Located at the tip of South America, Colombia is where the Pacific and the Caribbean collide with the Andes and the Amazon. It’s a country that is more beautiful, dramatic, and diverse than nearly any other. It offers sparkling colonial cities in the highlands and world-famous (and safe) resorts along the Caribbean. Cartagena, a walled colonial city on those turquoise shores, is one of Spanish America’s most beautiful enclaves.
What’s more, Colombia boasts beautiful areas where the cost of living is the lowest you’ll find anywhere in South America—lower, even, than in Ecuador.
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Capital City: Bogota
Climate: Tropical along coast and eastern plains; cooler in highlands
Time Zone: EST (GMT-5)
- A Day of Art, History and Food in Bogota, Colombia’s Capital
Posted on April 22, 2013 by Michael Evans
Before moving to small-town Colombia, I lived in Bogotá, where I indulged in the things I love most—art, history, and food. Every weekend I would set out on foot to discover the city’s restaurants, museums, and galleries. And I found them. If you’re new to Bogotá, it can be hard to find the city’s deepest treasures. After all, it’s a big place, with nearly eight million inhabitants.
A tamales vendor rides through town blasting his sales pitch over a bullhorn, zipping past rings of children playing marbles on the sidewalk. An old woman sits in a doorway enjoying the cool breeze, as smitten teenagers walk hand in hand to an ice-cream parlor.
With a love for Latin American culture and an itch to travel, Jaime Johnson struck out for Panama four years ago. His life took a turn when he met a “special someone”—and a year later he found himself living in her hometown of Bogota, Colombia. “That first year, I traveled throughout Colombia,” he recalls. “In Medellin I found one of the most progressive cities I’d ever visited.
- Laid-Back Líbano: A Simple Life in Colombia’s Coffee Country
Posted on March 25, 2013 by Michael Evans
Atamales vendor rides through town blasting his sales pitch over a bullhorn, zipping past rings of children playing marbles on the sidewalk. An old woman sits in a doorway enjoying the cool breeze, as smitten teenagers walk hand in hand to an ice-cream parlor.
In the summer of 2003, feeling a little apprehensive, I boarded a flight to Colombia. But I wasn’t going for a vacation…I had just secured my first English teaching job in a private school. The first thing that hit me when I stepped off the plane was the warm weather—the cold winters of home were gone. Now, my biggest challenge would be staying out of the warm Caribbean sun…
- Why Now is the Time to Buy Real Estate in Colombia
Posted on October 24, 2012 by Ronan McMahon
Colombia’s middle class is on the upswing. The rich are getting even richer. And we can profit by buying the type of apartment these people want to live in. Prices today reflect Colombia’s past. Not her present or future potential. You can net an 8% yield from a rental here. And you are buying so cheap that, as this middle class grows, values will increase.
- Accidental Entrepreneurs Embrace Opportunity Overseas
Posted on October 22, 2012 by Jennifer Stevens
In exotic, welcoming, warm-weather destinations all over the world—from Colombia to Korea—you can live better for less. But, alas, you can’t live for free. Many retirees fund their lives overseas through savings, Social Security, and pensions. But those aren’t your only options. In this golden age of the portable career, we know readers cashing in with freelance work from every corner of the planet.
Nine years ago I threw in the towel on a 25-year business career and a six-figure income to go in search of adventure. My life changed forever on September 11, 2001. Friends and business associates died that day. They hadn’t needed more money—they needed more time. Suddenly the savings I was working to accumulate for retirement didn’t seem so important.
I’ve spent the last year making contacts, picking brains and analyzing the numbers. Now I have formed a clear view. And it’s one of a bright future for Colombia. One of a pathway (which will certainly include some bumps) to relative prosperity.
- Colombia Rebounds: 8% Yields and Rising Property Values
Posted on September 27, 2012 by Ronan McMahon
Fifteen years ago Colombia was almost a failed state. Leftist revolutionaries controlled big tracts of jungle. There were battles with the army and paramilitaries. Drug cartels ran many of the big cities. It was one of the last places on earth you would think of investing in real estate. However, these days that’s exactly what I’m doing. And here’s why… Even before April of this year…
New homes, new cars, new televisions and refrigerators. Rising incomes and renewed optimism. Those are the trappings of a growing middle-class. It happened in the U.S. in the 1950′s. It happened in Brazil over the past decade (particularly in the Northeast since 2007.) And it’s happening somewhere else in Latin America right now. That’s a big deal if you’re looking for a real estate market…
I glance toward the waitress and smile as she places a glass of ice-cold, freshly-squeezed orange juice down in front of me. It’s hitting 80 F today in northern Colombia. Local ﬁshermen are lazily treading up and down the beautiful white-powder Caribbean beach, readying their nets to catch my lunch. There’s a light sea breeze rustling the palms…life is just perfect!
- Colonial Colombia: Coffee, Yucca Bread and the Magic of the Past
Posted on May 28, 2012 by Karen Phelps
I’m in a 17th century church listening to French and Colombian artists perform baroque guitar music. Outside, cobblestone streets wind around white, Spanish-style buildings with red-tiled roofs. Bright bougainvillea and geraniums drape from the balconies. Colombia is a gracious place. And the colonial town of Villa de Leyva is positively genteel. For the past two years, I’ve been traveling south of the States. I’ve explored nearly every country in South America and I liked them all. But Colombia, to my surprise, I fell in love with—particularly with Villa de Leyva, founded in 1572.
When you buy international real estate you can generate income in another currency. All your eggs aren’t in one basket. If the value of your dollar goes down, for example, you might be very happy to have an income stream in Brazilian reais…or Colombian pesos. Diversification…particularly in turbulent times…is just plain common sense.
- You Could Live in Paradise Right Now… For a Lot Less than It Costs You to Stay Home
Posted on January 10, 2012 by International Living
8th Annual Ultimate Event
May 21-25, 2013 – Playa del Carmen, Mexico
There’s plenty of opportunity–in many ways, more opportunity than ever–to live better, save money, make money, and capitalize on the genuine growth and prosperity that’s lifting certain markets, just as ours here at home slowly sinks…
Discover our top retirement destinations for 2013 at International Living’s 8th Annual Ultimate Event.
Ecuador stormed to the top of our list in the cost of living stakes. We’ve heard from couples who are living well on $800—and less. Everything from home rentals and health insurance cover to eating out and motoring costs come in significantly lower than in the U.S. There are also regional differences – small towns like Cotacachi are significantly cheaper than the bigger cities.
Whether your dream retreat is a graceful colonial home with lavish gardens, a simple beachfront bungalow where you can prop up your feet and watch the tide roll in, an expansive hacienda with enough acreage for horses to roam, or a cliff-side villa with sunset views and cool, steady breezes, you’ll find it in Mexico.
Colombia’s cities have a little something for everyone. Cali is famous for its tropical climate and salsa fever. Medellín is a livable, sophisticated city with modern architecture and beautiful people. Bogotá, Colombia’s capital, offers international dining, globally renowned festivals and museums, and colonial Cartagena is a recognized UNESCO World Heritage site.
In June I visited Medellín, Colombia with friend and IL’s Roving Latin America Editor Lee Harrison. Lee was there to pull the trigger and buy. I was there to see first-hand if Medellin is a place we can generate a strong rental income with the prospect of capital appreciation.
Lee did indeed buy a property. A couple of weeks ago he filled me in on how things are working out. The proof of the pudding, so to speak. He followed up with the note below. This is valuable hands-on experience. Also, it’s worth drawing attention to how clear Lee is about his goals. Clear goal-setting is the first step that can be missed so easily.
As she shifts her tote bags, the woman across from me smiles. A well-dressed young guy puts his headphones on and gazes out the window. This could be any urban commute in the world, except for one thing—we’re hanging hundreds of feet above the city.
Over the past 10 years, I thought I’d picked some of the world’s best places to live…places that stood out because of their fantastic lifestyle, rich culture, and low cost of living. Walking the cobblestones of Spanish colonial cities… enjoying the convenient city living in a world capital… and beachfront living on a tropical island seemed pretty hard to beat.
- Business in Medellin, Colombia: The “City of Opportunity”
Posted on November 9, 2011 by Cole LaValley
I always thought that I’d want to live on the beach in some out-of-the-way area. When the time came though, a bigger city was the place for me. Medellín in Colombia is physically beautiful. It’s the greenest city I’ve ever been to. The weather is better than any other place I’ve lived.
In Medellín, Colombia, a cool mist rises from the streams that bubble down the mountainside and wend through oases of bamboo and broad-leafed trees. At 5,000 feet, the weather is perfect. A typical day—year round—is sunny and in the mid-70s F. You won’t need air conditioning—nor even screens for your windows—as bugs are almost nonexistent. The physical beauty, perfect weather, and First-Worldliness of this city are big draws. But I’m not here on vacation….
Quentin and Wyona McKay wanted to move to paradise. They wanted to exchange their hectic life for a simpler, more fulfilling one…to own their own business in an exotic tropical location and work for themselves doing something they enjoy…
- Where to Start a Business Abroad: Our 7 Top Picks for the Year Ahead
Posted on October 27, 2011 by International Living
It might be a palapa bar on a white-sand beach, deep-sea ﬁshing tours, a restaurant, a surf shop, importing t-bone steaks, teaching English, making cheese, exporting art work…Whatever your idea, there’s a place overseas where you can make it a proﬁtable reality. But readers ask us all the time: Where is best? That’s why we’ve put together International Living’s ﬁrst-ever Business Index.
- Last Word: The Truth About Entrepreneurship Abroad
Posted on October 27, 2011 by Lee Harrison
The young lady came out of the bar with three mugs of dark beer. She put one in front of IL Real Estate Editor Ronan McMahon, one was for Eoin Bassett—managing editor of this magazine—and one was mine. Ronan ordered a sizzling burger… which the owner assured us was the city’s best. We were discussing our day spent exploring Medellín, Colombia, and how we were going to write about our various discoveries. Within a half-hour, a few expats joined us — Rich, Sarah, Scott, and Dennis. Each has a fascinating story.
To evaluate our seven countries for our Business Index 2011 we consulted seasoned entrepreneurs who’ve made the move and learned the ropes, as well as worked through in-country attorneys. We asked them about visa requirements, ﬁnancing, and how easy it was to set up a bank account. They told us about local taxes, business expenses, infrastructure and the local culture for doing business, Here is what they had to say…
- Thinking of a Business Overseas? Here’s What the World Needs
Posted on October 21, 2011 by Robert Carry
For International Living’s first ever Business Index we asked our in-country correspondents and a host of expat entrepreneurs what opportunities they see around them in their new homes. These gaps in the market include everything from small guesthouses to dog grooming services… read on to spot your opportunity.
- Colombia’s El Poblado: Mature, Active and Under-Valued
Posted on October 21, 2011 by Lee Harrison
Medellín combines three important benefits that most of us look for when searching for an overseas destination; year-round excellent weather, an enviable lifestyle, and affordable properties. And in 10 years of searching the world for the perfect getaway, I’ve never seen anything quite like it.
- Medellin, Colombia: Perfect Climate, Low Property Prices
Posted on October 4, 2011 by International Living
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.
- A One-Stop Guide to Invest, Retire and Live the Good Life in Colombia
Posted on September 28, 2011 by International Living
A One-Stop Guide to Invest, Retire and Live the Good Life in Colombia can help you discover safe and sophisticated Medellin…and all the other opportunities that await you in Colombia. This in-depth resource contains vital information, contacts, and insider tips that would take months and hundreds of dollars to discover on your own. Everything you need to know about moving to or finding opportunity in Colombia is in this very special report.
Seventy percent of Americans have no passport. No wonder, as a people, we know so little about the world beyond our borders. Not you. You’re reading International Living… I trust you possess both a passport and the regular urge to use it.
- Perfect Weather is Just the Start—Why You’ll Fall for Medellín, Too
Posted on September 16, 2011 by Lee Harrison
The morning sunshine is streaming through the open window as I grind rich Colombian coffee bought yesterday at the local shop. Every new day here starts with inspiring views as sunlight spills over the hillside towns on the far side of the valley.
- Investment: Spanish Phone Company Hits the “Sweet Spot”
Posted on September 16, 2011 by Chris Hunter
It’s easy to repeat Warren Buffett’s advice at dinner parties: “Be fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful.” It’s harder to follow when it comes to your own portfolio.
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