Our global travels have taken us to many beloved cities resulting in what we affectionately call our “shortlist.” Medellin, Colombia is one of our favorites because of climate, food, and especially the people. We have met so many great friends there, both locals and expats.
Being near the Equator at 5,000 ft elevation, the Aburrá Valley has an almost ideal climate year-round. Average temperatures are fairly constant year-round with highs near 80 F and lows in the mid-60s F. Seasons are wet or dry, so our clothes selection is easy.
Where to Live in Medellin, Colombia
One of the most debated topics is which Medellín neighborhood is the best. El Poblado has been the preferred choice for expats and tourists for years.
The area has an extensive selection of restaurants and modern apartment buildings. It is common to find 24-hour porteros for security. This can be perfect for first-time visitors helping to ease into expat life.
The flip side of this was that we found there can be moments when the gringo crowd can be a bit too much, especially when we were searching for a more local experience. The main business district has a mix of excellent cafes/restaurants and a vibrant bar scene. It can be a bit raucous on the weekends, which might be fine for a few days on holiday, but not what we look for during a long-term stay.
Having the only metro system in Colombia makes Medellin a great place to live without a car. The city has an effective mix of trains, buses, and cable cars (to travel up the steep hills) to get around the city. Both neighborhoods have good metro access, with Laureles being more central to the city. Every Metro station has feeder buses to take you to your destination without a long walk.
Laureles is relatively flat and more walking-friendly with a brilliant mix of restaurants and shops. Poblado is partway up the hill and depending on how high up can be daunting. As a result, we used taxis more often there. Both locations have the city-sponsored Sunday “CicloVia” where major streets are closed so everyone can walk/run/bike. It’s a wonderful day with families and friends enjoying the beautiful outdoors.
The apartment buildings in Laureles are older constructions than those in El Poblado, which has seen an explosion of high-rise developments.
This will be a preference item depending on whether you like a modern high-rise to something with more character. In El Poblado, you can get incredible views from the higher floors from high-rises, and more amenities such as rooftop pools, exercise rooms, and saunas and steam rooms. You also typically pay a premium for living in the area.
Weather in Medellin is typically glorious. Unfortunately, being at the bottom of a deep valley, there are a couple of times a year (Spring and Fall) when there are a few weeks with poor air quality. A thermal inversion is normal in a situation like this.
El Poblado benefits by being above the valley floor and receiving more rain than Laureles. The nasty air clears up surprisingly fast, and the city is working hard to reduce emissions by strictly limiting vehicle traffic on the worst days.
We’ve tried both places and enjoyed what each offers. One of the great things about Medellin is that housing choices abound.
Are you living in Medellin? What neighborhood have you opted for?
by: Eileen Brill-Wagner