After we discovered ourselves just a little let down by Panama, we booked a flight to Medellín, Colombia. We couldn’t go residence as our tax yr to qualify for the FEIE (Overseas Earned Revenue Exclusion) wasn’t up till the top of January however we knew we didn’t need to keep in Panama that lengthy (extra on that right here). Medellín is someplace we all the time needed to go to as its typically in comparison with Chiang Mai and known as the “Digital Nomad Capital of South America”. We have been already shut by so we booked a flight and an condo for three weeks within the metropolis.
Like Panama, we had excessive hopes for Medellin. We actually needed to like it. Everlasting Spring simply sounded too good to be true and solely a 6 hour journey day residence (vs 28 hours from Thailand) was greater than interesting. And to be trustworthy, it actually didn’t disappoint.
So why the combined emotions? I’m truthfully not fairly positive. I assume the reply actually isn’t that straightforward. You understand how we love to match every part to Chiang Mai, so I suppose its simpler to interrupt it down that means.
Medellin vs Chiang Mai
Why We Liked Medellín
To start with, it truly is undeniably a gorgeous metropolis and the climate was merely good. The rolling inexperienced hills and mountain views are to die for and the brick buildings give the town a lot character. The air was so recent and, as promised, it was by no means too scorching and by no means too chilly. The mornings and evenings have been crisp and funky and the afternoons lovely and sunny. There was by no means any want for warmth or AC (I’m fairly positive most homes don’t have it) and the home windows stayed open all day. Its actually exhausting to have a nasty day when the climate is that good.
The house we booked by way of Airbnb was incredible. It was tremendous spacious and trendy. Though it did value extra money than we anticipated, we actually needed to be snug sufficient to work from home, in a protected location, and have a pleasant, absolutely stocked kitchen so we might eat in additional. Plus once we noticed the views from the balcony, we couldn’t not ebook it.
There’s undoubtedly an honest measurement digital nomad group there that could possibly be discovered principally in and round Parque Lleras. There are additionally various laptop-friendly cafes to select from. Cafe Velvet is likely one of the hottest ones and we might see why. It was undoubtedly our favourite because it had the right setup for working hours at a time and the espresso was delish as nicely.
Not solely was virtually everybody we encountered actually pleasant, additionally they appeared very real as nicely. The truth is, we couldn’t recover from simply how good everybody was, from assembly our Airbnb host with an enormous hug to conversations in damaged Spanglish with our Uber drivers and the Safety Guard at our condo that greeted us with an enormous smile and a ¡Buenas! each time we returned house. Along with being pleasant, Colombian’s significantly have to be probably the most engaging individuals on the planet. In fact, you hear guys rave about Colombian women and with each proper. However the males are simply as engaging. Everybody there appeared to be into understanding and staying match. I don’t assume we ever noticed any obese individuals. Speak about fixed blows to the vanity!
Not solely are the town and the individuals fantastic, however Medellín was far more trendy than I might have ever imagined. The purchasing malls blow our malls within the US out of the water. The great, massive sidewalks make strolling all over the place a lot extra pleasant after barely surviving years of Chiang Mai’s principally nonexistent and damaged sidewalks. The town was astonishingly clear, inexperienced and nicely maintained.
In saying all of this, these are the…
Issues We Didn’t Love About Medellín
I’m watching my phrases as a result of I don’t need to say that we “hated” and even “disliked” something about Medellín. The reality is, it typically comes right down to comfort and, as we all the time say, there’s nowhere easier to stay overseas than in Chiang Mai.
For one, we actually weren’t that impressed with the meals. However let’s be actual, not many locations examine with Thailand in that sense. We by no means had a nasty meal, however there was actually just one memorable meal we had in all the three weeks. It doesn’t look that spectacular within the image however, belief me, it was unimaginable.
One factor I didn’t look forward to finding so troublesome was the language barrier. I can’t consider some other nation we’ve traveled that we’ve had such a tough time with the language barrier. And I by no means thought my Thai could possibly be higher than my Spanish, however I’m fairly positive it’s. We thought our Spanish was ok (not nice) to get by, however we have been 100% flawed. Our minimal Spanish obtained us by with no issues in Playa del Carmen, Puerto Vallarta and even in Panama. However in Colombia, we realized simply how terrible our Spanish really is. It was so dangerous that we frequently prevented going out as a result of speaking with anybody was so troublesome and we have been embarrassed at our lack of Spanish talking talents. In a single occasion, Charlie said to our Uber driver “sorry, our Spanish sucks” (poor selection of phrases, sure!). Then proper earlier than he dropped us off, he requested in damaged English why we thought Spanish individuals suck.
We then tried to elucidate what he meant, however I’m unsure if it was ever clear. He was so good and I felt so dangerous I needed to cry and conceal on the similar time.
If we ever went again or determined to remain there long-term, studying Spanish can be completely important.
Considered one of our largest points whereas in Colombia was simply getting round city. Whereas we beloved our condominium in El Poblado (the expat/vacationer haven of Medellin) and it was in a really protected space, it was additionally in a really residential space and we underestimated simply how far we have been from issues and the way huge these hills round us have been. The one factor we have been actually strolling distance to was a shopping center, which had quite a few eating places, a grocery retailer and a Starbucks. So that’s the place we spent numerous our time (boring, I do know). Parque Lleras is the hip, fashionable neighborhood with tons of bar, eating places and occasional outlets like that of Nimman in Chiang Mai. That is the place most expats spend their time and we thought we might as properly. Nevertheless, it ended up being a lot farther away than we thought, particularly contemplating the steep inclines and declines. Critically, each time we left our house, our ears popped! That’s how a lot of a change in elevation it was from our house to, properly, anyplace. Fortuitously, Uber is obtainable and tremendous low cost so we just about needed to Uber all over the place we went. That being stated, we might typically have to attend 10-15 minutes for an Uber and it simply felt like a problem. We couldn’t simply stroll out our door and seize a espresso or run to the shop. Many days we ended up working at house which made us simply really feel type of trapped.
Security is all the time the primary concern anyplace you go, and the tales about security relating to Central and South America are sometimes by no means nice. It’s all the time the most important challenge most individuals have when evaluating the likes of SE Asia and South America and it was undoubtedly our largest concern.
Even after being robbed in Thailand, I all the time felt protected there. I by no means as soon as nervous about strolling down the street alone or being out late at night time. No one ever made us really feel threatened or scared for our lives. The tales that you simply do hear about in Thailand often contain petty theft or getting combined up with the mistaken individuals (bar women, medicine, and so forth).
Nevertheless, the tales coming from Central and South America typically contain being robbed at gun-point, kidnappings, and murders. And whereas crime charges have dropped considerably in Medellín, it was nonetheless probably the most harmful metropolis on the planet not way back and it nonetheless has a methods to go. We love to do our analysis earlier than visiting someplace new and we need to be sure that we’re absolutely conscious of the great and the dangerous. We’ve learn loads of tales from vacationers and vacationers which have by no means had any points and rave about how protected it’s now. They speak about all the superb issues Colombia has to supply, and they’re proper. However on the similar time, its essential to concentrate on the dangerous (as with ANYWHERE on the earth) so you recognize what to anticipate and what to concentrate on. It is best to all the time know if there are harmful areas to keep away from and what to do if you end up in an unlucky state of affairs.
Upon studying via quite a few posts on expat boards and tales of bloggers ending up in some scary conditions, it undoubtedly had us going into Colombia extra on edge. Virtually each expat or traveler we’ve talked to has both been robbed at gun-point themselves or is aware of somebody that has (not simply Colombia however in Central and South America). Within the expat boards I learn, many are talking up about their very own experiences and appear to have the mentality of “its just a matter of time before it happens to you”. Many additionally really feel that the federal government could be very hush-hush about it as they don’t need to dissuade vacationers from coming, however many expats have finally left as a result of they’re uninterested in wanting over their shoulder all the time. We even overheard individuals speaking about being robbed at gun-point whereas sitting in a espresso store on a number of events. Truly, one man was speaking about how his spouse had been robbed twice in lower than 6 months, one time proper in entrance of their home and one other after being adopted out of the mall within the fashionable vacationer district. One time even our Uber driver confirmed nice concern dropping us off in Parque Lleras and stored stressing how harmful it nonetheless is for foreigners. I do know he meant nicely and needed us to remember, nevertheless it undoubtedly creeped us out.
I’ll say that we by no means had ANY purpose to really feel unsafe or threatened the complete three weeks we have been in Medellín. Nevertheless, after doing our personal analysis on statistics and different peoples’ experiences, we felt very on edge the entire time we have been there. We have been continuously wanting over our shoulder and didn’t need to be out strolling after darkish. I undoubtedly wouldn’t have been out and about on my very own with out Charlie. We have been continually warned by our Uber drivers to not have our telephones out or carry our laptops with us. By no means take money out at outside ATMs. Don’t put on something flashy. This meant my ring and Apple Watch all the time stayed at house. I by no means needed to take my telephone out to make use of GPS or Uber which was type of troublesome. And we have been uneasy about taking our laptops to the espresso store with us.
We understand this may increasingly sound foolish and unjustified to some, however higher protected than sorry for my part. In the long run, we didn’t like that hanging over our heads. I don’t need to need to be apprehensive about my security all the time, what I might carry with me or put on. Its one factor in case you are simply visiting for a short while, however I don’t assume I might ever need to do this long-term. There are too many superior locations on the earth the place you don’t need to be on edge to that extent.
And that brings me to my final level: value of dwelling. In fact, that is all the time a scorching matter amongst digital nomad locations. I’m going to do one other submit about the price of dwelling in Medellín as we tracked our bills whereas we have been there. However to summarize, some issues have been fairly a bit cheaper than the States or corresponding to Chiang Mai, however most issues have been costlier than we anticipated. This wasn’t a deal-breaker for us, as there are trade-offs and I feel high quality of life is best in numerous methods. Its not all the time concerning the least expensive place to stay, however the worth.
To wrap up the longest submit ever, we’re nonetheless fairly combined in our emotions on Colombia. The comfort to residence and climate has us pulling for Medellin, however the ease of dwelling and group in Chiang Mai nonetheless can’t be beat. If solely we might transfer Chiang Mai just a bit bit nearer to residence…