Bogota or Medellin – Which City is Better for Expats?

by | Feb 14, 2022 | Colombia | 1 comment

When I moved to Colombia, one of the first questions they asked me was which city I preferred—Bogota or Medellin? It is well known in Colombia that there is a long-standing rivalry between the “Paisas” (people from Antioquia) and “Rolos” (people from Bogota). Both Medellin and Bogota are two of Colombia’s largest metropolitan cities, but ultimately, which city is better for expats? Well, that depends on what you are looking for and your own personal preferences for a city.

Cost of Living Bogota and Medellin

Take a stroll through Bogota's main Plaza Bolivar! by Erin Colton-Enberg
Take a stroll through Bogota’s main Plaza Bolivar! by Erin Colton-Enberg

When looking at a potential new place to live, the cost of living is always at the top of the list and the less important things are often overlooked by travelers, but they may become crucial when picking a new home.

Like most capital cities, Bogota is more expensive than Medellin, although it depends on your lifestyle. Apartments cost an average of 15-20% more in Bogota, which is a big factor when looking to move to a new city.  Other things like groceries, transportation, and nightlife are slightly more expensive, but not by much.

Weather: Bogota vs. Medellin

Medellin's Poblado neighborhood offers incredible views of the city by Erin Colton-Enberg
Medellin’s Poblado neighborhood offers incredible views of the city by Erin Colton-Enberg

The bustling city of Bogota is at 2,500m above sea level in the heart of the Andes Mountains. We know Bogota for its colder, more rainy climate with an average yearly temperature ranging between 13.5 °C/ 56.2 °F. After living in Medellin, also known as the City of Eternal Spring, I find anything below 20 ° C/ 68° F cold these days. For this reason, many expats flock to Medellin in search of a warmer climate and beautiful year-round weather.

While there is little seasonal difference in Medellin (hence the name, eternal spring) Colombia experiences rainy seasons which Colombians describe as ‘winter’ (when it rains) and ‘summer’ (when it is hot). Colombia’s rainy season falls between April and May and October to November, but don’t worry, it doesn’t rain for long – if you like tropical storms you will appreciate this weather!

Public Transport in Bogota and Medellin

I guarantee you will be impressed with Medellin's metro system! by Erin Colton-Enberg
I guarantee you will be impressed with Medellin’s metro system! by Erin Colton-Enberg

While Bogota is Colombia’s biggest city and the capital, we know Medellin for its pristine metro system and famous metro cable. With a population of 4,000,000 million, Medellin can feel congested with the traffic and pollution that settles in the valley, however, its metro system is outstanding for getting around and connects to busses and even metro cables.

Medellin also is investing more in bike routes to encourage people to use alternate forms of transportation that are better for the environment. Bogota, with a population of 11,000,000 million, is notorious for its terrible traffic and subpar public transportation system. Bogota offers a rapid tram system, but it doesn’t even come close to the efficiency of that of Medellin.

Culture and Overall Vibe

One of my favorite Medellin hikes! by Erin Colton-Enberg
One of my favorite Medellin hikes! by Erin Colton-Enberg

Both Medellin and Bogota have incredible food scenes and renowned museums. What I love about living in Medellin is that there really is so much to do here! From visiting breweries to hiking or visiting a museum, there is something for everyone here!

Bogota is also an incredible city known for its museums like the Gold Museum or the famous Botero Museum. There are also world-class restaurants, international festivals and a great cafe scene. We are in Colombia, after all! In both cities, you will have no problem finding what you are looking for!

As a five-year resident of Medellin, Colombia I will always have a clear favorite, however, I do love visiting Bogota! For those of you who are still on the fence, you’ll just have to visit and decide for yourself!  Vamanos! 

by: Erin Colton-Enberg