Medellin, led by the local utility, EPM, uses thousands of temporary workers over a period of months to decorate downtown with millions of lights in preparation for the grand lighting on Dec. 1. The event is called El Alumbrado, literally "the lighting."The celebration is a tremendous source of pride among the people of Medellin and enjoys broad public participation and support. Everybody gets out and enjoys the festivities. El Alumbrado started in 1955, sponsored by EPM and the local municipality. It was a modest celebration in the early years but has steadily progressed to become the extravaganza it is today, drawing visitors from around the world.El Alumbrado's traditional kickoff date was Dec. 7, a Colombian holiday called Día de las Velitas (Day of the Little Candles), held on the eve of the Immaculate Conception. But, since 2011, the "lighting" has gradually crept back to Dec. 1 to accommodate the large tourism influx into the city for the occasion. This year it crept back to Nov. 29 and will run until Jan. 12, drawing more than 4 million visitors. For this season, they've installed almost 500 miles of light strings with more than 30 million bulbs at a cost of around US$10 million. The effect is amazing. Have a look at these few random shots of Medellin's Christmas lights.The Alumbrado actually takes place in five major areas around the city, with a number of smaller, local displays here and there. My favorite of these areas is the walk along the river, which has the most impressive display, along with a carnival atmosphere including food stands and a handful of restaurants set up for the occasion. The display here runs between the bridges Puente Guayaquil and Puente San Juan for just over a mile.I'd say there's no better time to visit Medellin than right now. It's downright Christmassy, despite the invitingly warm weather. With the abundance of events and festive atmosphere, I can't think of a better place to celebrate the season. Lee Harrison
Continue reading: Fees And Minimum Balances With Offshore Banks
In addition, the city planning department is rezoning the area. The intent is to:
A new 16-story hotel and commercial complex is underway in the neighborhood, which is a further sign of investor interest.
Best of all, financing is available for this purchase if you need it.
Continue reading: Live And Invest Overseas For The European Market
Now that work has been completed, and, today, Santa Marta is a different place. The rejuvenated downtown features an attractive seafront park, as well as small cafes, bars, coffee shops, boutique hotels, excellent seafood restaurants, and even a cruise-ship port. The long-rumored 256-slip marina is completed and operational, and tasteful condo projects have sprouted up around the area. As you might guess, all these improvements have pushed up property prices; however, the current strength of the U.S. dollar rolls back the clock a few years. The Santa Marta metro area extends 13 miles from Taganga in the north to the airport in the south. This stretch of Caribbean coast is home to an impressive diversity of beachside destinations: Santa Marta city proper contains the original historic center and the cruise-ship port. This is the area that has benefited most from the recent investment in restoration. Santa Marta also includes a number of inland neighborhoods, including Bavaria, that would be great for full-time living away from any tourist traffic. If you're willing to be a block off the beach, you could own in Santa Marta's refurbished downtown for less than US$100,000. Taganga is a small village surrounded by tall mountains and situated on an expansive, deep-blue bay. The beach is long and unspoiled and bordered by a new boardwalk. Taganga's bay is great for diving and snorkeling. This is not the cheapest neighborhood in Santa Marta, but it's certainly affordable. Here you could own an ocean-view condo for less than US$100,000. El Rodadero lies about 10 minutes south of Santa Marta. Historically, this was the main draw in the area, as people sought to avoid the once-seedy historic center. The beaches are far longer, wider, and better-kept than Santa Marta's, creating a giant crescent-shaped shoreline that's several miles long. El Rodadero offers a small-town feel that you won't find in the city. This is unpretentious Caribbean with a friendly, laidback feel. It's also a very safe neighborhood. Santa Marta's southern sector consists of neighborhoods Rodadero Sur, Playa Salguero, Pozos Colorados, and Bello Horizonte. It lies south of Santa Marta and El Rodadero but before the airport. These areas feature quiet, well-tended, and more-exclusive beaches than in Santa Marta or El Rodadero. This southern sector is the current direction of expansion for the region, where most of the new construction is taking place. The condo projects here are generally higher end, bigger, better finished, and offering more and nicer amenities than elsewhere. The southern sector is also long on natural beauty. Bello Horizonte has the widest beach in the area, and most of the beaches along this stretch are frequented only by neighboring residents. There's little to no tourism, making this a quiet, peaceful choice. Perhaps the most affordable choice in Santa Marta is El Prado, where a two-bedroom third-floor penthouse was recently offered for 95 million Colombian pesos. At the current rate of exchange, that's about US$46,000. Kathleen Peddicord Editor's Note: Colombia is one of the 11 markets of current opportunity that will be featured during our second annual Global Property Summit, taking place in Cancun, Mexico, in March 2015. In addition, we'll be using our 2015 Global Property Summit as a forum to introduce three new markets of opportunity that we've been tracking and vetting, markets that you've probably not yet considered but should. We'll be opening registration for this, the only property event on next year's calendar, within the next 10 days. Meantime, go here now to get your name on the Hot List for special discounts and VIP perks.
Continue reading: Joel Nagel On Offshore Structures And Banking In Belize
When we arrived for the event, we were excited about Belize, Ecuador, and Costa Rica, but had wide-open minds and were willing to consider anything, anywhere. Wendy was reluctant to take vacation time to sit in a conference rather than playing in Orlando, but it was a great decision for us. It was at this conference that we got our first taste of Colombia. Before I continue with our Colombia story, I want to take a minute to say something about the conference itself. And I want you to know that Live and Invest Overseas has not persuaded me to say this. I asked for the chance to say this because I want anyone else out there thinking about making a move like the one we're making to understand this. The Live and Invest Overseas conferences are simply amazing. At the event in Orlando, while our heads were spinning with questions, facts, ideas, dreams, and investments, we were also getting a chance to talk to people who already lived and worked in all of the countries we had ever considered. We were focused on Latin America, maybe eight countries, but at the conference we could learn about places all over the globe. Some of the speakers were natives to their countries, others were expats who had been just like us a few years earlier. We asked frank and blunt questions, and we got frank and blunt answers. Every answer led to more questions, of course, but after the conference we knew we had to do some visiting to these countries. Time to get the passports out and get boots on the ground. We ended up attending conferences and taking extended stays in Belize, Colombia, and Ecuador. We loved all the countries, but Colombia, especially Medellin, just felt like home. We made another two-week trip to visit Medellin so we could see it at a different time of year, and we made sure to stay like we lived there instead of vacationing. We shopped and cooked and located common everyday items so we could feel like we lived there. We didn't have time to stay longer, but we knew this was the place for us. We have always lived in small towns and loved them, but 3.5 million people in Medellin was no problem at all. Frankly we were overwhelmed by how friendly the people were. Whether they were expats or Colombians, we met many people who were willing to help us out, answer questions, give advice, and just generally be wonderful. We even had six people give us phone numbers or email addresses to contact them when we finally moved to the city so they could help us out any way that they could. So it was an easy decision for us to choose Medellin. We got back home to Illinois, suffered through some more brutal winters and stifling, humid summers, and finally got our house sold. We started selling all of this stuff we had accumulated that we had to have at one time but that now was just in the way of our new life. Medellin inspired us to start our new life right now, not at retirement age. Why wait when there are so many ways to make your dreams come true? Now we are learning Spanish and buying new computers and a camera. We are still reducing our possessions every day and saving money. We have a place to stay for three months while we look for our more long-term place, and our friends in Illinois are throwing "deportation" parties for us while they make plans to come visit. We can't wait to start living our dream in Medellin. If any Live and Invest Overseas reader reading this would like to get in touch with us directly, we'd welcome that. Live and Invest Overseas—Kathleen, Lief, Lauren, and all of the amazing guest speakers and associates they bring to their conferences—has impacted our lives, and we are grateful. Now we want to help others make their dreams come true, too. Darren Howarter
Kathleen Peddicord'sNew Book
An Expert Guide To The Advantages And The Challenges of Investing In Real Estate Overseas..." Learn More
Sign up to receive free dailydispatches from the "Guru of Overseas Retirement and Opportunities"
Kathleen Peddicord is the founder of the Live and Invest Overseas publishing group. With more than 25 years experience covering this beat, Kathleen reports daily on current opportunities for living, retiring, and investing overseas in her free e-letter.
Her book, How To Retire Overseas—Everything You Need To Know To Live Well Abroad For Less, was recently released by Penguin Books.
Read more here.
Sign up for the Overseas Opportunity Letter
Receive our editor's latest research reports...absolutely FREE!
The Best Places For Living And Investing in the World for 2014
Receive a FREE copy of
The Six Cheapest Havens
To Retire In 2014
Discover the six best places in the world right now to live better and retire well...on as little as US$700 a month!
“We will not share or rent your email address to or with anyone else, period!”
Hey, I'm already a reader of Kathleen's e-letter. I don't need to see this popup ever again.