellín. Also, you will find that most windows in casas in Medellín have security bars installed for improved security.
Vaulted Ceilings – Pro for Casas, Con for Apartments
Many of the casas I have looked at had vaulted ceilings but almost no apartments I have looked at in the past eight years had vaulted ceilings.
The bottom line, if you like vaulted ceilings they are much easier to find in casas than in most apartments in Medellín.
What About Buying vs Renting?
The above pros and cons of apartment vs casa also apply if you are buying instead of renting.
Apartments can have better views, more amenities and 24×7 porteries. But apartments will have administration charges and also can be more expensive per square meter than similar sized casas.
Also, some investors buy larger casas and turn them into several smaller apartments and sometimes add floors. For example, when I lived in Belén, an investor bought a casa near Los Molinos mall and added two floors and turned it into four apartments.
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: Apartment vs Casa (House) Rentals in Medellín
Medellín has a wide range of apartments and casas available for rent or sale. Most foreigners I have talked to that rent unfurnished places have rented apartments. But I also have talked to some foreigners that have rented casas.
There are pros and cons of both apartments and casas. Apartments can have better views, more amenities and 24×7 porterias. While casas can be larger, they typically won’t have an administration fee and also can rent for a lower price per square meter than apartments.
The bottom line is that there are many variables when choosing a place to live in Medellín. There is location, estratro, high-rise apartments vs low-rise apartments vs casas to consider plus amenities, safety and price. And usually there are tradeoffs – no place is perfect. You should chose a place that best meets your requirements.
When we looked for a place to live recently our most important criteria was location – easy walking distance to a metro station, grocery stores, two malls, many restaurants and many shops.
Also, size was very important – three bedrooms – and it would be nice if it was less expensive than the apartment we were previously renting. Less important was having a view or a swimming pool. And we weren’t really looking for a casa but we found a casa that best met our requirements.
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