Living and loving the expat life in Medellín, Colombia

Dear Friend,

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.

Living And Loving The Expat Life In Medellín, Colombia.n-medellin-colombia
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

Living And Loving The Expat Life In Medellín, Colombia.n-medellin-colombia
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.

I hope to hear from you,
Wendy Howarter.
Medellín Expat

Just like Darren and Wendy’s story, we look forward to welcoming you into our family at Gutierrez Group. Contact us now to learn about the many ways we can help you in Colombia.

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Corporate Law


250+ successfully incorporated companies.

Whether you are considering incorporation for the purpose of establishing a business in Colombia, shielding an ongoing venture or for estate planning in connection with your affairs in this part of the world, our highly trained lawyers specialize in legally structuring investment and/or holding vehicles that will allow you to achieve your goals in our country.

Real Estate Law


350+ lawfully acquired properties.

With hundreds of successfully handled real estate transactions, our team of experts has unparalleled experience to properly and integrally guide you in connection with your real estate needs. From title searches, drafting or analyzing real estate contracts, dealing with liens, to handling closings and even negotiating terms, our skilled lawyers will offer comprehensive service.

Immigration Law


450+ effectively obtained visas.

In turbulent economic and political times such as the ones we live in, the ability to immigrate presents itself more as insurance than anything else. Our experienced and skillful group of experts has timely and successfully handled several hundreds of Colombian visa applications of all natures. From permanent investment visas, to real estate ownership, pension, capitalist, student, work, spouse, family related and beneficiary visas, we have experience with them all and offer full turnkey service.

Foreign Investment Law and Banking


2.500+ duly registered foreign investment operations.

Lots has been written about how cumbersome it is to send funds in or out of Colombia, about how accounts for foreigners are even unavailable. When you know the regulations, the system, the procedures, the authorities and the participating agents like our experts do, you realize that such appreciations are nothing but misconceptions. Thanks to more than a decade of reputation and experience in dealing with financial operations, our team has seamlessly created countless individual and corporate accounts at financial institutions as well handled thousands of investment and repatriation transactions.

Accounting and Tax Law


+10 years of experience in accounting, bookkeeping and tax matters.

Whether you are just starting up or your business is an already consolidated project, our accounting professionals offer a decade of experience and all year round service in connection with accounting, bookkeeping and tax matters so that clients may concentrate in growth and productivity while resting assured that tax contributions are being rationalized.

Estate Planning


Comprehensive service in non-business related matters.

Business matters are just as critical to our clients as civil and family ones, which is why our team brings broad experience to the table in regards to estate planning matters. Those who have decided to invest or relocate in Colombia count on our firm´s knowledge towards properly structuring their assets so as for avoidance of probate and smooth generational transfer of wealth to take place. Our services in this realm of the law include wills and structures such as companies, trusts and escrows.


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