Why This Tested Expat Settled For Life In Medellin, Colombia

This City Stands Out Among Top Lifestyle Options In All Latin America

“I can admit it to you now… I wasn’t really sold. I mean, I trust you guys. I’ve been reading you for a long time. And what you wrote about Medellín was enough to get me to register for this conference and come down to see for myself. But I wasn’t sold. I had reservations.
“But now, seeing this place for myself, I can tell you that I’ll never doubt you again. If anything, you didn’t do justice to really how nice it is here. I had dinner at a restaurant last night that could have been in Sacramento, where I’m from. The food, the service, it was great. I don’t know what else to say. Everything here is great…”

Attendee in Medellín

Latin America Correspondent Lee Harrison, in Medellín this week to co-host our sold-out Live and Invest in Colombia Conference with Lief Simon, is what you might call a Serial Expat.

Fifteen years ago, at the age of 49, Lee took early retirement from his successful engineering career.

As he explained it to the group assembled in Medellín yesterday morning, “I didn’t have enough of a pension or enough retirement savings to live on for the rest of my life in the States, certainly not living the level of lifestyle my wife and I had been enjoying in New York up until that point.

“So I started looking around for options. My eyes were opened to the ‘retire-overseas’ idea by a book on retiring to Costa Rica that I happened upon in a bookstore one day.

“At that point in our lives,” Lee continued for the group, “my wife Julie and I wanted a big change, an adventure. We craved culture shock, the bigger the better. So while Costa Rica was the first country I considered as an overseas-retirement option, it wasn’t the one we chose for the start of our overseas-retirement adventures. Julie and I chose Ecuador, where we embraced a very different and almost unbelievably affordable lifestyle.

“We enjoyed Ecuador, but, once we’d made that first move, we couldn’t help but notice other options that also seemed very appealing. What could be better than Ecuador, we asked ourselves while enjoying our new life there, first in Cuenca, then in Vilcabamba. Then we discovered that, well, other places just might be better in some ways.

“So, from Ecuador, we moved to Uruguay, where we divided our time between Montevideo and Punta del Este on the coast. What could be better than that life, split between a pleasant city and one of the world’s most beautiful stretches of coastline?

“Then we discovered Itamaracá, Brazil, where we lived right on the beach. Could we top that?

“I’m here today to tell you that, yes, again, we found something better: Medellín.

“Medellín is more First World than Ecuador. It has the same diverse natural beauty as Ecuador but (and this has become important to us) less corruption.

“Medellín is less expensive than Uruguay. It has a pleasant, comfortable climate year-round with no winter. And it’s much closer to the United States than Uruguay.

“And Medellín has better weather than Brazil, plus no mosquitos.

“Medellín is not too hot and not too cold. It’s accessible to the States. You can drink the water. Real estate prices are among the best bargains and best buys in the world right now, and the market in general is rife with opportunity.

“Here in Medellín, our attention has been focused on El Poblado, which, as far as we can tell, is the best of the best. Frankly, this area of Medellín doesn’t compare to anything, certainly not to anywhere else I know in Latin America, and I’ve been traveling all over this region, covering this beat, for 15 years.

“El Poblado is green and lush without any Third World poverty. It offers a luxury high-end lifestyle that doesn’t cost like a luxury high-end lifestyle. Frankly, at this point in our lives, I feel like we deserve what this place has to offer.

“When we moved to Ecuador, we were looking for adventure, and we embraced how different life was in that country. Now, more than 15 years later and more than 15 years older, we’re looking for something else, something more comfortable. We’ve found it here, in Medellín.

“Given what you’re buying, this place is an almost unbelievable bargain. The living doesn’t compare anywhere else, not at any price,” Lee concluded.

Lee was ahead of his time, a serial expat who copped on to all that Medellín has to offer while most of the rest of the world was still too afraid to come see for themselves what life is really like in this pretty, peaceful city.

Among the attendees here with us in Medellín this week, I’ve met five current residents of Ecuador and two from Panama. These folks have all been happy in their new lives overseas to this point but are ready now, for various reasons, to move on… to take a next step.

And they’re all looking to take that next step in Colombia.

As Lee figured out six years ago and is this week explaining to all assembled: Medellín stands out as perhaps the best lifestyle on offer anywhere in all Latin America.

And Medellín has more to recommend it all the time.

We had a question from the floor yesterday about the quality of life in Medellín for someone who does not speak Spanish. Four expat hands went up, from people who live in Medellín, and they said life is great here even if you’re not a Spanish speaker. Of course, life can be easier and better if you do… but lack of Spanish shouldn’t keep people away anymore.

We also heard yesterday from representatives from a great local Spanish school… so attendees have learned about an easy way to learn the language if they want.

We’re also seeing this week, for the first time, a lot of interest in non-El Poblado lifestyles, including Envigado, Sabaneta, and Laureles. People looking for a different version of a Colombian lifestyle than El Poblado offers…

Got to get back to the meeting room. Don’t want to miss too much of the goings-on!

More tomorrow.

Valentine Fouché
Live and Invest Overseas Conference Insider