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Investing • Real Estate

Where to buy real estate in Colombia: Medellin vs. Bogota

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Colombia is seen by many as a lawless, dangerous place filled with drug cartels and violent crime – but while the country was the playground of Pablo Escobar during the 1970s through the 1980s, this couldn’t be any further from the truth in today’s world.

Because of this common misconception, property buyers in Colombia have a unique advantage with regards to value. The rest of the world hasn’t yet figured out that crime has dropped dramatically and that Colombia is quickly becoming one of Latin America’s most modern countries.

Meanwhile, real estate in Colombia is on sale for the more open-minded and aware people to snatch up. To some extent, people are already figuring out the value to be had in Colombia as prices have doubled since 2006 – but they are still undervalued compared to the rest of Latin America.

The city of Medellin is a perfect example of Colombia’s revival. Once the center of drug production and smuggling of not only the Americas but perhaps the entire world, the city is now one of the region’s most progressive.

An impressive public transportation system, which includes not only the standard light rail and bus system, but a network of cable cars running up and down Medellin’s mountainous terrain, along with a bustling entrepreneurial scene has led to it being named the most innovative city in the world

In fact, while once one of the world’s most dangerous cities, some rankings have removed Medellin from these types of the list altogether due to its vast improvement in public safety.

These types of stories are common all throughout Colombia though, not just in one of its cities, and as the nation continues to develop, attract top-quality talent, and remove misconceptions about itself, property owners look to benefit.

Property in Medellin vs. Bogota

Colombia is a rather large country of over 40 million people, and while there are numerous places to buy real estate in, investors usually find themselves in one of the two largest cities.

Medellin, as previously mentioned, is a former drug cartel headquarters that turned into one of Latin America’s most livable cities after a huge amount of economic growth, innovation, and hard work by its inhabitants.

The city has a lot of parks, universities, and libraries which have helped increase both Medellin’s standard of living and its knowledge base. It’s also the financial center of Colombia in many ways and Medellin’s economy is dominated by the headquarters of Bancolombia – the nation’s largest bank.

Real estate prices are extremely affordable as well, more so than many other places in the country, and an upscale two-bedroom condo in Medellin’s city center can be purchased for only around US$100,000. With that said, prices are on the rise as entrepreneurs and digital nomads “discover” Medellin.

While Medellin is more laid back and peaceful, Colombia’s bustling capital of Bogota is the exact opposite. Not only Colombia’s largest city but one of the largest in Latin America with a population of well over 13 million people in its metro area, Bogota is where things happen.

Bogota lacks the efficient public transportation network of Medellin but has most of the amenities of any other large, world-class city. International cuisine, museums, concerts, connections, one of South America’s busiest international airports, and most of Colombia’s businesses can all be found here.

With convenience also comes higher prices, and an apartment in Bogota’s city center will cost noticeably more than a similar one in Medellin.

However, as Colombia’s economy continues to grow (and it has, missing out on several recessions and only having one year of negative GDP growth since the 1970s), the capital city will be the most obvious benefactor.

If you want to meet people, Bogota is also the obvious choice. Medellin is not short on entrepreneurs and other interesting people, but it lacks the variety and scale of Bogota. People go to Medellin to relax while people go to Bogota to conduct business.

For anyone serious about international real estate investment, whether in Colombia or elsewhere, our real estate e-book Foreign Real Estate Guide is a comprehensive guide filled with specific strategies, tax implications, comparisons and much more.

Residency Through Investment in Colombia

Buying real estate in Colombia is also a great way to plant flags, obtain residency, and even get a second passport eventually. Anyone who buys property worth at least US$200,000 can apply for a 5-year investment visa.

After the five years runs up and assuming you haven’t left the country for two continuous years, you can then apply for citizenship and receive your Colombian passport.

Most people haven’t caught onto the fact that Colombia is no longer a haven for drug cartels, but governments have. Because of this, a passport from the country is increasingly becoming a more valuable travel document.

Singapore, for example, allows citizens of Colombia to enter visa-free, and Europe just signed an agreement allowing Colombians to stay in the EU for up to 90 days without a visa. The latter development is set to be finalized by the end of 2015.

Add the potential for capital appreciation, the privacy from tax authorities that owning foreign property provides, and the nation’s economic development, in general, and Colombian real estate truly is a great way to diversify yourself internationally with a single purchase.


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