Medellin, Colombia, is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever visited. One of Latin America’s most developed and thriving cities, it features diverse terrain, mountains, and a very friendly populous. Despite getting a bad rap for the 1980’s and the Drug Cartels, Medellin has largely shed those bad raps over the last 30 years and has proven to be a very safe place for tourists and expatriates alike. I’ve personally been there multiple times and even attended a wedding there in 2015.
Today I present you with a video, as well as a transcript, about how much it costs to live in Medellin.
What is the Cost of Living in Medellin, Colombia?
If you are looking to South America for retirement, you may also want to check out neighboring Ecuador.
Sam: In this video, you will see our complete cost of living.
Tacha: Welcome to How to Expat. My name is Tacha.
Sam: My name is Sam, and our mission here is to help expats or soon to be expats to start the journey, avoid gringo prices and settle down hassle-free. Today’s video is about our personal cost of living. The cost of living really depends on your lifestyle. We have a lifestyle where we don’t really spend too much money. We are really attentive with our money. We think we probably have a quite low cost of living here in Medellin, Colombia.
Tacha: We’re tracking almost everything we’re spending. Why? Because we are Swiss. In this video, we’re going to show you the average of what we’ve spent in the last six months in US dollars. We start with accommodations. This apartment is a two-bedroom apartment with a nice view. It cost $420 a month.
Sam: The utilities. The utilities are split into two things. In our example, this is first of all gas, water, electricity and all that stuff. This will set us back on a monthly basis of around $40. The other thing is that we have internet here in the apartment. This will cost around– Here you see the fans of Claro. We will get a 20MB/s plan, which is ₱92,000, which is around $30. In total, we pay for the utilities around $70 per month.
The next thing is the food. Food means eating out. Dining or getting lunch. Food here in Colombia is very, very inexpensive. How inexpensive? You will see in this example.
Today I just wanted to show you what a typical lunch here in Colombia is especially in the region we live in Antioquia or here especially Medellin. What you get is a typical lunch with– Today I order a steak. Sometimes it comes with an egg, with healthy avocado, with a salad, then with some rice, cooked banana. Here especially in Antioquia with an arepa. What you also get for the– It’s all included in the price, I will tell you next. It comes with the soup and with the juice. Here you can see it’s just ₱8000 which is around $2.70. Really inexpensive. Everything is included in that price. We eat that quite often because it’s so cheap and it’s very delicious.
To cap this off, on average we spend around $220 per month on foods, so on dining or getting lunch or whatever.
Tacha: Groceries. Groceries doesn’t mean only food for us but also beauty products. It’s everything you can find in the supermarket. Here is an example.
Sam: As you can see, we came just came back from buying our groceries. Tacha will show you what we bought today. Maybe you will get an idea about the groceries here in Colombia.
Tacha: Like Sam already said, we went grocery shopping today. You can see we bought a lot today. Let’s start at the best part or my favorite part, veggies, and fruits. We bought pineapple, papaya, pepperoni and so much more. All that you can see here cost us $4. I’m serious $4. What do we have as well? We bought today a jumbo package of fish and that cost us about $10. Also, we bought two pieces of chicken breast. There are two pieces inside each of them. We’ve got two of them. They’re 8$ together.
Also, milk for $1 and eggs. They’re 30 inside. They’re pretty inexpensive about $2 only. What else? That’s pretty much it. All of this only cost us $60 in total. Also, this will last us for about two weeks. Maybe we have to get some new fruit, some other fruits or veggies, but in total with the chicken and fish and everything, we got supplies for two weeks. On average we spent about $260 a month.
Medical. Fortunately, we never had any health issues since we’re here, but we’re always putting $50 on the side for emergency cases.
Sam: Next is transport. Transport is really split into two in our lives here in Medellin. One is the metro which is really, really inexpensive. One ride is around 60 cents. The other thing is taxis or Uber. Of course, you wouldn’t even think about taking Uber because it’s illegal here even though it’s less expensive and it’s a better service. The whole transport costs per month will set us back around $95 per month for the last couple of months.
Another very inexpensive part on our cost of living is entertainment. Entertainment means going to concerts, going to the movies, or even can mean doing tours with some friends. Really the very interesting thing is, those things are one for free or they’re very, very inexpensive. We do quite a lot of stuff, especially for this channel too. We spent just around $60 per month on entertainment or going out and doing stuff.
Tacha: Mobile phone. We use the phone provider, Claro, which offers different prepaid plans. We use the one for 40,000 a month, which includes a gigabyte per month and some calls. This cost the two of us ₱80000 a month which is 25 US dollars.
Health insurance, we have international health insurance from A-plus which costs us $1200 a year. Which is a hundred dollars a month for the two of us.
The miscellaneous, which includes shoes, t-shirts, and all this stuff, we budgeted $60 a month.
Sam: Here is where the usual cost of living normally ends. What you have to consider is that the cost of living isn’t just the rent or food, but it’s also taxes, banking, and all that stuff. The additional things will be listed here. We don’t really pay too much text because we invest a lot of our money into our company. We calculate around $400 per year on our taxes, which is around $30 a month.
Tacha: Also, we’re traveling from time to time. We’re planning to go back to Switzerland once a year at least. Also traveling around Colombia and Latin America, also for you guys for having better footage, for example. In this case, we’re saving around $4000 a year, that’s around $300 a month, just for traveling.
Another thing we’re spending money on a monthly basis is our pension. We’re spending $125 for our pension fund.
Sam: Another thing we do is, we calculate from everything we have another 20%. This is safety or you could call it savings or whatever. We do that additionally and we put that in our budget too. Here once again this is a total amount we budget on a monthly basis here in Medellin, Colombia.
Here’s the boring summary of the cost of living short and painful, I mean painless. The accommodation is $420, the utility $70, the food $220, the groceries $260, medical $50, transport $95, entertainment $60, cell Phone $25, insurance $100 and miscellaneous is $60.
Again as I said this is where usually the cost of living ends. This summary would be $1360. As I’ve said we do a more holistic approach to the whole thing. We add another tax, another $30 for tax, another $300 for travel, then our pension is $125, and then this would sum up our $1,815 US dollars. Then we add an additional 350 bucks per month. This is the 20% rule. Our total, final cost of living is $2,165 US dollars per month.
Be aware that you probably don’t get these figures right away when you come here to Colombia to be an expat because at first you will probably pay gringo prices, especially with the apartment. This is exactly where we come into play. We help you get an apartment here in Medellin without paying gringo prices from the first moment you’re here in Medellin. If you’re interested in not paying gringo prices, contact us. Send us a date when you are coming and we will help you out.
Tacha: Thank you so much for watching. I hope you have now an overview on our cost of living. Let me know in the comments down below, in case you’re an expat, how much you’re spending on a monthly basis and in which country.
Not to dissuade anyone from retiring to Colombia, I also have another post about why expatriates leave Colombia. It’s an interesting read and I advise you to read as much as possible before moving anywhere, especially to a foreign country.
How To Expat is one of the best YouTube channels to follow if you are looking to live abroad. Follow their YouTube Channel here.