How To Rent Apartments In Medellin Without Getting Scammed

Are you looking for long-term stay apartments in Colombia? Need to rent an apartment in Medellin, but are worried about getting scammed? This guide helps expats understand how apartment rentals work in Medellin, including the options, requirements, deposits, and scams to avoid. minutes

11/10/23

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View from an apartment rental in Laureles Medellin, Colombia.

About the author

Hi, I'm Marco Sison. I worked in finance for Fortune 50 companies before retiring early at 41 years old. I have been an expat for over 10 years, living in over 50 countries to show you the best ways to save, invest, and live in amazing countries outside the USA. I am a trusted resource on personal finance and overseas retirement for US News & World Reports, HuffPost, MSN Money, USA Today, ABC Network, Yahoo Finance, Best Life, Association of MBAs, and the iTunes documentary Seeking FIRE.

QUICK SUMMARY- APARTMENT HUNTING IN MEDELLIN

  • Medellin has several ways for foreigners to find an apartment. None of them are great.
  • Monthly lease or rental costs are increasing with the influx of expats and digital nomads.
  • Finding a good deal on rental properties can be challenging if you’re not fluent in Spanish.
  • Expats might be asked to sign a contract with a local co-signer (Fiador).
  • Prices are listed using the exchange rate at the time of this writing: 1 USD = 4,028 COP.
  • “Gringo pricing” is prevalent, with many landlords hiking rentals in Medellin for several foreigners, especially in prime locations.

Finding An Apartment In Medellin As A Foreigner

There I was, standing at the entrance of another stunning apartment complex in Medellin, my heart pounding from the forever walk up one of Poblado’s infamous hills. The city’s charm had already captivated me during my first week here, and I was determined to call it home.

However, my enthusiasm soon faced a harsh reality check – the complexities of renting an apartment as an expat! Language barriers, unusual rental processes, and flaky real estate agents made apartment hunting feel like I was trying to crack a secret code.

This post may contain affiliate links. I may get a commission if you purchase something using my link. Please note, there is NO ADDITIONAL COST to you. For more information, please see my disclosure.

6 Quick Tips To Prepare For A Move To Colombia

TIP 1. Understand Colombia’s visa policy- A decade of experience living abroad taught me that a country’s resident visa and permit situation can make or break a plan to move overseas. Chat with a Colombian visa attorney.

TIP 2. Know your health insurance requirements- Starting July 2022, the government requires all expats living in Colombia to purchase specific medical coverage that includes accidents, illness, hospitalization, disability, repatriation, maternity, and death. 

TIP 3. Save On Moving Costs– International moves can get expensive. Save hundreds of dollars by getting accredited moving companies to compete for your business. Fill out a quick form, sit back and let our moving partners get you five free moving quotes from trusted and reliable international moving companies.

TIP 4. Set up a Traveling Mailbox- Change all your critical mailing addresses to a traveling mailbox. Don’t lose an important tax return, bank statement, credit card, or government document in the mail. Sign up for a virtual mailbox, and you can keep a permanent US mailing address and check your mail via your phone or PC.

TIP 5. Prove your onward ticket- If you only have a tourist visa Colombia requires a mandatory departure ticket. You need a onward travel with a date leaving the country before your visa expires. Save money by using  an onward plane ticket for just $16

TIP 6. Pick up some Spanish Skills- The most common difficulty experienced by expats in Colombia is English being less common than expected. Only 4% of the country speaks English. You can get a free 7-day Spanish language crash course to make your move to Colombia easier.

But apartment hunting doesn’t have to be so frustrating. You just need to understand the local norms and processes. This guide lays out the laws, insider tips, and tricks for finding your perfect home in Medellin hassle-free. I’ll guide you through the maze of renting apartments as a foreigner in Colombia.

From navigating the rental requirements like a seasoned local to uncovering the hidden gems that won’t break the bank, I’ve got your back.

You’ll discover popular neighborhoods that suit your vibe, gain insights into the rental laws that safeguard your rights, and even get a sneak peek into the quirky housing options that make

Medellin is extraordinary. So, if you’re ready to embrace the magic of Medellin and unlock the door to your new adventure, keep reading – your Colombian casa awaits!

Table of Contents – Click To Expand [How To Rent Apartments In Medellin Without Getting Scammed]

Understanding the Medellin Rental Market For Expats

The secret is out. Medellin is no longer a hidden gem. This lively city has become the South American destination for retirees, expats, and digital nomads seeking a lower cost of living, better healthcare, and a higher quality of life in Colombia’s Antioquia region.

Over 1.4 million foreigners visited Medellin in 2022, an impressive increase of 49% in under three years. Additionally, with Colombia’s relaxed visa policies and the introduction of a digital nomad visa, the number of remote workers and digital nomads moving to Colombia is exploding.

Some projections estimate over 9,500 remote workers entering Medellin per month.

A rising graph of rental demands for apartments in Medellin City, Colombia

This massive growth has put significant pressure on apartment rental costs. Even my Medellin cost of living estimates have had to be revised twice since 2021 because of the skyrocketing cost of housing.

Gringo Prices

As the average rent in the United States tops $ 2,000 a month, Americans are flocking to Medellin’s lower cost of living. The influx of Westerners means more landlords hiking rents for gringos. Even as average rents for one-bedroom apartments in El Poblado creep over $1200 per month, expats still find a comfortable living affordable in Medellin.

Government statistics (DANE) show housing prices are increasing across the board by over 9% per year. Medellin is especially vulnerable to rental demand, as the Aburra Valley restricts urban sprawl.

With more foreign visitors, expect more gringo pricing. To add even more fuel to the inflationary pressure, most visitors and foreign expats compete for the same “luxury” housing in desirable neighborhoods (Estrato 5 and 6 are considered wealthy and upper-class).

The problem is only 10% of housing in the Medellín metro area is in these prime locations.

Two Different Rental Markets

Short-Term Apartment Rentals

Short-term in Medellin means any visitors staying under 30 days. Finding a short-term rental is straightforward- stick with reputable platforms like Booking.com and Airbnb to avoid the hassle of anything under 30 days.

Short-term rentals are actually regulated in Medellin, and buildings that allow rentals shorter than 30 days must be licensed by the Ministry of Tourism (Ministerio de Comercio, Industria y Turismo). Any facility without government permission to rent short-term is technically operating illegally.

Most daily rentals in Medellin are outside of the city core and strategically located in safe, popular tourist areas. El Poblado, Laureles, and Envigado have the most options and offer a central spot with convenient access to attractions, dining, shopping, and public transportation.

Whether you seek a beautiful apartment with a view, a luxurious penthouse with a swimming pool, or the cheapest price room with a cooling System, you’ll find a diverse range of short-term lodgings catering to all preferences and budgets.

Long-Term Apartment Rentals

While many digital nomads look for 3 to 6-month rental deals (mid-term), in the Medellin market, anything above 30 days is considered long-term.

Medellin’s long-term rental market is best suited for expats looking to stay one year or more in Medellin. In fact, Colombia even has a unique “Rentista Visa” for expats who can meet an income requirement of ten times the minimum salary in Colombia and sign long-term apartment rental deals and contracts.

Whether you prefer furnished or unfurnished, there are plenty of long-term options. However, in a quirk to the Colombian rental market, there are more hassles with unfurnished units. 

Even though unfurnished unit rental costs are cheaper, landlords and agents are more likely to require a fiador or local guarantor to mitigate risks.

Many locals steer clear of renting unfurnished property to foreigners due to the additional paperwork and requirements. But if you don’t have anyone local who can co-sign your contract, some accept a bigger deposit or a specialized certificate of deposit (CDT) instead.

Personally, I find it more convenient to always get furnished units. Especially without a car, buying and transporting furniture to fill a unit isn’t worth the hassle for me.

What is the fiador requirement on the apartment rental contract?

The fiador requirement is a common practice in Colombia and a big challenge for many foreigners apartment hunting in Medellin. A fiador is basically a co-signer who vouches for you and guarantees that you will pay your rent on time.

If you don’t pay, the realtor will go after the fiador to settle your debts.

And the fiador can’t be any random Colombian friend; the fiador is usually required to own property in Medellin or show they have a local monthly income that exceeds 2-3 times the apartment’s monthly rent.

You can see how finding a fiador to rent an apartment in Colombia is a pain in the a**. Here are some ways around the fiador requirement.

What is an Estrato?

An estrato is a unique socioeconomic classification system used in Colombia, including Medellin. It ranks residential properties from 1 to 6, based on wealth and implied safety and desirability, with 1 being the lowest class and 6 being considered the highest or wealthy class.

For expats, estrato helps to quickly categorize apartment desirability based on the neighborhood it is located. Expats often prefer areas in Estrato 5 or 6 for better infrastructure, amenities, lifestyle, and safety.

Estrato 5 or 6 is also where you will find the best restaurants and Medellin’s nightlife areas.

A Division Map of 6 Estratos in Medellin, City.

Is Laureles or El Poblado the best place for expats to rent?

Choosing to rent an apartment in Laureles or El Poblado isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer. I consider Laureles the Best Neighborhood For First-Time Expats In Medellin. However, both Laureles and El Poblado have unique advantages, making the choice dependent on your lifestyle preferences.

  • Laureles-Estadio offers a youthful and vibrant atmosphere, perfect for socializing with locals and a large expat community. The neighborhood is pedestrian-friendly, with excellent sporting facilities, cafes, and my favorite places to salsa in Medellin. If budget-friendly housing is your priority, Laureles apartments typically have 20% cheaper rents than El Poblado.
  • El Poblado stands out, with Lleras Park as the center of Medellin’s nightlife. Poblado is the city’s high-end location, with the best international restaurants and shopping options. However, it comes with higher living expenses, gringo-prices, and tourist crowds. Want to live life king-size? El Poblado has boarding options in the $1800-$2500 per month range for a deluxe apartment with a rooftop pool.

Consider your priorities and whether you seek a more laid-back college town vibe (Laureles) or a bustling foreigner hub with upscale amenities (El Poblado).

INSIDER TIP: Save Money On Rent- Look for other neighborhoods outside of the expat and tourist hotspots to cut your monthly rent by 50% or more.

Some of the best Neighborhoods in Medellin are just a short walk or one metro stop away from Laureles and El Poblado, with rents that drop considerably. It is possible to find much cheaper furnished places in nice areas around Belen or Envigado.

How to Search for Apartments in Medellin?

In Medellin, there’s no Multiple Listing Service (MLS) like in the United States. This means finding apartment listings can be challenging, as not all properties are readily accessible. A real estate agent can’t just enter your search criteria and find your perfect home rental.

Also, without an MLS, understanding market prices and finding comparable properties becomes trickier. To overcome this, explore multiple sources, including local classifieds, online platforms, and networking with expat communities.

Option 1: AirBnB

Airbnb offers a diverse range of apartment options in Medellín, catering to both short-term travelers and long-term visitors. By simply inputting your travel dates and preferences, you can browse many options available through a myriad of listings, complete with photos, reviews, and detailed descriptions.

Whether you’re seeking a modern loft in El Poblado or a cozy retreat in Laureles, Airbnb makes finding the perfect Medellín boarding a breeze.

INSIDER TIP: Get face-to-face with potential landlords. Don’t depend entirely on Airbnb because it can be pretty expensive for stays longer than three months.

Swing a direct deal with Airbnb owners, and you can swing a 50% to 60% discount on monthly rent. But remember, this option does not always provide you with a valid contract or any protection from Airbnb if anything goes wrong.

Foreigners talking to a landlord owning an Apartment in Medellin City.

Option 2: Colombian Real Estate Agents

Suppose you think that using a real estate agent would make apartment hunting easier, nope. There is no real estate license or certification required in Colombia. Anyone can call themselves an agent and try to get a commission for showing you a luxury apartment.

With no license required, agents vary in reputation. Unless you find someone you can trust, it’s a gamble that can sometimes end in an expensive scam (see my scam section below).

Working with agents who specialize in working with foreigners will mean paying a slightly higher average price, but the convenience can be worth it. Enjoy bilingual support, access to more western-style apartments with top-notch amenities, and possibly no fiador requirement.

If you opt for a local agent who is used to working with Colombian families, you are more likely to get requests for more paperwork, including six months of Colombian bank statements, proof of a local income, and a stricter fiador requirement.

If you can’t find one or sometimes even two Fiador’s to co-sign, then prepare for high deposits or CDT equal to six to 12 times the monthly rent. Heard of requests of seven to fifteen times the monthly rent.

Some foreign-owned agencies that focus on the Expat market:

INSIDER TIP: Real estate agent exclusive listings- Unlike real estate market in the US, the idea of an apartment being listed exclusively by one agent isn’t a concept in Colombia. Don’t be surprised when multiple agents try to show you the same apartment for rent.

Be on guard against dodgy listings: There are no licensing requirements in Colombia. Anybody in Medellin can call themselves an agent and try to rent an apartment to an expat.

It’s common for them to provide misleading information and offer you the wrong apartment price so that they can pocket the difference. While some agents might offer your dream home, others could turn out to be nightmares.

Option 3: Local Apartment Websites

Finding an apartment in Medellín via local websites is a freaking annoyance. Popular sites like Finca Raiz and Encuentra 24, while not the most user-friendly, are frequented by locals and may offer hidden gems. However, exercise caution and double-check the information.

I found so many listings with incorrect information and too-good-to-be-true prices.

If you need something on a lower budget, shared housing is an option. Consider checking out Compartoapto, which focuses on co-living and shared apartments. Locanto, the Colombian Craigslist equivalent, is another option. Locanto also offers apartment listings and room rentals, although its user interface and search functions are limited.

A helpful filter to separate listings made by real estate agents is available.

Don’t fall in love with the perfect apartment you found on any one of these local real estate websites. Without an MLS to consolidate lists, many properties listed on websites don’t get regularly updated.

INSIDER TIP: Patience is essential when dealing with landlords and agents because it’s a pain in the a##. Only a fraction will respond to inquiries promptly, and less than 1 in 5 will actually call or message you back. Again, knowing Spanish will be essential in dealing with landlords.

If your Spanish hasn’t passed the Si y Gracias stage, then try to message people on Whatsapp, which has a built-in Spanish translation feature. When someone does WhatsApp you back, then getting an appointment is another frustration. Colombians are not sticklers for time.

You can guarantee that the person will be at least 15-30 minutes late for your appointment.

Arriendo sign hanging on an Apartment for rent in Belen, Medellin.

Option 4: For Rent Signs

If you prefer a more traditional approach to finding an apartment in Colombia, one of the most effective methods is to simply walk around and look for “for rent” signs or “Arriendo,” which translates to “For Lease.”

Start by exploring different neighborhoods that appeal to you and even walk the accurate location and specific streets you like best, then look up. Check the windows for signs to find hidden gems that may not be listed online.

Please take note of the phone numbers on the signs and give them a call to inquire about the available properties. This hands-on method allows you to assess the neighborhood and get a feel for the area before making a decision.

Keep an open mind and be patient, as this method may require some legwork, but it is one of the best methods to avoid Gringo prices and potentially avoid a fiador.

INSIDER TIP: Make Friends With The Doorman: If Spanish isn’t a problem for you, inquiring with the Portero (Spanish for doorman) or security guards in large apartment blocks can work wonders. They often have direct contact with owners who wish to rent out. But be prepared to shell out some extra time and effort.

A little Spanish fluency goes a long way when communicating or negotiating directly with apartment owners.

Get Past ‘Hola’ and ‘Gracias’ With A Revolutionary Way To Learn Spanish

Making friends, finding an apartment, and acclimating in a new country is always easier when you learn the local language. You don’t need to be fluent in Spanish. If you learn a few phrases, locals will appreciate the effort.

I understand more than anyone that learning a new language when you are older isn’t easy. Here is the “Secret” method that the US State Department, FBI, and overseas military uses to learn new languages quickly and effectively- The Pimsleur Method

Avoid hours doing mindless repetitive vocabulary. Pimsleur focuses on quick, easy-to-digest organic learning to get you conversational as fast as possible.

Option 5: Facebook Expat Groups

Use all the options above to do your research to judge the prices of properties offered on Facebook. These are expat groups, so many of the listings will veer toward high-end properties, but it is possible to find bargains on furnished, all-inclusive rentals occasionally.

Here are the two most popular Medellin apartment rental Facebook groups.

  • Medellin Rooms, Apartments, and Expat Info (23K members) list both rooms and apartments.
  • Medellin Expat (43K members)- Medellin’s most popular expat group. They are a crank bunch and not my favorite crowd, but you’ll find apartment rental ads among the trolls.
  • Medellin Expats Real Estate (11K members)- A mix of properties for rent and for sale. When I was using the group, I found most of the listing a bit high for my tastes.

INSIDER TIP: Post Your Needs – Don’t just lurk! Post your requirements and ask if anyone has a furnished unit or apartment. Avoid sharing your budget or expected rent. Let the offers come to you. Often, you could land an inexpensive deal.

Common Apartment Rental Scam To Avoid

A local Colombian male and his girlfriend make the rounds every few months to catch unsuspecting foreigners. The scary part about this scam is there weren’t bright red flags telling you to stay away.

When I read the guy’s story, I could easily see myself as a victim, and I consider myself very savvy and an experienced expat.

It’s a very professionally done scam and has caught dozens of foreigners.

  • The scammers are well-spoken and speak fluent English
  • They pose as a legitimate real estate agency with a professional website
  • They send a valid-looking lease and a reasonable deposit request
  • Transactions are done using real bank accounts- not through Paypal or Crypto, legitimate Colombian banks
  • The scammers provide a valid Cedula (Colombian ID card)
A facebook post of a foreigner telling his story about being scammed while looking for an apartment in Medellin City.

“We were scammed not because we’re stupid. We were scammed because we let our guards down and were too trusting of what appeared to be a legitimate Colombian business.”
Dae Bogan, American Expat Scammed In Medellin

In a cautionary tale, this US expat shares his experience of falling victim to a well-executed scam while seeking a short-term rental apartment in Medellín.

They received responses from alleged real estate agents, one using a fake identity, and were provided with what appeared to be legitimate listings and a short-term rental lease.

They made payments through cash deposits to a bank account, believing it was a safe transaction. However, upon arrival at the building, they discovered the booking was non-existent, and they lost over 1,000 USD / 4,200,000 COP.

The scammers deactivated their accounts and created new ones under a different name. This wasn’t some back alley deal gone wrong. The scammer gets his victims because you don’t feel sketchy at all.

Key Takeaways- Finding An Apartment In Medellin

As a foreigner trying to find an apartment in Medellin, I faced many frustrations – language barriers, confusing rental processes, flaky real estate agents, and the dreaded fiador requirement.

However, through persistence, I was able to secure the perfect rental for my needs. I searched local real estate websites, walked potential neighborhoods, and posted in expat Facebook groups.

After contacting countless listings, I finally found a furnished co-living apartment in Laureles that met my criteria – reasonable price, no fiador, and a responsive landlord.

Though apartment hunting felt like cracking a code at times, the right mix of research, networking, and patience helped me unlock the door to my new Colombian home.

FAQs- Renting An Expat Apartment In Medellin

What are the best websites to find apartment rentals in Medellin?

The best websites to search for apartment rentals in Medellín include Airbnb, CompartoApto, Metro Cuadrado, and Finca Raíz.

Airbnb is popular for short-term stays, offering a variety of accommodations with user reviews. CompartoApto is preferred for finding shared apartments or individual rooms.

Metro Cuadrado and Finca Raíz are all-encompassing rental platforms offering a wide range of options. Tailoring your search based on preferences can be beneficial when using these platforms.

Before finalizing any rental agreement, it is vital to visit the property and meet the landlord or agent to avoid scams or misunderstandings.

What is the average price of long-term rent for an apartment in Medellin?

The cost of apartment rentals in Medellin ranges based on size, amenities, furnished status, and location. For some benchmarks, Laureles-Estadio is a prime location with plenty of expats. 62 % of the neighborhood is considered upper class. The rents in Laureles average:

  • Studio – $400 USD / ~1,800,000 Colombian Pesos Per Month (COP)
  • Solo-Bedroom Apartments $800 / ~3,500,000 COP
  • Dual-Bedroom Apartments $950 / ~4,200,000 COP

What is the best way to find apartments for rent in Medellin?

The best way to find apartments for rent in Medellín is through online platforms like Airbnb, local real estate websites, and Facebook groups dedicated to Medellín rentals.

Airbnb is great for short-term stays with many options and reviews. For longer stays or local experiences, try CompartoApto or Metro Cuadrado. Many Facebook groups also list rentals and share experiences. 

If you’re new to the city or with specific needs, consider a local real estate agent for insights and assistance. Always visit apartments in person before finalizing to check authenticity and fit.

What are the best neighborhoods to rent in Medellin?

The best neighborhoods to rent in Medellín often depend on individual preferences, but popular choices include El Poblado, Laureles, Envigado, Sabaneta, and Belén. These areas are known for their unique characteristics, safety, amenities, and vibrant local culture.

El Poblado is upscale with modern amenities and popular among expats. Laureles has a local feel with traditional eateries. 

Envigado blends old-world charm with new developments. Sabaneta offers tranquility, while Belén is budget-friendly with an authentic vibe. Choose based on your priorities.


About the author

Hi, That's me. I'm Marco Sison. I am a survivor of the corporate rat race. I started Nomad FIRE to show you an alternative to the stress and grind of 70-hour weeks to pay off a mortgage, student loans, and countless bills. After getting laid off in 2015, I said screw it all and retired early at 41 years old. I have traveled the last five years to over 40 countries to show you the best ways to save, invest, and live in amazing countries for 70% less cost than the US. I have been featured in: US News & World Reports, Huffington Post, MSN Money, USA Today, ABC Network, Yahoo Finance, Best Life, CW Network, Dr. Wealth, and others. [view press...]

  • Rene Penco says:

    Good afternoon, Marco, I have just discovered your website using a Google search for “how to avoid rental scams in Medellin”. I am a US citizen and want to rent an apartment in Medellin for approximately 6 months (to study spanish). But I have heard there are a lot of “professional” scammers out there. I just read the article you posted written by an expat and describing his horrible experience of being the victim a well executed rental scam.
    I am afraid I may the victim of a similar rental scam.
    I went to Medellin last weekend to look for an apartment.
    I used the Facebook expat group and found a listing.
    I met with a I met with a couple (they claimed they are lawyers and represent the owner of the apartment). They showed me the apartment.
    I signed a rental agreement (lease starting 01 January 2024), received a receipt for the money I gave them for a deposit and half the month’s rent (approximately $700USD.
    We also went to a notary public and had these documents notarized. (the notarized document has a picture of him and his information)
    I thought that it all appeared legitimate until I read about the experience by that guy.
    I am keeping my fingers crossed that when 01 January comes and I present myself to move in, that I will not have a similar situation as the guy.

    Thank you for sharing this story.
    I now think I have to develop a Plan B if this proves to be another well executed scam.

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