Living and loving the expat life in Medellín, Colombia
Many of you have asked us about visiting Medellín, investing in our projects, and even moving here. While we’re happy to share our opinions about our beautiful country, we thought you might like to hear from someone who has already done what you are considering.
We reached out to a friend and client who has shared her story at conferences, in articles, and at private events. She’s an expat who has been living in Medellín for almost five years. Here’s her story in her own words…
“What are you thinking?”
“Are you crazy?”
“Is it safe?”
These are the types of comments I heard from family and friends five years ago when I told them that I was moving to Medellín, Colombia with my husband, Darren. They couldn’t believe that we would leave our comfortable life in the States to live somewhere so “dangerous” and “scary.”
So why am I telling you this?
The fact that you’re reading this newsletter tells me a few things about you right away. First, you are willing to think outside the box. Second, you appreciate and recognize quality service and opportunities when you see them. So already, we have a lot in common.
Maybe you are considering coming to Colombia, but comments like these have you concerned. Maybe you have already visited here and now you are thinking about investing in a home or another Colombian project. In my opinion, now is the time!
Let me explain a bit…
How Did We Choose Medellín?
The short answer is, a lot of research, some focused travel, and the willingness to keep an open mind about where we could find a better quality of life.
At first, it was the bitter, snowy winters in Northern Illinois that led us to find a better climate in a place we could afford to live. After a lot of online searching, we narrowed our options to three countries and visited each one. There we lived like locals for at least a few weeks.
The other two countries were nice, but once we landed in Medellín, we just knew this place was for us. Medellín is unfairly burdened by the bad reputation it has been forced to carry for decades, an image which is unfortunately still perpetuated by Hollywood and TV series like “Narcos.” Today’s Medellín is completely different from what you might have seen on TV.
An Unexpected Feeling
Call it a gut instinct, or maybe a sense of inner peace, but after a few days here, I felt like I was home. The climate was as beautiful as expected, but it was the people who really sold me. In all our travels, we have never met more friendly, kind and generous people than the Paisas who call Medellín, and the surrounding area home.
Enjoying the spectacular view of El Poblado
For a city of more than three million people, Medellín is the most cosmopolitan, clean, green, flowery, and welcoming city I know in South America. It’s not perfect, of course, and there is crime here, but every large city around the world experiences crime.
For example, based upon violent crime statistics, Medellín would not even break the top 25 most dangerous cities in the United States. Having grown up in Illinois, I feel safer here than I do in Chicago. Personally, I have never been threatened, nor felt unsafe in the 4 1/2 years I have been living here.
My biggest challenge has been learning Spanish, and I have had to call on local friends from time to time when I needed help with a repair man or utility. Luckily I’ve met many bilingual people here who are always willing to help out. Also, for better or worse, I see and hear more English around town than ever before, so daily life is getting easier.
We never thought we would own a home again, but after a year of renting here, we bought a comfortable apartment in our favorite area of El Poblado. The expat community is growing every year, and our circle of friends has expanded as well. We now have lots of friends in our neighborhood that we can simply walk a few blocks to visit.
Key Players In Our Success
A fun group of expats and paisas heading to Guatape for the day
During our transition to Colombia, we focused on meeting locals and other expats to form a support group to help us in our adjustment. We were lucky enough to be introduced to Juan Darío Gutierrez on our first trip here. He spent time with us, answering all our questions, without any pressure or future expectations, because that is the type of person he is.
His generosity of time, information and friendship exceeded my expectations. We soon met his brothers and partners, Felipe and Daniel. Sometimes it seems there are few gentlemen left in the world, but the Gutierrez brothers still epitomize a kinder, gentler time when people treated each other with respect.
In the past four years we have called upon the Gutierrez Group for various reasons. They have always been responsive, professional and willing to go the extra mile. And now, they asked me to share my story with you and describe our Medellín experience, in case you might be considering doing what we have done.
They did not ask for an endorsement. However, I can’t tell my full Medellín story without giving them the credit they deserve. We are currently holding our second investment with Gutierrez Group, after our first investment paid out better than expected. As shareholders in Colombian Timber we are thrilled to be contributing to the environment by planting millions of trees here in Colombia, while also expecting a great return on our investment.
So What’s Missing?
People often ask what I miss most from the States. The answer is, I miss my friends and family. However, I now have a strong support group here, and I consider the Gutierrez Group part of my Medellín family because that is how they treat me.
If you have any questions, or would just like to chat about life in Medellín, feel free to send your email address through this site and I’ll reach out. We had so many people help us settle in, buy a home and invest in our new hometown. I’m happy to pay it forward.