Sam - How To Expat
Sam - How To Expat

Medellin Apartment Rentals – Hassle Free With Local Prices

How To Get An Apartment In Medellin The Right Way

The struggle of getting a long-term apartment in Medellin is real. To get a roof over your head is a basic need, but getting a good deal on your apartment rent is not easy.

That’s why we will talk in this article about:

  • Basics about the real estate market in Medellin (with video)
  • Requirements to rent in Medellin
  • Furnished apartment in Medellin (with video)
  • Unfurnished apartment in Medellin (with video)
  • How we got our apartment for USD 320/m. (with video)

There are many different things to consider when getting an apartment in Medellin, as we know from personal experience and stories from our clients. We know what the pitfalls are of renting an apartment in Colombia but specifically in Medellin.

The Real Estate Market In Medellin

There are two completely different real estate markets in regard to renting apartments.

The markets are different compared to the US market where many apartments get rented through an MLS service.

In Colombia, there are some MLS sites available like Finca Raiz or Encuentra 24. But these websites are not nearly as organized as the ones we are used to as foreigners.

From my own experience I can tell you, if you inquire about 10 apartments directly through either Email or Whatsapp, you will get a reply from maybe two people. On the other hand, many listings are outdated and the pictures are horrible. So going through that is like shooting a dart in the dark.

And once you have an appointment, you can be 50% sure that the person will be min. 30min late. So imagine trying to find your apartment like that. It will take you weeks to find an apartment you will like.

Signing Yet Another Paper

A Lot Of Paperwork

After you finally found a suitable apartment you will get asked for a lot of paperwork. Usually, real estate agencies require a Colombian cosigner (Fiador), or a high deposit (usually around 7 times but up to 15 times the monthly rent).

Other requirements, not a lot of people talk about is 6 months of bank statements (this only counts for Colombian banks). So this makes it even harder to find an unfurnished apartment.

The Colombian Co-Signer (Fiador)

Another thing not too many Expats know from their home countries is that for most of the rental contracts (mostly unfurnished apartments) you need to have a Colombian co-signer, called Fiador.

As I said before, this is not the only option but mostly the best option of renting an apartment. Of course, a lot of foreigners don’t have a Colombian cosigner (Fiador), so this makes it very hard for us.

Sometimes we can get asked if they can just bring somebody like some random Colombian from the street,  unfortunately, this is not the case as in most cases the Colombian cosigner needs to prove that he either owns real estate or/and has an income surpassing a specific rate (mostly 2 or 3 times the monthly rental price)

Be Careful With Gringo Offers

On the other hand, foreign investors have seen that issue and set up their MLS services. But most of the time these just rent furnished apartments and mostly with higher prices than the local market. In some ways understandably because the service is better.

On the other hand, rental expenses are usually the biggest expense an Expat has, so getting an inexpensive deal should be a high priority.

The other thing is that a lot of websites provide high-class apartments and these are usually the ones you will find with a google search. We had many clients come and tell us that the prices are like in the US. I usually ask, where did you search, and the answer is always google.

So try to stay away from the sites you will find on google, 90% of the time these have way higher prices than the local market.

Lured Into Bad Deals

A lot of Expats get lured into bad deals, because of the harsh requirements one must face when renting an apartment in Medellin. They find somebody who offers them an apartment without a traditional contract (that means no cosigner), just to find out that they don’t get their deposit back after the contract ends, or nobody is really responsible for maintenance.

Of course, you can get lucky and find a local person or a direct owner, and he takes good care of you and the apartment.  I’ve heard a couple of stories just like that but unfortunately, I would guess that one out of three stories usually ends badly.

To Rent Sign In Medellin

How Do Colombians Get Apartments In Medellin?

Usually, the Colombians are going through the same hassle as we do. They’re just used to it and don’t have as many expectations as we foreigners.  On the other hand, they know somebody maybe their uncle or their cousin that knows somebody who has an apartment.

So they are in the same boat but have a little advantage over us, foreigners because they know the local culture and maybe already have some contacts. And of course, they’re fluent in Spanish.

Let’s Talk About How Expats Should Rent An Apartment In Medellin

The restrictions you have as a foreigner without having a co-signer (Fiador), not being fluent in Spanish, and not knowing the local culture, make it kind of hard to really rent an apartment at a great price and a good deal.

In this video, I will talk about what you have to do to get a good deal.

Furnished Apartments In Medellin

Like in any city getting furnished apartments is a way different market than getting an unfurnished apartment. If you stay in Medellin for less than three months we always advise just to get a normal Airbnb. It has a very good review system, you’re covered with their insurance, most people speak English and it’s just an overall good platform.

Airbnb Hack In Medellin

If you want to stay longer than 3 months you will find out very quickly that Airbnb is quite expensive. Another hack is to make a deal with the Airbnb owner directly. You can contact him via the contact form on the listing and ask to see the apartment while proposing a deal that fits your budget.

This can save you up to 50% on a monthly rental lease. Of course, the downside of that is that you don’t have a legit contract and you never know how this person will behave after you rented a couple of months.

We did that too and were happy with our first Airbnb to stay the first couple of months in Medellin. This gave us the flexibility to see if we like the general area we were in while being able to collect our bank statements for the following apartment.

Facebook Groups

Another good tip is to ask in the Facebook groups if somebody has a furnished apartment available. You can get quite a good deal there with more or less reputable real estate agents.

The only downsides are that the offer is quite limited and you never know if you really can trust this agent (some are great people, some are bad apples). Many work independently, because in Colombia you don’t have to get a real estate license, everybody can rent and sell apartments how they please.

We Support You To Get A Furnished Apartment In Medellin

On the other hand, we offer a service to connect you with our trusted Partners who have apartments in Medellin. They are responsible and will take good care of you without gouging you, even as a foreigner. More at our Medellin Relocation Services.  

Fiador With Furnished Apartments

The furnished apartments market in Medellin does not really have the issue with the cosigner as the market is made for foreigners anyway. Just be sure not to pay a deposit that is too high. Usually, it should be around 3 to 6 months maximum.

Prices Of A Furnished Apartment In Medellin

We recommend everybody who comes to Medellin to first book a furnished apartment. Of course, it’s a little more expensive, but you are more flexible and the process is way easier in comparison to getting an unfurnished apartment.

The average cost for a furnished apartment in Poblado is:

  • 1 Bedroom COP 2.5 – 3.5Mio  – USD 800 – 1100
  • 2 Bedroom COP 2.8 – 4.5Mio  – USD 900 – 1500
  • 3 Bedroom COP 4.3 – 6.0Mio  – USD 1400 – 2000

Prices in Laureles and Envigado are around 10% less compared to Poblado

  • 1 Bedroom COP 2.2 – 3.1Mio  – USD 680 – 960
  • 2 Bedroom COP 2.6 – 4.1Mio  – USD 800 – 1270
  • 3 Bedroom COP 4.0 – 5.3Mio  – USD 780 – 1640

Prices in Estadio and Sabaneta are around 20% less compared to Poblado

  • 1 Bedroom COP 2.0 – 2.9Mio  – USD 620 – 900
  • 2 Bedroom COP 2.4 – 3.6Mio  – USD 740 – 1100
  • 3 Bedroom COP 3.4 – 4.8Mio  – USD 1050 – 1500

x=3200 (numbers rounded)

Of course, the furnished apartment rental market is also seasonal. In December- January and during the feria de las flores in August prices can be 50% higher.

Unfurnished Apartments In Medellin

Unfurnished apartments market in managing is totally different from the furnished apartment market. Usually, it requires a lot of patience and a lot of paperwork but at the end of the day, if you really made it happen, you can have a great, inexpensive deal.

We have a local deal like that and pay USD 320/m for a 2 bedroom apartment.

The local way is not going through an MLS but walking in the area where they want to rent an apartment in Medellin and look for the signs with the phone numbers. Or as I said above, knowing somebody that knows somebody.

There are three main ways to get an unfurnished apartment in Medellin.

  1. Get A Fiador (Cosigner) who can provide you with the needed paperwork like, bank statements for a labor contract. Many foreigners don’t have a trusted Colombian already that can serve as a cosigner, neither the bank statements or any kind of Labor contract.
  2. Putting down a CD which is blocked till the end of the contract usually 5 to 15 times the monthly rent.
  3. Putting down a deposit which is also blocked till the end of the contract usually also 5 to 15 times the monthly rent.

Monthly Contracts In Medellin

If you want a rental contract in Medellin that is month to month you better don’t look for an official agency. Usually, the contracts are issued 12 months with our example we could negotiate it down to 8 months. So another stepping stone for a lot of Expats that want to be flexible.

Other Ways To Get A Furnished Apartment In Medellin

If you cannot fulfill the requirements above, there are some other options around how to get an unfurnished apartment at a great price in Medellin.

Porteria In An Apartment Block

Get The Direct Owner

You can walk around and ask the security guards if they have the number of the direct owner that likes to rent out an apartment.  This only works for big apartment blocks with security guards. But remember, this is usually time-consuming and you need to know Spanish to be able to accomplish that.

And the other downsides as I’ve said before are that you may not have a legit contract which could be a pain at the end of the contract. Like not getting the deposit back or not at the agreed time.

Go With The Expat Companies

There are some good and some bad companies out there that primarily serve foreigners. Some managed by foreigners, others managed by local Colombians. The prices there will be understandably higher than they would be on the local market because they don’t have the Fiador requirement.

On the other hand, they have not so shady ways of circumventing that Fiador issue which I think is preferable.

Cost Of An Unfurnished Apartment In Medellin

To give you an idea of what a local apartment will cost in Medellin we can give you these numbers. This is what Expats usually pay monthly on the local market.

The average cost for an unfurnished apartment in Poblado is:

  • 1 Bedroom COP 1.5 – 2.2Mio  – USD 470 – 700
  • 2 Bedroom COP 2.0 – 2.5Mio  – USD 630 – 800
  • 3 Bedroom COP 2.5 – 3.5Mio  – USD 800 – 1100

Prices in Laureles and Envigado are around 10% less compared to Poblado

  • 1 Bedroom COP 1.3 – 2.0Mio  – USD 400 – 630
  • 2 Bedroom COP 1.8 – 2.3Mio  – USD 560 – 700
  • 3 Bedroom COP 2.3 – 3.2Mio  – USD 700 – 990

Prices in Estadio and Sabaneta are around 20% less compared to Poblado

  • 1 Bedroom COP 1.2 – 1.7Mio  – USD 380 – 530
  • 2 Bedroom COP 1.6 – 2.0Mio  – USD 490 – 620
  • 3 Bedroom COP 2.0 – 3.0Mio  – USD 610 – 920

x=3200 (numbers rounded)

We Support You To Get An Unfurnished Apartment In Medellin

On the other hand, we offer a service to connect you with our trusted Partners who have apartments in Medellin. They are responsible, and we’ll take good care of you without gouging you, even as a foreigner. More at our Medellin Relocation Services.

Our Story Of Getting An Apartment For USD 320/m

After being in an apartment for a couple of months with at the end we made with somebody that owns an Airbnb we were eager to get our own unfurnished apartment at a lower price.

It took us quite a while till we found the right agency to work with because our initial calls haven’t been replied to.  By coincidence, we found a little note on a mailbox with a number that said renting an apartment.

It was more or less what we were looking for, so we called this number without high hopes. The lady on the phone told us that we didn’t need a co-signer, so we were very interested in her apartment.

During the process, we quickly found out that we still needed a co-signer. Fortunately, we were able to do that with a Colombian friend that offered us to be our cosigner without us even asking.

To this day we are very very thankful that we have had a friend offering us this.  Otherwise, we would have had to pay 7 times the monthly rent as a deposit which we would not have done.

After a lot of running around (that means, back and forth to the agency notaries etc.)  in order to figure out which documents we need and to negotiate some things, we were finally able to get the apartment for USD 320/m.

Conclusion – Renting An Apartment In Medellin Colombia

Even though having a roof over your head is a basic need, getting an apartment in Medellin Colombia is not an easy task. Of course, if you just want to spend a lot of money you can get an apartment tomorrow in a very nice area with good customer service. For all those like us that want to live on a budget because that’s why they came to Colombia in the first place.

Those have to jump through some hoops to be able to really accomplish that either through a large deposit, a Colombian cosigner, running around and finding a great deal, or just being lucky.

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