El Poblado vs Envigado. We comprehensively compare two neighborhoods popular with expats in the Medellín metro area to see which is a better place to live. We compare the two neighborhoods in eight categories.

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

But no neighborhood is perfect and there are downsides of El Poblado. And Envigado is a municipality that is quickly growing in popularity for foreigners living in the Medellín metro area or visiting.

Envigado is located directly south of El Poblado. Envigado is a separate municipality from Medellín. 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.

Several Medellin Guru readers have asked questions about El Poblado vs Envigado. So, we now compare these two neighborhoods in Medellín.

Apartment buildings near Santafé mall in El Poblado, Medellín

Apartment buildings near Santafé mall in El Poblado, Medellín

Barrio vs Comuna vs Municipalidad

In Colombia, municipalities are separate cities or pueblos. Medellín, Envigado and Sabaneta are separate municipalities in the Aburrá Valley, each with a different mayor.

Large municipalities in Colombia are typically broken up in to comunas (districts). Medellín has 16 comunas. And each comuna has several barrios (neighborhoods). This can get confusing as El Pobaldo is a comuna of Medellín and there is also an El Poblado barrio in the El Poblado comuna.

Smaller municipalities in Colombia won’t have comunas and will be divided into barrios. For example, the Envigado municipality has 39 barrios and doesn’t have comunas.

When you ask someone where they live in Colombia they typically respond with a comuna like El Poblado or Belén or municipality like Envigado or Sabaneta. It is much less common to respond with the name of a barrio. But sometimes people will respond with the name of a barrio like Manila in El Poblado. And sometimes people will respond with an area of the city that isn’t an official comuna or barrio like Provenza in El Pobaldo.

In this comparison, we compare the comuna of El Poblado vs the Envigado municipality. Many foreigners consider these as two separate neighborhoods in the Aburrá Valley. Neighborhood in English has a broader meaning which can mean “a district or community”. But the word neighborhood technically translates to Spanish as “barrio”. But barrios are too small to compare.

Also, many foreigners call the Aburrá Valley metro area the Medellín metro. This metro area is known in Spanish as Área Metropolitana del Valle de Aburrá, which includes 10 municipalities:

  1. Medellín
  2. Bello
  3. Envigado
  4. Itagüí
  5. Sabaneta
  6. Barbosa
  7. Caldas
  8. La Estrella
  9. Giradota
  10. Copacabana

Note, the following categories in this El Poblado vs Envigado comparison are in no particular order. And where possible, we provide some statistics to back up how we chose the winner of each category.

Iglesia de Santa Gertrudis and Parque Envigado in Envigado, photo courtesy of the Mayor's office of Envigado

Iglesia de Santa Gertrudis and Parque Envigado in Envigado, photo courtesy of the Mayor’s office of Envigado

1. Cost to Rent or Buy Property – El Poblado vs Envigado

Envigado wins here. In general, the cost to rent or buy property will be cheaper in Envigado than in El Poblado.

In December 2018, we surveyed 200 unfurnished apartments in Envigado and 200 unfurnished apartments in El Poblado. We found that unfurnished rentals are on average 9.6 percent cheaper in Envigado compared to El Poblado.

Here are our unfurnished rental detailed survey findings:

2018 Apartment rental costs in El Poblado

2018 Apartment rental costs in El Poblado

2018 Apartment rental costs in Envigado

2018 Apartment rental costs in Envigado

And here is a comparison of unfurnished rental prices in Envigado with four other popular neighborhoods for foreigners in the Medellín metro:

Average Unfurnished Apartment Rental Costs Per Square Meter by Neighborhood for Four Years

Average Unfurnished Apartment Rental Costs Per Square Meter by Neighborhood for Four Years

The unfurnished apartment rental prices in El Poblado may be lower than in many cities in the U.S. But the rental prices in El Poblado are higher than in other neighborhoods in Medellín.

This is due to El Poblado being primarily estrato 6 with about 74 percent of homes in El Poblado being rated as estrato 6 on a 1 to 6 scale. This compares to about 77 percent of homes in Envigado being estrato 3, 4 or 5.

We previously looked at estatos in Colombia, which is a system where higher estrato neighborhoods in Colombia pay higher utility rates to help subsidize lower utility rates in the lowest estratos.

Also, furnished rental apartments are more expensive in El Poblado. We also found that furnished apartment rental costs are higher in El Poblado. One of the findings in our early 2019 survey of 750 furnished apartments in Medellín is that El Poblado has the highest furnished apartment rental prices in Medellín. Furnished rentals are generally cheaper in Envigado.

In addition, El Poblado tends to have much higher prices for buying properties than in Envigado. I recently surveyed 50 3-bedroom apartments for sale in both neighborhoods and found that the cost per square meter was 12.8 percent higher in El Poblado than in Envigado.

Many of the apartment buildings in El Poblado have nice views. But Envigado also has many apartment buildings with nice views.

A view from the hills of Envigado

A view from the hills of Envigado

2. Other Costs of Living – El Poblado vs Envigado

Envigado arguably wins here. Envigado is more of a residential area with much fewer foreigner tourists compared to El Poblado.

Located in a less touristy neighborhood, the shops, restaurants, bars, and fitness centers in Envigado generally come with lower price tags than their El Poblado counterparts.

In general, Envigado offers more of a local living experience compared to El Poblado. And prices for almost everything from groceries, restaurants, nightlife and pet services are more expensive in El Poblado.

This shouldn’t be surprising, as El Poblado is considered the most affluent neighborhood in Medellín and the Aburrá Valley.

Food from some of the best Restaurants in Envigado

Food from some of the best Restaurants in Envigado

3. Restaurants and Nightlife

El Poblado wins here. El Poblado in general has a much larger variety of restaurants when it comes to modern, international dining.

In comparison, Envigado has more of the cheaper, traditional Colombian food options with many restaurants with inexpensive menú del día lunch specials.

Also, Envgado has a growing number of good restaurants – just not as many as are found in El Poblado. We previously looked at 15 of the best restaurants in Envigado.

In addition, El Poblado has Parque Lleras, which is the top nightlife district in Medellín.  Parque Lleras is considered the nightlife capital of Medellín. And it’s also a tourist attraction in an area known as Zona Rosa in the El Poblado neighborhood.

There are well over 100 open air restaurants, bars and nightclubs located in the streets around Parque Lleras. There are many nightclubs, playing either a mixture of Latin music genres like reggaetón or salsa, rock, electronica music and more. These tend to be upscale, pricier nightclubs.

However, Envigado also has nightlife options that are more local Colombian style. In Envigado, there are several fondas and small discos near Parque Envigado. Fondas are bars with wooden chairs and a dance floor and also some bar food and are popular places to drink, dance and eat.

4. Safety – El Poblado vs Envigado

Envigado arguably wins here. Both El Poblado and Envigado are generally considered two of the safest neighborhoods in Medellín and rarely have homicides reported.

An article in March 2019 in the El Colombiano newspaper (in Spanish) reported robberies statistics in Medellín for 2017 and 2018 and El Poblado was the cumuna in Medellín with the second highest counts of robberies of persons, robberies of businesses and robberies of homes.

Crime statistics for Envigado are more difficult to find but robbery statistics for Envigado in 2016 were reported by the municipality and can be compared to robbery statistics in El Poblado in 2017.

The following are the reported robbery counts for El Poblado in 2017:

  • Robberies of persons – 2,001
  • Robberies of homes – 181
  • Robberies of businesses – 536

The robbery statistics for Envigado were reported at a rate per 100,000 residents for 2016:

  • Robberies of persons – 398.43 per 100,000
  • Robberies of homes – 58.42 per 100,000
  • Robberies of businesses – 81.26 per 100,000

In 2017, El Poblado had a population of about 132,000. So, this is a conversion to robbery rates per 100,000 residents in El Poblado:

  • Robberies of persons – 1,514.91 per 100,000
  • Robberies of homes – 137.12 per 100,000
  • Robberies of businesses – 406.06 per 100,000

El Poblado is smaller than Envigado. Envigado had a population of about 233,000 in 2017 and El Poblado had a population of about 130,000 in 2017.

But the rate of robberies of persons was nearly four times higher in El Poblado in 2017 compared to Envigado in 2016. And the rate of robberies of homes was over double in El Poblado compared to Envigado. Also, the rate of robberies of business were about four times higher in El Poblado in 2017 compared to Envigado in 2016.

The above statistics from demonstrate there are more robberies per capita in El Poblado than in Envigado. Also, over the past few years robbery statistics have been increasing in El Poblado. This is likely due to criminals targeting the wealthiest area of Medellín.

Also, be careful in Parque Lleras as it has been experiencing problems with drugs and prostitution resulting in an increased police presence, as seen in the local El Colombiano news early this year (in Spanish). You won’t find this problem in Parque Sabaneta, which is more family-oriented.

Crime is possible everywhere in Medellín. And El Poblado and Envigado have been touted by some as two of the safest parts of the metro area. But robbery statistics from demonstrate that Envigado has less robberies per capita than in El Poblado. So, Envigado arguably wins this category. We also included Envigado in our article looking at the safest neighborhoods in Medellín and the Aburrá Valley.

The bottom line is you should take precautions in any neighborhood in Medellín and the Aburrá Valley. And if you follow our safety tips in our article about security in Medellín, your risk of being a victim of crime should be greatly reduced.

Apartment buildings up the hills in El Poblado

Apartment buildings up the hills in El Poblado

5. Walkability and Bike-ability

The two neighborhoods tie here. Much of El Poblado is hilly and not very walkable. For example, El Tesoro mall is located high up the hills in El Poblado and almost nobody walks from lower in El Poblado to El Tesoro.

Also, it’s about a 15-minute walk up-hill from the Poblado metro station to Parque Lleras. And it’s about a 15-minute walk uphill to the Santafé mall from the Aguacatala metro station.

If you live in El Poblado you will need to contend with the hills. But not all of El Poblado is hilly. For example, Avenida Poblado where the Santafé and Oviedo malls are located is flat and walkable. Also, the Ciudad del Rio neighborhood is flat and walkable.

In comparison, Envigado is also hilly. Similar to El Poblado, as you go east in Envigado you are going up hills.  But there are some parts of Enviado that are flat. For example, the area along Avenida Las Vegas in Envigado is flat.

It is also a walk uphill from metro stations in Envigado to many of the neighborhoods in Envigado. In terms of bike-ability, both neighborhoods have bike lanes along several roads.

The Santafé mall in El Poblado in Medellín

The Santafé mall in El Poblado in Medellín

6. Shopping – El Poblado vs Envigado

El Poblado wins here. El Pobaldo has more shopping options than Envigado. El Poblado has three of the most upscale malls in Medellín: SantaféEl Tesoro and Oviedo.

  • Santafé has about 460 shops
  • El Tesoro has about 400 shops
  • Oviedo has about 320 shops
The Viva Envigado Mall in Envigado

The Viva Envigado Mall in Envigado

In comparison, Envigado has the largest mall in Colombia, Viva Envigado mall, with about 400 shops. Also, in Envigado are the smaller City Plaza mall with less than 90 shops and the Terracina Plaza with less than 70 shops.

However, keep in mind that the El Poblado malls tend to have prices that are higher than can be found in other malls in Medellín.

Traffic in El Poblado near the Bancolombia headquarters during rush hour

Traffic in El Poblado near the Bancolombia headquarters during rush hour

7. Traffic – El Poblado vs Envigado

Envigado wins here. Some of the worst traffic in Medellín is found in El Poblado. Avenida Poblado and Calle 10 tend to have bad traffic during rush hour and even during lunch hour. And it can be very difficult to go to or from El Tesoro mall up the hills in El Poblado during rush hour.

Traffic is one of the downsides of living in Medellín we previously looked at. And traffic reportedly is the biggest concern of expats living in the city.

In my over eight years living in Medellín the worst traffic in the city I have encountered has tended to be El Poblado and El Centro.

I have lived over three years in Sabaneta and travel through Envigado often going to El Poblado. While traffic has increased with the growth of Envigado, I haven’t experienced nowhere near as much traffic in Envigado as I have experienced in El Poblado.

The Envigado metro station

The Envigado metro station

8. Public Transportation Availability

The two neighborhoods tie here. Both El Poblado and Envigado have three metro stations each:

  • El Poblado – Industriales, Poblado and Aguacatala stations on Line A.
  • Envigado – Ayura, Envigado and Itagüí (on the southern border with Sabaenta) on Line A.

But in both El Pobaldo and Envigado, many of the apartments and casas (houses) are not located near the metro stations. So, from many apartments and casas in El Pobaldo or Envigado it can be long walk or a short bus or taxi ride to a metro station.

In addition, both neighborhoods have extensive bus routes and taxis are plentiful in both neighborhoods. So, the two neighborhoods tie in this category.

What about Envigado vs Laureles? 

We previously compared El Poblado vs Laureles. If we were to compare Envigado vs Laureles, I would categorize the winners of each category as follows:

  1. Cost to rent or buy property – Laureles-Estadio wins
  2. Other costs of living – Laureles-Estadio arguably wins
  3. Restaurants and nightlife – Tie
  4. Walkability and Bike-ability – Laureles-Estadio wins
  5. Safety – Envigado wins
  6. Shopping – Envigado wins
  7. Traffic – Tie
  8. Public transportation availability – Tie

So, Laureles-Estadios would win in three categories, Envigado would win in two categories and the two neighborhoods would tie in three categories.

What about Envigado vs Sabaneta?

We previously compared El Pobaldo vs Sabaneta. If we were to compare Envigado vs Sabaneta, I would categorize the winners of each category as follows:

  1. Cost to rent or buy property – Sabaneta wins
  2. Other costs of living – Sabaneta arguably wins
  3. Restaurants and nightlife – Enviagdo wins
  4. Walkability and Bike-ability – Sabaneta wins
  5. Safety – Tie
  6. Shopping – Envigado wins
  7. Traffic – Sabaneta wins
  8. Public transportation availability – Tie

So, Sabaneta would win in four categories, Envigado would win in two categories and the two neighborhoods would tie in two categories.

Parque Envigado

Parque Envigado

The Bottom Line: El Poblado vs Envigado – Which is the Better Neighborhood to Live in?

In our El Poblado vs Envigado comparison:

  • Envigado wins in four of our eight categories.
  • El Poblado wins in two of our eight categories.
  • The two neighborhoods tie in one category.

So, in this unscientific and somewhat subjective comparison, Envigado wins if you equally weigh the categories. But choosing a neighborhood to live in comes down to personal preferences.

El Poblado remains the most popular neighborhood for foreigners out of all of the Medellín neighborhoods. But El Poblado has downsides. So, many expats living in Medellín live in other neighborhoods in the metro area.

Other neighborhoods in Medellín and the Aburrá Valley that are popular with expats include Laureles-Estadio, Envigado, Sabaneta and Belén. Over the past several years, I also have met expats living in Bello, El Centro, La America, Robledo and near to the Medellín international airport in Rionegro and La Ceja.

Also, keep in mind if you live in Envigdo due to the lower cost of living or other reasons, it’s a relatively short metro, bus or taxi ride to the restaurants, nightlife and shopping in El Poblado.

For example, it’s only a 6-minute ride from the Envigado metro station to the Poblado metro station. This makes it quicker to get to El Poblado from Envigado than from Laureles-Estadio in my experience.

The bottom line in our El Poblado vs Envigado comparison is that the best to live is the best place to live for you. Everyone has different priorities. The only way to know which neighborhood is the best for you is to spend time there.

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