You’ve got to be careful in Medellin.
As you may know, the infamous Medellin Cartel assassinated a good friend of our president while he was sailing on his yacht, not far from Colombia’s shores. The CIA is involved, and has taken the fight to Colombia’s jungles. To make matters worse, CIA field agent John Clark has lost most of his small force; they were captured by Felix Cortez, the security chief for drug “kingpin” Pablo Escobar. Assistant CIA director Jack Ryan has become personally involved.
This information of course, is from Tom Clancy’s novel, Clear and Present Danger. Unfortunately, it’s the source of most of our mainstream information on Medellin, Colombia today…even though the famous cartel was crushed back in 1993, more than 17 years ago.
Today’s truth is another matter.
In my view, the “kingpin” in Medellin today is a Texan by the name of Rich Holman. Rich is a 60-something guy who came to Colombia to escape the stereotypical Florida retirement that loomed.
Today, the robust and dynamic Rich is living in a modern home in an upscale area of one of the world’s most beautiful cities. He enjoys an energetic lifestyle, daily workouts, a good relationship, and an active social life. Rich also founded his own business—First American Realty Company—which has enabled scores of other North Americans to follow his trail.
And Medellin is ideal for this kind of “self-reinvention.”
Perched at the optimum 5,000-foot altitude, the city enjoys perfect weather all year. Warm, balmy days give way to cool, pleasant nights. Better yet, there are no bugs. I slept with my windows open each night, and never saw a single unwanted intruder.
The city is bustling, modern, and has everything from large shopping malls to mom-and-pop stores. You can get almost anything you can back home. In lush, green neighborhoods, modern high-rises look out between towering eucalyptus trees, and Medellin also offers a colonial-style historic center as well as clean, residential neighborhoods…each with its own ambiance and lifestyle.
Most expats gravitate towards El Poblado, the sector known for its shady parks, trendy restaurants, sidewalk cafes, great shopping, and Medellin’s most-active property market. Each night of my visit found me at a different open-air restaurant, enjoying great international and Colombian cuisine…and the world’s best coffee.
The cost of living is low—starting at $1,500 per month—which is a bargain for a modern city with a solid infrastructure, pure, drinkable water, cable TV, and high-speed Internet. I met one person who was renting for only $280 per month in a clean, working-class neighborhood.
And the properties are a bargain to buy as well. The lowest-priced two-bedroom, 500-square-foot apartment (that I’d consider for myself) was just $67,000. My favorite apartment was only $91,000 and came with its own private courtyard. The best value for a larger, luxury apartment was a 1,700-square-foot, two-story condo with three bedrooms and four baths, going for $157,000, at current exchange rates. You can have a look at it here.
Medellin is not the best place for capital appreciation right now, as inventories are high. But rental returns are doing well, running between 6% and 12% this year, depending on the quality of your unit and the neighborhood it’s in.
You can buy a high-quality property at a great price, and live a comfortable lifestyle here without breaking the bank. Bottom line: You can stick with the image that Tom Clancy conceived in 1989, or the image the Rich Holman represents today. Having seen the lifestyle, it’s an easy choice for me…
I’d take today’s Medellin any day.