Question from a reader: what does Medellin cost?

Medellin Poblado area

More than a couple people have asked this one, actually. The exact questions have all a little different, but they all boil down to the same query:

What is the cost of living in Medellin?

As you might expect, there isn’t a single answer to this question. Everyone — including locals — will manage on different amounts. Some may have no problem making it on roughly $1,000 USD a month, while others might struggle to keep it under $3,000 USD a month.

Quick note: prices in this post are shown in Colombian pesos (COP), and are current as of this post publishing date in mid-October 2015.

Getting around town

Meh-deh-zheen is a pretty cheap place to get around, though the trade-off is a bus system that can take some time to figure out (protip: the green buses that say ‘Metro’ always connect a number of residential areas to at least one metro station, while the circular bus 302 and 303 make counter-clockwise and clockwise ovals around the city, respectively).

  • Taxi flagfall: 2,700 pesos (rides typically between 5,000–12,000 pesos, but obviously varies based on distance)
  • Subway ride: start at 1,750 pesos
  • Cable car ride to furthest destination (Arvi Park): 4,000 pesos
  • Standard bus ride: 1,800–1,900 pesos (the integrado ticket, which pays for your bus ride and gives you a paper ticket to use on the metro, costs 2,300 pesos where available).

You like to eat, too?

  • Whopper, fries, and drink at a Burger King inside a mall: 18,000 pesos
  • Bandeja paisa (a local meal with rice, sausage, egg, red beans, etc.): 7,500–15,000 pesos (depends on the area)
  • Ice cream cone at Mimo’s (a local dessert chain): 3,700 pesos
  • Street-side hamburger: 2,000–5,000 pesos
  • Bottle of Coca-Cola (at convenience store): 1,500–2,500 pesos
  • 500ml bottle of water: 1,000–1,500 pesos
  • Empanadas: 500–1,500 pesos each
  • Eating out (Colombian food at local restaurant): 10,000–20,000 pesos
  • Eating out (touristy options at Western restaurants): 15,000–25,000 pesos

Beer me, please.

  • 330ml can of local Colombian beer (at major supermarket): 1,000–2,000 pesos
  • 330ml can of local Colombian beer (at local tienda or corner store): 2,000–2,700 pesos
  • 330ml bottle of Colombian beer at a bar / restaurant: 3,500–5,000 pesos
  • 750ml bottle of imported wine (at major supermarket): 15,000–50,000 pesos
  • 375ml bottle of Aguardiente, the local firewater (at major supermarket): 13,000 pesos (the no sugar / sin azucar version is slightly more expensive)
  • 375ml bottle of Ron Medellin, the local rum: 13,500 pesos
  • Cover to Poblado clubs: 10,000–15,000 pesos is pretty standard.
  • Average night out (drinks, food, taxis, etc. for two): 80,000 pesos or so, but the sky’s the limit

What about getting connected?

  • 2GB of data for your smartphone (via Claro): 41,000 pesos
  • Middle-high-end home broadband connection (20MB/second with Une): 177,000 pesos / month
  • Low-end home broadband connection (5MB/second with Une): 50,000 pesos / month

Finding an apartment

  • Standard private room in shared apartment (on Spanish-language sites): 350,000 pesos and up / month
  • Premium private room in shared apartment (e.g. the largest or master bedroom, possibly with private bathroom): 600,000 pesos and up
  • Unfurnished apartment in typical Medellin neighborhood (La Amèrica, Belén, Envigado): 300,000–600,000 pesos
  • Furnished apartment in expat-friendly neighborhood (e.g. Poblado, Laureles): 1.5 million pesos and up
  • EPM (public utility company — trash, water, electricity, gas, street lighting, etc.): varies by usage, obviously, but also estrada (a system of housing tiers from 1–6 — one being the most basic housing and six being the fanciest). One friend paid 91,000 pesos last month for he and his wife in an estrada 4 apartment, while our last monthly bill was around 134,000 pesos.

Other fun stuff

  • Three-month tourist visa extension: 81,000 pesos (protip: it’s far easier to pay via debit or credit card at the office itself — paying via cash involves heading to a bank and making a transfer, then bringing the receipt for proof of payment)
  • Gym membership: 60,000–100,000 pesos a month
  • Pair of jeans at local department store: 60,000–100,000 pesos (keep going up if you want designer duds)
  • Plain t-shirts: 10,000–15,000 pesos

Summary

  • In all, Medellin ends up feeling somewhat cheaper than living in South Korea, and around the same price as Bangkok in most regards. Adding furniture to an apartment can double the rent, unfortunately, though it might be worth it if you’re only staying a short time.
  • Two people living together can live pretty comfortably in their own place on around $1,500 a month, while one person taking a room in a larger apartment can squeeze by on as little as $500 a month if they’re willing to give up some creature comforts.

Ready to see some more of Medellin? Check out Rich Trek’s take on the city.


Originally published at One Weird Globe.

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