Falling In Love Again With This Lovely City Of Flowers
Kathleen and Lief are en route to Medellin this morning, to prepare for our first-ever Live and Invest in Colombia Conference taking place in that city later this week. Kathleen didn’t have time to write something for us before leaving for the airport but suggested that we re-run this brief dispatch written following her second visit to Medellin about a year ago this time…
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 seller financing. 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.
P.S. Kathleen did leave us with one piece of news before taking off for the airport early this morning. In Paris tomorrow, at 2:30 p.m., in the courtyard of the Hotel de Ville, apartment owners, apartment rental agencies, apartment rental managers, and others working in the short-term rental industry in this city are staging a manifestation.
The French take any opportunity to stage a protest, but this is one manifestation we can get behind. Technically, it’s illegal to rent an apartment in Paris short-term. It has been for a very long time. Of course, historically, that didn’t stop anyone from doing it, and one of the biggest short-term rental industries in the world has developed in this, the most touristed city in the world.
The current mayor, however, has taken this up as a cause. He says that the fact that so many owners elect to rent out their apartments short-term is the reason the average working Parisian can no longer afford rents in this town. Therefore, for the past couple of years, this mayor has been working aggressively to enforce the legislation related to short-term rentals, and his efforts have grown more aggressive lately. He has issued more than 2,000 letters to apartment owners, telling them that they are now under investigation. If it is determined that they have been breaking this law, they will face fines (up to 25,000 euro) and perhaps worse.
It’s estimated that some 38,000 apartment owners rent short-term. Again, it’s a big industry. Scaring them into taking their units off the short-term rental market has, thus far, had no effect on the cost of local housing. (How could it, really? These aren’t the kinds of apartments the average working Parisian is going to rent anyway.) So far the only effect (as one might have predicted) has been to increase the cost of short-term rentals in Paris. The supply is contracting, but the demand is as strong as ever.
If you happen to be in Paris tomorrow, maybe stop by the Hotel de Ville at 2:30 to lend your support. We wish we could be there…