To do a weekend right in the big cities of the States, you’re probably gonna break your bank.
Think New York, LA, Chicago, Miami, Vegas… If you want luxury, you best bet you gotta be some kind of high roller.
Fortunately, there’s a few other places around the world where you can get all the first world luxury but at developing countries prices.
From my years of traveling, there’s two places that stand out to me in regard to cost of living: The city of Medellin, Colombia, and the exotic Thailand.
In this post I’ll compare the cost of living in New York and Medellin for a weekend away in these cities done the right way.
So, let’s start with…
The cost of a roundtrip to Medellin might surprise you… A roundtrip from my home of Chicago could be $500. But I have seen round trips from New York to Medellin for as low as $300.
That’s one of the reasons why Medellin is a good choice over Thailand… Roundtrip flights to Thailand are expensive, not to mention the long ass flight to the other side of the world.
Be sure to be signed up to E-Bates before booking anything incase you will be eligible for cash back. Expedia is one of the sites you can get cash back on so it’s worth creating a free E-Bates account.
My 6 month leased penthouse apartment in the exclusive neighborhood of San Lucas, Medellin is 5,000 square feet, has 5 bedrooms, 6 bathrooms, a maids bedroom and bathroom, open floor plan, sauna, a massive rooftop, and it’s all furnished.
You know how much I pay for all of that?
$3,400USD per month.
Then on top of that my power and internet bill is about $400 per month.
So that’s about a total of $3,800 a month.
If you were in New York, you would be looking at $30,000 a month just for the rent alone!
And I haven’t even gotten to the best part… A full-time maid who works Mon-Sat 9am-5pm, who cooks and cleans, and looks after all of us so well. I pay her about $300 a month which is much more than the minimum wage here for service workers.
In New York, for a maid that cooks and cleans 6 days a week, you’ll look at paying around $3,000 per month… Not $300.
You can easily find a modern, luxury apartment in Medellin for the weekend by using Airbnb (check out this post for more info on Airbnb) and it would cost you from $60 a night in the best neighbourhood.
For something similar in New York, you can expect to pay upwards of $400 per night.
If you would rather stay in a hotel for the weekend, Medellin has quite a few to choose from and you’ll be looking at spending $40- $100 for mid range, and then $100-$200 for luxury.
You can easily get a luxury hotel for under $100 using Hotwire (see below.)
To get the best deals on a hotel, use Hotwire. Hotels don’t like to advertise their prices that low, so Hotwire hides their identity until your booking is complete. (Check out our post on Hotwire here).
Here’s a few of the activities I talked about in the Medellin cost of living video:
Not only does this restaurant have one of the best views in Medellin, it also has some wicked activities to choose from. There’s a skate ramp and dirt biking… But my favorite by far is paintballing.
For 55,000 pesos ($20USD) per person we got to play some warm up group games, got all our gear, two rounds of paintball games, and then a late lunch to finish off. That’s not bad!
If you wanna go paintballing in New York, you’re looking at at least $40 just for the game itself.
Mahalo Website: http://mahaloactionsports.com/
For our 20 minute helicopter ride over Medellin with Fly Colombia, it cost about 220,000 pesos per person ($75USD)…. And that included cake before the flight!
Let’s compare that with New York…
For a 15 minute helicopter ride over Manhattan, expect to pay at least $200 for the flight and then an extra $30 for the heliport fee…
Fly Colombia Website: http://www.flycolombia.com.co/
As you saw in the video, when I’m in Medellin I always go to SWAG to get myself looking right. For 15,000 pesos ($4.89USD) I got my usual shave and hair cut.
Whenever I get that same thing done in Chicago, it costs me $20-$25… And then in New York it’s $35!
Medellin’s got your back when it comes to looking good for less.
ATV/ Trails/ Mountain Bikes:
One thing I love to do is ATVing and doing some adventure trails.
For our ATV tour we used Medellin Adventure Trails, and for a 1 hour 30 min ATV tour, it came to 145,000 pesos ($50USD) per person, which is pretty decent.
In New York, for the same time frame, expect to pay about $110.
Medellin Adventure Trails Website: http://medellinadventuretrails.com/
As you would have seen in the video, a full hour massage with Melissa was 90,000 pesos ($30USD)… And this was a house call! I know they’re not South East Asia prices, but remember Medellin is a developed city.
To get the same in New York, be prepared to pay $120.
If you’re wanting to get a massage when in Medellin, here is Melissa’s email: firstname.lastname@example.org
This was hands down one of my favorite things to do. It’s not in Medellin, it’s in Guatape which is about a 2 hour drive from Medellin City or a 45 minute helicopter ride.
We used Flyboard Medellin and it cost 90,000 pesos ($30USD) per person for 15 mins. That’s not bad at all when you compare it with New York’s $100!
Flyboard Medellin Website: http://www.flyboardmedellin.com/
When it comes to working out, the gyms in Medellin are probably the only things that have similar pricing to the big cities of the U.S. BUT expect top class gym equipment and facilities. Colombia knows how to do gyms right.
Body Tech is the one I go to and it’s got 3 stories, a juice bar, top class equipment, and some damn good looking people! Body Tech is everywhere around Medellin, it’s hard to go a day without passing one by, so there will probably be one close to you especially if you’re staying in Poblado area.
The monthly membership rate here is 220,000 pesos ($75USD)… But if you’re just here for a couple of days, they actually do a free 5 day trial. Just take in your passport to get registered.
Body Tech Website: https://www.bodytech.com.co/
I remember that NYC 1 Oak table ‘deal’…. $1,500 for a table with 2 bottles. Like what!? I love me some luxury but even I admit that’s a little unbelievable.
In Medellin you can be at the best club/bar and get a table with 2 premium bottles for 600,000-800,000 pesos ($200-$280).
If you don’t even want to do premium bottles you don’t need to… If you want any bottle they’ll sell it to you, no big deal. Get something worth $30 if you want!
It’s easy to go out and have a good night in Medellin with only $20-$30 in your pocket.
You’ll definitely notice that eating out in Medellin is much cheaper than eating out in NYC and you’ll still have all the variety for whatever you’re craving.
One of the restaurants in the video was La Mayoria. You can actually make this quite the experience as it’s not just a restaurant but also an animal farm with a dope view…. Because why not eat lunch while surrounded by horses and llamas? The food here is top notch… And for a table of 10 of us all having drinks, starters, and a main lunch, the bill came to about 500,000 pesos (which is about $175USD).
There is no way you will be paying that in New York… You would be looking at $100 per head for this calibre of place.
If you’re looking for cheaper, casual food in Medellin, don’t sweat, there’s heaps to choose from. Wings, pizza, burgers, rice and beans, burritos, chicken etc… You can find a good meal from $4.
La Mayoria Website: http://lamayoria.com/sitio/
Getting around Medellin is cheap and easy when using Uber and Taxis. There’s also a metro train and public buses you can take but if you’re here for a luxury weekend, you’ll probably be taking an Uber everywhere.
The taxis in Medellin are nicely priced too being just a couple dollars more expensive than an Uber.
A 15 minute Uber ride in New York will be 6 x this price and a cab will be even more.
So there you have it folks!
I think we can all agree that you can get more bang for your buck here in Medellin, Colombia. I actually plan on buying a house here that’s how much I love it.
Keep an eye out for more videos dropping soon- we will drop them over on our PassportHeavy Facebook Page (www.facebook.com/passportheavy)