Medellín vs Pereira vs Bucaramanga - Medellin Guru
Medellín vs Pereira vs Bucaramanga, all 3 are cities of eternal spring in Colombia but which is best to live in. We compare the cities in 15 categories.

Medellin vs Pereira vs Bucaramanga: 3 Cities of Eternal Spring

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37 thoughts on “Medellin vs Pereira vs Bucaramanga: 3 Cities of Eternal Spring”

    1. Gabriel Arganaras November 12, 2019

      I lived in Colombia from ’92 to ’95 and married a local girl from Pasto. I’m currently thinking of going back and trying to decide which city to chose.

      I enjoyed reading the article but I’m surprised you didn’t include a category regarding the locals. After all, friendliness and hospitality towards foreigners is a very important aspect to consider when choosing a destination.

      • Friendliness and hospitality to foreigners is a very subjective measure and depends on experiences of individuals. So, very difficult to include in a comparison of cities. In general, my experience is that Colombians are equally friendly in most cities to foreigners.

    2. I appreciate your articles, Jeff, but I have to disagree with you on your public transportation scores. Having been to all 3 cities, I believe Bucaramanga by far has the best public transportation. The main bus route goes straight through town to/from Floridablanca and Piedecuesta. Each route averages about 8 minutes between buses; and getting and from the stations never involves climbing or descending 500+ feet in altitude. Because Bucaramanga is smaller than Medellin, getting from one end of the city to the other never takes over a half hour (Mega Mall in the North to Centro Comercial De la cuesta in Piedecuesta on Metrolinea route T8 is 27 minutes.) The bus costs something like 2300 COP per trip and uses a card payment system. Unlike Medellin, cards are available at every station without having to show id. There is an attendant on duty at every station during operating hours – one can obtain and add any value to a card at any station during operating hours. Even if you take the very last bus to the furthest station, you can add to yout card after getting off the bus.

      In Medellin the buses use cash and metro cards are only available at a few stations during restricted hours, and require ID. I don’t understand the need for ID; I have never needed to show ID to get a public transport card anywhere else in the world. The system is flawed, in that you can just have someone get you a card when they happen to pass through one of the magic stations that have the cards, and you can give your card to someone else when you leave the country, and sharing cards is allowed. I have seen one person swipe through an entire group, especially when families and couples are taking the Metro.

      A cab from the airport to FloridaBlanca is 32,000 pesos (Nov 2018) and takes about 30 minutes. (25 when I arrived; 31 when I left.) I paid 40,000 to get back, but I think the hotel took me for 8,000; the sign INSIDE the taxi said 32,000. A taxi from MDE to Medellin costs over twice that, as you have covered in another article. If you stay anywhere up the hill in El Poblado or Envigado, you can easily expect a 30 minute walk to the metro each way. Walking up the hill to even Carrera 32 is not for those not in shape, and walking to El Tosoro Mall on Carrera 29 from Poblado station would take at least 45 minutes, with a 810 foot rise in elevation. Bucaramanga is much easier for walking as it is much closer to flat.

      When I took the bus from Medellin to Pereria we spent about an hour in a traffic jam in Envigado just a few minutes after leaving the southern bus station. If you get stuck on a bus in Medellin you’re either going to wait a long time or walk a long way.

      I did not take any public transportation in Pereira.

      In my opinion Bucaramanga wins hands down on public transportation over Medellin.

    3. roland April 3, 2018

      Hola Jeff very down to earth article about the spring like cities I prefer Bucaramanga!The beautiful city the city of parques and a very productive working class population and a lot to see if you get out of town
      I am a expat not retired and have worked all over Colombia in a year and a half and have seen the good the bad and the ugly, I live in Bucaramanga renting a fabulous 2 bedroom apartment in Cabecera for a million a month. When i am not working out of town i chill out and ride my Bmw bike with local riders all over Santander and it is truly awesome, Chicamocha is a canyon 1 hour from Bucaramanga that is stunning, It is the second largest canyon on the planet after the grand canyon To see this from all sides ,it has 3 gorges that is easily accessed by road is a enlightening experience or do it with a hang glider
      you won’t be disappointed, Do you get my drift Santander is a sports junkie Paradise, Or if you like riding big motorcycles there are many day or overnight loop trips you can take and the beauty is around every corner.The Caribbean is a half day drive and so are snow capped peaks in Boyaca are amazing also.
      If you are not the adventurous type Pereira may be fine Medellin big city Big problems

      • Boy Roland, you nailed it square on the head. There is something extremely special about Buca, and you didn’t even mention the paragliding school (and the trips they offer) in South Floridablanca. If I had more free time, Buca would easily be a place I’d want to live for a while. I’m not sure I’d want to ride my Kawasaki 1000 in Medellin, but NE Colombia would be totally awesome on a bigger bike. I’m considering coming back in 2019 with a 90 day visa, buying a bike, and cruising from the Buca area down to the Neiva area for the Perseid Meteor Shower in August, and then back to Buca. Colombia is mind-boggling beautiful, and riding a bike through the Andes would probably be in the top 10 most fun and amazing things to to in life.

    4. Jeff, your knowledge of Colombia is outstanding. Your answers are to the point and I always learn something out of each of them.
      Please keep up the good work you are doing to enlighten those of us looking into relocating to that wonderful country Colombia. Jacques

    5. Sandra Xyone November 17, 2017

      I chose Pereira over Medellin for the following reasons. First let me tell you that I have lived in Palmira, Cali, Bogota, Medellin and have visited Manizales, Armenia, Cartegena, and Barranquia. My reasons are I have asthma and the air pollution was a factor. I enjoy smaller cities, yet Pereira still has many modern stores. I love the rain and Pereira has this almost every day and the sunshine does reach here as well. The nearby Parks and farms for me are a great draw. The lower cost of living and its central location are positives also.

    6. I would add three categories to your list
      1) Ease of finding work
      2) Wildlife hotspots nearby. Pereira has Santuario de Otun near it where you can see Monkeys for some people this would be a definite plus
      3) Ease of traveling to other parts of Colombia.

    7. Adriana Gutiérrez August 31, 2017

      What are affordable 2-bedroom rental housing options in Medellin outside of apartments? We have a dog and the thought of the occasional middle of the night walks in the city are not appealing. So easy access to a yard or grass patio would be nic. We would like to keep our total budget for a 60-something couple at around US$4,000 if possible.

      • Hi Adriana, there are also “casas” (houses) that tend to be larger but not many have a yard or grass patio unless you get out of the city. And you should also look at fincas.

        You can look at properties available for rent or purchase on the Espaciourbano site where many real estate companies in Medellín list properties – https://www.espaciourbano.com/. That site will give you a good idea of what is available.

        You should be able to easily find something with your budget.

    8. Cynthia August 18, 2017

      Hi Jeff, Your article was of great interest as I’ve considered all 3 cities as potential retirement homes. I’d give Just about anything to get away from Winnipeg winters. Our summers, however, are unparalleled, though one can only count on 3 gorgeous months with daytime highs ranging from mid 70’s – mid 90’s & night time lows from the low 60’s – mid 70’s.

      However, when I contemplate moving, I have to take my wheelchair into consideration. Our transit bus system is ideal: buses are accessible & free for wheelchair passengers. From where I live, an area called’ “Osborne Village,” 1/2 hour will get me anywhere in the city. Handi-Transit bus service is also available for people with disabilities. I rent a 700 sq. ft., 1 bedroom apartment for slightly more than CA&700/month; this is unusually low due to sheer good luck. Wherever I end up, I want to be able to enjoy the weather year –

      • Hi Cynthia, thanks. I plan to look at handicapped access in Medellín in a future article as other readers have asked about this.

        Many businesses and government buildings in Medellín have installed ramps at their entrances and curb ramps at intersections are increasingly common. The metro in Medellín is also wheelchair friendly in most places.

    9. Brock Canner August 16, 2017

      Hi Jeff
      Wondering what is the best hospital private or public in Colombia? I need an operation on my throat. It’s a post Cancer operation. Also what sort of insurance would I need? If you don’t know it’s fine. I know it’s a strange question, but to me it make a big difference.
      Cheers, Brock

    10. Brock Canner August 15, 2017

      Jeff, I heard that Cali is coming along nicely. I’d like to move there. Could you please tell me what you know about this up and coming city. Thanks Jeff, much appreciated!
      Cheers, Brock

      • Hi Brock, every city has its pros and cons. Cali beats Medellín in some categories with a lower cost of living, less pollution and less traffic. Medellín beats out Cali with an arguably better climate — Cali is more eternal summer vs eternal spring in Medellín — but you may like warmer. Medellín also has more non-stop international flights and a better transportation system with its metro. Medellín also has more expats (that’s a plus or minus depending on your perspective), while Cali is more off the beaten path.

        • Brock Canner August 15, 2017

          Thanks Jeff. Can you import a new BMW into Cali? Or would it make me stand out. If you catch my drift.
          Cheers, Brock

          • Hi Brock, yes you can import new cars into Colombia but I understand there is lots of paperwork and also taxes involved. I haven’t met any expats that have done that in 7 years living in Medellín. And yes you would likely stand out with a BMW.

    11. Stephen Duggan August 15, 2017

      My first attempt was wiped out due to my errors, Jeff – thanks for the perspective – have you been to La Ceja? due to my errors, so this post will be briefer: Have you been to La Ceja? I prefer a smaller place, and La Ceja strikes me as being temperate, not too large for my liking, and close to the airport. I explored Medellin, Armenia, Guatape and Filandia this past winter. i plan to visit La Ceja briefly in October.

    12. Hector Garcia August 15, 2017

      HI Jeff I will retire in less than two years..from the federal gov, planning to move to Guatape since my wife (paisa) own a property there..my retirement pay will be aroundoing $2,300 a 2,500 USD is that good enough to live there?
      Thanks for any advice..

      • Hi Hector, it depends on your lifestyle. About 2/3 of expats in Medellín I have talked to have a monthly budget of less than $2,000 per month. But about 25% have a budget higher than $2,500 per month.

    13. great writing again Jeff. I am very intrigued by all three of the city mentioned.

    14. Hi Jeff

      A litle city to be included: Armenia.

      • Hi Henry, thanks.

        This article already has nearly 3,000 words. So, it would be difficult to add another city. I plan to do more city comparisons and may do one comparing Medellín to Armenia and Manizales.

    15. Roger Pemberty August 5, 2017

      It is impressive your knowledge of Medellín, i really feel proud when I walk through el poblado and see so many visitors enjoying the city. hopefully one day i can shake your hand and thank you for loving this city as much as we were born here.

    16. Fred Sobotincic July 28, 2017

      A great article Jeff..so in-depth right down to the seismic issue .
      I’m very please that I bumped into your site,. I look forward to many more insightful articles from you thank you very much..Fred

      • Hi Fred, thanks. I thought it was important to let folks know about the seismic risk.

        Since the time of the last earthquakes Pereira and Bucaramanga have become more strict about building codes. The more recently built buildings as well as some of the older buildings in these cities are built to withstand seismic activity. But there are lots of hollow core non-reinforced masonry brick construction in in these cities that does not do well in seismic zones as a rule because those buildings are brittle.

    17. This is another great and helpful article on this site. I have been to Pereira and like it but I agree that Medellin is a better place to live.

      I like lots of options of places to go and things to do. Pereira is much smaller and I think I would quickly get bored there. It looks like I would get bored in Bucaramanga also. Plus I love the metro in Medellin and also like that there are several direct flights to the US from Medellin.

      While I wish there was less traffic in Medellin, I love living in Medellin!

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