HERE IS A QUICK BREAKDOWN OF WHAT IT COST THE TWO OF US TO SLOW TRAVEL IN THE QUIET CITY OF ARMENIA FOR THE WHOLE MONTH OF AUGUST.
This is a brief outline of exactly what it cost the two of us to slow travel and live for a month in the town of Armenia, Colombia. Now, one important thing to know about Armenia is that it is relatively un-touristy - therefore it is a lot cheaper than other popular cities in the country, most notably Cartagena.
But interestingly, we actually ended up spending about the same amount of money as we did last month when we slow traveled and lived in Cartagena. This is mainly due to three things: the apartment we rented for the month of August was about $50 more expensive than the one we had in Cartagena, we went out a lot more for dinner and drinks, and we also went on more weekend adventures, including heading north to Medellin for a weekend and up to Salento to explore the Cocora Valley.
While these three things pushed our overall cost higher than expected, it also led us to having a much more enjoyable month, which in the end, is what really matters. For a more in-depth breakdown of our monthly costs, keep reading.
INSIDER TIP: the currency exchange as of August 2021 is 1 USD = 3760 COP.
WHAT IT COSTS TO LIVE IN ARMENIA FOR A MONTH
We got a really nice apartment for the month of August, once again off of Airbnb. The apartment was a large studio with a big patio, spacious kitchen and plenty of space to work. The location, though not central, was close enough to restaurants, cafes and grocery stores, while also being far enough away to be quiet. Finally, the apartment included a gym, pool, hot tub (though it is always more bathtub temperature), and 24/7 security.
In fact, we liked the apartment so much that we decided to extend our stay for the rest of our time in Colombia.
Besides staying at our apartment in Armenia, we also headed out on two overnight trips: one to Salento and one to Medellin.
The hostel we stayed at in Salento, Yambolombia, was possibly one of our favorite places we have ever stayed. It was about 3 kilometers (1 mile) outside of town, surrounded by trees and animals and super relaxing. Plus, the hosts were very friendly and made an amazing (healthy) breakfast. We spent two nights at Yambolombia and it cost us roughly 100,000 COP ($26.59) total.
The second hostel we stayed at was Medellin BackPacker Hostel. While it wasn’t as welcoming as Yambolombia, we enjoyed it for its location (very local), strong WIFI and helpful staff. For one night at this hostel, it cost us 73,500 COP ($19.55).
TOTAL: $646 for our Airbnb, 173,500 COP ($46.14) for the hostels
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Most of this cost bracket came from buying bus tickets for weekend trips away from Armenia, most notably to Medellin. It cost 60,000 COP each to reach Medellin and 70,000 COP each to head back to Armenia. Which came out to a grand total of 260,000 COP ($69.14) total.
Other transportation costs were from taking buses and taxis around the city of Armenia: the bus costs 2700 COP per person/per way and a taxi costs 4700 COP within town. We also took a bus up to Salento, which costs about 5300 COP per person/per way and also to Filandia, which also costs around 5300 COP per person/per way.
TOTAL: 471,700 COP ($125.44)
Once again, one of our biggest slow travel costs came from groceries. Because we like to cook at home most of the time, we therefore tend to spend a good amount of money on buying food from the local grocery stores. Luckily, Armenia has some really great options, including one of our favorites, El Campo Fruver, a grocery store solely made up of fresh produce.
Other grocery stores we commonly bought food from were D1, a Colombian grocery store with a good selection of healthy foods (including almond milk and almond butter - for .30 cents!!), Olimpica, a larger grocery store that sometimes had tofu, and Exito, a mainstay in Colombia with good produce and packaged food options.
We also visited a fancier grocery store called Supermercado Laureles, which offered lots of international food options. It faintly reminded us of a Safeway in the USA.
INSIDER TIP: we found that produce was very affordable in Armenia, especially for stuff that was grown nearby (bananas, plantains, yucca, onions), whereas packaged goods were more moderately priced (still cheaper than in the USA though).
TOTAL: 858,474 COP ($228.29)
\\ Going Out to Eat
We definitely went out to eat more in Armenia than we did in Cartagena, both because restaurants were more affordable and because we were lucky to make some great friends in town so we regularly would meet up for dinner and drinks.
One of our favorite places was Rusticana Trattoria, an amazing Italian restaurant with spectacular homemade ravioli and super friendly staff. We also found ourselves frequenting a nearby bakery called Pan Y Miel (Bread and Honey) for their delicious homemade bread and cheap breakfasts ($1-$1.50).
TOTAL: 822,546 COP ($218.74)
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One thing we definitely wanted to make sure we did more of, especially since we were in the Coffee Region, was to visit many local coffee shops. One of our favorites was FRIENDS Coffee Shop, a small, locally-owned café with delicious coffee and a super knowledgeable and enthusiastic barista.
Some other favorites were Tienda de Café (Coffee Shop) and Café Quindio, the same café that we visited in Cartagena, though this time in their local town.
INSIDER TIP: coffee in Armenia is very affordable - and just darn delicious. A normal cup of coffee, either an Americano or a tinto, costs between 3000 and 3500 COP, while an iced latte (or hot latte) costs between 4500 and 6000 COP. Also when you visit, make sure to try one of our new favorite café drinks a Colada Campesina, a nice warm, cinnamon-y cream drink that was slightly reminiscent of rice pudding (it costs around 6000 COP).
TOTAL: 199,822 COP ($53.14)
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This month we actually didn’t partake in too many expensive activities - mostly because there are just so many things to do nearby that are pretty cheap or even free. One of our best trips was to Salento, where we were able to explore the Coffee Route, including partaking in a 6-hour coffee tour, and hike around the Cocora Valley.
Similarly, we also took a quick trip up to Medellin to see the annual Flower Festival. While we were not lucky enough to get tickets to the main event (Desfile de Silleteros), we were still able to see many of the massive flower arrangements that make the festival so famous.
We also spent one of our days in Medellin up in Parque de Arvi, a large park with lots of trails that cut through the thick forest. And one of the best things about Arvi? The fact that the most common way to get there is by gondola. Talk about great views of Medellin.
INSIDER TIP: while the park is free to enter, the gondola costs 10600 COP each ($2.82).
TOTAL: 141,200 COP ($37.55)
Luckily, the only thing we had to buy was an ethernet cable for Luke’s computer.
TOTAL: 15,000 COP ($3.99)
Once again we found ourselves having to buy some somewhat interesting things during this last month. It seems that by slow travelling, and choosing to live in one spot longer, you find yourself having to purchase some pretty random things.
For example, we bought some swim goggles so we could do laps in our apartment’s pool. We also purchased a notebook, a sun hat for Luke (which now makes him look like Crocodile Dundee), leather hiking boots for Madalyne, and some homemade organic shampoo from a craft fair.
We also bought some Spanish books, which might have been a bad idea since Luke’s book fell apart within 10 minutes of purchase, and Madalyne’s book was a bit too scientific (but it had great illustrations). Plus, it seems that books are one of the few things that are similar in price to America. Interesting.
TOTAL: 689,700 COP ($183.41)
Altogether, we spent around 3,371,942 COP during the month of August, which comes out to around $896.70 without our Airbnb and $1,542.70 with our Airbnb. This price is actually pretty reasonable seeing as we definitely spent more money eating out and visiting bars with friends. We also decided to take a weekend trip to Medellin, which while not crazy expensive, definitely added to the overall cost.
In our opinion, you could probably lower the cost of living by getting a cheaper apartment for the month (we saw many good apartments for ~$400), eating out less and spending your weekends doing cheap outdoor activities nearby (like Salento and Cocora Valley).
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