After nearly 6 months in Medellin, Colombia, I thought it’d be a good idea to share how we went about our apartment hunting when we first arrived.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed and stressed with finding a place to live, even more so in a new city where you might only stay for a few months, but the popularity of Medellin has resulted in a booming real estate market making it easier than ever to find a great place to live that checks all your boxes.
Our goal was to try and plan things out as much as possible (within reason) before we arrived. We ended up booking an Airbnb for 2 weeks and then using those 2 weeks to hunt for a proper apartment with our own eyes.
If you can tolerate a move (from the Airbnb to the apartment) then I’d recommend this process – it worked out really well for us and we got to see a few apartments in person before deciding on one.
To make it easier for everyone there are few things you’ll need to do before you start your search:
- Figure out where you want to live – we lived in Laureles but other popular neighborhoods are Poblado and Envigado. No clue? Try this post The Best Medellin Neighborhoods.
- Join Airbnb or Hostel world – you’ll need one of these to find a temporary place when you arrive.
- Join the following Facebook groups – they are the primary expat groups in Medellin and people advertise (and search for) apartments and rentals there every day:
- Medellin Expats
- Medellin Gringo Classifieds
Step 1: Book Your Temporary Housing
We took a chance on an Airbnb with one review because the pictures were so awesome and the location was perfect – it turned out great!
To make it easier, I’d suggest finding your temporary housing in the same area (or close) to where you want to live – it will make it easier to find a view apartments.
I also wouldn’t worry too much about amenities here – we got lucky with ours but keep in mind it’s temporary so don’t stress too much if it doesn’t have a bathtub or large enough balcony.
Step 2: Check the Facebook Groups Daily and Post an Apartment Request
We got lucky and ended up responding to a post similar to this:
There are also plenty of people posting ‘Looking to Rent’ ads like this (note the response as well). If you opt for this route make sure to include as many details as possible related to what you’re looking for – it will save both your time and sanity.
Step 3: See the Apartments in Person
No secret here – we saw 4 apartments before we decided on one (including 2 in the same building) and it definitely helped us refine what we were willing to accept. Our goal was to stay about 5 months so it wasn’t worth taking a cheaper place that didn’t have a balcony or view – it would have impacted our stay too much.
Step 4: Make the Deal
There are no hard and fast rules here if you’re renting as a gringo – your landlord might be another foreigner or they might be a real estate agency. There might be a contract or there might not be – make sure to find a deal that you’re comfortable with a landlord whom you trust.
Our landlord is foreign, rents out 10+ apartments, got good reviews from other tenants and was happy doing a ‘handshake’ agreement.
The good news is that there are new places being posted every day so you can always keep looking!
The Result: Our Apartment
We ended up going with a furnished 1br/1ba apartment in Laureles overlooking the college, UPB. The rent was 2,000,000 COP per month and included all utilities, internet, etc – our landlord was also quick to split or provide items we needed like a fan, better desk chair, etc.
Note: expect to pay much more than a local would – most ‘gringo prices’ include the convenience of not having to worry about setting up the utilities, or paying the building fee.
In the end, this was perfect for us – we got a great apartment in the area we wanted with very little effort. Yes, there are ways to go about it and pay less (some people furnish their own places) but when you’re staying less than 6mo I think it’s worth paying a bit more to simplify the process.