Beneath the shadow of high-rise apartments, the neighborhood of El Poblado is packed with upscale restaurants and cafes, boutiques, and some of the city’s hippest nightlife. With El Poblado’s western comforts, it’s easy to understand why the wealthy barrio is Medellin’s most popular neighborhood for foreigners, from backpackers to entrepreneurs to retirees.
But while El Poblado has long been the darling of Medellin, the up-and-coming barrio of Laureles has begun to catch the eye of an increasing number of travelers — particularly the “digital nomad” crowd. Heralded as the one of the Silicon Valleys of South America, Medellin has long been a hub for those professionals who live and work remotely.
As more international companies go remote and digital nomads flock to Medellin, many have chosen to bypass the chic streets of Poblado and make Laureles their home.
Here are 7 reasons why digital nomads prefer Laureles to Poblado (and why you just might, too).
1. The coffee scene
If you often romanticize about writing your latest blog post while sipping almond milk lattes on a tree-shaded patio of a bohemian coffee shop, the cafes of Laureles can fufill your wildest digital nomad fantasies. As arguably one of the most coffee-centric neighborhoods in all of Medellin, Laureles abounds with independent coffee shops — and new ones seem to sprout up every month. These are cafes that are serious about coffee, where talented baristas transform local beans into cold brews, flat whites, and aeropressed pours. Best of all, the vast majority of Laureles cafes are wonderfully laptop-friendly, welcoming nomads to stay a while with fast WiFi, comfy chairs, and plenty of plugs. Here are just a few of our favorites:
- Café Revolutión: One of Laureles’ finest, the tiny Café Revolución fortunately expanded to a second location to accommodate its influx of nomads and coffee lovers seeking an exceptional cup and fast WiFi connectivity. Both locations serve up single-origin, Colombian coffee through methods like V60, aeropress, and cold brew, along with smoothies and baked goods. (Cra. 73 #410 (Revolución 1); Cl. 37 ##79-32 (Revolución 2)
- Rituales: A brief stroll from Café Revolución, Rituales cafe is hidden in a residential area of the lush Avenida Nutibara. Although it’s a relative newcomer, Rituales has already made a name for itself with its creative coffee drinks– like the tonic-based ice coffee and cold brew made with a maracuya-condensed milk popsicle. Drinks are artfully crafted by dedicated baristas with beans from a farm in La Sierra, a Medellin neighborhood still recovering from a troubled, violent past. (Cq. 74A ##39b-22)
- Café Cliché: Spacious with cozy corners, couches, and plenty of power sockets, the French-owned Café Cliché is the perfect place to curl up with a laptop and a coffee or a glass of sangria. The cafe also dishes out excellent French cuisine and hosts meetups, movie nights, and French classes. (Cra. 76 #4141)
2. The low cost of living
Compared to the posh, heavily-touristed Poblado neighborhood, Laureles offers a similar quality of living for a lower cost. In Laureles, the price of accomodation can be as much as 15 to 25 percent cheaper than similar properties in Poblado. As a residential area, Laureles sees less fancy hotels but more one-story, two-story, and three-story homes with rental units, ideal for digital nomads and other longer-term travelers. Located in a less touristy neighborhood, the restaurants, bars, and fitness centers generally come with lower price tags than their Poblado counterparts. The neighborhood is packed with mom-and-pop joints serving up delicious and dirt-cheap menu del dia lunches and tienda bars doling out dollar beers with crispy crispetas and salty mangos.
3. The food
Laureles may be slightly behind El Poblado when it comes to restaurant diversity, but it’s catching up quickly. Not only can you find some of the best local restaurants in the city, you’ll encounter plenty of excellent international options like Korea House, Puerto Inka Comida Peruana, and Medellin Burger Company. Street vendors can be found around parks and main streets, hawking cups of tropical fruit, sizzling chorizo sausage, and blending fresh juices. Laureles is also home to plenty of local groceries as well as large, modern supermarkets such as the Walmart-like Exito and more upscale-Carulla.
4. The nightlife
Head to El Poblado for more upscale, pricier clubs where you can rub shoulders with backpackers and well-heeled Colombian youth. But for a taste of local nightlife, make your way to Laureles’ famous 70 Street, widely referred to as “La Setenta”. The bustling street is lined with traditional bars and sweaty salsa clubs blaring upbeat music. Popular Laureles clubs El Tibiri and Son Havana are arguably some of the best salsa spots in the city.
5. Walkability and bikeability
Quieter, shadier, and flatter than El Poblado, Laureles is undeniably the more pedestrian-friendly of the two neighborhoods. Laureles is also a haven for bikers, with broad, dedicated bike lanes and a merciful lack of hills. Medellin supervises a great bike share program, Encicla, and Laureles is scattered with more bicycle pick up-drop off stations than any other neighborhood.
6. Fitness and recreation
For those looking to get their fitness hit through other means than walking or biking, Laureles offers a growing variety of fitness centers, yoga studios, and more. Lush with parks and outdoor exercise areas, Laureles beats out Poblado in terms of green spaces. Laureles is also the site of the Estadio Atanasio Girardot, a massive sports complex featuring a futbol stadium, swimming pools, a skate park, basketball courts, and running tracks — all open to the public for free with registration. On any given evening, you’re likely to stumble into a free Zumba or salsa class going on somewhere in the complex.
Having undergone a complete transformation to leave behind its violent past, much of Medellin is quite safe for tourists. El Poblado and Laureles are easily two of the city’s most secure neighborhoods — though as with any populous area in a major city, observing common sense safety rules is advisable.
The Bottom Line
Choosing a favorite between two modern, culture-packed neighborhoods like El Poblado and Laureles is virtually impossible. In the end it comes down to personal preferences: if it’s fast WiFi cafes, green spaces, and affordable living you’re after, Laureles may the Medellin neighborhood for you. Get in touch with us if you’re interested in learning more about digital-nomad-friendly rentals in Laureles.
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