Where to stay in Medellin? What are the best places to set up shop as a digital nomad?
These are questions asked frequently within the community, as remote work opportunities continue to open up for people all over the world. Asia dominates a lot of the conversation, as both Bali, Indonesia and Chiang Mai, Thailand attract countless nomads with cheap living and beautiful landscapes. But there’s one place in the Western Hemisphere that has a lot of the same appeal as these locations – with the added bonus of a more favourable time zone for North Americans.
There are several reasons why Medellin has developed into the place to be for remote workers in the Western Hemisphere. From accessibility to natural beauty, and culture to inexpensive options, the “City of Eternal Spring” seems to have something for every remote professional.
Americans aren’t the only ones leaving home to become digital nomads, but with nearly 350 million people and the largest remote working population in the world, the Yanks are an undeniably important part of the global nomad community.
Geography certainly plays a role in determining where people decide to work from, whether it’s due to shorter and more inexpensive flights or staying in a workable time zone for bosses or clients. Medellin definitely provides easy access for Americans, as well as a centralized location for Canadians, Mexicans, Argentinians, Chileans, and the rest of the remote workforce from the Americas both North and South.
It’s Stunningly Beautiful
I don’t know if there is another big city in the world that features as much nature as Medellin. Massive trees, green walkways, and inner-city rivers all thrive between the upscale architecture of Antioquia’s capital. The trendy cafes and bars, restaurants and eateries, apartments and offices – all set amongst the backdrop of rolling green hills and mountains. Beauty is everywhere in the City of Eternal Spring, from its quiet areas and boutique hotels to its luxury hotels and provenzas.
It’s not on the same level as Southeast Asia, but housing options in Medellin are very affordable, with private rooms and private bathrooms that exceed the expectations of average backpackers. Food is also inexpensive, with street food and local restaurants to satisfy the most frugal traveler – as well as world-class restaurants to satisfy those that enjoy extravagant culinary experiences.
Part of what makes Bali and Chiang Mai the top destinations in the world are their affordability for accommodations, and this is definitely true of Medellin as well. Of course, there are varying options for places to stay, from the really cheap to the more high end, though you will find quality places in the best neighborhoods and best areas for a lot less than you would in North America or Europe.
Food & Drinks
Again, much like accommodations, the price of food and drinks in Medellin varies from insanely inexpensive to high-end. But, similarly, you can find really good food for much less than you would pay in other areas of the world. And drinks may be a bit pricier at some of the more chic nightspots, but the ambiance – and usually the view – makes these comparatively much less expensive than in a place like New York or Barcelona, where you would pay three or four times more for the same thing. Also, street food is incredible and costs next to nothing, while beers and local spirits (such as rum or the notorious aguardiente) are fairly cheap in supermarkets and more local bars.
Medellin is known for being one of the most vibrant and fun cities in South America. Legendary nightlife, a bevy of cultural activities, and a strong emphasis on dancing all come together to create a very exciting atmosphere in the city.
Medellin’s nightlife is infamous, with several areas of the city offering hotspots for locals, expats, nomads, and tourists to all congregate for a fun night out. Parque Lleras, Zona Rosa, Laureles, and El Centro are a few of the main areas that are stacked with bars, nightclubs, and outdoor hangout spots, all of which blast a variety of Latin and international music.
Medellin might not be the Salsa capital of the world (that title belongs to Cali, a city 422 km to the southwest), but it is a vibrant part of the nightlife experience. Salsa clubs and schools are all over the city, with some featuring an authentic local vibe and others perfectly suited for beginners and those curious about the famous dance style. Medellin is about more than just salsa, though. Bachata, another Latin specialty, can be found almost everywhere you find salsa, and reggaeton dance floors are never very far away.
From salsa lessons to cooking classes to the Comuna 13 tour, there is no shortage of cultural experiences in Medellin. Whether you’re looking to see the city through the eyes of a local, or just interested in checking out street art and local food, there is something for everyone on the cultural front.
It’s Easy to Learn Spanish
Medellin is one of the best places in the world to learn Spanish, a language that is very useful to learn, even conversationally, given how much of Latin America (and Spain, that European gem) speaks it. There are countless Spanish schools all over the city, including many within walking distance from many popular places to stay such as Poblado, Laureles, and El Centro.
Spanish Lessons – In-Person & Online
Lessons in Medellin are all offered in-person, but many of the classes are also offered online, adding a degree of freedom and mobility for everybody’s learning. Classes can be combined, with some in-person and some online, perfect for those that want to travel while using Medellin as a home base. Packages are very affordable (from $10 USD per lesson) and can be done individually or in groups as well!
Language Exchange & Meetups
For those who are able to learn languages without taking classes, or those who already have a decent grasp of Spanish, language exchanges and meetups are great options to improve language skills. Meetups are held in several areas of Medellin, several days per week, and feature people from many different countries, all trying to learn Spanish in a relaxed and friendly setting, usually accompanied by beer – and a strong possibility of going out dancing afterward.
It’s Easy to Stay Long-Term
Medellin is a city full of digital nomads, expats, and long-term tourists. One of the major reasons for this is how easy it is to stay medium- to long-term. Apartments are available for rent monthly, making it easy to pay for 30-days at a time, and stay one month, six months, or a full year – whatever you want. The affordability is key, with options in nice areas being less expensive than similar offerings in other countries. Mobility is also easy: taxis are cheap, Uber is thriving, and “estadios” or metro stations connect the best places in the city via light rail transit.
Coliving communities such as WiFi Tribe make it even easier to stay long term, as they take care of all the sourcing for accommodations, and provide members with a like-minded group to be a part of while staying for however long one decides to stay.
Where to Stay in Medellin to Experience the Digital Nomad Life
There are many great places to stay in Medellin, but a few stand out more than the rest when it comes to settling in to work remotely. These neighbourhoods provide everything you need to live and work in comfort and style.
Poblado is the area of choice for remote workers, whether it’s someone’s first time visiting Medellin or those more familiar with the residential areas. It’s trendy, full of work-friendly cafes, co-work spaces, and places for socializing day or night. It is also where WiFi Tribe Chapters take place.
Accommodations in this area are very nice, with many having the added bonus of being relatively quiet yet near all the action. Fitness, yoga, health food shops, boutique clothing stores, and more are all paramount to Poblado. Gringos and paisas alike gravitate to el Poblado. It’s good for everybody.
If you’re looking for co-work cafes in Medellin, Poblado is the spot. The streets near the Parque Lleras central square are filled with coffee shops such as Cafe Velvet, Urbania, Juan Valdez, and two prime Pergamino locations, all of which offer free, reliable WiFi and space to work comfortably. For those that stay a little further from the park, there are a number of chain cafes such as Starbucks and Juan Valdez along Avenida Poblado. Coworking is just as easy from these locations, and they provide their own type of charm.
Bars & Restaurants Galore
When it comes to food and drink, Poblado is as good as it gets. High-end restaurants are interspersed between local spots all throughout the neighbourhood, with bars never more than a few minutes away by foot. Here you will find everything from cervezerias (local, casual drinking establishments) to reggaeton nightclubs, to dress-code mandatory lounges.
Some of the best places to check out for authentic, delicious food are Alambique, La Branca, and Cafe Zorba (all within a fifteen-minute walk of each other), while the best places to enjoy some cervezas or aguardiente are La Octava (which features a ball pit in the basement), Calle Ocho, and Envy, a rooftop bar on the tallest building in Poblado, the Charlee hotel. Wherever you go, the vibes make for a good night out with so many people enjoying the are. The energy is palpable.
Nature in the City
There is perhaps no better area in any major city than Poblado in combining the trendy, aesthetically pleasing aspect of its buildings with the raw beauty of nature. Giant trees soar next to apartment complexes, with a diversity in species that evokes thoughts of an untamed wilderness growing in-between human-made buildings. The streets are filled with greenery, and parks dot the landscape throughout the entire area. Even the canal that runs through Parque Lineal La Presidenta has been made to look beautiful and natural, much like the entire neighbourhood of Poblado.
Laureles is the “other” cool spot in Medellin for expats and remote workers that stay for extended periods in Colombia. It features some of the best restaurants, bars, and cafes in the city, and has a bit more of a local Colombian vibe. Many would argue it’s better than Poblado, but there’s no need to argue. Both can be enjoyed.
Language Exchanges, Locals, & Expats
The language exchanges and meetups mentioned earlier take place in Poblado as well, but the biggest ones you’ll find are in Laureles. There are probably more remote workers and expats that have adopted Colombia as a medium-to-long-term home in Laureles, making it an ideal place for those that wish to integrate into a foreign culture alongside others who are doing the same. This may or may not be the reason that the largest language exchanges are in this area. Regardless, it is definitely worth checking out for a great, interactive Spanish language experience.
Cafes and Restaurants
Laureles offers some of the best places to work from, such as Cafe Cliche, Cafe Revolucion, Paradisiaca, and El Farolito Cafe. It also has some of the best restaurants in the city, like Bracos, which is rated 4.9 on Google, and Barbaro Cocina Primitiva, which is a unique dining experience.
Low-Key Bars & Nightlife
Laureles is a bit more low-key, but places like Panorama Rooftop Bar, Salsa Bar Convergencia, El Tibiri, and Newton Bar provide all the fun without the hoopla and busyness of Poblado. It’s definitely worth it to check out a couple of these spots no matter where you’re staying in the city.
The Rest of Medellin and Surrounding Areas
There are many other places you could stay in Medellin, such as el Centro (the heart of Medellin), Envigado (a quiet yet vibrant area that has a very local vibe), la Candelaria and Belen – they just don’t have the same digital nomad or expat presence as the aforementioned areas. Still, it would be worthwhile to check out the markets in Centro and to have a night out at one of the local spots in Envigado, both of which would be a great part of the overall Medellin experience.
There are also many amazing places to experience outside the city in the surrounding Antioquia area, such as Guatape, the gorgeous lake region with the giant rock. Beautiful finca houses are also available to rent for a night or a weekend, many of them less than an hour outside Medellin. When you factor in all the paragliding, jet skiing, hiking, walking tours of comuna 13, and other tourist attractions available on the city’s doorstep, Medellin is a place where digital nomads and remote workers of all kinds come to stay, often for long stretches of time.
Some never leave, and it’s easy to see why.
Join the WiFi Tribe in Medellin
If you can’t decide where to stay in Medellin you’re welcome to join WiFi Tribe.
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