I’m just interested on anyones experience of renting short term (1-3 months) accommodation in Medellin, Colombia.
I had a look on Airbnb of course, lots of places, on the more expensive which isn’t a huge issue… I’m just wondering if in anyones experience it’s better to take a room for a week and shop around when I get there or whether I should just book a month upfront? I recently had a bad experience with Airbnb so not dying to go down that road again just yet if I’m honest.
I’ll be arriving in Medellin from November onwards over the Xmas period and likely through till January, maybe longer. Another friend is coming with me so we could potentially rent a 2 bed apartment, or I’d also be happy in a studio or a private room in a decent house even. I’m thinking El Poblano or Laureles, as we are two girls with limited Spanish.
Any advice appreciated. Thanks
Hi Jodi, I have to say I was in Medellin for the last 2 weeks, solo female. I stayed in 2 areas. Near Eafit and in Laureles. I really like the Laureles area. It’s vibrant and I met plenty of friendly people. I probably looked opposite the Colombian women (usually wear a tshit and jeans, high top sneakers, minimal makeup) and didn’t constantly get harassed. When I got cat calls, it wasn’t aggressive.
@gigigriffis getting followed sounds very scary. Sorry some of you had bad experiences and glad you’re ok…
I only went into El Centro with a group via the Real Medellin walking tour. I wouldn’t recommend going to that area alone, but the tour was cool.
Overall, I felt safe, though uneasy once in Laureles on a Sunday afternoon, no less. It was surprisingly desolate (most businesses are closed) and I was wandering in the general area of Buddha Hostel Laureles. It seemed like an upscale area, nice apartments, but I noticed a few really shady dudes around. They looked like they were on the hunt for someone to rob. Maybe because it was an expensive area? Not sure.
Also, felt I was on display as the line at the Metrocables. I could tell people were looking at things like my ipod shuffle, earrings. Not necessarily to steal them, but it was uncomfortable. I would recommend riding the metrocables, but keep it as plain as possible.
In Laureles, I stayed near Parroquia San Joaquín. I never felt unsafe in that area, walking around Carrera 70 or taking the metro at Estadio. Near Eafit, I never felt unsafe anywhere in the area (restaurants/bars/supermarkets just aren’t as accessible as Laureles).
I really liked Medellin, didn’t have any negative experiences. So easy to take the comfy bus from MDE for $3. Don’t bother with a cab. Found it very cheap compared to Panama. Nice, delicious food at El Atrio in Laureles (not the usual fried stuff) for around $4-5, beer $1 or less.
I would go back.
Hope you have positive experiences!
@Brandon Thanks for taking the time to share your experience living in MDE. Sounds like a pretty cool city. I have heard from a couple other people about Laureles area of town, sounds promising. Glad to hear the weather is solid, that was a selling point when I was looking into it.
What was the name of your 1v1 instructor? Recommend him/her?
Do you remember the name of the immersion schools?
Having been here for a bit over a month now, I can see what @wanderingdev and @gigigriffis were talking about. I’m actually living in an apartment with a local who works as a therapist for victims of sexual abuse, and she said it’s a huge problem here. If you’re a female traveling here, prepare to at least hear some catcalls. I have a local that is teaching me Spanish, and even when we were walking down the street together people were making comments at her.
That being said, I do really like it here. The (Colombian) food leaves a lot to be desired in the flavor department (I will never understand the appeal of arepas), but there are plenty of affordable non-Colombian restaurants that are good. There’s a great community of expats that’s very well connected so it’s easy to meet people and share ideas; and there’s a ton to see and experience throughout the city, as well as some awesome day trips.
Hey! A US/Colombian friend of mine has three free rooms in a 4 room apartment in Laureles. They are free from today on and cost between 250$ and 400$ / month. In case anyone is interested please send me a PM. I saw the flat yesterday and really liked it.
Hi @Jodie_Taylor @Brandon,
Would you guys mind linking to the AirBnBs you found? My wife and I are going back there in a few days and will be looking for a place for a couple months while I work on a mapping project. I haven’t done a lot of searching yet, but I know the city and would like to stay in Laureles.
Maybe meet up while we’re all in town.
FYI, I recommend Zeppelin Cafe and Revolution Cafe for coffee near the 2nd and 1st Laureles Parks, respectively.
How’s your Spanish?
Mediocre at best. I have decent vocabulary but my ability to understand spoken Spanish is pretty abysmal.
But that’s part of the reason I’m going, since I’ll only be a block away from UPB I plan on taking Spanish lessons there. The airbnb I’m staying at has an English speaking host and appears to be a bit of a hub for travelers, so I’m hoping that will make it easier to get by for the time being as I learn Spanish.
I am planning on heading to Medellin in a month. Staying there for a few months. Learning spanish is the goal. How was your experience in Medellin? Did you end up taking spanish lessons at UPB?
Hey Drew, no I didn’t study at UPB. They wanted a pretty ridiculous amount for classes (something like $15/hour for group classes and $20+ for private ones). I just ended up posting on the digital nomads Facebook group asking if anyone knew a good private tutor, met an awesome one who did private lessons for $10/hour.
If you goal is to solely learn Spanish and you can put work on hold I’d recommend attending an immersion school. I learned loads from my tutor, but the main problem (I think) was that I was spending most of my free time hanging out/talking with other expats in English, and didn’t spend enough time practicing the Spanish that I’d just learned through conversation.
Medellin was pretty great in general. I stayed in the Laureles area of town which was quite nice and not too expensive (though it got noticeable more expensive over the 6ish months I was there). Also there’s an excellent nomad community, and the weather is as consistently perfect as anywhere I’ve ever been!
Is it owned by a guy called Paul by any chance?
No, host is named Ricardo.
I’ll be arriving in Medellin October 2nd and staying for a few months in Laureles as well, about a block from the university. Also not a lady so my experience may not be relevant, but we’ll see what happens!
Sweet! Would be great to hear what you think of the area once you arrive x
I appreciate everyones input, thanks for your messages. It’s funny as my friend I’m going with posted on another group and got nothing but positive messages so I wasn’t really expecting such varied responses, but it’s all good to know. After debating it we decided to stay in a share house of Westerners in Laureles as it suited our budget more and had a huge list of glowing reviews, even from solo women. I did look at accommodation in Pablado but there wasn’t much available for November unfortunately. We booked to stay for 1 month, if we feel unhappy after that we will just leave and go elsewhere, I can only hope our experience is positive!
If anyone else if going to be in Medellin from November onwards feel free to shoot me a message so we can hang out!
Thanks for everyones input.
I spent two and a half months in Medellin this time last year with my wife.
I’m in agreement with @wanderingdev and @gigigriffis, I’m not sure Medellin is ready for solo women travelers or women only travel groups.
But if you are going to go, I would definitely stay in Poblado. It’s more expensive, but the locals are more likely to take care of you there. We made some good friends there. We booked there for the peace of mind (we hadn’t ever been to Colombia before), and the sheer number of other tourists walking around that area make it feel a lot safer.
We joined internations (gross) while we were there because we saw they were taking a day trip to Rionegro to ride some horses (which was amazing if they’re doing it again). We met some awesome Colombian women through internations that my wife stays in touch with. Talking to them is kind of what won us over on Colombia, because talking to them you could see how hard Colombians were trying to change Colombia and fix the problems the others have brought up.
There are definitely places you can find if you want to once you’re in country that will be cheaper, you just have to meet the right people.
Haha I’ve heard the same thing about Internations from others! Might be worth looking at though as a way to connect. Thanks for your message
i will say, i never really felt in danger. it was mostly that most of the culture as it relates to women is the complete opposite of anything i would find acceptable. plus it was stupid expensive. on par with living in the US without the advantages. so many better options for a fraction of the price.
just to back @gigigriffis up, she’s not the only one that didn’t like medellin. i quit my job because i hated being there so much and couldn’t wait to escape. unless you have local connections, airbnb is probably your best bet for short-term. just make sure to negotiate.
Thanks for the input. Sorry to hear of your negative experience, what did you dislike about it so much?
I’m a bit scared now! I read several articles last night after reading @gigigriffis advice. Seems to be a mixed opinion, some people saying they felt unsafe, others saying they felt the danger was akin to any major city…
Would you agree that it’s better to stay in Pobaldo then Laureles? Just there really isn’t much in Pabaldo for the time I’m looking whereas I found what looks like a decent deal on Airbnb on a room in a shared house run by a Westerner in Laureles that looks nice and has good reviews.
i stayed in envigado. i’d likely stay there again (if someone pointed a gun at my head and said I must go back) but if you don’t speak spanish it would be hard as it is even more local than laureles. personally, i disliked: the crime (someone sticking a gun in your face in broad daylight in the middle of the tourist zone to steal the phone you’re talking on is a shruggable offense), the sex tourism, the fact that girls there get boob jobs for their 15th bdays instead of education (literally. the parents will stop paying for school so the kid can get plastic surgery instead) because a woman’s appearance is much more important than her brains, the pollution, the horrible traffic, the dirt and grime, the shitty food, the expense (it’s super expensive if you want anything resembling a non-shitty life), and so many other things. i’ve been traveling full time for 8 years. i’ve been to dozens of countries. colombia is at the bottom of my list of places to return to.
I really wouldn’t recommend Laureles. Normally, I would always choose the local neighborhood over where all the foreigners stay, but I think in this case you’re going to by much safer going with the tourist-loved area.; if something does happen, you’re more likely to be near someone who would come to your rescue.
For what it’s worth, my own experiences and the informal survey I’ve taken of other women indicate Medellin is much worse than other comparable big cities. I’ve been nomading for years and spent plenty of time in big cities and I’ve encountered some harassment along the way, but absolutely nothing like this. Basically, what I’ve found is that literally every woman I’ve talked to — including the ones who like and defend Colombia — has been harassed. Whether you like Colombia or not seems to depend on A) your tolerance level for harassment and B) how bad it gets. It seems that catcalling and street harassment are a best-case-scenario and the women who only experience this low-level harassment seem to like Colombia anyway and just shrug it off as being like any other big city. The women for whom it goes farther–I’ve heard stories of everything from being patted down at gunpoint to being drug down the street in broad daylight by a ponytail to having some stranger grind into your rear end while you wait in line for a gondola ticket–or who just have low tolerance for that shit, we tend to be the ones who hate it there.
An example: one woman who staunchly defended Colombia to me turned out to have been robbed five times during her months there.
Others who defend usually admit they had a man with them most of the time (which totally changes the situation) or they got yelled at all the time, but were able to ignore.
Ah cool. Yeah for sure would be interesting to hear some more in a couple of weeks. Hope things go smoothly for you x
Oh really, funny you should say that as I was really keen to stay in Laureles over Pobaldo! More research required indeed. Thanks for the advice x
I’ve just booked myself to land there in 7 days and too aiming at Laureles owing to the proximity of Estadio (I am keen on lap-swimming). I haven’t got a place booked yet, but will likely blaze my own trail and could share my experiences if you keen on hearing them. Imma bloke, so, putting gender relativism aside, I may not be such a good reference point after all. Well… PM me in 2 weeks time if you keen to hear my fate.
If you haven’t already booked, I’d consider re-routing to Mexico or somewhere else in Latin America. Medellin is the only place in the world I’ve felt truly and daily unsafe as a woman. I had men try to follow me home, block my way into my apartment, scream at me at coffee shops, and try to grab me in line at the bank. I asked a lot of other women about their experiences as well and it sounds like harassment is pretty commonplace.
If you are set on going, I wish you well, but thought I’d let you know my experience because I seriously wish someone had cautioned me. I’ve been all over the world, to every continent, including quite a few places in Latin America and I’ve never ever had such a bad experience anywhere else.
Thanks for your reply. Alas we have our flights booked already, but only cheap flights from Miami. I’m sorry to hear of your experience, that is troubling. Interestingly I haven’t heard this from others, although I’m aware of the dangers in Latin America in general. I’m thankful that my friend is coming with me but I am definitely a teeny bit anxious about what it will be like. I’m a very cautious person which I hope will help me somewhat, but you really never know!
Thanks for your advice anyway, I definitely am going to read up more before we go as seems like it can’t help to be extra prepared!
Good luck! I hope you have a much better experience than I did. One thing that may be helpful would be staying in Poblado. Laureles — the other popular neighborhood for expats and travelers — is where the majority of my bad experiences took place.