Medellin City Guide for Nomads & Expats
every taste. Whether you’re looking for traditional Colombian dishes or international cuisine, you’re sure to find something to satisfy your appetite. With its wide range of activities, from exploring the nearby mountains to shopping in its many malls, Medellin is an ideal destination for expats who want to experience a little bit of everything that this beautiful city has to offer.
What are the Best Places to Work Remotely in Medellín?
Medellín is a popular destination for digital nomads and expats due to its pleasant climate, affordable cost of living, and growing coworking culture. Having undergone a transformation in recent years, Medellín’s focus has shifted heavily towards innovation and entrepreneurship. The city is home to various tech hubs, coworking spaces, and initiatives aimed at fostering innovation and creativity.Here are some of the best places to work remotely in Medellín:
Selina Medellín Cowork:
Located in the trendy El Poblado neighborhood, Selina offers a vibrant coworking space with comfortable seating, high-speed internet, and a community of like-minded individuals.
With multiple locations throughout the city, CoWork Latam offers spacious workspaces, meeting rooms, and reliable internet connections. Their staff is known for being friendly and helpful.
La Casa Redonda:
A charming coworking space with a cozy atmosphere, La Casa Redonda offers both indoor and outdoor workspaces. It’s a great spot if you prefer a relaxed and artsy environment.
A part of the global coworking chain, Wework provides a professional setting with modern amenities, private offices, and comfortable communal areas.
La Casa de la Montaña:
If you’re looking for a peaceful and inspiring location, this coworking space nestled in the hills of Medellín might be perfect. Enjoy stunning views while you work.
Ruta N is a technology and innovation center that offers coworking spaces, events, and opportunities for networking within the local entrepreneurial community.
This coworking space focuses on providing a vibrant and creative environment, along with reliable internet and comfortable seating.
The Secret Garden Hostel:
If you prefer a more relaxed and social atmosphere, The Secret Garden Hostel offers a comfortable coworking space with a garden and terrace.
Casa Redonda Hostel:
Another hostel with a coworking space, Casa Redonda offers a cozy setting, friendly staff, and a chance to meet other travelers and digital nomads.
Remember that the best coworking space for you depends on your personal preferences, work style, and needs. Make sure to shop around a few options before committing to a membership to find the one that suits you best.
Culture in Medellín
Medellín is known for its lively festivals and celebrations. One of the most famous is Feria de las Flores (Flower Festival), which takes place in August and features colorful parades, flower displays, and cultural events. Other festivals include the Festival of the Lights (Alumbrados Navideños) during Christmas and the Tango Festival.
Music and dance play a significant role in Medellín’s culture. The city has a strong traditional music scene, including vallenato, cumbia, and reggaeton. Salsa is also very popular, and you can find dance clubs and venues where you can enjoy live music and dance the night away.
Medellín has a burgeoning art scene, with numerous galleries, museums, and street art that showcase local and international talent. The Museum of Antioquia houses a significant collection of works by Fernando Botero, a renowned Colombian artist. The city’s commitment to public art is evident through its many sculptures and murals.
Medellín is often referred to as the “City of Eternal Spring” due to its pleasant climate, which contributes to an outdoor-focused lifestyle. You’ll find parks, plazas, and outdoor spaces where locals gather to socialize, exercise, and relax. The people of Medellín are known for their warmth and friendliness.
Religion plays a significant role in Medellín’s culture, and you may encounter religious processions and celebrations, particularly during Easter Week (Semana Santa). The city’s religious heritage is reflected in its churches and cathedrals, such as the Metropolitan Cathedral.
Spanish is the official language, and while English is not as widely spoken as in some other tourist destinations, many locals are eager to engage and help visitors practice their Spanish. Medellín’s culture is a dynamic blend of tradition and modernity, making it an exciting and welcoming city for digital nomads, expats, and travelers.
Food in Medellín
Colombian cuisine is colorful, flavorful and diverse, and in Medellín, you can find a variety of traditional dishes such as bandeja paisa, arepas, and empanadas. The city also offers a growing number of international restaurants and food markets that cater to diverse tastes.
Bandeja Paisa is an iconic dish which represents the Paisa region and is a hearty platter featuring rice, red beans, ground beef, chicharrón (crispy pork belly), plantains, avocado, arepa (corn cake), and a fried egg. It’s a true Colombian comfort meal. Chorizo Antioqueño is another regional specialty. This flavorful sausage is often grilled and served with arepas, potatoes, and hogao (a tomato and onion sauce).
Versatile corn cakes called arepas are a staple of Colombian cuisine. They can be enjoyed plain, stuffed with cheese, or topped with various ingredients like eggs, meat, or vegetables. Another local favorite, empanadas are deliciously stuffed pastries commonly filled with ingredients like ground meat, cheese, or potatoes. They make for a popular street food snack!
Fried and flattened green plantains called patacones, often served as a side dish or snack can be enjoyed on their own or topped with various ingredients and make for a delicious treat. Colombia’s tropical climate allows for a wide variety of delicious fruits. Be sure to try some of the more exotic options like lulo, guanabana, and maracuyá (passion fruit).
During cooler seasons, Medellin has plenty to offer in warm comforting soups and stews. Sancocho is hearty soup often considered a Colombian comfort food, which typically includes chicken, plantains, potatoes, corn, and other vegetables, simmered in a flavorful broth. Ajiaco is another kind of traditional soup from Bogotá but is also enjoyed in Medellín. It features chicken, potatoes, corn, and guascas (a local herb), resulting in a flavorful and hearty dish. Cazuela de Frijoles is a heart warming bean stew cooked with different types of beans, meat (usually pork), and various seasonings.
Explore Medellín’s food stalls and markets for street food delights like arepas, empanadas, buñuelos (fried cheese balls), and obleas (thin wafers filled with arequipe or jam). Colombia is also famous for its coffee, and Medellín has a rapidly growing coffee culture. Visit local cafés to enjoy high-quality Colombian coffee and learn about the bean-to-cup process.
Medellín’s food scene offers a delightful blend of traditional flavors and global influences, making it a culinary destination worth exploring for food enthusiasts and travelers alike.
Healthcare in Medellín
Medellín, Colombia, offers a relatively good standard of healthcare with a mix of public and private healthcare facilities. Here’s an overview of the healthcare system and options available in Medellín:
Colombia has a universal healthcare system known as the General System of Social Security in Health (Sistema General de Seguridad Social en Salud – SGSSS). This system provides coverage to all Colombian citizens and legal residents. The public healthcare system offers basic medical services, but there can be limitations in terms of waiting times and quality of care in some cases.
EPS (Health Promoting Entities):
Under the SGSSS, individuals are required to enroll in a Health Promoting Entity (EPS) to access healthcare services. EPS are responsible for providing healthcare services, arranging appointments, and managing coverage for their beneficiaries.
Medellín has a robust private healthcare sector that offers high-quality medical services. Private healthcare facilities often provide more timely and personalized care, and many doctors are bilingual or have a good command of English. The costs of private healthcare are generally lower than in many Western countries, making it an attractive option for expats.
Health Insurance for Expats:
If you’re an expat or digital nomad, it’s advisable to have health insurance that covers medical expenses in Medellín. Many international insurance companies offer plans designed specifically for expats in Colombia.
Hospitals and Clinics:
Medellín has a range of modern hospitals and clinics, both public and private. Some of the well-known private hospitals include Hospital Pablo Tobón Uribe, Clínica las Vegas, and Clínica El Rosario. These facilities provide a variety of medical services, including specialized care and surgeries.
Colombia, including Medellín, has become a popular destination for medical tourism due to its skilled medical professionals, modern facilities, and competitive prices for medical procedures such as cosmetic surgery, dental work, and elective surgeries.
Pharmacies (farmacias) are easily accessible throughout the city. Many medications that require a prescription in some countries may be available over the counter in Colombia. However, it’s advisable to consult a local doctor before purchasing any medication.
In case of a medical emergency, you can dial 123 for an ambulance. The Red Cross and various private ambulance services are also available.
It’s important to research and plan ahead for your healthcare needs before moving to or visiting Medellín. If you’re an expat, consider obtaining health insurance and familiarizing yourself with local healthcare facilities and services. Consulting with local expat communities and seeking recommendations from fellow expats can also provide valuable insights into navigating the healthcare system in Medellín.
Staying Fit & Healthy in Medellín
Staying fit and healthy in Medellín is quite achievable, thanks to the city’s pleasant climate, outdoor spaces, and a growing fitness culture.
Take advantage of the city’s beautiful weather and explore its parks, trails, and outdoor spaces. Parque Arví and Parque El Poblado are popular spots for walking, jogging, hiking, and even outdoor yoga. The city’s parks and designated bike lanes provide great opportunities for running and cycling. You can rent bikes or use Medellín’s bike-sharing system, EnCicla, to explore the city while staying active.
Medellín offers a variety of gyms and fitness centers catering to different workout preferences. Some gyms even offer classes like yoga, Pilates, spinning, and CrossFit. Check out options like Bodytech, Smart Fit, and Gold’s Gym. Joining group fitness classes can be a fun way to stay motivated and meet new people. Look for local studios that offer classes in dance, aerobics, and martial arts.
Embrace the fresh and diverse produce available in Medellín. Visit local markets and grocery stores to stock up on fruits, vegetables, and whole foods. You can also enjoy nutritious Colombian dishes that incorporate lean proteins, whole grains, and vegetables. Consider cooking meals at home to have more control over your diet and make healthier choices. Experiment with local ingredients and recipes while staying mindful of portion sizes.
Medellín is surrounded by natural beauty, and there are many hiking trails and outdoor excursions available in the nearby mountains and countryside. Exploring these areas can provide a great workout while connecting with nature. Keep an eye out for wellness events, workshops, and retreats happening in Medellín. These can offer opportunities to learn about nutrition, mindfulness, and other aspects of well-being. You can also connect with local expat and wellness communities to find workout partners, attend fitness events, and share tips for staying healthy in Medellín.
The climate in Medellín can be warm and humid, so it’s important to stay hydrated throughout the day. Prioritize getting enough sleep to support your overall well-being.
Remember that staying fit and healthy is a holistic endeavor that involves both physical activity and mental well-being. Medellín’s relaxed atmosphere and natural beauty provide a conducive environment for adopting a balanced and active lifestyle.
Things to Do in Medellín
Medellín is a vibrant and culturally rich city with a wide range of activities and attractions to suit different interests. Whether you’re a digital nomad, expat, or traveler, here are some things you can do in Medellín:
Comuna 13 Tour:
Explore the transformation of Comuna 13 from a troubled neighborhood to a vibrant community adorned with colorful street art. Guided tours provide insight into the neighborhood’s history and culture.
Take the cable car ride up to Parque Arví, where you can enjoy hiking trails, biking, picnicking, and taking in panoramic views of the city and surrounding nature.
Visit the plaza named after Colombian artist Fernando Botero, known for his plump sculptures. The plaza features his artworks as well as the Museum of Antioquia, showcasing his and other artists’ works.
Experience the city from above by taking the Medellín Metrocable system, which provides stunning views as you glide over the neighborhoods and hills.
Explore the outdoor exhibit of Botero’s sculptures in the city center. The plaza is a popular spot for people-watching and taking photos with the larger-than-life art pieces.
This interactive science museum and aquarium is great for both kids and adults. It offers hands-on exhibits, a planetarium, and a biodiversity pavilion.
Visit this recreated traditional Colombian village on Cerro Nutibara for a glimpse into the country’s past. The village features a church, colonial-style buildings, and scenic views.
Take a cable car or hike to the top of Cerro Monserrate for panoramic views of the city. There’s a church at the summit, and the area is popular for sunset visits.
Explore Medellín’s botanical garden, which features a variety of plant species, orchid displays, and themed gardens.
Remember that Medellín has different neighborhoods, each with its own charm and attractions. Exploring local markets, interacting with the friendly locals, and embracing the city’s culture and history will undoubtedly enhance your experience in this dynamic Colombian city.
Weather & Best Time to Visit Medellín
Medellín, often referred to as the “City of Eternal Spring,” enjoys a mild and pleasant climate throughout the year. The city’s location in a valley at an elevation of around 1,495 meters (4,905 feet) above sea level contributes to its relatively consistent temperatures.
The dry seasons (December – February and June – August) are considered the best times to visit Medellín, as the weather is generally sunny and less humid. These periods offer ideal conditions for outdoor activities, sightseeing, and exploring the city’s parks and attractions. December is festive due to Christmas celebrations, and January is popular for the Flower Festival (Feria de las Flores).
Medellín’s rainy seasons (March – May and September – November) are characterized by occasional showers and cloudy days. Rainfall is more frequent during these months, but it’s typically not constant. Despite the rain, the city remains lush and green, and you can still enjoy many indoor activities, museums, and cultural events. Prices for accommodation and tours may be slightly lower during the rainy season.
Medellín’s average temperature hovers around 72-75°F (22-24°C) during the day, with cooler evenings. The consistent climate means you can visit at any time of the year without extreme temperature fluctuations.
Consider timing your visit to coincide with Medellín’s vibrant festivals, such as the Feria de las Flores (August), the Tango Festival (June), and various local celebrations throughout the year. If you’re interested in experiencing local culture and events, check the city’s event calendar for concerts, performances, and art exhibitions.
Ultimately, the best time to visit Medellín depends on your personal preferences and the activities you want to engage in. Keep in mind that due to its moderate climate, Medellín attracts visitors year-round, making it a popular destination for digital nomads, expats, and tourists alike. Whether you prefer the vibrant festivals of the dry season or the lush greenery of the rainy season, Medellín has something to offer throughout the year.
Cost of Living in Medellín
Compared to so many western cities, Medellin is assuredly a much more affordable destination due to the currency exchange rate, housing prices, and significantly lower cost of goods and services. Here’s a price breakdown for living in Medellin:
Rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the city center fluctuates between $400 – $700 per month while rent for a one-bedroom apartment outside the city center can be listed at $300 – $500 per month.
Groceries for a single person per month: $100 – $150. Dining out (meal at a mid-range restaurant) can cost anywhere between $10 – $20 a street food and local eateries will easily put you at $3 – $7 per meal.
– Public transportation (Metro, buses): $0.75 per ride
– Monthly public transportation pass: $30 – $40
– Taxi starting fare: $1 – $1.50
– Gasoline (per gallon): $3 – $4
– Basic utilities (electricity, water, heating, cooling, garbage): $60 – $80 per month
Internet and Communication:
– Internet (basic plan): $20 – $30 per month
– Mobile phone plan (basic package): $10 – $20 per month
Remember that costs can change over time, and it’s important to account for potential fluctuations in currency exchange rates. Additionally, expats and digital nomads may have varying spending patterns based on their lifestyle choices and preferences. It’s recommended to research thoroughly, create a detailed budget, and consult with locals or expats who are currently living in Medellín for the most accurate and current cost of living information.
Visa Requirements in Medellín
Visa requirements for Medellín, Colombia, vary depending on your nationality, the purpose of your visit, and the length of your stay. Here’s a general overview of visa requirements for common types of visitors:
Tourist Visa (Visitor Visa):
Most nationals, including citizens of the United States, European Union countries, Canada, Australia, and many others, can enter Colombia as tourists without a visa for stays of up to 90 days. Tourist visas are usually granted upon arrival and can be extended for an additional 90 days by visiting an immigration office in Colombia.
Temporary Resident Visa:
If you plan to stay in Colombia for more than 180 days (6 months) or wish to work, study, or invest, you may need to apply for a temporary resident visa. Temporary resident visas are available for various purposes, including work, study, investment, family reunification, and retirement. Each type of visa has specific requirements and documentation.
To work legally in Colombia, you typically need a work visa. This requires an employment contract with a Colombian company, organization, or institution. The employing entity in Colombia will often assist with the visa application process.
If you plan to study in Colombia, you’ll need a student visa. This requires acceptance into a recognized educational institution. The institution will usually guide you through the visa application process.
If you plan to invest a significant amount in Colombia, you may be eligible for an investor visa. The investment must meet certain criteria, and the visa application process involves demonstrating the legitimacy of your investment.
Colombia offers a retirement visa for foreign nationals who meet specific financial requirements. This type of visa is designed for individuals who can demonstrate a regular retirement income or pension.
Family Reunification Visa:
If you have family members who are Colombian citizens or residents, you may be eligible for a family reunification visa.
It’s important to note that visa requirements and processes can change, so it’s recommended to check with the nearest Colombian consulate or embassy and consult official government sources for the most up-to-date and accurate information before traveling or moving to Medellín. The Colombian Ministry of Foreign Affairs website is a reliable resource for visa-related information. Additionally, seeking guidance from expat forums and communities can provide insights from individuals who have gone through the visa application process in Medellín.
Jobs & Work Requirements in Medellín
Finding jobs and understanding work requirements in Medellín, Colombia, will depend on your qualifications, skills, and legal status. Here’s an overview of the job market and work requirements in Medellín:
To work legally in Colombia, you generally need a work visa. Your potential employer in Colombia will usually initiate the visa application process and provide you with the necessary documentation. Work visas are tied to a specific job offer and employer. This means that if you change jobs, you may need to apply for a new work visa. Different types of work visas are available, including those for employment contracts, professional services, and temporary services. Each type has specific requirements and documentation.
There are various ways to search for jobs in Medellín, including online job boards, company websites, and networking. Speaking Spanish can be an advantage, especially for jobs that require interaction with local clients or colleagues. However, some international companies and industries may use English as their primary language.
Industries and Opportunities:
Medellín has a growing job market in various sectors, including technology, tourism, finance, manufacturing, and more. The city is known for its emerging tech scene and entrepreneurial ecosystem, making it attractive to digital nomads, startups, and tech professionals.
Freelancing and Remote Work:
Many digital nomads and expats in Medellín engage in remote work and freelancing. If you’re a freelancer, you may not require a work visa as long as you’re working for clients outside of Colombia and not engaging in local employment.
Networking and Expatriate Communities:
Networking can play a significant role in finding job opportunities. Joining local professional groups, attending events, and connecting with expat communities can help you learn about job openings and make valuable contacts.
Education and Qualifications:
Depending on your field, your education, qualifications, and professional experience will play a role in your job prospects. Some professions may require validation or recognition of foreign degrees, so research the requirements specific to your field.
Remember that job markets and regulations can change, and it’s essential to research and stay informed about the latest developments. Consulting with legal and career advisors, as well as local expat communities, can provide valuable insights and guidance as you explore job opportunities in Medellín.
Enjoy your trip to Medellín, Columbia!
Always blue skies ✈️