Articles Related to Retire to colombia


Rainfall is great in Medellin (66 inches versus 35 inches in Cuenca), but the average sunny day is just a bit higher in Medellin. 

The city with the "perfect weather" for you will be a matter of your own taste.

Establishing residency is fairly easy in both Colombia and Ecuador, with low thresholds for visa qualification in both countries. In Colombia, the pensioner's visa requires an income of a little less than US$1,000 per month, while in Ecuador the level is even lower, at US$800 monthly. For an investor-type visa, Colombia's options start at around US$34,000 for a one-year temporary visa, while Ecuador requires US$25,000 for full, permanent residency.

So Ecuador has lower thresholds for permanent residency, both for the investor and the retiree.

Colombia's visa, however, is quicker and easier to obtain, with fewer required documents. Also, Ecuador imposes restrictions on being out of the country during your first two years of residency, while Colombia has no such restrictions. 

The cultural scene in Medellin is remarkably similar to that in Cuenca. This is surprising because Cuenca has around 600,000 people in its metro area, while Medellin has about 4 million. In both cities, you can enjoy orchestra, theater, art openings, museums, and a generally sophisticated cultural scene. You'll pay a fee for most of these in Medellin, while in Cuenca they're usually free. 

The infrastructure is good in both cities. You'll enjoy drinkable water, reliable broadband Internet, and dependable electricity, water, and phone service. 

Also, both cities are very walkable, and both have excellent and cheap public transit systems. If you decide to drive, you'll find traffic jams equally maddening in both cities. 

Real estate costs are cheap in both cities by Latin American standards. I prepared a survey recently that compared costs in Medellin, Montevideo (Uruguay), Fortaleza (Brazil), and Panama City. For comparable properties and areas, prices in Medellin's El Poblado are the lowest on a per-square-meter basis.

But Cuenca's prices are lower. 

A nice, two-bedroom apartment in Cuenca might cost around US$80,000...while that same apartment in a comparable neighborhood of Medellin would cost more than US$120,000. You can find Cuenca-style pricing in Medellin but not in the best neighborhoods. 

For the lifestyle you'll enjoy in Medellin, the real estate is a tremendous bargain. And the same is true in Cuenca; for the lifestyle it offers, it, too, is a tremendous bargain.

But the lifestyle in one is nothing like the lifestyle in the other, which brings us to the ways these cities differ. (As Medellin is such a large and diverse city, I'll focus on its El Poblado neighborhood for my comparisons.)

Medellin's El Poblado offers a modern, upscale ambiance. It has elegant shopping, spotless infrastructure, glistening new buildings, and more fine-dining that you can imagine. New luxury brick high-rises look down from lush, wooded hillsides. Tall trees line the well-maintained streets. And El Poblado is only one of many desirable areas in this city.

On the other hand, Cuenca is one of the Americas' premier Spanish-colonial cities and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The old cathedral was built in 1557, the historic architecture is well preserved, and the streets are cobblestoned. You'll even see evidence of the Inca occupation from the early 1500s. Yet just outside the historic center, Cuenca also offers new, modern high-rises. So you could live in a modern home, yet have the historic center within walking distance. 

El Poblado is a First World environment; you'll be hard-pressed to find a U.S. city that can beat it. Cuenca is part of a developing country with some Third World characteristics like poor sidewalk and building maintenance. 

Access to the States is easier from Medellin than from Cuenca. Medellin has daily nonstops to Miami, while you'll need to connect (and possibly spend the night) in Guayaquil or Quito when traveling to and from Cuenca. This adds a day to the trip, as well as the cost of lodging and taxis. 

The expat community is far smaller in Medellin than in Cuenca. I can find expats in Medellin—at a local coffee shop or the Irish pub—if I look for them, and a couple of Americans are signed up at my gym. Otherwise, I don't see them around.

In Cuenca, the expat community is big, estimated between 4,000 and 5,000 people. These folks are making a cultural imprint on the city. I'd say that impact is positive. Since the infusion of North Americans to this city, there's been an explosion in the number of nice cafes, restaurants, and book shops, as well as other expat-owned services and businesses. Today in Cuenca, you can find most anything you might be looking for and, normally, an English-speaker to deal with in the process.

But whether an expat community of that size is a positive or a negative for you is a matter of choice. 

The cost of living is higher in El Poblado than in Cuenca, due in part to the exchange rates. Ecuador uses the U.S. dollar, so dollar-holders don't feel the pinch of a weakening currency. Colombia has a strengthening Colombian peso. 

The basics in Medellin (food, entertainment, utilities, public transit, taxes, and HOA fees) cost me about US$1,850 per month. I believe in Cuenca the total cost would be about US$1,250 for the same lifestyle. Many people live for less than that in Cuenca, but I'm using an apples-to-apples comparison from my own experience.

Bottom line, neither city is expensive, but Cuenca is definitely less expensive than Medellin. 

Which is the better retire-overseas choice?

Impossible to say. Manhattan is not inherently better or worse than New Orleans, after all...but it's a lot different. And the same goes for Medellin and Cuenca.

I see Ecuador as a cultural adventure where life is as different as you can get from the United States or Canada, short of moving to Asia. When I retired to Cuenca at age 49, I shunned places like Medellin, Chile, and Uruguay, because they were too much like the States. I wanted something as different, enriching, and exciting as I could get, and Cuenca fit the bill. 

Today, I think of Medellin as a way to reward myself. It's a treat to be here. Medellin is a way to enjoy perfect weather and an elegant lifestyle that I couldn't afford in the United States. When I bought my place in Medellin 10 years after I'd left the States, at the age of 59, it was exactly what I was looking for at that stage. I wanted an elegant, luxury lifestyle at an affordable price, and Medellin fit the bill. 

And that's the real reason that Medellin is now my "ideal retirement spot"...when it used to be Cuenca. 

You've heard a dozen times that the "perfect retirement location" is different for everyone. But there's more to it than that. 

Your "perfect spot" can also change with your taste, your age, and your experience living abroad. And that's really part of the fun.

This living overseas thing is an adventure and a journey of discovery that need never stop.

Lee Harrison

P.S. Could Cuenca, Ecuador, be your dream retirement destination? The only way to find out is to come see for yourself. We're preparing for the launch of our September Live and Invest in Ecuador Conference. Put your name on the list for VIP attendee perks and discounts here.

 

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May 26, 2014

"Kathleen, excellent piece on the elections under way in Colombia. Having lived in Colombia in various cities as a Peace Corps volunteer and staff...married a beautiful Colombian and our son was born there...Colombia is my "patria chica" (homeland), as they say. Please let me know if I can be of any assistance in this beautiful country with the best Spanish spoken in the interior...the best in Latin America!"

--Bob A., Colombia

No presidential candidate received the required 50% or more of the vote in yesterday's elections in Colombia, meaning the two candidates who received the most votes (Zuluaga and Santos) will now compete in a runoff election to take place June 15. We'll keep you posted.

***
"Kathleen, just want to thank you for all the information that I didn't even know I needed. However, my brain is so full that I shall indeed rely on theaudio of the conference you've promised to send. Mainly to convince our children that we have not lost our minds!"

--Denise C.., United States, attendee at last week's Live and Invest in Colombia Conference

 

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May 21, 2014

"Kathleen, really enjoyed your writing 'Confessions Of A Developing-World Developer' and applaud both you and Lief for having the vision to develop Los Islotes.

"We purchased property there sight-unseen last year, and I visited with the group in January. During that visit, not only was I taken by the beauty of the area but connected with several other land owners. We have kept in touch, and I enjoy hearing of their plans and progress as we exchange emails and phone calls.

"You spoke of the community you envision. I want to tell you that community is already happening as we land owners share our dreams and progress with each other.

"We will be back out in January next year and hopefully have our timeline in place so we can begin a new phase in our life within Los Islotes.

"Post more pictures as they are available so we can see all the exciting progress!"

--Amy T., United States

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--Lief Simon, Medellin investor

"Colombia is enjoying record-level foreign direct investment and steady economic growth year on year. Inflation is among the lowest in Latin America. Six of the best universities in the region are here and five of the best hospitals..."

--Daniel Gutierrez, Colombian attorney

"My worst day in 8 years in Medellin has been better than my best day in 14 years living in Naples, Florida—and Naples is a pretty nice place..."

--Rich Holman, Medellin expat and businessman

"This isn't some backwater basket case struggling to recover from its most recent crisis. This is a country with a strong, solid economy that is getting steadily stronger. Current growth rate is 5%, and growth rates are projected to average better than 4% per year through 2018 at least. Further, Colombia enjoys an energy surplus. This country is not energy-dependent on anyone..."

--Lee Harrison, Medellin expat and investor

"Pablo's dead. Go back, tell your people..."

--Rich Holman, Medellin expat and businessman

"The property purchase process in Colombia is transparent and secure. The cost of buying is about 1% of the purchase price. This is among the lowest in the world..."

--Lee Harrison, Medellin expat and investor

"Colombia offers a number of good visa options. Currently you need US$972 per month to qualify for a pensioner visa. And you can receive your visa in three days once you have all your documents in order..."

--Juan Dario Gutierrez, Colombian attorney

"Congratulations on taking the bold step to come here. I firmly believe you will be very happy you ignored all the friends and family who told you you were crazy to travel to Colombia. You're going to be awfully glad you mustered the courage and opened your mind to give this place a chance..."

--Rich Holman, Medellin expat and businessman

Kathleen Peddicord

Editor's Note: If you're not in Medellin with us for this week's Live and Invest in Colombia event, you are missed...

And, frankly, you are missing out. Colombia is emerging as one of the world's top retirement and investment havens. Medellin, especially, offers a perfect-storm opportunity right now to reinvent your life, rescue your retirement, and diversify your portfolio into one of the world's most promising marketplaces.

"This experience so far exceeds my expectations," one attendee at this week's conference told me yesterday, "that I'm just shaking my head. This city...this conference...this is all really something special..."

We're getting the whole thing on tape. The collection of audio recordings will be bundled to create our all-new Live & Invest in Colombia Home Conference Kit. You can reserve your copy of this Total Colombia Package now, taking advantage of a better than 50% pre-release discount.

Do that here.

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This is one of my favorite neighborhoods in this city. Laureles offers tree-lined streets in a sector crisscrossed by also shady boulevards. Along these thoroughfares are cafes, restaurants, services, and shops, plus two attractive, wooded parks where you can relax and watch the rest of Medellín go by.

The layout of Laureles is unusual compared with the rest of this city and compared with the rest of Spanish America, too. Instead of the typical street grid of north-south and east-west surface roads, most of Laureles' streets are laid out as two sets of concentric circles and spokes, one centered on Segundo Parque Laureles and the other on the university. To complicate your orientation further, the main thoroughfare (Avenida Nutibara) runs diagonally through the zone.

One of the big selling points for Laureles is that both the cost of living and of real estate are noticeably lower here than in the heart of the city; however, this is not a downscale neighborhood. Residents of Laureles have the second-highest income level in Medellín after El Poblado.

I believe Laureles offers a few other advantages over El Poblado, as well.

First, it's relatively level. In El Poblado, you're on a mountainside, and east-west travel means a good workout. In Laureles, you can walk all around the zone without having to climb any hills.

Second, Laureles does not have El Poblado's commercial culture. While El Poblado's Golden Mile is a major center for business and finance, Laureles is mostly residential, with only small local businesses. While you'll find everything you need to live day-to-day, Laureles manages to retain a nice “neighborhood” feel.

Third, won't see many tourists in this zone. Virtually everyone who visits Medellín from around the world has El Poblado at the top of his must-see list. Few tourists have ever heard of Laureles. Most of the people you see in Laureles live in Laureles.

Like El Poblado—and all of Medellín—Laureles enjoys what many of us consider to be the world's best weather. Average high temperatures are in the high 70s, with lows in the low 60s, all year.

The fourth advantage I see to basing yourself in Laureles is that you won't need a car. The neighborhood is 100% walkable.

In addition, it's not only property prices that are lower in Laureles than in El Poblado, it's also taxes and utility rates (which vary by neighborhood).

On the market right now, to give you an example of how affordable the Laureles property market can be, is a two-story 104-square-meter apartment (that's about 1,120 square feet), including three bedrooms, three baths, and one garage space. The generous balcony has nice 10th-floor city and valley views. This apartment is modern and convenient to shopping and restaurants. The asking price is 295 million pesos, which is about US$144,000 at today's exchange rates. That's US$1,385 per square meter.

Another comfortable apartment currently on the market has city views from its balcony, living room, and bedrooms. This apartment is 92 square meters (990 square feet) with three bedrooms, two baths, and one garage space and is close to restaurants, shopping, churches, and the university. They're asking a negotiable 192,000,000 pesos (about US$94,000), which is just slightly more than US$1,000 per square meter.

One more example: A fifth-floor apartment has nice tree-top views and is walkable to everything. The nicely finished kitchen has tropical hardwood cabinets and granite counters. The living space is 137 square meters (1,500 square feet), including three bedrooms, three baths, and one garage spot. Priced at 235,000,000 pesos (US$115,000), this one comes in at just US$839 per square meter, which is definitely bargain-basement territory.

The only disadvantage I can think of for Laureles is that it wouldn't be the best choice for investing in a rental property. There's a market for rentals, but your occupancy rates likely would be higher near Parque Lleras and the Golden Mile in El Poblado.

Otherwise, Laureles is a premier option in Medellín, certainly if your budget is small. With its tree-lined streets, green parks, restaurants, cafes, and genuinely laid-back, neighborly feel, Laureles is hard to beat as a lifestyle choice.

Lee Harrison

P.S. I'll tell you more about your top lifestyle and investment options in Medellin and elsewhere in Colombia when I meet you at our Live and Invest in Colombia Conference taking place May 19-21. As of this writing, 2 VIP places remain available for this, the only Colombia event on our calendar for 2014.

More details are here. Or you can reach our Conference Department by phone toll-free from the United States at 1-888-546-5169.

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  • Founder’s Lodge Groundbreaking At Los Islotes, Azuero Peninsula, Panama
  • How To Choose Among Your Health Insurance Options When Retiring Overseas

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Kathleen Peddicord

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.

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