Like Panama 20 Years Ago
About 20 years ago, I sat around a table in a just-opened restaurant in a little-known mountain town in Panama called Boquete with a group of investors and businesspeople, in the country, as I was, to scout opportunity.
“I believe that the potential in this place for retirees is enormous,” one of the gentlemen in the group (the one who had just invested in opening the restaurant where we were having dinner) prophesied.
“Right now, the opportunity here is for the investor and the speculator. Property prices are so undervalued. Apartments in Panama City are a screaming bargain on a global scale. Pacific beachfront, Caribbean, farmland, riverfront… this country has it all, and it’s all cheap.
“Panama is still misunderstood, suffering from a lingering case of bad press,” my host for the evening continued. “When you say ’Panama’ to an American today, he thinks: Noriega… drug cartels… CIA intrigue…
“It won’t be too many years before those perceptions are flipped on their head. I predict that, five, seven years from now, when you say ’Panama’ to the average American, he’ll think: Retirement. Because that’s what this country is gearing up to offer—a very appealing retirement option.”
That was 1999.
In August 2010, the AARP named Boquete, Panama, one of the top five places in the world to retire.
About five years ago, I sat around a table in a just-opened restaurant in a little-known mountain town in Colombia called Medellín with a group of investors and businesspeople, in the country, as I was, to explore current opportunity.
“Property values in this city are so undervalued,” one of the gentlemen having dinner with us remarked. “I believe that apartment costs here are the lowest for any cosmopolitan city in the world on a per-square-meter basis.
“This is because Colombia, including Medellín, is still misunderstood. When you say ’Medellín’ to the average American, he thinks: Drugs… gangs… Pablo Escobar…
“It’s such a misperception. The current reality of this city is so far removed from all that.”
Our hosts for the evening had just toured us around central Medellín, taking us to see apartment buildings they’re rehabbing, converting into rentals, and neighborhoods being remade in real time.
In the sixyears since, it’s been a whole lot more of the same.
Medellín is an ever-evolving city of, on one hand, carefully maintained parks surrounded by small colonial structures… and urban chic zones with sushi restaurants, funky bars, contemporary art galleries, vintage clothing stores, and antique shops…
It’s a city that tempts you out-of-doors at all times of day and evening. And, exploring Medellín, from its green spaces to its restaurant zones and night spots, the last thing you’ll feel is unsafe.
As in Panama all those years ago, the opportunity today in Medellín is for the investor and the speculator. Prices are an absolute, global bargain. Costs of getting in are low. Demand is growing at an accelerating rate. Right now, in this city, you could buy almost anything and feel pretty confident that you could make money from the purchase… somehow.
Like my host for dinner nearly two decades ago in Panama, however, I can’t help but also observe that the coming opportunity in Medellín is for the retiree.
I predict that, five, seven years from now, when you say “Medellín” to the average American, he’ll think: Retirement. Because that’s what this City of Eternal Springtime is on track to offer—a very appealing and competitive retirement option.
In the eight years that Lief and I have been spending time in this charming, Euro-chic city, we’ve made many friends, both local paisas and resident expats… as well as many professional contacts we’ve grown to trust and to rely on for advice and counsel when investing and doing business here.
In June, we’ll be convening all our local and expat friends… as well as all our expert advisors… in sunny Medellín for our Live and Invest in Colombia Conference.
Colombia is a country that should be on your radar… and Medellín is a city you have to see for yourself to appreciate. Our Live and Invest in Colombia event is your best and most efficient chance to accomplish both those things while also connecting with all the on-the-ground support you’ll need to follow through on whatever Colombia agenda you might be imagining.