Moving to Manizales from New York

Hi Guys

I'm thinking about moving down to Manizales this winter for a few months. I stayed in Medellin for awhile and loved it. Looking to study Spanish a bit more (already fluent but terrible grammar), take classes - perhaps drawing/painting, art history, who knows? I'm an ER doc and I'd be happy to volunteer as well.

I saw your suggestions for renting an apartment long-term. Do they have good short-term furnished rentals for that time period? Is Manizales bike-friendly? I'd like to bike around but might buy/rent a scooter. I'll want a nice gym as well.

Also would definitely like to engage the expat community. I've been a Couchsurfer for years and may be willing to take hosts when I have an apartment.



Short term apartment rentals can certainly be found.  You can do the "gringo" month to month at a cost of about $550 USD and up or if you are lucky you can land the Colombian rate, minimum 6 months starting at about $600 Mil pesos per month (fully furnished Studio / 1 bedroom).  It is difficult to get the Colombian rate unless you know the owner or they are willing to rent to you because as a tourist or expat you can destroy the apartment and skip town with little to no recourse from the owner.  So even if you offer to pay all 6 or 12 months in advance (which would be a bad idea to do because you would be leaving yourself open to other problems).

Manizales has a very large biking community here with full service Specialized store / shop with about 5 other full service bike shops.  On Sunday mornings they close some sections of the main roads for biking and other activities.  At least once a week I see a large group of bikers doing day and night rides together.  But I have never seen a bike friendly road (no bike lane). 

I don't know of any place that rents scooters here but they will certainly sell them with a starting price of about $2K for a decent one.  Bikes and scooter here hold their value here pretty well.

There is a small expat community of about 55 or so, but we get more part time expats, visiting teachers and workers that are here for 3 to 12 months at a time (most start at 3 and request the extension).  I host a monthly expat group which has about 10 active members.  There are typically less than 100 foreigners in any single day in Manizales (accept in January), which has a population of about 440,000 thousand.  It is also not a tourist based city which means there isn't much to see (accept for the views) or do here and not many people who speak English here; if they do, they are too timid to do so.  So this can be a difficult city to live in if you don't have an intermediate level of Spanish. 

Let me know if you have any other questions.

- Michael

Thanks for the info! Very helpful.

My Spanish is certainly fluent for basic conversation, and I'm not much of a tourist. I'd actually like to do something more meaningful. I'm sort of putting my ideas out there and hoping to land in Manizales, Medellin or perhaps Cali with a volunteer organization + taking classes.

Any volunteer medical organizations you're aware of in the area? How difficult is it for a foreigner to take university art classes?


Hello everyone! I arrive in Manizales on Thursday with a couple of suitcases and 6 months on my hands to figure out if I want to pursue a visa or not. I'll be in a hotel for the first week getting my bearings and securing longer term housing. Plane tickets are bought and bags are packed but that's pretty much where it ends so I'm coming here looking for suggestions.

I read all of Michaels posts and a decent neighborhood and an apartment with a view will be required. I don't have to live in the nicest area nor do I really want to, but a good place. So... with that in mind what area of town would be a good one to stay in for my first week? Any hotel recommendations would be great. And any real estate agents specializing in furnished rentals would be a huge help as well. If not, I'll figure it out like I always do but information from people with boots on the ground is always the preferred route.

A little about me: I'm a bit of a nomad. I've lived in 5 countries in the past 4 years alone. I'm just looking for a place that feels like home to me. I lived in Panama for a while and fell in love with Colombia and while I never visited Manizales, based on my research it seems ideal to me. I get a lot of "You're moving to a place you've never even visited before?" But the truth is... yeah, why not. Life is an adventure. I, like you Michael, do all of my work online so I can do it from anywhere with an internet connection so why not do it from Manizales for a bit?

Thanks in advance!

Hi mvancleve,

Please note that this thread is a bit old

Feel free to start a new topic on the Colombia Forum with all your questions or else please ;)

You can post an advert in the Housing in Colombia section please as it might help :)

Best wishes

Thank you

Expat-blog Team

I would... but there is a lot of good information in this thread and while it was started a long time ago, the last activity was mere days ago. I can wait for information here, and if not... I'll figure it out when I hit the ground there as I always do. Thanks though!

Sorry for the later replay.  I can't recommend any hotels directly, but here is a list of hotels in town with reviews:;l=Manizales,+Colombia;q=hotels+in+manizales;d=2013-09-01;n=1;si=7a1d5cdb;av=r

I would suggest looking for a hotel in the Cable Plaza or Palo Grande area.  These these neighborhoods are in the upper metro area of town where it has an active day and night life and very safe to walk around town.  It is a short bus or taxi ride to anywhere else in town as well.  I would not recommend staying downtown until you are familiar with the city. Some areas down there are not safe to walk around after dark (especially when you standout). 

I don't know of any bilingual agents in town here but this link will help get you started and if your Spanish is decent I can connect you with a good agent. 

The rentals on this site are geared more for tourists so the rates are much higher than if you are a resident.  PM me when you are down and I'll be happy to meet with you for a coffee!



Will be coming to Manizales next week for a few days and am interested in looking to lease/buy a small working farm. Could anyone recommend a realtor in Manizales to show us a few properties. I speak a little Spanish. thank you

Hello Max,  first off, Manizales is a beautifull place.  Of all the folks in COlombia I have found that the people in Manizales are the best.  Very friendly, culturally sound.  clean city of about 1.2 million.  For a grand a month equals to 2 million pesos, you´ll live in a 5-6 estrato.  in other words the better neighborhoods.  16 universities means that there are a lot of smart people around.  The weather is nice, you dont need a/c or heat. Weather is pleasant year round.  The view is breathtaking.  I am currently living in Cartagena, but contemplating in moving to Manizales.  Also you´re only like an hour from pereida and 1 1/2 hours to Medellin.  Medelling is nice, but also dangerous.  So far this year there has been like 160 women that have been killed, weather is from their husbands or kidnappers.  its a dangerous city.  Manizales doesnt have that.  it is sound.  I visit Manizales because of my job.  I am telling you that it is NICE!!!  Oh, you do have to be carefull if you´re married, lots of beautifull women.  take care.


my name is benjamin pierce
currently i live in santa marta Colombia
if there is anything i can help you with

Manizales has excellent nachos and tacos. There are taco stands on just about every corner. They also make some great burritos and enchilidas.

I have been living here for 2 years and have yet to ever see a taco or burrito stand.  But along the University strip there are plenty of food carts selling chorizo, chuzos, bunuelos, along with plenty of snacks, candies and individual cigarettes for those who don't or can't afford a pack.

There are only 5 Mexican restaurants that I know of here and would only recommend 2 of them.  "Gorditos" because it is a healthy mexican style food (between Melian and Cable) and I can't remember the other, but it is on the main street in Melian on the right hand side (you can't miss the bright colors).  The other 3 are cheap, greasy cheap University style Mexican food.

Hello, my name is Juan, I moved to the United States when I was 12. I was born in Manizales. I have never thought of myself as an expat, and even though I've been living here over 10 years, it just occurred to me to find Americans living in the city where I was born. I am curious to know about their experience and how different it might be from me for example, who instead of moving to Manizales as an American--I moved to the U.S. as a hispanic from Manizales. I guess I've always wondered "why the hell would anyone move away from the U.S.? But I guess once you live here you start having this mentality that the U.S. Is the only great place on Earth and "the land of freedom." I found this blog interesting, mainly because I would like to move back to my hometown someday. But my family there is very poor, and unlike many experiences of the expats on this page who are moving to Manizales to live in fairly affluent neighborhoods, my family there does not live in affluent right off the bat my view of Manizales might be very different from yours. So here I am, in the U.S., studying a career at the University of Central Florida in Orlando hoping that by working really hard, I can have a decent job that will allow me to move back to Manizales some day and give my family the resources to get out of poverty. Colombia is a society that is far too divided in terms of "class" and money (which is why I disagree neighborhoods should be divided in terms of how rich you are). But as my home country, Colombia has wonderful beautiful things and I miss it so much. Sometimes I'm afraid I'll meet someone here and end up living here in the U.S. for the rest of my life, like my other family has. I want to go to graduate school, and some day say "ok, good bye." And move back. I'm glad I found this blog.


It is interesting to hear a "reverse expat view".  I believe most expats choose to live outside of the country mainly because their American dollar goes further, so they are able to live a more affluent life.  I know that is one of the main reasons I enjoy living out of country.  The other is because it is a chance at a new adventure in life. Whether the new expat has American money or not (as we all don't) we need to make a new life in a new country while coping with a new culture.  I've have seen expats come and go in my short 2 years here.  Some stay for a month then return, others come as tourists and wind up staying.  Others last a year only to leave their recently purchased property / investments because they lost all their money or because they just couldn't culp with the culture change. However almost all expats have an adventurous spirit which helps drive them to a new country. 

As for the economy down here in Manizales.  I am sorry to say it hasn't improved much. Manizales is a difficult city because there are many University students willing to work for lower wages, to make their way through school, which means there isn't much money to be spent back into the companies.  Low wages mean lower standards of living, which feeds the low income, economic cycle here.  However there are new tech firms and high paying jobs moving into the city within the next 2 years.  However without the proper education the economic gap will be expanding even further. 

As far as you staying or returning it can work either way.  Some good friends of mine are Colombians but were raised in the USA.  Despite their Colombian / American upbringing most of them feel like they are stuck in between cultures.  Most of them will say they like living here but miss the more "professionalism" and "etiquettes" (their words, not mine).  I am sure coming down for a visit would certainly open your mind and answer many questions that you might have.

Just a quick side note to a follow up on Orlando's note (above) for the distance from Manizales to Medellin, it is actually about 4.5 hours of twisting / winding, up and down mountain roads.  The whole trip maybe has 3 or 4 miles of straight driving.  If you get car sick, you better take some dramamine.

Manizales has excellent Thai food. They make pad thai on just about every Street corner for only one dollar. They also have tons of egg roll stands...four for a dollar.

Hello everyone, My name is Kevin and I've been thinking about traveling to Manizales for a while now. I was thinking about visiting in December, near the holidays and staying until after the new year. I would really like to meet up with anyone so I can get a better feel about the city and make some new friends while I'm there. I understand basic Spanish, but I don't speak it very well, please let me know if that is going to be a problem because that is my greatest concern. I have read all the previous post about Manizales and there was a lot of great info, and if there is any other things I should know please let me know. Hope to see some of you soon!


Hello everyone, I'm interested in purchasing/renting a higher end condo in Manizales but am having trouble finding websites with the information and listings that I'm looking for.  Can anyone  help point me in the right direction?  Also, can someone list the 4 or 5 best barrios in Manizales for such a purchase/rental?  Thanks so much.

Hello Barry. It depends on how close you want to live to the town or city area. What type of neighborhood are you looking for? Quite or busy, quick walk to the city or more in the country area?  Florida would be in the country area with all new condos and Palermo or Milan would be in a nice upscale section of outer  town area.  Cable Plaza and Palo Grande would be more in town in a nice area. San Marcel (my area) is in between cable plaza, Milán and Florida.

As for Internet searches look more for builders and less communities. Realista is very difficult to search for down here. If you want a real it or let me know and I can refer you to some English speaking ones.

There are many apartments going up for the 160 to 190.000.000 range. Condos go more for 220 and up.

Best of luck

Thanks for the quick response, Masterita.  I was just in Manizales in March and most of my wife's family live either in Chinchina or Manizales, so I do have some information resources available to us, but my wife and I don't really want any of them to know that we're snooping around (at least for now).  I am definitely more interested in inner city areas, near cafes, restaurants, shops, etc.  Having said that, a quiet street just off such an area would be ideal.  I would be very open to an introduction to an English speaking realtor, although I speak Spanish as well.  Thanks again!

Oh, and Masterita can you tell me what streets/avenues comprise the areas that you've referred to, namely, Cable Plaza, Palo Grande, San Marcel, Milán and Florida?  This will help me find these areas on Google Earth/Maps.  Thanks again.
check uot this its the newspaper for there
maybe that can give you some help
my name is benjamin pierce
im an american who has lived in colombia for 17 years but still have not made it to manizales
right now i live in santa marta
close to the beach
can i ask you if your loking for a place to live in or looking for a rental income
i have a few ideas but it depends on you
my email is vacationsextreme[at]
id love to help you if i can

if your looking for a warmer client there are rental apaRTMENTS HERE IN (RODADERO) SANTA MARTA

Hello Benjamin, my wife and I are looking to retire in Colombia and we know the country quite well (she's colombiana, so, of course, she knows the country better than me) and we've narrowed our investigations to 3 areas: Manizales, Cartagena and Medellin.  Each of these 3 cities are completely different and they continue to be on our list for very different reasons.  We've thought about Santa Marta and Bogota, but have decided not to pursue these 2 for various reasons. At the moment, Cartagena is on the top of our list and it is quite easy to obtain information re condos for sale in Cartagena on the internet.  However, it is not so easy to find equivalent information re Manizales, so if you, or anyone else out there, who can help me in that regard, I would appreciate it.

well i lived in cartagena for 7 years and my wife is from there so like i saisd if there is anything i can help you with let me know
yes i know manizales is hard to find details but if you check out the newspapers they can be of some help but the better apartments are not usually listed
before there listed and read they are usually taken

Sorry for my late response. 

You would want to stay between Del Rio ~ Santander ~ Paralela.  The furthest north you should look is Calle 57.  The better location for just a short walk from anything you might need is Calle 63 / Carrera 21.  This area is a high / upper comercial area filled with little clubs, coffee shops, small restaurants, a shopping mall, Juan Valdez, etc.   It begins to taper out back into residential area as you get to Calle 71.  Down to either main street (Del Rio or Paralea) from Calle 57 and 71 is nice, fairly quite and safe.  Anything past Del Rio or Paralea starts losing its value and safety.  You can go down to Carrera 29A but I wouldn't look for anything past this area.  There is a gap in the roads that you will notice (just trees to either side) as you go further west... it kind of acts as a boundary.

Basically a rule in thumb is the further you get away from Santander the lower the "market value" gets. 

Anything along Carrera 23 (going further south) is Millan which is a nice quite area with nice restaurants and coffee type shops. 

As you continue southward down Carrera 23A or Salto Del Perro there will be less homes, mostly mountain side.  However the homes along this area have great views and are upper strata.  These roads will than merge into Via La Enea (way of the cat's tail).  This is my neck of the woods.  Any homes along this section all the way to Rt. 50 (Pan American Hwy) are all going to be higher suburban housing / condos.  There is currently a hospital with gym and food market, some shops and 1 nice restaurant / club within walking distance in this area.  They will be putting in some more stores and a larger food market next year.  This area has a 60 something acre park with plenty to do (pool, tennis, soccer, basketball, rides, biking, hiking, motocross, etc).  You are also only a 15 minute drive from the thermal springs. 

If you continue further South West down the Pan American Hwy, just past the airport you will notice some un-named streets.  This is La Florida which has some older homes with property there and newer houses and condos being built at this moment.  They are selling quickly but wont be completed until later this year / mid next year.  The problem with this area is it completely lacks infrastructure for the amount of housing / traffic that will be there next year.  They are working on improving the roads and bringing in a commercial center, but it is 90% zoned for residential.  Traffic is going to be an issue especially when just about everyone living in this area (about 10,000 or so) will need their own transportation as taxi / bus service will be very limited. 

A list of realtors in the Manizales area.  I have NO connection with any of these realtors:

I hope this helps... Please let me know if you have any other questions and I will try to help.


Finding info about Manizales has been difficult. This site helped, thanks :)

Short term accommodation looks really thin. I'd like to stay 3 months, I work online, would like a furnished place with reliable internet. I understand that's a tall order for Manizales, vrbo and airbnb don't have many options.

What options do I have? Are there any other sites like comparto apto? I'd be interested in sharing a flat with a young professional


Other than there isn't much that I know of for finding furnish Apts.  There are some rental agencies here that can help you, but going through them will be more expensive, with an avg range between 1M and 1.6M per month.  You can find a small studio / 1 bedroom, furnished for about 600 ~ 800 mil.  Room rentals typically run about 250 mil and up. 

PM me your contact info if you like and I can forward it along to some friends and people I know that rent furnished rooms and apartments so they may contact you.  Otherwise renting a private room at a hostel might work best for a week or two until you're able to look around.

A great start on spanish is Warren Hardy spanish webtutor, You should have no problem google it,It is $279.oo, worth every penny! Good luck.

Hey vacationsextreme,

I have been thinking in possibly buying a place there in santa marta and using it as we rental near the beach but still not sure.. Just want get a better idea whether the rental property business would be in demand or not.. And what would a decent place would run for..

I am in Manizales now, and this is my 7th trip. Last year I spent 2 months here. I have two friends that have lived here over 7 years. The people are nice, friendly, but everything else sucks, starting with a pillow and a mattress...

My husband and I will retire in Manizalez Colombia, I went there last month and it is beautiful. Manizales has a beautiful country side and the city where you can find everything that you need; with a few hospitals, supermarkets and the coffee groves so close to it, it's a dream come true.

It was very interesting reading your note. We live in Manizales now and have for the past 8 months. We have lived in Colombia for over 9 years and in the Caribbean and South America for over 26 years.We are here in Manizales for work. The one thing I notice is that poverty/ wealth has little to do with the contentment of people. when one doesn't have much it is easy to focus on all that you wish you had. But, for many, they live their lives very well with little or nothing. It amazes me. I have found the poor here in Manizales to be the most open, contented, and open handed people around.They open their homes and lives to one much easier than someone of more resources. I'm sure your family may be one of these.

Hi, Michael ...

What a load of great, detailed information you have provided for expats -- thank you!

My wife and I are temporarily in Medellin waiting out the pensionado visa process and trying to pick a city for our permanent retirement in Colombia. Manizales certainly looks like an excellent choice for us based on our present understanding of the local climate and cost of living.

In major cities of Colombia, I know it's possible to arrange for forwarding of mail from the US to be received via Mailboxes Etc. Can someone say how one may receive mail from the US in Manizales?

Hi everyone, I just found this blog by accident, so if you need any help/advice about coming or moving to Manizales do please let me know I will be glad to help you.  I am from Manizales but lived in England for about 15 years and I am married to an English guy and wehave been  living here since 2008.  Glad to help.  Take care,

Hello :) Planning to move to Manizales... anyone there living with dogs? Experiences? Thanks!

Yes I moved here with my German Shephered. Dogs are very widely accepted here and are commonly seen at outdoor cafes, curbside restaurants, on the streets and at the parks.  Certain breeds like rotties and pits need to wear muzzles while in public.

Any word on service dogs? Do they honor access to indore public places?

I take my German Shephered to stores with me and he wears his vest.  Most people either don't understand what a service dog is or they don't understand me.  I've never had any issues as of yet. But I've never really tried to take him into a restaurant or food store. 

I would imagine if you explain it correctly to anyone trying to stop you they wouldn't stop you or make too much of a fuss.  In general Colombians aren't too much for get involved with confirtations.

hi Bruce
are you still in Manizales?
hope you have a great time.
was cinsidering manizales too

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