I left NYC to work remotely in Colombia for almost 2 months. I loved it so much I plan to do it every year.
- Andrea Capodilupo is a communications VP and writer based in New York.
- In January, she traveled to Medellín, Colombia, to live and work remotely for almost two months.
Despite originally hailing from Boston and having lived in New York for more than five years, I'm not a fan of winter.
Luckily, my full-time job as a communications VP is remote — with occasional in-person meetups in New York — so I have the flexibility to work from anywhere.
Last year, I rented an Airbnb for a month with friends in St. Petersburg, Florida, to escape the cold, and I loved it. In the end, one of my friends ditched NYC and moved to St. Pete permanently.
So this year, I wanted to work somewhere that was equally warm and in the same timezone as New York. I invited one of my good friends to join me, as we'd both recently ended pandemic relationships and wanted to start anew in 2022. We left for Medellín on January 4 and got back to the US on February 25.
I chose Medellín because I knew it was a forward-thinking city with lots of remote workers and affordable places to stay
A few years ago, I went to Colombia for a work trip, and I'd been eager to go back. My former clients were still in Colombia — one ran a cool new CGI and gaming company while investing in coffee farms and another was running his own consulting company. I'd kept in touch with them on Instagram, and it seemed like Colombia was growing in good ways.
When I told my parents I was going to Colombia for a couple of months, they asked, "Why can't you just go to Florida?" Honestly, I wanted to be outside of my comfort zone. I like practicing new languages and not to mention, my money would go a lot further in Colombia than in Florida.
My friend and I rented a 2-bed, 3-bath apartment for $1,800 a month — but we had to book 2 others when we got mites
Our first apartment in Medellín's El Poblado neighborhood was gorgeous but unfortunately, we realized the bumps we woke up with every day were mite bites, so we booked two different Airbnbs that would cover us for the remainder of the trip.
Each of the Airbnbs had strong WiFi and dedicated desk spaces for us to work, and our last Airbnb even had its own pool.
I worked from our Airbnb, coffee shops, and hotel coworking spaces
Every day, exotic birds were either chirping or screaming strange bird calls, so I was up by 6 a.m. I started my morning with a little writing followed by an hour walk up the hills of El Poblado, usually stopping for coffee at Al Alma with an oatmeal or a smoothie (all for around $6).
If I had a lot of calls, I worked from our Airbnb, but if not, I'd find one of the many coffee shops in El Poblado to work from for the day or a hotel like The Click Clack that has open seating areas.
There's bustling nightlife and a wide variety of restaurants
In El Poblado, every week there's a party called "Gringo Tuesdays" at a bar called Vintrash, where people (not just gringos) from all over the world meet and dance.
The streets in this area (the Provenza neighborhood of El Poblado) are closed to cars and people sit at outdoor tables while others walk through the streets.
We loved sitting at a table drinking Aquilas (local beers) and people watching. The paths between bars are lined by jungle-y trees and even a river. The higher up the Provenza hill you go, the bougie-r the restaurants are and the more sophisticated the clientele.
I ate out every single meal in Colombia for around $5 to $20 a day
A usual day for me included a cafe frío with avocado toast or a croissant from Pergamino, followed by a late lunch or snack arepa finished with dinner at a trendy place in El Poblado. One of my favorite snacks was a 8,000 pesos ($2.10) bao bun or a fried cheese taco from La Revuelta. Throughout El Poblado, restaurant quality is close to or better than some New York restaurants.
Colombians love their hot dogs and burgers. Whether it was salchipapas, a.k.a., hot dogs on a bed of french fries, or a mini hot dog appetizer plate, I really appreciated the Colombian take on the hot dog.
I expected everyone to be dressed in flowy dresses with lots of flowers, but the street style throughout Medellín is very diverse. There are a lot of affordable and unique shops — one store called Diez sells gender neutral streetwear that I love, while another, Undergold, sells both workwear and going-out clothes. I bought fun striped shorts from Diez that could be worn by any gender and are super comfortable.
Unlike my experience in Europe, where many locals revert to speaking English, I found that Colombians wanted to speak Spanish with us
Maybe it's because Colombians take everything a bit slower here, but it was easier for me to understand Colombian Spanish than Peruvian or Puerto Rican Spanish were when I visited those countries. I also found a local teacher, and I'm continuing my weekly lessons via Zoom with her.
Speaking Spanish was a lesson in humility. I kept telling people that I'm trying to learn Spanish, saying, "Estoy probando." I thought I was saying "I'm trying," but instead, after taking Spanish lessons, I realized I've been telling everyone: "I'm tasting, I'm tasting."
In just under five hours and with round-trip flights between $100 to $500, you can be in Medellín from the East Coast in less time than it takes to get to Los Angeles. On February 25, I left Medellín at 1 a.m., arrived at JFK at 6 a.m., and was in my Brooklyn office before 10 a.m.
It has its ups and downs, but I plan on working from Medellín every year
Colombia is a beautiful country, but despite progress over the decades it does still have high crime rates. I never walked home alone after 9 p.m. and always took cabs rather than public transportation like buses or the metro. The pandemic is still taken very seriously in Medellín, and people wore masks everywhere while we were there.
I love the people of Colombia and besides Medellín, the country has countless other cities, beaches, and jungles to explore. Despite the bed bugs, I'd like to go back every year — hopefully with better Spanish and more friends each time.
Andrea Capodilupo is a comedy, food, and fiction writer. She loves to travel, eat doughnuts. and try vegan recipes. Her writing has been published in The Boston Globe and New York Magazine.