Bright and early this past Wednesday morning, a group of adventurous, open-minded people convened in the San Fernando Plaza, on the Golden Mile of Medellín’s upscale El Poblado neighborhood.
These folks had traveled to Medellín from cities, states, and, indeed, countries across the world to see for themselves what Colombia has to offer.
Many shared stories about the reactions they’d received from friends and family when they’d disclosed that they were traveling to Colombia. To put it politely, most of their loved ones’ comments were not positive.
One gentleman told me that his aunt took out an insurance policy on his life before the event, in case he didn’t come back.
“If my aunt could only see this place… she has no idea how amazing it really is,” he told me with a big smile.
This year’s Live and Invest in Colombia Conference was kicked off by Lee Harrison, emcee, seasoned expat, and real estate guru. Lee provided us with an overview of Colombia, from its beachside villages to its UNESCO World Heritage sites and from its big cities to its small colonial towns.
This is an incredibly diverse place.
Some were in the room with us because they are interested in living in Colombia full-time. Our next speaker outlined details of Colombia’s numerous residency visa options. Attorney Juan Darío Gutierrez answered the crowd’s questions about the best ways to stay in Colombia for more than the time granted by a tourist visa.
By the way, you are allowed to remain in Colombia with only a tourist stamp in your passport for 90 days, and another 90 day extension is easy to obtain. If you want to stick around longer, the process to become a legal Colombian resident is easy and quick.
After you have been a legal resident for five years, you can apply for Colombian citizenship.
From residency, we moved on to real estate…
Current active investors in Bogotá, Medellín, and Cartagena introduced us to opportunities in those cities, both for investment and personal use.
Everyone in the room was concerned about the quality of medical care and the related costs they could expect in Colombia. Dr. Luis Botero put our minds at ease by describing the high standard of care, medical training, and personal touch you can expect when you need medical assistance.
Then my husband Darren and I shared our story.
I talked about how hard it was for me to sell our home and personal belongings before we moved. At the lunch break a gentleman from New Zealand asked me to speak to his wife as she is going through the same process and finding it difficult, as well. I chatted with her that evening at the cocktail party, and I hope I relieved her fears and addressed her concerns.
During a break, I met a lady from Malibu, California, who had recently purchased a home in Belize that she is now in the process of renovating. As we talked, she shook her head and told me that she wished she had come to Medellín before buying in Belize because now she wants to find a way to spend six months in Medellín every year instead of living full-time in Belize.
That was a common theme—the idea of splitting time. Medellín is a great place to live year-round, as Darren and I are doing. But it’s also an ideal part-time choice. The weather is great in Medellín 12 months a year so you can couple it with any other destination.
One of my favorite parts of the conference is the networking… sharing stories and a few laughs. Everyone at every conference has a different story, but we all have things in common. Our sense of adventure and our interest in getting out to explore this great big world bind us all together.
Over lunch on Day 1 of the event, I chatted with a tall man from Texas who was at the conference on a solo scouting mission to gather information to take back to his “Supreme Commander”—aka his wife.
Of course he was joking, but this is another common theme we hear at many conferences. One partner is excited about the possibilities of moving abroad, while the other partner has reservations. I suggested to this gentleman that he bring his wife to Medellín for an extended visit so she can see for herself.
In my experience, you can’t tell someone who hasn’t seen Medellín for him- (or her-) self how appealing this place really is. You have to show them.
Another gentleman approached Darren to say, “It’s been cool, grey, and rainy so far. Is this normal?”
Darren explained that April is one of two rainy months we experience in Medellín each year. In other words, this is the worst weather we have.
“This is the worst weather you see in Medellín each year?” the man replied.
“The worst? Goodbye Minnesota, I have got to get down here!”
Before we left the conference room that afternoon, a young male participant handed a note to my husband. The lucky fellow had “wrangled himself a date for that evening” and was looking for a recommendation for a good white wine he could bring along. With 20 years of experience in the wine and spirits industry, Darren knew right where to send his new friend.
I bonded with an attendee who is an attorney in Alabama. As I was also an attorney in my former life, he was interested in how I have reinvented myself after leaving the practice of law.
I shared my secrets and a few websites with him. It will be interesting to see if he follows my path or gets inspired to take another route to change his future. I hope he stays in touch to let me know.
You never know where your life will lead post a Live and Invest Overseas conference.
From The Scene Of Last Week’s Live And Invest In Colombia Conference