In the past decade, I have traveled to almost every country in Latin America in search of the top spots for living, investing, and retiring abroad. From the mountains of Honduras to the beaches of Brazil, I’ve discovered hundreds of great lifestyle options.
But I’ve never seen anything like Medellín, Colombia. It has everything I want in a second home location, with none of the drawbacks that come with many Latin American cities.
In fact, I like the city so much that I bought a property here on my last trip.
Medellín’s tarnished reputation from the 80s conjures up images of a dark, mysterious and dangerous place. So when you actually see it for yourself, it’s that much more of a surprise.
Imagine walking down a shady, tree-lined street on a bright, sunny day. On one side, café tables line the sidewalk, with a handful of morning patrons enjoying a rich, Colombian coffee with a pastry, while reading the paper. Across the street, two young men stand behind a pushcart—with hand-operated juicer and lots of tropical fruit—making fresh-squeezed juice.
The “flower man” sets up his roadside display of just-cut flowers beside the tumbling stream and dense tropical foliage that runs through the neighborhood. An elderly couple walk down the street arm-in-arm, heading for the small church hidden among the trees.
The mountain weather here is as close to perfect as you can get, so you can enjoy those sidewalk cafés every day of the year. The average high temperature is 81 F and it only varies by one degree throughout the entire year. Within Colombia, Medellín is known as the “City of Eternal Spring”.
It rains enough to keep everything lush and green, but has no rainy season. And best of all, there are no bugs.
What draws many people to this city is the area known as the Zona Rosa (in the El Poblado neighborhood) with its wealth of fine dining, clubs, parks and high-end shops. If you like eating out, you’ll spend years discovering everything from the elegant French Cuisine at Mistique, to the mom-and-pop Middle Eastern café called the La Mesa Libanesa.
And my favorite place on the informal side was the Shamrock Irish Pub and Grill. Oddly, it’s an Irish pub—owned by a Scotsman and a Dutchman—that caters to mostly Canadian miners. They claim to have the best burgers and ribs in the city, and I know they’re one of the few places where you can get a good dark beer. But it’s also a place where a number of expats gather at the end of the day, to swap stories or grab a bite to eat.
And the city’s cultural attractions draw people too, including Medellín’s parks, museums, orchestras and theaters.
I paid just over $85 per square foot for a high-end, modern condo, at an excellent location in El Poblado, Medellín’s best neighborhood. This is well under half the average price for a similar home in Panama City, Panama…Montevideo, Uruguay…or Fortaleza, Brazil. And the best part is that there are hundreds of great places to choose from, in El Poblado alone.
I recently toured a three-bedroom, two-bath home in a quiet, shady neighborhood. The location (in the Zona Rosa) was perfect, and within walking distance of everything. With 1,250 square feet, the asking price was $105,500.
I keep detailed statistics on properties in Medellín, and I can see that prices have started to jump during the course of this year…and inventories of available properties have dropped. So I don’t expect today’s prices to last long.
Editor’s note: Despite all that Colombia has going for it, the rest of the world hasn’t caught on yet. And that’s keeping prices low…for now. A special report reveals all that Colombia has to offer. It’s called A One-Stop Guide to Invest, Retire and Live the Good Life in Colombia. You can find out more here.