South America

Finding and purchasing your dream home in the top locations of South America…

The continent of South America is also known as the southern subcontinent of the Americas. The entire landmass is located in the Western Hemisphere and mostly south of the equator. However, a few of the locations we recommend lie in the northern hemisphere including most of Colombia, a small portion of Brazil, and parts of Ecuador including Quito which straddles the equator itself.

Most of the continent is located in the tropics and the geography is dominated by the long Andes Mountain range and the Amazon River Basin. With lush jungles, wide rivers, coastal beachfront areas, and even vineyards you can find just about any natural setting you might want to explore.

South America is a perfect destination for many U.S. and Canadian expats since it lies in similar time zones and the northern-most countries are only a few hours away by air. Many major airlines serve the larger cities in South America where you’ll find modern airports and friendly locals.

Weather

The South American locations nearest the equator offer excellent year-round weather, especially those at higher elevations such as Quito, Ecuador and Medellín, Colombia. While in destinations like Santiago, Chile you can enjoy four seasons and snow is common in the highlands.

Language

Most countries in South America speak Spanish, while Brazil’s native language is Portuguese. If you can learn a little Spanish, you can travel around the continent without having to master several languages. You’ll find more English speakers in the larger cities depending on your country of choice, but you’ll need some Spanish in the smaller, more traditional villages.

Lifestyle

You can immerse yourself in the culture of Spanish-inspired, colonial towns that seem to be frozen in time, or marvel at the large, cosmopolitan cities with first-world infrastructure, public transportation, quality roads, drinkable water, and every convenience you are accustomed to “back home.”

If you are looking for an exceptional quality of life, at a reasonable cost of living, the amazing opportunities in South America are not to be missed.

Brazil’s Economy: The Overlooked Powerhouse Of South America

Copacabana Beach and Ipanema beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Why Investors Are Flocking To Safe Haven Brazil

I’m not going to wax lyrical about the amazing natural beauty of Brazil, nor bore you with talk of 5,000 miles of coastline and many of the world’s best and most pristine beaches.

I won’t tell you about the rich and diverse culture, the 7 natural and 14 cultural UNESCO World Heritage Sites, or the rich music, cuisine, and exotic peoples either.

Today I’ll be analyzing the Brazilian economy, because Brazil has revealed herself as a safe haven investor’s paradise.

Everywhere else around the globe, markets are in turmoil, governments are panicking, and the world’s attention is turned toward the war in Ukraine.

Brazil doesn’t seem affected by any of this…

Savvy investor money is pouring into Brazil. And it’s easy to see why.

Brazil is the global powerhouse that is often forgotten, even though it’s one of the biggest, strongest, and most diversified economies in …

Why Loja Is Ecuador’s Hidden Gem For Living Like A Local

A church in Vilcabamba, Ecuador

Loja: Ecuador As It Was Before The Gringo Invasion

Loja, Ecuador , is the object of my most remarkable failed prediction. In fact, two failed predictions.

Loja is one of my favorite cities in Ecuador. In fact, if I were returning to Ecuador today, this small Andean city in the south of the country is probably where I’d settle.

The city of Cuenca, is far more popular than Loja. In fact, it’s one of the most popular expat destinations in the Americas, with beautiful colonial architecture and loads of amenities.

By contrast, Loja is a city for Ecuadorians. Aside from a handful of exchange students, you’ll see very few foreigners here.

A little over 10 years ago—when the expat population of Cuenca exploded—I predicted that Loja would be next. It was loaded with opportunity for the entrepreneur, had …

Tips On How To Buy Property Overseas

Hosteria Andaluza, Ecuador

A number of years ago, I bought a terrific property in Vilcabamba, Ecuador, from a friend. It was a good-sized parcel of land with a simple home and a guest cottage… and over 150 feet of river frontage. With a bounty of tropical fruits, coffee plants, and surrounded by beautiful mountains, it was a real paradise.

After a couple of years and much Spanish study, I got around to actually reading the title. What I discovered was that I hadn’t actually bought the property outright, but rather I’d bought shares of an inheritance from four descendants of the original owner. And to make matters worse, I wasn’t completely sure if I’d accounted for all the descendants…

One of the trickiest aspects of property investing overseas is verifying that you’ve got a clean title. In North America, this is something we take for granted. But overseas, ownership laws vary from one country to the next and can even vary between regions of the same country.

So before my next property purchase, I decided to get smart about titles in …

3 Top Spots For Enjoying Spring-Like Weather All Year Long

Beautiful aerial view of Puebla Mexico and its church

If you’ve been researching the topic of retiring or buying a property abroad, you’ve probably seen a lot about beaches, sun, sand, and warm-weather locations.

But I routinely hear from readers who don’t like hot weather or humidity and have no desire to live near the beach. Just this week, I heard from two people asking for more articles on destinations with cooler climates.

The term “eternal spring-like weather” is frequently abused by those who write about overseas living… and I have been among the offenders.

The problem is that “spring-like” is different for everyone. Springtime in Alabama is quite different from that of Ontario, for example. I’ve met lots of people who found Cuenca, Ecuador, too cold, while others were too hot in Medellín, Colombia, yet both places are said to have “spring-like” weather.

To me—and in today’s essay—“spring-like” weather is that which stays in the lower-to mid-70s℉ year-round. Here are three of my favorite locations that fit that definition.

El Retiro: Colonial Living In The Cool Colombian Mountains

El Retiro, Antioquia, Colombia
Adobe Stock/camaralucida1

When I first saw El Retiro, I fell in love immediately. The network of narrow streets, its wealth of colonial architecture, and the bustling and energetic town square make for an inviting setting. What’s more, the town is surrounded by mountains that provide a beautiful backdrop to its colonial ambiance.

El Retiro is a small colonial city in the Colombian highlands, a short commute southeast of Medellín. It’s also a pleasant, 30-minute drive southwest from the José María Córdova International Airport. Founded in 1790, the current population of El Retiro is around 21,000 people.

I first discovered El Retiro on a trip from the airport to my home in Medellín, when the driver suggested a short excursion. He knew El Retiro well because his family often leaves Medellín to visit on weekends and enjoy the small-town ambiance and cool weather.

The colonial center is anchored by a stately white church that overlooks the town plaza. Called Iglesia Nuestra Señora del Rosario, it was named after a painting of the same name. This plaza is the social hub of the town’s historic center… always bustling and full of life.

El Retiro is somewhat sleepy during the week, but its cafés and restaurants come to life on the weekends as people from Medellín—many of whom have second homes in the area—come to enjoy its charms. The constant flow of visitors and the number of new projects going up in the area bode well for anyone considering buying here.

Another good sign is that the government is investing in parks, recreation, and infrastructure, in response to the town’s popularity. Renovation of the riverside park with picnic tables, a new bus stop on the plaza, investment in street lighting, sidewalks, and a new entertainment plaza are all examples of projects completed in recent years.

El Retiro is perched at an altitude of around 2,175 meters. The average high temperature is 73°F with a seasonal variation of one or two degrees. Overnight lows average 55°F, easily qualifying as comfortable, “spring-like” weather.

Here are a couple of examples of the kind of properties you can find in El Retiro…

– In the center of El Retiro, you will find nicely finished apartments, less than two years old, with up to 100 square meters of living space, three bedrooms, and three bathrooms. These properties offer spacious living and are perfectly located for car-free living in the heart of town, with shops, cafés, and the central plaza all within a short walk. They would also work well as rentals, accommodating weekenders visiting the cool mountains from Medellín. You can pay as little as US$100,000 for these apartments.

For those who prefer country living outside of town…

– You will find numerous country homes in the tranquil hills outside of El Retiro with expansive views of the surrounding lush mountains. The main house usually comprises around 200 square meters of living space with up to three bedrooms, often each with its own bathroom. Sometimes a guest or caretaker’s house comes with the property, usually with around 80 square meters of living area, two to three bedrooms, and a single bathroom. These properties sometimes go for less than US$200,000.

Puebla: A Cool Highland City In Colonial Mexico

Aerial view of Cholula in Puebla, Mexico
Adobe Stock/Byelikova Oksana

This is my favorite city in Mexico. It’s not well-known on the retire-overseas circuit… and that’s probably why it’s my favorite.

Puebla is one of the most impressive Spanish-colonial environments you’ll find in the Americas because it’s a real, living city… not one that caters primarily to tourism or expats. Its population is around 3.25 million, yet in many ways it manages to feel like a small community.

Among international travelers, Puebla is known for its famous Talavera pottery and its mole poblano… a rich, dark sauce made from toasted ground chili peppers, spices, chocolate, and up to 25 other ingredients.

Puebla’s zócalo (town square) is one of the best in Mexico, an entire city block lined with sidewalk cafés and shops hidden behind the classic portales (arches) common to the zócalos of many colonial cities.

The sheer size of Puebla’s historic center—and its pristine state of preservation—make it a rarity in Spanish America and led to Puebla’s designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. There are over 1,000 colonial buildings downtown, the cathedral is magnificent, and you’ll find 70-plus beautiful churches in the historic center alone.

There are few American retirees in Puebla. In fact, if it weren’t for family connections, I may not have made it here myself. This lack of a large North American or Canadian expat community will be a positive for some and a negative for others… but it does create the feeling that you’re in traditional, old Mexico.

As for the climate, Puebla sits at an altitude of about 2,135 meters and enjoys a subtropical highland climate. The average high temperature is 77°F, with a seasonal variation of about ±5°F. Overnight lows average 49°, passing as optimum temperatures for most of us.

The property prices here are surprisingly low, even near the zócalo and cathedral. This is partly because homes are priced in pesos—unlike the better-known tourist and expat haunts—giving dollar holders a tremendous advantage at today’s exchange rates.

– Interesting property purchases in Puebla can be found in genuine 16th-century casas antiguas, certified historic monuments located in Puebla’s Historic Center. Some of these have been completely restored and divided into condos. These condos have about 200 square meters of living space on two levels, including three bedrooms, two and a half bathrooms, and covered parking for one vehicle. The asking price hovers around US$150,000.

– Pay a little extra and enjoy the perks of having a balcony, laundry area, and parking for two cars. These slightly more expensive properties often have common areas, including elevators, roof gardens with views of the surrounding mountains and historic center, multiple-use salons, storage spaces, and even hot tubs.

Arequipa: A Sparkling Colonial City In The Peruvian Highlands

Aerial drone view of Arequipa main square and cathedral church, with the Misti volcano as background.
Adobe Stock/christian vinces

Arequipa is Peru’s second-largest city and one of its biggest tourist destinations. Due to its beautifully restored historic center, Arequipa was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000.

Known as the Ciudad Blanca, or “white city,” many of Arequipa’s buildings are constructed using sillar, a white stone made from volcanic rock found in the area. The effect of all of this white architecture is a sense of brilliance in the strong Andean sun.

Arequipa has a strong Moorish influence, resulting in a fascinating blend of architectural styles throughout the city. Construction quality is good here compared to what I’ve seen in other colonial cities due to the use of sillar for older buildings, which better withstands earthquakes.

Arequipa has its own airport but it’s pretty small, so for most trips you’ll need to connect through Lima to get here.

As for the spring-like rating, Arequipa sits at an altitude of around 2,300 meters. This gives the city a gorgeous climate, with an average daily high temperature of 75°F. The average low is around 50°F, with almost no seasonal variation.

For a real estate buy, I like most areas in the historic center… although I’d avoid the blocks immediately around the main square due to the heavy tourist traffic. There are also several pleasant residential areas outside of the historic center, such as the Cayma district.

– Apartments with three bedrooms, two-and-a-half baths, maybe a study, a family room, a spacious kitchen, and a single garage space are available in the historic center. These buildings are conveniently located close to colleges, universities, and commercial centers. The asking price for one of these city center apartments is around US$150,000.

– You will also find modern houses built in the old Peruvian style, with charming stone arches and counters with tropical-hardwood finishing. A two-level home with three bedrooms, three bathrooms, and an area of around 220 square meters… plus a little bit if there is a carport and maybe even an interior courtyard would have an asking price of less than US$200,000.

A second home by the beach is enticing to many people… but certainly not to everyone. If you’d rather have cool weather—without the need for heating or air conditioning—then these three options are worth your attention.

Lee Harrison

Latin America Correspondent

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Letters To The Editor

For countries with an investment-for-residency visa, is it a one-time investment?

If a periodic re-investment is required, will a home purchase satisfy the requirements? If you leave after, say, five years, is the investment returned?

John

Good questions. Investor visas take numerous different forms, depending on the country.

Generally speaking, you do have to maintain a qualifying investment to keep the investor’s visa. In the case of homeownership, this means that you still own the property or own another one of sufficient value to qualify. If you’re holding a certificate of deposit, you’ll need to show that you still have one of the proper value.

That said, in some countries, after holding the visa for a specified period, you may be eligible for some form of permanent residency, which does not require periodic re-qualification.

***

I am currently single and would like to live on the coast somewhere in Mexico. I would prefer to buy a beachfront condo rather than rent. I hear from Mexican friends that if the seller knows you are an American, the price will go up.

Should I try to buy through a Mexican friend and then somehow transfer the title?

I appreciate your advice,

David

It’s true that you may be a victim of “gringo pricing” as an American or Canadian buyer. But the truth is that it’s actually rich-people pricing… that is, a wealthy Mexican would most likely get the same price as you would.

You definitely do not want to have a friend buy the property and then transfer it to you. There would be a significant transaction cost in doing this—including the setup of a trust—it would probably cost you more than it would save… plus, it’s risky.

One trick that I’ve used is to have a friend (or a native speaker) establish the price for you, after which you’d take over and sign the actual documents. That may get you a better price, and there’s no risk or extra cost.

In Brazil I once gave a hotel receptionist the equivalent of US$20 to respond to about a dozen real estate ads in the paper. I figured that when they heard my accent, the price might go up. I don’t know if I got the best prices… but at least I know it wasn’t my accent that did me in.

***

This one was directed to contributor John Clites.

John,

Your article on Domingos Martins mentioned its German roots and heritage but did not mention if German is still spoken there.

Can one get by there speaking German, or is Portuguese an absolute necessity?

J.F.

You would really need basic Portuguese to manage in Domingos Martins. Although there are efforts to expand the number of speakers, only a minority of residents speak German… which in Domingos Martins is an old Pomeranian dialect, not modern German.

Have a question? You can write to us here.

Discover A Laid-Back Life In Argentina, The Perfect Expat Haven

Grass against flowing river during summer season in Cordoba, Argentina

Could This Be The Most “Chill” Place In South America?

From dental appointments to haircuts to passport renewals for the kids, I let a lot slide over the past 18 months.

But procrastination time is over…

This week we got a note about a school trip to Barcelona. It was just the trigger I needed. The pandemic cloud lifted. And, later today, we’ll be off to get new mugshots to send to the passport office. Not just so my eldest son can go on his school tour, but so we can take a long overdue family trip next year.

Influenced by meme culture, the kids are tossing around ideas about Japan and Russia. But, if I could choose anywhere in …

Pros And Cons Of Living In A Tourist Area

Colorful large group of unrecognizable people blurred in front of Paris Eiffel Tower at evening

After living for six years in Punta del Este, Uruguay, I swore to myself that I’d never, ever live in a tourist area again.

Never.

And that includes places with large numbers of expats, which can have the same impact as large numbers of tourists on an area.

However, after making that declaration, I have since bought two more properties in high-tourism areas…

That’s because there are really two sides to that coin. Living in a popular tourist destination can be annoying… but it also has its advantages.

Things That Really Annoyed Me About Living In A High-Tourism Area

Tourists at the Pont du Gard, Nimes, France
Adobe Stock/spiritofamerica
Tour guides can be an annoyance of living in a tourist area

1. Lack Of Community:

Touristic areas just don’t have the same community feel as a normal residential setting. Since many of us stand out as foreigners when living abroad—and tourist destinations have high numbers of foreigners—you often feel like you’re being treated as a tourist rather than a local resident who is part of the community.

2. It’s Hard To Integrate:

In touristic areas it can be hard to integrate with the local culture and people because the local residents often place you in the “tourist” camp (or expat camp) rather than the local camp.

3. Higher Costs And Gringo Pricing:

As an expat living in a tourist area, it’s hard to exempt yourself from the pricing practices that tourists usually fall victim to.

4. The Disneyland Effect:

Popular touristic areas anywhere in the world often don’t reflect the country or region’s genuine character. Instead you get a caricature of the country, one designed to attract visitors.

5. Tourist Annoyances:

High-tourism areas often come with annoyances, such as a constant stream of vendors, tour guides, scammers, and even beggars. When I lived in Montevideo’s Centro neighborhood, I watched from my balcony as the town’s pickpockets, thieves, and beggars passed uneventfully through Centro on their way to Ciudad Vieja to prey on its wealth of tourists and cruise-ship passengers.

There may also be issues with crowds themselves, bringing noise and traffic, or taking up valuable space in your favorite parking lot or restaurant.

There’s no doubt that these things can be bothersome. But high-tourism areas also have benefits… benefits that you’ll appreciate.

These Advantages Of Touristic Areas May Outweigh The Annoyances

Nations Park with Volcano Fountain in Lisbon, Portugal
Adobe Stock/mybixo
Tourist areas often have great infrastructure

1. The Community Amenities:

Touristic areas usually have more than their fair share of nice restaurants, cafés, and entertainment. When I first moved to Vilcabamba, Ecuador, we had 16 restaurants listed in the guidebook, in a village of about 500 people. This is far more than you’d see in a normal Ecuadorian mountain village.

2. Care Of Infrastructure:

Tourist destinations usually have excellently maintained roads, sidewalks, trails, and beaches. In Mazatlán, Mexico, there are crews who clean the boardwalk streets and beaches every morning. In Punta del Este, Uruguay, platoons of young people rake the beach each day while looking for stray items of litter.

By contrast, I once lived on a “local” beach in Brazil where the plastic bottles and trash stayed put until the homeowners got out there to clean them up.

3. Lack Of Obvious Poverty:

Obvious poverty can be a downside in poor countries, but in tourist areas you’ll often see far less of it. One reason is that these areas bring local jobs… the other is that local officials often make efforts to keep panhandlers and homeless people away from the high-tourist sectors.

4. Better Flight Connections:

Areas with high tourist traffic usually have convenient ways to get there, such as international airports with frequent flights or good public transportation.

5. Rental Income And Resale:

Many tourist areas offer the opportunity for good rental returns due to the high demands for short-term stays. They can also provide you with more liquidity at resale time.

6. More English Spoken:

English is the primary international language and is almost always used in tourist destinations. So if it’s the only language you speak, you’ll generally be better off in an area with lots of tourists or expats.

7. More Conveniences:

I’m talking about things like ATMs and bank branches as well as North American franchise stores and North American products. In areas with lots of tourists passing through, these conveniences are plentiful, making life abroad much easier.

8. Better Construction Options:

High-tourism or expat areas often bring better options for housing than the local market would otherwise demand. You’ll find more high-end condos, for example, built to first-world standards in areas with high levels of tourism.

This can cut both ways. Sometimes high-tourist areas bring mass-market, low-end, bargain construction that results in poor quality housing.

9. Finally, Great Local Intrinsic Attributes:

Tourists usually don’t come just to hang out with other tourists… they come because the area has something good to offer. This can include beautiful beaches, sublime weather, scenic mountains, or quaint old cities.

Whatever brought the tourists in the first place is something that you probably will enjoy, too.

A High Concentration Of Expats May Produce The Same Effect As Tourists

When I first moved to Cuenca, Ecuador, in 2001, there was maybe one restaurant in town that qualified as fine dining. Litter was a problem in the historic center and many of the streets and sidewalks were in poor repair. Locals didn’t speak English, Spanish was mandatory… it was six months before I met my first English-speaker in Cuenca.

Today, Cuenca has between 8,000 to 10,000 North-American retirees.

This influx has brought some disadvantages: a lack of integration with the local community and higher prices all-round. The local culture is changed, likely forever.

But it’s also brought positives: dozens of creative and elegant dining options, cafés, ethnic food, a more diverse supermarket stock, and a cleaner, better maintained downtown.

You will also find far more English spoken, plenty of modern condos on the edge of town, and even a local immigration office.

Ultimately, a large expat community affects the local environment in many of the same ways that tourism does, bringing both the bad and the good.

Consider The Tourism Angle Carefully When Buying Abroad

Be honest with yourself about whether you’ll be using your overseas home full-time, for part of the year, or as a vacation getaway. In my experience, the more you’re in residence, the less you’ll like the tourist environment.

If you’re spending one month at a time abroad, you’ll enjoy the tourist areas’ amenities, and the annoyances won’t have time to wear on you. Long-term residents, however, will appreciate the community feel and local culture of non-touristic areas, long after the novelty of the tourist amenities have worn off.

Medellín, Colombia, is a rare find where I enjoy all the amenities of a tourist destination without the tourists or annoyances that come with a busy tourist trail. I can go weeks without seeing another American while still enjoying a convenient, upscale lifestyle at a low cost.

But aside from isolated examples like Medellín, you should give this issue careful thought when buying a second home abroad. Buying in a popular tourist destination will bring you some much appreciated amenities, but they do come with a price.

Lee Harrison
Latin America Correspondent

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Letters To The Editor

Hi,

Thanks for your information about Colombia. I used to live in Cali and I’m interested in returning now that things are politically calm.

I would like to know if it’s worth the time and money to ship my things, like my bed and a small amount of furniture. I don’t even know where to start in that regard.

Thanks,
Marita

An excellent question—and one that comes up frequently. I’ll start by saying that I’ve moved a household internationally three times and had a good experience each time. Each year the process for booking an international move gets easier. A number of sites will even put your move out for bids, after which you’ll get competing prices via email. Take a look here for two that I’ve used in the past month:

However, I would not consider moving furniture to Colombia. At today’s exchange rates, high-quality, Colombian-made furniture is a real bargain, and there’s no way you’ll save money by moving a few items. You can buy brand-new furniture in Cali for thousands less.

For more information, check out this report on buying and living in Cali, Colombia.

Investing In Your Own Coffee Farm Overseas

Ripe red coffee cherries

Back in the year 2000, on one of my final retire-overseas exploratory trips, I looked at a small, rustic home beside a rushing river in Mexico. Giant trees grew along the riverside, shading both the house and most of the large property.

Among the trees, I found a plant that I didn’t recognize… it turned out to be a coffee plant, lush with ripe berries. I plucked a few berries from the tree and thought about how great it would be to grow my own coffee right on my property. I still have the berries today as a souvenir.

We didn’t buy that house just south of Xalapa, but I never lost sight of the dream of …

The Best Bargain Turn-Key Investment In Bogotá To Earn Passive Income

Skyline of downtown Bogota, Colombia.

Bogotá Bounces Back—Own In This Foodie Haven For Less Than US$50,000

Would you rather continue with your life as it is or restart it?

Would you rather always be traveling or never travel again?

Would you rather go back to pre-internet days or make do with dial-up?

Ouch! Just thinking about that old dial-up screech makes the last one an easy call for me…

I played “Would You Rather?” with my kids as part of their homeschool lessons this morning. It falls under “oral language development” on some teacher’s curriculum. And I thought of you, dear reader, because it’s also a good way to get you thinking about your own priorities as you shop for a place to live or invest overseas.

For example, would you rather be in a place with no English speakers but have access to the best food on the planet… or a place where everyone speaks English but you can only eat rice and beans for every meal?

In reality, of course, no place lives up to such extremes. In many of the places we talk about, you can find the best of both worlds…

Take Colombia, for instance.

With a slower place and a focus on family life, you may get the feeling that you’ve returned to pre-internet days… but you can also stay easily connected with fast internet.

And regarding the presence of top-notch food versus English-speaking comrades…

In Medellín—our top lifestyle choice in this country—you’ll find a well-established expat community and could technically get by in English (though it would be a limited experience of a wonderful city). In Bogotá, on the other hand, full-time expats are few and far between and you’ll need to speak Spanish or be willing to learn.

Meanwhile, Bogotá is emerging as a gastronomic destination on the international scene. While not on the same level, you have many options for dining out in Medellín—including international cuisine and fine dining (in other words, you’d be far from rice and beans).

When we talk about Colombia, Medellín tends to take center-stage here at Overseas Property Alert—and for good reason. But today, we’re going to take a closer look at Bogotá…

First, Though, Let’s See What’s Happening On The National Scene…

A Strong Economy That Continues To Grow

Colombia is one of the most affordable destinations in Latin America for North American buyers. Thanks to a weakened peso these past few years, real estate and cost of living are an extraordinary value today compared with 10 years ago.

This weak currency doesn’t tell the full story of Colombia, though. Over the past decade, the Colombian economy has consistently held up as one of the best performers in Latin America. Though—like most the rest of the world—its economy contracted in 2020, the outlook for 2021 is growth of 4%.

Helping this growth is Colombia’s middle class which numbers 19 million today and is expected to reach 24 million by 2025. This growing working class with more disposable income is helping to keep the local real estate market active. The Colombian government recently announced more than 200,000 subsidies to help locals borrow money to buy a home.

One of the biggest concerns readers have about Colombia is safety. The country has worked hard to break from its dark past and make its streets safer. Thanks to its efforts, between 2006 and 2018, the number of foreign visitors to Colombia jumped by more than 300%. In 2019, foreign visitors reached a record 4.5 million—with the majority coming from the United States. Of these, the majority—almost 45%—came to Bogotá.

So, Would You Rather Bogotá or Medellín?

As the fifth largest city in Latin America, Bogotá is home to almost 8 million people. It represents the eighth largest economy in Latin America and is home to the El Dorado International Airport, which ranks first in cargo volume and third in passenger service. From the U.S. east coast, you can reach the Colombian capital in five hours.

Bogota, Colombia
At 8,675 feet above sea level, Bogotá offers a mild climate year round

Bogotá supports 113 universities that turn out more than 100,000 new graduates every year. Due to its stable and diverse economy, more than 1,800 multinational companies have established offices here.

As I mentioned, if you’re planning to settle here, you’ll have to work harder to find English speakers. But if you’re looking for a more authentic, Colombian experience, Bogotá could be the place for you…

Young expat entrepreneur Joey Bonura lived for seven years in Panama City before moving south to Bogotá.

“There is a small expat community in Bogotá,” reports Joey. “You can choose to get involved with it or not. I had too many expat friends when I lived in Panama City, so I chose to make more local friends in Bogotá. In a city of 8 million people, I rarely run into other foreigners. If you do want to meet other expats in Bogotá, you’ll have to make an effort.”

Another advantage Bogotá has over Panama City is affordability. In Panama City, a couple would need a minimum US$2,500 a month to live comfortably. In Bogotá, you can cut that budget down to US$935.

Eating out is one of the best values in Bogotá. Many places offer a menu of the day during lunch for only 10,000 pesos (less than US$3). In one of the many upscale dining options, a main course costs between 30,000 and 50,000 pesos (US$8.50 to US$14)… at least half of what you’d pay for something similar in the States.

Streets of Bogota, Colombia
A couple can live comfortably here from US$935 a month

Bogotá is also one of the most bike-friendly cities in Latin America with over 500 kilometers of bike lanes. Visitors and locals can take advantage of MUVO—the city’s bike-sharing initiative. For around US$10 a month, you have unlimited use of electric-powered bikes that are scattered around the city. Streets have dedicated bike lanes, so you can feel safe wheeling about.

Speaking of getting around, there’s some big news on the infrastructure front here. After 80 years of planning, Bogotá’s metro is finally set to become a reality. In October 2019, the government signed a deal with a Chinese consortium to carry out this US$4-billion metro project, due for completion in 2028.

Break Into Bogotá For Less Than US$50,000

In terms of real estate, Bogotá is one of the most affordable Latin American capital cities. The average price per square meter in the city is US$1,500 (compared with US$2,200 in Panama City and US$3,200 in Buenos Aires).

Medellín may hold more appeal for full-time expats. But, if you’re looking for an investment opportunity in this country—especially while it offers a generous currency discount—it’s worth paying attention to Bogotá, too. With the number of international visitors on the rise, a short-term rental in the capital can provide a steady cash flow.

One turn-key, pre-construction project stands out right now…

It’s an opportunity to own a micro-apartment in a popular area of Bogotá. Units here range from 22 to 32 square meters. Compact is key in this market. It’s what most short-term visitors to the city are after—resulting in better returns for you.

Fully-furnished units start from US$47,500. Once complete, you can turn them over to property management and sit back and wait for your paychecks—which can come in your choice of Colombian pesos or U.S dollars. You’re also free to use the unit whenever you wish and explore the delights of Bogotá for yourself.

For more details—including images, floor plans, and rental projections—get in touch here now.

Lynn Mulvihill
Editor, Overseas Property Alert

Your Only Opportunity To Get The Cheapest Beach Properties In Brazil

Paradise lagoon from above in Jericoacoara, Ceara, Brazil.

A new WhatsApp message dings from my sister in Dubai…

“We camped in the desert last night. Got a new car and lots of camping gear, so we decided to trial it. We slept in a rooftop tent with a great big mattress and had a pop-up tent on the ground with a camping toilet.”

“That’s not real camping,” responds my brother, locked down here in Ireland like me.

In a flash, my sister is back:

“You can’t really camp on the ground here. Some eejit on a quad bike might roll over you in your sleep.”

(To clarify, “eejit” is an Irish version of idiot. Bonus: it’s also an approved Scrabble word.)

My sister had a point.

I love hearing stories of other people’s adventures right now. But when …