El Poblado

Most of the foreigners owning property in Medellín call the upscale neighborhood of El Poblado as home. The majority of the hotels, rental apartments and hostels in Medellín are also located there. So, this is where most expat visitors to the city stay and is also why it remains a popular area for investing in rental properties.

El Poblado is home to many boutique stores and Medellín’s highest-end shopping malls: Santafé (the largest mall in Medellín), El Tesoro and Oviedo. El Poblado is also home to the Zona Rosa, which surrounds Parque Lleras. This is a nightlife area full of many of the best restaurants, clubs and bars in the city. In addition, El Poblado is home to EAFIT Univeristy, which has a popular Spanish language program for foreigners.

El Poblado currently has a population of about 130,000.  This is a smaller population than Envigado, located to the south and also smaller than Belén, located to the west.

A majority of the housing in El Poblado is found in high-rise apartments. Some of these high-rises can have spectacular views of the city. But El Poblado does also have some streets lined with one-story, two-story and three-story attached homes located in certain neighborhoods like Provenza and Manila.

El Poblado is popular with foreigners. It can be a very comfortable place to live with all the shopping malls, nightlife and restaurants nearby. It also has a strong police presence and the area is considered one of the safest neighborhoods in Medellín.  In addition, El Poblado has three metro stations, with convenient feeder buses connecting to the metro stations available from most neighborhoods.

The bottom line is that El Poblado is a wealthy neighborhood that offers a Western lifestyle, which is why it continues to be very popular with foreigners.

Santafé mall
Santafé mall
Oviedo mall
Oviedo mall

The Neighborhoods of El Poblado

El Poblado has 22 barrios (neighborhoods). When looking at any neighborhoods in Colombia it is important to understand the estrato system. Residential properties in Colombia are ranked on a 1-6 socioeconomic scale (with 6 being the highest), which are known as estratos.

El Poblado is primarily an estrato 6 area with about 74% of the households currently ranked as estrato 6, which is why El Pobaldo has some of the most expensive real estate in the city.   As seen in the following table, 93% of the households in El Poblado are estrato 5 or 6.

El Poblado Estratos
El Poblado Estratos

In comparison, in the entire city of Medellín, only 4.6% of households are estrato 6. The majority of the households in Medellín are estrato 2 or 3 (61%).

Understanding estratos is important, as this is a factor for housing costs and also for utilities. Households in lower estrato neighborhoods pay a lower rate for gas, electric, water and triple play TV/Internet/phone services. This lower rate is subsidized by higher rates paid by households in higher estratos.

Apartment buildings in El Poblado
Apartment buildings in El Poblado

Cost of Real Estate in El Poblado

New apartments generally cost around 4,500,000 to over 5,000,000 pesos ($1,463 to over $1,625) per square meter. (Note using 3,076 pesos to 1 USD exchange rate). This means a new 1,000 square foot apartment in El Poblado can range in price from about $146,300 to over $162,500.

The price for existing housing can be lower than new housing. The average cost of 45 existing properties currently on the market (sized at 90-120 square meters) we surveyed in El Poblado was $1,086 per square meter. However, some of these existing housing properties are “fixer-uppers”, needing some work.

Since properties are priced in Colombian pesos, the price of housing in terms of U.S. dollars has dropped dramatically over the past few years due to the current improved exchange rate with the Colombia peso.

Lifeafar, the largest foreign-owned real estate firm in Medellín, has well over 200 properties for sale listings in El Poblado listed on the Lifeafar website.

Lower cost real estate is available in other parts of Medellín including Envigado, Laureles and Sabaneta, which are also popular with some foreigners.  But El Poblado remains the most popular area for foreigners living in the city and visiting.

Apartment Rental Market in El Poblado

With El Poblado being so popular with foreigners, a very active apartment rental market exists. This is why an increasing number of property purchases by foreigners in this neighborhood are investment properties that are rented out. A rental apartment in a good location can normally achieve occupancies of 80% or higher.

Lifeafar has the majority of its rental properties located in El Poblado due to the popularity of the neighborhood by foreigners. The company manages over 100 furnished apartments located in El Poblado that are available through its Lifeafar Rentals division.

Lifeafar also has furnished apartments in other neighborhoods in Medellín as well as 40 in Bogotá and more than a dozen in both Cali and Cartagena.

Provenza neighborhood
Provenza neighborhood

Provenza – an area with rapid price increases

One of the neighborhoods of El Poblado – Provenza – is an area that has seen upgrades with many new restaurants and the housing in the area over the past several years.  So, it has experienced rapid price growth in housing over the past several years.

The Provenza area is very attractive for several reasons:

  • Flat area for walking and retirees, compared to the hilly parts of El Poblado
  • Located very close to Parque Lleras
  • Many of the best restaurants in Medellín are in the area
  • Close to the Golden Mile with several shopping malls
  • Several grocery stores are within 10-15 minutes, including Carulla, Exito and Jumbo.
Rental real estate investment
Rental real estate investment

Structured Real Estate Investments

Lifeafar has gone beyond simply being a real estate agency.  The company has become a large network of professionals dedicated to simplifying the foreign investment process by offering carefully structured real estate projects that provide investors with an excellent return

The company has created two investment structures to suit different investor profiles:

  • TIPS™ (Turnkey Investment Properties) for the single investor purchasing a privately owned, fully renovated and furnished vacation rental, specifically selected for optimal passive income generation.
  • PREPS™ (Packaged Real Estate Projects) for smaller stakeholders looking to be part of larger, multi-investor projects involving small to medium sized apartment complexes to take maximum advantage of the lucrative short-term vacation rental market.

With continued demand from customers, Lifeafar each year launches new development projects.

Projects range from single investor residential properties typically in the $100,000 – $150,000 USD range to larger projects with multiple investors with minimum investment amounts of $25,000 USD.  A current list of Lifeafar development projects is found here.

Conclusion – El Poblado

El Poblado remains the most popular neighborhood in Medellín for foreigners with good reason. It has the best shopping malls in the city and many of the best restaurants as well as some of the best nightlife.  In addition, it has the most hotels and the most rental apartments available. It is also considered one of the safest neighborhoods.

We continue to expect that El Poblado will remain the most popular neighborhood for foreigners in Medellín for the foreseeable future. But some areas of the Medellín metro like Envigado, Laureles and Sabaneta are expected to experience increasing interest from some foreigners as an alternative.

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