We surveyed the rental costs of 300 unfurnished apartments in five 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 five inexpensive neighborhoods: Bello, Itagüí, La América, La Candelaria (El Centro) and La Estrella. I have met expats living in all five of these neighborhoods.

Each of these 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. 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.

Expats live all over the Medellín metro area. Beyond the five more popular neighborhoods for expats listed above, over the past eight years I have met expats living in Bello, 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. So, we now look at five inexpensive neighborhoods with lower rental costs.

In addition, we previously provided a guide to renting unfurnished apartments in Medellín. And we provided a guide to furnishing apartments. Also, we provided a list of 11 things real estate agents in Colombia may not tell you.

Note the above photo is of apartment buildings along a tree-lined street in La América. This is one of the inexpensive neighborhoods we look at in this article.

Also, in this article about inexpensive neighborhoods, the exchange rate of 2,925 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. The lowest class
  2. Low-middle class
  3. Middle class
  4. Upper middle class
  5. Upper class
  6. Wealthy

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. And the majority of Colombians live in estrato 2 or 3 neighborhoods, which represents about 65 percent of the housing in the country.

In addition, 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 neighborhoods in the city 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 this survey were rated as estrato 3, 4 or 5.

Apartment buildings in Bello near the Niquía metro station

Apartment buildings in Bello near the Niquía metro station

1. 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 2018 survey of 60 unfurnished apartment rentals in Bello:

  • 7 apartments were 1-bedroom or studios ranging in size from 38 to 62 square meters with rents ranging from 650,000 to 900,000 pesos per month.
  • 20 apartments were 2-bedroom apartments ranging in size from 39 to 90 square meters with rents ranging from 650,000 to 1.2 million pesos per month.
  • 33 apartments were 3-bedroom apartments ranging in size from 58 to 110 square meters with rents ranging from 700,000 to 1.7 million pesos per month.
  • The average rental cost per square meter of the 60 apartments in Bello was 14,546 pesos per month per square meter.
  • Only two of the 60 apartments we surveyed in Bello did not have hot water. And three of those with hot water were only electric hot water in the showers.
  • 18 percent of the 60 apartments we surveyed in Bello didn’t have a 24/7 porteria.
2018 Apartment rental costs in Bello

2018 Apartment rental costs in Bello

Apartment buildings next to Parque Floresta in La América

Apartment buildings next to Parque Floresta in La América

2. 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 2018 survey of 60 unfurnished apartment rentals in La América:

  • 15 apartments were 1-bedroom or studios ranging in size from 30 to 73 square meters with rents ranging from 590,000 to 1.3 million pesos per month.
  • 19 apartments were 2-bedroom apartments ranging in size from 45 to 110 square meters with rents ranging from 700,000 to 1.5 million pesos per month.
  • 26 apartments were 3-bedroom apartments ranging in size from 57 to 110 square meters with rents ranging from 900,000 to 1.4 million pesos per month.
  • The average rental cost per square meter of the 60 apartments in La América was 14,748 pesos per month per square meter.
  • 13 of the 60 apartments we surveyed in La América did not have hot water. And four of those with hot water were only electric hot water in the showers.
  • Only 22 percent of the 60 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 parts of nearby Laureles-Estadio.
2018 Apartment rental costs in La América

2018 Apartment rental costs in La América

Apartment buildings in La Estrella

Apartment buildings in La Estrella

3. 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.

Apartment buildings near the La Estrella metro station

Apartment buildings near the La Estrella metro station

Results of our 2018 survey of 60 unfurnished apartment rentals in La Estrella:

  • 5 apartments were 1-bedroom or studios ranging in size from 40 to 51 square meters with rents ranging from 650,000 to 820,000 pesos per month.
  • 23 apartments were 2-bedroom apartments ranging in size from 38 to 118 square meters with rents ranging from 700,000 to 1.4 million pesos per month.
  • 32 apartments were 3-bedroom apartments ranging in size from 64 to 130 square meters with rents ranging from 920,000 to 1.8 million pesos per month.
  • The average rental cost per square meter of the 60 apartments in La Estrella was 14,926 pesos per month per square meter.
  • Only four of the 60 apartments we surveyed in La Estrella did not have hot water. And two of those with hot water were only electric hot water in the showers.
  • 15 percent of the 60 apartments we surveyed in La Estrella didn’t have a 24/7 porteria.
2018 Apartment rental costs in La Estrella

2018 Apartment rental costs in La Estrella

Apartment buildings on Av. La Playa in La Candelaria

Apartment buildings on Av. La Playa in La Candelaria

4. 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 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.

Apartment buildings on Av. La Playa in La Candelaria

Apartment buildings on Av. La Playa in La Candelaria

Results of our 2018 survey of 60 unfurnished apartment rentals in La Candelaria (El Centro):

  • 17 apartments were 1-bedroom or studios ranging in size from 32 to 120 square meters with rents ranging from 650,000 to 1.2 million pesos per month.
  • 19 apartments were 2-bedroom apartments ranging in size from 40 to 86 square meters with rents ranging from 650,000 to 1.7 million pesos per month.
  • 24 apartments were 3-bedroom apartments ranging in size from 55 to 115 square meters with rents ranging from 800,000 to 2.35 million pesos per month.
  • The average rental cost per square meter of the 60 apartments in La Candelaria was 14,993 pesos per month per square meter.
  • Only seven of the 60 apartments we surveyed in La Candelaria did not have hot water. And nine of those with hot water had only electric hot water in the showers.
  • 15 percent of the 60 apartments we surveyed in La Candelaria didn’t have a 24/7 porteria.
2018 Apartment rental costs in La Candelaria (El Centro)

2018 Apartment rental costs in La Candelaria (El Centro)

Apartment building in Itagüí

Apartment building in Itagüí

5. 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 2018 survey of 60 unfurnished apartment rentals in Itagüí:

  • 5 apartments were 1-bedroom or studios ranging in size from 35 to 49 square meters with rents ranging from 680,000 to 1,050,000 pesos per month.
  • 17 apartments were 2-bedroom apartments ranging in size from 50 to 110 square meters with rents ranging from 730,000 to 1.15 million pesos per month.
  • 38 apartments were 3-bedroom apartments ranging in size from 55 to 115 square meters with rents ranging from 800,000 to 1.5 million pesos per month.
  • The average rental cost per square meter of the 60 apartments in Itagüí was 15,024 pesos per month per square meter.
  • Only six of the 60 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.
  • 12 percent of the 60 apartments we surveyed in Itagüí didn’t have a 24/7 porteria.
2018 Apartment rental costs in Itagüí

2018 Apartment rental costs in Itagüí

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.

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.

We also have a comprehensive apartment rental guide to renting unfurnished apartments in Medellín: finding an apartment, contracts, the fiador requirement and more. Also, we provided a guide to furnishing apartments in Medellín with tips for saving money and where to shop.

The Bottom Line: Inexpensive Neighborhoods for Apartment Rentals

In October 2017, we looked at unfurnished apartment rental costs in the five most popular neighborhoods for expats in Medellín.

The following table summarizes the results from October 2017 and adds the results from the survey in this article about five inexpensive neighborhoods.

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

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

While this table is comparing survey results from October 2017 and June 2018, if the October 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. Also, we plan to update our October 2017 survey in October 2018.

This article looked at five inexpensive neighborhoods in the Aburrá Valley where you can save on average at least 32 to 34 percent compared to the rental costs in El Poblado for a similar priced apartment. But the apartments also tend to be larger 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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