Conveniently located just northeast of Bogotá, Usaquén is one of the 20 localities (districts) that make up Colombia’s capital city. Usaquén is the original site of a large indigenous village that was conquered by the Spaniards. Until 1954, Usaquén was a municipality separate from Bogotá where the elite of the city once escaped to their sprawling country estates.
Today, Usaquén is the social center for several luxury residential enclaves, most notably Santa Barbara Alta, at the southeast end of the district, explained Verónica Dávila, director of Propiedades Julio Corredor/Christie’s International Real Estate in Colombia.
Usaquén is located in the Cerros Orientales, Bogotá’s natural eastern boundary. It is bordered to the west by Avenida Séptima (Seventh Avenue), one of the city’s principal avenues that runs through the city from south to north. Carrera Segunda marks the eastern border, with the Calle 116 to the south and Calle 124 to the north.
“Homes in Usaquén can start at COP 2.1 billion (US$720,280). But most of the homes are in excess of COP 3.5 billion (US$1,200,465) and anything up to COP 11 billion (US$3,772,890). Apartments start at COP 850 million (US$291,541) and end at COP 6 billion (US$2,057,940),” said José Miguel Echenique, managing director of Engel & Völkers Market Center in Bogotá.
Ms. Dávila noted that larger homes with yards or gardens and high-end developments, with amenities such as swimming pools, fitness centers and playgrounds, can fetch asking prices around US$3 million.
“Bogotá, as with many metropolitan areas, has moved from freestanding houses to apartments. Big houses have tended to disappear, except for those in Santa Barbara Alta. …There are both modern and Colonial houses that make up the high-end properties there,” Ms. Dávila said.
“The prevalent style of homes in the area are Spanish-style houses and exposed-brick apartment buildings,” Mr. Echenique said. “There is some new construction in the area, but most of the properties date back to late 1970s and early 1980s, and local regulations stipulate that they can be only several stories high.”
What makes it unique?
Homes with curb appeal and Usaquén’s proximity to the city center via car make this enclave very in demand. Bogotá is a car-centric city (bus is the public transportation option), and Usaquén’s residents hire personal drivers to take their children to school and transport them to work or social engagements.
“Usaquén is one of the most exclusive and traditional neighborhoods in Bogotá. The beautiful, picturesque houses and their privileged location on the Cerros Orientales [part of the Andes Mountain range] make this neighborhood one of the most coveted in the city,” said Mr. Echenique. And, he added, “Usaquén is well known for its excellent security as it is home to numerous embassies.”
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Usaquén is a charming Colonial-era center with a large cathedral, an inviting plaza shaded by century-old trees, and an independent movie theater named Cinema Paradiso.
It’s the social hub for locals in the area for dining or meeting up for drinks. “It is home to some of Bogotá’s best-loved restaurants such as Casa Vieja, a beautiful restaurant set in a colonial-style home known for local cuisine,” Mr. Echenique said.
Other favorites include the Peruvian-inspired La Mar Cebicheria; Bistronomy, a French bistro from the renowned Rausch brothers; excellent Italian restaurants Julia and Olivetto; Wok, which specializes in Asian fusion cuisine, and Japanese restaurant Osaki.
As far as retail goes, “Usaquén is a bohemian area known for local craft and high-end design stores, which are really nice. But it’s not where you would find big shopping malls,” Ms. Dávila said.
On Sundays, Usaquén hosts the Mercado de las Pulgas de Usaquen, a vibrant flea market bursting with treasures.
Krzysztof Dydynski / Getty Images
Usaquén is also situated in the vicinity of El Hospital Santafé, one of Bogotá’s most important healthcare facilities. There are no prominent schools located in Usaquén, but there are prestigious private schools nearby such as the all-girls Colegio Femenino (pre-school through high school); the Italian language Colegio Italiano Leonardo da Vinci (pre-school through secondary); English and Spanish dual-language Colegio Nueva Granada (elementary through high school) and the Colegio Anglo Colombiano (preschool through high school).
Who lives there?
“Due to its peaceful natural surroundings and high security, a number of embassies—Germany, New Zealand, Canada and South Africa—have established their residencies in this neighborhood. Moreover, due to the proximity to El Hospital Santafé, one of Bogotá’s most important healthcare facilities, many doctors live in the area,” Mr. Echenique said.
Lawyers and business professionals also round out the resident profile.
Overall, Ms. Dávila reports that the market is steady. “Prices rose tremendously in the past 10 years, then three years ago they started declining. But in the last year, prices have remained really steady—especially in those residential neighborhoods with good properties. Bogotá, in general, has become very attractive for foreign buyers because the dollar is really high for us, so property in dollars became really cheap. So, in comparison to Miami, you can find a really big house for half of the price that you’d get there,” said Ms. Dávila.
The fact that there are no restrictions for foreign buyers helps make it all the more appealing, Mr. Echenique said. However, Ms. Dávila pointed out that in Colombia, banks do not give mortgages to foreign buyers. For them, the only option for financing the purchase of a property, is through hard equity loans.
And it’s presently a buyer’s market, he said. “Usaquén is a traditional and exclusive neighborhood. Most of the residents choose to live here because it is both peaceful and safe. Due to high prices in the area, things are slowing down and there is increasingly more supply than demand. Now is a favorable time to buy because the market is slow,” Mr. Echenique noted.
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