A Way Abroad Logo
The ultimate resource for women dreaming of a life abroad

An Expat's Guide to Living in Medellín, Colombia

write for us!

Medellín is Colombia’s second largest city, right after its capital, Bogotá.

As someone who spent almost a year living just outside of Bogotá I personally prefer living in Medellín, aka the City of Eternal Spring. The weather is perfect, the people here are amazingly welcoming and friendly, and the views are stunning here in the valley surrounded by powerful yet peaceful mountains.

Although I absolutely love living in Colombia, there are plenty of other fantastic places to live in Latin America.

If you're planning a move to Medellín, one of the best places in Colombia, this guide will help you walk through all you need to know to settle into life in this bustling city.

Short on time? Here’s the cheat sheet:

💭Living in Medellín is great for those that are eager to practice Spanish, enjoy plenty of outdoor activities, and soak-up fantastic weather year-round.

🏠The best areas for the expat and digital nomad community are El Poblado and Laureles.

🛏️Start off by booking somewhere centrally located and easy to get around, like Topá House in El Poblado until you find your long-term stay.

📚Make your transition easier and get a headstart learning the language with Mondly.

🏥Accidents happen so come prepared with nomad insurance, just in case!

☂️Although Colombia, and Medellín specifically, doesn't have the best reputation, the city has changed drastically from its rough past in the 80s.

☀️Pack your dancing shoes, hiking boots, umbrella, and light jacket, Medellín offers an incredibly fun lifestyle for the right kind of person.

Medellín as a Digital Nomad Hot Spot

Three foreign women who live abroad in Colombia on a touristic trip outside of Medellin posing in a jeep with a Colombian flag
Friends & me playing tourists

Medellín has slowly but steadily been gaining popularity among the digital nomad community.

Compared to Bali, Chiang Mai, and Da Nang, it's another one of the hot spots for digital nomads.

In just a few years of living here, I’ve noticed so many new cute coffee shops and coworking spaces pop up as well as a large number of US startups setting up offices here which means there are more and more job opportunities (which provide long-term visas) for foreigners. 

Want to hop on the digital nomad train? Browse remote jobs to find your perfect match.

Is Medellín Safe?

Most people still think of Medellín as a violent city thanks to its past intertwined with Pablo Escobar.

What people don't think about is that the history they're thinking about is from the 80s, about 40 years in the past.

Since then, the city of Medellín has worked hard to change its reputation and become a place tourists, digital nomads, and expats feel safe and welcome.

Anywhere in Colombia I'd still recommend keeping an eye on your belongings, not walking around late at night on your own, and listening to local advice on places to avoid. My best advice is to let your street smarts and common sense guide you.

With more and more digital nomads and expats flocking to Medellín though, it's becoming more and more safe.

In general, Colombia is full of friendly locals that are curious to know why you decided to move to their country. Don't be surprised if locals ask you personal questions, ask to take pictures, or gently touch your skin or hair. Colombian culture is built on stories and you, my foreign looking friend, are a very good one!

🏥Accidents happen so come prepared with nomad insurance, just in case!

Best Areas to Live in Medellín

Medellin Cityscape, photo courtesy of depositphotos.com

Two of the most popular areas for expats living abroad and tourists visiting the city are:

  • El Poblado
  • Laureles

Both have amazing nightlife, restaurants, coffee shops, organic/vegan stores, and basically everything an expat needs. These also tend to be two of the safest areas of the city.

El Poblado

El Poblado usually attracts a lot of short-term tourists and tends to be a bit more expensive in terms of rent and prices when eating out.

📍Before you decide to move to this neighborhood, I suggest you book a hotel or vacation rental for at least a night or two to get a real feel for it at all hours. This will give you the best chance to see if living in El Poblado is a good choice for you.

  • Budget Stay: Studio Apartment: Although simple, this studio apartment offers stunning views of the entire city, offering you a great welcome to Medellín!
  • Mid-Tier Stay: Topá House: This recently renovated apartment is just steps from Lleras Park. If you're moving with a family or want more space to spread out, this 2-bedroom, pet-friendly apartment will give you just that.
  • Luxury Stay: Edificio Meridiano: More than just a hotel room, this is more of a swanky studio apartment. For those looking for a seriously cool landing spot in Medellín, this is it.


The Laureles neighborhood on the other hand has a bit less of the touristy vibe and a lot more local scene. I’ve noticed that a lot of people who end up staying in Medellín long-term usually move out to Laureles.

📍Before you decide to move to this neighborhood, I suggest you book a hotel or vacation rental for at least a night or two to get a real feel for it at all hours. This will give you the best chance to see if living in Laureles is a good choice for you.

  • Budget Stay: The Somos Flats: Offering 2 types of studio apartments and a 2-bedroom option, these flats are modern, clean, and well-located in the city.
  • Mid-Tier Stay: Modern Apartment: Featuring a balcony with mountain views, this 2-bedroom apartment can sleep 10 but for more privacy and space, 4 would fit best.
  • Luxury Stay: Apartamento Lauret: This 2-bedroom apartment offers additional amenities like a gym, coffee shop, restaurant, and shared rooftop terrace.

How to Find an Apartment

When testing out different neighborhoods, do your best to live like you really would be able to afford to.

Don't treat yourself to only the best if that's not something you can afford in the long run. To really find the right place to live, you'll want to make your situation as similar as what you can really afford and then pick the best neighborhood based on that.

A nice room in a shared flat in El Poblado or Laureles will usually cost around $200 per month but finding cheaper or fancier and more pricey options is definitely possible.

There are lots of different websites here in Colombia for finding rooms or apartments. A few of the most common ones are:

There’s a fabulous expat Facebook group here just for women which is very supportive and any questions usually get answered very quickly.

Serious about
browse all articles

Getting a Visa to Stay in Colombia

A group of foreigners on a hike in a rural community outside of Medellin
Some friends and me on a hike outside of Medellin

You have 3 real options when it comes to getting a visa in Colombia:

  1. Tourist Visa: Most nationalities can stay in Colombia for 3 months visa-free. It's possible to do visa-runs (leave the country for a night or 2 and come back) to restart your 3 months. While many do this, it's not the legal route and there is always a chance you'll get denied at the border.
  2. Work Visa: This is only possible if you find a job in Colombia that's willing to sponsor your visa. While in general, Latin America can be tough to get a work visa, I've done it multiple times so I know it's possible. I'll explain more below.
  3. Digital Nomad Visa: This is a new visa allowing remote workers to get a visa to stay for longer than a tourist visa allows. More details on this one below.

Work Visa

When it comes to finding work here in Colombia, the expat Facebook groups again really come in handy as people are often posting different opportunities. LinkedIn and Indeed are also widely used among larger companies.

I’ve personally worked here in Colombia as an English teacher and in Business Development and Customer Success for two different global companies.

As mentioned before, lots of North American companies have smaller offices here mainly because of the cost of labor and time zone benefits, so there are more and more opportunities popping up for English speakers.

If you manage to get a job with one of these international companies they usually sponsor your visa and it’s often good for 1-3 years with the option to renew. 

Digital Nomad Visa

If you happen to come to Colombia as a digital nomad doing remote work, you're in luck!

Colombia offers a digital nomad visa that allows you to live and work online for 6 months of the year. The visa is valid for 2 years though so you can spend a total of 1 year in the country but only at 6 month intervals.

For those that want a home base but still plenty of time to travel nomadically, this could be a great option.

Things to Do in Medellín, Colombia

With some friends enjoying a local fútbol match

‍Medellín offers a wide variety of things to do, so many restaurants, and a big city vibe that I really love.

Given that the weather doesn't change too much and it practically always feels like spring, all year round there are events and activities, especially outdoors. If you like spending time outside, you'll love living in Medellín even more!

Although this list really just scrapes the surface, these are some of my favorite things to do in Medellín.

Enjoy the Nightlife

The nightlife here in Medellín is incredible, you can find anything from a salsa club, to reggaeton, to hard techno all on the same block. You'll certainly want to pack your dancing shoes if you move here!

Parque Lleras area is the hot spot, literally hundreds of bars, restaurants and clubs in a 10 block perimeter. If you like dancing there are a couple places that offer free Salsa lessons during the week.

Go Hiking

If you’re into hiking, you’ll also love this city as there are a couple trails within the city and endless hiking possibilities around the nearby mountains.

Powered by GetYourGuide

Attend the Festivals

Medellín also hosts lots of festivals from the famous flower festival in August to large music festivals and smaller artisanal workshops and markets.

Learn Spanish

Lots of travelers and expats also take Spanish lessons here as there are tons of schools to learn from (some even offer long-term visas, usually student visas).

Locals here speak Spanish in a relatively accent-free way, making Colombia one of the best places to learn Spanish. For those looking for a neutral-accent, Colombia is the spot.

The best possible way to learn Spanish is through immersion but I do recommend you get a head start and start learning basic words and phrases on Mondly, a great language learning app.

The more Spanish you know, the more chances you'll have of befriending locals.

But Wait, There's More!

Other top activities are riding the metrocable, walking tours, paragliding, soccer/football games, visiting coffee farms, traveling to nearby towns and other cities, meetups, and language exchanges.

Visiting Other Places in Colombia

Guatapé, photo courtesy of depositphotos.com

‍Transportation in the city is fairly good and cheap, with a metro system and buses heading in all directions, as well as taxis, Ubers, and DiDis, making it very easy to get to anywhere around the city.

It’s also really easy to get out of Medellín as the city has two bus terminals. The cheapest way to travel in Colombia is by bus but what you'll save in money, you'll make up for in hours traveling. The country is more spread out than you might think!

Flights are also usually quite affordable to get to different cities and save you a lot of time, since Colombia is very mountainous, traveling by road is usually a long and very curvy, bumpy ride, not for those with weak stomachs.

Although you've chosen to live in Medellín, be sure to take advantage of visiting the rest of the country. Colombia has so much to offer from the Caribbean coast, the Amazon, the Andes Mountains, the Pacific Coast, and so much in between.

Once you’re here there is so much to do, so many cute towns to visit just a few hours outside of Medellín, like Guatapé or Jardín for example.

‍Will You Try Living in Medellín?

After having spent most of my early life in Canada and then in my early twenties living in the Netherlands for 6 months and then to South Korea for a year and a half, I was feeling really called to learn Spanish and spend some time in South America.

Colombia seemed like the perfect place in terms of weather, people, language/accent, things to do, etc. And so far, that has proven to be so so true!

I’ve been here for years now and don’t have plans to leave yet. To see more of what it’s like living in Medellín, follow me on Instagram @emiliejones.co.

keep a way abroad fueled!
Consider making a donation

A lot of effort went into making this amazing piece of journalistic genius. If it helped you out, send us a quick thanks by buying us a coffee. All the money donated through Ko-Fi goes towards keeping A Way Abroad awesome. Big thanks!

Pick an image to pin it!
Go back up arrow