The idea of buying productive land outside of your home country is really starting to catch on these days and Chile is one country that has received a lot more attention.
As more foreign investors arrive and local salaries grow, property prices have been on the rise and some are beginning to wonder if a bubble could be forming in the Chilean real estate market. I've heard the claim that property in Chile is more expensive than in the US many times.
It's true that from taking a quick look on the internet, you might come away with the idea that property in Chile is more expensive than in some parts of the US. Property in certain parts of Santiago and the surrounding areas has skyrocketed over the last few years and farmland throughout the country is becoming increasingly expensive.
But browsing the internet (or even spending a couple days driving around Chile looking at properties) isn't going to give you a great idea of what's actually available. Prices vary widely for comparable properties here and a general rule of thumb is that the better advertised a property is, the most expensive it's going to be.
Property Scouting in Chile
Shortly after I first arrived in Chile in 2010, I spent over 2 months investigating prices in just one small coastal community, literally talking to every farmer, forestry engineer, business owner, etc. that I came across (there were absolutely no realtors that had listings for the area).
I spent plenty of long days following up on properties that, for one reason or another, turned out to be a complete waste of time. Eventually, after enough trial and error, was able to work out an average price per hectare or square meter and, most importantly, identify which ones were well below market value.
Now, after having seen hundreds of properties up and down Chile's coastline and central valley, I know what's actually available (not just listed on the internet) and can easily say that you can still find comparable properties in Chile for a fraction of what you would pay stateside.
For instance, if you are willing to go a little off the beaten track, it's possible to buy a small lot (10,000 square feet) just a 2 minute walk to the ocean for under $10,000 USD.
With around $25,000-$35,000 USD, you can buy a hectare (2.47 acres) of ocean view property, a short walk from an incredible surf break in a setting that looks like Santa Cruz, California. Some of these properties even come with a small apple orchard, a pine/eucalyptus forest, or a horse or two.
Apartments in Santiago
In Santiago, small but brand new 1 bedroom apartments can be found for under $40,000 USD just outside of the city center. For around $70,000 USD, you can buy a 500 square foot apt, 2 bd/1 ba, a half block from a centrally located metro station. Renting out one of these apartments, fully furnished, can yield anywhere from 6% to 10%.
With about $240,000 USD, you could buy 12 hectares (just under 30 acres) of prime farmland with water rights just a 10 minute drive from a steadily growing city of about 200,000. If you go a little farther from town, prices continue dropping.
For those with deeper pockets, one of the best deals I've come across recently was a 400 hectare (1,000 acre) property located less than a 2 hour drive from Santiago. Just 6 kilometers away from a city of about 150,000, the development potential for a property like this is huge (you are a 5 minute drive to one of the local elementary schools and less than 10 minutes from the supermarket). The asking price is around 1.5 million USD and the property automatically generates a return of about 1.3% annually (the owners lease a small plot of their land on one of their mountain tops to a telecommunications company). The property includes nearly 100 hectares that could be used for agriculture (vineyard, fruit trees, etc) as well as water rights for 87 liters/sec from one of the canals next to the property.
Conclusion: Not There Just Yet
Property in Chile isn't the cheapest in the world, but as the most stable country in South America, with an open economy and favorable living conditions (not to mention vast resources), I'm convinced that it still offers some of the best investment options in the world. Over the next several years, as the economy develops and the country doubles or triples its gold and silver production, I wouldn't be surprised to see property in Chile become more expensive than in the US, but we're not there just yet.
Editor’s Note: Things can change quickly. New options emerge, while others disappear. This is why it's so important to have the most up-to-date and accurate information possible. That's where International Man comes in. Be sure to get the free IM Communiqué to keep up with the latest on the best options in Chile and other attractive diversification opportunities.
[To learn more about Darren Kaiser including updates on his next Chilean property tour, visit: www.theglobetrotterweekly.com/chile-property-investment-tour.html].