touring of colombia

touring of colombia
touring of colombia

viernes, 20 de diciembre de 2013

Cost of Living in Medellin, Colombia

Cost of Living in Medellin, Colombia

Colombian pesos
Colombian pesos
The cost of living in Medellin, Colombia has always been a big draw for me. The quality of life, for the cost, is hard to beat, in my humble opinion.
I’m often asked how much money one needs to live comfortably here, but it wasn’t until last month, my 19th in the country, that I finally tracked all my expenses (thank you CashTrails app). I could’ve provided estimates, but I believe actual data is more legitimate.

A Word About My Standard of Living

Before we get into the details, I want to share some insight into my standard of living, because more than anything, this is the variable that will affect a person’s cost of living in Medellin.
I’m a self-employed travel blogger, and for the most part, work from home. I don’t live on a set budget every month. I pay for 99% of what I write about on this blog, from meals at restaurants, to bottles of rum in discotecas, and domestic travel.
I average two dates per week, and pay for everything. Sometimes it’s a nice dinner out, or dancing, and other times there’s no cost at all.

My Monthly Cost of Living

Rent = 600,000 pesos ($340)
Rent is my single biggest monthly expense. I rent a room in a 3-bedroom apartment with two Colombians. The 20th floor apartment is located in Ciudad del Rio, a new development in Poblado, along Avenida Las Vegas.
We all get along really well, so even if I wanted to spring for my own place, I’m not sure I would. I’ve grown to appreciate the company, and my roommate’s home cooking.
The first year I lived in the apartment, I was getting an amazing deal, just 450,000 pesos/month ($253). All utilities included. Even at 600,000 pesos/month, it’s on par with the normal cost of a room rental in Poblado.
Food = 1,022,000 pesos ($575)
Overall, food is my biggest expense per month. I contribute 100,000 pesos ($56) toward communal groceries for the apartment, and the rest is spent buying food on my own, whether at the store, or in restaurants.
One of the things I enjoy most about living in Medellin is that I can feel comfortable going to any restaurant in the city, alone, with friends, or on a date, and know I won’t break the bank.
My most expensive meal so far was my first visit to El Cielo with a friend, which cost me $100 (including shared bottle of wine, tax, and tip). It turned out to be one of the best meals of my life.
On the flip side, you can easily find set lunches (menu del dia) in typical restaurants for just $3 – $4, and even less depending on the neighborhood.
Ground Transportation = 212,000 pesos ($119)
This includes the metro, buses and taxis. In reality, it’s almost all accounted for by taxis, my preferred transport within the city.
When it makes sense, I do take the metro, but if a taxi takes 10 minutes, and using the metro (combined with walking to/from it) will take me 50 minutes, I’ll pay for the taxi.
General = 416,000 pesos ($234)
The general category is miscellaneous stuff, which was mostly for the apartment in January. I bought new sheets and pillows for my bed ($126), a yoga mat ($50), and a scale ($45).
I could’ve bought cheaper versions of everything, but this apartment is essentially my home, so I don’t mind spending more on certain things (like I would do if I were living in the USA).
Many of the things I bought in 2010, including the bed, floor lamp, and fan, were all still here when I returned. In other words, they were all investments that continue to serve me well.
Clothes = 338,000 pesos ($190)
Again, when I’m not traveling, I tend to buy a few extra items of clothes so I’m not wearing the same three shirts every week. In January, I spent more than usual on clothes as it was my first month back in Medellin.
The most expensive item I picked up was an Adidas running shirt for the gym. I tried on two similar ones in the store, and took the one I liked to the register, only to find after the girl rang me up that it was twice the cost of the other one (about $80).
I also bought a pair of Rifle jeans, and some extra socks and boxers to reduce the frequency I’m doing laundry.
Gym = 181,000 pesos ($102)
When I’m living in Medellin, I’m not traveling, and therefore I try and focus on improving my health and fitness. I have friends who’ve used the free outdoor gyms, but I prefer one with cardio equipment and a full array of machines and weights.
Since 2010, I’ve been using Bodytech Gym, which is the most expensive one in the city. They require a minimum 3-month membership, unless you want to pay for 10 credits (with each credit valid for one day). In January, I paid the full 3 months, or $306, but for the purpose of this exercise I divided that by three.
I continue to use Bodytech because it’s convenient to where I live, and I know that increases the odds I’ll go often. Other gyms, such as Forma, and Dinamo in Envigado, are less costly.
Update: In December 2013, I bought a 12-month membership on sale for 30% off. The cost was 800,000 pesos, or about $414. Even if I’d paid full price, that’d have been around 1.1 million pesos, or about $600, which is more in line with a US membership ($50/month). Also, I’ve recently learned membership costs vary depending on where the Bodytech is located (expect Poblado to be more expensive than Belen, for example).
Nightlife & Alcohol = 144,000 pesos ($81)
Includes cover charges at any bars or discotecas, ($31) and alcohol ($50).
Halfway through January, I challenged myself to drink less alcohol, so that portion is unusually low. And as a result of the challenge, I’m not going out and partying as much as I’ve done in the past.
Private Dance Classes = 125,000 pesos ($75)
I began taking private, one-hour salsa lessons again, and while you can probably find a cheaper rate than $18.75, I think I have the best teacher in the city.
Personal Care = 84,000 pesos ($47)
This category is where I put all my toiletry and pharmacy purchases.


Rent = 600,000 pesos ($340)
Food = 1,022,000 pesos ($575)
Ground Transport = 212,000 pesos ($119)
General = 416,000 pesos ($234)
Clothes = 338,000 pesos ($190)
Gym = 181,000 pesos ($102)
Nightlife = 144,000 pesos ($81)
Dance Classes = 125,000 pesos ($75)
Pharmacy = 84,000 pesos ($47)
January Total = 3,122,000 pesos, or $1,755 USD
Over the years, I’ve found there’s no ideal month to capture. Some months I travel to new parts of Colombia, some months I don’t. Some months I shop a lot, or go on a lot of dates, and others, I don’t.
I’ve always estimated my cost of living in Medellin, Colombia to be about $1,500 per month, and had I not spent money on new clothes, and bedding, that’s about what I would’ve spent in January 2013.
I’m going to continue tracking my expenses, and do a follow-up post in April, which will include three months worth of data.