Four days into my first visit to Medellín, Colombia, in 2008, here’s what I had to say:
The Euro-undertones are strong, from the way the women dress to the way that people greet you in passing on the street.
Wandering around Medellín is more reminiscent of walking around Paris than Panama City (my two most ready points of comparison).
In other words, as Lief remarked as we exited the international airport upon arrival, “Welcome to South America.”
The differences between this continent and the one just to the north are striking.
Medellín is a miniature version of Buenos Aires, Argentina (which is one of my favorite cities in the world), from its annual International Tango Festival to its Botero Museum.
Medellín is more manageable than B.A., and cleaner.
Otherwise, the neighborhoods, the parks, the downtown shopping areas, the antique shops, the arts and literary history… these things all remind me of that very European city way down at the bottom of this continent.
Here were other of my observations after my first few days in Medellín:
- This city boasts some of the world’s friendliest and most helpful taxi drivers. We’ve yet to encounter even one who was rude or unpleasant…
- Medellín is also home to the world’s cleanest public toilets (note that you typically pay to use them, from 100 to 600 pesos… that is, pennies)…
- This is a green city, with trees, plants, and small gardens everywhere…
- It’s also an architecturally consistent and pleasing city. Most every building is constructed of red brick and topped with red clay roof tiles. The overall effect is delightful, especially when viewed from some height. From the windows of the penthouse apartments we’ve visited, for example, the city appears a sea of red clay tiles and red brick buildings interspersed regularly by swatches of foliage and flowers…
- This city is remarkably clean. In the central neighborhoods, you see no litter anywhere. The Metro (a point of pride for the population of Medellín and a great way to get around parts of the city) is spotless and like new. I’ve looked for but been unable to find even a cigarette butt or piece of gum on the ground at any of the stops we’ve visited…
- Lief and I are an anomaly, especially outside the central El Poblado neighborhood, where most of the interest from foreign investors has so far been focused. Yesterday, we wandered into more local neighborhoods and drew stares at every turn…
In the nine years since that first visit, Lief and I have returned to Medellín dozens of times. What’s changed?
The rest of the world has begun to catch on. I’m reading today about others who are “discovering” Medellín…
And I think, good for you, Medellín… way to go.
The good folks of this city, some of whom have become close friends over these past eight years, have been working hard for more than two decades to overcome the stigma of Medellín’s past. They and their very special city deserve to be recognized and appreciated.
In 2010 Lief and I bought an apartment in Medellín’s El Poblado neighborhood. This was an investment in a market where we wanted to take a stake as well as a lifestyle choice.
For us and Medellín, it was love at first sight. From our first visit, we knew this was a place we wanted to return to as often as possible. Life in Medellín is about as good as life gets.
This city continues to offer everything that got our attention years ago. Plus now the expat, foreign retiree, and global entrepreneur and investor has more company and more support all the time.
Over the past nine years that we’ve been paying attention to Medellín, property values in this city have appreciated 5% to 10% per year on average… as we predicted they would.
The cost of buying a home or apartment in Medellín was a screaming bargain when we arrived on the scene, seriously undervalued on a global scale. It didn’t take a genius to forecast an upward trend.
Values have appreciated year on year… but something else has happened, too. The U.S. dollar has gained on the Colombian peso big time.
The net result is that buyers with dollars have a chance to take a position in this market at 2008 prices in dollar terms, give or take.
It amounts to a do-over.
If you didn’t take our advice nearly nine years ago when we first recommended a property investment in Medellín, here’s your second chance.
I don’t know how long the current window of opportunity will remain open, but I can say that I wouldn’t count on a third chance. Take this second one.