Medellín vs Buenos Aires, Argentina, which is really the better place to live? In our Medellín vs Buenos Aires comparison, we comprehensively compare the two places in 21 categories to see which is the better place to live in for expats.

We previously wrote about 11 reasons why Medellín is considered a top foreign retirement location. The foreign retirement publications have for several years been touting Colombia as a top foreign retirement location. International Living ranks the country of Colombia as its sixth best foreign retirement location in 2018.

Several Medellin Guru readers asked for a comparison of Medellín with Buenos Aires as we have published several cities comparisons in the past.

Buenos Aires is the largest city in Argentina and is located on the western shore of the estuary of the Río de la Plata river, on the South American continent’s southeastern coast. It’s a multi-cultural city and the most European-like city I have been to in Latin America.

Medellín is the second largest city in Colombia located in a valley in the Colombian Andes Mountains in Colombia. And mountains surround Medellín with a river running though the city.

Many expats I have met living in Medellín prefer Medellín. And expats living in Buenos Aires tend to prefer Buenos Aires.

However, many of these expats living in one of these two places have never traveled to the other. It’s not really fair to compare two places if you have not been to both of them.

I have lived in Medellín for over seven years. But I have traveled several times on business and vacation to Buenos Aires and other locations in Argentina. And I have a friend living in Buenos Aires. In my opinion, both places have their pluses and minuses. No place is perfect.

We have also compared on this website:

Note, the following 21 categories in this Medellín vs Buenos Aires comparison are in no particular order. And where possible in our Medellín vs Buenos Aires comparison, we provide some statistics to back up how we chose the winner of each category in our comparison.

Buenos Aires, photo by Stanley Wood

Buenos Aires, photo by Stanley Wood

1. Climate – Medellín vs Buenos Aires

Medellín wins here. The temperature during the year in Medellín averages 72.5 °F (22.5 °C). The Medellín weather and climate is a benefit of living in the city.

Also, Medellín is also known as “La Ciudad de la Eterna Primavera”, or the city of eternal spring. The average temperature in Medellín typically only varies by about 1 °F during the year.

In Medellín, the high daily average temperature ranges from 81.0 to 82.8 ° F (27.0 to 28.2 °C). And the low daily average ranges from 61.7 to 63.3 ° F (16.5 to 17.4 °C).

In Buenos Aires, the temperature during the entire year averages a cooler 64.2 ° F (17.9 °C). In addition, Buenos Aires has seasons. Summers are hot and humid and the winters are cool with chilly nights. Many homes in Buenos Aires have both heating and cooling due to the seasons.

During the summer months the average high temperature ranges from 80.2 to 86.2 ° F (26.8 to 30.1 °C). And during the winter months the average low temperature ranges from 51.8 to 58.3 ° F (11.0 to 14.6 °C).

In rarely snows in Buenos Aires but cold spells that originate from the Antarctica occur most years and can last several days. So, record lows tend to be below 28.0 ° F (-2.0 °C).

Average humidity in Buenos Aires ranges from 63.6 percent to 78.7 percent with higher humidity during the winter.  The average humidity for the year in Buenos Aires is 71.6 percent.

In Medellín in comparison, the average humidity for each month ranges from 63 percent to 73 percent.  And the annual average humidity in Medellín is 68 percent.

In Medellín there is one month out of the year with heavy rain (October), which is normally over 220 mm (nearly 9 inches) of rain. The average rainfall in Medellín for the entire year is about 69 inches (1,752 mm) per year.

In comparison, it rains less in Buenos Aires. The average rainfall in Buenos Aires for the entire year is about 48.7 inches (1,236.2 mm) per year.

Medellín arguably wins this category due to Buenos Aires having seasons. Also, Argentina enjoys opposite seasons to the U.S.

2. Cost of Living – Medellín vs Buenos Aires

Medellín arguably wins here. Apartment properties I have seen in Buenos Aires tend to rent for or sell for about 20-35 percent higher prices than similar properties in Medellín. And sometimes even higher. I have seen some properties for sale in Buenos Aires with 50 percent higher prices compared to similar properties in Medellín.

In addition, the cost of living site Numbeo reports that the cost of living is about 14 percent higher in Buenos Aires than in Medellín.

Some expats living in Argentina try to avoid the higher cost of living in Buenos Aires by living in a much smaller city or town in Argentina. But if you live outside of Buenos Aires you lose some of the benefits of the big city. Plus, you will most likely need a car.

One expat I met earlier this year in Medellín who used to live in Buenos Aires told me his cost of living is now lower in Medellín by about 20 percent. Also, he said he is happy that prices in Colombia aren’t increasing monthly like they were in Buenos Aires with the high inflation there.

Hospital Italiano in Buenos Aires, photo by Gastón Cuello

Hospital Italiano in Buenos Aires, photo by Gastón Cuello

3. Healthcare – Medellín vs Buenos Aires

Medellín arguably wins here. Medellín has seven of the top 49 ranked hospitals in Latin America while Buenos Aires has four.

Buenos Aires and the entire country of Argentina only has four hospitals on the top Latin American hospital list.

In comparison, Colombia has 20 of the top hospitals in Latin America. And Colombia’s healthcare system has been ranked as the best healthcare system in Latin America by the World Health Organization (WHO).

WHO ranks Colombia’s healthcare system as #22 out of 191 countries it ranked, which is ranked higher than many wealthier countries like the United States (#37), Germany (#25), Canada (#30) and Australia (#32).

Hospital Pablo Tobón Uribe, the best hospital in Medellín, photo by SajoR

Hospital Pablo Tobón Uribe, the best hospital in Medellín, photo by SajoR

Argentina’s healthcare system is ranked much lower than Colombia’s healthcare system by WHO, as they rank Argentina at #79 out of 191 countries.

Here is a list of all the top ranked hospitals in Medellín and Buenos Aires, with the rankings in the top 49 hospitals in Latin America:

  • Hospital Italiano de Buenos Aires – Buenos Aires – #4
  • Hospital Pablo Tobín Uribe – Medellín – #9
  • Hospital Universitario Austral – Buenos Aires – #11
  • Hospital Universitario de San Vicente Fundación – Medellín – #16
  • Clinica Las Américas – Medellín – #18
  • Hospital Alemán – Buenos Aires – #21
  • Hospital General de Medellín – Medellín – #26
  • Hospital El Cruce – Buenos Aires – #28
  • Clínica Universitaria Bolivariana – Medellín – #32
  • Clínica El Rosario – Medellín – #33
  • Clinica Medellín – Medellin – #47

Good healthcare is a very important category for retirees. And Medellín wins this category due to having seven of the best hospitals in Latin America and Colombia having the best rated healthcare system in Latin America according to WHO.

Traffic in Medellín

Traffic in Medellín

4. Traffic – Medellín vs Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires wins here. In a survey by Waze in 2016, Buenos Aires was ranked #107 and Medellín was ranked #176 in the world in terms of drivers’ satisfaction out of 186 metros surveyed. In addition, Medellín was ranked lower than Buenos Aires by Waze in terms of just traffic.

Traffic can get bad in Medellín during rush hours. It can sometimes take an hour or more during rush hour to get to some places in Medellín. The worst traffic in the Medellín metro in my experience tends to be in El Poblado, El Centro and Envigado.

However, there is worst traffic in Latin America than in found in Medellín. In my experience, the traffic is much worse in the bigger cities of Bogotá, São Paulo and Mexico City.

Furthermore, in my experience both Medellín and Buenos Aires can have bad traffic. During rush hours traffic can be worse in Medellín. But Buenos Aires is a much larger city. So, commutes in Buenos Aires can take longer.

The Medellín Metro

The Medellín Metro

5. Public Transportation – Medellín vs Buenos Aires

The two cities arguably tie here.  Both cities have metro systems and extensive networks of buses.

Medellín has a modern metro system, which is the only rail-based metro system in Colombia. And it has been in place for over 20 years.

The Medellín Metro is a comprehensive and inexpensive system. Furthermore, it integrates two rail lines, four Metrocable cable-car lines, two Metroplús elongated bus lines, a Tranvía tramcar line and even feeder Metro buses. Medellín’s metro system has over 60 stations throughout the city.

Once station of the Buenos Aires metro, photo by Galio

Once station of the Buenos Aires metro, photo by Galio

Buenos Aires’ metro system was the first underground metro in Latin America with the first section that opened in 1919. This metro system now has six underground lines with 87 stations.

Also, both cities have many bus routes including many routes integrated with their metro systems.

Since both Medellín and Buenos Aires have metro systems and extensive bus routes they arguably tie in this category.

6. Safety – Medellín vs Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires wins here. The larger city of Buenos Aires generally has lower crime rates than are found in the city of Medellín.

According to statistics from SNIC-DNIO in Argentina, the overall homicide rate in Buenos Aires dropped from 7.4 homicides per 100,000 habitants in 2015 to 6.8 homicides per 100,000 habitants in 2016.

The homicide rate in Medellín of 23 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2017 was up from a homicide rate of 20 in 2015 in Medellín.

But over the past few years Medellín has experienced a homicide rate that is lower than is found in St. Louis, Baltimore, Detroit or New Orleans in the U.S.

Furthermore, Medellín dropped off of the list of the 50 most dangerous cities in the world a few years ago based on homicide rates.

We previously looked at security in Medellín and expat safety tips. And in a survey of 12,548 Colombians, Medellín ranked higher than all other cities in Colombia in terms of citizens feeling safe in their barrio (neighborhood) – slide 41.

7. Pollution – Medellín vs Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires wins here Medellín also has pollution problems. WHO has reported that Medellín was ranked #9 in a list of the 10 cities most polluted in Latin America.

Medellín’s biggest issue is that it’s located in a canyon. And mountains surround the city. So, pollution tends to stay in the Medellín metropolitan area. This is similar to the problem in Denver in the U.S. But fairly regular rain in the city can help clean the atmosphere.

Buenos Aires is situated on a large plain right next to La Plata River system and it has moderate to strong and gusty winds throughout most of the summer. So, these winds combined with the flat terrain prevent the accumulation of air pollution over Buenos Aires.

But during the winter, lighter winds occasionally prevent air pollutants from escaping from Buenos Aires. Buenos Aires biggest pollution problem is about 2 million vehicles on the road during rush hour during the week.

According to WHO, Lima, Peru; Santiago, Chile and other towns in Chile; Monterrey, Mexico; Cubatão, Brazil; as well as some towns in Costa Rica all have worse pollution levels than in Medellín.

In general, Buenos Aires has less air pollution than is found in Medellín. So, Buenos Aires wins this category.

Inside the terminal at Ministro Pistarini International Airport in Buenos Aires, photo by Andrzej Otrębski

Inside the terminal at Ministro Pistarini International Airport in Buenos Aires, photo by Andrzej Otrębski

8. Travel Access to North America, Europe and Latin America – Medellín vs Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires wins hereBuenos Aires’ Ministro Pistarini International Airport (aka Ezeiza Airport) has non-stop flights to over 35 international locations in North America, Europe and Latin America.

Also, Buenos Aires has two other airports. Jorge Newbery Airfield has domestic flights and some international flights in South America. And El Palomar Airport, which has domestic flights.

From Buenos Aires, you can fly non-stop to Atlanta, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, Los Angeles (starts December 19, 2018), Miami, New York-JFK and Toronto in North America.

From Buenos Aires, you can also fly non-stop to Amsterdam, Barcelona, Frankfurt, London, Madrid, Paris, Rome and Zurich in Europe.

In addition, from Buenos Aires you can fly non-stop to over 25 different cities in other countries in Latin America. Also, from Buenos Aires, you can fly non-stop to over 25 domestic destinations in Argentina.

Inside the terminal at José María Córdova airport in Medellín

Inside the terminal at José María Córdova airport in Medellín

Medellín’s José María Córdova international airport (MDE) is the second largest airport in Colombia. This airport has non-stop flights to 12 international locations in the U.S., Europe and Latin America.

From the MDE airport there are non-stop flights available to Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Miami and New York (JFK) in the U.S. In addition, from MDE you can fly non-stop to Madrid in Europe. Also, you can fly non-stop to Cancún, Lima, Maracaibo, Mexico City, Panama City, San Salvador and Valencia.

In addition, there are more domestic Colombia flights available from Medellín as the city has two airports: the international José María Córdova airport and the domestic Olaya Herrera airport (EOH). From Medellín’s two airports you can fly non-stop to over 30 cities in Colombia.

The bottom line you can fly non-stop to many more international locations from Buenos Aires. So, Buenos Aires wins this category.

9. Cost and Time to Travel from the U.S. – Medellín vs Buenos Aires

Medellín wins here. It is much cheaper and quicker to travel from the U.S. to Medellín than traveling from the U.S. to Buenos Aires.

It’s important to not only look at flight availability but also look at the cost and length of flights. Proximity to the U.S. is important for some expats that travel home for family or work.

We previously looked at finding cheap flights to Medellín. For example, it’s possible to find roundtrip from New York to Medellín for under $400 and roundtrip from Las Angeles to Medellín for under $500.

From New York to Buenos Aires, the cheapest roundtrip I found in February was $774 with a connection in Mexico City – almost double the cost of flying to Medellín.  And from Las Angeles to Buenos Aires, the cheapest roundtrip I found in February was $811 with a connection in Atlanta.

Also, Medellín is much closer to the U.S. than Buenos Aires. For example, it’s only about a three-hour non-stop flight from Miami to Medellín and a six-hour non-stop flight from New York to Medellín.

In comparison, it’s about a nine-hour non-stop flight from Miami to Buenos Aires and an 11-hour non-stop flight from New York to Buenos Aires.

Since the flights to Buenos Aires are almost double the cost and almost double the time, Medellín easily wins this category.

An aerial view of the Barrio Parque section of the Palermo ward in Buenos Aires, photo by Ricardo Patiño

An aerial view of the Barrio Parque section of the Palermo ward in Buenos Aires, photo by Ricardo Patiño

10. Things to Do – Medellín vs Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires arguably wins here. Both Medellín and Buenos Aires have many things to do.

TripAdvisor has over 800 things to do listed for Buenos Aires. And it has over 200 things to do listed for Medellín. While this is unscientific it demonstrates there are many more things to do in Buenos Aires.

This is primarily due to Buenos Aires having over triple the population compared to Medellín. Buenos Aires has a metro population of about 14 million compared to about 4 million in Medellín. So, Buenos Aires has more museums, churches, landmarks, parks and tourist sites and more things to do.

The country of Argentina also has many things to do. But Colombia also has many things to do. And Colombia is the second most bio-diverse country in the world after Brazil.

11. Restaurants and Nightlife – Medellín vs Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires easily wins here. Buenos Aires is a much bigger city than Medellín with over double the population. So, it clearly has a bigger selection of restaurants and nightlife when compared to Medellín.

If you look on TripAdvisor, it lists over 5,100 restaurants in Buenos Aires but less than 1,400 restaurants in Medellín. Both Buenos Aires and Medellín have many good restaurant options. But you will have a much bigger choice of restaurants in the larger city of Buenos Aires.

Argentina is paradise for meat eaters with steakhouses that range from swanky parrillas in Buenos Aires to family-style local eateries.

In terms of nightlife, Buenos Aires has many more nightlife options than Medellín due to being a much bigger city. However, Medellín also has many nightlife options. You can find bars, nightclubs, music and pubs of many styles in Medellín found in areas like Parque Lleras, La 70 and La 33.

12. Currency, Inflation and Banking – Medellín vs Buenos Aires

Medellín arguably wins here. Colombia uses the Colombian peso (COP). And Argentina uses the Argentinian Peso (ARS). So, in both countries you need to change money. Also, both countries have fluctuating exchange rates.

Argentina has an incredibly volatile exchange rate and high inflation. So, it’s difficult to determine how cost of living will change over time in terms of USD.

Over the past year the exchange rate for the USD to ARS in Argentina has ranged from 17.2 to 41.3 ARS and is currently about 37.5 ARS.  And the annual inflation in Argentina was 34.4 percent in August.

In comparison the currency exchange rate in Colombia is much less volatile and inflation is much lower.

Over the past year the exchange rate for the USD to COP in Colombia has ranged from 2,707.7 to 3,287.6 COP and is currently about 3,160 COP.  And the annual inflation in Colombia was 3.1 percent in August.

For banking in Colombia, the banks typically require a cedula de extranjería for foreigners to open an account. The cedula is a local Colombian photo ID you will receive after you have a visa.

In Argentina, banks normally require at least a passport, certificate of domicile and tax identification for foreigners to open an account.

Also, in both countries, be careful of counterfeits. In Colombia and we have looked at how to avoid counterfeits in Colombia.

Medellín arguably wins this category due to Colombia having a much less volatile currency exchange and much lower inflation that has been relatively stable for many years.

13. Taxes – Medellín vs Buenos Aires

The two cities arguably tie here. Tax residents in both Colombia and Argentina are taxed on worldwide income.

We highly recommend talked to a tax professional to understand the tax implications before moving to another county.

Argentina residents are liable to a progressive tax on their worldwide income ranging between 9 – 35 percent. And Colombia tax residents are liable to a progressive tax on their worldwide income ranging between 0 – 33 percent.

We looked at filing income taxes in Colombia last year. Colombia has many income deductions including deductions for expenses related to receiving your income, mortgage interest, health insurance, retirement savings and economic support of dependents.

In addition, in Colombia, you can exclude 25 percent of your salary (up to a limit) from taxes. Also, some income taxes paid in another country are subtracted from income taxes due in Colombia.

Property taxes in Argentina typically are about 1.25 percent. And property taxes in Colombia typically range from 0.3 to 3.3 percent.

The IVA tax (VAT tax) is somewhat higher in Argentina at 21 percent for many items. In comparison, the VAT tax for most items in Colombia is currently a bit lower at 19 percent.

14. Job Opportunities – Medellín vs Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires wins here. Buenos Aires is a much larger city with over triple the metro population of Medellín. So, clearly there are many more job opportunities in Buenos Aires.

There are more multinational companies in Buenos Aires. But Medellín has several very large employers and several multinational companies have offices in Medellín that are headquartered in the U.S.

But there aren’t that many work opportunities in either city for foreigners. This is particularly the case if you don’t speak Spanish fluently. Fluency in Spanish is typically required for the best jobs in both Colombia and Argentina.

In both Medellín and Buenos Aires you can find English teaching job opportunities if you are a native English speaker. However, the pay for English teaching isn’t the greatest in either city. And competition is reportedly fierce for English teaching jobs in both places.

Also, to work in either Colombia or Argentina will require a visa.

15. Active Expat Community and Expat Friendly – Medellín vs Buenos Aires

Medellín arguably wins here. Medellín is estimated to have a more active expat English speaking expat community than Buenos Aires has.

Buenos Aires reportedly has over 20,000 expats just from North America.

The expat community in Medellín is likely smaller but unfortunately there aren’t reliable statistics for Medellín. However, I would estimate there may be less than 5,000 expats from North America and Europe living in Medellín.

But the expat community in Medellín is better organized. For example, Medellín has large expat groups on Facebook like Medellin Expats with over 15,000 members and hundreds of posts and comments each day.  Also, Medellín has the Digital Nomads Medellin Facebook group with over 5,200 members.

Buenos Aires has a Buenos Aires Expats Facebook group with over 3,300 members but it’s not very active averaging only 8 posts per day. Also, I didn’t find a Buenos Aires Digital Nomad group on Facebook. But there is a non-Facebook group known as Buenos Aires Expats Community with over 13,000 members.

In addition, in Medellín there are many regularly organized meetups for expats each week. My friend who lives in Buenos Aires told me there aren’t nearly as many regularly organized meetups for expats as there are in Medellín.

Finally, Argentina is not considered a very expat friendly country by Internations. In 2018 when looking at the best and worst places for expats, Internations ranked Argentina as #58 out of 68 countries. And Colombia was ranked #9.

So, Medellín arguably beats Buenos Aires in this category with a more active expat community and Colombia being more expat friendly.

16. Education Options – Medellín vs Buenos Aires

The cities arguably tie here. Both Buenos Aires and Medellín each has about 40 universities. So, there are many university choices in both cities.

In addition, both Buenos Aires and Medellín have many Spanish language programs available for foreigners.  However, Medellín has Universidad EAFIT, which reportedly has the largest Spanish language program in Colombia for foreigners.

Furthermore, both Medellín and Buenos Aires each has over 10 bilingual schools available for children.

Both cities have many education options – many universities, many Spanish language programs and many bilingual schools for children. So, the two cities arguably tie in this education category.

17. Internet Availability and Infrastructure Reliability – Medellín vs Buenos Aires

Medellin arguably wins here.  In Medellín, it is possible to get higher Internet speeds than in Buenos Aires.

In Medellín, it is possible to get up to 300 Mbps Internet speed from Claro. And up to 150 Mbps speed is available from Tigo-UNE. Most buildings in Medellín will have service from at least one of these two providers. And Both Claro and Tigo-UNE in Medellín provide triple-play Internet/TV/phone services.

In Buenos Aires, my friend that lives there says the fastest he is aware of is 100 Mbps Internet speed available from both Fibertel and I-Sur

Furthermore, the highest speed Internet in both cities will normally be available only in the newest apartment buildings. In older buildings, you may be limited to lower speeds.

In terms of other infrastructure like electricity and water, the two cities are similar. Tap water is drinkable in both cities. And my friend who lives in Buenos Aires has only experienced a few electricity and water outages in the past five years.

I only experienced three power outages in over eight years living in Medellín. And one of these outages I was informed about by the provider EPM beforehand, which was due to maintenance. In addition, I only experienced three Internet outages with Claro in Medellín and these were each resolved within an hour after calling the company.

Since Medellín has higher Internet speeds available, Medellín edges out Buenos Aires in this category.

18. Economic Freedom, Ease of Starting a Business and Corruption – Medellín vs Buenos Aires

Medellín wins this category. Since both cities are in different countries it is good to compare the countries in terms economic freedom and ease of starting a business as well as corruption when considering them as places to live.

The Heritage Foundation ranks countries in terms of economic freedom. It ranks Colombia as a “moderately free country”. It ranks Colombia #42 out of the 180 countries it ranks in terms of economic freedom in the world.

Heritage Foundation ranks Argentina with a “mostly unfree” economy. It currently ranks Argentina #144 out of 180 countries in terms of economic freedom.

Once one of the world’s wealthiest nations, Argentina has vast agricultural and mineral resources and a highly educated population. But it also has a long history of political and economic instability.

Argentina was badly damaged during the Kirchner years by policies that isolated the country and caused economic stagnation. President Mauricio Macri, who started a four-year term in 2015, reintegrated Argentina internationally and is pursuing reformist policies but is facing roadblocks in the opposition-controlled Congress

Furthermore, Argentina isn’t ranked well in terms of ease of doing business. The World Bank ranks Argentina #119 out of 190 countries in the world in terms of ease of doing business. In comparison, Colombia is ranked #65 in terms of ease of doing business. So, it’s easier to do business in Colombia.

Corruption is found in both countries. Colombia is ranked #96 out of 180 countries in terms of corruption perception by Transparency International. And Argentina is ranked #85.

Since Colombia ranks better than Argentina in terms of both economic freedom and ease of doing business, Medellín arguably wins this category.

The Abasto Shopping mall in Buenos Aires, photo by Aleksandrs Timofejev

The Abasto Shopping mall in Buenos Aires, photo by Aleksandrs Timofejev

19. Shopping – Medellín vs Buenos Aires

The two cities arguably tie here.  When I was last in Buenos Aires I counted over 30 malls in the city. And we have looked at 22 malls in Medellín.

But the malls in Medellín in my experience tend to be larger and also more modern than the malls in Buenos Aires.  It appears that there has been less investment in malls in Buenos Aires over the past decade due to financial challenges in Argentina.

The largest mall in Buenos Aires, is reportedly Abasto Shopping with over 240 shops. This mall has a big selection of shops and boutiques that offer everything from clothes and electronics to shoes and sporting goods.

The Viva Envigado Mall in Envigado

The Viva Envigado Mall in Envigado

Santafé mall is one of the largest malls in Medellín with over 400 shops. And in October 2018, Viva Envigado, the largest mall in Colombia opened in Envigado, directly south of Medellín.

Both cities have many shopping malls with many shopping options. The bottom line is that Buenos Aires has more malls due to being a larger city. But the malls in Medellín tend to be larger and more modern. So, the two cities arguably tie in this category.

20. English Proficiency Levels – Medellín vs Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires wins here.  In both cities, you will frequently find some English speakers in hotels and nicer restaurants. And even some of the taxi drivers and shopkeepers in both Medellín and Buenos Aires speak some English. Also, executives at larger companies in both cities typically are bilingual.

But in everyday life in Medellín you will be more challenged to find English speakers than in Buenos Aires.

Education First ranks Argentina in its English Proficiency Index with a score of 60.26, which means a high level of English proficiency. And Colombia has a score of 46.54, which is a low level of proficiency (a higher number signifies that more people speak English).

But not everyone in Buenos Aires speaks English. The bottom line is that some Spanish is needed in either Medellín or Buenos Aires. But Spanish is definitely needed more in Medellín.

21. Ease of Getting a Visa – Medellín vs Buenos Aires

Medellín arguably wins this category. Colombia and Argentina both have a number of visa options. And the visa processes for both countries are fairly straightforward.

Both countries have retirement (pension) visas with relatively low-income requirements. And both countries don’t tax pension incomes.

In addition, both countries also have a number of other visa options including student, work and investment visas. We have looked at several popular Colombia visa options.

But visas in Argentina can take months to get and Colombian visas can be done much faster.  Also, Argentina requires criminal records as part of a visa application, while Colombia doesn’t.

In addition, Colombia streamlined its visa process a couple years ago and you can apply online and approvals are now relatively fast, typically in about a week.

Medellín arguably wins this category with Colombia having similar visas that are easier and quicker to get.

Photo of Buenos Aires from the Torre Espacial, photo by Sebasiddi

Photo of Buenos Aires from the Torre Espacial, photo by Sebasiddi

The Bottom Line: Medellín vs Buenos Aires 

In our Medellín vs Buenos Aires comparison:

  • Medellín wins in 9 of our 21 categories.
  • Buenos Aires wins in 8 of our 21 categories.
  • The two places tie in four categories.

So, in this unscientific and somewhat subjective Medellín vs Buenos Aires comparison of 21 categories, Medellín edges out Buenos Aires if you equally weigh the categories. But it really comes down to which categories are more important for you.

If having a lower cost of living, better climate, better healthcare and proximity to the U.S. are your most important categories, then Medellín would win for you.

And if having more job opportunities, more things to do and more restaurant choices, less pollution and more English spoken are your most important categories, then Buenos Aires would win for you.

I have met a couple of expats living in Medellín over the past few years that moved to Medellín from Buenos Aires.

The most common reason I heard from these expats about why they moved to Medellín were: a better climate (they got tired of seasons) and the economy in Argentina with its crazy inflation and currency exchange fluctuations. But I haven’t heard of the reverse – expats moving from Medellín to Buenos Aires.

Both of these places in our Medellín vs Buenos Aires comparison have their pluses and minuses. I prefer living in Medellín due to it having an eternal spring climate, low cost of living and good healthcare and is relatively close to the U.S.

The bottom line in our Medellín vs Buenos Aires comparison is that the best place to live is the best place to live for you. Everyone has different priorities. The only way to know which place is the best for you is to spend time there.

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