Stratas / Barrios
Medellin is divided into six strata: 1 and 2 are lower income, 3 and 4 are middle income, and 5 and 6 are upper income.
Fundación Universitaria Seminario Bíblico de Colombia is located in stratum 3. Here it is on google maps: FUSBC
Medellin today is not the Medellin of 20 years during the height of the drug cartel. I have been around most of the barrios from strata 3 – 6 and feel as safe as I would in any major city. Having lived in Boston for the last 20 years, I know the basics of staying safe in a large metropolitan area. Don’t walk alone at night. Don’t wear flashy jewelry. Walk with purpose at all times. Keep your belongings close to you. Beware of petty theft and pick pocketing, in crowded areas especially. Don’t walk in deserted streets, alleys and parks.
Having said all of this, I take taxis everywhere, all the time, by myself and with the kids and have had only pleasant experiences. Paisas are the nicest people anywhere! The bus drivers could use driving lessons but there are not safety issues. The metro is incredibly clean, organized, efficient and safe. I walk all around the campus and surrounding neighborhoods by myself and with the kids during the day time all the time and without any problems.
Safety is no more of a worry here than it is in Boston, Dallas or Washington D.C., for example.
I’m sure there is still violence in certain parts of the city but fortunately, it isn’t as apparent where we live. Those from Medellin could most likely tell you which barrios to stay away from but I could tell you the same in inner city Boston, for example.
The type of housing and the cost of housing is completely dependent upon the strata. Super nice and new high rise apartments with pools, gyms and security are plentiful in Poblado and Laureles which are strata 6 and 5 respectively, but are an easy 30 minute drive from campus.
The housing on the FUSBC campus is made up of several types. The main campus hosts smaller apartments and larger duplexes typically rented by professors and the administration. Across the street, there are three towers of 2 – 4 bedroom apartments which are for both professors, administration and students.
The cost to rent on campus is based on size and # of bedrooms. For missionaries, it also depends upon whether you receive a housing allowance or not. Again depending upon what apartment/house is available on campus, you can expect to pay between 500.000 and 1.000.000 COP monthly. These rents on campus are at an easy 25% discount from renting something similar with security off-campus.
We love living on campus. There is instant community but privacy when we need it. The children are outside playing all the time with their new friends. It keeps are expenses down for transportation and we’ll only need one car. We can eat lunch together. I can feel more a part of the ministry by getting to know the students through casual interaction. I am also getting to know the administration and other missionaries. It really is a lovely experience.
Shopping / Groceries
There are local small stores within walking distance. They also offer delivery service. In addition, there are many supermarkets. The closest being Exito which offers the option to order your groceries online and have them delivered for a very reasonable fee of 3.000 COP.
Depending upon the store, you can find most things you might be used to in the USA. The difference being that most things that are imported are quite expensive. Breakfast cereal can run $7 per box and peanut butter and parmesan cheese are pricey as well.
Cost of Living
There are so many factors, it is difficult to give an exact budget. Some basic expense items based on living on campus in strata 3 but given on the high side are shown below. Utilities in strata 3 are subsidized and therefore would be higher in strata 4 – 6.
|Electric, Water, Propane Gas||$228.57||400,000|
|Food / Paper goods||$800.00|
|Transportation||$125.00||taxis, buses, metro|
|Family Health Insurance||$354.29||620,000||2 adults/2 children|
|Medical – Out of Pocket||$50.00|
The medical system and health insurance options are excellent. We recently switched from a US-based catastrophic-coverage type global plan to a Colombian-based all encompassing global plan for 1/2 the cost.
We went with this Sura policy. We have an excellent insurance agent who can help you with all of your insurance needs. Our monthly premium is listed above in the sample budget. This global plans covers us for up to 90 days outside of Colombia per year.