Opportunities to Generate Income in Medellín as an Expatriate

Opportunities to Generate Income in Medellín as an Expatriate

Medellín, like other cities in Colombia, has grown a lot in recent decades after a period of great instability. The troubled history of Medellin is well-documented: first with the leftist guerrillas that plagued the country for more than fifty years and then with the fight against criminal gangs and drug trafficking. 

Tourists considering a move to Medellín, or soon-to-be retirees contemplating where to spend their golden years, might be curious about how to generate income in the City of Eternal Spring. This article will look at 6 different ways to generate income as an expat here. First, however, it will provide an overview of areas of economic importance to the Medellín and an evaluation of some economic initiatives of the current President of Colombia. 

In the last two decades Medellin has become the most attractive city to live in Colombia.

Areas of Greater Competitive Advantages


The fields of technological development and innovation are strong points, and engineering careers typically are in high demand. If you bring talents like that to Medellin, adding on your native-proficiency English language skills makes you a valuable asset. Potential to get hired but a multi-national company or create your own consultancy abound. 

Medellín has become an important center of technological, economic and social development for the country.  The national government and the Mayor of Medellin have designed joint strategies to attract foreign investment, creating jobs and business opportunities. The door has been opened for hundreds of companies to settle in Medellin. Additionally, digital nomads will be actively sought by the country of Colombia with the introduction of a “digital nomad visa” scheduled for later this year. Check out more data on why Medellin is a good bet in 2021 here.

Multinational companies like HP have set their eyes and opened offices in Medellin

In 2009, the Mayor’s Office of Medellín, in alliance with the private sector, created the “RUTA N Corporation”, as a center that seeks to consolidate the opportunities of the so-called “orange economy”. It involves sectors of academia, technology and innovation. It is no coincidence that tech giants such as the multinational company Hewlett-Packard have already installed a Global Research and Services Center in this district.

Medellin, Colombia is a digital nomad paradise

What is the Orange Economy?

The creative or orange economy can be defined simply as a set of human activities that are based on talent and are protected by copyright. According to experts in the field, the sector currently contributes more than 3 % of the country’s gross domestic product. 

Making Medellin a new Silicon Valley is a government goal

What Will Be The Legacy Of President Duque?

With less than a year until the end of the term of the elected president Iván Duque, who took office on August 7, 2018, different analysts and political pundits have begun to speculate on what the legacy of the current President will be. His heavy-handed response to the protests and riots of April 2021 only continued a downward spiral in popularity for him. His popularity had maintained a decent level at the start of the pandemic when he did not spurn the advice of scientists and world health officials as his counterpart President Bolsonaro did in Brazil.  Although there has been strong investments in alternative economies and different strategies to recover the economy after the devastating Covid-19 pandemic, the economy recovery has been slow so far and unemployment and poverty are at high levels. 

One of the pioneering issues of Duque’s candidacy was the promotion of the “Economia Naranja” (Orange Economy), and although there has been a great investment in these sectors, the results are still difficult to perceive.  While many Colombians are at least familiar with the concept of an Orange Economy, a common complaint is that Duque has not done enough to explain its benefits, where the resources have gone, or how ordinary citizens can benefit from these investments. 

Surprisingly, in recent months there has been a transition in the ideals of the orange economy as discussed in this article from Diario Criterio: “It seems that the president is going from orange to green for his last year in office, with a term that also intends to sound new: green growth”. This may be concerning for some, as these types of proposals are bold, but require a lot of effort and a long term to see results. With a new President set to take office in Summer 2022, it’s unclear to what extent these initiatives will continue. 

Duque is an exceptionally unpopular President right now, with an approval rating of just 19% as of September 2021

Critics of Duque’s handling of the Orange Economy will point to, among other things, the recent resignation of the Minister of Culture Felipe Buitrago. Additionally, his controversial tax reform caused a historical social outbreak. The tax reform intended to raise COP $ 23.4 billion, when almost half of the population lived on less than $ 331,688 per month in 2020. Unfortunately, the efforts made so far have not been sufficient to avoid a historic GDP drop of 6.8%. 

In order for Duque to regain some popularity or not be regarded poorly by the history, many State challenges remain:  tax reform, fiscal deficit, improvement in poverty rates, promotion of agriculture, reduction of external debt, job creation, delivery of infrastructure and more, tasks that will be difficult to carry out before the end of his term. Then, Colombian citizens will have a general economic panorama of how the country will be at the end of his current presidential term.



Traditionally, the Medellín economy has mainly revolved around the food and textile industry. Trade and tourism have had a solid growth in recent years, helping the city gain the reputation for having one of the most diversified and fastest growing economies of the country.  Surely, it has established itself as an important business area, where competitiveness, innovation, sustainability and quality of life are the top premises.

In recent years the government has been promoting the so-called “cluster” of innovation that seeks to have it become Silicon Valley of Colombia, and many companies have been paying attention and have already settled in the areas, given the tax incentives they have to operate from Medellín.


To give you a clearer idea, currently six of the main companies that are listed on the Colombian Stock Exchange have their corporate headquarters in Medellín, which accounts for more than 30% of the total value of the shares that are traded in this market. This illustrates the impressive value of the Paisa economy for the country. Read a breakdown of these companies here.

Six of the most important companies in the country have their operations center in Medellin

TALENTO HUMANO: Medellín Full of Great Universities

Medellín is full of human talent of the highest quality. There are more than thirteen prestigious universities, including the University of Antioquia and the Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana (UPB),  which are two of the top ranking Latin American universities.  In addition, the hard-working and peaceful character of Los Paisas makes it possible to open a business in the city.

The cost of living is much lower than in other countries in the region and the world, so if you have some capital it will not be a problem to find responsible and committed personnel to accompany you to successfully carry out your business endeavours. 

If you are looking for friendly and committed people, you should think of Medellin

But it isn’t all a matter of costs and competitive advantages: the Paisa people are very special – “Tan querida“- , as they might say. Apart from having a melodious accent that makes it impossible for the expatriate not to empathize quickly, they are also known for their solidarity.  Become friends with a Colombian and in no time you’ll meet their family that will help you get accustomed to the culture here.

Can You Make Money in Medellín?

If you are a foreigner, it is surely the first question that comes to mind when deciding to move to Medellín: How to support yourself and make enough income to live well? Will there be opportunities to generate money?

Here are some suggestions to put yourself in a position to succeed if you do come here as an expat.

The exchange rate fluctuates a lot, but generally 1 USD is worth around 3500 Colombian Pesos

6 Ways To Make Income As An Expat

(1) E-Commerce and Digital Marketing:


Until recently, an almost unexplored field was e-commerce, but with the COVID-19 pandemic, it now represents a niche that has grown dramatically. Now, companies have been migrating online to survive, and offering delivery services to customers. It has become a sector with an irreversible trend upwards, so if you have skills for design and development of web solutions or E-commerce applications you will see that you have reached a land of opportunity where you can innovate and grow in a short period of time. Read more about the future potential of E-Commerce here. 

Having an online store and marketing strategies is a trend in 2021

(2) Teaching English

English is a language of unquestionable importance in the corporate world and business relationships, so if you are a native of an English-speaking country or have a certain fluency and like to teach, you can come to Medellín and offer private lessons. Alternatively,  you could set up an online language academy without investing much, and the earnings will allow you to make some money while you get settled. Some great news is that the country has an ever-growing demand for the language so jobs won’t be lacking any time soon.

This site might be useful if you’re interested in teaching

And it’s not just to the locals that you could launch your English teaching career. Companies like DADA ABC and VIP Kids are based in China and always seeking native speakers – and pay around $17-$18 USD per hour. Plenty to live off in a city that has an extremely low cost of living.

Teaching English is an activity with a great future if you come to Medellin

(3) Professional Consulting or Freelancer

If you are an expert in a specific area with tons of experience and you can provide companies with tools to achieve growth. Don’t hesitate to offer your services as an Independent Advisor or Consultant. In Colombia, qualified people are highly valued, and the country is truly open to the arrival of foreigners. You will only need to create a briefing or portfolio and start making contacts that allow you to get your initial clients. Also, take into account that the sales area always requires strategies to achieve the corporate objectives. Additionally, there is a law that protects and encourages work from home, which is very fashionable in times of pandemic. For some industry data on freelancing, click here.

Be an independent consultant if you are a specialized professional

(4) Export of Paisas Products

With some capital and effort, you can also contribute to the growth of Medellín and create jobs by exporting its products. Some of the most representative products of the region are: handicrafts, bananas, coffee, confectionery, cosmetics, flowers, jewelry, textiles, among others. Take advantage of the fact that Colombia has free trade agreements with sixty other countries.  Local products tend to have excellent quality and the lowered value of the Colombian peso makes them attractive in any country.

Here is a list of interesting ideas and projects located in Medellín.


There are opportunities to export from Medellin to various countries

(5) Invest in a Rental Property

If you have the financial portfolio to be able to afford an investment in a rental property, this can be a solution to your cash flow requirements in Medellin as well. There is an incredible opportunity to obtain a sustainable return over time. Even during the pandemic, owners of well-decorated and well-furnished places were able to achieve solid investment returns as thousands of expats stayed in Medellin throughout the pandemic. Many expatriates are investing in properties in Medellin to use it for the rental market and platforms such as Airnb.

For a detailed breakdown of the considerations that go into a rental property, read this article.

There is an opportunity to make money by investing in real estate

(6) Receptive Tourism

Some expats have chosen to work in the tourism industry in Medellin. Being a tourist promoter of Medellín as an expat can not only give you the opportunity to get to know the city on a deeper level, but you can be a generator of opportunities for economic growth. Tourism is an initiative that is supported with great enthusiasm by local authorities, so perhaps you could establish strategic alliances with public and private organizations to incentivize that more foreigners come to the city.

You can read the guide of an expert here:


Tourism is an activity that can be profitable and enjoyable at the same time

There are many opportunities make money in Medellín, and we are very optimistic for the future of this city and its people.

If you want more information on opportunities to meet, invest or reside in the beautiful city of Medellín, write to us and we will gladly get you pointed in the right direction.

Leave a comment below or message me via Whatsapp (+57) 314 461 2135 to talk more about living or investing in the City of Eternal Spring. 

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