“It’s easy to live here. The pace of life is slow and no one is in a hurry. You can be as lazy or as busy as you want, and no one really cares. One of the things I like is the lack of government interference in your life, and the police have more important things to do than sit at an intersection with a radar gun pointed at you.” – Ron Graham, expat living in Medellin.
Well, it appears that the secret is out! … Medellin is no longer hiding under the radar as the next best place to retire. It IS the place to retire—or vacation, or have a second home, or start a business, or invest—Medellin is THE place. …something we have known at Investment Group Colombia (IGC) for a long time! So, are you looking for a safe and friendly community, inexpensive, with excellent health care, affordable and comfortable housing, good public transportation, and a moderate climate? We at IGC feel that Colombia has it all!
The Colombian government welcomes foreign citizens as residents, tourists, students, investors, and business partners, and provides amazing incentives and opportunities as well. Long recognized by the tourist industry as the next hottest retirement spot, it has been voted as one of the top 10 travel destinations for the last 10 years … and rightfully so! What is not to love about Medellin and Colombia?
Situated at 1500 meters (4921 ft) in elevation in the lush Aburrá Valley and embraced by mist-shrouded mountains, Medellin is known as the land of perpetual spring. The capital of the Department of Antioquia, Medellin enjoys all of the benefits of a tropical monsoon climate — lush greenery, abundant water falls, tropical birds and flora—but with much more tolerable and enjoyable temperatures. With an average year-round temperature (because of proximity to the equator) of 22 °C (72 °F), no air conditioning or heat is needed! Warm, balmy days give way to cool, pleasant nights. Additionally, because of the seemingly ideal 5,000 foot elevation, there are no bugs! Many of Medellin’s districts and barrios are located on slopes or in the local foothills where temperatures can be slightly cooler yet.
In terms of population and economy, Medellin is the second largest city in Colombia, with more than 3.5 million people. Medellin ranks in population as the 91st largest urban center in the world. Founded in 1616 by the Spaniard Francisco Herrera Y Campuzano, Medellín has an area of 382 km² (237 square miles). It consists of 16 comunas (districts), 5 corregimientos (townships), and 271 barrios. The local zonas are as follows:
- Southeastern Zone: El Poblado communes.
- Southwestern Zone: Guayabal and Belén communes.
- West Central Zone: Laureles, La América and San Javier communes.
- East Central Zone: La Candelaria, Villa Hermosa and Buenos Aires communes.
- Northwestern Zone: Castilla, Doce de Octubre and Robledo communes.
- Northeastern Zone: Aranjuez, Manrique, Popular and Santa Cruz communes.
- Corregimientos (townships): San Sebastián de Palmitas, San Cristóbal, Altavista, San Antonio de Prado and Santa Elena.
Medellin is traversed by the cool, clear Medellín River (also called Porce), which flows northward. The city is named after Medellín, Spain.
During the 19th century, the city gained prominence because of its production of gold and coffee. However, despite the importance of gold production, it was the export of coffee that contributed the most to community growth. Today, Medellin produces 67% of the Department of Antioquia’s GDP and 11% of the economy of Colombia. Medellin’s main economic products are steel, textiles, confections, food and beverage, agriculture, public services, chemical products, pharmaceuticals, refined oil, and flowers, with tourism having strongly developed in recent years. Fashion also figures as a major portion of the economy and culture of the city. As such, Medellin has become known as “the Milan of Latin America” and plays host to Latin America’s biggest fashion show, Colombiamoda. Medellin is also an important and popular locale for its universities, academies, commerce, industry, science, health services, flower-growing, festivals and nightlife.
Medellin is easily one of the most modern cities in South America. Having the only rapid transit system in South America, there are also two sky trams that are part of the Metro system, as well as public and private buses and taxis. The city is full of contemporary life and has everything from large shopping malls to small family-run stores. While the traditional street markets are a mainstay of the local economy, modern retail malls offer internationally renowned brand names, designer boutiques, discount stores, specialty shops, and food courts. Major and specialty grocery stores offer organic foods, traditional groceries, and pharmaceuticals.
Street vendors are everywhere, operating from open-air stands along the roads and sidewalks, selling giant avocados, cabbages, carrots, mango, papaya, maracuya, tomate de arbol, lulo, granadilla, curuba, guanabana, pear, fresas, ochua, and coco—all fresh, locally grown, and full of vitamins. Juices of countless variety are offered everywhere you turn.
The cost of living in Medellin is low when compared with the United States, beginning at $1,500 per month—incredibly reasonable for such a modern city having all the conveniences – a solid infrastructure, pure water, cable TV, and high-speed Internet, and the third highest teledensity in Latin America, allowing for easy and reliable communication. Additionally, there are verdant, green neighborhoods, modern high rises, and colonial-style villas, estates, and fincas (farms), as well as sparkling, master-planned residential neighborhood – each with its own atmosphere and way of life. Most expats settle in El Poblado, an up-scale barrio known for its shady parks, trendy restaurants, sidewalk cafes, great shopping, Medellin’s most-active property market, and an energetic nightlife.
The Medellin weekend nightlife, in discos, pubs, parks, and certain dedicated streets, is traditionally called rumba, and typically kicks into full gear on Thursday night, running all the way through the weekend. Everyone in Colombia seems to enjoy the rumba; dancing—young, old, women, men, wealthy, destitute, beautiful, plain, thin, and fat—it matters not your appearance, only that you have “heart” and the desire to try. Locals relish teaching the porro, cumbia, merengue, tango, salsa and mapale to anyone willing to learn. Along with cheering on their favorite fútbol(soccer) teams, spending time socializing with family, enjoying the weekends at family fincas, and riding, selling, or watching horses, dancing is a national past time.
Probably falling back on its Spanish history, horses are an important part of Medellin culture. An annual parade in Medellin has 10,000 horses. Festivals too are an important part of the culture. Colombia has more festivals and holidays than any country in the world and celebrates its Spanish and indigenous heritage with parades, fairs, botanical and bird shows, and popular contests. La Feria de las Flores (the Festival of the Flowers) is the most important festival in Antioquia. Taking place in Medellin every August, it has been celebrated every year since 1957. The festival includes parades of antique cars, of silleteros (flower carriers), and of horses. Other festivals are the International Poetry Festival in June, the Parade of Myths and Legends in December, and the Colombiamoda, the fashion industry event of the year.
The inhabitants of Medellin are known as Paisas – a term coming from the word paisano (fellow countryman).Paisas make up one of the five different regional cultures within Colombia. The Paisa culture has a Spanish background, and is traditionally Catholic, entrepreneurial, hard-working, and famously hospitable. Paisas are said to speak softly and quickly, and to smile easily. Beans, rice, and arepas (thick corn tortillas) are staples for Paisas. And Colombia loves its beef, pork, and chicken cooked apanado and served on a large plate with beans, fried bananas, arepas, salad, and rice. Although Paisa culture is dominant in Medellon (the Paisa Capital), the city has become more cosmopolitan, offering music from other regions of Colombia, and a variety of national and international cuisines.
Colombia’s health care system is considered the best in Latin America. Due in largely to its first-rate medical universities and long-standing research relationship with major universities in the United States, Colombia leads the way in transplant medicine, cancer research, and tropical medicine. Premium health insurance by private carriers costs a fraction of what US health insurance costs and allows full a choice of services. Premium health insurance costs approximately one fifth the cost of Blue Cross/Blue Shield. Less expensive health insurance is available through a government sponsored plan that pays for treatment by qualified health care providers. Private pay for services is also an option and is affordable on a fixed income.
So with everything that Medellin has going for it, what are you waiting for? It is time to consider moving to Medellin and enjoying the good life! We at IGC feel that there is truly no better time than now. Whether you choose to buy or rent, real estate is affordable. Cost of living is highly affordable. The investment atmosphere is at its optimum for nearly guaranteed profitability. And the people, climate, and scenery are the most incredible in the world.
To learn more about living, investing and traveling to Colombia please request our complimentary guide.