Are you a digital nomad who enjoys perfect weather year-round, excellent quality of life, the friendliest people on earth and some of the best travel options in South America? If so, Medellin, Colombia is your next destination!
Ok, no place is perfect, and there is no shortage of the challenges that accompany experiencing life in a foreign country, but it’s easy to see why Medellin has become a haven for digital nomads. This insider guide will give you an overview of life in the City of Eternal Spring.
1. About Living in Medellin as a Digital Nomad
Medellin is a physically beautiful city, set in a valley ringed with green mountains and a nearly constant blue sky. As one of the most popular destinations for foreigners in Colombia, it’s fairly easy to settle in as a newcomer to the city. The Colombian peso has weakened significantly in the past few years, making cost of living very affordable for digital nomads! Also, with the growing number of expats, more people are speaking English. In general, the city makes for a smooth transition.
As far as housing goes, it can be easier to stay in a hotel or hostel for the first few days and then search on the ground, rather than trying to make arrangements ahead of time.
El Poblado is the most popular and convenient neighborhood for tourists and foreigners, and apartments for rent can run from $400 USD up to $1000+ per month. Lower budget options (Starting at $175 for a room in a shared place) can be found in residential Envigado or Laureles.
Medellin has a world-renowned Metro that puts other major transportation systems to shame, and it costs less than a dollar a ride. Public buses, taxis and rideshares like Uber are also affordable and readily available.
Food can range from cheap, homemade Colombian meals at casual restaurants ($3 USD) and modest grocery purchases to pricey gourmet options and imported U.S. brands. It’s not difficult to accommodate special diets for vegetarians or people with food allergies.
Colombia boasts excellent medical facilities that will cost a fraction out of pocket as compared to the U.S. Many foreigners travel here for various procedures, so there’s a good selection of English-speaking doctors available.
2. About Working in Medellin as a Digital Nomad
Digital nomads won’t have to look far to find a great workspace in Medellin. Nearly every apartment or room for rent will have wifi, and connections are typically fast. Most cafes, restaurants, bars, fast food chains and malls in touristy and more affluent areas have excellent wifi.
Is it a coffee shop kind of work day? Juan Valdez is Colombia’s number one coffee shop chain. Cafe Cliche is a quaint spot owned by a French couple, Hija Mia’s coffee is some of the best in the country and Cafe Revolucion has the cold brew you’re missing. And lastly Ondas is a great location if you want the hostel/cafe vibe.
If you’re looking to make connections with fellow digital nomads, expats, or local entrepreneurs, Facebook groups are one of the best ways to find people and get in touch. Some groups advertise on Meetup.com as well, or through flyers and bulletin boards in cafes and hostels.
3. About Playing in Medellin as a Digital Nomad
Hopefully your remote work lifestyle allows time to have fun, because Paisas (people from Medellin) know how to party! The area near Parque Lleras in Poblado has more bars, discotecas and restaurants than you could ever wish for, but the vibe can err on expensive and tourist-focused. The more authentic, local rumba can be found on La 70 near the soccer stadium, though every neighborhood has its own bars and tiendas with ample music, company and beer or aguardiente.
Colombians typically go out to dance, so be prepared to join! Ditch the embarrassment if you have two left feet or seek out some dance lessons beforehand.
Sports fans and fitness buffs won’t be disappointed in Medellin. For footballers, there are two main amateur teams to root for, Atletico Nacional and Independiente Medellin. Gyms are easy to find in any neighborhood, ranging from garage setups that cost a dollar a day to top-notch establishments like Body Tech or Spinning Center that are on par with U.S. prices. Local parks are always full of walkers and joggers, and some have basic workout “machines” for public use.
On Sundays, Avenida Poblado and other main roads are closed to traffic from 7am-1pm for the Ciclovia, a city-wide public event for cyclists and pedestrians. It’s a great way to get to know the city, exercise and people watch!
4. What to See in Medellin
Every city has its must-sees, and Medellin is no exception!
Plaza Botero is a collection of larger-than-life sculptures by Colombia’s most famous artist, and makes for a great photoshoot. The Botanical Garden is a lovely, free public space to enjoy an afternoon with friends, a book or your thoughts! Take the Metrocable and a picnic up to Parque Arví overlooking the city. Or sign up for a graffiti tour in Comuna 13 to learn about the neighborhood’s complex, violent past through intricate street art.
There are countless day and weekend destinations just a few hours by bus as well. Guatape is a well-known town on a manmade lake, with a giant rock you can scale for fabulous views, and Rio Claro offers an escape into nature. The iconic coffee region is easily accessible for a long weekend too!
5. Meeting People in Medellin
Paisas are some of the friendliest, most welcoming people on earth – just say hi! While this guide can give you some ideas and starting points, Medellin’s people are the absolute best source of information. They are fiercely proud of their city and country. And they are eager to put its negative image in the past by showing off the best side possible.
There is no “best” place to meet locals. You might make a friend in the line at the grocery store, at a football match or at a language exchange like the one hosted by The Wandering Paisa Hostel.
Enjoy Medellin, a great city for digital nomads!
- 12 Things to Know Before Traveling to Colombia
- Interview With an Expat About Living in Medellín
- 15 Of The Best Beaches in The World – two of which are in Colombia!
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