My Craziest—And Surest—Recommendation Of All
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 instead?
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 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, even 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:
Medellin, Colombia, meets all my criteria for a top retire-overseas choice. This is an emerging champion for retiring, living, investing, and owning a second home overseas.
Furthermore, the current exchange rate is handing today’s buyers shopping with U.S. dollars a whopping 32% discount off the cost of real estate in this country and 32% 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 2,450 per dollar. Again, that translates to 32% more buying power today for U.S. dollar-holders than just six months ago.
A condo that was priced at the Colombian peso equivalent of US$140,000 in July could now be yours for just US$95,200.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, over the past month, The New York Times has listed Medellin 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 Medellin (though the values in this pretty city of flowers and cafes jump off the page). Medellin 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 continues to grow in popularity in this regard.
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 Medellin 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 are behind this country 100%.
It is in that context that we now are planning our fifth Live and Invest in Colombia Conference.
I can’t stress strongly enough how great the window of opportunity is right now in this country. Get thee to Colombia, specifically Medellin. We’ll meet you there.
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