Two people in Panama hats looking at a panoramic view of Medellin, Colombia
A city panorama from Comuna 13

Is it really possible that we’ve been here for a year?
On Nov. 22, 2018, we moved to Medellín, Colombia after living in Boquete, Panama for 3.5 years. Our one-year milestone seems like a good time to pause and reflect on what we’ve learned, what we love/don’t love about our adopted home, and what advice we’d give anyone thinking about the expat life in Colombia’s second-largest city. And it’s also fun to see how far we’ve come since we posted our three-month check-in last February

Here are the things we love the most after one year in this colorful, modern city on the go. 

1. Medellín has the friendliest people on the planet. 

With just a few exceptions, each encounter we’ve had with a Colombiano has been warm and helpful. Get on a crowded elevator, and just about everyone will say “Buenos días.” Same goes for folks sitting in a doctor’s waiting room. People are unerringly patient as we struggle to communicate using our baby Spanish. Taxi drivers are patient as we explain where we’re going, and many strike up a conversation. Our landlady has taken us under her wing, and we’ve made Paisa friends who have shown us a side to the city we’d never see on our own. It’s safe to say we’ve never lived in any other place with people this welcoming or gracious.

Group of people wearing Santa hats in a park in Medellin, Colombia
One day while walking our pups, John and I discovered this free exercise class offered by the Medellin parks and rec department. After attending for a few months, we’ve been accepted by the group as four of their own!

Take our typical morning dog walk. We ride the elevator to our lobby, and Luis the doorman (Tio Luis) showers our dogs with attention. “Cómo están, Señor Juan y Señora Susana! Rosita! Tango!” (Followed by lots of petting, rapid-fire Spanish doggy endearments, and sloppy kisses.) We walk down the street and we’re greeted by numerous doormen in other buildings, who know us and our dogs well. We pass plenty of other people, either with or without their own dogs, and it’s very rare that we’re not greeted with a “Buenos días – cómo están!” And quite often, someone will stop to pet Rosie and Tango and shower them with more love.   

2. It’s always spring in Medellín

They don’t call this the City of Eternal Spring for nothing. Just like the rest of the world, Medellín is getting warmer. It means the temperature rarely dips below 60° at night or rises over 80° during the day.  Except for two rainy seasons, May/June and September/November, it’s consistently warm and sunny. This time of year, when our friends are up north shoveling snow, we like to say we’re shoveling sunshine!

3. Medellín y Colombia son muy económico. 

A tray of fruits and vegetables from a Medellin farmer's market
All of this bounty cost about $6 from our neighborhood farmer’s market.

The basic cost of living here is 30 to 40 percent lower than Boquete, Panama, which, of course, is significantly lower than the hyper-inflated economy of Southern California where we came from. There are a few exceptions of course – wine and liquor are more costly here due to higher taxes. This website has a detailed breakdown of the cost-of-living differences between Medellín and Boquete.  Here are a few of our own examples:

  • Our mobile phone service, internet service, and basic utilities are 25 percent less than what we were paying in Panama.
  • The two of us can have a nice dinner out, sharing a bottle of wine, for about $35. 
  • A taxi ride is seldom more than $6, and that’s to go way across the city. For most of our destinations, it’s $2-$3 dollars.

4. Healthcare is extremely high-quality and affordable.

As legal residents of Colombia, we are required to participate in the public healthcare system at a cost of about $30 TOTAL for both of us. For just a few dollars more than that, we’ve been able to get all of our health checkups and tests done this year including dental exams and cleanings, routine cardiological testing, dermatology visits, and “lady stuff.” The only drawback is that the system is serving a lot of people, so there’s sometimes quite a long wait to get an appointment with a specialist.

A dental clinic in Medellin, Colombia
The ultra-modern and efficient dental clinic at EPS Sura Los Molinos

Here are a few examples:

  • Susan had an extremely thorough mammogram (yeah, ouch!) with ultra-modern digital equipment that rivals anything in the U.S. Cost: $5
  • We both had dental exams and cleanings, and Susan had dental sealant applied to some of her teeth. Cost: $3 apiece, total. 
  • Because of his history with arrhythmia, John opted not to wait to see a cardiologist through the public system. Instead, he visited a private cardiologist. Cost, for initial consult and follow-up visit: $60. That’s sixty-freaking-dollars, for two appointments!   
  •  At the cardiologist’s request, John had an echocardiogram and Holter monitor study done through the public system (he’s fine!). Cost: $0. Yup, you read that right.

5. Medellín is a clean, progressive, forward-thinking city.

Here are a few things that might surprise you, if you have some preconceived ideas about Medellín and large Latin American cities in general: 

  • The water is safe to drink. Medellín has a world-class water and wastewater treatment system that puts many in more developed countries to shame.
  • The public transit system is second to none in Colombia, and perhaps in all of South America. We’ve written before about how the system of cable cars, escalators, street cars, and the Metro light rail
    A cable car overlooking the cityscape of Medellin, Colombia
    The Medellin Metro system operates four cable lines, with another soon to be completed, that link the hillside communities with the central city.
    system have transformed many of Medellín’s roughest neighborhoods. Every time we ride Metro, we’re amazed once again by how efficient and clean it is. The people are so proud of their system that you will never find a smidge of graffiti anywhere on a Metro car. 
  • Medellín has a very unique and highly effective recycling system. Monday and Thursday are trash pickup days in Laureles, and on those mornings an army of “waste pickers” descends on the trash barrels in our neighborhood. These people make their living sorting through the trash and pulling out the recyclables – plastic bottles, cans, paper, cardboard – and also cast-off items that they might be able to sell in the city’s flea markets.
Woman sorting plastic bottles for recycling on the streets of Medellin
Photo credit: Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing

The waste pickers really are unsung heroes. In fact, they are responsible for reducing the burden on Medellin landfills and making sure that plastic bottles and bags, two scourges of the planet, are sent to recycling facilities. Here’s a great article with a lot more about how the waste pickers are struggling for more legitimacy and inclusion. 

  • Medellin is a city on the go. Over the last decade, Medellín has piled up an impressive collection of international awards and designations for its innovation, forward-thinking approaches, and adoptions of new technologies to improve the lives of citizens. One of the very latest is a Newsweek Momentum Award as the World’s Smartest City. The video below has quite a bit more detail – to get to the meat of things, skip to about 5:15. Yay, Medellín – we couldn’t be prouder!! 

6. The cultural opportunities are unrivaled.

Two programs from the Medellin Teatro MetropolitanoMedellin is beginning to attract world-class cultural events and performance (exhibit A – the London Symphony and Yo Yo Ma, who both performed in the Teatro Metropolitano earlier this year). We savor those, but it’s the smaller, more local and more intimate theatres and shows that we’ve really enjoyed. 

On one recent occasion, we bought tickets to see a performance of the Ballet Folklorico de Antioquia at the Teatro Pablo Tobón Uribe. Not knowing much about the performance, we were delighted to find out that it was the end-of-year recital for the ballet’s dance school. There were kids of all ages performing virtually every dance style you can imagine, with an audience full of proud family members dressed to the nines and bringing flowers for their young performers.  It was a real kick, and we loved every minute!

Little girls performing in a dance recital in Medellin, Colombia
Aren’t they the cutest?

7. Medellín is a great base for exploring the rest of Colombia and South America. 

El Paraiso Jardin
Hosteria El Paraiso in Jardín

Over our first year, we’ve made trips to Guatapé, Santa Elena, and La Ceja – all towns within a couple-hour drive from Medellin. We’ve also ventured further away to Santa Elena/Tayrona National Park (blog post coming!) and the picturesque mountain town of Jardín. Even so, we’ve just barely scratched the surface of what Colombia has to offer. Medellín’s location is ideally suited for extended travel by car or local air connections.

Two travel blogs that we admire greatly (in fact, we’ve recently gotten to know the authors, who have all become fast friends) have recently covered their own trips through the hinterlands of Colombia. They are now our role models, and we’re looking forward to following in their wake. If you’re planning your own trip to Colombia, both of these blogs are great resources:

  • Above Us Only Skies. Our great friends Nicky and Ian have done some fabulous blogging about their trip through Colombia. Here’s a listing of their Colombian posts.
  • Lisa Dorenfest. Lovely Lisa and her partner Fabio have just completed a circumnavigation aboard their sailboat, Amandla. They recently made a stopover in Colombia, and Lisa covered their in-country journeys with lyrical writing and stunning photography here and here.

The Cons – and how we deal with them.

No place is perfect, of course. Here are our negatives about life in this bustling metropolis of over three million people.

  • The language barrier. Unlike Boquete, where it’s possible to get by without ever learning a word of Spanish, a basic level of español is really essential here. Moving to Medellín meant immersing ourselves completely in an unfamiliar sea of language, customs, and local idiosyncrasies.  The immersion has paid off so far, and we both feel we’ve made huge strides with our Spanish in just a year through our private tutor, various online resources, and just putting ourselves out there trying to converse with folks.  We have a long way to go, but as they say here, poco a poco (little by little) we’re getting there. We will probably never be fluent, but we are getting more competent, and confident.
  • The air pollution. Like other big cities around the world, Medellín struggles with air quality.
    It’s rare for the pollution to get this bad, but it does happen. (Photo: Medellín Guru)
    March and April tend to be the worst months, when the air is affected by the change from dry to rainy season. On the positive side, the city is working on improving the air, and it will eventually pay off. At least 80 new all-electric buses are slated to hit the roads here very soon. There is a program in place to switch the taxis to all-electric cars. And the “pico y placa” program curbs cars on the road according to license plate number and  rotating days/ hours. Now, if they can just do something about the smoke-belching diesel trucks and busses.

    Summary: if you have breathing problems or are otherwise sensitive to air pollution, Medellín may not be your place. So far, we haven’t really noticed any adverse affects. We use air monitoring apps on our phones and stay in doors on the very rare, super-bad days.
  • The traffic. It can be positively RIDICULOUS. We live in a slightly less-traveled area, Laureles, and we also don’t own a car. But we’ve come to dread the times when we have to take a taxi across the river to El Poblado, a much more compacted and congested neighborhood. It’s a matter of planning and making sure we’re not stuck in rush hour, when it can take well over an hour to go three miles. More than once, we’ve gotten out of a traffic-mired cab and walked the remaining blocks to our destination to avoid being late to an appointment.
  • Petty crime.  No, the Medellín of today is a far cry from the narco-terroristic days of the 70s and 80s. It’s highly unlikely you will be a) kidnapped, b) a bombing victim, or c) shot by a drug warlord. But it’s just like any other large city with a large income gap between rich and poor (in other words, any large city in the world), and petty crimes are on the rise in the more upscale neighborhoods.

    Credit: José Vaccaro Ruiz
    There’s a popular saying here – “no dar papaya” – which basically means not to put yourself in a situation where you could be taken advantage of. Don’t walk down the street wearing expensive jewelry or a big camera around your neck. Don’t wave your iPhone in the air (iPhones are a big target for “snatch and grab” thieves on motorcycles). And watch your gear when you’re riding public transit. It’s all just common sense, really. Our friend Jeff at Medellin Guru has a much more detailed overview of crime and safety in Medellin – read it here


One year as expats in Medellín, Colombia has taught us so much. Probably the most important thing we’ve learned is patience and understanding, especially with ourselves as we navigate an unfamiliar place and continue to make our home here.

Are you considering the expat life? If so, why, and what cities/countries are you looking at? What are your top criteria? 

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  1. Bland Holland Reply

    Seriously want to plan a trip down this Spring and check it out! We are loving Morelia however we don’t see our expat lives being in one place forever – just too much to explore out there.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Hi Bland! That’s what’s great about expatting – there are so many fantastic places to explore. We ourselves will probably be based in Europe someday, but we’re here as long as our dogs are still with us. Please come for a visit. We’d love to show you around!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Yay! Would love to see you both 🙂

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Amigos, you’re a big reason why we’re here! You paved the way for us. If it’s a year for us, it must be at least two for you, right? Time flies 🙂

  2. Leslie Trippy Reply

    Wonderful post you two! Love your blog! Been to Boquete, too windy and I do not like the Bajareque. I don’t know if I could deal with the pollution and traffic In Medellin (I live in the Lake Tahoe area of CA – grew up in the SF Bay Area tho’). I have a friend, Michelle, who owns a B&B up in the mountains near Cali that you might want to check out in your explorations of Colombia.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thank you so much for your comment, Leslie! We will definitely check out Michelle’s B&B. Cali is on our long list of places to visit in Colombia one of these days. And BTW, we love Lake Tahoe – lots of great memories of skiing there when we lived in the Bay Area.

  3. Oh you are making me miss Medellín so much (luckily the pollution was never that bad when we visited there ;-). Honestly, we’ve just never managed to bond with our next port (Panama) in quite the same way. We miss that Paisa charm and Colombia has made it to the tops on our land list should we ever move ashore for an extended period. Thank you both for encouraging us to visit here, for making us feel so at home, and for your shout outs in the post.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Well, now we have something to look forward to – the two of you possibly coming back to live (?!). At any rate, nuestra apartamento es su apartamento should you come back for a visit! Best of luck as you travel up through Costa Rica. You’ll love it – such a beautiful country and the anchorages are spectacular. Fair winds and following seas 🙂

  4. Wonderfully interesting post about a fascinating city. Had no real idea of where Medellin was or what Colombia was like but you’ve really opened my eyes. It’s still got a slightly bad reputation hasn’t it for crime but that sounds exaggerated now I’ve read your post. Life sounds wonderful and it’s definitely all down to you two immersing yourselves in the culture and especially the language.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thank you, Jonno! Yes, Colombians – and especially Paisas (residents of Antioquia province and Medellin) are trying hard to overcome that reputation. It really is a completely different place from 25 years ago. Hey, fancy a dog-sit here one of these days??

      • We’re up for any opportunity so always open to offers. How interesting would that be? The airfare might be a little pricey but we’d have to add in a bit of a trip to make it worthwhile wouldn’t we?

        • John and Susan Pazera Reply

          Absolutely! There’s sooo much to see in Colombia.

  5. Your very informative recap of your first year in Medellin was terrific and, knowing that no place is paradise, I appreciated your honest presentation of the upsides and downsides of living there. Sending Holiday Greetings from Portugal and looking forward to meeting up with you in 2020! Anita

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Holiday greetings back to you, Anita! We’re firming up our trip to Spain and Portugal next spring. We will arrive in Madrid on April 17 and leave on May 9. In between, we’re figuring out which Spanish cities we want to visit and also when we’ll get to Portugual. We’ll keep you posted – we’re so looking forward to meeting you!

  6. Carrie Weiler Reply

    Love your blogs! I don’t know if you remember me but I’ve been following you guys (literally). My husband and I moved to Boquete about 6 months after you. We left before you to travel the world. We are currently paused (for 6 months) in Medellin! I hope we run into you. I had introduced myself to you at Sr. Gyros, but you may not remember…it was awhile ago!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Ah, welcome to Medellín! We do remember meeting you at Sr. Gyros – it would have to be a few years ago since that establishment has changed hands a few times now. I’m sure our paths will cross one of these days 🙂

  7. My niece Leslie and I went to see cousin/niece Susan and husband John to experience the life and love of Medellín and were thrilled at all it has to offer. It is so clean.the culture is so rich. The people are so proud and happy and friendly. The exhibitions, which are prevalent throughout the city are just wonderful. All of the wonderful food we had offered an even broader perspective as immigrants to the country brought their own cultural foods to the community for all to experience. The rich colors everywhere drew us right in. Ice cream, pastries, little lunches to excellent dinners, all the food was delicious. I must admit, I had my guard up a bit in anticipation of going, but really, from the moment we got off the plane, everything we experienced was bright, clean, lovely people, happy people. They are a proud people. The streets were clean, no trash blowing around. We took one trip into the country where farmers abound and stopped along the road for fresh fruit, the very best corn dumplings, (I’m sure they have a proper name), ice cream, and shopping in a little village that had been moved so the original site could serve as a Hugh reservoir for the area. They did a beautiful job of telling the story of the move through the art of the new town. This is where we bought some really beautiful things along with a few trinkets to bring is so reasonably priced and good quality I wish I had bought more❣️
    I have traveled in Mexico quite a lot in my life and South America has a very different feel. More friendly, much more clean, and the culture more rich. My opinion.i can’t wait to go back❣️❣️❣️

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      We LOVED having you both here – our first family visitors 🙂 Everything in your comment captures perfectly what we love about life here. We hope you come back to see us soon!
      John and Susan

  8. We were lucky enough to live in Medellin for 6 weeks and it gave us a glimpse into life in this amazing Colombian city. Thank you for sharing your insights with us, what a fabulous article! The beautiful spirit of Colombiano’s Is apparent throughout your article and the reason we fell in love with Colombia. Looking forward to catching up with you both there again in the not too distant future!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Oh, I hope so! We would love to have you back here when you have more time (that one dinner just wasn’t enough – ha!). You two are such an inspiration to us 🙂

  9. This place sounds wonderful! Minus the traffic…is it worse than So CaL?? Also, how did you like living in Panama? I went a few years back and loved the country – had a great time there.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      No traffic is worse than SoCal – ha! We loved living in Panama. It’s an incredibly scenic country, and we made great friends there. After over three years, we got restless and wanted to live in a more urban area. We got our wish 🙂

  10. An excellent post to showcase the good qualities of Medellin! It’s an attractive option, especially since my husband and most of his siblings were born in Colombia to German parents. He learned German then Spanish and can speak Spanish fluently. If we were ever to move out of the US, this would be a top 3 option. Within the next 18 months, we plan to retire to Spokane, WA where family resides and the costs of living are lower than California. Medellin is definitely a place we hope to visit soon, as well as Chile where many members of hubby’s extended family live.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      We hope you get a chance to visit someday, especially since your hub has South American family! Good luck with your retirement plans. Washington State is so beautiful.

  11. Wow, it feels as if it was only yesterday that you moved to Medellín. I still remember your posts from your first few weeks in this Colombian city, and that was a year ago! In many aspects Medellín sounds very progressive — I particularly commend the fact that the cable cars help connect its low-income neighborhoods with the rest of the city, resulting in a lower crime rate. This is what you’ll get if you put inclusivity at the center of a city’s development. Wishing you greater years ahead in this beautiful corner of the world, John and Susan!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Hello, Bama! Great to hear from you. From your comments, you really “get” what’s great about Medellin. And likewise, we wish you all the best in the coming year – hope you can visit this part of the world someday 🙂

  12. An excellent list of detailed pros and cons. I especially like the pros of the national health system. One of these days we must come to Medellin. No dar papaya. Lol.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      We’re hoping you can make it here soon! High time we met up, don’t you think? 🙂 Happy New Year to you and Ron.

  13. Joseph Mathews Reply

    This is a fine article and helps dispell the myth that we’ll be kidnapped, shot etc. on arrival. Petty crime is everywhere as are violent and unsafe neighborhoods. We have “porch pirates” here in the U.S. stealing UPS, FedEX and Amazon Prime parcels off front porches and even in between the “storm” and “main” doors. We greatly look forward to our first Medellin visit in Febuary. Thank you again for a great article “y Feliz Navidad”.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Feliz Navidad to you too, and gracias for your comment! Glad you will get to experience Medellin for yourself. It isn’t perfect here, but one thing we don’t have to worry about is mass shootings. Every time we go to the U.S., we are looking over our shoulder wondering if we’re in someone’s gun sight.

      • Joseph Mathews Reply

        John and Susan, meant to add the following in my first post. We spent a weeend in Boquete in a nice inn just east of the town. We arrived in a cold mist with a fire going in their fireplace! This is Panama? I liked it for the weekend, but, if we were living in Panama, I’d still choose Panama City, but hate the heat. Also, if you know anyone going to Boquete and is into birding or other activities, check out Jason Lara on Trip Advisor. He is wonderful, but sometimes hard to book since “National Geographic” got a ahold of him. Incidently, Cuernavaca, Mexico brings up the “spring like climate”. Daytime yes, but at night, it’s cold. Sadly, Mexico is
        off our go back list until they can tame the violence in a lot of areas. Loved out time there though.

        • John and Susan Pazera Reply

          We hear you about Mexico. We’ve read recently that the drug cartels now have an influence in places like San Miguel de Allende. That’s really worrisome – the Mexican government just has to get a handle on that situation. We have plenty of birder friends in Boquete, and in fact did a hike with a bunch of birder friends and Jason once. And yes, we know what you mean about the climate in Boquete too. It can be pretty extreme – another reason we decided to move.

  14. Both you and Lisa Dorenfest have given me a brand new outlook on Medellin. This is a great summary and I appreciate that you objectively spoke of both the pros and cons. I hope we can visit sometime soon!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      We hope so too – we’d love to meet you and show you our fabulous city 🙂

  15. What a fantastic expat guide (or overview) for Medellín! I read Lisa’s posts of Colombia as well. Stunning! No, perfect doesn’t exists, or we would be living there. Right now, we don’t live anywhere and it has been hard for us to find a suitable place to call home for a while, hence we’ve been nomads since 2003. But, never say never. 🙂

    We’ve been to Colombia on our sailboat, in 2011, and stopped in Santa Marta and Cartagena, with a short trip to Tayrona NP. There is much more to Colombia, obviously, so we hope to be be back (probably overland) one year.

    (I tried to sign up with my email address to get your posts, but it didn’t work on my iPad. I’ll try again on my computer, later.

    Happy Holidays, you two!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Hi Liesbet! Not sure what the problem is with your signing up on iPad, but I’ll troubleshoot it. Hope you can get back to Colombia one of these days – we are looking forward to seeing more of the country ourselves.

  16. You just listed many of the things we loved about Medellin as well. I can’t believe it has been a year! Time flies. I love your picture of Jardin, also such a beautiful place.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thanks, Bonnie and Trin! Time does fly, doesn’t it? Hope you can make it back to this side of the world someday 🙂

  17. Very interesting to read the pros and the cons. I’d never had expected such a high quality of healthcare, or such low costs for same.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thank you for reading! I thought I had already replied, but alas, no. For sure, low-cost and high-quality healthcare is a big priority for us especially as we get older – especially being from the U.S. In fact, it’s a big driver for us as expats.

      Hope you have an excellent 2020!

  18. This was such an interesting read. I really admire how you’ve thrown yourselves into learning the language and culture there. The people sound very welcoming and friendly and the healthcare is so inexpensive. What are property prices like there? I wish you both a very happy 2020, as you start your second year in Medellin. 🙂

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thank you so much for stopping by! And same to you – all the best for 2020. As far as property prices go, we don’t have a great handle on that since we’re not in the market. But our general sense is that housing prices are very low here compared to equivalent properties in the US.

  19. Dave (Travel Tales of Life) Reply

    Thank you for this extremely informative look at life in Medellin! I imagine the language barrier can occasionally be frustrating, but you seem to be conquering it! Well done! Amazing how Medellín has come so far in a relatively short period of time.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thanks so much for reading! Medellin really is a miracle city.

  20. What an interesting post about Colombia. Great information about the health system and recycling. Thanks for providing thoughtful insight into the culture of the area and its people. I learned a lot.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thank you so much for your comment, and for visiting our little patch of the blogosphere 🙂

  21. Very thorough and interesting post. We both loved our short time in Medellin years back but never thought of it as a more permanent place to stop for a while… although we are always open to new home bases. We both speak Spanish thanks to some years in Nicaragua so thats a positive, only the air pollution would probably be an issue for me for more long term. But very informative and always interesting to read about other expats around the world.


    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thank you for reading. It’s been quite the year! Where did you live in Nicaragua? We have some other good blogging friends who lived for years on Ometepe and left almost two years ago when all the political unrest started there. It’s such a tragedy.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thank you for visiting our blog – hope you make it to Medellin someday! Colombia has so much to offer travelers 🙂

  22. Having just spent a week in Medellin, my thoughts are that the potential for crime and muggings here are too high for a gringo. The lifestyle is crowded and there is no upside to being constantly on the lookout for potential problems or to try and avoid them being a target. I have not had any issues while I have been here and it seems the entertainment and food options are terrific, the folks are nice, the weather is relatively good as long as you can live with some of the pollution. My thoughts are to look for smaller towns with the same paisa attitude if possible and hopefully a lower crime rate. Peace of mind has a price. Thanks for your articles John.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thank you for your perspective. Expatting is all about figuring out what your own personal comfort zone is and then going with that. So far, Medellin is working for us. We’ve been here for a year and a half and have never felt unsafe, but we also don’t put ourselves into overly risky situations. It’s the same common sense you would use in any large, densely populated city, anywhere. Curious about which neighborhood you stayed in, and what factors made you feel unsafe?

  23. I am staying in Poblado but have also visited a number of other areas of the town including Laureles and of course off- limit areas by tour. I did not run into any problems. But I was on high alert always and that’s taxing. To your point, I think that you can run into thieves anywhere in the city and it’s more about being at the right place at the wrong time. Yes, there are bad parts in every city but I can say there are many places in the world where rule of law is generally respected (for most citizens) and the value put on one’s life is higher. That only happens when you have police who make arrests and people have reason to be afraid of the law. I only speak about Medellin from my own personal observations and everyone’s mileage will be different.

  24. We’re considering moving there next year (February) to do a Fulbright and immerse our kids in Spanish culture/language (they already do Spanish immersion here in the States). I’m a runner and would like to live in a neighborhood with the best air quality so I can spend my time running and exploring. Are there neighborhoods with better, more consistent air quality?

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Hello Erik – thanks for visiting our blog! We actually moved out of Medellin over a year ago to a small town about 45 minutes away, higher in the Andes. Check out our post about El Retiro. The air is crystal clear here! But we are at 7,500 feet, which might take some adjustment for a runner. If you go to Medellin, I would suggest one of the higher neighborhoods in Envigado or El Poblado where the air quality tends to be better. Super hilly, though, for running. Anyway, good luck with your explorations. You have some lucky kids, whose parents want them to have an international cultural experience. The best possible education, IMO.
      – Susan

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