Articles Related to Retire to medellin

After breakfast, Lief changed some light bulbs, put new batteries in the kitchen clock, and tightened the screws in the loose electrical socket in our bedroom.

"Hmmm... I may need a nap after all this exertion," he remarked in passing.

For my part, I was already installed on the sofa. I'd read the local paper and was now surfing around Netflix hoping something would catch my interest.

"We were thinking of walking to the mall to see a movie this afternoon," I said to Lief when he passed through the living room again. "Would you mind if, instead, we stayed in and watched a move on television? I'd be very happy to spend the entire day here in the apartment."

"Fine with me," Lief replied. "I agree. It's awfully pleasant here..."

We're not ready for retirement, but we're at the start of the transition to that phase. This past weekend, we took the Medellín piece of our retirement plan for a test drive.

Our ideal retirement is about moving around among very different places—big city, mountain hideaway, Pacific beachfront, etc. It's also about mixing business with pleasure. In each place where we plan to hang our hats during our troisième age, we've worked to establish not only home bases of our own, but also communities of friends and colleagues who share our interests and with whom we can continue to explore new ideas and to develop new opportunities as long... well, as long as our limbs and minds hold out.

We're still all out right now building our Panama City-based business. We'd love to hop the 50-minute flight from Panama City to Medellín more often but can't justify the indulgence more than now and then. The impetus for this trip was the down Colombian peso. The current peso/dollar exchange rate makes Colombia more affordable for dollar-holders than it's been in five years. As we remain bullish on this market short-, mid-, and long-term, this window of currency opportunity was too interesting to ignore. How else could we and should we be taking a position in this country, we wondered... and then we got on a plane to come find out.

We met Friday with our top resource in Medellín, attorney Juan Dario Gutierrez.

"The economy is booming," Juan Dario replied when I asked for his take on the current state of affairs in his country.

"You must have noticed all the new development taking place in the areas you drive through from the airport to the city?" he asked.

Yes, we had. The Medellín International Airport is about 45 minutes outside Medellín. To get from the airport to the city, you drive down the side of a mountain through expansive green fields, pastures, and forests. Each time I make the drive I'm reminded of Ireland. This part of Colombia is green the way Ireland is green and pastoral.

This trip, though, I noticed that these wide-open green spaces are punctuated now by signs indicating development under way, along with sales offices and heavy equipment already at work in some cases. A series of private communities is being established along this corridor.

"The four or five new developments that have gotten permits and broken ground along that route are all strata 6," Juan Dario continued. "That is, they're very high end. And they're selling. I visited the developments with sales offices on site, posing as a potential buyer, just to see for myself what was going on. When I inquired about availability, the agents showed me maps indicating that most or nearly all lots had already been sold. I could choose from among a handful of leftovers. They didn't put it that way, but that was the idea.

"The middle class across the country in general and in Medellín in particular is expanding quickly, as are many industries," Juan Dario continued to explain. "At the same time, foreign investment is increasing. We were so isolated for so long. The world was afraid of Colombia. For decades, nobody invested. Now that is changing. Indeed, I'd say it has changed. Foreign investors from around the world but especially from across Latin America are paying attention. They're liking what they're seeing, and they're taking positions. It's as though a lot of pent-up sideline interest is finally taking action.

"A client asked me recently if I thought Medellín is a bubble market," Juan Dario said. "The question took me by surprise. I really had to think about it.

"Medellín has been growing very fast for the past six or seven years..."

"For sure," I interjected. "We're in the city every six months or so, and each time we return we see more apartment complexes under construction, new shopping malls, new health clinics, and new office buildings. Perhaps more telling, we've noticed that these places are all filled and busy not long after they're in place. Medellín's has all the signs of a healthy, active economy."

"Right," Juan Dario said. "Definitely, we're enjoying a very healthy, active economy. Is it a bubble? I don't think so for one important reason. Colombian banks are ultra-conservative. Foreigners can't borrow, period. It's just not possible. I wish that weren't the case, but it is.

"And Colombians can borrow only up to 70%. Usually, the best home loan a Colombian can get is for 50% of the purchase price. And borrowed money isn't cheap. Banks finance real estate purchases at 7% to 10%. A Colombian will pay interest of up to 20% for the privilege of borrowing from a Colombian bank for any purpose other than the purchase of real estate... again, if he can find a Colombian bank willing to lend to him.

"It's hard to describe an almost all-cash market as a bubble," continued Juan Dario. "What we've got here is legitimate economic growth that I believe is going to continue for some time to come."

The next morning, Saturday, we walked from our apartment in El Poblado to Envigado for a lunch meeting with two other Medellín friends. Rich Holman and Joe Greco are American expats and entrepreneurs who've been running their real estate business in Medellín for eight years. Over a couple of cold bottles of Prosecco, the four of us revisited the question I'd put to Juan Dario:

What's the current state of this market?

"Property prices have appreciated in Medellín 5% to 7% per year for the past seven years," Rich began. "That's solid, steady appreciation.

"Meantime, the U.S. dollar has surged against the Colombian peso. The dollar is worth 35% more today than it was five years ago. In other words, the dollar buyer can invest in this market today at prices from five years ago."

Real estate is a big opportunity in this part of the world right now but not the only opportunity. Lief and I met with other contacts regarding financial investments (that we're acting on) and agricultural plays (which we're researching).

We'll have updates and details in time for this year's Live and Invest in Colombia Conference, taking place in lovely Medellín May 11–13.

Kathleen Peddicord

Continue Reading: Filing U.S. Taxes As A Non-resident American In 2015

Read more...
 

I make the point to provide context for the recommendation I'd like to offer now, which may seem like the craziest one of all.

About six years ago I finally took the advice of friends who had been nagging me for a long while to go see for myself a city they knew well, a city they described as pretty and pleasant, sophisticated and chic, welcoming and affordable...a city that was, most of all, they assured me, nothing like what I was probably expecting.

I knew within hours of arriving in Medellin, Colombia, that everything my friends had said was true. Medellin, I became convinced very quickly, was on track to become one of the world's most sought-after destinations, for both retiring and investing.

Specifically, Medellin offers:
  • Pleasant weather, meaning you can leave your windows open to the breeze and dine al fresco year-round...
  • World-class health care, including 5 of the top 35 hospitals in Latin America...
  • A rich cultural scene, with theater, orchestra, art galleries, and festivals that draw crowds from around the world...
  • An affordable cost of living...
  • Real-world infrastructure...living here you don't want for anything...
  • Property costs that are a bargain on a global scale; it's possible to buy at the best addresses in the city for as little as US$1,000 per square meter...
  • Investment upside, both in the form of rental yields and potential capital appreciation...
The best case when going overseas is when you can identify a place that is appealing both as a lifestyle choice and as an investment market. That's the case in Medellin.

During one of my first visits to this city a half-dozen years ago, I sat at a table in a newly opened restaurant. I was with a group of investors and businesspeople who, like me, had come to explore investment potential. The conversation went like this...

"Property values in this city are so undervalued," one of the gentlemen having dinner with us remarked (a real estate professional). "I believe that apartment costs here are the lowest for any cosmopolitan city in the world on a per-square-meter basis.

"This is because Colombia, especially Medellin, is still misunderstood. When you say ‘Medellin' to the average American, he thinks: drugs... gangs...Pablo Escobar...

"It's such a misperception. The current reality of this city is so far removed from all that. But luckily for us, that outdated stereotype is keeping prices down."

It was déjà vu...

I'd heard the same case, made by another group of investors, around a similar table, in Boquete, Panama, back in 1999...10 years before the AARP ranked that mountain town as one of the world's top five retirement destinations.

So I know how this scene plays out.

Three types of people should be paying attention to Colombia right now:

  • The investor: Prices are an absolute, global bargain. Costs of getting in are low, and demand is growing at an accelerating rate. Right now in Medellin, you could buy almost anything and feel confident that you could make money. Rental yields are running from 8% to 14% on good properties...
  • The retiree: This City of Flowers and Eternal Spring is going to become a top destination among North American retirees...mark my words...
  • The second-home buyer: More and more, I'm seeing people who are spending their summers in the United States or Europe but skipping out on the ice and snow by wintering in places where they can leave their windows open day and night, all year. These folks are bypassing the old-school snowbird haunts like Arizona and Florida and opting instead for the romance, the excitement, the adventure, and the affordable high-end lifestyle on offer in cities like Medellin.
We don't always have the vision to jump when opportunity presents itself. Imagine if you had bought in Costa Rica in the mid-1980s...on Ambergris Caye, Belize, later in that decade...or in Panama City 15 years ago...

I recognized the opportunities in all these places at precisely those points in time, and I urged readers and friends to take advantage.

I see that same potential again right now, in Medellin.

The best way to appreciate the opportunity on offer in Medellin (or anywhere) is to come see for yourself. This, of course, is the big idea behind the country conferences that we sponsor each year. This week our team is in Belize, introducing all in attendance to opportunities for living, retiring, investing, and owning property in that beautiful little English-speaking country. Later this year, we'll be hosting similar events in other of our favorite havens, including Panama, the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua...and, yes, Colombia.

In fact, we intend to open registration for our 2015 Live and Invest in Colombia Conference within the next two weeks. This week, therefore, is your chance to get your name on the First Alert list for special discounts and VIP attendee status.

You can do that here now.

Could Medellin be the retirement or investment haven you seek? The best place in the world right now for you to think about reinventing and relaunching your life or diversifying your investment portfolio?

I don't know. And right now neither do you. I urge you, though, to make this the year you find out.

Meet me and my team in Medellin...or one of the other world's top retirement, lifestyle, and investment havens where we'll be convening live events this New Year...so we can continue this conversation in person and help you conceive your own retire-overseas plan.

I look forward to it.

Kathleen Peddicord

Continue Reading: Two Options For Establishing Residency In Belize

Read more...
 

#2 Cuenca, Ecuador

If you're looking for the world's best place to retire overseas on a budget and live better for less, Cuenca, Ecuador, will be hard to beat. This is a beautiful colonial city in a fascinating and diverse country. The historic center measures roughly 12 by 20 blocks, big enough to be interesting but contained enough to be manageable without having to invest in owning a car.

Many of the Spanish-colonial structures that line the streets of central Cuenca are given over today to cafes, restaurants, bars, and bookshops, operating alongside the traditional butchers, tailors, repair shops, and bakeries. At the heart of the city is the town square, anchored by the original cathedral at one end (dating to 1557) and the "new" cathedral at the other (dating to the 1800s).

Perhaps the biggest appeal of Cuenca is its cost of living, which is among the lowest in the Americas. Real estate prices, too, are rock bottom, if you're interested in owning a home of your own in retirement. The health care is high quality, honest, and, like everything else here, inexpensive. The climate is temperate 12 months a year, and the city's large and growing expat community is one of the most diverse and well-blended in the world.

#3 George Town, Malaysia

The Malaysian island of Penang, recognized as both the Pearl of the Orient and the Garden of the East, offers retirees one of the best overseas living opportunities in the world and stands out as a top retirement choice in Asia. Retired here, you could while away the hours exploring George Town, Penang's colorful and lively state capital, kick back on the beach, explore the mountains and waterfalls, shop ‘til you drop, and eat out every meal if you wanted. The cuisine is so diverse you'll never tire of it and so affordable you can indulge without worry even if your retirement budget is modest.

George Town's population is about 750,000, small enough that it's easy to make friends and meet your neighbors, yet large enough to support the infrastructure and services of a real city. The center of historic George Town is a maze of 19th-century streets. Even beyond its UNESCO heart, this city is a cornucopia of Chinese shop houses, pagodas, temples, clan-houses, churches, mosques, British colonial buildings, and landscaped parks.

Malaysia offers sophisticated, international-standard health care at an affordable cost and is one of the world's top five destinations for medical tourism. Many private hospitals are internationally accredited.

The Malaysian government actively encourages immigration and welcomes foreign retirees. There is no pressing need for you to learn a second language in Malaysia and even less so in George Town. This is an international destination, and nearly everyone you come in contact with will speak and understand English.

A couple could retire comfortably in George Town on US$1,500 per month.

#4 Northern Belize

Northern Belize is a remote region of tropical rivers, hardwood forests, traditional farms, sleepy rural villages, and breezy Caribbean seashores. This is a refreshingly off-the-radar place where residents embrace a simple, friendly, by-the-sea lifestyle.

It is also the best value destination in Belize and one of the most affordable options for retirement in the Caribbean.

Northern Belize is an area of about 2,500 square miles and the point where the Caribbean and Central America meet. As that geographic juxtaposition suggests, the population is diverse, and it is becoming more so as North American retirees are beginning to recognize what this overlooked part of Belize has to offer and settling here in growing numbers.

Northern Belize's remoteness is part of its appeal, but remote living has its disadvantages, especially in retirement. This is why the proximity of this part of Belize to Chetumal, Mexico, just across the border, is so important. The town of Corozal in Northern Belize is a gateway town to Chetumal and from there to Merida and Cancun beyond. In Northern Belize, you could enjoy a bargain Caribbean lifestyle with easy access to shopping, city distractions, and, very important, medical care in Chetumal.

Belizeans are known for their hospitality. Plus, they all speak English, so new friendships are quickly and easily made. Corozal is home to an established and growing expat community, but this group is well integrated with the local Belizean community. Living here, how would you fill your days? Sailing around Sarteneja, horseback riding at Chan Chich, kayaking at Orchid Bay, fishing at Bacalar Chico, or bird watching at Crooked Tree Lodge, and you wouldn't ever lack for company, Belizean or expat, if you wanted it.

#5 Dumaguete, Philippines

Located along a sheltered coast on the island of Negros, Dumaguete is protected against most of the typhoons that periodically batter many of the Philippines' 7,107 islands. The weather is tropical and balmy, rarely too hot but occasionally cool enough to wear a sweater in the evening. Dumaguete offers excellent medical care, too, care that has been getting even better since the city was named one of the five top retirement destinations in the Philippines.

The Philippines offers one of the best residency programs in the world, helping to explain why more than 5,000 foreigners have chosen to retire here. The financial requirements to qualify are low, and the benefits are globally competitive, including duty-free importation of household belongings and the ability to own a business, work, or go to school.

You can get by comfortably in this part of the world as an English speaker. When Dumagueteños talk to you, they'll speak in English.

The biggest advantage for the retiree in Dumaguete is the cost of living. A couple could retire comfortably here on less than US$1,000 per month.

#6 Pau, France

No border marks the entry to the Basque region, but you'll know when you've entered this part of France. The most obvious change is the architecture. Every house is painted white with accents of Basque red. You buy the paint at any Home Depot-type store; the can will be labeled "Basque Red." In this part of the world, there's just one red. This collective approach to home decor has the effect of making everything appear pristine and cared for. The Basque people also have their own language, music, dance, sport, cuisine (one of the best in France), myths, flag, and even alphabet typeface.

France's Basque region is made up of seven provinces that sit astride the French-Spanish Atlantic border. The geography is intense, bringing to mind a young child's drawing of the countryside where every type of geographic feature is squeezed onto one sheet of paper. Small steep valleys, rolling hills, towering mountains, meandering rivers, a wild coastline, forests and woodland, all crammed into about 31,000 square feet and all gloriously green and lush.

The water in many parts of the bay is shallow, giving rise to spectacular surf. This coastline, specifically Biarritz, was the birthplace of French surfing in the late 1950s.

France is recognized by the World Health Organization as having the world's best healthcare.

The retiree who has dreamt of France but who can't afford Paris should consider Pau. A couple could retire here on as little as US$2,000 per month.

#7 Medellin, Colombia

Medellin is a city of parks and flowers, pretty, tidy, and, despite its checkered past, safe. It's also architecturally consistent and pleasing. Most every building is constructed of red brick and topped with red clay roof tiles. The overall effect is delightful.

Medellin is both an industrial, economic, and financial center for this country and a literary and artistic one. Newspapers, radio networks, publishing houses, an annual poetry festival, an international jazz festival, an international tango festival, an annual book fair, and, back in 1971, Colombia's answer to Woodstock, the Festival de Ancon, all have chosen Medellin as their base.

Thanks to its mountain setting, Medellin is another of a handful of cities around the world that bills themselves as lands of eternal springtime. The cost of living is affordable, though not super-cheap. The medical care is excellent, with 5 of the 35 best hospitals in Latin America located here.

The European undertones in Medellin are strong, from the way the women dress to the way people greet you in passing on the street. This is South America, not Central America, and the differences between the two regions can be striking.

Medellin was named 2013's World's Most Innovative City and is finally beginning to shed its bad-boy image from Pablo Escobar days and to become appreciated for the romantic city it is, with good wines, great coffee, outdoor cafes, and open-air music venues. It's a top choice for chic but affordable city living in retirement. A couple could retire here on as little as US$1,600 per month.

#8 Abruzzo, Italy

It's hard to think of a lovelier corner of Italy than the Abruzzo. The beaches are golden, and the sea rolls out like a giant bolt of turquoise silk. There are mountains, too, meaning that, living here, you'd have both skiing and beach-combing on your doorstep, depending on the season.

This region is one of Italy's secret treasures. No over-crowding, no heavy industry, only castles, vineyards, and villages made of stone. Life in the Abruzzo hasn't changed much over the years, and exploring here is like wandering into a gentler, kinder yesterday, a time with little or no crime and neighbors who watch out for one another.

Old ladies in pinafores bring their chairs outside and sit in gossipy groups, stringing onions into plaits. Instead of playing computer games, young boys are outside playing soccer. Families shop at open-air markets, not hypermarkets, and if they don't produce their own wine, they buy it from local vineyards.

Relatively unknown to foreign visitors, the sparsely populated Abruzzo is where central Italy merges into the languid realms of the deep south. Even though many parts of the area are only an hour's drive from Rome, it clings onto its secret feel.

The main town in the region, Pescara, has one of the best city beaches in Europe and not far away is some of the best skiing outside of the Alps. In spring, it's possible to combine a morning on the Apennine ski slopes with an afternoon at the beach.

Food is important in the Abruzzo, as it is everywhere in Italy. In most trattorie, everything is home-cooked and just like nonna (grandmother) used to make. In fact, sometimes, nonna still makes it. On the coast, dishes feature fish; inland, the cuisine becomes heartier, based on roast kid, baby lamb, and wild boar.

This delightful and culturally rich region of Italy is also one of Europe's best bargains. A couple could retire here on as little as US$2,000 per month or less, including rent.

#9 Pedasi, Panama

Panama's Azuero Peninsula is home to more traditional Panamanian culture and folklore than any other region in the country. The east coast of the peninsula is dotted with quaint villages steeped in history, folklore, and tradition. Queen among them is Pedasi, a town with a village atmosphere where you feel like an active stakeholder in a thriving community.

This gulf coast of Azuero, known as the Arco Seco (Dry Arch) offers some of Panama's best weather. A constant breeze helps to reduce the humidity that can be overwhelming elsewhere in this country.

The waters offshore from Pedasi's "Tuna Coast" provide for some of the world's best big game fishing, and this coast is also one of the best places in the world to see the annual migration of the humpback whale.

Pedasi is the kind of small town where the locals sit outside in oversized wooden rocking chairs and leave their doors open to the street. The old men wear traditional leather sandals and black and white straw hats. Women of all ages wear white pollera dresses during festivals and the annual Carnival celebration.

This is a tidy and charming village with a rural feel and relaxed lifestyle that is beginning to attract attention among North American retirees. Pedasi is today's best beach retirement choice in Panama, the country that continues to stand out overall as perhaps the most foreign retiree-friendly in the world.

#10 Istanbul, Turkey

Megacity Istanbul straddles the shores of both Europe and Asia and is the only city to have been a capital to both Christian and Muslim empires, as evidenced, inside its great Roman walls, by an architectural legacy like nothing else anywhere on earth. Though not the country's capital, Istanbul is Turkey's beating heart, offering the best of any European capital city, from lattes to the latest Hollywood releases in English, but with an edge and an energy that can be lacking in Continental Europe. Istanbul is a place to watch the world go by beneath a skyline of minarets and modern office blocks while ships from across the globe pass up and down the Bosphorus.

Istanbul is a city made for walking. Not only the oldest parts but every region of this city, both Euro and Anatolian, invites you to take off on two feet to explore it up close. When you do, you discover book stores and art galleries, antique shops and boutiques of all descriptions, on and on as far as your curiosity and legs will carry you.

Istanbul is known as the Paris of the East, but it might be fairer to think of Paris as the Istanbul of the West. These two cities have so much in common today. However, Istanbul settled some few hundred years earlier than Paris and developed much quicker, growing to become grand and prosperous when Paris was still swampland.

The best part is that this world-class city is also exceedingly affordable, perhaps the best place in the world to enjoy the best of city living on a budget. A couple could retire here on a budget of as little as US$1,100 per month.

Kathleen Peddicord

P.S. My far-flung team of international experts and I have identified and ranked the world’s 21 top retirement destinations in our Live and Invest Overseas Annual Retire Overseas Index. Part science, part art, our Retire Overseas Index is the best way to introduce yourself to the exciting but tricky world of overseas retirement. And, as an Overseas Retirement Letter subscriber, you get free and immediate access to this report. Go here now for more information.

Read more...
 



An added bonus of the Languedoc region is that it's just three hours' drive to my joint-favorite European city, Barcelona!

Lief Simon: Medellin and Buenos Aires

I prefer cities over more rural areas. Two of the best cities in Latin America to spend time in, whether it's full- or part-time living, are Medellin, Colombia, and Buenos Aires, Argentina.

In Medellin, the weather is pleasant year-round—though some would argue that it isn't "spring-like" weather as it's generally referenced to be. Temperatures regularly break 80 degrees. Having grown up in Arizona, that's like winter weather for me. In other words, it's all relative.

It's pleasant enough to walk around Medellin, which is important to me, though I wouldn't call this a walking city.

Medellin has First World infrastructure and amenities (also important to me), and museums, festivals, gardens, and parks all add to the variety of activities available in this city of about 3.5 million people. And, to make the point, despite its history, Medellin is fairly calm these days unless you wander into the gang neighborhoods.

Bigger and livelier is Buenos Aires, which also has four seasons. I like change and contrast, so I like this part of the world a lot. Argentina rides an economic roller coaster that cycles harder and faster than economic cycles in any other country I could name, thanks to general and gross mismanagement by the government.

Argentina is right now close to another breaking point. I'm watching for the coming next crisis, which will be another good time to be considering an investment here.

From a lifestyle point of view, Buenos Aries offers all the activities that Medellin does and more. It's a city of about 15 million people (around one-third of the total population of the country). It has a tremendous variety and diversity of restaurants, shopping, museums, and parks and does qualify as a walking city—though it's too big to walk across in one go. For me, Buenos Aries' core neighborhoods of Recoleta and Retiro offer an ideal way of life.

Just be prepared for big ups and downs and lots of drama. For me that's all a big part of the charm of this place.

Kathleen Peddicord

P.S. The countdown is on. You have three days remaining to register for this year's Retire Overseas Conference in Nashville next month taking advantage of the Early Bird Discount.

More details here.

Continue reading:

Read more...
 


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.

 

Continue reading:

Read more...
 
Start
Prev
1
Powered by Tags for Joomla
Enter Your E-Mail:

Readers Say

"This was a 10! Great event. Awesome job by the Live and Invest Overseas team!"

Edward T., United States

Search

"Just great. Very welcoming and supplied answers to all questions very well. I'll see you again soon."

Charles M., United States

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.

SIGN UP TO OUR FREE E-LETTER

Sign up for Overseas Opportunity Letter

Receive our editor's latest research reports...absolutely FREE!

letters The Best Places For Living And
Investing in the World for 2015