My Journey Through Medellín’s Evolution: From Backpackers to Wealthy Residents

Hey everyone! Andrew here with Medellín Buzz. Today, I want to take you on a journey through the years and share how I’ve witnessed the transformation of Medellín from the backpacker era to attracting wealthy residents.

Backpacker Dominance in 2010:

2010, I landed in Medellín after being deported from the United States. Back then, the city was a magnet for backpackers, thanks to its inclusion in the Lonely Planet travel guide. Mostly passing through, these visitors fell in love with the city but rarely stayed long-term.

Changes Until 2016:

In those early years, expatriates were mainly older individuals seeking retirement with their pensions. But in 2011, Medellín gained global recognition for the electric stairs in Comuna 13, an innovative change in urban planning. The 2014 World Cup also put Colombia positively on the map.

Bachelor Parties and Celebration:

2016 marked a shift with the massive arrival of groups for bachelor parties. Medellín became a mini Las Vegas, with specific activities now legalized and facilitated by platforms like Airbnb.

Changes Until 2018:

Until 2018, I hadn’t seen many solo female travelers in Medellín, but that year marked a positive change. Different skin tones and nationalities flooded the streets, significantly improving the perception of safety.

Pandemic and Shifting Focus:

In 2020, the pandemic hit, closing the country. While tourism dwindled, interest persisted. In 2021, digital nomads arrived, leveraging the robust infrastructure, low costs, and pleasant climate to work and live.

Digital Nomads and Families:

In 2022, the Digital Nomad Visa opened new doors. We began to see more foreign families, not just passing through but looking to establish long-term roots. This brought changes to the real estate market, especially in Airbnb prices.

Attraction of Wealthy Foreigners:

This year, Medellín is catching the attention of wealthy foreigners. Not just digital nomads but also those with significant incomes looking to buy properties and contribute to the country. This challenges the notion that foreigners might impoverish Colombia.

From being a magnet for backpackers to attracting wealthy residents, Medellín has undergone a fantastic transformation during my years here. This ongoing change shapes the city’s future, and I’m excited to be part of this evolving story.