Is Medellin A City For Boys Only?

When people talk about Medellin, what does the topic of conversation center around?

You’ll probably hear about girls that look like supermodels, their fake boobs, or their fake butts. You might also hear about the weather.

What you won’t hear about is how many cool, young female expats there are here.

Why?

Because there aren’t a lot (that I know of).

medellin expats

Can you spot me?

I have met a few foreign women who live here, but they are usually doing a semester abroad, are volunteering, or are married to a Colombian. But the ones who are here just because it seems like the place to be?

In fact, when I first meet the other expats living here (all boys) they sometimes say to me, “You’re the only foreigner I’ve met here who…”

“Has a vagina?” I reply.

“Yeah…” they say.

“Yeah…” I say.

If you were to ask me why I like Medellin so much, what’s in it for me, I have trouble finding the words. There are a lot of little things I like about the city but none of them pinpoint what it is EXACTLY that I like.

Upon arrival, a tourist is likely to be underwhelmed by the typical tourist attractions found here. You can take pictures with the fat Botero sculptures and go to the museum. You can take the metrocable up to Santo Domingo and take some pretty photos of the city’s skyline. If you didn’t have time to go to a real pueblo, you might jet up to Pueblito Paisa.

After that? I’m not really sure what you’d do. If you didn’t lose yourself in the nightlife, you’d probably go somewhere else after a few days.

For living, however, Medellin is a great city. It’s easy to get around (the metro is efficient and taxis are pretty cheap and abundant). There are lots of restaurant and bar options in different parts of the city. The nightlife is super fun – one of the most fun cities I’ve lived in.

One of the best parts of the city is the people, the Paisas. Maybe I have watched too many telenovelas or eaten too many arepas, but I am a super fan of Paisas and on most days, wish I was one.

You can also get a lot of different experiences here. You can posh it up in Poblado and rent a flashy apartment on the 24th floor, or you can go for a more traditional vibe in Envigado or Sabaneta and live on $500 a month.

If you have an entrepreneurial spirit and can’t afford cities like New York or Melbourne, you will love Medellin. There are lots of young people here starting businesses and doing their digital nomad thing like me.

And to my ladies… I will be straight with you. Yes, it’s true that there are a lot of supermodel-caliber girls walking around with air-filled butts and boobs, but there are also a lot of normal girls here too. And as far as I’ve seen, the normal girls are able to find guys to date and be with too.

In fact, if you come here with your blond hair or your light-colored eyes, you’ll be a bit of a novelty and might even be considered exotic. (I, on the other hand, have no such advantage as I look Colombian).

And if you are into Latinos, you won’t be disappointed. I’m quite partial to the selection that Colombia offers.

Ladies – have I convinced you to move here yet?

Have you been to Medellin? Why do you think there are so few female foreigners living here? PS – If the comments run in to the footer, try to refresh the page.

  • Planacruise

    i have been there a few times and noticed the same – very few female expats.  mostly older american guys looking for the young colombian women.  i am considering moving there and had the same feeling – not too many foreign females.  but that wouldn’t stop me from moving there.  i love the culture, the paisas, the nightlife, the music, dancing.

  • Chris G

    How long have you been in Medellin?  While you are right there are far fewer expat women in Medellin there are still quite a few.  Quit hanging out at the Tiger Paw or Casa Kiwi and you might meet some.

  • Yeay! I got one! ;)

  • Man, I love when guys like you come on my site with their rude comments and assume things about me. It’s so sexy!

  • I found you in the photo! It wasn’t too hard…  :)

    Maybe it’s Colombia’s reputation from the 90’s? I still find many people are not up to date with Colombia’s current situation. Keep pumping out the positive posts Jasmine, and they’ll come around!

  • I really liked Medellin when I visited but I did notice the lack of expat ladies compared to dudes. One guy even told me he couldn’t see why any girl would want to live there (because the only criteria for choosing where to live is the hotness of your competition?). I thought it was a lovely city and probably super pleasant to live in!

  • Haha yeah… You’re right. I think that could be one of the reasons why people still aren’t coming here – maybe especially women (?)

  • It is! I was intimidated when I first came here as more of a backpacker in 2010, but now it’s nothing I pay attention to. Imagine if we all chose a new place to live based on the hotness of our competition! LOL ;)

  • Shawn

    I think the things that draw guys here — the city’s reputation for pretty girls and at least a little bit of an air of danger and excitement from its international reputation — are the exact same things that drive girls away. I know if I were a girl, I wouldn’t decide to move to a city that has the reputation for having the prettiest girls in a country full of beautiful girls. 

    I found it striking to compare the male/female ratios in hostels in Medellin where it’s skewed something like 3:1 whereas when I traveled to Italy or Germany where it was totally equal.
    Besides the danger and the fame of the girls here, are there other reasons causing the skewed ratio of expats and travelers to Medellin?

  • Interesting to hear about your observations in hostels, I’ve never thought about it really. I don’t know why people stay away… what I do know is that they’re missing out!

  • Im  live recently moved to medellin from the states I love it… umm what is and expat? everyone but me know what that means apparently LOL — 

  • Hey Dwayne, welcome to the city! An expat is short for exaptriate, which is someone who lives outside of their home country :)

  • DT33445

    I must have had a very different trip from yours. I never stayed in hostels (security for my motorcycle was paramount) and I rarely saw non-locals. I avoided any non-locals when I saw them or heard any language other than Spanish. I loved Colombia best of all the countries from Mexico to Argentina. The local girls are very aggressive and friendly (not to mention gorgeous). They very quickly approached me with many personal questions. I avoided any girls who talked about money, but understood  that everyone there is concerned about tomorrow’s food. I have blue eyes, and it was a regular experience that girls would approach me in bars (usually the waitresses) saying, “¡Ojos azules! (blue eyes)”.  Then they asked how long I would be in town which normally would be one month. If I did not care for them I would say that I already have a girl friend. If I liked them after a few hours, I asked them to be my girlfriend, and if I could pay their family to live in their home with them. This frequently worked and the families never took offense to the relationship between me and their daughter. In fact, they seemed happy about it.

    There was no hot water, air conditioning or heat (not a big problem in Medellin with its very moderate climate). The bathrooms frequently had no walls and no privacy. Everyone had just a pipe for a shower, and when I bought a spray nozzle, they removed it. I asked many about this, and everyone agreed it was better to have a solid stream than a spray. One girl told me she likes the feeling of being peed on with cold water. I tried to not think about that when I showered. But, this was the best way to come to know Colombians who were always very protective of me. They seemed to think I could not walk down the street safely even though I had ridden my motorcycle pretty nearly everywhere in Colombia where there were paved roads. The families are extended including cousins, brothers, sisters, mothers, nieces and nephews (but no fathers although  sometimes the girl’s mother, typically 40, had a boyfriend. Everyone seemed to be pleased with displays of affection unlike in the US, although this was not exactly in public. What one must understand in a Colombian (and probably all Hispanic families) is that what you own now belongs to everyone once you are part of the family. I cannot overemphasize this. There is an expression that one works and 5 eat. I bought the food, went to doctor and dentist visits which had been delayed awaiting financing. I took the extended families to restaurants which they enjoyed tremendously, and sometimes to a finca (dude ranch) with a swimming pool, horses, a river with kayaks and hiking trails. They loved eating “domicilio” (restaurants are fairly empty because young guys with motorbikes deliver food to people’s homes). Staying with a family was considerably more expensive than a very nice hotel.

    Three of my “girlfriends” are married now, but I still have 5 who keep asking when I plan to return. I hope in 2 or 3 months. And, yes, it is possible to love more than one person. Ask any mother with 2 or more children. I love each of them and would marry one if it were not such a difficult decision which one.

  • Miles K

    In the hostel I work at, it’s about an equal number of female to male travelers, but I think that’s because the hostel is located closer to the Centro, where the emphasis isn’t just on partying. While the expat women I know living in Medellín number far less than the men, I think its interesting how they have chosen to live in neighborhoods such as Prado, Belen, Castillo and Calasanz, all further away from typical party areas.

    Not saying expat women don’t like to party here, but I feel there’s a difference in the “party attitudes” between men and women when they go out. I also know about 9 or 10 expat guys currently dating Paisas and only one expat girl who has ever dated a local; what’s up with that??

  • Patricia Maya

    Hi Jasmine, I’m planning to make my move back to Medellin! Can’t wait, after living abroad for over 40 years, and visiting Colombia as often as I can….

  • Alanmclrx7

    Hi,that’s a very interesting piece on your observations about Medellin and ex-pats and while its certainly the case that in most European cities there would be a 50/50 gender split amongst the ex-pat communities ,I’m not sure there is a simple explanation as to why this is not the case in Medellin,or indeed in virtually any South American city. I’ve been to Medellin many times on family visits and for a long time I  never really regarded it as of much significance that there were so few ex-pats around…its only in more recent years as I’ve come across more ex-pats that I realise how few there are and how much we must still stand out…and unfortunately not always for the best of reasons as evidenced by the recent behaviour of the Secret Service clowns. That’s why it was refreshing to read your observations from a female perspective rather than some of the immature sexist nonsense which sometimes passes as blog writing from places like Medellin. 

  • That’s another good question! If I start meeting more women living here, I’ll have to ask them.

  • Thank you :)

  • Stanfarmer25

    Wow, shallow, sociopathic narcissist who travels? You must have been a huge hit!

  • DT33445

    Another hater. Too bad the US is so full of them. Or is this just something you learned from posing comments about Paris Hilton. I suspect that is why so much of the world hates US Americans. Colombia and Israel are the only countries in the world that actually like people from the US. It has a lot to do with your arrogant imbecilic puerile name calling. Go back in your hole.

  • DT33445

    I found a much happier experience in coming to know Colombians instead of other tourists. I do not have anything against other tourists except that I can meet them at home, and wish to make the most of my limited time when traveling. Also, I fear that the presence of many foreigners will change Colombia, and that will sadden me.

    Colombians are so friendly and easy to meet. On my way to Ecuador (so I could return with a fresh visa after 4 days), I stopped to help a guy near Pasto with a flat tire on his car using my motorcycle’s electric air pump (you may have noticed that there are very, very few private vehicles on the road). He invited me to stay at his house, and I gladly accepted, not because finding a hotel would have been a problem, but because I want to know about the way he and his family live and about their political ideas and their economy. The motorcycle was a Godsend because I was immediately joined by bikers when I arrived at any city all  over South America. They wanted me to ride with them and to stay in their homes. They always asked if I was copying the trip of Ché Guevara. I bought the bike and learned to ride it between South Florida and Mexico.

  • Alan Malarkey

    Hi Jasmine, I liked your take on Medellin – it rings true. I am also in a minority – an older male who is not looking to find a younger female Paisa. The demographic for expats could be interesting to chart. I’m not really an expat – more of an English snow bird but I plan to come back next year for many of the reasons you mention. I will post your article to a young female expat that I know and maybe she’ll be in touch. Have fun and enjoy, Alan

  • Thanks Alan :)

  • You’re going to love it I’m sure!

  • I spotted you. For bonus points did anyone spot the guy from the “Weesssssstside”.

  • I visited Medellin recently and met quite a few expat men but no expat women.  I wish I had met some.  I like an adventurous girl.  And besides, it’s not like the city is full of supermodels…it seemed a pretty normal mix to me.   I loved the place though and I’ll be back soon.

  • Careful, looks like there is a gang banger on the far right!

  • I’ve been thinking of visiting Columbia soon – my best friend is Colombian and I’m sure I could convince him to make the trip with me. It’s refreshing to hear a woman’s take on living there. And I love your sassy vagina answer!

  • Haha thanks! It’s definitely worth the trip down here (though you might want to stay in the end)

  • I had no idea that supermodels with butts and boobs hung out in Medellin.  Honestly, I don’t see the appeal of that personally.  However, I don’t really understand why this is such a male dominated area.  Maybe it’s something in the history of culture there. 

    I don’t really see you having a problem finding a date, in a male dominated place or not, no matter where you live :)

  • ;)

  • R L Stein

    Of the ex-pat men I’ve met in Medellín, many (but of course not all) had come to powder their noses, chase after surgically enhanced bodies, and brag to one another about it– which are activities that don’t seem to appeal as much to ex-pat women. Of the ex-pat women I’ve met in Medellín, many (but of course not all) had come to pursue more honest activities like teaching English or doing volunteer work. 

    Many (but of course not all) of the ex-pat men I’ve met in Medellín tend to partake in more conspicuous activities, and they tend to do so in conspicuous places where other ex-pats are likely to find them (such as backpacker hostels.) Whereas many (but of course not all) of the ex-pat women I’ve met in Medellín tended to partake in less conspicuous activities in less conspicuous places like English language institutes, Library Parks, or fincas in Santa Elena.

    It could very well be that there are more ex-pat men in Medellín than ex-pat women, but it might just seem that way because many (but of course not all) ex-pat men tend to stand out more.

  • Hi, 

    I lived in Medellín from July-December of last year. I loved it! I had planned to stay much longer, but I decided to move back to the US when I broke up with my (Paisa) boyfriend. I’ll be back to visit at the end of July. I was in Bogotá for a year and a half before that, and I strongly preferred Medellín. I didn’t spend much time with foreigners in general, but I met a few other foreign women living there via Couchsurfing and just around. Hope you enjoy your time there.

  • Colombia has been in the back of my head since my first visit to Bogota in 2010. I’m been seeking a new home once my 6 months in Jamaica are up. I want to study Spanish and I think could be a great next move. Planning to finally visit Cartagena and Medellin in September to make a final decision! Your blog is a big inspiration when everyone is telling me NOT to head to Colombia, which is the same thing everyone said about Kingston…

  • I’m glad to hear that April! Most people who say stay away have never been here. Keep me updated!

  • Just came across your site and I must give you some props… This article has also put Medellin on the map for me. The lifestyle and culture sound very appealing so i’ll have to be sure to check it out on my next South America round.

  • Thanks so much! Definitely come check it out if you get a chance, it’s amazing.

  • rico sandia

    MDE is not a bad place for women, and I do not believe they see it that way. Latin America is far, far behind usa and europe in terms of equal access for $ and good jobs men vs. women. so it is not a MDE issue, but one of access. This is a larger geo-political issue, not one of ‘do women want to live in MDE’.
    it’s like asking why more women don’t want to be president of the united states.
    i love mde and when i am there, i stay places where THERE ARE NO TOURISTS/EX-PATS. I sense women do the same.

  • Kat

    Hi Jasmine. So true! I have been living in Medellin for about a month now and have only met 2 female expats to maybe 20 males. I wasn’t aware of the “pretty girl” thing in Medellin but I know a lot of guys come here because of it. Each to their own I guess. I am an interior designer and came here because of the progressive architecture and to learn spanish. Loving it so far! Ps. I would be happy to meet up for a drink one day :)

  • Hey Kat, Awesome. Why don’t you come to one of our entrepreneur meetings? You can check out the FB group here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/MedellinEntrepreneursSociety/

  • caroline

    Hey Jasmine! I just booked my ticket to Medellin to arrive this coming Thursday to find a teaching job. I’ve also been concerned about other female expats in MDE because when I google it all I find are beautiful girls and retirees, but the Paisas sound so welcoming, so I figured i’d give it a shot. We should meet up!

    Caroline

  • Yeah definitely! Shoot me an email when you get here :)

  • tauerba

    Hi Jasmine, loved reading your stuff. My sister and I are planning to visit Medellin and travel around Columbia in the early fall. I am actually looking to relocate more permanently in Latin America and am ‘shopping’ for possible destinations where I can open a business and pursue a quality life. I lived in Panama last year for many months and enjoyed the more expatriated life, and the steamy climate. But I am keen to discover South America.

  • Great! I hope you enjoy your visit :)

  • Hey Jasmine, came across your blog while researching Colombia in general. Anyhow, would you happen to know or recommend excellent Spanish schools in Medellin? I narrowed my options down to either Cartagena or Medellin… Any help would be greatly appreciated!

  • Hey Jasmine. I just happened to run across your blog. I’ve been living in Medellin a month. I came to visit back in October and felt so much at home here that I sold everything in the US and moved here. It is home to me now. I live close to La Floresta station and enjoy exploring my surroundings daily. I write and am certified to teach English as a foreign language, which seems to be something that everyone is looking for here. I enjoyed your love letter to Colombia.. I have felt very much the same way. I had no problem calling this home. I am treated extraordinarily well and never feel like I am an intruder. I have a gorgeous Paisa fiance’ who is one of those regular girls that you were talking about. Would love to chat sometime if you are still around. Bil

  • Hi Antoinette,

    Most of the foreigners I know who study Spanish here do so at a university like Eafit or UPB. I’m not sure about Cartagena either. You could try posting in the Thorntree forum.

  • Hi Jasmine. My mum is Colombian born but I’m from England & I’m poshing it out in El Poblado on the 24th floor (yeah, it’s true). Let’s meet up for a coffee, or I have a dog so if that’s your dog in the pic, maybe we could let the dogs out. Can you tell I’m excited to hear there’s another entrepreneurial female foreigner living here?!

  • Hey Melissa,

    Have you done cyclovia? On Sunday we take our dogs down there to walk. Maybe I’ll see you out there? Also check out facebook.com/groups/MedellinEntrepreneursSociety/

  • You’ve certainly convinced me! I found your blog while researching the MatadorU program and have spent hours reading your posts about travel in Central and South America. I’m graduating from college next month and will be heading back to the US (I’m a full-time student in the UK) to crash with my mom and save up money so I can do exactly what you’ve done! You’re an inspiration. Traveling alone as a woman takes cojones and I have to admit that I was a bit worried about embarking on my own backpacking trip after a year of solo travel in the Middle East. Just letting you know that they’ll be one more foreigner with a vagina headed to Medellín in a few months’ time because of this blog :) besos, maria

  • Thanks Maria :) Nice to meet a solo female traveler. Happy saving!

  • Jessica T.

    Jasmine, It was amazing to find your post. I’ve just been offered a job in Medellin and am contemplating the move I would have to make from NYC to be in Colombia. I love the city and you have it pretty well put in this post, however I stopped on your site because having visited Medellin a few times now, one of my hesitations is meeting female friends which I have in abundance in New York. Would be neat to hear how your adjustment period went!

  • Hi Jessica, I have female friends here, both Colombian and foreign. It does take time though, just like making friends in any new city. It may have taken a little longer for me because I’m pretty introverted and also hang out with more guys. People here are friendly as you probably know, so for someone who is more outgoing and puts themselves out there and invites people out instead of waiting for an invitation, I think it’d be easy :)

  • sandra jaramillo

    Hola Jasmine! After spending many hours researching the web (mostly looking for a job in Medellin) I found your site! I am 1st generation paisa :-) living in NYC all my life and looking to reolocate to Medellin with my 9 yr old daughter. While I have family there, I am TERRIFIED to make the move without having a job. How are you finding the work situation out there and is it as difficult as the natives say it is? Your site is definitely motivating and I wish I could be as brave as you! Any tips for finding a job in fashion out there?

  • Hi Sandra,

    I actually work online so I can’t offer any insight into the local job market here, especially not in fashion. You could join the local entrepreneur group here https://www.facebook.com/groups/MedellinEntrepreneursSociety/ and ask around. People post jobs in there pretty frequently.

  • seductionsextravel

    I just saw the latest video of travel bum where he was in Colombia. The girls were extremely hot! But I have to make you a compliment by saying that you are also absolutely beautiful and you don’t have to hide yourself behind colombian supermodels with fake asses

  • Erin

    Hey Jasmine, I love your blog! I just arrived to Medellin two weeks ago, and I plan to stay here for some time. I was wondering how you went about meeting other female travelers. It seems as though there aren’t that many solo female travelers who are looking to live here long term. Is there a meet up group that I could attend? Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

  • Hi Erin, are you looking to meet travelers or expats?

    The Flip Flip Sandwich Shop is a great place to get to know expats living here. The owner Chris is a friend of mine and a very friendly guy.

    Also, International House and Wandering Paisa both have regular events that are great for meeting people.

    There are also a few Facebook groups you can join if interested:

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/MedellinEntrepreneursSociety/
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/expatwomenmedellin/

  • Erin

    Thanks for your response. I’m looking to meet expats. I will check out the groups. Do you ever attend any of the events? Cheers!

  • I do sometimes!

  • Hi Christina, There are several groups you can join on Facebook. Try looking up Medellin Entrepreneur Society.

  • Hi Jasmine! I did not go yet, but I’m on my way, I will be in Medellin in September. Thank you for your great articles about Central and South America.