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.
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:
- Low-low class (bajo-bajo)
- Low class (bajo)
- Low-middle class (medio-bajo)
- Middle class (medio)
- Middle-high class (medio-alto)
- High class (alto) – the wealthiest
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 1, 2 or 3 neighborhoods, which represents about 80 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- 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: 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.
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 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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Nice article and the table at the end shows why you shouldn’t live in Poblado. Poblado is way overpriced and everything is more expensive there. There are many other neighborhoods in the city. So check them out. I live in Laureles. I chose to live here due to the lower cost of living and the streets are more walkable and there aren’t all the gringos in shorts and flip flops that have invaded Poblado I try to avoid Poblado and hate going there with all the traffic in Poblado.
I wish you didn’t include Bello in this post. I live in Bello and love it and don’t want to see it invaded by gringos. I never hear English and prefer it stays that way.
I agree with you completely. Leave Bello alone. I love it just the way it is.
Nice article. Poblado is overrated and overpriced. There are so many cheaper and better neighborhoods in the city to live. Any expat who lives in Poblado is living in a bubble that isn’t the real city. It’s an Americanized version that is over hyped by the retirement publications and the gringo real estate firms. Explore the rest of the city and there are many other good neighborhoods that are cheaper places to live.
I beg to differ. Poblado is simply the most affluent and, IMHO, nicest part of Medellin. And I would argue that it is not a kind of Gringolandia (you still get by speaking Spanish 🙂 ), but 99% of the residents are Colombians (albeit the estrato 5 and 6 type of Colombians). If El Poblado is a “bubble” (for those who can affor it), then one could just as well argue that comuna 13 or la Candelaria are a bubble for those unfortunate enough to have to live there. As for the Gringo real estate firms, I guess their influence/impact on El Poblado as a whole is vastly overstated. A mere drop in the bucket in a barrio of approx. 130,000 inhabitants. But that’s just my two cents
Hi Harry, I agree that the expats are still a very small portion of the total count of residents of all of El Poblado. But in some parts like Parque Lleras and Provenza they are more obvious.
When you include temp expat tourists plus expats living here the percentage of total expats in El Poblado at any given point of time is probably approaching only a few percent of the total.
Fantastic write-up, Jeff.
I’m beginning to see the Poblado vs. Everywhere else debate is a real sore spot with many expats. Just looking at the average costs for a 1 bedroom in these neighborhoods you highlighted, I noticed that nearly all average between $250-$300 USD. So I would imagine that a 1 bedroom in Poblado would go for what, $350, maybe $375 with all possible amenities? A $50 difference between Poblado and another neighborhood isn’t likely me to have me subsisting solely on a diet of leftover beans and day-old arepas. That’s still extremely affordable for many people coming from the US or Europe.
What really counts in these types of comparisons is a person’s lifestyle. Sure, if I had a wife and kids, I definitely wouldn’t live in Poblado. But for a single guy living the life of freedom and the pursuit of available women why would I not live in Poblado? It’s a great option, fairly central, “mostly” safe and filled to the brim with great restaurants, nightlife, higher-end shopping, and a good vibe not found in other parts of the city.
I get where a lot of expats are coming from. Medellin has a lot of great places to live but they don’t have to dismiss Poblado to make their point. Lifestyle is key but so is the ability to define what’s expensive or not based on a person’s unique financial status.
Hi Jeff, no an unfurnished 1-bedroom apartment in El Poblado in our survey in October ranged from 1.3 million to 2.6 million pesos per month and averaged 1.68 million pesos with a mean of 1.55 million pesos per month. So, that’s over $500 per month for a unfurnished 1-bedroom in El Poblado. See: https://medellinguru.com/apartment-rental-costs-medellin/.
But the 1-bedroom in El Poblado would be larger on average. 57.2 square meters vs about about 45 square meters in neighborhoods in this article. Apartments in El Poblado tend to be larger on average.
Thanks a bunch for that link, Jeff. I now see the connection between the rental expense of Poblado versus other areas. I see you also briefly stayed in Poblado when you first arrived in Medellin years ago. I’d like to know if you feel the same way about it that so many other expats do? -That it’s not worth the expense. Clearly ALOT of locals must love the area given there are so many other affordable places in town. With the overwhelming amount of traffic and commerce in the area it seemed to me when I visited that it was worth the high cost. Perhaps I’ll steer clear of the area when I move to Medellin in the future too.
Hi Jeff, to each his own, everyone has different priorities.. I live in Sabaneta with my wife where it is cheaper for us to live but we can hop on a bus or metro and be in El Poblado in about 30-40 minutes for less than $1 to go to restaurants or shopping in El Poblado if we want. But we don’t go often as there are plenty of restaurant and shopping options in Sabaneta.
Many expats chose to live in other neighborhoods in the metro area for a variety of reasons I have heard from expats. For example, some for a lower cost, some to more immerse in the local culture, some for a flatter area for ease of walking, some to be near relatives, some to avoid the traffic in El Poblado…
I have a friend that lives in sabaneta. going to visit her in December.
I bought a house in guatape on the lake with 4 acres
Jeff, I agree with most of what you said except for one thing: If you would live as an expat with family in MDE, you probably would try and live in Poblado at all cost. Nothing beats proximity to the best medical facilities, schools and overall safety (and the distractions a good shopping mall can offer) when it comes to choosing the best place for your family. Take it from a guy with not unsubstantial experience as an expat in South America
Hi Harry, I respectfully disagree. El Poblado does not have the best medical facilities. The best hospital in Medellín is Hospital Pablo Uribe located in Robledo. The second best is Hospital San Vicente Fundacion which has two — one in the Seville barrio next to the Hospital metro station and a 2nd in Rionegro. And the 3rd best, 4th best and 5th best hospitals also aren’t in El Poblado. Only the 6th and 7th best hospitals in the city are in El Poblado. See the hospitals article on this website – https://medellinguru.com/hospitals/
Hi Jeff, thanks and duly noted … Still hope I wouldn’t need any of them when I am in MDE every now so often… 🙂
I read that the hospitals in Colombia are the best in south America. are ranked higher than some usa and Canada hospital. I could be wrong
Hi Percy, Colombia has 20 of the best hospitals in Latin America – see: https://medellinguru.com/hospitals/. I haven’t seen a ranking that includes hospitals in the U.S. and Canada but the World Health Organization (WHO) ranks Colombia’s healthcare system as #22 out of 191 countries it ranked – ahead of the U.S. (#37) and Canada (#30).
Choosing a neighborhood isn’t a one size fits all proposition. Many expats prefer to immerse themselves in the local culture. They tend to shun other expats or travelling foreigners such as digital nomads. One of the reasons I chose Laureles was that just under the surface here there is something of an international vibe making it possible for me to speak English with Gringos, Aussies, Canadians, Brits & Europeans. There’s a reason for that and it’s not an aversion to Spanish. For over half my life I’ve lived and travelled in an environment where Spanish is ubiquitous, so in Laurels I can keep up contact with my English speaking roots. Finding the right neighborhood is a very personal choice.
Hi Geoffrey, well said — “choosing a neighborhood isn´t a one size fits all proposition”. Everyone has different priorities and that is why expats live all over the city – not just in El Poblado.
Thanks for this nice article that should be helpful for many people. I live in La America with my husband and we pay only 900,000 pesos per month for a nice 2 bedroom apartment. La America is a nice neighborhood with tree lined streets and not as much traffic as nearby Laureles. We looked in overpriced Poblado and something similar would be almost double the price we pay. No way we would want to live in more expensive Poblado with its bad traffic and hills.
I was looking for an inexpensive property to rent in Laureles, El Poblado and Envigado and didn’t find anything in my retirement budget. But thanks to this article I found a nice 2-bedroom apartment in Bello for less than $300 per month near the big mall and metro station. That Puerta Norte mall is nicer and bigger than I expected and has everything including a Homecenter that you won’t find in the malls in overpriced Poblado. Also there are many small local restaurants near the mall with cheap menu del dia lunches – a nice lunch for less than $4!
Hi Daniel, thanks. Happy to hear that the article helped you. Several readers asked about rental prices in other neighborhoods. So, I took the time to research five inexpensive neighborhoods.
Hi Daniel, you will like Bello. I have lived here in Bello for over 2 years and I can find almost everything I need in the Puerta Norte mall and nearby.
Hello Daniel I am moving there in the next 2 months . I am american but now live in Dominican Republic . I am not sure where to start there . I’m looking for a safe place to stay with me and my family. This area sound good. Would love to speak with you about coming there. I have some questions about the area and the internet and how to rent apartment there.
Nice article that should be required reading for expats moving to Medellin. In my opinion, Poblado is overrated and the most expensive neighborhood by far. There are so many other neighborhoods in the city.
Thanks for the fantastic article that answered my question to you about inexpensive neighborhoods in Medellin. Obviously this took much time to do so I really appreciate it.
Another helpful article that should help many expats. There are many alternative neighborhoods to Poblado that are cheaper and better places to live. I currently live in Laureles but plan to move later this year to Sabaneta where some friends live. I never go to Poblado anymore and try to avoid it like the plague. The traffic in Poblado sucks and everything is more expensive there. Who cares about more restaurants in Poblado – there are plenty of restaurants here in Laureles and they are cheaper. And who wants to go to Parque Lleras in Poblado with all the gringos in shorts and flip flops plus the drug pushers at night.
hope to move to sabaneta next year.
Thank you for the terrific article