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Columbia Living: Medellín Fast Facts

Medellín, in the midst of an economic, tourism, technological and capital investment boom, has a Strong Buy rating from our firm, in terms of real estate investment opportunities. We see those opportunities accruing mostly in three major real estate sectors.

Residential Real Estate: We see both strong value and growth appreciation opportunities in the residential real estate sector, in terms of condominiums and single-family home purchases. Certain high demand neighborhoods have high single-digit to double digit yearly appreciation returns, while simultaneously still offering exceptional rental yields. Other neighborhoods provide substantial value, offering the opportunity to double or triple investment returns, over a 5 to 7-year holding period. More modest, but still attractive returns, can be had for those wishing to buy, rehab and flip attractive properties, in target investment neighborhoods. Identify the target areas and specific investment opportunities within, are all part of the consulting services we consistently provide our client base.

Medellín Fast Facts

  • Country: Colombia
  • Region: Aburrá Valley
  • Department: Antioquía
  • Founded: November 2, 1616
  • Government Type: Mayor & City Council
  • Government Head: Mayor
  • Current Mayor: Federico Gutiérrez (2016-2019)
  • Municipality Area: 380.64 km2 (146.97 sq. mi.)
  • Metro Area: 1,152 km2 (445 sq. mi.)
  • Elevation: 1,495 m (4.905 ft.)
  • Pop. Municipality: 2,441,123 (2013)
  • Pop. Metro: 3,731,447 (2013)
  • Pop. Density Metro: 6,925/km2 (17,940/sq. mi.)
  • Time Zone: USA Central Time (Chicago)
  • Avg. Temp. Daytime: 72° (F) Low / 85° (F) High – Year ‘Round
  • Avg. Temp. Nighttime: 53° (F) Low / 72° (F) High – Year ‘Round

Medellín Summary

Medellín (officially the Municipality of Medellín) is the second-largest city in Colombia and the capital of the department of Antioquia. It is located in the Aburrá Valley, a central region of the Andes Mountains in South America. According to the National Administrative Department of Statistics, the city has an estimated population of 2.44 million as of 2014. With its surrounding area that includes nine other cities, the metropolitan area of Medellín is the second-largest urban agglomeration in Colombia in terms of population and economy, with more than 3.7 million people.

In 1616 the Spaniard Francisco Herrera Campuzano erected a small indigenous village (“poblado”) known as “Saint Lawrence of Aburrá” (San Lorenzo de Aburrá), located in the present-day El Poblado commune. On 2

November 1675, the queen consort Mariana of Austria founded the “Town of Our Lady of Candelaria of Medellín” (Villa de Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria de Medellín) in the Aná region, which today corresponds to the center of the city (east-central zone) and first describes the region as “Medellín”. In 1826, the city was named the capital of the Department of Antioquia by the National Congress of the nascent Republic of Gran Colombia, comprised by present-day Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador and Panama. After Colombia won its independence from Spain, Medellín became the capital of the Federal State of Antioquia until 1888, with the proclamation of the Colombian Constitution of 1886. During the 19th century, Medellín was a dynamic commercial center, first exporting gold, then producing and exporting coffee.

As home of the now defunct Medellín Cartel, the city was once known as the most violent city in the world. However, its homicide rate has decreased by 95% and extreme poverty by 66%, thanks in part to a string of innovative mayors who laid out plans to integrate the poorest and most violent hillside neighborhoods into the city center in the valley below. Medellín is now considered safer than the US cities of Baltimore, St. Louis, Detroit and New Orleans, for some perspective.

At the beginning of the 21st century the city regained industrial dynamism, with the construction of the Medellín Metro commuter rail, liberalized development policies, improved security and improved education. Researchers at the Overseas Development Institute have lauded the city as a pioneer of a post-Washington consensus “local development state” model of economic development. The city is promoted internationally as a tourist destination and is considered by the GAWC as “sufficient” to be a global city.

The Medellín Metropolitan Area produces 67% of the Department of Antioquia’s GDP and 11% of the economy of Colombia. Medellín is important to the region for its universities, academies, commerce, industry, science, health services, flower-growing, festivals and nightlife.

In February 2013, the Urban Land Institute chose Medellín as the most innovative city in the world due to its recent advances in politics, education and social development. In the same year, Medellín was announced as the preferred corporate business destination in South America, and won the Verónica Rudge Urbanism Award conferred by Harvard University to the

Urban Development Enterprise, mainly due to the North-Western Integral Development Project in the city. In September 2013, the United Nations ratified Colombia’s petition to host UN-Habitat’s 7th World Urban Forum in Medellín, from April 5–11, 2014.

The most recent survey on the global status of the Smart Cities by Indra Sistemas catalogs Medellín as one of the best cities to live in South America, sharing the first place with Santiago de Chile, and alongside Barcelona and Lisbon in Europe. Medellín won the Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize 2016. The award seeks to recognize and celebrate efforts in furthering innovation in urban solutions and sustainable urban development.

Medellín Real Estate Opportunities

Medellín, in the midst of an economic, tourism, technological and capital investment boom, has a Strong Buy rating from our firm, in terms of real estate investment opportunities. We see those opportunities accruing mostly in three major real estate sectors.

Residential Real Estate: We see both strong value and growth appreciation opportunities in the residential real estate sector, in terms of condominiums and single-family home purchases. Certain high demand neighborhoods have high single-digit to double digit yearly appreciation returns, while simultaneously still offering exceptional rental yields. Other neighborhoods provide substantial value, offering the opportunity to double or triple investment returns, over a 5 to 7-year holding period. More modest, but still attractive returns, can be had for those wishing to buy, rehab and flip attractive properties, in target investment neighborhoods. Identify the target areas and specific investment opportunities within, are all part of the consulting services we consistently provide our client base.

Hospitality/Hotel Sector: With tourism, likely the highest growth industry in Medellín, quality hotel room demand has far outstripped supply. We are aware that recent approvals for major hotel projects promise a better future balance between current demand and future supply, but our belief is that tourism demand in Medellín is still quite in its infancy. Meaning that even the new hotel room count, pending to be built, will readily be absorbed into the market, as the tourism demand exponentially expands. That, in our opinion, leaves room for significant hotel/hospitality investments, whether large scale hotel projects or smaller, more manageable boutique hotels, bed n’ breakfast projects, or inner city chic inns. The market is wide open for the creative, provided tourist market demand trends are understood and careful site selection chosen. Getting the right price in a volatile hotel/hospitality market is also critical. These are all services we provide our loyal client base.

Class A Office Space in Central Business District (CBD): Office space, as a whole, actually has a current surplus, in the CBD. Much of that is due to higher rents in the CBD, plus newer office space being available elsewhere, at lower lease rates. Doesn’t sound very promising, does it? However, Class A office space in the CBD is still very much in demand and supply levels are flat to dwindling, as buildings age passed the point of qualifying as true Class A grade properties. An opportunity exists for an astute investor to either build Class A office in the CBD, or convert strong and unique Class B properties into Class A office buildings. This opportunity exists for both larger scale office buildings, as well as smaller, boutique condo-office product. However, not every location will reap financial rewards and not any space will suffice for renovation. The market opportunity is real, but the opportunities somewhat limited in this sector. Our consulting services can be your guide in finding the best office investment opportunities.

What Expat Will Do Best in Medellín?

I will stifle the strong impulse to say “everyone”, but it is hard not to be tempted. Medellín is the true “city of eternal Spring”. With its perfect weather, fabulous socio-cultural activities, dynamic economy and beautiful green and walkable landscape, it is hard to fault Medellín in any meaningful capacity. On balance, probably the most attractive market in Colombia for the majority of expats and one that likely offers the best investment value.

However, the city is likely best suited for snow-bird investors, who want a 6-month per year residential escape that will also be a great investment; those expats seeking full-time relocation to a balanced (not too hot or cold) climate; or those expats thinking about starting an overseas commercial venture, not quite ready to retire, but not quite resigned to the hustle and bustle of big city life, or 60 to 80-hour work weeks. Sort of the perfect Zen balance in Medellín.

Who is not a good expat candidate for Medellín? If you need the sweet sound of surf, Medellín is squarely planted in a sierra environment, without a hint of ocean in sight. Although the coast lies only a short 1-hour plane ride away, at exceptional fare pricing. Also, those that would find daytime highs in the 70s and 80s as too hot, or nighttime lows in the 60s (rarely in the mid-50s) as too cold, will likely need to find another expat market to call home. Likewise, if a city of almost 2.5 million inhabitants just feels too small or feels way too vast, then Medellín is not an exceptional choice for you, as an expat. Otherwise, channeling “Goldilocks and the Three Bears”… Medellín is that special spot, where for most… it doesn’t feel like too much or too little of anything…but like a warm blanket, on a cold day…feels… just right.


For more information on living and buying real estate in Columbia, Contact us today: harriet@casasandvillas.com