How To Furnish An Apartment In Medellin

After a combined total of two and a half years in Colombia and over a year and a half living in Medellin, I finally feel like I actually live here.

It’s not because I have friends, my regular hang-out spots, or because I know people in my neighborhood. It’s because I am living in an apartment that I furnished  myself.

When I first moved out of my hostel at the beginning of last year and into an apartment, it was furnished. Sure, it was in a super nice building with amazing views and amenities, but I never really felt like it was mine because it was all borrowed.

I’ve spent the past month and a half searching the entire city for beds, sofas, plates, and all the other stuff you need for a home, and I’m going to show you how to do it too.

Where to Shop for Furniture

my custom table

A table I had customized

Custom Design

There are a lot of skilled furniture makers in the city. If you have word-of-mouth referrals or know where to look, this could be a great option for you. In a lot of local places, you can bring a photo of what you want and have them build it for you. I semi went this route when I found a couch and table that I wanted, but not in the right style. I got to customize what I found with fabrics and materials.

Unfortunately, what turned into a 30-day turn around time ended up being close to seven weeks, and not before a couple of angry phone calls from me. In the end, the result is amazing, though they ran out of the fabric I originally chose.

Advantages: Getting furniture custom designed can be cheaper than what you’ll find in the stores.

Disadvantages: Get ready for SERIOUS delays. Patience and regular phone calls are required.

Homecenter

Homecenter is part hardware shop, part home decorating store. They tend to have lower prices than other places I looked, especially in some electrodomesticos (appliances). They also have the cheapest furniture of all the places I went, though the quality is cheap too. Homecenter is a good place to get all the odds and ends stuff you need, like garbage cans, sheets, pillows, pots and pans, cleaning supplies, plants, organizational stuff, and if you’re into DIY projects. They also sell dog food at a low price if you’re in the market for that.

Advantages: Big selection, cheap

Disadvantages: Furniture is low quality

Tugó

Tugó is one of my favorite places to shop for home decor on this list. It’s smaller than Homecenter but they focus more on furniture and home decorations. I bought my bed and mattress here in a combo deal. The one I went to is behind Jumbo (what used to be Carre4) on Avenida Las Vegas. Tugó’s prices are reasonable and the stuff they offer is unique and not the same old stuff that everyone has. If you’re going to visit Tugó you should also check out Jumbo, which is basically Wal-mart.

Falabella

Falabella is a big department store located in Santa Fe mall and San Diego mall. Even though their clothes are expensive, this is my top pick for furniture shopping in the city. When you factor in price, quality, and style, Falabella meets all the requirements.

Insider tip: If you buy an item from the floor that’s been exhibiting, you can get huge discounts. My coffee table was a floor model and I got 130,000 pesos off the original price.

coffee table and couch

Itagüí

The autopista of Itagüí is one huge row of furniture stores. Ask any taxi driver to drop you off at Fabricas Unidas, which is the largest one at the far end of the street. Even though a lot of these places are overpriced, it’s still good to have a look around and see what’s available in the city. I got my couch and table made on this street, though I won’t share which here because their customer service was subpar.

Centro

If you are looking for the lowest prices in the city, Centro is where it’s at. Not just in furniture or home products, but for anything and everything. I personally get overwhelmed in centro with all the people and noise, but I did get a great deal on my fridge and washing machine here. The main takeaway here is to BRING CASH. In a lot of places in Colombia, you’ll be charged more if you try to pay with a card, and that’s especially true in centro. Be aware of your surroundings though as there are pickpockets lurking around.

Be Warned…

If you’re coming to Medellin from the US and think furnishing your new place is as easy as filling your cart up at Ikea, you’re going to be disappointed. The furniture is generally overpriced, the sofas are mostly uncomfortable, and good quality is hard to come by in most stores. However, after all the bargain shopping I did, I found a lot of great stuff I love and I’m sure you can too.

Do you have any questions about furnishing an apartment or house in Medellin? Any places I missed? Let me know in the comments below.

  • I’ve noticed the same thing about the sofas. In the US, I’m use to big cushy ones you practically sink into, whether they’re upholstered in fabric, leather or pleather.

    Here, they don’t have much cushion. Sure, you can toss a few throw pillows on them to make it look nice but that doesn’t mean you can curl up and get comfy on them.

  • Exactly. One of my couch requirements was that I wanted to be able to take a nap on it. The sofa I got wasn’t as comfy as the floor version but I can still have a little siesta on it :)

  • sandra jaramillo

    Is it completely unreasonable when moving your life from NYC to Medellin to take your belongings withh you? LOL…..seriously though? Is this possible?

  • Yes it is possible… I’ve actually heard it can be cheaper than buying everything here. It involves shipping containers I think, but I really don’t know the logistics. Definitely worth looking into though.

  • Jeff

    Yes. Sofas made in Colombia tend to be small and not very comfortable. So I bought a nice leather one imported from Canada on sale at Fabricas Unidas in Itagüí. This shop frequently has sales and I also bought a table and chair set there but since it was a sale item they were out of stock and I had to wait about 2 weeks for a new set to be manufactured. This is a very big furniture store where you could easily furnish entire rooms. There is also several nice furniture stores in Belen near Centro Comercial Los Molinos on Ochenta where I bought some pieces of furniture when furnishing my apartment.

    Mattresses also tend to be pretty expensive in Medellin – the best place to buy mattresses is a bunch of small mattress shops near Carrefour LA65 along Carrera 65 and they will deliver for free.

    I bought 2 TV’s, a fridge and wash machine all on sale at Exito and Carrefour. Both these Walmart/Target-like big box stores in Medellin tend to have regular sales.

    And many things are the cheapest in El Centro but it will take time to search through the thousands of small shops. The bottom line is that if you shop carefully in Medellin you can furnish an apartment for less cost than in the US.

  • Thanks for the tips, Jeff.

  • Philip Lee

    Hi Jasmine, thanks for posting this article! Very helpful to know the stores…

    Had few more questions if you dont mind. How do you get furniture to your house? Do they have a shipping and delivery setup service you pay for? How expensive was your furniture in general? Is it a pretty good deal to just get fully furnished vs buying expensive furniture? Thanks for the help in advance!

  • Hey Philip,

    Yes they all offer delivery services which is pretty nominal. Furniture here is way overpriced. If you are coming from the US you will be shocked at the money you have to spend and the quality you get. As far as furnished vs unfurnished goes, it depends how long you’re going to be in the city. For a permanent move, I’d go unfurnished, but if you’ll be here 6-12 months I personally would rent a furnished place.

  • Philip Lee

    Thanks! I never been to Medellin, I THINK I will be there forever lol but I dont know so given that maybe I should just start off with a furnished and get familiar with everything.

    I also read in one of your other post you run an entrepreneur meeting somewhere? Would it be possible for me to join? :)