Traveling and moving to a new place is not easy. One of the things that initially held me back from moving to Medellín, was the fear of not easily making friends.
But nowadays, through the power of the Internet, it’s easier than ever to meet people while living abroad and in Medellín.
I’ve actually found it easier making friends in Medellín than in my home city of Chicago. Struggling with that same worry yourself?
Here are 13 ways I’ve been successful in making friends as an expat living in Medellín:
1. Making Friends: Internations
Internations is perhaps one of the most well-known expat meetup groups. They are active in over 420 cities throughout the globe. Not only do they have meetups, they are an amazing resource if you have questions about expat life in your new city. Internations hosts meetups monthly in Medellín.
Their members are also very highly regarded, as the website states they have a multi-faceted expat community which includes people who work at embassies, members of NGOs or journalists.
The last official numbers stated they had over 2.4 million members worldwide. You can become a member of Internations for free and they will carefully review your profile. If you want access to premium meetups, you will have to pay a monthly fee of $6 – $12 USD.
2. Making Friends: Join Medellín Facebook Groups
Medellín or Colombia specific Facebook groups are not only a great way to get answers to common questions, but you’ll often find people that have just arrived in Medellín wanting to meet up for lunch or coffee.
I did the same when I arrived. And I met some amazing people who could totally relate to my new lifestyle and loved Medellín as much as I do.
Put yourself out there or send a message to someone who wants to meet up. You can take this tip with you to any city you visit. My favorite Medellín specific Facebook groups are:
- Medellin Guru Events & Discussion Forum
- Medellín Expats
- Digital Nomads Medellín
- Women Entrepreneurs of Medellín
- Medellín Entrepreneurs Society
- Blogging In Medellín
And some of these groups have meetups. For example, Medellin Guru hosts the largest expat meetups in Medellín monthly. The November 2018 Medellin Guru meetup had over 120 attendees. And the January 2019 Medellin Guru meetup is expected be larger.
Also, many other events in the city are regularly posted to these groups.
3. Making Friends: Meetup.com
Meetup.com is another excellent resource for meeting new friends and getting together with real people. Through Meetup.com there is a plethora of different types of meetups ranging from anything like WordPress or coding, to photography.
You can simultaneously meet people and work on your career. As their website states, Meetup brings people together to create thriving communities. And there typically are a number of regularly scheduled meetups in Medellín listed on Meetup.com.
4. Making Friends: Medellín Hiking Group
If you’d like to meet people while staying active, the Medellín Hiking Facebook group is for you. It’s pretty straight forward – people post about group or individual hikes and you can decide if you’d like to join!
It’s been a wonderful way for me to venture to parts of Medellín that I would have not done alone. And there are some beautiful hikes around Medellín that you won’t want to miss – such as Volador Hill and Pan De Azucar.
5. Making Friends: Join a Gym
The people from Medellín, otherwise known as Paisas, are known for taking care of their physique. You’ll notice a number of gyms located throughout the city.
Taking a class or going to the gym is great way to meet people, but this is true throughout many cities.
In Medellín, outdoor gyms are also quite popular. But the cost of a traditional gym, or even specialized workout classes, are quite reasonable.
I love workout classes, so I prefer smaller boutique studios. Some of my favorite are:
- MMA Colombia – Poblado/Envigado Border
- Flying Tree Yoga – Laureles
- Pilates Studio – Laureles
- Hot Yoga Studio – Laureles
6. Making Friends: Get a Dog
If you’re planning to stay in Medellín long term, and need a companion, a dog is always a great way to meet people.
Medellín is extremely dog friendly, and you are able to take your pets into malls and many restaurants. It’s also very easy to meet people at the various parks such as Parque Lleras or Parque Sabeneta.
7. Making Friends: Take Group Spanish Lessons
Surprise! You need to know some Spanish to get by in Medellín.
Look, I know group lessons aren’t for everyone. Private lessons are pretty amazing. But because I arrived in Medellín solo, I decided to take group Spanish classes.
I settled on group lessons at Colombia Immersion, because the people on their website looked like the kind of people I wanted to be friends with. And I was spot on. Four hours of group lessons per day and a different activity every night.
And it was the perfect way to meet people and become integrated into a community.
Colombia Immersion is the school I choose and loved, but there are many Spanish schools in Medellín that offer group lessons and provide students with a plethora of activities to keep them busy.
And once you start making friends, opportunities arise! I met friends that have introduced me to my online English teaching job. And I met a friend who later became my roommate. Also, I met people that helped me develop my professional skills.
I could go on forever with these stories. The point is you just need to get started and find an initial group and it snowballs from there.
8. Making Friends: Attend a Language Exchange
Now that you’ve taken Spanish classes, you’ll want to put it to use. Language exchanges are extremely popular in Medellín. Most language exchanges take place at the school itself, or a local bar or restaurant.
Native Spanish speakers come to practice English, and native English speakers come to practice Spanish. This way, no one feels silly.
It’s also a great way to get outside of your English language bubble. My favorite language exchanges are:
- Toucan Spanish School – Every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday (El Poblado)
- Hostel Ondas – Every Wednesday Night (Laureles)
- Medellín Spanish-English Events – Every Wednesday (El Poblado)
- Colombia Immersion – Every Friday Night (Envigado)
- DanceFree – Every Saturday
9. Making Friends: Salsa Dancing
If you’re in Colombia, you have to salsa dance. It seems Colombians learn to salsa before they even learn to walk.
Group and private lessons are affordable and accessible. And there are plenty of great places including:
I took my salsa lessons at DanceFree which was a good place for me to start, because the shared salon allows for three to five couples to take their private lessons at one time.
And once I started becoming a regular, I made friends with other people taking the lessons as well as the instructors. In addition, they have large group lessons almost every night of the week. So, it’s another great way to meet people.
When you put those skills to use at some of the infamous salsa clubs in Medellín (like Tibiri or Son Havana) you’ll have the opportunity to meet even more people who share a passion for the dance and music. It truly captured my heart and I realized I found my passion.
10. Making Friends: Join a Coworking Space
A coworking space may be a new concept if you’ve never worked remotely.
As digital nomads, we can live wherever we want, yet somehow, we still miss having “co-workers” and a sense of routine.
A coworking space solves that, it’s essentially office space you rent with other digital nomads. You come and go as you please though, knowing you’ll have a desk, quiet space and reliable internet.
Most coworking space also have events not only to meet other people, but to learn about business and technology.
So, it’s a way to meet others who are likely have that entrepreneurial spirit as well. Every major city will have a network of them as well.
11. Making Friends: Volunteer
Volunteering is a great way to meet like-minded people and become involved in the community. No surprise here. In Medellín, I have utilized the Facebook group Volunteer Medellín to look for opportunities.
I’ve volunteered with Prime in the Comuna 13 neighborhood and La Sierra Tours to teach English. It also benefits me as not only do I meet amazing people (seeing a theme?), but I also got to practice my Spanish.
12. Making Friends: Meet Instagram Friends in Real Life
When I knew I was moving abroad, I spent hours on Instagram. I followed every person who looked interesting, semi normal under the following hashtags:
I used these accounts as inspiration. I found accounts dedicated to Medellín. I found other people who were traveling, and maybe not to Medellín, but gave me comfort knowing there were other people doing what I wanted to do.
And when I moved to Medellín, if those people were in Medellín (and seemed semi normal) I messaged them to have coffee.
And as I built my own Instagram account, people started reaching out to me too. And turns out, the digital nomads I met started moving locations and many of them eventually passed through Medellín. I even reached out to a few for collaboration opportunities, even if they weren’t in my city.
Many people harp on social media, but the truth is, if you use it correctly it’s the most amazing tool for travelers to collaborate, meet other like-minded folks and catapult their creativity!
In addition, many people have found me through reading my own blog or through my articles on Medellín Guru. Strangers have emailed asking for tips about Medellín, making money while traveling and how to do it alone.
And very often I offer to meet these people once they’ve arrive. Because candidly, that’s what I wanted when I moved.
13. Making Friends: Create Your Own Meetup
Last but not least and this may not be for everyone, but one way I met friends in Medellín was by creating my own meetup.
When I went to my first meetup (which was a language exchange) in Medellín I remember thinking… Why can’t I do this? I love building communities.
Two months later, I decided to start my own meetup and gear it towards blogging. I was a new blogger myself and needed some help and wanted to learn from others. I decided to start a group called Blogging In Medellín with a goal to network, share ideas, inspire each other and learn.
One year later, the group has become one of the favorite things I’ve established in Medellín. I hosted eight Blogging in Medellín meetups and each one has been more useful for attendees.
It’s also caused me to expand and launch Blogging In – which is a new website that will expand these meetups outside of Medellín to other digital nomad hotspots/cities I go to.
Creating my own meetup not only developed into business opportunities, but I can honestly say I’ve made some of my best friends from this meetup.
It’s also brought more exposure to my own blog. And I’ve seen several friends who have taken their business or ideas and turned it into a meetup as well.
The Bottom Line: 13 Best Ways for Making Friends in Medellín as an Expat
So, if you’re worried about making friends when traveling or moving abroad… don’t be! Especially in Medellín, Colombia.
The city seems to attract a group of wonderful, outgoing and friendly expats (for the most part) and I have absolutely loved living here!
Also, join the February 2019 Medellín Guru meetup in Medellin, where you will have the opportunity to meet many expats.
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