El Poblado vs Laureles. We comprehensively compare two neighborhoods popular with expats in Medellín 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. Laureles-Estadio is another popular neighborhood for foreigners living in the city or visiting.

Laureles-Estadio 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.

Earlier this year we interviewed John and Susan – two expats that moved to Medellín from Panama. John and Susan decided to live in Laureles due to it being extremely walkable, with quiet leafy streets and large parks. Also, they found that Laureles has a sufficient number of restaurants for them.

Several Medellin Guru readers have asked questions about El Poblado vs Laureles. So, we now compare these two neighborhoods in Medellín. In this comparison, we compare the comunas of El Poblado vs Laureles-Estadio.

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

Apartment buildings near Santafé mall in El Poblado, Medellín

Apartment buildings near Santafé mall in El Poblado, Medellín

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

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

In December 2018, we surveyed 200 unfurnished apartments in Laureles-Estadio and 200 unfurnished apartments in El Poblado. We found that unfurnished rentals are on average 13.5 percent cheaper in Laureles-Estadio compared to El Poblado.

Here are our unfurnished rental detailed survey findings:

2018 Unfurnished Apartment rental costs in El Poblado

2018 Unfurnished Apartment rental costs in El Poblado

2018 Unfurnished Apartment rental costs in Laureles-Estadio

2018 Unfurnished Apartment rental costs in Laureles-Estadio

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 63 percent of home in Laureles-Estadio being estrato 5.

Apartment buildings in Laureles, Medellín

Apartment buildings in Laureles, Medellín

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 Laureles-Estadio.

In addition, El Poblado tends to have higher prices for buying properties than in Laureles-Estadio. I recently surveyed 50 3-bedroom apartments for sale in both neighborhoods and found that the cost per square meter was 15.2 percent higher in El Poblado than in Laureles-Estadio.

A typical Laureles street

A typical Laureles street

2. Other Costs of Living – El Poblado vs Laureles

Laureles-Estadio wins here. Laureles-Estadio is more of a residential area with fewer foreigner tourists compared to El Poblado.

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

In general, Laureles-Estadio 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.

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, Laureles-Estadio has more of the cheaper, traditional Colombian food options with many restaurants with inexpensive menú del día lunch specials. Also, Laureles-Estadio has a number of good restaurants – just not as many as are found in El Poblado. We previously looked at 17 of the best restaurants in Laureles.

Food from some of the best Restaurants in Laureles

Food from some of the best Restaurants in Laureles

Also, 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, Laureles-Estadio also has nightlife options that are more local style. Significantly less frequented by foreigners, is Calle 33 in Laureles. Another popular nightlife area is LA 70 (Setenta), also in Laureles. In this area you will find few foreigners and various salsa bars and small clubs.

Apartment buildings up the hills in El Poblado

Apartment buildings up the hills in El Poblado

4. Walkability and Bike-ability

Laureles-Estadio wins 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.

Laureles-Estadio is flat in comparison making it much more walkable than El Poblado. Furthermore, Laureles-Estadio is a haven for bikers with many dedicated bike lanes.

In addition, Laureles-Estadio has more Encicla stations than El Poblado.  Encicla is Medellín’s free city bikes system that permits you to borrow bikes from 60 stations throughout the Aburrá Valley. And about one-third of Encicla stations are in Laureles-Estadio.

5. Safety – El Poblado vs Laureles

The two neighborhoods arguably tie here. Both El Poblado and Laureles-Estadio are generally considered two of the safest neighborhoods in Medellín and rarely have homicides reported.

However, both neighborhoods have higher crime rates in terms of robberies than in other neighborhoods in the city. An article in March 2019 in the El Colombiano newspaper (in Spanish) reported robberies statistics in Medellín for 2017 and 2018.

Reported robberies of persons in 2017 and 2018 were most common in:

  • La Candelaria (El Centro) robberies of persons – 6,548 in 2017 and 7,047 in 2018
  • Laureles-Estadio robberies of persons – 2,140 in 2017 and 2,826 in 2018
  • El Poblado robberies of persons – 2,001 in 2017 and 2,480 in 2018.

Reported robberies of businesses in 2017 and 2018 were most common in La Candelaria (El Centro) followed by El Poblado and Laureles-Estadio:

  • La Candelaria (El Centro) robberies of businesses – 1,147 in 2017 and 1,264 in 2018
  • El Poblado robberies of businesses – 536 in 2017 and 543 in 2018.
  • Laureles-Estadio robberies of businesses – 503 in 2017 and 469 in 2018

Reported robberies of homes in 2017 and 2018 were most common in Laureles-Estadio followed by El Poblado and Belén:

  • Laureles-Estadio robberies of homes – 201 in 2017 and 241 in 2018
  • El Poblado robberies of homes – 181 in 2017 and 228 in 2018.
  • Belén robberies of homes – 199 in 2017 and 222 in 2018

So, El Poblado and Laureles-Estadio are both in the top three comunas in Medellín in terms of robberies of persons, robberies of businesses and robberies of homes.

Crime is possible everywhere in Medellín. El Poblado and Laureles have been touted by some as the safest parts of the city. But robbery statistics have been increasing in both El Poblado and Laureles-Estadio. This is likely due to criminals targeting the wealthiest area of Medellín.

The bottom line is you should take precautions in any neighborhood in Medellín. 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.

The Santafé mall in El Poblado in Medellín

The Santafé mall in El Poblado in Medellín

6. Shopping – El Poblado vs Laureles

El Poblado wins here. El Poblado has more shopping options than Laureles-Estadio. El Poblado has three of the most upscale malls in Medellín: SantaféEl Tesoro and Oviedo. And these three malls in El Poblado are larger than the malls in Laureles-Estadio.

  • Santafé has about 460 shops
  • El Tesoro has about 400 shops
  • Oviedo has about 320 shops
Unicentro Mall in Laureles

Unicentro Mall in Laureles

In comparison, Laureles-Estadio only has the older and smaller Unicentro mall with about 270 shops and the even smaller Viva Laureles mall with 90 shops.

However, keep in mind that while the El Poblado malls are larger with a wider selection of stores, they tend to have prices that are higher than can be found in other malls in Medellín.

Traffic in Medellín near the Bancolombia headquarters in El Poblado during rush hour

Traffic in Medellín near the Bancolombia headquarters in El Poblado during rush hour

7. Traffic – El Poblado vs Laureles

Laureles-Estadio 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.

When I previously lived in Laureles-Estadio and when I now visit friends living there, I haven’t experienced nowhere near as much traffic as I have experienced in El Poblado.

The Poblado metro station

The Poblado metro station

8. Public Transportation Availability

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

  • El Poblado – Industriales, Poblado and Aguacatala stations on Line A
  • Laureles-Estadio – Floresta, Estadio and Suramericana stations on Line B

But in both neighborhoods, many of the apartments and casas (houses) are not located near these metro stations. So, from many apartments and casas 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.

A view from the hills of Envigado

A view from the hills of Envigado

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 Laureles vs Sabaneta?

We also compared El Poblado with Sabaneta. If we were to compare Laureles 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 – Laureles-Estadio wins
  4. Walkability and Bike-ability – Tie
  5. Safety – Sabaneta arguably wins
  6. Shopping – Sabaneta wins
  7. Traffic – Tie
  8. Public transportation availability – Tie

So, Sabaneta would win in four categories, Laureles-Estadio would win in only one category and the two neighborhoods would tie in three categories.

What about Laureles vs Belén?

In addition we compared El Poblado with Belén. If we were to compare Laureles vs Belén, I would categorize the winners of each category as follows:

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

So, Belén would win in three categories, Laureles-Estadio would win in one category and the two neighborhoods would tie in four categories.

Choosing a Neighborhood in Medellín

On the Medellin Guru website, we have several articles that can be used to help foreigners choose a neighborhood in Medellín:

Medellin Guru partnered with RE/MAX for real estate services

Medellin Guru partnered with RE/MAX for real estate services

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Apartment buildings in El Poblado, Medellín

Apartment buildings in El Poblado, Medellín

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

In our El Poblado vs Laureles-Estadio comparison:

  • Laureles-Estadio wins four of our eight categories.
  • El Poblado wins two of our eight categories.
  • The two neighborhoods tie in two categories.

So, in this unscientific and somewhat subjective comparison, Laureles-Estadio 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 city.

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 and Robledo and near to the Medellín international airport in Rionegro and La Ceja.

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

The bottom line in our El Poblado vs Laureles 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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Editors note: updated on July 26, 2019 to add a Laureles vs Sabaneta section.

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