What follows in this editorial is one of the most important announcements I'll ever make. A new community is rapidly taking shape in the mountains of Colombia. A number of liberty-minded individuals within the free-market thinking community are taking quick action to be sure they do not miss out on this opportunity and I want to share with you here many of the details about what's developing.
Of course, I could write pages about the devastating events unfolding around the world right now and why it's smart to be preparing a safe secondary residence and securing your assets offshore. But you already know the state of the world is precarious, especially if you read The Daily Bell regularly. The current economic environment, propped up by fiat money and international debt, cannot last. Hard times are coming once this faux "Wall Street Party" winds to its conclusion. You've watched with us as we at The Daily Bell monitor the unraveling of the modern social order.
If you're not convinced already that life as we've known it cannot, will not and, really, should not continue, peruse some of the articles, editorials and interviews we've published recently. From the monetary system to phony political shenanigans to public education to ceaseless wars to individual liberties and the very social fabric of the Western world, the unraveling is well underway. The façade is being rapidly shredded and what's being revealed behind the curtain, as many of us already know, is not a pleasant sight.
But for those who have clung to the smoke and mirrors fantasy of Big Brother providing protection from every bogeyman and the Nanny State providing for every need, this unveiled picture of reality is terrifying. And public fear, particularly on a grand scale, is a very dangerous thing – perhaps especially to those who have prospered and built an economically stable, ordered, predictable and safe life for themselves and their families. Safety is being redefined as our times change.
Of course, because you're paying attention you are already aware of this unraveling and have, most likely, contemplated whether you'll be able to protect what you care about within this crumbling system or need to secure a second passport, secure your assets offshore and secure a secondary residence, either as a go-to safety net or as a permanent home.
That's why I began this editorial by saying this is one of the most important announcements I'll ever make.
Anyone considering the latter option – securing a secondary residence – knows that finding an ideal place to live in a foreign country can be a daunting task. That's one of the reasons for the popularity of expat "communities." Such communities often have drawbacks, though, in that they are extremely isolated, ideologically or geographically, or mismanaged and simply involve an unacceptable level of financial risk.
I'm especially excited to share with you this breaking news because the community High Alert is developing in Colombia has considered those drawbacks, and many others, and offers the right alternative. As they say in Colombia, "The only risk is not wanting to leave."
First, let me try to tell you about the setting of the Terra Viva, or Living Earth, community in such a way that I can convey even an inkling of the spectacular appeal of this magical place. Imagine …
… being nestled in an Alps-like pristine setting, utterly immersed in indescribable natural beauty, the sounds and sights of parrots and monkeys chattering in the trees, waterfowl gliding to a graceful landing on a still, 2-hectare lake, vines and the tree canopy high overhead shading the mid-day sun while soft breezes ensure even afternoon temperatures are pleasant …
… buildings with few solid walls so the warm afternoon sun and pleasant, cool evening air heats and cools naturally, yet no insects flying in to disrupt your comfortable surroundings, set on spacious lots separated by trees on the rolling hillsides …
… enjoying a fresh morning coffee – locally grown and roasted, of course – as you watch the morning unfold from your patio, clouds rising up from below to meet you and then disappear overhead as the chatter of animal life begins …
… a surrounding countryside of millions of hectares of trees and meadows on gentle hills and rolling mountainsides, sparkling with streams and lakes, where small farms, grazing cattle pastures and small villages resound with the laughter and music of campesinos whose families have worked this land for generations … hard-working, friendly people who are excited to welcome into their midst Terra Viva and the many opportunities they know this community will provide for their families and their own communities …
And yet from this magical oasis of peace and tranquility one can easily access the modern, fast-growing, culturally thriving city of Medellin with its state-of-the-art healthcare facilities and hospitals, museums, universities, shopping, music, restaurants … and only three or four hours to Miami or New York City via the frequent direct flights, which are also available to many points in Europe and, of course, across Central and South America.
Have I created a word image that even slightly conveys the beauty of this area? If so, now you understand why I have owned an apartment in the El Poblado area of Medellin for the last four years, which I just sold, and am so excited to be part of building a new home at Terra Viva.
Let me share with you a few of the more practical aspects of this community now. Together with Ron Holland, who you know from his extensive writing and speaking about liberty, asset protection, international real estate and more (in fact, he was interviewed by International Man last week – read that here), and several other leading free-market minds, I have established a summary listing of just a few of the key positive aspects of Terra Viva. Of course, extensive due diligence went into this effort first, without which I would not be writing about it today.
This land is not for sale: The land we have acquired as well as the additional parcels to which we have access is a valuable rarity, available only because of close contacts with high-level Colombian businesspeople, politicians and internationally acclaimed artists, friends of mine who are located within the community.
Cost: Terra Viva will offer a variance of investment opportunities and price points, though across the board, the cost of building an exceptional residence here is extremely low compared to anything in the Canada, the United States or Europe. These specially designed houses will be designed and built by leading Colombia architects, easily customized and highly livable.
Travel: Getting into and out of Colombia is easy and relatively inexpensive, with daily direct flights from many major cities in North America, Europe and Central and South America. The land on which the community is being developed is near enough to Medellin to make intra-day travel convenient and is a short flight away – or an incredible drive through the mountains – from other major Colombia cities, including both coasts for those who need to stretch their legs on a sandy beach and sip margaritas.
Land appreciation: Located about two hours outside of Medellin in a historic area known for its extensive production of coffee and foodstuffs, especially fruits and vegetables, the community has until recently been fairly inaccessible for folks wishing to live under the "big sky" and work in Medellin. A brand new four-lane divided highway is now being built, however, that will connect the area to Medellin via several tunnels and bridges. This means any real-estate purchases made in the area will likely increase in value, and by a lot. Expectations are that as the highway is completed, which is well underway already and projected to be finished by 2018, the values of real estate will elevate by as much as 300+%. The land is already being gobbled up by wealthy families – many of whom I know – who understand the value being generated.
The climate: This tropical, parrot-filled mountainous area, partially jungle and partially farmland, is known as "the land of eternal spring", a perfect description as daytime temperatures are in the 80s and 90s before settling into the high 60s and low 70s at night under a vast, star-filled open sky. There is virtually no humidity and generally a slight breeze, making the weather simply perfect. In fact, the area receives only about 800 mm of rain per year, a vast difference from Medellin and its surrounding environs, which receive more than 3,000 mm. Not only is it temperate but it is also for the most part devoid of the insects you might expect to find in such an area. Many of the restaurants, for instance, have partial walls so patrons can enjoy their meals in the fresh air; there's really no need even for screens on the windows. And it's full of pleasant surprises. I was taking a shower last week outdoors – most houses are structured this way – and I heard someone saying "Hola" to me. I looked up and it was a wild parrot!
Foodstuffs: Located at the northern edge of South America, Colombia receives seafood from both oceans. And the surrounding countryside is rich with farms and farmers who provide foodstuffs at very low cost. The food is plentiful and grown naturally. Natural, healthy foods such as raw milk, fresh butter, grass-fed beef, free-range chicken and eggs and, of course, fresh fruits and vegetables are plentiful and the norm.
Education: For those who are concerned about educating their children in this "foreign land," fear not! There are several English-only private schools available nearby that are feeder schools to major universities in both Colombia and throughout the world. The headmaster of the largest of these (some 1,600 students) is from Seattle, WA and his teachers are mostly from Canada, the US and the UK. The school was founded by a wealthy German family and has a campus-like atmosphere that makes most universities look like kindergartens, literally an amazing facility set on well over 100 hectares with an open-air concept design.
Visas: Many visa options are available, all of which are relatively quick and simple to apply for. A tourist visa makes it possible to live up to six months of the year in the country. Investment of US$200,000 in a land and home is required for a residency visa. You could choose to get a business visa by investing in a business, as I've done, and there are other options. It generally requires two to three weeks to secure the visa followed by a visit to Bogota to finalize arrangements, and the costs are surprisingly low, especially when compared to most other nations.
Terra Viva amenities: All manner of outdoor activities are being established in the central community, which is part of Phase I. Several phases are being established, all of which offer residents access to the main club facilities, including boating, swimming, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, tennis, golf, an athletic center and spa. The community's main restaurant will be overseen by a top-level international chef from Switzerland who was formerly the executive chef for the Peninsula Hotel in Hong Kong!
The library in our community center will be stocked with the best literature. Our 2-hectare lake is stocked with trout and surrounded by the lovely gardens that dot the property, which are second to none. Colombian flowers make up 80% of cut flower imports in the US and, in fact, my primary partner on this project is one of Colombia's largest flower exporters – you've most likely seen his chrysanthemums at your local flower shop. We have our own coffee plantation on the property, and the historic coffee mill here is being turned into a museum. We're even building a hydroelectric generating facility, utilizing the water power of the river on our land. Although you are coming to Terra Viva for a second home, the amenities will be second-to-none.
An integral not isolated community: Our idea is to integrate the community with its larger surroundings. We will not isolate ourselves but seek instead to become valued members of the larger, local society.
In addition, while Terra Viva will likely continue to draw largely free-market thinkers, our intention is not to build an ideologically based or isolated community, either. At the core of Terra Viva are the basic principles of libertarianism. Voluntary exchange is the name of the game.
History and safety: Colombia is in many ways a sophisticated place but because of its past history and notoriety, many people are still hesitant to consider it for investment and real-estate purposes. Their loss is our gain… maybe yours, too. While this may be understandable for those who are not informed about the incredible changes for the better that have unfolded here over the last decade-plus, I can assure you that spending time here will leave you with a very different understanding and perception of life now.
The reality is I've done business in Colombia for a decade now and I've found the business climate to be welcoming, the people hard working and friendly and the political climate, unlike many others, to be cooperative, even eager-to-please. As mentioned, I've owned a home here for years.
My wife just joined me here last week, heartily welcomed into the homes of several friends both new and old, while I continue to work through final details of Terra Viva's development. Believe me, having grown up a New York City girl and always concerned for our two young sons and our daughter, she would not have agreed with me on the choice of Colombia as the location for our family's second residence if we were not both completely comfortable with the level of safety as well as the opportunities that abound for all of us.
I consider this the most important insurance policy I'll ever put in place. And while I do not intend to move my family from Toronto to live full-time in Colombia in the immediate future, my comfort level is greatly enhanced knowing we have this option available should we make that decision, even at a moment's notice.
I encourage you to take off your Western media-induced blinders, fully open your eyes and allow yourself to truly see this beautiful land. Times here have definitely changed, and I've been on the ground for the last 12 years to witness the re-defining of Colombia.
Out of the chaos generated and fueled by the desperately failed War on Drugs and the ravage of decades of civil war between drug dealers has come a self-driven order that offers incredible opportunity for those on the ground who recognize early the strides made by this nation of industrious, intelligent, forward-looking people. These are indeed the people I want as my neighbors, the people I'll be standing next to when the rest of the world realizes the illusion is no longer and reality comes home to roost.
Colombia is Latin America's biggest unfolding success story and I anticipate that our community of like-minded investors, Terra Viva, will be similarly successful. In the near future I'll be sharing more specifics about the community. We'll be hosting a special gathering in Colombia May 13-17 at which we'll reveal all the fine-tuned aspects of the community so you can look at what we're doing from a business perspective.
High Alert will soon be launching a reconfigured Daily Bell website structure that will feature a number of solutions that we believe are best-in-class, and that we encourage readers to consider for implementing in their own lives. Doug Casey's community in Argentina is one such solution, which I continue to recommend people look into. Nonetheless, I have found my own oasis in Terra Viva and am genuinely excited to be able to share what I love with you. We have been invited, welcomed and embraced by some of Colombia's finest families and I am honored and privileged to now be able to extend that invitation to you.
Over the next few weeks Ron Holland, several of the free-market writers you've read here at The Daily Bell, members of our High Alert team like one of my primary editors, Janice Matthews, and I will all be on location finalizing more details. There is a possibility that those of you who just can't wait to learn more could join us, although the official introduction will happen in the new year. If you are one of those early birds who immediately see this as something you want to potentially jump on now and assure your chance to claim one of the most prime lots, please have a look at the website and contact us. We'll get in touch to talk through some options.
I hope to meet some of you in person shortly and many more of you in May. Stay tuned!
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