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Cost of Living in Medellin, Colombia

By Joshua Wood, LPC

Last updated on: Oct 30, 2019

Summary: Expats in Medellin enjoy a far lower cost of living than in major cities in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. However, work is scarce and low pay unless you are transferred there by a large company, so you'll need an established income stream to make it as an expat in Medellin.

Living in Colombia - Cost of Living in Medellin, Colombia

The cost of living in Medellin is affordable for most expats - it's actually why many people move there. Below you will find details about the expenses for living in Medellin, Colombia and how that might impact your budget.

Importantly, don't think you can move there from the U.S., Canada or the U.K. and find a job and earn a living there unless you're sent there by your employer. You can be a global nomad in Medellin if you can earn a living on your laptop. There are also plenty of people who retire there either part of the year or altogether. Remember that the median income in Colombia is about $300 a month - so if you expect to jump into the local economy and make a killing - or even just sustain yourself, you should know that it's very difficult to do.

The Colombian Peso (COP) is the currency in Colombia. Here is the current COP rate against the U.S. dollar and the the COP rate against Great British Pound.

Cost of Renting

An expat in Medellin advised about rent and utilities "can be anywhere from USD$300 per month to USD$3,000 per month, just depending on what you require.

Compared to Medellin's, New York City's rent prices are nearly 1000% higher (984%), while London's rent prices are on average 644% higher than in Medellin

Expats living in Colombia interested in expat health insurance should take a minute to get a quote from our trusted expat health insurance partner, CIGNA. Get a Quote

Expats living in Colombia interested in expat health insurance should take a minute to get a quote from our trusted expat health insurance partner, CIGNA.

Cost of Purchasing a Home in Medellin

According to Numbeo.com, the cost of buying an apartment in Medellin is about $98-$105 per square foot on average. You can certainly pay more, but that's the average range. Here is detailed property information for Medellin

However, as with everything, you have to learn the process of buying property in Colombia. An expat in Colombia shared that some real estate agencies in Colombia do not work with in the best interest in of the buyers. "I agree that intermediaries in Colombia are pretty useless and their role is basically to make phone calls to arrange meetings. They know nothing about the property they will show you. They charge foreigners with 'gringo tax.' I was shown in Medellin the same apartament by three different estate agents and asked three different prices, with differences up to 40.000 US$. Some agents will only show you 2-3 apartments and if you do not buy what they show you they will either drop you or ask you to pay hourly fees for their services, which is totally unheard of and is only done with foreign clients."

So be careful and do your homework before committing to work with any real estate agent or agency!

Cost of Utilities

Expats find that the cost of utilities in Medellin are relatively cheap.

Claro, Movistar, and tigo are the main cellphone carriers in Colombia. They offer prepaid and monthly plans.

Cost of Transportation

Expats routinely talk about the cheap public transportation in Medellin, and Colombia in general. Many of these individuals also describe how challenging it can be to drive there, especially with motorcycles weaving in and out of traffic and generally driving all over the place. It is a big adjustment.

A monthly transportation pass in Medellin will cost a little less than $30. Note that you should avoid peak travel times like the plague, as they can be REALLY bad.

In a comparison of Medellin and Cali, Colombia, an expat shared that "Medellin of course has that super slick train and the cable cars which pretty much outshines the badly-in-need-of-repairs megabus system in Cali."

Cost of Food

Food in general is very inexpensive in Medellin. For instance, in a comparison of Medellin and New York City, groceries are almost 300% more expensive in the Big Apple.

One expat wrote that In Suramericana, I routinely eat lunch for less than $2, or you can go to El Poblado and pay $15 if you prefer."

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About the Author

Joshua Wood Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000. Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Some of Joshua's more popular articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and 5 Best Places to Live in Spain. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.

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Updated On: Oct 30, 2019

First Published: Oct 30, 2019

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