We surveyed the rental costs of 300 unfurnished apartments in six inexpensive neighborhoods in Medellín and the Aburrá Valley where you can save on average over 30 percent on rent compared to El Poblado.

In this article, we look at the unfurnished apartment rental costs in the following six inexpensive neighborhoods in Medellín and the Aburrá Valley: Buenos Aires, Bello, La Candelaria (El Centro), La América, La Estrella and Itagüí. I have met expats living in all six of these neighborhoods.

Each of the inexpensive neighborhoods in this article were chosen for being relatively near metro stations. This provides easy access to the Medellín metro system.

In October 2017, we surveyed 1,000 unfurnished apartments in the five neighborhoods most popular with expats: El Poblado, Envigado, Laureles-Estadio, Sabaneta and Belén to find out unfurnished rental costs in five neighborhoods in the Medellín metro area. And we updated this with a new unfurnished rental cost survey in 2018.

El Poblado is the most popular neighborhood for expats living in Medellín. But expats live in many other neighborhoods in Medellín and the Aburrá Valley due to several downsides to living in El Poblado.

In addition, I surveyed over 200 expats in late 2016. And I found that only 26 percent of the surveyed expats living in the Medellín area lived in El Poblado. But 74 percent chose to live elsewhere in the metro area.

Also, in this article about inexpensive neighborhoods, the exchange rate of 3,433 Colombian pesos to the USD is used.

Understanding Estratos

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

Also, 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. In addition, the wealthy estrato 6 in Colombia represents only about 3 to 4 percent of housing in Colombia. And the majority of Colombians live in estrato 1, 2 or 3 neighborhoods, which represents about 80 percent of the housing in the country.

Furthermore, 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 of inexpensive neighborhoods in Medellín, we only looked in the neighborhoods in the metro area where foreigners are most likely to live. So, we did not include any estrato 1 or 2 neighborhoods in the survey. All of the apartments in the survey used for this this article were rated as estrato 3, 4 or 5.

Neighborhoods in this Article

In this article, we consider comunas of Medellín and separate municipalities in the Aburrá Valley as neighborhoods. Many foreigners consider these as separate neighborhoods in the Aburrá Valley.

“Neighborhood” in English has a broader meaning which can mean “a district or community”. However, the word neighborhood technically translates to Spanish as “barrio”. But barrios are way too small to compare.

Expats live all over the Medellín metro area. The five most popular neighborhoods for expats are El Poblado, Envigado, Laureles-Estadio, Sabaneta and Belén. But over the past eight years I also have met expats living in Barbosa, Bello, Buenos Aires, Giradote, Itagüí, La América, La Candelaria (El Centro), La Ceja, La Estrella, Rio Negro and Robledo.

Several Medellin Guru readers have asked about rental costs in inexpensive neighborhoods in Medellín. So, we now look at six inexpensive neighborhoods with lower rental costs.

Buenos Aires is served by the Tranvía tram line

Buenos Aires is served by the Tranvía tram line

1. Buenos Aires Apartment Rental Costs

Buenos Aires is a comuna in Medellín that is located east of El Centro. Buenos Aires is considered safer than nearby El Centro. Also, Buenos Aires has become a more desirable neighborhood after a tram line opened plus a new mall opened.

About 70 percent of the homes in Buenos Aires are rated as estrato 3 or 4. And 29 percent of homes in Buenos Aires are rated as estrato 1 or 2.

Buenos Aires is served by several stations on the Tranvía tram line. And Buenos Aires has one of the newest malls in Medellín, La Central mall, which opened in May 2018.

Results of our 2019 survey of 50 unfurnished apartment rentals in Buenos Aires:

  • 10 apartments were 1-bedroom or studios ranging in size from 30 to 52 square meters with rents ranging from 650,000 to 850,000 pesos per month.
  • 34 apartments were 2-bedroom apartments ranging in size from 40 to 96 square meters with rents ranging from 650,000 to 1.2 million pesos per month.
  • 6 apartments were 3-bedroom apartments ranging in size from 60 to 95 square meters with rents ranging from 820,000 to 1.1 million pesos per month. 3-bedroom apartments are difficult to find in Buenos Aires.
  • The average rental cost per square meter of the 50 apartments in Buenos Aires was 15,280 pesos per month per square meter.
  • 18 of the 50 apartments we surveyed in Buenos Aires did not have hot water. And two of those with hot water had only electric hot water in the showers.
  • 21 of the 50 apartments we surveyed in Buenos Aires didn’t have a 24/7 porteria.
2019 Apartment rental costs in Buenos Aires

2019 Apartment rental costs in Buenos Aires

Apartment buildings in Bello near the Niquía metro station

Apartment buildings in Bello near the Niquía metro station

2. Bello Apartment Rental Costs

Bello is a separate municipality in the Aburrá Valley that is located north of Medellín. About 41 percent of the homes in Bello are rated as estrato 3 or 4. And 59 percent of homes in Bello are rated as estrato 1 or 2.

Bello is served by three metro stations on Line A: Madera, Bello and Niquía. And the Niquía station is located next to the large Purta del Norte mall. Also, there are many conveniently located high-rise apartment buildings near this mall and metro station.

Results of our 2019 survey of 50 unfurnished apartment rentals in Bello:

  • 8 apartments were 1-bedroom or studios ranging in size from 30 to 48 square meters with rents ranging from 750,000 to 1,000,000 pesos per month.
  • 13 apartments were 2-bedroom apartments ranging in size from 52 to 70 square meters with rents ranging from 700,000 to 1.1 million pesos per month.
  • 29 apartments were 3-bedroom apartments ranging in size from 55 to 115 square meters with rents ranging from 750,000 to 1.6 million pesos per month.
  • The average rental cost per square meter of the 50 apartments in Bello was 15,763 pesos per month per square meter.
  • 22 percent of the 50 apartments we surveyed in Bello did not have hot water.
  • 22 percent of the 50 apartments we surveyed in Bello didn’t have a 24/7 porteria.
2019 Apartment rental costs in Bello

2019 Apartment rental costs in Bello

Apartment buildings on Av. La Playa in La Candelaria

Apartment buildings on Av. La Playa in La Candelaria

3. La Candelaria (El Centro) Apartment Rental Costs

The center of Medellín is the La Candelaria comuna, which is also known as El Centro. La Candelaria has a rough reputation and can be chaotic during the day with many people. And care should be taken at night when El Centro empties out.

But there some parts of La Candelaria that should not be overlooked. For example, the area near the San Diego mall is part of La Candelaria.

I have met several expats living in La Candelaria for its central location and the lower cost of living. And there are several high-rise apartment buildings in the area with very nice views of the city.

About 93 percent of the homes in La Candelaria are rated as estrato 3, 4 or 5. And about 7 percent are rated as estrato 2.

There are several metro stations on Line A serving La Candelaria including Exposiciones, Alpujarra, San Antonio, Parque Berrio and Prado.

Results of our 2019 survey of 50 unfurnished apartment rentals in La Candelaria (El Centro):

  • 11 apartments were 1-bedroom or studios ranging in size from 33 to 73 square meters with rents ranging from 680,000 to 870,000 pesos per month.
  • 18 apartments were 2-bedroom apartments ranging in size from 40 to 86 square meters with rents ranging from 600,000 to 1.7 million pesos per month.
  • 21 apartments were 3-bedroom apartments ranging in size from 65 to 120 square meters with rents ranging from 780,000 to 1.7 million pesos per month.
  • The average rental cost per square meter of the 50 apartments in La Candelaria was 15,807 pesos per month per square meter.
  • 24 percent of the 50 apartments we surveyed in La Candelaria did not have hot water. And three of those with hot water had only electric hot water in the showers.
  • 32 percent of the 50 apartments we surveyed in La Candelaria didn’t have a 24/7 porteria.
2019 Apartment rental costs in La Candelaria (El Centro)

2019 Apartment rental costs in La Candelaria (El Centro)

Apartment buildings along a tree-lined streets in La América

Apartment buildings along a tree-lined streets in La América

4. La América Apartment Rental Costs

The La América comuna in Medellín is located just west of Laureles-Estadio. Similar to Laureles-Estadio, La América is primarily a residential area with many areas with tree-lined streets. Also, it doesn’t have many high-rise apartment buildings.

La América is primarily an estrato 3, 4 or 5 neighborhood with 98 percent of households rated as one of these three estratos.

The nearest metro stations to La América are the Santa Lucia and Floresta stations on Line B. Many homes in this neighborhood are within walking distance to one of these two metro stations.

Results of our 2019 survey of 50 unfurnished apartment rentals in La América:

  • 9 apartments were 1-bedroom or studios ranging in size from 35 to 70 square meters with rents ranging from 680,000 to 1.05 million pesos per month.
  • 20 apartments were 2-bedroom apartments ranging in size from 46 to 115 square meters with rents ranging from 750,000 to 1.35 million pesos per month.
  • 21 apartments were 3-bedroom apartments ranging in size from 55 to 130 square meters with rents ranging from 950,000 to 1.9 million pesos per month.
  • The average rental cost per square meter of the 50 apartments in La América was 15,834 pesos per month per square meter.
  • Only 5 of the 50 apartments we surveyed in La América did not have hot water. And five of those with hot water were only electric hot water in the showers.
  • Only 30 percent of the 50 apartments surveyed in La América had a 24/7 porteria. Some apartments only had a daytime porteria. This is due to many of the apartment buildings in La América being short buildings that don’t have a porteria or elevator. This is similar to many areas of nearby Laureles-Estadio.
2019 Apartment rental costs in La América

2019 Apartment rental costs in La América

Apartment buildings near the La Estrella metro station

Apartment buildings near the La Estrella metro station

5. La Estrella Apartment Rental Costs

La Estrella is a separate municipality in the Aburrá Valley that is located west of Sabaneta and south of Itagüí on the west side of the Medellín River.

In addition, La Estrella is a working-class neighborhood. In La Estrella, over 86 percent of housing is rated as estrato 2 or 3 and about 5 percent as estrato 4.

The metro station servicing La Estrella is the last metro station going south on Line A: La Estrella station. And there are some apartment buildings in La Estrella within walking distance from this metro station. Also, there are metro buses from this station to other parts of La Estrella.

Results of our 2019 survey of 50 unfurnished apartment rentals in La Estrella:

  • 4 apartments were 1-bedroom or studios ranging in size from 40 to 70 square meters with rents ranging from 700,000 to 1 million pesos per month. 1-bedroom apartments are difficult to find in La Estrella.
  • 14 apartments were 2-bedroom apartments ranging in size from 55 to 89 square meters with rents ranging from 830,000 to 1.35 million pesos per month.
  • 32 apartments were 3-bedroom apartments ranging in size from 54 to 95 square meters with rents ranging from 750,000 to 1.6 million pesos per month.
  • The average rental cost per square meter of the 50 apartments in La Estrella was 15,955 pesos per month per square meter.
  • Only seven of the 50 apartments we surveyed in La Estrella did not have hot water.
  • Only six of the 50 apartments we surveyed in La Estrella didn’t have a 24/7 porteria.
2019 Apartment rental costs in La Estrella

2019 Apartment rental costs in La Estrella

Apartment building in Itagüí

Apartment building in Itagüí

6. Itagüí Apartment Rental Costs

Itagüí is a separate municipality in the Aburrá Valley that is located west of Envigado and Sabaneta and south of Medellín on the west side of the Medellín River.

In addition, Itagüí is primarily a working-class neighborhood. And about 91 percent of housing in Itagüí is rated as estrato 2 or 3 and only about 4 percent as estrato 4.

There are three metro stations serving Itagüí: Ayura, Envigado and Itagüí on Line A. But most of the homes in Itagüí are not within easy walking distance from these three metro stations. So, a short metro bus ride would be needed.

Results of our 2019 survey of 50 unfurnished apartment rentals in Itagüí:

  • 4 apartments were 1-bedroom or studios ranging in size from 35 to 58 square meters with rents ranging from 900,000 to 1.2 million pesos per month. 1-bedroom apartments are difficult to find in Itagüí.
  • 9 apartments were 2-bedroom apartments ranging in size from 52 to 135 square meters with rents ranging from 950,000 to 1.2 million pesos per month.
  • 37 apartments were 3-bedroom apartments ranging in size from 55 to 100 square meters with rents ranging from 850,000 to 1.5 million pesos per month.
  • The average rental cost per square meter of the 50 apartments in Itagüí was 16,063 pesos per month per square meter.
  • Only eight of the 50 apartments we surveyed in Itagüí did not have hot water. And one of those with hot water had only electric hot water in the showers.
  • Only nine of the 50 apartments we surveyed in Itagüí didn’t have a 24/7 porteria.
2019 Apartment rental costs in Itagüí

2019 Apartment rental costs in Itagüí

What Are the Safest Neighborhoods in Medellín and the Aburrá Valley? Photos courtesy of Colombian National Police

What Are the Safest Neighborhoods in Medellín and the Aburrá Valley? Photos courtesy of Colombian National Police

What About Safety in These Inexpensive Neighborhoods in Medellín?

We recently looked at the homicide rates and robbery rates in several neighborhoods to find the safest neighborhoods in Medellín and the Aburrá Valley.

La Candelaria comuna (El Centro) by far has the highest homicide and robbery rates in Medellín and the Aburrá Valley. But I have met several foreigners living in El Centro.

The highest counts of reported robberies and thefts in the comunas in Medellín occur in the La Candelaria comuna (El Centro). And this is followed by Laureles-Estadio and El Poblado, which are two of the most popular neighborhoods for foreigners in Medellín. So, statistically El Poblado and Laureles are not really two of the safest neighborhoods in terms of robberies.

All of the inexpensive neighborhoods in this article have lower robbery rates than El Poblado. But all of these inexpensive neighborhoods (except for Buenos Aires) have higher homicide rates than El Poblado.

Avoid Paying Gringo Apartment Rental Costs

It is very important to understand the apartment rental market rates when looking for an apartment in Medellín, particularly in inexpensive neighborhoods.

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”.

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:

Renting unfurnished apartments:

Renting furnished apartments:

Choosing a neighborhood in Medellín:

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

The Bottom Line: Inexpensive Neighborhoods in Medellín for Apartment Rentals

In December 2018, we looked at unfurnished apartment rental costs in the five most popular neighborhoods for expats in Medellín.

The following table summarizes the results from December 2018 and adds the results from the survey in this article about six inexpensive neighborhoods in Medellín and the Aburrá Valley.

Average rental cost per square meter for unfurnished apartments and comparing to El Poblado

Average rental cost per square meter for unfurnished apartments and comparing to El Poblado

While this table is comparing survey results from December 2018 and August 2019, if the December 2018 results were updated they would be higher due to inflation. So, the savings would be actually be higher than shown in the table for the five inexpensive neighborhoods in Medellín.

This article looked at six inexpensive neighborhoods in Medellín and the Aburrá Valley where you can save on average at least 30.1 to 33.5 percent compared to the rental costs in El Poblado for a similar sized apartment. But the apartments also tend to be larger sized in El Poblado on average. So, the price difference can be greater.

Unfurnished apartment rental prices are the highest on average in El Poblado. So, you can save substantially by living in other neighborhoods in the metro area, if that is a priority for you.

The bottom line is you have many neighborhood choices in Medellín and the Aburrá Valley and to each his own, everyone’s priorities are different.

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