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Living, Retiring, And Investing In Medellin, Colombia

The World’s Next Top Retirement Haven—You Heard 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 2,350 per dollar. That translates to nearly 30% more buying power for U.S. dollar-holders.

A condo that was priced at the Colombian peso equivalent of US$140,000 in July could now be yours for less than US$100,000.

Same goes 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, The New York Times has listed Medellín among its Places to Go for 2015 (for the second time), and National Geographic included the country on its Best Trips list for 2015.

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 seven 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 cafes 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. We’ve made friends here. We visit as often as we can. We’re connected for the long term and behind this country 100%.

It is in that context that, bright and early tomorrow morning in downtown Medellín, Lief will kick off our fifth Live and Invest in Colombia Conference.

If you’re among the more than 100 readers making their way to our favorite Colombian city to join Lief for the event, please tell him I say hello. Unfortunately, I’m not able to be in Medellín myself this week. You’re in excellent hands, though, with Lief and all our in-country experts, colleagues, and friends.

If you, like me, weren’t able to make it to Medellín in person this week, don’t worry. I’ve made arrangements for us to enjoy real-time updates from the scene. Our Conference Insider will file his first report tomorrow. I’ll share it with you pronto.

Kathleen Peddicord

Your New Life In Panama

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