Most of the foreigners owning property in Medellín call the upscale neighborhood of El Poblado as home. The majority of the hotels and rental apartments in Medellín are also located in El Poblado, so this is where most visitors to the city stay.
El Poblado is home to several boutique stores and Medellín’s highest-end shopping malls: Santafé (the largest mall in Medellín), Oviedo and El Tesoro. El Poblado is also home to the Zona Rosa, which surrounds Parque Lleras. This is a nightlife area full of clubs, restaurants and bars. In addition, El Poblado is home to EAFIT Univeristy, which has a popular Spanish language program for foreigners.
El Poblado has a population of about 124,000, which makes it smaller than next-door Envigado and also smaller than Belén.
Most of the housing in El Poblado is found in high-rise apartments. Some of these high-rises can have spectacular views of the city. El Poblado does also have some streets lined with one-story, two-story and three-story attached homes located in certain neighborhoods like Provenza.
El Poblado is popular with foreigners as it can be a very comfortable place to live with all the shopping malls, nightlife and restaurants nearby. It also has a strong police presence and the area is considered one of the safest neighborhoods in Medellín.
The bottom line is that El Poblado is a wealthy neighborhood that offers a Western lifestyle, which is why it continues to be very popular with foreigners.
The Neighborhoods of El Poblado
El Poblado has 22 barrios (neighborhoods). When looking at any neighborhoods in Colombia it is important to understand the estrato system. Residential properties in Colombia are ranked on a 1-6 socioeconomic scale (with 6 being the highest), which are known as estratos.
Understanding estratos are important, as this is a factor for housing costs and also for utilities. Households in lower estrato neighborhoods pay a lower rate for gas, electric, water and triple play TV/Internet/phone services.
El Poblado is primarily an estrato 6 area with 74% of the households in El Poblado ranked as estrato 6, which is why El Pobaldo has some of the most expensive real estate in the city. As seen in the following table, 93% of the households in El Poblado are estrato 5 or 6.
In comparison, in the entire city of Medellín, only 4.6% of households are estrato 6. The majority of the households in Medellín are estrato 2 or 3 (61%).
Cost of Real Estate in El Poblado
New apartments in El Poblado generally cost around 4,000,000 to 5,000,000 pesos ($2,013 to $2,516) per square meter. (Note using 1,987 pesos to 1 USD exchange rate). This means a new 1,000 square foot apartment in El Poblado can range in price from about $201,300 to $251,600.
The price for existing housing can be lower than new housing in El Poblado. The average cost of 35 existing properties (sized at 90-120 square meters) I surveyed in El Poblado was $1,456 per square meter. However, some of these existing housing properties are “fixer-uppers”, needing some work.
Lifeafar, the largest foreign-owned real estate firm in Medellín, has 271 property for sale listings in El Poblado listed on the Lifeafar website (72% of its total listings).
Lower cost real estate is available in other parts of Medellín including Envigado and Laureles but El Poblado remains the most popular area for foreigners.
Apartment Rental Market in El Poblado
With El Poblado being so popular with foreigners, a very active apartment rental market exists. This is why a number of property purchases by foreigners in El Poblado are investment properties that are rented out. A rental apartment in a good location in El Poblado can achieve occupancies of 80% or higher.
Provenza – an area with rapid price increases
One of the barrios of El Poblado – Provenza – is an area that has seen upgrades with many new restaurants and the housing in the area has experienced rapid price growth over the past several years.
The Provenza area is attractive for several reasons:
- Flat area for walking and retirees, compared to the hilly parts of El Poblado
- Very close to Parque Lleras
- Many restaurants in the area
- Close to the Golden Mile with several shopping malls
- Several grocery stores within 10-15 minutes, including Carulla, Exito and Jumbo.
El Poblado remains the most popular neighborhood in Medellín for foreigners with good reason. It has many of the best restaurants and best shopping malls in the city, some of the best nightlife as well as the most hotels and the most rental apartments available. It is also considered one of the safest neighborhoods.
I expect that El Poblado will remain the most popular neighborhood for foreigners in Medellín for the foreseeable future. But some areas of the Medellín metro like Envigado and Laureles are expected to see increasing interest from some foreigners as an alternative to El Poblado.