This article is from this month’s eMagazine Medellin Living.
Expat Advice: 3 Ways to Make Your Life in the City More Enjoyable
January 6, 2014 By Lysander Spicket
However, for those that choose to live in the city for an extended period of time, there are a number of small actions you can take that really improve your experience of the city… And these things might not be obvious from the get go.
So here are three specific things I’ve done this year to improve my life in Medellin.
1. Carry a SmartphoneThere are a whole host of reasons why you should carry a smartphone in Medellin, even though you stand a chance of having it robbed.
Here’s why I now carry one:
You’ll have much more data at your finger tips.
You’re on the metro, but can’t remember the name or address of that place that was recommended to you on Facebook?
Just do a few taps and you can recall it. You’re on your way to La 70, but want to know whether there is a Nacional game today?
Again, a few taps and you can get the info you need. There’s just tremendous convenience of having this setup.
You can leverage messaging trends.
WhatsApp and Facebook are rapidly becoming the preferred way of texting back and forth among Colombianos.
Blackberry (decreasingly popular) has taken a serious hit to these new apps, and you are excluded from them if you have only a flip phone.
Why make it harder on yourself when you know that cute girl might Facebook you back, but she won’t text you back?
You can leverage maps and GPS.
If you’re ever trying to find one of those side streets that taxistas never seem to find, you can always open Google maps to zero in on your location, relative to where you want to go.
Apps like MapsWithMe are also helpful because you can use the map in offline mode. This way, you are never too lost.
Your phone will look better.
I used to carry one of those cheap dummy phones that every traveler seems to use in Colombia. But, not only did it have way too many dropped calls, I was told on several occasions that the phone was just plain ugly.
And, I’ve discovered many girls do not like to put their number into an ugly and/or cheap phone.
You get much more value, even if it is stolen.
If you simply plug in your phone and do a backup every now and then, you are literally a just a few clicks away from being up and running if your phone is ever stolen.
Granted, you will lose some money if you lose the phone, but the value that you gain by carrying a smartphone is much higher for your daily life.
And if you’re really concerned, just pick up some international property insurance.
2. Live in a Strategic LocationOnce you’ve gotten to know the layout of the city, it is extremely helpful to pick a house or an apartment that is close to all of the things you utilize on a regular basis.
For me, that meant living within 10 minutes or less of a large gym, the metro, the supermarket, and several good restaurants.
I have saved a whole bunch of time in commuting, and have gained a great deal of local knowledge by living in a walkable area. It has been a great lifestyle move.
Admittedly, most places in Medellin are very walkable, compared to the USA. There are usually banks, gyms and supermarkets within five to 10 minutes of most places.
However, sometimes a place in the nicest neighborhoods might not be the best logistically…
If you live up in the hills of Poblado for example, you’ll find yourself walking up the hill of Calle 10 in the hot sun just to get home from the metro. (Of course, if you don’t use the metro or are willing to shell out the extra money for taxis, this won’t apply to you. A lot depends on your lifestyle.)
For me, I like relatively painless access to the metro. For this, the flatter area of Laureles / Estadio fits the bill.
Also, you want to take into account the common routes you would take to get to and from home.
For example, you may live relatively close to a nice area, but do you have to walk in a secluded, poorly lit street? Or have you seen shady characters congregating around the routes you normally take?
The whole point of this is to find a strategic point to live in the city, a place intelligently chosen based on your lifestyle preferences and not only on the nominal price of rent across town.
3. Take Advantage of Local SpecialsThere are a lot of great values in Medellin, and knowing where and when they happen can be a boon to your experience here in the city.
Here are a few off the top of my head:
- Sushi Light has 2 for 1 sushi every Tuesday. So if you love sushi, that ought to be on your calendar. They have locations in La Strada, Santa Fe Mall, and Laureles.
- Mimo’s (many locations) has two for one ice cream on Tuesdays.
- Barrita Burrito in Laureles has two for one burritos every Wednesday. This place is great if you’re from the USA and looking for a Chipotle replacement.
- Exito Supermarkets gives you 20% off produce on Wednesdays if you have a Exito points number. Registration is free, and Exitos can be found all over the city.
- Babylon Discoteca has barra libre (open bar) every Thursday night. It’s 32,000 pesos ($16) for guys, and free for the first 200 girls. You can drink all you want until 1:30AM.
- Estadio and Parque Lleras both have accessible outdoor gyms where you can workout for free. Estadio also has several fields for jogging and other sports, as well as team sports you can sign up for. It also has many pools open to the public.
So, those are three things I did which improved my life this year in Medellin. Give them a go!