Living in Medellin: A great place for expats
by R. Doerr
Medellin in the 60's
Only living here for two months at the moment but I have been to Colombia some fifty times to vacation, work and do research. It is like a second home to me and I love this country with a passion.
I am a retired college professor of Spanish, Latin American literature, culture and civilization, now retired. Totally fluent in Spanish. My wife is Colombian, from Bogota. The first time I came to Medellin was back in 1964 after having worked with a group of students in Cali. Medellin was a far different city in the 1960's but I remember I was drawn to everything about it even back then.
In the meantime I have returned to this city some twelve times. Medellin back in the late seventies, eighties and nineties was not exactly an expat destination with its drug traffic, kidnappings, violence and crime. A dark time in Colombia's history. But fast forward to the present and this city has experienced a veritable renaissance of epic proportions and has become one of the most progressive, innovative, prosperous, forward-thinking and admired cities in Latin America and in the developing world in general. People come here from all over the world to observe its highly successful and enviable transportation infrastructure (aboveground metro and metrocable systems); spotlessly clean, efficient and inexpensive.
Medellin's extensive cultural offerings (theatre, cine, music, art, incredible museums) leave nothing to be desired. Not to mention some thirty universities. There is something for everyone here. The city has an enormous variety of restaurants, from the elegant to the informal, serving local, Latin American and international cuisine. And of course U.S fast food establishments are here, too.
Medellin's shopping malls, of which there are many, have nothing to envy the shopping emporiums of any other city in the world. Some are architecturally stunning. Expats living here can find some of the most advanced hospital and medical facilities to be found anywhere and Medellin is said to have five of the best hospitals in all of Latin America. Excellent and ultra modern dental facilities are here as well. And services are delivered at far lower prices than in the U.S. Large, well-stocked U.S style supermarkets are everywhere. All in all, a well run city. And then there is the climate, absolutely perfect with temperatures in the seventies and eighties all year round, the city of eternal spring. Plus Medellin's geographical setting in a long valley surrounded by tall, lushly landscaped hills never ceases to amaze. It is stunningly beautiful. This incredibly green city is truly a gardener's paradise, a tropical Garden of Eden; the variety of tropical vegetation and fruit is absolutely amazing. Any downsides at all? The traffic, at times chaotic, and lots, I mean LOTS, of motorcycles.
I would say any expat, whether from the U.S, Canada, Australia or Europe, having decided to settle in Medellin, has made an excellent choice. A large city, but not too large and reasonably safe, that has everything one needs and more and a perfect climate, with a low cost of living and extremely well-priced real estate, very friendly and courteous people who, in my estimation speak the best (clearest and most educated) Spanish in all of Latin America, Medellin has it all!