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Retirement In Medellin: The World’s Next Top Living Choice

Top Lifestyle And Investment Haven In All Latin America—You Read It Here First

I was one of the first people in the world to recommend that North Americans consider the idea of retiring to Costa Rica. That was 30 years ago. People told me I was crazy. Why would anyone want to retire to a Third World country when they could retire to Florida or Arizona?

People called me crazy, too, when, a few years later, I started recommending Belize as a place to relocate in retirement. In this case, no kidding, I think I was the first person to make the endorsement. I was first, too, with Roatan, Ecuador, Panama, Nicaragua… and, every time I published one of these new retirement picks, readers, friends, family, business colleagues, and strangers would get in touch to point out that I was speaking nonsense, acting irresponsibly, embarrassing myself.

I won’t belabor the history further. I want to get to my present-day point, which is maybe my craziest—and surest—recommendation of all:

Medellín, Colombia, is the world’s next top retirement haven. This city is also an emerging champion for living at any age, investing, and owning a second home overseas.

Furthermore, the current exchange rate is handing today’s buyers shopping with U.S. dollars a whopping discount off the cost of real estate in this country and off the cost of everything else, too.

In July 2014, the Colombian peso was trading at 1,850 per U.S. dollar. As I write, it’s trading at 2,943 per dollar. That translates to nearly 60% more buying power for U.S. dollar-holders.

A condo that was priced at the Colombian peso equivalent of US$140,000 in July 2014 could now be yours for about US$85,000.

You enjoy similar savings in this country right now for rents, furniture, dining out, groceries, and on and on.

I don’t advocate trying to time currency swings or play exchange rates when making overseas property buys because currencies move in two directions, of course; however, if you have any interest in spending time or money in Colombia, this window of opportunity is too good to miss.

And I strongly suggest that you consider the idea of spending time or money in this country that I’m here to tell you is on track to become one of the world’s most sought-after destinations, for both retiring and investing.

Colombia is a solid, stable democracy on the move. The country is on a strong economic footing, showing impressive growth, boasting a powerful industrial base, and enjoying an energy surplus, thanks to its abundant natural resources. In 2012, Standard and Poor’s, Moody’s, and Fitch all upgraded Colombia to investment grade status, most recently citing “prudent economic policies and increased resiliency to internal and external shocks.” These ratings opened the door to even greater flows of institutional foreign investment.

Meantime, Medellín, Colombia’s premiere city of perpetual springtime, now ranks tops on “best trips” lists published by the likes of The New York Times and National Geographic.

The old Colombia stereotypes are falling away, and this country is beginning to take its place among the world’s hottest destinations, just as, about eight years ago, I began predicting it would.

It isn’t often that such a strong opening presents itself, and it’s even less often that we recognize the opportunity when it’s on the table. Over the past three decades, I’ve been on the ground early, urging readers and friends to get in ahead of the crowd in most every market that has emerged as a top retirement and investment haven. But, to be honest, I haven’t always taken my own advice, and I’ve sometimes missed out. That’s why I’ve moved so fast in Colombia. I didn’t want to take a chance on missing what may be my biggest find of all.

The opportunities in Colombia are not limited to Medellín (though the values in this pretty city of flowers and cafés jump off the page). Medellín is just one destination of several that are attracting North American expats to this country.

The historic walled city of Cartagena, on Colombia’s Caribbean coast, has been drawing expats for years. Cartagena is Colombia’s #1 tourist destination, but it was Colombia’s first major expat haven, too, and it continues to grow in popularity among foreign retirees and investors.

About 140 miles up the coast from Cartagena is Santa Marta, Colombia’s oldest city, offering an amazing array of appealing lifestyles and beautiful beaches, from the newly restored historic center and waterfront to the dancing beat of El Rodadero and from the world-class scuba diving at Taganga to the tranquil beaches of Bello Horizonte.

If you’re interested in cooler climes, head up into the mountains, where you find Medellín but also Popayán, a beautifully maintained small-town colonial gem.

Great beaches, great weather, great health care, great culture… Colombia has it all, and, right now, it’s all available at a more than 30% discount for dollar holders.

How long will this window remain open? Who could say…

Here’s what I can tell you: Colombia is worth your attention. Lief and I are invested here and are investing further, in apartment rentals, in agriculture, and in financial instruments…

We’ve made friends here and invested in a home in El Poblado that will be part of our long-term “retirement” plan.

We visit Colombia, Medellín in particular, as often as we can. We’re connected for the long term and behind this country 100%.

It was in that context that, this past week in downtown Medellín, Lief Simon and Lee Harrison co-hosted our Live and Invest in Colombia Conference, the sixth of its kind and the first to sell out.

If you were among the crowd who joined Lief and Lee for the event, I was sorry not to be able to join you. I regret any missed chance to spend time in Medellín.

Lief, Lee, and others on the scene have worked hard all week to keep me up-to-date and in-the-loop. I’ll share more stories from the scene this coming week.

Kathleen Peddicord

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