The Most Important Prediction I’ve Made In Nearly 30 Years
I don’t like to admit it, even to myself, but, after nearly 30 years covering this beat…traveling around the world almost continuously in search of opportunity…ever on the trail of the “next great destination”…the “next big thing”…I’ve grown a little jaded.
I don’t believe much of what anyone tells me anymore, and I don’t take anything at face value. I’ve seen and heard all the stories…all the promises…too many times. At this point, it takes a lot to get my attention and even more to get me excited.
So imagine my delight when a destination exceeded all my expectations…when a place that friends and colleagues had been trying hard for a long time to convince me to visit proved to be not only as good as I’d been led to believe…but much, much better.
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, from Costa Rica to Roatan, from Belize to Ecuador, from Ireland to Uruguay, and from Panama City to Boquete.
Of course, I’ve missed opportunities, too. There have been times when I didn’t act quickly enough. That’s why, once I identified the current opportunity on the table in what many might dismiss as a most unlikely spot, I moved very quick indeed.
I am not exaggerating when I say that I believe this destination could prove the biggest find of my career.
Where In The World Am I Talking About?
In my early days in Medellin, about three years ago, I sat, one evening, at a table in a newly opened restaurant. I was with a group of investors and business people who, like me, had come to explore current opportunities in this beautiful and enigmatic city.
“Property values here are so under-valued,” one of the gentlemen (a real estate professional) having dinner with the group 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, especially Medellin, is still misunderstood.
“When you say ‘Medellin’ 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. But luckily for us,” he added with a chuckle, “that outdated stereotype is keeping the prices down.”
It was like deja vu…
I’d heard the same case, made by another group of investors, around a similar table, in Boquete, Panama, back in 1999…10 years before this mountain town was ranked as one of the world’s top five retirement destinations by AARP.
So I know how this scene plays out.
In fact, the market in Medellin is moving quickly, more quickly than the market in Boquete all those years ago. Right now, this remains a land of opportunity, but this window to get in early will not remain open much longer.
Here’s who should be focused on Colombia, specifically Medellin, right now:
The investor: Prices are an absolute, global bargain. Costs of getting in are low, and demand is growing at an accelerating rate. Right now in Medellin, you could buy almost anything and feel confident that you could make money from the purchase. Rental yields are running from 8% to 14% on good properties.
The retiree: The City of Eternal Spring is rapidly becoming a popular destination for the North American retiree. Medellin enjoys one of the world’s best climates, is home to 5 of the top 35 hospitals in all Latin America, offers a great selection of restaurants and cafes, and boasts an exciting cultural scene, with theater, orchestra, and events all year…all at a reasonable cost.
The second home buyer: More and more, I’m seeing people who are spending their summers in the United States or Europe but skipping out on the ice and snow by coming, come winter, to a city where they can leave their windows open day and night year-round. Increasingly, these folks are bypassing the well-worn snowbird haunts like Arizona and Florida and opting instead for the romance, the excitement, and the affordable high-end lifestyle available in places like Medellin.
We don’t always have the vision to jump when opportunity presents itself. Imagine if you had bought in Costa Rica in the mid-1980s…in Ireland in the mid-1990s…on Ambergris Caye, Belize, later in that decade…or in Panama City 10 years ago…
I recognized the opportunities in all these places at precisely those points in time. And I urged readers and friends to take advantage.
I see that same potential again right now, in Medellin.
Supporting the opportunities on offer in Medellin is a solid, stable democracy that’s on the move. Colombia’s economy is showing impressive growth, boasting a powerful industrial base, and enjoying an energy surplus, thanks to abundant natural resources.
In 2012, Standard and Poor’s, Moody’s, and Fitch all upgraded Colombia to “investment grade” status, citing “prudent economic policies and increased resiliency to internal and external shocks.” These ratings opened the door to an even greater flood of institutional foreign investment.
Legendary real estate investor Sam Zell is famous for his timing. Zell sold his Equity Office Properties Trust in 2007 for US$39 billion, right as the U.S. real estate market was peaking. Where is Zell focused now?
“Colombia is the next star of Latin America,” he says.
The old Colombia stereotypes have fallen. This country is rapidly maturing into the hot destination that I first predicted it would become in 2010.
I say again, today’s remarkable values won’t last forever. It won’t be much longer before they become tomorrow’s retail buys.
Lief and I have bought in Medellin ourselves. We intend to invest further…and to spend part of our own retirement here. We’re behind Colombia 100%.
However, I understand if, like me, you’re a bit skeptical. That’s why I’m inviting you to join my team in this city of flowers and parks for our third Live and Invest in Colombia Conference.
In my considerable experience, this is one of the best places on earth today to establish your foothold overseas. That is a bold claim, I realize, and one that I take seriously and make with confidence.
Finding these opportunities is my life’s work, and I’ve seen the evolution of destinations like this before. It isn’t often that such a strong opening presents itself…and it’s even less often that we’re aware enough to recognize the opportunity when it’s on the table.
Again, though, don’t take my word for it. Come see for yourself. Lief and I would love to meet you in Medellin.
P.S. In today’s Colombia, Medellin is just the tip of the iceberg. The values in Medellin jump off the page, but this city is just one destination of several that are attracting the North American expat to this country. Colombia’s Caribbean coast has been drawing expats for years, especially to the historic, walled city of Cartagena. Most people know Cartagena as Colombia’s #1 tourist destination. In fact, it was also Colombia’s first major expat haven and continues to grow in this regard today.
The Spanish colonists left behind some of their most glorious cities in Colombia. Cartagena is a colonial treasure, as is Popayan, a beautifully maintained mountain town where the weather competes with that in Medellin and the prices compete with those anywhere.