5 things I don’t like about Medellin

You can find plenty of online advice about how wonderful Colombia is as a retirement destination or just a good place to live.  But sometimes these websites are just trying to do a sales job rather than really inform.  The worst of these offenders is International Living, in my opinion, which would have you move every month to a new country because the best one in the world is ALWAYS the one they’re marketing books and conferences for.  For that matter, I’ve told you mostly just the good stuff myself.  So with that in mind, I’m here today to give you the downside of this mountainous country down south.  Here’s my list of 5 reasons to avoid Colombia:

1-Air Pollution

            I first noticed this while taking a taxi across the Rio Medellin (really an ugly canal) during Friday rush hour.  I was trying to enjoy the ride with my window rolled down, but I’d already had about ten times my normal recommended daily allowance (RDA) of carbon monoxide poisoning that afternoon, and my lips were starting to turn blue, so the cabbie mercifully allowed as how he’d spring for closed windows and air conditioning for the second half of the trip.  Yes, they’re aware of the problem and working on it by restricting traffic on certain streets during peak hours (and other measures), but for now, a good idea is to carry a gas mask when in the lower altitudes.  The problem rapidly abates, it seems, as you climb up the valley floor to elevations 500 feet or more above Ground Zero, but if you live and work below, it’s like a high altitude version of LA.  By the way, it was a good idea to pull my elbow in to the car, anyway, as motorcyclists hurtling past at highway speeds, oblivious to the violent and untimely deaths which they would all undoubtedly suffer, and soon, came so close to the car that I could have played grab ass with them if I wanted to.

2-Where’s the old town?

Ersatz village on Cutibara Hill

It’s 50 miles away, in Santa Fe de Antioquia, of course, you stupid gringo!  Medellin is a modern city of high rises, but if you’re looking for colonial charm in the Andes, go to Cuenca, because there isn’t much history in or near the city center.  Yes, they’ve preserved a church or two, but if you like history and a sense of cultural continuity as much as I do, this isn’t the place for you.  “History?  We don’t need no stinkin’ history!”


            Yes, this had to come up in any discussion where the city’s most famous citizen was a drug lord (Pablo Escobar) and where the police were likely to find twenty murder victims every day during the height of the Medellin Cartel’s worst wars.  Now, a lot of people would have you believe it is perfectly safe here these days.  I’m sure that’s what the American tourist gunned down in a nice section of the city just a few days ago thought as well.  Yes, it may be much safer than it used to be, and if you travel with friends and make no ostentatious (read stupid) displays of wealth, you’ll probably be OK in the wealthy areas, but when your murder rate is still twice as high as Detroit’s, and that’s a huge improvement, what does it say about your city?

4-Pedestrians beware!

You’d better have the speed and agility, not to mention the outright fear in the belly, of a baby gazelle being chased by a hungry lion if you plan to cross a major street in this city, because, chances are, there’s only one way across the highway, and it involves dodging cars racing around blind corners like they’re vying for the finish line at LeMans, and they’re willing to swap paint and maybe kill a few innocent bystanders to win.  No, it’s not that the drivers are bad: quite the contrary.  They’re very, very good.  But the roads simply don’t provide for a normal system of crosswalks in high traffic areas, and of course the aforementioned pollution makes walking a trade off between good exercise and lung cancer.


Yes, the economy here is improving dramatically, and the signs of economic progress are everywhere, but so is the poverty, and it gets far worse as you get away from the city center.  So, if you can’t handle seeing legless beggars and orphaned kids trying to sell you Chiclets for milk money, this isn’t the place for you.  But then again, I’d say it eliminates most of the rest of the Third World as well.

So that’s my list, but don’t get me wrong, I DO like Medellin and its people.  It’s just that I believe in truth in advertising, and it ain’t the perfect Shangri-La that some would have you believe.  No surprise it isn’t heaven on earth, right?

Today, I looked at some apartments, but I’ll report to you tomorrow what I’ve found.  Until then, Adios…again!

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139 Responses to 5 things I don’t like about Medellin

  1. Hermano de pescado says:

    2 thumbs up. You have left no stone unturned. The air pollution is so horrid that I cut my 5 day stay in The chic el poblano section of Medellin due to the stench of the smog in the city. I fled the city and relocated to rio negro just nearby the Medellin international airport located about 30 milesoutif town about 2000 feet higher elevation than Medellin. The population has grown exponentially since the previous time I had been there (1977). It is nothing like it once was. It was known as the city of eternal spring. The pollution has turned it into the city of guaranteed lung cancer.
    How anyone live in this place is beyond me. Just a little word of caution. I stayed in a 4 star hotel for the one night I was in Medellin. The air pollution was being pumped ino my room though the vents and my eyes we’re burning and did not stop.
    And oh by the way Medellin is very expensive I mean very expensive. Typical Walmart pharmacy items 2 to 3 times USA prices. No exaggeration.

    • Js says:

      Expensive? Youre an idiot typical gringo who was there 3 days and thinks he knows the entire city. What an arrogant fool lol. Its one of the cheapest places to live when it comes to city living. The food was pennies. The medical care was super affordable. Taxis were a few dollars for a long ride. My luxury apartment i shared in the richest part of the city was $350 USD a month and that included all utilities and a maid. The pharmacies were super cheap. You probably got the gringo price since you dont speak any spanish. Your post was the worst ever. Lol

      • Philip says:

        Js, if Medellin is so cheap then why are you sharing an apartment? lol
        In fact, Medellin is no Chiang Mai. Medellin taxis are cheap, as is healthcare and medicine. But, EPM services (water, garbage, electric, phone, internet) are very expensive. The prices at Carulla are like the U.S.
        No question you can live eat frijoles, share an apartment, use your EPS healthcare, and live cheap. The Medellin prices in relation to quality of life is not a balanced tradeoff. You have to give up a lot in Medellin in exchange for a pretty crappy quality of life, including shitty pollution, no city parks, horrible traffic, crappy customer service, poor healthcare (unless you pay the premium for SURA global), ethnocentrism, and a dumbed-down population (http://i.huffpost.com/gen/1710821/thumbs/r-PISA-PROBLEMSOLVING-403xFB.jpg).
        If you are a cheap-o, and do not value things like clean air, city parks, the arts, and sophistication, then Medellin is a pretty good shit-hole to call home.
        If you want cheap and a good quality of life, Asia is a much better option.
        In the end, if you can afford it, impossible to beat the U.S. for living (i.e. Hawaii, San Diego, Portland, San Francisco, Napa, Manhattan Beach)

      • Mario says:

        I agree!! I love Medellin. they go there keeping in mind that they are going to Heaven. Everywhere you go in this planet you will see the Good, The Bad and The Ugly. Unfortunately for Him was though love.

        • Larry Glickman says:

          “I am just saying 95% of the girls here are scamming men” I post here now and then but I have been coming to Colombia since 1993 living here since 2011 and now i just qualified for a 5 year resident visa. I am sad to say I agree with the above statement with these caveats. The men who come here between the ages of 40-60+ and expect to have the young hottie below 30 years old be their “high school sweetheart” are living in a fantasy and its dangerous as I will explain. I have made these mistakes here and actually helped 6 of my close friends to marry long term because they followed my advice and learned from my disasters. Money corrupts women in poor countries and desperate US and European men who come to Colombia are late to the party especially in Medellin. This is the same thing that happened in Costa Rica the original “gringo” paradise. This is why I moved to San Antonio/Rio Negro where the corruption has not yet set in. A good friend and Colombian here who lives in Medellin just had to go to the police because of an extortion attempt from a young ghetto “hottie”. Robbery and and worse are common. BUT there is a way to overcome this and its simple. Stick with women closer to your age and who are employed and who need what you are offering. The example is a nurse or teacher with a child between 3-8 needing a better life for her kid and herself. Women are the Queens of deal making and they use sex and affection to close the deal. This is not a bad thing its reality. Follow these rules and you improve your odds tremendously.

          • Larry Glickman says:

            Here is an update as of June 3rd 2017. Medical care is abundant by not east to navigate. I have tinnitus and went to 5 ear nose and throat “Specialists” with two poorly executed surgeries. I say that after an evaluation by a visiting Canadian specialist who showed me on video and reference material where they screwed up. I’m slowly recovering with less hearing in my left ear. Dental work is better if you go to the right dentist. Any contact with the police or “Transit Cops” will be a horrific experience. There are 500 accidents a day in Medellin and the traffic is bad 24/7 its is as bad as Bogota. I was rear ended after a business meeting in Medellin at night by a drunk. The Transit cops towed my car because they said that my inspection was overdue even though I just had one when I renewed my insurance. It took 10 hours to get it out the Transito location with 6 lines to stand in and over 300 US dollars for all the fines and towing.!! The other party’s insurance company will not pay me until after September 5th with the Obligatory court meeting in spite of the police record and photos. Last year the same thing happened and it took 6 weeks to get paid. Do not drive a car here use buses and taxis. A bus ride from Sabaneta to Poblado is one hour when it was 20 minutes and they continue to build more high rises!!! San Antonio is still nice and fresh but they are making the same mistakes here. Huge amounts of construction with no urban planning. The roads here are 2 lane and so very soon they will ruin this area as well. In short if you are looking for paradise it has moved to the the deep suburbs. Jardin etc but you need to be happy with “Pueblo” life. I love the people of Colombia but the government, police etc are pushing me to return to Florida.

            • Boris says:

              Thanks for the feedback guys. I’ve nearly tied up all of the loose ends back home with the intention of moving between October and December of this year. The University in Laureles seems to be the right choice vs Poblado, which seems to be getting worse and worse with each visit. Last time back was in mid May. I’m thinking somewhere around Carrera 75 would be ideal. Close to the action on both 70 and 80, close to the university, restaurants, nightlife, metro, etc…

              Interesting feedback on the fidelity of the Paisas. Some friends and I were having lunch at La Margarita on 70 a few weeks back (Amazing trout) and we came across who we thought was a narco, mid 50’s pulled up in a new bmw with three 18-22 year old chicas. As soon as he left they were over at our table smiling, laughing, flirting. In the interest of self-preservation I decided against getting a number.

              Does anyone have experience with Periera aka (Mini-Medellin)?
              I’ve heard lot’s of good things, mainly less pollution, less traffic, clean water, cheaper prices.

              I’ll be in Estadio June 15-19th if anyone wants to go for a drink.

              Lastly, any recommendations on a good dentist in town?

  2. oscar01 says:

    Thanks for the attaboy! I didn’t notice that Medeliin was expensive, though. Real estate, for example, is a screaming bargain. But dining out wasn’t cheap…didn’t stay long enough to really shop for staples like you did.

  3. Robert Bethea says:

    To “Road less Traveled”,
    In Costa Rica, the Internet did overnight what word of mouth would have taken thirty years. Your right about the hype.
    On impulse I bought a ticket to Medellin, now I’m having second thoughts. Could you recommend a reasonable hotel there? I’m an older gringo, but I do speak good Spanish.

    • Robert Cobb says:

      I’m a strong 68yr old guy who spent 10 days in Medellin last year. I stayed in several hotels in the El Poblado district in but found fault with all but The Plaza Rosa which is across the street from a mall and is reasonably priced at about $50 per night.
      Good taxi service and within (hilly) walking distance of the park at the center of El Poblado.
      Get a room on an upper floor (about the 8th) for a great view. info@plazarosa.com or google, plaza rosa hotel – medellin

  4. oscar01 says:

    I stayed at the Diez Hotel. Very nice, reasonably priced, walking distance to everything.

    I think you’ll enjoy the city. It’s got a lot to see and do, but you’ll need at most one week there. I wouldn’t consider moving there myself because of the problems noted above, but I wrote elsewhere about how wonderful it can be. You have to judge for yourself, of course, whether the good outweighs the bad. Suffice it to say that, IMO, it doesn’t even come close to living up to the hype that it is a European city. Yes, it does have that flavor at times…but then you turn a corner and see a starving dog, or open the paper and read about a dead gringo tourist.

  5. Nicholas564 says:

    First off I would like to say that whatever grudge you bear against this city should not be used to create an article of this nature. I am an American, but my family is from Medellin, I am currently living here, and I have to say that the crime is not as bad as you believe it is, my whole life I have traveled back and fourth between the States and Colombia, and here in Medellin I have never been robbed, in comparison to the U.S where I have been robbed 3 times (mugged once) and I wasn’t even in a dangerous city, I lived in Minnesota, IN IOWA during those times. The crime here in Medellin is a lot less than in D.C or Detroit. I agree that pollution and the poverty are high. But don’t judge based on these small factors, everyone should judge for themselves.

    • William says:

      Excellent points. I have lived in Volcan for the last 3 years and we have never had a problem not once. Our trip to Medellin was very pleasant. Yes, there is pollution, but I would take a Latin American culture over any city in the US, any day.

  6. Jonathan says:

    Nicholas, I am glad you haven’t been robbed, but your anecdotal evidence is, IMO, trumped by the statistics, which show that Medellin is far worse than the worst US cities when it comes to the only crime you can’t recover from: murder. Detroit and DC are safe in comparison. Yes, you’re probably OK in EL Poblado, but then, you’re probably OK in DC within eyesight of the White House, too. 🙂

    I agree with your last sentence most: everyone should, of course, judge for themselves. Medellin has a lot to offer, but no city is perfect, and some people don’t consider a polluted environment and heart-rending poverty to be “small factors”. I encourage you to reed some of my other articles about the city, which I think were fairly balanced, and complimentary for the most part. Just because it wasn’t for me doesn’t mean it isn’t right for you…I bear no “grudge”, sir, and if it came across that way, that wasn’t intended. It’s just that i get tired of some of the hype I hear from people trying to sell some city or country as an expat paradise, and like any salesman, they only tell you one side. I have aimed to be more realistic.

    • Lawrence Glickman says:

      I have been living in Medellin for three years and traveling here since 1993. Yes you are statistically correct but realistically your comment on crime is incorrect. The high murder rate is linked to gang warfare like the South Side of Chicago. I lived in Santa Monica California on 4th street a few blocks from the beach in a “good neighborhood” for 30 years and was stabbed and nearly killed one block from my apartment. I have also traveled the world from China to Europe and 5 countries in Latin America and never been bothered. My conclusion is simple crime can and does happen anywhere and it can be random however in Medellin unless you are an idiot and go to bad neighborhoods, flash cash openly, wear gold jewelry, date “ladies of the evening” from low class bars or off the street you will be safe in all the main areas of Medellin. I cannot tell you how often my neighbors and strangers here have helped me with all facets of my life here. Yes the city is overcrowded now and traffic is horrible. Yes i am considering a move to the Rio Negro area for more open space BUT its the same issue with New York City and the move to the surrounding suburbs that occurred in the history of the USA. Do you want urban living with more excitement and convenience or are you willing to commute 40 minutes and have more open space? Meanwhile I enjoy the weather and moderate cost of living and especially the people here. Choose your neighborhood, learn some Spanish, reach out to your neighbors and do not try to make this a version of America and you will enjoy Colombia and Medellin.

      • Jonathan says:

        Thank you for your response. I think it is a testament to the city of Medellin that many like you have come to defend it from what they perceive as my negative bias (a couple of which were so nasty I didn’t print them). It shows that many people do love the city, and, as I pointed out, it does indeed have a lot to offer.

        And you are of course correct that the city/country choice is always a difficult one. But at the same time, I have been to many large cities where the traffic was more bearable and the pollution was unnoticeable-so it is not impossible to plan a city for better livability (I wouldn’t even consider living in NYC for one second, BTW).

        The American tourist that I mentioned who was gunned down about the time I was there was in El Poblado, the nicest part of the city. Of course, I don’t know the circumstances, and one bad incident doesn’t prove my point-any more than your anecdotes prove yours. That’s what statistics are for. Yet I did say essentially the same thing as you: use the proper precautions and you’ll probably be OK.

        At the end of the day, everyone has their own set of preferences. Medellin is not where I want to live, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t work for anyone. Obviously, it works for you. Again, my article here was to try to achieve a bit of balance and realism. To hear some people talk about it, Medellin is paradise on earth. That it isn’t. It’s got some great points, and, to me at least, some pretty big negatives as well.

        • Lawrence Glickman says:

          Jonathan lets have some fun. You like Cuenca about half a million people and picturesque in the country of Ecuador a country so screwed up it has to use the US dollar for currency yet the government there is not friendly to the USA. Or you can go to that dump called Guyaquil or freeze and be mugged in Quito. You obviously are either retired or have independent means because there is not going to be any business opportunities there. Colombia is financially sound and growing GDP 3-5% a year. Here I can be in similar city like Jardin or Ibague quickly if I want too or simply move to Rio Negro same size but with an international Airportl, 40 minutes from my choice of great hospitals in Medellin with an Intentional airport right there and a new state of the art hospital in Rio Negro for foreigners, You on the other hand in Cuenca would be in what I call “The Sticks” “The Out back” or “Park Nowhere”. In two weeks I will go to the “Teatro Metropolitano” a 1500 seat gorgeous brick theater where they will have Jazz week, with two big bands that would make Glenn Miller proud and several bands from the US. (Classical and symphony etc year round) That will be a warmup for the International Fashion festival and modeling show (As if Medellin needed more pretty girls) followed by our world famous “Flower Festival” with parades and parties all over town. I can also hop a plane at the local airport and travel to most cities in Colombia for cheap. Or visit my Brother in Florida in 2 hours 56 minutes. I’m afraid you looked at this city probably from the Honky Tonk area of Parque LLeras and totally missed the boat about why the NY times gave Medellin an award last year. Here in Medellin the USA is liked and I’m treated as a guest with daily help from locals just for the asking. You have to look at the whole picture and live here to “get it”.

          • Jonathan says:

            I do like Cuenca, as I said, for its “colonial charm”. I did not recommend it for any other reason in my short article (although, like Medellin, it has much to offer).

            The fact that Ecuador isn’t friendly to the USA is a good thing, IMO, but that’s a political discussion best left to people investigating rabbit trails. I will say I found zero anti-Americanism there. I agree with you about Quito and Guyaquil, but then, that is not where I’d spend my time in Ecuador. To each his own!

            You have, once again, pointed out many reasons to love Medellin, and I agree with much of what you say. At the same time, I stand by what I wrote. It is an accurate representation of the city, devoid of the chamber of commerce gloss that is so often depicted. As for my travels there, you are utterly wrong, a fact that would have been clear to you had you bothered to explore any one of the several other articles I published about the city. Good day.

      • Lawrence Glickman says:

        I am forced by experience to change my above opinion. After three years in Medellin (Visits since 1993 all over Colombia) with lots of great experiences and good friends I moved to Rio Negro/ San Antonio due to the congestion, air pollution and conversion of Parque LLeras from a pleasant town square to a magnet for the same type of tourist and female that ruined Costa Rica. Looking for love in a Foreign country is a tough business for lonely older Americans. I got burned a few times and actually helped some friends to match up successfully but it requires a reality check that young “hoties” are not the way to happiness. If the”deal” seems too good to be true it invariably is! Meantime I enjoy my new neighborhood and find that the people here are not yet “ruined”. There is a lot of development so I guess in the future I will see the same negative conversion at some point. Until then I will enjoy this great place.

        • Bill says:

          Hi Laurence great input. I am an American who lives in El Pabaldo but the pollution is too much for me. I have been to Rio Negro but don’t know my way around. Are there any specific nice, projects or areas you recommend for good,nice, living? I am a single man early sixties. I know there may not be the same nightlife but that’s not my thing anyway. Your thoughts?


      • Gia parisi says:

        You are wrong medellin has a lot stupid womens that have a lot childs and they are very poor so when those guys are teenagers they need money and they easy way to take that is being a criminal this teens are 12 14 16 because colombian hasn’t a hard law for them theh can kill 20 persons but they don’t go to the jail so the only solution is to kill them but medellin well all colombia never show the real news about the crime my dad worked 20 years in the colombian police and he said that the 80% of colombians are criminal lol only the 20% of criminal go to the jail and Most of the people who are assaulted never denounce it because they know that if the police capture them they will only be 12 hours in the police station and the next day they will be free. And on the street doing their job

        Sorry for my english

        • Lawrence Glickman says:

          I moved to Rio Negro/ San Antonio and find the people here very friendly and helpful. Also much safer than Poblado. My only complaint is that government services like EPS Sura health insurance are very hard to navigate but I do it with the help of local friends. Its similar to the USA in that big cities become unfriendly at a certain point of growth. This area is growing very fast but still does not offer the services or entertainment of Medellin. I’m ok with that as it has better weather and I go to Medellin now when I have too.

      • Ray Reyes says:

        Lol,I lived in WLA in the 60’s and worked out at Muscle Beach,Gym and I just came back to Florida from La Floresta where my girlfriend and I are renting an apt.beautiful place but the elevation affects us badly

  7. Warren Alexander says:

    I’m from Canada – and this is my second time here. My partner and I are considering to move here 6 months of the year – largely because of the perfect year-round weather. Cold and snow 8 months a year can be become quite unbearable, especially if you don’t snow board.

    The first time I visited was back in 2012. The amount of vehicular traffic, since then, appeared to have doubled – which I must attest, have contributed considerably to the heavy pollution – especially, in the city – and I read in the first part of the article that they’re aware of it. It doesn’t seem that way. Wear a mask? I think a mask strapped to an oxygen cylinder might be a better option. If the city wants to tackle the problem, it needs to start with those big trucks and busses. Their huge plumes of black smoke each time the accelerator pedal pushed, IMO, is the biggest culprit of all. Make emission tests are mandatory, could be a start: If your vehicle doesn’t pass the test, you can’t operate your vehicle. But how do you tell someone that the very vehicle which is his or her livelihood cannot be operated? When everything they have depends on it moving from point A to point B? Everything here seems to take a lot longer to happen – to move forward. Their seems no urgency.

    Then there’s the noise – like 6 in the morning, for example. A lot of “residential” neighbourhoods have businesses in them (houses bought were converted to businesses). Which of course is OK, as long as you don’t plan to operate a tire repair place or a second-hand store.

    I hope it gets better. Overall, out of 10, I give Medellin 5.

  8. Jonathan says:

    Thanks for your impression of the city, Warren. I think the pollution is due to the fact that Medellin is in a valley ringed by mountains, so there’s no place for the smog to go. I’m sure it wasn’t so bad when the city was smaller. But yes, some kind of pollution controls would definitely help.

    To its credit, it is a rarity in Latin America in that it does have a very good metro system. It does a good job of moving people down the valley, but not so much up into the hillside neighborhoods.

    As far as no urgency, this is a hallmark of Latin America, and I doubt it will ever change. If you can’t just grin and bear it, it’s probably not for you.

  9. Scott says:

    have spent time in medellin over the last 5 years. some comments, mainly on air quality.

    1) i have been in a bar in parque lleras on a weeknight (read – empty), with no running vehicles in sight, and smelled car exhaust the entire time.

    2) at times I pull brown mucous out of my nose here (issue is the sulfur dioxide in diesel. i have read the limit here is over 10x the limit in much of the western world.

    3) have read (no link handy) that analysis of pollution in medellin suggests overall it is just under half derived from transport, the rest from local industry. a localized pollution map on a by-metal basis was strongly suggestive of industrial origins for some of the nasty metals.

    4) I love this city, the culture, the food, the prices, the women, the appearance of the city, but the air quailty issue is a deal-killer unless you plan to live and STAY fairly high up, elevation-wise. This is, of course, viable for some people.

    5) I see comments on blogs here and there essentially saying ‘air pollution? what air pollution?’ I can only suggest taking such comments with great skepticism. Look at satellite pictures or just google medellin pollution images. better yet, read http://faculty.mu.edu.sa/public/uploads/1338142495.0341fulltext16.pdf
    and decide who is right, the random ‘no air pollution here’ blogger or these folks. Watch out for the moral equivalence counter-arguments too!

    Medellin is wonderful city to visit. Of all of south america I have visited (quite a bit but not all), it is by far my favorite, and the only place I have actually wanted to move to. Please take my above comments in that context.

  10. Jonathan says:

    Thanks, Scott for taking the time to read my article, but most especially for confirming with data what my eyes and nose were already telling me. I, like you, am simply amazed that the people who have visited or lived in Medellin don’t see, smell, and even feel the air pollution there. It is actually far worse than anyplace I have ever been-though I’ve not traveled to China at all, where I hear it can be worse.

    That said, the good news is that many cities that were formerly polluted have fixed their problem, and Medellin can as well. I hope they do, because you’re right: it has a lot to offer and a huge amount of bang for your buck. But until then, I’m staying away for health reasons.

    I’m reminded of the time when I lived about a mile from the Interstate in the States. On most days you couldn’t hear it, but when the wind blew the wrong way, traffic noise was a constant issue. I mentioned this to my neighbor one day during a highly noise polluted time, and he allowed that he couldn’t hear it at all! It just goes to show that what bothers one person doesn’t necessarily bother everyone. This noise was so bad to me that I actually moved just to get away from it, yet this guy couldn’t even hear it!

    The same goes for the pollution I guess, but still-it wouldn’t surprise me that smoking a few cigarettes every day in an otherwise clean city would be better for you than living in Medellin.

  11. Scott says:

    Thanks for your reply, Johnathan.

    ” It just goes to show that what bothers one person doesn’t necessarily bother everyone.”

    yes, though some of the ;air pollution? what air pollution?’ crowd are so aggressive I figure there are other factors at work, personal or whatever. That said, some highway noise at that distance is likely far less of a health issue than a daily dose of cadmium, chromium, lead, zinc, copper, etc. I found the localization of industrial metal pollution in the map from the study interesting. if you live in area xx, you get a nice dose of cadmium, etc. Of course, you can just look out from a decent elevation across the valley and see some of the major industrial polluters by the vast plumes of smoke they put out.

    I don’t know if N95 masks would even help with most of this stuff. (would they?)

  12. Kyle says:

    I was thinking of spending next winter in Medellin but now I’m considering sticking to Cartagena or Santa Marta on the coast. I lived in Santiago, Chile a few years ago and while I loved the city, the horrible air pollution was a dealbreaker for me.

    • Jonathan says:

      I wouldn’t let it keep me away entirely, because, as my other posts on Medellin indicate, it is in many ways a lovely city. But if air pollution is a big deal for you, I don’t think you’d want to live there.

    • Kevin says:

      I just came back from a trip to all three cities, and I wouldn’t suggest changing your plans. It isn’t perfect, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t nice.

      For instance, in Medellin, if I wanted to buy something from a street vendor, I could speak my poor Spanish, and they would be very friendly and welcoming, we might have a side conversation or they might help me with lingo or types of fruit or whatever. If I don’t want to buy something, I just don’t stop to buy anything (with the very most aggressive of gum-dealers, I might need to say “No, gracias.”)

      In Cartagena, if I wanted to buy something, they would try to speak back to me in even worse English, try to charge me 5x what it is worth, and then talk shit about me in Spanish to their friends thinking that I won’t understand. If I don’t want to buy something I have to tell them “No” repeatedly, and they would pretend not to understand me regardless of language. (Santa Marta seemed between the two extremes, but we didn’t spend much time in the city itself.)

      Medellin is in a valley, so I can see how air pollution would be a problem at times, but I didn’t find it to be a major issue for me. It rained just about every afternoon, so perhaps that helped. Another point for Medellin is the temperature, which was about perfect for me: warm, but I never missed having AC. Cartagena was a good temperature for the beach, but quite hot for anything else.

      • Lawrence Glickman says:

        I agree and with the chance of offending some people I think its time to alert people to the fact that Antioquia department with Medellin as the capital and incuding Manizales, Pereira etc. has a different and more international ethnic mix. A Caucasian in Medellin who is not extremely tall and blonde can and will be taken for a local often. This provides extra security and in my opinion accounts for the difference in conduct. Paisas pride themselves on courtesy and will if asked, let you know that other areas of Colombia are just not as friendly. I have been treated well in Cali and other cities but the “Paisas” have gone the extra mile for me on many occasions including actually saving my life when I had an emergency health issue and needed to get to a hospital.

    • Alfred Jones says:

      If you only go to the coast you will not get the real feel for Colombia. Just the coastal region. It has its charms but also has its downside as well. If you dont want to go to Medellin go to some of the smaller cities of the coffee triangle. Go visit Pereira, Armenia, Manizales and see the coffee plantations. You can also go to Colombia adventure sports capital of San Gil for white water rafting, zip lining, bungee jumping and not to far from there is the Colombian version of Americas Grand Canyon. It is called Chicamocha. It really is pretty cool. If you are going to do the coast I suggest start with Cartagena, see the old city and take a boat to Playa Blanca at Isla Baru. After about 3 days of Cartagena and the street vendors bothering you then head to Santa Marta. I would stay in the Bello Horizonte area. Visit rodedero, taganga and when you feel like a nice hike go to see Parque Tayrona. Seriously you will be pleased you did. If you are really up for a challenge arrange a tour to the lost city. It is quite the trek but also worth the time.

      • Jonathan says:

        Hi Alfred:
        Thanks for taking the time to post. I am afraid I won’t be going back to Colombia soon, but if I do, I’ll try to remember your advice!

  13. I’ve never been to Medellin but so that people don’t get a mistaken impression about “Colombia in general”, I’ll throw in my two cents:

    I’ve never been to Medellin but there’s no air pollution in the towns and cities of the Valle (Armenia, etc.), and if there’s any pollution in Cali I haven’t noticed it, which means it must be equivalent to our cities in the U.S.
    I grew up in Albuquerque, which is a rough, violent town. I feel safer in Manizales, Armenia and even Cali than in Abq.
    this #4 is a reason to avoid a country? come on.
    this #5 is a reason to avoid a country? come on. In Colombia, the values of the culture and the openness of the people by far makes up for the poverty as far as general attractiveness to living there.

    • Jonathan says:

      The murder rate in Columbia is among the top ten in the world:


      In Medellin, it has dropped precipitously since I was there, to 38/100,000. That is still 5 times what it is in Albuquerque, which is one of the most dangerous cities in America:


      However, statistics can be misleading. As a White man, I would far rather walk through the nicer parts of Medellin than just about anywhere in Detroit, for example, because my skin color makes me a target and well-Detroit has a bad reputation for a reason. But to say that Medellin is safe is highly misleading. Yes, as long as you don’t stray far from the best areas you’ll be OK-but I can say that about damn near any city in the world.

      The air pollution is bad there, at least to me. I didn’t find any statistical data to back up what I’m saying, but, as you can see from other commenters here, I am not alone in believing it is a problem.

      As for 4 and 5? Well, they may not be important to you. Getting around safely on foot is high on a lot of people’s lists, as is avoiding ghettos. That may not bother you. As Shakespeare said, to each his own!

      Having said all that, I will say that I know I unintentionally insulted some people with this article. That was not my purpose. Indeed, I think if any of you would browse some of the other articles I wrote about Medellin, you would see that I actually liked the city. At the time I wrote this article, “International Living” was touting Medellin as a Shangri-la: a perfect place to live. Yes, it is for some-but I think it’s disingenuous of anyone to point out all of the positives and none of the negatives about a region, and I was trying to provide a more balanced perspective.

      I admire people who love their own country. It’s obvious to me that Colombians love theirs. It says a lot about a culture that takes pride in who they are and what is said about them. Thanks for your comment!

      • Michael Martinez says:

        I didn’t say Medellin is safe or unsafe, because I’ve never been there. I said I felt safer walking around Cali or Manizales than Albuquerque.

        • Wow! Quite a delayed response…

          You may feel that way, but you aren’t. However, Medellin is now safer than several US cities, including St Louis, Detroit, and Baltimore.

          • mwtzzz says:

            “Wow! Quite a delayed response…” ….
            And?? Sorry, I don’t check this site on a regular basis …

            Again, I’m not talking about Medellin, I’m talking about Cali, Manizales, Armenia, etc. And I would make a wager that I’m statistically as safe if not safer walking around those cities than walking around Albuquerque. I was born and raised in a Chicano neighborhood in Albuquerque and I can tell you it was no walk in the park.

            • Jonathan says:

              Statistically you’re wrong. Cali is among the top 10 worst in the world.

              Albuquerque isn’t in the top 50.

              • mwtzzz says:

                Well, among the normal neighborhoods of Cali I haven’t seen it. But I can tell you gruesome stories of things I have seen in Albuquerque. Now there are a couple of neighborhoods in Cali that are avoided by all except those who live in those neighborhoods (other Calenos don’t venture into them.) I suspect the majority of your “statistics” are contained within those neighborhoods.

              • Jonathan says:

                You keep bringing up Albuquerque as if it was relevant. It isn’t. But since you insist, I’m sorry your were exposed to so many atrocities in that city. You must be extraordinarily unlucky…or lived in a very bad part of town. I say this because there are about 3 homicides a month there, year-in and year-out. That’s too many, IMO, but let’s compare that to Cali, where there are almost twice as many bodies as that piling up every day:

                So you can try to twist this anyway you want to, but the fact is that Cali is one of the bloodiest cities on the planet. I’m glad you haven’t personally experienced it, but again, why is that relevant to this discussion? In fact, why is Cali relevant at all? I never brought that city up until you did.

                Back to the actual subject I wrote about, you seem to be under the impression that I think Medellin is a high-crime city. It is by US standards, but you can probably avoid it if you take normal precautions for the most part. It’s just something to be aware of. If all you want to hear is how great a place is to live, you’ve come to the wrong spot for that. They do That at International Living. I aim for a more accurate view of reality.

      • You’re ignoring one fact, Medellin’s problems are on a downward trend, meaning they’re solving them as each year goes by. I think you’re expecting a bit much from a middle income economy that is just coming out of one of the worst human crisis in recent global history only, 15 years ago. You may have noticed that Medellin now has a homicide rate of 20/100k in 2015, that’s now more than half Newark’s or Detroits from an all time high of nearly 400/100k in the early 90’s. Medellin just built a new tram, escalators to the poor mountainous barrios, another metro-cable and is well under-way of de-contaminating the river to create one of the longest lineal parks in the world which will connect to another project of parks that will encircle the city from the mountains. Rome wasn’t built in a day and in my mind all these inclusive policies are worth the hype, the fact that naive people think a place paved with honey & gold exists in the world is not Medellin’s problem. Colombia has to fight 10x as hard to even convince people to consider visiting the country. Let’s have some perspective shall we? Instead of bashing a city that clearly is trying very hard to improve itself – honesty can be delivered with a little more perspective and class.

        • Jonathan says:

          You make some good points, but in all fairness I must point out that I wrote the article almost 4 years ago, and the statements I made at the time I stand by. Yes, a lot can change in that time, and I’m glad Medellin has improved since then.

          Having said that, I think if you’ll look at my other articles about the city, you’ll see that i am actually an admirer of Medellin, even if it isn’t perfect for me. If you look at my overall impression honestly, without focusing on this single article, I think you’d agree with that.

        • Philip says:

          If anything, since this article was published, things in Medellin are worse.
          The pollution has resulted in the closing of the ciclovia and has forced the mayor to halt physical exercise by school age children during peak pollution.
          Desperation and poverty gets worse.
          The claim of lower crime and murders is nothing more than propaganda. One only needs to read http://www.minuto30.com/tag/asesinatos-en-medellin/ and you will see daily reports of murders and violent crime. The problem, the mayor does not report reality, instead the government continues to push their innovation/transformation propaganda.
          Let’s put things in perspective, Medellin is a third world city trying really hard to enter the conversation of the world’s leading cities. Many read the hype pushed by the government, and when they visit with their American wisdom that is able to question things, find nothing more than a polluted city full of poverty.
          If Medellin wants to avoid the backlash of hype and propaganda, they should manage expectations by advertising what the city truly is… great tropical fruit (pineapple, papaya, mango), legal drugs, legal prostitution, nice people, pretty women, and cheap lunches.

    • Alfred Jones says:

      Agree completely, I have been all over Cali (the kidnap capital of the world) and I never felt unsafe. One reason is those kidnappings are not random and two you gotta have a target painted on your back if you are getting mugged every where you go. With that said I do know some girls who have had purses snatched by passing motorcycle and have had their phones taken away out on the street but the key word is girls. They are easy marks.

  14. Antonio says:

    I disagree with many in this post about being safest in Poblado – the “wealthiest and most affluent” area of Medellin. Yes it’s an E6 area for the most part. Yes it’s the most exclusive area of Medellin. Yes, it’s where tourists flock to. However, he American who was robbed and shot last week WAS IN POBLADO!

    I am an American living in Medellin. Crooks aren’t dumb. They rarely rob their own people in the E1-2-3 areas because there is nothing to rob – maybe some shoes or something, a TV although rare. The crime in those barrios is usually minor and typically domestic violence, revolves around drugs or a girl, fighting, maybe a stabbing, and things of that nature. The crime isn’t against Gringo’s in those barrios because Gringo’s stay near Parque LLeras and rarely venture to far off the Lleras trail. Some venture off to the Laureles area on the West side but most Gringos will be found in a 2 mile radius of Parque Lleras. Fact is, it’s really, really fun there.

    Criminals go to E4-5-6 barrios to rob people with money whether they are locals or tourists. I am not saying there isn’t crime in E1-3 areas but this blog keeps referring to Poblado as being the safest area to go. It’s simply not true – ESPECIALLY FOR TOURISTS and this is my point.

    Most of the crime against tourists occurs in Poblado from what I have witnessed…fights, muggings, murder, and general harassment of tourists and locals with money. Statistically this makes sense because this is where the tourists stay.

    Since we are relying on our own personal experiences in this blog, to me, IMO, Poblado is probably the area tourists should be MOST concerned about. Tourists come with money, jewelry, look lost, take pictures with expensive smart phones, handle money in the public eye, and are easy targets for easy petty crime, and in a rare occurrence, death, like last week. (btw I have heard many rumors about the murder of the American last week ranging from the taxista set the tourist up to he was with a hooker and she set him up …my heart goes out to his family as this was really really sad)

    Anyway, the fact that writers are blogging about USA stats is pointless (IMO as I am no authority in travel – this is just my opinion based on living here) because what we are really talking about now is – “IS MEDELLIN SAFE?” The answer is yes and no. The thugs go to Poblado because it’s easy for them to get what they want and they are almost guaranteed a nice payout if they rob a Gringo. It’s simple as that. ….BTW Parque Lleras area is 2-3X as expensive as everywhere else too so consider this because you will be eating and drinking the whole time you are here – you can’t escape it)

    Anyone considering coming to Medellin should come!. Just don’t put yourself in a potentially bad situation, just like anywhere else in the world. There is much more to Medellin than Poblado and it’s main attraction, Parque Lleras.

    Laureles (West), Estadio (West), Envigado (South), and Sabeneta (South) are 4 places to consider staying. Def visit Parque Lleras in Poblado, but it’s cheaper and perhaps safer to stay in Envigado or Sabeneta for example. Buses run all day and night to and from these other places to Poblado if you must hang out in Poblado.

    In closing, IMO, you are certain to run into problems in any area of Medellin if you look like a lost, wealthy tourist, especially in Poblado, AND at night.

    • mwtzzz says:

      My wife’s family, many of whom live in Cali, don’t wear jewlery on the street. They don’t take their cell phones out on the street. If they go to an ATM, two or three friends accompany them. So when I’m in Colombia, I do as they do, I don’t walk around holding my cell phone or wearing jewelry or wearing fancy clothes. It seems like that’s about all you need to do (besides the obvious thing of not going into the worst neighborhoods) to avoid being a victim.

  15. Thanks for your post, but I hope you realize that the American who was killed “last week” was really years ago when I first published this? Therefore I doubt your remarks about that particular incident are accurate.

    The point of the article is (in part) the safety of Medellin as a whole. You have said to stay away from the one area that most tourists will probably go. That, to me at least, only serves to bolster what my main point was: Medellin is touted as a perfectly safe place to live by many “expat experts”, but the reality is quite different.

    • Antonio says:

      Wrong, John Mariani, from NY, was murdered two weeks ago (Sept. 2015).

    • Lawrence Glickman says:

      There is no question that there is danger in Medellin especially if you make yourself a target through bad company flashing money etc. Lets not forget that in Portland Oregon last week 10 people in a community college were gunned down. Mall shootings, employees going “postal” and police officers killed during routine traffic stops are no longer rare. The entire world has changed. Relatively speaking Medellin is as safe as most areas of the USA. Most of the criminals here have only the desire for money. If you resist you will get shot, if you hand over the money or your phone and watch off they go. In Santa Monica California three blocks from the beach in front of a Church I was stabbed three times in a robbery by two gang bangers who never bothered asking me for the money first. Having pepper spray saved my life as they tried to finish me off. A bigger problem is the congestion traffic and air pollution.

      • mwtzzz says:

        This seems to be the difference between muggings in Colombia versus muggings in the U.S. In Colombia, they want money but they’re not there with the intention to hurt you. Just hand over what you have and don’t resist. But in the U.S. muggings have a higher potential to turn physically violent. In fact, as you mentioned it seems the real intention of the perpetrators in the U.S. is to cause you harm, and whatever they can get from you is a secondary thing. So … maybe there are more muggings in Colombia, but fewer of them result in physical harm.

        • Statistically, this just isn’t the case. While there is no separate statistic for muggings that ended in homicides, the homicide rate is far higher in Medellin than in most US cities.

          • mwtzzz says:

            I’m sure it is. But you also need to break it down into who’s doing the killing against whom. If a large portion of those victims are innocent foreigners, then obviously that would be a problem for foreigners. But I rather suspect the majority of those victims are the criminals themselves.

  16. No, “relatively speaking” it is not as safe as the USA in general, but it has improved from one of the worst places on earth to barely breaking into the top 50…and it is now safer than Detroit.

  17. mwtzzz says:

    I’d like to ask you a question: have you personally actually been a victim of violent assault in Colombia?

      • In Albuquerque, yes. In Colombia, no. So, you bash Medellin and Colombia (because the subtitle to your post is: “Five Reasons to avoid Colombia” , which is why I have decided to talk about Cali and other places), but yet you have not been a victim of the crime which you go on and on about. And yes, talking about Albuquerque is relevant, because the whole point of your post is to compare the safety of Medellin/Colombia with the safety of the U.S. If people are killing themselves in the bad neighborhoods, that’s sad, but what does it have to do with you? Nothing. You yourself are living proof that a regular person is unlikely to be the victim of violence in Colombia.

    • Antonio says:

      I’ve never been victimized in Colombia physically. However, I’ve been Gringo-Gouged by the locals who charge natives, for example, $2 mil for a beer but a Gringo the price is $5 mil in many places, NOT ALL, but this is very common. I hate this but I guess it’s their culture. One thing I never do now is buy something that doesn’t have a price tag. If you have to ask for the price, and you are a Gringo, you are probably going to be Gringo-Gouged.

      If anyone fears coming to Colombia for physical safety, I urge you not to be afraid. I am more afraid and concerned almost anywhere in the US though. People here are very passive.

      • Larry Glickman says:

        Here are other extreme “Gotchas” here. If you have a car you need expensive insurance and unless you are very diligent with the basic SOAT and inspections each year you will be towed to the hell that is the “Transito”. Even with full insurance on top of the basic SOAT government requirement you will find out that in most cases the other party or your insurance may only pay 75% of the damage. If you have collision only meaning you have to collect from the other party get ready for a long wait and lots of paper work in addition for each accident right or wrong you have to go to court at Transito headquarters. I’m still waiting to get paid from an accident 2 months ago and meanwhile had to cover my own damages. Medellin has 500 accidents a day as verified by Transito and is a nightmare of traffic, smog and crazy motorcycle drivers who obey zero driving laws and courtesy. Thats why I moved to Rio Negro/San Antonio about 1 hour East and 1500 feet higher up. Here its much better but growing fast. Think twice about moving here.

      • Michael says:

        In the large cities you need to be careful, I would say the risk of being mugged is greater than in the States. But the small towns, and even the highways nowadays, are safe.

  18. Wayne says:

    I live in Medellin near Laureles (Simon Bolivar) and was robbed of my cash and apartment keys at gunpoint. This happened on the street in front of the “el exito” super. The perps looked to be 16-17 years old approached me on a motorcycle and the guy riding on the back pointed his pistol and asked for my money and cell phone. Fortunately my cell phone was at home on the charger. This happened at 4pm on a Tuesday and there were plenty of people around. The whole incident took about 15 seconds and then they were gone speeding of as quickly as they arrived. There was no plate on the moto BTW. I did not even report the crime as noting would come of it and I would lose my evening chatting with police.
    Two German friends who were studying at UPB were also robbed in laurels of their backpack and passports while walking home from the U. They did report their thefts but nothing came of it. I lent them cash until their new ATM cards could arrive from Germany. They also had the headache of replacing their passports. I suspect that a lot of gringo crime is underreported here. I agree also with the Pollution comments it has become unbearable here. They have something called PICA PLACA which is supposed to limit traffic at peak hours but this does not work because everyone I know has another tag they swap so they can still drive. Medellin is not the utopia it is made out to be there are real problems here. As a gringo you stand out by your height, dress and body language. IMO gringos are targets here so Caveat Emptor’ !! FYI I am looking to relocate an hour outside of Medellin just to save my health from the air pollution. This is just one persons experience you mileage may vary!!

    • Lawrence Glickman says:

      I am forced to agree with you. And after 3 years in Medellin I am moving to Rio Negro and moving into a secure apartment with a guard gate. Even in my secure current apartment while there is no crime in the building there was a shooting just outside last year over a motorcycle holdup. The fall season that we are current;y in with rain limits some of the air pollution but the insane over building has made traffic unbearable. Since I am mostly retired I can choose when to drive but even in the off hours it is getting ridiculous. A neighbor was held up in daylight by a nearby metro station. I can almost pass for a local in appearance which helps but no doubt in just three years Medellin has changed for the worse. Wayne seems like you are moving to the same area as me. Drop me a line.

    • mwtzzz says:

      Here’s the thing about Colombia. You can’t let people know you are carrying money. In Colombia there is a saying “no dar papaya”. This means you need to be street-wise when you are out and about. That applies to Colombians. But it applies more to obvious foreigners because everyone knows Americans and Europeans have money. This means you can’t walk around the streets holding your cell phone in your hand. You can’t wear jewlery. You can’t go to an ATM (especially by yourself) because you could get robbed once you take out your cash and/or they may follow you until an opportunity presents themselves to rob you. And of course if you look like a foreigner you are more of a target, so take extra precautions to not do stupid things when you are in public. And to be honest with you, in my opinion it’s probably not a good idea to hang around the popular “tourist” areas. In any case, If you are held up, don’t fight or argue, just give them your stuff and in the vast majority of cases you don’t get hurt. They are not looking to hurt you, they only want your money and valuables.

      You know, the same thing happens in San Francisco. They will mug you to take your cell phone if they see you walking with your cell phone in your hand. But there they will actually punch you in the face first and then take your cell phone second.

      And for you guys in Colombia, it goes without saying don’t be doing stuff you shouldn’t be doing. Particularly the brothels and prostitutes. Very risky and dangerous. Your chances of getting hurt are substantially higher.

  19. Wayne says:

    Carrying a damaged cellphone of no value like a iphone along with 10 bucks in a designated pocket is something I now do at the advice of my friend Pablo. When you are at gunpoint which can happen in traffic or walking (like my situation) just quickly hand them that and they will be well on their way before they realize they got made! Most Colombians have parties and social gatherings at their homes or their fincas outside the city so only friends and family they trust are there. These are awesome affairs and enjoy attending them. Get to know the locals and make some friends and your risk drops but it never goes away here. These guys on motos are like sharks cruising for their victims. Another thing to be wary of is scopolamine. This drug grows wild here and the local criminals can use it to drug you easily and once you are “under” you will be robbed or worse. Parque Llerras is fun but be wary of the hot chica who is interested in you she might have scopolamine. The people who live here take precautions for a reason!

    • mwtzzz says:

      Good advice on always carrying at least some cash and “throw-away” or cheap cell phone. That’s because if you have absolutely nothing at all to give them, they might get pissed off and shoot you.

      • Antonio says:

        I carry a dummy-wallet with some 2’s, 5’s and a couple 10’s….take it! I keep my iPhone at home and take a small cheap Walmart phone into public. YEP and I agree, gotta give em something to steal or they may get frustrated and blast you in the face.

  20. Philip says:

    Maybe the best, and most honest, piece ever written about Medellin. Lived there for 2 years and by the end, could not wait to leave for the reasons you mention plus a few others. There has been a Medellin hype machine, but most of it if funded by the local government or agencies trying to sell or rent apartments.
    The biggest lie is that it is an innovative city. To this, the question to ask is name one innovation or innovator that ever came from Medellin. Keep in mind that escalators, gondolas, and trams were in use decades before Medellin discovered them.
    The people tell you how beautiful the city is, but most have never been outside of Colombia.
    They tell you the water is safe to drink, but we tested it and found high levels of pesticides and chlorine.
    Most of my Paisa friends have been robbed at gunpoint.
    Nearly impossible for a foreigner to do business in Medellin due to xenophobia and ethnocentrism. This is why Hewlett Packard and Kimberly Clark recently left the land of Paisas.

    • Jonathan says:

      Thanks for your post. I didn’t know about the water. I would say Botero was an innovator of a sort, but not in the way you mean it.

    • What I don’t understand is how people will listen to the hype about a place and pick up and move themselves there without doing any of their own research, or at least without going there and visiting for a few months first. That strikes me as very naive.

      • Jonathan says:

        I think most people read the hype and get excited about it, then vacation there for a few weeks or even a few months before they take the plunge. That just isn’t enough time, IMO.

        To their credit, “International Living” does say you should test the water before you jump in, but I think you should at least live through one major holiday away from home before you move permanently.

      • Philip says:

        Michael, definitely do your diligence before moving to Medellin. It is not the city that their PR machine claims. For example, everyone claims the water is safe, you would not know better unless you run your own tests. Doing any type of research on the city is challenging, being their statistics and research methods are misleading or inaccurate. For example, they say the city has transformed and is not dangerous. Most cities that survived a war are relatively safe compared to when bombs were exploding, but Medellin still leads the world in violent crime when a firearm is present. They claim they are the most innovative city in the world and display ego-boasting billboards throughout the city. But, the innovative cities index ranks Medellin below El Paso, TX for innovation – an embarrassment. http://www.innovation-cities.com/innovation-cities-index-2014-global/8889

        Tough to do due diligence when the ‘facts’ and statistics are a bunch of lies. Even corporate giants like Hewlett Packard and Kimberly Clark were mislead, and have now exited the so called city of eternal spring.
        Maybe the #6 point that Jonathon could add to his list of reasons to not go to Medellin, is their word means absolutely nothing.
        If you are the position of being relocated to Medellin by your company, like some of us, then you may have to bear the polluted environment and be grateful when you get out and are able to escape one of the world’s capitals of lung disease.

        • Antonio says:

          Here are 5 things I don’t like about living in Medellin and these are simply nuances. Keep in mind no matter where you live there are things you dislike. THESE ARE OPINIONS ONLY!!!

          Here are a few of mine about Medellin;

          The Bus: People get on the bus and give a sob story and hand out candy to the passengers. In turn for a sob story and a hand full of Chicklets, they want money. This isn’t the problem…for me, the issue is everyone on the bus ACCEPTS the candy when it is passed out, but at the end of the sob story, they give the candy back to the person who gave it to them in the first place. It’s a ridiculous 5 minute fiasco. Why even waste your time accepting the candy in the first lace when all you do is give it back. Colombians have a hard time saying no (as this is complaint #2). It disrupts the bus and is rather annoying. I have NEVER been on a bus where this didn’t happen and I’ve lived here 4 months now. When the person giving the sob story gets off the bus after 5 minutes, they hop on another bus and repeat this. They do it all day. Any of you who ride the bus know what I’m talking about. On the other hand, they play Latino music on the bus and I often slam a beer during my ride, so all in all I like the bus.
          Colombians Can’s Say No To Your Face: Sorry if this is offensive to some of you but if a Colombian tells you “yes,” accept that as they really mean no. Trust me on this. I’m leaving this at that.
          No Respect For Time & Space: If a Colombian tells you they will see you at 2pm, expect 2:30, 3pm, or later. In fact, they may tell you they will meet with you and simply not show up at all -because when they said “yes,” they didn’t want to say no. They don’t mean malice but their concept of time is not like an American’s concept of time. To me it’s disrespectful but it’s their culture and I have chosen to live here so I have to accept it. Doesn’t mean I like it but I have to accept it. Regarding SPACE – American’s are space oriented people. We like a 2-3 foot radius of space around us at all times. In Colombia, they do not share this same spacial obsession as we do. If you are at a counter buying something, for example, don’t be surprised if a Colombian invades your space and stands shoulder to shoulder with you while at the same time, interrupting you and the person working, and wanting to be serviced. I call this “parrot syndrome” as they would stand on your shoulder like a parrot if you would let them. Again, I accept this, as this is their culture. Doesn’t mean I like it. I deal with it.
          Girls Walk Around With A Scowl On Face: For my fellow American boys…get used to the girls looking at you like they want to kill you, or, get used to them not looking at you at all (funny…they act like they don’t see you but if you peek back at them, many times they are peeking back at you…nonetheless if they know you caught them looking, they will still look at you like they want to kill you). Anyway…there is a general distrust here and females simply do not trust men – ESPECIALLY GRINGOS!!!. Don’t expect to come down here, speak some English thinking these girls will be impressed and drop their panties. AIN’T GONNA HAPPEN unless you are in Parque LLeras and have a wad of money and are buying a hooker. Trust me, these girls love their Colombian men and are not impressed that you are American. While they don’t generally trust their local men, they will NOT trust you either and will choose a Colombian man over you without hesitation. If you want a girl to bend over and drop her panties because you are a Gringo, go to Philippines. You are wasting your time here.
          Walking On Sidewalks: In USA we tend to walk on the right side of a road or sidewalk, right? I mean, car or walking, we stay on the right. Here, IT DOES NOT MATTER WHICH SIDE OF THE SIDEWALK YOU ARE WALKING ON, THEY WILL CROSS OVER TO YOUR SIDE about 5 feet before the encounter. If you are on the left and they are on the right, about 5 feet away they will cross to your side. In fact, I have played the crossing game several times to put this to the test, and I have started left, watched them move left, then I cross to right, then they cross right, and no matter what you do or what side you cross to, they will cross into your path. You have some options here; 1) hold your ground and dip your shoulder down and check them, 2) move out of their way BUT if you move out of their way plan to zig zag all day long, 3) Don’t walk. It’s extremely frustrating. I may also add here that no one says “excuse me” (not even in Spanish) and trying to be polite all day long will frustrate you and you will just give up most likely. Hold a door open for someone? They will NEVER acknowledge your kindness so tread politeness with care.

          In closing these are my opinions and ONLY opinions based on my own experiences. These really are small nuances but can get to you after a while. There are many nuances in daily life in USA too and overall I am happy to be in Medellin. It’s a great place to be.

          • Michael Martinez says:

            The thing about time is common throughout all Hispanic cultures, even where I’m from (New Mexico). About women, I personally am delighted that Colombian women don’t throw themselves at foreigners. I mean, come on, going to other countries to throw money around and score women is pretty lecherous, isn’t it.

            • Lawrence Glickman says:

              I was the chief contributior to the “Latin List” a somewhat dorment blog today that at its peak had 550 active members all interested in Foreign Latina relationships and marriage. I was also the CEO of a failed effort to start an international;l “Match.com” as in 1993 the internet was not widespread enough and new laws for an American owner made it too cumbersome to arrange matches. Nevertheless I visited 7 countries and interviewed 635 women and married off informally many of my friends for no money after the company’s demise. All of the marriages that I approved are still together. Here is what i learned and will be spelled out in an upcoming book. All women and men in all countries shop for a mate in the same exact way. Its a “marketplace” where wants and needs meet available supply. Both sexes are well aware of what they want and what they can “offer in trade” Each country presents a different and changing landscape and men in particular are often fooled into beleieving that somehow the cliches they heard about from some friend insures that a female paradise that will supply them with the woman of their dreams is really just a flight away. This “pareadise” will supply them magically with someone that will ignore their flaws, age and financial condition. This is patently false if a solid marriage is what you are talking about. Nevertheless there are better “markets” than the USA for a variety of reasons both economic and cultural. I have developed methods for reducing risk from my experiences and will spell them out n the book. Meanwhile take care and remember its a two way street and the “deal” has to be appropriate and work for both parties or it will be quick “High” and a serious “Low”.

        • mwtzzz says:

          If you’re gonna marry someone, you’d better understand their culture, otherwise there’s always going to be a huge gap between you. That’s the problem with going to another country only for the purpose of looking for a mate.

  21. Philip says:

    For those who need help understanding just how bad the Medellin’s air pollution is, here are a couple of links. One, research by a Professor at University of Antioquia, and another recent study siting Medellin as one of the worse for air quality in Latin America:

    Click to access elkinmartinez.pdf

    • Larry Glickman says:

      I am forced to change previous posts supporting Medellin. I have moved to Rio Negro because my health was actually going down hill in Medellin from the pollution. In addition the wild unrestricted growth of high rises has turned Medellin into a traffic nightmare at all hours. I’ll report on Rio Negro after living here for a few months but my initial view is positive. Its 7000 feet up cooler friendlier and less polluted.

      • Philip says:

        My health paid the price for living in Medellin, resulting in trips to a lung specialist and the prescribed treatment of inhalers. A lot easier to breathe in my U.S. city, happy to be out of Medellin. Seems Llano Grande, Santa Elena, or Rio Negro is a better option and fewer health dangers for someone who wants to live close to the city.

      • Bill says:

        Larry I am in Medellin where in Rio Negro would you recommend looking. I agree with you the air is so band I want t move up there.

        • Lawrence Glickman says:

          Bill Rio Negro downtown is a bit dangerous at night. San Antonio, part of Rio Negro is better and has a town plaza that is safer and festive especially on weekends. You need the help of a good real estate agent if you are renting and you need time to find what you want. Prices vary but are generally less than Medellin. Everything here is close together like the large San Nicholas mall and Confama Tutucon park with great facilities. Cheap buses make a car not necessary. On weekends the place is packed with refugees from Medellin and there is future overbuilding in progress that will in a few years degrade the pleasant ambience. The climate is cooler and fresher and at least for now the whole place is superior in quality to the life in Medellin. There is no parade of girls here like in LLeras, keep that in mind.
          The real estate agency I used was “Proactiva” they have an office in Medellin near Ovieto mall. Ask for Margarita (Spanish) she lives in the San Antonio area.
          TEL: +57(4) 448-2011 Ext 1011 (Main office)
          Carrera 43A No. 1A sur 69
          Edificio Tempo, oficina 203
          Medellín, Colombia

          • mwtzzz says:

            WHy always the mention of girls in these discussions? Can’t you guys just move to a place for the culture, the naturaleza, the friendships, family, etc? Why does this always have to be about “the girls”….??

            • Lawrence Glickman says:

              The reason is simple if a man is single better access to social life is important and the reason many men prefer foreign countries to the USA or Europe.

  22. Jonathan says:

    Hello to everyone reading here. I just want to drop a quick note to let everyone know that while I do appreciate all opinions here, even those who disagree with me, I won’t tolerate ad hominem attacks. Thus, if all you can say to buttress your position about Medellin is to call the article stupid, I will mark it as trash immediately.

    There are plenty of people who’ve commented here who disagree with me. I have no issue with that; in fact, I welcome it. Just leave the insults out and your comments will all be published.

  23. mark says:

    Not a fan of LA, but I must say the air pollution problem that LA is famous for that you referred to has been largely solved for the last 25 years or so with catalytic converters and more efficient autos….you can see the mountains across the San Fran valley or the mountains from the sea on any given day and your lungs don’t hurt when you breath anymore. It’s really sorta sad LA still has a reputation for terrible smog.

  24. Jonathan says:

    You’re right, of course, Mark. LA was the only city I could think of that everyone would recognize as having bad air pollution, but they’ve long since gotten a handle on it. I should have used a different example, but couldn’t think of one.

  25. Benjamin Sanders says:

    I am on my second trip to Medellin, Colombia right now. Here are five things I love about Medellín, Colombia:
    1. The people – The people of Medellín are awesome! 99.9% of the people would never hurt a fly. All I have met have been very ‘amable’, nice people from the waiters, to the vendors on the street, to the taxi drivers, to the people I’ve met in their houses. When you’re downtown beware of pick-pockets, but that goes for New York City or LA too. Be smart, walk on sidewalks and not streets, guard your valuables (don’t flash your money) don’t take too much money but always have enough for a taxi back to your apartment or hotel $20,000 pesos, less than $6 USD.
    2. The food – is cheap and delicious, especially at it’s current USD exchange rate at $3,333ish pesos per dolar. That means I can buy a decent meal for two anywhere for less than $6 USD. I can get a nice stake dinner for $10 USD. Plus the people serving the food always say ‘con mucho gusto’ or ‘It was my pleasure’. Arepas, empanadas, carnes, ensaladas, todos.
    3. The culture – there are too many facets to write about the culture, but it’s just as rich as any other latin-american country. The language, music, night clubs, boos, and yes the small buildings and streets.
    4. The security – I can go to an ATM, and take out money and nobody bothers me ever. There are tones of police on virtually every street. None of them have ever bothered me.
    5. The woman – I found my beautiful fiance online. There are plenty of pretty ladies here to go out with. If you’re a single guy (and perhaps a bit nerdy like me), come to Medellín and find your lady. I met a taxi driver who said ‘all the woman in Medellín are beautiful’.

    • Larry Glickman says:

      Life is a series of comparisons and compared to the USA for a lonely guy its paradise. This is especially true if you find a love interest. For me Medellin has seen much better days. I saw the same change in Costa Rica, unlimited growth , air pollution and too many of the women with a secret agenda that the rookies find out to their dismay later after a heartbreak and a bunch of money and time lost. Still its worth the gamble. I have moved to Rio Negro which is developing rapidly but for now has cleaner air and is more like the Medellin of years ago.

    • Alfred Jones says:

      I like your positive attitude. If you are extremely friendly and fluent in spanish you will have no problems in medellin. Doing business with Paisas is the same as doing business with the mafia hahahaha. If you dont build in all kinds of special clauses to protect yourself then they will steal your shirt. To them that means they are a better businessman than you. Also never let them pay you later. If you are selling something get the money upfront. The urgency that they want the item goes away once they have it and their will be all kinds of excuses why they cant pay. I sold some surfboards once and learned this lesson.

      However for me the positives far outweigh the negatives. I have lived in Colombia since 2011 and have apartments in 3 cities so I can bounce around from the city to the beach and the mountains. All for the price of a really nice home in California and 6 times the square feet. The only thing that I see in the near future that scares me is taxation. With the price of oil down and the Colombian economy contracting there is only one place left to get money and thats the deep pockets. I watch the candidates and laws closely and will sell and rent to watch what comes next. Unfortunately I think Chavismo is in the future because of the poverty. As soon as they harness the votes of the poor by promising them free things Colombia is going to see the same hard times as Venezuela.

  26. Pingback: Anonymous

  27. Joseph Anthony says:

    Moving to Medellin?

    Think twice…

    I lived in medellin for 3 years (just moved out)
    And throughout that period of time I realized it just wasn’t the place for me. Amazed by girls, (likely to be the most beautiful women on Earth) good weather and relativily cheap real state, I decided to move there. Started to notice it wasn’t as safe as people would say. I saw how two people got killed (gunned down) at a bar in the area known as Barrio Colombia. I didn’t even read about this on the newspapers, nothing was said. The bar was still operating regularly like nothing happened. I was shocked by this, as I remember how something similar to this happened once in Margarita Island, Venezuela and the bar closed down immediately (not that I’m comparing both cities, crime rate, etc) just saying this should have been a big deal and NOTHING happened … So, what is this telling me? Obviously we are not being told how bad crime really
    Is in Medellin. Being mugged is not the only reason, a lot of people are armed in the city and tend to use their Guns wrecklessly when drugged or drunk. So I really don’t feel safe clubbing or going out at night in medellin. However I do feel very safe walking on the street before 7 pm in good areas such as Poblado, Laureles, etc. Eating out: despite loving colombia and paisa food I have to say international food restaurants (Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, Spanish, etc) are not really good and very expensive. So, if eating out might not be a good idea for some people.

    People in medellin seem as the nicest people you will probably meet in the world, however, don’t be fooled by this as many of the people I met while living there were just interested in something therefore were acting as friends but stabbing you in the back every time they could. And saddly youngest people are the worst, including girls (or should I say MAINLY girls) … I guess society in South America is screwed up these days as I noticed similar behavior in Venezuelan girls too (not guys thought)

    Compared to many big cities in Latin America traffic is not really that bad, although keep in mind that while you are stucked in traffic you cannot roll down your window for two reasons : horrible polution and risk of having your cellphone or wallet stolen.

    Don’t get me wrong, I like medellin, a lot of people with great heart live there, weather is good (when it is not raining – as it rains a lot – and probably I will move back there this year for business purposes, I just believe visitors should know several things before going there or deciding to relocate.

    • mwtzzz says:

      When people are gunned down in Colombia, these are hired killings. If you are not involved in a life of crime and are not doing things you shouldn’t (sleeping with married women), then the worst that will happen to you is to be mugged. Mugged means being held up at gunpoint. This is fairly common in the cities and likely will happen to you if you spend enough time there. As long as you are cool, don’t fight back, and hand over your stuff, you will not be harmed. I have a friend in Cali whose cousin was killed last week because he made the mistake of running away when he was held up, and they shot him as he ran away. If he had stayed put and handed over his wallet, likely they would have left him unharmed.

      If you would like to know the common crimes in Colombia, and who they affect, send me a private message.

    • Larry Glickman says:

      I agree with your points with these exceptions. I just moved three months ago to Rio/Negro/San Antonio and the difference in air quality and weather is dramatic.Medellin actually a government “red alert” on air pollution which is now at critical levels depending on the weather and your location. The temperature over the last three years has elevated considerably and unless you live high up your afternoons are now uncomfortable. Traffic due to overbuilding has now reached rush hour levels all day long. This has also had a negative effect on the traditional “paisa” jovial happy attitude on life. Instead of letting you in on a traffic line you are likely to be cut off as just one example of the “stress effect” of overcrowding. This is why Rio Negro area is exploding with development as whoever can afford to move here does so and also the weekend tourist boom is incredible. Antioquia state has absolutely no idea about urban planning whoever has money can build wherever they want.too. Road systems simply cannot handle the traffic. Palmas blvd. for example is being developed all the way to Rio Negro and eventually even this area will lose its quality of life. I’ve been coming to Colombia since 1993 and moved to Medellin four years ago so I’ve seen all the changes both good and bad. Newcomers should not expect a paradise and learn the growth trends before buying or investing.

    • Mike Jacobs says:

      I agree but I think Medellin is the scum of SA. I’ve lived here a year and can’t wait to get the F out. It’s a big, dirty, “second city syndrome” town inferior to Bogota and they hate it. The people here are flat out stupid, pretentious, and completely not with it.

      There are two reason people come here; girls and drugs. Medellin offers nothing and you will suffer poor health the longer you are here. Noise pollution and smog is terrible.

      This city is full of hatred. The younger people 18-30 are scum. They judge you for wearing a t shirt yet all their clothes are knock offs.

      The city is filled with jaded, jealous, pretentious, greedy, materialistic people and they are all wanna-be’s. They will have on a $30USD knock off outfit but will look down on you for being in jeans and a ball cap – but they live at home with mommy and daddy til they are 35.

      Don’t come here of you want happiness and peace. You will not find it. Go to Cali, Santa Marta, even Bogota.

      Laureles is maybe the only place worthwhile here. Poblado is full of new money, hookers, druggies, and girls trying to hustle men. The older ones in Poblado and Envigado are just as bad as the younger road and judge everyone.

      Friendly? Not here. Get a flat tire and they will run your ass over. At the grocery store – Do you like a family of 8 meandering through the store blocking the isles only to buy a f’ing box of milk? Then you will like Medellin!!!

      Service? Once your food comes you will have to flag your server down with a road flare to get their attention. They will not engage in convo with you. They will not smile. They DO NOT CARE you are there.

      Meeting people? Good luck. If they are née to you it’s only to “get” something from you or set you up to rob you somehow. Meeting people at a bar? Nope, they will not let an outsider in. Well, unless you are an idiot and want to flash money and buy them drinks, then they bash you in street Spanish and you have no idea it’s happening.

      When they speak here, they are without soul. Their faces don’t even move and there is nothing in their eyes. It’s almost freaky.

      Yes means no. If they say yes, it really means no. Back stabbing scum of the Earth. Don’t even try to do business with them. They are liars to the core.

      I hate Medellin and it’s given me a very low opinion of Colombians. As a result of al of this and to be fair, I only speak poorly of Colombians in Medellin. The smaller towns are what you would expect from a Latin culture; friendly, warm, open to meeting new people. Again, even Bogota is more friendly than Medellin. Cali? Blows Medellin away. Bucramanga, and Barranquilla are also very nice and blow this city out of the water.

      What makes Medellin so interesting? For me, the lure was great weather and misleading articles online about how great it is here and how safe it is. If you have been studying online, you know very well who the usual suspects are. Don’t be fooled, they make money from promoting this shit hole.

      For those of you that love this place, God bless you because I don’t see how.

      Medellin says they are innovative because they have a train? LOL we have had trains in the USA since cowboys and indians fought. Innovative? Beans and rice on all the menus no matter where you go – that’s innovative??? Good luck getting lasagna here, and when you do you will pay for it and it will taste like dog food, Alpo canned dog food that is.

      Forget a quiet romantic restaurant. They don’t exist here. Well, in the Provenza area there’s a few but you will pay an arm and a leg for very small portions and the service SUCKS!!!! Not to mention you will be surrounded by dirty backpackers, hookers, and druggies. In most “upscale” restaurants you will find yourself sitting in a loud, bright room with absolutely no ambience whatsoever. The little bars are kinda cool. Christmas light bulbs and colorful paint BUT that gets old after a while.

      Like sitting at a bar on a stool, having some drinks? Nope not here. The entire bar is for the servers to receive food, text, talk, and be lazy. Such a shame and waste of bar space too. Some of the most beautiful bar tops and bar areas I’ve ever seen gone to waste. Hooters in P. lleras has bar stool. Patrick’s bar has bar stools. These are about the only two places in a city this size where u can sit at the bar and have a drink.

      You like being stared at? This place is perfect for you then. They will stare you up and down and the guys are the funniest – they walk with their girlfriend or wife here and as soon as they see a man within 5 feet of them, he puts his arm around his girl like you are going to steal here. It’s comical. You will walk into a restaurant and 90% of the people will just stare at you, make comments right in front of you to who they are with. They don’t hide it either. They look you u and down, make comments, look you up and down again, make more comments. But pointing is considered rude here lol.

      OMG get me out of here. Go anywhere but Medellin. Don’t believe what you read you 40 and up people. There is NOTHNG here for you. You will come here and you will read about and be told to go to Parque LLeras – when you get there it’s a bunch of dirty backpacking kids, hookers, drugs, and girls looking to scam Gringo’s for their boyfriends. There are tons of restaurants in this area BUT you can have all this kind of food in Bogota or 5-6 other cities in Colombia who will appreciate you being there and will welcome you.

      Bottom line, Medellin has no identity except for being the most unfriendly dirty city I’ve ever lived in.

      If you are 40 and up you are wasting your time coming to visit Medellin.

      • Philip says:

        Have not laughed so hard in a long time, 90% of what you say hits home.
        I often said the bullshit propaganda on Medellin’s innovation would experience a backlash, and winning that award would be the worse thing to ever happen to the city.
        By creating the innovation lie, it attracted a lot of attention and a few suckers, like me and you (along with Hewlett Packard and Kimberly Clark), who fell for it.
        The last thing Medellin wants, a few smart gringos showing up and calling it for what it is. A polluted shit hole.

        The exception to this, I have met a hand full of great people who are Medellin natives. Some who will be friends for life. But, had too many experiences of corrupt people in government and business to talk positive about the city.

        As dark as your summary is about living in Medellin, it is true, unless you are a dirty backpacker or drug/hooker seeking dude – both are legal.

        Blame the government for appealing to the low life tourists. You will never see classy or sophisticated women from the U.S. visiting Medellin, because there is nothing the city has to offer them.
        I agree, Bogota is much better, and has much more to offer in the way of food, parks, and arts and culture. But, still leaves a lot to be desired.

        The great weather theme seems to be reoccurring.
        Coming from California, the weather in Medellin is nothing special. It rains a lot. When its hot, it is very hot. And, the future looks worse. With global warming and being positioned next to the equator, along with more people, more concrete, fewer trees, and no pollution controls…. the situation of a hot and polluted city is going to get much more severe.

        I recommend Medellin for those wanting a wild and cheap weekend bachelor party, but nothing more.
        If you want lung cancer and a 4 in 5 chance of being robbed, it is the perfect city for you.

        Not only is Medellin ‘the most innovative’ (hahaha), they are also top in these stats:
        #1 in the world for income inequality
        1 in 2 kids go to bed hungry
        #1 in the Americas for the worse air pollution
        83% of children are born into broken homes
        $200 is the typical monthly wage (meanwhile, bare necessities are expensive)
        the previous point creates desperation, including armed robberies, drug dealers, and prostitution. The youth have no choice. Blame a shitty government.

        • Gia parisi says:

          Hello i am a colombian-italian girl i lived 10 years in medellin my dad was a policeman and you are right medellin is a dangerous city but they never show the true, if a newspaper wants to put all the news the police will to kill them. In 2010 medellin had 3985 murdereds and the general of this moment went to my father’s house and said to him you know that all this number don’t help to the city so we look for a solution lol and paisas are fake as fuck they love you if you have money but if you don’t have nothing ( poor you)
          And the majority of girls are gold digger and i can understand why people said that they are beautiful and girl with silicone and a tone of makeup isn’t beautiful for me if you like cheap prostitutes drugs and alcohol and you are dumb medellin is your city.
          Sorry for my english


          • Mike Jacobs says:

            Yes i agree, the girls of Medellin are very fake. Its really sad. The ironic thing is that they have nothing and come from nothing but expect SO much.

            Most do not even have an formal education either yet think of themselves are intellectual.

            I have a Mercedes CLS 550 Turbo in the USA, a home, and alot of assets, friends, and family. I belong to a beautiful countrt club too. But in medellin, i wear t shirts, jeans, and only have a moto.

            Girls look down on me because i dress casual and so not own a car…..or so they think lol. They are so quick to judge in the blink of an eye. Too bad for them because if they really knew of my money and material things, they would be set for life so its thier loss and i am the one laughing behind closed doors.

            I NEVER tell the girls i have money. I just let them think im a poor gringo living in colombia and i let them judge me.

            Never judge a book by its cover but colombianas simply do not undertand this. They want “right now” and “immediacy” and if they dont get it in 10 minutes they are on to the next man. Fools they are.

            • Boris says:

              Thanks for all of the helpful replies. Jonathon, I live in Orlando with plenty of latinas here to keep me entertained. But that has been it so far. Never burned, just quickly lost interest. Learning Spanish is definitely the key for everything which others have rightfully pointed out. My Spanish is decent, but definitely not up to par for anything beyond exchanging everyday pleasantries. Once that element is in place it will make an accurate evaluation possible. As far as the cheating goes, it seems that is the norm when there is a big age gap, as well as a gap in cultural understanding. I’m 32 and am not going there looking for gold diggers, high maintenance princesses, etc… The general rule of staying away from the main tourist zones applies here if the goal is to find something “real” I’m open to looking at the towns surrounding Medellin such as Rio Negro/San Antonio that others have mentioned. Also, a trip to Cali is definitely in order. Not as touristy from what I hear. Becoming a student, again…. may just be the right decision. Poblado is fun, but the novelty wore off rather quickly. Hitting up the salsa clubs in Estadio/Laureles with no tourists in sight is much more appealing to me.

              • Mike Jacobs says:

                Boris, its a totally different world here than the stateside latinas. Trust me. The cheating here has nothing to do with age gaps. IT IS A CHEATING CULTURE. Period.

                Staying away from tourist zones will not decrease your likelihood of being burned, lied to, or scammed. Its EVERYWHERE.

                Colombiana’s CANNOT be alone. Period.

                You will learn quickly that while they strut around looking confident and strong, that its false. Completely false. They are very insecure and jaded. Their dads cheated on their moms. Their boyfriends cheated on them and now they will cheat on the next guy cuz thats how they are hardwired. They will cheat on you assuming you are cheating on them.

                You are about to embark upon the adventure of a lifetime with dating.

                Just keep an open mind and know that you will never be the only man in a Colombiana’s life. Just enjoy their beauty and have fun with it. She has 8 more men in her phone and each one is ready to pick her up on his dirt bike and take her out. She knows this too. If u miss her call, he text….u wont hear from her for days. She will say she went to the store. “For 3 days???” …. “Yes baby, and then my shoes fell off so i had to go to the malll” ….. “For 3 days???” …..”baby, yes, and i was mugged and they stole my phone”

                think about it brother……in the usa…..what % of the girls date foreigners? Not many. Why? Because theres no common ground. Different cultures. Too many differences and lack of understanding of culture proves to much divide. Its the same in colombia. A colombian man will win your girl EVERY time. Why? He is colombian. Period.

                Gringos think cuz they are gringos that they are goingbto come down here and clean up with the ladies. If anything, it will work against you. You will see.

                No one can tell you this and expect you to understand or agree or even listen. You will learn first hand once you get here.

                Oh, and on your first date or two or three…..bring alot of extra money because she will be bringing her cousin or brother or sister to the date lol. Not kidding. Lastly…..if its a “brother” or male “cousin”, BEWARE, many times its her boyfriend and hes putting her up to the date to get free food, drinks, and whatever she can steal from you while you are sleeping.

                Strap it on buddy. Its fun. Paisas are beautiful!!!!!!

              • Lawrence Glickman says:

                While this is true to a large extent here are the exceptions. 1. If she has a real job and not from a hard core area you have a better chance. 2. If she has one or two children that need a father and monetary support likely she will stay close to home. 3. If the age gap between you is over 10 years you are bringing the problem on yourself.

          • Mike Jacobs says:

            …..and your emglish is very good! Also colombiana and italiana is a grear combo!!!!!!

  28. Philip says:

    Very well said @josephanthony. And, great that @jonathon brought awareness to the air pollution issue well before the current situation Medellin.

    I was relocated to Medellin, and lived there for nearly 3 years.
    Now, I am living in my home state of California, where I could not be happier.

    Returned to Medellin this week for a friend’s wedding. Immediately, upon arriving my eyes are irritated, it is difficult to breathe, and the city has entered a moment of red alert, warning its people to not exercise and have banned cars for the weekend. The weekly ciclovia has shutdown this weekend due to the pollution crisis.
    This situation is nothing new, as Jonathon pointed out years ago and before the Medellin government was forced to take notice.
    Lung disease in Medellin is 5x worse than Bogota.

    After being away from this city for months, have never been happier to be out of here and living in California.
    Medellin is a good city for those who do not value their health or have no better options. Meaning, many locals do not have the financial resources to live elsewhere. And, have seen some over 60-gringo types, who enjoy what the city has to offer (mainly young desperate women), and who have limited pensions and could not afford the better cities around the world to retire to.

    The few reasons one may want to consider living in Medellin would be:
    cheap, young girls (prepagos)
    good party life which includes legal prostitution and legal drugs
    great tropical fruit, including papaya, pineapple, and mango
    affordable and very qualified dentists
    cheap nannys, who double as housekeepers (although their low pay could be considered modern day slavery)

    The reasons not to live in Medellin
    has nothing to offer for a sophisticated woman (meaning the main attraction to the city is the Paisa woman)
    very limited arts and culture (based on U.S. standards)
    horrible air pollution
    polluted drinking water which tests high for pesticide and chlorine
    terrible noise pollution
    unsafe for pedestrians and bicyclists and are secondary to cars and busses
    the animal food supply is injected with antibiotics and hormones
    overcrowded, with no parks (parks defined as green areas and that are safe to visit at nighttime)
    dangerous – the city ranks number one on the world for armed robberies (do not use your cellphone in public or while in a car)

    • mwtzzz says:

      Moving to a country for the prostitutes is not a good reason, no matter which country you’re talking about.

      • Philip says:

        mwtzzz, tell that to the gringo fraternity for those aged 60+, and who gather at Juan Valdez at Parque Lleras, swapping hooker stories loud enough for those sitting nearby.

        • Mike Jacobs says:

          Philip I know exactly who those old creeps are too. Every morning about 10am they trickle in. I don’t get it either because for their age, if hookers is why they moved to a country, why not the Philippines, Vietnam, Peru, Ecuador, where the girls smile, are friendly, and sincere? Why not Cali, Barranquilla? And there is no tax advantages here like there are in Pnama or Ecuador and it baffles me a retiree on a fixed income would move HERE, to Medellin.

          The girls here don’t smile unless you hand them an iPhone, cash, and a new pair of jeans with jewels on the butt pockets, rips don the legs and cheesy Lacoste printed down the leg lol. OMG they dress horrible.

          These older men must love pollution, paying 3X as much for food and drinks in Lleras, and having their cologne and shoes stolen by the girls so they can give their BF.

          I’ve heard the guys talking about their GF and Ive even seen the girls show up there and hang out with them. Little do these men know the girls get dropped of around the corner by some dirty skinny little mohawk wearing punk on a dirt bike called their “real boyfriend.” The BF instructs the girls what to say, how to act, and every peso Gringo gives them is given straight to their dirt bag BF who is waiting on them around the corner.


          • Jonathan says:

            I want to reply here even though you were responding to Philip because I want to second your opinion about these lecherous old toads.

            I am nearly 60 myself and was about 55 when I wrote this piece. There is another article I wrote on this blog about sex tourism in Medellin. I find it as repugnant as you do. The only quibble I have with your comment is that you are asking the wrong questions when you talk about other countries where such men might be better served, such as Vietnam, Philippines, etc. The fact is, these men shouldn’t be doing what they’re doing in any country. They go to these places purely and simply because the income disparity works in their favor and they’re too pathetic to find what they want closer to home.

            One other thing I will note. It isn’t just 60 year olds. There are young men who travel the world with essentially the same agenda. They are just as depraved.

            • DrAntonio Mica says:

              Hi Jonathan,  yes I agree with what you say about my comment regarding other countries.  I didn’t make my point very clear.  What I meant was that “why choose” Colombia if that’s the agenda.  The girls here are thieves, liars, and scum.  Not saying in PI for example, that there aren’t girls there scamming men, cuz they are, I am just saying 95% of the girls here are scamming men.   At least in Asia the girls do this for a living and you know what you are getting (not from experience but reading and talking to people)…here its scary because a girl you meet at a restaurant can play nice, pretend to like you, steal from you, and she is gone and you never know what happened.   It’s scary because they blend in with the rest here and pass themselves off like good girls.  That was really my point but I didn’t exactly say it that way. So….if girls are the agenda, why here.  To me makes no sense.

  29. Pingback: 10 Things I Love About America | Roads Less Traveled

  30. Guido says:

    Medellín is extremely inexpensive!!! How any North American can say otherwise is beyond me.

  31. Boris says:

    What are your thoughts regarding a long term relationship in Medellin? I’m only 32 and plan to be semi retired in a couple of years. I’m getting ready for my fourth trip down in May, with the intention of exploring some of the surrounding towns, higher up in the mountains.

    Has anyone here enrolled in the local university? I think that would be a great option for networking, learning better Spanish, Colombian history, culture etc… Another upside to being a student at the university would of course be the premium selection of women as oppose to the trash that hangs around Lleras. I have never stayed in Poblado, always opting for Estadio/Laureles instead.

    Many of the people that I’ve spoken with have shared my sentiment of disgust towards American/western women. It would seem counter-intuitive to come to a beautiful country surrounded by beautiful people only to focus on the one area inhabited by high maintenance princesses (Poblado).

    • Jonathan says:

      Boris, I’m not sure who you directed that question to, but I’m hoping others more knowledgeable here will answer it better than I can. That said, I have married a foreign woman and have traveled all over the world, and the following are some of my observations:

      . My general impression of American men who hate Westernized women is that in some cases they’ve been burned so badly that it’s hard to imagine them being happy with anyone. That isn’t to say that foreign women don’t have some advantages over American girls-it’s just that you need to be realistic about what you’re likely to find, and that there are advantages and disadvantages to both. Whether you find happiness depends on what you’re looking for. The men that I know that are happiest in their longer term relationships with foreign women have had to make some compromises and work hard just as you would have to do in any relationship, recognizing that the “payoff” in terms of your success as a couple are worth it.

      That said, I think your idea of enrolling in a university is very good and is more likely to help you meet someone who is “real”.

    • Lawrence Glickman says:

      Here is what I think after 5 years here 4 in Medellin and over a year in Rio Negro/ San Antonio. Its really simple, women will evaluate your attractiveness by measuring their wants and needs versus what you offer in every way. Moving to my area you will find some less sophisticated women and some from wealthy neighborhoods who go to private school and have traveled the world. I like it here for the cooler fresher air and friendly people. If you speak at least some Spanish and make local friends you can really enjoy it here but there is only one big mall and the local women have no lack of boyfriends and there is not the “model parade” of Park LLeras. So it depends on your expectations and what you are willing to do to network and look for opportunity. Going to any of the Universities is always a good idea.Eafit Univ of Antioquia and others all have branches here. Spanish here is a necessity.

    • Mike Jacobs says:

      Boris, colombian girls or colombianas love relationships. Problem is, as soon as you turn your back on them, they cheat. They cant help it. They are weak, want immediacy, and as soon as you arent physically around for more than 24-48 they WILL cheat. They cant be alone

      Its a cheating culture. Period. You WILL need to return to your home country from time to time and thats when it will happen. It wont be another gringo they hook up with either. It will be a colombian. Why? As much as they want a beter life, they love their colombian men.

      You may hear from time to time from someone saying “oh, i met my wife in colombia and its been great.” Fluke. Total fluke.

      Ive been living in colombia for 2 years and i do not know ONE gringo who has had any success with a girl being loyal here. Not one.

      You will be stolen from, lied to, conned, swindled, cheated on. Thats just part of life in the dating world here. The colombianas are rare and beautiful. I love them! But trust me when i say they will cheat on you brother.

      Its a cheating culture so put your head on a swivel if u want to go insane. Otherwise, date a few and be happy and leave the swivel for some other fool.
      You do not need to listen to me but one day u will finally say “gee, that idiot was right, i should have listened.”

      • Lawrence Glickman says:

        Too True and made worse by the fact that Americans want a much younger and pretty girl. That type is usually from a poor neighborhood and in that type of relationship they are in it strictly for the money. The other higher class women have an age appropriate Colombian guy. Keep in mind there are lots of Colombian men with money and the locals prefer locals. I know some exceptions but that usually is when a child’s welfare is paramount and they live in the USA and the age gap is not too great.

        • Mike Jacobs says:

          Lawrence i totally agree with you. Ive seen the girls there choose a colombian with a job and put together over an american every time.

          Curiosity on the girls part is short lived. A gringo doesnt stand a chance. Colombian women LOVE their colombian men. Period.

          Good points lawrence.

      • Todd says:

        I found one that is not only loyal but honest and beautiful and is an administrator at a local University. So yeah never say never. I felt like you untill this woman entered my life. 3 years and going strong!

    • Mike Jacobs says:

      Boris, now on to your other questions.

      Yes, i went to EAFIT on AV las Vegas in Poblado. Was great. Very nice campus. But u will be in spanish classes (im assuming) and there arent colombian girls in spanish class.

      Obviously thereare colombians all over campus but they are guarded for the most part. Best way to meet them is old school (map and look lost lol). Theres a kick a** gym on tye campus. I met many there. But again, guarded. They dont trust gringos because “all gringos leave” and many are there for sex tourism so they can be guarded. There are better schools such as in laureles where the girls arent so guarded.

      Lastly, run from parque lleras and poblado for the moat part.

      Estadio and laureles is where i live now. It way better here. Girls are more open. People are friendlier.

      Think this ; parque lleras is times square, bla bla bla bling bling bling, tourists etc

      Laureles is brooklyn or queens, more natives, more laid back, less flash and real people.

      Poblado is cool. But gets old quickly brother.

      Hope this helps

      • Boris says:

        I appreciate the advice Mike. I’ll be moving here permanently by the end of the year and have my next trip down June 15-19. Drop me a line at 386-266-6876

  32. Mike Jacobs says:

    Lawrence, you nailed it with the job thing. Ironically, theres something to that because the US will not grant a travel visit for any colombian without a stable job and income. Apparently a job and responsibility means stable in other areas of their life.

    I def notice truth to your statement.

    Im 45 and do not notice a diff with age gap and the girls being flakes. The oldest ive been with is 39 and she was as bad or worse than girls 25 or so. But thats just my experience.

    One thing across the board though is that only ONE girlfriend ive had here respects time and communicates well. Bad communication, poor punctility is an epidemic here. Show me a culture that doesnt respect time and communication and ill show you a culture that does not thrive.

    Anyway, i do like it here, and love these women! But its alot of work and frustration lol.

    • Lawrence Glickman says:

      Mike I’ve been living here for 5 years and traveling here since 1993 I’ve learned from my own disasters and the success of friends over that time. Ironically I’ve been a good “Cupido” for my friends and a poor chooser for myself. I’m still a sucker for a pretty girl but lots more cautious now.

      • Mike Jacobs says:

        Ha, im a sucker too. We all are for the most part. We just have to know where that line is in the sand for what you will tolerate and not tolerate.

        One thing that has helped me get past their mentality is to understand that i can never change it and never will i try.

        I go into each encounter knowing she has 10 other men in her phone and that she only means what she says while in that moment.

        The girls here are weak. They cant be alone. I know i can never change that. They cant even be alone for a night or they will stray.

        People dont like the truth and thats especially true here.

        Honestly, i prefer the filipinas over colombianas. However, asia is just too many time zones away from my family in the usa. My point being, if you ever want to find peace, complete peace, and want a girl who will be honest and burn her face off in a fire for you, you may want to venture off to the philippines.

        When my mother passes and my daughter is 18, thats where ill be. But colombia will always be home too. Love it here. But philippines is better, way better, In my opinion.

  33. S.E. Coleman says:

    There are so many great things about Medellin, you just looked over. Some of the best “street” food in the world and inexpensive. I have been going to Medellin for about 6 years and am looking forward to returning the 1st part of June. I RARELY go to Poblado!! There is a burger joint that is the best, I will go over for that, or to the grocery store that does have some imported products, other than that, I live with friends in their 3 level apartment in San Fransisco! I love it there, close to El Mercado de Flores, small little bakeries and stores to get whatever you need. We are gated and have reception downstairs, the views are great.

    You did not mention the Metro, one of the best in the world! CLEAN, quick , clearly marked and for the smallest amount of money you can move from Bello to Itagua!! Also you can take the gondoliers to catch incredible vistas and just turn around and come back for the same money! LITTLE! 🙂

    Medellin is the shoe capital probably of the world!! If you want to buy leather, there is a building 4 or 5 stories with every color and texture, you can have a bag made for a good price, even an outlet for the exclusive brand Velez. There are shops in the central area that also carry things I can not buy in the states for crafts, sewing, laces, insets.

    And you did not mention the PEOPLE , La Gente!! I have so many genuine friends , my closest I call, Mi Reina and she says nina to me and I am old enough to be her mom. They are warm, friendly, kind people for the most part. Sure there is crime, but there is hardly anywhere it does not exist, maybe Cuba? And I have been there 3 times.

    So look at the pros and cons, no, I do not want to “settle” there, but I look forward to time with my friends and working on projects there. So much opportunity to help and be productive, not just chasing “tail”!

    • Jonathan says:

      Yes I agree with you about the Metro and the food, which I did comment on in other articles about the city. I hope you didn’t expect to find anything like that in an article entitled “5 things I DON’T like…”?

  34. Todd says:

    Forgot to mention almost being killed several times by the three lanes of motor cycles zooming through the gaps.
    I agree with most of your commentary. I live now in Rionegro and am very happy here. My girlfriend has one more year to go in Medellin and we are anywhere but. Biggest open sewer I’ve ever seen is the Rio de Medellin.
    Catching up to all the big LA type cities in pollution. Lived in Jardin for 3 years and loved it untill the bridge in Bolombolo shit the bed. I still love the people and the less travelled areas immensely. Just saying.

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  36. Martha says:

    Well you stay away from Medellin. For me it is of the most beautiful cities in Colombia and like a big city they have Issues… very pretty City and people and I’m not from Medellin.

    • Jonathan says:

      No argument that the people are beautiful. The city has issues. You rightly point out that all cities do. That wasn’t the point of the article, though.

      You like it. Great. You aren’t alone. I like it too. I pointed that out in other articles, which apparently you didn’t bother to read. I recommend you do. You might learn something.

  37. charles says:

    i visited Colombia May 17-31 of 2017. I stayed in Itagui and Cali. I enjoyed the people. They were so friendly. everyone had google translate. The food and taxis are cheap. The further you get away for the center of Medellin the better the shopping, smog, and overall prices. For medical insurance go to Aetna international. Rates are good. Get a sims card from Sims international. You will always have Wi-Fi. I just loved it. I had no trouble with anyone. My heaven. oh, my hotel was Hotel sixtina at $19.00 a night.

  38. Robert Bethea says:

    Jonathan, Estoy de acuerdo, In Costa Rica we used to joke that they, (drivers) got a gold star if they hit a gringo. But everyone’s at risk here, seniors, pregnant women, little children, there’s absolutely no respect for pedestrians. To me, despite the many “pros” that’s unacceptable. Unfortunately, now I have tell mi Señora, that I do not want to retire here.

  39. Verdelandia says:

    I went to Medelllin for the flower festival I enjoy it, I love the food, I love the people, I love the city, I love the music, I love the weather, but I don’t like the traffic. The government need to put a lot of attention in the security of the tourist, and the security of your own people if wants to improve the country. Just with the income of the tourist they can do very well. But if doesn’t put attention in the most important that is the security of the people no body is going to risk go out of their homes to go far away to unsafe places without know if they will be back safe.. That is the importance for a country to show the tourist that the country is safe to visit. That is the principal thing for the devaluation of their money. And the tourist have to avoid looking for problems because wrong people are in all places.

    • Lawrence Glickman says:

      I have spent 6 years in Colombia 3 in Medellin and 3 in Rio Negro/San Antonio and some time in the rest of the country. I also am a Costa Rica veteran and lots of time in Mexico, Honduras, and the rest of the planet for my ill fated foreign spouse venture designed to have been a international Match.com. During this time I interviewed 635 women and married off 6 of my close friends who are still married.

      I had a theory that worked but I ignored it for myself as I was dating and failed to find lasting love by getting involved with women based on looks. This however is not the reason I’m posting today.

      As in America there has been a culture shift in the Latin world. Where once I could say with confidence that Latin women were different and better that is simply no longer true. Materialism, dishonesty infidelity and outright theft is now the norm. Unless you find a woman who desperately needs what you have to offer monetarily and is age appropriate you will be in for a disaster sooner rather than later. Next living in a Latin country is loaded with bureaucracy the likes of which you cannot imagine. You will find a few reliable friends who themselves will tell you that they hate their own government incompetence and corruption. So I have finally been worn down by insurance fraud after a car accident. Unfaithful women of all ages and social levels and outright theft. My landlord sent me a false statement of expiration of my lease and now as I leave I have to pay a three month penalty!! I could go on and on but let me just say that all the past good news about Latin countries is OVER. I watched Costa Rica go from a friendly paradise to an overpopulated overpriced mess. Now I must say the same for Colombia.

      Cheers to all. It was a great adventure and I’ll be moving to Colorado this month.

      Larry Glickman

  40. Todd J says:

    It is not only the women in Medellin but the gay men too. I flew back and forth from Chicago to Medellin to date a young guy that I met online. We really hit it off and he was so handsome that I felt like I had become 25 years younger. I could not wait until the next time I would see him. During the time I was away, his life was tragic. Motorcycle accidents, family members becoming seriously ill, financial predicaments. I seriously was in love with him and our end game was to be with me in Chicago. His scam did not come to view, until due to more family misfortune he was significantly in debt. I did not want him to pay the huge interest on the debt. I lent him $5000 and bought him a motorcycle. We worked out a payment plan that would fit into what he earned and do on. So many times the flags were there but I refused to see them through the honest love I had for him. At the same time I planned a trip to Atlantis in the Bahamas where I was working with the resort for a spectacular wedding proposal in a month. After he got the loan , he got sick on that trip and no longer wanted to be sexual and he said he had to spend a day breaking in his new motorcycle. (Which I now am convinced that was a day long date with his actual boyfriend.) After that last trip he got into a bicycle accident and said he had to go to the emergency room. The pictures he sent from the emergency room did not have his face in them and if you held the pictures next to each other the skin color did not match. So I was now going to catch him finally in a lie that he could not explain away. Over two days that is exactly what I did. When we video called he had his leg bandaged and propped up. I played the concerned boyfriend and asked to see the injury. Would not show me saying it hurt too much. Then I got very direct and confronted him and said If you will not show me the injury, I can safely assume that you are lying. Which he got quiet and it was over. He made the biggest score to date and decided it was not worth the energy to try to keep the scam going. This scam included his mother and sister whom he used the emotion from meeting them to get me to believe him and give him $100-400 on multiple occasions. When we broke up I came to find out 2 things. 1. At the end after 2 years he cheated me out of $25,000 USD. And a prepaid trip to Atlantis. 2. I bet you can see this coming. The vast majority of the calamities in his life were all lies. The huge ones that I just would not believe that you would ever lie about included the death of his parents and the dismembering of his sister in a farm accident, when I visited their farm I saw the piece of equipment that supposedly caused the injury so that was plausible to me. All of that a lie. I had met his mother who was a very sweet woman so when she passed I grieved for her and paid for a majority of her funeral. This was such a well orchestrated scam that I am sure I was not the first and very possibly there multiple men that he was doing this with at the same time, but I was probably the most gullible for the longest period of time. I was thinking of marrying this fuckr. And to add insult to injury I did get the money for the planned spectacular proposal but ended going to Atlantis after a friend that said he would come with me had an emergency and couldn’t go. 5 days by myself and lost a good amount of money in the casino.

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