Exploring Expat Life In Medellin, Colombia

Does It Get Any Better Than This?

“Does it get any better than this?” asked Dennis Martinez this morning, addressing attendees at this week’s Live and Invest in Colombia Conference in Medellin.

“A beautiful Sunday morning… beautiful weather… in a beautiful city,” Dennis continued. “Really, can you imagine anything better?”

Dennis wasn’t the first to ask the question. I’ve heard it expressed at least a dozen times over the past few days at least. Once you’ve experienced Medellin, you wonder how life could be as good anywhere else. You can’t imagine anything better… and you sure don’t want to leave.

Our Latin America Correspondent Lee Harrison has been here with us this week to help introduce all the readers convened with us to this city that has so captured our collective hearts.

“When I left the States about a dozen years ago and relocated to Cuenca, Ecuador,” Lee remarked last night over cocktails, “I thought I was really on to something. Life in Cuenca was great. Since then, I’ve lived in Uruguay and Brazil, too, and I’ve traveled to nearly every country in Latin America. I know this region well, and I’ve had great experiences everywhere I’ve spent time.

“But now, here in Medellin,” Lee continued, “seriously, I have to say, based on my dozen years of experience getting to know this part of the world, this has got to be as good as it gets. I’m sure not looking to move on anytime soon.”

“I was in Belize a couple of months ago,” one attendee told me yesterday, “and that was interesting, but not for me. Too rustic, too rugged. This is for me. I can tell already Medellin is the place for me. I’m going shopping for an apartment after the conference is over.”

“We’ve been debating between Medellin and Cuenca,” another couple of readers explained, “and we sure are impressed by Medellin. You weren’t exaggerating in any of your writings on this place, Kathleen. This is a remarkable city.

“But what about Cuenca? We haven’t been there yet? Do you think we would like Cuenca better?”

“I couldn’t tell you what would be better for you,” I replied, “but I can say that Cuenca is a very different place from Medellin and Ecuador is a very different place from Colombia. The quality of life available, the overall quality of experience that’s possible is much richer, I would say, in Medellin than in Cuenca. And Colombia is a far more developed country. Really, there’s no comparison between Ecuador and Colombia.”

The Wall Street Journal, in its annual global competition, named Medellin the “World’s Most Innovative City” this year. Medellin beat out fellow finalists Tel Aviv and New York for the honor. The study praised Medellin for its civic spaces, its libraries, its art galleries, and its infrastructure, which includes a giant escalator and a cable car allowing the residents of the poorer neighborhoods on Medellin’s steep hillside to commute easily to the city center, in the valley.

We saw further examples of Medellin’s never-ending innovativeness at this week’s conference. One of the Colombian developers presented a current project in the heart of Medellin intended for seniors. This full-amenity condo building will consist of suites not unlike hotel suites but with small kitchens. The building and the apartments are all handicapped accessible. Across the street is the best hospital in Medellin, as well as one of the city’s shopping malls and a large U.S.-style grocery store. Everything you’d need is within easy walking distance, and most services you could want are in the building, including a hair salon and a spa.

Age-in-place properties are a new concept in this part of the world, but this new project is a step in this direction. It’s not surprising that the world’s most innovative city would be breaking this ground.

Kathleen Peddicord

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