Own a Piece of Paradise in Colombia's Coffee Triangle

Colombia's movers and shakers—politicians, business executives, and celebrities—have long used land ownership and country homes as a way to show their money and influence. The more beautiful the setting of their residences, the more bragging rights they have.

One of the most popular areas for these homes is in the countryside outside the city of Armenia—one of the main centers of the country's economy.

But you don't need to be one of Colombia's rich and famous to own a piece of this paradise.

This region is deep in the heart of Colombia's Coffee Triangle and is home to sprawling farms, ranches, and high-end estates. The weather has a constant, comfortable, spring-in-the-Midwest feel. The natural surroundings are breathtaking with distant mountain peaks and thick forests home to hundreds of bird species.

Tourism is quickly taking hold here as well with international travelers coming to enjoy the hiking, birding, and cultural opportunities. And interest in visiting working coffee plantations is becoming a desirable activity for those curious about eco-tourism and agriculture.

And you'll be within minutes of Armenia, a small city with everything you need including shopping, dining, and healthcare. From Armenia you can catch the luxury buses that travel all throughout the country, or you can hop on a jet in Armenia's own international airport.

The good news is that you can own a piece of this nirvana. One popular housing option in this area is to live in a condominio. In this area, a condominio does not refer to a multi-unit building where you buy your own living space, instead it is more of a gated community. Many condominios outside of Armenia are divided into larger lots where the owners have a house and a mini-farm. The community itself is usually private with a wall or natural barriers, security, and other offerings like swimming pools, soccer fields, and playgrounds.

I saw a 1,600-square-foot residence for sale in a condominio that came with a custom-designed house with plenty of natural airflow and was set up as a small finca (country estate). On the one-third-of-an-acre lot, there were dozens of ornamental and fruit trees, a large garden, and even ducks and geese roaming the property. It was being offered at just under $100,000. And of course in Colombia, every price is up for debate, so if you're good at negotiating that cost could come down by several thousand dollars.

Condominios are not your only option in the rural Coffee Triangle. You can find inexpensive vacant plots in need of cultivation if you don't mind taking the time to look. You can have a house built or turn it into your own organic farming paradise.

Expat Laura Molander did just this, and is now running a successful organic farm from her two-and-a-half-acre lot surrounded by old-growth forest and great walking paths. A charming bamboo bungalow overlooks her spread. Laura says that a similar set-up could be had for under $50,000.

Whatever you choose, now is the time to take advantage of the strong U.S. dollar to Colombian peso exchange rate. With one dollar trading for over 3,300 pesos, you'll get a bargain on real estate…and you could be in a position to cash in when the peso regains strength.