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Any Americans Moving to Medellin?

Hi everyone,  My name is Mark,  I'm from Pensacola Beach, Florida.  I've decided to move to Medellin in about 3 months and I have a lot of questions as there isn't much info on the net for 2016. A few are,  Which part of Medellin is a good area to be able to walk everywhere I need to go.  I will be Teaching English as I am finishing my TEFL in a few week,  so any advice or experiences on that topic would be great.  Are there many Americans?

mdreyer80 :

I've decided to I will be Teaching English as I am finishing my TEFL in a few week,  so any advice or experiences on that topic would be great.  Are there many Americans?

The lack of USA citizens may be changing here in Medellin.  Pablo’s been gone for 23 years and Colombians will get the chance to ratify the new peace accord with FARC, on October 2nd.  The international investing and living press has gotten the word out about MDE in this safer, more peaceful era.

How are you planning to stay in Colombia from a visa perspective ?  You can only stay 180 days a year on tourist stamps / tourist visa extensions ?

cccmedia, from Poblado, Medellin

I have a l year Teaching Contract.  As far as I know as long as I have the contract and a job offer,  I can stay until that stops.

Check with the institution that issued the contract.  Do they need to assist you with a visa and/or necessary approvals from the government ?

A contract in some countries is insufficient without an approved visa.

cccmedia from Medellin

Hey Bro

Only been here a few weeks but i live in Laureles, a suburb of Medellin and it is a pretty nice community. Everything you could possibly need is here. I am currently sitting at a coffee shop called Cafe Revolucion where alot of expats frequent, so it may be a good place for you to check out if you are in the area and needing to converse in English. There is also a yoga studio here that a few expats frequent as well. It is called flying tree yoga. It can also be a great place for you to meet other expats while you adjust to Medellin/Laureles.

I have met alot of good people in the last few weeks, both expats and local born and since it is a small community, you run into them again and again...makes it feel like home.

That's as much input as i can give but i really like living in Laureles....check it out.

Appreciate the feedback bro.  I'm trying to get everything sorted and have lots of questions about day to day things if you have time.

Hey Mark...i'm really not the expert on the issue since i have only been here a few weeks and have not really explored outside of the area that i live. However, if no one gets back to you within a few weeks, then i will be happy to share my limited knowledge with you.
You can add me on skype... my user name is aztrini.

Thanls for the info.  I was wondering if you could give me a rough estimate for cost of housing in that area in American Dollars monthly so I can budget properly.  I'm getting some mixed info on the internet.  For 1 bedroom furnished or 2 bedroom furnished.  Thanks for your help

mdreyer80 :

Thanls for the info.  I was wondering if you could give me a rough estimate for cost of housing in that area in American Dollars monthly so I can budget properly.  I'm getting some mixed info on the internet.  For 1 bedroom furnished or 2 bedroom furnished.  Thanks for your help

Whatever you've seen advertised online is way too much.  And it of course matters what neighborhood. I continually hear that Laureles is a nice neighborhood with good rent prices. Envigado is a nice, cozy place, too, with nice people.

But whatever you're seeing online in English is geared towards Gringos, and they're asking way more than what you can get if you get to Medellin and shop around a bit.

The only apartment I rented for a month was in Guatape (go see Guatape!!). It's a little town of about 4000 about 2 hours by bus from Medellin. It's a weekend retreat for people that live in Medellin and the surrounding area. I paid $180 for a 3 bed, 2 bath right by the main strip along the lake with the shops and restaurants. My upstairs neighbor told me I could have bargained her down for half that, but it was super cheap, so I was happy.

But the city will cost you more for rent.

I wish you well in your Colombian adventure.

The cost depends on where you live in Medellin... *****

the ony good is the whether and you get 3 for 1 on your money ... Use the ATM in malls to get money .. Do not bring to much US money to exchange because you will loose

Moderated by Priscilla 2 months ago
Reason : please avoid generalization
Frank stuff :

the only good is the whether you get 3 for 1 on your money ...

I’ve seen this 3 to 1 reference before.  IMO it’s misleading.

Here are two points new arrivals should know about dealing with Colombian pesos....

1.  The exchange rate for months has been just under 3,000 pesos to one U.S. dollar.  So it’s about 3,000 to 1, not 3 to 1.

2.  The peso notes clearly display denominations of 1,000 .. 2,000 .. 5,000 .. 10,000 .. and 20,000 pesos.

The exception is the 50,000-peso note, which does not show the three zeros.  Instead it says “50 MIL” with “MIL” in small letters.   It’s important to recognize this, since 50 pesos is just a few pennies U.S. whereas 50,000 pesos is about $17 U.S.  Don’t overtip your cab driver by the local equivalent of 50 USD on the first day of your Colombia visit.  ;)

cccmedia from Medellín

I thought the ATM's gave me a decent rate. And you may have to shop around for an ATM that will work with your foreign card. Bancolombia usually worked with my cards.

And like someone said, don't bring a bunch of foreign money to exchange. This last trip I had like $60US and went to the bank in Medellin to change it. Had to try several banks as apparently not many of them exchange money. I wanted the bank because at the airport or bus station, they're going to give you a bad rate. Don't use those places. But the bank had all this paperwork to fill out, then in typical Colombian fashion, the teller spent 15 minutes looking for the proper forms, then they were the last copies. So, then the copier was out of ink and paper to make new copies. And then I had to fill out several forms and then they had to make more copies. It took a long while to just get my pesos. And I'm going to extrapolate that the bank was doing all of these things because of US restrictions that make it so difficult for Americans to get anything done overseas. But it's my own conjecture.

So, use your cards at the ATM. And try to find a secure place like the mall. A gringo walking away from an ATM alone may attract attention.

So I'm trying to get an idea here myself.  Like what might happen if a gringo is spotted walking away from an ATM alone?  I'm a fairly big guy, but just trying to gauge the situation.

BirdmanB :

So I'm trying to get an idea here myself.  Like what might happen if a gringo is spotted walking away from an ATM alone?  I'm a fairly big guy, but just trying to gauge the situation.

Maybe consult a psychic?  I don't think anyone can conjecture with any certainty "what might happen".   I can tell you I've never had any problems withdrawing cash from an ATH (A Toda Hora) in and around Cali.  But I don't withdraw late at night, or in just any old place - you're safer in a mall with lots of traffic but where you can see if someone is just hanging around the area, or somewhere where there's a security guard.  I understand your concern because robberies do occur exactly as you are apparently thinking, but the bad guys will usually pick someone they think is easy prey or not paying attention.

BirdmanB :

So I'm trying to get an idea here myself.  Like what might happen if a gringo is spotted walking away from an ATM alone?  I'm a fairly big guy, but just trying to gauge the situation.

It certainly plays a part if you're a big, tough looking dude. Robbers tend to look for easy targets. Who wants to fight a huge guy for his wallet?

But robbers don't play fair. They will outnumber you or have a weapon. And DO NOT fight a Colombian robber. They will stab you to death. The DEA agent in Bogota tried to fight off his taxi robbers and they killed him in the back of the taxi for spite.

You're dealing with men that may have been forced into servitude by rebel groups when they were 12, and all they've known is robbing, kidnapping, and killing. Just give them your stuff and run away. I don't care how big you are. If you try to resist, you are merely in the way of them getting the money, and they won't think twice about stabbing you.

And if you get into a taxi and the driver is texting the whole time, just get out. It may be harmless; maybe he's texting his girlfriend. But maybe he's texting his buddies to come get you.

BrandonBP :
BirdmanB :

So I'm trying to get an idea here myself.  Like what might happen if a gringo is spotted walking away from an ATM alone?  I'm a fairly big guy, but just trying to gauge the situation.

It certainly plays a part if you're a big, tough looking dude. Robbers tend to look for easy targets. Who wants to fight a huge guy for his wallet?

But robbers don't play fair. They will outnumber you or have a weapon. And DO NOT fight a Colombian robber. They will stab you to death. The DEA agent in Bogota tried to fight off his taxi robbers and they killed him in the back of the taxi for spite.

You're dealing with men that may have been forced into servitude by rebel groups when they were 12, and all they've known is robbing, kidnapping, and killing. Just give them your stuff and run away. I don't care how big you are. If you try to resist, you are merely in the way of them getting the money, and they won't think twice about stabbing you.

And if you get into a taxi and the driver is texting the whole time, just get out. It may be harmless; maybe he's texting his girlfriend. But maybe he's texting his buddies to come get you.

Thank you BrandonBP, this is the kind of info I was seeking.  I saw on another post in this forum somewhere for "gringos to beware of withdrawing money from ATM's", and that is what prompted my question.  I am in the process of researching and learning the customs and the culture before I make any decisions.   ps:  It was in your post just above mine that caught my eye about gringos walking away from an ATM :)

Birdman, I know I sound ominous all the time. And I don't mean to. However, it's very easy to see so many great people in Colombia and hang out with so many that are just genuinely happy to see visitors enjoying their beautiful country.

But that's what lulls you into complacency. At first, you feel like, "Oh man, this couple is way too friendly with me. They want to trap me somehow or take my wallet." But most of the time they don't. They're just super welcoming and fun and they want to ask you all about where you're from and why you're in Colombia, etc. So then you begin to feel like everyone is just great. But then the bad guys/girls can be nice, too.

This may be a personal, completely unscientific observation, but when I get into a cab and there's an older or elderly driver, I feel safer. When I hang out at some little corner bar where all the old men are playing "Ranas" (Frogs) and drinking beer, I feel safer with them.  The older generation, I think, has more to lose. They have families and grandkids and jobs, while some 25 year kid maybe doesn't have much to lose by jacking up gringos. And if you just find some genuine people to hang out with, they'll take care of you. Learn the words "Ladrones" (thieves) and "Caspas" (thugs) and "Sucios" (dirty) and "Feos" (uglies). The good ones will tell you which ones are no good. They may have never even seen the guys before, but they know. If you find a nice girl to hang out with, she'll take care of you, too. She'll tell you, "These guys are good folks" or "These guys are dirty."

But if you're a lone gringo in Colombia, you're a target. And ironically, the word for Target and the word for White are the same word in Spanish (Blanco). :)

So, to sum up: You'll very likely be fine in Colombia if you mind your manners and stay in groups. But it only takes one bad situation to ruin your visit.

The best to you, Brother.

BrandonBP :

Birdman, I know I sound ominous all the time. And I don't mean to. However, it's very easy to see so many great people in Colombia and hang out with so many that are just genuinely happy to see visitors enjoying their beautiful country.

But that's what lulls you into complacency. At first, you feel like, "Oh man, this couple is way too friendly with me. They want to trap me somehow or take my wallet." But most of the time they don't. They're just super welcoming and fun and they want to ask you all about where you're from and why you're in Colombia, etc. So then you begin to feel like everyone is just great. But then the bad guys/girls can be nice, too.

This may be a personal, completely unscientific observation, but when I get into a cab and there's an older or elderly driver, I feel safer. When I hang out at some little corner bar where all the old men are playing "Ranas" (Frogs) and drinking beer, I feel safer with them.  The older generation, I think, has more to lose. They have families and grandkids and jobs, while some 25 year kid maybe doesn't have much to lose by jacking up gringos. And if you just find some genuine people to hang out with, they'll take care of you. Learn the words "Ladrones" (thieves) and "Caspas" (thugs) and "Sucios" (dirty) and "Feos" (uglies). The good ones will tell you which ones are no good. They may have never even seen the guys before, but they know. If you find a nice girl to hang out with, she'll take care of you, too. She'll tell you, "These guys are good folks" or "These guys are dirty."

But if you're a lone gringo in Colombia, you're a target. And ironically, the word for Target and the word for White are the same word in Spanish (Blanco). :)

So, to sum up: You'll very likely be fine in Colombia if you mind your manners and stay in groups. But it only takes one bad situation to ruin your visit.

The best to you, Brother.

That is fantastic information, exactly the kind of things I'm trying to learn about the place.  I'm not looking for drama of any sort.  One thing I haven't seen much about is (and I've just started reading this forum) is families/kids.  I have custody of my 9 year old, so obviously  I would want a place that is family friendly.  He is home-schooled so that wouldn't be an issue.  I think it would be good for him to learn about different countries and live in different places, have different experiences, but not unless it's safe, obviously.

BirdmanB :

I have custody of my 9 year old, so obviously  I would want a place that is family friendly.  He is home-schooled so that wouldn't be an issue.  I think it would be good for him to learn about different countries and live in different places, have different experiences, but not unless it's safe, obviously.

Can't go wrong with the coffee region. I didn't feel super safe or welcome in Pereira, but some others that live there swear by it.

But I really love Manizales, Salento, and Filandia. There's also a little spot I stayed in for a month called Guatape. About 4000 very nice people around 90 minutes busride from Medellin. Highly recommend.

San Gil and Villa de Leyva are gems, too.

Edit: And I just thought of something... If you're lost, I've found that pharmacies are the best places to get directions or help. I'm not sure why, but the farmacia people are pretty cool and helpful. If you walk into some random shop for directions or information, they may have worked there for 15 years but they'll just shrug and say, "No se, senor."

Hi Mark
Lots of Gringos in Medellin which is nice you can network and get advice on how to get stuff done. My wife is Colombian and we live here in S W Florida. We too are selling the house and heading down there in Jan or Feb. You will have no regrets its a great place to be. I have  spent a lot of time over the years in Medellin. In my opinion by far the best city to live in in Colombia. My favorite areas  to live are  El Poblado but its a little more expensive popular Gringo hang out. Envigado is nice third choice would be Laureles. Hope everything works out for you best regards Mike

My expert advice would be to stay where you are unless you like to see
Pimps whores = victims .Drug dealers .
Hungry child begging for money alone in the streets,
Men from other countries searching the streets for sex and drugs ,
And all the above is in the good parts of Medellin

Enjoy the Truth ✌️

Frank stuff :

My expert advice would be to stay where you are unless you like to see
Pimps whores = victims .Drug dealers .
Hungry child begging for money alone in the streets,
Men from other countries searching the streets for sex and drugs ,
And all the above is in the good parts of Medellin

Enjoy the Truth ✌️

This is an unbalanced view of Poblado, the Gringo-friendly "good part" of Medellin.

Visiting Poblado for a total of six weeks on two trips recently, the only questionable area I found was in the immediate vicinity of Parque Lleras.

The area where I stayed, Milla de Oro or Golden Mile, is beautiful, feels extremely safe with lots of police and security guards around and has plenty of actividades saludables to offer.

The poster's self-described "expert advice" for all non-perverts to avoid Poblado .. is absurd.  I personally did not see any of the activities he described above .. although I imagine you could find such in any South American city if you chose to be a self-appointed vigilante and made it your mission to go looking for it.

cccmedia

BrandonBP :
BirdmanB :

I have custody of my 9 year old, so obviously  I would want a place that is family friendly.  He is home-schooled so that wouldn't be an issue.

Can't go wrong with the coffee region...I really love Manizales, Salento, and Filandia. There's also a little spot I stayed in for a month called Guatape. About 4000 very nice people around 90 minutes busride from Medellin. Highly recommend.

San Gil and Villa de Leyva are gems, too.

In considering the Coffee Axis, you might want to look at one of the major cities there, Armenia.

With a population of several hundred thousand, it offers more to see, do and learn about.  It felt safe to me during the total of five weeks I visited during two trips this year.  It has excellent malls, the amazing jungle-like Parque de la Vida and many safe and well-kept neighborhoods.

It might feel more comfortable for arriving Gringos than some of the smaller -- though excellent -- places that Brandon posted about.

cccmedia

ccccccmedia,

I almost went to Armenia this last trip, but Gringos kept telling me it was boring and that the nice part of town had been razed by the earthquake. I wish I'd gone anyhow. But I went to Manizales instead.

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