Known as the digital nomad hotspot of South America, the city of Medellin in Colombia is becoming more and more popular with remote workers, commonly compared to the likes of Thailand’s Chiang Mai and Bali’s Canggu. But what makes this city so attractive to digital nomads? And how can you settle into Medellin comfortably? Keep reading for our guide to living in Medellin, the jungle-bordered capital of Colombia’s Antioquia province.
Why Is Medellin a Digital Nomad Hotspot?
There are many reasons why remote workers make a beeline for Medellin. Firstly, Medellin isn’t known as ‘The City of Eternal Spring’ for no reason – the weather is absolutely dreamy. While there are two rainy seasons, you can typically expect pleasant, sunny days of around 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit almost every day.
Not to mention the beauty of Medellin. Surrounded by bright, verdant mountains, Medellin is a huge sprawling city featuring plenty of nature. Stroll down the city streets, and you’ll come across towering palm trees, inner-city rivers, and even frothy waterfalls.
The city’s uber-cool cafes, bars, and restaurants are all set among the backdrop of looming green hills and mountains. How’s that for inspiration when you’re tip-tapping on your laptop?
The cost is also a massive drive for digital nomads. While Medellin isn’t as affordable as many countries in Southeast Asia, housing, food, transport, and activities are incredibly reasonable. In Medellin, you certainly get more bang for your buck, with modern private rooms and swish apartments exceeding the expectations of many travelers.
Food is also inexpensive, and there are options for all budgets, including street food stalls, local family restaurants, and glitzy high-class eateries. If you’re looking for extravagant culinary experiences for a fraction of the price you’d pay in the United States, the restaurants of Medellin may pique your interest.
With more and more remote workers moving to Medellin, the digital nomad community is thriving in the city. There’s a large, friendly, and active community of long-term ex-pats and digital nomads who stay for a limited period. Plus, the locals are warm, welcoming, and a lot of fun.
Where Should You Stay as a Digital Nomad?
If you decide to live in Medellin, one of the main questions you’ll have is where to stay in the city. There are many wonderful locations to stay in Medellin, but some stand out as a base for remote workers. Next, we’ll go through some of the best neighborhoods in the city that suit remote workers.
There are many other areas you can stay in Medellin, like El Centro (the heart of Medellin), La Candelaria, and Belen, but they don’t have the same digital nomad buzz as the areas below. It all depends on what you’re looking for.
But if you have the time, it’s definitely worth checking out these areas to see what the rest of Medellin has to offer.
El Poblado is the digital nomad hub of Medellin. Most remote workers in the city will recommend this district, especially for newcomers. The area mainly consists of digital nomads, and the locals that do live there are usually fairly affluent.
The area is brimming with buzzy cafes, cozy coworking cafes, and trendy restaurants. The district feels like a little bubble, and you could easily move to El Poblado without leaving – though we don’t suggest this.
If you’re looking for an easy area to live in where you can enjoy good food and an exciting social life with other remote workers, El Poblado may be the spot for you.
Laureles is another area of Medellin popular with digital nomads, though it isn’t as busy or as expensive as El Poblado. The district is more relaxed with a chill residential feel. Many digital nomads claim that they prefer this district to El Poblado, especially when they’ve become tired of the 24-hour fun and parties of El Poblado.
There are still plenty of spots to eat, drink, work, and party, but not to the same extent as El Poblado. If you plan to stick around in Medellin for a while, consider checking out this leafy barrio.
Envigago is another area popular with ex-pats and remote workers, but it’s less known than El Poblado and Laureles. Envigado has a relaxed yet vibrant feel that appeals to many digital nomads wanting to remain in the ‘buzz’ but with less chaos.
What Are the Best Coworking Spots and Cafes?
Part of Medellin’s charm to remote workers is the abundance of atmospheric coworking spots and cafes. If you’re the type of remote worker who thrives working surrounded by other digital nomads, then you’re in luck in Medellin.
Thanks to Medellin’s increasing popularity to digital nomads, there’s a growing number of spaces specially designed for coworking in the city.
In most of the cafes in this guide, the staff won’t mind if you spend the day there working, as long as you order something, of course. Many digital nomads end up whiling their days away working in the city’s cafes.
Selina is an excellent option for coworking and networking with remote workers if you live in El Poblado. While Selina is technically a hostel, it provides an on-site coworking space that’s super trendy and attracts a great mix of people. There are also yoga classes in the same building and a huge, glitzy bar downstairs for post-work bevies with your new clang of remote worker friends.
Some cafes that are perfect for coworking in the area include the glamorous Café Noir (though this is one of the pricier spots), the more relaxed Café Velvet, and the barrio’s coworking favorite, Pergamino. Though be warned, the latter gets very popular, and sometimes it can be hard snagging a good spot.
Botanika Lounge is another option, dishing up tasty grub and providing excellent WiFi speeds. Plus, there are plug outlets under every table.
La Casa Redonda is an excellent coworking space in Laureles. There’s a thriving community vibe, and their rooftop BBQs and potluck events are ideal for networking and meeting other freelancers and digital nomads.
Another great option is Semilla, a café designed especially for coworking serving yummy food and delicious coffee.
What Are Some Great Exploring Options and Side Trips?
When you’re not working hard in a fabulous café, there are plenty of exploring opportunities and fun trips to embark on both in Medellin and outside the city.
Once infamous as the most dangerous district of Medellin, a visit to Comuna 13 is a must-do. Having undergone a complete rejuvenation from the government, the lively barrio isn’t just safe for tourists and locals, it’s now a popular tourist spot.
Bright and beautiful murals and graffiti adorn the district walls, and you’ll come across talented street dancers performing high-energy shows for visitors. While walking around the area is free, we suggest taking a tour of the barrio. Most tours are run by locals of Comuna 13, and the residents certainly know their stuff.
Even though Comuna 13 is considered safe nowadays, it’s best to avoid walking around the district at night – as you should in most areas of Medellin.
Parque Arví is located in Santa Elena, the rural area of Medellin. It generally takes around an hour to reach the park, but this depends on where you’re setting off. The best part of this trip is that you get to take a scenic ride on the cable cars, where you’ll be treated to panoramic views of the expansive city below.
The vast park consists of 16,000 hectares, and you can spend your day hiking on one of the many trails. If you’d like to spend more than a day there, it’s possible to camp overnight too.
Just a couple of hours’ drive away, Guatape is the perfect getaway from Medellin. The village, or ‘pueblo’ as it’s known, is surrounded by a vivid blue lake with the giant El Peñón being the star of the show. Hike up El Peñón, and you’ll be rewarded with jaw-dropping views of the glimmering water.
If you have a thirst for adventure, Guatape is the ideal place for renting a jet ski to zoom across the waterways while admiring the surrounding nature. In the town, admire the colorfully painted streets and tuck into scrumptious local fare in one of the many restaurants and cafes.
You can’t leave Colombia without visiting a coffee farm. After all, the country is famous for its world-class brews. There are plenty of coffee farms in Colombia, and in most places, it’s possible to embark on a half or full-day tour of the plantation to learn the complete coffee process.
The famous coffee triangle doesn’t include Medellin, but there are plenty of coffee farms in the area if you don’t want to travel. You can find small, local family businesses within four to ten km from the city. If you’re willing to travel for some of the country’s best coffee, it’s around a six-hour drive to the coffee triangle, depending on where you visit.
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