Life as a digital nomad in Medellin

Medellin is fast becoming one of the world’s most desirable stopping-off points for the digital nomad. Its people have thrown off the stigma of the past and created a stunning, forward-looking city that’s like nowhere else on earth. With enviable infrastructure, good stability and unbelievable beauty in and around the city, it’s no wonder that those with the urge to work wherever life takes them are giving it a try – and often staying there. 

Mention Medellin to anyone around the world and you’ll probably hear back something about the drug lord Pablo Escobar, or Narcos, the Netflix series based on law enforcement’s efforts to bring him to justice. Unsurprisingly, it’s not a label the Medellinense are particularly fond of, especially since those days are well and truly over, and the city is now a thriving centre that’s enjoying investment and good governance. So let’s explore what it’s like to live and work there now.

Living in Medellin, the City of Eternal Spring

Medellin’s nickname has always been apt, given that it has a climate that’s perfect for growing anything from coffee to flowers. It’s located halfway between Bogotá and Panama, surrounded by rainforest for as far as the eye can see. At only 500 km north of the equator, it might seem like a sultry, humid place, but because it’s 1,500 metres above sea level, the air is fresh and temperate all year round. In fact, locals hardly ever use either heating or air conditioning in their homes as they simply don’t need to.

But modern Medellin is also having a springtime politically, thanks to a Colombian government that’s taking corruption and stability seriously. The optimism of its 2.5 million citizens is clear wherever you travel in the city. Investment is flowing in, and entrepreneurs are descending on the rainforest city from all over the globe to get a piece of the action.

It’s not just big business showing up, either – remote workers and location-independent employees are making it their home, thanks to outstanding physical and virtual infrastructures. Coworking spaces are springing up everywhere, and they are truly excellent, with all the connectivity and comfort you could ever want.

Getting about Medellin

Car ownership in Medellin is pretty low, and when you get there, you’ll realise why. Public transport is cheap and plentiful – and that includes the taxis. You can explore the city or travel for work by bus, tram or the Medellin Metro. But for the best views, take the MetroCable, which was built to service the poorer communities who live in the steep hills around the city.

You can also download an app that lets you pick up an electric scooter and drop it off at one of the other stations fitted around the city. Needless to say, they’re very popular and are a fun way to get around.

Do you like coffee? You’d better!

You might have picked up a Colombian roast from your local supermarket and found it quite enjoyable. If so, you’re going to love this place. Colombia is to coffee what France is to wine – they take it incredibly seriously here, and treat the drink with respect and reverence.

Coffee shops are everywhere, and your drink will be prepared with the greatest care to ensure it’s just perfect. Forget the jar of instant and dried milk combination you normally expect from a digital nomadic lifestyle, Medellin has set the bar a lot higher.

Working remotely in Medellin

Part of the joy of Medellin for a digital nomad is that the city has fully embraced the advantages of online work. It could be simply down to the fact that the city is miles away from any other major cities: Bogotá is 220 km away; Cali is 320 km away; Barranquilla is 520 km away – and that’s as the crow flies. It’s much further by road. The only way you can really do business with these cities is online. 

The city’s connectivity has sparked a virtuous circle. Remote workers travelling the world have started to drop by, which has helped boost the digital economy and led to more digital investment. You’ll never be far from an excellent place to set up your laptop and crack on with a project or have a virtual meeting, and you can expect decent upload and download speeds so you won’t be held up when moving files around.

A highly competitive cost of living

If you’re an individual choosing to live and work in Medellin, you can easily get by on around 5 million Colombian pesos a month – but don’t worry, that’s around £1,000. Some nomads have got that figure down much lower and still led a good life, with safe, modern accommodation, services, food and entertainment included. If you’re starting up and money is tight, it’s definitely worth considering.

Your Colombian digital nomad visa

If you think Medellin sounds like the place for you, you’ll need to apply for a visa for la República de Colombia. There are two types: Type V is for visitors from a foreign country who don’t intend to stay for long; and Type M is for those who intend to live in the country for a lengthy period.

It’s relatively easy to apply (you can do it online) and it’s a welcoming nation that doesn’t put up too many hurdles for visitors, whether they want to come for recreational or professional reasons.

You should really learn Spanish

With English being spoken so widely around the world, it’s rare for digital nomads to have communication problems anywhere in Europe, Asia or Africa. However, South America is a continent where English isn’t too widely spoken, and Medellin is no exception. If you want to get the most out of the city, make friends with the locals and order exactly what you want in restaurants and bars, it’s well worth taking a crash course in Spanish if you’re not already familiar with it.

Medellin is waiting

It’s probably a little late to call Medellin a “best kept secret” for remote workers, but compared to some places in Europe and Asia, it’s still building a name for itself. Not that the city needs to do anything more – it’s a lovely place, surrounded by green and with some stunning sights, sounds and tastes to experience. Connectivity is first class, and you’ll find a wonderful community of fellow nomads whenever you visit one of the fantastic coworking spaces. 

If you fancy something a little different, this could be the place for you – especially if your blood is 99% caffeine.

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Your complete business toolkit

Rovva puts everything you need for your business in one place. From an accountancy helpline to a drop-in business lounge - we've got everything covered.