Nevermind The Hookers And The Winos
“I got out of the cab and stepped over the homeless guys on the sidewalk… only to encounter a group of prostitutes hanging around the hotel entrance. The taxi driver advised me not to leave the hotel before daylight.
“I guess you could say that my first impression of Bogota, Colombia, was not a good one and that my efforts to save money by staying in this non-central neighborhood weren’t paying off as I’d hoped.”
That’s how Lee Harrison, our Latin America Correspondent and a Colombia resident, described the start of his first exploratory trip to this country, nearly nine years ago, in his opening remarks for attendees at last week’s Live and Invest in Colombia Conference.
Lee’s experiences with Colombia may have gotten off to an inauspicious start, but today he values his discovery of this country, and, specifically, his discovery of Medellin, more than any other he’s made over the last dozen years he’s been living in Latin America.
Since his introduction to this country, Lee has explored it from end to end, and, last week, in the meeting rooms of the Estelar Hotel in downtown Medellin, he shared his Colombian travel adventures with those in the room, all considering following in Lee’s footsteps.
Lee’s virtual tour, highlighting the top options he’s identified in this country for the would-be retiree and investor, started with the colonial cities of Popayan and Santa Fe, both great choices for someone interested in life in a Spanish-colonial setting. The stately old churches, cobblestone streets, and balconies overflowing with flowers take you back in time to an era that’s disappeared in most of the Western world.
The other big appeal of these charming cities is the cost of living in them. They’re among the most affordable options in Colombia and, indeed, some of the most affordable places anywhere to live a rich and comfortable life.
From these colonial towns, Lee’s tour took us to another, better-known Spanish-colonial city in this country, the walled city of Cartagena, on the shores of the Caribbean. Thanks to its location on the coast, its treasure-trove of Spanish-colonial architecture, and its long and colorful history, Cartagena is Colombia’s #1 tourist destination.
Lee also showed us the far less-known town of Santa Marta, Colombia’s oldest city. While not nearly as famous as its sister city Cartagena, Santa Marta is one of the most popular, energetic, and fun vacation spots on this country’s Caribbean coast. This is the beach town preferred by Colombians themselves and offers the country’s best diving, at the north of the city.
Lee ended our virtual tour around Colombia in Medellin, the location of our conference and the place in this country where Lee (as well as Lief and I) have chosen to focus our attention. As you know by now, Medellin boasts both one of the world’s best climates and some of the world’s most under-valued property values, especially given what you’re buying.
“This is a beautiful, diverse country,” Lee explained, “but the natural beauty and the many lifestyle options weren’t the only things that drew me to Colombia.
“Residency is easy here,” he continued. “There are 17 different visa options and very low thresholds for qualifying. I’ve qualified for residency in Ecuador, Uruguay, Brazil, and now, most recently in Colombia. I can tell you that the process in Colombia was the simplest and easiest of all.”
Lee’s take on establishing residency in Colombia was supported by our Colombia residency expert, attorney Juan Dario Gutierrez, who, later in the day, outlined some of the most popular alternatives for establishing residency in Colombia for the group, including some creative ways to obtain residency by quickly setting up a Colombian corporation.
We also heard the first day of last week’s event from expats Rich Holman and Andrew Campione, both of whom have not only reinvented their lives in Medellin but established successful businesses here, too. More on this tomorrow.
Meantime, back to Bogota. You may be wondering about the hookers, drug dealers, and winos… and how Lee Harrison made out with the rest of his first visit to that city.
As it turned out, just a few blocks to the north of the hotel where he (and the hookers and winos) were hanging their hats, Lee found what he described as some of the “nicest neighborhoods I’ve seen in South America.”
From the tree-lined streets and chic restaurants of El Chico to the gleaming new condos in Rosales, Lee showed us some of these neighborhoods, which he described as “among the region’s best options for trendy urban living.”
Again, more from the scene manana…
P.S. Our Live and Invest in Colombia Conference concluded yesterday afternoon. Today, the attendees are off exploring Medellin, visiting nearby coffee farms, taking quick in-country flights to Bogota and Cartagena to see for themselves what those cities have to offer, starting total-immersion Spanish-language study programs…