One day while walking down the street in Medellín I started a conversation with a total stranger. Although I speak Spanish with native fluency he was quick to notice that I was not from Colombia because of my Costa Rican accent. He asked what I was doing in the city and told him that I was starting a relocation tour business for North Americans who were exploring the possibility of moving there. He congratulated me and wished me success. The topic then shifted to Colombia’s and specifically Medellín’s image abroad. He remarked that the country’s reputation had demonized by Hollywood and the news media. I could not agree more.
In the 1900s Medellín was one of the most violent cities in the world because of the fighting among drug cartels and the government. On top of that, at the same time, there was a war raging against the guerrilla insurgency in other parts of the country. Well now, everything has changed for the better. Las FARC, the largest guerrilla group, and the government negotiated a cease-fire and appear to be on the road to a permanent solution. A much smaller group of insurgents called the ELN, are negotiating with the government at present. The hope is that the worst is behind with the future will be bright.
Nowadays Medellín a booming urban center and selected as the most innovative city in the world. A completely different place thundering its notorious past. In January 2018 International Living magazine named the city one of the top five retirement destinations in the world. Indeed Medellín has made remarkable strides in in recent years.
As for violence and crime, no society is crime free. Unfortunately, Utopia does not exist in this mad world. Yes, criminal groups still produce drugs but life goes on and tourists and expats are really not affected. For instance, look at Italy. Despite having a well-rooted mafia, tourism and daily life still go on. The bad guys are not interested in tourists or foreign retirees. The U.S. Is the biggest consumer market for illegal drugs in the world which fuels crime. Has tourism and people moved to American stopped? Hell no! Life continues normally. The bad guys are interested in distribution and protecting their territories and not hurting innocent people. With the gun violence in parts of the U.S., you are much safer living in a city like Medellín. There have been no mass shootings against innocent people there.
Regarding safety in Colombia,”The biggest danger is that you’ll like it so much, you may not want to return home.” I have never felt threatened while in Medellín and certainly would not recommend anyone moving there if I thought for an instant that it was dangerous.
On Live in Colombia’s one-of-a-kind Relocation Tours, prospective expats can see for themselves what it is like to live in Medellín. For more information see: www.liveincolombia.com