21,405. That’s the number of kilometers I’ve driven in the last 6 month here in Chile (it’s a little over 13,000 miles) and no, I haven’t been working as a trucker.
Since June, I’ve been traveling almost every week between Santiago and the 7th region of Chile, working, looking at properties, and taking advantage of being in one of the most geographically diverse countries on the planet (you can drive from the ocean, across vineyards of the central valley, to the lofty peaks of the Andes within just a few hours here).
Before that time, I lived in Chile’s 8th region, then in the 6th region, and am beginning to feel like a Chilean version of that Johnny Cash song “I’ve Been Everywhere” would be fitting right now.
“I’ve been everywhere man, I’ve been everywhere man….
Pichilemu, Bucalemu, Coelemu, Tregualemu,…
Curico, Alico, Retiro, Curepto, Batuco, Pelarco…
Pencahue, Itahue, Quirihue, Tapihue, Copihue…
Cobquecura, Botalcura, Tutucura, Quilicura,…”
It’s funny how often times after chatting about Chile with a local they tell me, “Oye, conoces mi país mejor que yo” (You know my country better than I do).
Actually, over the past two and a half years, that’s been my goal. Get to know the geographic and economic landscape of central Chile better than any other living person. More specifically, I wanted to learn as much as there was to know about upcoming infrastructure projects and be able to identify the true average per square meter/per hectare in the country’s less than standardized real estate markets.
It hasn’t been the easiest goal I’ve ever set for myself but the best things in life never come without their fair share of challenges. Chilean Spanish was difficult for the first couple months and dealing with Chilean bureaucracy can drive you absolutely crazy from time to time.
When I was getting started out, there were days when I wondered if it was worth the amount of money I’d spent on gas or the number of hours I’d spent traveling the back roads of the country, following up on property leads. Now, having seen prices double within a year on some of my favorite property picks, I’m pretty sure it’s been a wise use of my time.
You see, Chile really is in a unique situation at this point in history.
In Europe, Japan, and the US, now is the first time in hundreds of years that it’s become obvious that the next generation will actually face a much more difficult life that we have. High unemployment, unsustainable debt, no chance of pension funds being left for current contributors, these countries have passed their prime and on their way downhill. Chile is on the exact opposite end of this spectrum.
As I’ve said before, many aspects of Chile resemble California 50 or 60 years ago and with the country’s new gold and silver projects coming on line over the next several years, it’s clear that this country is due for a growth spurt and that it’s “heyday” is still to come.
Investments aside, the past couple of years have probably been the most rewarding of my life. I felt a deep connection with the country very quickly after arriving and am happy to only spend a week or two outside of Chile per year.
Every time I am
-out in the countryside looking at properties with a farmers who lives off the land
-meeting with local government officials to discuss new infrastructure projects
-or having a beer with a friend who’s a manager of one of the country’s largest companies
all within the same week, I know it would be difficult for me to live a life as rich and varied back in my native country.
Darren Kaiser is an American expatriate and current resident of Chile. He is a small business owner, journalist, and investor. You can find more at his website http://www.darrenkaiser.com.
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