Joseph Hogue loves the flexibility that living and working in Medellín has given him.
“I usually work a regular 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. workday from my home,” says the 40-year-old from Iowa. “But I’m my own boss, so I have the freedom to change that when I want to do something.”
Medellín, Colombia‘s second largest city, sits in the middle of the Andes Mountains. Surrounded by gorgeous greenery, this city of 3 million people has a rich and vibrant cultural scene. From quiet tree-lined neighborhoods to elegant high-rise apartment complexes, you can choose your lifestyle. The city is filled with restaurants, museums, shopping malls, and boutiques, as well as quiet areas to play golf, walk, or play tennis.
During the evenings and weekends, Joseph enjoys spending time exploring the city with his wife, Diana, and their 4-year-old son. The perfect spring-like climate of Medellín means they can enjoy leisure time outside, playing in one of the many parks or walking through the tree-lined streets to get an ice cream cone. “Every week we try to go to one of the malls, or Parque Explora (science park), or the Botanical Gardens,” Joseph says.
Besides spending time with his family, Joseph is indulging his green thumb. “I’m trying to grow bonsai trees,” he says with a smile. “I started them from seeds, but unfortunately they still look like sticks.” He admits that they look nothing like the gorgeous trees that were on display during Medellín’s Feria de las Flores (flower festival) in early August, but is enjoying his new hobby nonetheless.
Joseph was first introduced to cosmopolitan Medellín in 2006. Working as a consultant with Colombian companies who were preparing for the signing of the Free Trade Agreement with the U.S., Joseph thought he was only going to live there for a year. “It really was a happy accident,” he says. “I met my future wife while working in Medellin. We moved back to the U.S. for a while but returned to Medellin in 2013.”
But it wasn’t long before the many charms of Medellín called them back. Now living in the Floresta section of Estadio, a quiet upper-middle class neighborhood, his cost of living is much lower than back in the U.S. “My rent for a huge three-bedroom, four-bathroom, 1,235-square-foot apartment is only $300 per month. And all utilities: electric, gas, water, cable, internet, and home phone are only $90 per month.”
This low cost of living has allowed Joseph to be his own boss and not have to work long hours. He left his job as an economist for the State of Iowa and is now using his knowledge and expertise by freelancing online. He also has seven books which he sells through Amazon and maintains six different blogs.
“One of the benefits of living in Medellín is the amount of money I can save or invest for the future,” Joseph explains. “I am earning between $5,000 to $8,000 per month and my total living expenses are less than $2,000.” Working the latitudes—earning in dollars and spending in pesos—has allowed him to increase his nest egg at a much higher rate than if he were living in the U.S. “I would have to work 70 plus hours per week back in the States to be close to the same financial position as I am here with only working a normal week. And I get to do it from home.”
Joseph says his work is also his hobby. “I really enjoy what I do and I like the challenge of growing my own business,” he says. Living in Medellín lets him do what he enjoys, at a pace that allows him flexibility and family time, all while saving for a rainy day.
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