I’m a big fan of living like a local when Henk and I travel, so when we decided to visit Medellin, Colombia, for two weeks, I began the search for an apartment to call home. Searching through various home rental sites, I found a couple of apartments that caught my eye for their location, amenities and affordability – and upon a little closer look, I realized these “Poblado Suites” that I had my eye on were properties managed by a local real estate company called First American Realty (FAR) International.
After learning a little more about the company, I booked one of their properties, the ‘London Suite’ in El Poblado, and our experience couldn’t have been better.
Why Rent with FAR International?Contrary to what you might think, having a company as our apartment provider instead of a private host proved to be a great advantage to us for a number of reasons:
- The prices for the apartments were more than competitive with other comparable private listings.
- There were no issues from condominiums that look unfavourably on short-term renters (so no need to ‘pretend’ we were guests of the actual tenants in the building, which can be awkward at best)
- Since Rich Holman, the company founder, is American and many of FAR’s staff have lived in the U.S., they understand the types of amenities North American travellers prefer (English TV channels, great internet connectivity, English-speaking staff to answer any questions, etc.)
- Many of the properties FAR manages have been purchased specifically with rentals in mind and therefore are located in prime neighbourhoods for visitors (El Poblado being the most desirable neighbourhood in Medellin, for example.)
FAR International are Ex-Pat Investment Experts
In addition to all of these advantages for short-term renters like ourselves, FAR International is also a full-service realty investment company that buys and sells properties in Colombia and provides expertise specifically adapted for foreign investors. As such, they have access to experts who can help with legal transactions, ex-patriot insurance, visitor visas, medical and residency questions and other local services difficult to navigate for foreigners. With investment expertise in both the States and Colombia, they are also well-versed in the requirements for bringing in funds for investment purposes.
We actually met several people from Canada who said that they spend the winter here, and I met at least 4 Americans who were looking for a second home in Medellin that would also provide good investment income for them. This type of foreign investment speaks volumes about how much Medellin has changed in the past decade or so.
And who knows, after being introduced to the charms of Medellin, you might just fall in love with the city yourself and decide you want to buy a place here! In which case, FAR International could help.
Our FAR Apartment in Poblado: the London Suite
Without a doubt, El Poblado is THE neighbourhood to be in when visiting Medellin, especially if you are coming here for the first time. It is the absolute centre when it comes to beautiful neighbourhoods, gourmet restaurants, chic bars, shopping and a hopping nightlife. It is also the safest neighbourhood in the city, with some of the newest and most modern buildings as well. Our London Suite apartment was a modern, recently renovated unit in a 3-story walkup right in the heart of this area.
Although not huge, we found the London Suite the perfect size for a couple with its good-sized kitchen, cozy living area and plenty of closet space (even for all of Henk’s photography equipment!).
The bathroom was spotless and had a terrific shower, the queen-sized bed was comfortable and the bedroom even had a second TV – perfect for watching movies thanks to a wide selection of English cable channels.
An extra bonus was our little ‘office nook’ off the living area that provided a place where we could do research on the computer, process photos, and not have cables and other equipment cluttering up the living space. The internet service was fast and reliable, as well, and the air conditioning worked perfectly.
Location, Location, Location
Best of all, everything that El Poblado offers was within easy walking distance of our London Suite apartment: dozens of restaurants and bars were literally blocks away; Parque Lleras and Parque Poblado (2 hotspots for nightlife) were both walking distance; and there was a huge Exito supermarket only a short cab ride away near the El Poblado Metro station. You could easily walk there as well, since it was all downhill, but the $2.00 cab ride was well worth it when we wanted to return to the apartment, loaded up with food and drinks for our 10-day stay. (Part of why I love renting apartments is that we can enjoy breakfast without having to get up and out first thing in the morning. Plus I love to spend the odd night in just relaxing and having dinner at home after a busy day touring around.)
Even though we only spent 2 weeks in Medellin, having an apartment to call home made it feel like we were living a more local experience, and I loved having our little suite to come back to every day. And thanks to FAR International, we never felt more at home.
TIP: Whenever you rent an apartment, do a quick check in all the rooms/cupboards while the host is with you to see if there is anything missing that you know you’ll need (i.e. a corkscrew!). In our case, I noticed there was no hair dryer in the bathroom, so I mentioned it to our FAR representative, who made sure to drop one off the very next day – awesome service!
FAR International operates rental properties in Medellin, Cartagena, Bogotà and Cali, in partnership with Apartment International, who offers properties to suit every taste or budget. After booking our stay, we even received a downloadable city guide for our stay in Medellin, with great recommendations for restaurants and activities sourced from FAR’s own staff.
Special thanks must go to Rich Holman, founder of FAR International, who provided us with a discounted media rate during our 10-day stay in the London Suite. Rich saw the investment potential in Medellin 10 years ago, and his vision has helped build FAR into a thriving company with over 75 employees.