Now that we decided on a country and city, the next step was to decide on an area within the city to live. Since neither of us had been there, we relied solely on internet research.
Medellin metro is separated into 22 districts which are rated on a socioeconomic scale of 1 to 6. These ratings are know as estratos or strata. Estrato 6 is considered a wealthy area for Colombians and estrato 5 is an upper middle class area. While estratos 3 and 4 are considered Colombian middle class areas. And estratos 1 and 2 are generally poor areas. As a reference point, a middle class family in Colombia earns $1000 a month or less.
We focused our search in the 5 and 6 estrato areas. We figured a month of temporary living would be sufficient to get the lay of the city and start looking for a more permanent residence. We both have similar tastes when it comes to homes and decor so we went to Airbnb and VRBO to look for a place. Housing in these parts of town average about $750 a month for rent, unfurnished. This was a starting point for us and obviously we knew that cost would be more on Airbnb or VRBO, since they are furnished with all the amenities. After a couple of searches, we found that a realistic price would be around $1000 a month for an apartment in El Poblado.
El Poblado came up as the wealthiest and safest neighborhood with a close proximity to the city center. For nightlife, the Zona Rosa surrounding Parque Lleras is full of clubs, nice restaurants and hip bars. And it is home to boutique shops, and high-end shopping malls, including: Santa Fe, La Strada, Oviedo and El Tesoro. This area also more resembles an American city and is the favorite place for Westerners to vacation and live. It sounded perfect for us to acclimate into the Colombian lifestyle slowly without too much culture shock.
The first Airbnb rental we picked was a 2 story/2 bedroom townhouse for $915 a month. After waiting 2 days to make a decision, the townhouse disappeared, so we took our second choice. A modern 2 bedroom apartment in a high rise about 10 minutes walk from the restaurant and club area of the city.