Colombia has the potential to become one of the fastest growing expat destinations in the Latin Tropics, with the city of Medellín leading the way. In fact, this city, once synonymous with crime and the infamous Pablo Escobar, was named the 2013 Innovative City of the Year by the Wall Street Journal.
As interest in Colombia increases, expats are discovering that there is a growing community into which they can integrate, while investors are recognizing the potential of a strong return on their initial outlay of capital.
From the modern metropolitan scene of Medellín to more rustic destinations in the interior, Colombia is looking forward to attracting a wider group of individuals seeking new vistas and adventures. Here are 8 unique features that help set it apart from the competition.
1. Two Oceans, No Waiting
Colombia is the only South American country that has coastlines on the both Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Tourists and locals not only have a wide selection of beaches (over 300 in all!), but two distinct bodies of water to choose from.
2. Birds of a Feather…Lots of Them
Colombia is home to a number of bird species (roughly 1,879). This fact is what makes Colombia the country with the greatest diversity of birds in the entire world, a real feather in its naturalist cap.
3. Coffee Is Not the Only Jewel in Colombia
Colombia has long been known for the quality of its coffee. Colombian Arabica beans are prized by coffee aficionados for their rich, yet mild flavor. Colombian coffee remains as the only single origin product to compete with the multitude of blended coffees found in most stores.
Yet the coffee bean is not the only gem that can be found here. It may come as a surprise to learn that Colombia is also rich in emeralds and, in fact, is the world’s leading source of this rare gemstone.
4. A River Runs through It
Perhaps one of Colombia’s most unique features is Caño Cristales, often referred to as “The Liquid Rainbow.” Located in the Serranía de la Macarena mountain range, near the center of the country, this body of water has gained popularity among tourists as the most beautiful river in the world.
Known locally as the River of Five Colors, Caño Cristales enthralls visitors with vibrant shades of yellow, black, blue, green and red. The crimson hue is actually the result of a plant, Macarenia clavigera, that grows in the river bed. This spectacle is best viewed from late July through December.
5. What’s in a Name?
The various names that the country has been known by are signposts that detail the country’s history. When first settled in 1499 it, along with Panama, Ecuador, Venezuela, and part of Brazil made up the Viceroyalty of New Granada. Once Ecuador and Venezuela gained independence, this territory was renamed The Republic of New Granada.
The name changed again to the Granadine Confederation in 1858 and then to the United States of Colombia in 1863. Its present-day name, the Republic of Colombia, was adopted in 1886, making it the only country today named after the man whose explorations led to the discovery of the “New World”: Christopher Columbus.
6. An Architectural Epicenter
Once known only for its reputation of violence and crime, Medellín has transformed itself into a center of modern design. In 2013, Medellín won the prestigious Veronica Rudge Green Prize for Urban Design, acknowledging the unique blend of modernistic patterns interspersed with historic colonial structures.
7. Home to Cultural Icons of Music and Art
Colombians are well represented in both music and the arts. International stars such as Shakira, Sofía Vergara, Danna Garcia, and Juanes all call Colombia home.
Literary titan and Nobel laureate, Gabriel García Márquez, and world renowned sculptor, Fernando Botero, have added to Colombia’s luster as a center for the creative arts in the Latin Tropics and across the globe.
8. And One Really Notorious Figure
One of the most polarizing and notorious figures in Colombian history is the drug lord, Pablo Escobar. Once listed by Forbes magazine, in 1989, as one of 227 billionaires in the world, Escobar’s rise and fall have become the stuff of legend.
Even today, the fascination with Escobar (similar to that of Al Capone) can be seen in the number of “Pablo Escobar tours” in and around Medellín. Importantly, these tours show the dramatic metamorphosis of Medellín from a hotbed of crime and violence to a growing and thriving modern metropolis.
Discover More Special Things About Colombia Firsthand
With all of the history, culture, and natural beauty that abound in this increasingly popular destination, there are many more special and unique discoveries to be made. Colombia holds a great potential for retirees and investors to grow, prosper, and profit. Could you be one of them?
Colombia has made its presence known on expat radar in recent years. Following the turbulence of the latter part of the twentieth century, this Latin American destination is in the process of reinventing itself to be more attractive to investors, retirees, and others seeking new vistas outside of the U.S.
Like any emerging country, Colombia has positive and negative elements that should be considered before making a decision to move there. Discovering what the pluses and minuses are, and measuring them against your own requirements, can be an important step in deciding whether this is the tropical destination for you.
Colombia: The Positives
Colombia has made a good deal of progress in actively attracting foreigners – both to live and, more importantly, to invest – during the 21st century. The potential for return on investment and a growing expat presence have helped to accent many of these positive improvements.
A Growing Expat Presence
One of the many features of moving to Colombia is the growing expat community that can be found in places like Medellín. These enclaves make it far easier to transition to life there than you might imagine.
An important element of this growth is that the infrastructure of the country will continue to improve in order meet the demands of this foreign population. Having amenities like high-speed internet, cable television, and good cellular service will increase the value-added potential for those seeking to make a long term commitment.
Colombia has a vibrant cultural tradition that makes living there both exciting and pleasurable. The country is said to have more national holidays than any country except for Argentina.
In addition to the countless local celebrations, the salsa festivals in Cali, the celebration of Carnival in Barranquilla, or the many art festivals and museums in Medellín, it becomes easy for tourists and expats alike to become immersed in the cultural diversity that Colombia offers.
Colombia is actually made up of six distinct climates, which also include the islands in the Caribbean and the Pacific. From the mountain weather of the Andes, to the tropical beaches of Cartagena, to the Amazon rain forests of Leticia, Colombia’s weather and biodiversity makes it a unique destination to consider as an expat.
Convenient Travel Options
Many major U.S. carriers, such as Delta, United, and American offer service to Medellín and Bogotá. As the growth in tourist and expat travel increases, it can be anticipated that additional travel options will also become available.
Colombia: The Negatives
With all the progress that Colombia has made in recent years, there are still some important issues that a potential expat or investor may wish to consider. Some of the concerns are listed below.
Infrastructure Away from Major Cities
Colombia is still an emerging nation and, as such, much of the infrastructure is still in a rustic state. Once you are outside of major population centers like Bogotá, Cali, Medellín or Cartagena, modern amenities are much harder to come by.
As a result, the majority of expats tend to focus on these metropolitan areas. If you are not interested in living in a major city, finding a suitable location in Colombia may be a difficult challenge to overcome.
The breaking of the stranglehold of the cartels and the recent cease-fire between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) – which brought to a close 50 years of violent confrontations – are promising steps to reducing crime in Colombia. However, there is still a lot of uncertainty concerning the future.
Colombia still has a criminal element that exists both in the cities and rural areas. The Bacrim – local crime gangs – still operate and target both foreigners and locals.
This kind of uncertainty can certainly be viewed as a detriment to expats seeking to escape similar problems in the U.S. Diligence and knowledge is required in order to avoid those areas that are known to have high incidences of violence or criminal acts.
The Language Issue
As is the case with many countries in the Latin Tropics, Colombia is predominantly Spanish-speaking. Outside of the expat areas in Medellín and Bogotá, finding large groups of English speakers may be somewhat problematic.
If you already have some ability to speak Spanish, Colombia is a great place to become more fluent. If, on the other hand, the idea of moving to a country where you need to learn a new language (just to get around) seems too hard, Colombia may not be your first choice.
Cost of Living
This item actually is both a plus and a minus. It is true that prices for many items, including rent and real estate, are less than other Latin Tropic countries. That being said, however, Colombia is not the least expensive destination in paradise.
In a very real sense, Colombia epitomizes the adage “you get what you pay for.” Highly developed expat magnets, such as El Poblado, offer modern amenities many expats crave although at a higher price than other parts of the country.
The rules for residency in Colombia are more complicated than other destinations in the Latin Tropics. While foreigners can live and own property in the country, the process to obtaining permanent or long-term residency can be too arduous for some.
Weighing Your Options
Colombia is very much a “work in progress” insofar as foreign investment and expat growth is concerned. Apart from shedding the image of its troubled past, Colombia also has the challenge of growing from an emerging country to a preferred Latin Tropic destination.
When weighing your options concerning relocation to Colombia, understanding where the country has been, what life would be like in the present, and the potential for the future are all elements to measure. As with any other country, the first step is to visit there – more than once – to see what your sense of the place is.
Asking yourself whether you can envision life in Colombia is the single most important question in the expat/investor process. When you have that answer, your future course of action becomes a clear choice.
Colombia has achieved peace and is increasingly regarded as good place to consider for living and investing.
With such a tumultuous history the question is, is this a good idea?
We speak to Park Wilson co-founder of Viva Tropical about his recent trip to Colombia.
When he left Panama to visit Colombia he was seriously considering the move and now that he is back you can listen to what he thought and if he will indeed leave Panama for Colombia.
Park also discusses investment opportunities, his favorite spots, and the big question on most people’s minds, is it safe?
Josh and Park also compare and contrast Colombia to other countries in the Latin Tropics.
Tune in and listen now.
In this episode, we discuss:
- Investing in Colombia
- Safe Areas
- And Where to Live for the Best Quality of Life
And much more.
Listen to the show
You can listen to the show using the player above or grab it and listen on the go via one of the following options:
- Click here to download the mp3
- Click here to subscribe via iTunes
- Click here for the RSS feed (non iTunes)
- Click here for the show archive
React to the Show
We appreciate your reaction to episodes of Viva Radio and feedback about how we’re doing.
Send us your thoughts any time in an email or comment below.
El Poblado (“The Village” in Spanish) has become the cornerstone of expat growth both in Medellin and throughout Colombia. Just as it was in the early seventeenth century, El Poblado has become the hub for economic, commercial and business growth in present day Medellin and in the surrounding region.
Known locally as Las Manzanas de Oro (the Golden Apples), this cosmopolitan center is filled with modern amenities that many expats find compelling. As the region continues its resurgence from the conflicts of the latter 20th century, the investment potential is also a powerful draw.
El Poblado: Cornerstone Of Medellin
El Poblado represents the dynamic resurgence of Medellin. The modern structures, bustling commercial areas, and high-rise residences stand in stark contrast to the image of the region in the late 1980s and 1990s.
In 1541, as part of the Spanish exploration of what would later become Colombia, Conquistadors arrived in what is now Aburrá Valley. In 1574, Gaspar de Rodas, the first governor of Antioquia was granted 3 square miles to develop a foothold in the valley.
Later, in 1616, another Spaniard, Francisco de Herrera y Campuzano, founded a settlement that he named Poblado de San Lorenzo, the site of today’s El Poblado Square. While the original population included indigenous people, Caucasians and Mestizos, an edict by the colonial governor decreed that whites and natives could not live together.
As a result, the colonial government moved to a new location in what is today Berrio Square, leaving El Poblado as a suburb of the village. Since the area was not considered as having any strategic importance, El Poblado was largely marginalized until the mid-nineteenth century.
Evolving Into A Symbol Of Prosperity And Potential
The colonial authorities gave the parish the name of San José del Poblado in 1845. Like most colonial villages, El Poblado had a square with a plaza, actual streets and, most importantly, land for sale.
Throughout the later part of the nineteenth century, the more affluent families in Medellin looked to El Poblado as the place to build their villas and estates. This trend continued through the early part of the twentieth century as other farming families, drawn to the industrial growth in El Poblado, moved to the region adding to the economic energies already emerging there.
In the 1950s, El Poblado was formally included as a barrio of Medellin. By the 1970s, wealthy Medellin residents flocked to the barrio which had become the second largest urban center. It was during this period that El Poblado was given the nickname Milla de Oro (Golden Mile) and the Zona Rosa, an expat and tourist-centric area was created.
Today, El Poblado has become the preferred location in Medellin for upper income Colombians as well as a growing expat population. The twenty-two neighborhoods that make up El Poblado are filled with new construction, commercial and residential locations that hold tremendous potential for a return on investment.
El Poblado Today – Leading A Dynamic Resurgence
El Poblado has the modern features that compare favorably to many first world metropolitan areas. One of the premier amenities of the barrio is the plethora of high-end shopping malls that are a centerpiece for the area.
The development of a modern Metro transit system has been a major factor in El Poblado’s growth. With accessibility to the rest of Medellin dramatically improved through the latter part of the twentieth century, El Poblado’s desirability for commercial enterprises has also expanded.
Below are examples of several of the most popular locations in El Poblado.
Sante Fe Mall
This shopping and entertainment complex is the largest in Colombia and one of premier shopping meccas in Central and South America. Opened in 2010, this ultra-modern complex has over 450 stores, 25 restaurants, a VIP movie theater and 2 million square feet of total space.
In addition to the architecturally pleasing design, Santa Fe also features a retractable roof that can be opened for good weather days. With popular anchor stores like Carrefour (now known as Jumbo) and Falabella and a growing number of international chains (such as Victoria’s Secret), Santa Fe is truly a special shopping and entertainment experience.
El Tesoro Parque Comercial
Opened in 1996, El Tesoro has combined shopping with commercial development. The original 174 stores have grown to a total of over 350 units with names such as Adidas, Gap, Nine West, Tommy Hilfiger and other high end brands.
In addition to the entertainment venues, El Tesoro has also been a location for business growth. In 2013, the Medical Tower Treasure opened with full professional offices, seven operating rooms and specialized medical professional services that rival any comparable site in the tropics.
Nestled in the heart of the entertainment center of El Poblado–the Zona Rosa–Parque Lleras is filled with bars, clubs, gourmet restaurants and revelers looking to have a great night on the town. As a playground for the “beautiful people” this Colombian version of South Beach is definitely a spot to party the night away.
As might be expected in such a venue, prices can be higher than other areas of Medellin. However the atmosphere and ambiance make the extra cost well worth the experience.
El Poblado Hotels And Accommodations
For those wanting to stay close to the action, El Poblado has the majority of high end hotels in Medellin. Spa Hotels, such as the modern NH Medellin Collection Royal and the Hotel Park 10, place visitors steps away from the entertainment and shopping areas that are the heart and soul of El Poblado.
Another alternative, for those seeking more of a “home” type experience would be renting one of the many apartments in the area on a nightly basis. For as little as $55.00 (USD) you can have your own Medellin “casa” to enjoy during your stay.
Cost Of Living In El Poblado, Colombia
It may come as a pleasant surprise to potential expats and investors that El Poblado is comparatively still an attractive option. While it is the most expensive area in Medellin, El Poblado compares favorably with other highly developed metropolitan centers in the Latin tropics.
As can be seen in the list below, the Medellin area, including El Poblado, compares favorably with locations in Costa Rica, Ecuador and Panama in terms of cost of living. When added to favorable currency exchange rates, El Poblado’s “price tag” can offer luxury living more affordably than usually found in upscale tropical areas.
Consumer Prices Including Rent in San Jose are 109.70% higher than in Medellin Consumer Prices Including Rent in Quito are 58.09% higher than in Medellin Consumer Prices Including Rent in Boquete are 58.79% higher than in Medellin
More Value For Your Dollar
That favorable exchange rate, mentioned above, makes living in El Poblado a much more affordable option. Currently, a US Dollar is worth $3,038 Colombian Pesos.
If there is a negative to this increase in buying power, it is that the dollar is not widely accepted even in El Poblado’s trendiest spots. Having credit cards or converting your dollars to pesos will make transactions easier to negotiate.
Real Estate In El Poblado
One question that comes to the forefront of the minds of investors and expats alike is the cost of real estate in this trendy, upscale neighborhood. Though considered high end by Colombian standards, the prices for both commercial real estate and residential homes is surprisingly affordable, especially when one considers the quality and amenities found in the residences.
There are many affordable rental units in the various barrios of El Poblado. Finding a rental with modern features that’s fully furnished and close to El Poblado’s popular locations is easier than you might imagine and a great way to transition to your new life in Colombia.
Purchasing real estate in El Poblado is as streamlined as other parts of Colombia. There is no requirement for residency or citizenship in order to buy or rent property.
A very attractive feature of property ownership in Colombia is the low tax rate. The unified tax rate on the combined value of land and buildings (as assessed by the municipality) can be as low as 0.3%. The top of the range is still a very reasonable 3.3%.
There are many available condos and apartments throughout El Poblado that can range from under $90,000 to over $500,000. When factoring in the lower costs of living in the Medellin area, owning a home in this flourishing part of the city becomes a desirable option.
Is El Poblado The Right Choice For You?
This highly developed, growing, Colombian neighborhood has many things to commend it as a great location for expats and investors looking for new vistas in the Latin Tropics. As with other tropical destinations, weighing the pluses and minuses can come down to a matter of what you are (or are not) looking for.
El Poblado May Not Be For Everyone
There is no doubt that El Poblado has many attractive, high-end amenities that expats and investors find attractive. The modern high-rise residences, top-end shopping malls, and quality entertainment venues are among the best in the Latin tropics.
However, for those seeking a more rustic, less frenzied atmosphere, El Poblado may be too much of a good thing. If you are seeking to find a more traditional Colombian lifestyle, this thriving metropolitan community would not be the ideal match.
For some, Medellin’s recent history may be too much of an emotional stumbling block to overcome. Even with El Poblado’s amenities and developed infrastructure, the shadows of the Escobar years may outweigh the possibilities of the twenty-first century.
Beyond The Horizon
El Poblado is a shining example of Medellin’s resurgence as a cultural and economic powerhouse. The blend of first world amenities, a strong commercial base, and a growing expat presence all deserve a closer look by those seeking to explore retirement and investment opportunities in the Latin tropics.
With the Medellin region easily accessible from the US, visiting the Golden Mile is a convenient proposition. Taking that important first step is a great way to learn, first hand, if El Poblado holds the future that you are dreaming of.
For many years Medellin Colombia had a reputation of being an unstable and dangerous destination for expats and investors. However, there’s been a recent resurgence that has transformed this special city into a location that is filled with potential and promise.
Medellin is the second largest city in the country and the third most visited, after Cartagena and Bogota. Known as the “Land of Eternal Spring” and “Capital of the Flowers,” the area has enjoyed a phoenix-like rebirth from the ashes of a troubled past.
Discovering the secrets of this Colombian gem will reveal why Medellin is worth visiting. These important details about Medellin illustrate why it’s such a great option for expats and investors alike.
Is Medellin Safe? You Might Be Surprised.
The drug wars of the late 1980s and early 1990s, fueled in large part by Pablo Escobar, gave Medellin the unenviable reputation as the most violent city on the planet. Since the fall of the cartels, the government and the people of Medellin have made a concerted effort to put the past behind them and work towards making the city a place to live and thrive in.
The effort has certainly paid off. By 2015, the murder rate was 20 per 100,000 – far less than St. Louis (49.91), Detroit (43.52), New Orleans (38.75) or Baltimore (33.84). Clearly, Medellin compares favorably, in terms of safety, with other metropolitan areas.
Getting There Is Easy.
It may come as a surprise to many that getting to Medellin, Colombia is actually easier that you might think. Many major U.S. carriers, such as Delta, United, and American, offer service to this Latin hotspot. Nonstop flights can even be found leaving from cities like Miami and Atlanta.
The José María Córdova airport in Medellin is a state-of-the-art facility that was built in 1985. It is capable of handling a wide variety of modern aircraft such as the Boeing 747 and 767, as well as the Airbus 380. To accommodate the growing influx of visitors, the facility is undergoing additional modernization to attract tourists as well as the airlines that bring them there.
Medellin, Colombia Cultural Offerings Are World-Class.
Medellin’s recent history has often obscured the fact that the cultural scene is actually on a par with (or, in some cases, surpasses) many other cities. From outdoor plazas and parks, to collections of art and sculpture, to historical tours, there are many options to expand your cultural perspective.
Imagine finding a Zen garden in the heart of a bustling, Latin American metropolis. The Parque de los Pies Descalzos (Barefoot Park) is exactly that – a quiet space filled with bamboo, fountains and sandpits where one can rest and revitalize from a busy day of sightseeing.
Art and sculpture are on full display in Medellin. The works of world-renowned artist, Fernando Botero, a Medellin native, are featured prominently throughout the city. The Botero Plaza contains 23 sculptures by the artist which dramatically demonstrate his signature style of “Boterismo,” depicting his subjects in large, exaggerated forms.
The Museo de Antioquia contains numerous paintings and sculptures by Botero and fellow Colombian artist, Pedro Nel Gómez. Located in the heart of the Plaza, this area can truly be said to be the cultural heart of Medellin.
For those interested in Medellin’s recent past, there is even a Pablo Escobar Historical Tour. Escobar has been called the wealthiest criminal in history, with a net worth believed to be $30 billion at the height of his career. Killed by authorities in 1993, he still remains one of the most controversial figures in Medellin, Colombia’s history.
To experience turn of the century Medellin culture, visiting Pueblito Paisa (Little Town) located at the top of Nutibarra Hill is a must-do item. Developed in 1976, this replica of a typical Antioquia village captures the feel of a small Colombian community.
Since its creation, Paisa Town has grown into one of the most popular tourist locations in Medellin. The outdoor market and various festivals transport visitors to a less harried place and time.
Medellin can rightly be said to on the cutting edge of an architectural revolution. Modernistic construction meshes with classic Colonial style buildings, creating a unique blend of the past and the future which complement each other quite well.
In 2013, Medellin won the prestigious Veronica Rudge Green Prize for Urban Design. As can be seen below, this award was rightly earned.
The Cost of Living in Medellin Is Less Than Imagined.
Perhaps the most important question that potential expats or investors ask about any tropical destination is: How much does it cost to live there? As Medellin Colombia draws more and more attention as a possible retirement location, it may come as a pleasant surprise that the price of paradise is not as steep as one might think.
Medellin vs. Panama City
Medellin is often compared with Panama City, Panama in terms of development and in importance to their respective countries. Medellin is the larger of the two with a population of 2,441,123 as opposed to Panama City’s 1,501,691.
Importantly, each city has undergone a resurgence following a period of unrest. For Panama City, it began after the fall of Manuel Noriega in 1989, while in Medellin, the death of Pablo Escobar in 1993 marked its rebirth.
The following examples provide a good illustration of the difference in daily living costs in these two Latin American metropolitan areas:
- Consumer Prices in Medellin are 47.16% lower than in Panama City
- Consumer Prices Including Rent in Medellin are 58.09% lower than in Panama City
- Rent Prices in Medellin are 78.21% lower than in Panama City
- Restaurant Prices in Medellin are 62.75% lower than in Panama City
- Groceries Prices in Medellin are 52.63% lower than in Panama City
- Local Purchasing Power in Medellin is 11.65% higher than in Panama City
Put simply, you would only need $1,508.61 monthly to maintain the same lifestyle and standard of living that would cost you $3,600 in Panama City. It is clear that your money can go farther in Medellin than in other, similar tropical destinations.
Fun Things to Do in Medellin.
There are a lot of fun things that you can do in and around Medellin. Numerous celebrations, events, and special sights are all there to be experienced.
Festivals and Events
Perhaps one of the most popular events in Medellin is the El Alumbrado, or “The Lighting,” which features millions of Christmas lights and displays throughout the city. This annual display dates back to 1851 and has been run by the Empresas Públicas de Medellín, Medellin’s public utility company, since 1955.
The Festival of the Flowers, which occurs in late July through early August, may be the most important social event for the community. Established in 1957, the festival is a celebration marking the end of Colonial slavery.
During the Colonial period, indigenous Colombians were used to transport wealthy Spanish officials and their belongings on their backs. These servants were known as “silleteros” (literally “chair-men”).
Today, instead of cargo and passengers, modern day silleteros carry elaborate floral displays. From an original parade of 40 men, this celebration of freedom has grown into a festival that draws participants from all over the globe.
Those who enjoy taking in some stunning vistas while also getting a great cardio workout can take a short trip just outside of Medellin to Laguna Guatape. This man-made lake is actually a reservoir for the hydroelectric dam that supplies 30% of Colombia’s power.
Guatape is also the home to one of the most impressive sites in the entire country: La Piedra del Peñol, commonly referred to as “The Rock.” This ancient megalith rises some 700 ft and can be climbed by navigating the 740 steps that have been carved into its side.
Once the climb is made, the intrepid visitor can experience a awe-inspiring 360° view of the Lake and the village of Guatape itself.
World’s Best Coffee
Of course, no visit to Medellin Colombia would be complete without touring “coffee country.” Medellin is the capital of the Department of Antioquia which is widely acknowledged as the heartland of Colombia’s world famous coffee industry.
This is, by no means, the complete list of all the things that can be experienced in Medellin. Whether indoor sites, like museums or libraries, or outdoor offerings, such as parks, plazas, and sightseeing destinations, Medellin has something for everyone.
Medellin Is One of the Fastest Growing Tourist Destinations Worldwide.
One clear indication of Medellin’s growing popularity is the increase in the number of foreigners who make their way to this South American gem. According to a recent study by the World Tourism Organization, while international tourism in general has increased by a rate of 4%, Medellin’s tourism growth rate was an astounding 34%. That’s over eight times that of the rest of the world!
Although located in South America, the weather in Medellin is surprisingly moderate. With an average daily temperature of 72° F (22° C), Medellin rightly earns its nickname as “La Ciudad de la Eterna Primavera,” the city of Eternal Spring. This comfortable climate has also contributed to the influx of visitors who come to experience all the city has to offer.
There Is a Thriving Expat Presence in Medellin.
For potential expats seeking to find kindred souls in Medellin, look no further than the neighborhood of El Poblado. It is known to locals as Las Manzanas de Oro (The Golden Apples) for its reputation as the main economic center in what has become the second largest economy in Colombia.
Established on March 2, 1616, at what is today El Poblado Square, this was the first European settlement in the Aburrá Valley. Originally known as San Lorenzo de Aburrá, the parish was renamed San José del Poblado in 1845.
First World Services and Amenities
As home to Medellin’s elite, it also became a natural drawing card for expats seeking the familiarity and comforts of a Western lifestyle. The Zona Rosa was established as an expat and tourist mecca filled with western style entertainment, shopping and business establishments.
Via Primavera and Via Provenza, both located in Zona Rosa, feature the kind of boutique shopping that could be found in major fashion-forward centers around the globe. The small shops offer a wide variety of styles and price tags for every taste and budget.
The addition of gourmet restaurants, outdoor cafes, art galleries and more, create a special cosmopolitan blend of western fashion and Colombian flair. With a growing expat population, modern amenities, and housing, El Poblado compares favorably with other high-end communities throughout Latin America.
Medellin Colombia Is One of the Most Innovative Cities in the World.
When one thinks of the most progressive metropolitan areas in the world, places like Los Angeles, London, and Paris immediately come to mind. In 2012, Medellin was included in a group of 200 cities, worldwide, for the title of Most Innovative City of the Year. One of the major reasons for this prestigious honor was the number of major advances the city has made in public transportation.
Its Metrocable is the first gondola lift system in the world dedicated to public transit. Since it began operations in 2004, the system has a ridership of 30,000 people daily to and from the city center to less-developed areas. It is also integrated into the larger Metro system.
The Metro rail system is, in and of itself, one of the most forward thinking transit systems in the world. While moving an estimated 500,000 passengers daily, the system also reduces CO2 emissions in the city by 175,000 tons yearly.
Perhaps the most important innovation is the creation of a unique transport system connecting Comuna 13 to the rest of Medellin Colombia. A 2,244 foot, orange roofed, outdoor escalator now makes it possible for residents of this once troubled neighborhood to easily get to the heart of the city. This ability has promoted a sense of unity that has helped bridge both social and economic divides.
You Can Own Property in Medellin.
A major concern for potential investors and expat is whether foreigners can buy, sell, and own property in Medellin Colombia. The short answer is: YES!
Like many Central and South American countries, Colombia allows foreigners to own property with the necessity of obtaining a residency visa or a Colombia National ID Card (Cédula de Extranjería). In fact, real estate transactions can be carried without with nothing more than your tourist stamp on your passport.
As Colombia continues to recover from the turmoil of the late 1990s, the country has streamlined the process for foreign buyers to invest in the country. Non-Colombians now have the same property rights as Colombian citizens, marking a dramatic departure from the prior situation, where property rights were limited for foreigners.
The Buying Process
The first step in owning property is to identify both the location and the type of property you desire. New construction or a restoration project, modern amenities or a more authentic and rustic neighborhood – like everywhere else on the planet, Medellin property is all about location, location, location.
While the process has been simplified, it is still important to have the correct paperwork in order and to make certain that funds can be readily transferred. As is the case in many tropical countries, a legally established representative is required to ensure the successful transfer of property, title, and funds.
The Associated Costs
The following chart provides a guideline of the, relatively low, fees involved in a property transfer:
|Real estate Agents’ Fees||3% – 4% (+ 16% VAT)||seller|
|Costs paid by buyer||1.65%|
|Costs paid by seller||3.63% – 4.79%|
|ROUND TRIP TRANSACTION COSTS||5.28% – 6.44%|
|Source: Global Property Guide|
The fees are used to complete a number of necessary steps in the transaction process. Obtaining a certificate about the property’s history, a successful title search, the necessary tax certificates, and the property deed will take roughly two weeks.
Establishing a Colombian bank account will make the transfer of funds much easier. It is important to remember that the process of opening a new account can take up to two weeks. This can prevent delays when scheduling a closing date.
One additional point to consider is whether or not you want to hold title in your own name. While Colombia does not require the creation of an SAS, (like the U.S. LLC), it may be a prudent step for tax and other legal considerations.
Is Now a Good Time to Invest in Medellin?
For expats, retirees, and investors alike, having great potential for return on investment is the paramount issue in considering any move to a foreign country. Medellin’s emergence as both a tourist destination and an economic center make it well-placed to provide the kind of long-term, sustainable growth that many potential expats desire as a means of providing for a sunny retirement outlook.
Like other Latin American locations, Medellin may not be for everyone. It is a city in a state of resurgence and, as might be expected, there are growing pains that come along with that progress.
Do your research. Identify those items which are “must haves,” and then see how this Colombian jewel matches up with those requirements.
Discovering these facts about Medellin is only the start of the adventure. Plan a visit and explore what life there is like firsthand. You may just discover that the “Land of Eternal Spring” is the location of your own personal fountain of youth.
Park joins the show to discuss his recent trip to Medellin, Colombia with his boys. He examines the good and bad from the trip and compares his experience there to the rest of Central America.
Meanwhile, Josh recounts his recent trip to El Salvador and breaks down how it fits into the scope of Central America real estate investment.
The two also catch up on the recent elections in Panama and what has been happening on Boca Chica Island.
In this episode, you will learn:
- Is El Salvador a hot potential investment spot?
- How does Medellin stack up against other Central America cities?
- What does the future hold for tourism in Colombia?
- Are El Salvador and Colombia safe?
And much more.
Listen to the show
You can listen to the show using the player above or grab it and listen on the go via one of the following options:
React to the Show
We appreciate your reaction to episodes of Viva Tropical Radio and feedback about how we’re doing. Send us your thoughts any time in an email or comment below.