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
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 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 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 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.
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.
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.
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.