70+ acre Chilean Retreat, plus a 1,500 acre cattle grazing permit.
Ages: 43 and 41, and one child age 3
Background: Family is from upstate New York, dairy farmers. I grew up in NC, history major who went into the Army as an aviator. Spent time living, travelling, and working in over 50 countries. Separated from the army as a Major and went into investments. Retired to Chile in the 2000s.
Why Chile? – Chile is the best kept secret in the world. A strong democratic country with five major political parties, Chile is very stable. Chile has lived thru the tough times when a communist leaning government threw the country into chaos, and a military government took control to restore things. Chile has seen what social disorder can do to a country, and that memory influences the country today. The country runs a budget surplus (Chile is the world’s largest producer of copper), has privatized social security accounts for each citizen, uses its resources very conservatively, and has the lowest level of poverty in Central and South America. Chile uses its budget surplus to fund its social programs, and also has a large slush fund to weather any economic storms. The privatized social security has made everyone a capitalist, even the socialists, so irresponsible spending is not tolerated by the populace.
The climate of Chile varies, because the country is 4,500 kilometers long, but only about 220 kilometers wide. The best description is Chile’s climate is “Baja to Alaska”, a mirror image of the western US. I live in the lakes district, which is the bread basket of Chile- a rolling hills farm area with many lakes/ rivers, large farms, and few people. Lots of rain in the winter and sun in the summer. Similar to Oregon or Washington. Chile only has 15 million people. Chile’s main roads are toll roads- the country bases its systems on a user tax. Why should an individual with no car/transport be taxed for interstates? In Chile, the tolls support the roads, the taxes are low. Local roads are not toll roads, just the interstates. It’s a nice system.
Annual Income: $10,000-$20,000. One can live well on $1,000 a month.
Investments: Gold and silver, outside the US.
Present Home: A 1,100 sq. ft. cabin. 2 bedroom, 1 bath. I took down a 60-year old cabin board by board to reuse as much of the old wood as possible. Rebuilt large post beam construction, very good insulation, wood stove heat, natural gas cooking and hot water. Also have a large barn that includes three horse stalls, hayloft, workshop/tack room and storage area. There is a woodshed/ laundry room outside. Water is gravity-fed year-round from a reservoir above my cabin. Underground pipes, so we have good water pressure. Electricity is buried cable- no power lines are visible. The place is wired for a diesel generator.
Vehicles: 2001 Toyota Hilux 4×4, gas. Vehicle taxes are about $75 a year, includes mandatory insurance. Vehicles require an road worthy inspection each year- $26. Gas in Chile is expensive – Chile has no native oil or natural gas. Fuel must be imported from Argentina, so gas is about $5 a gallon. Oil is also expensive- about $26 for the cheapest oil change. Chile’s one weakness is lack of fossil fuels.
Firearms: Mossberg 12 gauge, Winchester .44-40 lever-action made in 1898. Chile has good gun laws. Each individual can register 2 or 3. You need to pass a licensing course and register the weapons with the local army unit, but most people don’t. Chile’s laws are much like the US used to be. If you kill someone in self defense- no problem, no hassle. On your property, no problem. Example: We had a good employee that it turns out the police had been looking for. He had returned to his house one night and found some folks trying to burn down his father’s barn. He tried to stop them and got stabbed. Well, later that month he tracked down the attacker and shot him dead. The Police said it was warranted, a form of self defense since the attacker was a bad seed, they just wanted our employee to finish signing the paperwork/statement, then they let him walk! Common sense in a civil system.
Gardens/Orchards: 30 producing cherry trees. Two apple, three plum, two pear, one walnut. There is a very large avellano tree orchard. Multiple new fruit trees planted. 1/2 acre garden growing onions, lettuce, carrots, beets, corn, beans, cabbage, potatoes, pumpkin, goose-berry, red current, raspberries, and strawberries. Oh, and trying grapes this year- hope to get some wine down the road. Will build a greenhouse this summer to continue winter production.
Property tax: None. My property is too small. I love this country!
Pets/Livestock: One Dogo Argentino (great hunting dog), 2 horses. 40 head of cattle. Will raise hogs and bees for honey this summer.
Communications: Cell phone for emergency use, satellite direct TV, high speed internet.
Food Storage: Hard plastic waterproof containers. Do not have a long term supply built up yet. We usually have a few months on hand of apples, nuts when we harvest. Rice. One reason I moved here was because you could be self supporting, and we are in an agricultural area where we trade fence posts (I have a lot of wood) for hay, and expect to do the same with foodstuffs if needed. We will have chickens, and the property has plentiful wild boar and hares for hunting, along with partridge and dove, and there are nice trout in the river 1 km away.
Fuel Storage: 55 gallon drums, 20 liter containers for chain oil and mixing oil for the chainsaws.
Worst Case Scenario: The global depression takes away my English Premier League soccer matches on Direct TV! No, Chile should be good no matter what happens. Most folks still work hard with physical skills, are not spoiled, and don’t feel entitled. I am blessed that my wife was the daughter of a border policeman, her survival skills are much better than mine, and our livelihood is based on firewood, not electricity, so we can do pretty well. We only go to town once a week, could easily cut that down to once a month or never if need be. We fill up gas once every two months, so our rural and very healthy lifestyle is prepared for anything. And I can always ride my horses to town or around the lake to trade with my neighbors.
Another benefit for the country of Chile is that the weather comes from the South Pacific- the closet country to us that direction is New Zealand. Chile is not on any prominent wind streams that could bring nuclear or biological fallout. Chile has no real threats or enemies and the country has the best trained military in Central or South America (Not a large military, but Chile still has a mandatory draft and trains 200,000 citizens each year for a 12 or 18 month service. Chile’s military heritage is Prussian and since everyone serves at some point, the populace is well disciplined compared to most nations). Chile is bordered on the north by the driest desert in the world, on the east by the Andes, the Antarctic on the south and the pacific ocean on the west, so Chile is very well defended against entry from disease/plague/etc. Come to Chile! Life is good!