Immediate (And Excellent) Impressions Of Medellin, Colombia

Second Impressions

Sometimes first impressions can be deceiving. So I’d worked hard to keep my expectations in check leading up to this return trip to Medellin. Surely, this city, upon second, closer look, couldn’t live up to the rose-colored memory I’ve cultivated since my first visit a few months ago.

Au contraire. I’m falling in love all over again.

Medellin is everything I’ve told you—beautiful, pleasant, clean, safe, sophisticated…

This city of flowers in a climate of eternal spring is home to friendly, polite, well-mannered people who greet you in passing and go out of their way to offer assistance.

This is the literary and artistic hub of Colombia, with museums, art galleries, cafes, and other trappings of a lively cosmopolitan center. It’s also the leafiest city I know. Everywhere are trees, hedges, gardens, and parks of many descriptions.

Coming into town from the international airport, you drive around and around, down and down, inside the giant bowl that holds the city. This makes for a dramatic first impression…that I can now tell you is no less pleasing upon your second arrival. Green and red are the predominant colors of the valley where Medellin sits…the green of the treetops and the red of the brick and clay tiles that are used for nearly all construction.

Lief and I are here this week with our children for a New Year’s family getaway that we’re also using as an opportunity to shop for an apartment that will double as a rental investment and a family holiday home.

Lief will have much more on the current opportunities for his Marketwatch members. Bottom line, this market remains active, and rental yields are holding in the double-digit range. We’re keen to buy while prices remain low (as low as US$1,000 per square meter and less). The exchange rate has moved slightly in our favor since our last visit. Another reason we’re keen to act now.

There are complications to be addressed—including exchange controls.

It’s not possible to borrow as a foreigner in Colombia to buy real estate in this country. However, it’s been suggested that perhaps we could arrange property financing via a Colombian bank with a branch in Panama City. We’re exploring this option.

Meantime, we’re trying to make time to enjoy this city with so much to offer with our children, who are as taken by it as Lief and I have been.

“I’m totally down with this place,” remarked Kaitlin over dinner at a funky Cuban restaurant on Parque Lleras our first night. High praise from our Manhattan-based university student daughter.

Kathleen Peddicord

P.S. Kaitlin woke up the next morning with a fever and flu symptoms. We asked the hotel if there were a doctor nearby we could take her to see.

“We’ll call a doctor for you,” the nice lady at the front desk replied.

Twenty minutes later, a doctor knocked on Kaitlin’s door. He diagnosed her as dehydrated, administered an IV for fluids on the spot, and wrote a prescription for something to help control her nausea.

“Take this to the front desk,” he offered, holding out the prescription sheet. “They’ll arrange the medicine for you.”

Indeed, a half-hour later, someone from the hotel was back with the medications.

“What do we owe you?” we asked the doctor. “What do we owe for the medicines?” we asked the nice lady from the hotel.

“There’s no charge,” came the reply in both cases.

As a guest of any hotel in Colombia, you’re enrolled in a traveler’s health insurance plan. The cost is bundled into the cost of the hotel and amounts to about US$3 per day.